“This isn’t a plan…”

There was this guy I kept seeing on the second day of my road trip. I can’t get him out of my head, although I kind of wish I could. He was about five ten, looked to be in his late forties, early fifties (like I can tell? I still can’t believe I’m in my late forties…), wild head of black hair with grey streaks, and a wild beard of grey. He was always wearing a blue and red windbreaker, and was always carrying a cardboard sign which I never got to read.

Why do I remember him? Because he appeared at every single rest stop I made along the number one highway, all four of them. And why is this remarkable? Because he was hitchhiking. So, every single time I stopped to stretch my legs, maybe grab something to drink, he appeared apparently out of nowhere, holding his sign and hitchhiking.

In addition to constantly appearing out of nowhere, every time I passed him on the road he would stare at me, looking me straight in the eye, with what I imagined was growing malevolence. By the fourth time I saw him I was convinced he hated me on sight.

I have no idea why.

I’m just glad he was evidently sticking with the number one because as soon as I turned north I stopped seeing him.

At least I hope that’s why I stopped seeing him.

I made a mental note of it, figuring I’d work it into a journal entry at some point, but didn’t think anything significant about it.

Except he keeps surfacing in my mind, his eyes staring at me. I fully expect to stop at some dimly lit motel out in the middle of nowhere and find he’s working as the night clerk.

Hasn’t happened yet, though.

My trip to Quesnel has been a good visit. It’s been too long since I’ve seen the boys and they’re growing like the proverbial weeds. Shane and Dianne’s house was exceptionally busy this visit as they had two exchange students living with them. Simon, from Venuzuela, and Pauline from Germany. Pauline is supposed to be staying with a different family but some scheduling misshaps wound up with her spending her first week with the Puts. Add to that Dianne’s birthday party and you have an exhausting week.

And I was only there for three days of it.

Joel's face in the foreground with his bike in the background

On the road again… and again…

Dramatic change has always been a struggle for me. I’m much more comfortable in my routines. Even something as simple as always keeping my keys in the same place provides me with comfort and reassurance. I worry less about forgetting things when I have a routine that keeps them all in place.

Travel, of course, completely shatters my routine, and no matter how much I love to travel I always struggle with the dramatic change it brings about. For example, even though it was the fourth day of my vacation I was still twitchy about not being at work. I also had to consciously work at not worrying that my condo might be flooding while I’m away. (This is not unreasonable as my condo did flood just prior to my vacation… so I’m not paranoid. Nyah.)

Dianne, in her ever understanding fashion, teased me mercilessly about being “oober late for work” and about the possibility of my condo flooding or, perhaps, burning down.

The world does turn, however, and sometimes what goes around comes around. On Thursday, a day Dianne had planned on getting caught up on her work (since she was busy with her birthday all day Wednesday) the washing machine decided to start flooding… just before their wood pellet stove in their entertainment room started belching out smoke. Running around and dealing with these emergencies, as well as the demands of a five child household, meant Dianne wasn’t able to get nearly as much work done as she’d intended.

I quietly pointed out that, after all her teasing, it was she who had her home flood, almost burn down, and it was she who was late for work.

Be careful what you wish on others.

That being said I didn’t come out of the visit without some drama of my own. Boomer had started making a rather alarming clicking noise from just under the fuel tank sometime early in the second day. As the trip continued the noise became more pronounced. Dianne recommended a reliable mechanic in Quesnel (for the record, Curry Repairs) and I took Boomer in to have her checked out.

The mechanics were grim in their estimation of the noise. They figured it could be one of two things: either the valves were extremely dirty, or I needed to have them replaced. From what they could see of the bike it looked like replacing the valves would involve dropping the entire engine just to reach them.

Upon further inspection they discovered, much to my embarrassment, that Boomer was rather low on oil, and what was in there was charred. I won’t say how low Boomer was, but I will say my shame was as hot and burnt as what little oil remained in my bike.

They topped up the oil and added in a cleaner they kept referring to as “sea foam”. I didn’t get the exact details of the product but the mechanics were singing it’s praises highly and I couldn’t help but hope it was as good as they felt it was.

They instructed me to run the bike for a while. “Take it around the lake once” were their exact words but, not being familiar with the area, I just took it out on the highway for a while. I figured riding out to Ten Mile Lake north of the town and back would be enough.

Boomer was sounding better before we even left the town limits. By the time I got back the noise was gone completely.

After giving me the “you don’t know how lucky you are” glare they took Boomer in for a complete oil change. The one mechanic also inflated my tires a little, advising me that he always did that for highway riding as it mostly involved a lot of straight running at high speed and less tire contact meant less tire wear.

Given that the man who rescued my bike from my own ineptitude was himself working from the confines of a wheelchair I felt doubly shamed for nearly squandering the privilege I have of riding such a blessed piece of engineering.

I will not forget.

Joel's bike parked at the side of the highway.

Not where you want your next breakdown. Not that you ever WANT a breakdown…

My first day of riding toward Quesnel was incredibly long and arduous. I did make it more relaxing by stopping often, but even after the first day I was wiped out, exhausted beyond my reserves. On the plus side I slept like the dead. On the negative side I was even worse the second day. The last hour in to Quesnel was torture to my ass and thighs.

Having spent three days in Quesnel I set back out onto the road with more than a little trepidation. I was worried that my endurance would not hold up, that I would rapidly succumb to fatigue and strain. I was just simply worried I couldn’t hack it.

