September 15, 2016
I like my setup here in my truck. I have created a barrier to curb prying eyes from the front and on the side isolating my light to my space within. The one side is totally exposed and since it faces the bushes a strategically placed pillow or my other jacket could plug that if needed. The mattress was an ingenious purchase and will serve me for years. I do not plan on giving up this truck for years but my next must be an equally sized vehicle because I must have room to sleep in the back.
I am back at the same picnic park in almost the exact same spot as yesterday. It is my last full day in British Columbia, but I still have four days of my vacation left afterwards. I woke up at seven thirty today and out of bed at eight as the sun broke over the hills.
When I am older and grayer will I too come to sit and stare at goats? “He is eating” one says “He is grazing” corrects another. “Yesterday he was left of the big tree and today he is right”. “Ah he likes the shade”. Camera click, click, click. Now we can show our grandkids what a mountain goat looks like. “Have they not seen one on movies?” someone will ask. “Ah yes, but this one was real, look here see my picture of it”. Flip, flip, flip. “It looks like a white rock” the viewer says. “Yes, but after that photo it moved” comes the reply.
Late Afternoon – I am trying to charge my camera and phone. I am fighting a strange feeling that someone is around my campsite. I guess I will have to pack in and head back over to ease the feeling. Clearly something is afoot with the internet, it just took me twenty seconds to post a reply on Google Plus. My campfire is particularly hot tonight which is good because I need to burn through all my remaining wood.
Evening – Page one hundred thirty-four of two hundred twenty. Next camping vacation, remember to bring a mallet, and find my portable radio too, and no more beans! Today I had two coffees, two muffins (cranberry-orange and blueberry), one CLIF bar, two waters and two cans of maple flavoured beans – and all of it appears to want out this hour. I left about forty-eight empty water bottles in the pile near the dumpsters.
I have two small logs on the fire and only one left to burn. I might finish “Brace New World” before I go back to work. I will take it to Red Deer with me on Saturday. I wonder if I should take the South route home tomorrow? Seven hundred seventy-two kilometres and ten hours forty five minutes versus eight hundred fifty-nine kilometres and eleven hours fifteen minutes.
It is just after eight, I think, perhaps later, and the last log is on the fire. She is burning now!
I like the smaller journals. I can only fit so much on a page but the content seems better. So, what can I take away from this brief but relaxing holiday? How does this one match up to others?
What were my ‘best’ holidays? Certainly, Vancouver was one, Robson Street at night, English Bay, a different cuisine every day on Denman. And then, Pacific Rim, camping in Canada’s rainforest, the Pacific, the goal achieved. Cape Croker, ten days was it, peace and serenity, the most activity was watching chipmunks and trail walks. And what did those three trips have in common, a contributing factor I am certain to their success – I was travelling alone.
Interesting, the bottled water I bought comes from sources in High River and Inglewood, in Calgary, Alberta.
I recall a geography class one time when we were studying the topography of the Mediterranean. I was called up to the blackboard to draw the mountainous coastline region of Italy. I took the chalk and with one wavy rolling stroke of my hand drew the coast and two mountain ranges. My teacher chuckled and pointed out while the mountains were not rugged enough they certainly resembled something. I stepped back and looked at my sketch and realized that I had drawn two rather bold mountains that closely resembled a woman’s voluptuous breasts. Not bad, not accurate to the Mediterranean but still pretty darn nice.
September 14, 2016
The morning has started bitterly cold. For some ungodly reason, I woke up first at five-thirty. My guess is one of these recent arrival citiots set off their alarm or slammed their doors or turned on their headlights and woke me up.
It is bitterly cold, as I said, seven degrees, but not for long. We are to climb rapidly and peak around give o’clock at twenty-nine degrees. It will be fast too, so I may suffer with shorts around a nice fire. Two more nights til I leave, I should buy another bundle of wood or two.
I had a weird dream. I woke, saw the time. I leaned through a window sill into another room. I saw a television, clothes and a bed. There was a body buried under the covers, head at the far end. I asked if they were up, a woman’s voice said “yes” and I told them they had to get up for work and had about one minute to get there. She jumped up and left the room.
Then I turned back into my room and a figure across the room spoke. It was also someone I knew and she motioned if she could sit on the foot end of my bed. “Sure, no problem” I said and she sat down. “If you come closer I will have to do more to you than talk” the words poured out like sand from my brain to the darkness then light as I was yanked back to reality again.
It is time to get my lazy butt up as the sun just broke over the hills. I need to dress, shave, and find coffee. I was just thinking about the dream last night and the rules I have written in my life regarding relationships. I do not and will not have such relations with a co-worker, not that that is what the dream was about but just one of my top rules. The mistakes made with my ex- prove quite clearly that relationships with co-workers is an unwise affair. It is a rule I have kept since 1996 and the reason I never hire women I could see sleeping with. Another rule is age, I happen to like the formula of half my age plus seven as the woman’s minimum age [that would be 30 years old] that I would have a sexual relationship with. I have kept that rule of minimum age requirement since about 2003 when I returned to Canada. A third rule is they must be clean, no health issues at all. In addition to not wanting to “catch” something I also wouldn’t want to be stuck in a relationship because we both had it and my options were severely limited for a life beyond her. I would expect them to, of course, have the same standards for me.
A helicopter just flew past, far too low to be legal, below the treeline. It was black with writing on it and a couple squiggly coloured lines on the side, not police or rescue. So low, must be with BC Hydro checking out camps and the reservoir. I can hear it out over the water out of my view. They love their helicopters here, helicopters and one lane bridges.
