Americas

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

Right when I landed on Smith Island I noticed a pair of Oystercatchers on the beach. They are an odd-looking, large black chunky sandpiper with bright red beaks and eye rings. As I unloaded the kayak they kept those eyes on me from the rocks on the small ismuth that I would be camping on for at least a night. This was unusual; Oystercatchers are usually shy and fly away making their distinctive call. I came to the assumption that they must have a nest nearby, maybe in the high grass off the beach. Unfortunately it was a small beach and we would have to coexist.

While on the beach late in the day, one of the pair was trying to lure me away from the area. Walking closeby then sitting down. As I took a step towards them, they got up and moved a little further and sit. And repeat.

At one point I spotted them on a small rock outcrop twenty feet away. One settled down and sat for a few minutes before moving down the beach. I waited until they were further away before I took a look. Out in the open, sitting on some broken shells, were two perfectly camouflaged, beautiful speckled eggs. It was a non-nest; no nesting materials at all, just two eggs sitting in the middle of the beach. Hidden in plain sight- lucky I didn’t inadvertently step on them. I snapped a few quick photos and hurriedly retreated.

Oystercatcher eggs

I started dinner near the tent, quite a distance from the ‘nest’. I started to became concerned when the parents had not returned for some time. Had I scared them away? Were they going to abandon their eggs?

Eggs on the beach

Imagine my relief when they finally appeared to gently sit on the eggs. For the rest of my stay there I kept a respectful distance from the expectant family and diligently watched where I stepped.

Categories: Kyuquot Sound, BC - June 2019 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bunsby Islands

The remote Bunsby Islands are deep within Kyuquot Sound and the destination for my 8 day solo kayak trip. At well over twenty miles from the launch site it would take at least two days to paddle there. But the big challenge en route is a five mile stretch along the coast, reef-infested and open to the ocean swell and westerly winds. It is unforgiving, with no place to land on the rocky shore. If things got bad and the seas got angry, there would be no place to hide. South of here, along a similar stretch of coast on my last trip, the water was big and I was terrified. This time around I was more experienced and ready for some payback. I pored over charts and the few disruptions of the route. Even so, as the trip approached, at night I found myself awake, fretting.

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I launched mid morning in a mist with a calm breeze and heavy cloud cover hovering low over the water. I was hoping to make it to Smith Island thirteen miles away, ambitious but attainable if the calm weather and water continued. I steadily cruised west through the inland waters towards the coast and open ocean. Low clouds from the Pacific broke up as they pushed though the trees turning into monstrous ghost figures floating through the forest. I passed the First Nations island village of Kyuquot wrapped in a heavy mist, late on this dark afternoon and pushed onto Smith. I was on the coast now as the swell started to roll under me and the open ocean lay out wide in front. I landed on Smith at twilight, quickly set up camp, made dinner and passed out after a big day.

1st night

On these extended trips I obsess about tides, weather and especially wind forecasts. Tides were not a big issue in this area, so all my obsession went on the weather. I would check my radio for the marine forecast multiple times a day, trying to get a idea for the upcoming days. Things get dicey if the wind gets above 15 knots; the swell gets bigger. 25-30 knots = a possible capsize and me getting wrecked onto the rocky shoreline. The weather forecast was high winds for the foreseeable future. So I decided to spend two nights on Smith and wait to see if it would change to the typical weather for this coast; calm in the early morning with the wind building by mid-morning.

Smith Island

Day three was a beautiful sunny day. I found an overgrown trail and started hiking round this gem of an Island. Through pristine old growth; massive cedars and douglas firs dripping with moss. Along pocket beaches with cobblestone beaches bordered with craggy rock outcropping. Around noon I got a glimpse to the north and my path to The Bunsbys. I could see miles of coastline filled with small islands and reefs, a wave-battered rocky shore and trees rolling down to the ocean. The seas were calm and the wind light, it was perfect kayak weather. My first thought: ‘that looks easy.’ My second: ‘I should have paddled it today! Did I miss my one window, was I being too cautious, was I psyching myself out, have I missed my bid to make a run for the Bunsbys?’ At that point I made up my mind to go for it at dawn the following day, even though the forecast was still windy all day.

