A quick random post from a road trip we did a couple of years ago. We had driven down from Canada, via Iowa to stay with some family friends. From there we headed through Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California. We went into LA, then travelled up highway 1 all the way to San Fran. We stayed in Sacramento before driving allllll the way to Salt Lake City before returning to Canada.
That was a LOT of driving. I do like a good road trip but that was probably more driving than I really like doing. Never the less, we saw some awesome scenery. One of the real gems of America is the California coast. Once you get up north of Santa Barbara – out of LA, its way more chill. The beaches are beautiful, the coastline is scenic. There are lots of light houses, and museum type things and its a really nice part of the country.
So we stopped at a beach. Completely random. Many of the accessible beaches along the coast look a bit like this one. Some are lined by cliffs making it hard to access, and some are on private land or there is no road approach. We got out, there was a lookout of sorts. A number of people were taking photos and enjoying the view. A set of stairs led down to the sand. There was hardly anyone on the beach. Now, if you’ve been following my blog posts, you will already know that I’m not shy when it comes to being naked and free, and also that I take just about any opportunity to strip off and have a skinny dip.
So that’s what I did. I walked down to a place near the waters edge, took my clothes off, and jumped in. The water on the California coast is almost always cold, even in summer. I ran into the water, and did a kind of half dive thing under an approaching wave. It was so refreshing. The cold water gave me the sensation of cleaning and the chill soaked into my body immediately. The sensation of swimming naked is wonderful. All of your body is being caressed by the swishing of the water and waves. Its like a nice little massage on everything!
If you ever feel the need to drive the Coquihalla, just don’t. Or at least, avoid it during the months of October to May. This stretch of highway cuts through the Coastal Mountains from Hope, near Vancouver, to Kamloops, BC. If you do drive it in winter, late fall or early spring, you can expect to see cars upside down, trucks in the ditch, and all manner of chaos. They even have a TV show on it, called Highway Through Hell, which is quite interesting – all about the tow trucks that work this road. They are busy, I can assure you!
I’m a fairly conservative driver. In fact, those closest to me say I drive like an old man. That may be the case, but after having lived in Northern BC for 5 winters, here’s what I worked out: if you’re young and dumb, and drive a 4×4 truck, you are likely to fuck up somewhere and end up rolling your vehicle. It just kind of goes with the territory. Too much confidence, testosterone, and an unshaking belief that you can ‘give ‘er’ around every bend is just a recipe for disaster. The evidence is clear – go for a drive in the north, actually, really anywhere in BC or Alberta in the winter, and you are going to for sure see some trucks that fucked up.
Ok, enough, this isn’t about putting shit on young guys in trucks, each to their own. The Coq’ is a highway in the southern mainland of BC and there are some pretty decent gradients and curves. Fully laden semi tractor trailer trucks barrel down hills and do what looks like racing each other. Its scary! Reality is anyone who hasn’t got winter tires on, drives to fast, or just gets unlucky can end up on their roof.
The link above will give you a map that shows where the Coq’ is, for the geographically challenged.
Hi bloggers, I want to talk about my first album I ever bought, and a very important band in the evolution of um, the entire world and history as we know it. The Clash were everything that a teenage me needed to hear. They were groovy, with a mix of rock, jazz, pop, reggae, and whatever else, and their subject matter was punk.
It could be fair to say that some of the songs on this record a mildly obnoxious, even a little hasty, but it is a really good listen. It spoke to me. It kind of let me know that you could be a bit of a bad arse, even if you were white and growing up in the suburbs. My parents had a record player and I spent many hours getting this one on the turn table with the needle ***** the fucking dog just puked on the floor so I had to stop to clean that up **** and dancing around my family lounge room or whatever.
So for the kids out there, I’m going to put it bluntly. Most of the music that is produced today is fucking crap. Ok, there are some good bands out there, but I think you know what I mean. The Clash, in my humble opinion is essential music listening homework. It was well done, intelligent, kind of political, certainly anti establishment. It was kind of like, well Green Day, except, it was um, realistic, credible and better to listen to.
But if you really want to do your homework, and impress your good old mum and dad, get your iPhone earbuds filled with this tasty stuff: London Calling. This is the quintessential Clash record. Again, no musical education could really be complete without a few good listens. One day, when the world wakes up from its Justin Bieber fed diet of bullshit, the dust will be blown off the Clash recordings, and true human enlightenment will be realised.
Those already enlightened souls will be nodding their heads right about now, and if you are over 40, and don’t know what I’m talking about, its time to ask yourself “What the fuck have I been doing with me life?”
