This week we are in Salmo, BC. Gary and I joined my best friend on her annual trip home there. The Friday we left was the start of a long weekend, so loads of traffic. It was then that I realized that you piss a lot of people off by driving a 1989 Mazda B2200. My little truck goes 80km an hour at the best of time. Mountain passes? Depending on how steep, between 60 and 40 km an hour. A few passes were so steep that the truck sank even below 40. Remember that many of these passes are only two lanes with the odd passing lane. That Friday I lost count of the number of fingers I was given, honked at, or profanities shouted at.
First stop was Osoyoos, where it was a sweltering 41C when we got there. Early next day we left for Salmo, with a stop for food at a farmers’ market in Rock Creek. One stand had a barbeque and offered breakfast sandwiches. I asked for one and a coffee and added, ‘no meat.’ Stunned, they looked at each other (best guess father/daughter duo), then they looked at me as if in disbelief. Looking for property, I knew I would not fit in too well in this community. But a few minutes later I got my meat-free breakfast and I was on my way. I was going to use my new truck tent on my friends mom’s property, but as it happened, between my friend, her mom, her sister, and her sister’s partner, there were seven dogs, and seeing that one of those is not good with other dogs, and seeing that Gary is not good with other dogs, I thought the better of it and picked the local “Salmo overnight rest area.”
There I fist met Jeff Fillmore. Jeff is from Nova Scotia, he took a one-way flight to Vancouver BC and is on his walk walking back home. Yes, that’s right. Walking from Vancouver across the country to Nova Scotia, bringing awareness to mental health. We connected and since he stayed an extra day for rest, we had a beer or two on both nights. I also met Clee from Cape Town, South Africa. Clee is a multi-sport machine who was on a long-distance cycling trip. Or let me rephrase this. What for most would be long distance (80-90km per day). For him this was a walk in the park after having cycled from Penticton to Argentina. He too stayed an extra and he too had a beer or two with me. Turns out that, small world, we have an old acquaintance in common, and the next day, I met another Gary who was that day supposed to be in Zwolle, Netherlands, for wounded warriors, a charity and veterans service organization for wounded veterans of military actions. I had done my BA in PE many years in Zwolle. Small world again.
The final evening of the long weekend we all sat around Clee’s spot, talking, laughing, enjoying some beer. Tuckered out, Gary laid with us on his blanket, content to be there. To me those evenings are such part of camping. Connecting with people and making new friends. The weekend is over and it seems like Gary and I are alone now in this quiet, peaceful “overnight rest area” in our spot under the giant cedar trees.
When I was on the island for Nootka I found out, through dear old friends of mine who live in Port Alberni, that, to my surprise, I am now in a position to make a life-long dream a reality. This dream involves, of course, rescue animals. I decided to act on this surprise finding immediately. Gave my tenants notice, cleaned, renovated, and repaired the rental unit, and this afternoon it will go on the market. With this I made a few other big decisions; all that have left me feeling liberated. And as I write this I am on my second trip to the island for some property shopping. I’m thinking two, three acres, small house. Ideally a barn. Aside from dogs, I’m thinking goats and ducks and chickens. Initially I was also thinking pig, but after reading some informative and hilarious articles thought better of it. So, I am en route. Initially I was going to truck tent it with Gary, but ferries are fully booked (and I do not fancy waiting three or so sailings in the line-ups), plus it’s stinking hot, far too hot for Gary and so I left Gary at home and walked on instead. My Port Alberni friends are awesome; they are picking me up (as they did the first island property shopping trip) and joining me and the realtor for extra sets of eyes. I'll stay the night in their awesome suite, which will soon be on Airbnb (more on that later). Today, stop 1: Qualicum Beach area. Tomorrow, stop 2: Port Alberni.
Last week I took my gorgeous big blind Dane Mastiff named Nootka back to the west-coast of Vancouver Island, where he came from. He knew, possibly remembered from when he was a babe, that the beach was a wide open space, with nothing to bump in to, and he walked, ran, played with such ease and joy that it warmed my heart. We met his first mom every day and with each visit he seemed to remember that first connection a little more. We connected with old friends, had great food, good wine. He is getting old, outlived his life expectancy, but I hope there will be another visit in the cards for him, maybe this fall. We are back in the city now, longing for the island, but with happy memories.
This is Nootka, my blind, 9-year old Great Dane-Mastiff cross. He outlived his life expectancy; Danes and Mastiffs, considered giant breeds, have short lives, on average between five and seven years. For that reason they are called 'the heartbreak breed;' often very affectionate, they leave far too soon. Luckily not the case thus far for Nootka. He is aging quickly though, and recently experienced a little heartbreak when his life-time pal and helper (in case of fear/freeze response when stuck or off trail in the forest) Hunter died.
Nootka came to me from the island when he was about seven months. In those first months he spent time on the beautiful beaches of Vancouver Islands Pacific Coasts. Now that he is getting older, and feeling the sense that he may not be with me for too much longer, I decided to take him back to experience those beaches and the sea one last time. We will visit his first mom and reconnect with some old friends. Nootka loves going for a drive. Sometimes he will climb into my tiny two seater (he does not fit very well in the passenger seat; his paws and head are in my lap; it's the only way he can be comfortable) when I am just unpacking groceries, in which case I just take him for a drive around the block, just because I can't say no to him. So next week we're of to Tofino for another drive, another adventure ...