What a rip off, I paid almost nine dollars for a bundle, bundles, of wood at the gas station when all along I could have bought them at the grocery store for six. My loss of about twenty-four dollars for three cheaper bundles. I was not impressed, but sympathetic as I know who their distributor is.
Midday – Have I grown bitter and cynical or aware and realistic? I believe if the former then I would be beyond hope. I would not see the beauty in the world, or appreciate music or desire to love or to be loved. I am just tired of the hype, tired of fakery, tired of the need of the masses for little more than will the handsome, rich and lonely bachelor fall madly in love with ‘the one chosen by you our viewing audience, cast you votes now’.
The news, the pathetic drivel that one refers to as “news” only bores and disgusts me – another day of ‘who is killing who’ and ‘what can you buy with your slave dollars?’. I glance at the headlines, more to see that the rest of the world is still out there and some exotic new disease has not killed us all – and if it did, if millions died, would it even get five minutes’ mention between the Hollywood scandals and Sports scandals and ads for laundry detergent – seconds of which cut short by the message ‘Keep out of reach of children’ and ‘Do not eat’. I remember my mother saying, “Do not touch that” and I did not touch it, the laundry soap, the hot iron, whatever household item it was. I think she knew as her mother knew and as I would come to know that laundry soap is not good to eat. There was no need for bright clearly written warnings in the days when common sense prevailed. Now the parents have more common than sense and their children eat the soap and they try to sue “It was not our fault” says Miranda Homemaker “there was no label to tell me to keep the soap away from little Mirabelle. And how am I to know my child would want to eat it. There should have been a label!!”
‘Next up’ the computer news blares ‘dozens of children sickened after eating laundry soap shaped like candy’ but first Sports scandal rocks the blah de blah. Nods to sexy female sports anchor hired not for her knowledge of football growing up with six Wisconsin brothers but rather for how her voluptuous breasts protrude beneath her blouse and drive the ratings up faster than the middle aged dicks watching her lustfully.
I remember the day I ran ahead of the class, up in league with a few athletes our school churned out each term. We ran up the hill, well down and then up, and I was tied for top place. It was around my house a thought occurred to me “If I win I will be expected to run like this all the time” and I loathed sports and running. And so, I slowed, first, second, fourth, just enough to not make the cut, just enough my gym teacher would consider it just a fluke and leave me be. “He heard his mom washing and slowed down” the other boys taunted me, their explanation for my fall from first to fifth or eighth or whatever. The truth never told. [until now]
I hated sports and I hated running, I could run, I could pace, and I could have done the CWOSSA or OFFSA or Track and Field – is not the track on the field? But I did not see the point of it. I was the tech, the scorekeeper, the one who gave out the medals to the ones who loved sports and loved running. They forced you to compete, ah the irony, to run or jump or throw or kick. It was not an option to just sit and watch and pretend to cheer. “No, we make them run or jump or throw or kick the other two hundred and sixty-four days a year so they must on this one hot spring day as well”. “Music, art, literature, all crap if you can not block a shot into the net at least twice per game”. There was no room for intellectuals in nine and ten unless they subscribed to at least one athletic embarrassment. “We are raising champions” they belched above the drone of bleating sheep.
No, I hate sports and I hated running. I hated to run or jump or throw or kick. What I desired I could not be allowed to achieve. I loved books and writing and reading and all the things a C minus student ought not to worry their simple minds with.
It is Wednesday and in two days I will be back on the road to Alberta. It is different this time than last as “home” is only nine hours away and not three days. Do I regret not going back to Ontario this year? No, not at all. I have but one regret and it is not something so materialistically achievable. This vacation is, and rightly should be, about me, not my friends or family.
What is so fascinating about these foothills that people stop to photograph them and spy on them and tell their friends about them? Perhaps living next to the Rocky Mountains, I have become spoiled? Perhaps I am cynical and the grandeur of the rocks and trees and millions of years in the making, are just piles of rocks and trees to me? No, I appreciate their existence, I think it is just their smallness that ceases to impress me after a moment or three.
The people interest me more than the foothills, oh not their stories or their culture or their origins. It is their interaction with each other and with their environment and with each other in their environment that interests me. It is their shape and form, their rhythm and their unyielding conformity. They pay thousands and travel great distances to experience the world unique from others – only to rent the same monstrosities and travel the same roads to see the same sites as everyone else. “Oh, you must visit Seton lake, or Banff, or Jasper or Vancouver. It is so unique and so grand you will love it” the call to “do as I did, to see as I have and to be where I have been and still it will be unique”.
Two are watching birds, one reads a sign that four did already, two, three buckle in for the ride and turn the ignition in automated harmony. A beautiful blond girl munches on an apple and reads the sign, but she’s barefoot, a non-conformist in her youth. For a moment, til she grabs a body wipe and in unison cleans her hands and arms, along with two others seated in the sedan, of any ‘nature’ that might be inadvertently dribbled on their pale pink flesh. Conformists all.
And me, sitting in solitude, writing, careful not to stare at the beautiful blond girl for fear it might be staring to long. Why be beautiful if not to be observed and admired? It is only in our puritanism society to stare at beauty and ever consider it to be for too long.
How can one limit their appreciation of the beauty of a young or old woman? True, youth begets more admiration – curves, mounds, folds, smooth, silky, sensuous, longing to be touched, to be desired, to be wanted by not to be had. I think back to my youth and recall the ones I considered beautiful at the time. Their soft, virginal skin and doe-ful smiles, innocent and yet in the back of their minds deceitfully aware of the power they have over men. I’m sure several of them ended up pregnant, planned or not, and married to some rough neck who drinks too much and has more fun after the bar than the woman does.