Dawn

I woke up before dawn and looked out the tent, the wind was calm and the water flat. I quickly broke camp and was on the water just before six a.m. I rounded the south of Smith Island and the conditions were still good so I made the final decision to go for it. It would take over four hours to get to the Bunsbys, and there was no other village for days. I might see a boat, maybe. It was about to become as remote as it gets.

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I did feel minuscule in my kayak as I powered out to sea, out to a safe distance from the breaking waves in the shallows. Bobbing around hundreds of yards offshore does take a little getting used too, but you learn quick. Luckily the ocean was calm with only a genial 2 ft swell washing in from the northwest. A glistening vapor haze hung low over the water obscuring the shore as the sun rose above the pine forest. I traveled behind rock reefs and small islands that blunted the swell. I rested in the lee of islands, in dense kelp beds, sheltered from both wind and waves.

I finally entered a small protected bay on one of the first islands of the Bunsby group to scout for a camping spot. As I stepped onto land relief flowed through me combined with a tinge of pride. I had made it after all! After all the months of planning and fussing and waves, on day four I had landed in the middle of nowhere; perfect.

Camp ” Bunsby point “

I did a recon of the area to see if it would be a suitable campsite. It had a sheltered spot for the tent in the woods. A protected beach to launch and land. Lots of firewood. And sun! It wasn’t just suitable, it was a perfect camp spot. Best of all, it was stunning, jaw-dropping beauty, a scene of majestic nature. It was on a point that jutted out into the Pacific with views reaching far up and down the jagged coast. To the west, in the kelp-choked bay, I could see groups of sea otters. To the south, a pocket sandy beach bordered with old growth forest and misty views of Catface Mountain and Vancouver Island. It was my perfect campsite for the next 3 nights.

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I spent my days paddling around the Bunsbys. I glided past forested islands that felt unchanged since powerful native tribes ruled and battled over this area centuries ago. It was a true primal wilderness. I also got plenty of beach time in; by day; reading and watching fuzzy otters floating on their backs crunching on shellfish. By night; sipping Jamieson’s and watching the sunset over gigantic beach fires.

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This stunning place was as pristine and remote as I’ve been on this coast. The only sign of civilization I saw for those three days was a lone sailboat pass by. I was way off the grid. Obviously no cell phone service. I had my marine radio to call for help (but only if anyone was within range and listening!) I have a strange drive to find these wild places and spend time there solo for as long as I can. To find a true wilderness adventure. Me against the woods.

Sunset camp Bunsby point

Ok. So sometimes I make it sound as if I’m in some sort of life or death struggle with Mother Nature. Sometimes my trips feel that way, but this time, that was definitely not the case. Mother Nature baked me in sun, not driving rain and angry seas. The local critters were soft and cuddly, no wolves and no bears. Relaxing wilderness solitude.

I only had one concern, I did still have to get back.

Categories: Americas, Kyuquot Sound, BC - June 2019 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Good Omen

Just before I launched my kayak, I checked my waterproof digital camera and couldn’t get it to power up. Strange and annoying; this is the camera that replaced the one I dropped overboard last time I was Kyuquot Sound; I lost all photos from that trip.

Thankfully this time around I had my phone with a good camera as an option so I put it in a dry bag behind my seat, just in case.

After only 5 minutes on the water, I see some movement on the far bank; something large and black on the water’s edge. I paddle closer, and sure enough, it’s a black bear digging around in the tidal zone. Good sized, jet black with a light brown face; He doesn’t see me as he searches for food on the rocky shore.

I fumble for the phone as I drift towards him and snap a few pictures before he turns, sees me and freezes. He is staring me down, totally motionless; Probably doesn’t see too many kayakers.

