Category: motorcycle

Instructions for a perfect day

There’s a certain feeling that accompanies a planned Thanksgiving long weekend away to a Northern cottage when the weatherman says words like sunny, unseasonably warm, Indian summer. The dawning realization that you can take the motorcycle rather than the car brings with it an anticipation of joy that is exactly like what you felt the night before Christmas or your birthday.

I can ride up on Thursday, you think. And smile.

You grab the sidebags and start playing packing Tetris, trying to get as much in the two hard cases as possible, paring it down to that which is absolutely necessary. One sweatshirt, one long-sleeve shirt, one book, etc. You roll jeans and shirts around two growlers of beer and pull out the extra pair of shoes; beer is more important than shoes.

thanksgiving rideYou open up old maps of your Dad’s, folded and unfolded so many times that the folds are close to dissolving, leaving you with so many loose rectangular puzzle pieces. You compare the layout of the old highways to the new ones on Google Maps to see if there are any places where the old roads remain to be explored. You plan a route by finding the roads with the most curvy squiggly lines and connecting them, and so are able to make a trip that would take 4 hours by car on 4-lane highway turn into something that will be closer to 7 hours from door to door.

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Perfect day in pictures

Motorcycling along the Great Ocean Road between Warnambool and Anglesea. A perfect day in Australia with my beloved.

Loch Ard Gorge

Loch Ard Gorge

 

At the Loch Ard Gorge

At the Loch Ard Gorge

 

Seen on the road to Cape Otway. The beginning of the Guess What Koala Butt jokes.

Seen on the road to Cape Otway. The beginning of the Guess What Koala Butt jokes.

 

Didn't see one, so they must have been active elsewhere.

Didn’t see one, so they must have been active elsewhere.

 

Cape Otway

Cape Otway

 

The view from the top.

The view from the top.

 

Path away from the lighthouse/

Path away from the lighthouse

 

Good view with our picnic lunch.

Good view with our picnic lunch.

 

The couch.

The couch.

 

Wild parrots outside our hotel room door in Anglesea.

Wild parrots outside our hotel room door in Anglesea.

 

Ending the day with a beer while waiting for an amazing Italian meal.

Ending the day with a beer while waiting for an amazing Italian meal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUNemployment, Day 120

Oh hey! How are you?

Yeah, I know, it’s been a while. 92 days to be exact. No, I didn’t actually count the days; I used a website. I’m not that bored.

What have I been doing in the last three months?

Well, I did not accomplish much on my Summer List. I didn’t skate very much, actually twice if I’m honest about it. The first thing I did while unemployed was gain weight which made the knee hurt. And I was afraid to go to practices for reasons that only exist in my head. I didn’t learn Ruby on Rails or brush up all that much on HTML5, CSS or Javascript. I didn’t go to a drive-in. I didn’t do anything on my Pantone Project other than take one photograph with a red tomato. I joined the HackLab but haven’t been even once, afraid to go for reasons that again, only exist in my head. I did start the Flora Chameleon Scarf, but put it away when it didn’t work after the 12th try, to trouble shoot another time. I didn’t write anything of consequence other than a few half-finished entries in my journal. If only writing/blogging in my head counted…then I would have written tonnes!

I didn’t get to a drive-in or eat a hot dog over a campfire or go to Manitoulin Island or Port Dover. Keith was quite busy this summer and we did not get away even for a weekend trip. We did travel together to Owen Sound as Keith was working up there for a week, and I did get to see Moreland Place and its neighbour, Inglis Falls. I quite like Owen Sound; it’s pretty and has a great used bookstore beside a great coffee shop down the street from a great yarn store.

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Inglis Falls, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

Moreland Place, Owen Sound

We did get out on some day trips together, Keith and I. We explored different parts of the city on long walks, went out of town now and then, and spent a day at the Art Gallery of Ontario taking in the Ai Wei Wei and David Bowie exhibits (both were brilliant). We took a day and went to the US of A, where we were surprised with a friendly US customs border guard, delighted by the change in perspective by being on the American side of Niagara for the first time, intrigued by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright at Greycliff Estate on Lake Erie, satisfied by wings at Duff’s, and amazed at the work being done to restore Buffalo’s Central Terminal.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

Road trip to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

I did get out on the motorcycle a bit more, mostly back up to Tyson Lake, once in August, and again in October for Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m getting good at making a 4 hour highway drive last close to 8 hours on a motorbike. The August trip was a solo, read-reflect-and-write trip, where all I really did was read, drink beer and goof off. Thanksgiving was all about family, and I loved spending time with everyone. Highlights were watching my niece and nephew play hockey, and having Keith ride up to Parry Sound to join me for the 6-hour ride home on a clear and wonderful fall day.

