Da, da da DA!

For those of you who followed my blog last summer there is no need to introduce you to TIm, my HUSBAND. My WHAT??? Oh yeah, I’m married. How bizarre. That is certainly something I never thought I would say!

So here’s the story: Near the start of my bike trip last summer, I was in a bike shop in Grand Forks, BC getting a bolt to fix my dodgy stem. I got chatting with another customer, Kim, who told me he and his wife were leaving the following week to start on their own cross-Canada cycling trip. We discussed routes, exchanged cell phone numbers and agreed to try to meet up on the road somewhere. It wasn’t until I was having a long-overdue day off in Forget, Saskatchewan, that we managed to meet up again, and when Kim and Deby rode up in the rain they had this English guy Tim in tow. (I actually forget the details of how they had met up, but for the purposes of this story it doesn’t matter). I was pretty excited to have company – this was just after I had decided to quit when I got to Winnipeg because I was lonely and not having fun. The four of us rode together until Kim and Deby had to go north to Brandon to get bike parts. Tim and I kept riding along the southern route, and we met up with Kim and Deby again in Thunder Bay. I was expecting Tim on any given day to ride off into the sunrise – clearly he was capable of doing many more kms, and more quickly, than I could do each day! But he had six months of holiday time and was in no rush.

Tim and I enjoyed each other’s company and soon settled into a room-mate like existence, albeit in tents, not rooms! And so it went on, you all read or skimmed or pretended to read my blog and maybe Tim’s too last summer, and so I won’t retell all those stories here. Suffice it to say that by the time we had been in Newfoundland for a while it was clear that Tim and I wanted to be more than room-mates.

In the fall after we had both finished our bike trips and Tim was home in Sheffield, England the planning began. He came to visit me here in Wells in late November, and we snowshoed and skied.

Up the Mount Murray trail to the cabin - Tim's first time on his alpine touring gear.

Up the Mount Murray trail to the cabin – Tim’s first time on his alpine touring gear.

Me on the up track.

Me on the up track.

Tim came to visit me again in January and we skied, got married on skis, and skied some more. He was just here in March, too, and guess what we did: we skied! I am over the moon to find someone who is enthusiastic about skiing, even if he is still a bit rusty on the downhill bits!

Skiing in Jasper with my nephew Andrew. Guess who was most nervous about the full slate of Black Diamond runs?

Skiing in Jasper with my nephew Andrew. Guess who was most nervous about the full slate of Black Diamond runs?

Skiing on Mount Murray, in Wells.

Skiing on Mount Murray, in Wells.

Tim, after inspecting the bottom of the creek bed.

Tim, coming down Mount Murray, after inspecting the bottom of the creek bed.

On the way up for a ski on Mount Greenbury.

On the way up to the Mount Murray cabin.

OK, OK, enough with the boring ski photos: here are the ones you’re waiting for. These, too, look like ski photos, but really they are wedding photos.

The wedding party - Yael, Kate, Tim, Jeff, and Jason in the required dress: wool, and more wool.

The wedding party – Yael, Kate, Tim, Jeff, and Jason in the required dress: wool, and more wool.

That was a funny joke. Wait a minute - is this supposed to be a serious thing?

That was a funny joke. Wait a minute – is this supposed to be a serious thing? (Notice our matching his and hers wooden cross-country skis and bamboo poles – nothing finer!)

Nice legs! Heading out to the perfect spot on the bog.

Nice legs!  Still in search of the perfect spot for a wedding – a frozen bog beside a frozen creek.

Our intrepid snowshoeing marriage commissioner doing the deed.

Our intrepid snowshoeing marriage commissioner doing the deed.

Oh boy, this is getting serious.

Oh boy, this IS getting serious.

Very serious indeed.

Very serious indeed.

Another shot of the gorgeous wedding party. I must say, all my planning on the outfits really paid off. And yes, my hat is made out of socks.

Another shot of the gorgeous wedding party. I must say, all my planning on the outfits really paid off. And yes, my hat is made out of socks.

Happily married (so far), skiing off into the sunset!

Happily married (so far), skiing off into the sunset!