A crow call startles me, nearly causing me to drop the phone in the water, just like on my first trip here! I realize I’ve drifted not far from shore, about 50 feet from the bear- too close, so I quickly back-paddle as the bear continues to stare me down, transfixed.

On the long drive up to the launch site the previous day, I was just thinking that I’ve not seen a bear in the wilderness for a long time. I’ve driven by a few but that’s very different; It’s powerful, primal, seeing a bear when hiking or kayaking in the backcountry; in his territory, on his terms. Not in a car doing 50.

As I paddled on, I thought, whilst some people would think the complete opposite, seeing a bear in the first few minutes was a good omen; A sign of the adventure to come.

Categories: Americas, Kyuquot Sound, BC - June 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Kyuquot Sound payback.

It’s been eight years since I’ve been out to Kyuquot Sound on the NW coast of Vancouver Island, BC. I had a few minor issues on that first trip; actually to be more accurate, Kyuquot kicked my butt. I came stumbling out of the woods reeling and stunned the first time around; The PTSD caused me to paddle calmer waters for the next few years.

Even so, I was touched by the remote, brutal coastal wilderness I had just survived and I knew I would be back; I felt I had some unfinished business out there. I was not going to be a one and done. This time around I’m doubling down and going further… further out into the wilderness, further off the grid and for longer too: 8 days.

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What I also remembered from last time, is that it takes forever to get to Kyuquot. After several long highways, a border crossing and a two hour ferry, I finally turned onto the road that leads to the launch. It was 8 pm, I had left Seattle 12 hours earlier and it was still 100 kilometers left to go on a primitive logging road through the woods. I bounced and slid my way along at twilight hoping not to get lost. I pulled into camp just after 10pm and set up camp on the banks of Kyuquot Sound.

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Sunrise; Broke camp, loaded up the kayak and was on the water just after 10am. It was cloudy with a light drizzle but calm winds and seas. Good, almost perfect conditions, as I had an ambitious plan to paddle 14 miles to an island campsite just off the coast. It was deja vu; the exact same conditions when I launched 8 years ago. As I pushed off the beach I was excited, yet nervously curious about the upcoming adventure and totally ready to conquer Kyuquot Sound.

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Categories: Kyuquot Sound, BC - June 2019 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A is for anaphylaxis and Austin. Peanut trilogy – part 2

Austin

We were in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference and to visit my cousin Amy. We grabbed a quick breakfast, and I had a bite of Helen’s veggie BBQ sandwich. Big mistake. Before too long there was a slight tingle in my mouth; almost an electrical sensation. That could only mean one thing, symptom #1. I had just ingested some form of nut. Initially it wasn’t as strong as some reactions, so I decided to wait and see what happened and didn’t mention it to Helen. But it didn’t take her long to figure it out though; she knows me well. I confessed and she was instantly concerned, rapidly asking questions about my condition.

It was a slow creeper reaction, not the kick-in-the-face type I have experienced before, but my condition was worsening. Round 2 of symptoms were hitting hard; throat irritated, sneezing, nose running. We were still trying to decide the best course of action, so Helen ran into a busy restaurant to get me a glass of water. When the hostess said “it will be a minute, I have to go find a plastic cup”, I could hear her shouting, “My husband is going anaphylactic shock. Just give me some #*+#ing water.”

While I waited, the 3rd set of symptoms showed up: Massive hives, the size of silver dollars started forming on the top of my head. Obviously, this was a bad sign. I was crying, sweating, salivating uncontrollably; my body was in now full revolt. Quickly, the decision was made to use the Epi-pen and call my cousin for a ride to hospital, knowing that if things got worse, we would have to call a ambulance. As I got ready to administer the adrenaline shot, Helen made a panicky call to Amy.