A mountain goat with his scruffy white beard and devilish horns is grazing several hundred metres up on the side of the cliffs. I captured it on my camera and zoomed right up to its face. It reminds me of the goats in the satanic rituals and horror films with no historical accuracy at all.
So, what did a C minus student like to do? I liked to write. I wrote poetry and prose for Creative Writing class and my teacher submitted my works to the local paper many times. I would have kept it up but one time the paper took a particularly long piece of mine and butchered it into a dozen space stuffers. After that I refused to submit another thing – my teacher understood she said.
The thick green grass beneath my tired feet lush with clover and stiff brown pine needles and tiny drops of dew that refuse to submit to the hot sunlight. Hot in the sun and cold in the shade, so different from Alberta that seems to be warm regardless of how dense the shade.
My feet are a most graven white, almost dead looking, clearly, I am in desperate need of far more sun before the sun is gone. This is the first time perhaps that I have gone barefoot, in the grass this year, and aside from the glaring discovery that I need to clip my toenails, the grass felt nice and cool under my feet.
Evening – the first of just two more evenings left in British Columbia then its back to Snordegg. When I return, I am going to do some work around the house to improve the safety and security of it. I need to bring more light into my house so I will use privacy sticky tack on the windows and then I can leave the curtains open more often.
I just got off a long messenger chat with my soul-brother, most of our chat recalled what we already knew but it was nice to reconnect with him just the same. I threw another log onto the fire and it began to smoke out. I grabbed two Firestarter sticks and jammed them in – instant hot flames are now broiling the new log. The blackened mass that went before it too is dancing in blue and yellow auras. It is as if someone stuck a propane gas jet beneath them, all this fire from two innocent little sticks. A cyclone of smoke rises, sucks downward then swirls up to the starry heavens. It is somewhere around ten o’clock, the moon seems to move slower with each crossing of the night sky. It is almost full now, just a tiny sliver on the left is missing.
I did not go later to buy alcohol, I forgot, oh well. I will not bother tomorrow night since I leave for home on Friday morning.
The Big Dipper is sitting low in the northern sky high above Lower Lillooet. I saw Cassiopeia directly above me as I set down for the night. I have not lost weight but this week I did not notice my hernia. I guess my body liked most of the MRE’s.
Am I a “positive cynic”? I guess the question is more why do I need to be labelled at all? I am who I am who I am need I be someone else?
The moon is almost bright enough to read and write with. I can see the grass, the detail of my truck wheel, and shrubs on the hillside behind me. Every so often a couple Canada geese go honking overhead. I have not seen any around so these might actually be migrating toward Vancouver.
13 September 2016 – Night
First let me begin by saying that anyone who knows me will know that this is not a blog about self-pity. I’m beyond everything I write about. This is a post to show that even those for which little is expected can achieve happiness, can strive for more. Sure you might not always get it, or ever get it, but never let someone tell you that you won’t amount to anything more than they think you will.
I am on page thirty-seven of Brave New World. I recalled before I had read a portion of it in my exams in high school. Interesting they never told you what it was about but they expected essay responses to the questions on it. It was a test perhaps to reveal your true nature through your answers. A test to see if you were a conformist or an anarchist, an Alpha or an Epsilon. A believer or a trouble maker. I am certain I was the doting conformist as expected.
I did not have a clue, back then, what the story or passage was about. In my streamed general knowledge, it was arguably above my caste. There are key moments you remember in life, one of mine was my pre-destined generalization. In public school I had been tested, streamed, baked and set on a shelf with the other general loaves. If I had any aspiration it was not to be explored.
In high school I was good with computer programs. I had sixteen basic programs written before we even started to learn Basic programming in class. My teacher said “Go get yourself into the Advanced course”. So I went to the Vice Principal and told him what my teacher had said. “Oh, she thinks so” or the like, “well, it can not be” basically my General direction did not allow for something as hopeful as an Advanced class. Nope.
Thinking back, I remember in public (elementary) school how I did not complete my Turtle graphics program. I did, but I was absent or sick or late and my project of several hundred painstakingly calculated steps was rejected.
I remember every one of the teachers who discouraged me. I remember every few of the teachers who encouraged me.
“He is a C minus student” they no doubt said of me in the teachers lounge “we must not let him get his hopes up, he is doomed to fail”, they would laugh knowingly yet knowing nothing.
I barely got into high school (secondary) in my home town, half a percent lower and I would have been cast down to the hell of society – the school in the ‘other’ town. “Only basic students go there, well, and those actually from the town and area, but that was expected and therefore ‘normal’.”
I was one of the ‘rare ones’ in fact my grade nine mathematics teacher had never seen another student go from thirty percent in the first term to sixty-five percent in the second. The greatest percentage leap he had ever seen, and so he noted to all of my class. Achievement or past failure, not sure which. It definitely was not his doing, I worked hard to pull off that gain. It did not matter of course I still failed only achieving a forty-five or so. I achieved a place in summer school that year too much to the disappointment of my parents.
My father received the less than favoured task of driving me, before work, to a nearby village to catch the bus ride to the city. I had never taken a bus to school in my life, it was not an experience I needed nor desired but there I was.
Math, science, biology, chemistry, music, art, accounting, even computer I hated them all. Oh and health or physical education or gym or phys-ed or whatever they wanted to call it, I hated it too. I like Creative Writing, and History, and Geography, nothing really to build a future on mind you.