I have had two people on separate occasions tell me that they and their partners have been inspired by the simplicity of our wedding. I am pleased to inspire people with simplicity. I am not on a quest to see the whole world married, of course, but if more people can marry in more practical ways, then I am all for it! I have always been perplexed by the weird, expensive, showy, complicated, and “traditional” weddings – what does it all mean? And do you know how many pairs of skis you could buy with all that money? Maybe even a bike or two.

Tim and I and our wedding party had a fabulous dinner the evening of our wedding cooked by my friend Sharon at her house here in Wells. We were home by 8:30 (although I do believe I was a tad drunk – Sharon paired some lovely wines with each of our dinner courses). The wedding day photos were all taken by a local photographer, Lynn Connor (Lynn has a new website: http://www.seewhateyesee.ca)

All this to give context to this season’s cycling blog: On May 1 I fly to the UK and Tim and I will cycle in northern Scotland for three and a bit weeks. Hopefully by then they have dug all the sheep out of the snowdrifts. In August Tim and I will take my nephews, aged 8 and almost 6, on a three-day cycling trip on the Kettle Valley Railway in southern BC. And there may be plans afoot to ride through the backroads from Wells to Kamloops in the fall. Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Bike Ski Bike

It was a glorious Easter weekend here in Wells, and the road (yes, there is only one paved road) was clear of snow, ice, water, and most gravel. But what to do? The local ski hill  – Troll Ski Resort – is still open for TWO more weekends, the go-anywhere skate skiing on the bog is at its late-winter prime right now, and there is still at least two months’ worth of snow in the back-country mountains just waiting for us to track it up with skis. How can I forsake my first love, skiing, for my second love, biking, when it is still March? March in Wells is definitely still a skiing month. And at the end of March one has to be prudent with days off: there won’t be many ski days left this season. Don’t get me started on skiing, this is really a BIKE blog after all, but there is NOTHING that beats gliding on snow. Nothing.

All loaded up with skis, boots (one in each pannier), and poles!

All loaded up with skis, boots (one in each pannier), and poles!

All that said, while I was out in the warm spring sunshine taking my trusty touring bike out for its inaugural 2013 spin, I had the great idea to ride to the ski hill with skis strapped to the bike somehow, ski for the day, eat a cinnamon bun, and ride home again. What a great way to be out in the sun after what seems to have been an uncharacteristically grey winter. Of course I wanted to enlist some friends to make the day more fun, but that proved difficult. At the Easter Feaster gathering at my neighbour Judy’s house on Sunday evening (Judy was away for the weekend but her house is the only one large enough to seat 27 people for dinner so that’s where we were!) I managed to convince my favourite ski-buddy Dave to come along. Plans were made for the paparazzi to participate as well, hence all the great photos here!

Dave and I all ready to go - it's about -5˚C but soon to get a LOT warmer.

Dave and I all ready to go – it’s about -5˚C but soon to get a LOT warmer.

On the road.

On the road.

Dave with a well-loaded back pack.

Dave with a well-loaded back pack. Notice our disregard for staying on the right side of the road – one of the great things about living at the end of the road is that the road isn’t so busy.

In the excitement to leave in the morning I forgot to eat breakfast. I stock up on calories as soon as we get to Troll.

In the excitement to leave in the morning I forgot to eat breakfast. I stock up on calories as soon as we get to Troll.

Dave about to try biking with skis on. He quit BEFORE he seriously injured his crotch - smart man.

Dave about to try biking with skis on. He quit BEFORE he seriously injured his crotch – smart man.

On the ski lift - we wore our bike helmets all day skiing, and no one said anything! I guess they were all embarrassed for us!

On the ski lift – we wore our bike helmets all day skiing, and no one said anything! I guess they were all embarrassed for us!

The posse on the way home - Dave and I are joined by Leif and Eva who cycled out from New Barkerville and were able to cycle slow enough to escort us home!

The posse on the way home – Dave and I are joined by Leif and Eva who cycled out from New Barkerville and were able to cycle slow enough to escort us home!

Eva and I just leaving the ski hill on the way home.

Eva and I just leaving the ski hill on the way home.

Coming down the last hill into Wells, with a smile on my face.

Coming down the last hill into Wells, with a smile on my face. It’s a weird feeling when the wind catches your skis and pushes you around when you’re coming down a hill!

Thanks to Dave, Cheryl, Bill, and John for the photos!

