#28 – Bike to Courtenay

I challenged myself at the end of my first year at university to bike home from Fredericton to Caraquet – 290 kilometers or 180 miles. My high school volleyball coach said I couldn’t do it. My teammate who also lived in Caraquet and went to UNB was game to ride too. It took us 2 days. Luckily my oldest sister was working in Chatham NB at the time, which is a little more than half way, and we stayed with her for the night. When we rode into Caraquet, we went directly to our coach’s house to prove we had just completed the trip. I remember him standing there, looking at us, shaking his head and being totally impressed.

I have always wanted to ride around Prince Edward Island but never have. I have always wanted to participate in a “Tour of Something” and haven’t signed up for that yet. So it is no surprise that I added a long bike ride on my list. I chose Courtenay on Vancouver Island because you can ride the back roads with less traffic and the scenery is beautiful along the water.

First stop

First stop Union Bay to repair flat and take in scenery

We rode in reverse (same difference) from Courtenay to Parksville for 2 reasons, 1) our drive was only available in the morning and 2) psychologically it’s easier to ride towards home then away from home.

Qualicum trail

Qualicum Beach Trail

The trip was 84 kilometers or 52 miles and it took us 5 hours. The actual bike time was more like 4 hours because we had to stop twice to repair flat tires, a half hour lunch, some quick shopping and picture taking along the route. It was another glorious fall day with lots of sunshine, little wind, traffic steady but kind. The trip rounded up with a cold one at our local pub, The Black Goose.

Reward

Enjoying a cold one at The Black Goose

Cycling on Vancouver Island is the best!

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#15 – Lose 6 lbs

During high school and all throughout university, I weighed the same, 110lbs. When I applied for work as a flight attendant with Air Canada, they had a height/weight chart they followed rigorously. You had to be over 5’2”. I just made it at 5’2 ¾”. It got me in and to this day when someone asks me how tall I am, I always include the ¾”. Depending on your height, you had to weigh a certain amount. To my surprise, I had to lose something like 5+ lbs before I returned to Montreal for training. I think that was the start of a dislike on diets and weighing myself.

AC

Air Canada Graduation 1976 – I’m front row 3rd from left

Now in adulthood and after kids, my body has changed and the 110lb weight is a thing of the past. Nowadays, that I can no longer run marathons, the six-pack is gone and the wine pouch is in. It was bound to happen gaining a few pounds here and there, pants and skirts feeling tighter.  I decided to slim down a bit so I set myself a reasonable goal.

I think the kick-start to the weight lost was not a diet at all but when we went sailing. My husband calls it the “Sea Going Diet” – no dessert, few chips, lots of water. I noticed the cloths fitting better and since back I have upped the exercise. I have lost the 6lbs and feel good and comfortable at 127lbs.

#38 Bike on the Galloping Goose

It’s a picture perfect sunny autumn Sunday and I am out with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and husband biking the Galloping Goose in the city of Victoria.

bikers

Heading out

The last time I did this was 15 years ago. The Galloping Goose/Lochside trail stretches from Sidney to Sooke, a distance of 80kms. We rode the section from West Victoria to Mattick’s farm, 24 kms round trip. Over 450,000 people have enjoyed the trail so far this year. At midday when we went by the counter, 844 people had already been through.

Sunday is not our favorite day of the week because we often long for our kids and family. But this Sunday was special because we were together.

 

IMG_1772

As we left the city, the trail became a tunnel of bowing trees in their splendid colors of orange, red, yellow. The trail was scenic from a stream filled with Canada Geese, to horses grazing in the fields, and vegetable and flower stands along the way.

Bike Ride

The Juan de Fuca Strait comes in sight and then there is Mattick’s Farm that caters to bikers. It’s a beautiful farm market with funky boutiques, a restaurant and ice cream stand.

Mattick's

Mattick’s Farm

I can’t think of anything more enjoyable than being outside in the fresh air enjoying a family outing and exercising while at it. And no bike ride would be complete without having to fix a punctured tire.

Puncture

Like a true Scout, “Be Prepared”

#22 – Ride a Zip Line

My husband didn’t want to join me on this one and neither did my daughter but my son-in-law was totally game and eager to try this out.

