Difference between revisions of "Travels With A Donkey Slashed Out Moped"

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Robert Mosurinjohn claims to have traveled 7500 miles across Canada on his moped.  This has never been independently verified, and there is no evidence to support it apart from some pictures of a heavily laden Tomos Targa.
<center>'''Travels With A <strike>Donkey</strike> Moped'''<br>
 
'''Through the Cevennes Curves of Space and Time'''</center><br>
 
  
<center>By: [http://www.mopedarmy.com/resources/mod/targaped/ Robert Mosurinjohn]</center><br>
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Confirmed .. http://www.mmic.ca/images/content/PDF/Upshift%2025.pdf .. see story Slow Motion Traveller
<br>
 
 
 
<center>''Dedicated to Modestine, and all Donkeys Everywhere, and remembering Robert Louis Stevenson.''</center>
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter One==
 
''“As I walked through the wilderness of this world...”''
 
:-John Bunyan
 
 
 
A winding, hilly, semi-wilderness track running through 160 miles (270 Kilometers) of rock-hard, rugged, creek and river terraced, Blueberry and Evergreen emboldened landscape inhabited and ranged by Black Bear, Coyote, (wolf? Cougar?) Wild Turkey, hermits, hillbillies, fishers, hunters, summer cottagers, water  gypsies travelling the Trent-Severn and Rideau Canal systems, tourist operators, road gypsies, truckers, artists, sellers of genuine  and imitation handicrafts, and those most fortunate of human beings known as Tree Huggers and Nature Freaks is a reasonable description of Highway 7 connecting the city of Ottawa, which is  part of Canada’s Capital Region, with a lesser city of Peterborough, Ontario.  While this Number 7 wildland was not nearly as wild as Grizzly Bear lands that I would moped in before my trip was done, this land can be as dangerous as some of the world’s savage, large cities, so the short, siren call of the Ontario Provincial Police  Cruiser coming from behind me, and obviously signaling me to stop  my slow-moving moped on the highway’s gravel shoulder came as no surprise.  The O.P.P. patrols here are concerned as much with the non-traffic related safety of individuals as they are with enforcing traffic laws, and I have heard from hitchikers of being picked up along wild stretches by the O.P.P. and driven into one of the small, isolated communities where the hitchhiker could ‘thumb’ in more security.  When planning my moped-camping expedition a concern rated above traffic competition was roadside encounters with bears who could view my small, low profile and quiet progress as a young moose or fawn, in which case my slow acceleration and 30 m.p.h. top speed would provide little security as bears can run equally fast.  During the trip’s 7,500 miles of road running, much of that on rural roads, I learned that my quietly moving, slow motion moped and I were great curiosities to animals either wild or tamed, and I did have four dangerously intimate encounters with bears on my trip, as well as equally thrilling encounters with other animals wild and tame, such as the stallion with his mare who answered my high spirited ‘whinny’ with a race across prairie.  I also unintentionally stampeded herds of cattle and horses, and during a midnight run beneath a full moon on a prairie highway in southern Manitoba I maneuvered my way between huge, ghostly forms of cattle which had wandered their way onto the pavement.
 
 
 
On Number 7 Highway, though, on this first day of my trip in late May, I had corralled an O.P.P. officer’s attention because my heavily-laden, low-powered moped and me had for many minutes been blocking the progress of a gargantuan motor home driven by a modern pioneer pilgrim explorer who had insufficient experience piloting his or her behemoth to allow me the necessary room to reduce my already slow speed sufficiently to make a safe exit from the paved portion onto the dangerously soft, sand and gravel shoulder.  When I say this motor home was a giant, I can add that in my opinion as a professionally trained driver the motor home was wide enough to have rated a police escort on this narrow highway.  My driver’s education is not minimal, with its professional leg coming during my pre-Peacenik stint with the Canadian Armed Forces during which I drove troop-carrying trucks towing artillery pieces.  Blast this motor home!  It took the entire width of the lane, and he was following me so closely that I thought he must be trying to improve his gasoline miles-per-gallon performance by sucking any unburned hydrocarbons from my little exhaust pipe directly into his voracious carburetor.  His gain would have been small, because despite my heavy load of camping and cooking gear, water, spare gasoline and two-cycle oil, tool kit and spare inner tube, food and clothing for two seasons, my 1.9 horsepower engine propelled me at 120 to 130 miles per gallon, leaving practically nothing in its exhaust of value for anyone, but also, by the way, harming nothing either, because modern 2 cycle (also called two-stroke) engines use precision pumps to inject minute amounts of upgraded oil into the gasoline just ahead of the combustion chamber, and most of the unburned oil condenses in the muffled exhaust pipe instead of being emitted as oily smoke like the old style, gas-oil premix engines.  Environmentalism as well as economy makes my moped my only choice of personal, motorized transportation.  Of course a bicycle would be even more environmentally friendly, and for the past two decades, until purchasing my moped, had been my only wheels.  Three decades ago I toured 1500 miles on a 10-speed bicycle, but now my 60 year old, slightly damaged knees would not allow a return to long distance travel by bicycle.
 
     
 
So then, here I was, almost being devoured by a wheeled monster, its driver sitting so high above me, and so unprofessional in attitude, that had I slowed to a speed sufficient to allow my narrow tires (2 ½ inches) a safe exit onto an extremely narrow, very soft shoulder, he or she probably would have run me right over, me becoming a soft bump not unlike the pavement’s frost heaves.  To make matters worse, this stretch of particularly twisting and hilly highway prevented the motor home from passing.  To the driver’s credit he or she did not once lean on his or her horn in aggravation; and relief for motor home and I eventually came in the form of a long, steep incline, the grade of which gradually slowed not only my moped but also the monster.  Coming at the right time was a widening and firming of the shoulder, and I, with my moped long ago having automatically downshifted to first gear, and now speeding along a about seven miles per hour,  very thankfully pulled off, the motor home rumbling slowly past.  I then activated my turn-signal indicator light to prepare for a return to the pave-ment, and at that same time came the O.P.P.’s brief siren.  I stopped, dismounted, set my bike up on its ‘ upside down Y’ type kickstand, and removed my helmet.  I was not worried about legalities because I had all necessary licensing and insurance, and I knew that mopeds are legal on all highways in most provinces except on multi-lane restricted access roads like 401, 417, etc.  Manitoba does have some archaic laws concerning mopeds, which before I learned they are no longer generally enforced, led to a wonderful detour through rugged country on a road which made Highway 7 look like an expressway.  My small worries about this O.P.P. officer concerned my hairy-faced, hippy appearance strumming a discord in the officer’s heart, especially if he or she thought I might have drugs in my baggage.  I no longer use recreational drugs, but a search would mean unloading and reloading all my equipment.  I had purposely avoided possible ‘dangerous weapons’  charges by leaving with my canoe expedition equipment my long-bladed hunting knife which I wear while in the woods for wild animal protection.  I felt somewhat naked in the Moped Forests without that knife, a situation I can avoid if I do another wheeled voyage because my spiritual minded brother Ron Christmas-gifted me this year with the only necessity I lacked for another wheeled, wilderness adventure, that being a hunting knife equally strong and sharp as my long-bladed version, but with a slightly shorter blade; and please don’t think I am a ‘bit off’ by thinking a knife is defense against bears.  One recent demonstration of wilderness self-defense occurred on an Arctic island, where four canoe-campers were attacked by a Polar Bear, one of the men saving the lives of his male friend and two females by repeatedly stabbing the bear as it was mauling his friend.  The mauled victim was seriously hurt, but fortune prevailed in the four finding fast transportation to an arctic hospital.  Another example told me by an Armed Forces medic who spent tours of duty in the Arctic was of a modern Inuit woman of senior citizen age single-handedly killing a Polar Bear with her knife after the bear had slashed its way into her tent.  According to the medic the large hump on the rear of the Polar Bear’s neck is brain.  My personal experience, and I don’t brag or say I was brave when I relate this, came 30 years ago when I possibly saved myself and a young woman companion from a Black Bear on a narrow trail in the Rocky Mountains outside of Jasper, Alberta by instantly attacking with my hunting knife honed with my loud yell when the bear made a close and surprise appearance coming out of thick brush.  The woman screamed and jumped behind me, attracting the bear’s curiosity, and unleashing instantly in me what can only be described as the most primal instinct.  In the same flash of insight that told me with the woman behind me I stood no chance of outrunning the bear .. well, the ‘thought’ that I should attack did not occur to me, my attack initiating itself without advantage of intellect, that power coming into play only when I found myself running towards the bear with my hunting knife held high over my head, knowing I stood only one chance, and that was a thrust through the bear’s eye into its brain.  The bear’s primal instinct of self preservation showed clearly on its face, and faced with fight or flight, it ran off.  My lack of courage after my adrenalin response persuaded me to not continue on the trail, and we returned to the main area of camp, where I commenced to trembling, and not from cold.  Of course, a large bear’s favourite method of killing large game is to sneak up quietly and with one swipe of a paw decapitate its target, this applying equally to deer, small moose, and humans, so the first defense against bears has to be awareness of how to keep them away.  Fear of humans prevents bears from thinking of us as normal prey, but cases of mistaken identity do occur, such as the young geologist in Northern Ontario who was killed in that manner while squatted or bending down examining rock samples, therefore Khaki is, in my opinion, a poor colour choice for woodland clothing.  I almost always wear bright coloured clothing in the woods, especially the shirt or jacket and hat, not only to assist bears in identifying me as human, but to assist searchers in finding me or my remains if I get lost or eaten, and to assist hunters in identifying me as a non-animal.  On a moped, bright clothing also assists drivers in avoiding running you over.
 
 
 
Here on Highway 7, my danger was that I might be faced with a Police Officer who may have gotten out of bed on the wrong side that morning, or who was tired and grumpy after a long shift, or who may professionally view my considerable load as unsafe, and I could be ordered off the road.  The rear of my vehicle carried a saddlebag on each side, with an aluminum-framed backpack standing upright on the luggage carrier.  All was very safely properly and safely secured; but my tent and sleeping bag I had fastened in one bundle across the front fender, below the headlight.  This bundle did not interfere with turning capacity, and was doubly secured by strap and bungee cord on each side, and triply secured with a strap around its centre.  However, I had no idea what the officer might think of this arrangement, which was, really, not much different from some touring bicyclists’ loadings, but mine was a motor vehicle, not a bicycle.  I was also a little concerned that this officer might not have full knowledge of my legal position.  During consideration of purchasing my moped I had phoned the Ottawa City Police Department and had asked if mopeds were legal on highways, and had been given a negative answer.  I doubted the accuracy of that officer’s knowledge, and secured a second opinion from the Ontario Government website, where I learned the legalities, including licensing and insurance, and the requirement to travel as far to the right of the travelled portion as possible. 
 
 
 
This officer was a gentleman, in a reasonable mood, and I was respectful of his duties and person.  He listened respectfully as I explained my desire to ‘make way’ for the motor home, but how dangerously close I had been followed, and told the condition of the shoulder, and the narrowness of my tires, etc., with all being well received, and I thought all was well with me in the officer’s mind.  It was then he said, “Kind of overloaded aren’t you?”
 
 
 
This being my first few hours of this trip I had no experience as to how my heavy load would affect my moped’s durability, but my only concious concern was how well my tires would bear the weight, so I responsed in an offhanded, hopeful way, “Not too bad.”  The officer smiled.  He didn’t bother asking me for my driver’s license, as my vehicle was properly license plated, and he said something like, ‘I guess you’re okay.’  Many police officers are also motorcyclists, and among motorcyclists, I learned on my trip, anything roadworthy with two wheels and a motor was honoured with inclusion in the fraternity.  I did not ask if the officer was a motorcyclist, but we shook hands and he turned to return to his cruiser.  He partially turned back, though, to ask, “how far are you going?”       
 
 
 
My hoped-for destination by moped was Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, about 2,000 miles.  I planned on going on to my brother at Victoria, but possibly by hitchhiking or Greyhound Bus as I thought I might be fatigued at Saskatoon, or that the moped just wouldn’t make it through the Rocky Mountains.  I did not elaborate that to the officer, though, and my answer of ‘Saskatoon’ brought a slightly disbelieving shake of the head along with a small, tight lipped smile.  He then returned to his cruiser and drove off.  I mounted up and continued thankfully on, this officer becoming the first of many people met on this trip who would bring to flesh and blood the statement of Robert Louis Stevenson’s which he included in his dedication to his book, ‘Travels With A Donkey In The Cevennes’,  “… and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend.”  Stevenson’s donkey became such a friend in their 12 days of travel that he wept after he had sold her - Modestine being her name.  My moped has no name other than moped, but that name is especially respectful to me now, having carried me through 7,500 miles on some of Canada’s roughest terrain available to a conventional wheeled motor vehicle, including twice through the Rocky Mountains and other mountain ranges of Alberta and British Columbia.
 
 
 
Stevenson’s walk was through 120 miles, while my moped’s equivalency miles, calculating a 300 horsepower car against my 1.9 horsepower engine, factoring in my heavy load, comes to roughly 1.5 million miles - and that without mechanical breakdown.  In case of breakdown, though, I had an honest friend in Baird McNeil of Russel, Ontario, one of those poetic types who had told me before I started out, “If you get in trouble, call me.”  Baird’s simple and heartfelt offer brought me great comfort, because, unlike Stevenson, I had no great financial backing, my small, guaranteed income’s spendable portion after payment of room rent was $500 per month, with no savings in the bank, and no property to sell.  With this small amount I must, for three months, pay all expenses and overcome all adversities on a trip which was to last three months.  Faith had to be put to the test here, because if I were to pay for camping each day of the month that amount would easily be $600.  As it was I paid only four night of camping, three of those being in Canmore, Alberta, where I found employment at construction labour at $I00 a day, and where each night at the Wapiti tent site run by the town cost me only $10, and which included showers and wonderful companionship with summer travelers and modern hippies.  My finances along the way were also boosted by surprises from strangers as well as from another poet friend from Ottawa.  In case of dire emergency I carried a credit card with a ‘0’ balance, but had no employment waiting for me in Ottawa with which to pay off debt.  Besides the financial advantage, Stevenson also had it up on me because while he was 28 years old when he did his journey, while I was 60.  I was, however, one up on Stevenson because while we both had serious respiratory health problems, his battle against those problems which he came close to overcoming inspired me to carry on through my own life of physical affliction.  While not wanting to make more of myself than I already have, I think it completely fair to say that Stevenson, with his great sense of humanithy and strong sense of adventure, would have enjoyed meeting me during my trip; and  needless to say I would have enjoyed meeting one of the writers whose books and lives had contributed to my unescapable sense of adventure and acceptance which has carried me at times penniless through my last three wilderness decades.  Especially I would have enjoyed meeting Robert Louis Stevenson on his trek with his Modestine, who he grew so fond of that when in the company of men following his sale of her, he wept openly.  I feel some affection for my moped, as well as for my canoe, with which I had two long, solo adventures.  However, unlike some people who give affectionate names to their automobiles, ‘Mabel’ being an example, and to their canoes, ‘Spirit of Firewater’ being an example, I have not given a name to either my canoe or my moped, beyond ‘canoe’, with a small, affectionate ‘c’, and ‘the moped’.  However, I do feel some kinship with both, being one of those people who think that even inanimate objects like rocks may be blessed by or with spirit .. and while I do get careless, my maintenance of canoe and moped is careful, especially as they have served me so well, and seemingly with such intimate faithfulness, on such intense adventures.  On my bicycle adventure 30 years ago I did name my 10-speed ‘Blue’ .. which suited it reasonably well because of its colour.  I could not think of naming my moped after its colour, as Yellow signifies cowardice, and my brave moped proved from my first ride to be anything but cowardly.  I suppose I could have name it ‘Sunbeam’ but then the kitchen appliance manufacturer of that name might have ridden after me with dark intent.
 
 
 
==Chapter Two==
 
First Day of Trip
 
 
 
''“Home is the hunter, home from the hill…”''
 
:-On Robert Louis Stevenson’s headstone in the Pacific Islands
 
 
 
 
 
On Thursday, May 17, 2007 I was ‘at home’ in Ottawa, a city I had returned to from travels often in the previous decade because it had become the home of two daughters and two granddaughters .. but this day is departure day .. the hunter for adventure about to hunt again.  My destination for this day is Peterborough, where my 10 year old grandaughter Jade lives with her Dad Ralph, and while this stretch of highway is worthy of a month’s exploration for someone
 
not familiar with its curves, hills and secret places, I am familiar enough with the terrain and people, having hitchhiked, driven, been driven by family and friends, and Greyhound Bussed the route countless times, and I hope to make it to Jade’s home before dark. 
 
 
 
This first day will be a test of my vehicle and load, to see if I really should continue on towards Saskatoon; but this first day also tests the comfort of my homebuilt seat, a seat which is a necessity because although I am feeling reasonably healthy after recovering from an initial debilitating onset of prostate cancer I still have the disease, and it sometimes discomforts me.  My seat consists of seven inches of sculpted and waterproofed foam rubber securely taped to a toilet seat .. yes, a toilet seat, a white one, which the seat’s hinged lid still attached and equipped to add support to the backpack.  I conceived of the toilet seat idea ‘[during a moment of comfortable meditation’, one might say, an invention of necessity, as for me at my age and in my state of health the standard moped seat was impossibly hard and narrow for a journey of longer than half an hour at a time.  By using an electric drill to make pilot holes through the seat’s hinge, and by undoing some thumb-type screws which I screwed into the holes,  I can separate the lid from seat, which is necessary because my new seat sits atop the original,
 
hinged moped seat, and the two seats have to lift together on the original, seat’s hinges to give access to the two cycle oil reservoir, which I had to top up at intervals of about 400 to 500 miles.  Among motorcyclists met along the way the seat gained me much comical but respectful notoriety .. and the arrangement, all secured by Canadian Television personality Red Green’s favourite tool duct tape, and further constrained with bungee cords, worked so excellently that although I made part of my progress on the first three days by alternately sitting and then standing on my pedals as I rode,  by the fourth day I felt no rear end discomfort whatsoever, excepting the normal slight swelling of the prostate which comes with fatigue. 
 
 
 
On this first day I rise at 4 a.m.  The previous evening’s sunset was a yellow band on the western horizon .. as sure a foretelling of strong winds the next day as the ‘red sky at night – sailors’ delight’ prophecy holds true for good weather.  The forecast for winds also holds true, and temperatures are near freezing,  with thick, black clouds threatening rain.  I consider postponing as I load my gear, but will watch the sky for weather signs.  I really can’t afford to postpone, because my medical disability income is dependent on my not being absent from my home province of Ontario for longer than 30 days at a time, except by way of permission granted.  I have been given an additional 30 days out of province for the sake of my sister-in-law’s cancer, and also because I have a note signed by my doctor stating my mental health will benefit through family visits.  Yes, my years-long state of continual near poverty with its accompanying inability to lead anywhere near a ‘normal’ life has led to serious depression.  In attempting to counter the depression without drug therapy I waited six months for a psychiatric appointment, only to be told by the psychiatrist that she would not work with anyone unwilling to undergo drug therapy.  It was a brief interview.
 
 
 
My time table calls me to be crossing the Ontario-Mabitoba border by June 1, which will allow me one month to get to Victoria, and one month back to the border.  Mileage from Ottawa to the fishing resort/lumbering/mining village of Kenora, Ontario, near the Manitoba border, is about 2000 kilometers.  This works out to 40 hours of straight riding.  However, through day trips around Ottawa I have learned that 40 hours of straight riding translates without flat tire, mechanical or other problems to 120 hours of time, and as daylight hours are still short, and as I want to visit in Peterborough for two or three days, and possibly ride down a short hop south to Port Hope before heading due west, I don’t have a lot of time to postpone with. 
 
 
 
While I vacillate on this planned departure morning, my upstairs neighbour Alexander rises and comes outside.  It is from Alexander I learned the forecast for wind.  We chat.  Alex had been very encouraging at another departure, last year’s three month solo canoe voyage.  His sense of adventure is strong, he having kayaked many of his homeland Russia’s major rivers .. but his adventure now is his financial poverty which, despite complete professionalism and early success as artist and art teacher, fails to surrender to his three art degrees from St. Petersburg, where  Alex spent a lot of time at The Hermitage, Russia’s premier art gallery.  Alex is also hindred financially by refusing to give into what is in his view ‘commercialism’ in art.  Ordinarily, financial boundaries related to ‘class structure’ separate people who have achieved outstanding
 
accomplishments, but in certain situations ‘class’ distinction is eliminated, and while I don’t consider myself as having any outstanding accomplishments, many of the people I have met in my life of near poverty seem to have been transported from fantasy; and Alex is a fine example, his utilization of space (and that is not a pun for what will come) in artistic vision had been utilized by the Soviet Union’s Space Program in Alex’s assistance in designing the interiors of space capsules .. as documented by a photo of a younger, smiling Alex inside one of the capsules.  In fact, I am remembering that it was visions of art which introduced Alex and I to each other in a fantastic way, he having had completed and exhibited a series of paintings called Canadian Visual Symphony not long before I, with my just completed novel Symphony for the End of the World, moved into our rooming house.  I also share with Alex a lifelong interest in extra terrestialities .. and so we had plenty to talk about after we met in our common kitchen.  Besides our common interests and near poverty,  we also share serious health problems which have come with advancing age, failed marriages, etc.  He and I, provided sufficient cash, could possibly have played the leading men in the recently released movie ‘The Bucket List’ about two senior citizens with terminal diagnoses who go on wonderful ‘last adventures’ .  I say could possibly have played those parts, because my own sense of artistry would not permit me to participate in the movie unless one or more of the adventures was giving a large share of resources to places like soup kitchens and food banks, which in my experience are much more than absolute necessities for the underprivileged, they are also probably absolute necessities for anyone of financial privilege who wants to experience value in their lives.  For Alex and I, commonalitieswhich have joined us in a strong sense of companionship did not result in our sharing a great deal of time together .. ( in our modern, narcistic age does anyone besides true saints, married couples who have been together past 30 years, and romantic couples new to each other share their time?)  Nonetheless, Alexander and I are heartfelt friends, and he briefly considered coming with me on last year’s voyage .. a cue I was too slow and possibly narcistic to pick up on .. although to be fair to myself my 16’ canoe was really too small for two large men with gear necessary for an extended voyage.
 
     
 
Joining Alex and I this morning is our other large friend Les, short for Leslie.  We are all near the same age, all single, and we would be called ‘exceptionally physically strong’ men, in our younger years.  Les alone has hung onto the bulk of his power, partly because he is slightly younger, and partly because he earns his income as a furniture mover.  Labbatt’s Blue is Les’s exclusive brand of beer, and besides standard ‘Blue’ T-shirts he has a T-shirt which proclaims “The Man” on the shirt’s upper chest portion with an arrow pointing upward to Les’s face, as opposed to “The Legend” with that lower wording accompanied by an arrow pointing downward to, you know, towards the manhood.  Like Alex and I, Les has survived the trauma’s of marriage failure and separation from children, and these experiences have gentled him, as it does with most intelligent men, and despite Les’s huge arms, barrel chest, and ham-sized fist (okay, I exaggerate the fists, a little) he is, because of his ham-sized heart and laugh, (I do not exaggerate) one of the few people who can wave his hands two or three inches from my face without causing me to flinch, even after he has had a few beers.  The three of us have lived as close neighbours in our apartment building/rooming house for about three years, along with our friend Abdul, our building’s custodian/security man/and chief of security for a major television station, who joins us that morning, or does he .. I can’t remember clearly, but I seem to recall Abdul saying a brief hello and goodbye as he departed for his full time employment.  During the month prior to my moped departure Abdul returned to his native Uganda to remarry.  I had taken over his building duties, and had earned an extra $100 to accompany my departure.  I envy Abdul his hoped for marriage happiness, but after failing that institution twice, have little desire to cause another lady’s suffering.  Besides, I have come to know myself now, and what woman would I have anything in common with .. sleeping under the stars whenever possible .. being content with a canoe and moped instead of a motel, houseboat or motorhome.  Yes, marriage or even a permanent companion seems an impossibility, but I would greatly have loved to be at Abdul’s wedding.
 
 
 
Les, meanwhile, having long ago heard of my moped plans,  has also long ago decided that I would make it to B.C. … “Bell’s Corners” he has said many times in his Quebecois accent with his mighty laugh, and he repeats his evaluation and laugh that morning.  Bell’s Corners is a hamlet on the road to Saskatoon, but within Ottawa.  In the week prior to departure I have come to wonder if Les, who is one of the gentlest souls I have ever met, is also part prophet, as my moped has developed a serious tendency to enter phases of sputtering, major loss of power, and then recovery.  I had encountered similar sputtering in the first, cold weather week of operating the brand new moped two years before, but had eliminated a carburetor freezing problem by insulating both the gas line and the carburetort cover.  Now, the moped has only 2,000 miles on it, so I don’t suspect a major problem, but without sufficient mechanical knowledge, and not enough budget to afford a mechanic, I can only clean the spark plug and make sure the gas line from the tank is clear, and pray.
 
 
 
Another friend and neighbour in the building, Dennis, gave me a spiritual sendoff which carries a promise of success the evening before, and now the strength and warmth of Les’s and Alex’s hearts, and Abdul’s also, if he was or wasn’t there that morning, push the black clouds to one side, and a bit of blue appears in the east.  The blue grows slightly larger, and I decide to leave, with my first horizon line being Les’s B.C.  I barely make Bell’s Corners, with the engine developing its sputtering, sputtering, sputtering.  I sputter miserably into Les’s B.C. and consider turning back, but make the decision to motor on, and the engine clears.  I have since learned that the dirt in the carburetor cleared and was blown out the exhaust pipe, and I never had another mechanical problem, other than tires going flat, until coming near London, Ontario on my return, when the carburetor’s fuel filter suddenly became nearly blocked.  Dirty gas, I guess. 
 
 
 
The clearing of dirt in the carburetor is accompanied by a clearing of the sky, and for the first week of the trip I am blessed with good weather, sunshine and warm days.  Leaving Bell’s Corners that first day though, I was frigidly cold.  Wind chill is a serious factor in motor biking, and despite cold, wet weather in my second week, the easy onset of hypothermia was a lesson I only learned effectively when nearly going into convulsions as I rode into Jasper, Alberta after a couple of days of cold, wet weather, and in particular the increasing cold and wetness as I gained altitude in the mountains proper. 
 
 
 
Jasper was a long way from Bell’s Corners, though, and shortly after I had passed through B.C.  I spent an hour inside a Tim Horton’s (for any non-Canadians who might be reading this, Tim Horton’s is a huge franchise operation of coffee shops which used to be a national icon before selling itself to an American owner.  When I rode warmly away from Tim Horton’s I was wearing goggles meant for operators of steel grinding machines over my spectacles.  I took the goggles ‘just in case’, and found that they keep half my face warm .. with my hair covering the other half.  Now I have a nice pair of skiers goggles .. even warmer and more comfortable, and tinted for bright sun.  I picked up the ski goggles for a couple of dollars at a charity shop and just today was amazed to see an identical pair selling for $100 in an Outdoor’s Shop.  I ride my moped most days in the winter now, by the way, not having significant problems with ice or snow. 
 
 
 
Soon the city of Ottawa is behind, and I am on Number 7Highway, stopping for coffee at Perth, then continue to the hamlet of Maberly, where artist-friend Liisa Rissanen lives in her isolated dwelling surrounded by Beaver ponds.  I had met Liisa at a literary reading series at a time when Alexander was deeply involved with his own painting, so it was Liisa who assisted me with my cover design for my novel, the story and writing of which has been called ‘beautiful’ by many people .. “I couldn’t put it down,” etc.  I had 50 copies self published by my own ‘House’, ‘Shelff-Publishted Preschh’ whose logo is a hand-cranked printing press supporting a large bottle of what is either wine or printer’s ink, depending on your taste.       
 
 
 
“How…” you may ask, “… could anyone impoverished afford to have 50 copies of a book printed?”
 
 
 
Answer:  I had received an inheritance of a few thousand dollars, and thought I might receive a return on literary investment, so I had the copies printed to send to publishers and movie producers, but most of the copies went to family and friends, and daughter Kayren tells me I did not make a great enough marketing effort .. so it is this frustrated novelist who, after making enquiries as to Liisa’s address around Maberly, am welcomed to her acreage by a wonder-fully friendly pet dog, and then unwelcomed by another snarling,barking, threatening guard dog who despite my gentle entreaties, does not befriend me.  Nevertheless, the toothy threat is not great enough to deter me from fastening a note of ‘Howdy from The Moped Poet On Tour’ (yes .. that’s me, novelist and poet) to her door.  I leave the homestead at nearly full throttle down Liisa’s declining, packed-earth laneway, thrilling quietly to myself as the friendly dog runs alongside, accompanying me until well after we have turned onto minor pavement, the pet veering off as I round the 90 degree downwards curve leading to the larger pavement of Highway 7.
 
 
 
For someone in a car or truck, Maberly is about an hour west of Ottawa.  For me, as I have explained earlier, one automobile hour means about three moped hours, and this approximated the pace throughout the trip, except when I wanted to make quick time, ‘coming into Saskatoon’ to my elder brother Rick and his wife Sandy, or running south on the Rocky Mountain’s Thompson Highway towards Vancouver to try to make that day’s last ferry to Victoria, where my youngest brother lives alone.  Those two long, more steadily motoring days were propelled by the immense family instinct which may have been primary motivation for the trip.  My sister-in-law’s cancer diagnoses absolutely compelled me to visit this woman who I had loved like a sister from our first meeting.  While planning the trip I realized I might also be able to renew old friendships with people I had not seen in almost 20 years.  The priority of ‘touring’ was not unimportant, but I had gone back and forth across Canada several times, and when planning this trip came to think that the travel might actually be monotonous.  However, because of my inability to pay for camping places in regular campgrounds, I knew I would be spending intimate nights in secret, free camping places within ‘mother nature’s land’, and have always been moved to a higher spiritual plane by such close contact.  This contact had become as much a necessity for me as a psychiatrist who could work without drugs, because my trip was also the ancient quest undertaken by many .. a quest to reafirm my faith in the Creator of the universe, that Almighty and wonderful spirit known by some as God.  My faith had been crushed by deteriorated relationships with my daughters; for while my family affection and relationships with brothers, sister, Mom, Dad, aunts and uncles had strengthened as I approached Senior Citizen years, my relationships with my daughters and grandchildren had become almost non-existant.  Through many conversations with men and women my age I have come to realize that most adult children of the ages of late twenties through the fourties are simply too involved with their own important and frivolous priorities to have their minds and hearts engaged in their parents lives, except perhaps on a mandatory ‘welfare case’ basis.  The affection between my daughters and I had always been so strong that it served as a foundation for my faith in a loving Creator, so when I came to the slow and painful realization that I was no longer a part of their conscious mental processes, and could find no way to involved myself in their consciousness, my faith in God suffered a crushing blow.  At the same time, like most adults who spend time reading newspapers, the details of ruthless wars and mass murders committed by I.B.C. (International Babylon Corporation) had shocked me into an almost catatonic state.  Contributing to my condition were the almost daily reports of individual acts of violence by normal people gone over the edge.  Add onto those things the uncertain future our planet holds as it is battered by the results of Babylon’s State of Lust, and, like many people who might be reading this, I had become so troubled that normal conversation could not find voice.  I know that animals, both wild and tame, when shocked by traumatic injury, can find mental relief by retreat into the protection of bushes, perhaps that’s why I was often glad, almost transcended, to escape conversation no matter how pleasant, and motor once again onto the wilderness of the highway, attempting to remember the words of Christ telling, ‘the kingdom of God is within you.’
 
 
 
==Chapter Three==
 
About two hours after leaving Liisa’s I stop at the hamlet of Kaladar for a restaurant lunch.  My moped carries groceries and cooking equipment but as I want to make Peterbrorough before nightfall I don’t want to take time to cook.  I also need a short break from riding.  At Kaladar’s truck stop I chat with a trio of motor-cyclists, the first of countless such chats with are both entertaining and informative.  During this chat I learn that Highway 7 is blocked by a motor vehicle accident about one hour’s ride ahead.  I must take a detour on Highway 37 South, a few miles past Kaladar, knowing this will change my goal for the day’s ride from Peterborough to the town of Port Hope on Lake Ontario, where I have lived several times, and where after 35 years of having first moved there still have close friends.  It is between Kaladar and Highway 37 where I have the motor home-police officer incident.  Highway 37 South runs through the pretty, lakeside village of Tweed, which for many years boasted on its welcoming sign “Tweed .. If it’s good enough for Elvis, it’s good enough for you.”  Elvis may finally have exited the building, or simply moved, for the sign is now absent.  I stop at the village’s beach for another chat with a motorcyclist, and to assess Tweed as a possible place to live.I have respiratory allergies and asthma, and the motor vehicle generated air pollution of Ottawa is necessitating a change.  Tweed is also reported to have the highest ratio of single women to men in Canada .. either single women were gullible enough to have believed the welcoming sign, or I am disbelieving enough to disbelieve it.
 
 
 
Leaving Tweed, I run through beautiful, farmland of rolling hills, then turn at a crossroads known as Roblin onto quaint and very quiet roads.  These take me into Frankford on the Trent Canal, a village I visited fourty years ago with my Dad and his wife Lorraine.  Lorraine, who was one of the few genuinely stable and encouraging influences in my life, has passed on, leaving a huge void for everyone. At that time of the visit with Dad and Lorraine my Aunt Florence had lived in Frankford, and when I reach that village I stop at a coin-operated telephone (I took no cell phone on my trip) and call Dad for the sake of old time memories.  Florence lives in Winnipeg now, and I hope to see her as I pass through Manitoba.
 
 
 
Quaint roads take me to Lake Ontario’s town of Trenton, wherea wrong turn takes me down a hill so steep, and where my judgement fails me so miserably, that I am unable to stop at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.  By the grace of non-presence of police I am saved from marring my 40 year, infraction-free driver’s license record.  A turnaround and assistance from a pedestrian sets me on the right road, and this is the first of hundreds of times I receive assistance with direction, for despite having good highway maps, and a strong sense of direction in an environment with open vistas, I become quickly disoriented when in even smaller urban settings.
 
 
 
Along Highway 2 now, is the village of Colborne, where as teenagers living in Cobourg, my brother Jody and I struck out on a hunt for girls.  I meet some friendly women now, though, and their friendly male friends, and I enjoy conversation and a tea.  Even though it is approaching dusk when I leave Colborne, I cannot pass by the Cobourg beach without putting my feet on its sand.  This beach was teenage playground for a couple of years.  Port Hope is six miles away, and I get there at dusk, stopping first at the Ganaraska Hotel to see if my friends Fox and/or Hollywood are having a beer in their normal watering hole.  ‘Fox’ is Gary Fox, most famous for having been one half of the ‘Foxy and Roxy’ (Roxanne) hippy lovebird couple of the early 70s.  Both Foxy and Roxy moved along in our society’s normal, but sad pattern, to parenthood with someone else.  Fox has two grandchildren now,but still resembles the generally stone lad barely a man who with me who was also often stoned but now both of us in  a canoe borrowed from the canoe manufacturer Fibrestrong at which we worked together, ran without the least benefit of whitewater education the foaming Ganaraska River’s mad spring whitewater rage one successful time, skimming the concrete underside of the main bridge in town with the tops of our heads, a bridge which shortly afterwards in a flood not much stronger than we ventured, was destroyed much like the borrowed canoe when Fox and I attempted a second attempt, swamping early,  and then watching the canoe bend itself bow to stern before flushing downriver as we scrambled to shore.  I don’t think we were even wearing lifejackets. 
 
 
 
Hollywood .. yes .. a movie should be made .. Hollywood’s real name is, believe it or not, not known to me after having known him for 30 years.  This genuine gentleman gets his name from his tall, dark, handsome, muscular appearance .. he really should have been a leading man in the movies, but instead works in an auto assembly plant in Oshawa, while Foxy has been promoted to Manager of the Port Hope Legion.    The spirits of friendship between The Fox, Hollywood and I are so kind that on my unannounced return from the west three months later, when I am taking off my helmet in the Legion’s parking lot, Fox steps out the front door for a breath of air.  That moment also happens to be very close to Fox’s quitting time, and we are enjoying a draft beer on the Legion’s patio when Hollywood makes a surprise appearance, he having had plans to be away from Port Hope for a few more days.  Also showing up unexpectedly is a friend close to Fox and Hollywood, and known to me, this friend making up a golfing partnership I will tell you about shortly. 
 
 
 
On this departure day, though, Fox and Hollywood aren’t at ‘The Ganny’, and a couple of fellows at the bar tell me Fox is not at work either.  Port Hope is a small town, and Fox is known by most residents.  I phone Fox’s telephone and get no answer, but leave a message that I’ll try his phone and door in the morning, and ride to Port Hope’s West Beach where I plan on tenting in the shadow of Canada’s uranium refinery, once known as Eldorado, and famous for its radioactive contamination of several sites in Port Hope.  As a young and foolish man I attempted growing marijuana on Eldorado’s dumpsite outside of town, but thankfully the crop failed, thankfully because I might have been tempted to market it under a brand name like ‘Radiant High’, and probably would have been busted, and spent considerable time in jail.  Yes .. thankfully the crop failed, and I came to see that while the herb appears to have medicinal value as a tea, it is not a substance to be played with, or illegally merchandised.
 
