Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Return to the Algonquin Motel

It's finally here...the long-awaited story of our RETURN TO THE ALGONQUIN MOTEL.

(Should I address the 6 month delay of this post? I'll just go ahead and say that this was a very deliberate and carefully executed plan to create suspense and anticipation for this tale. It was not procrastination on my part. SUSPENSE and ANTICIPATION. Not procrastination.)

(warning: megablog post ahead, as usual.)

You may recall that my girlfriends Velvet, Heather, Leslie and I had travelled to the wonderfully eccentric Algonquin Motel back in May of 2010. If this rings no bells, read this (and also know that you're now BUSTED for not keeping up with this blog; I'm looking at you with a mixture of hurt and scorn right now. But I'm sure we can move past that, maybe).

At the end of our first Algonquin visit, the owners, Tim and Martha, invited us to return and paint one of their blank motel rooms with animal and landscape murals to match the rest of the colorful motel. We of course said "yes yes ohmigod is this a joke yes yes" and eagerly began making plans. Two months later, armed with only ugly painting clothes, a tube of chapstick and a dance belt, we returned to make our mark on the history of the Algonquin Motel.

Long car rides are fun with four (4) people with wildly different musical tastes. What kind of weirdo doesn't want to listen to the Beach Boys for three (3) straight hours? No one I wanna know, that's who.

We arrived to the Algonquin on a Friday evening and Martha led us to Room 5, the place where the magic would happen.

Here's what we started with --a lightly painted background on all the walls (including the washroom), just screaming out for some attempts at art by four (4) non-qualified gals. It was intimidating to walk into the blank room and realize we had to fill it up in a matter of days.

So intimidating, in fact, that us girls sat in the room and discussed a game plan for the weekend which involved us painting for the majority of each day, beginning with that very evening. We would devote the largest portion of our time to painting and discussing artistic things like paintbrushes and the Renaissance and then after (and ONLY AFTER) we had completed a satisfactory amount of painting each day would we allow ourselves time for secondary events such as sightseeing, playing tetherball, eating candy and playing Extreme Indoor Badminton.

So the plan was set. We felt good. Girls with a plan. We were going to paint the hell out of Room 5, beginning right NOW...except then we realized we were kind of hungry. So we decided to grill some veggie burgers. And then play a little tetherball. And you gotta have a drink or two when playing tetherball, right? And hey, wait, why are we all sleeping?

When you're roughing it, you wear plaid. That's like the first rule of camping.

So, uh, Day 1 was a bit of a failure, painting-wise. We woke up the next day ready to paint...but then, seeing the moderate amount of sunshine, decided to continue our quest for finding the perfect beach. We left our room feeling guilty but reasoned that everyone paints better with a tan. (Pretty sure that's true. Or is it everyone gets skin cancer with a tan? It's something.)

So we travelled to what appears to be a parking lot but is actually a small beach in order to get our suntan on. The sun managed to disappear during our car ride, yet we persisted in laying out under the gray, dismal sky, just soaking it up. We stayed about 20 minutes and I don't think we ever even removed our dresses. Which is too bad, because we would have revealed some super-hot slammin' bikini bods underneath them. Ah well, the world will never know...

Okay, FINE. Since I don't want to deal with a million emails begging me for a picture, here you go. Super-hot slammin' bikini bods. And yes, of course Velvet and I have matching bathing suits. Are you even surprised?

After coming to terms with our beach fail, we decided we wanted some ADVENTURE. We wanted to track some wild animals and feel the wind blowing through our hurrr and eat some plants that may or may not be poisonous. So we decided to visit the most dangerous place we could find on our (small tourist) map:


As you can see, everything about the place just screams "DANGER." The Ragged Falls is a wild waterfall located in Oxtongue River Provincial Park. It's a steep hike to the top of the waterfall, which you can access only by hiking through rocky and uneven trails.

...so yes, sounds like the perfect activity for a few city gals attired in summer dresses, fashionable belts and flip flops. We agreed!

Note the actual hiker in the background, equipped with a backpack, sun-protective hat and shoes with soles. Lame.

See? We blend with nature just fine.

Looking at this picture, where I'm actually trying to fend off mosquitoes by kicking them, I feel sorry for myself. It's a low moment. At least I'm not wearing a pink inflatable inner tube, right?!

We forgot to take a picture of the other angle but Heather's actually staring down a family of wild bears here.

(Did you know that a group of bears is called a "sleuth"? I had to wiki that one. If you take away nothing from this blog post, at least I have taught you this one [1] thing. Now go into the world!)

It's like my eyes are saying "Come, join me, as I hike to my certain death on this rocky cliff all while wearing a paisley-patterned dress!"

Remember how on our first trip to Algonquin we didn't rent a canoe because Leslie couldn't swim? Yeah, well, she still can't. But this time we came a little more prepared.

(side note: Hey Leslie, you know what a great New Year's resolution for 2011 would be? Learn to swim.)


And now back down we go.

The perfectly planned outfits, the windblown hair, the dazzling/inflatable accessories--I know what you're thinking. It's like Destiny's Child went hiking, no? I call not Kelly.

After we conquered the "ragged" part of Ragged Falls, we decided to partake in the Falls. We hiked back down to the base and waded barefoot out in the falls. Heather described the experience akin to walking on "slippery shards of glass," which was pretty dead-on. It was not the first time in my life that I wished for water shoes.

Remember that old computer game called the Oregon Trail? You may have played it in fifth grade computer class (if you're me). A big part of crossing the Oregon Trail was having to ford many rivers with your team of oxen. That's what I felt like I was doing (minus oxen). I have a new respect for those who have crossed the Oregon Trail (in real life or in the computer game, both challenging experiences).

