Monday, February 28, 2011

Talisman Skiing

After a pretty normal week back home in Goderich, I took off again on Friday morning.  I picked up Mike bright and early at 5:50 am with two half coffee, half hot chocolates and it was off to Brookside Public School.  30 kids were making the sojourn to Kimberly, Ontario to tackle the Talisman ski hill.  I would chaperone with 3 other of Brookside's finest; Mike Beddow, Larry Grail and Kim Liddle.  I know a bit about skiing and a bit about kids....  I'd be a perfect fit in the mix.
All in all the day was another success and great fun.  Red Mountain would blow the brains out of the kids head's in terms of its terrain and excitement obviously, but Talisman is what it is, and for all intensive purposes, it suits the needs of everyone quite well.  I probably skied the least out of everyone.  I hung out in the lodge and tried to reach my goal of 4 of the above mentioned libations (half coffee half hot chocolate) and I scarcely saw students just hanging out or not having fun.  So there you go.

So I can't complain too much.  I got to go skiing and hang out with great people.  Sure, I didn't hit Powder Fields or Booty's (or Prison Break = Joel) but no broken bones and lots of fresh air. 

Oh, the Bruce/Huron County Allstar Ski team had its team challenge and I got some superb footage:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home

The story does not end - But it is dam nice to be back, truly back home.

Andy and I woke up early on Friday morning and went for a run.  It was dark, but about 12 degrees centigrade.  Pretty warm.  Anyway we had a fantastic run and got back to the house.  As Andy and Kate's day started with young Max, I just poked around the house and leisurely got myself ready for the easiest 275km of driving yet to do.  I packed up and had a bite to eat and pushed off.  Thanks again Kate and Andy for the harbour.

I got into Goderich and went straight over to my mom's office and we went for lunch at Bluewater Pizza.  It is a bi-monthly tradition of sorts for us.  I hadn't seen my mom in about 3 months, but she was well aware of the events and happenings, of course, of the days gone by.  So even though there was a lot to chat about, it wasn't like she was incognizant of my Rossland adventures.  She was mostly keen to hear of news from Trevor and his family.  So I filled in any missing bits of information I could offer.

After lunch and that visit I stopped into my grandmothers for a hello.  Not being as computer savy, she wanted to hear more news and information because she hadn't really been on the blog.  No matter.  I filled her in with the tales and highlights of the trip.

I pulled a ringer around the square in Goderich and saw Brittany.....  And I thought maybe, just maybe my buddy Steve might be at work.  Sure enough, I walked into the OPP detachment and the first feller I saw was my trusty running sidekick and confidant Beaser.  He was pretty busy though, so I stayed for a quick 10 minute hello and we will resume our ramblings until another time....

So I guess I have seen pretty much everyone except for the cat Mango = And my sweet, sweet, sweet baby Shelly.  Mango ran away when I walked into the house to unload my stuff and hid under the bed.

I walked over to the high school and met up with Shelly after 3:00.  It was great to see her.  The last time I saw her personally was on New Years Eve day = I dropped her off at the Kelowna aeroport to fly home.  A few high fives later, we were back together like peas and carrots.  It was like I never left..... 

So the story does not end = I have lots of stuff to add and I will keep updating the blog.  I have another 6 months off with my sabatical!  There is a new house purchase to write about and add pictures of.  I have some more travels and adventures.  Two more ski trips for sure.....  And who knows what else news.  I'll make something up if I get in a dry spell.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Holy Crap!

La Salle, Ontario baby!  Thursday night at 7:30.....  On Wednesday I hit about 1,400 km.  I got all the way to La Crosse, WI.  It was fantastic driving throughout the day.  But the last 3 hours wasn't that great = dense fog.  And today I only had 1,000km to get to Hahner's and Kate's.  Awesome.  Beers.  Pizza.  Close to home.  Katie.  HAHNER!

Very, very glad to get here safe and sound.

There isn't really anything profound to mention about the last 2,400km.  South Dakota is hilly in the west, but flat as you get east.  Obviously not rockies hilly, but rolling hills.  The pavement was smooth and true.   I was really happy to see signs for Deadwood and Yankton because of the HBO series I have been watching called Deadwood.  It reminded me of Joel.  I also stopped at this neat store called Wall Drug in Wall, SD. 

Minnesota was forgettable and didn't leave an impression on me.

Wisconsin reminded me a lot, a lot of southern Ontario.  It is appropriately called The Dairyland State.  There was lots of farming and corn fields.  Very flat.  Pollitically, there is big news from the govenor taking away the right for civil servants to collective bargain.  SHAME!  Schools were cancelled because a large number of teachers had rang in sick in protest....   13,000 people were at a protest in Madison to voice their disappointment.  Good luck brothers and sisters in Wisconsin.