 
 
There is no natural, radiant glow in the sky when I get to the beach, night having fully fallen, and moped and me have to ford a shallow creek to get to the isolated stretch which served as home for me many times, one duration lasting from early May to November 4.  During that sojourn my brother Ron and his wife separated and he moved in with me, and then I met a woman who was living in hercar in the parking lot of the beach.  The woman moved into our tent as my lady friend.  That two-man pup tent was cozy, with my small, white, German Shepherd-Samoyed mix taking the last vacancy.  The four of us, during the last two weeks of tent home life, would wake up to frost an inch thick on the inside tent walls, and it’s still one of Ron’s favourite reminiscences to tell how Timberline would come into the tent after a successful, nighttime frog hunt in the swamp and lay on our feet while crunching his meal.  In the last week of tent togetherness I made another of my continual blunders and told my lady friend I did not want to continue our relationship,and she and I went separate ways.  Ron and I had made a trip into Peterborough in the last week of October, and I had arranged for a small apartment near my daughters’ home.  During that visit to Peterborough I noticed that a very cute young woman in a pet shopappeared very lonely, and I pointed her out to Ron.  This was Paula, who Ron was quick to ask out, and ended up marrying.  Alas, Ron and I were not great husbands, each failing in each of our marriages.  In that summer of living in the tent I had visited Peterborough regularly to see my daughters, and Paula liked to relate that when I visited the pet shop I taught the shop’s large parrot to curse.  I suspect she mixed me up with another mixed up hippy as I wasn’t particularly fond of cursing in those days, having discovered that in the person of Jesus Christ was wonderful example as to how to live a life while living as a hippy on a beach with a lady.
 
 
 
Back on that beach on this first night of my latter days’ moped trip the uranium refinery’s electric lights are blocked by tall bushes surrounding the area I choose to pitch camp in, so it is in near total darkness I set up camp.  That sleep comes easily after I pour about two ounces of brandy and sip it slowly, and my sleep lasts comfortably until 4 a.m., when I awakened shiveringly cold.  I set large flake rolled oatmeal (the precooked crap just doesn’t make a genuine, strengthening breakfast) and apple pieces cooking on my camp stove, and then using my flashlight look for firewood, which I am surprised to find a good pile of close beside me.  I assumed this wood had been prepared for a beach party planned for that long weekend, but I felt no guilt using half of it to build a warming blaze.  After I had eaten my oatmeal and was well warmed the first faint light of dawn encouraged a small walkabout for old memory’s sake, and it was by that small dawn light combined with the light from the still blazing fire that I discovered the other tent camp partially hidden in some bushes about 75 feet behind my own.  I realized instinctively that the firewood I was burning belonged with that tent, and I could only hope the tent’s occupant was the forgiving type.  I returned to standing by the fire.  Shortly afterwards I heard a rustling from behind me, and I knew it was the tent’s occupant coming towards me.  I did not turn around, not wanting to make any appearance of ‘self defense’, and was joined side by side at the fire by the dark figure of a tall male.  I didn’t turn to face the stranger, and he, too seemed content to simply stare into the fire.  Not too much time had passed, though, before he said in a non-threatening way, “You’re burning my firewood.”
 
     
 
“I was cold,” I replied, knowing that this obvious outdoorsman would appreciate how thankful I was for the firewood.  “I set up camp in the dark and didn’t see your tent.”
 
 
 
He waited a few moments before saying, “Nice fire,” with warm appreciation.
 
 
 
“Yes,” I agreed.  Then, after a short pause, “my name’s Bob Mosurinjohn.  I lived on this beach a few times .. a few years ago.”
 
     
 
The stranger turned to look at my face, which I turned towards his.  He looked searchingly at me, then, after a momentary pause, he said as to a long-lost friend, “Bob!!”
 
 
 
While it was obvious that this fellow knew me I couldn’t remember him.  My gypsy existence had camped me in too many places, meeting far too many people for quick remembrance.  As well, a brain concussion in my early teens hinders my ability for facial recognition, a factor which contributed to the unsuccess of  career attempts.  By the way, my gypsy existence comes naturally, and despite genuine efforts to settle down to normalcy, unceasingly.  I have Rom blood, my great grandfather having been Gypsy from Bukovina, a small area which is now part of Romania.
 
 
 
“I’m sorry, I said, but I don’t know who you are.”
 
 
 
“Paul!” he said, “Paul Workman.”
 
 
 
Of course.  Paul had not been one of my closest friends, but he had tented many times on this beach, enabled to do so by income gained from his own slight handicap resulting from anaccident.  I supppose Paul and I would be called hoboes by some people .. hippies by others .. bums by a few; but we thought of ourselves as Freaks of Nature .. people who loved the outdoors so much life meant little without that enjoyment.  Living on a rough,unused beach which was closely bordered by swamp, small trees, and a high embankment which supported twin railroad tracks which were the source of clickity clack music and long, locomotive horn blasts seemed as natural for us as planting a uranium refinery here had been by the Canadian Government.  It was here, alsonaturally, that I had discovered glow-in-the-dark fungus which makes midnight finding of dead, dry firewood as easy as breaking branches off dead trees.  It was also here that I saw the once bountiful Redwing Blackbird population decimated by emissions from, no, not the uranium refinery, but from a plastics factory which was established in more recent years.  Those emissions had made the beach undesireable as a home, even if the rent was free, and I hadn’t lived there for almost two decades, although I had tented briefly.  The beach held incredibly strong memories for me, not the least of which was camping with my wife and children before our family breakdown, and with my three daughters following the breakdown.  My adult daughters treasure those memories also, and we have returned with the third generation for brief visits.
 
       
 
On this same beach in the early dawn of my trip’s second day Paul Workman returns to his tent to sleep after thoroughly warming himself, and I break camp and load my moped.  I’m concerned about beach sand getting on the chain and sprocket, and after I get to the road I clean what I can.  With my stomach full of oatmeal restaurant coffee alone is sufficient to take me to 7:30  a.m., when I ride to Fox’s apartment.  Serendipitousness as always is strong between Fox and I, he coming out his apartmentbuilding’s front door as I ride up.  He, with Hollywood and friends, have a golf day planned, and again serendipitously, they plan on stopping at a restaurant in the fishing resort village of Bewdley on Rice Lake, on the route to Peterborough, before golfing on the other side of the lake.  We agree to meet at the restaurant, where I take directions to the golf course.  My granddaughter Jade won’t be home from school until after 3 that day, so I could spend a few hours with Fox and crew at the golf course.  The road around the lake is longer than I think, with long, steep hills which slow my speed, and when 1/4 around I change direction for Peterborough where I can spend a few hours in quiet rest.  In Peterborough I purchase a steak and green pepper to go with my cooking onions, and set up a kitchen on a concrete pier on Little Lake.  A woman is sunning herself on the pier and we chat .. with sparks of attraction obvious .. but I’m not interested in possible complications at this time of life, so I douse the sparks within me and turn up my naptha stove’s cooking flame, finish my chef’s job, and enjoy my meal. 
 
 
 
I ride up to Jade’s house just as she rides up on her bicycle.  She and I have a relationship based on strong family affection and love for the outdoors, she being a fisher and camper.  I had lived in her home for the spring and summer months five years before, when my daughter Kathi was still residing there, and Jade and I went-a-fishing, and also went a-canoeing on Little Lake.  A framed photo of the two of us in the canoe has been propped on a shelf in their living room since then.  I’m writing this in the same room I lived in then, having moved in again two months ago.  On my moped trip stopover Jade’s Dad Ralph and I and Jade spent a couple of days together, and I went for coffee with Kathi and her new partner.
 
 
 
When I lived here the first time Kathi and I and Jade would go shopping malling often, but I’ve been living here for three months this time and have only seen Kathi when she comes to pick up Jade for visitations even though she and I almost always share a warm and genuine hug when she comes for Jade.  I think she and I are both at a loss for words with each other.
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Four==
 
''Trip’s End So Soon?''
 
 
 
Despite the bone marrow renewing warmth of a grandaughter’s love, my shivering cold night on Port Hope’s beach has persuaded me that before I leave Peterborough I must make an addition to my sleeping gear, which consisted of a too-lighweight sleeping bag and cotton bedsheet safety pinned inside and serving as a liner.  At the Canadian Tire store I purchase an inexpensively flimsy, emergency ‘space blanket’ of plasticized aluminum, and at a charity store purchase a second cotton bedsheet.  I use double sided tape to stick the space blanket and bedsheet together, and will spread this over my sleeping bag, with the cotton side down for clinginess, and also for absorbing moisture vented by my bag.  This proves to be a great improvement in warmth, relatively durable, and easily folded, but the space blanket was too flimsy, and I replaced it after one month with a more expensive, sturdier model pinned to the bed sheet with large safety pins.  That arrangement is lasting wonderfully.
 
 
 
I ride away from Peterborough along Highway 7 West, with the trip going so well I start to flash hippy ‘Peace’ signs with my left hand (my right hand gripping the throttle) towards people who view me and my loaded moped as a curiosity.  I think it is at Oakwood, a tiny village, that I get unpeaced.  I had stopped for a stop sign or red light, having had pulled to the right to allow any vehicle which might come up behind me to make proceed unhindered by my slow acceleration.  When I proceed, it is at full throttle, and I am doing about 20 miles per hour and still to the right when the pavement turns to firmly packed gravel shoulder.  Just after I have checked my mirror for traffic behind me, and have turned my handlebars towards the pavement, my rear tire goes almost instantly flat.  It’s not a blowout .. there is no ‘bang’, which surprises me because the air deflates the tire almost instantly, resulting in a wild swaying and sliding on gravel of the heavy back end, necessitating a desperate kicking and bracing with both my feet on each side as needed, and equally desperate manipulation of the handlebars to counter the sway and slide.  Even though the tire didn’t ‘bang’ by heart is banging as I come to a safe stop.  This situation had been aggravated by the weight of me and my load.  I weighed 195 lbs when setting out, with about 100 pounds of load.  Most of that weight is over the rear wheel.  I have learned since that with motorcycles, the front tire almost never goes flat, but it is nearly always the rear tire, and such was my experience throughout the trip, with a dozen rear flats, but not one front flat.  I did meet a rider who told me of having had his front tire blow at 170 Kilometers an hour, and who, because he was at that time young and strong with intense reflexes, managed to keep his bike upright.  I wasn’t a young man now though, and my flat, even though it resulted in no apparent harm or damage, but coming on only the second day of my trip, was very frightening, especially when I considered what might happen at 30 miles per hour in heavy traffic, and especially if the front tire blew.  Once I had come to a safe stop my lack of courage, as with the bear, showed clearly in thoughts of turning back to Peterborough, and then to spend the summer on the beach in Port Hope.  As my heartbeat subsided I looked around for an out of the way place to fix my flat, and chose a closed building suply storefront across the highway which had a small parking lot lined with railroad ties.  I pushed the bike across the highway, set it up on its kickstand, and went for a walk to a corner store as much to relax myself as for a cold drink.  Returning to the bike, I sat and drank my orange juice, relaxing further, and still questioning whether to turn my trip around.  First things first, though, and I went at the repair.  A moped’s rear wheel is not much different than a bicycle, and I was fortunate that the tube repair kit in my toolkit contained two, plastic, ‘tire irons’ for bicycles which were strong enough to last through a few changes of my moped tire.  Before the trip was over, though, I purchased a genuine tire iron from a motorcycle parts store.  These genuine irons I recommend as making changes much easier, especially recommended when you are fixing a flat on the side of a busy highway with cars whizzing past when you need all the ease you can get.
 
 
 
I had never changed my moped tire, and recommend that anyone with a moped give themselves that experience before necessity makes for a difficult learning experience.  I made my chore easier by setting the moped on its kickstand atop one of the railroad ties, this raising my work about 12 inches.  I had the tube out and had established that the flat was not the result of a puncture, and it was then that a pedestrian passerby, and a motorcyclist, came along and told me that friction of the tube against the tire had caused my problem.  He also told me Baby Powder rubbed onto the tube and into the tire would reduce friction, and I have found his advice to be true, riding from Winnipeg to London on my return trip without having one flat, and when I had a flat at Kitchener it was from a puncture.  Baby powder, though, makes roadside repair of a used tube impossible unless there is an abundance of water to wash the tube with, and also an abndance of dry, warm air to evaporate all moisture from the tube, moisture acting like baby powder to prevent glue and patch from adhering.  I now carry two spare tubes, a practice begun north of Regina on my return trip when a biker stopped to offer assistance during another tire change, he running into Regina and back, and despite my successful repair, presenting me with two new tubes, charged only to Regina hospitality.  Oh the comfort those two tubes brought.  Tire wear is critically important to monitor, I learned on my return trip, when a puncture caused a change during which when I examined my tire I discovered an area had worn down to the cords.  This could easily have resulted in a blowout on the busy Trans Canada Highway,  although a blowout anywhere is to be avoided at all costs.  I now carry a spare tire, a good recommendation whenever you ride, because while spare moped sized tubes can be had at many motorcycle shops, moped tire sources are rare, a bike shop in Victoria having to order one for me from Quebec.  I personally know only two tire sources, Mr. Moped in Toronto, and the Great Canadian Motorcycle part store on Main Street in Winnipeg where I purchased a tire on the way west and again on the way east.  There in Oakwood I discovered no serious abrasion damage had been done to my tire during its back and forth slide over gravel, and thanks to small, my bicycle tire air pump  I was soon enough back on the highway, and not heading back to Peterborough, but determined by my lack of serious consequences of the flat, and equipped with the new knowledge of Baby Powder, to roll westward on.
 
 
 
==Chapter Five==
 
This is where the writing becomes more difficult, because I had abandoned my goal of being a published writer, and wanted to be free of hindrances to enjoyment on this trip, so made no notes of my progress through Ontario.  I even forget the exact route east of Lake Simcoe.  I think it was up Highway 46 to Bolsover, 33 and 6 to Dalrymple, up to Washago; and I do remember 13 to Torrance, 20 miles as the crow flies but probably double that because of its twisting, hump-roaded nature through what becomes a dry plateau infested with Tent Worm Caterpillars if I remember correctly, a huge infestation, with almost every small tree being destroyed, and the plateau being so dry that not many large trees were present, probably all having been cut a hundred years ago.  This road, 13, has no villages or crossroads marked on the provincial map, and except for cottages and a few homes, and possibly an isolated school which could have been there or on another isolated road I rode upon, is not much more than a made-for maximum moped throttle thrills country lane through beautiful Muskoka land.  I took 13 because Highway 11 was marked as controlled access on my map, but even though I learned from locals that bicycles ride 11 all the time, the lesson of getting off the highway onto the byway paid big dividends throughout the trip, I seeing far more countryside in its beautiful state in a safer and more leisurely manner than I would have by staying on major routes.  On this lonely road, at an intersection with a railroad track, I met a woman walking .. to me it was obvious she was single, and lonely, and receptive .. and we chatted, and I thought briefly of asking to accompany her to her home or cottage .. briefly .. only briefly .. then onward. 
 
 
 
Trans Canada 400 into Parry Sound is also marked Controlled Access on maps, and I paralleled it on 69, that highway being the old Trans Canada, and continuing as 69 Trans Canada past Parry Sound where 400 ends,  at Parry Sound. Names on the map on the stretches leading to Parry Sound include Rosseau, Glen Orchard, Horseshoe Lake, Gordon Bay, Fool’s Bay, Cala.  I can’t remember exactly where I camped, but tried to stay near water .. a good spot can often be had on the riverside at a bridge, where construction crews had to have flat space for their equipment, and often there is an easy track leading to the water.  The roadside being public property the private owners can’t kick a camper off, but they can phone officials, and in some areas in Northern Ontario where camping tourists are important to the local economy you will find 'No Overnight Camping’ signs posted by the roadway borders of fantastic lakes and rivers.  Presumably the local campground operators are also municipal authorities.  There are sill lots of free sites available, though, like the one atop a rock cut as dusk dropped around me.  A track for wheeled vehicles carrying hydro pole maintenance crews led off the highway up the slope to the top of the cut, and where I though I would spend an uneventful camp turned out to be one of the best of the trip, with a wonderful, level, grassy area for my tent, and a lake two minutes by hike down a wooded slope.  Sharing this campsite was a large turtle laying her eggs where the sun would warm them right at the edge of the cut.  If the hatchlings went the wrong way they would drop off the edge almost onto the highway, but of course they would not make that mistake, their instincts taking them down the wooded slope to the lake.  It would be a rough trip for them, tiny things probably as big as a dime or a quarter, stumbling over sharp rock and debris from the trees .. but obviously enough of them would probaboly make it to create another generation.
 
 
 
The route from Parry Sound to Sudbury is simple enough, stay on 69 until 17 .. but getting around Sudbury without going onto the busy Controlled Access section required careful navigation, although here again the effort was well worth the result, the road 55 less travelled taking me into a wonderland of waterfalls, lakes, and old railroad trestles.
 
         
 
''Revelation''
 
 
 
Ahhh .. Suddenly I know.  I have just come from a break fromwriting .. I was watching the movie of Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina on television .. I recognized in those passions the reason why I cannot remember details of the trip to Saskatoon beyond thechange of tire at Oakwood .. except the turtle in the cycle of birth .. the worms in the cycle of death .. the forbidding of the the beauty and freedom of life of free camping in places of grandeur that comes with the love of money being the root of all evil .. it all came to me suddenly that my mind was encompassed by a fire of passion .. a far higher vision than anything I passed through .. and that goal was the well being of my sister in law Sandy.  I was armed with prayer .. I am armed with prayer .. not that I am Peter or Paul, John or James, Stephen or any of the apostles, but like Jesus Christ they taught me to pray .. and to believe .. and with Saskatoon as my goal as I rode the roads small or great, and camped in beautiful places or meager, my passion and prayer was for my sister in law’s health .. that was the vision and the passion and goal.  Yes .. and having been reminded of passion, I won’t delay to share the passion of joy with you who are reading this .. the joy that as I rode up Saskatchewan’s Yellowhead Highway about 100 miles from Saskatoon, I suddenly knew that my sister in law would be well .. and so it was that when I telephoned, before arriving, I was told that the cancer was not in the lymph under the arm after all, but was restricted to the breast, and that treatment was expected to be effective .. and so far, seven months later, that has held true .. and the prognosis for the future is excellent.  But are we, that is, is the world, out of the woods yet, as the saying goes, now that we are on the prairie, so to speak?  No when you become intimate with the prairie you will find there are plenty of woods on those prairies .. you will see if you go there .. and we are never completely out of the woods until we reach eternal heaven.  By the way, I lost a good deal of respect for Leo Tolstoy for his ending of Anna Karenina’s life.  Hecould have had Anna’s husband, who depicted himself as a Christian, pray and have the love of his wife restored him .. but I have read a little of Tolstoy’s life, and I see in Anna’s death Tolstoy’s own vengeance on all women who have injured him and those he loved .. in efect his hatred murdered, along with Anna, every beautiful young woman in the world.  Shakespeare had different motives for killing Romeo and Juliet .. passionless motives .. he knew full well stage and scene of bloody marketplace, and knew golden curtains rise and set on blood and tragedy.  Shakespeare’s goal was simply money .. but of course he caused the deaths of countless young people who imitated Romeo and Juliet by killing themselves.  Those authors’ sins are great.
 
 
 
==Chapter Six==
 
Okay I’m back in the memory groove after having phoned sister-in-law Sandra in Saskatoon and having her good health reconfirmed .. well, I’m in a partial memory groove .. I can’t remember details like names, and right now I sure wish I had been making notes, because while at Blind River and stopped for a cup of tea, sitting at a bar in a licensed restaurant/motel and chatting with the bartender/owner, a friend of his offered to share his twin-beded motel room with me.  Actually, the spare bed in Jack’s room was taken by a friend of his also working strike security, but on opposite shifts.  It was a generous offer, especially as a thunderstorm had been forecast; but I’m wary of strange men, having been molested both as a boy and as a young man.  Even though I now have friends who are bisexual my relationship with them is clear in that I am straight and will not welcome advances.  I don’t have that advantage with strangers, so I was honest and told the gentleman I don’t completely trust situations as he was offering, and that I would think over his offer as I gassed up.  He told me he understood my hesitation told me to take all the time I needed.  While gassing the moped I observed certain signs of bad weather moving in, and while that didn’t threaten my comfort or security I did not want to pack a wet tent in the morning.  I returned to thegentleman’s table, whose name I really wish I could remember, and accepted his offer.  I’ll call him Jack, and that very well might have been his name.
 
 
 
Jack was a retired railroad engineer having spent his career in the north, now working security for the railroad during a strike.  There was little danger in the strike, pretty much gone are the days of rail tampering and potentially violent face offs between railroad bosses and union men.  A strong fraternity holds things together on the rails, each knowing the other faces grave hazards in his work, and each respectful of the other’s position.  I had worked on several railroad track maintenance gangs swinging a spike-driving hammer, and had hopped freights while travelling both for pleasure and on my way back and forth to work, so as Jack and I lay abed after a shower drinking beer a common thread of discussion spun out of steel rail, fast freights, cabooses, beautifully isolated northern rail camps, the distant and melodious sound of a railroad engine’s long-wailing horn awhistle and echoing off tens of miles of hard rock and evergreen trees, and of course huge fish and Black Flies.  Besides working at odd jobs to stay busy, Jack volunteered at a children’s cancer camp, and it was after we had discussed cancer for a while that I told him I was on my way to Saskatoon because of cancer in the family, and also confided my own affliction.  Jack then was honest about his heart problems and diabetes.  Ohhh .. the long calling horn of advancing age.  That new movie The Bucket List again comes to mind.
 
 
 
Sleep came .. the awesome storm came .. morning came .. the shift change came.  I was up and out of bed of course and at breakfast before my bed’s owner returned.  We had a short chat, but he was soon off to bed, and I was on my way, riding a dry moped which had weathered the storm under the motel roof’s wide overhang.  Such an unthankful fellow am I that I don’t think I took Jack’s address .. oh yes I did, Thunder Bay, but I didn’t look him up, with my mind focused on Saskatoon at the expense of almost everything else. 
 
 
 
When I got to Sault Ste. Marie I detoured towards the shipping locks, but didn’t get to see them as they’re situated on the American side, and I didn’t want the hassle of border security.  That very interesting test waited the return trip.  On the way out of the Sault I stopped at the huge Canadian Tire store, where I exchanged the sleeping bag I had purchased at a Canadian Tire especially for this trip.  The original bag gave out on the second night, really tearing apart at the seams.  To be fair, it was a very cheap bag, $25, and one I never would have purchased except it rolled up into a small bundle suitable for my moped’s front fender.  Even though I had no sales receipt the kind saleslady at Canadian Tire gave me $10 credit on a new bag, and I bought a reasonable quality Woods bag with a nice, cotton liner for $40.00.  Although this bag was bulkier than I preferred it and my tent rolled together with the space blanket/cotton sheet fit under my headlight well enough for the light to illuminate the way ahead, and to keep me legal.  I packed the sleeping bag bundle in to what was supposed to be a waterproof nylon dry bag for boaters, but the bag had lost its waterproof quality, and I wrapped the entire bundle into a heavy duty, bright orange garbage bag.  This was waterproof, and enhanced my road security by making me more visible to motorists who might be careless in passing a vehicle and coming in my direction, in my lane.  Of course real security could only come through providential potection, which I obviously had through the entire trip, but I had to do my part in maintaining utmost diligence.
 
 
 
So far most of the highways I had been riding had been through wild enough territory, but leaving the Sault I came into country truly wild, and also with its countless scenic vistas truly beautiful .. the north shore of Lake Superior.  Not far beyond the Sault is a 60 miles stretch of highway without one commercial stop .. this is Lake Superior Provincial Park, with the beautiful Old Woman Bay at its western end.  Before I got to the park though, I needed to stop for the night, and here is where a slow-moving moped has it all over a motorcycle or car.  I saw a slight vehicle track running into and out of a steep, sandy ditch, with the lake unobstructed except for trees just beyond.  I took the track, and discovered beautiful campsites.  However, there was a chance the land might belong to an almost derelict motel on the far side of the highway, so I backtracked, and asked about the situation with the motel operator, a woman slightly older than myself, who operated the motel year round with her life partner.  The motel office was cramped with boxes overflowing with used books for sale, the books obviously being a winter pastime for the operators.  This lady said, yes, the campsites were free for the taking, being on highway property, with lots of people camping there.  I thanked her, and looked over the books but could find nothing to buy, and returned to the lake where I chose a good spot and set up, with a miracle of God just waiting to happen.  All that day, as I passed sand beaches along the highway, I was thinking that when I stopped for the night I would need a large, flat, metal something to put between the sand and my kickstand to prevent the kickstand from digging into the soft sand with one fork or the other and toppling the bike over in the night, especially if a wind came up.  The bike was prey for a sideways blowing wind anyway, as the rear end packs acted almost as a sail.  Being somewhat familiar with the providence of the Almighty Creator I was not entirely surprised to find, right beside a fire ring of stones, an old and battered, almost sufficiently thick aluminum frying pan of the right diameter to take the forks of my kickstand.  That pan lasted through most of my trip, being replaced eventually with a thicker version which had lost its handle.Also obvious at the campsites was the ungratefulness of some humans, with a depression partially hidden by bushes and just off the most beautiful sand beach anyone could want almost completely filled with all sorts of garbage any of which could have been loaded back into the vehicle which it had been unloaded from, the garbage of course being empty food containers, empty cans, empty plastic bottles, etc.  This garbage was as dangerous as it was unsightly as it could become a magnet for bears.  Nevertheless, the spot was beautiful, and I had been on the road long enough to need a good break, which I took there, spending the next cloudly, partly drizzly day resting and cooking and eating and walking brief explorations, and talking around a driftwood fire with a family of two adults, a couple of young teens, and a younger child.  The teen girl and her Dad were brave enough to get into the icy water for a swim, but I was not brave, but suffered even  standing ankle or knee deep and washing myself.  Superior is one COLD lake, being very deep, and containing, I have read in different sources, either one-tenth of one-fifth or one-third or one-half of the fresh water in the world . . I have also read Lake Baikal in Russia, which is much deeper, contains one-third of the world’s freshwater .. so who knows which source is correct.  Anyway .. the lake’s latitude and depth make it cold, and for normal people generally unswimmable until July or August .. so this father and daughter are brave indeed.    The family were the only visitors at that spot on that stop, but on the return in early August the place was packed with tenters.
 
 
 
When I packed up and rode westward on I was rested well,but the grey sky and low temperatures continued with drizzle off and on, and when I stopped at the Trading Post or whatever it’s called at the Western end of Lake Superior Provincial Park, my hands were so cold I could barely open them from around the bike’s steering grips.  That day had not been a fun ride.  At the Trading Post I bought a better pair of leather riding gloves which I waterproofed on the upper side with Arctic Dubbin.  With the wet weather I felt wet enough enough to duck into Wawa to see the huge Goose before continuing on past White River, where I discovered Banks of Montreal are rare through the north, that rarity contributing to some fiancial worries.  The weather turned colder and continued wet, and at Marathon I purchased a pair of rubber boots and a good pair of wood socks, and from then on rode in them through wet weather.  and Terrace Bay.  Somewhere in one of those towns I also purchased a lined pair of waterproof riding pants for warmth, and tossed my unlined ones, which I had purchased used for one or two dollars, and which were tattered, in the garbage.  At Terrace Bay I shopped for food at a supermarket, coming out to a steady and heavy which lasted a long time, with me standing under the supermarket roof’s overhang talking with a native fellow who needed far more encouragement away from the abuse of alcohol and drugs as I could provide.  I did encourage him, though, and we shared a lunch from my groceries.  He gave me his address on a reserve, and I sure wish I had stopped to visit on my way back, but although that stop was on my mind, I somehow passed it by.  I hadn’t wanted to spend the night in a town, but the rain would not let up, and close by the supermarket was what had, I believe, been roofed structure housing at one time a farmers’ market.  At a fortunate time a municipal vehicle stopped close by my friend and I, and I approached it and asked if anyone would mind if I pitched under the roof that night.  No one would mind, I was told, and I did pitch, and spent a dry night, moving on in a drier morning.  If memory serves me correctly it is the stretch from Rossport to Lake Helen is where the lakeshore vistas are magnificent and almost unending, with the highway a steeply hilled, twisting, lake hugging pleasure.  Along this stretch I came toa pair of hitchhikers, a young man and woman from Quebec, he on his way to the fruit harvests in the Okanagan, she on her way to work motels or restaurants catering to tourists.  We had a brief chat, I not wanting to hinder chances for someone to pick them up, and I gave them a very thankfully received $20 bill .. or was that $10.  I hope it was $20 .. and it should have been $50.  She in turnhonoured me by taking my photograph .. so The Moped Poet is also known in La Belle Provence.  At Thunder Bay I stopped to find a motorcycle shop to buy a tube, and here, the operator looked at my rear tire and expressed the opinion I should go no further without a new tire, which no one in Thunder Bay could provide.  Seeing my obvious disappointment he said, “… well, maybe you’ll make it to Winnipeg.  Yes, sure, you’ll make it to Winnipeg.  I determined that I would, and reduced my tire’s burden by reducing weight by leaving some (spared but not spare food items like half my brown rice and lentils along with a clean bundle of (not spare, but spared anyway) clothing on a picnic table used by truckers, and also by slightly deflating my tire so the wear would be spread over a wider area.  At Thunder Bay the tire wear and banking considerations persuaded me not to head due west which would involve an attempt to cross the  U.S. border at Fort Frances, a route which I had planned because it would have led me to a part of southeastern Manitoba which is reserved as original prairie grassland, and which at that time of year would probably be wildly abloom with varieties of edible rooted flowers like the Orange Lilly which had been a staple of aboriginal diet, and which is practically non-existant on the prairies today.  Being turned back at the U.S. border would have added a couple hundred miles wear to my tire, so leaving Thunder Bay I turned slightly northwest onto 17 Trans Canada.and rode towards Kenora, close by the Manitoba border, which I on gained on May 30, my first stop being a motorcycle shop on the edge of town, at which I enquired about moped tires, and was told I would probably find them only at Winnipeg.  The bike shop owners were great to talk with though, and on my return trip I stopped again to say hello.  My official welcome to Kenora was made prior to my downtown walkabout by the mayor himself in the parking lot I parked at, the mayor having taken an interest in my vehicle and journey.  I did not, however, receive a key to the city.  By the way, a moped is easily stolen because of its light weight, and I always try to secure mine to a parking meter, signpost or bicycle rack with a long-shackled, hardened steel, bicycle U-Lock. 
 
 
 
My government income I receive by direct deposit into my bank account, and banking business included clearing the owed balance on my credit card which I had been living on for a few days.  I also had lunch in a restaurant at which a young lady and her family were celebrating a newborn, and I gifted the mother with $10 or $20 to celebrate with.  This I did partly out of gratitude for the mother’srace, for it was the aboriginals of the west who had saved my great grandfather and his family from certain starvation in their first winter homesteading in a Manitoba river valley, a site I would visit on spend two nights camped at on my way to Saskatoon, the original log home still standing.  Kenora was also a reminder of my younger days when the desperate, drug and alcohol addicted plight of many in our society had, after my own escape from those afflictions through a miraculous rebirth which had held the knowledge of eternal salvation, I had crisscrossed most of Canada, stopping in Kenora more than once, handing out ‘Jesus Saves’ booklets and tracts and small copies of gospels and Revelation.  Regardless of the fraudulent images broadcast on television and radio, being Born Again is not a Satanic origin, but according to scriptures simply means the beginning of genuine faith in Jesus Christ .. and I recognize Muslims as being in that faith, as while they do not hold Christ as the Son of God, they do recognize him as the Messiah who will return and destroy the anti-Christ empire now ruling this planet. 
 
 
 
At Kenora I carefully folded and tucked a receipt for gasoline into a safe place in my wallet, that receipt providing proof for government officials that I had been in Ontario on that day, and the receipt for my tire purchased June 1 in Winnipeg as proof of when I had crossed the border.  I did the same thing on my return trip, and the government was satisfied with that proof.   
 
 
 
I clearly remember the beautiful, roadside, lakeside camp I had between Kenora and the Manitoba border .. a spot where I chatted with a wonderful retired gent whose home was just across the bridge.  I also had a lovely walk in a lovely woods at that camp,
 
the woods concealing an attempted home built out of an old 18 wheel trailer, but which had been long disused.  I remember a good sleep .. and also the next morning’s pleasant ride to the border.  What I remember most clearly, though, was standing at the large ‘Welcome To Manitoba’ sign pondering whether to obey the letter of Manitoba’s moped laws, which would have allowed me to go no further, as there were no dirt roads running west from the border at that point, or depending on the spirit and grace to  into illegal territory as a fugitive.  The plight of Kenora’s alcohol and drug addicted segment of population was a call to return, but my own spirit was no longer adequate for such a calling, and the calling of my own family’s necessities was equal.  I decided I would run in the spirit of grace, and after a few miles of the Trans Canada Highway until I turned off onto 44.  Now THAT was a good decision and turneven if the decision to get off the Trans Canada turned out to be unnecessary, as all the highways in Manitoba are used by slow moving bicyclists, and it would take a very mean-spirited policeofficer, or one dealing with a mean-spirited mopedist, to order a moped onto the dirt roads reserved for them.  By choice I did end up on some of those dirt roads, and they were very pleasant experiences.
 
 
 
==Chapter Seven==
 
Highway 44 was indeed a wonderful ride.  It runs through Whiteshell Provincial Park, which is gated at both ends, but no fee is required if a person is just passing through.  My genuine intent was to pass through, and I was allowed to do so.  The road is paved, but rough and narrow, winding and hilly, running through wild, forested, fishing and hunting country.  The name of the park, Whiteshell, together with the village of Whitemouth which I went through west of the park, conflicted with Shellmouth, the village nearest my great grandfather’s homestead.  Those names caused some confusion later in the trip when I attempted telling curious people farther west where I had been, and I eventually just crooked my thumb and said, “back there,” which generally brought a satisfied laugh.
 
 
 
Was it at Whitemouth where a gas station/fishing store operator told me of an off road camping spot not far past the village?  That was where I spent the night, anyway, in a clear-cut off a dirt track within  the vast boreal forest.  The dirt track led seemingly endlessly north and called me to go exploring for a few miles, crossing a railroad track at right angles, and passing a late model vehicle parked somewhat in the bush.  When I turned around I had become familiar enough with that vast, untamed, sandy country to easily understand how Canada became a huge exporter of marijuana to the United States.  In fact, just before I turned into my tent for the night I made a walk down the slightly wet road to the pavement of Highway 44, where in that decidedly out of the way place two vehicles were stopped, and where two men and one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen were discussing something in quiet tones.  Transplanting time?  I became familiar with another of nature’s elements that night in my tent when I was plagued with the crawling annoyance of the Tick, something my time in the woods to that point in life had somehow avoided.  The prairie river valleys, particularly the Assiniboine, is now overrun with Ticks, which despite their disease potential, don’t in reality seem much of a threat, seeming to carry the same threat as being stuck by lightning, but the tiny-legged crawling of which is certainly an annoyance when trying to sleep.  A Tick looks like a tiny, flat bodied spider, and easy identification can be made in their resistance to being squeezed to death between thumb and forefinger, that task being almost impossible because of their armoured body.  It’s easier to fling them out the tent door than to kill them, and that’s the best procedure anyway, because they are so abundant that killing enough of them to bring relief for sleep may cause their corpses to emit enough of an odour to attract carnivorous creatures.  Another discomfort that night came with increasing air temperatures, which caused me to sleep the first part of the night outside my bag, but under my cotton sheet. 
 
 
 
The next day I rode 44 to the town of Beausejour which is slightly north east of Winnipeg, where I spent a couple of hours fretting while trying to organize myself.  Telephone calls into Winnipeg had failed to discover a moped tire, and I did not want to enter Winnipeg unnecessarily because the main roads in appeared as Controlled Access on maps.  I thought I might do better in Saskatoon, mapping a run up Highway 6 on the east side of Lake Manitoba, then crossing the lake at 235, on to Dauphin, then on and on and on and on into Saskatoon.  However .. I was told that wild Highway 6 is not a well travelled road, and not a good place for a tire blowout with no spare and my tire looking worse and worse.  One Beausejour citizen offered to take me into Winnipeg to search for a tire, but I did not want to take that person’s time, and to tell the whole truth, I was also leery of leaving my moped unattended for a few hours, even though it was locked.  My faith was not great despite the abundance of people west of the Manitoba border who introduced themselves to me with words like, “Hey man, do you know Jesus?  Are you saved?”  This unmistakable, western Canadian bible belt continues well into British Columbia. 
 
