Girls Gone Wild(ish!) Part 2: Kingston

By Samantha Spencley-Vandenbrink

Ktown is not how I remember it. I spent quite a few slippery weekends in the late 90’s here enjoying the “Uni” buzz with an old boyfriend. It was grungy, real, and grey. But now, 20 yrs later, it’s a cosmopolitan version of itself, with a tribute to it’s most famous export…The Tragically Hip. That said, it didn’t take long for Lady K to show her true nature…the hippies were just hiding between the art galleries and indie coffee shops. Aly and I checked into a BnB downtown and hit the town for the night. We ended up in The Toucan, Kingston’s well known live band spot and we were treated to the showmanship of twobands that rocked out. At the venue that night, it was hard to ignore the eccentric characters and one specifically, whom we dubbed “White Shirt”. He was really enjoying the music…more than it seemed necessary, but later when we spoke with him, we realized he’s a free spirit and it’s best to enjoy his enthusiasm. We bid our goodbyes to him and the others, “White Shirt” even hugged with too much enthusiasm…Aly said he was going for a boob hug…I just think he was high.

After a great sleep, shower and green smoothies, we started out on our day. We had plans to see the Penitentiary Museum and Fort Henry with an evening walking tour with the Haunted Tours of Kingston, but instead we ended up having a day more like Alice did when she fell through the rabbit hole. First, we walked along downtown, then ended up at the weekend Market, full of handmade jewellery, honey and maple syrup. We decided to look for caffeine reinforcements when low and behold, there was “White Shirt” sitting at the town square fountain, talking to a well dressed man. I had to do it, much to Aly’s dismay I’m sure, I ran up and yelled, “White Shirt”! We high fived and Aly joined us laughing at the coincidence. We were introduced to Daniel, who was in town from Ottawa, and didn’t want to tell us more about himself other than that he was visiting. Aly pointed out to me later that he was not only well dressed, but seemed to be hiding something. She thinks he was on a personal trip, probably a well to do person, trying to find themselves. We stood around for about 30mins discussing philosophy and energy, then “White Shirt” decided to get into the fountain without rolling up his pants. That’s Ktown. We said goodbye, not because of the fountain tour but because we still had it in our heads that we were going to a tourist attraction. We picked up our coffee/tea and started out onto the streets again. The shopping on Princess St is not how I remembered it either and we quickly got submerged into the indie shops and their wears. We made it to Woodenheads for lunch, where a lady sitting next to us on her own called me Michelle. When I corrected her, she said we should join her for lunch then proceeded to tell us her life story and how she spends most of the year in a small German village, then summers in Kingston. I’ve travelled a lot, but I must admit, I’ve never been invited to join someone during a meal, normally it’s me doing the inviting.

Once lunch was over, we decided we should make our way to the fort or to transit to take us to the Pen Museum. While on our way, there, again, was “White Shirt”, flanked by Daniel and a woman with a toddler sitting on a restaurant patio, drinking beer. We laughed again about the coincidence and they invited us to go to the park to “feel the trees”. Aly and I, clearly only part way down the rabbit hole, diligently followed them to the marina park that was in the center of the town. Upon arrival, it was hard to miss the flag dancer, in the park square, dancing and flagging to some really appalling music. She enticed us with her magic flags dancing around her much like the caterpillar’s smoke enticing Alice to pick a side of the mushroom. Aly got a pair of beautiful powder blue ones and I choose a red one and a blue one so I could play Wonder Woman. “White Shirt” who we now started to call Matt, took a golden one and started dancing around like the Cheshire Cat. Mom with babe, or Liz and Olivia, were video taping the experience that both she and Matt said, they’ve had the pleasure of experiencing before. We spent about an hour there, enjoying the flags, the bad music, the tourists enjoying us, the curious kids and adults wanting to join in and most of all the 14 yr old boys who came into the centre and breakdanced to the rhythm of our flags. It was mostly magical and a bit lame, but such was the rabbit hole moment of our day in Ktown.

Liz, who now knew we were in town for Aly’s birthday, suggested we all meet up and go dancing, but she would first take Olivia to her moms for the night. We agree to meet up in a couple of hours and take on the night with these wild characters. We went back to the apartment and drank our dinner and put on layers of make-up. We met them on Princess St. somewhere between the Dollartree and the Tim Hortons. We walked up to the Grisley Grill, a place I remember going with that boyfriend years ago, but again, it’s now super sleek and posh and doesn’t smell like pee. We went in and the owner saw us, cus it was 9:30pm…late for their dinner crowd and too early for the dance crowd. He mentions that there is pool tables, but we insist we are ready for the dance floor. The DJ obliged 30 mins earlier than usual, telling me, that normally he doesn’t start till 10:30pm. We didn’t care, we started dancing and the DJ clearly felt sorry for us and started at 10pm. The floor started to fill up fast but our core group dominated it till 11:30. Then came the dance circle and I couldn’t resist to show this mainly 20 yr old crowd how it’s done and I broke out my center splits and body waves to a very excited group.

Honestly, I could have stayed all night, but of course it had to come to an end. Liz and Matt went their own way and we went back to our apartment where we proceeded to party. We found items around our room that were hard to not put on and take drunken photos with…a faux mink stole, a lady’s hat from the 40’s, hideous jewellery and card board bananas. We eventually went to bed, but my sides were killing me from laughing so much!

The next morning was home time, and we stopped at almost every fruit stand and bakery all the way through Prince Edward County on our way. We both stocked ourselves up for the summer and fall with tonnes of fresh unpasteurized honey, baked goods for the freezer, spices and fresh asparagus. Although it was a simple trip, we had a fantastic time discovering Eastern Ontario. Liz has reached out to me since, and Aly and I are happy to have her visit Toronto so we can have another night of madness!

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