I kid you not.
**** Was just about to publish my blog and my son is asking me to unplug the blocked toilet. Fuck can’t a guy get a frikkin break? LOL ****
I took the bike out today. Its kind of shitty weather. It’s been raining in Saskatoon. Not raining men, not raining cats and dogs, just kind of patchy showers and grey skies. The breeze is cool and fresh. Fresh enough in fact to need a long sleeve hoodie and long pants. Thankfully there was a break in the showers long enough for me to get out with the bike and the camera and get some pictures on a nice ride.
The tree lined avenues in this city are simply beautiful. Near the river, on the south side of the city the real estate is old, and pricey. Its in the area that I call the ‘golden triangle,’ which effectively takes in the Broadway entertainment district, the university campus and the city centre. I really would have liked to have bought a house in this area, but you need a really fat bank account to find yourself in this neighbourhood – unless you bought back in the early 2000’s or whatever.
It’s the kind of neighbourhood you might find yourself in if you are a lawyer, or a doctor, or a well heeled academic. You might stroll down to the local café on a Saturday morning. Everything is within strolling distance, naturally.
Kids ride bikes and young moms push prams on the sidewalk. Birds chirp in the leafy green trees, that are so well spaced that they intermingle branches above the road and provide that quintessential avenue experience.
I pulled up to the café. I locked my bike and took a couple of pictures before moving inside. Normally, the outside of the café would be buzzing with activity with chairs and tables set out on the sidewalk. Today those chairs are bunched up. Inside there is an eclectic mix of university types, the obligatory dreadlock haired hippy types, young families, and a multitude of millennial hipster types. The young lady working at the counter makes coffees and re-stocks the in store made cookies and slices in the display window.
While I sat at the café looking out the window I felt a sense of contentment. Any immediate worries that were on my mind melted away. I was free to enjoy the moment, for what it was. I nice bike ride and a sit in a café. I ordered a cappuccino. That’s what I normally get.
People rode and walked by. A lady and her daughter entered the café and sat at the chairs nearby me and chatted over a slice of pie or whatever. A young family came in and ordered some drinks. The place was quite full.
So I’ve heard a saying (never actually said it, I promise) “If its got tits or wheels, it’ll give you trouble”.
That may be a little unfair because we all know that there are some reliable vehicles out there in the world that give no trouble at all. So back in 2008, when we first came to Canada, we purchased a 2002 Toyota RAV4. It’s been a fantastic little car. It’s take us far and wide across much of the north west part of North America. Here’s a quick list of the provinces and states our car has taken us:
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana. It drives great in all types of conditions. I’ve started the engine at -40C after not having plugged in the block heater.
About 6 years ago, or so, it started revving up between gears, maybe like in 2nd gear or whatever (its an automatic). It was clunking badly into reverse, and losing traction while the engine revved harder. I was pretty disappointed but having done the miles we had done in this thing I was ok with it. So I got it into the shop. The job was to get the transmission rebuilt. Price tag $6,000. “Holy fuck!” I said. We got that repair done and drove on for many reliable and happy miles after that.
Recently, that nasty transmission slipping effect has come back with a vengeance. I’m afraid it might be curtains for the little old RAV4. It would be sad to park it up, but I’m fucked if I’ll be paying another $6,000 for a rebuild on the tranny.
So now I find myself browsing Kijiji or whatever for the cheap used cars. Amazingly there seems to be some cars out there for not much money, and I only want something that starts and stops reliably and gets me to work….. happy car shopping eh?
Lennox Head, on the northern coastline of New South Wales is one of my favourite places. You might have heard of or even been to Byron Bay – also one of my favourite places. Byron is beautiful, with gorgeous beaches, a very cool surfing culture and lots of travellers hanging out and getting stoned or whatever. The thing about Byron is that its kind of a bit spoiled by all that activity. It can get super busy and touristy. Trying to catch a wave there on Clark’s Point can be tough because as soon as its past early morning it gets ridiculously crowded in the surf break.
That’s where Lennox Head comes in. It’s close to Byron, it has the same natural beauty, but the chill factor is way higher. Lennox is like Byron, for the locals, if that makes sense. There’s the headland which creates an awesome surf break, then there is an expansive long beach that goes, almost forever.
It’s a bit like another awesome spot on the central/north coast of NSW; Crescent Head. Also super chill and a bit out of the way. A gem spot indeed.
