Fun Writing

A BEAR STORY-Cpt.Quinn

Transient

O.K. So if there were a check list for things one must experience before being officially declared and adventurer, number one on the list would be: *shit in the woods and somewhere close behind would be *get charged by a bear!  The latter often induces the former, so you are likely to cross both off the list at the same time.

Inspired by the book "Born to run", I decided to try my hand at a little bare foot running.  Dragging my buddy along for the jaunt, Gary and I each threw on a pair of flip flops and made our way out onto the gravel road that follows the Nass River from New Aiyansh to the Cranberry Junction. 

This stretch of gravel road is riddeled with bears-we passed four on our way into our campsite.  The thing about inspiration though, is once you find it, nothing else really enters the equation.  If Gary had asked me to go for a jog and I hadn't just finished reading "Born to run", I would have asked him if he wanted to go get mauled by a bear and when "no" was the obvious answer, perhaps tucked into another "smore", with my 30/30 lever action Marlin close at hand.  However, this was not the case.

So there we were jogging shirtless in short shorts and flip flops down a logging road that is probably more frequently travelled by bears than automobiles.  There was a light breeze and the sun was out.  It was fantastic!  As I explained to Gary the theories of running style and mechanics illustrated so wonderfully in this book, kilometer after kilometer whipped on past.

Gary-"It makes you run on your toes, it's, completley different." Captain-"I know right, I feel so light!" Gary "Me too." Totally in the zone, the two of us were flying, completely absorbed in the act of running, oblivious to everything else...

WHAM!!!

Captain-"AHHH SHIT!" I just booted a large rock with my big toe and split it open, blood was leaking everywhere.  Luckily I had a pair of soc's in my pocket, not sure why, but I did.  So I put one over my cut toe and away we went again, running down the sunset, bare foot style.

Not sure how much time passed but eventually Gary said "Should we head back?" "Uh...Yah I guess, sure."  So we spun around and began to make our way back to camp, I am guessing about 10 km. As we made our way back the wind was now at our faces.

We came around a corner, I spotted something ahead, something large and black.  I squinted to get a better look and than stopped in my tracks and pointed it out to Gary.  "Uh, is that a bear?" The answer was yes! It was sniffing around right where I stubbed my toe. Probably licking up the blood looking for this injured animal, already drooling in anticipation over his next meal-ME! 

As we stood there watching this beast roam around completely in our way and seemingly unaware of our presence, the only logical option we had, in my opinion, was to run it off.  We couldn't go another route, there wasn't one.

So, I let out "THE CAPTAINS ROAR!" However, given the target of my roar (a 400+ lbs Black Bear), it came out sounding something like what a teenage girl would sound like at a Justin Bieber concert.

"ROOOOOOAAAAR/squeek"

The bear spun around and imediately started sprinted straight for us like Usain Bolt in a fur coat, with five daggers in each hand and fangs that could rip through the thick hide of a moose.

...

Although that description does paint an intersting picutre I don't feel like it does the beast true justice, so lets just say it was running at us like: A 400LBS BLACK BEAR!!!

Having just made some new Nisga'a friends in Kinkolith, some words that the wise First Nations folk spoke stood out in my mind.

-If you come across a Black bear, stand your ground and look it in the eyes, try to look big and don't back down.

-If you come across a Grizzly, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.  Or you can back away slowly keeping your head down and never look it in the eyes.

I knew right away that it was a Black bear so I reluctantly planted my feet, put my hands in the air, looked it in the eyes and stood my ground.  Gary followed suit.

OOOOOOOOH SHIIIIIIIT!!!!!

"WHAT DO WE DO WHAT DO WE DO?" Gary asked.

"WE ARE DOING IT!" I replied.

The bear kept coming and picked up speed as it did. The closer it got, the heavier my jogging shorts became until finally about 50 feet away it hit the brakes, sized us up, backed off a bit and than came at us again even closer this time. He was drooling and huffing and really really mad. 

I don't know what my pulse was at the time but I am guessing somewhere between 150-180 million. 

The bear hung around in this fashion for about 15 minutes and we just stood our ground.  Eventually he started to back off until there was a comfortably gap between us, but he was still hanging around.

Suddenly I heard a faint rumble and a Volkswagon van appeared with two American tourists in it asking for directions.

EEEERCH!

