Monday, September 01, 2003

The Chickens Made It Back to the Coop

Friday, Aug 29: Molly and Don's 40th Wedding Anniversary, Kamloops

On Friday, we tried to leave early, but there was a bunch of things I had to do before we headed north to Kamloops to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of my longtime friends, Molly & Don Dieno, in Kamloops, about 4.5 hours drive north of Vancouver. We first had to drop off the second set of apartment keys over at West 8th, then we made a very roundabout journey over to SFU so I could get my course materials and textbooks... roundabout because it was rush hour, and there are no left turns on major arterial roadways! Traffic, traffic, everywhere... it's what I'm definitely NOT missing as a telecommuter.

By the time we left SFU with my two large bags of course materials, it was after 3:30 and the long weekend mass exodus was well underway. We saw a couple of grassfires in the highway median between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, which was a grim reminder of what else was happening in British Columbia this weekend. BC is a tinderbox. There was a total backcountry ban because of the extreme fire hazard, and all provincial parks were closed for the next two weeks: no camping, no hiking.

By the time we arrived at Sherri and Kelly's house in Kamloops (Sherri is Don & Molly's daughter and we're the same age), it was somewhere near 8pm, and everyone was hanging out in the backyard. We had a typically warm Kamloops welcome, and it was clear to Christa and Iris why I really enjoy driving up to Kamloops every summer -- everyone in that family is super-friendly and loves to laugh. I shot some video and took loads of photos, with the plan to burn them all to CD and make prints later.

When most of the guests started to leave, we made a plan to visit Bob (Don & Molly's son) and Wendy over at their house to try this Caribbean rum they were raving about. We were there late before heading over to Don & Molly's new place nearby. They just moved to Kamloops from their much-loved property half an hour away in Lac le Jeune, which was their house after Bob and Sherri left the nest. It started out as a cabin and weekend house, and later became their full-time house. I think we'll all miss it -- it was lakefront and like a retreat!

On Saturday morning, we dragged our sorry carcasses out of bed and woke up slowly to make our way over to Canim Lake, where Iris's aunt and uncle, Gisela and George, make their recreational home.

Canim Lake is near 100 Mile House. You would think that they would come up with a more original name for a place than 100 Mile House, but there doesn't seem to be much more than a house there. Actually, I jest: 100 Mile House is a marker for the hundredth mile on the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail of the 1800s and has historical significance in BC history, as well as being a gateway today into the Cariboo Region.

At Canim Lake, Gisela has made a beautiful home away from home for 30 years and continues to commute there after a full-on work week in Vancouver. On Saturday afternoon she and George welcomed us to their weekend paradise and invited us to head out on the boat for the afternoon.

Das Boot is a brand-new party pontoon that was only purchased in June, and was not muskrat-proof! How did we know this? We had barely gone 5 minutes from shore when the engine died and we were adrift on the lake, and Gisela and George mentioned that a muskrat had eaten through the fuel lines the previous week, and there was a possibility for more critter-related problems.

So, after some major tinkering, it was determined there was nothing that could be done at that moment except drink beer and wine, eat, and swim! All mechanical problems should end up this way!

Swiss Chicken Christa chickened out of a swim, but Iris and I gamely followed Gisela into the lake... which at first was pretty cold, but after about 30 seconds was just fine! I kid you not... as I floated around and looked at the mountains, I remembered how much I enjoyed doing this every summer before I started uni. It's been a couple of years now, but I loved just throwing my bike in the back of the car and driving to Chilliwack Lake for a ride and a swim. I love lakes... I call them nature's bathtubs. Yep, I must do more to get back to my former lifestyle. I just have to trick my brain to be less lethargic when it comes to non-academic stuff, and my body will follow.

After a belly-pleasing BBQ dinner out on the upper floor deck, a few games of pool downstairs, and bottles of wine and beer later, we hit the hot tub!

(It occurred to me later when I was downloading the pics of Canim Lake from the camera that the majority of photos have a drink in it -- beer, white wine, red wine, brandy, caesars...)

The hot tub was fantastic! Drinks in hand, we could see Mars, which was especially bright, and we watched satellites go by, plus an amazing display of shooting stars. These were no ordinary shooting stars -- it was like watching Disney's Fantasia right before our eyes, in the sky. It was surreal -- those streaks in the sky were so bright it was like watching a fireworks display... Iris and I were facing the lake, and we saw one at the same time and got so excited we started shouting, startling Christa, who nearly jumped right out of the hot tub onto the sloped lawn!

No one who lives upcountry should have arachnophobia.

There are plenty of these creatures running around. There was one on the upper deck of the house, and Iris and Christa -- who both admit they have arachnophobia -- could barely watch me sneak up to our furry friend with my camera... I was pretty apprehensive when I figured out I had to use the macro setting to get the spider in focus, but it was probably too busy catching prey to notice my lens in its face. There's nothing like being watched with beady eyes close up.

On Sunday George headed over to the lake with their neighbour Murray to fix the boat while the ladies of leisure had a leisurely brunch. Gisela and George used walkie-talkies to communicate (no network signals), so we could hang out on the public beach and meet up with him later once the boat was fixed. Turns out the muskrat was the culprit, and they'd even caught it in the act! The little devil was chewing through the lines! But, they were able to fix the boat and we were ready to go out on the lake again!

This time we got further away from shore, and cruised part of the lake. Cleo the dog loved it!

After a scrummy BBQ dinner, we pushed off south to Vancouver around 9pm to avoid the weekend crush on the highway. We said goodbye to our gracious hosts Gisela and George, who were so generous and hospitable I wanted to adopt them as my aunt and uncle, too!

The drive back to Vancouver was fairly uneventful, except for a few paranoid moments when Christa and I went for a restroom stop off the highway. Iris told us she heard a knocking noise, and we were so freaked out we jumped back in the car and I could only conjure up images of Grade B horror movies where the victims couldn't start their cars after some nutcase comes out of the woods with an axe... You could hear a collective sigh of relief once the engine turned over and I put it into gear!!