The Long Journey Home

It may not seem that far to go when you do a quick Google Map search. Only 223 km from my sister’s home to our home. Previous road trips that I’ve done from our place include 2050 km to Disneyland. Roughly 19.5 hours to drive it straight. We did it in 21 hours once.  That being said, our travel time to “The Happiest Place On Earth” was about 100 km/hr.  


Our trip today is taking us exactly five hours travel time. We got lucky and made an earlier ferry departure by about an hour. Doing the math, we are traveling at approximately 45 km/h. I’m finishing this post while we travel on our last ferry ride. If traffic cooperates, we will be home an hour after docking.

I do wish I had some more time to spend with my sister at her place.  She definitely has a “Million Dollar View” that she sees every day.  Later this summer, I think we will drop in and stay for a few nights instead.


These past few days have been a crazy rush- bombing around while hopping from ferry to highway to back roads to ferry to highway to ferry to ferry to highway to home.  I’m glad that tonight I will be home for a pot luck dinner at a friend’s place.  It feels like I squeezed as much as I could into my three days off this week.  

Chances are I’ll be doing it again next week.

Four Rivers of Travel From Vancouver Island 

Today my daughter and I decided to travel from Gold River, through Campbell River, across the ferry at Little River and onto Powell River.  

Goodbye Dick Boot.


We left Gold River a day early since we got Gramma as packed up as we could handle.  She is 85% ready to move out into her new home.  This is most likely the last time I will ever be in Gold River in my lifetime.  I called my sister last night and decided to head out to visit her in Powell River.  On our way, my daughter and I went through Campbell River to see the new home Grams was moving into.  I have to say that it’s in a more civilized part of Vancouver Island.  As well, it’s only a couple blocks away from a lovely little beach that overlooks the ocean. A great little place to live out retirement.


Just past Campbell River is Comox.  This is where we needed to take a ferry across to hit Powell River.  This is much more convenient for my mother and my sister to visit one another in the years to come.  I think they both like/hate the idea.


Unfortunately it’s a rather expensive ferry ride for what it is. In an hour and a half we travel only 17 nautical miles in a rusty vessel.  I’m not expecting the pride of the fleet, but a paint job could do it good.  The journey was smooth and relaxing.  My daughter and I played some more cards and I taught her the only card trick I know.


I’ve never been to Powell River.  I’m enjoying my first visit with my sister, even though it’s only one night.  She has a lovely home with a beautiful view of Texada Island and the Malasapina Straight.  I think I will be visiting her more often.  The views are spectacular.


Normally we would travel here via a different route up the North Shore and through the Sunshine Coast.  That’s the route we are taking home tomorrow.  Approximately a five hour journey, not including waiting for ferries.  Two ferries to be precise…

I love BC.  This is a great place to live.  So much to see and do.

Hoarding 

I’m currently helping my mother pack up her home.  She has saved almost everything over the years.  Most of which doesn’t make sense.


I found some pig salt and pepper shakers from 1981.  Never been used.  These have moved to at least ten different houses.  Crazy.


I discovered another classic from the 80’s.  A book on tying silk scarves.  A fantastic read.  Looking at the cover, it doesn’t look like it was ever opened.


My mother even saved the patches I received as a child in whatever sports/activity I was in.  The last great achievement in physical activity I did was receiving “Gold” in the Canada Fitness Award Program back in grade 7.  Pretty sure that program ended a year or two later.  The poor Canadian children nowadays don’t understand the agony of having to do this.

Those were a couple of the oddities I found.  But the thing that surprised me more was that my mother wouldn’t throw out old electronics.  Many of which she never uses any more.  She has a cheap portable CD player that she won’t get rid off because she may go for a walk on the beach one day and would like to listen to music.  I discovered a cheap navigation system that she never figured out how to use, so it’s practically brand new even though it’s about ten years old now.  She has numerous printers for her computer, “because it’s easier to buy a new printer than figure out what is wrong with the other one”.  I also discovered a bin of cables, cords, and wires that she is keeping because she’s not sure what they all belong to.  Most of these things she is afraid to give up.

