Driving the Coquihalla – the slipperiest shit show of a road in Canada!

Hi Bloggers,

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!

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It’s as slippery as it looks – slippery as shit! 

 

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.

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This guy rolled his car, you can see the damage, and ended up facing the wrong way against traffic. Might as well pull your shit out of the back, old mate. 

 

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.

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In the ditch, situation normal…. 

 

 

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https://www.bing.com/maps?q=coquihalla+hwy&mkt=en&FORM=HDRSC4

The link above will give you a map that shows where the Coq’ is, for the geographically challenged.

 

Car troubles…

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?

2002 Toyota RAV4 ACA21R Cruiser:
It looks a bit like this, only shittier!

My favourite places – Lennox Head, New South Wales

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.

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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?

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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.

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Fear of flying, sort of…..

Hi,

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….

SAM_2760

A Letter from America

Hi Bloggers.

So I’m committed to not getting into posts about religion or politics. It’s just not worth it with the vast array of viewpoints and opinions. As a disclaimer, I respect other’s opinions and right to express themselves in any way they want. I don’t have to agree with them and vice versa. Wonderful. Ok, so with that out the way, I want to write about America, and more importantly Americans.

I am Canadian. Born in a Australia, still Australian, but am now Canadian, and have a passport that says so. Canadians – generally polite, moderate, friendly, welcoming, and a bunch of other things that are normally considered good. Most people in the world would agree to that – unless you have some other bias regarding religion, freedom of belief and association or whatever. I will add that Canada is a very diverse community. Really, there are ALL types in our great country.

Americans, ok. I’m going to say it, put it out there… bear with me please. Unfortunately, our American friends are  subject to prejudice from others. I know this, because being a non-American, and having been in different parts of the world, Americans get a lot of shit.

SAM_1911I am even going to say, somewhat ashamed, that I may have even personally contributed to the whole American opinion thing in conversations in the past. Ok, before you smash your computer screen or unfollow me – let me finish my rant. Why would the other citizens of the world think and talk like this? Essentially, its ignorance and a lack of experience in, well, America and Americans.

Think about this for a minute – America is projected onto the world’s media supply – good and bad, in copious amounts. Music, movies, politics, religious zealots, financial markets, big business, and a LOT of other influences. So here in lies the problem. If that is what is being projected, what are the citizens of the world supposed to think?

Let me tell you, the impression is that America is full of red-neck, gun shooting, gang affiliated, political extremists, black lives matterists, cops who shoot people, white supremacists, bat shit crazy stuff and Hollywood stars that can’t stay married or top themselves. Ok, if you are American and swearing at your monitor screen, please stick with me I am not the enemy! 

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Ok, this is where it’s a little unfair. I want to set the record straight. I’ve been in America literally dozens of times. I’ve never been shot. Never been car jacked. Never been mugged. Never seen a radical (or even a republican) politician up close. Never been to a political rally. Never seen anyone do any crazy weird shit that ends up on some of the tv shows that promote this stuff.

What I have seen is a lot of beautiful countryside and landmarks. The people are generally exceedingly friendly and gracious and hospitable. I can say without reservation that Americans are some of the most warm hearted friendly people on earth. What I’m saying is I think this country suffers from an image problem.

It’s not to say that some of the reputation that this country has is unwarranted, no. The reality is that there are some messed up things about America. There is a lot of poverty. A lot of the cities are run down and crime is a serious factor. There are many places that I would choose not to go. There are places that I have felt unsafe due to the people on the street. Having said that, I can guarantee you there are a lot of places I would choose not to hang around in Canada and Australia too. In America, all those elements I mentioned above, they do exist. But that’s not the full picture.

When you are in America, you will appreciate why Americans seem to lack knowledge about the wider world. This is a general statement, so please don’t shoot me down. American media is all about America. Typical ‘world’ news in America is normally about stories where America is directly represented or a major subject of the story. World news elsewhere has nothing to do with America. So if all your media exposure and education growing up was about America, you can’t be expected to know a lot about the world at large.

However, there are exceptions. I have met a lot of Americans that have travelled the world. I have met Americans with left-wing liberal politics. Some who are gay, and some who hate their current administration. Then the other side of the equation is represented too. The right wing conservative set. Depending on where you are, these types are much more widely represented.

