Monday, September 22, 2008


I love it when a plan comes together... what's even better is when it comes together without the plan. On Friday night Margaret and I had planned to celebrate our (cumulative) 62nd birthday party and my housewarming by getting everyone around for a pot-luck dinner, and all the usual party stuff. A lot of amazing food (which I'm still eating) came along in the hands of a lot of great people. Thank you all! My house survived and whether my kayak could be successfully ridden down the stairs and out of the living room window fortunately stayed a mystery. After first abandoning the plan to go dancing in town, at about 1am we trooped out... to go dancing in town. We'd missed the last bus, but we hadn't missed the band at the Roxy. I did my vocal chords some serious damage singing (yelling) along to the party-rock favourites including of course Bon Jovi. Fun times. Sunday arrived with rain, which was a relief as it gave an excuse not to rush out and ride on the Shore. Cups of tea, chat, indoor climbing, and Thai food made for a wonderful relaxing day... not something I have many of! 

On Sunday Kala, Lina and I headed to Chilliwack in my freshly-repaired Subaru (thanks Chris!)  for Lina's long-planned introduction to whitewater paddling. Lina took to whitewater like, err, a duck... and was picking her way down through the rocks like she'd been doing this for years. Teaching talented people is so rewarding. Kala and I bounced down the Tamahi slalom course at the end and my enthusiasm for paddling that came back on the Wenatchee was in full force again. It's great to be back on the water. After some hopeful, but unsuccessful hitching I started running back towards the car but soon got picked up by a couple of strangely quiet, but friendly, guys in a huge jacked-up monster truck. I think they were pretty amused to pick up a soggy English bloke by the side of the road in Chilliwack. Thanks guys, whoever you are!

Kala and Lina on the rocks.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cowboy mountain biking

This weekend we gathered up representatives from (from east to west), Poland, UK, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and BC... to go biking. To be honest we only realised we'd done so well in the geography department around the campfire on Saturday night... but we thought it was pretty good going none the less. Our destination was the cow country of Merritt, famous for country music, cowboys, and floating down the river in a truck innertube drinking beer (apparently). The trails were refreshingly different to what we ride over on the coast... smooth, dusty and winding through sparse trees. There were plenty of cows around and we met a guy on a horse wearing a hat, which is close enough to a cowboy for me.

We camped at Lundbom Lake, where the mooing of cows drifted across the water. The power of suggestion seemed to be working quite well as the number of conversations we had about cows was quite disturbing. Who would have thought we could know so many cow-related anecdotes? Following trails that looked a lot like cow tracks proved a bit tricky at times as we found ourselves on dead-ends which lead to wherever it was the cows were going, and stopped. Where cows want to go and where we wanted to go weren't often the same thing. With a little Trans Rockies style hiking up hills we found our way around and were treated to some fast, dusty riding. On the way back to the campsite, Jacek's trusty (?) rear tire gave up leaving him with a bit of a walk home and a plan to visit Canadian Tire the next morning.

On Sunday, after a lengthy breakfast-faff, coffee stop, and trip to Canadian Tire where Jacek bought the greatest bike tire ever created... for $15, we went riding again. The Coutlee Plateau area had some more well-worn trails (though we did still get lost) including some fabulous squirmy stuff through the trees and down a natural gully. The trails really reminded me of Honrby Island but on the scale of Penticton, which was a fine combination. No doubt we will come back to Merritt again some day for more.

My photos with some of Nikki's are here, and Jacek's are here. Paul's blog entry is here.

Inevitable mucking around on the Orange Bike

Fall colours and mountain bikers

Angie and some nice plants with red leaves

Monday, September 8, 2008

Summer's last gasp and my new gaff

After a truly moist return to Vancouver, the sun got his hat back out of storage and we've had some summer again. We've also had some snow... but it's Canada after all.

A week ago a whole lot of us went up to the Chilcotins and had a royally good (if rather cold and muddy) time. This trip has to be the best recorded outing ever. There are photos from me, Jacek, Suzanne, and Tom. Plus... blog entries from Paul and Lina. 'Nuff said.

This weekend I ended up staying up in Squamish for a few nights and meeting up with Marc, Nikki, Paul, Angie, Jacek, Jen (a biking friend of Suzanne's), and Matt and Emma. Matt is a bloke we went to Africa years ago, so meeting him at the top of a climb in Squamish was a bit of a surprise. Amongst all this socializing I got my first experience of multi-pitch clibing on "Calculus Crack" with Marc and Nikki, which was really quite special. Then the was biking, more climbing, and ice cream until Sunday night. Not bad considering I only went up for dinner. I took some really nasty photos with my phone:

Marc, near the beginning somewhere.

Nikki, climbing towards my feet.

I think this was Marc on the last pitch...

Last of all, I have entered the grown up world of home-ownership. It's all a bit of a shock, but the idea of not moving house for a while is good. I also get to sleep really near my bikes, which I'm happy about. Photos of my concrete cubicle are here.