"Hey how do you get to the Cranbery Junction? Oh and by the way there is a large Black bear just back that way."

"NO SHIT!"

So we agreed to give them directions in exchange for a ride back past the bear-A fair trade!

When we arrived back at camp, I changed my shorts and than russelled up some grub and wondered what would have happend if the VW van didn't show up.

I love tourists!

Until next time, Keep on adventuring,

Captain Quinn

Interview with Wander Boy-the international couch surfer

One of our adventurers has recently embarked on a fascinating, unique and exciting adventure around the world, not by plane, not by train, not by automobile but by couch. Yes, that comfy fluffy thing sitting in the middle of your living room. An interview with this charasmatic couchsurfer reveals answers to some questions you may have for him:

Captain Q: What is your goal?

Wander Boy: As cryptic, Zen-like or just plain stupid as it may sound; my goal is simply to find a goal. I have always just existed, working jobs I hated so as to save enough money to live in shitty apartments and get drunk on weekends with no real passion or purpose. This kind of lifestyle is detrimental to the soul. I hope that while travelling this fascinating planet, immersing myself in its cultures and experiencing its marvels, adventure will be kind enough to show me a purpose that I can finally, wholeheartedly and passionately pursue. If not that, than I at least hope to find someone who can finally beat me at a thumb war. He (or she) has got to be out there somewhere.

Captain Q: What exactly is couch surfing?

Wander Boy: http://www.couchsurfing.com started as a website to offer travellers free accommodation in different cities around the world but has since grown into something much more substantial. Couchsurfing now is more of an ethos; a belief that there is something much stronger and more sustainable in the relationship between individuals than can ever be manufactured by commercialism. Couchsurfing is a way to meet people, share culture and language and to help one another, not because there is money in it, but because it unites us.

Captain Q: If you could have one super power which one would you pick, why?

Wander Boy: I’m sure most people have posed this question to their friends and answered it dozens of times themselves growing up. I often thought immortality or mind control were good ones, and no doubt they’d have their benefits, but I’ve come to realize that in having everything you want, when you want it, it cheapens whatever it is you covet. Half of the fun in owning something is the struggle to obtain it. So I can say with confidence, if I could have any super power in the world, it would be that of flight. It epitomizes freedom. Pilots must think the rest of us are all suckers. I’m writing this interview from a 5 story balcony in Barcelona and all I can think of doing now is soaring over the rooftops.  I don’t think it’s something you could ever get jaded with. It would also cut travel costs significantly.

Captain Q: What leg of the trip do you think will pose the biggest problems?

Wander Boy: I think the part of the trip that will pose the biggest problem will probably be coming home. When on the road there is always something to see and people to meet. There are always obstacles to overcome and adventure surrounds you. You can be who you want and nothing seems impossible or out of bounds. Stepping out of that world into a routine where you are known and familiar is a hard transition to make. The longer the adventure, the harder the transition. And I plan on being gone a long time.

Captain Q: Please share with us your most memorable couch surfing experience.

Wander Boy: My most memorable couchsurfing experience? That is difficult. I suppose one that will probably be with me till the grave is shopping for a gimp mask in the various sex shops of the seediest districts in Tokyo.

I was staying with a legend of couchsurfing, Yuji Hidemura. Yuji had a 2 bedroom apartment in Tokyo and at any given time would be hosting 7 or 8 people simultaneously. For his birthday, as a joke, I and some fellow surfers thought it would be funny to buy him a gimp mask. We were looking for something both stylish and practical. It took the 3 of us several hours and about 6 different shops before we found the perfect mask.

But no doubt my most memorable couchsurfing experience is yet to come. The trip has only just begun and I have a considerable amount of adventure ahead of me.

Adventure is like a swift river. Whether you are willing or not, it’s always rushing past, ready to swallow you up and carry you off should you get to close. So leap in, head first, with wanton disregard for structure or routine. Wrap yourself up in the frightening unknown and relish it. It’s reckless, dangerous, terrifying and nourishing for the soul.

Captain Q: Well Conner, thanks for your time and good luck in your fantastic couchsurfing adventures we look forward to hearing more. To follow up on Conner's adventures check out his blog at the following link: Chronicles of Wanderboy.