Velvet conquered the Falls, even without water shoes. I guess that's what roughing it in the wild is all about, huh? Braving the most frightening outdoor situations without the aid of water shoes. Considered yourself conquered, nature.

After our thrilling adventures in the wild, we knew it was time to return to the Algonquin and face the blank, blank walls of Room 5.

I used this opportunity to quote a little Sound of Music and sing to everyone "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." I love whenever I have a chance to do that. My friends don't.

So everyone donned our painting do-rags, we put on a little R. Kelly and got down to business. The only painting instructions that Martha and Tim had given us were to stick to animals and landmarks found locally and to avoid anything too "Disney-ish." After I privately mourned the premature death of my Simba meets Princess Jasmine life-size mural, I picked up a paintbrush and decided to start by painting a rock. A simple, gray rock.

...and then I discovered something major about myself. Something life-altering. Something embarrassing.


My rock looked like a huge pile of grey oatmeal/manure . I attempted some shading and found that I apparently had no understanding of what a rock looks like. Heather spent 10 minutes trying to get me to think about where the light would hit a rock and how to paint it accordingly and stopped after she realized I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I had just assumed I would have a hidden natural talent for painting, and looking around the room seeing the beautiful art my friends were creating compared to my special little rock, I had to admit to myself that I was indeed the worst painter in the world.

Velvet wisely took over Mental Crisis Rock and assigned me to grass/tree bark painting duty. That rock is still my least favorite part of the room.

Seriously, I hate you, Rock.

After that whole mental breakdown ordeal, we all got settled into our own little grooves.

Leslie begins what will become the biggest accomplishment of her life.

Heather started on our main piece, which featured a beaver, rabbit and porcupine roasting marshmallows around a campfire. We were obviously going for a contemporary, pseudo-realism, high-art vibe here.

Recognize what Velvet's painting? Yup, it is indeed Ragged Falls. All that's missing is Leslie falling overboard in her pink inner tube.

And into the night we painted. The hours flew by as the walls slowly became filled with our magical creations (well, not mine so much. But I sure sang a lot of songs).

Who knew Leslie was such a bird expert? She hates animals!

Well, I helped a bit with the more-than-slightly-evil looking bunny.

We made Velvet paint trees all over the room because she was so good at it.

This is how you look when it's 4:00 a.m. and you've painted for the past six hours. And yet the walls still seem so blank. And you've ruined your best plaid shirt by accidentally leaning on wet paint. And all of your friends seem to be have been secretly taking painting lessons for the past year and you have a university degree but can't even paint a rock. And...oh lord, it was time for bed.

Goodnight, Algonquin Motel.

The next morning we woke early and got right to painting. I don't think Heather even brushed her teeth (what else is new, right??). We painted, painted, went to a garage sale, painted, tetherballed, painted, painted and then started to go a little insane from inhaling so many paint fumes.




But then we played a good, ol' fashioned game of Probe and settled down. Garage sale treasure!

And then fun time was over. With the threat of the big morning reveal hanging over us, we buckled down and painted our asses off. During this time, we learned a lot about each other. Heather and I researched animal tracks. Leslie painted a million peacock feathers. Velvet drank beer. And we posed for numerous pictures with the various stages of our work (lucky for you!).

I can guarantee you that every single one of those animal tracks is scientifically accurate. Minus the sizing scale; that was way off.

Someone got a little bit cranky when we told her she couldn't paint a forest of butterflies.

So many poses that amused us. Looking back, we may have been a little immature, but you know what, there were a lot of paint fumes in that room and we were forbidden by Heather from opening any windows due to her bizarre fear of moths. In conclusion, I blame Heather.

Next thing we knew, it was time for the BIG REVEAL. You ready for it?!? Here are a few of the highlights:

Extreme room makeover!

We'd like to thank Tim & Martha and the Algonquin Motel for putting their complete trust in four (4) relative strangers and letting us having total creative freedom in painting Room 5. It really was an unforgettable experience and made us love the Algonquin Motel even more.

I'd also like to thank Heather, Velvet and Leslie for having artistic talent and being able to create a beautiful room. Without you guys, Room 5 would be full of ugly, unshaded gray rocks and also my bloody handprints after going insane. It would also be known as "that creepy room that guests refuse to sleep in."

Remember everyone, next time you're at the Algonquin Motel, request Room 5 and view our artwork for yourself! (Unless it's been painted over since we left. If that's the case, just tell me you thought it was pretty.)


  1. Moths are the worst, I mean how does anyone enjoy a nasty, furry insect frantically flying into their face.

    I would like to assume our creations are still there, but who knows. I don't know if they liked us after we walked around and had conversations with them wearing plastic (real) vampire teeth.

  2. Oh my...what a trip that was...I liked our next door neighbors and their dog, too.

    I wish we had pictures of Leslie's ladybugs and your caterpillars, Sam. Amazing creations. Also my cute chipmunk. The whole bathroom, really. I guess people will have to go there to see those.

  3. Omg this was amazing! We are amazing...and Sam we all saw my lady bugs ...they totally counteracted my wicked birds..... FAIL. YAY LET'S GO BACK AS SOON AS THE SNOW MELTS ...and the dogs at the puppy mill unfreeze back to life!!

  4. I know, I think for some reason we're missing a lot of pictures of the rest of the room, which makes our "grand reveal" look somewhat unimpressive. We promise it was mind-blowing.

    I am so looking forward to an Algonquin spring/summer trip. Ahh, there's no greater joy than a puppy mill in the spring. Other than every other thing in the world that's not a puppy mill.

  5. You're referring to my Mental Crisis Rock, right? FINALLY! Someone who understands my art!

    No? Oh. I see. Yeah. That makes more sense. Thanks for reading and becoming our new favorite commenter, sachintheblue!