I drove through Chicago right at noon and there was no problems.  The traffic was heavy, but I stayed the course on I-90, paid a few tools, and drove through without any problems.  The problems did occur once I got into Indiana.  I got wheeled by a cop.

The cop came to  the window and got my ID and said why don't you come back to the car.  I did.  I didn't care.  I wasn't speeding, following too closely, or anything....  So I was in the drivers side of the cruiser and he was just doing his job.  We engaged in chit-chat.  He was really interested about BC bud (weed).  He said he saw a program on television and everybody smokes it.  I told him he shouldn't believe everything he saw on TV - Come on.....  I gave him the 2 cent version of my story....  He listened attentively.  It was actually more like the 5 cent version as I had just been solo in the car for the past 3,000km = I was dying to talk to someone.  After it was all said and done he let me go without a warning or a charge or anything obviously and said two things. 

1.  I should have been a teacher.
2.  Are you sure you don't have any BC bud.....

What a guy. 

The real bad news east of Chicago was a 2 hr traffic tie up on I-94.  I went 10km in a shade over 90 mins.  Oh well.  I was glad I wasn't in it.  Perhaps that copper wheel'n me and chatting me up for 15 minutes as he ran my vitals saved my skin from a potential accident.  Who knows.

But by 7:30 I was over the Ambassador Bridge and into La Salle finding my way around .  It is difficult in the dark, but doable.

So I will be in Goderich on Friday.  Excellent.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Homeward Bound

The best I could do with a picture of the four kids was as follows....  Oh well.  Cole just wasn't in the mood.
But we did manage a picture with all of us - Tara and Jeff were both working, otherwise I am sure they would have loved to strike a pose with the rest of us.

A lot of good-byes and see you laters lately.  I had a terrific send off dinner with Joel, Trista, and the family.  An awesome roasted chicken with all of the fix'ns.  But there was a catch; they loaded up the truck with some unused and unnecessary gear which can be sent back to Ontario.  No problem guys.  Enjoy the rest of your time out west.

I also said my good-byes to Tara, Trevor, and the boys.  Hanging out with them really did supercede the sum of everything else.  Cole and Grayson are very sharp, but they won't really remember their time with Uncle Awesome after a few weeks pass.  But I will think of them often with very fond memories.  I won't forget.  And hopefully we can all do it again in a few years.  Take care you animals!  I'll be back!

So I am 1,200km into the trip home - Probably more like 1,300km.  I am in Sheridan, Wyoming.  It is along I-90, past Billings, Montana by 200 miles or so.  I left Rossland super early this morning.  I was just keen to get going.  I don't want to have regrets, but I pulled the plug on a mini journey up to Golden, BC for a stopover and visit with Jay and Tiffany and their families which I am a bit regretful of....  Sorry guys if you are reading this.  I hyped it up a bit to them, but when the time came, I changed my mind wanting to cover some mileage more directly home instead. 

The first 300km this morning was awful.  Terrible border guards, it was very dark, cold, icy roads, deer, construction, then slushy roads with lots of traffic, and so on.  But after that it was mostly blue skies and sun in my face.  I pulled over at 8:00 local time.  Another thing that got me going = My fm transmitter for the IPOD isn't working!  It is like the heated grips situation from the fall all over again.  It has worked all winter, and today, nothing.  I have 400 songs on that thing, a dozen Stuart MacLean stories, and a few novels to listen to.   The radio has been terrific though.  Southern Montana on I-90 is a heck of a lot nicer to travel across then northern Montana on HWY 2......

Anyhow - I have many more pictures of the past few days and I will post them.  I will have a few less stories to write about I am sure.  Mostly I am just concerned about getting home safe.  Oh my god - Deliverance just started on CMT = That might be a bad sign.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some Video

Just some parting video from last week of Joel and Trevor.  I am going to miss skiing with you two on Tuesdays.  Be safe out there boys.  It has been a lot of fun this year.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

All Together

The whole fam-damily has got together in Rossland, BC.  The Ontario group of dad and Wendy made it to the Castlegar aeroport on Thursday while the Georgia group of Marsha, Jeff, Locke and Alden made it to the Spokane aeroport.  Trevor, Tara, Cole, Grayson, and I all met up at the Lodge.  Unreal.....  It is virtually impossible for us all to pose for a photo together.  It has been fun trying!
I don't know who has been the ultimate child-minder with 4 kids under 4.  Well, I do know it hasn't been me.  Tara got plenty of looks walking around the base of the hill with Alden as such.  Twin boys on both hands and this busting out of the down jacket!  She saw a few friends who wondered where this extra appendage came from.....  Marsha, Trevor, dad, Jeff and I skied for a few hours as Wendy and Tara reared the young.

