A medical history

Things of a medical nature have been all over the news cycle the past few months, and particularly the last week or two. A helicopter for an ambulance? A healthy glow?! Immunity! Don’t worry, this won’t be a PlaidCamper rant about miracle cures and inequalities in health care as personified by mango-hued tax dodging toddlers. Although it might have been, had the last sentence run on any longer.

No. No ranting. This is a post full of true and nearly true stories. Almost cinematic, full of visual poetry, and likely requiring a Terence Malick, Jane Campion, or Peter Weir to capture the moving intensity and subtle dreamy drama. A tale of a man at a crossroads in life. Cue voiceover: In a world…

Dreamy – one of the recent Planet of the Apes was filmed near here

Cut! Too much? Ok. Cut. Take two. This will be a post full of the brave exploits of a young-to-early middle-aged PlaidCamper, a potential boon to the medical world if only he would consider yet another mid-to-very-early life crisis, and switch careers. Montage! A white coat? Nice. A stethoscope? Yes please. Rugged calmness in the face of death and disease? Oh, yes doctor. Cut! Stop! Enough of this.

Sorry, I don’t know what came over me. I almost swooned, understandably enough, at the thought of me in a white coat. Imagine a cross between George Clooney and Dr. Fauci, only many decades younger, and you’d be close. No? Assisted by soft lighting, and no close ups? And a wig? Not even? Where were we? Poor scriptwriting on this one. This is like Apocalypse Now, but medical. Let’s start with basic training.

Ongoing basic training, almost essential

Did I mention I participated in a Wilderness First Aid course? A week of skills and scenarios, designed to replicate real life situations, complete with all too convincing fake broken bones, buckets of blood, and stick on wounds and injuries too disgusting for The Walking Dead. All in a rainforest setting, and directed by a first aid trainer who looked nothing like Francis Ford Coppola. I think a young Martin Sheen, slightly too old for the part, yet fortunate enough to bear a certain resemblance to an OldPlaidCamper, will play me in the following scenes.

Cut, cut, cut! Sorry, Martin, we won’t be needing you. Haven’t you heard, PlaidCamper? Cinema is another victim of the virus. And Martin at any age looks nothing like you.

In truth, my never entirely realistic dream of becoming a doctor soon evaporated in the heat of simulated medical battle. I’m not a particularly good first aider, certainly not compared with how well our young participants coped in testing situations. They’d be elbow deep, or at least, gloved hands on, treating the injuries while I was still reciting lessons and trying to remember how to tie a sling. Fluffing my lines. Let’s just say I won’t be in any reboot of ER…

…unless it is in the patient role. I excelled! Lie down and grumble about aches and pains? Check! Fake a heart attack? I’ll do it! Food poisoning due to mushroom picking stupidity? I can fake that! Make up a medical history to confuse trainees? No problem! Wander off, pretend to pee in the woods, be startled by a bear and shoot myself with bear spray? I did that! Pretending, not for real. I was meant to do this! I’m a natural.

No bears in this scene

I really have had a near miss with bear spray, and know what it feels like. Method actor, that’s me. I search for the truth in stories and inhabit the characters I portray. I have to get under the skin of a role. Or under the skin of anyone nearby.

You’d like to hear my bear spray true story? One of Nature, red in tooth and claw? A terrifying tale of one man alone in the wilderness? Nope, it was none of that. I was in a supermarket parking lot, and walked round to the passenger side of the car to get my wallet out of a backpack. The pack was in the passenger footwell. I pulled on it to pick it up, when a strap got caught under the seat. Instead of slowing down and releasing the pack gently, I simply pulled harder, somehow breaking the trigger guard on the bear spray attached to the pack, delivering a dose all over the car radio and hand brake. Customers in the parking lot were treated to my first performance of man almost shoots himself with bear spray and scrambles backwards on all fours. If you’ve seen The Exorcist spider scene, you know how it went. Like that, but faster and with more swearing. It made my head spin, and some of the onlookers too.

I love the smell of bear spray in the morning

It took weeks to clean and remove the remnants. I’d be driving along, sipping a cup of coffee and changing the radio station, and a few moments later get a bad burning sensation around my mouth. It wasn’t how I made the coffee. A few particles of weeks-old bear spray really pack a punch…

Fascinating insight into the craft, don’t you think?

Yes, I brought all my experience to the patient role. I certainly tested the patience of fellow first aid participants. I drew the line at letting them volunteer me for staging a drowning recovery after falling off a dock incident, although it was kind of them to think of me. It’s an honour just to be nominated.

Under the dock

I got an email from Francis, our first aid trainer, just the other day. Imagine my surprise that it contained confirmation I passed the course! It was like winning an Oscar. If I had them, I’d like to thank my manager, my agent, the producers, my personal trainer, personal chef, accountant, my personal trainer’s personal trainer, the wig maker, George Clooney, Dr. Fauci, and the bald one in ER. Also, commiserations to Martin, but come on, only I could play me in this movie…

Oh, the monstrous ego. Cut! That’s a wrap. I’ve got to wait by the phone, be ready to take the calls from Hollywood. Fade to black.

Monstrous ego indeed. Enough of that guy. I’ll finish by acknowledging how well our young participants did in the WFA course, and how safe we’ll all be out on the land in the future. They learned so much in a relatively short time, and showed real leadership and an ability to act and think clearly in stressful situations. Nothing fazed them!

A screen presence! Planet of the Dog

Well, thankfully none of the plotless nonsense you’ve just read will ever get a theatrical release. Are you still here?! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Canadian Thanksgiving

We’re thankful to be living in Canada. As a nation, it’s far from perfect, but in this most troubling of years, we’re delighted to be here.

Delighted to be here

Looking ahead, I really, really hope I’ll be writing a thanksgiving post next year that includes giving thanks for a calmer, kinder and gentler post-COVID world, where a vaccine has proved successful, and we’ll be laughing at how ridiculous it was that “alternate facts” was ever a thing. You have to hope…

Calmer

We’re always thankful for our family and friends; near or far, wherever you are, we know we’re lucky to have you.

Lucky

If you’re celebrating (a safe, socially distant and bittersweet) Thanksgiving, I hope it’s a good one! If you’re not celebrating, I hope you’re safe and well, and you have a wonderful weekend!

Celebrating

Slow down!

What’s the rush? Tell that to autumn, what with fall racing in here on the west coast. The transition from summer to fall seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. I like the fall, but goodness me, the waves and banks of leaves along trail edges seemed to gather very quickly.

A rush!

We’ve had very heavy rain, and some exciting thunder, rolling in on wave after wave of storm fronts. No gentle transition into a mellow season. To balance that out, we’re lucky enough – if the forecast is correct – to be in for a few days of soft sunshine and late summer warmth after the current bout of rainstorms subside.

Slow down, 2020! A little calm would be very welcome – a lot of calm would be even more welcome – a chance to steady the ship in these tumultuous times.

A lot of calm…

The photos included this week are all shots from this past September, and apart from the rushing tide, are a reminder it’s good to slow down, find some quiet, and adopt a steadier pace. Perhaps the tide picture is a reminder to myself that some things happen irrespective of what I might think or feel, and I’ll have to accept it. (But if you’re eligible to do so, please vote in November to rid the world – politically speaking – of the orange hued would be tyrant. Oops! Calm, OldPlaidCamper, calm…)

A steadier pace

Calm! That’s exactly what we plan for the weekend ahead, rain or shine. A stroll past the Ukee Brewery takeout window will be on the cards – a friend mentioned they’ve a couple of new autumnal offerings, and it would be wrong not to do the necessary research.

“A stroll past the brewery? Let’s go!”

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a calm weekend!

Sand and stone

Smoke and fog. Tree and bone. A happy dog. This is why I don’t write poetry. I couldn’t think of a title this week, or at least, I struggled to pick from these. I know, they’re all winners…

Smoke and fog, tree and log, sand and stone, that’s not a bone. And this still isn’t a poem…

What a week that was. The smoky skies gave way to wind and rain, and the fresher air was most welcome. I really, really hope there’s some weather help and rainy relief for those in need further south. I’ve been up and down, mood wise, all week. How not to be despondent if you pay even scant attention to global concerns? Answers on a postcard, or leave a comment below, if you’re so inclined. I guess it’s not all bad.

Maybe just sail away? I liked this one.

On the upside? Out here on the coast, there has been a noticeable drop in visitor numbers, enough that we ventured out to a couple of small beaches within walking distance, hoping they’d be quiet. The smoke/fog/rain appeared to have kept folks indoors. We weren’t out for too long ourselves, given the harsh taste in the air, but it was pleasant to sit at a couple of favourite places and enjoy the quiet.

A favourite small beach, our first visit here in over 6 months. Scout’s eye view.

More upside – slightly qualified? School is in, the new Premier League football season is underway, and a hockey season full of promise (unlike the current one, where the Flames sputtered. Again. Sigh…) is just around a distant corner. Welcome brief distractions from the noise and nonsense. If we’re all going to that hot place in a hand basket, then I’m going to jolly well enjoy what I can in between the bouts of worry and concern. Yes, we might be running out of time to save what’s left worth saving, and I’ll play my tiny part in slowing down the likely planetary demise, but I will also appreciate the sand and stone, mist, rain, fog, and enjoy the company of a happy dog. Otherwise, the ignorant, money grabbing hoarders and wreckers have already won. I mean, they haven’t won outright yet, have they? Hmm…

A happy dog! She supports Everton, and she’s still happy. Strange, that.

Well, there you have it for this week. Ups and downs, and some stuff in between. Like most people, I should think. I hope you’re well, staying safe, and not feeling too despondent.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sleepers and stringers

Sounds like something from a spy movie…

Bridge of Spies? Nothing as dramatic as that – good movie if you haven’t seen it, set in less complicated times(!) – but we’ve been building bridges.

Our trail work is going along nicely, and with chainsaw skills acquired, we’ve been able to tackle some bigger items, like staircases and bridges. Trees that have been felled for safety have a new lease of life, stripped of bark to make sleepers and stringers for new sections of boardwalk bridge.

This lot needs replacing!

The youth and young adults were shown once, then after that they got into building their own wooden bridges. Working as a group of two to four, they’ve been able to prepare the site and construct a bridge in less than a morning.

Part of the new section – no bridge needed here

It’s corny, but the bridge building has closed the gap between elders and youth, the trail to the community, and outside partners to the nation. The young folks will step across their bridges and on towards a future full of multiple possibilities due to the skills they’re learning. I’ve got something in my eye, sniff…

“Is he crying again?” “Yup!”

I can’t believe how quickly the summer is passing, and we’ve so much more to build! We had to down tools yesterday, and probably today, due to some very heavy rain and potentially strong wind gusts – the advice is forest-based work is high risk in these conditions. Still, when we head out there next week, we’ll be confident the raised sections are high and dry, in a good way, and we will see where drainage channels are needed.

“When can I come and see the bridges? They’re wooden? Can I chew them?”

Next week, I’ll include a photograph of a series of bridges built close together. I took a rushed photo in the rain earlier, but it’s mostly of my thumb. Next time…

Under construction – sleepers and stringers going in

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Down time

A few photos posted this week from lots of sitting down time a weekend or two or three ago. This week has been busy, so I’ve kept this brief. You’re welcome!

Must be Fogust…

We are making the most of sunny days, particularly now Fogust is well and truly with us. To be fair, even when many mornings have started foggy, most days have ended with warm afternoons and sunny evenings.

Is that fog rolling in back there? No…

The work on the trail has been moving along, and we can’t decide if we like the slightly cooler damp mornings – not too hot, but the mosquitos still come out to play – or do we prefer the warmer afternoons with fewer mosquito friends, but more wasps and a sweatier environment?

No bugs! Or sun. Or horizon. Or- ok, I’ll stop now.

Ha, they’re both pretty good, so it’s not really a choice, and with the rain staying away and progress being made, we can’t complain. Those mosquitos though…

A partial harbour view

When the weekend comes around, quiet spaces on the dock or on the beach are just fine, with nothing much to bug us in our down time.

Another partial harbour view. What a sight!

Well, that was brief, as promised. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Foggy

We decided we’d have a second breakfast on the beach last Saturday morning. The forecast was for sunshine and blue skies, and, you’ve guessed it, there wasn’t so much sun. Well, there was, certainly later in the day, and almost certainly just inland. But that’s not the same as being on the beach. Second breakfasts taste better on the beach.

Second breakfast

Foggy, yes, cold, no. It was a morning where you could feel the sun itching to break up and break through the low cloud.

Sunshine and blue skies! Oh.

It’s been getting very busy, visitor-wise, out here. With little to no international travel available for folks looking for a vacation, the west coast is becoming a touch crowded, uncomfortably so.

We’ve taken to hitting trails and beaches either early or late in the day. Our foggy morning was just right, probably because it looked far colder than it actually was, and this seemed to deter would-be beach goers. The empty on arrival parking lot was filling up pretty quickly by the time we left.

Warmer than it looks…

The end of July already? No wonder it was foggy – we’re entering the month of Fogust! Yikes, that’s like a dry run for autumn. Although autumn here isn’t likely to be dry. This challenging year is racing by. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing…

I buried my second breakfast somewhere around here.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Quiet

PS I will use some of the coming long weekend – BC Day, hooray! – to begin replying to comments (thank you for those) and catching up on your posts I’ve missed in recent weeks.

Bell and Anchor

Is that the name of an old favourite pub? No, but it should be, and I’d be surprised if it isn’t a pub name somewhere.

It’s great to be back on the coast, anchor dropped and secure, with no chance of us drifting off anywhere else. Our safe harbour is a lovely place to weather the pandemic storm, and to try and navigate the swirling political seas engulfing the planet. Hmm, a bit overly dramatic there, OldPlaidCamper? We’re not complacent about what is going on, but perhaps we’re pleasantly detached, or more able to be so, living on the Pacific edge. The issues that are cause for concern almost everywhere are also present here, so maybe it’s simply a matter of scale. Whatever it is, warts and all, I find it’s easier to breathe here.

Pretty calm!

The anchor photograph that heads the post this week is from a very special guest photographer. Step forward, Mrs PC, and thank you for allowing us to enjoy your photograph!

The final photograph also features an anchor, and it decorates the can of a long anticipated Ucluelet Brewing Company release, the Belle Tower farmhouse saison. Using the scale suggested by Wayne, I think we can award four soaring eagles. Holding a salmon? Not quite. The beer is slightly too strong in alcohol for my taste in a saison. Not that that stopped us trying a second can, just to be sure.

Awarded four eagles

I’ll leave it there for this week, as there’s a South Swell propelling me toward an IPA of the same name moored in the bottom of our fridge. Apologies for all the nautical nonsense – imagine how bad it might be by next week, when I’ll have (hopefully) completed the next stage SVOP course. Haha, me hearties! No?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Benches and beaches

Last week’s post was firmly rooted in unreality, so I thought I’d better demonstrate I haven’t completely lost the plot by writing a more grounded piece. A brief item on benches and beaches, since that’s where we’ve mostly been in between bouts of online work.

What bear? Where?

Scout has enjoyed sniffing out and rediscovering her old haunts, and many of these happen to be in front of convenient benches with a view.

Last Sunday morning, we spent quite some time lost in thought, sitting on a bench and watching bald eagles spiral and sing in lazy loops above the water. Our eyes are a bit out of focus, and at first we couldn’t be absolutely certain if we’d spotted a bear over the bay, or a rock pretending to be a bear. It was a bear. Or the rock was walking…

Could be a moving rock…

Later, we ventured out to Long Beach, uncertain about how busy it might be. We needn’t have worried. The parking lot was about half full, and most folks were surfers judging by numbers in the water. Once we’d walked down the beach for a few minutes, we were fully physically distanced by many hundreds of metres from the very few souls we saw.

Long bench or long beach?

Back on a beach, on a sunny day, it was a relief to sit on a log, watch the surf, and forget the world wide woes for a while. We smiled and smiled, and Scout decided to dig and dig. I believe the trench she created is the only dog-made construction – or deconstruction – that can be seen from space. She sure put in some effort for her beach return.

Hitacu to Ucluelet – you can almost see “our” bench from here!

Speaking of grounded (were we?) I’m delighted to say, all being well, I’m breaking out of self-isolating/work-from-home exile next week. Coronavirus grounded me – and sent me to my room young man – for over twelve weeks. Young rebel that I am, I’ll be taking the car keys, climbing down the drainpipe, and driving off into a summer of misadventures. Or going back to real work. Real work? Yes, if a summer of chainsaw courses, trail building, wilderness survival training, search and rescue skills, beach-keeping and other related learning/mentoring is allowed to be called work. It’ll be a proper grounding, working and learning alongside a group of motivated youth and young adults. We met earlier this week, and it’s going to be an effort for me to keep pace! I predict weekends full of benches, beaches and long snoozes…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Unmoored (2m/6ft)

We had a pretty good road trip back to the coast last week. It was strange to be traveling in these socially distant times, with caution and uncertainty over new protocols very evident. What was lovely was how considerate people were – at gas stations, the hotel, and on the ferry. Kind, friendly, creating space, and aware of each other, maybe this can continue post-pandemic?

Coquihalla Highway High

Anyway, rather than write a heavy-on-boring-details account of our Trans Canada Highway drive, I thought I’d describe it through a set of song titles from the playlist. All tracks are by my new favourite band you won’t have heard of, Gays in the Military. They hail from the PNW and here are the songs, most found on the album “Your Devoted Son, Ned”:

1. Coquihalla Highway High

2. Runaway Lane

3. Drooping Hemlock Tip (huh?)

4. ManBaby in Orange/Unmoored

5. Taking A Knee

2m/6ft

6. 2m/6ft

7. Queen of Alberni

8. Duke of Duke Point

9. Cargo Pants Capacity

10. Sovereignty/Taking Back Control (How do you like me now?) feat. Oops, I’m A Unicorn

11. French Roast Alarm

12. Green and Blue feat. West Coast Pale

13. Bonus track, Chicken Kibble Again? feat. Sad Mutt

So there you have it, a new band, some new songs, and they all seemed to fit with being on the road last week. I don’t know, does this seem likely?

Chicken Kibble Again? OK!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

All the right notes, wrong coast

PS Alright, I’ll come clean. When the ferry unmoored from the Tsawassen dock, my own mind untethered from reality as I sat in the sun watching the mainland recede. An unhinged mind, free from the shackles of whatever was shackling it, came up with a make believe band and their first album. If they were real, they’d be huge, in an understated indie scene way. I’m thinking a modern day sound influenced by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan, with a hint of plaid commentary and I’ll play the drums. Sounds good, eh? How modest of me. If you’d like further liner/sleeve notes, feel free to ask in the comments below. Every song title has a story…

Green and Blue

PPS I think it’s clear I should return to some proper employment. I start back next week, and my only regret is I won’t have time to focus on the often difficult second album. I agree, a musical loss. Perhaps a future project…

PPPS Imagine my surprise when I checked to see if there is/was a band called Gays in the Military. Well, confirming there is rarely anything new under the sun, they already exist, with an album released in 2005. Having played a couple of tracks, you’ll be happy to know I think my future project is still a go.