Car Four

Some of my worst memories involve my cars. So after running into some hitches with my latest car I started reminiscing about my past cars. Stop. Reminisce means to "indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events." That's not what I'm doing. I'm recalling.

I got my first vehicle on the road when I was 23. It was a 1981 BMW 320i and I was thrilled. I had to get it inspected before I could register it and after a couple problems I was driving it back to Lacombe from Red Deer. I thought I would stop and fill up before leaving the city. That's when I discovered the leak at the top of my gas tank. Then it was the fuel pump. Then it was a short on my battery connection. Then it was my starter. Then I smashed it into an oncoming tractor trailer. RIP.

My second car was purchased with my new fiancée, Amber, just before we wed. It was a 1997 Toyota Tercel. Insurance was insanely high because of the ice I skidded that wrecked my first car. We near Edmonton Centre and then in Montreal, but when we moved to tiny Spruce Grove a thief broke into the car and wrecked the lock in our driver door.

Number three was our little 2001 Kia Rio in Guatemala. We drove it for nearly three years and had zero problems with it. The only real time it gave me stress was on a 2-day trip to El Salvador where I got my first flat tire abroad which meant figuring out where to repair it (it turned out that it was just around the block and cost me US$1). And then as we were leaving El Salvador, an insane man attacked our right rear fender with his foot, efficiently denting it.

Our latest wheels are imported from BC and Germany before that. It's a 2000 Audi A4 that we got for a good price. Sadly the troubles began early on as the mandatory out of province inspection declared that it needs about $3000 worth of work. Good times.

Reliving Days 5-9

A couple days ago I had to pick up our vehicle in BC and drive it to Red Deer. The trip took me on much much of the road that I cycled five years ago when I crossed Canada. It was the first time back on this section and the memories just flooded back. I was amazed at how nothing on the road was unfamiliar; there was a preternatural knowledge of every hill and twist.

We had already finished the first four days of our journey, having conquered our doubts about traveling on the highway and then beating the Coquihala. On day 5 it was a sunny day and we rode from Kamloops to a look out (photo above) about 8 kms west of Sycamous. We fed on corn and rode the furthest any of us had ever ridden in one day. Will and Saison had their famous collision and Judy spilled apple sauce throughout the common area of the camper.

The next day was also beautiful. I rode with Eric, an Australian who was dating my cousin. We talked most of the morning. When Jess (my cousin) got back on her bike in the afternoon after giving her bad knee a rest all morning, he rode with her. I never did get a chance to ride alone with Jess - the only one from the whole group. 

We passed through Revelstoke where some of us had hoped to eat at a restaurant someone in Edmonton had recommended, but it was closed. Judy had severe sinus pain and spent some time addressing that. 

We set up camp in another pullout hoping to repeat what we had done the night before. Moments after setting up our tents and having just sat down to eat supper, a ranger came by and told us we must move to the campground some 18 kms up the road. We took the motorhome and backtracked the next morning. Most of us watched About Schmidt that night. I don't think they liked it. I did though.

On day 7 we climbed the Rogers Pass in the rain - one of our only rainy days. It was cold too. Will and I had a spat after I waited for him upon departure as we didn't want anyone riding alone at the tail and then he left me after 10 km. Our spat lasted until the Saskatchewan border and Saison took the brunt of it as she began riding almost exclusively with Will from that day on and she is my sister.

We proved ourselves again after reaching Golden, we climbed up to Yoho Nat'l Park on some incredibly steep road. 

Bernd and Kurt weren't able to meet up with the motorhome for lunch and so they arrived in Golden ahead of everyone else and were exhausted. Kurt thought Bernd had died.

We spent the night at a wonderful campground with a hot tub. Will and Landon went down to the river to do some mischief and Bernd gave them a shout pretending he was a ranger. They thought it was a ranger and bolted back to the campsite via an alternative route. We told them weeks later that it was only Bernd but they didn't believe us.

The next day we crossed the Alberta border and spent the night in Banff. The road was up and down, but nothing too severe and with the excitement of finishing B.C., everyone had a great ride. When we arrived in Banff, the feeling was electric - Landon and Kurt couldn't stop giggling. A man we met invited us to camp on his lawn (and livingroom). Some of our group thought he was strange, but I thought he was quite generous.

It took us nine days to reach Calgary. The last day was the most exhausting yet, not because of any major hills (there were some very long foothills), but because of the headwind, something we hadn't experienced yet. We were also exhausted from not having had a rest day yet - the first was in Calgary.

Amber hit the wall on this leg of the trip. I waited with her for quite a while under an overpass and while she struggled with her will to go on, I just stared at the mountains and couldn't believe we had gotten this far. 

It would be another 33 days of riding before we reached the Atlantic Ocean.


The Day that Sucked

I woke up with the plan to have my car inspected, insured, registered and on the road to take my wife to a movie.