Today has been, quite honestly, the best long distance ride I’ve ever had. And that after spending the first half of it in some damned chilly rain. The temperature didn’t crawl above ten degrees until south of 100 Mile House and the rain kept hitting just as I was drying out from the previous downpour. But it was a great ride.

a picture of a road leading to several hills haloed with sunlight

And a choir of angelic voices suddenly chorus in the back of your head…

Kilometers disappeared under my wheels without notice and I kept hitting the next town with mild surprise, always arriving before I expected to. I won’t pretend I’m not tired, and my glutes are definitely sore, but I’m in a much better mood than I’d expected.

I’ve also been using Foursquare for the real purpose it was intended: finding interesting places in new locations. I found a nice coffee shop in 100 Mile House called the Chartreuse Moose. It was actually a little too nice as I spent over an hour relaxing and reading when I should have been riding. Foursquare also lead me to my wonderful hotel here in Lillooet, BC, called the Reynolds Hotel. They had some good reviews and are located right at the end of the road that leads into town. You literally can’t miss it. In fact, if you don’t make the turn at the end of the road, you’ll wind up parked in the front lobby.

Picture of a bed set so high it needs a set of stairs.

Climbing into bed was never so literal for me.

They had a couple of rooms left and I opted for the one that had only one bed. All I would need. I was informed that it was arranged a little … differently from other rooms. The room isn’t located at the head of the stairs, it’s located above the stairs. Consequently, the bed is raised up off the floor by about three feet. You have to cimb a couple of steps in order to reach it.

The bathroom is equally quaint with an old porcelain tub set up for the shower and a tiny porcelaine sink substantiated by a small end table for your toiletries.

And the adventure continues.

So busy I forgot to play Dragon Age II

This past weekend has been quite good. I haven’t been this busy over a weekend since Solstice.

Paul Movie PosterThursday night I went to see Paul with Ronya. The movie is fun. It’s not gut busting fun, and not quite as dead on in it’s timing like Sean of the Dead or Hot Fuzz were, but it is fun. I think the major problem they had with this film was they were set in the US, and while they did pull the occasional confused-British-foreigners routine most of it was ignored. I think they could have played with the foreign aspect a lot more, especially as Paul was less alien to US culture than the two human characters were.

Still, there were some great lines, and most of the best ones had nothing to do with geek references.

Parts of the movie deserve to be seen on the big screen but I’m not sure it’s enough to justify the full theater price. It is definitely worth the rental, though, and completists will want to own it just to maintain their Simon Pegg collection. I know I’ll be picking it up on DVD once it comes out.

By the way, for the record, Nick Frost looks terrible with long hair. Please never let him do that again.

Friday night was dinner with Ronya and Bob at the Taj Mahal. Still a great place for food. I’m always surprised at how small the serving dishes are, and yet even though they each look like a single serving I have yet to ever end a meal there unsatisfied. I think my perspective has been skewed by Chinese food restaurants. Still another reminder that you don’t need quantity for satisfaction.

Saturday I made good use of my snow tires and rode into work for a couple of hours’ worth of work. The Maker Faire is coming up fast and we want to be prepared this year, not scrambling at the last minute like last year. Of course, the simple fact that we’re not moving the entire shop two weeks before the show should help, I think. Still, we put a few hours towards putting together a couple hundred ARDX kits which are going to be one of the focuses of the trip.

And I will be going, this year. We began ironing out the traveling plans for this faire and pretty much all of us will be going, heading out Thursday and returning Tuesday. We’re closing the shop for Friday and limiting the shop to a half day on Tuesday. I suspect I’m going to need the entire weekend afterward to catch up on my sleep.

Speaking of sleep I’ve been gradually improving mine. I’m more or less used to wearing the mask now and keep it on for the whole night. I only take it off in the morning when I hit that point of waking up and waiting for the alarm. That being said, I’m still not sleeping through the night. I still wake up a lot and struggle with finding the most comfortable position to sleep in. But when I do sleep I dream lengthy, deep dreams. Now if I can just figure out how to actually sleep the whole night I might actually start to benefit from the deeper sleep. As it is I’m still exhausted when I get up in the morning and I still nod off during the day.

Still working on it.

Sunday night I visited Mav and Tony’s place for dinner and Rock Band with them and Ronya. Tony graciously sifted through his vast library of photos for me to find any and all party and friend photos I didn’t already have. I started going through some tonight, but there are over 2,000 to sort through. This is going to take quite a while. Still, I already have a lot of new photos of me that I didn’t have before. Seeing them I can’t help but notice, again, how freaking huge I am. The scary part? Penn of Penn and Teller is so freaking huge himself that he makes me look normal.

I’ve been playing Dragon Age II for the past couple of weeks but I’ve come to realize that at some point I switched over from playing the game to Working Through It. The telling point? This weekend I’ve had almost no time whatsoever to play the game and tonight, when I got home from work, I didn’t even remember I still have the game in the Xbox until the evening was almost over. I have almost no compulsion to return to it.

So far I’ve worked my way through two major plot events and both events culminated in… time passing. Virtually nothing else has changed. Sure, after the first plot point the character becomes rich, but all that does is provide him with a larger home and a single new set of clothes that only appear when he’s at home. They tried to reward me with quaint little details around the new house, little touches each of the other characters added to the place, but I clicked through them all in less than five minutes. After that the place just became another spot to return to and resupply. Even the death of the main character’s mother barely leaves a ripple in the storyline.

The most entertaining part of the game, so far, has been the one side plot to help the captain of the guard get a date. At least that gave me some chuckles.

I will finish it eventually, but later… when the rest of my life becomes boring enough that I’ll feel like returning to it.

Right now I have a few hundred more photos to flip through before bed.

Good evening, we're so happy to have you... here.