Alcohol… Blasphemy! I know, but I’m already kinda on the fence, and I only really drink socially anyhow.
For various reasons, not the least of which has been the wash of crazy news erupting out of my home for the last week, I’ve been a little — a lot — negligent in updating my blog and these posts. For now, and nearly a week late, I’m just going to catch up, crank them out, and maybe revisit these later.
Oddly, a bunch of us had (or took) Friday off. We met up early afternoon and ran a quick — then very slow — twelve.
Jenn had injured her thumb minutes before we left and it was starting to swell. So we walked a lot. And then stopped for a bit at the end for refreshments.
In August 2015 we spent two weeks cruising the British Columbia asphalt: a family road trip back to our old haunts around Vancouver, the lower mainland, and Vancouver Island. Along the way we saw some familiar sites, ate some long-missed food, and caught up with many folks who’ve migrated west in recent years. These are some of the highlights.
On Tide Pools & Sandy Beaches
Nanaimo surprised me, I must admit. I expected a quiet little hamlet perched on the edge of the coast and overlooking the far off city of Vancouver poking upwards from the mainland as a kind of distant metropolis that didn’t bother the locals too much except for the bulging weekend traffic it would perpetually deliver via the ferry.
Instead, Nanaimo turned out to be this all-too-familiar sprawl of urban traffic, shopping malls, and car dealerships strung along the water to the East and the wilderness to the West. It was lovely, but bigger than I had imagined-slash-remembered in my head.
Two nights in Nanaimo are not enough to do it justice, but so in search of some kind of ineffable coastal feeling that we weren’t quite vibing on from the balcony of the Best Western, we lurched a little further North to the neighbouring town of Parksville for our first morning and sought out some beaches.
The tide was out. You could probably have walked for a kilometer straight through the sandy muck littered with millions of little critters and tide pools before you reached the water-proper. We walked for about five, because we meandered in a zigzagging sort of way, dodging water and Claire’s panicking meltdown linked to the fate of the hundreds of shelled animals that she was inevitably stepping upon as we tip-toed through the temporarily dry habitat.
We found a geocache on the beach. We wrote our names in the sand. We picked up oysters and little clams and Claire “rescued” a half dozen mussels by scooping them from the aforementioned muck and tossing them unceremoniously into the nearest tide pool.
We drove a little further into Parksville and to the public beach (as opposed to the park beach) where we encountered a strange sort of late summer beach culture boom that had manifested as the chaos of a beach volleyball tournament, some random food trucks, and a sandcastle building competition — or at least the results of one that was on display for an entry fee of just a few bucks.
On Ferries, Kayaks & Water Travels
Backing up a step I’ll mention that our time in Vancouver didn’t give us much time around the water. Trees, yes. Markets, check. City streets, definitely. Water… well, not so much.
Leaving the mainland and going over to Vancouver Island (for most people) involves a ferry. BC Ferries seems to be a stellar operation, and I’m sure if I relied on it for routine travel I’d learn to hate it just like everyone else. But for a there-and-back again family vacation adventure, driving aboard a hulking white ship and climbing up to the deck to eat a mediocre hamburger as the Strait of Georgia rolled below me was a much anticipated and much enjoyed couple of hours.
I love boats. I should have been born on a coast somewhere, and part of me kinda thinks I should just buck up and find a way to move to one someday. Retirement, maybe. But I could easily get used to a life at sea, I’m sure.
A day after riding on a hulking ferry that relinquished us of all responsibility for controlling the navigation and safety of my vacation, Karin made sure we spent some time on a watercraft of the completely opposite persuasion: We took a kayak tour of the Nanaimo harbor.
For two hours we navigated the oh-so-slightly choppy waters that edge the Western side of Newcastle Island.
The plan was for me to double up with Claire in a two-man kayak and Karin would solo. But fate saw differently. While I could squeeze my butt into the two-man vessel, I could not actually extend my legs inside the beast. The guide quickly swapped us and I ended up paddling solo while Karin was stuck lurching through the water with sixty pounds of singing, restless cargo in a significantly larger boat.
I would guess that Claire enjoyed it, but her attention span is short for anything, even a peaceful commune with the natural beauty of a harbor paddle through an amazingly beautiful Nanaimo land-and-water scape.