But my daughter scored pretty well this trip.  Gramma saved an old clarinet in really good shape from when my sister took band class for about three years.  My daughter is also walking away with a never been used 2010 Canon VIXIA HD camcorder.  I have no idea why my mother owned it, however my daughter is super excited about being its new owner.

Sure, there are some memories packed away now in these boxes.  And the sensation of feeling or seeing these items makes you ponder life.  I was a bit upset that my mother saved the strangest things from my childhood instead of the things that mattered most to me.  Perhaps one day my kids will be thinking the same thing about me.  What I save won’t make sense to anyone but me.  

I guess that’s what hoarding is.  Keeping what you want- because one day it will mean something.  At least now I know numerous different ways to tie a silk scarf.

Scooby Doo reference required.

Random Time

My oldest daughter is pretty fantastic.  She decided to join me for a few days away on the island to visit her Gramma.  She feels extra excited because her younger brother nicknamed Gramma’s home “Torture Town with the Dick Boot Monument.”  I’m not saying that is an accurate representation, but…


I mentioned Gold River back in August.  Check out: I’m A Spelunker Now.  Gold River has all the feels of tranquility and peace.  As well it also has nothing to offer.  A teen hanging out with her father and her Gramma doesn’t make for an exciting end to her Spring Break.  Especially since we are here helping Gramma pack her home up.


During the two hour ferry trip and three hour car ride, Random and I talked.  We talked about nothing in particular.  We talked about school.  We talked about tv.  

I bought us some dinner on the ferry and we enjoyed the sunset over the water.  I bought a deck of cards and we played a few games.  It was quality time.  She even kept me alert during the final leg of the drive by playing a word association game with me.  (Nothing like being awake since four am, working a full day, and finishing the drive at midnight.)

I’m looking forward to the next few days with my daughter.  We have started out on the right foot.  I hope this keeps up.  She’s a pretty great human.  

Twofour- Six’ Eight”.

I used to really enjoy getting annihilated on my days off.  I was quite the sight to see some weekends.  Being a tall, skinny guy and drunk was like watching a birch tree swaying in a wind storm.  

In fact, one time I was given the nickname “He who dances with trees” by someone high on acid.  This was all while I was acting like a drunk goofball.  


A couple decades ago I went through a bottle of Bacardi 151 in one sitting.  75.5% alcohol.  This was the same night that a couch got lit on fire in the middle of a four lane road and a buddy of mine ended up in the hospital from alcohol poisoning.  Probably didn’t help that in our wisdom we decided to throw him in the bed of a truck to get him to the hospital and ditched him at the doors of the emergency room.  He was banged around pretty good back there as we drove.  

As amusing as it was, we were dumb.  Very dumb.  A level of stupid that in today’s society of video capable cellphones and instant social media access would probably have landed us in jail.  Being young and dumb without consequences was a way of life.  

Being pulled over by police on back country roads, only to have them find a bag of weed on a friend would not end the same today as it would have prior to cellphones.  We had the occasional officer tell us, “consider it flushed” and give an “A” for pipe design.  We may have been young, but we knew where it really went.


I’m not saying police are corrupt.  I’m saying that we were given many chances to go on with our lives and right the path we were heading down.  I’m glad that we were given the chances we were offered.  My life has turned out pretty darn good.  But pretty sure my life could have gone drastically wrong had a few intervening moments not occurred.

Maybe it’s because I was courteous and polite when questioned by police.  Maybe it was my positive outlook on life.  Maybe it was because the bottle ran dry.  Whatever the case may be, I’m glad to still be 6’8″ and goofy.