The correct way to administer an Epi-pen, is with arm outstretched at shoulder height, you then drop your arm in a pendulum motion and drive the syringe deep into your upper thigh. It has to be hard enough to go through clothing and into the muscle. Committing to do this is not easy and I had a few false starts. I could start to feel the hives move down the back of my head to my shoulders. Time to go! I finally mustered the nerve, lifted my arm, then dropped it, driving the syringe into my quad. Painful? Yes! The worst part is you have to leave it in for 30 seconds; Counting it off felt like a eternity. The first thing you instinctively want to do is pull it out and scream and fall down in a fetal position. I felt a little queasy as I counted it out, pulled it out and then almost fainted at the sight of the long needle. I still get the chills when I think about it.

ER

Amy luckily arrived within minutes and dropped us off at the ER as distressing symptoms #5 began. Hives moving south down my torso. One good thing; the hives never developed on my face. One bad thing; my eyes were starting to swell shut. Another good thing about allergy induced anaphylactic shock, there is never a wait at the ER. All you have to say is two words. Peanut allergy.

The experienced nurse immediately began to hook me up to an I.V. It’s always been hard for nurses to get needles in my vein, for some reason. She is having a hard time, she sticks the needle in and it starts bleeding, bleeding a lot. No luck, she pulls it out. I’ve gotten queasy in my old age and as she tries a second time, I tell her calmly. “Heads up- I’m going to be sick in about 30 seconds.” She gets it under control just in time. I stand up, walk over to the sink and vomit.

I lay back on the hospital bed, not feeling particularly great, but the allergic reaction is now on the decline and my body is calming down. Thankfully this was still a mild reaction and the worst of the symptoms didn’t come. The dreaded #6 (throat swells shut and constricted lungs take in less oxygen) and the catastrophic #7 (breathing labored, and as less oxygen reaches your brain; you fog out as you slip unconscious.) I won’t get into the final symptom.

The nurse returns with what looked like a tube of caulking. She has a strange look on her face, with a hint of a smirk. As she mixes the contents of the tubes with water into large styrofoam cups she explains. “This is charcoal, it absorbs the nut toxins in your stomach. We use it for drug overdoses too. It not the best tasting and you have to drink them both.” And with that she hands me two large cups filled with the dark mixture. “You’re doing good, once you finish these you should be able to leave.”
Great. Easy. I want out of this hospital.

Charcoal shake, yum

After I had a sip, I had a different thought; this is not going to be easy. It was thick, gritty and tasted like burnt charcoal. It turned my teeth and lips black. But I drank them as fast as I could. My tummy was on the spin cycle when the nurse came back in. “How was that? Yummy? How do you feel?”

Charcoal teeth

My luck, I get a wise-ass nurse. “I feel fine,” I lied. She left and I began to sweat, my stomach doing somersaults; I ran to the toilet and barfed up the charcoal. It tasted even worse on the way up. I sat back on the bed and felt a little better. The nurse checked in again, “you ok?” There was no way I was telling her the truth; I was not going to drink any more charcoal milkshake. I was discharged.

Like after most allergic reactions, I was exhausted afterwards. It felt like I ran a marathon, my whole body was spent, so I went back to the hotel for a nap while Helen and Amy went for lunch. When I woke up, I felt a lot better, and was starving. So we went out for a bite in one of the bars which were holding industry parties for the SXSW music bigwigs. When the bartender noticed the hospital bracelet I had forgotten to cut off, he asked me “So is that for an exclusive party?” I answered wryly, “you could say that.”

Categories: Austin, TX - March 2008 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Peanut Trilogy – Santa Fe

I have had a nut allergy since a very young age. In my teens and twenties it became less severe, but over the past few years it has come back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I have had a few of these episodes while traveling.

Part 1. Santa Fe, NM.

It was a Sunday morning and we were wandering the Native American art fair in the Santa Fe Plaza.

Santa Fe

I needed coffee more than art, so we made plans to meet at a small cafe after Helen had finished browsing. I picked us up some coffee and pastries and found a seat.

