Sunday 31 August 2008

Learner's Test and a New Helmet

As the new school approaches and the warmth of summer holidays dissipates, I find that after my trip to Seattle, I didn’t really go on any more adventures on my Vespa. I did lots of local rides to shop or visit a friend but no long ride - not even to Vancouver. Jobs around the house and family trips stole that last few weeks of August.

I did manage to do a couple of Vespa related things, however.

First, I wrote my motorcycle learner’s license test.

In B.C., if you ride a scooter or motorcycle that is 50 ccs or less (like my LX50) you only need to have a regular vehicle license. I know that this special allowance has been revoked in some provinces and states and may be in B.C. too. This is because some of the 50 cc riders are just not that proficient and it forces them to take a test to ride two wheels.

After my trip to Seattle, I mulled over the idea of getting a bigger scooter. This would give me the opportunity to go farther on my scooter next summer. So I decided to take the test. Once I get my actual license, I will be able to ride bigger scoots.

I walked into the Driver License office, and to my great surprise, it was empty! The young woman behind the counter must have been in her early twenties. She was very nice as she took my money and prepared the paperwork that was necessary. However, when I was about to write the test, she said, “Make sure you take your time as some of the questions are (then she whispered) really, really tricky.”

I resisted the temptation to cup my hand over my ear and yell out, “Eh?”

I ended up with 97 % so I guess I did all right.

The other scooter related accomplishment was finally upgrading my helmet.

When I bought my Vespa, I bought a pretty cheap helmet that was a half helmet - not much more protection than a bike helmet - but that was what I was comfortable with. As time has gone on, however, I’ve talked to several people and read some compelling information and I felt that I needed some more protection.

I tried the full face helmets but I got claustrophobic and very uncomfortable wearing them.

So I compromised on a 3/4 helmet.

The helmet is a ZOX helmet with a face shield. I still find it a bit confining compared to the old helmet but I do feel safer. I’m also finding the ride very quiet as my ears are covered and soundproofed.

Well, now it’s back to school, safer and hopefully a bit smarter!

Wednesday 13 August 2008

The Cariboo

Now that the holiday portion of my summer is over and it’s time to finish jobs around the house and start getting ready for school, blogging about where I’ve been since my trip to Seattle seems like a great way to avoid work.

Last week, I spent a few days in the Cariboo area of BC. The Cariboo (the green rectangle on the map) is in the lower central part of British Columbia.

One of the guys I went with has a cabin - really a house - in a place called Sheridan Lake. We decided to go up there for a couple days of cycling, hiking and relaxing.

The first day was the cycling day. We packed the bikes on the back of a truck and drove off to a place called Little Fort. We chose this destination because Little Fort is at the bottom of a huge hill. We had a nice breakfast to fuel ourselves and then headed up the hill.

It’s not a terrible long ride - 17 km of which about 13 km is a steep hill - but because it is so steep, it took a good long while - over three hours - to make it up the hill. We’d cycle for a km or so, stop, have a drink of water, and carry on. Sometimes, we’d chat about life in general during these breaks.

It was slow going but we were rewarded with the sight of a moose on the road as we reached the crest of the hill. It was a cow, so no antlers, but it was the first time I had seen a moose in the wild. Very nice!

After all of the sweat and exertion of going up the hill, it was exhilaration to fly down the very same hill back into Little Fort. One interesting byproduct of scooter riding is that I’m not as scared by fast speeds when I’m on my bike. I’m not sure if this is the safest thing in the world, but when I hit 62 kmh, I was not bothered at all.

Back in Little Fort, we packed up the bikes and headed back to the cabin.

The second day was a rest day - we were on holiday, after all. We seemed to spend the day eating, reading and talking, and later, drinking beer. The highlight of my day was operating the little excavator at the cabin to help grade a ramp for a dock. In the evening, one of the guys brought steaks so big that each one could have fed my family. And yes, I ate it all up.

The last full day we decided to go on a hike. Now, I like taking the dog on nice long walks but I’m not crazy about hikes in the mountains.

This hike was in Wells Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater. It was the Trophy Mountain hike we went on which ended up being about 6 km each way.

I borrowed a pair of hiking sticks which are sort of like ski poles. These were great for going up hill, especially for the steep parts.

About halfway up, we arrived at these mountain meadows that were bursting with flowers. The photos does not do justice to the beauty and variety of flowers that were there. It was simply amazing.

In the hiking book that was at the cabin, the trail was rated as easy. I know that when I reached the end of the first 5 km (where many people turn around) I was ready to turn around. But thanks to that wonderful mix of testosterone and peer pressure, I went another km or so before I listened to my body.

This picture was taken at my turning point. I was very comfortable lying on the rock and warm, I did not want to get up but after some encouragement, I hauled myself up and headed down the mountain.

The trip down was without rests as it was much easier and the wind had died down, bringing swarms of mosquitoes whenever we tried to stop for a rest.

At the end of the hike, I finished the last of my water, slumped in the seat of the car and wearily smiled as I had successfully made it without being airlifted off of the mountain. That night, I enjoyed a couple glasses of wine and slept surprisingly well, leaving for home the next morning.

The photos in this blog posting are courtesy of my very good friend, Keith Rajala of the Red Lobster Journal.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

New Blog - Our Puppy Maggie

Just a quick note to tell you that my good friend and neighbour, Greg Pace, has newly entered the blogosphere after much encouragement on my part. His new blog is called Our Puppy Maggie.

They have a new puppy called Maggie and his blog details life with this cute but very lively yellow lab pup.

Greg has a very engaging writing style and, if you're a dog lover, you are sure to enjoy reading about the exploits of Maggie - and the reactions of Greg and his family.

Check it out and leave him a comment!