Instead... the inspection (required for all out-of-province vehicles) yielded several minor problems that will require fixing. Cost and time are still to be determined. Then the fire alarm went off in the theatre 4/5 of the way into the movie.


Back in Spandex

August 13, 2003, last day of my ride across Canada.

It has been three years since I last rode my road bike (not a motorbike). This morning my mom said she was going to ride her bicycle to work and I thought "hey! I should get my gear out and go with her." 

It took a while to get everything together, especially my clip-less shoes which were in a box behind boxes under the stairs. I oiled my chain. I pumped up the tires. I slipped into my sleek spandex shorts. And off we were.

The ride was just 11 kms each way, but it gave me a chance to ride by some gorgeous canola fields and test my tolerance for the tiny seat.

I'm planning to do the Tour de l'Alberta next weekend. Should be grueling (162 kms). I'm also planning to cycle to work whenever possible (gotta do all my grading and planning at the school though for that to happen) this coming school year.



Upon my return to Canada, I find myself marveling at how easily I am able to adjust to my new life (mind you, I'm not working yet).
The traffic is regulated by laws.
The internet is lightning fast.
The electricity doesn't blink off.
It is dead quiet at night (and mostly during the day too).
I can use my credit card everywhere - so no cash in my pockets.
DVDs can now be purchased as low as $3 in bargain bins.
I can drink beer and wine (in moderation of course).
There are no bugs in my bed.
There is hot water in the taps.
I can flush toilet paper down the toilet.
The public library offers thousands of books and hundreds of movies on loan for free.
I can check out groceries by myself at Save-On Foods.
Not having to have my guard up against theft.
The sky is huge.
There is a dishwasher in our house.
My shower has pressure.
The post office has regular and frequent hours of operation.
The radio stations offer a wide array of music and news items.
My family can call me on their first try dialing.
The local movie theatre has films in English.
We have grass on our front lawn.
The fresh fruit can be bought easily without bruises and rot.
Everything has price tags.
Now, having said that, there are a few things that I really miss about Guatemala (aside from really missing my friends).
The opportunity to build a relationship with almost everyone you buy from (from the gas jockey to the chafa salesman).
Bargaining prices down if I felt so inclined.
Not being conscious or fearful of ever getting a speeding ticket.
Cheap and tasty street food.
The gorgeous mountains and greenery.
Being able to practice my Spanish and the challenge to learn on a daily basis.
The friendliness of everyone I met.

Behold the iMac [once again]

This is my fourth Apple computer. I bought the iMac G4 (the one with the swivel screen on top of the half globe) way back in 2002. I sold it and replaced it with an iMac G5 in 2005. In 2003, I also purchased a 12" PowerBook to use at work and for travel.

Now, I have the newest iMac and wow! does it rock.
2.8 GHz Dual Core Intel Processor
2 GB of RAM
500 GB Hard Drive
Dual Layer DVD Burner
Wireless Card
24" Screen
Built in iSight camera & decent speakers
Remote control
Sleek new keyboard and mighty mouse
I could probably have made due with my G5, but with the bonus of a free iPod and printer and the incredible ease that video editing now becomes plus the fact that I can get another 3 years of Apple Care, I think it's well worth forking out the extra $1000 after selling the old one.


Blogging from my iPod

I got a new iMac after selling my old one to a friend. Because I am a teacher, Apple gave me a $100 discount, $100 towards a printer, and a new iPod Touch (same as the iPhone, but not a phone). At first I wasn't drawn to this model because it only has 8 GB, but the thing is amazing! I can surf the web, check my email, listen to music, watch videos, browse photos, check the weather, and heaps more.

So here I am blogging from the thing!

More on the iMac later.


Home; Away From Home

My final week in Tactic involved attending 6 meals at people's homes, a farewell service after church, 3 days of medical clinic where we served over 400 people, many errands and sales, and my first soccer game. Far too many feelings and occurrences to record here.

We flew in to Edmonton on Friday night with over 460 lbs of luggage. We flew over bright yellow canola fields and around thunderstorms before landing and meeting my sister and bro-in-law. As we pulled out onto the highway, bright rainbows had settled onto Leduc and Nisku.

My son turned 3 today. We left Canada when he was 2 1/2 months old.


Mr. Miguel is talking to you

Every other night I get a phone call from the owner of the greenhouses next to our house. I have this guy's number in my phone so I know before I pick up that it's him. The conversation is the same every single time:

Zaak: Good evening Miguel.
Miguel: Mr. Miguel is talking to you.
Zaak: Hi Miguel. I can lock the gate tonight.
Miguel: Can you lock the gate for me tonight?
Zaak: Yes, I can.
Miguel: Would you do me the favour?
Zaak: Certainly. Yes.
Miguel: Well, thank you.
Zaak: No problem. Good night.
Miguel: Same to you.

The funniest thing isn't only that it takes forever for this conversation to happen. It's that he talks so slow! "Le haaaaaa-bla Donnnnnnn Mi-guelllll."