Photo credit: Social Butterfly at Pixabay
I have, since I thought of this crazy idea to swim across the Ijsselmeer back in September of last year, I worked with Chris Chalmers in Issaquah. Chris is an extremely experienced coach and I feel lucky to have had a chance to work with him. Closer to home I worked with Teresa Seibel from tri-balance, also an extremely experienced and fun coach to work with. Most likely I will book one final session with my coaches to strategize for bad weather (I only have a strategy for good conditions), but for now I'm on me own … The winter is long and swimming indoors is getting to me; it is becoming tougher to muster up the motivation day after day (the underwater MP3 only helped when it was still a novelty). But … I have my support team for the Ijsselmeer swim, and while there is some 8000 km between me and them, they help, even from that distance. Since I figure that I will have to get in touch with my inner superhero, I bought a Superwoman bathing suit for the 22km long swim and sent my support team a photo of said suit on WhatsApp. I immediately got a text back suggesting that the team cannot lag behind, and so one (female) support person suggested she'd arrive as Superman, one (male) as Mega Mindy (I had never heard of her, must be a European thing), a third (also male) will join me as Superwoman, and the last member, my son, will be Spiderman. So yeah. As I will harness my own inner Superwoman, my team will harness their (gender-bending) superheroes as they support me on my epic swim.
Spent some time at this urban forest as it is called in search of a good shot (photo contest), but was a little disappointed. It looks better on the Internet than in reality, perhaps because the time of year. I walked the trails till the end (it's fairly small forest), trying to get to where the sun rose up, leaving a nice light on the trees, only to find out when getting closer that there was a housing complex right there, so I was unable to capture the light as I had hoped. Came away with four pics but none appear worthy of submission. I cut my losses, and with still a little time to spare (I was going to have lunch with my son), I went back to my new favourite, Redwood Park, this time with my camera, to take a few better photos of the fairy forest (uploaded since). As for Sunnyside, perhaps I will try once more in spring to see if I can snap one worthy of sending in...
Yesterday I left for Cloverdale with an hour to spare, with the intention to stop at Redwood Park, just a stone throw away from Kai's worksite. This park is a 'living memorial,' as one of the park signs reads, to twin brothers Peter and David Brown, sons of one of Surrey's earliest pioneer families. When they turned 21, they both inherited 21 acres of freshly logged land, ready for farming. However, they loved trees and decided to, instead of farming, plant all sort of trees, from Asian, to European, and North-American species including the California Redwoods after which the park is named. They lived in a tree house, a replica of which stands in the park today. In additional to the gorgeous trails and majestic trees (many of which are labelled to indicate their species and origins) there is a 'fairy forest.' I read that there were some 'original' fairy entrances, most of which were vandalized after which the local community started bringing their own. Now the fairy forest stands strong with what appears to be hundreds of whimsical, brightly coloured and decorated fairy houses. I love the park, love the stories connected to it, and love that we can still find these unexpected and folkloristic gems. If you are ever in the hood, well worth a visit. I will be back in April, when they have (free!) guided bird tours here. When I left, I walked by a bulletin board that displayed, among other things, a photo contest poster, photos to be made in another park near Kai's worksite. Challenge accepted. So today I came to Cloverdale with my camera. Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest here I come...
Vancouver has been in the grips of winter this past week. Cold temperatures (-10, -13 at Kai's job site), heaps of snow, black ice, we had it all. The cold we could handle, but the enormous amount of snow did us in. Traffic was complete mayhem with semis jackknifed or in ditches, cars stranded and abandoned, traffic jams, closed bridges and freeways, and limited public transit, in part due to frozen doors. Vancouverites were urged to stay home. This would have been nice, but mommy duties kicked in for me. Kai worked this particular week close to the border, in a small community called Cloverdale, which was initially a small farm community and which has been the site for a bunch of movies and tv shows, including Smallville, a super-hero tv series. There is no way of getting to Cloverdale by public transit (or at least not that I know of), and given that Kai does not drive yet, I made transport my task for the week. I got up at 4:45 each day to brave the snowy and icy roads and do the same at the end of the day. So a busy, eventful, and white-knuckle week for me.
Closer to home, our doggos were happy with the snow (old blind boy who brings the teddy bear he got from Santa everywhere on a stroll in the snow below), although this came with challenges also, especially for Gary. Unlike my other dogs, Gary has very bare feet; no fur. So those footsies of his got pretty cold but worse was the salt on the sidewalks, which cut and burned his skin. So we stayed off the sidewalks, but there was a downside to that also. As the days went by, the snow piled so high that his belly, and by extension his penis, would be below or on the snow's surface. Then Gary would every once and again lift a leg to give his penis a short break from the cold.
Gerda & Gary
Gerda is a scholar, academic editor, and writer. Gary was homeless in Nevada, but is now the new man in Gerda's life.