Helen joined me a few minutes later and I handed her a plain croissant. She was not pleased. “With all those options, you got me this? Yours looks better, What is it?” “Not really sure, it tastes good, it has something called marzipan in it.”

H practically shouted “Marzipan! But marzipan has almonds in it!”

I gave her a blank look, but stopped chewing; not knowing what almonds taste like, I had no idea. H looked concerned, but with more than a hint of annoyance; “Go to the bathroom NOW and make yourself be sick.”
I felt fine, but it had to be done. Otherwise it was a possibility of anaphylactic shock, Epipen stick in my thigh and a mandatory trip to the hospital.

I hustled to the only bathroom and leaned over the toilet in the small room. I stuffed my hand in my mouth as far as I could, trying to trigger my gag reflex. I retched and coughed and almost fell over; but nothing, nothing came up. I took a few deep breaths, got on my knees over the bowl and repeated the the procedure; same outcome. On the fourth attempt, I spat up a minuscule bit of something that resembled food. Obviously not the purge I was looking for and I certainly didn’t get all the poison out. But I was done, staggered by this effort. I realized that, unless you’ve drunk a case of beer, it’s really hard to make yourself sick.

I had been in the bathroom for at least five minutes. I slowly opened the door and a mother and her young son were waiting for the toilet. I lurched out, my face bright red, sweating, eyes watering. I looked and felt like Keith Richards after a drug induced bender. The mother and son waiting for the restroom looked at me wide-eyed. As I stumbled out the door she pushed her son behind her to shield him from me.

Helen greeted me with a worried look. “Did it work?” “Yeah.” Which was true; it worked, just not that well. One positive; out of all kinds of nuts, I’m apparently the least allergic to almonds. I had my fingers crossed for the next hour that the tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction didn’t come on.

The rest of the day I had some strange noises and aches coming from my belly, but thankfully, no anaphylactic shock, no Epipen, and no trip to the hospital.

 

Categories: Americas, Santa Fe, NM - December 2010 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Lucky hats

After 10 years of service and protection during my kayak adventures, I’ve had to finally retire my Lucky White Trash Kayak Hat. LWTKH has guided me on over 25 multi-day kayak adventures on the seas of the NorthWest. Like a forcefield it has shielded me from all hazards; real, imagined and completely unknown. With its help I’ve survived massive swells in Kyuquot Sound, navigated boiling reefs and kept the wolves away at night on the western shores; LWTKH has always had my back.

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I truly believed in its supernatural guardian angel-like powers. Maybe an ancient alien race of beings left it behind? Or perhaps it was a leprechaun’s hat? I felt it could manipulate my actions and decisions unbeknownst to me and steer me clear of danger I didn’t even know existed. For example, I would get a feeling that maybe it was time to get off the water and find camp, for no real reason. Then upon landing, a vicious squall would immediately kick up.

(I do have a thing for lucky objects, or more like it, objects I deem as lucky. When we travel I collect lucky charms from different cultures and religions. I have a few or them; perhaps maybe more than a few.)

Hand of Fatima, Morocco

I held onto LWTKH for as long as possible. It was in bad shape, discolored, stained, material falling off, with a funky smell that wouldn’t go away. Its days were clearly numbered.

Grand Canyon

Its last trip was 9 days rafting through the Grand Canyon, which I thought would be a fitting and epic trip to retire it on. I also thought it might be helpful to have my lucky hat on the mighty Colorado; It took a beating and was about to self-destruct but it did keep me safe.

The search for a replacement took some time. It couldn’t be just any hat, it had to have an aura, a lucky glow; I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I knew I’d know it when I saw it.

Finally, while walking through my neighborhood Goodwill, I could see it from far across the store. A trucker hat with a blue fish on it. Bright, ugly and hipster; it definitely had a glow. I figured this hat was like a beacon; I could be seen for miles away on the water. Plus it was only $4. The new hat was christened: LUHKH; Lucky Ugly Hipster Kayak Hat.

