BIKEPACKING VANCOUVER ISLAND 1 – THE FOOLS ON THE HILLS

The Beatles – Fool on the Hill

Well on the way, head in a cloud

The man of a thousand voices

Talking perfectly loud

But nobody ever hears him

Or the sound he appears to make

And he never seems to notice

But the fool on the hill

Sees the sun going down

And the eyes in his head

See the world spinning round

There’s no fool like an old fool as the saying goes. While this adage may hold an element of truth there is something that is even worse than an old fool left to his/her own devices. How about 4 old fools? So this is a story about 4 old fools. What could possibly go wrong?? Read on and find out.

Now you might ask who are these 4 old fools and just what were they up to. You of course know all about CC and DD. Now let me introduce you to Repairman Rob (RR) and Logistical Les (LL). Rob is a master of fixing things and Les is a master of organizing things. Sounds like a great couple of folks to have hanging around before things, or after things, go off the rails. We met RR and LL at Swan Lake RV Resort a couple of years ago and became friends despite CCs constant requests to have RR help him with very basic remedial chores.

On with the story. Let me say unequivocally (RR loves big words) that the instigation and responsibility for the forthcoming (mis)adventure lies primarily at their feet, or perhaps I should say at their tires. Yep you read that right, tires. You see RR and LL have been training for years to head to Europe and undertake a ridiculously long bicycle trip. Who knows why, but I’m sure they had their reasons, probably because Europe isn’t as big as Canada. Regardless, Covid put a kibosh on that grand idea.  Not wanting their massive investment in bikes and gear to go to waste they hatched a new plan and looked for a couple of patsies, ahem, to join them. Who better than their elderly neighbours at Swan Lake RV Resort, CC and DD.

Without a lot of forethought or details, DD happily jumped into the fray and advised CC he would be along for the ride. What the heck, we’ve got bikes, we ride them, we’re not even 70 years old, so why not?? So we started to accumulate the necessary gear and make the needed modifications to our bikes. Hey kids we’re going bikepacking.

The planning began several months ago. The plan was to ride a total of about 295 kilometers over 8 – 9 days through the interior of BC. LL mapped out a route that would take us mostly along sections of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Being on an old rail line meant that there wouldn’t be a lot steeps hills to climb, there were lots of towns for resupplying and higher up in the hills the weather wouldn’t be too hot. The plan was to head out on August 11th which would leave ample time for us to get some training in. We managed to get together and get some short 50 – 60 km rides in but then summer arrived with a vengeance. Extreme heat (40c +) and drought were visited upon us and the inevitable forest fires and ensuing smoke necessitated a change of plan.

map of original planned route

And a new plan is what we came up with. After copious research and consultation with seers and fortune tellers amongst others we decided to take our show on the road and head to Vancouver Island. The weather would be cooler and there would be no smoke. Yes there would be hills to climb but we wouldn’t be riding as far (225 kms). LL would map out a course for us and we might even get in some wild camping. No problem. What did it matter that in the 2 weeks prior to the trip we were unable to do much riding or anything else due to the wildfires. No BIG deal.

the Vancouver Island route – return trip

Vernon to Nanaimo – August 11th

The big day arrives. CC and DD drive from Vernon to Nanaimo to meet up with RR and LL. We leave early in the morning (6:30 am) and hope to catch the 1:25 pm ferry to the Island. As luck would have it there are overloads on the ferries and we miss 2 sailings and catch the 3:55 instead. We could have reserved a spot but being too cheap to, we got to enjoy some rest time in the very warm hot parking lot at Horseshoe Bay. We finally meet RR and LL at their friends’ (John and Carol) house where we set up camp in the yard for the night. John and Carol were great hosts and made us a fabulous dinner.  Just like real Warmshowers Hosts. Not only dinner but they got up early the next morning to ply us with coffee and bagels.

The only other order of business before heading out the next morning was to put RR to work reorganizing DDs packs on her bike so they wouldn’t fall off. Seems CC overlooked this minor detail.

Our gear setup was pretty basic. CC and DD were riding their regular mountain bikes. The only modification was DD had added a rear rack and had her trunk bag packed with the food and cooking gear. DD also had the tent (minus the poles) strapped to her handlebars and her backpack with additional food. In total DD had about 20+ pounds of added weight to her already fairly heavy bike.CC had the sleeping bags in a handlebar bag and the sleeping pads, groundsheet and tools in a seat bag. In addition he had a 50 litre backpack filled to the brim with clothes and DD’s massive footwear collection. CC had 40+ pounds of added weight. (DD would like to edit that last sentence as she for once did not even take a 2nd pair of shoes!)

It is hard to adequately describe the gear carried by RR and LL except to say they packed enough to be on the road for a long time. Each of their Bike Fridays had 2 front and rear panniers as well as front and rear bags. More to come on the perils of this setup in BIKEPACKING 2.

By stubbs99

Fathers Day

It has been quite some time since my last blog post and much has happened around the world. And while I have been remiss on providing updates to all my readers on the Captain’s and Debbie Dewdrops ongoing (mis)adventures the time for that is not right now. This post is not about CC and DD, although indirectly it is. It is our about all of my family. It is about my mother. It is about my brothers, sister, nephews, nieces. This post is about our celebrating our Dad as we face our first Fathers Day without him.