The condo is really nice at the lodge.  It has three full bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a big living room and a nice deck with a 6 person hot tub.  We are cooking all of the meals here and eating lunches and breakfasts too as it has a huge kitchen and dining area.
I tried to get Locke into the picture as well = but alas....  Kids can be fickle as I am learning quickly out here.  Grayson is on the left, Cole is on the right, and Alden is smack-dab in the middle.

Father and daughter - at the base of Red Mountain.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I have been thinking about Valentine's Day, my first one as a married man, and I got thinking about a poem I was first introduced to back in the early 2000's.  I just liked the poem and it has stuck with me for a long time.  Since I ate tacos on Tuesday night at Kuk's in Northport, WA and Shelly loves animals, it reminded me once again of February 14th.  Get thinking about Valentine's yourselves and get that special someone a little something-something.

It is called Valentine for Ernest Mann by Naomi Shihab Nye.

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of the skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

- Naomi Shihab Nye
  in The Red Suitcase, Brockport, NY: BOA Editions, 1994.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Added Information

I thought I should maybe tie up some loose ends and finish some stories which have started.

1.  Stick in the mouth incident.
Obviously it has healed up no problem.  Although I haven't shaved since then so I am not too sure if there is a scar or not.  I am pretty sure there isn't.  But the speed-bag who hit me had his own misfortune of sorts this past weekend! 

He was playing in the pond hockey tournament.  I saw him drinking a beer outside of the fenced beer garden area - no big deal, what do I care.  Anyway he ended up getting an open liquor charge which is about $220 out here.  But the thing of it was the RCMP officer gave him two warnings.  So on the 3rd time back to talk to this guy about his lawlessness, he got out his ticket book and went to work.  Oh well.  Sorry about your luck buddy.

2.  Pond hockey tournament.
Trevor's team lost in their recreational final game.  It went to overtime and they were up against a tough team.  It was well played.  I thought the other team might have been a bit better anyway.  But it was close.  I printed off 6 copies of their team photo which was on the blog, and went to the Dollar-Rama and got some frames.  I will give each guy a copy of the picture with a frame that they can stick on the refridgerator.    

3.  Thanking Sherry Hodges.
I have got a few emails from Sherry saying how she has liked the blog and has been reading it.  Thanks Sherry.  I appreciate the emails and I am glad you like it.  I have some great Sherry Hodges stories.  It was over to Sherry's were Shelly and I first ever went out (kind-of, sort-of....).  It was a Friday night and Sherry called and said come on over for Chinese food - I said Shelly's over, and Sherry said well bring her over too!  And the rest is history.

And I have known Sherry for a while, but I remember Sherry the first time we met (agian) at Victoria Public School.  You were working half at Victoria and half at Robertson.  I started about 8 days after the school year started at Victoria - And I remember you welcoming me and saying hi in that skinny hallway off of the photocopier.  I thought it was pretty cool working with Sherry Hodges - that's for sure. 

4.  Twins
I am still having a good deal of problems telling one from the other.  Sometimes one likes me more then the other one, but then the next time I am over there has been a role reversal.  One day I am over and Cole is not feeling well and grumpy, then the next day it is Grayson.....  Cole usually wears red and Grayson blue, but again, that isn't always the case.  They always have discernable outdoor clothing on - which is easy.  I took Grayson for a pull on the GT Snowracer yesterday and he thought that was pretty cool.  But next time I am over he might think otherwise.....  Who knows?

And two more shots - I think Cole is in the light blue sweater and Grayson is in the darker blue.

But more often then not they both think a great deal of me most of the time.  I stuff oranges down their mouths which they both love, I get them drinks, they both love to play with trucks, and lastly they would be at a total loss without books and reading.  Good on you two!

5.  John Heintz race.
Well, the legend is definately not growing out here - no surprise.  But there was a funny bit in the local paper.  They interviewed a guy who was on the winning team and he was making references about the race and how tough it is for him because he is usually looking after a kid or two and just has other things on the go, but he only did one of the 5 disciplines....  (His last name is Banks, and the organizor's last name is Wallace.)  To plagerize it went like this:

Banks added, "What's really impressive is the guy who did it by himself in 27 minutes.  By yourself, that's amazing."

"Drew, that's all he put down," Wallace said, referring to her notes.

"Twenty six minutes.  Wow, that Drew guy was really fast!"

Again, I suppose you have to read the whole article to get the context and such.  Maybe then it is funnier.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BC Pond Hockey Championships

I should start by writing I did not play, unfortunately..... 