Joe the Wine-o

Yesterday my wife and I were taken on a local winery tour by a couple of our friends.  We don’t drink much wine these days so it was a nice treat to go out.  Plus, we’ve never really gone out to sample wines at a vineyard.  The only place we’ve been to before is the local berry farm that has a winery.  Which is nice because we can walk home after…

Our friends, Megan and Russ, planned the day and Russ was driving us around.  Now, three out of the four of us are railroaders.  My wife is the odd one out, but she can curse and talk filthy just like the rest of us.  That being said, we are definitely not swanky or hoity-toity by any means.  Nor did we dress the part.  None of us acted the part either.  We were ready to have some fun.

At our first stop we sampled four wines.  The Chaberton Winery was elegant and high class feeling.  We also hit their bistro and had some lunch.  Can’t go drinking on an empty stomach.  The waiter was amused when we requested a bottle of rosé to accompany our meal.  I asked for it as a “bottle of pink and pretty”.  Clearly I am a gentleman of worldliness culture.


The next location was Backyard Vineyards.  It was more our style.  Middle class feeling.  Megan and I sampled four more wines and giggled as our significant others sat at a table reading the wine list and playing on their phones.  We ordered a cheese a cracker plate, grabbed another bottle and polished it off rather quickly.  

Then we went to the Township 7 to sample some more.  This is where I learned that the name is derived from the seven different locations that make up Langley.  As well as the fact that the vineyards in Langley align perfectly with France making the grapes equally tasty?  No clue.  We were having fun.

What we thought was our last stop turned out to be a lie.  While we were at the Township 7, the staff recommended a new location that had opened the week prior just up the road.  Off we went!


The Glass House Estate winery was by far the best place we went to yesterday.  We sampled four more wines including a very tasty ice wine.  We then grabbed a bottle of wine and enjoyed another cheese plate.  The four of us were giddy and getting loud.  There wasn’t a lot of people in the building so I’m pretty sure our conversations could be heard throughout.  The place was going to be open for another hour or so.  After our first bottle went empty, we decided to get another one.


That last bottle put the three of us past our limit.  Stumbling back to the car laughing and joking we were ending our evening at around 7pm on a Saturday.  Quite honestly WRECKED.  Wine drunk is different from beer drunk or hard bar drunk.  Wine drunk hits you fast and it’s always that last glass that puts you over the edge.  But at least you stop.

We had a blast.  My wife and I would do it again.  In fact, there is now a plan in the works with our friends to go tour the BC Okanagan this summer.  Or as my wife was trying to search it on her phone: “Ikanogon Wine Tour”.

I realized that in a few short hours, my bank account was down a couple hundred bucks.  Not something I usually do anymore when it comes to drinking.  But I’m willing to make a sacrifice like this once in a while. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be all wine connoisseur like and spit it out after sloshing it in my mouth and examining the glass.  But until that day, the wine gets to go into my stomach like regular folks.  

And unlike my poor wife yesterday- the wine stayed in my stomach.

52 Saturday Nights

When my wife and I first got married, she was in a book club.  The books were able to be purchased for reasonably cheap.  So we bought a bunch that would help us create a life together.  Most being “self-help” style.

We stocked up on books about seeds and gardening.  There were cook books and bread maker recipe books.  As well as everything in between.  But one title stuck with me.  52 Saturday Nights.


It was about love making.  52 times a year.  Every week.  This book mentioned intamacy but for us it meant more.  Every week it reminded us to love each other.  Not always sexual contact.  

We have made sure that our love life is about being close.  We have a kinship that connects us every day/week.   It may sound cheesy but it means the world to me.  My wife is the most important person in the world to me.  Every week, I take the time to appreciate her.  Not always sexually.  But  rather, intimately.  

Every week, I recognize how great she is.  Every week she does the same for me.

You Better…

I used the phrase, “You better be ready” earlier today with my wife.  I didn’t mean it as a threat, but she took it that way.  I can understand how.  The “Or Else” seemed to be insinuated with this phrase, although unintentional.  It’s just how I speak sometimes.


It occurred to me that tone, inflection, and attitude can make all the difference in how we speak to one another.  My wife and I spoke about this before lunch.  I felt I had done nothing wrong, she felt I was being bossy.  I’m glad we spoke about it because otherwise there may have been some animosity between us for the remainder of the day.

