the night I drove for hours only to search a gross campground unsuccessfully for Cardy’s stag party

Tonight, I drove about 135 kilometers to go to Cardy’s stag out at Maple Grove campground, past Youbou. I only heard about the stag a few days ago from Bill, and I was already working most of this weekend, so I wasn’t really pumped on going but figured I should since I can’t make it to Cardy’s wedding. Plus I thought it would be fun for Bill and I to head there together.

Bill wound up being busy with his daughter’s second birthday party though so he couldn’t go in the end. I thought about bailing too but my sense of guilt propelled me — I figured if Cardy came all the way here from Edmonton, the least I could do was drive for an hour or two to see him. So I hopped in the car, picked up some snacks for everyone, and headed to Maple Grove.

Unfortunately, when I finally got there I never found our group. I drove around that fucking campground for half an hour looking for familiar faces, familiar vehicles, party decorations, signs that said “Cardy’s stag” or “Cardy’s last night of freedom” or whatever, but there was nothing. All I saw were giant trucks and the tubby white loser redneck twats that drive them. Most of the pricks stared at me with a mix of distrust and disdain as I drove by, searching for my friends. Indeed, the only people that smiled at me were the ruddy-faced, bleary-eyed, tubby white loser rednecks that were sufficiently drunk enough by 8:30 pm that they didn’t feel the need to stare down strangers, and the kids riding their bikes around the place. Even the old men playing some stupid bolo tossing game on the road refused to crack a smile at me as I waved to thank them for moving their shitty drunkard’s game and letting me pass. They just stared at me, their filthy shirts carelessly half tucked in and half untucked, supremely annoyed I had dared to interrupt them.

There was one middle-aged lady sitting by herself on a log by the campground road with a drink in her hand. She was doing something on her phone, but god knows what since there was no reception in this godforsaken place. She was there each time I drove by, and never looked up from her phone. I wonder what the hell she was doing. The first and most likely explanation I thought of was that she was annoyed with whoever she was there with and was taking a time out. I thought that was really depressing.

I remembered that the site # of the stag was 56 or so but that information was useless to me because of the approximately 100 campsites at the place, only about a half dozen of them had signposts with their # on them. There was no campground map with a layout of the place, showing which sites were where. There was only one road sign that said “sites 62-86 this way,” and it pointed in the direction of two different roads so it wasn’t clear exactly where even those sites were. What a terrible fucking campground.

I’ve bitched here in the past about camping, how going to popular campgrounds on weekends is a terrible idea because you’re just going there the same time as every other putz from the city so you’re not “getting away from it all” at all — you and the other putz’s are just moving your miserable suburban life to a campground together to do it there for a few days. Here’s that post in case anyone feels like revisiting that particular diatribe. Anyway, to make that situation even worse tonight is the fact that this is the Canada Day long weekend — I can’t think of a bigger “proud to be Canadian” douchebag magnet than a campground like Maple Grove on this particular weekend. If you ever wanted to hang out with tubby, drunk, sunburned people who love buying crap at Canadian Tire that they throw out after the second use and drive absurdly large trucks for no reason at all, Maple Grove would have been heaven for you.

For me, it was a fucking nightmare. I was so pissed and annoyed that I didn’t even feel very guilty eating half a bag of Two-Bite Brownies and drinking a Dad’s Root Beer on the drive home to console myself. I had hoped I’d have time when I got home to do something fun and make the most of the remainder of tonight but no chance, Lance. Now that I’ve recorded this shitty night for all posterity, it’s 11 pm and I’m beat. Maybe I should have spent more time playing my new bass and less time focusing on things I hate. Yeah right. Never.

Canadian flag

I made this myself because I couldn’t find any pics of a Ghostbusters style-crossed out Canadian flag. It’s a little brusque but I’m too tired to care right now. Does no one else share my annoyance with Canada Day? I don’t believe that for a second.