Another reason for this ride is this – kick-starting my cycling blog for the season. Tim and I are planning a cycling trip in Scotland in May (that’s SOON). We are going to ride around the north coast, from the west in a clockwise direction. We hope to get to the Orkney and Shetland Islands as well. I am very excited about it. Watch this space.

Oh, and I have a few things about Tim to reveal here as well. Later.

Mountain Caribou

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

Here is something else I can expound on, without actually knowing any facts. The area I live in here in BC is called “Cariboo”, so named for the throngs of these beasts roaming around here back in the day. (Don’t ask me about the spelling, apparently, like all colonizers, the white folks were rude when they first arrived and didn’t ask the caribou how to spell their name). Now, well, there aren’t so many caribou. The Barkerville Herd, as the local herd is called, has an estimated 50 animals, and that is well below what is deemed necessary for a herd to be sustainable.

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

These are Mountain Caribou, mind, not nearly as plentiful as their cousins, the northern types (Barren-land, Peary’s, and Porcupine Caribou), and are much more sensitive to environmental change. Or maybe not more sensitive to environmental change, it just so happens that their preferred habitat is being rendered non-existent by logging. They like to eat lichen, and in the winter time, the only lichen available is hanging on trees. The rest is buried under many metres of snow. Usually the lichen is on older trees, the kind that we like to cut down and saw into boards which we then use to build sheds to house our snowmobiles. And so, not many caribou are left. But there seem to be plenty of snowmobiles.

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

Steamy Mountain Caribou on the Barkerville Highway, November 2012

Caribou are the same beasts as reindeer, the common names are different according to continent: “reindeer” in Europe (and Asia?) and “caribou” in North America. I guess that proves that the North Pole is part of Europe, but don’t tell the Canadians that.

Eight cariboo near Stanley on the Barkerville Highway, April 2013

Eight cariboo near Stanley on the Barkerville Highway, April 2013

One Hundred Days

They say it takes one hundred days in a row of doing something to form a habit. Since I only cycled 99 days on my cross-Canada trip, and I had days off, I obviously did not form a habit, and that is why I am not still cycling. Well, that and the snow.

I have just made a pact with my friend Brenda to do some yoga every day for the next 100 days. Well, it is already Day 7, so the next 93 days. We have to do at least 15 minutes’ worth, and it can’t be 15 minutes of Savasana. That would be cheating. (That’s Corpse Pose, for all you yoga neophytes). And if one of us misses a day, then it’s back to zero for that person, and the other person WINS!! Oh wait, no that’s wrong. No one wins and no one loses; it’s not a competition, it’s about self-fulfillment, so Brenda tells me! One of my goals in this mission, besides gaining some self-discipline, is to be able to do Reclining Hero pose. I have taken a “Current” photo, and if I finish my 100 days, and if my Reclining Hero pose looks any different at the end, I will take an “After” photo. So far, after seven days, it feels as though it will take 10 years to be able to do it, so don’t hold your breath. I’m not. I can’t figure out why my legs are so damned tight.

14 November 2012: Reclining Hero Pose – note the hyper-extended lumbar spine, knees lifted off the floor, FOUR bolsters under my shoulders, and grimace of pain on my face (well, you can’t see that, but it’s there).

While I’m doing my yoga I have quite a bit of “help” from my guru. Guru Fuzzzball. He is, like all gurus, old, male, unkempt, skinny except for a jiggly little belly, kind of smelly, demanding of pets, dirty, a bit curmudgeonly, and yet somehow a tiny bit endearing. He is not at all supportive, he constantly just gets in the way, and I guess this is my lesson: learn to flexible (it is yoga, after all!) and work around him. Most of all, again, like all gurus, he likes to be around girls in tight clothes who bend over a lot.

Guru Fuzzball

I promise not to give you a play-by-play of each of the 100 days of yoga – that would be just plain old boring. Instead I’ll talk about other boring things and add a pithy comment or two about the progress of my latest challenge. Really, folks, it’s November. You don’t have anything better to do, I know you don’t. The weather outside sucks and you’re kind of grumpy, so keep on reading!