Promising Whales and a Lucky Marriage-Joel

The 2007 sea-kayaking season in Johnstone Strait was well underway when I was asked to take a honeymooning couple on a daytrip out of Telegraph Cove. On the eve of the trip, my thoughts drifted, wondering what the next day’s paddle might bring. I imagined the excitement of being on the water when the Northern Resident Orcas made their first seasonal appearance in Johnstone Strait. 

It had been a particularly strange summer so far in the region. The salmon hadn’t yet arrived in full force, nor had the Northern Resident Orcas appeared in Johnstone Strait. Even the region’s long time naturalists remarked the strait’s lifelessness. I promised myself to donate money to salmon conservation efforts if we should see Orcas during the trip.

The next morning I found myself in Telegraph Cove (‘TC’) awaiting the now late honeymooning couple. Three quarters of an hour went by and still no one showed, so I decided to parade around the busy little cove in classic kayaking attire: gumboots, shorts on top of long-johns, a synthetic long sleeve with a bright yellow PFD, topped of with a salt crusted brimmed hat. The ploy worked; soon a blue Ford truck approached me and rolled down the window: "Are you a kayak guide?" they asked anxiously… "Did you just get hitched?" I replied reassuringly. They were relieved I hadn’t left them on account of their lateness. Soon we were all geared up and on the water.

It wasn’t far out of ‘TC’ when it became apparent that on this trip we would see some good wildlife. In the middle of Johnstone Strait, the local whale-watching boats had grouped together and were drifting. Whales were in the area. With cautious optimism, I suggested to the couple that we paddle mid-strait in hopes of spotting a wispy spout or at best a glimpse of a black dorsal fin in the distance. They excitedly agreed. 

Ten minutes into our paddle, we noticed a mile away; the whale watching boats had altered their course towards us. We stopped paddling and surveyed the waters in front of us. And there it was, a plume of spray jetting into the air accompanied by the unmistakable tall black dorsal fin of an Orca. To our astonishment, we quickly began to notice several other blows, some moving along the Vancouver Island shoreline and others spanning the width of Johnstone Strait. The Northern Resident Orcas had finally arrived! We formed a tiny raft and waited adrift for the Orcas to pass.

The movement of one particular Orca kept our attention. The distinctively abrupt jets of water made by Pacific white-sided Dolphins closely followed its movements. Suddenly, this frantic group simultaneously turned in our direction. Within five minutes we became engulfed in a euphoric frenzy of marine life. Dolphins were all around us, under our boats, ‘porpoising’ off our bows. The three of us transformed into little giddy children not knowing in what direction we should look. 

Abruptly, we were shocked back into reality by the unexpected shotgun blow of an Orca surfacing ten meters astern (important reference to footnote ‘2’). Stunned by the powerful sense of presence that a five tonne animal commands, we silently watched as the Orca slipped back into the ocean depths. As quickly as the waters around us had burst into life, the storm of activity moved on. In silence the three of us reflectively floated… We arrived back at Telegraph Cove stupefied.

While packing away the daytrip gear, the coupled mentioned they had married on July 7th (07/07/07). Apparently they had been experiencing amazing luck on their honeymoon. Although, in the morning they thought their luck had finally changed. Their alarm clock did not go off because the power to their vacation cabin went out and were consequently late. The couple feared they had missed the daytrip. In retrospect, their luck hadn’t changed. Our delayed start assured we were in the right place at the right time to witness the Orcas arrival in Johnstone Strait.

Whether or not this paddling experience was a series of coincidences or wedding luck and telepathic whales holding me to a promise, I can’t say… But like so many stories most sea-kayakers share, it reminds us of the awesome gift of wild encounters and the importance of honouring these experiences through our actions. Needless to say, I happily kept my promise to the Orcas and donated money to an organisation working on salmon conservation.

I am aware that this distance is much closer than the whale watching guidelines allow, but on occasion one is helpless to remain at a distance of 100 meters when these marine mammals change course unpredictably and swim five times the speed you can paddle. I strongly support the whale watching guidelines and do my best to abide by them. The guidelines play a crucial role in assuring that we minimize our intrusions on their natural behaviours.

-Joël Lagassé, Adventurer, February 4, 2008 

Porpoising: The characteristic undulating movement of dolphins and porpoises as they surface and dive successively while traveling. 

Pacific white-sided Dolphin’s ‘porpoising’ to the author’s starboard near God’s Pocket. Photo: Andrew Jones, Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures. 

Running with the Bulls-Ryan

STORY ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE RUNNING WITH THE BULLS

Written in the summer of 2006

“Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bull-fighters.”

After a month and a half of smooth sailing my Euro trip finally ran aground.

Having started on the second of June, I had already witnessed the wonders of the World Cup. Thousands of crazy fans and die hard supporters flooded into Germany for what would prove to be the biggest party of my life. I moved on to Prague, and reveled in Kafka's home town. Vienna took my by surprise with its flower garden's and cool mountain waters. I was able to see Vimy Ridge on the way to Paris which was a true Canadian honor. From the beaches of Nice to the nightclubs of Barcelona everything was running well. Next on the hasty itinerary, Pamplona.

The running of the bulls has always been something I had trouble understanding. I remember seeing videos of 600kg bulls penetrating helpless people as they scrambled over the cobblestones of Pamplona. The look of horror in the eyes of both man and bull struck me as incredible. Man united with Bull, the ultimate testosterone beast.

Upon arriving at the San Fermin festival I promptly locked my bag up in one of the train station lockers, not wanting the burden of a 35lb pack to weigh me down. As I exited the station the sky lit up with fireworks. Having missed Canada day, which was a huge blow to my spirits, I was immediately put into a most festive mood. As all the colors of the rainbow showered down on Pamplona I smiled.

Let me describe the San Fermin festival the way I understand it. Basically there is this saint and his name is Fermin. He is the saint of wine and partying, or so I gathered. For seven days the entire city shuts down. Families get dressed up in the traditional costume of the festival; white pants, a white shirt, a red sash and a red bandana is tied around the neck. The next step in the process is the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, at around noon. Then food stands open up and the smell of fresh meat wafts into the air. Thousands of drunk Spaniards and Basque locals (not to mention the tourists) take to the streets so that by 8pm the bars are packed. The streets get pressure washed about every fifteen minutes to clear the waste that is left by the mass of drunks. Also this washing is done to clear the course for the bulls, who as the clock strikes 8am, are released into their last day on earth. The bulls run a fixed course that has been the same for decades. They finish in a huge arena where, later in the day, they will die at the hands of a matador.

The night was young. The fireworks had just ended and now everyone is really starting to drink. Feeling the need to fit in, I too started to partake in some consumption. Being the thrift backpacker that I am, I had brought my own store of drink to avoid the pricy local beverages.

After about 30 mins I felt right at home. I bought the traditional costume that I mentioned and was the spitting image of any person wishing to run with the bulls. Feeling very social, I started talking to anyone who seemed to be in a good mood. After trying to communicate with several Basque people I finally met some Spaniards who spoke English. Now you would think that any true Spanish person would be proud of the running of the bulls. I expected them to praise my plans to test my manhood on the streets the next morning. To my great surprise they were opposed to it completely! They told me not to do it, flat out. They said the only people who did it were crazy, drunk, or American. Seeing as how I fitted only one of the criteria I was troubled.

Trying to enjoy myself I kept walking through the streets of Pamplona. Every bar was packed. People were everywhere. I kept seeing these wooden fences that looked battered and beat up. Not thinking clearly I wondered what those could be. Suddenly, it dawned on me that these gates where for the bulls. I had entered the course!

Starting off with a steep up hill pitch the course leveled off and started to turn. After about 200m there is a famous 90degree bend which has seen quite a few injuries over the years. After that run it is a sprint to the stadium with about 300m of straight running. The entrance to the stadium is terrifying since there is no where to hide. If you get stuck in the tunnel with the bulls you would be lucky to come out unhurt.

Having done my homework, talked to the locals,  and assumed the proper costume it was time for the mental game. I am told that professional bowlers visualize every bowl they ever take. Prior to picking up there ball they think of the way there fingers fit into the slots. They see the ball curving just right. And then they picture the pins falling down and the large X which flashes on the screen. That is essentially what I pictured only replace the ball with my legs and instead of hitting the pins (bulls) I would be aiming for the gutter.

I had promised myself that I would not sleep. Adrenaline would keep me awake. I even had a Red Bull in case I got really tired. I started to stretch at about 4:30am which is, in hindsight, way too early since the running occurs at 8:00am. After loosening and elongating my muscles I felt relaxed. Seeing a stone wall running next to a quiet road I decided to take a seat and rest for a bit. After a few minutes I made a decision that would prove to be the most important of the night. I chose to lie down. On the rocky wall I rested my head. Only for a minute, I thought as my eyelids grew heavy.  Well, way lead on to way, and soon I was asleep.

