This Generous Moment
How to cope when someone snores like a rutting wildebeest.
Whistler, British Columbia
I've been carrying my waterproofs for four months. Today I finally get to use them.
Hooray. It's wet in Whistler. I've started the Moose West Pass,
two weeks of travel in British Columbia
and Alberta, through the Pacific Coast Range and the Rockies. Endless magnificient mountain views and
hiking opportunities. And a fat lot of good that is when it's pissing down.
As a hiker and orienteer bred and trained in Ireland, you'd think I could take a little rain now and then.
No! No. I've had it with all that miserable damp. What do you think I came 8000 miles for?
The problem is, I've had four months of almost continual summer and I'm a little spoilt.
I've come to expect sunshine as a matter of right.
Of course, I could always take up a muddy sport like mountain biking. But all my cycling has been on
a touring bike, on roads. I'm too far behind to learn all the moves and, more importantly, the
cool biking banter to hang out with the bike crowd here. I mean, they can all bunny hop and
everything. I dismount when I reach the kerb.
My initial moose bus
group has moved on, while I chose to stay. Probably just as well. We went out drinking and
dancing the other night. One group member decided he "owned the night" and started dirty dancing
with a nameless female on top of a nightclub podium. That member is feeling very sorry and somewhat
gassy today, believe you me.
Cheerful Morning Person
I can take this opportunity to switch off and re-generate. Travel is becoming more and more
wearing. It's not just the physical fatigue, the dirt and insects and lack of sleep. I feel an emotional
ennui. I can't keep meeting people forver, forever greeting, and talking, and justifying myself. And
making new friends. And saying goodbye. And being alone again. Over and over.
The lack of privacy is the hardest part. In this dormitory life, this hostel life, there is
nowhere to escape to, nowhere to re-build your personality without someone wanting to talk to you, or
someone falling over your rucksack, or someone hanging around the shower room looking creepy and weird,
or someone snoring like a rutting wildebeest.
The cheerful morning people are the worst. There is nothing worse - imagine,
you've just woken up, bad sleep because of aforesaid wildebeest, tired, sitting in bed wearing
only your jocks, no shower or breakfast yet, NO COFFEE YET, and some bright little head suddenly
appears at your hip, all smiles and "Hey there mate! How are we today? Oooh a little grumpy! And
what are you up to today, eh?"
"Facing charges for taking off your fucking head you impertinent little shit if you're still here
when I get down. Although, when I explain that you were a cheery morning person, the judge will
bring down the charge to justifiable homicide, no doubt."
Volley Ball Improvements
Vancouver. I should have come here ten years ago and left the bog behind forever.
There is so much to do here. In the evenings the people gather to walk, jog, cycle, play volleyball
with their mates. There is so much more to life here than just going to the pub.
I started to learn volleyball in the east. So far, I've developed one technique. Whenever the ball
comes my way, I bend my knees, brace my arms, and dig, knocking the ball up , up in a perfect looping
arc, as all my team gather to watch, as it curves like a shining white swallow. Up! Up... and back... back... Back!
Completely the wrong direction. It falls behind my team, out of the court, onto the roof of a building,
or into a lake, some distance away, from which it must be retrieved.
This has caused some consternation among my team-mates.
I've hit on an improvement. Now, just before the ball falls to me, I turn myself 180 degrees
round, and dig as before. The ball still falls out, but now in the right direction.
It has the perfect setting, between the mountains and the sea. Grouse mountain is famed for its
view over the city, so I decided to climb the path up it, the Grouse Grind. This turned out to be
an endless staircase cut into the side of the hill, 1000m high. Nothing to do then but place
one foot over the other then and keep going. At least I would be rewarded with the spectacular view from the top.
52 minutes later I emerged, humid but triumphant - to see - nothing. Nothing! A giant cloud of
smog covered the city. I took the ski lift down.
Kristy. I met a beautiful young woman while I was in Mexico who insisted that I contact her when
I came to Vancouver. I didn't expect anything more than to meet for a drink or a meal some evening,
but Kristy over-whelmed me by devoting two whole days to make sure that I saw the best of Vancouver.
We went cycling all over the city together, visiting every part of town, from the Stanley Park
sea wall to the Granville Market where we stopped for a drink over-looking the harbour.
We went hiking in the coastal mountains when it wasn't raining. I am a dark and cynical old man, as
you all know, but for all that I can be struck by kindness all the more. And as we drove
back along the Sea to Sky highway, watching the island mountains shoulder easily through the sunset
water, I thought, this golden moment, despite all the whining and griping and insects and weirdos,
Kristy, these generous moments are all I travel for.
Top of Squamish Chief
Hat & Spoon