We arrived early which gave us time to walk around and take a good look at what Wild Play was all about. I was puzzled at first because I thought we were just going to ride zip lines. This was an obstacle course nestled high up in the trees. It reminded me of the “Amazing Race”.

Monkey Pants

Monkey pants

 

We were fitted with our Monkey Pants and given a learner course. You couldn’t move onto the actual course until you proved you knew how to stay safe. We passed with flying colors and off we went.

 

At first the obstacles were low to the ground and apparatus evenly spaced out. As we progressed, the obstacles became harder and more challenging as we climbed higher into the trees.

Slamming

Navigating poles and slamming into cargo net

The zip lines were short and sweet at first but as we got higher they became longer and faster. What a thrill with arms extended, back and legs straight out, as you whizzed down the line. It helped to bend your knees slightly as you punched the safety bag on the platform to come to a stop.

Hanging on

Riding the zip line and hanging on

We completed the Classic Course and then proceeded to the Extreme Course – higher and harder. Not for the faint of heart. The logs swung more and were not as evenly spaced. The cargo nets were more challenging and the apparatus were such that you had to look down. Oh gosh! Yikes!

Wild1

Obstacles on the Classic and Extreme courses

Wild2

More obstacles

I was glad for the last zipline that brought us back to the base where it all started. I found the uneven logs spaced out vertically and horizontally the hardest. My son-in-law found the cargo nets the biggest rush. We both loved the challenge and the 2 hours it took to complete the courses went by like a flash.

The billboard advertised “Primal Fun and Games”. I think my son-in-law summed it up when he said, “I think primal is appropriate because you are exercising your inner monkey”. How true after playing on ladders, cargo nets, wobbly bridges and logs, riding the zip lines and swinging from the trees like Tarzan.

I had just completed the hike on Mount Benson where my quads were still sore from that experience, now my arms and core are sore. I guess that makes me a total sore package. Well worth it and we both would do it again!

#4 – Hike Mount Benson

The path into the park is wide, soft and cushiony under foot from the thick layer of fallen needles. It’s brisk first thing in the morning but pleasant. Pass Witchcraft Lake, which is strewn with dead tree trunks giving it its eerie look, we come to the trail on our left that will lead us up to the first vista. The entrance path was short lived because this one is straight up, dry, narrow and dark. Every now and then, we climb over rocks and dead trees, all the while going up. I am huffing and puffing in no time, stripping layers as I climb. But that’s me, it takes me a good 20 minutes to get into a rhythm.

Benson 4

The trail and one of many vistas

The trail continues with somewhat of a switch back that helps us side-wind the mountain as we climb but not by much. You can tell the trail has been well used. As I grab onto trees to help boost my way up, I can feel the worn-out bark’s soft smooth surface, like leather. We come to the first vista and a chance to catch our breaths. I know we have only done a third of the climb, but the views of the Strait of Georgia and the city of Nanaimo seem so far away. There is some cloud and a bit of fog in the Strait.

I am grateful to have my “sherpa”, Chef Smokin’ George. He has been climbing this mountain since an early age, is always well equipped when he hikes and keeps me entertained with his boisterous laugh and stories. He warns me of what’s to come. My breathing is rhythmic now but the legs are starting to feel the hurt. I’ve made it half way but the hardest part of the climb is yet to come. As George puts it, “the calm before the storm”. Sure enough, after a few more vistas with views more impressive then the last ones, we carry on, up, up, up. While resting, a young guy literally runs by us, followed by a young girl with her dog. Can people be that fit?

Benson 3

View at the top

My inner voice is talking to me and negative thoughts are filling my head. “Enough, this is my challenge. I have waited way too long to do this and I am going to make it to the top and relish the experience and the accomplishment”. At times, I am on all fours, climbing the rocks and using every tree to help me move forward. George is ahead and knows we are close. His encouraging words, “you are almost there” is what I needed to put me in overdrive for the last 300 meters. Et voilà, I am at the top. Ta Da ♫! 1,019 meters (3,343 feet) elevation.