 
 
I decided to continue straight west without going into Winnipeg,but turned north into Selkirk when I heard of a motorcycle shop there.  The operator of that shop got on the telephone and located a tire for me at The Great Canadian Motorcycle parts store in Winnipeg.  I turned my bike around for Winnipeg, finding the shop not far from where I had lived for six months at a Salvation Army hostel at Logan and Main during my era of evangelism.  Oh how I wished I had some spare spirit as I rode past the destitute denizens of Main Street, but I saw that a large church was intimately available for them if they wanted to avail themselves, and I merely purchased my tire, asking the owner to please order more, as I was to return in two months.  The shop owner has been in that location, I believe it was, 30 years, and it’s easy to imagine him being able to replace any part for any motorcycle ever built.  It was at that shop I also purchased my genuine tire iron, but only on my return trip after having provided myself much unnecessary and frustrating labour.  Tire changing should not be quite as frustrating as it was for me, but on one of my first springtime rides after having purchase the bike I had ridden into a deep pothole, denting my rear rim into a slight out of roundness which made difficult putting the tire on perfectly rounded.  I eventually learned to Baby Powder the wheel’s rim as well as the tire’s bead, which allowed the rubber to slip against the metal without grabbing, andI also learned to mould the tire while under-pressurized onto the rim.  I also learned that if the tire still failed to bead itself to the rim, over pressurization can cause the bead (the tire’s edge) to pop into roundness.  In all of this, the tire iron would have saved me much sweat.  Potholes, by the way, are a good reason not to buy motor scooters with their higher acceleration and smaller diameter wheels, the front wheel dropping into the pothole causing the scooter to flip.  A rider in Ottawa had been injured exactly in that way shortly before I left on my trip, his bike becoming a total write-off.
 
 
 
Daytime air temperature in Winnipeg had soared, and I decided I would not try to change my tire in sweaty discomfort, but would pray for a safe trip to Saskatoon, where I could change it at my leisure.  The new tire rode behind me where I attached it with a bungee cord to the backpack.  My Dad’s sister Florence lives in Winnipeg, but I failed to get her on the phone, and left a message that I would try again on my return. 
 
 
 
I intended to take the quaint Old Trans Canada 26 west from Winnipeg to stay off the busy multi lane Number One, but I had to take a multi-lane ring road as far as 26, and that was a ride made interesting because of the rubberlike squigglies which ran for miles along the shoulder.  These were, I believe, evaporated drippings from a muncipal waste shipping truck which had a bad leak.  whi.n interesting ride.  Along here was also the roadside, inter-farm binder twine line which crosses and criss crosses Canada in every direction and allows farmers who have all tied into the line to speak into tin can telephones and bemoan the price of beef, corn, corn whiskey, the price of holidays in Arizona, etc.  This line is evident on the surface in places in Northern Ontario, but there it often disappears as if the farmers have taken to airwave communication. 
 
 
 
After a few miles of rubber turds I turned onto the wonderful blessing which is the Old Trans Canada, how quaint and rural it is in today’s modern age, that highway leading me to a verdant, well treed green space on the banks of the Assiniboine at which I knew I should make camp, but perhaps family desire had gotten ahold of me, and I talked myself into travelling past that spot about three miles before turning back to its comfort and beauty.  A young family was fishing in the creek which ran into the Assinaboine, a father with a son and daughter.  I could not identify the man’s accent, and he identified himself as a Hutterite who had left the Colony.  I spent the following day resting, with my Hutterite friends coming again for fishing, and also with an invitation for me to go home for dinner.  Theirs was a wonderful home life and the woman of the house’s cooking was of course wonderfully Hutteritish, and after supper I was taken on a back roads tour and introduced to Gumbo roads, they being mud roads made famous by the western Canadian country music band (sh’r ‘nuff wish I cud thinka th’r name y’all) which recorded ‘My Truck Got Stuck’ and in which several other trucks get stuck trying to pull out the stuck truck but the Hutterite truck in the song did not get stuck because the Hutterites in the song were too smart to venture into the Buffalo turd and fish exrement mixed with waterfowl white goo and silty clay and which when mixed well together is Gumbo and which was found on the bottom of the big lake which once covered much of the prairie and which I had an intimate experience with on my return trip.  In the middle of the back road tour I was taken to a Hutterite Colony to meet the children’s grandparents.  Unfortunately, our visit was as short as it was pleasant/unpleasant, for the headman of the Colony was in a dispute with the grandparents’ son, who was my host, and  who according to that Headman’s precepts was not welcomed onto the Colony.  I was able to ease my host’s anger by reminding him that God will repay justice if necessary to the Colony’s headman unless that man repented of his hard heart.  I learned on my trip through the west that if a traveler meets fishermen who are enjoying a beer or something stronger while fishing, and those fisherpeople speak with an accent difficult to identify, they are almost certainly young Hutterite men who have left the colony to live and work in the ‘outer’ world.  I fell in with such a group not long after the first family, and we had a great time, they happily sharing their beer and stronger drink, with two of the young men’s father having escaped his Colony for the day, and also enjoying more than one drink.  These fishers did reasonably well that day, considering the pollution of most of the rivers and lakes east of Alberta.  Catfish is a favourite haunter of the Assiniboine, and two normal sized cats were caught, and then a huge one which nearly pulled the strong young man off his feet and into the river.  This fish easily weighed fourty pounds .. not a record catfish by any means, but cats are well muscled.  I learned that the prairie rivers once ran clear as glass, with Sturgeon plentiful; but after decades of farmers plowing soil, with accompanying farm runoff, the rivers run as mud, and are of course loaded with chemicals and fertilizers.    My own fishing gear consists of a telescoping pole and kit with lures but I had left it in Ottawa, unable to find enough space on the moped, or at least a place in which the pole would not have been threatened with breakage.  I would not have been able to use my gear past the Ontario border anyway without purchasing expensive, non-resident licenses, and my trip involved enough natural stimulation that I really didn’t mind not fishing all that much.  Shortly after I had departed Saskatoon I read a newspaper report of a 64 pound Rainbow Trout being caught in the huge, dam created Lake Diefenbaker.  That is a big Trout.
 
 
 
==Chapter Eight==
 
''The Old Path''
 
 
 
Highway 26, the old trans Canada, parallels the new Trans Canada Number One as both highways come into Portage la Prairie.Number 26 ends by running into Number One just past Portage, and five miles beyond that Highway 16, the famously beautiful Yellowhead Highway begins.  The Yellowhead runs from there through to Saskatoon, Edmonton, and Jasper, just beyond which it splits into Yellowhead west continuing on to British Columbia’s Pacific Ocean port of Prince Rupert way up there at the bottom of the Alaska Panhandle.  The Yellowhead also turns south just past Jasper as the Thompson Highway Numebr 5, and runs almost to Vancouver.  The Yellowhead is being promoted as The New Trans Canada because of tremendous shipping potential with goods from Asia entering Prince Rupert and run by rail and truck down the Yellowhead into the U.S.  However, that potential may never be reached because global warming has opened up the Northwest Passage, and if that passage is ice free every year as it was this year, shipping will just naturally take that route.  The Yellowhead is a highway in transformation, with widenings and shoulders being paved in anticipation of increased use, but despite it having been a major highway for many decades, Saskatchewan’s poverty relative to the rest of Canada has results in the highway being often narrow with gravel shoulders .. and those conditions, together with large numbers of transport trucks, make slow travel on the Yellowhead somewhat risky, although  in truth the number of transports never approached what I had been told by locals to expect.
 
 
 
The Yellowhead proved interested for necessitating my first true, roadside camp, when shortly after I left Portage a storm approached, dropping a soft rain but threatening much more.  Prairie Thunderstorms can be truly frightening events, and the shoulders of the Yellowhead offered no protection from high winds would sweep right off the prairie.  I turned off onto a gravel farm access road, and found a high bank which was situated for protection.  Here, only about four feet from the gravel edge, I pitched my tent.  A farmhouse with buildings lay within one-eighth mile of me, and I was a bit worried that western hospitality which is a truce fact would nonetheless be strained by my setting up of camp.  I wasn’t bothered by anyone though, and only three or four vehicles passed my spot in the 12 or 14 hours I was camped.
 
 
 
The next morning I rode on, first to the town of Russell whichserendiptuously my poet friend Baird McNeil had once lived, and which was to be a site for a family gathering for some of my own family in early July.  From Russell I phoned Dad, getting further directions, and rode to the crossroads of Shellmouth which is almost on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border,  where I roamed back roads asking people in vehicles for directions, until I finally stopped at a farm, where upon my enquiring, the entire family gave up what they were busy at and got out maps and made telephone calls, and where I made one more call to Dad, and, as dusk was near, finally the exact homestead location was located.  Now the riding became very interesting indeed, as I had to get to the homestead before dark.  First back to the paved road, then down another paved road which led down a long, steep hill to the river and a bridge.  I missed by turn at the bridge and was somehow partly up the long, steep hill on the other side before realizing my mistake .. back down the hill and across the bridge to turn left turn onto a gravel road past a sometimes used campground, and then up a rising, twisting, gravel road past the goat farmer, then up and up twisting and downhill but mostly up, twisting and finally turning left onto a wagon track  which made a long, gradual descent down past the spring which was told me by an Austrian in his pickup up who had just moved into the area, and not far past the spring a place where the roadside trees cleared briefly allowing entrance onto a grassy lane of sorts which had been kept mowed by farmers leasing the land over the last decades, and by foot now, out of true reverence, not wanting to disturb history with the sound of even my quiet motor, down the grass lane to where the trees opened onto the valley and .. the original, windowless, log house and barn.  This was history as it should be, living history.  I was deeply moved. The valley was the quietest place I have ever been in, with only a small river at its lowest elevation hidden by forest, and therefore emitting no sound of running water.  There was also almost no wind blowing to create sound during my two days there.
 
 
 
The log house is still standing squarely and strong, with only two small openings in its wood shingle roof .. those shingles being almost paper thin.  How well protected this valley was for the house to stand all these years.  Great Grandfather Jorge with his wife Maria originally came from the city of Czernowitz, in the region of Bukovina, which is reported to be the most beautiful area of Europe, and which is famous for gospel scenes painted on the exteriors of its Orthodox monasteries.  Mountainous Bukovina was once independent but has been overrun during many wars, and is now situated in Northwestern Romania.  Great Grandfather Jorge, who I am sure was drafted into the Austrian army,  had built his new home over a root cellar, and upon a strong stone foundation. This cellar, which provided ventilation so the floor and timbers supporting the walls did not rot upon their stones, was one of the reasons the house still stood.  I am not a carpenter by any means, but I have made my living with tools, and I recognized in the entire house such careful craftsmanship as to be .. awesome.  A shallow well lined with stones sat beside the house, and a log barn with sagging walls and collapsing wood shake roof sat on the other side of the grassy lane.  Another building with tin roof and sawn lumber also occupied the property, it probably having been put up by a subsequent owner or leaser of the land, but everything was long unused.  A gravel company had bought the entire property when the Shellmouth River dam was to be built, and still owns the property, but where the gravel was dug from I never discovered, having seen a few gravel quarries, and not being terribly interested in that part of the property’s history.  I wanted to get to the river, though, from which Dad remembers his grandfather and father and other men returning in winter with a large wagon on skis loaded to capacity with frozen fish.  I pitched my tent near the barn where I would get best benefit of morning sun, and after cooking a meal went to bed, unfortunately, with the Ticks .. the place just swarming with them, as is the entire valley of the Assiniboine with its tributaries.  The infestation is a modern plague created by modern farming practices which resulted in the decimation of wildlife which would have controlled the tick’s population numbers.One of the reasons for the pure quietness of the Shell River Valley at the homestead’s location is, despite the abundance of woodlands and water, the rarity of birds.  The aboriginals, I understand, burned the prairie in the spring as a method of fertilization and as weed control, this killing most of the Ticks, with this practice at first being practiced by settlers, and then abandoned. 
 
 
 
The next day I went for a walking tour.  A farmer had leased the land for planting, and I walked around the field to get to the woods on the other side.  Had I walked straight across the field I would have come to the still visible wagon trail leading to the river, but I missed it, and got to the river by the method known as bushwhacking, making my way through very thick brush and woods.  Almost any goal other than my ancestral river would not have been worth the effort and risk, and except that the valley walls in the woods were steep enough to easily determine up and down I could have easily gotten lost .. but I just kept going down .. down .. down through the brambles and past the trees and around the springs and marshy places and down finally to the river .. not much more than a large creek .. but a river, with a river’s music and air, and clean water, probably clean enough to drink, although I didn’t venture it.  On the other side of the river, set halfway up the valley in a small clearing, was a farmhouse, with its laneway leading from up above.  I walked along the river, first upriver, but quickly realizing instinctively that I was going the wrong way, and then down.  Within minutes I came to a ford .. with clear, level areas on each side the ford.  This was where the homesteaders crossed the river with wagons and horses.  This was where they would have come to load up with fish.  I walked to the centre of my side of the river’s clear area and turned to face uphill, and sure enough, there was the old path .. wide enough for a wagon, still clear enough for a wagon.  Perhaps the local farmers sometimes run their tractors across the river at this place.  I walked downriver a very short way, enjoyed the sound of the small rapids, and made my way back to the homestead up the wagon trail.  Later that day I rode my moped around the sparsely populated neighbourhood’ .. finding beautiful Ukrainian and Romanian Orthodox churches almost next door to each other, and being preserved more as historical artifacts than operating churches, each church with their grave yard.  My  great grandfather and his wife Maria were almost certainly buried in St. Elias’s, but there was no trace of a Mofsurivzscean headstone, that being close to the spelling of Great Grandfather’s name on his Austrian Army discharge papers.  The old wooden crosses in St. Elia’s yard had been burned years ago in a grass fire.  An anglicized spelling appears on a historical plaque there, and I spoke with another graveyard visitor/local historian who told me that a pronunciation for our family name would probably have been Monsoronchon, but I doubted that pronunciation from the original spelling, and probably no one in North America knows the real pronunciation as Ukranians and Romanians, even though they intermingled closely, were prone to enmity, and each nationality would, if necessary, change the pronunciation of their names when finding themselves surrounded by neighbours from the other nation.  Another factor in pronunciation was that a friend of mine who was born in Poland and lived much of his adult life in Eastern Europe has through family photographs identified my great grandparents Jorge and Maria as Rom Gypsies, so original pronunciation becomes even more clouded.  My younger brother Jody, in a few of his pictures, could easily pass for a Rom just stepped down from his wagon home, and although my physical appearance totally denies the Gypsy race, leaning towards a cross between the English of my mother, and with my unibrow eyebrows which meet over my nose, the Turks who also occupied Bukovina for long periods of time) I have a Gypsy spirit which prevents me, despite great efforts, from settling down in one place for longer than three years, often moving after 18 months at one address .. and then there is the violin, which I have affinity for, having taught myself to play a few simple tunes.  I put the violin to good use during my canoe voyage of three years ago when I met some picknickers originally from Bukovina but then living in Montreal, my violin and their homemade fruit vodka providing dance music, and there on the banks of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s Beauharnais Canal the dancing was wild and Gypsy like .. with all of us greatly moved to post dancing, quiet nostalgia.  My Dad’s parents were an example of that intermingling, his Dad being Ukranian but speaking both languages, his mother Romanian and speaking only Romanian, that being the household language.
 
 
 
Today’s new settlers to the Shell River area are not Gypsies, Romanians or Ukranians, however, but Austrians .. and I attempted following directions from memory to the home of the Austrian who had assisted me in finding the homestead, and who had told me about the clear spring, but if I found his address he and his wife weren’t home.  On that tour I discovered where a crossroads village had once been, but whose only reminders was one old building and some timbers.  In all of my road running in that area I did not find one mention of the natives without whose assistance the first explorers, traders, and pioneers would never have survived.  I visited the goat farmer, who confirmed that many Austrians were taking up residence on land the Romanians and Ukranians were vacatingHe had told me, and the goat farmer confirmed, that When I returned to the homestead a neighbour, I think the one leasing the land, had come to visit me, hearing of my presence from the family who had located the place on the map for me.  This same gentleman had given my Dad and his brother a ride to the homestead a few years before, and of course remembered them.
 
 
 
Before I move on, I would like to demonstrate the isolation of the pioneers by the three mile walk to school my Dad, his brother and sister had; and by the example of Dad’s mother, who although born and raised in Saskatchewan, learned no English.   
 
 
 
Yes .. beautiful isolation in some senses .. but what a terrible isolation it could have been for women alone with children and separated by miles from the nearest neighbours, with husbandswho must have been dead tired at the end of their days of exceptionally hard labour.  Women from Czernowitz in Bukovina may especially have felt the isolation, having come from a highly artistic and social culture.  Life was not all hard labour though, and and Dad remembers gatherings of music and dancing.  While some families were fortunate in the pioneering, my own only became fortuante enough to have prospered a short time, building a second house when my grandfather and his wife married .. and of course that was where Dad and his siblings were born.  I don’t know the order of difficulties, but their house burned, and of course the depression burned up what resources were left, and my grandfather left the farm for hard labour in Winnipeg, shoveling coal at an electricity generating plant, and working as a labourer on railroad maintenance gangs.  It comes as no surprise to me that I spent time doing that same thing, without conscious knowledge of grandfather’s labours.  He and I may have worked on the same stretch of track in far western Ontario.  Dad, when he was fifteen years old, was working full time as a dump truck driver building the Trans Canada Highway in Northern Ontario, and then moved to Hamilton, where he began his career in Tool and Die.  He has lived in Ontario ever since.
 
 
 
I would like to have one more day in the beauty, tranquility, and family roots of the homestead, with the pure spring providing rare and perfect water, and with much left to explore.  The ticks, however, decided my moving on, as I was unable to walk anywhere in the long grasses or woods without picking up dozens of them.  They were so pervasive that while sitting for coffee at a restaurant table a couple days later, I felt a tiny bump in my beard on my chin.  Yes, it was a tick, partially buried.  I pulled most or all of it out and crushed it underfoot.     
 
 
 
Leaving the homestead was therefore not painful an experience, and I turned north on 83 to the small town of Roblin, where I had a pleasant conversation with a pickup truck driver at the gasoline pumps, telling him of my visit to the homestead.  This gentleman finished his business first, I taking time to refill my oil reservoir, and when I went in to pay for my gas I was told it had already been paid for, by the pickup driver. 
 
 
 
At Roblin lived a relative who had written our family history into a book, although it is only now, six months too late, that I became conscious of the fact that she lived in Roblin.  Also at Roblin was the childhood home of my poet friend Baird’s wife Nylene.  I had phoned that couple from Russell, but I was at Roblin too early in the morning to chance waking Baird and Nylene in Ottawa.  From Roblin I turned west onto 5 and then 10, where along some part of those roads I found an old, parallel road bordering forest, the road now used by farm vehicles, and along this road I had a very nice encounter with a pair of deer.  That road was so enjoyably free of traffic for the first few miles that I would have stayed on it for as long as it ran, but it’s surface changed too often from smooth, hard packed dirt to roughly broken pavement, and I finally surrendered to the thought of sharing a road with other traffic and returned to the highway. 
 
 
 
I picked up The Yellowhead again at Yorkton, and rode into Saskatoon the day before my 60th birthday.  Of course first day of my trip to this day I had been filled with prayer for my sister-in-law, and I believe it was on this final stretch into Saskatoon that I suddenly knew my sister-in-law was going to be okay.  On arrival in their city I phoned Rick and Sandy, telling them I was there, and receiving joyous confirmation that Sandy’s cancer was not in the lymph after all.  I told Sandy that before I came to their home I wanted to launder all of my clothing, she not seeing any point to that until I mentioned the Ticks, when she instantly changed her mind.  Finding a Laundromat was a large chore, as I had arrived close to 8 p.m., an hour at which for one reason or other most Saskatoon Laundromats close.  I phoned around until finally finding one which stayed open until 9, with the owners so kind as to delay closing their business an extra 20 minutes until my long process was complete, and I thanked them with an extra $10.
 
 
 
It was of course with great happiness that I arrived at Rick and Sandy’s home, where Sandy’s prognosis made all well and happy, and where my 60th birthday was celebrated the next day, June 7.  Sandy is retired from hospital administration, and as a hobby generating  enough cash to pay for that hobby she paints portraits of pets onto rocks, so one of our beautiful walks together was along railroad tracks looking for suitable stones.  Sandy and Rick have been married over 40 years, and are one of the only truly happy, married couples I have ever known, their respect for each other, and their genuine affection for most people, being a huge reason for their success.
 
 
 
I can’t remember if I spent three or four days with Rick and Sandy, but during that time I helped them do yard work, and changed by moped’s tire, finding that the Almighty God’s mercy had carried me on the old tire despite some of the tire’s steel foundation wires sticking out of the bald rubber.  I was never that deliberately careless again.  It was a cool, drizzly morning when I left Saskatoon, and if time constraints weren’t a factor, I would have stayed another day, hoping the rain would stop.  My brother Ron’s birthday was June 20, though, so I had to reach Victoria by then.
 
 
 
My trip to Edmonton was almost uneventful except for two things, the first being the fantastic vistas.  West of Saskatoon The Yellowhead seems to sit atop a high elevation, with the mighty Saskatchewan River paralleling it first on the south, and then on the north, so that for many miles the view is enormous.  Somewhere on this stretch, or did it occur in Alberta, with the highway four laned, that on the opposite side of the road was a tourist attraction of a Ukranian or Romanian pioneer village.  I carefully checked my rear view mirrors, and far, far back on the prairie horizon I saw vehicle headlights.  Their was no traffic coming towards me, and normally I would have had plenty of time to move across all four lanes, but I had just crossed the first lane when instinct caused me to hesitate long enough to check my mirrors again, that hesitation undoubtedly saving my life because that vehicle which should still have been halfway to the distant horizon when the car blew past me at what had to be at least 120 miles per hour .. double the speed limit.  I would have been killed instantly of course, and not gotten to view that pioneer village.  I hadn’t been frightened by the car, as it all happened to quickly for fright, but it did serve another lesson in defensive driving.
 
 
 
The view through the city of Edmonton though,  was frightening, as all I could see was taillights and headlights on the Yellowhead which turns multilane and carries traffic stop and go and madly through the city, not peacefully around, and with that city in the midst of an economic super boom, traffic does not progress leisurely .. the only comparison I can make is to my experience on a narrow, two lane stretch of New York City expressway.  The traffic was so dangerous and fast that upon my approach to an overpass I was forced in a last second decision onto the sidewalk,  which was bordered by a railing, preventing me from returning to the pavement.  I made the long, curving passage slowly and safely, with the absence of pedestrians making for no surprises. 
 
 
 
Past Edmonton and on its way to the Rocky Mountains The Yellowhead gradually gains elevation through relatively dry and of course hilly country which I find difficult to describe, not nearly as prosperous as much of the west, with small villages, forestry, mines, lakes for cottages, and seemingly unprosperous farm.  I had passed an old barn which was particularly photograph worthy but was separated from it and its parallel access road by about 200 feet of grassy hill, with the next highway intersection at least a quarter miles ahead.  Being in ‘the west’ on my motorized pony for so had given me a tiny bit of attitude of the raw, cowboy; and that instinct overcame common sense in my desire for a photograph and the next thing I know there I am angling my moped up the grassy hill, which was a lot rougher than it looked, my bike bucking and kicking and it was all I could do to stay upright, but I kept my throttle full and my balance keen and I gained the barn.  After taking the photo I rode the gravel road to where it intersected another gravel road, and at that intersection was surprised to see not far down the road an old Orthodox church outside of which a few people were moving about.  I rode towards the church, andslowed to a stop near some vehicles.  As I slowed I noticed a mechanical sounding clack-clack-clack-clack-clack which seemed to be in sync with my motor, and I was afraid my cowboying had caused serious damage.  My arrival had attracted the attention of the churchgoers who walked towards me, and I to them, thinking to look at my bike after a chat.  The people were descendants of original settlers, sons and grandsons of people buried in the churchyard.  We did chat, and I gained a bit more knowledge of the Romanian Ukranian side of my heritage, and then, with people and vehicles which included a pickup truck departing, I examined my moped.  Before I had departed from Ottawa I had securely fastened, in a relative sense, a short, telescoping style umbrella on the left side rear of my vehicle, between the wheel and the saddlebag.  As I had cowboyed roughly up the hill this umbrella had jostled out of its fastenings, and had bounced into the wheel, where it was firmly stuck while bent at a right angle.  If my wheel was of the wire spokes type it would not have survived, as the cast spokes were scored at least one-eighth inch deep close to the hub.  I removed the umbrella, which was now trash, and motored thankfully on.  Somewhere along this stretch I also found a small, old Anglican church at which I stopped for a photo and a rest.  Behind this church’s graveyard was a large, open pit mine .. although what they were mining I don’t know.
 
 
 
In the final approach to Jasper Provincial Park there are two railroad towns, Hinton and Edson.  On the western outskirts of one of these towns (I can’t remember for sure which one) and in the grass and scrub between the pavement and the forest, I saw what I at first thought were three black dogs stumbling awkwardly towards the highway.  My first thought was that they were clumsy for dogs, but I didn’t take much more thought to them, proper thought coming quickly enough when I saw that they ran up to a Black bear which was lying on its side a few feet off the gravel shoulder.  I knew right away that the bear had been struck by a vehicle, and I looked at the ‘dogs’ again and confirmed my suspicion that they were cubs.  I slowed my moped, looking for signs of life in the bear, and after passing her by about 70 feet, parked my moped.  The cubs were now nervously nuzzling their mother, and I picked up a stout stick and slowly approached.  The cubs took notice of me and ran for the woods, staying just inside the trees.  The bear was not moving, not breathing that I could tell, and blood was on the ground at her mouth.  I was just about to prod her when a Ministry of Natural Resources or Provincial Park pickup pulled slowly off the pavement about 200 feet ahead and approached slowly, obviously searching for the bear.  I signaled the Wardens and they drove up,the passenger side Warden asking me if the bear was dead.  I answered that I wasn’t sure, and he got out of the pickup with his rifle, walked up to the bear, and prodded her with his rifle’s muzzle.
 
 
 
‘There are three cubs,’ I said, nodding towards the woods.  They’re just inside the first trees.  Can you guys do anything for them?’
 
 
 
‘Zoos won’t take them, so we have to shoot them.  They’d starve to death otherwise.’
 
 
 
‘You have a tough job,’ I said.
 
 
 
The officer with the rifle said, ‘This won’t be pleasant.  We’d like you to get on your bike and ride away.’
 
 
 
I saluted the officer and did as he preferred, after asking for and receiving permission to take a photograph.
 
 
 
The rest of my ride into the crown jewel of Canada’s Rocky Mountain, the village of Jasper, was relatively uneventful except I arrived in the village trembling from cold and almost in hypothermic convulsions.  Much of my ride from Saskatoon had been in cool, wet weather, with temperatures dropping as I gained elevation, and with my speed dropping from increasing gradient.  Before I had gained the village I had passed what appeared to be a turnoff into some sort of structure which possibly offering warmth I made a U turn in the highway without even checking carefully behind me to see if traffic was coming.  The structure I had seen turned out to be a way station for, I believe, a gas or oil pipeline.  An employee arrived at the locked gate at the same time as I did, but I wasn’t smart enough to ask if he would let me warm up inside.  I was off the wind of the highway though, and when I thought I had warmed up sufficiently I took to the road again, coming finally into Jasper just as the sun broke through the clouds, and after a long and unpleasant ride made dangerous by my dropping internal body temperature.  I found a Laundromat which also offered showers, and spent several dollars standing in a warm shower.  It was only after I had warmed up that I started my laundry, and then went looking for a restaurant, forgetting for the moment my guideline of ‘reasonable prices’, and settling for the first hot meal I could find.  I did have a credit card, after all.
 
 
 
I had to escape the boundaries of Jasper National Park or pay either hefty camping fees or a fine for illegal camping, so I did not do any tourist things in the village except visit the path to what 30 years ago had been a short duration but very pleasant  home for me in the form of a free campground for hippies and employees in the tourist industy.  This was the Jasper Free Camp .. a unique cultural experience where open door privies were the norm, and where walking naked was acceptable and commonplace.  This was the camp at which I attacked the bear with my hunting knife.  When I had been doing my laundry in Jasper the Laundromat’s owner and I engaged in conversation, and when he mentioned the need for affordable housing for employees of the tourist operators I suggested he set up another Free Camp, which led to him saying that his father, and the original owner of the laundromat, had been instrumental in setting up the Free Camp. 
 
 
 
I had ridden west from Jasper many miles when I had the need to lean backwards against a tree .. this being my favourite way of relieving loads when privies are not available.  Keeping your back to a tree, particularly a large tree, can be a small form of protection when you are thus engaged, much preferable to making yourselfvery small and vulnerable by squatting.  The need for protection becomes evident with signs like the one I was leaning relatively close to, ‘Warning, Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, Cougar, Wolf Habitat’.  However, before leaning against the tree, check upwards, as small bears sometimes climb trees, and on a Pacific Ocean beach later in my trip I came face to face with a bear, he eight feet above me, and hissingly angry that I was preventing him from descending.  Thankfully I was not leaning on the tree at that time and was able to make my departure quickly.  Oh yes, one more thing, despite examples to the contrary published by supposedly experienced campers .. never, ever, ever take anything resembling food or drink into your tent other than water .. and don’t wrap your sleeping bag around yourself while you’re eating breakfast, and when you’re cooking breakfast stay upwind from the cooking pot so you won’t smell like a bear’s breakfast, and if you do get food odours blown onto you wash your hair, and as another precaution which helps me relax at night when bears roam looking for food I always leave my day clothing which may have food smells in a plastic bag outside my tent’s sleeping compartment.  Experts are divided about the advisibility of hanging food in packs on ropes from high tree branches, and I never do that, but make sure my food is stored in double sealed plastic systems like a bag and a Tupperware container, and stashed nowhere near my tent, and preferably not in the canoe if I am canoeing because a bear can trash a canoe quickly .. but we are mopeding on this trip, not canoeing, although a canoe would have been nice to have on the next part of my trip.
 
 
 
I can’t remember if the beautiful, boggy plateau from which the westward flowing Fraser River and the eastward flowing Athabasca seem to flow from (I’m not a geographer) is situated in Jasper Provincial Park or in eastward neighbouring Mount Robson Provincial Park, but it is indeed a beautiful plateau .. a spiritual experience equal to seeing the huge mountain peaks themselves.I had one of the most beautiful camps of the trip at Mount Robson, on the rushing headwaters of the Fraser River, a no cost campsite which required only a little searching.
 
 
 
From the plateau the descent is wonderful in its peaceful gradient and scenery, and leads to the village of Tete Jaune Cache where the Yellowhead splits to run northwest to the Pacific, and south, after a few miles picking up and following the North Thompson River.  It is interesting that at Tete Jaune Cache the Fraser turns northwest for many miles before turning again towards the south, finally joining the combined water of the North and South Thompson at Lytton on the Trans Canada Number One.  This is a truly awesome junction .. and for me, had I not been an avid geographical reader for much of my life, a hobby which gave me small introductions to rivers like The Amazon, the joining of the two mountain rivers would have been unbelievable in its scope until I saw it for myself, as in my days following the Thompson south and then west I had come to view that river as gargantuan in itself.
 
 
 
A couple of days before Lytton, though, I had another flat tire,this one causing me to camp for the night on the very side of the highway.  Fortunately, British Columbia highways provide many stopping places for truckers to check their brakes and rest, and so I had a wide lane of pavement between me and the highway.  I also had a guardrail separating my tent from the stopping lane.  That flat was particularly troublesome, I not being able to get the tire round on the rim, and so it was after two false starts of bump, bump, bumping along that the third attempt, enhanced by my desperate move of taking a large rock and pounding the offending dent in the steel rim, was not perfect, but at least I was able to ride the few miles into the town of Kamloops, where I was hailed by a rider on a motorcycle who was also a freelance writer.  So it was that the first part of my trip was published in an on line motorcycle mag.  Before leaving Kamloops I stopped at a custom motorcycle shop to find the owners having an similar wheel problem but with a greater magnitude.  The shop owners told me I was welcome to change my tire inside their shop, but the light outside was brighter and suited my tired old eyes, and that’s where I made my changeusing the shop’s tire iron, but only after finding a drug store and purchased Baby Powder, something I had forgotten to buy in Saskatoon, and with the aid of the powder making both tire and rim slippery, achieving a perfect roundness.  While I was working on my repair biker who had been visiting the shop offered to drive me around to a few other bike shops to search for a new tire and tube, but none were available, and so I was again riding on faith when I departed Kamloops.  Kamloops is interesting for its scenery and the mountain goats which inhabit surrounding hillsides, as well as the city’s climate which makes it a ‘sunshine town’ in winter with above average temperatures in summer.  Kamloops is particularly interesting, though, for the length of the highway’s steep ascent westward out of town.  The grade was so steep I had to walk beside my bike a long way as I used the throttle to power the rear wheel.  This was the first time on the trip I was required to do so, but not the last.
 
 
 
From Kamloops there are two routes leading to Vancouver.  The Coquihalla Highway is a recently built multi-lane express toll route running southwest at high elevation, and deducting, I am told, about six hours from the Kamloops-Vancouver run.  I have never taken that highway, and everyone I talked to in Kamloops suggested the old Trans Canada Number One, both for scenic value and for safety, as the Coquihalla is used heavily by transport trucks.  Transports were no problem to me until the last day of my trip as I rode into Ottawa, but I did not want to pay the toll, and I was told the old highway was a beautiful ride for motorbikes.  Thus I headed slightly northwest along the Thompson River which had been joined at Kamloops by the South Thompson.  Not far west of Kamloops lies long and narrow Kamloops Lake, with the highway running alongside, and through villages like Cherry Creek and Savona.  This is sparsely populated, dry country, wildly beautiful, and the highway climbs and dips, climbs and dips.  The views are
 
spectacular.  Shortly after leaving Kamloops Lake the mighty Thompson River curves sharply south, with the highway going on west for a short time before running into the beautiful small town of Cache Creek on the banks of the southward flowing Bonaparte River.  Just beyond Cache Creek the Bonaparte and Thompson join, and soon after the highway is again running alongside this mightier Thompson.  Fifty miles south of Cache Creek the Thompson somehow disappears into the mightier Fraser at Lytton, and this huge river makes it way south through the majestic Fraser Canyon, with the highway again alongside, and where at Hell’s Gate a tourist attraction has been developed with a cable car ride over the frightening turbulence of the river.  River and highway continue south until coming to Hope, where the river and highway turn west, and where the Coquihalla ends, but where once again a traveller has a choice of highways, the old Number One, running north of the river, or the new multi lane Number One running on the river’s south side.  For anyone wanting to view scenery and meet people I think the answer is generally the same in every country, stick to the slow roads, and I do so.  Weather wise I was comfortable from Jasper to Hope, but as I turned due west nearing the Pacific temperatures dropped and rain began.  I turned onto the dirt road of a native Reserve, and was welcomed to camp in a certain place where there was an abandoned building with solid roof still standing, but the structure was thickly surrounded by brush and difficult to get the bike through, and very wet besides, and I chose to go on.  Where I spent that night I can’t remember, but the next day took me to Vancouver, and on the road to the ferry, which I hoped to catch before its last departure of the day.  I abandoned that quest not far from my goal when I came to one of B.C.’s many, beautiful, government-established roadside stops equipped with outhouses and even washrooms, and frequented by truckers and tourists.  Officially there is no overnight tenting allowed at these often park like settings even though truckers and tourists in motor vehicles overnight there, but I understand the rule is not often enforced unless the privilege is being abused in some way.  To avoid any unpleasantness with authorities I searched this large and particularly park like place until I found a circle of the exceptionally large trees once common in British Columbia, but now rare, in the centre of which had been placed a picnic table.  The rain had stopped, and the trees were closely spaced, and thickenough, that little rain had come through.  Besides my moped’s advantage of high gasoline mileage its small size allows it to be easily hidden, and after cooking and eating a good meal on a picnic table in plain sight, and then having a good walkabout and chat with other travelers, and then a wash in the washroom which had hot running water, I secreted my bike in the grove, unrolled my sleeping bag, and laid myself down on top of the picnic table.  My sleep was disturbed only by the beautifully soft sound of rain on the trees in the night .. with an occasional drop falling onto the waterproof thermal blanket over my sleeping bag.
 
 
 
==Chapter Nine==
 
''Another Birthday''
 
 
 
In my first week of travel after departing Ottawa I had ensuredI breakfasted well, normally on oatmeal and apples, having learned that the breakfast practice provides enough real energy to minimize stress.  During my second week of cool, wet weather I neglected breakfasts for the practice of getting underway early and stopping for a coffee .. and then breakfasting late in the morning.  I found this was a great way of getting sick and short tempered, so I went back to breakfasting, relieving my own cooking with a restaurant breakfast of sausages and eggs if a restaurant was close by.
 
