Small Town Rednecks

We were invited by friends to go see some fireworks Saturday night. There was an add with a little picture of stacked unlit firecrackers in a row, and a small blurb about the MacLeese fire department putting it on.

NOTHING led on to what we were about to see.

As we drove what turned out to be an hour out of town, I even wondered if these little town fireworks would be worth the drive.

Then from the dark stretch of highway we saw a line of vehicles pulling off onto a little dirt road. We followed. The road literally took us into what felt like the middle of no where. When the dust of all the cars we followed cleared, we saw what looked like a snake of vehicles heading to a lit bridge. Or so we thought. As we drew near we saw it was no bridge, but a road made of beacons, torches with flames leaping from them set out in a field. A firefighter with a boot for donations told us to be sure to park and get out to the fire pits “for the full experience.”

Crossing through harvested corn we reached a large crowd of people. The night was cat black and held a suspenseful slight breeze. I grew excited as I saw the size of the fire pits groups of people were standing around. This is crazy! I thought. But boy oh boy- I hadn’t seen anything yet.

With some loud cracks the fireworks began.

But then the cracks came from behind us. I whirled around as more came from my other side. Fireworks lit the sky in explosions- they were flying over head! We were surrounded! Through burst of light we could see people circling us in the field. We roared with excitement.

Then shouts and cheers alert us of a guy on the hill. He’s dousing a burning trail with gasoline. Big circles of golden flames burn in the grass… but he keeps walking closer. Not to us, but to a boat parked ontop of the hill. It’s filled with cardboard boxes. Like Santa’s water sleigh. The flames reach the boat, billowing and swelling, reaching for the trees. Everyone around us is simply ecstatic. I feel like a kid that sees their first crash- to- pass. I can’t stop saying what I’m seeing, “did you see that!?” As though everyone around me wasn’t watching the same thing. Then fireworks exploded from the boat and people behind it start having a war with Roman candles.

It’s pure madness.

How is this even allowed? My cheeks ached with all their grinning. And every time we thought it was over

it would start up again.

Then it grew quiet. But it was like that grand moment of suspense before the crescendo of the finale. Fingers began to point. “Look!”

Like the Trojan horse of the Romans there stood a massive towering statue of boxes. He was the height of a two story building looming in the darkness.

The BOX MAN.

“He’s like a robot!” One of my kids breathed.

“They’re lighting him on fire!”

Burning boxes broke off the statue and fell to the ground like chunks of a volcano.

The kids giggled as it looked like he was left in only his underwear.

With a sudden BANG! The Box Mans hands shot forth spears of light.

“He’s shooting lasers!” The boys shouted over the roaring crowds.

Then it was done. The Box Man’s head still burned and the boxes at his feet. We all talked at once. Awed and thrilled by the spectacular experience.

Like the short circuits in a real robot, random fireworks wizzed sporadically from the box mans can head, and we could only guess there were some crackers buried in the tin of wax. The crowds began to pull away. With a few last glances, we headed towards the vehicles, where a snaking train of lights formed from vehicles winding their way back out.

Out from this place,

where guys dreams are a reality,

And somehow allowed to take place.

The kids excitedly talked in the back seat claiming the could have watched the show till morning and never even feel the least bit tired. “Box Man” and “boat” rolled off their lips… and then only the sound of tires on pavement could be heard.

I squeezed Sams hand, “guess they’re all asleep.” And we drove home.

When the Well Ain’t so Well

I don’t think we even realize how much water we use in a day. I know I didn’t. And I didn’t find out by going on some Save-the-earth, Think-of-the-water, Minimalistic, “What would it be like??” kick.

Our property’s Well stopped working.

I was pleasantly surprised when our plummer friend, Rob, pulled up in the driveway shortly after I’d phoned Sam at work explaining the situation. That was fast…

Sadly though, it wasn’t gonna be a quick fix. He had to give me the report that nothing INSIDE was broken… meaning something deep down in the Well was.

A nearly 300 feet deep Well.

So while we waited for the Well guys to call us back, the kids and I carried water from the neighbors. The first few days. Till my kind neighbor suggested hooking our garden hoses together and basically saved my poor body from elongated arms.