I awoke with a start. Oh no, I thought, I’ve over slept! I missed it! But no, a glance at the morning sky told me it was not yet even 7:00am! I was alright. I cursed myself for having slept but I did feel a lot better. I walked towards the start. Then, for no apparent reason I reached down to my money belt (the piece of cloth which contained all my most valuable possessions: passport, eurail pass, money, credit card etc). DISASTER!

My money belt was empty. I shrieked. It could not be. Not possible. I started to run towards my rocky bed receiving a few sarcastic remarks about the bulls being the other way. Reaching my bed I looked about for anything that might be mine. Alas, I soon realized I had been robbed. Completely swindled. And the thing that gets me and still gets me now is how it happened. For the thief to have robbed me he would have had to come very close to sexual assault. To reach into my white pants and unzip the belt would be to molest. And the thing that is worse is that I felt nothing. Perhaps it was the drink I had consumed. Or perhaps it was the stealthy fingers of San Fermin himself. Sent to earth to prevent me from running with the bulls. I was now a nobody. No train pass, no money, and worst of all no identity. I lost my dignity on that early morning. And the motif for the rest of the day was that of bull shit.

After begging my way onto the bus, I made it to the police station. I watched, on the verge of tears, as the bulls were released from there pens. Thousands of runners dashed madly down the streets as the bulls tore past. All this I saw in a Spanish police station where no one spoke English.

Let me say that the rest of the day was spent in a blur of hunger, shame and anger. Hunger, due to a lack of food. Shame, due to my having been molobbed(a cross between robbed and molested) and anger at Pamplona for the injustice.

But things were not over in that place just yet.

Having no money I could not leave the city. An ironic twist was put on my situation. Having no other place to go I had to sleep another night in the parks of Pamplona. It was easily one of the roughest sleeps of my life. Using a two liter pop bottle as my pillow and tucking my freezing arms into my filthy t shirt I sunk into a restless slumber.I awoke early, perhaps 4:00am. I felt a sudden rush of energy in my veins and heart. My groggy eyes lit up and I shouted: “Not on my watch San Fermin! ”No sir, I would run with the bulls. I didn’t care that I lacked identification. I did not need money, or a credit card to do something so basic to man kind.I walked the course again, with new interest in every part of the run. Having the benefit of the previous day on my side I knew where to be and where to avoid.

At about 7:00am I took up my spot just before the 90 degree turn. My greasy hair shone in mornings first light. My stomach growled like a wild beast about to sink its teeth into a baby lamb. My hands shook with the adrenaline and cold air. I talked nervously to Americans, Scots and Englishmen. We were all virgins that fine morning. We were all waiting for the truest test of manhood.

At 8:00am the first cannon went off. This signaled to release of the bulls. I started at a slow pace, just wanting to clear the dangerous turn. I took up my position about 50m away in hopes of seeing the taurus smash into the brick sidewall. I looked into the sky as the second canon blasted, signaling that all the bulls were on course, and said a little prayer. Tense, I waited. Suddenly they appeared out of nowhere. People increased there speed ten fold. I saw the first horns appear and I was off. Fight or flight took in and I have a vague recollection of the next 20 seconds. It took very little time for the bulls to meet me. I will always remember looking to my left as I ran for dear life. The lead bull glanced over at me. His eyes were full of fear and anger. He was scared, just like me. But we shared a moment there on the cobblestones and I will swear until the day I die that he mouthed out the words ' you da man' as he blew past me.The other bulls tore past and I gasped as I realized I had done it.I made it into the stadium soon after. The bulls were in their pens and the runners united in pride. No one had been hurt, only a few minor scratches. A very successful run all in all.

Things worked out for me in the end. I got an emergency passport, managed to beg my way to Barcelona, and eventually got some cash to fill my belly with food.

But at the end of the day, that loss of my things made the whole experience even greater. Running with the bulls seemed somehow more appropriate with nothing of value on me.

The sun will come up tomorrow, as Annie always said. And that is what happened to me in Pamplona.