John Edward Cowell (The Coach) September 28, 1928 – May 5, 2021

Dad definitely loved his food

Where to begin? How to begin? I have no plan, no outline on how to proceed. As usual I’ll just stumble along with my thoughts and feelings. When I first gave Dad the moniker of the “The Coach” in this Blog I didn’t do it after a lot of deep philosophical thought and meditative contemplation. No, it was quite simple. When we were kids, Dad was our hockey coach. That’s what he was and a darn good one at that. But of course nothing is ever that simple and being a Dad is being a life Coach for your kids. That’s what he was and a darn good one at that also. More than a darn good one.

Never too old to learn from the Coach
The Coach’s most challenging player

It is next to impossible to try and figure out the life events that impact and ultimately determine the character of the people that you know and love. Maybe knowing about those events doesn’t really matter all that much but then again maybe it does help in our understanding. So I will pontificate for only just a little bit here. Dad’s childhood experience of growing up in foster homes undoubtedly had a bearing on his development and character. My suspicion is that not having his immediate family with him growing up was a major factor in him wanting to start his own family and to make sure that his children were loved and provided for unconditionally.

Never done until the dish is clean

And so it came to pass. Dad hooked up with Mom, they started a family and had four (lovely I might add) children. So just what kind of father (with Mom’s help of course) was Dad? So here I need to go back to the “coach” idea. Who can be a good coach? In particular who can be a good life coach for kids? Dad was more than good coach. Dad loved us unconditionally. He put us first. He led by example. He didn’t need to talk about being a decent person, he just was one. He didn’t need talk about himself and what he did for others, he just did good things. He didn’t need to be praised for what he did; he just did what needed to be done.

Now that’s not to say everything was always “Leave it to Beaver” perfection in the Cowell household. Although Dad was mostly patient with his not so always well behaved children, there were a few times that Dad lost his cool, so to say. As an illustration I present you with the infamous backyard “Mad Man Monks” episode. One hot summer afternoon at 64 Boothbay Crescent, Newmarket, the backyard grass was desperately in need of mowing. Dad apparently had too many other things to do so he asked for one of his kids to get the job done. So after 30 minutes with nothing being done Dad once again asked for someone to help with the grass. Well the second request received the same non response and at some point Dad kinda lost it a little and fired up the mower and with steam coming out of his ears got that backyard lawn mowed in record time. We, the kids, witnessed this amazing feat from our lookout in the upstairs bedroom and one of us remarked, hey look at Mad Man Monks mowing the grass, he’s getting it done in record time. We all avoided any contact with MMM until he cooled down a bit which he did in short order.

Dad lived a long (92 years) healthy and happy life. He was grateful for this and pretty much everything he had and experienced over the years. He was grateful and thankful that he was able to share his life with our Mom and they were devoted to each other. He loved his kids and would do whatever was necessary for their wellbeing.

Dad always had your back

We miss him mightily, particularly on this Fathers day. As thankful as Dad was for his life and family, it is we, his family, who give thanks that we were so fortunate to have “The Coach” as our father. See you at the rink Dad. Happy Fathers Day.

Love Mom, Don, Gary, Barb & Jim and all the Grandkids.

By stubbs99

An Aud (and Coach) Affair

For the most part my blog posts are about the goings on of the Captain and Debbie Dewdrops, after all it is our Blog, however exceptions can be made and this is definitely one of those times. As the title suggests this post is about an “affair” involving the Coach and the Aud One.

When one thinks of an affair it is usually something of a passing fancy and often possibly illicit as well. However in my humble opinion there can be affairs, like love affairs, that can transcend boundaries.  So guess what kids, herein I will relate to you an exception to the rule.

On a cold wintry Saturday afternoon on January 14, 1950 the Coach and Aud One recited their marriage vows and began their lifelong journey together and on January 14, 2020 they reached the incredible, some might say impossible feat, in this day and age, milestone of 70 years of marriage. Yep you heard that right, 70 YEARS.

an invitation to the BIG Day

the “young” happy couple

the family on site of future homestead -Boothbay Crescent, Newmarket circa 1954

Now I could fill up numerous pages providing all kinds of gossipy minutia about the Aud Couple’s life and times but really it’s not about the details. What really matters the most (of course I am biased) is the love they have shared together and the family they created and selflessly loved and provided for over the years. I know, kind of mushy talk from the Captain, but just so you don’t think I’ve lost it completely I was going to say in the foregoing sentence “the family they spawned” but DD threatened me with grievous harm from a frying pan if I did so there you go , I didn’t.

the “spawn” Don, Barb, Jim and CC

Aud One and the Coach at Lake St. Peter family reunion

the whole gang

doing what we do best – eating

 

So even though it was a little bit late the Cowell kids (Don, Gary, Jim & Barb, in order of age not looks) arranged a 70th Anniversary Tea for Mom and Dad on the afternoon of January 26th at their house in Bath.  About 24 family and friends attended (despite the inclement weather) and despite their slight apprehensions the Coach and Aud One were delighted and appreciative of the affair (thankfully just a passing fancy).

the newlyweds 70 years later

it says so right on the cake

the gang of 4 – the Coach, DD, son/grandson Aaron and the Aud One

friends and neighbours Doreen, Pauline (a young 97) and Tom

CC claiming the veggie sandwiches while Roy, Craig and Sylvie look on somewhat bemused

the Coach with grandson Arlo, great grandaughter Nora and “the Don”

Sylvie and Julie get into the picture

Kayla, Athena and Grandson Pedro

Barb with the Coach, Aud One and CC

The Don, the Aud One and Jimmy

 

By stubbs99