And…Home.

Return Trip: Day 15

After leaving Les at the hunt venue in Millarville on Sunday, we set off on the ear-popping drive through the Rockies, up and down the 40km/h hairpin curves of the Kicking Horse Pass, and then up and down again through Rogers Pass to Salmon Arm and our camp at Skimikin Lake.

A lunch stop somewhere around Banff or Yoho park or some other deliriously gorgeous place in the Rockies. I lost track.

We’d managed to ride for two days in Sheep River – where I’m told bighorn sheep run rampant and it’s hard not to come nose to nose with one on a visit – without a single sheepy sighting, but just out of Golden, a little flock took advantage of the slowed traffic in a construction zone to make a highway crossing in front of our rig.

Even though the Skimikin Lake campground caretaker, Dorie, was so overrun with equines over the weekend that she ran out of horse corrals, I was the only equestrian camper at the lake Sunday night, so Pai and I had the pick of the corrals. The camp has a very pretty set-up on the shore of wee horseshoe-shaped Skimikin Lake, and the equestrian sites have horse corrals set up right alongside each campsite.

The Scoot was dismayed to learn that this was his last night camping.

“What’s that you say? No more camping? Promise?”

Dorie gave me the lowdown on a nice hour-long ride to a creek for the morning, and Pai and I set off bright and early at 8:30. The hour-long ride only took us 45 minutes, so I carried on up a ridge, hoping, as ever, for a view. The trails are well-marked and the map is accurate, so we had a nice two-hour jaunt through the forest without getting lost. It was a lovely ride to end the trip.

Lake Skimikin.

After packing up camp and hitting the road by a respectable 11 am, we just squeaked in for our ferry reservation by the skin of our teeth, thanks to Scooty having a bad blood sugar day and requiring an emergency pee stop on the high mountain Coquihalla highway, which entailed an exit onto a winding road with no place to turn the trailer around. Excellent.

From the ferry heading back to Vancouver Island. Not such a bad place to come home to.

Pai was excited when we pulled in at her home farm, circling around in the trailer and ready to leap out as soon as I opened the doors, ears pricked and neck arched. Her arrival was apparently the highlight of the day for all the other horses, who galloped and pranced around in the dusk.

It was most excellent to arrive home not only to the lovin’ man, but Princess also found a spotless house, cold beer in the fridge, wine chilling, a loooong hot shower, and a better dinner than anything I’d cooked in the past two weeks.

I spent a good part of today unloading gear and cleaning out the trailer.

It’s hard to believe that this:

All fit in here:

That pile doesn’t include the suitcases, Scooty’s crate and bowls, the other saddle, the latop, the colic and equine medical gear, the dogfood, the dog clothes and meds and towels, the paints and brushes, the guitar, and the other two bags of potatoes that occupied the cab of the truck, nor the other gear (hay, buckets, feed, manure fork, broom, ladder, electric fencing and highline, spare tires, tool box, camp chair, water canister, collapsible wheelbarrow, pelleted bedding, rubber boots and oilskin, box of soaping equipment, and miscellaneous other equipment) that filled the canopy.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up with an urgent visit to the spa to make me respectable for tomorrow’s return to work.

Pai back home with her boyfriend Alf. Who has turned into a blimp after four months off.

So here we are, both back home safe and sound and happy.

Thank you to all the people who put me up for the night, who rode with me on trails, who sent me off with gifts of food and books and all sorts of other things, who cooked for me and told me tales and made me laugh, who taught me about where they live, who looked after my horse and made a fuss over my dog. I have been amazed at the generosity of people who didn’t know me from Adam. Meeting so many great people has been one of the greatest parts of this trip.

Again, what a ride.

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Saving Lives in Kananaskis

Return Trip: Days 11-14

I had a sweet evening Thursday with Vanessa and Brady and little Ruby (and Chewy and Penelope and Peaches and the kittens) – and enjoyed a second night in a row in a real bed – in Taber, the corn capital of Canada. And we did indeed have corn – cobs that Vanessa and Ruby and I plucked from their farm’s field.

Brady and the perfect cob of corn.

I learned about Mexican Mennonites (who speak low German and travel with Chihuahuas); about migrant workers who come at harvest time, and what type of work they do (it’s not all John Steinbecky: everything is mechanized and large-scale); about the Sugar Beet King (competition is fierce); about the price of land ($1 million for a quarter, the area of a pivot circle); about moving irrigation pipe (a bitch of a job).