 

On Butter Tarts, Oatcakes, iPhonography, and Walking

At the risk of losing all the male, testosterone-ridden, hard-core cyclists following this blog thus far (and I know there are at least two of you!), I am going to post some recipes now. First, The Best Butter Tarts in the World. That’s kind of like the World Series of Baseball, which is an American-only thing, in that I think Butter Tarts are a Canadian thing, and only a Canadian thing. But that is about to change, given the international readership right here on this blog!

About recipes: I have this kind of disease which prevents me from actually following a recipe – I always substitute, change, redefine, add, subtract, and just generally mess about. And I rarely write these changes down, and I rarely remember what I’ve done for the next time. As a consequence, my baking is a little hit and miss. I was much better when I was younger and actually did follow recipes properly. I think part of the trouble is years of living 85 km from the nearest store. Oops, missing an ingredient? Substitute! Or, go over to Judy’s and ransack her cupboards. So, these are recipes that I have made up from real recipes, and I don’t even follow my own recipes, so feel free to improvise, I know I will!

  • “T” means tablespoon (15 mL)
  • “t” means teaspoon (5 mL)
  • “c” means cup (250 mL)

The Best Butter Tarts in the World

Start with some good pastry. Here’s a recipe (slightly changed!) from my mother:

  • 4 c white flour (use cake/pastry flour if you have it – soft wheat)
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 lb (2 c) butter or lard (I usually use butter – it’s greasier and heavier but it tastes better. And how do they get that lard so WHITE, anyway??)
  • 1 egg, 1 T apple cider vinegar, and enough water to make 1 cup – whisked together

You know the drill: cut the room-temperature butter into the flour with a knife, pastry cutter, or your fingers until it is in very small and even-sized bits. Add the egg/vinegar/water mixture and form the dough into a ball. DO NOT OVER-HANDLE THE DOUGH. Chill for a bit before rolling out. Roll quite thin but not too thin (!) and using the perfect-sized cutter (i.e. glass), cut into rounds and place in greased muffin tins.

The filling:

  • 1/2 c butter
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 c chopped pecans
  • 2 T lemon juice

Cream the room temperature butter and sugar together first. Then add the eggs, lemon juice and nuts. You can add raisins if you want, but I prefer the tarts without raisins. Put filling into tart shells by the spoonful – resist over-filling! The filling will expand quite a bit and overflow all over your oven if you fill the shells too full.

Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 15-20 minutes. YUM.

Mmmmm, butter tarts.

Mmmmm, butter tarts.

The Best Oatcakes in the World

Now that is a very bold claim, because I am a very recent convert to the wonderful world of oatcakes, and they have a long and storied and varied history. These are Scottish oatcakes, or an interpretation thereof, because I learned about them in Cape Breton. Cape Breton has a French heritage as well as Scottish, so there may be some influence there, though they sure seem like a Scottish thing and not a French thing: kinda dry and not very sweet.

  • 3 c flour
  • 3 c rolled oats (I put large flake oats in the food processor and whir them for a bit to make them a little smaller, and the oatcakes a little less hard to chew)
  • 1 c butter or lard (You read my lard rant above, but the texture of the oatcakes really is better if you use lard. But how DO they get that stuff so white?)
  • 1 c sugar (I use some unrefined organic expensive kind)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 3/4 c cold water

Mix all the dry ingredients together then cut the lard/butter in with a knife or your fingers until it is in very small bits. Add the cold water and form into a ball. DO NOT OVERWORK! Chill for a bit. Roll to about 1/4″ thick, cut into circles and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes or so.

For added yumminess, cook down some Medjool dates with a bit of water and the juice and zest of one orange. Mash, and make oatcake sandwiches with date filling. Delicious!

Mmmmm, oatcakes.

This is iPhonography.

In a recent Canadian Geographic magazine, there was an article about walking. The most interesting part about that is that we are so far removed from walking in our society that now it is noteworthy enough to be the subject of an article. Anyway, the photographs (er, mobile art) in the article were all taken on an iPhone, and the bio about the woman who took them called her an iPhonographer. And she only had one name, like Prince, so I guess that means she is very cool. Her photographs were quite good, I thought, in an artistic way, not in a crystal-clear-image way (which is SO overrated, right, Faith?) So there, that is iPhonography. Aren’t there all manner of neato and fascinating new things in our world these days? In an aside, in the next edition of Canadian Geographic, there were two interesting letters to the editor about that walking article, one by a smart guy from the University of Regina, and one by a smart guy from Quesnel called Bruce.