Solo vacation

Tyson Lake, August. Solo time spent sitting around, drinking good beer and watching nature do what it does.

Thanksgiving with the family

Tyson Lake, October. Thanksgiving with the family

I also spent a lot of time making jam and bread, soups and stews for the freezer, and knitting like crazy.

from top: beret that I'm not sure I'll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colourwork (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables.

From top: beret that I’m not sure I’ll wear, cowl with art-deco wave pattern, cowl with stranded colour work (frogged) and cowl with overly-intricate Irish cables. There’s more projects, but these were the prettiest.

I also volunteered at Toronto Mini Maker Faire, which was an amazing show-and-tell of Maker culture, and Cask Days. More on Cask Days later; know that it was beyond fun.

I think most of the time over the last 3 months has been spent trying to process my unemployed state. And to figure out what I’m going to next.

This is where I have to thank the fates for Keith. He has been incredibly supportive in his quiet, laid-back way. He seemed too quiet and laid-back in my panicky, oh-my-freaking-gods-what-the-the-hell-am-I-going-to-do moments, but I realized that he is like this because he trusts, he knows that I’ve got this (or will eventually). He is not rushing me to go out and find a job, any job, that might not suit me. Employment Insurance makes sure that the bills are covered, and between that, the settlement and Keith, I find that I actually have time to plan my next steps for the first time in my life.

Plan A: Brewmaster
Yes, you read right. Brewmaster. It started with a conversation with Keith:

“so what do you think I should be when I grow up?” I asked jokingly.
“Brewmaster Goodale has a nice ring to it,” was his reply.

And so the seed was planted. I’m putting together some research to present to Second Career in the hopes that I might be eligible to have my tuition and expenses covered for the Brewmaster and Brewery Operations course at Niagara College. I’ve gotten my high school and college transcripts, have emailed the admissions department to find out what I need to do, and have subsequently signed up for a grade 12 biology course, bought a one gallon kit to start making my own beer, and started a beer blog (goodaleandbeer.com, and no, it’s not quite ready yet) to act as a portfolio. I’m making contacts with brewers, teachers and beer sommeliers in different programs to investigate the growth of the craft beer industry and job opportunities within it.

I am realistic about this. I really want this, but know there is about  25% chance that I can get all the ducks in a row and make it happen. I’m not sure if I can get a student loan if the Second Career doesn’t pan out, and I know I can’t go there on my own dime as I am just not keen on dipping into my retirement investment at this age in order to pay for tuition and boarding. At the very worst, I don’t get into the program, but I will still have the contacts and plan on furthering my beer education through the Cicerone program or something similar.

Because beer is delicious. And beer people are wonderful.

Plan B:
Of course I have a Plan B. What’s the good of doing all this work for a 25% chance at Plan A without a fallback plan? There was a time I would have set all my energies to Plan A, but to quote Danny Glover’s character in Lethal Weapon, I am too old for that shit.

I have checked with Employment Ontario, and can apply for Ontario Self Employment Benefit and go back to running my own business again. I think I would focus on contract work in desktop publishing or web development at larger business as well as working with small business this time. We’ll see how that goes.

Plan C:
Get a job. I’ve been conducting a steady job search since IE started as that is a condition of the payment, and have been sending out 10-15 resumes a week. I have had a few interviews, but nothing that panned out into a second one. While my skill-set and education doesn’t look that great on paper (too general, nothing specific and in-depth), I am not discounting the chance that I might find a fabulous job that fits my skill-set at a fabulous place that fits my values and temperament. hey, it could happen. It did before, just when I was least expecting it.