For the geographically challenged, Lennox Head is South of Brisbane, North of Sydney, on the east coast of Australia. I haven’t been there for years. When I was last there, it looked like there was some pretty fancy real estate housing being built there. Not overbuilt, no expansive resorts at the time, just super nice houses that looked like they were designed by architects. If you had the money, why wouldn’t you build a nice house at Lennox?
Things to do? Swim, sunbathe, surf, have a counter lunch at the pub, I don’t know, whatever you like, this isn’t some wanky travel website. Its just a really nice place to visit. So one day we were travelling in the car, and came around the bend to see a day that looked like the picture above.
I got out, and had a surf. There was only me and a couple of other guys out that day. I got talking to one guy and he told me his brother owned the house that was right on the headland access. The house was really basic, like it had been there since the seventies or whatever. I told him what a lucky bastard you’d be to own or have access to that house. He told me to watch out for the sea urchins because they can spike into your feet if you step on them.
Here are some pictures of my weekend trip to Iowa. The covered bridges of Madison county date back to the 1800’s. They are a real landmark. To be honest, I don’t know why they got into building covered bridges. I was interested to see that on one of the buildings in Winterset they featured some interesting pictures of the bridges in actual construction. Young men climbing up and over and around on narrow beams and posing for the photograph.
I was surprised to see a picture of one being hauled out using a steam powered tractor. I somehow believed that they would have been constructed piece by piece in situ but this was not the case. There were some photos of them being propped up from the bank of the river and sort of swung into place.
In recent times, they have been prone to arsonists lighting them on fire. I think its deplorable. What would motivate someone to burn a piece of history such as this? I hope you enjoy the photos…
Flying makes me nervous. Its not the omg the plane is going to crash type nervous, its more of a general being jammed in to a small seat with dozens of other people, and a claustrophobic sensation of having to take that seat and there’s no getting up or whatever during take offs and landings.
I’ve had some moments – you could call them panic attacks. Mouth dries up, chest tightens. Its really unpleasant. I’ve had lots of flights that were not like this, but I’ve had enough to know that I generally don’t like getting on a plane. I also sometimes get headaches, normally made worse if there is a connecting flight somewhere.
But if you are going to travel, to get out and see and do things, this is a reality of our modern times….
So its summer time, and that’s when I like to pump up the tires and get out on my bike. I live in the city, and there are lots of trails and streets to ride on. There’s a riverside pathway system and lots of dirt trails too. The days are long and often the weather is sunny and dry and that makes for great conditions to get out there and enjoy it.
I have a road bike, but the reality is that I don’t get it out much. I used to ride that a lot more where I lived previously due to nice open roads and little traffic. But this blog is about my mountain bikes, which I really love.
A few years ago, maybe about 5 now, I purchased a Kona Cinder Cone bike. My wife had bought a Kona Blast a year or two before that and that bike is a more basic model but I was impressed with how it rode and felt. I bought this one at a shop in Dawson Creek, BC. I spent about $1200 Canadian on this bike. I remember that I was there on a Saturday morning. I wasn’t even intending on buying a bike that day. I had owned a bike previous to that for almost 20 years, so its not like I upgrade every year or two.
I took the Kona for a test ride, and boy, I was sold on that bike. It was so frikkin’ smooth to ride. The only thing I didn’t like was the seat, which was this hard racing style seat. I can’t understand why a decent bike has to be fitted with a sort of hard seat just to be credible. I exchanged that seat with a gel one. If you are kind of thinking about it, get a gel one. They are super comfy and they come in ergonomic forms that don’t look clunky or whatever but the comfort level is amazing.
I had to mess with things a little bit to keep it working well. It was not changing gears cleanly – making noises and sort of hanging on to one gear and clicking etc. I took it to the bike shop for an unrelated matter and the guy put it on the stand and checked my derailleur alignment. The piece the derailleur is bolted to gets bent out of shape and it needs to be bent back to straight. It rides like a dream now.
Here are some pictures of my Kona:
So back in 1992, I bought a Giant ATX 860. I bought it at Joe’s Cycles in Mt Isa, Queensland, Australia. I had it shipped to Canada when I moved here. Aluminum frame, no front suspension. In those days if you wanted front suspension, you pretty much had to go high end, or substitute a rock shox or something that would set you back half as much again as the value of the bike. I spent $900 on this bike.
I really got a lot of value out of it. I’ve done so many kilometers on this thing. I’ve changed tire styles and treads on it, I put a rack on the back, and some of those handle bar extensions. It’s been a loyal friend of mine. The lack of front suspension, and the brake effectiveness had me thinking about changing up to a better bike, so I did. I figured for as much value as I got out of this bike, I could easily justify a new one.