Before said idea, however, (when we were still carrying/ pulling in the wagon buckets of water… ) I’d managed to carry two 5 gallon buckets down the road in one go and help the kids with theirs in the wagons. Then lifted all 5 pails and a Rubbermaid bin of water up onto the porch.

The kids had left a doozy in the toilet, so I slugged one pail through the house and into the washroom. I began pouring it quickly into the back of the toilet as my arms were really done. The satisfaction from a job well done however, drained from my face as I watched the water drain away…

the toilet handle was stuck down.

Really??

I dropped the pail to the floor and groaned… It’s bad enough ONE flush is half a bucket, but there goes a good two.

I instantly felt for people in less fortunate countries who carry water daily as a way of everyday life.

The other struggle I was faced with was when I reminded the kids to not flush for just pee as they’d head into the bathroom.
“I won’t!” They call as they pass you, crazed by your ridiculous reminding.

Then WOOSHhhhhhh!!!!!!

and a head pops out the door.
I squint- eyes narrowing.

“Oooopppppps! Sorry Mom! I didn’t mean too!”

And I slug in another bucket.
(It’s the years of drilling “did you flush?” into their little minds- it’s like an animal instinct now; right up there with migrating. Except for the youngest, of course, pretty much still just working on general AIM with that one.)

If my career as a Homeschool Mom doesn’t pan out- I could always take up Pun-comics right?

I recently came back from a 5 day camping trip, which I felt had prepared me for this situation. You know- stinking and living unhygienic.
No actually, for washing dishes in minimal amounts of water, using paper towels for grease, leaving things in the rain, and capitalizing on baby wipes (what? I told you it wasn’t a save-the-earth kick).

Things camping didn’t prepare me for, was cooking meals like homemade pizza and the insane amounts of dishes that dinner requires . Or two kids puking, a bed wetting, and having to see actual CLEAN people in my “camp” state.

Let me assure you though- things really didn’t go so bad. In fact, I never got to feeling “crazed”or “desperate”. My kind neighbors beside us we so compassionate, they graciously lent us buckets, hoses, a hand, and their water whenever we wanted. A friend a street over let me use her shower one night, while other friends prayed. And running water really wasn’t too life changing, where as electricity, or heat, would have been so much harder. SOooo thankful it didn’t happen in the winter too.

Also, 3 of our off-road friends came over Friday and Saturday to help Sam yard up the cables and pipe with his truck, winch, and engine hoist. Because those well guys Sam kept calling?- never had time. And as fun as camping is and not doing laundry for a week, the time had come.

Getting the pump above ground and back into it was stressful with just Sam and I. But actually pretty fun with friends. At one point Sams magnetic beer holder fell in the well and Sam’s head came up drinking the last of it. His friend Alex was also flung over the well when the hoist took a lunge from some tape getting wedged into the spinning spool. And when we reached really inconvenient knots in the rope being winched up, before we knew it Robs volunteered. He’s the tie-down supporting the whole works with his body while Sam un-clips, switches, ties new knots, and loops. Our friend Teela worked and rewound the winch, and her and I both drove the truck.

Of course the very best was the purr of that new motor,

and water reaching me “un-carried”.

And knowing God takes REALLY good care of us. Not just blessing us with running water, but with awesome friends and neighbors. And per usual

So many things to be thankful for.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded of just how good we’ve got it.

Little R&R in the Washington Woods

Sam and I recently went on a off road expedition through Washington with two friends. The plan was to stay on gravel as much as we could, and explore the cascade mountains. Although we saw some incredible mountains-much of it was from gravel roads too well maintained, and our tires found pavement more often than not. You would swear your in the middle of nowhere and then “Pop!” you’re in a little American town decked out in Patriotic flags like it was Independence Day.

Only it was just a regular Monday.

AND I kid thee not- people drove their side by sides to the gas stations. One guy had like a mink tail flag off the roof of his, and another a dog bed strapped in the middle of the seats- with a pooch perched on top.

Although we felt a little yearning for truly wild roads, ones that lead us into the great unknown and didn’t end in a government gate… the little towns were amusing.

I adored the mailboxes at the ends of all the driveways, the clusters of coloured tin gathered where houses shared their drive. The guys even pulled over to oblige me in a photo.

I felt like the whole trip was a EYE FEAST. Days and days of incredible sights that we zoomed past. It was hard to take it all in.

I really had a hankering for some hiking. Last years expedition left me wanting more. So I was thrilled when the guys took me way up (2200 meters) a mountain on the last night. We camped out with a bunch of hikers who were doing the Pacific North West trail, and woke up with a mountain top view. Then we hiked to the radio tower, scaled some closed off icy steps, and saw Canada from its heights.

It felt so good to not have any set plans, a phone that I only used for the time and photos, nothing pressing for my time and no responsibilities. And to just be with my husband… long enough that when everything is said, we just enjoy each-other’s company sharing an experience together. I couldn’t wait to kiss my babies and be their full time mom again, but man what a fantastic 5 day break. September is made for exploring. Like a male peacock, it dazzles you with it colours and sights. Creation screams God’s name and calls us to be still enough to hear our soul.
And,
Although I sure didn’t look it after 5 days without showering, it was like a spa vacation. I was all pampered  by the Great Outdoor Beauty, and all rested and relaxed.

Destination- Somewhere Chilcotin

We’d never planned on a 5 day trip to the Chilcotin. We had planned a year in advance on a group trip through the Alexander Mackenzie trail in Northern B.C. But that wasn’t about to happen.
No one could have predicted then that forest fires would cook B.C. and back-country bans shut down trails. But we’d already booked Grandma to come kid sit, and we’d already dreamed of a great adventure.
So we went where the roads were open.
And the “group” turned to Sam, myself, and our buddy Rob. Two rigs. With nothing but a backroads map-book we headed out with a itch for adventure,
and we weren’t disappointed.

I once wrote that my greatest stories are like Sandcastles. If I don’t write them down, day by day the waves slowly wash away bits of it, till all I remember is that “there was once was a great castle there”. I know this Chilcotin trip will be like that for me one day. Except, man, those mountains, if nothing else, will always be etched in my memory. Sandcastles… in large scale.

It didn’t seem possible that man could stand on their backs, let alone drive up them. I remember Sam pointing at them from a distance and I being in awe and terror at their might. Even the clouds seemed to quickly pass them by, as to not anger them.

Yet, after a scouting trip in the evening and a night at their base- we crawled over boulders that made those mountains in the Toyotas with “Peak” determination fueling us forward to the top.

We had awoken that morning shocked to find the river we had camped beside had changed like there was a tide. The grey glacier fed river would melt in the day’s sunlight causing more volume, and slow down, receding, in the cool of the evening. Across from our camp was an actual camp. A mining camp. Full of equipment and trailers, beds, vehicles- and not a soul. At least none living. (Unless you include the furry pack rat in the pantry in the cook house, or the dead mink curled by the boiler room door). Doors creaked, pillows and bedding swung from plastic bags attached to the ceiling, and everything looked like it had been left with plans to return. Only…. from the paper stubs we found, that was in 2008.

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What had they found in these mountains? Why did they leave? And why did they leave this all behind?

After a hot breakfast we started the climb still within the tree line. We passed by hundred-year-old cabin remains all the size of garden sheds, holding mysteries of their own. On the first bend before the mines mounds of tailing’s, we passed our garbage sacks that we had stashed that night- we were well aware we were in Grizzly country- it wasn’t just the mine leaving piles behind. We drove over a culvert that had large gaps on either side where the mountains runoffs tried to carry it away. Except we beat Times intentions, and were able to cross over the tube. How much longer it will be there?… well I guess only Time knows.

Then there were no trees, just rock balanced on rock and a switchback trail scaring the great mountain’s back. The first stretch up, my husband got to have the mountains edge by his door. Then all too soon a switch back. And there I was hovering over space- or so it felt. From the cab you couldn’t see ground. At least not the ground we drove on. I was greatly relieved when we stopped at the second switch back. We hopped out and scrambled over to “that glacier and pool- just over there” which turned out to be quite some distance away. Without trees distance is strange. It felt like we were bounding around on some planet from space, and we’d left earth behind. Even the plants that grew from between the rocks cracks were strange and foreign.