The following morning, I loaded Pai and set off for Kananaskis country, taking Brady’s suggestion of traveling via Hwy 22 instead of Hwy 2.  While it took a few minutes longer to go that route, it was a gorgeous drive through the ranch land of the foothills, much prettier than Hwy 2.

I had intended to camp at the Bluerock equestrian campground, which is where my friend Lori – whose spectacular Facebook pictures enticed me to come ride at Kananaskis – had stayed earlier in the summer, but that camp was closed for the season, so we ended up staying just up the road at the larger Sandy McNabb campground.

The campground is pretty darn uptown, but the only horse accommodation option is in tie stalls.  I’d never used a tie stall before, so I studied how a group of three very professionally tied horses were set up, and copied their arrangement.

We had arrived early in the afternoon, so, after a quick lunch, we set out for a ride.  The trails as marked in the park brochure differ from the trails cited on signs throughout the park, neither of which bear any actual relationship to the actual trails. You pretty much have to wing it and hope you don’t end up as an Idiot in the Wilderness statistic.

Partway through my ride, I met up with Ann, Vicki, and Daniella, a group of Competitive Trail riders who were at a loose end when their CTR scheduled for this weekend was canceled, and who then decided to ride in Kananskis instead.  I rode with them for a ways. Turns out their horses were the three I’d so carefully copied in the tie stalls – and it was their first time using tie stalls too.

Riding through an aspen grove.

I hooked up with them again for a bonfire that night, and they invited me to tag along with them the following day for a longer ride.

It was a crisp 3 degrees in the morning when I got up Saturday morning, and I wasn’t clever enough to think of lighting a campfire to keep warm while I drank my morning coffee and made my breakfast. (I did manage to get a fire going Sunday morning, though, when it was zero (!) degrees as I had breakfast). Scooty stayed under the covers on the bed, with only his little hind feet poking out – and then, when I checked on him a little later, he’d tucked those in as well.

The trails maps and markers were just as whimsically placed on the Saturday ride as they were on the route we’d taken the day before – there’s nothing like a map that offers a ‘You Are Here’ indicator and then coyly withholds putting the marker on the map. Adorable. (Every single person I questioned at the end of the day, “So what trails did you ride today?” answered “I don’t have a clue – those maps are weird.”)

No matter. We rode at least part of the Death Valley trail (unaccountably, it was a valley – go figure – and the low spots had lots of horse-swallowing boggy areas), and definitely ended up on the Windy Ridge trail (which was both ridge-like and windy). We were rewarded at the end of our 5-ish hour ride with some spectacular views over the Sheep River (followed by a section of trail that had me quietly freaking out: a goat path that clung to the side of a high drop off to the river below. I was too stressed to take out my camera for a picture, but Vicki, who wasn’t in the least bit rattled, blithely snapped off a bunch).

I may look cheerful, but I am actually visualizing a sudden lurch to the right with a painful death at the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

Ann and Daniella, likewise unconcerned. Clearly not thinking, “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!”

At one point on the Windy Ridge trail, we came upon a pair of hikers who were heading back the way they’d come. They were shaken because they’d run across a couple of bears on the trail, and were looking rather despondent because they were going to have to hike a very long route back the way they’d come. Our riderly consensus was that if the four of us on horseback were sufficiently noisy, the bears would bugger off, so we invited the hikers to walk behind us while we forged bravely ahead. As we came up to the spot the bears had been sighted, singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” we looked up into the trees and saw a great big black…Angus cow.

In return for having so courageously saved their lives, we forced the hikers to take photos of us.

Once out of the valley, we did get some great views.

We did have a wildlife visitor to the campsite at dusk – a young moose wandered nonchalantly through the campground, not at all bothered by those of us stalking her to take photos.

Later in the evening, I met my neighbour campers, Les, Rob, Connie, Diane, Lesley (and others whose names have evaporated), who were a group of riders from the Calgary Polocrosse club. Les and Rob were going fox hunting (foxless hunt) the next day with the Calgary Hunt, and invited me along. I was sorely, sorely tempted – I have a jumping saddle with me, as well as my tall boots. Galloping over jumps in the foothills of the Rockies on a crisp sunny September Sunday – how could I say no?