There you have it. Three months of activity in 1200+ words. I feel…lighter. Writing only really counts if I commit words to paper or screen. Otherwise it’s just thinking, and I think too much as it is anyway. Going to aim for at least once a week, and perhaps try the NaBloPoNo. Maybe even NaNoWriMo since it’s not like writing an hour a day can interfere with work these days!

stuff and crap

So, I was told on May 3rd that the school would not be renewing my contract after 12 years of teaching there.

Just imagine the initial reaction. The stress kept me awake for days.

A week later and there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train. While I was completely blindsided by this, I’ve come to realize that the change is going to be interesting. And wild. And fun. And awkward. And hard. And occasionally stressful. I am smart, capable and have an affinity with technology. Opportunities abound.

I am humbled by the support that has been offered by friends and colleagues, and by Keith. I am fortunate beyond measure.

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I *finally* have the final class M motorcycle license. Thankfully, this one doesn’t expire.

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Last night’s writing class was based on scent as memory trigger. I buried my nose in a old paperback and wrote:

It is the smell of summer nights, reading by flashlight in a tent or a cabin. It is the smell of winter days, home, sick, with nothing to do but read upstairs while Mum watched her stories downstairs. It is the smell of Chur-Lee Lodge, of being enveloped by the old mushy and musty sofa by the bookcase while listening to the rain drum on the roof then drip past the windows.

I know now why old paperbacks smell the way they do*, that the chemicals used to make paper breaks it down after time, makes it powdery so that you pick up traces of every page you turn, absorbing them through your skin to carry with you always.

* Why Do Old Books Smell?

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There is no rhyme or reason to my thought process today. Maybe I should go have a nap before heading out to derby later.

week of April 21

Thinking about doing something every day is not the same thing as actually doing that something. So, today I blog.

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This collage of photos taken around the Grand Canyon on our honeymoon in December of 2003. I mention this because we finalized most of our plans for our tenth anniversary trip to the same area. Flights booked, car rental is booked, 5 of the 8 hotels are booked. We’ll be landing in Vegas on our anniversary, and traveling to the Grand Canyon South Rim, The View Hotel in Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, a stop at Lone Rock Beach near Page where they filmed the Lake Silencio scenes of Doctor Who, Zion Mountain Ranch, Zion National Park, Yosemite National park (or the parts we can get to in winter), San Jose, Big Sur and the California coast roads down to Santa Maria, over to Death Valley, back to Las Vegas then home.

If you live anywhere near these spots, expect a call closer to December to make arrangements to meet up for dinner!

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We are not that big on birthdays anymore, Keith and I, but we will use them as an excuse to go out to a good restaurant and spend a wad on a tasting menu.

This year, we picked Yours Truly from the Food edition of Toronto Life. We saw very quickly why it was their pick for top restaurant of 2012. We went on Monday when the vibe was pretty laid back (I hear it gets nutty on weekends), and had the Carte Blanche tasting menu, which runs 15-20 courses. I have no idea how many courses we had, but there was not a dud in the bunch. I even liked the oyster, and I don’t really like oysters very much. The East End cocktail was so delicious I had another, and it was a joy to watch a good bartender who knows what he’s doing. We decided somewhere between the garlic knots and the risotto that we would not wait until a special occasion to come back, and by the lemon curd with tobacco-infused cherry dessert, we wanted to come back next week.

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My brother told me about a month ago that the Stranglers were touring North America. Yes, I thought, let’s go!

Then I started waffling. They kind of dropped off my radar once Hugh Cornwell left the band in 1990, and while the old stuff is still in heavy rotation on my Nostalgia Rears It’s Ugly Head playlist, I haven’t listened to anything from them since then. And then I saw the concert poster. They seem so …old. And if they are that old, then that must mean that I am that old, and how can I maintain my youthful delusions if my youthful heros are so obviously no longer youthful?

Best to remember them as I remember them, I thought.

However, sometime around Tuesday this thought bubbled to the surface: if not now, then when? So I went and bought tickets. Now to find someone to go with me.

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The new seat is on the motorcycle, as are the heated handgrips. I’ve ridden to work three times this week, even yesterday when I knew it would be pissing rain for my ride home.

It brings me more joy than I can describe.