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We crawled on in the Toyotas. With the gears set just right in low range, the tire treads grabbing, the shocks and springs flexing- the Hilux worked like a spider up the narrow path.

I murmured in fear and didn’t know where to put my eyes. “You think this is bad- imagine the balls on the guy in the excavator who scraped this road out!” Came Sam’s response with a crazy twinkle in his eye. He was loving it. The truck moved like it was an extension of him, and he was in his glory.

I found my place, eventually. And it was outside of the truck- just up ahead spotting tricky spots where a good line would need to be played. Out there the truck looked like it had more room on the trail- not so precarious. We always risked the possibility that the path would become impassable and we’d have to back down the mountain.

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Then it happened. A rock side had washed out the path and left a rounded mound in its place. We were so near the top, and so far from the bottom.

After a short discussion the guys pulled the smart card, and as much as they hated it, decided the trucks weren’t going any further.

Not to stop us going on foot though. And man we’re we in for a treat.

Boxes and boxes of drill samples lay glistening in the sun, jade, quarts, marble… and large metal motors and equipment that looked like it was dredged out of the sea. Rusted and burnt swimming in a large array of nuts and bolts. Maybe they had a fire? Or maybe they set a fire when they left.

There were air tubes coming out of the ground. There had to be a mine shaft somewhere. We looked about for a while. Then DOWN a ways on the side of a sharp embankment was a large metal truck barrel and a pile of beams.

“There.” Sam said, pointing.

We returned to the trucks for flashlights, food, and water.

Rob (our friend driving the other Toyota) and I went searching for another entrance and Sam (a climber in the past) made his way to the tank and beam pile.

Of course Sam found it. The entrance. And of course this stretch our comfort zones. Rob and I weren’t climbers. Rocks falling away onto the small ledge where Sam stood- was concerning. Although we tried, there really was no other way. While we were trying Sam had disappeared into the mine and we could hear metal clinking…”what the?” And then he was back on the ledge beneath us with a ladder made from rebar with spikes on the top and bottom rungs.

“Hey! Look what I found.”

Then Sam was at our feet with a ladder that he pressed into the mountain, got us to step on it,  then monkeyed around us moving the ladder down. With this process the three of us made it to the mouth of the cave. I breathed a sigh of relief before thinking-

” Um, What if there’s gas in there… like we don’t have a canary or nothin.”

” you can stay out if you like, but we’re going in…. besides it will be fine.”

Well I wasn’t staying on this rock face by myself- and so I went into my first ever mine shaft.

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It was beyond dark. And yes, damp. In about five minuets we had hit the end. Besides the incredible quarts walls, we were disappointed. Then on our way back Rob happened to look up… and we realized the mine kept going up in a few different spots with sketchy old climbing rails. Well guess who checked one out? Sam.  Mean while Rob and I spotted little white mushrooms growing in the pitch black.
We never died in that mine.
Nor the next.
Although I would have been the lone survivor of the second mine because i sat at the caved-in entrance while the guys explored that one. I figured the only real danger I could be in was from bears or cougars and with the mountainside being all bits of rock, I’d hear them coming. I felt safer than I had all week camping. The view was spectacular, and I never had to drive a truck down the mountain to get a search and rescue team. The boys lived to go find another mine opening and climb over the top of a near by mountain top.

