Month: June 2014

The Wild Ride Home

….continues from last week’s blog.

So, now the time comes to say goodbye to Vancouver.  I load up the Toyota Prius and try to make it back to Winnipeg.

With white smoke billowing from the tailpipe for the first 5 minutes, I started out on the highway with no challenges. After a couple of hours the engine was over heating, and so I pulled off the highway to top up my fluids. I carry on for another hour and again, overheating engine.

Somehow I made it to Golden, BC. At that point the gas engine blew. So, I could run the gas engine with one only cylinder and that was enough to charge the battery for the electric motor. The engine would only charge the battery 33%. That would allow me to drive 1 kilometer. Then I would repeat the process, and the next destination was Field, BC. That was a 4 hour journey of 55 kilometers. Field  is close to the Alberta border.

I pulled into a gift shop and Alberta Tourism office and attempted to revive the engine. Turns out a fan belt snapped and the overheating blew out a head gasket so the oil and coolant were mixed. That car was toast.

The gift shop allowed me to park the car on their lot. It was now evening. With nothing left I could do on June 30, 2010. I settled in for a frigid night of sleep in the mountains. That was the coldest and longest night of sleepless sleep that I ever had.

The morning came and the gift shop opened so I could grab some munchies and figure out how I was going to get back to Winnipeg. The lady in the gift shop made arrangements for me to catch a Greyhound bus back home. Luckily, her daughter worked at Greyhound in Golden. She told me to be on the highway at 4pm and the bus would stop and pick me up.

With a whole day ahead of me, I was invited to the Alberta tourist office July 1st Canada day party. Big barbecue and lots of fun and games. Good people.

The bus arrived on time and I jumped the Gerthound to Calgary with a stop in Banff, Alberta. In Calgary I had to transfer to another bus to Winnipeg. Only a 6 hour wait.

I had dinner in Calgary and at about 11pm caught the bus for the last leg of my trip home. The bus was almost empty. I slept most of the way home and wondered what would become of the Prius. I think the ride from Calgary was about 16 hours and I was back in time for supper in Winnipeg. What a wild ride home!

Welcome to Field (this is not me)

Welcome to Field (this is not me)

 

Vancouver: The Amazing

…..continued from last week.

I woke up In the motel, took back my $200 key deposit, and fired up the Prius so I could begin my adventure in Vancouver. The first task was to drive downtown and pick up my daughter from work.

Once I figured out where she was, I had some time to look around and get a feel for the city. If you have ever been in a park and in the center of a city at the same time, that would describe downtown Vancouver. Nobody is in a rush. Traffic is not heavy (Blair says it is heave). Cycling or walking is preferred. Storefronts are a full block with upper floors of condos or office’s. The downtown has hundreds of towers complied of mostly apartments, condos and offices. You can taste the ocean air from a kilometer away. The center of the city is a haven for buskers and you see no crime at all.

Touring around we walked around the beach front with it’s bars and restaurants. From the balcony of Blairs downtown apartment we could listen to the buskers at the Vancouver Art Gallery. That week it featured Spandy Andy. The nights never end and there is always action anytime of day. Once a week (on Fridays) they have a bike parade that lasts for at least 1 hour. Occasionally they ride through the downtown in the buff. No city like it.

I learned how to drink wine and coke a cola. Beats smoking coke. Every building has underground parking so the streets aren’t congested with cars. They have a super transit system both LRT and conventional. Taxis are always at the ready if needed.

Blair and I took side trips for groceries and walked around the neighborhood. Vancouver is one of the destination cities in the world. You can be in the ocean and across town take a ride up to snow covered Grouse mountain. All in one day. WOW!

With my visit with Blair complete, I started my journey be Coquitlam to visit my brother and his family. The town is one of the bedroom suburbs to access you travel cluttered freeways or if you wish the LRT. The short visit was very nice. The town is self contained and includes lots of green space and wetlands. Shopping centers, parks, and exotic oceanfront gated communities are a short ride away. That was relaxing. So suddenly the time had come to leave my family and begin.the journey home.

The Prius was not running well and even though the coolant and oil were mixing the car’s owner refused the repairs. The adventure back to Winnipeg was about to begin. What an adventure it would be. That is next week’s story. See you then.

Pic: HelloBC.com

Pic: HelloBC.com

The Trip of Trips

So, here we are in February of 2010, and I completed my final trip on crack cocaine. After over 20 years of tripping with drugs, finally the time came to plan a real trip.

Now that I deleted the daily cost of cocaine, I figured that I could save $2000 in 3 months. I planned a trip foe late June, with about $3000 of drug savings. I would be going to Vancouver to visit with my daughter Blair, my brother, Alan, and other family.

I always wanted to drive through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but I didn’t own a car. In discussions with my employer it was decided that I would be able to rent a newer Toyota Prius. Yes, a hybrid car to drive through the mountains- to Vancouver and back. The plan was to leave in the middle of June and return on or about July 2.

It was about midnight in the middle of June that I tossed a few bags into the car, and pulled out of Winnipeg for the Trip of Trips. I started to drive with the intended 1st stop in the mountains at Banff, Alberta.

So, I drove non stop to Banff. Snuggled in the mountains, I took a 3 hour nap and then it was back on the road. Or so I thought. Just up the highway the traffic was stopped. Turns out that the closure was due to controlled landslides via dynamite. After a couple hours of blasting we were off to Vancouver.

The next stop would be Golden, BC. After that we would include stretch stops in the Okanogan valley. After 30 hours of highway #1, the end was near. I was entering Vancouver, exhausted and happy.

I did have one issue. During the drive , my back broke into what seemed like chickenpox. Open itchy sores were driving me crazy. I figured I would find a hotel room to rest and have a look at my back. I stopped at a police roadblock and got directions to a hotel on the way downtown. I found a nice $80 room on the east side of Vancouver. The key deposit was only $200. Wow! This was Vancouver.

Turns out that I had picked up “Shingles”, an adult form of chicken pox. I had a good sleep after a hot shower and it was time to find my daughter, Blair.

The fun and adventure was only beginning……

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eastVancouver

 

Scared Straight

So, the old saying that you hear about the illicit drug abuse world is that you have three choices: You quit, die, or go to jail. It was time for me to choose.

The challenge is, what enables you to actually decide to buy into that old saying? In my case it was two fold. I had a couple daughters that left or would be leaving Winnipeg and I had to be able to finance my occasional visits. I was over 50 years old and getting older AND tired of the same daily routine of work then drugs and then sleep.

Although I had never had any medical problems, sickness or emergency issues because of smoking crack, I did notice one important change:  I was increasingly becoming paranoid after just a couple puffs of crack. The room would go quiet. I froze in position and listened for any signs of my room being invaded by police, gangsters, or stranger’s.

I always got high by myself. Only one or two people could say that they saw me smoke crack. Nobody had ever seen me actually purchase the cocaine. I was just growing tired of the routine.

I slowly cut back on my consumption until my daily use was costing only $20 per day. That allowed me two puffs on the pipe but that was still too much to hide the paranoia. Finally, one day in early 2010, I woke up after a night of terror over nothing and decided that I would never ever again use cocaine AGAIN, in any form.

Chair_in_a_Dark_Room_by_jaileeworthy

By June of 2010 I had saved a couple thousand dollars for a visit to Vancouver to see my daughter Blair, and younger brother Alan and family. That was my first real vacation since 1992.

Next post we’ll talk about my adventures driving to Vancouver in a Toyota Prius, and the wonderful time that I had. I’ll also discuss the nightmare of a drive home when the Prius blew up in Field, BC.

The next story is hilarious!