daytrips

Daydreaming the past in April 2020

Siem Reap, Angkor Wat

There’s something about being inside mostly that has set off my daydreaming about all those times I felt the most free and so I decided to make a list of 25 experiences that came to mind.

I hope you’ll reflect on your own special times of exploration that were particularly satisfying while you’re cooped up these days.

  1. Walking along Walker Hook Road on Salt Spring Island and down to the Fernwood dock and back again to the cottage where I lived on Hedger Road. Camping at Ruckle Park.
  2. Riding a bike on a day trip to one of the Mekong islands across from Phnom Penh and on a dirt road that passed by wooden shacks with little children running out and saying Hi to me as I rode by.
  3. Walking on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, with almost no one around, with a young woman who was also on a day trip and passing fields of those hairy Highland cattle as we made our way to the other side of the island to see Duart Castle.
  4. Daytrips to Mayne Island and walking from the village to the lighthouse over to Bennet Bay and back again on a beautiful summer’s day. I once saw a pod of Orcas rounding the corner in front of the lighthouse, some of them spyhopping.
  5. Driving in a sports car from Phoenix to Flagstaff and on to the Grand Canyon in the middle of February and having to finally “give” and put up the top and blast the heat. Silly Canuck moves.
  6. Being in the beautiful Botanical Garden outside of Hilo, Hawaii, beside the ocean and being so inspired by the lushness and tropical beauty, and staying in the village of Volcano, Hawaii.
  7. Running down an empty country road in Finland on the way to the country store at least a mile away that summer in 1980.
  8. Walking across the Painted Desert at The Ghost Ranch in New Mexico on a hot day in June on the way to the other side near Georgia O’Keeffe’s house.
  9. A seven day kayaking trip through the Discovery Island Group and setting up camp on a beach every night, often with a fire.
  10. Hiking the Stein Valley with Will and the ponderosa pines reminding me of the annual summer trip to Osoyoos with my parents when I was a child.
  11. Walking across a courtyard in Greenwich, England, and hearing someone playing a beautiful piece on the piano, the light high notes sparking into the air like electricity.
  12. Walks in Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island on the farthest dike on a hot August afternoon where it used to be possible to sit on randomly placed benches, soak up the heat and watch the red winged blackbirds among the tall grasses and just linger.
  13. Whale Watching in the zodiac when Ian Gidney used to own that on Salt Spring and the joy of speeding across the water in search Orcas but mostly just enjoying the wind in my face, especially on hot summer days.
  14. Exploring a ruin in Mexico called Uxmel and hearing the rustling of leaves behind me only to see two big green iguanas coming in my direction and feeling, stupidly, afraid.
  15. Exploring the streets of Chiapas, and one beautiful afternoon of exploring an historical centre called NaBolom.
  16. Riding a bike from Prachuap Khiri Khan in Thailand across a military checkpoint to the most beautiful deserted beaches.
  17. Taking that boat to an island off Sihanoukville in Cambodia to a small place where a group of us spent the day, playing volleyball, hanging out, barbequing. Koh Ta Kiev.
  18. Walking along a footpath in Bath, England that led from the city, overlooking the weir and back up to the Italianate mansion on the hill converted into a hostel. And a footpath in Oxford past the river boats with Don, the man I met at the Summer Opera Festival on our way to that famous restaurant, La Petit Blanc, which I understand is now gone, not surprisingly since my visit was 19 years ago.
  19. All the times I’d go with a friend and ride my bike around Point Roberts on day trips in the 90s that always included back then, a stop at that restaurant that started with a “B”, now gone unfortunately. It was always such a nice place to have lunch. Carrying on past the marina and onto the bluffs before heading down the big hill to the beach.
  20. Riding a bike around the Palace of Versailles grounds with a guy from the hostel in Paris where I was staying.
  21. Riding the Bamboo Railway near Battambang Cambodia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk1B-GSG6Mg
  22. Long walks around the Stanley Park Seawall with the end point The Sylvia, one of my favourite things to do.
  23. The rapids of the Fraser River on an overnight rafting trip along the Thompson into the Fraser with Kumsheen Rafting before they had a resort and we camped.
  24. Giving up our seats on the plane that was overbooked and the joy of having one more day to explore San Francisco, and the meal in that Italian restaurant in North Beach, Calzones.
  25. Walking through Saguaro National Park in Tucson and being awestruck by the purple and orange sunset as the backdrop for the tall saguaro cacti.