Changing of the guard

Only time will tell if LUHKH is actually lucky. The first trip will be somewhat nerve-wracking, but I have hope in its powers to guide me through perils and keep me safe; warn me of rogue waves, forecast the weather, and teleport me home if things get really bad. Now that would be some hat.

First trip with LUHKH. Successful

Categories: Americas, Deer Group, B.C. - June 2007, Grand Canyon, AZ - July 2017 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bomb Cyclone

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You always know it’s going to be a bad storm when they name it. Usually, it’s something cute like Amy or Cindy. I knew we were screwed when the storm rolling up the east coast was called The Bomb Cyclone. I had no idea what that was but it couldn’t be good.

Calm before the storm.
Sunset Ptown

We first heard of it when we were in Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod. It was going to hit in two days: the day that we were to fly back to Seattle from Boston. It didn’t take us long to realize that this was the real deal and we quickly changed our flight to the day after the storm.

We were spending the night before the storm in Providence, RI seeing old friends. We could have driven back to Boston early, which would have been the sensible option, but we had been looking forward to this visit.

We rolled into Providence on a beautiful, crisp, sunny day with no hint of the approaching doom. We had a lovely, late night out on the town with our friends Rich and Sheryl, and still no hint of snow in the air. I woke up at 6am and looked out the window. It had only just started snowing, “H, if we go now it might be ok”. She rolled over in bed with a firm “no”. Fine by me! When I got up at 8am, it was snowing sideways with a few inches already on the ground; good thing we stayed put.

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By mid-morning, the snow was piled higher, the streets were abandoned and everything was closed and we were getting hungry. We figured the big hotel restaurants might be open. I gave The Biltmore a call and they were open so we bundled up and headed out into the nor’easter. Stomping through snow drifts and shielding our face from the driving ice, we managed to make it the 4 blocks! We peeled off layers of clothing and ordered Bloody Marys from our genial server, Josh.

Bloody Mary’s inside. Plows outside

I think there is something about massive storms that make people drink heavily and this was a big one, so we would have to pace ourselves.

It wasn’t too long before our friend Rich called with a crazy plan: #abadideaforgoodfriends. “The local bar in my neighborhood is open. I’m driving down to pick you up”. It seemed unnecessarily crazy, but we were game if he was!

The valet was shocked when he pulled up and we hopped in. He deftly maneuvered through the streets, busting through snow drifts, running red lights. It didn’t matter, no one else was on the roads.

Cheers

At his local, the bartender was obviously not as excited as we were to be there. We spent the afternoon drinking and talking of travels and the old days when Rich and Helen ran wild in Seattle. By late afternoon the grumpy bartender had had enough, closed down and kicked us out. The wind was howling and it was still dumping snow.

Everything else was closed so we stopped at Rich’s house for a quick one. He pulled out some old photos of the past that he and H cackled over. He insisted on driving us back, it was now or never as there was over a foot of snow on his street and it was still piling up. We had a little trouble extracting ourselves from the driveway and got stuck. I furiously shoveled around the car as we pushed, and luckily a plow came by and we were free. On the way back, we returned the karma; we were good samaritans and helped a solo female driver whose’ car was hopelessly stuck. With some heavy pushing she was back on the snow covered streets.

Stuck

As we got back to The Biltmore. Our favorite waiter Josh from earlier in the day greeted us with ‘you want your usual round?!’ he was surprised we were still going strong!

After dinner we walked back to our hotel as the snow was finally subsiding at 10pm.

Bomb Cyclone you ain’t that bad, you couldn’t keep us down.

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Categories: Americas, Providence, RI - January 2018 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Can’t win them all

For the second year in a row our beloved Sounders have made the major league soccer finals in against Toronto football club. We went to Toronto last year and the Sounder were lucky to pull off a victory. We have been season ticket holders since 2001 and knew championship games are rare and it may never happen again, we were wrong.