The two awesome rinks in town played host to the fun and excitement as the title mentions.  There are 3 divisions; a women's, a competitive men's division, and a recreational men's division.  The games started on Friday night and they are finishing up on Sunday afternoon.  Fans are treated to great hockey, a beer gardens, a good BBQ stand set up by a Hospice group, great weather, and a few fires to keep warm. 

Most of the recreational teams were just that.  They had sillier uniforms and their talent wasn't as sharp.  The Tighty Whities, for example, wore white underware over their equipment.  There was a team from Nelson, BC who wore Flanel Lumberjack style jackets.  I think they were happy on Friday night playing in the colder weather, but on Saturday afternoon when it was about 4 degrees and the sun was pounding the ice surface, it maybe wasn't the best choice.  But they looked great.

The best team I saw play did it up good too with their uniforms.  They definately had game and style.  Matching pants, shirts, and red helmets were their colours.  They only brought 5 players, even though you are allowed 6.  (4 players on the ice....)  But their most intimidatory aspect was when they took out their teeth before the game.  When see your opponents are taking out their teeth, you are playing some serious hockey guys.  Winning teams had to scrape the ice after each game.

Trevor's team is doing quite well.  They've won their 3 games so far and will play in the recreational final on Sunday at noon.  Paul Coffee, Rick Vaive, Jimmy Carson, Eric Lindros, Dale Hawerchuck and Trevor on the far right is the team.  I suppose they don't need a Drew Macaulay after all.  Good luck guys.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Got Wood?

I really wanted to write a post about Tom Jones' business called Winterland.  He is the wood man in Rossland.  Joel and I have been out to his place twice to restock the supply on 2nd Avenue.  It is just a really neat operation he has going.

First he buys logs and has them at his place.  He doesn't cut them.  Tom is in the firewood business and he has a great system in which he transfers the logs into burnable pieces.

So the whole operation is powered by an old 4 cylinder engine out of a '74 Toyota.  He has numerous belts, hydraulic presses, a hay elevator, axes, tools, automatic saws, lubricants, and splitters to take care of the process.  It is sort of a one man show.  The logs are piled up outside of the mill, and then he drops them onto a steel conveyor belt that runs into the mill.  This is hydraulic of course.  There is also a hydraulic, 18inch chainsaw set up to cut the wood into 1 foot pieces.  After the log is cut, it is automatically dumped into the spliter area.

A press pushes the log towards a V-shaped wedge which splits the wood.  There is an old hay elevator for the split wood to go onto.  The elevator takes the split wood back outside of his mill, and drops it into the back of a 2 tonne pickup truck.  But since we are there with our own truck, I just take the wood and pass it to Joel to pile in the back of the truck.

Maybe my write up didn't really capture it.....  I get it.   But this operation is totally unreal and amazing.  He said it has cut tens of thousands of cords of wood, which I don't doubt.  There are moving belts everywhere, sawdust flying, various tools, tanks to hold all of the fluids; it basically looks like an accident just waiting to happen.  Tom only has 3 fingers on this right hand!  Like I said, an accident waiting to happen.  Thankfully we've made it out of there relatively unscathed twice now.  But the first time we were there, his helper, a 30s something lady who looks like a cross between a truck driver and an ultimate fighter, threw a piece of wood at me and nailed my shin.  I still have a mark! 
Joel and Cohen loading up the truck.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Facts and Stats

There is a function that tracks the number of visitors to this blog, where they are viewing it from, and what operating system they are using.  It even breaks it down daily, weekly, monthly and from what country. 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem to be the most popular days people view the blog, (Thursdays and Fridays being the least popular,) Canada is the most popular country, and Internet Explorer is the most popular browser.  I have had just under 2,000 visitors, most being repeats for sure, to the blog since September.  I average about 20 people per day on the site, but during October and November I didn't even really average 5 = there was nothing really too interesting to write about.  In September it was up over 30 people daily on the site.

I am having fun writing and posting things.  I hope you are having fun reading the information and looking at the pictures and watching the video. 

It goes:
1,666 Canadians
162 Americans (many Georgians I am sure...)
19 from the U.K. (The Queen maybe?)
18 from Australia (Yo Stano and Mick! G'day mates.)
10 Kiwi's (Ngaire Sheppard obviously.  How's the new baby?)
7 Malaysians (?)
6 Irish (probably a girl named Mary and a feller named Paddy?)
4 Germans (Danke!)
3 Singapore
2 France (A Pierre for sure...)

Well I'll keep at it, and keep a good account of the last few weeks I am out here.  Thanks for visiting and checking out what is going on.