The Nordic Ski Trip: Meadow Lake Provincial Park

 

 

 

I often think about my girls. Even though they are now adults, busy with their own families and lives, I am so happy to have had the privilege of being a dad to them. I have so many good memories of the wilderness adventures we went on as a family. Sometimes, due to the difficulty of the wilderness challenge, I had to make the hard decision of taking only my eldest daughter along. My eldest girl was (and is) an excellent nordic skier, even when she was 12 years-of-age. She had the strength and endurance to stay with me over terrain and distances that most adults would complain about. She would later go on to become a provincial team cross-country running champion in her final year of high school.

As you can readily see from these candid pictures (taken with an old film camera), she always seemed to be upbeat and happy – the joy of my life! Her smile tells all.

We planned our overnight nordic ski trip together in an area of the province that is as beautiful as it is remote from any civilization, especially in the winter. I knew from previous years of cross-country skiing, hiking, and running on the trails in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park, that there was a rustic cabin situated farther east along a ski trail in the forest. The cabin was used as a warm-up shelter for cross-country skiers in the winter. Within the forested area, near the cabin, were at least two smaller lakes that, at the time, were utilized as fish rearing ponds for the bigger lakes, like Greig Lake within the park, and elsewhere in the province.

The plan was to start early, to ski and explore the area, before settling down for the night near the aforementioned cabin. We were self-sufficient and had packed everything we needed, including a tent, sleeping bags, cook stove, food, extra clothing, and emergency supplies. This was not our first winter camping trip together, but it was the first time we ventured out into the rather remote backcountry.

It was a gorgeous day when we began our ski tour. Due to the constant freeze/thaw cycles of early spring, the trails were well-packed and fast enough to skate on with relative ease. We traversed about 15km in what seemed like only a moment, quite aware of small fur-bearing animals scurrying about and birds chattering in the trees. I was also cognizant of the potential of crossing the path of wolves or a hungry black bear that had ventured out of it’s den a bit too early. Nevertheless, the click-clack of our ski poles and the whoosh of our skis, along with clanging cooking pots on the back of my pack, provided sufficient warning to predators that may have been hidden from our sight.

After a rather exhilarating day of cross-country skiing and exploring, we decided to camp at a scenic and sheltered spot near the cabin. Previously, I had asked for permission from the park warden to overnight in the cabin – just in case the weather took a turn for the worse. Anyone who has lived in the northwestern part of the province knows that a late winter storm can occur without notice. Better safe than sorry – I had learned that hard lesson from a previous winter where I almost succumbed to hypothermia and probable death because of a late blizzard. My story of that misadventure is long, convoluted, and riddled with compounding human error. It is sufficient to say that I was caught in a nasty snow storm, some 15km from the trail head, in only my one-piece spandex cross-country racing suit along with a little fanny pack with some water, a granola bar, and extra wax. I was nearly depleted of muscle glycogen (the dreaded bonk) and freezing in a blizzard. The obscured sun was getting low on the near invisible horizon and darkness was setting in quickly. The drifting snow was completely obliterating any sign of a ski trail.  Stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a rather grim and dire situation, is not my idea of a good time. Alas, that story is for another time.

My daughter decided that I should fire up the wood stove in the cabin. We needed to warm up and dry out our perspiration-soaked clothing. Thankfully, there was enough chopped, split, and stacked firewood there to keep us warm until the following winter.  A simple supper of roasted hot-dogs, brown beans, and granola bars was the pièces de résistance. It was so cozy in the cabin that we decided we would sleep there, instead of the rather cold tent pitched outside in the now drifting snow. I am thankful that we chose luxury over roughing it, as the outside temperature really dropped that night. Unfortunately, one of the windows in the cabin had been broken and the cold northwesterly wind was proving to be more than just an annoyance. I managed to block most of the window off with my outer winter jacket, and kept the wood stove going all night. My daughter and I snuggled in our sleeping bags, stretched out on the wooden benches near the wood stove. My daughter read a novel in the flicker of candlelight, as I struggled to fix the stuck zipper on my sleeping bag. We shared stories of adventure and mishap late into the night.

The next morning, we were awakened by the sunlight beaming through the frosted windows. I whipped up an uncomplicated breakfast of scrambled eggs, burnt toast, and bad coffee. After breakfast, we quickly packed up our gear, put on our skis, and ventured back at a good clip to the trailhead.  A warm bath and hot chocolate was waiting for us at home.

Another exquisite adventure, another tale to tell…

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Omega: Dark Side of the Moon

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Photo courtesy Omega.

As a collector of fine manual and automatic watches, Omega’s Dark Side of the Moon watch is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of their moon collection. Priced at approximately $10,000 US, it is out of reach for many, yet coveted by most Speedmaster moon watch collectors.

I can dream, can’t I?

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Culture Wars: The Left’s Big Lie

Culture Wars

Like most people who are busy with the process of life and living, rare is the moment that I have the time or inclination to watch or read the news. Nevertheless, this morning as I was reading the news online, I was surprised at the outbreak of another culture war in the US. This time the battle field is the national anthem, with Donald Trump and a rather large representation of booing American public lining up on one side of the scrimmage line to face-off against the Left, the NFL, and many of the football players et al who have decided to protest against Trump’s recent controversial tweets to fire athletes who don’t respect the national anthem.

The American national anthem, once considered to be a public tribute to honour American soldiers at sporting events has now become the rally cry of the Left and Democrats against racism and injustice. Some, like Jon Schwarz from the left leaning site The Intercept claim The National Anthem is a Celebration of Slavery. How misinformed Americans and the ever-present liberal media have moved from honouring American soldiers to racism and injustice is anybody’s guess at this point.

Somehow, I suspect that this is merely another desperate attempt by the Left, more specifically, the Democratic party to rewrite history and pin the racist tale on the Republican elephant instead of where it truly belongs, on the Democratic donkey.

American history, especially civil war history is not my forte, and I had to do some considerable digging to come up with the following facts of American history. Thankfully, journalist Dinesh D’Souza has succinctly summarized the necessary information as follows:

  1. While the secession debate was between the North and the South, the slavery debate was between a pro-slavery Democratic Party and an anti-slavery Republican Party.
  2. Two of the three Democrats that Lincoln identified as the champions of slavery—Stephen Douglas and James Buchanan—were Northerners.  Only one, Roger Taney, was a Southerner.
  3. Even after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Democratic platform in 1864 sought a treaty with the Confederacy that would most likely involve a restoration of slavery.
  4. After the Civil War, the Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the Thirteenth Amendment freeing the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment granting equal rights under law, and the Fifteenth Amendment giving blacks the right to vote.
  5. Jim Crow is entirely a legacy of the Democratic Party.  Every segregation law enacted in the South was passed by a Democratic legislature, signed by a Democratic governor, and enforced by Democratic officials.
  6. After Republicans shut it down in the late nineteenth century, the Ku Klux Klan was revived in the early twentieth century by a progressive Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, who screened a pro-KKK movie in the White House.
  7. For decades the Klan served, in the words of progressive historian Eric Foner, as “the domestic terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”  David Duke is an anomaly; virtually every KKK leader for the past 150 years has been a Democrat.
  8. As historian Ira Katznelson shows, in order to get the New Deal passed, progressive icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt made deals with racist Democrats to block anti-lynching legislation and to exclude African Americans from most New Deal programs.
  9. More Republicans than Democrats proportionately voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Bill of 1968.  The main opposition to the civil rights movement came not from the GOP but from racist Democrats.

According to D’Souza, “the reason for kneeling during the national anthem is to pretend that America, not the Democrats, is responsible for racial oppression.”

So are Democrats who pull down Confederate statues and protest the national anthem admitting the historical sins of their party?  Are these acts of honest public disclosure and humble contrition?

Not at all.  They are actually part of the Left’s big lie.  The big lie is to take the historical crimes of the Democratic Party and project them onto someone else.  Let’s blame America.  Let’s blame the South.  Let’s blame the white man.  Let’s blame everyone except the people who actually committed those crimes.