 
 
It was a good thing that I ate before setting out to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island, because British Columbia road signs are the most confusing of anywhere I have travelled, and this difficulty has been confirmed by other travelers.  As I road down Number One now on the south side of the Fraser River I came to a large sign saying ‘Ferry to Victoria’ or something like that, ‘next left’.  I turned left at the next left, and was taken far away from my destination.  That was okay, as my brother in Victoria was working that day so we could not have visited anyway, but finding my way back to the road to the ferry was not easy.  I had ridden a long way before determining I had probably taken the wrong road, and I did not enjoy the feeling of being lost for the first time on my trip, especially because I have learned that strangers genuinely want to be helpful but can’t always be relied on for directions.  I was also low on gasoline.  Of course my one litre metal container of gas for emergency was tucked away, but that was good for only 25 miles, and my wrong turn had taken me south almost to to the U.S. border, with no gas station on my side, and I had no desire to go through the border crossing process simply to buy $5.00 worth of gas.
 
 
 
Motorists, a pedestrians, and a member of a highway repair crew did not fail me with their directions, though, and after much turning and turning I rode a long, quiet, rural road back to the highway to the ferry.  There are at least two ferry terminals to Vancouver Island, but it is the most southerly Tawassan ferrieswhich takes you to, no, not British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria which is a major port for tourist cruise ships and whale watching, but after a beautiful cruise threading through the Gulf Islands, you are unshipped at the lesser port and very pretty town of Sydney, from which Victoria is gained by Trans Canada Number One.  The shipboard cruise I made in beautiful sunshine, because as I was boarding the ferry the sun broke through the clouds, and southern Vancouver Island was blessed, after many days of cold and rain, with a week of weather perfectly suited to tourists and mopedists coming to celebrate birthdays with brothers.
 
 
 
The 600 miles length of Vancouver Island is not strange to me except in its northernmost extremity as I had lived on the island a few times, and Victoria is fairly familiar, as my second wife Jeani and I lived outside of that city and worked frequently in it almost 20 years ago.  Almost all the farmland on Vancouver Island lies between Sydney and Victoria, and this beautiful country and I became intimate through my post-marriage breakup employment as a herder of a dozen sheep which was part of a larger job as caretaker on a private estate.  My intimacy with this farm country came not from a deep geographical knowledge, but from the experience I had one day while picking stones off a hillside on which the sheep were grazing.  Just a few days before I had disentangled a ewe’s legs from hale bay binder twine left lying carelessly around by either the former caretaker or the owner or by someone but definitely not by me as one of my major concerns was for the sheep not finding twine which they might be tempted to chew on, having it get stuck in their throats or worse.  In the process of disentangling this ewe who was huge with pregnancy I had to wrap both my armsaround her belly, and you might say we bonded, because when it came time for her to drop her lamb she left the flock and walked directly to me, stopping about 30 feet away, lying down, and delivering.  I was moved.  This was Eagle and Cougar country, and while it is well known what a Cougar would do to a lamb or a fawn, Eagles will also kill both, and this ewe had come to me for protection during her most defenseless moments.  Yes .. that kind of intimacy is well remembered. 
 
 
 
Other memories are more difficult.  One reason I had not returned to the west since my marriage broke up in Victoria was the trauma of that separation.  I had suffered a serious emotional breakdown, being zombie-like for many weeks, wandering the streets of Victoria with as much capability as a days-old lamb, but without the ability of skipping for joy.  During my weeks of planning my trip I had actually experienced fear of what I might find in me when faced with old scenes, old scents, the sound of ocean waves .. the sight of the coastal mountains.  I was surprised that I felt no pain as I rode through these memories, surprised because I still dream of Jeani, with one of my most recent dreams involving her and I being together again, and her giving birth to our child, yes, at our present ages.  Crazy old me!  Boy child or girl I can’t say .. but the happiness in the dream was so real that it stayed with me for days following, and perhaps it left only because I didn’t have the nerve to try to find Jeani’s phone number and call her, offering her a chance for the baby that she and I had not had when married, that absence for Jeani becoming more than she could bear, and in my mind at least causing her to leave and seek other options.  Other options she tried, two more marriages providing only two more divorces.  She and I both had nothing to lose by my phoning her .. but after almost a year I still have not made that call.
 
 
 
Leaving sorrows and cowardice and unbelief behind, we return to the present reality of what was happening seven months ago.  My brother’s cabin cruiser’s home berth is at Oak Bay Marina.  Oak Bay is a a wealthy Victoria neighbourhood where I had worked as a handyman before the position on the private estate.  To get to Oak Bay I had to turn off Number One onto lesser roads, and I did so, but my memory was not sharp, and at a traffic light or stop sign I asked the driver beside me for directions. 
 
 
 
“Follow me into the park up ahead,” he said, and I did.  This was Douglas Park, a reserve of the huge trees native to Vancouver Island, and the setting was so peaceful that the stranger (I’ll call him Jack) and I fell into casual conversation, I finally asking him if he knew Sombrio Beach, which was for an automobile about one and one half hours northwest of Victoria, and where and I had lived more than once in a primitive, driftwood shack community of hippies and surfers.  Jack said yes, he knew Sombrio, and I then asked if he knew Steve and Barb, the couple who had lived on the beach with their many children, Barbara giving birth to three of the children on the beach which had no electricity and no running water other than what came down the mountainside in waterfalls, creeks, and what is known as Sombrio River but which is not more than a creek.
 
 
 
“Their goat pissed on my leg,” Jack said, laughing.
 
 
 
I was able to balm Jack’s potentially hurt dignity by saying, “I ate that goat.”  We both had a good laugh and I asked him if he knew if Steve and Barbara were still in the area.  I already knew that the Sombrio community was destroyed, the shacks burned mostly by the government as the beach was being made part of the Juan de Fuca Trail which joins the larger West Coast trail at Port Renfrew.  I say the government burned most of the shacks, but I have learned that Steve, Barb, and a friend of mine named Rivermouth Mike could not bear the pain of anyone but themselves burning what had been their homes for well over a decade, and so they dismantled and burned their own.  By the way, there is a video available about Sombrio available by typing a word search on the Internet.
 
 
 
Of Steve and Barbara, Jack said he had no idea of wherethey might be as he had not been back to Sombrio for a few years because the beach’s peace and quiet had been destroyed by the crowds and boom box noise of partyers.  My brother had already told me that situation with the beach, but I was determined to go there anyway, and to find Steve and Barb if possible, as I had first met them about 25 years ago on my first visit to Sombrio, and as we had become such close friends that two of their young children, Dawn and Jesse,  would accompany me on walks ‘up the trail’ to the topside for berry picking.  My wife Jeani and I, with her young son Adam, had lived on the beach in a shack I had built, Steve and Barbara’s children and Adam becoming close companions.  At this time I will .. and I am hesitating here, unable to determine how to put this, wanting to spare you a genuine shock when you read in the next chapter about my return to Sombrio, how it held a terrible trauma.  And please, I don’t want you to think I am using this warning as a literary device to hold your attention, as the loss was far too painful.
 
 
 
For now, though, it was time to get to Oak Bay, and Jack drove slowly enough to allow me to follow.  I think it was at the university that he and I parted, he having told me in advance about the turn, and signaling me when it was time to make it.  His directions were sure, and I rolled into a village which is so genteel and civilized as to have drivers who actually stop at crosswalks for elderly pedestrians .. like a different world, really.  My first destination was a Starbucks Coffee Shop my brother Ron had told me about, and I then set out on an unsuccessful attempt to find a coin operated telephone to let Ron, who would be off work at that time,  know I had arrived.  A bookstore not only provided the telephone, but also a stunning serendipitousness which came with an almost blinding light after I explained to the saleswoman that I had just come from Ottawa by moped, leading up to the brilliance with her asking,  “What neighbourhood are you from in Ottawa?”
 
 
 
Recognizing in her voice a certain familiarity with Ottawa I responded, “Mechanicsville.”
 
 
 
To which she responded, “Oh my gosh!  I’m from there!  My Dad was born there.”     
 
 
 
Do you think Ripley’s Believe it or Not would be interested?
 
     
 
If I had a heart for romance at that introduction I don’t know what this chance meeting could have led to, but my heart, I had come to realize, was still involved in a 25 year romance which had  survived several other failed relationships since my marriage ended, so I finally find it relatively easy to put aside any thoughts of potentialities as far as lovely ladies are concerned.  The woman was near my age and we both marveled at ‘coincidences’, but I suspected her state of mind was similar to my own as far as romance went,  and neither of us progressed to flirting,  I making my call and thanking her for her assistance, and still marveling at the power which leads to ‘coincidences’, walked to Starbucks to await my brother … and that’s all the story for tonight as even though I find it easy to discount romance I’m tired and somewhat lonely and need to go to bed.
 
 
 
After coffee Ron returned to his boat while I did laundry at aLaundromat, and then joined Ron at the marina.  We spent the rest of the day on the boat drinking beer and whiskey, and the next daywe motored onto the Pacific while celebrating his 56th birthday.  Both Ron and I are moderate drinkers, having learned many times not to overdo alcohol, so operating the boat under the influence of one birthday beer was neither sin nor crime.  I have forgotten the
 
sequence of events, whether it was that first series of days and nights with Ron, or the second series when I had returned from Sombrio Beach, but on one boat outing when we were accompanied by a friend of Ron’s we attempted setting a crab trap, but something went amiss, and I think the amiss was perhaps our advancing age reducing our ear’s hearing capabilities, because Skipper Ron commanded his pal or me to the wheel while he went to loose the trap, to which was tied a long rope with a marker buoy on its end. Ron had instructed us to call out a required depth as registered by the electronic sounder, and Ron’s pal and I both loudly called the depth to Ron, I expecting my brother to immediately drop the trap, but he delayed for several yards with the bottom dropping rapidly.  The trap’s marker float almost disappeared under water, and we should have immediately picked the trap up again and reset it at a shallower depth, but we did not, as Ron said the tide was at its ebb, and the marker was visible enough to warn boaters.  The next day Ron and I went in search of the trap at low tide, but the trap was gone, almost certainly carried out to sea or worse, the tide may have still been on the rise somewhat and could have completely covered the marker buoy, and the rope could have come in close proximity with a boater’s propeller, which may or may not have been big trouble for that boat. 
 
     
 
Besides losing the crab trap during our visit(s) Ron and I also sea-motored to the main harbour of Victoria where he had lived happily on board his boat for quite some time, until huge houseboats hemmed him in on every side.  By a quirky twist of fate this is the same harbour Ron’s ex-brother in law Kent had lived on board his own boat.  I had met Kent during my breakdown 20 years before, but I was too ‘out of it’ to make friendships, and I only visited with Kent a couple of times.  On this trip to Victoria’s harbour I greatly desired friendship with a beautiful mermaid with long red hair who was playing her accordion for money, busking it’s called, and the desire was mutual to the point of her giving me a smile of respect for the elderly. 
 
 
 
The ocean around Victoria, with its islands and bays and mountainous horizons, is perfect for boating, perfect that is for educated and/or experienced boaters; but the inexperienced can get themselves in big trouble very easily, and even the experienced have their troubles.  On one circumnavigation of an island Ron and I could barely make headway against a tidal current even at full throttle, and on another sunny afternoon in an effort to save fuel we were running parallel with large waves which resulted in my making prayer that Ron knew his boat well enough that we wouldn’t be capsized.  Ron told me he had experienced worse waves than those on a previous trip with his pal and was totally confidant in his boat’s abilities.  Nevertheless he finally plotted what I considered the better course because it decreased rocking dramatically, running out to sea for a considerable distance at an angle to the waves and then running in again also at an angle.  This increased the distance traveled which resulted in higher fuel costs, but it also eliminated the small chance that a rogue wave would tip the boat.  Rogue waves are real events even if they are extremely rare.  I had had a frightening experience on these same waters with Jeani and her son Adam in our canoe at Race Rocks, just northwest of Victoria.  The ‘rocks’ are tiny islands, and tidal currents through the rocks are said to be the strongest in the world.  We had been fishing at ebb tide when currents were not running, but the tide changed without my noticing, and I had to use all my skill to get us to safety by rock hopping, going with the current and ducking into the back eddies behind the islands, planning our next move from there, etc., etc.  The ocean’s tides have been the doom of many boaters, and in particular I remember the story of the canoeists on Hudson’s Bay who had successfully navigated down the northern rivers, and were paddling down the coast when they were stranded by a receding tide far out on a mud flat, and then drowned when the tide came in again, their canoe not being able to loose itself from the mud’s grip.
 
 
 
My time on the ocean with my brother was wonderful though, especially as we could celebrate the part of our recently uncovered family history which tied us by our mother’s blood with both Newfoundland’s seafarers as well as Portuguese seafarers, the two people being joined in Portugal Cove in Newfoundland.  Ron and I had really never wondered why both of us held a lifelong love of being on water, and my eldest daughter’s internet search discovery of our heritage was no real surprise, merely confirming what we already knew, that we were big water people .. the small lakes of  Algonquin Park holding no lure for me, but a trip down the Ottawa River to Montreal and then up the St. Lawrence Seaway seemed as natural as taking a shower.  Special things seemed to happen when Ron and I were together near water, such as the unforgettable sunset on the last day of our tent home on the Port Hope Beach, for instance, and the weather in Victoria being  so perfect and the sky so clear that Ron saw distant mountains for the first time, and that after almost 10 years in Victoria.  I can only thank the Almighty God.
 
 
 
Ron had added an extra day to his normal three day ‘weekend’in celebration of his birthday, but even with that too soon it was that Ron had to return to work, while it was time for me to head for Sombrio Beach; but before I left Victoria I stopped at a motorcycle shop whose operators ordered a moped tire which would be waiting when I returned from Sombrio.  I don’t know why I didn’t just phone the Great Canadian Motorcycle shop in Winnipeg, except perhaps I thought the local shop could get a price which didn’t include shipping the tire from Winnipeg.  As it turned out I paid three times the price I had in Winnipeg, but the tire was four ply instead of two, and took me many miles more than the cheaper tire before giving out just past Winnipeg.  I put on a lot of extra miles returning from the west because I took time to tour and adventure rather than coming straight through .. but the stories resulting from that trip were undreamed of as I motored towards Sombrio.
 
 
 
==Chapter Ten==
 
Sombrio is reached from Victoria by driving west to the village of Sooke.  Sooke is famous for its Sooke Harbour House restaurant which pleases expensive tastes, and Jeani and Adam and I, immediately before our breakup, were offered the rental of a house near the Harbour House, our house having a solidly fenced yard with lots of green grass which would have seemed relatively close to heaven for the rabbits we raised for food.  We easily could have let the rabbits loose from their cages as grass was so abundant they had no reason to go to the trouble of digging under the fence to seek greener pastures.  Jeani and I could probably have supplemented our property maintenance business’s income by selling rabbits to the Harbour House.  But Jean had firmly decided to end our marriage, , and I saw no point in renting a house for myself when I had a lovely one ton truck to live in.  Our marriage had been stressful for reasons I won’t go into, and while I had not reached an end to my faith that God could save the marriage if that was the plan, I had come to an end of my strength.  So .. we did not rent the house.  I returned to Sombrio for a time, but too many changes in my life and at Sombrio had occurred, and I found it impossible to stay.
 
 
 
This moped trip was different.  I knew conditions at the beach were no longer suited to a life there, but I had to see the scenery which had several times been home to my Gypsy soul, I had to smell the waterfalls, and I had to hear the BOOM of Canon Rock. Canon Rock is a house-sized boulder which lies offshore at the division between east Sombrio and West .. East and West because even though the coast runs northwest, the beaches are situated east and west.  Canon Rock is famous for its BOOM because when tides, currents, and waves are right, the waves strike the front of the rock with such force that a BOOM is heard for miles.
 
 
 
Canon Rock, though, was yet ahead when I stopped at Sookeand ‘asked around’ for Steve and Barb.  One of the persons I asked said he had heard that Steve had died.  Of course I simply would not allow myself to believe that to be true.  Steve was a strong, strong man .. a surfer .. a survivor.
 
 
 
At Sooke I also sought out a tailor, as my hooded yellow rain jacket’s zipper had broken, and that jacket was one of my most important survival items.  The tailor lived and worked on the far western end of the village, and when I drove into her yard I was greeted by a small herd of the small deer common on Vancouver Island .. deer which were almost pets to the owner, but are not tame enough to allow people to pet them.  After discussing the deer, and again asking about Steve and Barb, I was given the price of having a zipper installed, and decided a new rain jacket would be more cost effective; but fortunately a sewing shop was close by and I purchased a strong zipper, strong thread of a good quality, and needles with eyes sufficiently large enough to allow my eyes to put the thread through the needle.  These I packed into my gear.  I also purchased groceries and wine. 
 
 
 
Where did I acquire news of the tragedy .. with the seamstress?Or at River Jordan?  I can’t recall.  But I knew it for sure at River Jordan, which is a tiny village on the ocean halfway between Sombrio and Sooke.  There is no sense delaying it, not all the beauty riding the mountainside and oceanside West Coast Road with its hills and sharp curves and dips and Rainforest and roadside waterfalls and rock and ocean shoreline and sounds and scents and fruitfulness of nature can .. I was going to say not even all those beauties can ease the pain .. but they can .. and to say otherwise would be a disservice to the loss of those people whose whose flesh and blood and spirits grew from the intimacy of living their entire lives close to nature.  Nature is goodness .. even in its wildness and sometimes seeming cruelty nature is layered and woven with gentleness, stitched and flowered and embossed with kindness, lies itself down willingly in peace and rest, and rises up majestically with meaning and intelligence and purpose.  Again I will say there is no sense in delaying it.  Steve had ridden his last wave due to cancer, and not only Steve was gone, although his spirit will be with me forever, but Dawn and Jesse had, as adults, .. had what?  Had departed this earth?  I can’t say they died .. my faith in life eternal is too strong to use the word death.  Even trees don’t die .. they simply change and assume new identities, their decomposition a gradual change from one existence to another .. as part of another tree, or flower, or berry bush, such as the ones Dawn and Jesse and I harvested fruit from, or if they are sawn into lumber before decomposition, as structures or firewood or boats or fences or frames around paintings.  My wonderful friends Dawn and Jesse too had changed, some would say they left their earthly bodies behind, and their spirits had ascended, like Christ, to heaven.  Others will say they are asleep awaiting resurrection.  I don’t know.  God knows.  I do know their souls have not simply become part of a tree or berry, though .. souls are part of nature but not bound by nature’s rules of transition of matter and energy.  Dawn and Jesse both ended their physical activity on earth through single vehicle accidents.  Dawn drove off the West Coast Road after a happy visit with her mother.  Jesse had been working at the Port Renfrew hotel a few miles northwest of Sombrio and after work drove some friends to the ocean at about 2 a.m., to the Port Renfrew harbour, where black ice had formed on the black wood of the pier.  Their vehicle slid off the end of the pier.  Jesse probably drowned saving his friends, all of who were saved.  All of this is terrible enough.  But the tragedy doesn’t end there.  Jesse and Dawn’s older brother, Clearlight, yes that is his birth name, also died, in separate single vehicle accident.  I had not spent time with Clearlight when I was living on the beach as he had been living elsewhere, But I met him in Victoria during my emotional breakdown in Victoria, and also at at time he was living at Sombrio, and with his heart full of compassion and affection he told me, ‘Come to Sombrio and live near us.’  I did not.
 
 
 
Such deep tragedy that my emotions seem shallow .. certainly unable to cope with the loss in any way except a huge shedding of tears or grief,  and that I have been unable to do because I am the same as most people in our industrialized western society who have had genuine life stripped from the heart and replaced with insular material values and strivings.  For me those processes began early,  in the days and nights of fighting and bickering and shouting and small violences between my Mom and Dad which led to my mother leaving my ‘blue collar’ Dad with five children to care for as a single parent.  Emotional health?  Sorry, my familiarity with it is brief.  But we have to survive .. and there is also an overwhelming goodness which carries us on.  I think I may avail myself of that goodness right now, and put aside the writing of this story until I recover yet again from the sorrow of losing such good friends,and from the memories of childhood.  You may want to take a break also, for the same reasons.
 
 
 
==Chapter Eleven==
 
Sombrio
 
 
 
When I first ‘discovered’ Sombrio twenty five years ago it could
 
 
 
be reached only by the sea, or by two hiking trails .. or if a person
 
 
 
wants to be all inclusive by helicopter, float plane, or parachute.
 
 
 
My first descent to Sombrio was made by the hour-long, northern or
 
 
 
westernmost trail, depending on how you want to view the map. 
 
 
 
This mountainside trail started at the West Coast Road, which, by
 
 
 
the way, was built only in the 1950s, signifying the wildness of the
 
 
 
land.  The hike threaded through what is called ‘Virgin’ Rainforest,
 
 
 
past and around two main species of giant trees, the first being
 
 
 
giant Cedars which are really, according to the Government of
 
 
 
Ontario hardcover book Native Trees of Canada really not Cedars at
 
 
 
all, but Arbor Vitae, that term meaning ‘the tree of life’, and being
 
 
 
used, some would say unfortunately, by Native North Americans to
 
 
 
save from scurvy the lives of the first European explorers.  The
 
 
 
second Sombrio species is Hemlock.  Not being a tree expert I don’t
 
 
 
know if there was an odd Fir or Pine in that magnificent forest.
 
 
 
According to Native Trees of Canada true Cedar is not native to
 
 
 
Canada, with even the Eastern White Cedar being Arbor Vitae. 
 
 
 
True Cedar does grow in Lebanon though, or at least it did in the
 
 
 
time of King Solomon who used it to build Jerusalem’s temple of
 
 
 
God.
 
 
 
      The West Beach trail parallels a cascading stream which was
 
 
 
then and still is identified as the Sombrio River.  The stream was
 
 
 
probably named a river because its mouth is wide, and that is the
 
 
 
part the Spaniards would have seen first.  As you walk upriver,
 
 
 
though, the stream narrows rapidly to creek status, but what a
 
 
 
beautiful creek, full of the music of waterfalls falling into pools.
 
In the old days the water music drifted through the giant trees, but
 
 
 
now it falls mostly onto a many-potholed, dirt and gravel logging
 
 
 
road.  The river was exploited for gold a hundred years ago, and
 
 
 
traces can almost certainly still be found today.
 
 
 
      The climax of my first hike down that trail are still clear in my
 
 
 
memory.  I pushed aside thick Salal brush and stepped into .. what
 
 
 
I knew instinctively was home.  A broad, curving, sand and gravel
 
 
 
beach .. the mouth of the river .. a house sized black rock sitting
 
 
 
joined to the beach by a causeway, the mountains of Washington
 
 
 
State across 25 kilometers of Juan de Fuca Straight, at the western
 
 
 
end of those mountains the open Pacific, and here and there up and
 
 
 
down the beach adult men and women and children.  As I stepped
 
 
 
onto the beach I could see half hidden among the forest half a
 
 
 
dozen rough shacks built obviously of driftwood, and from first
 
 
 
glance obviously more than shacks, these were homes.
 
 
 
      The first people I met were Steve and Barbara and the children,
 
 
 
and I met them by simply walking up to their home and saying
 
 
 
hello.  I remember thinking Steve, a tall, blond, muscular Viking-
 
 
 
like man, was the most gentle soul I had ever met.  Barbara was
 
 
 
plainly welcoming, telling me about the community.  We were
 
friends from those first moments.  I told them I was there hoping to
 
 
 
escape the horrors of civilization for awhile, and Barbara pointed to
 
 
 
a shack up towards the river mouth, and told me it had been vacant
 
 
 
for a few weeks, and that I could move into it if I wanted.
 
 
 
      Over the next few weeks I met all the beach dwellers and came
 
 
 
to know that despite inhabitants making full use of available
 
 
 
resources, including eating the delicious and tender pink flesh of
 
 
 
Gooseneck Barnacles, as well as seaweed, this culture was not
 
 
 
attempting a return to the stone age.  There was no electricity in
 
 
 
any form, but one fellow was was at that time my age at this time
 
 
 
and who had ‘retired’ to Sombrio brought a battery-powered radio to
 
 
 
listen for Tsunami warnings.  I knew his fears were based on
 
 
 
reality,  but I estimated as almost negligible the chances of having
 
 
 
the radio attended to during the brief time of effectiveness of a
 
 
 
warning.  Most of the dwellers had brought some type of wood-
 
 
 
burning stove to the beach, and most of the shacks including my
 
 
 
own were constructed with the assistance of plastic .. heavy poly
 
 
 
film.  I think I recall Steve having a chain saw, and he also had
 
 
 
brought a fibreglass canoe to the beach and then outfitted it on
 
 
 
both sides with outriggers which were a marvelous combination of
 
 
 
natural wood struts and dense, construction plastic foam.  To make
 
 
 
Barbara’s life as a mother easier Steve had installed Sombrio’s only
 
 
 
example of modern plumbing in their home, using plastic pipe and
 
 
 
gravity to run hillside creek water into a stainless steel sink.  I think
 
 
 
I even recall a faucet.  One plumning experiment I attempted in the
 
 
 
home I built for Jeani, Adam and I was to run a pipe out of our sink
 
 
 
into a sump pit outside the house.  I designed everything with
 
 
 
ecology  in mind, but after a few days such a stink arose from the
 
 
 
sink’s drain that I pulled the pipe out of the ground and ran the
 
 
 
dirty water onto bushes where the food particles would take
 
 
 
advantage of air and light to compost naturally, becoming healthy
 
 
 
nutrients for the bushes instead of converting to poison buried
 
 
 
underground, and of course that is why septic systems succeed
 
 
 
only in destroying soil and watercourses. 
 
 
 
      Jeani, Adam and I lived at Sombrio a few years after I took up
 
 
 
habitation the first time though, and during my first stay I was
 
 
 
surprised to learn that even though the inhabitants could easily
 
 
 
have been hired to portray stoned hippy dopers in any Hollywood
 
 
 
movie of that era the Sombrio culture was not drug based. 
 
Certainly marijuanna was at the beach, because surfers came to
 
 
 
the beach, and because the permanent residents did use the weed,
 
 
 
but it was not anywhere approaching the basis of this community,
 
 
 
which was a community, but not a commune.  I believe I only
 
 
 
smelled pot twice in my first weeks.  What was the basis for
 
 
 
Sombrio was the knowledge that living close to nature held value
 
 
 
which was both unknowable and unspeakable.  Being removed from
 
 
 
normal society held hope for long term sanity.  That has changed
 
 
 
now that the logging road allows easy access, dope is everywhere
 
 
 
among the partyers, and on a party weekend the beach becomes a
 
 
 
ghetto with battery-powered apparatus blasting the tranquility with
 
 
 
what passes for music, and some of the noise is good music I must
 
 
 
say, but the volume need not be loud enough to sand blast to a
 
 
 
brilliant shine what had been fire blackened pots and pans.  Still, I
 
 
 
came to recognize that even the worst of the party offenders would
 
 
 
leave the vistas of Sombrio having been changed in basic ways for
 
 
 
the better.  What is sad though, It is doubtful, though, is that not
 
 
 
many of Sombrio’s new visitors will ever hear the fizzing music of
 
 
 
millions of tiny, conical sea shells which blanket the flattened
 
 
 
penninsula leading to Canon Rock .. that penninsula bared to sun
 
 
 
and air at low tides.  Those shells make their music, I suspect,
 
 
 
during rituals involved with mating, the minuscule denizens
 
 
 
beneath the shells lifting and then dropping their shells suddenly to
 
 
 
emit their tiny sound which when orchestrated fully sounds like
 
 
 
champagne after popping the cork.  It is fully appropriate of course
 
 
 
if the champagne music does celebrate seashells’ mating. 
 
 
 
      There are still no electrical wires running to Sombrio, and no
 
 
 
running water other than the old ocean currents, waterfalls, creeks
 
 
 
and the river; but modern mindless destroyer-exploiters have
 
 
 
clear cut the mountain’s trees, leaving a thin edge of forest along
 
 
 
the shore.  I don’t think anyone who has ever viewed the
 
 
 
destruction of clear cut logging can express the … unspeakable
 
 
 
horror.  But I am also overwhelmed at nature’s power of renewal
 
 
 
when assisted by the intelligence of man .. how quickly the forest
 
 
 
grows back after replanting .. with some trees which must be 20
 
 
 
feet high .. and thick enough to properly be called a forest. 
 
 
 
      The logging road which must be driven with extreme caution
 
 
 
leads to a dirt parking lot which boasts a locked, steel box into
 
 
 
which campers and day users are supposed to insert money, and
 
 
 
which signifies Sombrio as part of a Parks system, although, like
 
 
 
Steve said, “If they were going to make it a park, why didn’t they
 
 
 
leave the trees?”  The cash box is at the head of the remnants of the
 
 
 
old trail which leads both to the beach, and also to a new
 
 
 
suspension footbridge spanning the Sombrio River, and serving the
 
 
 
Juan de Fuca hiking trail which joins the West Coast Trail at Port
 
 
 
Renfrew.  I paid for one night, registering as Ontario Moped, but
 
 
 
stayed for 10 nights, feeling guiltless because of the overall
 
 
 
destruction of what had once been simply .. unspeakable beauty.   
 
 
 
      The footpath to the beach crosses a footbridge over a creek
 
 
 
which runs into the Sombrio River.  This creek is pure drinking
 
 
 
water, and served my needs in years gone by and on this trip.  Over
 
 
 
that creek near the bridge swings a child’s rope swing with a
 
 
 
wooden seat I,assisted with a friend named Mike, I do believe, hung
 
 
 
for Adam and the other children to play on when days were hot on
 
 
 
the beach.  I walked the moped down the trail, and although I did
 
 
 
not realize it at first, set up camp almost in the exact spot my home
 
 
 
with Jeani and Adam had been.  Few people were on Sombrio when
 
 
 
I arrived, as it was a weekday, and most visitors come on weekends;
 
 
 
but on the second day I was approached by a gentleman a few years
 
younger than myself.  This fellow would be called strange by some,
 
 
 
but I did not think him strange until he initiated a conflict with a
 
 
 
large bear, that story coming shortly.  In this person I immediately
 
 
 
recognized a wild man of the ocean and forest, but I did not
 
 
 
recognize him as an old friend, which was what he was, that
 
 
 
recognition made by this wild man during our conversation .. and
 
 
 
talk about a happy reunion when memories were refreshed.  This
 
 
 
was Mike, Rivermouth Mike being his Sombrio name, gained
 
 
 
from the old location of his home at the mouth of the Sombrio River
 
 
 
not far from my camp.  It was Mike who had given me the Sombrio
 
 
 
nickname Preacher Bob from my habit of carrying a bible wherever I
 
 
 
went, a habit I have unfortunately abandoned because I no longer
 
 
 
carry anywhere near the same measures of peace and love and
 
 
 
strength and faith which I was blessed with in those days.  Mike’s
 
 
 
memories were so clear that he even remembered a plaid dress
 
 
 
Jeani wore often on the beach.  Through his memories mine slowly
 
 
 
returned to me.  Mike was a surfer, a draft dodger from the United
 
 
 
States, as Steve had been.  He had spent about 15 years living on
 
 
 
the beach, arriving after my second time spent living there, but he
 
 
 
had been there a few years when Jeani and I and Adam moved in,
 
being partially supported by his parents, and also supporting
 
 
 
himself with his considerable musical talents, busking in Victoria,
 
 
 
and also trading favours on the beach with other surfers: for
 
 
 
instance, he repaired a dentist’s surfboard in exchange for dental
 
 
 
repair.  It was Mike who told me that Barbara was living in Port
 
 
 
Renfrew, where he himself had moved when the community was
 
 
 
destroyed.  Mike returned to Sombrio often, cleaning up garbage
 
 
 
left by others, and maintaining artifacts like the small, memorial
 
 
 
plaque to Jesse, and the life sized wooden carving of a beach bum
 
 
 
surfer  which Steve had carved. 
 
     
 
      And now for the bear story.  During one of Mike’s visits, when
 
 
 
we were standing together talking, he had suddenly looked towards
 
 
 
where his home had stood, and walked rapidly off calling “You leave
 
 
 
that tree alone.”  I looked to see what had taken Mike’s attention,
 
 
 
and a large Black Bear was not only not far away, but had begun to
 
 
 
move slowly but aggressively in Mike’s direction.  Mike is not a large
 
 
 
man, and the bear may have sensed a snack.  I was absolutely
 
 
 
overcome with the need to rescue Mike, and hurried after him,
 
 
 
catching up to him quickly, but separating myself slightly so that
 
 
 
the bear would not miss the fact that there were now two of us, and
 
seeing both of us walking aggressively and directly towards him,
 
 
 
decided on escape as being safer than confrontation.  I really didn’t
 
 
 
know what I was going to use as a weapon against the bear, as the
 
 
 
knife I carried on my belt was a folding lock blade knife with a
 
 
 
faulty lock better suited for slicing apples, but by gosh that bear
 
 
 
wasn’t going to eat my friend Mike.  Of course, it’s extremely rare
 
 
 
when ‘using anything’ against a bear is necessary, as they most
 
 
 
often run away from a human presence; but according to Ontario
 
 
 
Government Parks literature two kinds of Black Bears have been
 
 
 
identified, the runners and the aggressive kind.  With the aggressive
 
 
 
bears, literature reads, the only hope is to fight, as laying down
 
 
 
and playing dead might work with a Grizzly, but not often with a
 
 
 
Black.  What had gotten Mike upset was that the bear was thinking
 
 
 
of eating the blossoms or young fruit from a Crabapple Tree, that
 
 
 
tree dear to Mike’s heart, possibly having provided shade for his
 
 
 
shack home.  I had another encounter with a bear at Sombrio, this
 
 
 
time when I was alone, and searching for ‘the old trails’ which had
 
 
 
led from home to home, and to the drinking water creek, etc., and
 
 
 
some of which had become overgrown.  I was standing on a fallen
 
 
 
tree, about four feet off the ground, and surrounded by thick brush. 
 
I was also standing at one of the large upright trees, and I think I
 
 
 
was using the tree to maintain my balance, putting my hand to the
 
 
 
trunk.  Suddenly I heard a loud sound like an angry hissing .. but
 
 
 
not like a snake .. this hissing seemed to come from a
 
 
 
mammalian throat, and I could not immediately identify the
 
 
 
direction from which the sound came.  Sombrio is Cougar country
 
 
 
as well as bear country, so I was of course alarmed, and looked
 
 
 
around, but saw nothing.  Something within me, however, moved
 
 
 
me a few feet away from the tree, towards the the beach, but I was
 
 
 
still standing on the fallen tree when something caused me to look
 
 
 
up .. and there, eight feet above me, staring me in the face, and
 
 
 
again making his warning hissing snarl, was a young Black Bear. 
 
 
 
The bear was angry because I was preventing its descent, and there
 
 
 
was no bravery in me with this bear overhead, and I hurried along
 
 
 
the log and onto the beach as fast as I could go.  I watched from a
 
 
 
distance as the bear wandered placidly into the shallow river,
 
 
 
turning over rocks hunting for some kind of food.  After that
 
 
 
encounter I fashioned as excellently as I could from a smooth, stout
 
 
 
shaft of aged wood a spear as a weapon of defence, and carried it
 
 
 
regularly.  After a week on the beach having eaten no red meat, and
 
having been exposed to all the wild effects of a mostly solitary life
 
 
 
in the wild effects of nature, I thought I might use the spear to
 
 
 
procure a bear steak, but I had no difficulty talking myself out of the
 
 
 
plan.  On the day I left the beach I placed the spear with the wooden
 
 
 
surfer, having written on spear’s shaft, ‘Bear Spear .. do not burn.’ 
 
 
 
This identification was necessary because while at the time of the
 
 
 
Sombrio community driftwood was plentiful and wisely use, the
 
 
 
partyers who drove down the logging road burned any piece of
 
 
 
wood they could find, which lead to my introduction to the use of
 
 
 
dried kelp as fuel, that introduction made by two young campers
 
 
 
from Spain, who you will meet before I leave Sombrio.  Thinking
 
 
 
back on things, it’s a miracle that one piece of aged tree limb had
 
 
 
been available, but it certainly would have been burned up by the
 
 
 
barbarian hordes who invaded Sombrio during the long weekend of
 
 
 
July 1. 
 
     
 
      Two or three days after setting up camp at Sombrio I had
 
 
 
ridden into Port Renfrew, where Mike told me Barbara was living
 
 
 
in a house with the younger sisters of Dawn, Jesse and Clearlight. 
 
 
 
I stopped at a Community Centre to ask directions to her home,
 
 
 
and, after asking for directions to Barbara’s house (she insists on
 
being called Barbara, and not Barb) was introduced to a boy who
 
 
 
was using a computer.  This was Tobias, Barbara’s grandson.  Now,
 
 
 
if you have never believed in miracles, calling those occurrences
 
 
 
‘coincidences’, this could be your time of conversion to faith in
 
 
 
divine intervention; for no coincidences could have set up Barbara’s
 
 
 
grandson and my grandson having the same name.  I have only
 
 
 
known one other Tobias, and he was a cat, my eldest daughter’s cat
 
 
 
in fact, and so I’m one of planet earth’s fortunate few who have a
 
 
 
grandson named after a cat.  I’m sure it was my daughter Kimi who
 
 
 
loved her sisters Toby cat who named her son.  I suppose this is as
 
 
 
good a place as any to boast of my prophesying which gender
 
 
 
Kimi’s baby would be.  Kimi had gone to see a Vietnamese fortune
 
 
 
teller, who read tea leaves or something, and had been told the
 
 
 
baby would be a girl.  Kimi told me that news on the telephone, and
 
 
 
my spirit seemed to be stirred by something, the spirit of truth I
 
 
 
think it was, and I said ‘you can tell your fortune teller she’s wrong. 
 