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2018 recap

I wrote a recap last year and I really liked it so I’m doing it again this year. I was thinking about it the other day and it reminds me of the letters my family would receive at xmas from friends and family we didn’t see very often, letters those people had written to keep us abreast of what they got up to over the year. I found those letters universally boring and old-fashioned but when it comes to my own life and writing about it in point form, well, it’s just a really doggone efficient way to sum up a year’s worth of living.

Without further ado, here is what the masses have been clamouring for all year long! Sound the trumpets, open the gates! It’s my recap of 2018, yahoooooo…

  • Jenn took part in a video that went modestly viral, accumulating almost one million views in a week or two. She thinks the video will be the single ‘biggest’ thing she ever does in her life, in terms of reaching a vast audience. I agree with her, and think that’s pretty neat.
  • After selling her horse last year, Jenn found a new project in a one-eyed walking panic attack she named Marvel. To liken him to a human so he’s understandable to people who aren’t familiar with horses: he’s like the son of Usain Bolt and Serena Williams (in other words, a gifted athlete by nature) who was always a nervous child to start with, who then went blind in one eye at an early age and subsequently passed from foster home to foster home, accumulating mountains of mental trauma along the way which resulted in turning him from an anxious fellow into a full-on delusional, paranoid spaz. But Jenn saw the natural talent in Marvel and decided to try putting a lot of love and effort into him and what do you know, he’s come around in a big way. Personally, I love him because he’s a big, gentle beast who wants nothing more than someone to show him affection — he’s like a big dog, and that’s the only kind of horse I really like.
  • In January, I bought a Nissan X-trail after lusting for one for years. It turned out to be a very frustrating lemon. I managed to sell it without too much difficulty but it was an unpleasant experience.
  • In early February, Jenn and I drove the Pacific Marine Circle Route from here to Sooke to Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan to home. We left at 7 am and got home at 7 pm, and had a fantastic time. We saw lots of cool waterfalls, giant trees, and abandoned towns. I love doing ‘tourist in your own town’ shit.
  • Jenn and I explored and hiked some other areas around here we hadn’t seen, like Mount Manuel Quimper in Sooke and some tucked-away areas in Goldstream.
  • In March, we went up to our property in Sointula to build a lean-to so we had a place to store some shit and keep it dry before we started building a small cabin. We didn’t do a very good job on the lean-to but it (almost) does the job. On the bright side, we did some fun stuff while we were there. The tide was out so we walked across the bay to the marina to use their showers, and we hiked to Melvin’s Bog which sounds shitty but was actually very pretty, and on the drive home from Sointula we hiked up to the Woss Lookout which was downright breathtaking. We were above the clouds and it felt like being in a fantasy movie.
  • Spring 2018 was a banner year for chickens having babies at our place, as five of my eight hens went broody. For those not familiar with chickens, that’s a lot for breeds like Rhode Island Reds and Barred Rocks. Altogether, we raised a dozen chicks here over the summer, and I learned a lot about what I want to do different with raising chicks next year. I kept two, slaughtered one rooster, and gave the rest away to my dear friends Tom and Marion. I still visit the kids when their new parents allow me.
  • I built a 200-gallon rainwater collection system off of our barn for use in our vegetable garden. It went pretty well, and was a good learning experience in case we decide to do something similar for our cabin up island.
  • In April, I officiated Ben and Madeline’s wedding. I was nervous as all hell but it went great, and the ensuing wedding was utterly fabulous. It was a stellar collection of friends, the place was stunning, the food was unreal, the fancy hot tub was a nice touch, and I got to dance to Dark Cat.
  • Jenn and I started building a one-room cabin on our second property. Falling trees was fucking hard work, and took much longer than expected. Learning to lay out the construction blocks square and level was frustrating, and had a steep learning curve. Putting the walls and roof up was extremely challenging — even writing this now, I’m having flashbacks to how awful I felt at the time. But since getting the roof on, things have gone smoother: we got the doors and windows in and put the Tyvek stuff up, then Liam came up with me and basically built the frame for a roof over the deck by himself. Slowly, the dread from the worst parts of the build is receding in my mind, and that’s good. That was a dark week.
