No Matter Where You Go There You Are

My blog has been quiet for awhile. My apologies. I was on holiday.

This was no ordinary holiday. If you’ve followed what I do at all you’ll know that I usually try to travel to an historic part of British Columbia when I go away. Where was I?

I was on a cruise ship off the coast of Florida.

Again, if you know me this may seem a bit of a departure. It was a family holiday that had been initiated almost a year ago. I certainly had trepidations about going into the United States at this time in its political history. I had worries about bringing my children into a situation that could prove disturbing.

In the end, we witnessed no civil unrest. We were allowed to pass without incident through the international border.

This gave me some comfort. Some. If anything, this made me concerned about a different matter.

What about those that couldn’t pass without incident through the border?

I realize that entering another country is a privilege. It is not a right. That is why we as travellers need a valid passport. But I couldn’t help but feeling a bit sheepish about my position all the same.

Once on board the immense vessel, I couldn’t help but feel, well…a little confined.

Now don’t get me wrong. This had nothing to do with the service. Like I had been led to believe by countless accounts of cruise ship travel tales from family, friends and acquaintances over the years, the staff were tremendously helpful. They made every effort, whether they were serving my family in the restaurants or making up the stateroom, to ensure we were comfortable and confirm my family and I were enjoying ourselves.

Let’s put it this way: I’ve decided I’m not a cruise person. There were several reasons for this.

The small living space. The fixed itinerary. The fact no passengers, despite being all in the same boat, to coin a phrase, said hello. I think that most of the ship’s guests brought their own views from home with them. There were no new ideas or cultures to understand. The off-ship visits were quite pleasant and on well-trodden paths.

What I couldn’t help but thinking after awhile was: this ship has quite an international crew!

This was a part of the cruise I found interesting. Our principal server at dinner was from Mumbai. Our secondary server was from Manchester. The manager of one of the restaurants was from Istanbul. As points of origin were shown on nametags, I began looking at them. South Africa, The Philippines, Jamaica. As I spoke more with the crew and got to know them I felt as though I had travelled, but that sense certainly hadn’t come from my fellow passengers.

I’m not sure if I would go on a cruise again. To be clear, this conclusion had nothing to do with the level of service, which was thoroughly wonderful. But the style of travel doesn’t appeal to me very much. I suppose it comes down to the old saying: no matter where you go there you are.

The kids had fun though.

Please follow and like us:

Of Pontiac wagons and tent trailers

One Sunday a month as I was growing up in Victoria, my parents would get my brother and I into our 1974 Pontiac Astre Wagon. Our destination was Crofton, a pulp mill town just east of Duncan, where my grandparents lived. The process for my parents of getting my brother and I into the Pontiac was different for each child. He fought tooth and nail, thinking the hour and change sitting in that back seat to be a fate worse than death. Oh, if only the wagon’s wood grain paneling could talk. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait, not only to see my grandparents, but for the journey to get underway. I didn’t even need a colouring book.

Goldstream Provincial Park went by. We ascended Malahat Drive to the view over Mill Bay. We passed the colourful shop facades of Whippletree Junction. We descended toward the billowing stacks of Crofton’s mill. I couldn’t wait to see them, and imagine their stories. Why was there a road there? Why was that mill there?

Similarly, when the family later acquired a Coleman tent trailer we cheekily named Herb after the bespectacled character in Burger King commericals (don’t ask, it was the 1980s), I couldn’t wait to hit the road in my parents’ 1985 Ford LTD as we towed Herb behind us. My parents took us all over British Columbia on camping trips. We’d travel up and down Vancouver Island, park lakeside in the Okanagan and explore the Kootenays. I loved it.

I would watch the world go by from the back seat, wondering about the story behind that farmhouse gradually collapsing as it was being reclaimed by nature, or why there was a gravel road there (where did it lead to?) or why there was a collection of eclectic shops away from any town whatsoever. It fascinated me.

When I started giving my “Riding Across Historic British Columbia” presentation last year at Horizons Unlimited CanWest in Nakusp, I tried to remember what had started my interest in B.C.’s history. The above is what I came up with.

I’ve discovered I’m not alone. At my presentation at Vancouver BMW Ducati in November 2016, Dave told me about how he too had travelled with his parents in a tent trailer, developing an appreciation for the South Chilcotin, where his family had roots, and many other places in the B.C. interior. To hear this was fulfilling; I wasn’t the only one who had developed a love of travel and appreciation of exploring the province’s history via camping tent trailer style.

I still see tent trailers at campgrounds when I’m camping solo or with my family, some of the same vintage of our family’s old Coleman. I hope that, in those tent trailers, are a new generation of adventuresome kids that are developing an interest in their home province…its places, people and history.

My question is: What would wood paneling say if it could talk?

Please follow and like us: