Easy rider! Roustabout! Mobylette!

Easy rider? Roustabout? Moby what exactly? What’s going on here? I’ll start slow, then steadily pick up speed. It’ll be fine, just like riding a bike. Or falling off. It won’t be much clearer, even if you read to the end.

It has been pleasantly “steady as she goes“ the past week or so. Another big windstorm at the start of the week didn’t knock out the power – some disappointed students there – and we’ve enjoyed a cold and sometimes sunny settled stretch of weather.

Almost sometimes sunny

With the drier days, I’ve been zooming about town on my bike, speeding up and down hills with ease. Yes, the sun on my face, wind in my hair- …

Hold on a moment, Speedy – “up hills with ease” PlaidCamper? Yes, of course. My fitness is paramount to me, my body being a temple, and you’ll agree regular strenuous exercise has always been a feature. Oh, alright. It’s an electric bike. So, yes, uphill with ease.

I race up here (photo taken in a different season) – good view of the brewery tower from here

After many, many years of research, and countless conversations with Mrs. PlaidCamper, (yes, countless fascinating conversations – Mrs. PC) I admitted that recent ankle sprains and the approach of very early middle age meant the time had finally come to purchase an e-bike. (Peace at last – Mrs. PC)

Interestingly, as Mrs PC knows, because I mentioned it a million times, having a pedal assist bike is still exercise because the rider is pedalling and putting in a bit of effort. Mostly true, but probably less true if your e-bike has a twist throttle allowing no pedalling whatsoever. Care to guess what I’ve got?! I do pedal if there’s anyone around. It’s a small town and I’ve my fitness reputation to maintain. I haven’t ridden to the beer store yet. Yet…

It has pedals – useful foot rests…

Yes, years of research into battery duration, weight to power ratios (should that be power to weight ratios? I was too busy looking at the pictures), build quality, range and other important technical stuff. It had to be an informed decision. So I ended up getting a bike because it looked a bit like a mobylette, and I liked the seat. Yup, I’m shallow, easily persuaded, and must have been a Gallic teenager in a previous life.

Une mobylette! Tres chic, oui? (Photo from Motoconseils.com)
Yup, comfy seat

Having had it a few months, I’m happy to report it is reliable, fun to ride, very comfortable now I’ve decided it’s an e-moped and I let the battery do all the work, and I think I look cool. If looking like something from Wallace and Gromit is cool. Which it is. In my head. Please stop laughing. I’m going to get a biker jacket and a flick knife and a tattoo and get told off by the principal.

Adult soda

As this appears to be descending into a weird late 50s or early 60s retro type of thing, it’s probably best I leave it here. Anyway, I’ve got to go hang out at the soda fountain, run a comb through my hair, get admiring looks. That’s right, daddy-o.

Thanks (Roustabout link) for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Oh look – the American Johnny Halliday! Merci! Thank you for reading. Thank you very much! (Stock image from Alamy.com)

Slowing down

With new COVID restrictions – or are they the same ones with greater amplification? – we are attempting to appreciate an opportunity to slow down.

Earlier this week I found myself staring out of the office window (thinking deep and meaningful education thoughts, of course) and enjoying the sun setting over Ucluelet across the bay. It was so pleasant, and I was so busy, I stepped outside to take a couple of photographs. A smoke break. Ok, I don’t smoke. A coffee break? Yes, that’s allowed! If accompanied with deep and meaningful education thoughts.

Educational

A variety of shore birds were flitting up and down the exposed mud flats, in silhouette as the sun dropped below the trees on the Ucluelet side. It was a calm scene, with a slight breeze disturbing the surface and rustling the last of the leaves holding on after the recent storm.

A heron was stalking tasty morsels, moving back and forth with deliberate and elegant intent, watching, winding up, and then striking. It seemed to be doing well, as far as I could tell, given the fading light.

A happy heron hunts here

With fewer student contacts, and increased “office” time, I’m looking forward to further coffee breaks overlooking the mud flats. I might not see any bears this time of year, although I have spotted them into December, but I’m hoping to catch sight of a wolf. I’ve been told they are sometimes seen patrolling the shore along the Hitacu side. I sense my caffeine intake might rise, and replies to emails will be delayed…

“Don’t you have any work to do?!” “Yup, in a minute…”

No, I’m not really slowing down to the point of a sacking! I appreciate the current good fortune of being in employment when so many are struggling. What a year. I find myself thinking “what a year!” over and over, as if repeating this will yield a better understanding or calmer acceptance. Not there with that as yet, and I think it’ll take the turn of the year and a good many steps into 2021 before some equilibrium returns.