  • On the way back from another trip to Sointula, Jenn, Stella and I went swimming at Stotan Falls in Courtenay. Beautiful place, easy access. What a gem of a swimming hole.
  • Some friends from Vancouver came and stayed with us for a long weekend in the summer, and we tried to give them a nice ‘small town weekend.’ I think it went perfectly. We went thrift shopping with them, took them to some local breweries, went bowling at Duncan Lanes, took them to The Black Swan for karaoke, went swimming in the quarry, and watched a horror movie on the side of the house. I get wistful just thinking about that weekend, it was such a good time.
  • Ben, Tom, Dana, Paul and I went tubing down the Cowichan River in July, and it couldn’t have been any better. Dana’s Star Trek floating chair was a huge hit with everyone who saw it, Paul was gooned basically from the start till the end and was mercilessly tossed from his tube countless times (almost face-first into a rock wall, at one point), and we all had a groovy 3 hr float in the sun. We went for dinner at the York St. Diner and Ben was too drunk to stop the content of his sandwich from exploding onto his plate. The waitress was very understanding of our situation. Our better halves all worried sick about us being gone so much longer than we’d originally estimated, but these are the trials and tribulations of river floating. I am eagerly looking forward to doing it again next year.
  • Jenn bought a second project horse named Gossip, who was an adorable and easy baby of a pony. She was perfectly sweet, friendly, curious, eager to learn, and eager to please. She took longer to sell than Jenn hoped for but she finally went to a great home, which was the most important thing. However, the lesson learned was: two horses is too much — one horse is enough.
  • My chicken’s eggs won first place in the Cobble Hill Fair in the ‘large, brown’ division. I was such a proud daddy!
  • Jenn and I went to the Cowichan Exhibition for the first time in years. It was…gross. I don’t think I’ll go again for another five years or so.
  • My revamped Misfits cover band finally played a Halloween show. The promoter was an odd duck, a strange schmoozy rude brat of a person, but our performance was fine. More than anything, I just loved playing music I love with guys I love hanging out with, and am excited to start playing with the gents again soon.
  • I volunteered at the Glenora Haunted Hall for the second year in a row, and it was just as great as last year. My friend Julia teamed up with me for a gory human butcher scene, and we were a big hit. Dana even came and volunteered at the hall with us on the second night. I felt like a kid again.
  • I watched my grandfather die. He was 95 or so and his health suddenly declined so he signed up for a medically assisted death. Jenn and I joined my mom and the rest of that side of the family to see him off. I’ve witnessed enough death that I wasn’t fazed. But he wasn’t the warmest individual either so I’m sure that made the whole process a bit easier.
  • I went down the rabbit hole this year with acquiring all manners of vintage household items — appliances, artwork, kitchen utensils, stereo equipment, clothing, xmas decorations, etc. I now like our home much more than before, and I have to once again thank my wonderful friends who indulged my insanity and helped me get my hands on a lot of this stuff.
  • Xmas 2018 was a little weird overall. I worked xmas day, I was the only member of my family at my family dinner, there was a huge storm just before xmas that knocked out power and internet to everyone for a few days, and it wasn’t snowy or even very cold. That being said, this was the best family dinner I can remember, free of endless, pointless Grandpa Simpson-esque stories and an undercurrent of awkwardness and strained relationships. And Jenn and I did our typical xmas morning stuff on xmas eve and that was perfectly lovely. And because of the power outage caused by the storm, Jenn and I made soup on our wood stove and played Scrabble by candlelight, which was a beautiful, ‘slow living’ evening that reminded me of how different life can be if we just turn shit off for a while.
  • Speaking of slow living, after some thought and a blog post, I decided to start reading at home more, and so far I’m really enjoying it and feel good about my efforts.

Boy, I had been worried that I wouldn’t have much to write here, that not much really happened in 2018. Was I ever wrong. That’s one of the beauties of this exercise, it really illustrates just how much note-worthy stuff goes on in a year, even if we take it for granted or just don’t remember it all at once.

I lead a charmed life, and I’m grateful for it. Many thanks to Jenn and all my friends who, against great odds, make life in this proto-wasteland fun and worth living.

Happy new year.