The Battle with the Leech

We recently returned from a week canoeing in Algonquin Park with our good friends M and S. While we have lots of stories to tell of long portages and pouring rain along with the quiet evenings and the call of the loons, we did bring home one piece of memorable video footage. We unfortunately cannot claim that no leeches were injured in the making of this video. The use of a Raid mosquito coil as a leech removal device is, I think, unique, and therefore worth publishing. 




Another Journey Done

We’re back home.

For ten days we cycled. We covered just over 1000km. We broke a personal distance record and managed to ride a century (100 miles) on one of those days. We enjoyed the company of good friends and made some new ones along the way. We saw a lot of country from the backside, small roads, rail trails, and bike paths. We survived a night under attack by raccoons and the drivers of Montreal.

Now our bottoms are really sore, and we are both feeling the effects of a lack of adrenalin in our systems. We’re tired.

The trip was a success though. J and I are still best friends after over 50 hours riding a single piece of equipment. We have a new understanding of teamwork. of needing each other to get the job done (not that we hadn’t already recognized this).

Getting ready to leave C’s house in Brossard (Montreal)

In an earlier post, we wondered about whether or not to take the tandem or our touring bikes. Now the question that needs to be answered is “What do we do next?” We enjoyed the tandem experience, the teamwork, the ability to communicate on the road, the extra distance and speed that we could get over working individually. We also know that we could do better than the tandem we are now riding. This one is likely 20 years old. It’s heavy and has somewhat outdated components. If there is another tandem tour in the future we should upgrade.

For the bike it was a sort of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” situation. No matter how this ride went “Gertrude” was going to be for sale. It feels like she’s going to be replaced by a younger model.

And yes, we are talking about the next trip. Maybe across the country in 2013. Anyone want to come with us?

May 24 Weekend

We call it the May 24 weekend, but it actually is Victoria Day and, our country being friendly to the long weekend, is actually celebrated on the Monday closest to the actual day. This year, it was this past weekend. The weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer holiday season. Lots of folks traditionally plant their gardens and flower beds on this weekend.

This year , we went camping. We did the same thing three years ago and almost froze . It was so cold that we said we would never camp on this weekend again. A bunch of our friends were planning to camp, but J refused to book a site until the state of the weather was clear. The weather did look good, so, J went to the park and got one of the last non- reservable sites on Thursday afternoon. We went to the park for Thursday night and it was so cold that we wondered if maybe we had made a mistake after all.

In the end it was a great weekend. Temperatures got up into the low 30’s and people were actually on the beach and in the lake. We read a lot, enjoyed some conversation and laughter around campfires, and generally relaxed. The summer has truly started and, for us, that means a lot of travelling. Thursday, we leave for our latest bike adventure. You can follow some of the trip here on this site or get the more complete travel log at (its more complete because J writes there as well)

We’ll return from that trip and head to San Francisco (by plane) for a wedding and then to Edmonton, shortly after, to meet a new grandchild.

The life of Riley (whoever he is)

Tandem or Not, Controversy Solved

A week or so ago, I wrote about an upcoming cycling trip we are planning for the end of May. The post ended with some indecision. Do we ride our tandem bike and pull a trailer or do we ride our touring bikes as we did in 2010 and carry pannier bags?

The decision has been made. We are going with the tandem. Part of the answer came on a ride last week with friends who are serious riders. We rode the tandem into town (18km) had coffee with them, and joined them on the first half of their ride which went past our door (29 km). These folks like to ride hard and we were able to keep up quite nicely. Normally, J, who is a smaller person, would be found far in the rear and I would be somewhere behind the leaders and on the edge of cardiac arrest. This time, we spent a considerable part of the ride leading, and never were very far from the rest of the pack. Two can be better than one. (in more things than biking…our wedding text).

Suggestions for a name for this bike would be appreciated

So, this past weekend we went shopping on cyberspace for a trailer and ended up buying one from our local bike shop. It had been in inventory for long enough that they were willing to part with it at a lower price than any we found on the web.  We’re going to be long and corners will be wide. We will be a little more vulnerable. If a bike fails when there are two, the other can ride for help or parts. If a pannier breaks, contents can be spread between the other seven. Now all of our eggs are in one basket. Hopefully the entire route has good cell phone coverage!

The Christmas Letter

Over the past couple of weeks we have been receiving Christmas letters from friends and relatives. For many, writing this letter is an annual event which chronicles the events of the family over the past year. I’ve often thought we should do one as well since our family, in my estimation anyway, is as interesting, or, in fact, even more interesting than those  recorded in these missals. I know, it all has to do with perspective.

Ours is a family of bloggers so , this format seems to be an appropriate one.

The Way

The one key event that 2011 will be remembered for is our walk on the Camino de Santiago in May. We travelled to Spain with a group from Concordia University as part of a course on the history and theology of pilgrimage.  Something happened on that journey. We went to look at, study, pilgrimage and somehow the experience changed us in ways that we have been unable to really quantify. It was a humbling experience filled with metaphors and symbolism. We only walked 270 of the 780 km route and talk about the day we will go and do the rest of it. J in particular would like to go back just to prove that her body is not going to hold her back.