I can read and understand Shakespeare, recite it – no, but ‘get it’ – yes, but I was not allowed to know it, only Advanced students could know and take it ‘there is a lot of standing before the class and giving oral presentations and memory work and reciting’ they looked at me “you know you do not like public speaking”.
I remember speaking once, or twice before an audience. I ran for council in public school and high school – what a joke “you know only the popular kids ever win right?”. Yes, I knew, but I ran regardless. A classmate called me brave and said that students respected me for trying. “I did not know you were running” my mother said as I returned home in my suit of defeat. Well, no, you did not, nor would I tell you and face additional discouragement – not that there would be from my mother, I had just grown to expect it in general from people, after all C minus students are not student leaders. It didn’t stop me from speaking in front of two audiences of over two hundred people when I ran for municipal office about twenty years later.
“There is nothing wrong with working in a factory”. Factory workers, garbage man, grocery store clerk, menial, routine, great work for C minus minds. “Your father worked in a factory and supported all of us, supported You” my mother said angrily as if I was ungrateful? “We wanted more, expected more, gave you opportunity, supported you… not with your marriage mind you, or leaving college, or choice of career, or moving to the US, but we supported you just the same”.
Quote for quote, probably definitely not, but it was thirteen years ago after all since that last hell-raising argument with my mother, since I last raised my voice in anger and anguish. And then ten years later she was gone.
I barely remember those ten years, except when I owned my store.
What did a C minus student do in his life? Well, by the end of high school I was doing better than when I entered. I was a fluke, an anomaly, so rare and so unlike me that it could be mentioned only separate from my name. I graduated with a seventy-five percent rounded average, from a sixty rounded to a seventy-five in four years and a long hot summer. I think I even qualified for honour roll that year, but since I dragged my feet on half a credit and they stretched my year by a couple weeks I guess they forgot to notice. I think they raised the honour roll by five or ten percent after that, after all we can not have too many dumb average students think they might have achieved something special – they might demand more of us and then where would we be?
Does it matter in the end? No, not really.
Does it change anything? One would say ‘definitely not’ but even by talking about it, or writing about it in this case, have things not already begun to change?
September 13, 2016
I am sitting on a bench overlooking Seton Lake, British Columbia. I have had my coffee, toured Lillooet, confirmed my schedule, texted and now I get to relax. I took many photos with my camera and phone.
I am debating driving further down the highway, which means that I will. It is Tuesday and while I want to stay until Saturday I have booked until Friday. The nights are colder now. If I go back on Friday I can check out the late autumn colours on Saturday, edit pics on Sunday and do whatever on Monday. I work on Tuesday at one o’clock in the afternoon.
I have now about five hundred and fifty photos to edit, I will have over seven hundred by Friday. I should see if Fields has any SDHC cards, I might need another.
British Columbians curse when they hear of Ontario, Albertans apologize when they hear someone is from Ontario. You do not have to be a genius to see the division between west and east here.
Afternoon – I spent ninety minutes this afternoon colouring a mandala. I walked all the way over to charge my camera and phone and, of course, I left the plug for my cell phone back at my truck. I will charge my camera first, get food, then return to charge my phone. Kitty is on his usual patrol across the lawn, probably inspecting the mowing job while pissing off a nearby raven. The stupid plug in my truck, instead of charging my camera, completely drained the battery. Awk.
Evening – I came back first to charge my phone then I will eat. I want a nice fire going during dinner but I would like it to be darker out first. It is seven o’clock now and already the temperature is down to, wait, twenty-two? No way it is that warm out here.
Night – It is after nine and some morons are running their camper down near the washroom, the headlights beaming down the lane at several campsites of people trying to sleep.
The train is passing, the dogs or coyotes are howling, the fire is crackling, and that camper is still idling. I would be amazed that no one has complained yet, and a loud white diesel truck finally left.
I am on page thirty-seven of “Brave New World”. I recalled before that I had read a portion of it in my exams in high school. Interesting they never told you what it was about but they expected essay responses to the questions on it. It was a test perhaps to reveal your true nature through your answers. A test to see if you were a conformist or an anarchist, an Alpha or an Epsilon. A believer or a troublemaker. I am certain I was the doting conformist as expected. I did not have a clue, back then, what the story or passage was about. In my streamed general knowledge, it was arguably above my caste.
September 12, 2016
I got a text the computer was not communicating. I texted back and then called and walked them through it. All fixed again. I got another text, and replied my assumption on the schedule and my missed days off and then promptly switched my phone to airplane mode. Twenty minutes goes far too quickly and I have used half of it already.
I am on page seventy-two of “The Bell Jar”, once my phone is charged enough I will return to my site to write and read some more. There is a chill in the shade but certainly nicer than the minus six Nordegg had last night. It is plus five there now and plus seventeen here – and Nordegg is one hour ahead in the day.
Afternoon – my beard and moustache are full of what appear to be gray or white hairs, I think it is just my original blond peeking through but I am told that gray makes me more handsome, so gray they are. I am on page one hundred seventy-four of “The Bell Jar” with only fifty pages left to read.
Sylvia Plath committed suicide at the age of thirty. It is interesting how they refer to it as “a defiant coming-of-age story told in sharp prose and shot through with black humour”. I find it a vivid, honest reflection of real life of how mental illness can darken ones’ soul. She must have been a fascinating young woman.
I am at the wifi lounge charging my camera, impressively it went four hundred and eighty-eight photos on a single charge, that is half my vacation.