I heard on the radio the other day that there have been scientific studies now (thank god for science) that have proven that daily exercise (ie walking) is good for you, and that it may even add years to your life. Well, what do you think about that? Of all the nonsense…..

Choppin’ Wood

Now I know Van Morrison has a song about chopping wood, I just heard it on the radio the other day. (Must have been on CBC Radio 2’s “Drive”, the only decent radio on the radio around these parts. As opposed to radio on the internet, which just doesn’t sound the same, does it?). Anyway, this isn’t about that.

The wood pile.

This is about chopping wood, something I actually haven’t done for a number of years, because there has been a gas-powered wood-splitter hanging around the neighbourhood for all that time. But alas, this year it is gone, and the wood still must be chopped. Because, of course, winter is coming. And so many of us here in the Cariboo heat our homes with wood, or at least augment other sources of heat (expensive, ugly and inefficient) with wood (cheap and awesome). We currently have a shit-load, pardon the vulgarity (it means my vocabulary is crap, but you all already know that), of standing-dead Lodgepole pine trees, killed by BC’s huge pine bark-beetle epidemic of the past 10 or so years. That is relevant because one doesn’t have to go far to get firewood, and that wood is dry and therefore easy to split. In theory.

Back when I last split wood I was in my 20s and 30s, physically stonger, and much more proud – I had to chop my own wood to prove that I was a strong, independent bushwoman who didn’t need no man. But really, I was just too poor to pay someone else to do it. So now, armed with less wood to split (I used to have to feed two leaky and hungry woodstoves), a much better axe, weaker arms and back, and much less pride, I waded into the pile. Hmmm. Very daunting.

About the axe – everyone else around here (ie men) use splitting mauls to split wood. These things are heavy, triangular-shaped and usually blunt – you basically split the wood by bashing it to death. Don’t bother sharpening the edge, just hit it harder! That doesn’t work so well for me, a woman. My new axe is Finnish (read “better”), sharp, light, and shaped to prise the wood apart. No need to grunt every time you have to lift the thing above your head, and no repetitive strain injuries in the right elbow when just trying to get it off the ground.

Choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood, choppin’ wood. (Notice the jaunty left-foot-lifting style – this really adds pizzazz to your day!)

But, back to music: this is a link to a great song about chopping wood in Wells – you’ll have it stuck in your head in no time! Unfortunately, I don’t think Jesse Dee and Jackie B ever recorded this song, so you’ll have to put up with a YouTube version.

Very sophisticated wood-transportation system.

What I Miss About Cycle Touring

AHA! I knew it! I knew you were still out there, waiting with baited breath for more amusing anecdotes, pithy prose, and stimulating stories. When you find all that, let me know, but in the meantime, here are some thoughts a month plus past my last post which signalled the end of my bike trip.

What I miss about cycle touring:

1. Being outside.

2. Not having to schedule exercise into my day.

3. Eating butter tarts.

4. Getting up early.

5. Tim.

6. Writing blog posts and thinking of ways to make my blogees laugh.

7. Being somewhere else.

8. Having a goal to work towards.

9. Doing something that other people think is bonkers.

10. Sleeping in my orange fart sack (aka sleeping bag).

11. Not knowing where I was going to be that evening.

12. Summer.

13. Cleaning house by picking up the tent and giving it a good shake.

14. Meeting people in small-town Canada.

15. Being pet-free. And therefore, pet-hair-free.

16. Receiving random acts of kindness from strangers.

17. Reading maps and planning routes.

18. The food in Quebec.

19. The beer in Quebec.

Things I don’t miss about cycle touring:

1. Traffic – especially Dodge Ram pick-up trucks.

2. Blowing up my Thermarest mattress.

3. Worrying about getting cold and wet.

4. Not sleeping well sometimes.

5. Not knowing where I was going to be that evening.

6. Not having a fully-stocked kitchen in which to bake.

7. The food in Newfoundland.

So there, you see the first list is longer, therefore cycle touring is good, and not cycle touring is bad, and you all should get out there and DO IT. Well, for those of us not in the Antipodes, maybe wait until May or June.

My bike in her winter resting place – the basement. Doesn’t she look sad?

My backyard now – Oct 28 12:14 pm, snowing like crazy!