Postscript: This story was written shortly after the events that were just described in the summer of 2006. Since then I have come to realise my mistakes but I still smile at the sense of adventure I had then. For anyone hoping to run with the bulls I would recommend getting accommodation lined up before you go. While it is true that there are real dangers associated with the running of the bulls I believe the risk is worth it. Recommended read: Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises.

-Adventurer Ryan

My first camping adventure-Derek

Big Bar Lake

In the late 1990’s my friends and I were in our late teens and were discovering the outdoors for the first time on our own. We all came from good middle class households where we were exposed to a variety of camping trips, vacations and other journeys with our parents, but we were now approaching the age where we wanted to set out on our own adventures. We were young, inexperienced, and under-prepared, but it didn’t matter. We were full of energy and optimism so nothing was going to keep us from our first big camping adventure at Big Bar Lake up by Cache Creek in beautiful B.C.

Back then, the Internet was definitely not what it was now. If you wanted to go camping in B.C. you couldn’t just jump on the web and do your research, you couldn’t get online driving directions, and there were no virtual tours or photos of the Provincial Park you wanted to visit. We have it good now and things are much easier, but back then the research was part of our adventure. In those days if you wanted to visit a Provincial Park in B.C. you needed a couple things. First, we needed this booklet (I don’t remember exactly what it was called, but it was something like the B.C. Parks Guide) and it had all of the info and location of every Provincial Park in B.C. My friends and I would get that guidebook every year as it was the bible when it came to planning our trips. Next, we needed a map (there was no GPS in cars back then). Finally, we needed some money for supplies, money for gas, and of course money for beer, but none of us really had any money, so this was a bit of a challenge!

The plan came together pretty quickly one evening as we sat at my friend’s parent’s house and planned it out. We wanted to go somewhere we had never been before, we wanted to go somewhere far away (but not too far), and we wanted to go to a lake. After spending countless hours reading through the guidebook we decided on Big Bar Lake. It had great camping, hiking, fishing, and it was located in a part of the province that none of us had explored before. So, after saving a little money, wrestling a little more from our parents, buying our supplies, packing our car, and swinging by our favorite 19 year old friend’s house for our beer, we were off on our adventure. Now, let me tell you that back then a 1985 Honda Accord was considered a great car, but when you cram 3 sweaty teenagers, all their stuff, and venture off on a long journey then you wouldn’t think it is the best vehicle in the world. Well it had to do because it was all we had. During our journey we got to see new landscapes, forests, and rivers that we had never come across before. I always loved the adventure because you never knew what would be around the next bend, which kept me wanting to always go further, and see more. 

Finally after what seemed to be an eternity we arrived in Cache Creek where we decided to load up on some gas and supplies before making our way down the logging road out to Big Bar Lake. We met some interesting characters in that town especially the one old man sitting out front of the liquor store. He was an old, wrinkled, very short man, in a jean tuxedo and ball cap. The stuff that came out of his mouth was incomprehensible, but he sure wanted to talk. We gave him a beer, made his year, and continued on our journey. 

About halfway down the logging road my friend noticed a smell of gas coming from his car. We pulled off to the side and we all got out to see what was up. I guess that 1985 Honda Accords are not designed for the bumps of a logging road. With all the tough terrain that we were going over his gas line had rattled off. We were now leaking gas and we were miles away from any gas station. Of course we had no tools either because we were a bunch of punk teenage kids who where more concerned with getting there then getting prepared. We turned around and went back to Cache Creek where we found a service station that was able to fix our car in a jiffy. So, finally, back underway. We made it down the logging road this time without any problems and rolled into the Provincial Park campsite. On arrival we realized that this was not a super tent friendly campground. It was super exposed and the sites were right on the side of the lake. Everyone had nice big trucks, campers, boats, state of the art fishing gear and all the warm clothes you could imagine. No worries, I had two of the best friends money could buy, twenty-four hotdogs and a bunch of beer. We were set!

Setting up camp seemed to be a bit of a challenge. Being young punk kids, we failed the first test of camping. We got there, went exploring, drank, and where now in no shape to setup camp in the dark.  We sat on top of our tents/tarps and looked out over the lake.  The gentlemen in the camp next to us came over to lend us a hand. With a bit of direction and some more sober minds we were able to get things setup. As we sat back, in our lakefront campsite, with the fire burning and that smell of sweet campfire filling our noses we roasted wieners over the fire and looked out over the big open sky. We thought he had found a little piece of heaven. 