Late Afternoon – I have noticed that when I write out a list of things to do that I include things I have just recently completed. Is this to inspire me somehow to complete the remaining tasks, or is it in case my list is discovered and I appear to complete tasks I assign to myself. “Oh look” they would say “he must be organized and driven in his thoughts for he completes so many tasks so quickly”.
And then there are the tasks that I never seem to complete and reside on my list day after day, week after week, as the growing and now inaccurate pile of receipts in my office will attest to. I just accidentally, or perhaps subconsciously intentionally burned over a dozen receipts. If I record all the ones I have then the list will never be complete.
I do not know why I keep a ledger anyways. I am not reimbursed or taxed on ninety-nine percent of it. A strange curiousity stemming back to my ninth year in school perhaps? I recall my father keeping a ledger, and how one of us re-drafted his chequebook record into a lined notebook. I remember the bills, and cheques sorted into neat piles on the diningroom tablecloth. I remember seeing once how on his wages he could support a wife and two kids, a car, a dog or cat and a house, on that was beyond me. I live alone and eat like a poor man and I still would not take a job for less than thirty thousand.
Tomorrow perhaps I will drive up into town and play a tourist photographing this and that. I saw the most marvelous paving of a back parking lot and I must get a photo of it. The lot, the hills, all one uninterrupted wave of asphalt.
Evening – I took half an hour this evening to re-organize my truck. I am not sure what I will do with the forty empty water bottles I removed by I do have plans for the two bottles of Smirnoff. Some citiots have arrived, first they parked and proceeded to cut branches from the tree in their way. Tonight he went down to the river and dragged up two fallen trees while she pulled over wood from a neighbouring campsite. Now he is over there hacking the hell out of things – are they too cheap to buy wood like the rest of us, and not destroy the natural landscape, or are they just ignorant?
I can hear a few coyotes off in the direction past where I took my walk the other day. They sound like they are moving further up hill, maybe near that farm I saw the horses. They are clearly worked up about something, barking, howling and yelping. I can hear three but I am betting there is four or five.
I think they were those damned dogs again near the entry. They sounded so much like a pack of coyotes on the hunt. Yup I need rest.
September 11, 2016
It is a good thing I pack up at night and sleep in my truck because it rained a lot. I would say at least two or three millimetres which is unusual for a desert-like region. I am taking a few minutes to relax then get dressed, find a washroom and charge my phone.
Morning – I went around town to look for other wood supplies and did not see any so I went back to the gas station. It is threatening to rain but I am defiant and built a fire. With a reserve and a veneer plant it is surprising more people do not sell wood here.
This ‘thriving’ community is not so thriving downtown. I saw at least six businesses closed and up for sale including the lumber store and a historic building built in the eighteen sixties. If I won the sixty million I would buy up most of them, first thing I would do is open a camping supply store in the old lumber store. This town could use a Coghlans/UST supplier, add firewood and make a small garden section and I think I would do very well here.
There is a clear division of wealth in the native community defined by how they keep up their homes. There is also a serious issue of abandoned vehicles on native properties. As many as eight in at least one homestead. It appears they run them into the ground but instead of selling off the wreck for scrap metal they park it in their yard. Perhaps it is some unusual status symbol, I do not know but the landscape and villages would look nicer without them. There’s another business idea, a scrap metal processing yard.
And abandoned buildings, I saw many of them in Lil’wat, N. Quatqya, and Sek’wel’was. We give a lot of money to the native tribes but their leaders squander it and the people suffer. Instead of blaming their leaders they continue to go after the Federal government. They claim that some, like that woman in Ontario, do not speak for them. But the leaders who do are just as corrupt. I do not believe in reserves. I think every native person should have been given one acre of land, and each child native one half acre, then it would be passed down. And there would have to be annual allowances or stipends for them to care for their land. Plus, I would create hunting reserves where ‘tribes of natives’ maintained a village. Perhaps a hundred acres encircling a ‘village’ of twenty-five acres or more.
How can a tribe claim to have ‘sacred land’ or locations on a reserve when reserves were created by the white man following the white man’s dominance of the region? I wonder why the iron rock has never been returned, from the Church, to its rightful place in nature. We covet a rock from space that does not even belong to us. It is clearly a way for the white man to deny the native people their religious practises and beliefs, but seriously this is the twenty-first century, give it back already.
I never even noticed until now, the foothills to the south of town have snow on the top of them. The one has a light covering extending about two hundred metres down from the peak. I am not sure how high the hill is, maybe three thousand metres or more.
Evening – I walked down by the creek late this afternoon. I photographed a heron from only five metres away. The snow remains on the top of the hill a sign that winter has not forgotten Lillooet. I returned to my slumber only to find that the dream had left me. Why did I post to Facebook when I said I would not even use my phone? Because I wanted to share my experience and show my friends there is still more than memes can express of my life. I am more than my Facebook status. I should not continually have to sell myself to be adored, the woman should want to be with me without hesitation or doubt.
Tonight, I am thinking a lot about my time in Nunavut, not in a homesick way though. It is more in a cultural way or a life experience way. The woman who is traveling up and down the coast in her VW van left this morning. I never spoke to her but I wondered if that will be me in twenty years. I do not want to be caged but I do not want to be alone either. I could be and pursue a relationship, built on my past love, but to what end? As I said before and I will say it again I should not have to convince someone to love me. I un-hid my profile on the online dating site I use, it is time to get back into the world again. I am sure that some people will notice I did not delete my profile but you know what – I do not care.
