By Greg Price
A wedding, family time and a punk rock show. The trifecta made for some much-needed time off from the newspaper grind for a summer vacation to visit family and friends.
And always as it has been my practice to write a travel column when it comes to my turn in the rotation, on what is the human condition:
PJ PARTY: I’ll dress up when the occasion warrants it for press coverage in a dress shirt, tie and pants with you fancier fundraisers and galas, but overall, I’m pretty casual around the office with a T-shirt and jeans with the odd collared shirt. Both helping with the pocketbook dressing that way, I also feel people feel more at ease approaching me for stories on the street without the ‘stuffy’ office attire. But I must say even for me, June 19 took a whole other level of casual. My last official day of work before holidays, I raced home from police commission coverage, covering for another reporter who was at the tail end of their holidays themselves. I immediately got into my pajama bottoms and lounging T-shirt, as I relaxed watching Netflix as I packed and made myself supper, readying myself to hit the road early the next day for Nelson, British Columbia. Tying up loose ends as I always do by leaving lengthy instructions to the editorial staff, a brain freeze hit me where I remembered one loose end still to be tightened on photos I hadn’t taken off the card yet for the upcoming edition to be published. While I was motivated to go back to the office that night, I was not motivated enough in my vacation mode to change out of my outerwear. If anyone were to see me that night going to my car or walking to or from the office, they could of sworn I was going to a sleepover.
GET A HAIRCUT YA HIPPIE!: I had never been to Nelson, B.C. prior to attending my cousin Tara’s wedding in June to her future husband Patrick. Multiple people who have been there called it a ‘hippie town,’ one that I would probably love with its laid-back artsy vibe and beautiful scenery. I must say, I was not disappointed and there was plenty to see even within walking distance from my hotel, be it waterfalls, a vast and diverse farmer’s market, a brewery and many quaint shops and pieces of street artwork to admire.
NEW FACES: While my holidays got me a chance to visit many old faces, I got to meet some new ones as well. It’s amazing how close Six Degrees of Separation really is. The shuttle service that was to drive me from Nelson to Castlegar to fly out and visit my parents went out of business a month before the wedding. Looking at a pricey cab ride to the airport as even a car rental was cost prohibitive, casual conversion with friends of the groom in a meet and greet had me discovering they too were from Nanaimo like my parents, in which they were driving the same day on the Monday, so I hitched a ride to Castlegar on the way. While playing pool with a cousin in Nanaimo at a pub, a man at the table next to us overheard our conversations, hearing I was from Taber and him having a sister in Coaldale, in which the family name was familiar to me. At the tail end of the trip I went to a punk rock concert in Edmonton. My traveling companion and I made friends at the hotel with two people and are now Facebook friends of mine. I may find myself going to some punk shows in Calgary with them.
I NEED TO MAKE SOME CHANGES: News flash…I’m fat. And as I’ve discovered during my summer vacation…grossly out of shape. My time in Nelson was fantastic as I got to visit numerous cousins and an aunt and uncle while attending the wedding. What I also got to see is I have to push my way from the computer every once in awhile with my job and partake in more physical activity. During one of the four days I spent in Nelson, a bunch of us decided to take in a hike at nearby Pulpit Rock. I’m glad to report I scaled the area without a moment’s hesitation or difficulty as it gave me some much-needed fresh air. Now that I’ve got that Fake News out of the way, the real story was a highly elevated heart rate, profuse sweating and numerous breaks where near the end I was seriously thinking of turning back, not knowing when the final destination was going to arrive. Combine the factor that my aunt and uncle many years my senior hiked the area with much greater ease than myself, I’ve received the message loud and clear I have to exercise more, be it even getting out for light walks to weight lifting. One small victory was it motivated me to take a hike around Colliery Dam Park every day I was in Nanaimo.
QUALITY TIME: I got to visit my parents for about a week and-a-half in Nanaimo while also getting in some time with another aunt and uncle and cousins, along with some acquaintances. My parents were very apologetic that they were not able to do more ‘stuff’ with me around Nanaimo given their limited mobility. My Mom suffers from a constant battle with stenosis of the spine and my dad had to bail on the wedding because of a bumped-up date with knee surgery. My dad has had so many surgeries now, I’m thinking he is bionic. It mattered little to me because I simply wanted to go see my parents.
Good conversation over a cup of coffee, a delicious meal or a game of dominos satisfied me greatly as I was looking for a wind down from the grind of work. I’ve never really been a grand gesture guy, but rather cherish some of the more quieter moments where I see time as more important than dollars in how things are spent. It was a great visit with family and I still got to do some exploring at the ocean front, do some gambling at the casino and try out some pubs and breweries. While not things that moved mountains for my parents, being able to help with little things like watering of plants, taking out recycling and compost, letting the cat in and out of the house, grabbing the mail down the street and running some car errands I hope was at least a little bit of a holiday for them from tasks that are hard on the body in a time of lower mobility.
HOTEL ROYALE: Given my paycheque you see on a week-by-week basis, I’ve still been able to travel quite a bit. The thing is in all my travels, I’ve always had some sort of connection where the travel has been made cheaper, whether it’s some bargain hunting for flights, or having friends and family in a certain area that I can stay at. Very rarely will you see me in a hotel for a prolonged amount of time.
That was never more evident showcasing the types of hotels I must have been staying at previously as I stayed at a Best Western in Nelson and the Coliseum Inn in Edmonton. More used to the instant coffee with tiny coffee makers 10 years past their prime and stained in some of the rooms I’ve rented before, seeing rooms with their own single pod Keurig coffee machines made me feel like I was about to have High Tea with the Royal Family in my perceived level of fanciness.
BACK TO THE FUTURE: Circling back to my lack of fitness, another nugget that confirmed that for me was throwing my back out my last day in Nanaimo. I’d like to say I threw it out chasing down a purse snatcher in the neighbourhood, but it was rather from simply packing the last of my clothes up before my flight back to Lethbridge.
Departing the plane in Lethbridge, I was asked if I was in need of a wheel chair as I shuffled my way through the airport ever so gingerly.
Let’s just say with only a couple of days to recover, muscle relaxants and booze were my friend as I gutted my way through the Punk in Drublic show in Edmonton. The back pain was blocked out by the awesome sounds of The Last Gang, Chixdiggit, Bad Religion and NOFX.