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It’s been 8 days since I had a molar extracted. Shouldn’t it stop aching sometime soon?

best of 2012

Yes, I know we’re already almost a week into 2013 – it took me a few days to go through the few hundred photos I took last year and then another day or so to re-surface back into this year. 2012 was a very good year and holy FSM, I did a lot of stuff for am old broad. Here’s to more fun times to come!

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January:

Apres-holiday stress was dealt with by heading to our favourite get-away spot, Pine Vista Resort. Favourite moments: going for hikes then warming up in the outdoor hot tub or by the fire.

 

 

It’s no secret that I love Niagara Falls. I love it even more in the winter.

 

 

 

February:

The theme of February’s road trip was What do a summer beaches look like in winter?

Frickin’ cold is what they look like.

 

February was when I got my first pair of roller skates. Ten months later, and they’re still not really broken in.

 

 

 

March:

March was too awesome for words. We spent three weeks in Australia, seeing friends we don’t see nearly often enough and to experience a place unlike anything I imagined.

 

 

I could have spent another few days exploring Uluru and area…watching the colours change as the sun set was one of the best memories of the trip.

 

 

 

April:

Home and broke; luckily watching Spring happen is free.

 

 

 

April’s road trip took us to Niagara; we finished the day by hanging out around our friend Moose’s fire pit, drinking his beer.

 

 

 

May:

Finally, a road trip on the bike. Felt so good to be on it after missing so much of last summer thanks to the rehab on the knee.

 

 

First skating injury – was talking while I was putting on my gear and forgot to put on elbow pads. Of course, as soon as I realized I’d forgotten them, I fell on my right elbow. Sigh.

 

 

June:

I went on a writing retreat at a cottage on Lake Simcoe. It was grey and bleak, a perfect contract to the warmth and laughter inside.

 

 

Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time. We were riding through Coboconk and stopped to take in their summer festival which included a travelling reptile show. The woman who ran it was happy to let me hold this 2m long albino Burmse python. I really don’t understand why most people are afraid of snakes…but then I guess most people don’t understand being afraid of bridges.

July:

July saw many small trips rather than a big one since we were still light on cash after Australia. We headed to Manitoulin Island for some camping, then to my newphew’s cottage on Tyson Lake, where we had nothing more pressing to do than go swimming or kayaking then watch some spectacular sunsets at day’s end.

 

We also headed to a friend’s cottage for a few days. this was my favourite view.

 

 

 

August:

Headed to Oklahoma for Okie-Vegas and drank Keystone Light to stay hydrated (insert canoe joke here). It was so great hanging out and playing drunken silly poker. I was introduced to apple pie moonshine, which I liked a little too much.

 

I’ve been to Niagara Falls at least fifty times but have never done the touristy things. We went on the Maid of the Mist and Journey Behind the Falls, and I voluntarily went on the Sky Wheel. I almost chickened out, and the first orbit was a bit…tense, but I was able to smile and enjoy it by the third orbit. So glad I did the CBT!

 

September:

We made one final bike trip before school started, riding along Lakes Huron and Erie. Good way to end the summer.

 

 

School kept me busy, because of course I did no prep over the summer. I made it out one night to meet an old friend for dinner, little knowing when we booked it that it was Nuit Blanche. the odd art installations, like this programmed Space Invaders added a nice bit of surrealism to the night.

 

October:

It’s official!

 

 

 

The definite highlight of October was the weekend spent in Greenville, SC at Mastodon Weekend. Too many highlights to list, but being able to belatedly cross something off my summer list thanks to the efforts of the Fire God was one of the main ones.

 

 

November:

Made it back to Pine Vista Resort for a weekend. We explored waterfalls, climbed over rocks, fed apples to horses and found Buddha in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

December:

This was the first year in 6 years that I could not go to the annual blogger bacchanalia in Vegas. I was in danger of becoming very depressed about having to be all adult when Heather decided to come visit Toronto for a weekend. We ate, we drank, we did touristy things including going up the CN Tower. It only took one martini to get me to stand on the glass floor. Now that’s progress!

While many people at school werre spending their winter holiday somewhere south, I went to Calgary. Where it was cold. And snowy. I hadn’t seen my brother & nieces in almost two years, and five days of hanging out with my family and seeing Joanada & Buddy Dank flew past too quickly.