And any town that breeds black widow spiders in the campground washroom is not a town I want to live in. I think the thirty plus degree weather in summer already discouraged me mind you. I am debating moving, I need to prep my dentures but I am comfortable here by the fire. I guess it will only take a couple minutes then I can sit for a while without any obligations.
Night – I will have a confusing time re-adjusting to my life next week. I love being on vacation not because it is an escape but rather because it allows me to look at my life from outside of the box. To ask myself with a level of neutrality “Am I where I want to be at this point in my life?” The answer is not so black and white. I have a good job, a home, savings, a truck that runs, internet, an identity… is a lack of true love the reason my life feels incomplete? I don’t feel the connection with my latest relationship that I did before. I still love her in a way but not in the way on which a meaningful relationship is built. I do not desire to “settle” for her nor would she have me “settle” for her.
My fire is down to embers, the wood boards of the bridge rattle beneath the tires of crossing vehicles, the music continues softly on a distant radio, the water of the nearby creek continues to roar over the rocks making a wind-like whooshing sound, the vehicles rumble and groan and swish past on the highway above, the voices of other campers carry through the darkness. I am more cold than tired and the fire is all but burned down to a pile the size of my hand. I am writing by the light of my lantern and neither it nor the fire provide adequate heat for me to sit out here any longer. I have much to say, but I will do it from the warmth of my truck and sleeping bag.
This week of vacation so far, I have read – “Native Chiefs and Famous Metis” by Holly Quan; “David Thompson” by Elle Andra-Warner; “Hudson’s Bay Company Adventures” by Elle Andra-Warner. Last week I finished “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde; and a week previous “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. I am about to start “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. So profound and famous and yet she only ever wrote this single novel, curious.
September 10, 2016
I am waiting on coffee, after half an hour it is almost ready. I ate my MRE in less time than it takes to brew a pot of coffee.
Rain is rare in this area, as the forecast tells of another two to six millimetres of rain expected to come today. It is the most rain they have had in years, following the least snow and low river levels, sounds familiar to me. Between July third and September third in Nordegg we probably had ten full days without rain, that means forty-two days it rained at some level within the day or night. It is a chilly fourteen degrees out right now. I think it must be a couple degrees cooler here in the river valley. It is supposed to be more favourable weather tomorrow with the sun returning for the week.
It took an eternity to brew a pot of coffee, and now, after about twenty minutes my cup is still too hot to drink.
Afternoon – I have ventured to a ridge south of town, below me I can see a hydro canal, cows, and a relatively quiet road. They like to take up space in Lillooet, the residential lots, the commercial, even the structures themselves are spread out to cover much land and appear much larger than they are. The natives live in poor housing but have more money than they appear. Each driveway has at least one or two vehicles and in the one trailer a fifty-inch television set in the window.
When in Nunavut I was given an Inuit name, it was the name given to someone before so I took little value in it. But as I read of the native tribes and their histories I find that it is not a bad thing to be named from another. I saved a piece of cardboard with the name on it, I should include it in here later.
A train with two engines and thirty-four cars in tow is leaving Lillooet Canadian National Railway station. And so, I depart from my perch and return to camp.
Mid Afternoon – I walked up an old road into the south hills. I know the area is called desert-like but that name was proven with the presence of cacti, yes green cactus growing on the hillside. At first, I thought it was my imagination but a second pass by the spot proved it was very real and thriving.
I just realized today that all my receipts were kept safe in the back pocket of my journal, the one I burned to a crisp yesterday.
Evening – The pen burned. It started at the top, fueled by ink and plastic… blood and body. It burned with an eerie greenness to the flame. It burned as a wick, from top to bottom but unlike a wick the tip was spared until the end. All that remains beneath an undying flame is an oval shaped pool of blackness one can only presume to be the ink. A fitting end, to burn until every drop of blood was given, and then, in the blink of an eye to vanish from existence. The pen is mightier than the sword until it faces fire that is. The pen in flames burns and dies, the sword in flame might bend but it would not end.
I plan to be up late tonight, just as I did last night. Tonight, I have fire and fur and drink; and with that I toss another log on the fire. It is warm but it is vodka just the same. Looking down into the red-hot coals I think I should have saved the cap but it’s too late now. I guess I will have to drink the whole bottle now.
A passing train is creating a strange waterfall noise in the direction of the hill to town. The winds have picked up and ominous gray clouds are approaching our valley. The train whistle sounds off as it snakes its way through the town above.
I am sleeping, in total, about nine hours per night. The walls of my truck block more irritations than expected. I was told that a truck went down the hill early the other morning using its engine brakes. I did not hear a thing. I know that most towns have made it illegal to do so, so they must be quite loud.
I do not understand the moon here. Last night it peeked over the hill and took forever to show itself. Tonight, it started higher in the sky to the left and is slowly making its way back to the point from last night, it’s movements defy logic.
Another train passed just as the first left but it sounds like one of them is still east of the river.
Night – I am sitting here waiting for the coals to die down enough for me to consider it justified in drowning them. I am tired but when I finally do pack it in for the night I fully intend to finish another twenty-five pages of “Dorian Gray” at least.
Later – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a truck sitting at the intersection of ninety-nine and the road up to Lillooet. They are either waiting for drunk people to come down the hill from the bar or they are watching the campers here in the valley. A crew camping near the entry were kicked out of three hotels in town for bad behaviour and they have a campfire circle going tonight. I seem to be plagued with health issues when it comes to the lower mid portion of my body. The mystery nerve issue, the thigh nerves issue, weight gain, umbilical hernia, kidney stones, mucus, hemorrhoids, oh and the irritated prostate are all connected to the stress I feel at my current job I think.
