Wednesday, November 19, 2008

commitment to Sparkle Motion

Because it is now dark when I leave work, and because my bike is a beautiful matte black, and because I don't wish to disrupt its beautiful matte blackness with peel'n'stick reflective patches, I must take other measures to be visible on the streets.
Reflective jacket, yes, reflective strip on backpack, yes, reflectors on spokes, yes. A front light which has only three settings and is thus more expensive. A rear light with something like seven settings which is extremely cheap.
Under which circumstances would one need seven different types of blinking? Answers on a postcard to this address.
But what else can I do to be visible? This is the exciting part. At Capitol Iron, the ship's chandlery, I found an assortment of strange blinky-lights to attach to spokes, all of them motion-activated.
One is an oval the size of a child's hand, looking much like a reflector. Two catches to slip over spokes horizontally. It has 4 bulbs? in it, and glows in a range from pink to blue.
Two are narrow plastic tubes with bubbles inside and a flat disk at one end. A screw-down and a snap to fit over the spokes. The tubes light up in the blue-green range.
Two screw into the tire-valve. They are plastic bulbs with a protruding tube, looking very much like those invaluable Mad Scientist accessories that show that Science! is going on. They flash pink, green and blue.

I can't see the full glory of this display while I'm in motion, unless I twist around and fall off. But I'm quite sure it's glorious and that I'm visible not only to other vehicles, but to the mothership when it arrives.
Why weren't these sparkling things around when I was a child? All we had was plastic tassels to hang from the handlebar grips, and a folded playing-card to jam between the spokes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Interior journeys: awful damn scenic

Two trips into the interior of BC, one in July to Castlegar, the second in October to Oliver (and also to Nelson). Attempts to drag along travelling companions failed, which meant at least that I could sing in the van, because I don't sing where people can hear me.
Castlegar is in the Kootenays, and would like you to know it's the Greatest Dam City in the World, being right close to a large dam (the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, sorry no tours) with a mildly alarming array of bridges and on/off ramps (not as scary as Portland, but Castlegar is much smaller than Portland).
If I were a much hardier cyclist than I am, more in JH-R's league, I'd probably want to cycle the railbed trail between Midway and Castlegar, which looks even more scenic than the drive, but I'm a feeble old lady, so I'll just look at the pictures, and look out the car windows.
Oliver, which I've written of before, is the Wine Capital of Canada, with a classy wine shop in the town, and any number of wineries (even a fruit-winery) on the way, plus the fruit markets in the Okanagan. I'm told that while it's dead easy to find work, it's nearly impossible to live there because of the cost of housing.
Nelson is where Roxanne was filmed, with Steve Martin, and it is picturesque like anything. It had an influx of new people after the film, because it was so clearly an ideal small town, with the result that it too became an expensive place to live.

The Castlegar trip was to attend Troll Stomp, and to spend some time with my apprentice Lucy and others of the Wild Women. The Oliver trip was for the last Tournament of the Golden Swan to be held at the Skunk Hollow site, so there was a valedictory feel to the weekend, even while I was visiting with Lucy and Evangeline, and with Nan Compton and her family, and others I don't see often.
(Even before online nicknames, much of my acquaintance used pseudonyms and aliases--please note also that my acquaintance includes a number of people who are willing to camp in the Interior of BC in October.)
Castlegar is about 7 hours drive from the ferry terminal (how I measure every trip off-island--no point counting the ferry wait and so on), Oliver only about 5 hours. Nelson 8 or 9 hours. So it's fortunate that the view is not only attractive but variable. There's more than one ecosystem on the way.

On the first trip I remembered to borrow a camera(!) and take some photos of the places I look for and stop at, so here you are, a little visual relief from the usual wall of text this blog provides.

The Hope Slide. This happened when I was a small child, so it has a different sort of meaning for me than most historic sites. An avalanche that covered cars on a BC highway, the very sort of highway my family travelled every summer, and that my dad travelled every weekend to get back to us when he was teaching somewhere else. A couple of the cars were never recovered. Here's a shot of the mountain, and you can still see how it fell away.

The Manning Park cabin. The first time I saw this, I was driving with my friend Kellii as navigator, and she'd brought a book of West Coast ghost stories to enliven (endeaden?) the trip. So we were primed to see this as a haunted cabin. It's fairly close to the western end of the park, right after an eerie stretch of bog (lots of that in Manning Park) separated from the road by a rushing bit of river. Just out of this photo is what looks like a boathouse, though it's rather too far from the water, and might be a summer kitchen or other outbuilding. I don't know its history, but it should have one. Maybe I'll make one up sometime.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park, where I care little for the striking rock bluff or tiny white sand beach (okay, I do, but I didn't take pictures), and instead am drawn to the scrap of former road that the rest area and parking was built on, which remains behind the outhouses. Even when the park is busy, this spot remains quiet and set apart, as if it's waiting for something to come along it.

On the July trip return, I stopped just outside Castlegar and picked up two hitch-hikers, a young dreadlocked guy and girl who were heading to Vancouver, to be supportive for the trial of their friend, an American deserter who'd been hiding out in Nelson. They were good company, though I will offer this piece of advice for hitching: when your ride stops to fill up, it's a nice gesture to offer to clean the windshields, especially if you're too broke to put in for fuel.

On the October trip, no hitch-hikers, though I did drive into Nelson and back with Lucy and Evangeline to save them from having to hitch-hike with all their camping gear. And going to my van on the ferry, I met two young women who needed a ride into Victoria, one of them with a guitar. Pleased to hear both of them talking over the coming election and preparing to vote, and glad I wasn't a slacker myself in that way, while Lucy and her sister were planning to be helping with the vote in Nelson. Yay for the engaged citizenry!