June 20

Day 20 – Fave photo I’ve ever taken

this is my all time favourite photograph. Everytime I look at it, I remember how tired and sweaty I felt, how hot I was. But most importantly, I remember the night we stayed at the Canyonlands Motel.

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Baby Boo and the Canyonlands Motel

You can always tell the people who have never really “ridden off into the sunset”. They’re the ones who still think it’s romantic.

The reality is anything but romantic. The sun is blazing into your eyes, and no matter how you squint, you can’t really see what’s up ahead. You can feel the mother of all headaches begin to take up residence between your temples. You’re hot. You’re tired, and tired of being on the road. You’re hoping that a decent motel will magiclly appear over the horizon, one with air conditioning and a mini bar. And you discover that hell is an empty, westward highway that never ends.

That is where I was late one August day. We’d been riding since the morning, through a desert heat that we were not used to. We were both dehydrated and tired. Monument Valley was visually dramatic in the late afternoon sunshine, but the view was not enough to stop me from wishing I’d forced a stop in Mexican Hat a half hour before. We hadn’t seen another vehicle on the road and I figured we were about halfway between Mexican Hat and Kayenta, quite literally in the middle of nowhere.

I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a view I had to photograph. Keith was ahead of me and I knew he wouldn’t be happy about a delay, but I pulled over anyway. I watched him ride off, taking the camera gear with him. While I waited for him to notice I wasn’t there anymore, I took the water bottle out of my pack and took a long swig of the tepid water that did nothing to wash away the bright metallic taste of the heat and the dust.

The look on Keith’s face as he pulled off his helmet matched the tone of his voice as he said, “What now?”. I gestured back the way that we had came, at what I had seen in the mirror.

“I need to take a photo.”

He looked the view, really looked at the vivid red desert bisected by new blacktop so straight that it seemed like it went through the distant red cliff rather than curve around it. He saw the same thing I did, and handed me the camera. He smiled and said, “Good eye. I’d have missed that one.”

He gave me some hints on composition, and we talked sporadically while I aimed the camera at the scenes around me.

“I’m about done”, he said as I sat in the middle of the road, focusing on the distant hills. I pressed the shutter button twice before I answered.

“Yeah, me too. Where do suppose we are?”

Keith helped me up and took the camera to take some shots of the dusty bikes in that golden sunshine.

“Middle. Of. Nowhere.”

“Literally. What do you figure, we’re about halfway to the next town?””

“The question now, ” he said as he put the camera away, “is do we go on? Or do we go back?”

I remembered the two-story hotel I had seen beside the river in Mexican Hat, the one with the all-important air-conditioning grills under each of the windows that overlooked the San Juan River. I mentioned it to Keith and added, “Plus, we’ll have the sun at our backs for the half hour, rather than it glaring in our eyes”.

“Sold. Let’s go.”The ride back seemed quicker, as it always does when you know that the end is in sight. We pulled into the hotel’s courtyard and smiled at each other in relief as we walked into the office. An older woman with long white hair, wearing a white tshirt over an ankle length red peasant skirt, smiled at us and gently explained that there was no vacancy, hadn’t we seen the sign?

I know I blinked in surprise. No vacancy? WTF does that mean? It took me a second to remember that it meant no room at the inn. In all of our travels over the previous years, we had never encountered No Vacancy in any of the budget or mom and pop motels wh had ever stopped in. There was always room and we had grown complacent.

The wind had been knocked out of my sails, but Keith still had the presence of mind to ask her if she could recommend another hotel in town, someplace clean and cheap.

“Go to the Canyonlands Motel. It’s up the hill on the left, beside the gas station. Don’t even bother with the other ones, they’re crap.”

Off we went, up the hill and turned left into an uneven gravel parking lot. The Canyonlands Motel looked pretty dismal, with cracked stucco around each door and a broken neon sign that now only said “Budget Rat s”.

“Well, this is special.” I muttered to Keith as we headed to the office after making sure that the NO part of NO VACANCY was unlit on both sides of the sign.

“At least it will be cheap,” he replied. He really is a most frugal man.