The night went by quick (probably because we got wasted), but after a few hours with three guys in a two man tent we decided to get up. We fixed some breakfast, relaxed and got ready. We decided to go on a hike and explore the big open rolling yellow hills of the park. We wanted to climb to the top, see the views, maybe spot some wildlife and just take everything in for the first time. As we ventured out we began to hike along the top on this one rolling hill when out of nowhere our one friend said to us “that he wanted to go up and explore the upper ridge” and just kind of took off. My other friend and I decided to maintain our current course as it was a beautiful ledge along the lake and it was taking us towards an open plain that we wanted to explore. After about 45 minutes we realized that we were on the lower hill and our friend was off in the distance on the upper ridge. We could see him as clearly as day. As we came over the next bend we spotted a black bear off in the distance. We sat back and watched it make its way though the meadows. Soon after we noticed that the bear was not alone. It had two bear cubs with it. We decided to take a seat, keep our distance and just observe. It was amazing. Looking one way we had this big open sky above us and a beautiful lake filled with fly fisherman and the other way we looked we saw this great meadow with 3 bears doing their thing. All of a sudden a quick movement caught our attention. We noticed our other friend off in the distance sprinting across the upper ridge back towards the campsite. Thinking the worse, we thought he was being chased by another bear or worse maybe a cougar! We could see him, he looked panicked, he was sure moving, but he couldn’t hear us. 

We decided to make our way over to him to see what was wrong. We hiked straight upwards over the rolling hill to the upper ledge that he was on. We searched around for him, but there was no sign of him. So, we decided to begin to make our way back to camp. As we were walking along, we noticed the biggest, grossest, pile of crap you had ever seen in your day. Just past it looked like some cloth or something. Thinking to ourselves “what kind of animal would lay a crap like this one right along a hiking trail?” It boggled my mind, but I soon forgot about it. As we made our way back to camp we spotted our friend sitting back in his lawn chair, enjoying the view, with a beverage! He had a huge grin on his face and looked oh so pleased with himself. We said to him, “hey man, we saw you up on the hill. Were you being chased by a bear or something? You looked panicked and you were running so fast!” He looked over to us, smiled, stared away for a second, looked back, paused, and said, “ya, there was no bear.” We were like, “No, there were three bears! Didn’t you see them? Isn’t that why you were running?” He chuckled a bit, held back and then said, “No, I really had to take a crap!” Right then and there, I knew that dirty pile of steamy dung that we had come across right on the middle of a beautiful trail, in the middle of a spectacular park, up in Caribou country, was the result of our friend eating too many hotdogs, ingesting too many beers, and having one too many cans of stag chilly the night before! I turned away, laughed, and thought to myself, “this trip can be summed up in one word…amazing!”

-Adventurer Derek

Margaritas & Facial Reconstructive Surgery-Cpt.Quinn

Never Again


As I stair out the window of Air Canada flight AC 2468 a sudden hard smack on the arm causes me to spill tomato juice all over my already ketchup stained pants.   A deep breath followed by a long sigh helps me to ignore the sudden onset of an impulse to strike back.  An impulse developed in response to growing up with a younger brother.  A history involving countless scrapes, bruises, stitches and tears.  "Hey," my brother says, "look at Oma," our 86 year old grandmother is standing in the lavatory line up with a pack of "Virginia Slims" in one hand and a lighter in the other.  "Hmm, I wonder what she's up to", I reply, as if it weren't blatantly obvious.  The tomato juice has now secured its place in history deep within the denim fabric of my pants.  Its been nearly 8 hours since our dear oma's last cigarette, 7 hours and 45 minutes longer than usual and she's about had enough.  My brother and I exchange a look that could only suggest one emotion: curiosity.  I glance back out the window and think to myself, "this is going to be a long 7 days".

Our mother "The Major" thought it would be nice if the 2 oldest of her four boys were to spend a week in Cancun at an all inclusive with their dear sweet oma.  Not my type of adventure but I love my oma to pieces and I wasn't about to get her on a overnight snowshoeing trip, so I settled for some quality time in Margaritaville.  My brother, my oma and I in Cancun, Mexico. Sounds relaxing enough...

