The Great Vonderpiro Caper – Now in Canadian! (SUPER SENIOR VICTORY LAP EDITION)

Al Pal and I went fishing in Canada with my parents for four days over Labor Day weekend. What follows are actual notes taken on the trip, in actual note form. Enjoy!

September 3 – Hinkley, MN

The Grand Casino is real smokey. Mama Shapiro has casually mentioned six or seven hundred times that it’s real smokey. She can’t even believe how smokey it is. Are casinos ALWAYS this smokey?

Al Pal and Papa Shapiro are drinking scotch and being giggly. I think scotch is gross and have always thought so. But they talk me into trying it one more time because it’s so different with water, we promise! Haha, jokes on me, it is not different, it is still gross. Boys played a mean trick on me, how fun for them.


Dudes drinking dude stuff


September 4 – Rural MN, and also the Canada!

Casino restaurant breakfast. Our waitress looks like the result of a romantic union between Betty White and the entire cast of Fargo. I ask for a side salad with ranch dressing and she brings me double ranch. At 7am.

Bought an audiobook to listen to in the car because I am a thoughtful and considerate daughter. Does anyone like the audiobook? No, they all take several explosive shits on the audiobook (LITERALLY) and say it is boring and the narrator sounds like the Google Maps lady. This would hurt my feelings if it wasn’t completely accurate.

Mama and Papa Shapiro then spend a good half hour trying to figure out how to play music on their various devices, panicking when they realize they have no plan for entertainment for the next six hours. “Oh it’s fine, we have James Taylor’s Greatest Hits!” Al Pal looks like he’s going jump out of the moving car. He ends up wisely deciding not to jump out of the moving car, but also definitely not joining along with the Mama and Papa Shapiro James Taylor Sing-A-Long Extravaganza, either.

Arrive at Canadian customs. It’s underwhelming, somehow.


Beyond this portal, the exotic land of Canada awaits you!

One million years later, we get to the lodge. Canada: Great candy, slow speed limits. The grounds are gorgeous and full of some type of. . . conifer? Much green, very trees, wow. Also, we’re one hour north of the border and people have the strongest, most charming Canadian accents. Let’s move here.

I love Canada, have I mentioned that? AERO BARS + TOONIES 4 LYFE.



Canada is great and everyone is great and I love life, the universe, and everything.

We check into the room which is all rustic and full of wood and has pictures of the cutest dogs above the beds (but then Al Pal says, “Uh, those are wolves.” Still cute, no shame.) And then we look in the bedrooms and they’re all twin beds, welp. Since we’re sharing a cabin with Mama and Papa Shapiro anyway, that’s kind of fine! There will be no funny business THIS Labor Day, Vonderpiro and also O.G. Shapiros! All anyone wants to hear around here is farts, thank you very much.

We go to dinner, where Papa Shapiro randomly decides to order a Long Island iced tea. Yes, the house recommends a pairing of the Long Island with your fish, it really brings out the flavors of NOTHING EVER. We all eat large amounts of walleye and are very smug about life.




Ontario only allows two walleye taken home per person, and the rest is catch and consume or catch and release. But fish do not know that, because fish are stupid! So we catch a metric fuckton of fish and have a grand old time taking selfies with them and throwing them back to tell their tales of terror to their fish friends.


Catch of the day for yours truly at 20”


Al Pal and 24” of walleye: a story of friendship.

Al Pal and Papa Shapiro (and Mama Shapiro also, randomly!) catch some northerns and perch but no pix of those because northerns are gross and perch are boring.

At one point, our guide catches a sauger (aka Not a Walleye) and instead of throwing it back, smashes it on the floor of the boat. Which is pretty unexpected! Mama Shapiro yellwhispers, “WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?!” Thanks for saying what we’re all thinking, Mama Shapiro.

He says, “Eagle bait!” and throws it in the water. I can’t quite overstate the weird pregnant pause that occurs right at this moment. What are you even doing, dude? The ladies are skittish about witnessing fish murder (yes, we are hypocrites, shut up) and they need more explainering and maybe some hand holding.

But holy shit, a bald eagle swoops in and grabs it right in front of us with its enormous death feet. It feels like David Attenborough is right there, whispering sweet nothings about the circle of life in our ears.


Goddamn majestic

Among other exciting, gorgeous and sobering wildlife sightings are pelicans, loons, and an enormous spider lugging around its eggs in a scary sack of nightmares.


Hi, I’m a pelican!

We also happen across a super chill wolf and its bald eagle accomplice swimming across the lake, no big deal. LOLJK it’s a huge deal because it means they can get you. Do they have opposable thumbs yet? Unclear. Lock your doors.


Remember the end of the Gingerbread Man?


Looking for mom or lunch

September 7 – Is this real life?

I sleep the whole way home. But wake up in time for this:


Never change. I love you.

Lessons Learned:
– Nature! It’s intimidating and beautiful and it will CUT YOU, BITCH.
Don’t let it bother you when your fishing pole is called a “Shakespeare Ugly Stik.” This says nothing about you as a person.
Long Islands are not classy.

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One Response to The Great Vonderpiro Caper – Now in Canadian! (SUPER SENIOR VICTORY LAP EDITION)

  1. Judy Shapiro says:

    Dena- great blog! Did I really say those things SO many times?!…

    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse typos!


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