I did actually say no, after much to-ing and fro-ing overnight. Staying would lead to some long days on the road and some rushing, neither of which seemed like a good idea when hauling a horse. I did, however, take Les up on his invitation to swing by the hunt venue anyway, and meet some club members. They almost talked me into riding with them for half the day, but a little insurance issue (they require Alberta Equestrian insurance, and my Horse Council of BC insurance just didn’t cut it with the Hunt Mistress) put the kibosh on that.

So we carried on to Salmon Arm, or, technically, Tappen, just west of there, and camped at the Skimikin Lake Recreation Area, which has a gorgeous little equestrian camp on the lake, with the plan for a morning ride on their trails.

As I sat by my campfire last night – my last night on the trip – it was absolutely silent but for the sound of Pai eating her hay, and the sound of my fire. I thought about all the wonderful people I’ve met on this journey, and of all the stunningly beautiful places I’ve ridden, the amazing Canadian landscape I’ve seen, and of all the places I camped in my tiny little pod on wheels.
What a ride. What a ride.

 

Where the Antelope Play

Return Trip: Day 10

The wind howled around the trailer/camper all Tuesday night, rattling the vent and shaking my bed, waking me up off and on until my alarm went off at six. The weather forecast had been calling for gusts up to 90 km/h, and I’d say it delivered. As I drove across the dead flat prairie, a formidable crosswind wreaked havoc on my gas mileage. I can usually get over 200 km on half a tank, but we were lucky to get 120. At one point I experimented to see just how slow I would have to drive on this 110 km/h highway to get my usual mileage. Ninety? Nope. Eighty? Unh-unh. Seventy? Pfft. Sixty. Sixty. I would have had to drive 60 km/h to avoid spending an extra $120 in gas. And then it would have taken me something like eleven hours to do the six and a half hour drive to Swift Current. Fuuuuuuuck.

Even though it was entirely out of character, my impatience won out over my fiduciary duty, and, with wanton disregard for my savings account, I drove at 100. Or 110. Something like that.

The good thing about not being sensible is that it means that you do tend to have a good time. I arrived at Kelly and Daphne’s in very good time, and about the second thing out of Daphne’s mouth was the query, “Do you want to go for a ride?”, and so off we went over the prairie on our horses – Pai reunited with her boyfriend Vader – dogs charging on ahead, in the last of the evening sun.

Kelly and Daphne live and raise cattle on pasture land that stretches as far as the eye can see. It is stunningly beautiful – all that grass and sage under a big sky. The wind finally died down, and the evening was silent aside from the occasional bellowing from the cows that Sam and Charlie riled up. As we rode towards a hump of sand hills, we passed a herd of antelope that fled when they saw us.  We rode until dark. On the return home, we saw more antelope, and coyotes began barking in the distance.

Daphne and Sam.

Daphne and Charlie riding along the sandhill.

We had a great dinner with vegetables all from Daphne’s garden (including potatoes good enough to rival PEI ones), and I heard some very funny stories about dogs, horses, a duck and a fawn, and a lost truck.

As I was having morning coffee at Daphne’s kitchen table this morning (after the best sleep ever, in a bed that was very hard to rouse myself out of), I looked out the window and saw the prettiest sight ever: a man in cowboy hat and jeans and and boots, leading a saddled horse, silhouetted against the morning light. Anyone who knows me well knows that in my alternate universe, I am a cowboy instead of a veterinarian. I ride my horse and fix fences and look for stray cattle and get wet and cold, and shoot the odd goose for dinner (in my cowboy universe, I am not a vegetarian).

Cow pony wannabe.

Kelly and Daphne were off to Maple Creek this morning, letting me make myself at home at their place in their absence. Pai and I headed out on our own for a couple more hours of riding. We found the antelope again, but never got close enough for a decent picture.

This afternoon, loaded down with vegetables from Daphne’s garden, we’re setting off for Vanessa’s place in Taber.

Riding (no) Mountain

Return Trip: Day 9

There’s a rumour going around that there’s a mountain here, but I never saw one.

Riding Mountain National Park does have an escarpment, and it’s a big one, but Pai and I headed off in the other direction, on the advice of Some Helpful Guy at Elkhorn Riding Adventures, which is where Pai has bunked down for the last two nights while I’ve been camping at the National Park campground, within walking distance of her roomy pen at the resort.  I had planned to go ride at the North Escarpment, but, not knowing the trails and not entirely sure of timing, I took his recommendation and we hauled out to Lake Audy and the trails there.