 
 
You’re going to have a boy.’  I thought it was about time .. after
 
 
 
three daughters and three granddaughters, to have a boy, not that I
 
 
 
had had any preference whatsoever until that moment, always
 
 
 
being perfectly happy with the gender God chose.  I suppose it was
 
that way this time also, as it was not anger which moved me to
 
 
 
reject the fortune teller’s word .. but simply the spirit of what was
 
 
 
going to be.  I also had an unidentifiable feeling of sorts which told
 
 
 
me that because I had three daughters and three granddaughters, a
 
 
 
boy in the family would be welcome.  Kimi’s husband, Elia, is an
 
 
 
Arab Israeli who speaks both languages, Arab and Hebrew, but it
 
 
 
was only after he and Kimi had decided on Tobias as a name that
 
 
 
they discovered the meaning of the name, that being “God’s Will”. 
 
 
 
So yes, believe, believe in miracles for goodness sake, for when all is
 
 
 
said and done, goodness is what will remains. 
 
     
 
      I knew a little bit about what I believed, when I rode towards
 
 
 
Barbara’s home, but I did not know how to feel, how to act, what to
 
 
 
say.  I think it’s only now that I realize my grief was as much for
 
 
 
myself, for my loss of friends, as it was for Barbara’s loss.  Or was
 
 
 
it?  I really don’t know.  The whole thing is still traumatic.  Barbara
 
 
 
was, I think I recall, being outside the front door of her home when I
 
 
 
rode up, and she of course did not recognize me after 20 years ..
 
 
 
but I recognized her, and called to her, “Hello Barb.”
 
 
 
      Her face towards me held her normal natural affection for all
 
 
 
people, as well as mild curiosity as to who I was, but she was also
 
indifferent as to who I was in the sense that to Barbara, people are
 
 
 
people, with no special status awarded any.  “It’s Barbara,” she said
 
 
 
so convincingly that it left no question mark as to whether she
 
 
 
preferred to be called Barb or Barbara.  Twenty years is a long time
 
 
 
to remember details, and I could not remember if this name
 
 
 
preference had always been with her, or was something new .. but
 
 
 
her personality had always been so stable I think she must always
 
 
 
have preferred Barbara.
 
 
 
      I walked towards her, and eased her curiosity by saying, ‘I’m
 
 
 
Preacher Bob, from Sombrio.’
 
     
 
      Barbara searched my face only a short time before saying, “Yes. 
 
 
 
How have you been?”
 
 
 
      ‘I’ve been okay, well .. I was okay .. until I heard about .. I’m so
 
 
 
sorry about Steve and the kids, Barbara.  Just so sorry.’
 
 
 
      The loss had occurred a several years before, and Barbara had
 
 
 
recovered from the initial trauma.  “I guess they had someplace else
 
 
 
to go,” she said with a bright and genuine smile.
 
 
 
      “Yes,” was all I could say.  Words like, ‘gone to a better place,’
 
 
 
would bring no additional comfort or recognition that they had gone
 
 
 
or would be gone to a better place.  Barbara seemed to have always
 
held an outlook of level-headed acceptance of things they were they
 
 
 
were.  I don’t remember her getting ‘excited’, but I also don’t recall
 
 
 
her becoming depressed.  The happiest I think I saw her was when
 
 
 
I and a visitor to Sombrio had returned safely to shore after having
 
 
 
taken the canoe out fishing for several hours on a day when the
 
 
 
waves gradually built to thundering breakers when hitting shore.
 
 
 
During those hours in which our canoe was a tiny dot on the
 
 
 
horizon we hauled in 40 beautiful Ling Cod and Red Snapper, and
 
 
 
when something huge and dark began to surface about one eighth
 
 
 
mile ahead of us I became petrified with fright .. literally turned to
 
 
 
living stone.  My partner in the bow had turned to face me while
 
 
 
fishing, and he had no idea of what was happening behind him
 
 
 
until the whale blew.  I had never seen a whale before, although
 
 
 
from shore I had heard the beautiful music of their blow holes, and
 
 
 
when this one blew my fright completely disappeared.  Another
 
 
 
experience of that trip were the walls of water on either side of us
 
 
 
when the waves had built very high, with us in the trough.  The
 
 
 
hight of those waves gave me a warning of our difficulty ahead, and
 
 
 
when we paddled in we could hear the thunder of the breakers, as
 
 
 
well as see them breaking angrily against Canon Rock.  I suppose
 
the whole series of events would have been even more perfect if
 
 
 
Canon Rock had been BOOMING, but the waves were not from the
 
 
 
perfect angle .. or the tide was not at the perfect height.  However,
 
 
 
we had paddled into a position parallel to Canon Rock, and Steve
 
 
 
and Barb and Jeani and a few other people hurried to where Steve
 
 
 
wanted us to land, a fact he established by facing us while holding
 
 
 
both arms upright .. the goal.  I knew we could not just paddle
 
 
 
through the waves and hope not to be carried back out with the
 
 
 
waves’ fierce backwash, so I established a plan:  we would catch the
 
 
 
seventh wave in the waves’ natural sequence, that wave being the
 
 
 
largest one, and so we did, first experiencing waves to find the
 
 
 
largest, and then waiting through a series for that seventh.  When
 
 
 
the seventh began to lift us we dug in as hard as we could with the
 
 
 
paddles, and the wave caught us like a surfboard and carried us at
 
 
 
speed to shore.  The plan went perfectly right up to about the last
 
 
 
30 feet, when water started pouring into the bow.  My bows man
 
 
 
jumped overboard, either to lighten the load and lift the canoe, or
 
 
 
because he thought the depth was shallow enough that he would
 
 
 
find his feet on the bottom, and would be able to haul the canoe the
 
 
 
final distance.  His head disappeared in the foam, but his hand held
 
the gunwale.  We shot ahead until water again started pouring in,
 
 
 
and I knew if I did not also go overboard the canoe would fill, and
 
 
 
probably be carried back out into the thundering surf with the
 
 
 
waves’ backwash and become destroyed through the battering .. so
 
 
 
I jumped overboard also while hanging onto the gunwhale.  The
 
 
 
water was still deep enough that I went completely under .. but the
 
 
 
wave carried us all the way in, and Steve and Barb grabbed the bow
 
 
 
and hauled us ashore.  Barb’s smile towards me was brighter that
 
 
 
time than at any other, and similar to the smile she wore when she
 
 
 
said her children ‘had someplace else to go’.  Life was saved .. life is
 
 
 
eternal .. and perhaps a mother can know that in a special way. 
 
 
 
      Barbara had remarried, and I met/re-met three of her surviving
 
 
 
daughters during my visit.  Their knowledge of surfing is being
 
 
 
passed on to all to youngsters from Port Renfrew and also from the
 
 
 
neighbouring Aboriginal Reserve.  Barbara’s daughter Leah is
 
 
 
working at the same hotel her brother Jesse had worked at, and
 
 
 
in the documentary video ‘Sombrio’, which can be located on the
 
 
 
Internet, Leah makes a comment that, when mingled with the grief 
 
 
 
I feel for the loss of my friends,  together with the grief I feel for the
 
 
 
destruction of the Sombrio environment and community, moves me
 
to tears each time I watch the video.  Leah, as a teenager about 16
 
 
 
years old, says, “I like to come back to Sombrio and visit the trees I
 
 
 
used to hang out with.’”
 
 
 
      For some people trees are board feet or tonnage of wood chips. 
 
 
 
For others, trees are friends.
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Twelve==
 
Stoned Again
 
 
 
I made two visits to Port Renfrew, hanging out with Barbara
 
 
 
and Tobias at a playground, and hanging out with Mike at his
 
 
 
house-trailer home and at the hotel when Leah was working behind
 
 
 
the bar.  I shared my visit at Mike’s home with one of the oddest
 
 
 
characters who had lived at Sombrio, or anywhere on earth for that
 
 
 
matter.  This person’s name I’ve forgotten at this moment, but he is
 
 
 
unforgettable in his complete boldness in telling people that he was
 
 
 
God.  He is also memorable for his frustration that built to anger
 
 
 
when told by others that he was not God.  Mike is a compassionate
 
 
 
man, giving food to this fellow, and driving him to his home which
 
 
 
was a rough camp in the bush off the highway between Sombrio
 
 
 
and Port Renfrew, but Mike told me he had to eject him from his
 
 
 
home on more than once occasion.  When I lived at Sombrio with
 
 
 
Jeani and Adam the fellow tried to face me down on my assertion
 
 
 
that he was not God, but my non-resistance to his anger and
 
 
 
threats persuaded him that while I might be a fool, I was not worthy
 
 
 
of punishment.
 
 
 
      During my visit to Mike’s home he presented me with my copy
 
 
 
of the Sombrio video, which I do not appear in because I was living
 
 
 
in Ontario when the video was made.  Mike made two subsequent
 
 
 
visits to Sombrio to visit me,  on one of those visits bringing with
 
 
 
him a fellow who had also lived at Sombrio, but who I did not
 
 
 
remember.  There were many people who lived at Sombrio before
 
 
 
and after my times there .. and the video introduces you to only a
 
 
 
few .. but an interesting few they are .. and well worth knowing. 
 
 
 
When Rivermouth Mike and I said our goodbyes for the last time it
 
 
 
was with sadness, but we stay in touch by email, Mike spending
 
part of this winter in Georgia with his aging parents.
 
 
 
      On my return to Sombrio after my last trip into Port Renfrew
 
 
 
I came within 100 feet of what I am sure was the big bear who had,
 
 
 
Glory to God, run from Mike and I at the beach.  The bear ran from
 
 
 
me that time also.
 
 
 
      My time on the beach was spent enjoying the music of the
 
 
 
waves, listening for the whales, which unfortunately I did not hear,
 
 
 
collecting and cooking mussels and seaweed and barnacles,
 
 
 
chatting with hikers and campers, and ducking the hummingbird
 
 
 
attacks, which were attacks only because their buzz came upon me
 
 
 
so suddenly and at such close range.  You can find yourself looking
 
 
 
towards a buzz and find a Ruby Throat six inches from your face,
 
 
 
looking you right in the eyes, and not immediately flying off when
 
 
 
you return their gaze.
 
 
 
      Many exceptionally transcendental minutes I spent with my
 
 
 
meager knife clearing the old trail from the beach through the thick
 
 
 
Salal to the creek where the child’s swing is still hanging; and then
 
 
 
guiding to that swing two young couples who had come to camp,
 
 
 
also telling them the history of the beach.  Those young people and
 
 
 
I also spent a couple of rainy hours by their fire under their
 
tarpaulin which was stretched over a fallen tree trunk.  One of the
 
 
 
young women and I had risen early, meeting on the beach, and she
 
 
 
accompanying me to Canon Rock and to the secret place of the
 
 
 
giant Mussels, which I shall not reveal in this story because if too
 
 
 
many people know the place the Mussels will be stripped in the
 
 
 
same way as the driftwood firewood was.  Suffice it to say it’s a
 
 
 
touch climb, and I was surprised that at my age I could do it, and
 
 
 
was also surprised that this tender young woman did it with me.  I
 
 
 
shouldn’t be surprised at what young women are capable of,
 
 
 
though, because I’ve seen them featured in rock climbing
 
 
 
documentaries in which they’ve been hanging by ropes hundreds of
 
 
 
feet up on the face of sheer rock.  The harvesting of the mussels
 
 
 
and the walk back to our camps, though, was forever placed in my
 
 
 
memory by the young lady showing me a tiny pink pearl which she
 
 
 
found in one of her mussels, and by our finding a giant eagle
 
 
 
feather which has adorned my moped ever since.  The eagle had
 
 
 
been hanging around the beach the day before, and obviously
 
 
 
dropped a feather just for me because it knew it was something I
 
 
 
long ago had decided I must have before I depart our planet.
 
 
 
      I also made hikes, in particular a hike to the tall waterfall on
 
the south (or east) beach, and beyond it, with the waves rushing
 
 
 
into narrowing channels and sending fountains of water skyward,
 
 
 
to where a large Sea Lion colony used to be, but of course is no
 
 
 
longer.  The remnants of that colony, perhaps the last remnant,
 
 
 
made a long swim close to shore past both beaches, from east to
 
 
 
west, barking plaintively all the way, and well past the beaches.  It
 
 
 
was obviously searching for something, and I took it by the sound of
 
 
 
its voice to be a male, and my instincts told me it was searching for
 
 
 
its mate, and my instincts also told me its search would be
 
 
 
fruitless.  I was not surprised the next day, only saddened that all
 
 
 
hope was gone for the Sea Lion, when its smaller mate washed up
 
 
 
on shore, killed by something, perhaps a collision with one of the
 
 
 
many huge ocean freighters which race through the Juan de Fuca
 
 
 
straight on their pursuit of profit;  or perhaps it had eaten
 
 
 
something poisoned by pollution, or a piece of floating garbage.
 
 
 
The ocean was obviously polluted now, whereas the water off
 
 
 
Sombrio had been healthy during my previous stays during which I
 
 
 
had not hesitated eating the seaweeds, the Green and Red Nouris,
 
 
 
and the Kelp; but on this visit I thought it obvious that the pollution
 
 
 
had made the seaweeds unattractive for eating, except for one
 
patch of particularly healthy Nouri from which I harvested, and
 
 
 
cooked with barnacles and Mussels.  If you try Nouri, the Red turns
 
 
 
green when cooked, so don’t think the colour change is the sign of
 
 
 
unhealthiness.
 
 
 
      On my walk to the tall waterfall, that water falling with great
 
 
 
beauty directly into the ocean, I met a man of 70 years who had
 
 
 
hiked the Juan de Fuca trail from its start.  This was remarkable to
 
 
 
me, as the older man had only begun hiking in his 50s.  I’ve never
 
 
 
enjoyed long hikes, especially because they often involve walking in
 
 
 
squishy shoes or boots for many hours, and can be dangerous
 
 
 
because of slippery rocks.  The Coast Guard rescue helicopter made
 
 
 
almost daily flights past Sombrio during my 10 days there, rescuing
 
 
 
people from both the Juan de Fuca Trail and the longer West Coast
 
 
 
Trail.  So while I admired the 70 year old hiker and made him an
 
 
 
example of what can be accomplished, I will probably never try to
 
 
 
emulate him.
 
 
 
      I made use of several rainy hours one day to sew the new
 
 
 
zipper into my yellow rain jacket.  Before I started that job I had
 
 
 
envisioned a small pair of scissors as being preferable over my
 
 
 
clumsy knife for the frequent thread cutting the sewing would
 
involve.  The extra difficulty of not having the proper tool made me
 
 
 
delay the job for a short walk to the Parks-built outhouse, a facility
 
 
 
I rarely used as I had a huge and partially hollowed tree standing
 
 
 
near my tent which I had dug a pit in. Something, however, caused
 
 
 
me to go for that walk, and in the outhouse I found a small,
 
 
 
woman’s makeup kit which contained a folding mirror and a pair of
 
 
 
tiny, folding scissors .. from San Francisco.  the Great Spirit and
 
 
 
Provider had been at work again with His limitless power .. (and I
 
 
 
say His because that is how God is presented in Scripture.  I
 
 
 
borrowed the scissors for my successful sewing, but having left the
 
 
 
kit in the outhouse, returning the scissors to the kit.  On the
 
 
 
evening before I left Sombrio I returned to the outhouse to find
 
 
 
the kit still there, and as it had been a week since I found it the first
 
 
 
time, was confident that the owner had probably returned to San
 
 
 
Francisco or at least was far from Sombrio, so I emptied the
 
 
 
makeup into the privy and took the rest of the kit home with me as
 
 
 
a practical souvenir.  Makeup is not a good thing to wear in the
 
 
 
woods or to have inside a tent, says some literature, as its sweet
 
 
 
smell could be a wild animal attractant.
 
 
 
      In the last couple of days before the July 1 weekend more and
 
more campers came to the beach, many of them carrying cases of
 
 
 
beer and bottles of wine and liquor.  This was when Mike made his
 
 
 
last visit to the beach when I was there, and he was quick to tell 
 
 
 
several people that they were thoughtless in attempting to set up a
 
 
 
party place for a pig roast in the midst of an already crowded area
 
 
 
in which were a few families with young children camping.  The pig
 
 
 
roast was going to be a noisy affair, with lots and lots and lots of
 
 
 
alcohol and with boom box and with chain saw for cutting logs for
 
 
 
firewood … and Mike’s word instilled in them enough consideration
 
 
 
to move further south to a vacant area.  I had bought a bottle of
 
 
 
wine at Port Renfrew, and had offered it to share it with Mike, but
 
 
 
he declined, saying he was driving, and yes, the roads are
 
 
 
dangerous.  I fully intended to share the wine with someone ..
 
 
 
anyone really;  but perhaps the salt air and seafood had made me
 
 
 
particularly thirsty, and after dusk had fallen on the first evening of
 
 
 
the weekend when parties were beginning I took a sip, and it was so
 
 
 
beautifully sweet I drank all of it .. rather quickly .. moved perhaps
 
 
 
by the emotional trauma I was going through concerning the loss of
 
 
 
my friends .. of course the quick consumption impaired my
 
 
 
judgment, and when I was invited by two young men to join them
 
at their fire near my tent an hour later my judgment became even
 
 
 
more impaired as they freely shared their alcohol .. and so when
 
 
 
it came time for them to offer me a smoke of their joint I at first
 
 
 
declined, but on the second offer could find no reason to refuse,
 
 
 
and so joined them in smoking that one, and the next .. and I can’t
 
 
 
recall if there were any others .. but there was more alcohol .. and it
 
 
 
was these two young Spaniards who introduced me to using dried
 
 
 
bull kelp as fuel for a fire, and this fuel burns with a remarkably
 
 
 
clean and bluish flame, and throws beautiful warmth, and the
 
 
 
night was so calm and beautiful, even though cool and slightly
 
 
 
drizzly as it had been for a few days, but the water droplets in the
 
 
 
air seemed cloud like in surrounding and falling upon us .. and
 
 
 
with the sea and the sand and the small fires at the various camps 
 
 
 
.. and the conversation was so pleasant .. and I noticed some
 
 
 
neighbours had run out of firewood and I called to them that I
 
 
 
would get them some kelp to burn, and my Spaniards told me I
 
 
 
should not, because then everyone on the beach would burn up all
 
 
 
the kelp, and besides .. they said .. besides .. “Bob, do you know
 
 
 
you are almost falling over?”  I had stood up by then, and was
 
 
 
attempting to walk, and said my first impulse was to sit back down,
 
but I refused safety and comfort, and remembering my time on the
 
 
 
ocean in Steve’s canoe, said “I’m okay .. I’ll get my land legs yet”
 
 
 
and they repeated with intelligence and best intentions, “Bob, Don’t
 
 
 
Go”  and lightheartedly and with staggering confidence I went .. and
 
 
 
stumbled and staggered my way through the darkness and mist
 
 
 
and over the rough ground and up and down inclines and declines
 
 
 
as if I were a young man almost, and I met up with some partyers
 
 
 
at a fire and shared their alcohol, and finally, down the beach
 
 
 
eastward a fair way and high up on the edge of the beach I found
 
 
 
great piles of dried kelp which even seemed to resemble sticks of
 
 
 
dry wood even though the air was drizzly, and with some great
 
 
 
difficulty gathered of the kelp, and began carrying it back to
 
 
 
the people for whom it was intended, and got at least part ways
 
 
 
there, and fell down, and could not get up. 
 
 
 
      I knew I had fallen down because I was suddenly laying on my
 
 
 
back looking up .. I think the stars had come out .. perhaps not .. I
 
 
 
had fallen besides a driftwood tree trunk, and was in some kind of
 
 
 
hollowed place, and I thought “this is no problem, I’ll just get up,”
 
 
 
even though I could not, in fact I could barely begin to get up,
 
 
 
making some kind of severely restricted roly poly motions with my
 
body, first one way, and then the other, but I had never experienced
 
 
 
this degree of drunken and stoned helplessness before, and I said
 
 
 
again, “I’ll just get up, that’s all, and carry on,” but I could not get
 
 
 
up .. and I don’t know how long it was before I realized I was in a
 
 
 
situation I had never been in before, and could not get up, and
 
 
 
thought that the situation probably occurred because I was not a
 
 
 
young man anymore, even though I have heard from young men
 
 
 
that they have been in similar situations, in fact I’ve seen young
 
 
 
men wearing T-shirts printed with “Help – I’ve fallen down and can’t
 
 
 
get up” .. but I had never been in that T-shirt or situation, so one
 
 
 
more try and I would be able to get up .. but I could not .. and I had
 
 
 
actually started to enjoy the experience of being totally helpless and
 
 
 
at the mercy of The Almighty .. and hoped he wouldn’t shower a
 
 
 
heavy cold rain down on me to teach me a good lesson .. but I took
 
 
 
great comfort in acknowledging my helplessness and His
 
 
 
Almightiness, and so I estimated that he would be merciful towards
 
 
 
me, and then I just thought, “well, I may as well just pass out for
 
 
 
the night,” and I did pass out, wishing before I did that I had that T-
 
 
 
shirt to put over me because I knew the night would be cold .. and I
 
 
 
did feel cool at least when I woke up however much later it was
 
when I woke up .. and now I simply had to stand up and get
 
 
 
walking to get warmed up because at my age I did not want to lie on
 
 
 
the open beach all night and get pneumonia .. and after a couple of
 
 
 
false starts in which I fell back down I did stand up, and gathered
 
 
 
up some dried kelp because I still wanted to be a hero .. and
 
 
 
besides, I wanted to contribute to someone’s fire, anyone’s fire . .
 
 
 
and I tried to carry the kelp, but gave up because I couldn’t keep
 
 
 
my balance with the kelp in my arms, almost falling back down a
 
 
 
couple of times and coming close to hurting myself, so I threw down
 
 
 
the kelp and staggered on and on and on, until I realized I was
 
 
 
lost .. yes, lost on this beach which was my home and which I knew
 
 
 
like the back of my hand, but even though I was lost I knew I could
 
 
 
find myself if I could find the river .. and then I found the river but
 
 
 
could not remember what side of the river I was on, but by
 
 
 
examining myself I knew I had not crossed the river, that was plain,
 
 
 
because I was not soaking wet, even though the air was a bit
 
 
 
drizzly, so I turned eastward, and began staggering back, but did
 
 
 
not want to stagger all night, and end up near Canon Rock, so
 
 
 
I swallowed my pride and staggered up to a fire where three young
 
 
 
men were sitting, and I staggered up to them and asked, “Could you
 
guys help me find my tent?  I’m lost.  I passed out on the beach. 
 
 
 
I’m the guy with the moped.” 
 
 
 
      I knew almost certainly that my moped would identify me as it
 
 
 
was the only yellow moped on the beach .. the only vehicle for that
 
 
 
matter .. not even a bicycle, so I could not mistake my yellow moped
 
 
 
for someone else’s yellow moped, and I knew that some of the
 
 
 
beachcombers had looked at my moped as if it were a sacrilege, a
 
 
 
motor vehicle not belonging on this sacred wilderness beach at
 
 
 
which was so much alcohol and dope and boom boxes that
 
 
 
quietness had been banished, and I was hoping these guys
 
 
 
would not be among those who saw me as a blasphemer, and if they
 
 
 
did they helped me anyway .. all three of them accompanying me
 
 
 
back in the direction of Canon Rock, with me calling towards people
 
 
 
at fires, “Can you tell me where my tent is?  I’m the guy with the
 
 
 
moped.”  And there was some sympathetic laughing .. and a couple
 
 
 
of people said .. you’re almost there,” and finally someone pointed
 
 
 
in a direction and said, “Your tent is up there,” and yes, mercifully I
 
 
 
recognized my camp, and then I bragged to the three men that my
 
 
 
moped had brought me all the way from Ottawa, and that I had not
 
 
 
been stoned for many, many years, and they were properly
 
impressed, and asked me if I had any weed on me, and I said “No ..
 
 
 
and I won’t ever touch that crap again!”  Even though it had not
 
 
 
been crap, so to speak, but extremely high-THC content weed, and
 
 
 
herb, and as the bible says herbs are for healing I should never
 
 
 
have called it crap, but overdosing is not healing, and I thanked my
 
 
 
guides and told them they had maybe saved my life, and crawled
 
 
 
my way into my tent, and laid down, and soon enough my stomach
 
 
 
rose up, but I fought it down, and it rose up, and I fought it down,
 
 
 
repeatedly, until finally I knew I could sleep, and was extremely
 
 
 
thankful for the warmth of my sleeping bag, and for being dry and
 
 
 
not passed out all night in the cold drizzle, and I fell asleep.
 
 
 
      I slept late into the morning, and didn’t feel too bad,
 
 
 
considering, and when I got up and around I met the three guys
 
 
 
who had guided me, and they all said they had been in similar
 
 
 
conditions, and I thought how terrible for them at their young age ..
 
 
 
and felt kind of self righteous that it had taken me 60 years to get
 
 
 
that way .. at the same time wishing I had experienced that genuine
 
 
 
helpless when I was at their tender age so that I would have grown
 
 
 
up humble .. humble like this younger generation who know they
 
 
 
are totally helpless in the face of such great adversity as the
 
environmental disasters and wars and plagues and everything else
 
 
 
which makes us all unable to help ourselves.  My generation was
 
 
 
faced with the same helpless, but it made us generally crazy.  This
 
 
 
younger generation is humble in such a genuine way .. even though
 
 
 
one or two out of 100,000 of them have gone over the edge ..
 
 
 
completely over the edge .. whereas almost all of my generation
 
 
 
went over the edge, just not completely over .. only over far enough
 
 
 
to puff us up with pride of being survivors.  “Yes .. I’m a survivor of
 
 
 
our generations adversity!”  we boast .. and think sometimes we
 
 
 
survived of our own accord.  Yes .. I love this younger generation for
 
 
 
their humility .. and for their kindness and undeserved respect
 
 
 
towards us crazy self righteous old people.  I should add that even
 
 
 
though I enjoyed that feeling of total physical helplessness at a time
 
 
 
when I didn’t even have my bear spear with me and when a bear or
 
 
 
Cougar could have snacked away or a sea monster could have come
 
 
 
crawling up and dragged me into the depths I don’t want to be in
 
 
 
that position again .. flat on my back in a hole like some sheep
 
 
 
which has gone astray from its shepherd.  I should also tell any of
 
 
 
you people in Spain who might be reading this “Keep your kids at
 
 
 
home and away from Canada’s Senior Citizens!”  My two Spanish
 
friends had packed up their camp and left before I got out of my
 
 
 
tent, for a quieter beach someone said, but if they are happening to
 
 
 
be reading this I’ll just say this,  “Haven’t you got enough crazy old
 
 
 
guys at home in Spain you can get stoned and leave laying around
 
 
 
on midnight beaches in the drizzle without coming over here?  It’s
 
 
 
no wonder our navy fired a shot across the bow of one of your
 
 
 
fishing boats … But thanks for teaching me about Bull Kelp as
 
 
 
campfire fuel.”
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Thirteen==
 
Recovery and Return to Ron
 
 
 
The next day was Saturday, and I spent the morning after
 
 
 
recovering from the party, and then spent the afternoon after the
 
 
 
morning after preparing to leave Sombrio .. preparing both
 
 
 
equipment-wise and psychologically.  I had many reasons to
 
 
 
go:  the beach was far too crowded and noisy (I had several tents
 
 
 
within 50 feet of me .. one large tent within 10 feet); my brother’s
 
 
 
three or four day period off work would begin Monday; the Sea Lion
 
 
 
losing his mate saddened me with their symbolization of the whole
 
 
 
range of environmental catastrophes our planet is going through; all
 
 
 
the firewood on Sombrio had been burned up; I was tired of the
 
 
 
cool, drizzly, foggy weather and hoped the sun might be out in
 
 
 
Victoria which is blessed with more sunshine days than Sombrio;  I
 
 
 
was out of alcohol and anyway did not want to risk getting involved
 
 
 
in another party with its head-rearranging aftereffects;  my food was
 
 
 
running low; and last but not least those dangerous Spaniards
 
 
 
might come back with a fresh bag of Superweed.
 
 
 
      Before darkness fell that evening I had chatted with many
 
 
 
people, including one young woman doctor who was hiking the
 
 
 
Juan de Fuca Trail solo, and  who planned on carrying on the
 
 
 
length of the West Coast Trail.  I had shown a few campers and
 
 
 
hikers the swing over the creek and told its story.  I picked some
 
 
 
trash off the beach and bagged it, then escorted my four friends
 
 
 
with the pink pearl up the trail to the parking lot, carrying some of
 
 
 
their gear for them, and they in return taking out the trash for me. 
 
 
 
I escorted another small group up the trail to the parking lot, these
 
 
 
were two young couples with children who had been camped close
 
 
 
to me, and we had grown fond of each other.  I took one last walk
 
 
 
to the waterfall on the east beach.  Lastly I placed bear spear I had
 
 
 
made in the capable hands of the wooden surfer who I’m sure had
 
 
 
been carved by Steve.
 
 
 
      Before darkness fell I packed onto the moped everything I did
 
 
 
not need for that night’s sleep, and when darkness fell I was inside
 
 
 
my sleeping bag where I slept on and off, waking up to the same
 
 
 
two women talking in loud voices until the first light of dusk.  They
 
 
 
must have fallen asleep before I rose and broke my camp, and I
 
 
 
sure fell like starting my moped up outside their tent door and for
 
 
 
those women’s benefit revving the engine a good long time, but
 
 
 
instead of that I pushed the moped a ways along the minor
 
 
 
footpaths which ran through the forest to the main trail leading to
 
 
 
the parking lot before starting it, and then walked beside it,
 
 
 
throttling the engine because so much rain had fallen while I was
 
 
 
camped that the ground was so spongy with water, and I actually
 
 
 
had to detour off a trail around a large puddle.  This surprised me
 
 
 
because there had been limited sunshine in the 10 days I was there
 
 
 
which allowed me to dry clothing after washing it in the river; and I
 
 
 
had not really noticed the rain except it caused me to stay warmly
 
 
 
dressed and to get into my rain gear on occasion.  Life outdoors,
 
unbroken by the comforts of a regular structure, acclimatizes a
 
 
 
person. 
 
 
 
      When I reached the main trail I mounted up and rode until the
 
 
 
ascent to the parking lot became too steep, and then walked while
 
 
 
throttling the engine.  On my way up I passed a young couple who
 
 
 
were on their way down, and who told me they had spent the night
 
 
 
in their car.  Immediately after reaching the parking lot I
 
 
 
encountered a grubby, slinky, mean spirited looking fellow who I
 
 
 
am sure was planning on breaking into cars and stealing whatever
 
 
 
was available, but he had been disturbed by the people who had
 
 
 
slept in their vehicle who I met on their way down the trail, and
 
 
 
then I disturbed him again.  I have two hopes regarding that fellow,
 
 
 
that after being disturbed twice so early in the morning he lost his
 
 
 
nerve, and I also hope that if he did break into cars that I would not
 
 
 
be blamed.
 
 
 
      The ride up the logging road was was bouncy from its
 
 
 
abundance of potholes, but otherwise uneventful, and the ride
 
 
 
towards River Jordan and Sooke was exhilarating for the scenery,
 
 
 
for the thought that I would be seeing my brother again soon, and
 
 
 
also because the sun was promising to break through the clouds,
 
which it finally did, transforming a cool, grey, damp day into
 
 
 
a much more wonderful experience.  I took advantage of the
 
 
 
sunshine to stop often at Salmonberry patches.  Salmonberries are
 
 
 
similar to raspberries but over sized, and with a nice orange colour
 
 
 
when ripe.  At Sooke I stopped at a hippie café for a leisurely
 
 
 
breakfast, chatting with several people, gassed up, and motored on
 
 
 
into Victoria’s neighbourhood of Esquimalt which harbours
 
 
 
Canada’s western naval base, and where without much difficulty I
 
 
 
located the motorcycle shop which was holding my new tire for
 
 
 
pickup.  Employees of that shop told me of a motorcycle repair shop
 
 
 
where I might someone who would take a link out of my stretched
 
 
 
chain which is used to drive the rear wheel.  A stretched chain
 
 
 
causes loss of power to the rear wheel.  I located that shop with
 
 
 
great difficulty, somehow ending up in the boonies of northeastern
 
 
 
Victoria far from the shop’s location; and when I did find the shop I
 
 
 
was told they would not take a link out, and advised my getting a
 
 
 
new chain, which they did not stock.  I thought the chain
 
 
 
adjustment mechanism had reached its maximum adjustment, but
 
 
 
while putting the new tire on later I found enough adjustment to
 
 
 
convince myself the old chain would last to Ontario.
 
      The rest of my drive to downtown Victoria was uneventful, and
 
 
 
I did my banking, and stopped at the Public Library to send emails;
 
 
 
and then, because the afternoon was beautifully warm and sunny
 
 
 
with no clouds, I camped out at a downtown pedestrian bench,
 
 
 
spreading my damp bedding out to dry.  My brother would be
 
 
 
unavailable until the next day, because at the end of his workweek
 
 
 
he insisted on going to bed early and sleeping late the next day.
 
 
 
I had another motive for camping out downtown, and that was to
 
 
 
see if I could earn money busking my poetry.  I had brought on my
 
 
 
trip a few simple, 4” x 5” ‘Moped Poet On Tour’  posters, and
 
 
 
although I had no copies of my ‘Collected Poetical Works’ to sell I
 
 
 
did bring a collection of poetry to read.  It had been my intention to
 
 
 
busk as I crossed the provinces, but opportunity did not present
 
 
 
itself.  While I was already in the mood to busk, that mood was
 
 
 
elevated to stratospheric heights when a young girl, about 10 year
 
 
 
of age, walking hand in hand past me with her mother, looked first
 
 
 
towards me and then to her mother’s face and said, “Look Mom, a
 
 
 
Hippy!”  Well bless my soul!  I had finally become what I had always
 
 
 
dreamed of being .. as one of my poems says, “the song that I was
 
 
 
singing, was the song that I became.” 
 
      So far, so good.  Police had not looked askance at me.  Rough
 
 
 
looking characters had only been kind to me.  Pedestrians walked
 
 
 
politely past without making rude comments.  I posted two posters
 
 
 
near my bedding, and began handing others to people I judged
 
 
 
might have poetically charitable natures.  All the people I handed
 
 
 
posters to where walking in the same direction, so I was surprised
 
 
 
when a gentleman, whose name I shall call Jack, walked up to me
 
 
 
from that direction with a poster in hand.  someone had handed it
 
 
 
to him, he said, and he was interested in hearing a poem.  I read
 
 
 
one of my antiwar poems, and he was pleased.  Jack was from Nova
 
 
 
Scotia where he had worked for several years as head of
 
 
 
maintenance for a large shipping company.  That employment,
 
 
 
though, had been headed by a nasty spirited individual, and Jack
 
 
 
had finally had enough, and quit before he himself became nasty.
 
 
 
He was in Victoria for a holiday, but he had intention of eventually
 
 
 
seeking work there.  We had a nice chat, and then Jack opened his
 
 
 
wallet and handed me a $10 bill, was I expressed genuine thanks
 
 
 
for.  Jack paused, then said, ‘give me that bill back’. A that I
 
 
 
wondered if my gratitude had been expressed insufficiently, but
 
 
 
handed him the bill.  He then handed me a $20 .. and said, “that
 
$10 was too small’.  I began thanking him again, when he took a
 
 
 
Fifty from his wallet and handed me that also, saying, “keep the
 
 
 
$20 too.”  Well .. I was flabbergasted now .. scarce able to believe
 
 
 
both my good fortune and Jack’s good nature .. my thanks was
 
 
 
awestruck.  “I know I’ll get it back someday,” Jack said,  “Pressed
 
 
 
down and running over.”  This was a scripture I knew from the
 
 
 
gospels, and said, “Glory to God”. 
 
 
 
      Jack said his goodbyes to me, and I to him, and he was off.  I
 
 
 
was still flabbergasted when a young woman came to me and asked
 
 
 
for a poem, which I read to her, and she handed me a Loonie .. one
 
 
 
Canadian Dollar.  I received that with thankfulness also,
 
 
 
recognizing that she, like the widow in the gospel, was giving of her
 
 
 
necessity and not out of abundance.
 
 
 
      I decided at that point that I had busked enough .. that I
 
 
 
should not be greedy.  Besides, I had given out all but two of my
 
 
 
posters.  I think I left bedding and moped (which I had locked to the
 
 
 
bench) and bought a takeout coffee, which I enjoyed while my
 
 
 
bedding was drying, and when the bedding was dry rolled it up and
 
 
 
bundled it onto the moped.
 