It didn't take long for my overly competitive 6 foot 5, 220 pound younger brother to secure the title "king of the pong".  I observed him with amusement as he slammed ball after ball into his opponents half of the table, where it would than bounce about a mile off into any which direction. Mojito in one hand, paddle in the other, he made a slightly less than humble spectacle with the celebration of each point.  After all, it was important that his opponents knew who the "king" was.  His competition: a line up of boys and girls ranging in age from 7 to 14 years.  Parents stood by in shock as this monster of a man sent their children off chasing ping pong balls all over the quiet familly resort, one after the other, no shame.  What childhood trauma haunts these children as a result of that days exhibition, I have no idea.  But I'll bet to date, if you were to ask them who the "king" is, not one of them would reply, Elvis. 

After about 4 days of playing dominos with oma and destroying the competition at the ping pong table my brother and I found our selves sharing a cuban cigar and a bullshit on the beach as the sun went to rest for the night.  It didn't take long for our young entourage to discover our area of refuge.  They began a series of cart-wheels, back-flips and twists to entice us into entertaining them again.  Recognizing this as my cue I got to my feet, handed off my glass of vino and took the stage for a back-flip, a move that previously posed no problem.  Perhaps the blood hadn't quite rushed back into my head, or maybe I had one too many at dinner, whatever the reason, the next stunt would cause this trip to become the most expensive grandmother-grandsons vacation on record.  It would also force us to seriously question our decision not to get travelers insurance.

It took about 2 seconds for this aerobatic stunt to put me face first in the sand/rock.  As I rose to my feet the thing that hurt the most was my ego, never mind the fact that I had just turned the bridge of my nose into a door that could hinge open to my sinus cavity.  "Hey bro, am I bleeding?"  There was no need for an answer, his face said it all.

It didn't take long for my brother to return from our room with our wallets which would soon be scraped clean.  Now for the very long journey to get my face put back together.  We made our way to hospital number one, not in a ambulance but in a taxi (their faster) we were assured, no need for safety at this point.  The doctor gave me a once over than told me in very broken english that he couldn't help me, I needed plastic surgery.  Back to the taxi, now with a neck brace and gauze to hold my beak in place instead of the paper towel I was previously using.  

When we arrived at the next hospital we were greeted by a small mexican lady who didn't speak a lick of english.  Next thing I know I was tossed onto a mobile hospital bed and wheeled into a room where I was instructed with hand gestures to remove all my clothes.  So here I am standing in a mexican hospital holding my nose on my face, naked to the  world.  It was at this moment that things really began to sink in.  Next, I was handed a hospital gown that I desperately used to try and cover as much of my 6 foot 2, 220 pound naked body as possible.  An attempt that proved to be all in vain.  The gown fit like a child's medium t-shirt, without so much as a stitch to hold the back shut.  So there I stood, bloody gauze covering my busted face and a child's medium t-shirt covering my upper torso.  While the rest of me just hung out for all to see.  I would remain in this fashionable attire for the next 24 hours. However, this was no time for humiliation, instead we had to find a way to come up with $22 000 US, or else I was told they couldn't operate.  I had 8 hours before the tissue in my nose would die, after which according to the doctor it would just fall off. Wonderful news.  

My brother somehow managed to get on the phone, ring oma at 2:00 am, who has no idea what is going on, and max her credit card out at 14 g's.  Still 8 short.  Well, we only had 3000 between the two of us which was quickly picked clean.  So now for the dreaded call to the "The Major".  To say our mother is protective would be a gross understatement, she used to follow us around on halloween in the mini-van until we were 17 and she probably still would if she didn't have two younger boys to mother in our place.  Needless to say, we knew she would absolutely freak out upon hearing of our predicament.  My father would have said "What, you need 5 grand, well than you better get a job".  My brother tried to break it to her as softly as he could and being the amazing mom that she is, without hesitation picked up the rest of the tab.

Time for surgery.  Of which there is not too much I can remember, as I was put under for the whole process.  I do remember being rolled, again butt-naked, onto a rather chilly stainless steel cross and strapped down.  Next a small man came into my vision, only long enough for me to make note of the annoyed expression he was wearing.  He covered my face with a mask, muttered something about a burrito and I was out. 

 As the wheels touched back down in Canada, it marked the end of an adventure that I am not in a hurry to ever relive.  I was happier than I think I've ever been to be home.  I now have quite a hefty debt, but I still have my sniffer.  A thousands thanks to my brother, oma, and mother as well the team of mexican doctors who helped put Humpty Dumpty back together again.