As the Sounders stormed through the playoffs this season we still weren’t planning to go if they made it to the finals this time. After all we went last year. Plus flights, game tickets would be difficult to get and it hard to top the experience of last year. But in the stands in Seattle as the minutes ticked down on the final playoff game, and it became clear that it was going to be a Sounder’s victory, slowly our mindsets started to shift. H started to muse, “we might be able to get flights on air miles and maybe I can get Monday off.” Even so, we had plans that coming weekend and it would still not be easy to get tickets, so we were still leaning against it.

Sounders win. Next stop Championship game in Toronto

The game ended and indeed our Sounders were going to the championship game again! As we cheered, celebrated and jumped around, our good friend with connections to the Sounders came to find us. “I can get you tickets for Toronto!”

We got the red-eye out of Seattle on Friday to Dallas then to Toronto. Not the most direct route but the only option. We landed at Toronto at noon. Train to hotel, check-in, shower, 1:30. Quick lunch and we met our friends by 2:30 for some pre-game ‘Loose Moose’ beers and off for the 4:00pm kickoff!

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The Sounders were in trouble from the beginning. Toronto was laying siege on our goal and our keeper had to basically do somersaults to keep the ball from going in the net. We were lucky it was still 0-0 at half time.

Things didn’t change in the second half and a relentless Toronto scored in the 66th minute. Sounders struggled to get the equalizer, but to no avail. Toronto scored again in extra time and when the final whistle blew the local fans went wild. The better team had won on this night. A shame but I don’t get over-emotional with these things, it is only a game after all.

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We spent a wonderful few days touring around Toronto seeing the sites and getting some rest. We actually stumbled across the Championship parade through the streets of Toronto with the team riding high on massive trucks. There were some very happy Canucks lining the route, I was glad for them, it was their time. Plus the people of Toronto and the fans of their team were great to us again.

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We said that this is the last MLS championship game we will travel to. But there is always next year and so never say never.

Categories: Toronto, ON - December 2017 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The River

River
Beauty, power
Churning, flowing, imposing
Creator of Grand Canyon.
Colorado.

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I was mesmerized by the power and beauty of The Colorado River when I first saw it. The undulating, dancing water, deep in the Canyon it had carved, was hypnotizing. We spent nine days on it and there was no one section that looked the same. The river was always there, the one constant of the trip.

It was our means of locomotion; We floated on it for 142 miles, bouncing down rapids, drifting through tranquil sections; the walls of the canyon always towering over us.

River edge at dawn.

The Colorado was omnipresent; You could always hear it at camp; it was the first things you saw in the morning coming out of the tent; It was cool to the touch. It was always only a short walk from wherever you were in the canyon.

It was our coolant; By 9am it when it was already well over 100 degrees, The Colorado was 50 degrees and we would dump buckets of it over our heads. Before hiking we would fully immerse ourselves in it.

We drank it, we cooked with it; Filtered and purified, we consumed a lot of the Colorado in the crazy desert heat.

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We peed in it; It was required we all peed in the river to avoid stinking up the small and limited camping areas. We peed in paintcups overnight in the tent and then emptied them in the river in the morning. We peed off the raft during long days on the river. This was no trip for the shy. By day two, we were peeing within full view of everyone, without a second thought. It was easy for the men to pee off the raft in motion. I won’t go into detail on how the women hung off the raft to pee. Whalen asked during one such complicated maneuver, “Did you imagine you’d have to be peeing off the boat on this trip?” Katie promptly replied “Yes, but I didn’t think I’d be talking to people while doing it!”

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The river would look different with every bend; Changed color as the sun traversed the sky. On the last day we woke up at first light to discover the overnight storm had flushed out the tributaries and turned the river a deep, dark brown, like flowing coffee.

For nine days the Colorado was our life blood.

“The river flows not past, but through us, thrilling us, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies.” – John Muir

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Categories: Grand Canyon, AZ - July 2017 | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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