Paddling the Nile
The first ever paddle down the Blue Nile from source to sea. 5,000km through wild rapids, war zones, crocodile and hippo infested waters, disease, terrorists, guns, arrests; the works...
Newly married amongst the neon glow and dumpling vendors as we bumble our way trying to figure out the world's most populous nation at this exciting time in it's history...
The Great Canadian Bike Trek
23 years old and naive, I set off in the middle of Canada's barbaric winter perched on a woolskin seat-cover peddling solo from one side of Canada to the other...
With one or two 30 degree-days, balmy evenings and shorts and sandals as the norm for work attire, long gone are the memories of snowy pine trees and icy puddles. And with the sun, have come the activities. I've inherited a pair of roller blades, swung a few golf clubs and spent a few hot summer nights by the poolside of the local public baths.
Having never been much of a keen swimmer in the pool, I'd decided that I would overcome my fear of not being able to swim to shore if the ship went down. Just down the road is Kitsilano pool, at a staggering 137.5m in length, this grandiose outdoor pool, bordering the sands of Kits beach, overlooking the downtown skyline, snowcapped mountains and spectacular harbour couldn't be better, and some of the friendly patrons help make the place even more excellent. I'm up to swimming 12 lengths a time (just over a mile), with many lengthy rests in between lengths. To finish up after frolicking in the pool, we sometimes have a few beers at the patio of Malones bar by the beach.
I've had a couple of rounds of golf in the sun and although the courses haven't been up to the finely manicured Berhampore Municipal Golf Links, they have been pretty good. At just under $50 kiwi for the average round, things are fairly pricey. I had my first drive on a buggy, a complimentary trip up to the clubhouse, although after testing it off road and skidding on the tar, I don't think that the members were too amused. A hit to the knee by a golf ball at point blank range, early in the back nine, helped add to the entertainment, as did numerous lessons on etiquette from other players and the green keepers. Perhaps the greatest thing about golfing on Canadian soil are the young girls bringing around chilled local beers on the back of a golf buggy to help soften the hot afternoon sun.
I was the one of key organisers for a Marketing Retreat up to the beach. Suprisingly, work went for it, giving us some time off and paying for food and beverages. It was a good bonding time with the rest of the Marketing Department, and after a long, hard day of talking about work stuff and eating treats courtesy of work, we ended up playing ping pong, golf and Frisbee with breaks for eating and drinking and walking along the shoreline enjoying the pine-framed beach.
With the long weekend, came an action packed weekend deep into the interior of British Columbia. A 1999 Chevrolet convertible was hired and we made our way through the grand mountainous scenery of British Columbia, basking in mid-30 degree heat, feeling like royalty with our $10 tour sun glasses and top down. Our port of destination was the quaint little town of Nelson, made famous by the Steve Martin classic, Roxanne, in the 80's. After a few stops a long the way for lunch and to see friends for a dip and dinner in the charming lakeside town of Ossyous, we finally reached the scenic town of Nelson. Nelson is nestled right on a large lake surrounded by pine tree covered mountains. The town itself is filled with character Victorian buildings, restored to their former glory, and is occupied predominantly by tree-planting hippies wearing hemp apparel.
Nelson was full of adventure with races down the mountain in mini snow sleds (a.k.a. G2 Racers), a mammoth canoe paddle followed by a hike to the enchanting Emerald Lake � the greenest, clearest, and coldest lake that I have ever seen. It made previous shrinkage that I had encountered look mild, and a quick dip in the glacial lake led to numbness for hours. Saturday night was probably the most bizarre night that I have ever had where I found myself swaying to the tunes of a six-piece guitar band dressed in WoodStock costumes playing to a bunch of bra-less hippies still protesting about Vietnam.
We were spoilt with our accommodation which consisted of a huge house on top of a hill, overlooking the mountains, valleys and rivers below.
The following weekend was occupied by my neighbours' wedding. A great couple, who are famous for putting on the best Thursday night roast dinners, and who I also ran the marathon with. They were tying the knot, and in the grandest style. After catching a ride to the wedding with the groom in the '67 Rolls, a short and sweet ceremony out on a finely manicured lawn, we retired to the rear of the majestic Georgian mansion to get drunk and fill on fine foods around the swimming pool. A superb night was had by all!
Another long weekend rolled around, celebrating another special day. We took the opportunity to visit the gorgeous Broken Islands on the West Coast of Vancouver Island by Kayak. It was back to nature, hopping from island to island, befriending the other visitors before moving on to the next sandy haven. A truly spectacular place with more bald eagles than seagulls at Petone beach! Open fires at nighttime provided the perfect facility to smoke the local oyster cuisine. And the water was warm enough for bare bottom swimming in amongst the spectacular phosphorescence.
After having returned home, I was blessed with a surprise visit from the great Victoria University alumnae, Nathan Gray, on his way up to Alaska. It was bloody good to see another kiwi, and Vancouver put on a scorcher of a night which started with a dip in the pool and then a few beers, catching up on the adventurer's stories.
Other weekends away have included alcoholic consumption competitions with a house full of very hospitable Mexicans in Victoria, a weekend at a cabin on the sunshine coast with some lovely girls from the pool, a bike ride through the beautiful mountainous scenery up to Whistler and an awesome weekend escape to see the sites of Seattle on a bike after staying the night on a Teepee on an Island in Seattle harbour.
By this time next week I will be blessed with the presence of my dearest parents, Rosemary and Bale. They will be here for three full weeks of touring including a 7-day cruise on the 77-tonne Dawn Princess cruise ship up to the great land of Alaska with their beloved son for busy nights of shuffle board, bingo and the 24-hour buffets.
I can't wait for the cruise, but what I'm looking most forward to is the replenishment of my supply of Watties beans!