I don’t always think before I speak.  I also take for granted that I can speak my mind with friends and family.  If ever I upset someone in what I say or how I say it, I would hope that a healthy discussion would follow as to why.  Oftentimes I’m not trying to be unkind.  I’m not expecting to be friends with everyone.  I’m pretty sure I’ve offended my share of people by accident.  I know that first impressions can be misleading as well.

However, the next time I want my wife to be ready, I better not say “You better be ready” because the “Or Else” will come from her.

Bowling


I have had two days of bowling.  Yesterday was at a ten pin alley for a team building bowl with work.  Lots of macho moments with using heavy balls and trying to bowl as fast and hard as possible.  The place was new and busy; neato and fun.


Today, my children took me out bowling for my birthday.  We went five pin bowling at the local alley that’s been around for 36 years.  5 pin bowling- easy for any age.  


Not much has changed since the place opened.  It is trapped in a time warp.  Essentially stuck in the 80’s.  In the late 90’s there was a mural painted and some lights added to create “cosmic bowling” in hopes to make it cool.  The old brown bowling balls have been replaced by blue ones that respond to the black lights.  

It pained me to see the alley in such disarray.  


When I was in high school, I was in a bowling league every Wednesday afternoon at the lanes.  From ’91 to ’94 I bowled with about a dozen friends.  One of my teams was called “White Men Can’t Bowl”. (An homage to the film White Men Can’t Jump).  The name was true to form.  We dicked around so much that our scores suffered.  But we had fun.  We did some midnight bowls as well.  At age 19, we would sneak in some rum for our drinks and be wrecked by the end of the night.


Today, my kids had fun.  I taught them the pointers that I was given back in my league days.  They listened to my advise… about as much as I did back when I was taught it.  They fought over which uncomfortable hard orange and white chair to sit in throughout the afternoon.  But we joked and cheered.  


Leaving the building, I took one final look around.  The cigarette stained ceiling tiles were still there.  The lanes were warped and dirty.  The walls and floor never changed.  The place screamed of white trash-  The bowling alley is set to close later this year. No big surprise.


There’s nothing welcoming about the building.  The friends I had back in the day all don’t care to ever go back.  Maybe just for a nostalgic moment (or game) but when the building is gone, we can only have the memories.  

Which I think is better than keeping the building alive.

Forty One

I have survived 41 years on this planet.  I didn’t think it was going to be possible. 

Go me!


I was born with a lung defect and had a portion of my left lung removed by age 2.  I then suffered numerous earaches as a child.  

At age 3, my father left me alone in our car and I had climbed over to the driver’s seat and proceed to pretend how to drive.  I engaged the car into reverse and backed straight out of a parking lot across a four lane street into a ditch.  Unscathed.

Before age 4- I ran away from my mother while at an airport.  Terror ran through her veins as I snuck between concrete barriers past the security.  I wonder if kids could get away with that nowadays?

Later that year, I ran away from home with my dog.  We made it about half a block away.  My mother never noticed until she saw me in my pjs in the street.

By age 5 I had tubes inserted into my eardrums to drain fluids that had accumulated causing great distress to me.  Due to all of those lovely ear infections.  Two years later, they did it again.  Hospitals were like a second home now.

Lots of scars, and a dislocated elbow joined me as I went from my childhood into my early teenage years.

Fast forward to age 17.  I got my driver’s license and proceed to get numerous speeding tickets and traffic violations.  At age 19, a car ran a red light hitting and spinning the minivan I was driving 90° and facing the opposite way that I was intending.  I ended up in an ambulance at the hospital with only minor wounds to my head.  As well as a written off vehicle.

Years of hijinks and bad choices lasted me until age 24.  Then I met my wife and my life changed.  Even though my grandfather and my father both died that same year.  I thought the universe was out to get the Havelka Men.

I honestly never thought I’d live past age 35 when I was younger.  But here I am.  Starting another monumental decade of life.