I have talked about how both my husband and I were born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario on this blog. Because we are both from Sudbury, some would assume that we met there. Not to sound like When Harry Met Sally, but, “we never met…” It’s true. We actually met in North Bay, Ontario at Canadore College where we were both in the same post-diploma program in Interactive Multimedia (now a defunct program; wow, technology moves at such a rapid pace!). North Bay is a town also considered northern, and about an hour and 10 minutes east of Sudbury. So the story goes, we became friends, and by the end of the two-semester program, we were inseparable.
North Bay holds some fond memories for me, not only because it’s where I met my husband, but because the town has a certain small-town charm not replicated anywhere else. Located off the shores of Lake Nipissing, this place has grown quite a lot from when I lived there – in population and in what is offered commercially. The hubs and I love to travel through North Bay on our way in or out of Sudbury, as there are some great shops for those seeking gaming deals, as well as some great favourite eateries that have withstood the passage of time, and are still in business today. Unfortunately, as of late, anytime we’ve been in North Bay, we have basically breezed through…not spending any longer than an hour, perhaps long enough to rush into a gaming shop or stuff our faces with a fast lunch.
Last week, while on vacation visiting our families in Sudbury, we decided to take a day and spend some time in the place where we met and fell for each other. The day happened to be my birthday, and I felt there was no other place I’d rather spend my day than in North Bay, Ontario with my beloved, shopping for games and books, and having a nice lunch at one of our favourite pizza joints.
The trip to North Bay from Sudbury is basically in a straight line through farm land on Highway 17 East. It’s a trip down memory lane, that’s for sure…the excitement of traveling to the St. Charles turn-off to go to the hub’s Nona’s cottage…my childhood memory of going to Bible Camp every summer on Dear Lake…or always joking as we pass our “Dream Home,” a boarded-up shack perched on the edge of a hill along the highway that is STILL STANDING after all these years! Those jokes never get stale, and the stories of the past never get old.
Having had only one cup of coffee before taking off on our jaunt, we stopped in Sturgeon Falls, a tiny blip on the map along the way, for a McDonalds McCafe coffee. Now, I have not stepped foot into a McDonalds since 2003 for any reason, but the hubs wanted to try their coffee, and I obliged since I won’t eat their food (‘fee review is forthcoming!).
Our first stop in North Bay was to our old stomping ground, Canadore College. Canadore is a small, but mighty school. I met some great friends there, and was taught by one of the best profs ever, Phil Cowcill. Phil taught me all I needed to know about how a computer works, and I went in with ZERO computer knowledge (really, it was “Windows. What’s that?”). Now, as I work in computers, I attribute a lot of what I know to that guy.
At any rate, Canadore was still standing…the road to it, however, had seen better days and was under some serious reconstruction, so we didn’t spend much time on campus. Still it was nice to check the place out and see if anything had changed.
Next stop was the Hock Shop on Main St, downtown. We can often find some good stuff there. I tackled the LP selection to see if I could find any KMA Master Grail list items (it was a bust…but plenty of duplicates for the John Cougar fan…). I almost made away with CDs from the Led Zeppelin Orange boxed set (I have the cassette version), but I was missing one of the four CDs. I passed on the rest of them as they were pretty scratched up. The hubs, however, made away with a pile of some decent games!
Next, we went all the way down to the Value Village. It was a bust.
It was the next stop that wound up being the goldmine for a girl who likes boxed hidden object games. We came upon this place by accident. The store, called This is MEDIA MADNESS, was one of those “Stop the Car!” type of places advertising games, DVDs and toys. What? Games? Turn in here!
About two years ago, we were traveling through North Bay on our way to Deep River, Ontario and came upon a store housed in an old Blockbuster Movie store. This place advertised a media blowout with games and dvds. That place was the SHIT. A whole back wall was taken up with PC adventure games for $5 and I had to hold myself back not to buy out the store. Unfortunately, that place closed down. My source for boxed PC games was gone, and as I have expressed on here, boxed PC adventure games are getting harder and harder to find!! That said, when we came upon This is MEDIA MADNESS, I got so excited. Could this be that old Blockbuster place??
This is MEDIA MADNESS is the perfect store for anyone who likes pop culture tchotchkis and whimwhams. Need a Beavis and Butt-head lanyard? Board Games like “Simpsons Monopoly”, KISS and AC/DC merch, and some Beatles novelty drinking glasses peppered the aisles. It wasn’t until I reached the back of the store where I found the mecca of hidden object adventure PC games and for only $5! This must be the place!
It was amazing! Again, I had to pick and choose what games to buy, and tried to filter through some of what I thought might be crap games. But, surprisingly, other well-known titles were available – Torchlight, Mass Effect and Borderlands were all there, and only for a fiver! I was so happy to find this little store again.
Stoked by my latest find, I got hungry for lunch! Pizza and Caesar salad were on the menu as we hit up our old haunt, Greco’s Pizza. This place saw us as regulars when we lived in town. Not much had changed…the pizza was still delicious, with its thick crust, bubbling cheese and cornmeal base… Mmm.
Sorry, I’m reliving that moment! The wait staff was still friendly and the decor hadn’t changed either, but all is overlooked when the food rocks!
After lunch, we took a stroll through downtown North Bay to one of the most prolific used bookstores in the north, Allison the Bookman. Back in College, I would tour its aisles for that next great read. The aisles seem to go on forever, covering books from any subject imaginable. Alas, I didn’t buy any books on this trip (maybe my commitment to the #TBR20 Challenge had something to do with it?) but it was fun to be back in one of the places I loved to spend time in.
2:30 rolled up fast, and a prior family commitment had us wrap up the trip and head back to Sudbury. Where did the time go? So it goes. Hope you enjoyed reading about our little trip. It was nice to spend some time together in North Bay again, and I look forward to our return, hopefully soon.