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 Donkey Slashed Out 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>
Confirmed .. http://www.mmic.ca/images/content/PDF/Upshift%2025.pdf .. see story Slow Motion Traveller
<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 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 alsomotorcyclists, 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 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
      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. 
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, commonalities
which 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 7
Highway, 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, where
a 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
      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 her
car 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 shop
appeared 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 an
accident.  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, also
naturally, 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 apartment
building’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
      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
poweder, 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.
      Ahhh .. Suddenly I know.  I have just come from a break from
writing .. 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 the
change 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.  He
could 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 the
gentleman’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 to
a 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 turn
honoured 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’s
race, 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 turn
even 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 police
officer, 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
==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
willage?  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, and
I 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-
      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 which
serendiptuously 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 husbands
who 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, and
slowed 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
      ‘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 yourself
very 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 change
using 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 thick
enough, 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 ensured
I 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
      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 ferries
which 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 arms
around 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
      Of Steve and Barbara, Jack said he had no idea of where
they 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 a
Laundromat, and then joined Ron at the marina.  We spent the rest
of the day on the boat drinking beer and whiskey, and the next day
we 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
      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 Sooke
and ‘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==
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
      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
      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
      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