Wet feet aside, it actually got us talking about buying our own boats sometime. After all, we’ve got a truck to carry them in now.
On Cheap Fish & Good Beer
One of the reasons for choosing Nanaimo as a pit-stop on our West Coast road trip vacation was to pay a visit to my old boss. He’s a pretty private guy, so I won’t say much besides that during our too-infrequent chats on the phone he always ensures me that we’re overdue for a visit. So… we went for a visit.
The plan fluxed a little bit, as plans always do, but inevitably we wound up doing brunch with them on our last day in Nanaimo, punctuating (because we were literally driving out of town after we ate) our visit with a delicious meal in a cute bistro-style restaurant with a birds-eye-view of the city. I guess that’s why it’s called “The Nest.”
But with some hearty recommendations from both our Nanaimo hosts and the inevitable peeking at restaurant reviews, we did manage to eat very well for those three days.
More sushi, of course. And other glowingly awesome bits of seafood that (for any local are probably mundane and mediocre but for my prairie palate) lack appropriate description. We also wandered over to a cute little Thai place just steps from our hotel which turned out to be a gem and even got a non-commital shrug from Claire… a few steps up from ‘The Refusal to Eat’ analysis and a much, much better rating than either ‘Spitting it Back Out on Your Plate’ food review (which happens) or the all-too-familiar ‘I’m Making a Scene Now’ response.
The boss also gave us some tips for eating along the coast (which sadly didn’t happen) and some insight to some good haunts in Victoria (where we were heading shortly after brunch) which did… along with a winery stop along the way. We were nothing if not well-fed in Nanaimo.
Hot coffee, cold beer.
A beer, some video games, and a comfortable chair.
A race, some beers, and some time to sit back and relax afterwards.
Six klicks with the gang last night felt pretty solid after a couple weeks of aimless drifting and sporadic running. I almost felt as if I could pick back up and attempt this race that their all doing in a few days… maybe not the marathon …definitely not the marathon. But the half, almost. It will be the one year runniversary of my first marathon this coming weekend, and if plans go according to plan, I won’t be running but instead parked at the sideline with my lens targeting speedy-speedsters. That seems to be the theme of the summer: watching races. But I’ll get back into it soon. Really. I have three of my own scheduled for September. We ran six, then went for beers and taps. It was fun. And if I don’t mention it before then, good luck to all the weekend racers.
After nine years of preparatory yard work, a perfect backyard evening with kids making s’mores over a fire, friends, family, beers, and no mosquitoes.
#100happydays #dailyhappy (8/100) …post-run runner socializing at the pub.
A (re)clicks post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. The bits tend to be events lacking in either (a) too many details or (b) otherwise interesting depth; Or, I’m just lacking in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
Sometimes it rains. click Sometimes it snows. Again. Spring started (if you follow the sometimes-controversial logic that seasonal equinox marks the start of a season and not the mid-point, as some would assert) last week with snow. More snow. And despite the fact that we could easily be due for at least two more months of not-unexpected snowfall, the depth and intensity of this winter’s cold and seemingly-ceaseless onslaught of snow, cold, ice, and (yes) plain old hard winter, we had kinda wished we were somehow (if not deserving of) due for an early thaw. We’re not, which of course meant that click this weekend’s runs were chilly and slippery and moderately unpleasant… not counting the company, of course.
Or it may have been the click beers with the same group on Friday night. A text from Mary late in the afternoon had me wandering in the direction of Brewster’s Pub where the girls (who’d spent the previous hour at an all-ladies zumba class next door) invited a few of us guys out for beers. I needed that. Not the beer, per se, though I’m happy to indulge in a craft brew on a Friday night as much as the next bloke. More the company. Friday was a suck of a day: mentally, emotionally. I’m also not one to routinely advocate the well-worn practice of drowning one’s sorrows at the bottom of a pint, but a helluva day like Friday was deserves a social pick-me-up when available. While respecting the privacy of those involved, let’s just say that a click couple of emails and phone call brought me into a circle of old friends and for whom the brevity of life and the extreme unthinkable trials and fears of parenthood were made very real of the past couple days. It makes you want to go home and hug your own kid. Hug them. Hold them. Never let them out of your sight, and wallow in the sludge of emotional guilt derived from the clash of perspective due to the relative smallness of one’s own little day-to-day problems.