The rest of our holidays paled in comparison to the Camino, We spent a week on the Bruce peninsula walking the Bruce trail, and some time with friends biking in Niagara’s wine country. We spent a week at a cottage in the Muskokas with all of our kids and camped Thanksgiving weekend as well. We are really enjoying the freedom that comes with a life without a real job.

Our family is also doing well . R (daughter) and JW continue to work on PhD’s at the University of Alberta. They are hoping to be finished at the end of 2012 and then see where life takes them next. They and their two cats, Molly and Jack, are enjoying their new apartment (south-facing) on the edge of downtown Edmonton.

J (son) and L announced their engagement this year. We are looking forward to a June 9 2012 wedding in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. L is a wonderful young woman with a great sense of humour. She is going to fit in well with the families other “crafty” women. Both J and L are employed by Google.

J (daughter) and M have had the most upheaval and excitement in their lives. They bought a little “fix-r-upper” house in Toronto and before fixing it up, moved in. With the help of family and friends they turned their little hovel into a very livable house and a two bedroom apartment. They live there quite happily with their dog Mocha and their cat Pekoe. J works as a technical writer for a medical software company and M as a junior engineer aiming for his PEng certification.

J (my wife now and not the daughter above) started working as a Wellness Instructor at a new YMCA that opened this fall in a nearby town. She enjoys helping people meet their fitness goals. She leads a cycling class and has started a running class using the indoor track in the new facility. The major downfall comes on Thursday mornings when she has the morning shift and gets out of bed at 5 am. We didn’t get up that early when we milked cows!

I have continued my journey into the world of academia. This year, I pushed straight through the summer with course work. Hebrew has dominated the last eight months. It was really hard getting this strange language to penetrate this old mind. I wouldn’t say that I in any way know Hebrew, but I do know a lot more than before. J and I disagree on the value of this learning. I think, in the end, it was good.

I have also continued to put in a couple of days a week working with Threefold Consulting. Much of this work is nutrition advice for sheep and goat producers. I am also doing a number of different sorts of training.

We put an addition on our house this summer. It’s really just a roof to cover our hot tub and an outside, covered, sitting area. The building itself was constructed by a local contractor. J and I put in the patio that is under and around it. It was very satisfying doing the manual labour and ending up with a pleasing result.

We have been blessed again this year. All of our immediate family has enjoyed good health. God has watched over us and continues to walk beside us as we journey on. (It would be nice to have some indication of the destination though)

I hope that you too can feel His leading and care in this coming year.

Another Walk

I’m not sure why we do this to ourselves, but it seems that when we do something once, we need to try the experience again…right away. We’ve done it with the canoe,  the bikes, and now with our feet.  270 km in Spain should have been enough for a season, but for a number of reasons we are out again, this time walking the Peninsula portion of the Bruce Trail.

There are reasons, of course. J’s feet treated her so badly in Spain that she just needs to walk another 170 km to prove that the experience was a fluke. On top of that, I had been assigned, as part of the Pilgrimage course that took us to Spain, the task of developing a pilgrimage route in Ontario, specifically on the Bruce Trail.  I completed that task last week in theoretical terms, but, it just seems right to check and see if there was anything practical about the design.

Today we walked the first 17.6 Km (including the side trail to the parking lot) mostly in wet, misty, rainy conditions.

Typical trail surface...ankle breakers

This walk is way different from the Camino. First of all, there is no one else on it. The trail itself appears to have seen very little use this year. It is narrow forcing single file walking.  The surface of the trail is often very rough.  The Bruce Peninsula Trail Club rates the entire distance from Wiarton to Tobermory as strenuous. They’re right. The big stones in the trail are moss-covered and slippery. No one fell today, but we had some good saves.

Liia was along today. She drank  most of the water that we carried and I think her panting scared off most of the wildlife. She followed J valiantly, but I think that she thought we were just crazy. We almost had to abort the walk when she balked at climbing the spiral staircase at Spirit Rock  With J pushing and me pulling we got her started up. She stopped  part way up, but in the end we got to the top, all hot and bothered (and all smelling like the dog)

We were all glad to get back to our campground, wet and tired. It looks like we will try the next section tomorrow and hopefully over the next week and a bit make it all the way to the end.  We have set up a base in the trailer park in Lions Head so that we have a good bed to come back to every night.

Biking is Over

Yesterday was an unseasonablely warm day and J and I got our bikes out for one last ride.  We donned our cycling clothes and did our customary 20km ride from here to St H and back.  While it was good to be back on the bikes (last time in Ontario was Thanksgiving and we did ride in San Francisco) it really did not feel right.  The sun was in the wrong place in the sky, it was not quite warm enough, and I actually felt just a little conspicuous in my cycling jersey and shorts.

J Riding in "the county"

We rode a lot this year, by past standards anyway.  The road bikes got a little less use this year than last clocking in at 955km.  The touring bikes, which were new this spring have 2215km on them with our ride to Pelee Island and the circuit around Lake Ontario along with training runs before those trips.  We also have a tandem that we picked up late in the summer that has 245km on the odometer. So That’s just less than 3500 km for the year about 3 times what we did last year.

Last night we celebrated the end of the season with a group of our local cycling friends.  It was great to share stories and to realize what a gift it is to be able to get out, exercise and meet new people along the way.

We’ve started planning for next summer already.