This will slow me down

In the meantime, it’s steady as we go, and enjoy the slow down, as far as we can. Take a cue from that heron, and maintain (the appearance of) elegant poise…

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

On hold…

…or holding on?!

What a week! We lost electrical power briefly on Monday, and then for longer through Tuesday. It wasn’t so bad, once the 100kmh+ winds died down. Cooking and coffee on a camping stove, and enough supplies in our store cupboard kept us chugging along just fine.

The calm after the storm

The storm wrecked the work week, and the blogging week, so I’ll apologize here and say I promise to catch up on your blogs over the coming weekend, and also respond to comments left in the past week.

As well as the storm, sadly, we had our first confirmed case of COVID-19 in our little community. That’s a big splash in a small pond, and the ripple effects have been considerable. It’s looking increasingly likely we’ll be working from home pretty soon, and my contacts with the schools and students will be heavily reduced.

Ripple effects

As a small coastal town, we’d hoped for the best, so fingers crossed we’ve planned for the worst, and now we’re in a similar situation to many other places, and we’ll see what unfolds. Life back on hold? Most likely, until effective treatments become widely available.

Life back on hold? In that case, make mine a double!

A very brief piece this week, and I’ll finish by hoping you are well, that you stay safe, and you have a wonderful weekend!

A hint of change

Something different? Positive change, one hopes…

We’re still processing the results of the election for our southern neighbours. It takes time to come to terms with change, and clearly the present occupant of the White House is struggling with his loss. We’re hoping the tantrum will soon be over, acceptance will follow, and bags will be packed. Ready to go! No need to share updates, just quietly disappear…

Ready to go!

We’re in a very autumnal phase, with quite a bit of wind and rain, and that’s blowing away the mental cobwebs, as well as many leaves. It’s exhilarating, and hugely preferable to what felt like endless mental exhaustion. For now, the stormy days, grey skies and heavy winds don’t seem so bad when there is some positive change blowing in!

I sense a change…

We’ve enjoyed hints of sunshine and a few warm hours, both on the beach and in the woods. Scout is always light of heart and bouncy in step, and we’ve felt more like that ourselves the past few days. We’re almost keeping up with her!

Yum

We have celebrated, and hasn’t that felt better than all the recent commiserating? Four challenging years are almost behind us. This year has been particularly miserable, and as 2020 draws to a close, it’s pleasant to be able to look ahead and hope for better days. No, we’re not thinking the next four years will be all unicorns and rainbows – we realize all the unicorns have been taken by those pro-Brexit types and are being readied for release onto the sunlit uplands – but some return to slightly better will be just fine.

A fairly brief post this week as we look forward to a quiet weekend. Some beach time, some forest time, and perhaps we’ll explore another 33 Acres of Ocean!

Sunlit (the unicorns pranced away and out of shot)

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

Evidence! Do you think this will stand up in court? (Thanks to DJT for sending me this)

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!

Sad and smiling

My Dad died last week. We’re sad and smiling, as we recall so many memories of time spent with him. I don’t want to write anything lengthy here. My aim is to catch up reading your blogs, and to be writing my more usual posts from next week. Perhaps bits and pieces about my Dad will be woven into some of the stories.

The photograph is from summer 2019, when we enjoyed our last evening out together. He was very keen I had a beer photograph to post on the blog! We went to a bring your own beer local curry house, and ate too much and laughed a lot, like always.

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

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!

Happy Campers

It’s Canada Day next Wednesday, a day we like to stop and think about how fortunate we are to be living and working where we do.

Warmer than it looks

For almost everyone, the year so far – are we only six months in?! – has been challenging, so it’s good to pause and be positive.

A different sense of time

Canada is very far from perfect, but I choose to believe that it’s a nation trying to progress towards greater inclusivity, aiming to ensure what comes next for all Canadians is an improvement on the past. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, in good times or tougher times, and I’m looking forward to Wednesday. Peering ahead, I’d like to think every day is Canada Day for all who live here.

Taken from Mount Ozzard. Hitacu near side, Ucluelet far side

So if you’re Canadian, know a Canadian, will become a Canadian, have visited Canada, would like to visit Canada, or you’re a big fan of maple syrup, then happy Canada Day to you!

A good idea from Nelson Brewing, BC

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend!

All accompanying photographs were taken this week when I was at work – what a spot to work in! (Not the beer photo – that was after work!)