Talking the walking: one foot in front of the other & health

I guess I come by my love of walking honestly.

Infamously, I once took my father, who was in his 90th year at the time, on a walk around the Stanley Park seawall and we made it from my apartment at the bottom of Robson Street to a good chunk of the wall (about 6K) and finally dropping into our seats for lunch at the classic old Sylvia Hotel on English Bay.

After that day, every time I suggested he come downtown from Surrey for a visit, he’d immediately inquire with palpable consternation, “We’re not going to walk around the park, are we?” I may have traumatized him for life.  To set the record straight, I had given him more than one opportunity to do a shorter route, my concern present right from the start, but being the stubborn Scot he was, he had declined and past a certain point, there’s no turning back, no quick exit, no hailing a taxi.

Most of my father’s walking took place in the army during World War II and then later on, I gather, he did a lot of walking as part of his job as an electrician on the Rayonier site in New Westminster where, as an aside, in the 1960s, a huge fire broke out on August 20, 1966 in the grasses between the Scott Paper Company and Rayonier. That enormous blaze eventually ended up requiring the Mars Bomber to be deployed with that massive aircraft gathering tons of water from Sproat Lake near Port Alberni to drop on the fire in New West. I was five years old then, and I vaguely recall my brother and I being taken by my mother to watch the spectacle from a safe distance, awed by that huge aircraft flying so low overhead and dropping a veritable waterfall on the site.

In fact, it was my father’s good health and his Forrest Gump style of walks that eventually led to his decline. One day, he miscalculated the steepness of a hill, having taken a detour on some construction site, and ended up in Emergency thanks to whomever, some construction workers possibly, who found him.  In spite of his advanced age and having to stitch up gashes on his head, the ER folks never bothered to do a cat scan which then required, a second trip to Emergency later that day, a proper diagnosis of two hematomas and a six week hospital stay. This is a warning against walking down steep inclines, especially should you make it into your nineties. He was more fragile and cautious after his recovery, having to finally resort to using a dreaded walker on future outings.

Some of my favourite walks have taken place on B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands. I loved my almost daily meandering jaunts down Walker Hook Road in the North End when I lived there. I’d leave the old cottage I’d rented off Hedger and take my time heading towards the Fernwood Dock admiring the view towards Trincomali Channel and the arbutus trees canvassing above the road, the wild flowers in the ditches. Surely, I thought, heaven must look and feel like the peace on that stretch of geography.

I’ve walked a fair amount on Mayne Island as well. From Miner’s Bay to the Lighthouse and back again and then down to Bennett Bay and I really believe that everyone should experience the absolute freedom and ability to be alone with their thoughts, as the breeze blows their hair, noting scents and scenes that would have been missed while riding in a car as their own two legs provide the only mobility.

I think about a long walk I did on the Isle of Mull in Scotland passing those hairy Highland cattle and inhaling the whiff of the salt off the Firth of Forth with Duart Castle being the daytrip’s destination.

I remember the beautiful city of Bath  and walking back to an Italianate mansion turned hostel on a hill through grassy fields that allowed an expansive view of the town and the weir below as the sun was setting.

Closer to home, my friend Dave Brent organized his friends to do some major walks and I recall the last steps of one of those that started near Value Village in Coquitlam, passed the Boulevard Casino, onto the area under the Port Mann Bridge, carrying on, and on the homestretch over the Pitt River Bridge where some cars had been parked to take the overheated back to the Gillnetter Pub on the Mary Hill Bypass because the pub at the end was always the point really. Two bridges in a single walk is one bridge too many for me.  He’s since ditched the walks for mega hikes all over the North Shore mountains and beyond.