I had asked for a ride that would take roughly 3 to 4 hours, and Helpful Guy’s route took me exactly 3 1/2 hours. It was a 20 km loop that wound through varied terrain, from aspen forest to evergreen woods to open countryside with marshy ponds. There were places where the grassland stretched for miles and miles and miles – the park is huge at 3000 square kilometers in area.

Grasshopper Valley

I kept my eyes peeled for elk and bear, both of which Helpful Guy said I had a good chance of seeing, but no luck. All we saw were hawks and one grouse.

This little taste of the park makes me want to come back. When I pulled in at the Lake Audy equestrian camp, there were 8 rigs parked there, but no people or horses in sight. When I got back at three in the afternoon, there was still not a soul around. Either the riders are way more hardcore than I am, and were out for much longer rides, or they had headed out to some of the backcountry campsites for multi-day rides. Sweet.

Parked at Lake Audy: an ingenious DIY take on trailer-with-living-quarters.

Before a late dinner, Scooty and I went for a long walk into Wasagaming and down the shore of Clear Lake. From the vantage of the campground and resort last night, I had no idea there was a little mini-town over there, with restaurants and shops and a gas station and cottages.

Yet another hideous sunset, this one over Clear Lake.

Today we head off for Swift Current, and a reunion with Kelly and Daphne, the cowboy and his wife who so nicely let me tag along with them in Cypress Hills back in June.

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Talking to Americans (or, Men Who Wear Camouflage) (or, I Could Shoot That)

Return Trip: Days 7 and 8

Yesterday morning’s sunrise over Lake Superior was almost idyllic (the Trans Canada traffic noise knocked one star off the rating), complete with crisp fall air, a loon calling, and a cup of coffee on the rocks while watching my fellow camper Adam fish.

After Pai posed for a few more photo shoots by her camera-toting fans, we hit the road towards Wabigoon, a stone’s throw from Dryden, where Terry Merkel, the cousin of Paul who owns the farm where Pai lives, has a camp.

Merkel’s Camp is on a gorgeous point on Lake Wabigoon. A horse is so not an exciting camp resident – the camp once hosted a circus for a few days, complete with tigers and elephants.

Once Pai was set up in a grassy electric-fence corral, I took Merrill up on her suggestion and headed out on the lake in one of the kayak for a leisurely paddle (with Scooty sighing and yearning in the cockpit with me), and then had a swim in water that was “cold” at 65 F (which is something like 18 C) – by all accounts, the water was over 80 F a couple of weeks ago.

My experience with freshwater fish is limited: trout and Lancaster perch are pretty much it, plus the one pickerel I cooked up in Thunder Bay on my west-east trip. (Is Dolly Varden a lake/river fish? I don’t know. I’ve had that too). Terry and Merrill went out for a late afternoon fish just after I arrived, and very generously promised me a walleye should they catch one. They totally delivered – I had not only a cleaned and filleted walleye out of the lake and into my frying pan, but a crappie as well, and they were both delicious.

After a beautiful sunset, a  bonfire was in the offing. Now, given my trademark ditziness, it’s not really all that surprising that despite looking at the camp website and even popping by for a quick reconnaissance mission on my west-to-east trip, I still didn’t clue in that this wasn’t a campground campground, but was a camp. As in, a hunting and fishing camp. As in, a place where you go to kill things.

It’s not like I think that if Bambi’s dad hadn’t been shot by hunters, he would have died peacefully in a bower of flowers surrounded by his deer friends. I am fully apprised that if you are an animal in the wild, completely unmolested by humans, chances are, you will either die by violence or die by starvation. Nature is indeed red in tooth and claw. The thing is, that the people I hang with are the kind of people who, were they to see a white wolf, would fall over senseless in ecstasy. Their first thought would not be, “I could shoot that.” To hang with people whose fist thought upon meeting a wild animal is “I could shoot that” is totally foreign to me.

However, while I couldn’t really share a whole lot of stories around the campfire that were in the same vein, I did meet some great people with who had some hilarious tales to tell. Turns out that the thing I’d read about but never actually come across – the American hunter who comes up to Canada to shoot things – really does exist. Americans come up in droves to this neck of the woods to fish and hunt. I met a  group of truckers who have been coming up to the camp for sixteen years, two guys from Tennessee who were up for some fishing,  and a couple from Iowa. A truck and trailer from Minnesota pulled in late that night. Half of the guys there were pilots – which made for more great stories.