That kind of feeling somehow, justifiably, always accompanies such tragedy, and click you find yourself sitting on the couch on Saturday afternoon, wallowing, and playing video games with your daughter, aching with guilt that you’re only playing video games and not out exploring the vast world and creating epic memories proved with a thousand photographs and hours of video footage of it all. Just in case. No. Instead, you play video games. Have a cuddle-nap on the couch for a bit, then drag your sorry butts out to the store to buy birthday gifts for her friends so that she doesn’t go empty-handed to the party the next day. click It was in front of the Canadian Tire, laying in a skiff of snow in the parking lot just waiting to be run over by the next car, where Claire found an iPhone. It was fully-charged, password-locked, and completely devoid of ownership identification. And while I tried to crack in to find some ID –even using the (unregistered) code on the case to (fail to) track down the owner– ultimately we left it at the lost-and-found and went on our merry way, to dinner, to home, to bed, to wallow a bit more on the couch hoping that Sunday would be a better day.
Which it was. click Swimming club try-outs, lunch down-town, and some musical theatre –has anyone heard of a little play called Mary Poppins— rounded out a family-fun-afternoon and we capped that off with click the aforementioned birthday party, grown-ups included, and a pleasant evening with neighbors and friends, old a new. All the while we tried to forget that it was still bitter-cold not-quite-spring outside, and the reality of the universe that awaited us on Monday morning. But then that’s just life, isn’t it?
Split an 650mL bottle of R&B Brewing Co. Raven Cream Ale with Karin over dinner. Nice hearty dark beer with a slightly sharp edge that paired almost perfect with the homemade turkey soup (with garlic clove bread for dipping) that we ate.
This is yet another humble addition to my (fairly new) series of two line reviews of books where, in a very brief two sentences, I not only let you know what I’ve been reading, but what I’ve thought of it.
My summer reading list has strayed into a complex mess of non-fiction and fiction, leaning towards the light an airy topics of post-dystopian futures, the dire impacts of popular culture, and the intoxicating effects of power, priveledge, and drinks. Well, not exactly light reading…
A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage I’d seen this title new in bookstores when it was released nearly a decade ago, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across the audio version on epic super-summer-sale via Audible that I bought my copy and have been listening to it on my commutes. This particular non-fiction work is in essence a brief history of the world as told from the perspective of six key beverages that have happened to shape it — beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola — and fully engrossing and fascinating for anyone interested not only in light, modern history, but also the culture and habits of some common drinks.
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein Another non-fiction book, though one based more on opinion and observation than other books I’ve been reading lately, I had been meaning to pick my way through this read for a while in an effort to continue to sate my interest in the generally controverisal topic of the effect of pop-culture on parenting, (ir)rational fatherhood, and free-range child rearing. The author explores a complex set of interactions and tries to untangle the effects they are having on her daughter, particularly the clash of marketing, popular culture, gender-role-expectations, and the colour pink, and seems to imply that it isn’t as disasterous as one might imagine.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline Sadly and embarassingly, the stark and unremarkable cover of this book caused me to miss out on its initial release and it wasn’t until some cleverly conspiring Amazon algorithms suggested I might like this tome of eighties pop-cultural, post-dytopian science fiction mashup did I actually download a (legal) copy and give it a go. What I discovered was an epic geek adventure through the near-future chaos of a somewhat contrived, but fully enjoyable, fast-paced and lingeringly haunting story to satistfy any gamer, geek, or techno-hobbiest of my survived-the-1908s generation.
Wool by Hugh Howey Incredibly popular on the Kindle independent book listings, and a top seller for months, I picked up a compilation of the first five (increasingly longer) short stories-come-novel as a digital download and dug in the richly entrancing underground world of Howey’s post-apocalyptic silo. The story, in what I tend to think of as the spirit of Isaac Asimov, is a rich and powerful blend of science fiction based on politics and intrigue supported by a vast but largely implied historical backdrop and resting firmly on a foundation of strong characters and excellent storytelling, and definitely worth a read.