When I saw this article posted by a friend on Facebook about an Irish neuroscientist named Shane O’ Mara, who has proven how good walking is, not just for the body but for the brain, he put into words, what every walker already knows and can now feel a little bit smug about.

Blessings for Judith

You can’t measure love in time. You can spend a lifetime with someone and not develop the kind of feelings you might expect to have, not really. And then, you can spend just a few weeks with another and know you’ll never find anyone like them again.

Your unique combination of togetherness creates the magic of a loving friendship or of a love relationship and don’t ever think that friendship is less important than romantic love.

These are the thoughts I’m having as I think about my friend Judith.  In spite of the short amount of time we spent together, her calm, quiet, loving and accepting nature surrounded me and calmed me down whenever I was in her presence. It’s a way of being I admire, desperately need in my life, wish I was more like, hope to be around again, and will miss so very much. I always knew that she was farther along the path than me, in consciousness, and we all need that in our lives, to do and be better. She also had the same dry humour that turned shared amusements into delicious moments, the kind you think of afterwards and that still bring a smile.

Judith passed away yesterday after an incredibly difficult five months. She died of lung cancer; Mesothelioma to be exact. She could only guess that the cancer may have been growing in her lung from the time, as a young girl, she would go with her father, a plumber, to some of his work sites and where they were both unknowingly exposed to asbestos.

The picture above was taken on June 24th, 2018, one day before she had any indication that she was ill. Although, the very next day she told me that she was having some trouble breathing that day. It hadn’t been apparent to me and she hadn’t said. I took this photo across the table at a beautiful end-of-day meal on Salt Spring at the Treehouse in Ganges. The wine glass looks ginormous. It wasn’t! We spent a wonderful day on the island because I knew she would love it there and I wanted her to see a place that has been such an important part of my life over the years.  

She was from the prairies and lived much of her life back east, and then for a few years after her and her husband amicably separated, she lived in Nelson, B.C. She was a life-long meditator and yoga practitioner and a yoga teacher.

I knew very little about her life actually except that she’d been married for about 28 years, maybe more, and had three children now grown in their late twenties/mid-thirties, all living back east. I met both of her daughters and they are the beautiful people I would expect she would have raised. Her youngest son made it to B.C. twice, but we never met. I also met her ex-husband who was incredibly helpful to her when she needed him. It was unfortunate that she was on the other side of the country from almost all her family members when she became ill. They managed to re-arrange their lives to be with her as she needed them in these last months.

I met Judith in February 2018 at the Victoria Film Festival. We were in the line-up and started chatting and she sat beside me in the film.  I think the film was The Gospel according to Andre. Afterwards we went for tea at Wild, that very New Age coffee place on Yates Street in Victoria. From that first meeting, our friendship was formed. I was relieved and excited to make a connection with someone in Victoria who, from the instant I met her, I just knew I wanted to have in my life. You can meet so many people who are perfectly fine individuals but just don’t come close to fitting into that category.

I believe she’d just moved to Victoria from Nelson the month before. I’d arrived a few months before her. That type of connection doesn’t happen very often and yet every time I’ve acted on those feelings, the end result has proven my initial gut instinct to be correct. Judith was my closest friend in a city where I have yet to meet those she referred to as “my tribe.” “You will find your tribe here,” she said. “Just keep trying.”

On the day of this photo, we went to Salt Spring to the gatehouse on Stowel Lake Farm and I recall her saying that she could “feel the love” that had gone into creating that wonderful place. She hoped to go back there for a meditation retreat one day.

We went to the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm and the Saturday Market and visited the cottage in the north end on Marjorie’s property where I’d lived before moving off island. I wanted to give Judith a sweet first-time introduction to a place I knew she would love. I believed then that this would be the first of many more visits with her. We didn’t even have time to visit Ruckle Park that day.  “You have to see the place that is my touchstone,” I said. I was looking forward to future visits with her.