Let me finish this rant by saying this. There is no one singular America, or American. It’s a very large country with lots of diverse lifestyles and opinions. It’s a great place to visit and if you come here you will be made feel welcome providing you respect the law and other’s rights and opinions.

As Simon and Garfunkel sang… “I’ve come to look for America….” What a beautiful concept!

 

Note to Self – Positive Reflections

So in dealing with the current situation we are all in (life), there are challenges, there are ups and downs, and there are people who help us and people who hinder us in our journey.

I believe, its all about attitude. There are no perfect situations. There will always be aches and pains, or a problem with money, or a relationship that is not what you had hoped for. What matters, is how we deal with the situations that are presented to us.

So I write a lot. Often times those writings are hand written call outs for the things I need to be more aware of, where I need to pay more attention, or what I need to let go of. Often these writings are accompanied by a flow chart, or a silly graph or some illustration that makes sense to me in a humorous or semi serious way. I’m guilty of chuckling to myself at my own wittiness. 

Sometimes those writings are shared with the people that are close to me. Sometimes those writings cause some upset or discomfort, because I may have been harsh, or made people closest to me aware of where I felt they had a shortcoming. I can be very direct and analytical and that can perhaps come out as a directive or shit-list of stuff that might be a bit too strong for the situation – which is often a reflection of my intense feelings about a subject.

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So recently I wrote some notes to myself. They are both affirmations of my intentions, and also blunt callouts of my failures or habits. I want to change, and I am determined to remain aware of those important intentions in my interactions with others. I read my notes each day. Perhaps some would see this as a little obsessive, but the reality is that my future is at stake, and I want to do better. So far, I’m happy to say that these notes to self feel like they are having a positive effect.

Navigating my way through the murky waters of inter-human relationships…

So I’ve been doing a lot of self reflection lately. Open, honest with self type of reflection. This is the time when you ask yourself the big picture questions. I am often asked ‘what do I really want?’ The reality is that I’m not really sure.

I know that I want peace and harmony. Reality is that my life choices have not necessarily lent themselves to a life of peace and harmony, based on how those choices have affected those around me. The reality is that I make choices, either consciously or out of habit that lead to generally bad outcomes.

Things at home, aren’t really great. We’ve done all the fighting, broken cups, tears, frustration, counselling, name calling, yelling, door slamming, avoiding, heading out of the house, kicking me out, etc. Like really, we’ve had the whole fucking enchilada.

A couple of things out of that. Firstly, I still love my wife. She can argue that this isn’t love and yady-ya. The bottom line is that its not working out because she can’t accept me for what I am and what I feel I need out of life. Thankfully, we are still talking, and living in the same house, and we went for a bike ride this afternoon and we are sort of generally ok, for now. Its actually a massive relief – we were just talking about it then (as I am writing this), she and I are making plans to both get on with moving forward (separately). I have no reservations about that. I want her to be happy. Really. Image result for swamp

So… ok that seems fair enough. So what’s the problem. Um, well, I have to live in the real world, and the real world has other people in it. Now that shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Well it gets a bit sticky when you combine my exuberant personality… and other people. Especially when they know what’s up with my private personal life, because I’ve never made much effort to hide my other activities. This has lead to what I consider some harsh judgement. Its not against the ‘rules’ as such but people judge.

Ok, so this isn’t about blame, and I have to own my actions. I would rather been seen as a straight up solid citizen, but the reality is that my lifestyle choices/personality type don’t necessarily gel with the expectations of others. Perhaps I have been too friendly or engaging and some people take that the wrong way, or whatever that means. I have discovered that once a person is known to be seeing someone outside their marriage, an automatic response would seem to be suspicion and lack of trust. I get that. I have probably been a bit naive (just too friendly, open and honest???), and engaged in conversations that I probably shouldn’t have.

So I have to take the feedback. I want to do better. I am not out to upset people and ruin my reputation (any further) at work. I have engaged a counselling service, and I have reached out for some discussion with a colleague in a leadership position who I can share openly with. Someone I can be vulnerable and truthful with. I also rely on the women in my life that I am close to for that feedback and discussion that helps me steer in what is hopefully the right direction.

 

Accepting what is…

So I’d like to think I have my shit together. I like to present a ‘front’ of composed coolness or whatever. Competency, professionalism, assertiveness. Most of the time I think I pull this off fairly well. Should be easy, right? Early forties, educated, sexy as fk (did I just write that??).

Well sometimes, actually all the time lately, it feels like my mojo has been off a bit. Where do I even start? I’m determined not to make this some kind of whiny I-blame-the-world-’cause-my-shits-not-straight kind of post. No fuck that. I am the architect of my own demise in the outcomes that I have cultivated. I don’t have any regrets, none. I’ve done some stupid shit, and some random shit, and had a lot of fun with it too.

So lets take stock real quick: marriage? In the ditch. Kids? Despise me. Work? Awesome except that my boss thinks I’m some sort of HR liability in relation to my work associations with female colleagues. What else, um, money? Broke, and going backwards, which is somewhat of an irony based on the fact that I am earning more money than I ever have in my life. My debts aren’t even bad debts, they are real estate debts, but the house we bought 8 years ago is in a one industry town and no work there so its not going to sell and the rent is about half of the mortgage. My wife just finished up her job and so now is officially unemployed. Did NOT need that.

Yet somehow, almost unbelievably, I feel happy. Even despite the challenges that I am facing, I’m happy in a don’t-give-a-fuck kind of a way. I am finding a tremendous freedom in being me, and not complying to the expectations of others. I warn you readers, this does not come without risk. Self-realisation comes with a price. Your partner might think what the fuck are you doing? You’re boss might be planning a few uncomfortable chats with you. Your parents might be tskThere are often people I'd love to be able to tell this to, but I am wise enough to know better than to try telling this to someone unwilling to listen. Check: http://www.illulife.com/ for more!: tsking.

What I found out is, even though your thoughts, actions and general direction in life might not be to all the people in your life’s liking, I have found, through discussion with others, that some people will appreciate you for who you are, and what you are doing.

I’m either going through some mid life metamorphosis, where I’m going to come out of this with a stronger resolve, a wiser mind, a more accepting heart and mind, or…. I’m completely fucking my life up.

To be honest, it could be either.

Leave, change or accept, but stop complaining: So if you asked me, whether I am worried about the future, I’d say, no. I’m not worried about the future at all. That’s because I see opportunity in challenge. Opportunity for personal growth. Opportunity for reflection. Opportunity to correct mistakes and wrongs I have made. Opportunity to make a new start. Opportunity to make amends with those who I have hurt. So if you look at it that way, the apprehension that we might hold due to the unknowns that we will face in the future suddenly becomes excitement. There are so many people in this world doing remarkable brave, scary and exciting things. I don’t see any reason to sit on my arse and complain and miss out on making my life what I want it to be. So I’m accepting. Maybe even embracing the current challenges I have. There are so many good things in life. World, you get a big hug. Peace.

Musings from a 22nd Street Café – Episode 2

Hi Bloggers,

Today, we went to get our Canadian passports. I am travelling to the states Monday, and I didn’t know this, but they have a 24 hour service. It costs an extra $100 but they can rush it through. I cant believe it, if things work out, I might be picking up my own Canadian passport on Monday at 11.30!

So I went to the café with my wife and my daughter. We talked a bit about being respectful and having a good adult dialogue. Very important things, I think. I realise I have not always been respectful, and she admits that she’s been a bit the same way. Anyway, the point was that we agreed to work on respectful dialogue, for the sake of our sanity, for the kids, and, well, because its way nicer if you are kind to eachother. Anyway, that’s not the point of my blog today.

I learned that my kids now have their own cell phones (WTF? I don’t remember having that discussion), but whatever. I texted something like ‘sup kids, you wanna hang with your dad?’ They both replied ‘no.’ Turds. Ok, I’ll just pay for your fucking cell phones and you can diss your dad. The joys of parenting.

So T Bird got herself the newIMG_2659 iPhone 7.  Another conversation that I don’t remember having but whatever, I guess I’ll just pay that bill too. I must say though, it takes awesome photos. I’m impressed.

There was a guy on the street outside the window. He had a cardboard sign saying ‘thank god for kind people’. I guess if I’m paying for three cell phone bills I’m pretty kind, right? I don’t think he’d appreciate that, though.

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So I’ve got the weekend to IMG_2665do whatever I want, and I’m travelling to Iowa on Monday. Something to look forward to, its just a quick trip. I think I’ll work on a few songs on my acoustic guitar, give the vocal chords a bit of a workout. Probably hit the gym a couple of times. Might even get a bit of yoga in.

Who’s down for that?