On my drive yesterday from Merkel’s Camp here to Riding Mountain National Park, through the rocky hilly land of Ontario lakes and into the flat prairie, I saw countless hawks, an eagle, and a falcon. Every time I saw one, I’d say, “I could shoot that”. I still can’t wrap my head around it.

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Singin’ in the Soo

I am camped under the stars on the shore of Lake Superior where, astonishingly, I have 3 bars of cell service. The Southern route through Ontario rocks compared to the Northern Highway of Despondency.  There are hills. There are curves. There are little lakes and there is the great lake. There are big pink rocks. There are gas stations and bait shops and trading posts. There is more than one kind of tree. There is the CBC. There is cell service.

The drive is seriously gorgeous. Leaves are just starting to turn – every here and there, there will be one flaming red torch of a tree amongst the green and just-starting-to-rust.

Hint of fall colours.

Pai is such a novelty at the camp that I could cover the cost of my site by charging petting zoo fees. The warden here at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park informed me that they do generally have on average one horse a year. I know why. It’s because if you are traveling with a horse, there is absolutely nowhere else to stay. There are no horses here. None. In compmarison, Edmundston was thick with horses (they were just in hiding).  I stopped at a gas station about an hour back on the highway, and the young fellow there was keen to see and touch the horsie. He said he hadn’t seen a horse since he was ten years old.  To someone who comes from places where you can’t drive five minutes down the road without seeing a horse, that’s just crazy talk.

Pai camps.

After setting up camp, chatting to fellow campers and helping them pose with Pai for photo ops, and eating up the fish cakes and split pea rice Dad sent me off with when I left a couple days ago, I tucked the shivering Scooty under my arm and we went out on the rocks to watch the sunset. My camp neighbours are a couple of road-tripping musician retired teachers with a fetish for rocks, who have packed their camper van with alarming quantities of amethyst from the Panorama Mine. They gave me a quick crash-course on the geology of the area as we watched the sun go down.

Lake Superior sunset

Pai and I set off this morning from Sault Ste Marie, where Pai had bunked down at Fern St. Denis’ SD Acres and where I got to hang out with Louise, another internet dressage acquaintance who, with her other half John and their truly delightful son Matthew, was the most sublime of hosts. And meeting Louise was like meeting a sort of spiritual quasi-doppelganger. Connection to the Maritimes? Check. Her rellies are from Shediac, spitting distance from PEI.  Bajan-o-phile? Check. There’s hot sauce on the table, she knows what coo-coo is, and she’s cooked flying fish. Techno airplane-loving husband? Check. History-loving Dad? Check. Disdain for sweets and love of savory? Check.

Louise (not a dog owner) baked dog-bone-shaped cookies for The Scoot. What more can I say?

Louise is an accomplished singer and vocal coach, and her company is putting on a production of Singin’ in the Rain this December, and after dinner, we all trotted off to ensemble auditions for the show. Real life auditions in small-city Canada are NOTHING like American Idol. Not like Smash either, nuh-unh. The director, Tim, was irrepressibly hilarious, people were nice to each other, and everyone had a good time. A lovely lady made me tea. Scooty got cooed over. And it was super-fun to watch and listen to the progression from the first group attempt to the final glorious rendition of the song we all know, “Singin’ in the Rain”.

I also got to meet PeeWee, the geriatric hamster, who has the world’s greatest hamster condo, complete with separate pods for all his hamster activities.

 

Look at his little hands!

Night before last was spent on the outskirts of Sudbury, at Hillsview Stables. The owners, Diane and Art, were just lovely. When Pai and I arrived, a jumping lesson was in progress as the sun was dipping low in the sky. The white bark of the birch trees that border the farm’s one big field were fairly glowing in the evening light, and I couldn’t resist saddling Pai up for a quick tool around that pretty field. The lesson girls were having a lovely time – how awesome to be a gang of girls laughing and playing and jumping your ponies in the setting sun.