The day after that fantastic day, June 24, 2018, I got a call from her telling me that she was having trouble breathing and her chest hurt. I immediately thought she was having a heart attack. I wanted to call an ambulance. She refused.  I convinced her to go to a walk-in clinic across the street from where she lived. It wasn’t long, maybe a day or two, before she was in Emergency having her lung drained of fluid. And then it happened again. Finally, after a few weeks, the diagnosis was made. She even endured an operation to remove fluid from around her heart. In her usual private and quiet manner, she carried on and when she was well enough, we’d meet for lunch, for a drive and then in her apartment where I’d bring a special treat from a nearby bakery or her daughters would make brunch, her husband ordered in Thai take-out. I didn’t get to see her before I went to Hawaii. She wasn’t up for a visit. She was struggling with pain.

I’m convinced her life-long meditation practice and personal spiritual beliefs enabled her the dignity to accept what she could not change. But I’m also shocked to know that in this day of modern medicine, it did not seem possible to manage her pain to the degree one would expect and desire for any human being. I’m confused by that and so sorry she had to endure it.

Now that she has left us, I will hold her spirit close to mine and remember her as the beautiful being of loving kindness that she was, knowing that I was lucky to have her in my life for the short time that I did.

I like to imagine her now dressed in a flowing, colourful gown, the kind she would not have typically worn on earth because it would have been too bold. She is leading a yoga class in a beautiful tropical environment, mingling with other spirits and a light is beaming off her because she is free, of pain, of all worldly concerns, journeying in peace. I will miss her so much.

The fastest trip to Japan from Vancouver

I spent most of this past weekend at the Powell Street Festival which has got to be one of the best entertainment deals in Vancouver taking place at Oppenheimer Park and the streets around it with events at the Firehall Arts Centre, the Japanese Language School, and the Vancouver Buddhist Temple.

This area was home to the largest concentration of Japanese people in Vancouver prior to WWII before they were banished from the West Coast in Canada and the U.S. as a result of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbour and a build up, prior to that, of racism and fear-mongering.

I had to get my little fix of Takoyaki (Osaka Balls),  those tasty street vendor treats that instead of the traditional style which are filled with octopus, these are filled with shrimp and scallops, a creamy middle with a crunchy deep-fried outer and with fish shavings on top. I stayed traditional but you can get the wasabi version or with mayo. 

So many interesting offerings  at The Firehall Arts Centre. We were introduced to a HAPA comic from L.A., Katie Malia and her Almost Asian vignettes which are being picked up by Netflix in the near future.

Listened to Dr. Asato Ikeda from Japan talk about a Third Gender in early modern Japan, a spin off from an exhibit at the ROM in 2016 A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese prints. Descriptions of wakashu or boys between the ages of 12-18 who fulfilled the pleasures of men and women and how to hear about that part of cultural history in Japan without imposing contemporary North American values on that part of Japanese history which has been kept under wraps mostly because, if I understood the speaker correctly, of how it fits into the Kabuki theatre in the Edo period. Since Kabuki has been designated the official theatre of Japan, there’s a reluctance to acknowledge the roots of it in this expression of sexuality. Super interesting!

Introduced to two men (both Gaijin or caucasian) Jay Rubin and Ted Goossen, Americans who are elders in the translation of Japanese literature. They spoke about the novelist Haruki Murakami and mostly that stood out for me because it’s always amazing to me how some people just fall into their professions without any effort on their part and that becomes their entire life.

Admired that Joy Kogawa who is looking very fit and in her eighties was open to participating in an experimental performance that included her poetry, a young Hapa poet Soramaru Takayama and a wonderful mime (whose name I can’t find, unfortunately)  as part of a 20 minute performance.

 

Also took in two interesting short films called Born with it and Blasian Narratives about Black-Asian kids’ experiences. I’d never heard the word “Blasian” before.

Listened to a wonderful shakuhachi player who resides on the Sunshine Coast.  Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos, is one of the leading teachers and performers of the shakuhachi in North America who teaches at the Bamboo-In Retreat Centre.  His performance was exquisite and a rare treat. I love the breathy, haunting sounds of the shakuhachi, an instrument that may be the hardest instrument to learn taking years of mentorship and practice.