Sign

 

The 360degree view from the top is spectacular and I am ecstatic! We can see for miles; Nanaimo and beyond, the small surrounding communities, the new developments, the clear cutting and the spectacular mountains in every direction. I packed some snacks and a special sign and for 20 minutes or so we basked in the sun, the wind, the view and the feeling of complete freedom at the top.

 

On the way down, I took the lead. People who hike with me know that is a no, no because 1) I get lost and 2) I like to do a loop rather then hike back the same way in. Sure enough, I zigged instead of zagged. George clued in quickly that the trail looked unfamiliar but let me carry on.

Benson 1

The orange trail. Whiskey Jack looking for food. George and me.

I was following the orange-tagged route. It took pretty much the same amount of time to come down as it did to go up and just as strenuous but this route was steeper. Our knees and quads were screaming, not to mention our toes shoved to the very tip of our hiking boots. I told him it was all part of the adventure of discovering a new trail. Truth be known, I didn’t have the energy to back track up part of the mountain. All in all, the hike took us close to 3 ½ hours and we covered roughly 7 kilometers. I’m thrilled!

Benson Park

Benson Park – Photo taken from RDN

 

#32 – Finish the West Wing Series

How do I tag this item as “finished” when on May 9th Netflix cancelled the series! Noooo!!! … What’s with that! I was so close to finishing the last episodes in the 7th season. I will never know how the characters’ lives unfold and how the story line ends. I delayed posting hoping they would bring it back, but alas, to no end.

WWSeries

Photo taken from Internet

It’s one of the disadvantages of Netflix – series come and go. On the positive side, there are many series to choose from and it is not uncommon to binge and watch 2-3 episodes in a row, commercial free when a series really catches your interest.

What I enjoyed most about the West Wing series was the various issues that pitted Republicans against Democrats and how relevant these were during previous presidencies. (The West Wing began in 1999). I can’t imagine working in such chaos and how anyone can get any work done when meetings are scheduled all day. Does the President ever sleep? Is there any privacy? And the Press!

I liked all the main characters and the actors that portrayed them;

  • Bartlet (Martin Sheen),
  • Josh (Bradley Whitford),
  • CJ (Allison Janney),
  • Leo (John Spencer),
  • Toby (Richard Shiff),
  • Donna (Janel Moloney),
  • Charlie (Dulé Hill),
  • Sam (Rob Lowe).

As in all series, characters come and go too. I was disappointed when Sam left, but his replacement Will (Joshua Molina) grew into the part and added new twists. I thought the introduction of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) was brilliant and how his character came alive. I’m guessing he became the next president.

WW1

WW2

Photos taken from Internet

It was great to see so many episodes with guest appearances; Mathew Perry, John Goodman, Jane Lynch, Eric Stonestreet to name a few. In my opinion, the series had value and portrayed a realistic work and life environment in the West Wing. On a few occasions, the episode was a documentary format that included past presidents, press secretaries and senior staff. They elaborated on how the White House worked and how the series was very close to reality.

Politics has never been my thing. However, Americans have it right. After 2 consecutive runs of 4 years, the President has to step down. Not like in Canada. I find it hard to fathom the ongoing jostling for positions for the American Presidency that carries out year round. That’s a lot of money being spent on marketing yourself and campaigning.

 

#21 – Give Something to Someone Who Needs it More Then Me

My aunts on my mother’s side were excellent quilters. They owned a quilt frame and spent many a night telling stories while hand stitching quilts. Their closets were full and I am pleased I have received quite a few over the years. They are keepsakes as my aunts are now deceased.

Quilts

When my aunt Marie learned we were building a cottage, she made 3 quirky quilts with leftover material. She referred to our cottage as the “camp”. While cleaning, I found them wrapped in tissue in protective bags. They are in excellent condition because they were hardly ever used.

Camp Quilts

My sister was visiting us while we were at the cottage and in conversation she mentioned that the Fredericton Homeless Shelter Sheltercould use some blankets. I thought this would be a great donation and sent them off with her. After the blankets were delivered, my sister called to let me know that the manager was thrilled and so thankful of the donation. The shelter has been constantly busy with over 27 men each night. Donations such as these come in very handy.

I like giving – gifts, my time when volunteering, articles others can use. This giving is something that will bring warmth to many who live on the streets and who have very little.