 
 
      My friend Rivermouth Mike, at Sombrio, had given me the
 
Victoria address of another fellow who had lived at Sombrio.  While
 
 
 
not naturally trusting of others I left my bike and gear where it was
 
 
 
locked and walked to the address.  This fellow, who I shall call
 
 
 
Jack, was home, and through the intercom invited me to come up
 
 
 
for coffee.  He, however, had pets, and I explained my allergies and
 
 
 
said I’d rather go out for coffee, which we did.  This fellow had a
 
 
 
drinking problem, small or large I don’t know, but most of his
 
 
 
conversation was about getting beer, and said he wanted to spend
 
 
 
his last $5 on beer, etc., and that we should go for a beer.  I did not
 
 
 
want to spend money in a hotel, and did not want to get into
 
 
 
drinking with this fellow anyway, so I persuaded him towards a
 
 
 
coffee by offering to buy.  Jack and I talked of Sombrio, of Steve and
 
 
 
Barbara and their children, of Mike, etc., and of this Jack’s plans to
 
 
 
return to Sombrio and plant some weed, and I said that anything
 
 
 
stronger than a tea made of that medicinal herb was overdosing,
 
 
 
and should (?) he risk getting caught and put in jail, etc.  Our visit
 
 
 
came to an end after this Jack invited me to spend the night at his
 
 
 
place, with me declining because of my allergies, and because I did
 
 
 
not want to be separated from my bike and gear overnight in
 
 
 
downtown Victoria because that was a good way of becoming
 
separated from it forever.  I did not quite trust this fellow because
 
 
 
of his seeming addiction for alcohol and smoke, and when he asked
 
 
 
me where I was to spend the night I said out of the city, when I
 
 
 
intended to spend it in a park on the waterfront, which I did, being
 
 
 
part of a small group which conversed with a photographer who had
 
 
 
set his large camera on a tripod at the edge of the quiet waterfront
 
 
 
in order to shoot the full moon rising over the ocean and islands. 
 
 
 
Venus or Jupiter was in the sky that night as well .. really a night
 
 
 
that is hard to describe for its beauty, especially with the lights and
 
 
 
sounds of ocean freighters coming and going.  There were fireworks
 
 
 
that night .. a few.  There were also ‘no overnight camping’ signs
 
 
 
everywhere, and so I waited until most of the visitors had left the
 
 
 
park, well after midnight I believe it was, and then went in search of
 
 
 
a spot to camp, finding it in the centre of a field of tall flowers and
 
 
 
scented weeds, much of the growth being Chamomile, where I did
 
 
 
not pitch my tent, but laid down my sleeping bag covered by the
 
 
 
waterproof space blanket.  One couple on a lover’ stroll noticed my
 
 
 
camp, and a person walking their dog also looked my way.  I hoped
 
 
 
the dog would not begin barking at me, and it did not.  One police
 
 
 
car did a tour of the circular drive around the large field, but I had
 
positioned my moped so that car lights would not hit reflectors. 
 
 
 
Had I been asked to move on I would have done so, finding a spot
 
 
 
someplace .. after all, I had traveled six weeks and had not done
 
 
 
without a place to lie my head.
 
 
 
      The sky was bright with stars that night, and my sleep was
 
 
 
sound.  I was up at dawn and rode around until I found an early-
 
 
 
opening restaurant .. a hippy restaurant of course, this being
 
 
 
Victoria hippyness is everywhere.  The waitress perhaps thought I
 
 
 
was a homeless vagrant and wrote a light bill, and I rewarded her
 
 
 
with a $2 tip.  I then rode to Oak Bay, to the Gas Bar/Laundromat
 
 
 
which I had used on my arrival to Victoria, and there I did a
 
 
 
laundry, changing my moped’s tire as the laundry machines worked
 
 
 
away.  This tire was built with four plies instead of two, and was
 
 
 
stiffer, difficult to get round on the rim .. but with patience and by
 
 
 
using the electric air pump to over inflate the tire I was finally
 
 
 
successful.  If you use the over inflation technique you have to be
 
 
 
careful not to explode the tire, so generally it is safer to over inflate
 
 
 
using a hand pump.  During my time at the Laundromat I had
 
 
 
hung my dewy sleeping bag out to dry in the sun, laundering my
 
 
 
inner and outer cotton bedsheets and drying them in the machines.
 
Soon enough it was time for coffee with Ron at Starbucks, and then
 
 
 
a shower for me at the Marina, and four nights sleeping on the
 
 
 
boat, two nights spent on the top deck under the stars, and one
 
 
 
inside the boat not only because rain threatened, but because
 
 
 
I wanted the intimacy with Ron. 
 
 
 
      Even with the evening threats of rain the days were summer-
 
 
 
perfect, and when Ron and I were not at sea we spent a lot of time
 
 
 
sitting on the upper deck, Ron with a beer, me with a whiskey. 
 
 
 
During this time I read the book I had bought Ron for his birthday,
 
 
 
rather, I should say I reread it.  Ten years before I had read Captain
 
 
 
Joshua Slocum’s tale of his solo sail around the world .. the first
 
 
 
solo circumnavigation, and one of those trips which, like Thor
 
 
 
Hyerdhal’s Kon Tiki raft trip across the Pacific, experts of every kind
 
 
 
said could not be done.  I beieve Kon Tiki took three months to drift
 
 
 
from Peru to the Polynesian Islands, and Spray took three years for
 
 
 
its trip.  Perhaps there is a circumnavigation in store for Ron and I
 
 
 
.. certainly my son-in-law Ralph, who I am living with during the
 
 
 
time I’m writing this book, hopes to be able to sail around the world
 
 
 
in another ten or fifteen years .. and if he goes, I’m sure my
 
 
 
granddaughter Jade will be going along.  I plan of gifting Jade with
 
a book on sailing soon.
 
 
 
      When I had first arrived in Victoria I was not sure how much
 
 
 
time I would spend before starting my return trip.  A family
 
 
 
reunion of sorts was scheduled in Winnipeg for the July 1 Weekend.
 
 
 
Dad and my brother Jody with his wife Donna were driving from
 
 
 
their homes north of London, and would be met in Winnipeg by
 
 
 
Dad’s brother, two sisters, Rick and Sandra from Saskatoon, and a
 
 
 
few others.  A trip to the homestead was planned, with the general
 
 
 
sentiment being that this would be Dad’s generation’s last trip to
 
 
 
the homestead.  Before I had begun my journey I had told Dad that
 
 
 
I might try to be at the homestead for the reunion, and I had been
 
 
 
hoping that Ron might be interested in going; but Ron was unable
 
 
 
to attempt the trip, and as I had been on the homestead and hoped
 
 
 
to see my aunts on my return trip, and as I did not know when Ron
 
 
 
and I would be able to see each other again, I decided to stay in his
 
 
 
neighbourhood .. and Ron and I were both very happy that I had
 
 
 
made that decision.  As it was it was far too soon that I had to head
 
 
 
back east because of my income obligations.  I suppose I could
 
 
 
have stayed another week, giving Ron and I three series of days
 
 
 
together, but that would mean a hasty trip back to the Ontario
 
border for August 1.  I also wanted to visit Saskatoon again, and
 
 
 
visits to both aunts would require visiting Winnipeg as well as the
 
 
 
town of Morden, which is south of Winnipeg.  Another factor was 
 
 
 
that  I wanted the return trip through the prairies to be leisurely ..
 
 
 
to have time to explore the province of  Saskatchewan which was
 
 
 
Dad’s mother’s birthplace.  I also hoped to visit Prince Albert
 
 
 
National Park, which was where the internationally famous
 
 
 
conservationist Grey Owl (Archie Belaney) wrote the books which
 
 
 
some people believe were responsible for saving the Beaver from
 
 
 
extinction in North America, and for starting modern
 
 
 
conservationist thinking.  Of course, it was Annahereo, Archie’s
 
 
 
aboriginal wife, who really deserves the credit, as she motivated him
 
 
 
not only to stop trapping Beavers for a living, but to write and
 
 
 
publish his books.  I was greatly privileged to have visited
 
 
 
Annahereo’s birthplace, Mattawa on the Ottawa River, by canoe. 
 
 
 
While most of fame’s spotlight shone on Grey Owl, Annahereo was
 
 
 
acclaimed in her own right, devoting her entire life to conservation
 
 
 
after Grey Owl ceased to physically exist on earth, and becoming
 
 
 
the second person to receive an award for conservation which was
 
 
 
first awarded to Dr. Albert Schweitzer.  Annahereo is honoured
 
with Annahereo Days in Mattawa, and her book, the title of which
 
 
 
was, I believe, corrupted at the Editor’s or Publisher’s insistence for
 
 
 
the sake of sales promotion, that title being ‘Devil in Deerskin ..
 
 
 
My Life With Grey Owl’, is every bit as well written as Grey Owl’s 
 
 
 
‘Tales From An Empty Cabin’ and ‘The Beaver People’.  If you have
 
 
 
never heard of Grey Owl it is because even though he and
 
 
 
Annahereo were two of the most internationally famous people of
 
 
 
their day,  they were relegated ‘to the unknown backwoods’ in
 
 
 
Canada after Grey Owl confessed to not being an aboriginal by
 
 
 
blood, but an Englishman who had become an aboriginal by spirit. 
 
 
 
That spirit is brought to life in the beautiful movie ‘Grey Owl’, which
 
 
 
stars Pierce Brosnan as Grey Owl along with a lovely young Canadian
 
 
 
aboriginal actress whose name escapes me but who portrays 
 
 
 
Annahereo.  Any person interested in conservation, history,
 
 
 
accomplishment, or film as art would do well to view this movie.
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Fourteen==
 
Eastward and Northward and Godward
 
 
 
To the best of my limited knowledge Grey Owl never mounted
 
 
 
up on a horse; but my iron donkey was ready to go, and Ron and I,
 
 
 
after a last coffee together at Starbucks, said farewell, he off to
 
 
 
work at his computer doing a job so secretive he won’t share details
 
 
 
with me, and me off to the east, planning on taking the southern
 
 
 
route as far as the Okanagan Valley and then up towards Calgary. 
 
 
 
That plan was somewhat altered near the top end of the Okanagan,
 
 
 
but those details will come later.
 
      I followed the ocean as far as I could, first passing Oak Bay
 
 
 
Beach, the spot where an aboriginal village had prospered in peace
 
 
 
and plenty for at least the last 2,000 years before Caucasians
 
 
 
arrived.  I was surprised to learn that Elk was the main staple
 
 
 
of those natives’ diet, and also was surprised that a quirk of the
 
 
 
ocean shore allowed the aboriginal children a clear view of  the
 
 
 
bright Morning Star Venus when it rose in the east in its season.
 
 
 
      I saw no Elk on my way to the ferry at Sydney, but I did see
 
 
 
several of the small and almost tame deer which inhabit southern
 
 
 
Vancouver Island even in populated areas.  Deer are not the only
 
 
 
wildlife here, and or at least 20 years ago, in the year before Jeani
 
 
 
and I moved into our seaside cottage outside of Victoria a Cougar
 
 
 
had strolled the paved road which fronted several homes inhabited
 
 
 
year-round.  I saw no Cougars on my moped though, but I did see
 
 
 
a few rabbits, perhaps descended from those Jeani, Adam and I had
 
 
 
turned loose when we went our separate way.
 
 
 
      The road along the shoreline takes so many twists and turns
 
 
 
that I became unsure of my path at one intersection, and set my
 
 
 
bike up on its kickstand; but the above average intake of alcohol
 
 
 
over my last two weeks made me careless, and I did not beware the
 
wind and angle of lean caused by the graded of the road, and my
 
 
 
iron horse blew over.  No damage was done, but in lifting the bike
 
 
 
and attempting to raise it on its kickstand I dropped it again.  I was
 
 
 
‘off my game’ as the saying goes, because of the moderate but
 
 
 
steady alcohol intake of the past two weeks.  When the bike hit the
 
 
 
ground the second time the right side mirror hit the pavement and
 
 
 
the mirror, which was fastened with a ball and socket assembly,
 
 
 
popped free of its holder.  I could not reinsert the ball into the
 
 
 
socket.  The frustrations foreshadowed troubles to come .. and
 
 
 
while my alcohol consumption was mostly to blame, I realized at the
 
 
 
time that because I was already genuinely missing my brother my
 
 
 
emotions were as unsteady as my sense of balance and had
 
 
 
undoubtedly played a part in my misjudgments.  I wrapped the
 
 
 
mirror in a rag to help avoid breakage, and stowed it in the
 
 
 
saddlebag with my tools, then proceeded to Sydney, where used
 
 
 
time to spare before boarding the ferry to search unsuccessfully for
 
 
 
a colourful ‘Victoria’ or ‘Sydney’ sticker to boastfully decorate my
 
 
 
moped, notifying residents of Ontario of my Odyssian voyage. 
 
 
 
My Ontario License Plates had served that purpose for western
 
 
 
eyes.
 
      The ferry ride through the Gulf Islands was of course beautiful.
 
 
 
Three or four motorcyclists were making the passage and we shared
 
 
 
experiences.  At Tawassan I briefly considered riding into Vancouver
 
 
 
to find the home of some friends/relatives .. my first wife’s sisters
 
 
 
adult children who were also adventurers as genuine rodeo stars. 
 
 
 
One of them was marrying, and I had been as close as a brother to
 
 
 
their parents for several years, spending considerable time around
 
 
 
their little homestead splitting firewood to help my brother in law
 
 
 
whose back was at times not up to hard labour.  The boys learned
 
 
 
through family history that I had introduced Wally and Betty Jo to
 
 
 
each other by inviting Wally to my home when I was still married to
 
 
 
and living with Betty Jo’s sister Arlene, and had come to regard me
 
 
 
as a favourite uncle.  Even so,  the thought of venturing into the
 
 
 
Vancouver’s traffic frightened me, partly because the moped was
 
 
 
loaded and balanced for highway travel and not for making
 
 
 
unending right angle turns in congested traffic through a city maze
 
 
 
in which road-enraged drivers were pedal-to-the-metaling it while
 
 
 
talking on cellphones and watching television and studying
 
 
 
electronic dashboard maps while drinking coffee and Budweiser
 
 
 
while smoking B.C. Bud through bongs while trying to avoid a slow
 
moving moped.  Call me chicken if you want, in the month
 
 
 
prior to leaving Ottawa I was almost run down twice while
 
 
 
walking on a ‘walk’ signal across a street in the middle of sunny
 
 
 
afternoons.  Both criminal drivers were making turns in my
 
 
 
direction.  Their intention may as well have been plain murder, and
 
 
 
had I not been Saved by Grace both times I could easily have been
 
 
 
killed.  The fortunate result of those incidents for me was that
 
 
 
transport truck traffic on major highways seemed a picnic.  Cities
 
 
 
were to be visited only if necessary.  I passed Vancouver by.       
 
 
 
      I didn’t pass by very far though.  I had barely gotten through
 
 
 
the suburbs and was on the busy four lane Trans Canada Highway
 
 
 
Number One when I got a flat .. another rear flat.  The air let go
 
 
 
relatively slowly in a non-frightening way and I was able to come to
 
 
 
an easy stop; but I did not want to make the repair on the gravel
 
 
 
shoulder with traffic whizzing past a few feet away, so took a walk
 
 
 
to see if a better spot was available.  About one-eight mile ahead
 
 
 
was an intersection and an expanse of grass and trees.  I walked
 
 
 
the bike there, hoping the gravel would not damage the flat tire, and
 
 
 
was so discouraged at the bad start this day had been that when I
 
 
 
reached the pleasant spot I thought that I should pitch camp
 
beneath the spreading tree, go to sleep, and to do the work the next
 
 
 
day.  I had a serious feeling that changing this tire was not going to
 
 
 
be fun.  The sun was hot .. the traffic was noisy even though I was
 
 
 
removed from the road .. and there was a ‘no camping’ sign
 
 
 
protecting the area from dangerous pilgrims and wandering saints
 
 
 
who may need a place to lay their head after the tiring work of
 
 
 
healing the sick and raising the dead.  Perhaps the posters of the
 
 
 
sign felt if saints are healing the sick and raising the dead they
 
 
 
should be well paid and therefore could afford a $100 per night
 
 
 
motel room .. that thinking forgetting that Saints often work for
 
 
 
free.
 
 
 
      Fixing my rear tire flat could, if all went well, take as little as
 
 
 
half an hour; but I felt an absence of good fortune and so I
 
 
 
examined the path the sun was taking and chose a  workplace
 
 
 
which would remain shaded by the tree for the next three
 
 
 
or four hours.  The ground was grass-covered and even though the
 
 
 
grass was dry the soil had been softened by many days of wet
 
 
 
weather, and I knew my kickstand forks would sink into the ground
 
 
 
on one side or the other, causing the bike to fall over, or sink into
 
 
 
the ground enough to make removing the rear wheel impossible, as
 
even when raised on the kickstand on pavement the wheel’s
 
 
 
clearance was barely sufficient to allow removal.  In Victoria I had
 
 
 
discarded my relatively frail and badly beaten up piece of aluminum
 
 
 
plate which had served as kickstand support, intending on finding
 
 
 
or buying something ideal.  I had forgotten to procure that item
 
 
 
though, and here on the side of the road British Columbia’s effective
 
 
 
anti-littering laws which promised a $1,000 fine worked against me
 
 
 
in finding junk.  After leaning the bike against the trunk of the shad
 
 
 
tree I searched far and wide until I found several aluminum beer
 
 
 
and soft drink cans, and fashioned those in layers into two separate
 
 
 
plates which did not at first or second try serve the purpose, but
 
 
 
when strengthened with an additional can each they proved
 
 
 
generally effective, although I knew I would have to take care not to
 
 
 
knock the bike over. 
 
 
 
      The alcohol which had put me ‘off my game’ had either put me
 
 
 
out of my normal mild temperament, or brought to the surface my
 
 
 
normal abnormal anger and frustration which result from the
 
 
 
continuing long term unfortunate aspects of my life but which are
 
 
 
normally deeply hidden beneath my facade of politeness.  By the
 
 
 
time I got the bike standing securely I was short tempered, and
 
again considered pitching my tent.  I compromised with a brief but
 
 
 
blissful nap.
 
 
 
      Upon waking I set about work, and it was not long before I was
 
 
 
shouting at my clumsiness and searching desperately in the grass
 
 
 
for dropped washers and hex nuts.  As I had no means of raising
 
 
 
the bike further off the ground than the kickstand allowed the job’s
 
 
 
difficulty was increased, and because the kickstand’s foundation
 
 
 
was not the best I had to be careful not to knock the bike over.  The
 
 
 
work was frustrating at first .. quickly becoming maddening.  To
 
 
 
aggravate that condition to unbearable proportions was my
 
 
 
stubborn pride which is probably my worst fault, and which would 
 
 
 
not allow me to give in to the thought of pitching camp and putting
 
 
 
the monster within out of commission through proper rest. 
 
 
 
      I’m glad you, dear reader, were not within earshot when this
 
 
 
Peacenik turned to the violence of cursing .. and then to shouting. 
 
 
 
Oh .. such cursing .. at such a loud volume.  And the unnecessary
 
 
 
skinned knuckles.  And the dropping and misplacing of parts and
 
 
 
tools in the long grass, and the falling over of the bike, and the
 
 
 
misplacing of parts and tools, and the sore back and pinched blood
 
 
 
vessels of my 60 year old legs bent at youthful angles.  While
 
examining my entire life I only remember yelling in anger at the top
 
 
 
of my lungs once before, and I won’t shame myself with those
 
 
 
details.  Sufficient to say that when I, beneath that tree beside the
 
 
 
highway, realized release from tension in my hollering and cursing I
 
 
 
hollered all the louder, and for such a long period of time that along
 
 
 
with the sense of relief came the worry that if anyone was listening
 
 
 
they would certainly call authorities and a paddy wagon would be
 
 
 
on its way.  That gave me such a feeling of abnormal satisfaction
 
 
 
that I knew I had finally become the wild man alien to all the world
 
 
 
that I had long envisioned myself as, and haboured an attitude of
 
 
 
‘bring on that Paddy Wagon and jail cell  (because I need a good rest
 
 
 
and a few days of free meals). 
 
 
 
      The repair was made before the arrival of the men in white and
 
 
 
blue, though, the flat having been caused by a construction type
 
 
 
staple.  The tire was undamaged, the tube was too hastily patched,
 
 
 
and after much manipulation and deflating and re inflating and
 
 
 
over inflating and by using the technique I had learned at the
 
 
 
motorcycle shop in Kamloops of pounding the inflated tire on
 
 
 
pavement I finally got the tire on round.
 
     
 
      The experience of being stuck in isolation on the side of a
 
congested and furious four lane, while allowing me to release the
 
 
 
animal within, had once more taught me that byways are better
 
 
 
than highways; and opportunity to exit the four lane onto a byway
 
 
 
presented itself as a bridge across the Fraser River and an Oh So
 
 
 
pleasant ride into the town of Mission where I saw a garage open
 
 
 
and at which I stopped, asking if the mechanic could find a way to
 
 
 
press my mirror’s ball fastener back into the socket.  The mechanic
 
 
 
failed at the first two attempts, but then took the ball to a grinding
 
 
 
machine and ground off a thin strip at the ball’s equator.  The ball
 
 
 
then pressed firmly into the socket and has been fine ever since.
 
 
 
      “No charge,” the mechanic said .. and I say, “Thanks” again.
 
 
 
      Not far out of Mission, though, I had a second rear flat.  This
 
 
 
was still the first day of my trip, don’t forget.  This time I had the
 
 
 
sense to set up camp beside a railroad track where some old farm
 
 
 
wagons were being stored.  I don’t know if the track was still in use,
 
 
 
but there were houses available, and I had visited one house and
 
 
 
asked for permission to tent near the wagons, and permission was
 
 
 
given.
 
 
 
      A discarded railroad tie made an elevated platform for my
 
 
 
kickstand and bike, and the bed of a farm wagon made a handy
 
workbench.  I had decided not to make the full repair that day, but
 
 
 
only to patch the tube, and finish the job the next morning .. using
 
 
 
the extra time to cook a good meal, which I needed after my earlier
 
 
 
ordeal.  This flat was the fault of my first repair.  I had not washed
 
 
 
the tube properly and remnants of the Baby Powder prevented the
 
 
 
patch from sticking permanently.  I had also not allowed the glue to
 
 
 
dry sufficiently.  I had done nothing right, really, including  not
 
 
 
using my new, spare tube because I wanted to save it in case I had
 
 
 
a flat which destroyed the tube I was riding on.  This experience
 
 
 
changed my attitude about reserving tubes, though, because
 
 
 
perhaps if I had allowed the improperly patched tube a few days of
 
 
 
curing it may not have been as quick to separate from the tube.  I
 
 
 
made all subsequent flat repairs by inserting my spare tube in the
 
 
 
tire, and carefully rolling the repaired tube in a tight bundle for
 
 
 
curing.  I also now carry two spare tubes, a practice begun in
 
 
 
Saskatchewan and which I will relate to you at the proper time.
 
 
 
      While I was camped beside the tracks a motorcyclist drove past
 
 
 
me and rode up a narrow road around the backside of a hill.  The
 
 
 
next morning I needed drinking water, and I walked up the road
 
 
 
and knocked on the door of a house.  I was greeted by a young
 
couple who were in the process of packing their car in preparation 
 
 
 
for a trip to the Okanagan Valley for camping.  I told them I was
 
 
 
headed there also as I wanted to take a different route than the one
 
 
 
leading me to Vancouver, and intending to take Highway Three from
 
 
 
Hope to Princeton and then into the Okanagan.  These kind people
 
 
 
told me that anything they could do for me they would do .. and
 
 
 
even asked if I wanted to use their shower.  I guess my stress from
 
 
 
the ordeal of the day before must have been in the air.  Really I
 
 
 
was astounded by their generosity, and I did want a shower, but I
 
 
 
told them that there was no sense in showering before I finished my
 
 
 
bike repairs as I was bound to get greasy again, and they agreed. 
 
 
 
They provided me with water and a sandwich, and I returned to
 
 
 
finalize my repairs, and they to their packing.  I think I had just
 
 
 
started my moped’s engine for a short run to test the roundness of
 
 
 
the tire when the young couple drove up and told me “See you in
 
 
 
the Okanagan”.  I caught up to them in Hope, I think because they
 
 
 
had spent a night there with friends, and I may have seen them
 
 
 
again in Penticton, but wasn’t sure if it was them, and my social
 
 
 
phobias prevented me from approaching the young couple who
 
 
 
were smiling at me in that town and asking if they were the same
 
people.  Have I told you I suffered two concussions in my preteens
 
 
 
which affected my capacity for facial recognition?  It’s a genuine
 
 
 
handicap which has remained hidden under a mantle of ‘oddness’ ..
 
 
 
that mantle I have tried discarding many times, sometimes with
 
 
 
success and openness, pushing away my pride and saying, “I think
 
 
 
know you .. are you who I think you are …?” or some other clumsy
 
 
 
attempt at admitting I’m handicapped.  Just today in downtown
 
 
 
Peterborough a fellow called “Hello Bob”, and I walked to him, not
 
 
 
recognizing him as anyone I have ever seen before, but probably
 
 
 
someone who I’ve been at the same church with, or something like
 
 
 
that.  I was able to stay cheerful while admitting I did not know who
 
 
 
the stranger was, and he was somewhat taken aback, and said “I
 
 
 
thought you were someone else.”  I said, “But you did say, “Hello
 
 
 
Bob.  And my name is Bob.”  We both laughed about it and he got
 
 
 
into his car, but perhaps his memory is as good as mine, and I
 
 
 
really was the Bob he thought I was, but my reaction planted
 
 
 
enough doubt in his mind as for him not to embarrass himself with
 
 
 
his faulty memory.  Such are the tides of the sea of faces that is the
 
 
 
population of this world.
 
 
 
      My tire change by the railroad track had been a success, and I
 
was on the road again.  The old Trans Canada is a pleasant road
 
 
 
through pretty country containing pretty villages and small tourist
 
 
 
operations.  At one quaint lodge motel I stopped for a tea, and
 
 
 
engaged in conversation with a pretty blond woman who was a
 
 
 
couple decades younger than myself, but somewhat stressed
 
 
 
looking, and I thought almost from the first hello that she was a
 
 
 
professional Dancer as they are now called, and possibly a higher
 
 
 
priced hooker from the big city.  She was from Vancouver, and
 
 
 
sparks seemed to ignite a chemical reaction between us, to the
 
 
 
extent that I thought she as much as invited me to Vancouver with
 
 
 
her.  Of course I could have been mistaking simple friendship for
 
 
 
something more, and in any case I ended up motoring on, while she
 
 
 
was in the process of preparing for a return to the city.  Regardless
 
 
 
of her intention and profession she was a lovely lass with a fine
 
 
 
personality who seemed to fan warm air onto my nearly-
 
 
 
extinguished desires to ‘be with’ a woman of shared interests and
 
 
 
passions.
 
 
 
      The lovely lady’s memory stayed with me on the easy ride
 
 
 
through the Coast Mountains to the town of Hope which, you may
 
 
 
recall, is the southern terminus for the Coquihalla Toll Expressway
 
to Kamloops.  As I was entering Hope I came nigh unto  serious
 
 
 
trouble by riding at top speed into a deeply recessed drain cover 
 
 
 
near the edge of the road.  My front wheel slammed with an
 
 
 
exceptional  jolt into the hole, but my riding skills and instincts
 
 
 
honed during the previous 3,000 miles were sufficient that I did not
 
 
 
come close to spilling.  I was really worried, though, that my
 
 
 
machine had been damaged, and I stopped to examine the bike but
 
 
 
no problem seem to have resulted, and as I finished the ride into
 
 
 
Hope I felt nothing untoward in.  I may have told you already that
 
 
 
Slovenians, who build Tomos, which is my moped’s brand name,
 
 
 
are regarded as the finest craftsmen in Europe, and their products
 
 
 
of all kinds, whether manufactured, agricultural, or whatever, are
 
 
 
seen as the best.  My bike’s model, by the way, is Targa LX; and
 
 
 
there are large differences in moped models, some with kick start,
 
 
 
some with pedal start, some with single gear, mine with two speed
 
 
 
automatic transmission.  I would not recommend any model other
 
 
 
than a two speed transmission as it delivers more pep for city
 
 
 
driving. 
 
 
 
      So .. my bike was undamaged .. and despite the Slovenian’s
 
 
 
reputation for workmanship I must heed a lesson from the Frank
 
 
 
Slide which I will relate shortly and give glory for the safety of
 
 
 
myself and moped to He who rules heaven and earth and is the true
 
 
 
Creator of all things.
 
 
 
      The town of Hope is yet another of the many clean, orderly,
 
 
 
beautiful and welcoming western towns each of which have far
 
 
 
more individual identity than most towns in Ontario.  I think the
 
 
 
main difference is that franchises like Tim Horton’s and McDonald's
 
 
 
which make their profit through serving concentrated populations
 
 
 
are not nearly as prominent in the more sparsely populated west.  I
 
 
 
searched out a restaurant and Laundromat, and while my washing
 
 
 
was agitating the Laundromat washroom served to clean my
 
 
 
person.  While on the road  I take advantage of rivers, lakes and
 
 
 
creeks when possible to stay clean, but washrooms in
 
 
 
Laundromats, gas stations, tourist centres and restaurants also
 
 
 
come in handy.  I also replenish groceries, water, and other
 
 
 
supplies whenever I enter a village or town, and I did that at Hope,
 
 
 
and also purchased another roll of film for my camera.  I had not
 
 
 
intended on taking many photographs, but the scenery on this trip
 
 
 
was stimulated by the freshness of spring, and then by the beauty
 
 
 
of summer, and I still have over one dozen unprocessed rolls. 
 
 
 
      While my laundry was drying in the Laundromat (I normally
 
 
 
hang my laundry indoors or out to dry, but that is not often
 
 
 
possible on the road .. although it is normal while I caoe) I had a
 
 
 
meal in a restaurant where I fell into conversation with four people
 
 
 
at the neighbouring table who told me that the Similkaleen River
 
 
 
which I would come to as I rode Highway Three through the
 
 
 
Cascade Mountains was a good stream to try panning for gold and
 
 
 
platinum, and my new friends gave me a brief introduction to the
 
 
 
appearance of platinum.  I had no proper ‘pan’ but a frying pan
 
 
 
would do. 
 
 
 
      My visit to Hope was so pleasant that it was too soon that I was
 
 
 
on the road again, and what an interesting road it is.  The highway
 
 
 
east quickly becomes a long, long, long and steep ascent which my
 
 
 
moped climbed in low gear at maximum throttle.  I think this was
 
 
 
one of the slowest ascents of my trip.  I pitied the weary bicycle
 
 
 
tourists who struggled uphill behind me.  Near the top of this first
 
 
 
ascent is a turnoff with parking lot and plaques for viewing and
 
 
 
reading about the devastation of the rock slide of historical
 
 
 
proportion which had buried a river and parts of this highway.  In
 
that parking lot I spoke with a few motorcyclists, including one
 
 
 
fellow on a Harley who had begun his trip in northern British
 
 
 
Columbia and who was to pick up a lady friend and continue to the
 
 
 
southern end of South America.  This traveler gave me a card
 
 
 
printed with a website URL, and I looked up that website but he
 
 
 
seemed to either have abandoned his trip or abandoned the website
 
 
 
in the midst of the trip.  I think there were four other bikers in that
 
 
 
parking lot, and they were all impressed with my small machine’s
 
 
 
capabilities.  While I was speaking with the bikers I was approached
 
 
 
by a young couple who greeted me as if they knew me, and yes, this
 
 
 
was the couple who had offered me the shower at Mission.  I had
 
 
 
caught up to them because, I think I remember them saying, they
 
 
 
had spent the night with friends in Hope. 
 
 
 
      The landslide here was, I suppose, significant; but in my mind
 
 
 
it was a pale shadow of the incredibly heaped up, house-sized
 
 
 
blocks of rock which were the instruments of destruction of the
 
 
 
truly awesome Frank Slide which I had seen 20 years earlier with
 
 
 
Jeani and Adam.  That slide had occurred about 100 years earlier,
 
 
 
and an entire town had been buried when the mountain caved
 
 
 
in due to improper mine tunneling.  The mine and mining town,
 
apparently, had been much like the Titanic in being a boastful
 
 
 
expression of mankind’s cutting edge technology and abilities,
 
 
 
those capabilities causing men to think things like ‘We don’t need
 
 
 
God .. the Titanic will never sink’, or ‘we truly are masters of the
 
 
 
world and of our own lives.’  I don’t know how many people died in
 
 
 
that slide, but a story is told that atop one of the huge blocks of
 
 
 
stone sat a baby’s cradle, with the baby safe inside.  Through most
 
 
 
of my moped journey I had a distinct feeling that God was keeping
 
 
 
me as safe as that baby, and I rode through the Cascade
 
 
 
Mountains with great pleasure, rushing streams everywhere, and
 
 
 
little traffic on the highway. 
 
 
 
      Manning Provincial Park sits partway through these Cascade
 
 
 
Mountains, and the luxury and apparent prosperity of the Park’s
 
 
 
Lodge sitting near the quiet highway is a direct contradiction to the
 
 
 
rust coloured devastation caused by Pine Beetles of the Pine forests
 
 
 
the Lodge sits within, and which are clearly visible at close range on
 
 
 
the mountainside across the highway from the lodge.  I had seen
 
 
 
dead areas of Pine earlier, but these trees were up close and
 
 
 
personal, and for me, this dead forest was really the beginning of
 
 
 
awareness of how great the destruction of these great forests are. 
 
The destruction is also, seemingly, another lesson in man’s
 
 
 
glorification of himself, as Manning Park is named after a
 
 
 
renowned forester who was imported from Ontario to manage B.C.s
 
 
 
timber.  This example sharply increased my awareness that I come
 
 
 
the foremost knowledge of man is nothing beside the
 
 
 
incomprehensible intelligence and power of God.  Even though the
 
 
 
Manning example was so up close and personal, it took the miles-
 
 
 
long vistas along the highway approaching Banff, Alberta, that the
 
 
 
reality really sank into my consciousness.  The mountains there are
 
 
 
completely devastated, and I became easily convinced that within a
 
 
 
few short years there will be left no significant stands of Pine in
 
 
 
British Columbia and Alberta.  The magnitude of destruction in
 
 
 
those provinces could be developed as a tourist attraction in its own
 
 
 
right, much like the Frank Slide, the Titanic, and the buried but
 
 
 
partly unearthed city of Babylon.  On my part, I have come to know
 
 
 
there is nothing to do but accept the decrees, and to view the
 
 
 
destruction as judgment, but I also know God’s judgments are
 
 
 
merciful, and in the end beneficial to our souls and planet.  I have
 
 
 
great consolation in knowing that instead of eternal death coming
 
 
 
to the forests of B.C. and Alberta, change will come, with new
 
species of trees and animals and flowers and fruit .. and the lessons
 
 
 
we have learned from the regrowth of the mountainsides of Mount
 
 
 
St. Helen's following that apparent catastrophe means that change
 
 
 
will come rapidly .. all kinds of change, and we must prepare
 
 
 
ourselves for both good and bad changes whether we survive until
 
 
 
the arrival of Christ the Messiah .. or whether we are victims of our
 
 
 
own participation in the work of our modern society’s hellbent
 
 
 
machinery.   
 
     
 
      Between Manning Park and the Okanagan runs the
 
 
 
Similkameen River, fantastically free flowing in its gravel bed and
 
 
 
apparent purity.  The highway is never far from this river, and I
 
 
 
stopped for about two hours in a particularly beautiful place to
 
 
 
‘pan’ in the rushing waters for gold and platinum, not finding
 
 
 
either, but I really enjoyed the beauty and experience of that spot.  I
 
 
 
wanted to camp there, but to tell you the truth, and this might
 
 
 
surprise you, the wildness and solitude of this part of the Cascades
 
 
 
frightened me.  I was okay with leaving the highway and walking
 
 
 
along the river in daylight, but when late afternoon promised the
 
 
 
arrival of dusk and then darkness I continued on into the village of
 
 
 
Keremeos, which is gained after an extraordinarily long descent
 
which I was able to enjoy only because I braked often enough to
 
 
 
prevent myself from attaining uncontrollable speeds.  Coming into
 
 
 
the village I saw a tourists’ Visitor Centre, and with night falling
 
 
 
fast, I cooked my meal on a picnic table set up in near the building. 
 
 
 
The landscape of the Centre was bordered on one side by the
 
 
 
Similkaleen River, that river continuing south into the United
 
 
 
States and joining The Okanagan River which has its origins in the
 
 
 
beautiful and huge Okanagan Valley of B.C.  There is a town on the
 
 
 
Okanagan River in the U.S. named Okanogan, spelled with an ‘o’,
 
 
 
while British Columbia has towns or villages named Okanagan
 
 
 
Centre, Okanagan Landing, Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Mission,
 
 
 
Olalla and Ochitree .. among other ‘Os’ .. and while mentioning ‘Os’
 
 
 
I shall skip ahead to mournful ‘Ohs’ which some of you may utter
 
 
 
when I relate how I was told either in Keremeos or in Penticton that
 
 
 
within a year not one living Pine Tree will be standing in the entire
 
 
 
Okanagan, which will be true loss, as I personally rank Penticton as
 
 
 
Number One for overall quality of life in Canada, situated as it is at
 
 
 
the north end of relatively small but beautiful Skaha Lake, which
 
 
 
almost joins  the bottom end of the large, long and narrow and
 
 
 
fantastically beautiful Okanagan Lake.  I just realized I’m using the
 
‘F’ word a lot in this chapter .. ‘Fantastic’ .. but British Columbia is
 
 
 
just that in its beauty.
 