And of course George and Noriko, a crowd favourite. He’s known as the Japanese cowboy and she’s the Tsugaru shamisen player. Together they have a fun and unique sound. 

Taiko. Walking tours. Ikebana. Martial Arts. My god. It’s a veritable trip to Japan without the hell of the long flight.

Must do a shout out to Leanne Dunic (seated in photo) who led the curation in her first year as the new artistic director.  It’s been a busy year for her. She’s a writer, singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays with the band The Deep Cove. Her book To Love the Coming End published by Chin Music Press was released this year as well.  The weekend was awesome and it didn’t cost a dime. The only thing wrong with it was that I didn’t win the trip to Japan for two or dinner for six put on by Hapa Izakaya restaurant chefs.

Elevating the Ordinary

Creative Commons photo

One of my intentions this year is to do something that lifts the day out of the ordinary every single day. It doesn’t have to be anything big and let’s face it, most of what I find interesting doesn’t typically cost a lot of money. It’s usually related to the Arts or being in a natural environment or dredging up questions and memories, if not stuff, at thrift shops.

It might be as simple as going to a different library. It could be cooking a new type of soup. Maybe I’ll visit a natural space in the Lower Mainland that I haven’t yet been to, or have been to and would like to visit again. I merely have to find enjoyment in the thought of doing it and then, here’s the tricky part, I actually have to follow through on those original intentions.

So yesterday on CBC Radio when I heard that it was PWYC (PayWhatYouCan) Wednesday at The Firehall Arts Centre and that there was a play there called And Bella Sang with Us by Sally Stubbs, I walked to the train for the requisite 35 minute sit into Vancouver and got off at the Chinatown station.

I walked down past T&T, past the Sun Yat Sen Garden, up past the Chinese grocers and herbalists and turned left at Gore Ave crossing Main Street, then walking back across the street to The Firehall.

The play is a glimpse into the lives of two female constables showcasing a part of Vancouver’s early history that I knew nothing about. That alone made it interesting. The cast was really good and the script was interesting.

I sat down and a woman sat down beside me in a small audience of mainly retired folk. It was 1pm. We chatted a bit, enough for me to learn that she’d recently graduated from Photography at Emily Carr. That little bit of info was enough for me to know I wanted to chat more with her.

After the play was over, we talked briefly before she asked if I’d like to go for a walk if we picked up her dog in her nearby co-op. So, we walked a little deeper into Strathcona and she returned with a curly-haired poodle named Bodhi. He was more than ready to get some fresh air.

We walked into Strathcona Park, passed a professional dog walker, watched as some other millennial dog walkers chased Bodhi around. “He loves to be chased,” she said, as we watched him scurry the way happy, fast moving dogs run, back slightly arched as his little legs took him on a big excited swath of a circle, the smile on his small black lips almost discernable.

We continued down a street near Union Market and then back up a street past Strathcona Elementary. Another woman walking a small cream-coloured poodle stopped to let the dogs interact before continuing on her way.

“Do you know who that is?” asked my new acquaintance.”

“No, but she looks familiar,” I said.

“That’s Daphne Marlatt. She lives around here.”

“Oh, I love Daphne Marlatt’s long poem on Steveston,” I said, a poem I’d read years ago and I’ve never forgotten its effect on me at the time, way back in the early 1980s. Long poems still amaze me in their complexity.

We talked about the challenge of being the age we are and finding work. We talked about art and photography and we made a plan to meet again, to revisit the Walker Evans exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery before it ends on January 22nd.

And there you have it, a fine example of elevating an ordinary day.

Osprey Village a delight of a day trip

You’ve probably all seen that gorgeous little magazine published in Vancouver with the great photography called Edible. I was flipping through the summer 2016 issue on Sunday morning when I came across the pull-out of the Self-Guided Circle Farm Tour 2016. It’s a guide that lists all the areas of interest related to food and alcohol in locales up the Fraser Valley to Chilliwack and Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows; a great little day-tripping guide.