From Sudbury to Sault Ste Marie is a short 4-ish hour drive, so Pai and I had time to kill before we were due to meet up with Louise. I stopped at various promising places en route in search of a place to ride, but had no joy. Finally, at the information centre (closed) at the turn off to Elliot Lake, I chatted up the grounskeeper, who sent me off on the nearby ATV trails. The trail followed the highway, so was a bit noisy, but it was still very pretty. We saw a hawk and a grouse, and the view from one of the hills was stellar.

Not a bad view for an ATV trail along a highway.

Tomorrow, it’s on to Wabigoon, and another camping night.

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Hot Date Tomorrow with the Tire Guy

Return Trip, Days 1 and 2

Pai and I had a stellar summer, getting lost on clay roads, meandering through clover fields, and riding the beaches.

It’s fabulous, when lost in a Very Scenic Place, to come across some random guy who is willing to take your photo. (Hard to tell from the pic, but the blue sliver in the distance is the ocean).

Riding the shore at the cottage.

She even got more than her ankles wet.

Swimming!

Leaving PEI isn’t really made any better by the fact that fall is in the air – the fields of grain are ripe or already harvested, the morning air is cool (6 degrees C for my sunrise swim day before yesterday – nippy!), and here and there, a solitary tree has turned red or yellow. Leaving is still like leaving the love of your life. Even when you know you’ll be coming back.

At Cap Pelée, I had an overwhelming urge to turn around. “You can go back for just one more day…”

What did make a sad day better was arriving at Junie and Larry’s at the beautiful Riverside Iroquois RV Camp, where Junie had a big meal waiting – veg quiche and a beautiful salad and gorgeous fruit with blackberry liqueur for dessert. It was like arriving home to family. The Scoot sequentially made himself at home on various laps, including that of Norma, who owns the joint. On a last minute thought, I had packed up some of the quick step-in electric fence posts I’d intended to leave behind in PEI, and so Pai had a great big temporary paddock and could hog down on grass – since it was the end of the season, the oasis was quiet, and we practically had the place to ourselves.  It was a very good night.

Larry and Scooty Patootie

Pai giving some loving to Junie and Larry.

This morning, Junie sent me off with a massive care package of sandwiches and snacks for the road. Thanks, Junie!!!

The Tire Issue

Now, changing a tire doesn’t exactly rank up there amongst World’s Greatest Technical Accomplishments, so I don’t know why I felt like a superstar for changing mine, but I totally did. Maybe it was because I hadn’t changed one in over ten years. Maybe it was because I whipped that baby off and the new one on in twelve minutes flat.

That was yesterday, when, after a lovely lunch of lobster salad under a shady tree, I hit the road again and, minutes later, the truck started juddering like a washing machine on spin.  Was it the road? The road looked perfectly smooth. I peered at passing cars to see whether they were shaking like I was (not helpful). The brain slowly clued in: tiiiiiiire? I pulled over onto the next on-ramp, and, yup. Tire was about to blow.

Good times in New Brunswick. Good times.

Today’s tire was more dramatic. Minutes after gobbling up Junie’s lunch, as I was trucking along to the delightful strains of Spem in alium  (hey, thanks for that musical tip, Fifty Shades), I heard a massive bang and felt the trailer jump. Horse down? Nope, no further sounds, just the single explosive bang. Moments later, the smoke from the left hind tire clued me in: another tire.

Not only did the tire blow, it destroyed my aluminum fender. I am now so totally ghetto, it’s not funny. After prying and hammering the fender back to a reasonable shape, I bungied bits together to keep them from flapping. Classy. All it needs is a little duct tape, and we’ll be golden.

Turns out, ten year old tires, even if lightly used, become, in the words of our Nanaimo tire guy, ‘sketchy.’ I did not know this. My dad, however, does know this. This evening, when I uttered the words ‘ten year old tires’, he explained about butadiene and polymers and UV light and deterioration, and how tires are black because of the finely divided carbon (essentially, soot) that is added to them to strengthen them. He keeps his car in a garage year-round. His ten-year old tires will not give him a little thrill as he listens to 16th century choral music.

It was a nervous 300 or so km from explosionville to Cornwall, given that the two remaining tires are of exactly the same vintage as the two blow-outs, and I was out of spares, but we made it. Let it be said that I am feeling pretty smug that I ignored Mr. Andrews’ scoffing at my determination to have not one, but two trailer spares.

So looking forward to not driving tomorrow.

And hoping I have no use for all the other emergency gear I brought along.

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