A woman in line at the gas station had this indescribable ‘fresh’ scent about her, I’m not sure what it was but it was nice standing near her. I have never sensed such a refreshing scent on a woman before. I should have had the balls and just asked her, it would not be the first time I did something potentially embarrassing and personal.
September 9, 2016
I have my usual lower back pain and a headache today. It is just past noon and already I am tired. I drove into town today to pick up coffee and creamer, of course I forgot sugar. I stopped by a small artisan’s market and bought a print from a painter named Stella. Her artwork showed travel between Lillooet and Tofino, it was quite nice. She said she visited here six years ago and stayed. The eight by ten print was thirty dollars and probably the first art I have purchased for myself in years. It will need a worthy frame.
The ravens or are they crows, that were on the banks of the river yesterday are now visiting the campgrounds. They seem to like the willow tree and repeatedly argue for the highest position on it.
The city of Lillooet is not the bustling metropolis they like to promote on their videos. It is a town that has not grown much commercially in the last three years and it reminds me a lot of Paisley, Ontario.
Its biggest challenge appears to be geographical, the community is fragmented by natural terrain and this negatively impacts its small-town feel. Add to that the Main Street is four lanes wide, rather unusual in such a small town.
Despite these irregularities, I would still move here if given the chance. The climate is, for the most part, favourable, the town has all the shops and services you could need, and the people appear friendly.
I have lived in Nordegg, working at the store, for three years in October. I have money saved in retirement and savings but I don’t really trust the banks. I need to save more for retirement and plan for my future.
Afternoon – I started a fire to take off the chill in the air, it is around twenty degrees but the breeze is cold and moist.
I just finished the one hundred fourteen page “Hudson’s Bay Company Adventures” book and now I am about to start “Native Chiefs and Famous Metis” by Holly Quan. I need to start my book this fall, instead of just poetry it needs to be a work I can be proud of. I hope that the previous version of my book has been destroyed, though in a way, decades from now it could be worth a fortune. Not likely.
Evening – I am on page sixty-one of the one hundred and twenty-seven page “Chiefs” book. The settlement of Canada was much more violent and controversial than we were ever taught in school and while the Native people still do not deserve handouts in my book I do agree they were given a raw deal. They lost their land but they chose to sign and they chose to give up their identity at the time. The Dutch came to North America in the seventeenth century and the Loyalists to Canada after the American Revolution. The first mass immigration by Dutch to Canada was around the turn of the twentieth century, they adopted customs and traditions here and quickly became “Canadians”. It is not surprising then when I feel that all immigrants should adapt to our ways and not try to force us to change. If I moved to a foreign country I would expect myself to adapt to their ways. Fair is fair otherwise why would I move there to begin with?
I have traveled much in my forty-five years. I went north to Baker Lake, Nunavut, west to the Pacific Rim – Tofino and Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, south to Lexington, Kentucky and east to Ottawa, Ontario. I have slept in my car, flown in a plane, paddled in a canoe, peddled a bicycle, rode a subway, walked and crawled.
I have decided that I do not want a cat, it is not that I do not ‘want’ a cat so much as I do not want the expense of a cat. I have decided, instead, to start saving my money in preparation of a move. I know it is coming but I do not know when or to where.
The native people of this land of Sekw’el’was are called the St’at’imc. I am not sure when they settled here but they have a strong modern presence today.
Evening – I like the way this campground is set up. The trailers and motorhomes on one side and end, while the tents are in the middle and my side. Their not-really-camping-camping can be kept away from my what-is-a-generator-camping. The sun seemed to set quickly tonight and the coolness of the breeze is becoming more apparent.
While I did go on several times I have managed to limit my internet usage to twenty minutes per day. I am also following a rule of a) no work email or contacts, and b) only updating my Facebook and researching any questions asked – like, when did the Dutch come to Canada. I didn’t even look up the weather online.
The tri-pod stand would have proven useful to hold my lantern above my legs. The light, while bright enough to ward off creatures, is not high enough for writing – it is still better than fire light. The bats are out tonight and fluttering and swooping above the camp. A second ‘sunset’ is reflecting off the clouds and one of the foothills has an ominous beige mass of clouds above it. Some motorhome has landed on the site next to mine, it has enough lights on it that it looks ready for takeoff.
Tomorrow is Saturday, I suspect that this camp will fill up for the night and then return to its peaceful balance by Sunday. I have made the discovery that it is not only the brand of coffee but the whitener that makes a truly great cup of coffee, so far, I have not achieved it.
Night – I plan on staying up for several hours tonight, oh I see the moon rising over the hills. The tip of it is peeking over the hill, you can really see how fast the clouds are moving up there now. I wonder if anyone lives on the top of these hills, there are houses built about two-thirds of the way up the side.
The clouds have formed almost in serpentine bands from north to south across the entire sky. I can hear the squeaking sound of the bats in the twilight overhead. And still the citiots continue to arrive, another trying to squeeze into one of the middle sites. I am so happy my site was available and somewhat private [and that was thanks to the law of attraction by the way].
For some reason, I had two journals on the go. I found, after reading the first one, that it contained no real intent to express this new chapter in my life – so I burned it. Let the record show that it is putting up a damn good fight in the fire and after several minutes the cover is still identifiable. I took my poking stick and peeled off the cover to reveal many pages still intact. The rush of air quickly teased the flames and set the pages ablaze. To prevent any cinders escaping I placed a large cut of wood down upon the pages. The heat from the fire is quite intense now and the flames are roaring as they rapidly consume the fresh dry wood. The smoke burns my eyes and I find myself closing and opening them frequently to stave off the stinging feeling.