As I was skimming it, my eyes landed on the words Osprey Village, a place about 20 minutes from where I live, nestled along the Fraser River in Pitt Meadows. It always amazes me that I could have lived in the Lower Mainland most of my life and see names of places that I’ve never heard of, often because like this place, they’ve sprung up as a result of development.

I’ve always been both excited and forlorn that there are so many pockets of life in the world where people live their entire lives that I’ll never know about and never get to see. Beautiful places with Tuscan-coloured walls and grapevines or hand painted ceramic tiles of sunny yellows and cerulean blues, dusty roads and market stalls crammed in beside humanity, hips to elbows to shopping bags, in walkways or places on sidewalks where people eke out a living selling local food that you might be a little wary to try. Do you know what I mean? Places you and I would love so much but don’t even know exist and never will. That’s what makes travel so fantastic. It delivers those types of places. And it leaves me wanting more, more, more.

I’m long overdue for another trip it would seem and as usual, I digress.

In trying to satisfy the adventure dragon and slipping it mere morsels, I do the occasional day trip as I did on Sunday and I was captivated by this Osprey Village. Where art thou?

Freeway from New West.  The 7 out to Mary Hill Bypass (Maple Ridge) across the Pitt River Bridge and then a right on Harris road, drive to the very end, marvel at how much Pitt Meadows has changed. A short walk on a leafy trail parallel to the Fraser River and suddenly beautiful townhomes, meticulously manicured with hanging baskets, patios and balconies, and tranquility pushed back from a grassy knoll and there it is.

At first glance, like something out of a 1950s movie. Both off-putting in the uniformity of its newness and yet desirable (to me) at the same time. Yes, you can like both Finn Slough and Osprey Village. There’s room for both as long as the latter doesn’t completely destroy the former which, as we know, it not only tends to, but it too often has and continues to.

A Bistro. A community centre. Salons. An ice cream parlour. A doggy daycare. Little businesses lined up awaiting customers. At first glance it’s a real chick flick of a place if you know what I mean. A girl’s getaway.  I walked down the white street perusing the services on offer and was greeted as I walked by, by a woman inside the Blue Heron Gallery. I was talking to the very warm Soledad Avaria and I’m not exaggerating when I say that her name has to be one of the most beautiful names I’ve ever heard. Her mother was German and her father was Spanish or vice versa, I can’t really recall. She now lives in Ruskin, B.C. and she paints these wonderful acrylic paintings. If you’re out in Maple Ridge on July 16/17, she’s exhibiting at a show called Two Painters and a Potter at the Red Roof Art Studio, 9702-284th street in Maple Ridge from 9-5 pm.

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Artist Soledad Avaria at Blue Heron Gallery

I also met artist Roberta Combs who was dropping off a tulip painting that had been sold. Here’s some of her work on display.   RobertaCombsforweb

Of course, being me, I couldn’t resist the Sweet Tooth Creamery. Dropped in for a gelato and to get some cool on the 30 degree day. sweettooth

Sat down out front and took in this scene and was eyeing the woman out front of a flower shop across the street called Ode to a Bloom.

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Joanne-OdetoaBloom

Joanne at Ode to a Bloom

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Ice cream devoured, I walked over, and went inside and stepped over sweet Cappy, a wire-haired terrier and I met Joanne.

After some conversation, I asked her whether she’d be open to a photo for my blog and we started chatting about this and that and she told me how often synchronicity is a part of her life. I handed her my card and when she read a quote I have on it, “Creativity takes Courage,” she said, “That’s the saying that’s on my journal that I write in every day.” It’s not that I’m a stranger to synchronicity, no sirree, but it was just odd and struck me as significant given that I’d just finished reading Betsy Warland’s new book, Oscar of Between, and she makes a lot of references to various events of synchronicity, or I’d actually call them pre-cognitions, that I found really interesting.

It was a nice relaxing interlude on a slow-poke of a Sunday.

Have you been anywhere new on your walkabouts lately?

Point Roberts day tripping leads to tiny adventure

On a somewhat regular basis I get an almost bubbling up of a need to get out and about. I want to go somewhere different, see new things or go back to places I’ve seen but I haven’t seen for quite some time.  More often than not, a whim hits me and I find myself headed out, alone, to seize the day, just wander, my camera in tow.