 
 
      With night falling at the Visitor Centre I wanted to set up camp
 
 
 
so I could listen to the watery symphony at the riverside, but the
 
 
 
buzzing and stinging of numerous mosquitoes discouraged me, and
 
 
 
as the Visitor Centre was closed for the day I retreated to the
 
 
 
Centre’s porch which was set up high above the grass, and
 
 
 
therefore not targeted by many mosquitoes.  I had been tempted to
 
 
 
simply lay my sleeping bag beside my moped which I had locked to
 
 
 
the picnic table, but had I done so I would have been awakened in
 
 
 
the night by the noise and soaking of an automatic lawn sprinkling
 
 
 
system.  Lucky Me .. rather, humble me in availing myself of the
 
 
 
luxury of a free roof over my head.    I don’t know what the attitude
 
 
 
of Visitor Centre employees would have been to my presence on the
 
 
 
porch, but one month later I was told at a similar small town’s
 
 
 
Visitor Centre in Northern Ontario that I was welcomed to camp for
 
 
 
free in the park at that site, and as the people of British Columbia
 
 
 
are generally warmly welcoming to tourists, pilgrims and strangers I
 
 
 
probably would have been welcomed at the Keremeos centre also. 
 
 
 
The Centre’s parking that night was used by the drivers of two or
 
three vehicles to camp out, sleeping in their cars, with one or two of
 
 
 
those campers taking evening strolls, which I found comforting as it
 
 
 
eased the sense of my being alone.  Was I lonely?  Yes, I think I
 
 
 
was.  I had got used to the companionship of brother Ron, my Port
 
 
 
Renfrew friends, and strangers at Sombrio .. and to feel part of the
 
 
 
human family just because a stranger walked across a parking lot
 
 
 
in the night shows how much we humans really do need each other.
 
 
 
      Early morning at the Centre was interesting because of a near
 
 
 
loss of a valued piece of equipment, and I’ll relate the experience to
 
 
 
you as it could help you find a lost something someday.  I had
 
 
 
rolled up my sleeping bag, eaten breakfast, packed up my gear, and
 
 
 
had actually started my moped’s engine to leave when during the
 
 
 
last check and pat down of self I do to ensure I am not leaving
 
 
 
anything behind I noticed my pocket watch was missing from the
 
 
 
end of its chain.  Actually the watch was a wrist watch which I
 
 
 
converted to a pocket watch.  I shut down the moped and searched
 
 
 
twice every inch of ground which I had stepped on.  I unpacked my
 
 
 
sleeping gear and searched inside of it.  I searched all around the
 
 
 
porch of the Visitor’s Centre because I had walked around it, and I
 
 
 
searched under the bench on that porch because I had both sat on
 
it and had slept on it.  It’s funny how the back of a park bench or
 
 
 
the backrest of a sofa can feel like someone’s body .. a warm and
 
 
 
breathing body I mean .. companionship for those the body
 
 
 
snatchers have victimized.  Not finding the watch I searched again
 
 
 
the ground, and searched again the porch, and searched again
 
 
 
under the bench.  At that point I sat on the bench and began the
 
 
 
psychological process of accepting my loss, which would take some
 
 
 
acceptance as the watch cost me $100 and shows day, date, month,
 
 
 
time, and has stopwatch, etc.  I also offered up a prayer of
 
 
 
acceptance, acknowledging that all things work for our ultimate
 
 
 
good, and probably also said a word for the watch to be found by
 
 
 
someone and put to good use … and then something caused me to
 
 
 
look between the wooden slats of the bench’s seat, those slats
 
 
 
spaced close together, and there was my watch, jammed in the slot
 
 
 
between two slats.  It had fallen out of my pocket somehow, and
 
 
 
dropped through a widening of the slot, and then, when I stood up,
 
 
 
had been pulled into a narrowing, and of course the chain broke
 
 
 
with my standing.    The watch had seen me through my two canoe
 
 
 
voyages, even though I had had to dry it out more than once
 
 
 
because of the force of rushing water as I pulled my canoe through
 
rapids, and stayed with me through my moped trip; but a week ago
 
 
 
it stopped and I replaced the battery, but it has stopped again, and
 
 
 
I suspect the water damage has finally caused the watch’s demise. 
 
 
 
I’ll probably get a Scuba Diver’s watch next, and convert it to a
 
 
 
pocket watch, as I’ve already performed a search and can find no
 
 
 
Scuba pocket watches.
 
         
 
      So, my watch was replaced on its chain and carefully stowed in
 
 
 
my pocket, and I was on my moped, and away to a restaurant for a
 
 
 
breakfast.  A very pretty town is Keremeos.  One of the reasons I
 
 
 
wanted to tour the Okanagan was because that time of year was
 
 
 
Cherry harvest, and I thought I could make some cash as well as
 
 
 
filling up on all the beautiful, ripe cherries I could handle.  I had
 
 
 
failed in an attempt at finding work in the Cherry harvest of 30
 
 
 
years before, having hitchhiked from the Free Camp at Jasper only
 
 
 
to be told the bulk of the Cherries had gone rotten because of too
 
 
 
much rain.  I had, though, worked in the Okanagan Grape harvest
 
 
 
with Jeani and Adam.  What a wonderful experience.  The
 
 
 
honeybees which pollinate the Okanagan’s crops were thick
 
 
 
everywhere, and scores of gentle, beautiful, harmless bees would
 
 
 
land on your arms and hands as you worked.  I can’t remember
 
them bothering my face, although they probably bothered Jeani’s
 
 
 
face because her appearance was so flower like.  (Gee .. I guess I’m
 
 
 
still in love, eh?)
 
 
 
      However, on this trip through the Okanogan, no matter how
 
 
 
well I searched, or on how many beautiful back country dirt roads I
 
 
 
traveled, I could not find work picking Cherries.  I was either
 
 
 
one day two late at an orchard, or a a few days too early, or, ‘come
 
 
 
back in week’.  My schedule would not allow me to sit around
 
 
 
waiting for a few days, and right until my search ended at the last
 
 
 
enquiry before leaving the Okanagan I kept moving north through
 
 
 
the valley hoping to find the Golden Orchard.  I did experience a
 
 
 
Cherry experience in Cherryville, in the Sushwap area though .. but
 
 
 
I’ll relate that later.
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Fifteen==
 
Godward and Northward and Southward
 
     
 
So, there I was, slowly motoring up and around the Okanagan
 
 
 
in a curvy hilly touristy vista-and-climate-enjoying way on Highway
 
 
 
97 and quaint back roads and taking plenty of time for a swim at
 
 
 
and a nap at Penticton’s beautiful beach and then motoring on
 
 
 
until I found a great free camping spot beside Okanogan Lake again
 
 
 
and then the next Sunday morning motoring on northward until I
 
 
 
approached the village of Peachland when I decided I would attend
 
 
 
the first church I came to, which was thankfully a United Church, I
 
 
 
say thankfully as because I had sort of promised God in a small
 
 
 
way that I would attend the first church, and because of some
 
 
 
incidents in my life I won’t attend a Roman Catholic church, even
 
 
 
though I have met lovely Roman Catholic people, and I harbour that
 
 
 
organization no ill will, but if the first church I came to had been
 
 
 
R.C. I would almost certainly have broken my small promise, and
 
 
 
probably to my hurt in not finding God’s blessings among the R.C.s. 
 
 
 
Anyway, the United service was wonderful, with a lot of old
 
 
 
fashioned hymn singing, and as the congregation was small, with a
 
 
 
layperson standing in for the regular preacher who was said to be in
 
 
 
some kind of wrestling match involving his faith, and with no one
 
 
 
appointed that morning to preach a long message, invitation was
 
 
 
made for attendees to testify to some movement of The Spirit of
 
 
 
God in their life.  Despite my wild and ‘windblown’ appearance as
 
 
 
was told me, I had been made to feel relaxed and welcomed by the
 
 
 
members of the congregation, particularly because of a unique
 
 
 
incident in the church ball before the service began.  A musical
 
 
 
couple were singing and playing the piano, and I stood beside them
 
 
 
silent until the tune was ‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louie
 
 
 
Armstrong, and that being my favourite non-specifically religious
 
 
 
song I joined in using my imitation Sachmo voice which I sing that
 
 
 
song with at Karaokes.  I don’t mean to brag, but I can at times
 
when moved by the good spirits do a fair job with Satchmo’s voice,
 
 
 
and I had not sung many words when the piano player stopped
 
 
 
playing and turned to look. 
 
 
 
      “I thought Satchmo had come back from the grave!”
 
 
 
she said.
 
 
 
      I really should give credit to good old Mom and Dad for my
 
 
 
voice, he has told me that if his life had a choice of career he would
 
 
 
have chosen Opera singer, and I remember him singing very well
 
 
 
indeed.  Mom was a professional singer when she was a knockout
 
 
 
looker, singing on stages entertaining the troops during the second
 
 
 
world war.  It’s no wonder I can, at times, sing. 
 
 
 
      “I love that man,” I said, and we all agreed that there was
 
 
 
a lot in Satchmo to love, and we agreed the his daughter and he
 
 
 
sang beautifully together on their digitally mixed songs, and then
 
 
 
we continued in the song. 
 
 
 
      During the service the layperson conducting the service made
 
 
 
mention of my singing in the hall, and everyone gave me such a
 
 
 
warm welcome that I could not pass up the general invitation to
 
 
 
give a testimony.  I gave a brief description of my trip, and of how
 
 
 
God had protected and provided for me all along the way, and then I
 
sat down.  As I sat, though, the gentleman ahead of me turned and
 
 
 
looked at my face and smiled.  He was accompanied by two children
 
 
 
who I had already made the acquaintance of through their natural
 
 
 
affection and curiosity.  After the service the gentleman, whose
 
 
 
name was, believe it or not, Roadhouse, Brian Roadhouse, asked
 
 
 
me if there was anything I needed.  I told him I would like to find a
 
 
 
few hours work, but that I’m having no luck with Cherry orchards.   
 
 
 
Brian invites me to supper at his home in the village of
 
 
 
Summerland, which I had ridden through a few miles before
 
 
 
Peachland.  In fact, when I did get to Brian’s home I realized I had
 
 
 
ridden right past his lane way where I had seen the biggest snake I
 
 
 
have ever seen, about seven feet long and as thick as three garden
 
 
 
hoses.  When I had passed the snake I thought instantly of trying
 
 
 
to kill it by running it over, but I was on a steep incline and was
 
 
 
barely making headway, and I knew that I would be disadvantaged
 
 
 
in a snake-moped duel, so I rode past it hoping it would not come
 
 
 
after me, and it didn’t, just slithered into the roadside vegetation.   
 
 
 
I told Brian about the snake, but was worried for the children for a
 
 
 
week until I learned in Saskatchewan that the snake was a Bull
 
 
 
Snake, and  harmless to humans unless it can scare us to death.
 
      Regarding Brian’s invitation, I am normally as afraid of first
 
 
 
invitations into the intimacy of people’s homes as I was of that
 
 
 
snake, those fears haunted by both youthful and latter day
 
 
 
encounters of the nasty kind with strangers; so with Brian I don’t
 
 
 
hesitate in  making the excuse that I’m headed north, and  would
 
 
 
have to retrace my path southerly.  Brian meets that excuse with
 
 
 
proper rebuke voiced in just the right measures of intelligent
 
 
 
understanding and contempt .. his expressions coming from a
 
 
 
genuinely warm human heart with such a measure of natural
 
 
 
humanity that I was immediately persuaded to accept.  Before we
 
 
 
headed home though we had a little luncheon to attend in the
 
 
 
church hall, and there I met two people who, had I been seeking a
 
 
 
female for a love life and a home could have provided both.  Brian
 
 
 
and I sat opposite each other at the table, and on either side of me
 
 
 
were women.  On my left was a blonde German woman who I will
 
 
 
call ‘Jill’ to go with my ‘Jacks’.  Jill was somewhat younger than
 
 
 
myself and had had immigrated to the Okanagan a few years before. 
 
 
 
The second woman was probably in her 70s.  I felt both physical
 
 
 
and spiritual attraction to Jill, and our conversation and friendship
 
 
 
came easily, which was a rare occurrence as being a coward by
 
nature I’m normally intimated by a physically attractive woman. 
 
 
 
Conversation and friendship had also come easily on my right
 
 
 
hand, and our lunch had come to an end when the senior lady told
 
 
 
me she and her husband lived on a hobby farm, could use some
 
 
 
help with chores, and would provide free housing in the form of a
 
 
 
small cottage on the property.  It was a kind and generous offer,
 
 
 
and I was tempted .. oh the temptation that came with Jill was was
 
 
 
especially tempting .. but if there was a possibility of a relationship
 
 
 
in Bitish Columbia it would mean separation from my children and
 
 
 
grandchildren as well as giving up my income from the government
 
 
 
of Ontario; and I did not even consider taking the lady away from
 
 
 
the healthy environment of British Columbia and moving her into
 
 
 
the unhealthy environment of the greater part of Ontario.  As
 
 
 
well, at my age and with my limited physical strength I don’t have
 
 
 
confidence in either being able to earn a living or to ensure blondes,
 
 
 
especially blondes, or redheads, receive satisfactory consideration. 
 
 
 
I might do okay with brunettes but never with blondes or redheads. 
 
 
 
Yet another factor was that there were animals on the hobby farm,
 
 
 
and while one of the attractive parts of the offer was that the air in
 
 
 
the Okanagan was wonderfully clean and would benefit my asthma,
 
my allergies would not have permitted me to work in the barns or
 
 
 
sheds.  It was with regret I could not accept. 
 
     
 
      Soon it was time to begin the trip to Summerland; but first I
 
 
 
had to meet Brian’s wife Eva, who was attending a booth at the
 
 
 
craft fair in the park on the lake across the street from the church.
 
 
 
I was not surprised to see that Eva was a native of a tropical
 
 
 
country, as their children were both dark, and they had not gotten
 
 
 
their skin colour from Brian; but I was wonderfully surprised at
 
 
 
Eva’s genuine reaction when Brian told her I was coming for
 
 
 
supper.  Eva is Fifiian, and I have come to understand that showing
 
 
 
hospitality is not just a custom of Fijiians, it is an unavoidable part
 
 
 
of their heritage.  We packed up the canopy and tables into the
 
 
 
family van and Brian drew me a map to their home, telling me to
 
 
 
show up at four o’clock.  I had an hour before needing to begin the
 
 
 
ride which would take less than ½ hour, and I spent that hour lying
 
 
 
down and swimming.  The water was fine, but the gravel beach and
 
 
 
lake bottom were probably the most unpleasant have experience,
 
 
 
probably because a lack of large waves meant the gravel did not get
 
 
 
sharp edges worn down.  In this park I met my usual contingent of
 
 
 
motorcyclists, and we had our normal conversations.  It may have
 
been here also, or later in Kelowna, that I met an old friend, Jacob. 
 
 
 
You may have seen him anywhere in Canada dressed in his normal
 
 
 
red-dyed potato sackcloth, and either riding a bicycle or having it
 
 
 
parked and using it to prop up ‘Jesus Saves’ signs.  My goodness ..
 
 
 
I just remembered that Jacob, after crossing and crisscrossing
 
 
 
Canada countless times over two decades on his bicycle, had at this
 
 
 
latest meeting traded his two-wheeled transportation in on a small
 
 
 
car.  I had met Jacob almost 30 years before, in a time when I
 
 
 
myself stood on street corners with large signs preaching Jesus;
 
 
 
and for the first two decades Jacob had always seemed completely
 
 
 
right on about his bible beliefs, and he was certainly impressive in
 
 
 
his faith, living in complete health on whatever God sent his way
 
 
 
each day, never asking for handouts and never taking any Social
 
 
 
Assistance; but eight or nine years ago I met Jacob in Ottawa,
 
 
 
and his physical and emotional health was suffering, a result
 
 
 
partly, I suspect, of his having given up on the King James Bible to
 
 
 
work on his own translation, but mostly coming from spending far
 
 
 
too much time either alone.  At our meeting in the Okanagan  Jacob
 
 
 
professed that God was Satan, but that Jesus was still Salvation.  I
 
 
 
told him that he was mistaken about God being Satan (although
 
scriptures say that Satan is the god worshipped by most of earth’s
 
 
 
population, including, I will add, many of us at least part of the
 
 
 
time who hope we are true Christians, Muslims, or Jews.  I did  not
 
 
 
enter into contention with Jacob, but saw the simplest way of
 
 
 
helping him was to exhort him to hang onto his faith in Jesus.  I
 
 
 
asked him if he was okay for money, and he said he had no
 
 
 
problems that way, and at that point it was time for me to ride to
 
 
 
Brian and Eva’s, and I did so, discounting immediately a thought to
 
 
 
introduce Jacob to Brian, recognizing that Jacob’s frame of mind
 
 
 
would not work for peace, but only serious discord with any who
 
 
 
had faith in God the Creator of the Universe.
 
     
 
      Supper was pleasant, the company was pleasant, all of us
 
 
 
including the children fell in love with each other, and I was invited
 
 
 
to spend the night, having my own room in the basement.  That
 
 
 
night turned into three, and they were welcome, because I had been
 
 
 
missing my brother Ron since leaving Victoria, and the intimacy of
 
 
 
a family home was a great relief.
 
 
 
      Brian, it turns out, is an ordained minister, but had been
 
 
 
defrocked by his denomination, which I won’t name, because of his
 
 
 
marriage to Eva.  Brian is my age, Eva much younger.  They had
 
met in Fiji when Brian was still married to his first wife,  but after
 
 
 
his wife had left him.  What had taken Brian to Fiji was his
 
 
 
responsibility of organizing a Habitat for Humanity building
 
 
 
project.  I have two other close friends who are with Habitat, Don
 
 
 
and Mary in Ottawa, so Brian and Eva and I had an easy topic of
 
 
 
conversation which, however, quickly turned into a discussion of
 
 
 
scripture.  Brian is not only a minister ordained by a temporal
 
 
 
organization, he has a true believer’s love of scripture and
 
 
 
prophecy.  Our conversations centred almost exclusively on the
 
 
 
bible, and particularly the New Testament.  Surprisingly, we agreed
 
 
 
on almost every point, although I was slightly stronger in my belief
 
 
 
that Christ’s teachings call us away from participation in any war,
 
 
 
regardless of whether that war is seen as ‘Just’ by anyone involved
 
 
 
in it.  (Can you see a war fought if both sides don’t present their
 
 
 
their military enlistment speeches as expounding a ‘Just’ cause?)
 
 
 
Brian also saw the King James translation as flawed in places,
 
 
 
where I see potential flaws as mysteries which will be revealed in
 
 
 
time.  Despite our not seeing perfectly eye-to-eye (and scripture
 
 
 
seems to indicate that perfection is possible only in heaven) Brian
 
 
 
was the first person in a very long time I could enjoy a discussion of
 
scripture with, as I am firm in my views and won’t relent to
 
 
 
pressures to join the opposition which generally expounds what I
 
 
 
have come to view as doctrines of man set up for the benefit of
 
 
 
temporal organizations including war profiteers, but which I have
 
 
 
also come to see as including natural borders for the pursuit of
 
 
 
peace among bodies of people with differing needs .. those borders
 
 
 
unfortunately oftentimes walled high with pride which builds self
 
 
 
righteousness.  For instance, some Baptists have an absolute need
 
 
 
not to use alcohol internally .. rubbing alcohol being approved
 
 
 
externally of course.  Other Baptists see no harm in a small amount
 
 
 
of alcohol taken internally.  So there are natural borders between
 
 
 
those groups which serve the cause of peace so long as force of
 
 
 
conversion is not seen as an instrument of good which could
 
 
 
leading to the enhanced peace of the poor, unfortunate soul who
 
 
 
believes differently from the other soul.  For that reason I have
 
 
 
never formally joined a group or denomination or even a non-
 
 
 
denominational church, the non-denominations generally turning
 
 
 
into their own denomination but with the name non-
 
 
 
denominational.  My position as a believer unto solely my own
 
 
 
understanding of the scriptures of course sets me up for the
 
temptation of self-righteousness which is almost as large as fault
 
 
 
with me as is my stubborn pride.  I’m not overly concerned with
 
 
 
those faults, though, because as the poster says, “God ain’t done
 
 
 
with me yet.”
 
 
 
      Okay .. so I’m enjoying Brian and Eva’s and their children’s
 
 
 
welcome and affection and joy at having another believer in their
 
 
 
home.  The children call me Uncle . and so I feel I am.  The jewelery
 
 
 
Eva is to me right from our meeting a sister and friend, and a
 
 
 
special spirit of creativity between us becomes manifest when we
 
 
 
discuss art and poetry.  Eva is chief designer of the genuinely
 
 
 
exceptional jewelery they sell, seashells and feathers and stones,
 
 
 
elements of Eva’s natural heritage, being the main components. 
 
 
 
Part of Brian’s income comes from doing odd jobs, and one of those
 
 
 
jobs is a wooden door for a house, that door lying on carpenter’s
 
 
 
workhorses in the garage.  The door needs to be stripped of paint
 
 
 
and varnish, sanded, and stained.  Brian has back problems which
 
 
 
have been preventing him from doing the door, so it’s obvious to
 
 
 
both of us that our meeting is fortuitous for this purpose.  I have
 
 
 
experience with wood, and do the stripping and sanding. .. and I do. 
 
 
 
Brian does the finishing.  I don’t want to accept payment for my
 
work, but Brian rightly insists, and I humble myself in my need.  As
 
 
 
a Bible believer, Brian’s main work is believing;  and he is believing
 
 
 
for a brand new church to be built in Penticton.  Brian and his
 
 
 
family and I drive to see to the proposed site, and while my faith is
 
 
 
not great for the project (Brian and Eva are making a living, but
 
 
 
where are the building funds going to come from?)  Brian’s faith is a
 
 
 
shared spirit, and before long I begin to believe, and finally say yes,
 
 
 
if God is willing, it can be done.  Personally, though, I see more
 
 
 
need for a living church which goes into the streets and parks and
 
 
 
onto sidewalks and into publishing houses and print shops than for
 
 
 
another shelter which is open only one or two days a week .. but
 
 
 
hey, Brian has his vision, and I mine.
 
 
 
      Tuesday afternoon we all go to a beach in Summerland, and
 
 
 
then return ‘home’ (yes, their home feels like home to me). Brian
 
 
 
and Eva are scheduled to attend a large market on Wednesday, and
 
 
 
I should be moving along.  Brian and I walk to the beer/liquor store
 
 
 
and he takes beer home while I buy a bottle of wine for Eva.  It’s a
 
 
 
great walk.  I’ve lost a few close friends in my life due to their
 
 
 
moving on to the next world, and moving away to different
 
 
 
localities, and certainly Brian has also.  Our friendship, even
 
though it’s only three days old, is real, and it is the same between
 
 
 
Eva and I. 
 
 
 
      Sometime during our visit I of course have said that I would
 
 
 
love to go to Fiji; and Brian tells me that when he organizes another
 
 
 
Habitat project in Fiji he’ll give me a call, and of course I tell him I
 
 
 
could never afford plane fare, and he of course says, ‘no problem,
 
 
 
we have faith don’t we?’  So of course I am looking forward to
 
 
 
helping build houses in Fiji where I will meet my relatives, and I do
 
 
 
have relatives there, because I am Uncle to Brian and Eva’s
 
 
 
children, and brother to them. 
 
 
 
      Wednesday morning breaks our togetherness, and the children
 
 
 
of course are sad to see me go.  Us adults are more accepting ..
 
 
 
perhaps unfortunately.  It would do any adult good to be able to
 
 
 
part from friends with tears.  We do stay in touch with telephone
 
 
 
and email, and come to think of it .. I should phone them right now
 
 
 
. . and I did phone them, and Brian answered and told me they
 
 
 
were in the middle of preparing supper, and I understood how busy
 
 
 
they are as I know they have children, and as supper can burn,
 
 
 
etc., and Brian said he would phone back, and he hasn’t yet,
 
 
 
but a family man is a busy man, and I’m sure he will call back, and
 
 
 
if he does not, I will (if God permits, as scripture says).
 
   
 
 
 
==Chapter Sixteen==
 
Northward and Eastward
 
 
 
I made a few dollars with Brian, but I still have not given up on
 
 
 
Cherry picking, and I stop at orchards and fruit stands along the
 
 
 
way, and make lovely detours on quaint dirt roads which take me to
 
 
 
quaint and lovely orchards, and meet a quaint and lovely lady living
 
 
 
in a quaint and lovely shack in a lovely cherry orchard, and we have
 
 
 
a lovely hello and goodbye, and I almost give up on lovely Cherries,
 
 
 
but make a lovely decision to take 97 Highway on the east side of
 
 
 
Okanagan Lake which takes me onto more quaint dirt roads into
 
 
 
more orchards but all without finding work, and then at Vernon
 
 
 
when I am sure there can be no more Cherry orchards on the road
 
 
 
ahead I see on my map to the east of Vernon the town of
 
 
 
Cherryville, and beyond Cherryville I see the Arrow Lakes which I
 
 
 
have wanted to visit for three decades, so of course I plan my route
 
 
 
to take me there.  First things first, though, and because I am in
 
 
 
Vernon where my Dad was stationed for part of World War Two
 
 
 
when he was probably the youngest sergeant in the Canadian
 
 
 
Army, I decide to tour the Army Camp there, which I do in the
 
 
 
company of the camp’s official photographer.  I will not be allowed
 
 
 
to roam free.  Seeing the young cadets reminds me of how
 
 
 
brainwashed I was at the age of 16 years when I had joined the
 
 
 
Canadian Army Militia .. and that’s all I’ll say about that, letting
 
 
 
Buffy Saint Marie’s song ‘The Universal Soldier’ take it from here. 
 
 
 
What I take are a couple of photographs of old Barracks for Dad’s
 
 
 
sake, shake hands, and give a genuine thanks for the
 
 
 
Photographer’s guidance, salute the sentries as I ride past the
 
 
 
Camp’s guardhouse, and head east east on quaint Highway Number
 
 
 
6 .. little traveled and solitary Number 6 .. ranch country .. a
 
 
 
touring bicyclist’s dream  .. and then I come into Cherryville which I
 
 
 
find is almost a hillbilly community of small homes and trailers and
 
shacks and an artists co-op of sorts and a pretty café in which is a
 
 
 
tall and beautiful young woman waitress who gives a Cherry-eyed
 
 
 
smile (that’s virginal but not unknowing smile) as her only answer
 
 
 
when I ask, “… but if there are no Cherries here why do they call it
 
 
 
Cherryville?”   
 
 
 
      Yes, why indeed!  No Cherry Trees but there is a perfect and
 
 
 
free place to camp on the wonderful rushing Shushwap River .. for
 
 
 
this is the Shushwap Country and home of The Cherryville News,
 
 
 
an environmentally friendly little paper, and I phone the publisher
 
 
 
and ask if he wants to do a story on my environmental moped trip
 
 
 
with its 125 miles per gallon, and he says sure, come on out .. and I
 
 
 
do, getting lost on dirt back roads first, but finally finding his
 
 
 
refuge, and giving my story, meeting the family and friends, and
 
 
 
being given a Medicine Bag by the publisher who is part aboriginal
 
 
 
and part African, his ancestors having escaped from slavery in the
 
 
 
U.S. to come to Canada.  He and his wife are buying the hobby
 
 
 
farm/guest house lodge they are operating, and enjoying being out
 
 
 
of the big city.  Yes indeed .. enjoying life in the mountains.  Tea
 
 
 
time over, I take the publisher’s advice and take a different route
 
 
 
back to camp, along dirt roads of course, with the intention of
 
finding the local swimming hole, the one with the rope hanging
 
 
 
from the tree over the river where everyone swims naked while
 
 
 
drinking beer.  I’m not interested in naked bodies of course, I just
 
 
 
want to see the sights .. sites.  It’s an interesting place where no one
 
 
 
is swimming naked, but where a huge log is almost high and dry
 
 
 
proving the power of the Springtime floods that rage through that
 
 
 
neck of the wild woods.  I have a good chat with a fellow who has
 
 
 
been swimming and fishing with his lady friend, and then ride back
 
 
 
to my camp. 
 
 
 
      This particular campsite, which is a short walk from the
 
 
 
Cherryville Main Street, and is right on the side of the rushing
 
 
 
Shushwap River is so beautiful I spend three days here, building
 
 
 
fires every evening, bathing, cooking, sleeping, drinking wine, doing
 
 
 
laundry in the river but without polluting with soap of course, and
 
 
 
chatting with folks who drop in for a hello, the first chat being with
 
 
 
a Rock and Roll Band which is driving through on the way to a gig
 
 
 
somewheres westward, but who stop for a swim in the rapids.  I am
 
 
 
also visited by a fellow whose transportation from home to the
 
 
 
Cherryville Beer Store is a three mile swim down the rapids.  Need I
 
 
 
say ‘What a guy?’  He was raised in that neck of the woods, and had
 
moved away for a couple of decades, but  had returned to stay.  I
 
 
 
could not appreciate his taste in alcohol after his icy swim because
 
 
 
if  I had done the swim I would have needed firewater and definitely
 
 
 
not a cold beer.  I have met this new friend on the last afternoon of
 
 
 
my stay on the Shushwasp, and because I plan on heading east
 
 
 
early in the morning, before the gas station opens, I need to fill my
 
 
 
gas tank; so I accompany my new friend part way to the corner
 
 
 
store/gas station/beer and liquor store where most of the village’s
 
 
 
business transactions occur, but the slow and relaxed togetherness
 
 
 
of our walk goes only as far as meeting up with a gang of
 
 
 
mosquitoes which makes walking unbearable and he breaks into a
 
 
 
sprint while I start my machine and ride.  We part company in the
 
 
 
beer store, he just kind of disappears out a side door or something,
 
 
 
and I do my business, have a coffee at the café, return to camp,
 
 
 
have a great sleep, ride away from Cherryville before sunrise the
 
 
 
next morning, which is a cold morning; and here I am six months
 
 
 
later with my rock and roll songwriter soul telling me “Get Back ..
 
 
 
Get Back .. Get Back to the Mountain Cherry eyes of Cherryville you
 
 
 
Jo Jo Moped Man!”
 
 
 
 
 
     
 
 
 
 
 
      Knowing where to terminate one chapter and start another is
 
 
 
one of the most difficult chores for me as a book writer, and I’m just
 
 
 
leaving an open space to indicate that a change is occurring, for 
 
 
 
while I was staying on the same highway leaving Cherryville the
 
 
 
road was changing .. becoming much more rural and isolated,
 
 
 
narrower, much more mountainous .. the Midway Mountain
 
 
 
Range .. truly a motorcyclist's dream  with almost total lack of
 
 
 
highway traffic excepting a few logging trucks and with its curves
 
 
 
and valleys and descents and steep ascents which require me to
 
 
 
slow down and really enjoy the scenery and solitude by walking
 
 
 
beside my bike as I throttle it .. and with the biggest deer I have
 
 
 
ever seen, huge deer, habituating a lovely little piece of world which
 
 
 
might survive a nuclear holocaust which contains in one pretty
 
 
 
spot two houses and a waterwheel generating electricity from a
 
 
 
waterfall .. more steep ascents .. and finally a sudden stop ..
 
 
 
yes .. at the end of a long descent a very sudden stop at a dead end
 
 
 
on a lake .. a huge and beautiful Lower Arrow Lake.  Fortunately
 
 
 
this dead end held a ferry terminal, although a terminal with no
 
 
 
buildings .. but also with no price tag .. and the fact that it was a
 
 
 
free ferry had decided my route this way instead of turning north
 
 
 
before reaching the (?) dead end of Needles on the west coast of
 
 
 
Lower Arrow Lake and Fauquier on the east side.  I understand
 
 
 
there were prosperous villages on both sides before the dams were
 
 
 
built flooding the Columbia River and creating the lakes, and
 
 
 
possibly there is some housing I didn’t see.  I wish I had explored
 
 
 
the west shore a bit before ferrying over, but I did not.  The dams
 
 
 
which created Upper and Lower Arrow Lake had fairly quickly
 
 
 
destroyed most of the Salmon run.  I am told that Salmon in the
 
 
 
millions used to run this river, and there are now a few fish in the
 
 
 
lakes, but not many.  An experiment in seeding the lakes with
 
 
 
nutrients of some kind is done from the ferries, I am told, but there
 
 
 
seems little hope of restoring the fish population.  However, the
 
 
 
lakes are fantastic in scenic beauty, these are the mountains after
 
 
 
all, Lower Arrow being about 100 kilometres long according to my
 
 
 
map, and perhaps three kilometres wide if my memory serves
 
 
 
correctly.  Memory recalls another example of mankind’s lack of
 
 
 
intelligent forethought concerning the Arrow Lakes, and that is a
 
 
 
news item from 20 years ago which told of a business at one end or
 
other of one of the lakes using the lake, believe it or not, as a dump
 
 
 
for automobile batteries.  We are a fine species, we humans.
 
     
 
      I had another near encounter of the feminine kind at the
 
 
 
Fauquier Café, a hippy type woman traveling alone in her car, and
 
 
 
each of us wanting to say hello, where are you headed, who are you,
 
 
 
why are you traveling, it would be nice to get to know you, etc., but
 
 
 
not doing so.  Where she was probably headed to was the village of
 
 
 
Nakusp on the eastern shore of Upper Arrow Lake.  This village was
 
 
 
holding a music festival, if my memory serves correctly a Folk
 
 
 
Festival, and I was passing through just in time to possibly get
 
 
 
some work connected with the festival, and I asked around Nakusp
 
 
 
until tired of failing, and when thus wearied I decided I had heard
 
 
 
enough loud music and been in enough crowd at Sombrio, so
 
 
 
instead of resting and trying further to find work I just enjoyed a
 
 
 
burger and then a swim and nap at the beautiful sandy beach ..
 
 
 
the I motored on .. motored on but not far because I found one of
 
 
 
the highway rest stops B.C. is famous for, a park with picnic tables
 
 
 
and a tall and wide and beautiful waterfall cascading as if a veil
 
 
 
down the face of multi-coloured rock .. and there I spent the night,
 
 
 
sleeping on the bench directly in front of the falls .. and having my
 
shoelaces stolen in the night by some critter .. yes, took my laces
 
 
 
right out to build a nest with, a rodent of some kind probably ..
 
 
 
Marmot perhaps?
 
 
 
      In the morning I substituted shoe laces with plastic twine, and
 
 
 
then I saw a challenge I could not refuse .. a climb up a steep trail
 
 
 
to the top of the falls.  Very nice.  Oh yes, I almost forgot, a young
 
 
 
couple had stopped by to see the falls when I was cooking supper
 
 
 
the previous evening and told me I could experience bathing in a
 
 
 
hot spring ‘just around the corner’ .. up the trail, etc.  I looked for
 
 
 
the spring and found a crude sign saying ‘private property spring
 
 
 
closed’, and looked further, wandering around on old logging trails,
 
 
 
and not finding the spring but having a nice walk, and experiencing
 
 
 
in a new way the mountain wild lands, and then riding on north
 
 
 
instead of east because at Nakusp the road splits, with Highway 6
 
 
 
taking a long detour south to Highway 3 and Three east to where it
 
 
 
become Three and 95 and then north as 93 and 95 to Highway One
 
 
 
at Golden and then east through Lake Louise and Banff continuing
 
 
 
on west to Calgary .. and I wanted to go through Banff to Calgary
 
 
 
but my time would not allow a detour, and my rear tire might not
 
 
 
last with the extra mountain miles, and besides that, and this
 
might surprise you, I had seen enough mountains and fishless
 
 
 
lakes despite the great beauty and wonderful swimming, and I
 
 
 
wanted to get on the prairies .. to Saskatchewan, the home province
 
 
 
of my Dad’s mother .. I just felt the ancestral draw.  I also wanted to
 
 
 
visit Rick and Sandy in Saskatoon again.  So what I did was to
 
 
 
take the much shorter route to Banff by turning north onto 23 at
 
 
 
Nakusp and continued on along the eastern shore of Upper Arrow.
 
 
 
On the side of this little traveled and relatively narrow road I found
 
 
 
a cardboard box .. rectangular .. sealed with tape .. lightweight ..
 
 
 
and addressed to a Nakusp address.  The box was labeled as
 
 
 
containing gaskets for heavy equipment parts.  I fastened the box
 
 
 
behind me and took it to Revelstoke, where I dropped into a Tourist
 
 
 
Centre office and where an employee phoned the company and
 
 
 
arranged to have it sent back to Kakusp.  The Visitor Centre’s
 
 
 
employee suggested the Heavy Equipment Company might want to
 
 
 
send me a reward, so I wrote my name and address on the carton
 
 
 
but nothing came to my address.
 