Later Night – I have a nice fire roaring away next to me and I am warm and happy. I should take my teeth out before it gets too late, funny it is only about half past nine as I say that.
Later Still – I can hear the whine of the veneering plant located about two kilometres west of here. In a way, it is good to know what the sound is but now it is imprinted on my brain so I pick it out of the other background noise. My fire is down to hot red coals now and I am debating extinguishing it in favour of a warm bed inside my truck.
Later still yet not midnight – I believe it is somewhere around eleven, of course, I shut down my phone before checking the time. I forwarded a couple work emails and asked for a copy of my schedule when it is available. My “away” portion of my vacation ends in just seven and a half days. I plan on returning to Nordegg by Saturday for work on Tuesday. I then must work for one week before I am off for four days to a trade show in Calgary.
A fly got trapped inside my vehicle before I remembered to close the window. I guess I should be grateful that it is only one fly and not a bat or mosquito. I am inside my somewhat soundproofed truck and I can hear people yapping outside. It is late, shut up and go to bed!
The fly has taken to buzzing past my head every few minutes to remind me it is near. A siren just sounded, not sure if it was an ambulance or something else. My alarm clock just informed me that it is midnight in Nordegg, so that means it is eleven o’clock here, late but not really. I heard and saw an ambulance race by heading south on the highway, perhaps the third, which tells me there is an accident somewhere.
I just ate two Clif bars, probably not a good thing to do so late but I was hungry and they were convenient. The Sunchild convenience store was robbed at gunpoint the other day, maybe now people will take my concerns about security more seriously.
September 8, 2016
I am sitting on the banks of the mighty Fraser River about one kilometre south of the city of Lillooet, British Columbia. It is historically a naturally arid climate but that does not stop the large storm clouds from passing high overhead.
It is a cooler than expected day but the clouds are a substantial part of it. Without them I am certain it would be several degrees warmer.
I am going to take a walk down to the river and continue this entry from there.
Further up one of the contributing rivers I came upon what could only be described as a rock hunter’s paradise. By design, be it Man or nature, the peninsula where these two waters meet is buried in a wide variety of stone. I see remnants of milky quartz, iron, jade, to name but a very few. Amazing. I found two stones that I desired, a large milky quartz and a stone in the shape of a young person’s foot. They are coming home with me for my collection.
Supper and it is watery looking coffee and beans again for me. The coffee is digestible and the beans, well let’s just say that many a camping trip in the past would have been better if I had a gel fueled folding stove. Hot beans in maple syrup are far tastier than cold ones.
My campsite is twenty-three paces long by thirteen paces wide, at the most. It is bordered on one side by suman and a few small bushes that look like trees standing about twenty-five feet high on the west. On the east is a large bush with red berries that spans about ten paces.
The clouds above travel north-west to the south, the trees therefore only provide limited shade in the mid to late afternoon. The bugs are persistent, they tickle my hair, buzz around my face and crawl everywhere.
My view from my chair is of a mass we would call a foothill in Alberta. I have not researched it by name, I only know that one of the two local tribes live on the evening side of it. I can also see a very tall pine tree, in fact looking around I can see at least thirteen varieties of tree and five shrub species. I can not begin to name them all except pine, willow, cedar and sumac.
The roar of the Fraser River and its tributary almost rival the nearby highway. In the moments without vehicles I can hear the water rushing over the rocks near the peninsula.
The sun is setting behind the ridge on which the city branches up to, probably where it once began, giving it sunlight from dawn until dusk.
The hills are covered with trees and while this provides a magnificent garden contrast to the desert-like conditions it is not without risk. I passed at least one large swath that has been burned last fall in a wildfire. Mother Nature apparently took pity on the people of the area by delivering it above average rain fall this year. The hills appear to be much greener than I remember them from three years ago.
I should grab my things and head for a nice walk across the bridge.
Evening – I have found a most beautiful spot near the river. They have built a meandering stream for migrating salmon. It is on the shore opposite the horribly loud veneering plant.
I stopped for a few minutes to speak with a beaver. My talent for talking to animals includes moose and beaver and I knew I could talk to deer and ravens; perhaps I have more nature spirit in me than I originally thought.
It is twenty minutes before eight at night, I wonder what time the plant shuts down, surely there is not enough demand for veneer to run a full day and night.
It is dark now, I must head back to camp and start a fire.
Night – Fire wood burns very quickly here, perhaps it is the lower elevation compared to Nordegg. I am considering a trip up into Lillooet tomorrow, maybe even to one of those taverns for some socializing. Then again, maybe not. It is surprising in a way that there are no women seeking love online from the city or perhaps they use another service than I do.
I just posted an update on Facebook, my first in over forty-eight hours. I forgot to buy coffee at the store, maybe I will do it in town tomorrow at the grocery store instead. I do not want to leave, but alas this adventure will end and I will return to my prison in Nordegg. I mean that in the metaphorical sense, the limitation of times I must get out and explore and with the onset of winter I’ll be indoors most of the time. I think there are only about five people in this entire campground who are younger than me. It is aimed at retirees. I need to figure out a plan how to be one of them by sixty.
Freelance Online Writer, Amateur Photographer, Founding Member PPC Huron-Bruce EDA Initiative.