We opened the door, and I worked to keep my face blank. I’m sure it was a tidy place once, but now it had the look of a place that had slipped quietly by inches. It wasn’t dirty, just messy as hell. People had put stuff just anywhere rather than put it away. Folded linens were piled high on the end of the counter in a tower that had a decided lean to it. A large dented industrial vacuum squatted in the corner in front of red vinyl chairs that had been new a few decades before. One of the chairs had a dirty white plastic bucket on it, filled with cleaning supplies with a pair of used yellow rubber gloves tossed over them. A box of cheap garbage bags sat on the other chair. Magazines and rolls of hotel toilet paper and boxes of thin motel soap were set down anywhere with no attempt at organization.

A teenage girl sat at a computer on the other side of the counter, sitting back in an old office chair with her feet up on the counter. She slowly put her feet down when we asked her if they had any rooms available.

“Sure,” she said, giving us a wide smile through snaggle teeth. It was my turn to get the accommodations so I chatted with her as I filled out the card. She was friendly, if a bit odd. Her hair had been dyed black, but a while ago and her roots were coming in a mousy blond. Frankly, it looked like it had been cut by a lawn mower, choppy and spikey in the most peculiar way. She wore black eyeshadow which only served to highlight how small and porcine her eyes were in that round white face, and the scarlet lipstick had been applied outside the lip line giving her a clownish look. She stood up as I finished filling in the our information, and I saw that her glitter nailpolish had been picked off and chipped halfway down each bitten nail.

The crowning glory of her look had to be her tshirt. It had to be at least 2 sizes too small and covered her ample form like a sausage casing ready to split. A black and red banner design had been airbrushed on it and the words Baby Boo was written in a bilious purple script that warped and distorted as the tshirt stretched over her chest.

“If ya need anythin, just call. I’m ______ and I’ll be happy to help ya.”

We both forgot her name immediately. To us, she would always be just Baby Boo.

A green rental car pulled into the parking lot as we walked out of the office, disgorging two couples that spoke in German to each other. The men talked to each other in that way that said what a great adventure this is and sauntered to the office. The women stayed by the car with slightly shell-shocked expressions and looked silently at the motel buildings. One caught my eye and we exchanged a smile and a slight shrug, silently commiserating with each other that we had ended up here in this dismal spot.

Keith started to unpack his bike while I wrestled with an aged sliding glass door, trying to get into the room. Finally he had to come and help. So much gravel and dust had settled in the tracks that the whole exercise took far longer than it should have, and nothing we did could get them closed again. Frankly that was just as well; the room was stuffy and hot after being closed up all afternoon and the faint breeze was more important than security right then.

The room held no surprises. It was as dejected as the rest of the place. A brown and beige shag carpet filled the room and was matted with more gravel and dust from years of travellers coming in from the parking lot. Both double beds slumped noticeably in the middle and the cheap nylon comforters had pulls and snags distorting the shiny satin-like surface. Everything seemed clean though and the scent of bleach overlaid the smell of heat and dust. I won’t touch anything but the sheets, I thought. AndNO WAY am I walking on that floor in bare feet.

While Keith fiddled with the TV and looked for the air conditioning controls I checked out the bathroom. Clean but dingy pretty much sums it up. While the porcelain and tiles were clean, everything was just a little chipped and shabby. I wondered how I would ever get dry with towels as threadbare as the ones hanging on a pitted chrome rail.

“You’re not gonna believe this,” Keith called from the other room.

“Only one channel?”

“Worse. No air conditioning.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?!?”

“There’s this space up near the ceiling, but I don’t know if that’s it.”

I sighed. “Well, let’s go ask on our way to get some food.”

“You going to shower first?”

“No, let’s just go. I’ll just get all sweaty and dusty again. I’ll shower before bed.”

Baby Boo was still in the office, and looked genuinely puzzled when Keith explained that there was no air conditioner in the room.

“Oh there totally is. There’s one in every room. It’s just a little different that what most people are used to.”

That was our introduction to swamp coolers, also known as evaporative coolers. It is not, as Baby Boo claimed, an air conditioner. It is a fan that blows air over water, and cools by adding humidity into the room. She told Keith how to turn it on, and I waited by the road while he went back to the room to get it started.

“You’re not going to like it,” he said to me when he came back.

“Like what?”

We started walking down the road to find a restaurant.

“The room is getting damp, but not cool. I think separate beds tonight”

I sighed. I didn’t like it very much, but we’d learned that a night spent trying not to roll into the dip in the middle of an old bed didn’t make for a good night’s rest.

We passed another hotel as we walked, and we tried to peer into the dim lobby as we passed it.

“How bad does this place have to be, if it’s worse than the Canyonlands?” I asked Keith.

“Maybe the woman at the San Juan Inn gets a kick back.”

“Just how much of a kick back can one expect from a $60 a night room?” I wondered.

Mexican Hat is not a big place, one of those blink-and-you-miss-it towns, so we soon found a sign for the Swingin’ Steakhouse. The smell of barbeque was too good for us to look for another restaurant. We walked around a fence to find ourselves on a partially covered patio. There was a bar at one end, and about 10 old-style melamine tables with mismatched chrome chairs. The flag stones were uneven, and everything wobbled no matter how we shifted our chairs or propped up a table leg with a folded napkin. We turned our chairs so we could see the other end of the patio.

Here was a large firepit, maybe one meter by three meters with a grill hanging from chains suspended over the glowing charcoal fire. It was attended by a young man in a dark cowboy hat with black jeans and tshirt, who drank from a steady supply of long-neck Budweiser bottles as he tended to the orders on the grill and kept it swinging steadily over the flame

“You want chicken or beef,” asked the heavily tanned blond who could have been 30, could have been 50. “There’s nothin’ else.”

We both settled on the beef, and I added a Bud to my order. Keith wondered idly what vegetarians would order.

“There’s salad and beans and bread that comes with,” said our waitress helpfully.

“Guess this isn’t the place to be a vegetarian,” Keith remarked after she left.

“Umm…no,” I said, laughing as I looked at the big slabs of steak on the grill

We sat on the patio and watched the stars come out in a perfectly clear sky as we enjoyed what is possibly the best steak dinner we have ever had. I splurged and followed it up with a piece of home made apple crumble a la mode (“that means it comes with ice cream, ya know”), that was so good it made me sleepy with contentment.

We walked back to the motel hand-in-hand, pleased with the dinner at the Swingin’ Steak. and the night in general. While I waited for the eight daddy-long-leg spiders that had been lingering in the tub to wash down the drain before I stepped in for my shower, I thought about what had been a good day’s ride followed by a good dinner with good company. And as Keith later remarked, even though it wasn’t the best of accommodations, Baby Boo and the Canyonlands Motel made for a good story.

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The next morning, we rode along the same route. It turned out that where we stopped so I could take the photo had actually been much closer to Kayenta than Mexican Hat. If we had carried on another 15 minutes, we would have been in the kind of town you find where two highways intersect, with chain hotels, Denny’s and MacDonalds. Air conditioning a-plenty, but no good stories.

 

June 16 – 19

Day 16: out and about

Road trips are awesome; you never know where you’re going to end up. Like on this Saturday, we rode up through the Kawarthas in search of curvey roads we haven’t been on yet and stopped in a little town called Coboconk. They were having their Freshwater Festival, so we watched trick waterskiiers and bought burgers from the the ladies at the Kinsmen trailer. We walked around an exhibit by a company called Zoo To You where I gravitated toward a woman with a huge yellow snake around her neck.

You cannot imagine the grin on my face when she asked if I wanted to hold it. I quite like snakes; I like how they move, curving and coiling around objects in sinuous ways that humans can’t.

Day 17: in your bag

iPad. iPhone. Wallet. Cat-shaped pillbox. POW changepurse. Kangaroo case with iphone camera lenses. Shure case with earbuds. Gum. Anti-inflammatory pills for elbow. Minted rose lip balm. L’Occitane cocoa flower hand cream. Extra glasses. Sunglass clip-ons. And everything somehow manages to fit in my Roots flat pack bag.

 

Day 18: Something you don’t know about me

It was 1975. I was 13. What can I say. And yes, I still have this on vinyl. And yes, I still know the words. And no, I don’t listen to them anymore except by accident.

Day 19: Imperfect

I found that I’d made a mistake on the back panel of this sweater about 3 rows after I did it, but decided to leave it in rather than go back and fix it for reasons that I fail to express properly.