Now I know many people would find this unappealing. They wouldn’t have any desire to do such a thing on their own.

I’d been thinking about Point Roberts for a while. It’s a place I used to go many years ago with a friend on a semi-regular basis, especially on beautiful weekends in August. We’d drive across the border, unload our bikes and ride a regular route past the golf course, to the lighthouse park on the ocean, then on to the marina, and farther along to that great little South Beach enclave down Crystal Beach Road. There’s a bench there with two flags painted across the back — a maple leaf and the stars and strips. Or there used to be.

We’d linger a while on a beautiful summer day under the reach of a lone Arbutus growing almost horizontally out from the cliff and we’d eat our snacks. We’d jump back on the bikes and head down the big hill to Boundary Bay, meandering along the beach and then finally head back up the ginormous hill, weaving across the road back and forth, all our effort required to not have to push our bikes up the hill, jubilant if we reached the top intact.

We’d usually stop at the end of the day for a drink at the little place with the great patio called Brewsters.

Now, perhaps the idea of a middle aged woman just wandering and not having a specific reason to be going anywhere, especially in this day and age where every minute of the day is prescribed with deadlines and activities and usefulness extraordinaire is just too strange for border guards. Maybe it was the fact that I was alone and when they peeked into my passport it showed that I’d been to Thailand and Cambodia a few years back. Maybe it was just completely random. I got handed a gold sheet that had the letters NNS written on it and was told to report inside. I got asked a few questions, the border guard typing madly as I answered. I’d love to know what he was putting in there. “Needs to dress better.” “Looks like a hippy”. “Crazy chic on a walkabout?” Whatever.

He wanted to know when I had last been to the U.S. He wanted to know what I did for a living. Good question, I thought. “Was I picking up a package?”  I answered them all with appropriate humbleness all the while wondering, if I was up to no good, why couldn’t I just pick a package up in Canada? I’m so innocent in matters of criminality that I can’t even figure out how it works.  Would I stand on the shoreline while someone in a boat threw me a package? Crazy! Least likely person to be up to no good. Put that in your computer.

colddayAnyway, with my passport handed back, I wandered a bit down at the beach. It was cold. I decided to check out Brewsters. I was seated beside a couple and the wife immediately started to talk to me.

Turns out they’d been high school sweethearts in Whittier California (they’d met at a youth center and he had to dump his girlfriend at the time AND he still felt bad about that). Imagine. He still felt bad. Fifty years later. That part was the most amazing to me.

They now reside in Bellevue,Washington. They are selling the place they’ve owned in Point Roberts for 10 years. He has a heart condition and at some point had to be airlifted back to Bellingham. I learned there is such a thing called helicopter insurance in case you’re in need of a helicopter to airlift you quickly to a hospital. I wonder if they have that in Canada.bluedoor

We chatted throughout lunch and she invited me back to see her garden. Of course, I took her up on the offer and got the full tour, including of the house. I learned they make garden ornaments from old china they collect and that they sell those in the summer at the Point Roberts Market, vendors totaling about five. I learned she’s a thrift store, garage sale aficionado.beeplate

Because they are selling their place – two bathrooms, three bedrooms – for $169,000 (US) she has begun putting prices on all the stuff she wants to unload in preparation for a big garage sale.  And as we toured the house, I came across this beautiful little oak dresser with a swivel mirror and instantly fell in love. She has put my name on it. dresserIn the meantime, does anyone want to buy  a pre-fab house in Point Roberts that’s in great shape? If not, perhaps you have $899,000 Canadian to purchase the waterfront property of their neighbors, Canadians who live in Tsawwassen, but who are selling their 10 acres on Pender Island.

It was the kind of day I love. I ventured out on my own feeling a little melancholy and in the venturing, I managed to find myself a little close-to-home adventure and that was exactly what I was hoping for.

PS: I didn’t feel like I wanted to ask them for a photo, so that’s why there isn’t one.