Saturday, September 03, 2005

Farewell to summer

Holy crap! It’s September. How the heck did that happen? I know it’s a cliché but, dammit, time really does fly when you’re having fun.

At least we said goodbye to summer in style last weekend. There we were, two chicks cruising down the highway in a VW station wagon with our bikes strapped to the roof and a cooler full of bananas and Doritos in the back seat. This is the part where I’d write about how our hair was blowing in the wind but I can’t because the windows were up and the air conditioning was on.

The five-hour drive from Vancouver to Penticton is one of my favourites. Mostly because of the dramatic change of scenery along the way. The drive starts in a temperate rainforest and ends in a parched desert. Along the way, the mountains get smaller, the trees recede, the air gets drier and the sun gets hotter as the cool, wet, green coast slips further away in the rearview mirror. Ahead is nothing but sage grass and dust and crumbly rock.

It’s just too bad that one of the most beautiful places in the province also happens to be its Bible belt. This is Stockwell Day territory. There’s even a massive billboard on the way into town plastered with Stock’s grinning face, which had the unintended effect of causing Annelle and I to shudder simultaneously.

Shuddering aside, the purpose of our trip was threefold:
1. Have fun.
2. Watch the Ironman.
3. Cruise for guys.

I should clarify that goal #3 was strictly for my benefit as Annelle is married and her husband reads this blog (hi, John!). I may have failed math in Grade 9 but it didn’t take me long to put two and two together:

Small town + thousands of hard-bodied triathletes = hot action.

So we did what everyone does in Penticton on Friday and Saturday nights -- we cruised the strip ("the strip" being a three-block stretch of Lakeshore Drive crammed with dingy motels and drunk teenagers).

The cutest thing we saw was a middle-aged man pushing a pug in a baby stroller. We laughed, which seemed to upset the dog’s owner who explained, "He’s old. He can’t breathe. He’s blind in one eye." Talk about a mood killer.

The thing is, the Ironman is a terrible place to meet men because they’re all in bed by 8 p.m. and they don’t drink.

There were, however, plenty of men at our campground but . . . um . . . how do I put this in politically correct terms? They were rednecks. Call me crazy but my idea of camping does not include cigarettes and cable TV and yelling across the lake at 3 a.m.

I actually wasn’t planning on writing this much about last weekend. Annelle took dozens of pictures and I was just going to post a photo essay. But her husband (hi again, John!) took the liberty of erasing some of the best pictures to clear up room on the camera. So you’ll have to visualize the redneck campground for yourself.

And instead of photos of the actual Ironman athletes, you’re stuck with a picture of me pretending to cross the finish line.

And a picture of Annelle swimming in the lake.

It’s kind of sad to admit that another summer is over. It’s cool and rainy as I sit here typing this. We knew it was coming. While we were swimming in Okanagan Lake last weekend, we stopped a few hundred metres from the shore and treaded water for a bit. Annelle looked over at me and said, "So I guess this is our last lake swim of the year."

And while it would be nice to live in a climate where you could swim in a lake all year, I don’t think I’d want to. Fall, winter and spring are what make summer so sweet.

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