A Weekend Off, Getting Ready For a Busy Few Weeks

This past weekend was my first one in months without an assignment, so don’t say “retired” to me! And it wasn’t a relaxing weekend spent at home weeding the garden or puttering about, seems I don’t have time for those activities these days. Instead we loaded up the camper and tried to beat rush hour traffic to get out of the city for a weekend of adventure.

We were invited to a big Bowker family gathering on Saturday afternoon to celebrate a milestone birthday for Andrea’s dad so we decided to also include some mountain biking and camping since Buckwallow wasn’t far from “party central”. The drive up took longer than planned, we clearly didn’t succeed in missing the traffic so we’ll have to work on our timing. The timing did work out well to get us to Webers about the time our stomachs were saying “FEED ME”. While we ate, we talked about the draw of this burger/chip/ice cream stop on the highway to cottage country and agreed it wasn’t the quality of the food that continued to draw people here in ever increasing numbers. Andrea suggested it might be nostalgia, I can picture kids who’d gotten to have this as a stop on the way just so their parents didn’t have to hear “are we there yet” for a little while. And now they are doing exactly that, perhaps even their grand-kids are too.

A campfire, a KAO campsite, and bugs

KOA camping… this is the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long that I’ve been in a KOA campground and definitely the first time we’ve been in one which says it’s been over 20 years. The campground was fine, the site was fine, the experience was fine, we learned a little about the 5th wheel crowd who park a trailer in a spot and treat it like a cottage. And we got reminded of summer bugs in Ontario! It’s about to become summer, the bugs have decided they couldn’t wait… we both got well bitten in the course of the evening. Still, sitting at a campfire is worth a bite or 12. And waking to a bright sunny day in a quiet spot less than a minute away from some great mountain bike trails is one of those American Express moments; priceless.

The morning was beautiful and we were in no rush to start. Coffee, breakfast, getting us and bikes ready, then heading over to the Buckwallow parking lot. Two great moments there… one was learning that being camped in the KOA got us a discount (sweet!) and the other was getting the 2nd last decal they had. The local printing company is behind so they don’t have more, don’t know when they will get more, and we were offered the two last ones they had. Yes, thank you! One is now on my camper and we declined the other… so the next person to get one should make a point of putting it up in a place of honour. Top right corner of the rear window is where you’ll find mine.

Riding Buckwallow… that should be a blog entry on its own and I imagine others have already written some; likely both fun and intimidating.
For Andrea, I think it was “just” fun. Preparing to race here last year she took some hard falls. And she still raced and did well. Took a while for the bruises to heal though.
For me, I am still getting over my crash at Mt Ste Anne last year so I’m very tentative with rocky descents. It felt good though, and the more I ride and the more I build confidence the better it gets.
As it turned out, a simple “loose screw” that became a missing screw brought our ride to a halt. We likely would have stopped not long after anyhow, being unable to get a foot out of a pedal wasn’t what Andrea needed at Buckwallow so we took an easy route out.

The folks at Ecclestone Cycle were helpful, gave Andrea the bolt she needed and sent us on our way. So we made a point of having lunch nearby, supporting the local scene in the same spirit. The milkshake I had was oh so good!

Then it was time to party! I know Karen had been planning this carefully and had thought about many (MANY) of the little details. And it was going to be a big party since they are both very social people. The weather couldn’t have been better and the attendance reflected that. I honestly don’t know how many people showed up, I do know it’s a good thing the weather was so good because even with all the room they have to entertain it wouldn’t have been enough. So…
well done Karen! And congrats Perry!!

I did take lots of photos (many of them are crappy, I intentionally didn’t use a flash so they are all natural light) and I won’t post any of them here. I did put up a shot from the dock, it was nice to see Perry taking the kids out for a tour of the lake so here’s the photo that you can find on FaceBook.

The night was great, we slept in Babe and had a relaxed start to the day. And when everyone was up Perry made his famous pancakes… what really makes them extraordinary is the home-made maple syrup. How often do you get to savour that!?!?

What  a busy weekend it was… lots of people around, lots of stories to catch up on and tell, lots to do. And it was now Sunday, time to wind down… or not. We added a stop to visit Heather and Hanson at the Hosein family home in the old part of Markham. We were kind of expected, and more than an hour late arriving. So people were busy eating when we arrived to ring the doorbell. And when we found our way in it was to a serious meal and oh it was sooo good! Chatting, getting caught up, learning about all the new developments, relaxing and enjoying the mood all at the same time. Delightful!

Eventually though even this had to come to an end as the new week was bearing down. We were determined to get a soak in the tub with some ‘tinis and thoughts of “next” were bearing down so we said our goodbyes and headed home.

Home… funny thing, I’m feeling like we’ve spent more time in Babe than in the house lately. Define home… relaxed? Well…

Foot notes:
The photos used here were all posted using mobiles uploads to FaceBook. That’s a first for me and I’m personally not sure what I think of it. I like to maintain more control over my images, mostly because they aren’t of such a casual nature. It has me thinking about how to manage personal imagery vs professional imagery. And I think that’s not a bad thought to end on…
Tomorrow is the beginning of a very busy period in the Next Chapter, with the Canadian Road National’s followed closely by the Mt Ste Anne MTB World Cup events and then le Tour.

Taking a deep breath…

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