 
 
      To get to Revelstoke though, I had first had to cross Upper
 
 
 
Arrow Lake by taking another free ferry (Oh the misfortune of travel
 
 
 
in the mountains).  This ferry I boarded at Galena on the eastern
 
shore, crossing to Shelter Bay on the western shore, and then drove
 
 
 
through some pretty wild country by golly (!) with one particularly
 
 
 
high bridge over a deep canyon and not much traffic on that road
 
 
 
either until it gets up close and personal with Revelstoke where it
 
 
 
ties in with Number One Trans Canada .. a much shorter ride.  Oh
 
 
 
the huge dam at Revelstoke!  It’s worth a tour.  And the town is very
 
 
 
pretty indeed.  But the Revelstoke dam was another lesson in man’s
 
 
 
ingenuity not being so ingenious.  The fluctuating water levels the
 
 
 
dam brought to large, flat areas of the river valley brought summer
 
 
 
dust storms so severe that I think I recall someone saying
 
 
 
Revelstoke came close to being evacuated, but that the situation
 
 
 
was brought under control by planting special vegetation.  I also
 
 
 
heard Revelstoke, like Kamloops, came close to evacuation through
 
 
 
forest fires as well.  I certainly don’t know what British Columbia
 
 
 
and Alberta are going to do when the millions of billions of  Pine
 
 
 
Beetle killed and well dried Pine Trees catch fire .. those fires
 
 
 
undoubtedly spreading to the rest of the forests.  The future is not
 
 
 
bright.
 
 
 
      Revelstoke is interesting because at the north boundary of the
 
 
 
dam site is a sign saying either “no gas for (an unremembered but
 
very long way).  My map shows 137 kilometres between Revelstoke
 
 
 
and Mica Creek .. with no towns marked in between.
 
       
 
      Anyway .. after once again visiting a Laundromat I was
 
 
 
eastward ho from Revelstoke, through the Selkirk Mountains, and
 
 
 
the Purcell Mountains which cradle the beautiful village of Golden,
 
 
 
and into the awe inspiring Rocky Mountains … oh my gosh I
 
 
 
thought I had seen mountains on my trip but then I rode through
 
 
 
the Rockies.  I had been through them before of course, 30 years
 
 
 
before, hitchhiking out of Banff at 40 Below F. one time; but I guess
 
 
 
I had forgotten how majestic the Rockies are .. maybe that’s why
 
 
 
prizefighters name themselves Rocky .. or perhaps it’s because of
 
 
 
what their head feels like after awhile .. sort of like what it feels to
 
 
 
do too much hitchhiking.  Anyway, soon I was through Kicking
 
 
 
Horse Pass .. well you should see the scenery .. and oh yes ..
 
 
 
before the Kicking Horse, in Golden, I met up with a gentleman ex
 
 
 
biker who invited me home to meet his big blue and yellow tropical
 
 
 
bird .. and we had a couple of beers and a barbecue, and another
 
 
 
friend dropped in, and I was invited to spend the night but I was
 
 
 
allergic to the house because of the bird, but my friends told me
 
 
 
where an excellent camping spot was, outside of town on a creek
 
which runs into the Columbia River, and it was an excellent spot,
 
 
 
too, as beautiful as a mountain stream can be, with only a short
 
 
 
hike to the Columbia, which has its origins in Canoe Reach, a long,
 
 
 
narrow lake I measure on my map at more than 200 kilometres
 
 
 
long.  Whether the lake is natural or backed up by a dam I don’t
 
 
 
know .. but I do know the mosquitoes drove me right out of that
 
 
 
campsite the next morning .. and I was moving in a big hurry too. 
 
 
 
Mosquitoes love moving water for breeding you know .. lots of
 
 
 
oxygen generated by the turbulence.  But that Canoe Reach, that
 
 
 
would be a place to spend a season canoing around. 
 
 
 
      Of course there is a lot of fantastic scenery between Golden
 
 
 
and Lake Louise, but next thing on this book’s agenda is the Lake
 
 
 
Louise parking lot fees which are exorbitant but of course the
 
 
 
prices are not hinted at before people make the steep, steep, steep,
 
 
 
steep, climb up the mountain to the parking lot where the
 
 
 
attendants then take your wallet, and where I casually attempted to
 
 
 
park in a construction area but where I got caught and moved on
 
 
 
without giving the parking enforcer much complaint because I had
 
 
 
already seen the Lake and Lodge anyway 25 years ago when
 
 
 
hitchhiking through.  In fact I had almost not paid for something
 
that time, being so struck with the lake’s beauty and colour that
 
 
 
when I had finished my tea I got to the Lodge’s door before the
 
 
 
waitress reminded me I had not paid.  (Really .. it was not
 
 
 
intentional).  On this trip I commented to the parking officer how
 
 
 
Babylon had taken over the Rocky Mountains and then rode down
 
 
 
the steep, steep, steep hill and was lucky enough to find
 
 
 
the back country road into Banff and highly recommend it .. yes,
 
 
 
highly, it’s a quaint road little traveled with lots of scenery and
 
 
 
informational stops.  Finally I rode into Banff where I saw a bridge
 
 
 
which was adequate for camping under, but instead of setting up
 
 
 
my tent I searched out the casual labour office because I had heard
 
 
 
that in Banff they needed labourers badly even if there were no
 
 
 
Cherries to be picked.  I found the labour office, and the young man
 
 
 
managing the place recommended I motor on to Canmore because
 
 
 
if I camped under the Banff bridge I would probably be fined .. a
 
 
 
stiff fine, too, but Canmore was more friendly, and there was lots of
 
 
 
work there, too .., in fact he lived there and normally worked at the
 
 
 
Canmore branch of the same labour office.  So, after I visited a
 
 
 
coffee shop and was given a free coffee by a lovely young lady who
 
 
 
sympathized with my complaint that prices in Banff were
 
astronomical I rode on into Canmore .. a village walled in by rugged
 
 
 
mountains of the up close and personal kind .. and I found a
 
 
 
competing casual labour office before I found the office I was
 
 
 
looking for, and I was told if I was there first thing in the morning I
 
 
 
would be guaranteed work.  I also found a fellow who had worked
 
 
 
that day but had not returned to the labour office in time to get
 
 
 
paid, and so had no coffee money, and so I gave him $5.00 (I believe
 
 
 
it was) and perhaps it was him who told me about the municipal
 
 
 
camp ground which had tent spaces with showers for only $10 a
 
 
 
night, and I went there and camped for three nights, worked two
 
 
 
days at construction labour, earned $200 cash for two, eight hour
 
 
 
days, made some good friends while working, ate three inexpensive
 
 
 
but great Canmore Hotel meals, survived a frightening hail storm
 
 
 
which I thought was going to turn into a tornado and blow the
 
 
 
campground to the top of the mountains, but which I should not
 
 
 
have worried about (it seems) because (or so I was told the next day)
 
 
 
tornadoes don’t visit the mountains.  The campground, I wish I
 
 
 
could think of its quaint name, was almost like the Jasper Free
 
 
 
Camp had been in Hippy spirit, except not so wild and free, so that
 
 
 
even in the midst of the thunderstorm no one took off their clothes
 
 
 
and ran naked .. although one young woman was out in her wet,
 
 
 
white t-shirt and shorts, but the showers were coed.  Bob Dylan
 
 
 
said a while back that ‘the times they are a changing’ and yes they
 
 
 
did change .. because where marijuana had been the drug of
 
 
 
choice in the Jasper Free Camp alcohol was the excitement at
 
 
 
Wapiti .. yes, that’s it, Wapiti Campground, and I have come to
 
 
 
believe that moderate alcohol use is better than moderate
 
 
 
marijuana use, overdosing on anything is not recommended, and I
 
 
 
know for sure pot was available at the camp because I was
 
 
 
fortunate enough to be able to say ‘No Thanks’ to the invitation.
 
 
 
      At Wapiti I met many wonderful folks, including a woman
 
 
 
from one of the South American countries who had become a
 
 
 
Canadian and who was camping with he adult son.  Romance could
 
 
 
have blossomed but I was off romance, thanks.  Her son found a
 
 
 
good friend though in a mountain climbing partner, and the four of
 
 
 
us spent a few hours together, even making a trip to McDonald's for
 
 
 
a burger.   
 
 
 
      I enjoyed Canmore and being employed so much that had my
 
 
 
drywall-dust sweeping job not been health-destroying I might have
 
stayed longer, but by the middle of the second afternoon my lungs
 
 
 
were burning and my throat was raw.  Time to move on.  I was
 
 
 
riding out of town when I saw an obviously seriously distressed and
 
 
 
relatively young aboriginal woman, and I stopped and gave her a
 
 
 
kind word and $5.00 even though she was almost incoherent from
 
 
 
alcohol mixed with distress.  She was Blackfoot, she said, from west
 
 
 
of Calgary, and had come looking for her boyfriend who was in
 
 
 
Canmore with another woman .. her kids were back home .. her
 
 
 
boyfriend had beaten her up in Canmore and told her she should
 
 
 
sell herself and give him the money .. I told her to go home .. go
 
 
 
home .. go home to your kids ..  but could not bring myself to buy
 
 
 
her a bus ticket .. making all kinds of excuses, probably logical
 
 
 
excuses .. like she would cash it in and buy alcohol, like if I saw her
 
 
 
off on the bus she would probably get off part way to Calgary and
 
 
 
come back to the abuse .. etc.  If I had a car I would have given her
 
 
 
a ride .. etc .. but God . . the terrible things that people are going
 
 
 
through.  Strange, but in Canmore I had seen the most effective
 
 
 
poster I had ever seen in the window of a storefront office dedicated
 
 
 
to assisting women  .. I made a note of the wording but of course
 
 
 
have lost most of my notes.  Help the unfortunate ..
 
      .. the next day I was riding through Blackfoot Country east of
 
 
 
Calgary in which the Alberta government had spent millions on a
 
 
 
Blackfoot Cultural Heritage Centre.  Blackfoot people were to be
 
 
 
hired for the site .. their heritage was to be elevated.  I didn’t have
 
 
 
enough time or money for the long ride off the highway or to pay to
 
 
 
visit the Centre .. I suppose most Canadians hope the Natives are
 
 
 
helped back up to where they were before Caucasians came along
 
 
 
and gave them easy opportunities to sink into the material lusts
 
 
 
and depredations of European societies.  The natives were not
 
 
 
guiltless in their demise.  Without their aid, for instance,the Beaver
 
 
 
could not have come to extinction in many parts of North America. 
 
 
 
I have read that native tribes who did not engage in regular trade
 
 
 
and military partnerships with the early Europeans were spared the
 
 
 
near extinction of those tribes which, for instance, used
 
 
 
opportunities which came with partnering with Caucasian allies to
 
 
 
destroy traditional enemies.
 
 
 
      By the way, the new model of history being promoted
 
 
 
concerning Natives is that Caucasian ‘pioneers’ had an easy
 
 
 
time of settling because the North American Aboriginal had been
 
 
 
brought to near extinction by way of diseases which spread rapidly
 
after the first European explorers arrived.  Had this been true, the
 
 
 
British, Americans and French would not have been able to enlist
 
 
 
aboriginal tribes as allies in inter-Caucasian wars, and the U.S.
 
 
 
army would not have had to spread typhoid or some other plague
 
 
 
by way of blankets sent to Canada after the wars had ended and the
 
 
 
aboriginals north of the U.S. border had returned to their homes.  I
 
 
 
believe it was the Huron who lived on the north shore of Lake
 
 
 
Huron who were decimated in that way.  Still .. the aboriginals of
 
 
 
most tribes were no different from European nations in living by the
 
 
 
sword .. and as Jesus Christ warned, “those who live by the sword
 
 
 
shall die by the sword”.  Europe had experienced a share of
 
 
 
massacre because of their lusts against neighbouring nations, with
 
 
 
far worse to come.
 
 
 
      Anyway .. the future is in the future (although not far in the
 
 
 
future) and I am writing of the past, of how I motored through the
 
 
 
north side of Calgary and from a high hill gained a wide view of the
 
 
 
city before regaining the Trans Canada Number One and by it
 
 
 
entering St4rathmore where that evening I was entertained in the
 
 
 
municipal park by a wonderful band of musicians playing what I
 
 
 
would call a mellow but exciting kind of experimental rock .. and
 
who in turn I entertained with my harmonica, leaving them
 
 
 
somewhat impressed, but I don’t think as impressed as I was with
 
 
 
their exceedingly impressive lead guitar player who I told, “Man, I
 
 
 
love Jimmy Hendrix, and I love you.”  I also made a little speech to
 
 
 
them, telling them how much I admired them for facing the
 
 
 
manifest and progressing calamities of our age with the agelessly
 
 
 
beautiful spiritual strength evident in their music.  When dusk had
 
 
 
progressed nearly to night we said our goodbyes as if we were in a
 
 
 
regular love-in, with hugs and handshakes all around.
 
 
 
      When my new friends departed a swarm of mosquitoes arrived,
 
 
 
or perhaps simply sharpened their attack in my direction, and
 
 
 
those bugs effectively put an end to my thoughts of unrolling my
 
 
 
sleeping bag on the park bench.  A pair of municipal employees had
 
 
 
come around to help the band unplug their equipment and to tidy
 
 
 
the park, and I asked them if I could pitch my tent beside the creek
 
 
 
I had sat beside all through the concert.
 
 
 
      ‘No .. but there’s another park across the road with public
 
 
 
toilets, you can pitch in the bushes in there, but do it quietly, and
 
 
 
don’t make a fire.’
 
 
 
      These two municipal employees spoke with the same new spirit
 
of hospitality and generosity I found throughout my trip; a spirit
 
 
 
born not from hope for tourist dollars, but from the knowledge that
 
 
 
earth’s present era is coming to an end, that our affluent and
 
 
 
relatively safe societies will be facing unimaginable upheavals .. a
 
 
 
possible end of life for most species on earth .. or at least an end of
 
 
 
life as we have know it.
 
 
 
      With quietness and prayer of thanks I pitched in darkness, in
 
 
 
the centre of encircling bushes.  When my tent was up I made a
 
 
 
walk to the toilets and garbage can, and then back, and I stood in
 
 
 
the entrance to the bushes for a few minutes and listened to a
 
 
 
young woman singing softly as she crossed the park in complete
 
 
 
darkness.  I did not disturb her with a hello.  An aging couple
 
 
 
seated on their porch on the far side of a fence had watched as I
 
 
 
had entered the park and the bushes, but I was not disturbed by
 
 
 
anyone through the night, so the couple had obviously not
 
 
 
phoned the police about a dangerous intruder.
 
 
 
      Morning came and I packed up and breakfasted in a
 
 
 
restaurant, then sought out a clothing store because I needed a
 
 
 
couple of new short sleeve shirts.  The first store I tried could not
 
 
 
accommodate me, and I was directed to a Wal Mart.  As I rode
 
towards the Wal Mart I made a wrong turn and ended up crossing a
 
 
 
huge excavated area with wide, mud paths, a soon-to-be housing
 
 
 
subdivision.  Machinery and trucks were rolling and I was viewed
 
 
 
by one driver as an  interruption in his progress even though I was
 
 
 
nowhere near him.  The driver leaned out his window and hollered
 
 
 
something at me, probably what he said was ‘Didn’t you see the No
 
 
 
Vehicles Allowed’ sign but his voice was out roared by his machine
 
 
 
and by my moped’s engine;  and of course I had seen the sign but
 
 
 
what else could I as a lost pilgrim do but cut through.
 
 
 
      When I got to Wal Mart I went crazy with my credit card and 
 
 
 
bought two good quality cotton shirts, a package of new
 
 
 
undershorts, and a package of new socks.  I have come to
 
 
 
understand from travelers that Wal Mart, for all the bad publicity it
 
 
 
receives, welcomes travelers in motor homes to overnight in their
 
 
 
parking lots.  I had a night pitched in a parking lot in Ontario on
 
 
the way home, but not at a Wal Mart, so can’t say if Wal Mart would
 
 
 
welcome a tenter.  I suppose all one could do would be to ask.
 
 
 
      So .. rolling eastward onwards on the Trans Canada I come to
 
 
 
Bassano where Number One jogs and jigs and where Jaguars have
 
 
 
a beginning for a high speed run of a thousand miles if they want it,
 
but I continue straight east on a lesser road so much lesser that it
 
 
 
carries no number on my highway map .. but it leads into
 
 
 
Countess, then Rosemary .. these places as monumental as the
 
 
 
Rocky Mountains in their non-existence .. not that they don’t exist,
 
 
 
they do . . but they were flesh and blood back when the prairies
 
 
 
held tens of thousands of family farms, but now they are ghostly
 
 
 
and mostly still .. old signs and faded buildings .. and dusty
 
 
 
romance with Duchess .. and the lure of Millicent and Patricia.
 
 
 
Near Patricia I found three modern young women setting up a
 
 
 
roadside Lemonade stand or some such touristy thing, and they
 
 
 
directed me to the road leading into Dinosaur Provincial Park .. a
 
 
 
World Heritage Site or something like that .. arid and canyoned
 
 
 
Badlands as they call them, carved by the Red Deer River which
 
 
 
begins its eastward flow not far from Lake Louise, and which winds
 
 
 
through what used to be Cottonwood-covered bottom lands, but
 
 
 
according to a sign at Dinosaur Provincial Park 80 or 90 percent
 
 
 
(I’ve forgotten which) of those Cottonwoods have been cut down
 
 
 
throughout the prairies.
 
 
 
      Twenty five years ago I camped for almost two weeks on a little
 
 
 
sand bar about 60 miles upriver from Dinosaur Provincial Park.  I
 
gained the sandbar by wading across the river as it ran through the
 
 
 
Drumheller dinosaur Badlands .. and believe it or not I found two
 
 
 
dinosaur bones sticking right out of the riverbank .. I just pulled
 
 
 
them out of the damp earth about head hight at the western end of
 
 
 
the sandbar .. and those bones could have made me famous by
 
 
 
having a Bobosaurus or Mosurinjohadactyl or something named
 
 
 
after me had I obeyed the law and turned the bones into the
 
 
 
Dinosaur Museum I had visited and then walked from straight
 
 
 
down to the river.  People spend decades searching for what I found
 
 
 
by chance.  I’m not famous though, because I stuffed the bones into
 
 
 
my backpack and gave them to my daughters when I returned to
 
 
 
Ontario, and then my daughters’ mother threw the bones out,
 
 
 
thinking they were just old cow bones.  Well, I suppose they could
 
 
 
have been mammal bones, but they were definitely petrified, and
 
 
 
because they were further down in geological history than the
 
 
 
dinosaur bones which were being uncovered in higher stratas, they
 
 
 
probably were dinosaur bones.  Of course, recent discoveries tell us
 
 
 
that dinosaurs and mammals lived on the earth together …
 
 
 
although the limited knowledge I have picked up about mammals in
 
 
 
that age informs me they were tiny creatures, so the large bones I
 
found, at least as long as a human leg bores, probably were from
 
 
 
a dinosaur.  Shortly after I returned to Ontario with the bones,
 
 
 
a scientist (I’ll call him Jack) heard about my bones because I did a
 
 
 
lot of bragging about those dinosaur bones, and Peterborough is a
 
 
 
small town, and a university town.  Jack asked me to return to the
 
 
 
sandbar with him and show him exactly where the bones were found
 
 
 
.. but I was weary from traveling, and though once we got to the
 
 
 
spot I would become so involved in exploration that I would remain
 
 
 
there, and I wanted to spend the rest of that summer with my
 
 
 
daughters, who I had been separated from for a few years.  I told
 
 
 
Jack exactly where the bones were found, and he must must have
 
 
 
been to those Badlands and down to the river because he said he
 
 
 
knew the sandbar. 
 
 
 
      Another interesting thing which happened to me when camped
 
 
 
out on the sandbar was one night when I was inside my tent some
 
 
 
wild animal, almost certainly a Coyote, must have gotten my scent
 
 
 
very suddenly and probably at the same time a breeze flapped the
 
 
 
wall of my tent and that Coyote did a lot of savage snarling and
 
 
 
snapping and hissing and posturing in the darkness before he
 
 
 
moved on, leaving me thankful he hadn’t ripped my tent to shreds,
 
and that I had not had to defend myself with violence to either
 
 
 
Coyote or myself.  My defence lay in being very, very quietly
 
 
 
prepared. 
 
 
 
      Other strange things happened to me in that camp, too. 
 
 
 
I had gone there to attempt a fast of 40 days and 40 nights .. a
 
 
 
Biblical spirit quest .. and I probably brought the trouble on by not
 
 
 
being willing to turn the dinosaur bones over to the proper
 
 
 
authorities, but the trouble was the weather turned cold and rain
 
 
 
started.  The Badlands are normally fairly dry at that time of year ..
 
 
 
last two weeks of June I think it was .. but it rained cold rain for
 
 
 
about a week .. and when the clouds moved on and the sun finally
 
 
 
came out I was so cold from the air and from not eating that I took
 
 
 
my sleeping bag and climbed a little gully up to a level area, but not
 
 
 
up to the prairie itself, and there was a huge boulder there, about
 
 
 
the size of a house, and the sun was shining onto the boulder, and I
 
 
 
knew the boulder would retain a lot of heat, and I laid close to the
 
 
 
rock in the ‘cleft of the rock’ on the ground at the base of the
 
 
 
boulder and warmed up as much as I could, which was
 
 
 
considerable, and I stayed there all night.  Now .. there are
 
 
 
Rattlesnakes in the valley of the Red River, and I knew about them,
 
and I had bought a snakebite kit, and I was aware that snakes seek
 
 
 
out sunny and warm places, and I was prepared to do the snake
 
 
 
bite treatment by slicing the bite and using the little rubber cup to
 
 
 
suck the poison out if necessary, but I was not going to move from
 
 
 
the warmth of that rock.  No snake bit.  In fact I did not see a
 
 
 
Rattlesnake until I got to Buffalo .. but more of that later.  First I’ll
 
 
 
tell you that according to what I have read recently the latest lore
 
 
 
about snakebites is that the slice and suck treatment never was
 
 
 
any good .. and in fact did more harm than good by sometimes or
 
 
 
often causing infection .. with the proper treatment if you’re
 
 
 
isolated being to tie off the limb above the bite, lay down and lower
 
 
 
your heart beat as much as possible to slow the spread of the
 
 
 
poison .. keeping in mind to loosen the tourniquet once in a while.  I
 
 
 
also learned somewhere in Saskatchewan that  the rattlesnakes at
 
 
 
the latitude of the Red River either never or normally does not kill
 
 
 
adult humans because the cold weather lowers their metabolism
 
 
 
enough that they can’t manufacture poison quickly enough to spare
 
 
 
shooting one load per tooth into the victim .. so they only inject one
 
 
 
tooth ful and they person only gets sick.  However .. I wonder how
 
 
 
global warming is affecting those snakes.  I wonder also how
 
children will be affected by a one-tooth injection, and that wonder
 
 
 
was became flesh and blood possibility after I had left Dinosaur
 
 
 
Provincial Park on my moped trip. 
 
 
 
      During my dinosaur days of 25 years ago I missed another
 
 
 
opportunity of sorts by not swimming after (was it two or three
 
 
 
canoes) each occupied by lovely young women who were merrily
 
 
 
merrily drifting downriver .. and of those the last young woman in
 
 
 
the last canoe could not take her eyes off me and I could not take
 
 
 
mine off her .. but of course I did not swim after her and I have
 
 
 
never knowingly seen her since.  I did see, however, at the end of
 
 
 
my 10 day fast, and because of the much rain and then three or
 
 
 
four days of hot sun, many brand new and exquisite fully bloomed
 
 
 
Cactus Flowers, as well as Wild Roses.  The sights and scents were
 
 
 
a wonderful blessing, especially because I had stumbled and fallen
 
 
 
hands first onto those pre-bloom cacti earlier in my fast when I
 
 
 
climbed to the gulley’s top to the expanse of prairie.  There
 
 
 
was a farmhouse far off in the distance, but I did not go to it.
 
 
 
One of my favourite scriptures is “the wilderness and solitary places
 
 
 
shall be glad for them; the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the
 
 
 
Rose.”  (Isaiah?)  Was the desert glad for me?  Or for the young
 
women in the canoe?  Or for us all together .. including you readers
 
 
 
who God knew would be reading this?  God knows.
 
 
 
      My time of fasting passed .. I was hungry .. I waded back
 
 
 
across the now swollen river, carrying my pack above my head just
 
 
 
as if I were an explorer in a movie, I passed by fame by not
 
 
 
turning in the dinosaur bones, and hitchhiked back to Ontario and
 
 
 
to my three daughters.  My spiritual quest had been to assist
 
 
 
me in surviving the breakup of my family.
 
 
 
      Back on the moped though, I rode away from the canyons of
 
 
 
Dinosaur Provincial Park, turning at Patricia onto Numberless
 
 
 
Highway, passing through Jenner and Atlee, whether they were
 
 
 
ghost towns or not I can’t recall, and then, becoming concerned
 
 
 
that I still had a long way to go before finding a gas station, and
 
 
 
seeing on my map at an intersection ahead a town named Buffalo I
 
 
 
hoped for gas at that place.    Reaching the intersection I saw no
 
 
 
sign saying ‘Buffalo’ and no town or village.  My map shows the
 
 
 
sideroad running north and crossing the Red Deer River.  River
 
 
 
crossings often have businesses close by, and I rode north, thinking
 
 
 
perhaps that Buffalo had migrated to the river.  At the river I found
 
 
 
a bridge, which was a small surprise to me as this was definitely
 
Boonie country and I thought the river crossing might be a ford, but
 
 
 
no, it was a large bridge, a structure made beautiful by its
 
 
 
antiquity.  I believe I remember that bridge having a wooden deck
 
 
 
instead of asphalt.  On the south side of the bridge, at the edge of
 
 
 
the river, I saw a tanker truck, with a gentleman filling the truck
 
 
 
with river water.  I rode down to him and asked about Buffalo.  Of
 
 
 
course he was as surprised to see me as I was grateful to see him,
 
 
 
(there were no habitations that I could see anywhere.)  He told me
 
 
 
Buffalo was long gone .. a few old buildings remaining just a few
 
 
 
hundred feet east of the intersection.  These towns were abandoned
 
 
 
when highways replaced railroads .. far in advance of the latter day
 
 
 
town abandonments going on now in which family farms are
 
 
 
replaced by The Humungus & Beastly Agricultural Corporation
 
 
 
That Swallowed The Planet.
 
 
 
      No Buffalo, I thought, meant no obvious gas (and I say obvious
 
 
 
gas for a reason which will make itself clear a few lines down from
 
 
 
here) in that neighbourhood until I got to Empress, off Highway 41
 
 
 
which was still 40 miles east.  I was fairly sure my gas would last to
 
 
 
Empress  (weren’t the early settlers romantic?  Duchess, Countess,
 
 
 
Empress?  Probably attempting relief from their bleak life.  Or
 
perhaps the railroad companies, in attempting to lure settlers, had
 
 
 
named those stops .. or perhaps the Railroad Maintenance Gangs
 
 
 
had chosen the names for those stops, because I believe that they
 
 
 
were Maintenance Section stops.  In any case, who wouldn’t face a
 
 
 
bleak prairie winter better with a Duchess at his or her side?)
 
 
 
      There is still plenty of romance in the Prairies, though; and the
 
 
 
river was wide and the bridge was as beautiful to me in its antiquity
 
 
 
as .. as a romantic journey across it into the unknown, for the map
 
 
 
shows so many miles and miles and miles of nothing on the other
 
 
 
side that I could picture this bridge being unused for weeks at a
 
 
 
time .. if ever.  the bridge was so romantic that I walked upon it
 
 
 
before riding across it .. and while doing both, viewing the Red Deer
 
 
 
River from above it, I saw a river of such beauty even in its polluted
 
 
 
condition today that I can’t imagine the beauty of it when it ran
 
 
 
clear and drinkable and full of fish and bordered bountifully by
 
 
 
Cottonwoods.  This stretch of river had adequate trees remaining. 
 
 
 
      At the far side of the bridge I saw a track leading from the west
 
 
 
side of the road into the bush .. for there are still Cottonwoods on
 
 
 
the Red Deer.  I took the track and to my great surprise discovered
 
 
 
an antique playground .. with child’s swings and I believe I
 
remember a teeter totter .. with outhouses, and an antique sign
 
 
 
saying the playground was for use by the children of workers of
 
 
 
some kind .. perhaps the Railroad workers .. for a school had been
 
 
 
at Buffalo .. and the camp was such a beautiful spot that I thought
 
 
 
of pitching my tent for the night .. but the day was only half grown
 
 
 
and I also wanted to explore the road away from the river .. and the
 
 
 
playground in its apparent abandonment was making me feel
 
 
 
isolated and lonely .. and sad that the swings and teeter totters
 
 
 
were no longer used (although I was fooled in that) .. and I also felt
 
 
 
an unease of an unexplained kind.  I moved on, and in riding along
 
 
 
the road away from the bridge I discovered a small house set in a
 
 
 
clearing, near which were two small, yellow school buses, and I
 
 
 
saw two fuel tanks of the kind farmers have.  This little habitation
 
 
 
did not surprise me in the least, for if any place on our planet was
 
 
 
deserving of human occupation it was that beautiful place.
 
 
 
      I rode into the yard, tooting my horn and calling out so that I
 
 
 
would not surprise anyone by an unexpected knock on their door,
 
 
 
and when I did knock a woman and young girl answered, the young
 
 
 
girl almost hiding behind her mother, but not quite that shy.  I
 
 
 
immediately became as gentle and nonthreatening in my manner as
 
I possibly could, considering my scruffy appearance, and for the
 
 
 
same reason of not being seen as a question mark or a threat I did
 
 
 
away with my usual shy hemming and hauling and got straight to
 
 
 
the point, explaining that I would like to purchase some gasoline to
 
 
 
make sure I got as far as Empress, and the woman smiled a quiet
 
 
 
but sincere smile and told me she did not imagine my bike would
 
 
 
take very much so to help myself from the proper tank, the red one
 
 
 
I believe it was, the other being diesel.  I thanked her, and rode to
 
 
 
the tanks which were apart from the house, and I took about one
 
 
 
half gallon, thinking I would give her $5.00, and I knocked again on
 
 
 
the door to ask how much I owed her, and she replied “nothing.”
 
 
 
Praise God for his providence.  I wanted to ask the woman about
 
 
 
her life, how long she had lived there, did she have neighbours, the
 
 
 
story of the playground, etc., and I was hoping I would be invited in
 
 
 
for a tea or coffee to ask those questions, but I was not, and I did
 
 
 
not want to suggest a visit because of the solitude, and that she
 
 
 
might feel threatened, and her daughter might feel threatened, so I
 
 
 
thanked her and rode back to the road, and north for a short
 
 
 
distance until I saw a large farm in the distance, and thought of 
 
 
 
taking that way to Empress but not certain how far the reasonable
 
road conditions would last (I seem to think the road had changed to
 
 
 
dirt at the bridge) so I turned around, road across the bridge, and
 
 
 
began to climb the river valley’s gentle slope.  I had not gotten
 
 
 
far, though, when I saw the snake which was a pale but verdant
 
 
 
green colour sunning itself on the pavement about one third of the
 
 
 
way to the side of the road.  This was my first Rattlesnake in the
 
 
 
wilds .. and my first instinct was to kill it for the young girl’s sake.
 
 
 
      I had gained a good description of Rattlers from a fellow at
 
 
 
Dinosaur Provincial Park, and this one at first estimation was about
 
 
 
three feet long, but we all know how dangerous creatures as well as
 
 
 
netted and released fish become bigger with the telling, but I don’t
 
 
 
think three feet is an exaggeration.  In fact, I now remember I
 
 
 
did a careful assessment of the Rattler to assess the length of the
 
 
 
Bull Snake in Summerland, and the Bull was certainly seven feet
 
 
 
long, as measured by the three feet of this Rattler.
 
 
 
      My instincts to kill the snake were almost instantly mellowed 
 
 
 
by the remembrance of the hand made signs I had seen in that
 
 
 
country, ‘Save Our Snakes’.  If local inhabitants saw enough value
 
 
 
in Rattlers to save them from extinction then I should respect their
 
 
 
wishes.  Still .. my instinct  were strong, and I put the moped up on
 
 
 
its stand and searched for an instrument of destruction like a big,
 
 
 
heavy stick.  I found something and began approaching the snake,
 
 
 
and was surprised that it showed no fear whatsoever.  This at first
 
 
 
slowed me down, then I thought that if the snake were not afraid of
 
 
 
me, how much aggression might it show a child.  I determined to be
 
 
 
all the more careful and began my approach with strong intent,
 
 
 
which it seemed to sense, and slithered purposely and quickly off
 
 
 
the road and into the grass and shrubs.  That was as far as my
 
 
 
courage took me.  A snake on the road is one thing .. but a snake in
 
 
 
the grass where I couldn’t see it was too much for me to
 
 
 
contemplate pursuing especially as I was alone.
 
 
 
      Rattlesnakes in that country are said to be almost harmless to
 
 
 
an adult human because their matabolism is slowed by the cold
 
 
 
weather, and slow matabolism means they can’t replenish their
 
 
 
poison quickly, so they normally only inject one fang full during an
 
 
 
attack on a human, just enough to sicken the victim.  However, I
 
 
 
had been motivated to kill the snake because one fang full might be
 
 
 
enough to kill a child.  My motivation, I have to admit, was also that
 
 
 
I would be able to swagger and brag humbly when I returned to my
 
family and poet friends in Ontario, “Yes, there was this big Rattler
 
 
 
and me facing off, and I just killed it, that’s all.”
 
 
 
      But I did not kill it, I simply rode back to Numberless Highway,
 
 
 
where on the far side I saw a curiously shaped hill which I thought
 
 
 
might be an ancient aboriginal camp or some such thing, perhaps a
 
 
 
‘Buffalo Jump’ where the natives stampeded the Buffalo to their
 
 
 
doom, and because the side road continued south, even though the
 
 
 
map does not show the continuation, I rode to the hill to find it was
 
 
 
a municipal site, with a gentleman in a pickup truck just exiting
 
 
 
who told me it was a garbage dump.  I mentioned the playground,
 
 
 
and the Rattlesnake, and that a woman and child were living across
 
 
 
the bridge, and he seemed surprised that someone was living there,
 
 
 
and concerned also, saying ‘that park is full of Rattlers,’  which
 
 
 
made me glad I did not camp there, and I’m sure I read on the
 
 
 
stranger’s face  (I’ll call him Jack) his intent to drive straight down
 
 
 
there and warn the woman, if she did not know the situation
 
 
 
already, and I was not surprised at his sudden goodbye and
 
 
 
departure. 
 
 
 
      I returned to the highway and rode the few hundred feet to a
 
 
 
small road which looked more like a lane way exiting south from the
 
highway and then forking somewhat, with a farm implement track
 
 
 
running far down the valley towards the river, and Buffalo’s town
 
 
 
road running left through the remnants of Buffalo .. a couple of
 
 
 
houses, one of which looked as if it might be habituated part of the
 
 
 
year, a store/post office, the school .. all the buildings tugging at
 
 
 
my heart as the missing Buffalo herds had been tugging .. and the
 
 
 
Aboriginals missing their villages and camps .. and the missing fish
 
 
 
in the river .. and the old folks missing their old homes at Buffalo ..
 
 
 
and the missing purity of life which had conspired to make a
 
 
 
potential poisonous snake in the grass of a stranger knocking on a
 
 
 
door. 
 
 
 
      Popular history tells us that at one time a stranger who was
 
 
 
out of work and hungry could knock on almost any door in this
 
 
 
nation and be invited in for a meal .. or at least fed in the barn. 
 
 
 
Those certainly must have been warm hearted and fearless days.
 
 
 
      After I had reached ‘the suburbs’ of Western Buffalo I turned
 
 
 
my bike around, and as I made my departing tour past the lost
 
 
 
heritage I was thinking that if anyone wished to experience the
 
 
 
solitude, expanse, weather, quietness, nature and history of the
 
 
 
prairie, someone like myself for instance, that Buffalo would be
 
exactly the right place.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
      I wrote the above chapter last night, and this morning on the
 
 
 
‘History’ television channel I chanced upon the tail end (no pun
 
 
 
intended but entirely appropriate) of a documentary concerning
 
 
 
Prairie Rattlesnakes in the area I went through.  The snake is
 
 
 
considered an endangered species, and efforts are being made to
 
 
 
save it.  Efforts are also being made to extinguish the species.  I am
 
 
 
caught in between, knowing every part of nature is beneficial to
 
 
 
some other part of nature, but also knowing man’s basic instinct is
 
 
 
to kill snakes because of very real dangers which come with some
 
 
 
species.
 
 
 
 
 
==Chapter Seventeen==
 
Thee Grandmothers.
 
 
 
About 40 kilometres east of Buffalo the Numberless Highway
 
 
 
connects with Highway 41 which runs north and south. 
 
 
 
Somewhere in that 40 miles I must have camped for the night, as
 
 
 
the run from my camp in Strathmore to Buffalo is 200 kilometres as
 
 
 
the crow flies, and my