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When we did decide to call it a day, we realized we were fortunate that the trucks had stopped not far from a switch back, which was wide enough to turn around on.
It was strange but on the decent I felt no fear of heights riding in the truck- guess being on top of the world for a day does that to you. In fact at a spot i’d insisted to get out at before, i didn’t bother on the way back.
The whole week trip was incredible. We had so many explorations and adventures. From finding a floating party barge on the bluest water you have ever seen, to having cat eyes watch us by tour little propane fire. Being told were not wanted in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to leave to. To finding a Native Trapping school, water crossings, and that that public bridge you drove an hour to get to- was locked up in a inhabitants property and they’re not home. I saw clouds pour like a river over a mountains peak, a post office the size of a shoe-box, hectors of burnt forest, gnarled wind beaten African looking trees,  a fly-in fishing resort, and a really cool trapers cabin. Loons in a group of 9, and this…

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But nothing was quite like that day on that mountain. It was the icing on the cake. The Cherry of our Chilcoltin adventure.
Somethings need to be seen to understand, The peaks of the Chilcolin are one of them.
B.C.’S greatness is calling…
to be seen.
To be explored.
And we only just scratched the surface- forever hooked.

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Wife of a Wheeler

Last week my adventure breathing husband intentionally took the family 4 wheel drive van to the creek.
Literally.
Down the bank, to the water.
(We do not use pre-made parking lots and small trails to get to our destinations.)
Then he unintentionally hit a rock… with the radiator… coming back over the creek bank on the way out.
I wandered around looking for a bar of service, well Sam did what he does best.
He got the old van home.
Now we just need to pick up a new radiator.
I should maybe mention we drive a right hand drive, diesel, Japanese Toyota Town Ace 1990 4×4 van.

You do not go “pick up” ANYTHING for that van. You call places, who know people, who had one, in their back yard, who may be the only person on this side of the earth with the part.
And it’s all yours- for a kidney.
And they will ship it to you for a hip,
or left ankle bone.
(I recently waited for 9 months for a sliding van door window. Yes, I sported a duct tape van for that long. A member in the family may be missing a body part, but it was shipped, then installed on Mothers Day. You don’t know how good you’ve got it till its gone… For nine months. )
So I may be off the road for a while.
I REALLY wanted to take the kids to their summer reading club at the library today. So at the beginning of the week I presented this problem to Sam.

“Just take The Toyota,” he said.

Ok so side note. Although we may have half a dozen Toyotas on the property at any given time,
THE Toyota;
is his Hilux.
Let me show you.

 

 

I rode a horse once.
You think you know where you want to go. But really the horse knows you are not the boss, and it goes where it pleases. To you- it’s a wild thing.
An Animal.
This pretty much sums up my experiences with this Toyota.
It’s Sam’s tame animal when he drives. He does the amazing with it.
It’s a beast trying to throw me off it’s back when I drive. I fear it.
I know nothing about tires. But I do know that when the inches start to reach their mid 30’s, you have probably altered your ride to accommodate said tires and are into off roading, “4 wheeling”. When the tire size climbs in it’s late 30’s to being the ripe size of over-the-hill 40’s-

you do dirt more than pavement.

You’ve agreed to shouting at your passenger over the hum that can be heard for miles, when you do drive the highway. And being pulled about by the tread on the pavement like the taming of 4 rebellious toddlers. You giveaway to the splits every-time you climb into your vehicle, and you drive over yard toys- because lets face it- you really can’t see nothing down there.

But it’s all for the glorious performance in the wild.
They pull like a team up a steep embankment. Grab and tare at the thick mud. Slay trees in their path. Defy rivers, ponds, marshes and streams. Crawl over rocky passes. Balloon over snow, widening their grip.
But they no longer mesh with civilization.
I feel like a criminal in hiding (only the truck is yellow) when Sam drives us through town.
I feel like law-breaker, and a poser when I drive though town. And I drive like a Granny. Or just like someone who’s afraid of what’s beneath her. It takes ALL my focus and strength to keep that thing on the road.
I actually woke up in the night this week and couldn’t fall back to sleep thinking ‘surely there is another way to get to the library’.

Then it happened.
Today came.
I tamed the beast. Rode one handed glaring through the mud covered windscreen- and roared into town. I pulled that sucker into the library parking lot and was told, “sweet ride” by a passer-by-er. My children fell into my arms, and we strolled into the reading club with our library books.

Too cool for words.

….Actually Sam just gave us a ride in his work truck….

Who am I kidding? I “take 4 children to Library book clubs”.
Honestly, I’m still taming the beast inside me to just be the passenger!
But who knows…

I’m married to someone who keeps changing my tires size.