Skinny dipping in the Pacific Ocean – California coastline….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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The Covered Bridges of Madison County, a photo essay…

Hi Bloggers,

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.

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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.

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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…

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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….

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Gettin’ my bell rung in Winterset, Iowa. The birthplace of John Wayne… a photo essay.

Hi Bloggers,

So this weekend I was lucky enough to get to see the birthplace of none other than John Wayne. This guy: you might recognise him.

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So the town of Winterset is where he was born. Here is his house:
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Howdy pilgrims…

But there were other sights in the town too, like this ultra creepy haunted house looking place. Deserted, empty, spooky as shit.

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Take a seat, it will be dark out here soon… nothing to worry about….

And here’s some of the town:

 

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More epic architecture. I give Iowan’s credit, when they build something they really ‘go big’, and fancy!

 

 

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I rang the bell. Yes its real, it works and its loud! Donnnnnnnggggggg! 

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Tattoo Stories 2 – Oni Mask, chest piece.

So anyone who has been reading my stuff would realise that I’m into tattoos. I’ve often said that if I had the time and the money, I’d be getting tattooed. So this story is about my oni mask that I had tattooed on my chest.

I have travelled quite a bit, and in times gone by it was not unusual for me to plan a trip, and to make sure that getting tattooed in some place was on the agenda. This time I was in Chicago. The windy city. I found a shop called Deluxe Tattoo. Often I would do a bit of research and have a look at artist profiles and book ahead to confirm my spot. It just happens, by coincidence that this is the shop that Hannah Atchison works out of – she was featured as one of the artists in LA Ink. She mentioned in the show that she was from Chi town. I used to watch this show when I was in Australia. I knew all the people on the show who were tattooing, but at the time I never imagined that I could end up in Chicago getting tattooed.

So she did not tattoo me, and that’s not why I was there, but it was a bit surreal to be getting tattoed and look over, and there she was, in the flesh only 15 ft from where I was getting inked. But this story isn’t about her.

I rode the El train from down town to the leafy northern suburb to where the shop is located. I think I had to change trains in there somewhere. The lines are all colour coded like the ‘red line’, and the ‘blue line’. i’m sure at some point I had to go from an underground subway to an elevated train line, so that was an interesting experience – just finding my way out of one and onto another.

But this story has a kind of a precursor. I had been tattooed some time before this and got two birds on my chest. If you look closely you can see the bird embedded in the tattoo. I have a sort of matching left one and a right one. These are some of my favourite tattoos, because one represents a kind of goodness (angelic?) and one is badness (devilish?), because I can be both! Ok, enough symbolic bullshit I know you really don’t care. Oni mask tattoo (2)

So the birds were done in Tucson AZ. It was eassssssy tattooing. I think maybe each one took an hour or something. Being kind of high up on the chest, they were not too painful, and the tattooist used a sort of noiseless tattoo gun. So in a way, that set me up for some over-confidence when it came to pain thresholds etc. Now, when it comes to tattooing, I’ve sat for a LOT of hours. Perhaps not like some of the ink-freaks out there but I’ve done many hours. It sucks. It hurts. I got a piece on my lower torso/hip (my first), and that was extreme pain.

So – now we come to the oni mask on my chest. I got it stenciled out, etc, all good. Lie down on the tattooist table, and ready, here we go. JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THIS IS PAINFULL. No, I mean like really, like we are talking the uppermost pain bracket there is. Within seconds of the first line going down, I almost quit. Yes, me who has done many  many hours, almost quit. I ALMOST picked up my handbag and heels, and sashayed out of there, like a big girl. But I didn’t. And while I’m at it, chicks are tough ok, they get tattooed too. No disrespect.

I gritted my teeth, made funny faces, tried not to freak out, and braced every damn time that needle was on the skin. I couldn’t believe it. Not sure if it was the time since being tattooed, the location (anywhere on the torso is worse), or that it was on the left side (there is a difference in sensation apparently). Either way it took a lot to stick with it.

After about an hour or more, I got a break. I remember going to the bathroom and needing to hold on to the rail, I was feeling rather seasick. The floor was no longer horizontal and flat, it seemed to roll like the deck of a large boat on a heavy swell.

Anyway, I got through it, and I’m glad I did. that’s the thing about tattooing, once its done, it doesn’t wash off. More to come, readers….

Postcard from Gibsons, BC

Hi Bloggers,

I had the opportunity to travel to Gibsons, BC. Now if you’ve never heard of Gibsons, you might have seen it. If you ever saw the CBC long running drama called Beachcombers then you would have seen Gibsons, because it was the setting for all the adventures of a little BC coastal town where everyone drives a boat and the big industry is timber.

If you’re not familiar, but are vaguely interested, or want to have a look because you remember this show on TV, here’s a link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beachcombers

So I went to Molly’s Reach, the diner in the TV show. I can remember, as a kid, growing up in Australia, this show would come on in the afternoon. Now it felt a WHOLE WORLD away from my place as a kid, so you could imagine the sense of surrealism as I munched on fish and chips at the original Molly’s Reach. It hasn’t changed much at all.

You can also see the Phersephone – the boat that was featured in the show. It’s on the main street as a kind of memorial or whatever.

Its a cute little town, artsy, and really picturesque. I hope you enjoy the photos…

 

Book Review – Its Only the Himalayas by S. Bedford

Hi Bloggers, I picked up this book at the library, and I think I had it read after about only 4 sittings.

* Shit I just had to grab the pizza out of the oven, I was so busy blogging that I could smell it but kind of forgot about it, so its kinda well done around the edges. *

Ok back to the book review. Ok, so there’s this chick from Toronto who’s a waitress and she has this friend who has just finished uni as a Nurse and they decide to set off on an around the world trip as backpackers. Firstly, I think this is absolutely awesome, and I’ll be letting my kids know when they are old enough that there is no experience like travel and I will encourage them to do the same. I think it takes an amount of guts and a sense of adventure for a couple of young Canuck gals to disappear into the very bowels of continents like Africa and Asia. Good job ladies.

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So the book is the first publication by this author, which I also think is awesome. A young person getting it done. The book is not too thick (pages wise) so I think this is a good thing too. I like a good quick read similar to how I like a good quick *** stops to cut the pizza up *** .

Ok so the writer takes on a journey that includes adventures such as camping in Africa, visiting a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, consuming a magic mushroom shake in Thailand, having more alcohol than what is really safe or necessary, indulging in airplane sex, getting into a messy threesome, ladies that shoot things out of their pussies, and a bunch of other stuff that kept me snickering along through the story.

I like how the author displays a sense of irreverence, (kinda like me really). She’s a skeptic, she’s a smartarse, and she’s searching for her inner peace, or sense of self, or a pair of dry socks after a rain shower. I also like that the author is Canadian, like me!

Postcard from Mt Isa, North West Queensland, Australia, 1992

Hi Bloggers.

I thought I might share something of my youth. I was a fresh faced not yet 17 year old when I packed a suitcase and boarded a plane for Mt Isa, North West Queensland. To be honest, I don’t really look back on these formative days with fondness. They were pivotal in my development as a young man, and I can’t say I have any regrets, but I have no desire to relive these days in any way.

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I had taken a job as an apprentice with Mt Isa Mines. The first day I arrived my cousin picked me up from the airport. Getting off the plane was  a shock enough, with a kind of deserty moonscape of dry hills, spinifex grass and a hot wind. Really hot. Dry, but hot, with a wind that felt like a hair dryer on hot and flat out. My cousin took me up to the look out that you can see in the picture above.
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So what can you say about Mt Isa? Its isolated, inland, 900 km from the coastal city of Townsville. The population is made up of working men, which vastly outnumber the women, although there are families there, and aboriginal people. Drinking was a very common pastime, and I regret to say that this correspondent binged on many an occasion. My drinking was generally constrained to the weekend, getting blotto and spending all my cash, only to wake up with a fucking massive hangover, swearing off drinking, and repeating the process next weekend. Uhhgggh.
Fighting was prevalent, and I had occasion to trade punches with other overly aggressive testosterone driven angry young men. Fun stuff. I used to go out to the bars, and typically, in an environment like that, when the grog stopped flowing and people milled about waiting for a taxi outside the Irish club, you can fucking bet there’s going to be fights, several of them.
Ok, quick recap, its hot as hell, very far removed from the civilised world, a lack of women to go around, and fights happen every time there are a group of people finish at the pub. Hmmm. Sounds like a shitty place for a young guy, right? What else, um, well some of the ‘homeless’ aboriginals that lived in the town would often be drunk, and often they would pass out on the pavement, so you had to step over them, or otherwise they would be yelling, fighting, puking or doing a range of other activities that you would really want to avoid. Disclaimer, I can imagine that people may feel these comments are racist. I am not racist, just describing the reality of that place at that time, no offence intended. White people were behaving badly too! 
Now if you were a young lady in town, well, you could be a total princess, with your options for suitors laid before you. Of course, this could drive some fairly bad behaviours from both guys and girls. One time I went out on a Wednesday night, and there was about 30 guys and literally 2 girls. With odds like that they could afford to act like princesses, or whatever they wanted I guess. If a girl was a ‘5’ on the coast, she’s an ‘8’ in the Isa. Most weekends were not quite as extreme as that, of course there were young ladies that lived in the town. I will add, that of course there are a lot of decent nice gals in the Isa, I’m describing one aspect here that goes with any overly male populated mining town.
What could make a place even more desirable? Oh, yeah, there was a copper smelter and a lead smelter that chugs a various mixture of lead fumes (that you cant really smell, the lead stack is higher than the copper smelter stack) and a copper smelter that chugs copious quantities of sulphur dioxide. You can see that noxious shit coming from the stack in the picture below. On a hot day, which was often, the stuff would actually settle on the ground, rather than go high in the air. Working underground or on the mine site, you would be exposed to this – it was drawn into the air vents for the fans and sometimes, there would be a fog of this shit in the underground workings.
Now if you haven’t had the pleasure of inhaling sulphur dioxide, it will make you wheeze. You can actually taste it on your tongue even before you can smell it or see it.
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So as a young man, I went underground to work shifts in the mine. It took me about two months before I could actually stop ‘thinking’ about working underground – getting over the general sense that you are way underground, under tons and tons of rock and earth. We would ride a ‘cage’ which was a big industrial elevator that could hold 92 men (yes it was crowded, claustrophobic, dark and it really flew up and down).
Working underground was an experience in itself. The biggest factor for me was how hot it was. I don’t really handle heat too well. Its a bit like if you stand in your garden shed on a really hot day in summer. Its that hot, and the air quality is shit, with diesel fumes, blasting fumes, and the sulphur dioxide all making for an aroma that was really not nice. The winter times (not that we had much of a winter) underground were not as hot, actually quite tolerable.
There was loose rocks, large equipment being operated in small spaces, remote control equipment being operated etc. Plenty of hazards. I was working on drilling equipment and mobile equipment like in the picture below. Every shift they would blast, and we would wait it out in the crib (lunch room) and hear the shots and feel the pressure wave. Underground was a scary exciting place. I got lost on more than one occasion. I was left behind by a co-worker to get tools etc, and imagine being 1500 metres underground alone, with a diaphragm pump psst-psst, psst-psst clearing a puddle of water, and just me and my cap lamp and a job to remove a hydraulic cylinder.
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Jumbo drill rig. My work uniform was just like what this guy has on.

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An Elphinstone front end loader. Used to work on these.
So in closing, I don’t want to leave you, reader with a bad taste in your mouth. I had many good times in ‘the Isa’. I met some wonderful friends. I met my wife when I was living there too. The people were fantastic. Really down to earth, decent working people. Again, I have no regrets, it was a challenging time that helped me grow up a lot. However, I have to agree with the t-shirt that was getting around at the time ‘happiness is Mt Isa in the rear view mirror’.