Dinesh D’Souza, Fox News, September 25, 2017

Regardless of how one feels about President Trump and his leadership, let’s get our facts straight. From a historical perspective, the actual party of racism was the Democrats. It was the Republicans who resisted that oppression.

So, anyone want to play Pin the Tale on the Donkey?

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Tools of the Trade: Road Cycling + Perseverance = Success

As a former Biathlete, I was fortunate enough to have a full sponsorship from a local ski shop for all my skis, bindings, boots, poles, clothing, and an extensive wax kit. As a Master-aged athlete, that several thousand dollar wax kit served as the basis for the entire Provincial Biathlon Team in many of our races in Western Canada 🙂

As a recreational road cyclist, I do not have the privilege of a sponsorship for my cycling gear needs. Each and every bicycle that I possess today, was paid for by my own hard-earned dollars, and I think I value and/or appreciate my tools of the trade a lot more. Naturally, although the aforementioned tools represent a financial outlay of thousands of dollars, I have always sought to be rather modest in my purchases and try to get the best bang for my buck.

I look at material items like bicycles as simply tools – tools that will allow me to participate in the various disciplines of road cycling. The bicycles pictured represent a lot of memories for me – both good and not-so-good.

And I accept that, as that is the way I roll 😉

Life, as I know it, is full of ups and downs. It is incredibly easy to celebrate the successes – not so easy to be positive in the valleys of disappointment. Sometimes, when I enter the room where I store all my bicycles and gear, I am reminded of those disappointments.

For instance, my failure to achieve a sub 1 hour 40km time trial on my trusty Felt S22 TT bike.  Or the rather dismal road racing season I had this year on my Specialized Tarmac, attending three events and then having to bow out ungracefully because of recurrent asthma. Or suffering a nasty knee injury mid-season (from pushing too big of a gear) on my fixed-gear Kona Paddywagon.

Call me a Dreamer, but I still view life as the glass half-full rather than half empty. I keep trying, despite the setbacks, knowing from experience, that the troubles each of us go through in this life will eventually sort themselves out. Adversity builds character and the knowledge that it is “always too soon to quit”. Sooner or later,  a break will come in our life and we will be grateful for “keeping on keeping on”.

If I have anything to say to a younger generation, many of which are fellow road riders, don’t let your frustrations get to you and simply give up. It takes years of hard work and dedication to be successful in road racing, let alone daily life. Finish that road race you entered, come hell or high water. Even if you are dropped from the peloton and have to ride the better part of the course (as I did) alone.

As my Father used to say:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

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Are You Content Creators or Content Regurgitates?

Are you one of the unique individuals on WordPress that actually creates their own content? Do you take your own photographs and video? Do you write your own articles and poetry?

Social media is bursting at the seams from regurgitated content. Content, often of a silly or rather useless nature (memes, twitty tweets, etc.) or even false information (the polarized left-wing and right-wing media) is repeated over and over again without the individual posting it analyzing or even comprehending what they are posting. Facebook and Twitter are full of such nonsense – do we have to tolerate it here on WordPress? I think not!

If you are one of those people that merely regurgitates content, i.e., repeats, restates, recites, or parrots someone else’s words, ideas, images, etc., on a regular basis, chances are that many (including me) will unfollow you soon. If you think that reposting literal volumes of regurgitated content on WordPress will make up for your lack of creativity, laziness, and general lack of intelligence, you are sadly mistaken.

Please do us all a favour and stick to FaceBook and Twitter and leave WordPress to the content creators, whoever they may be.

Harsh words? Perhaps, but I have made up my mind a long time ago to no longer suffer fools.

Once again, it is time to clean out the closet of clutter that attempts to dominate my time and energy. Once a year, I go through my online social media accounts and ruthlessly remove followers who have not meaningfully contributed to my personal life in any significant way.

Last year alone, I pruned away approximately 60 “friends” on Facebook and shut down my Twitter account altogether (no choice there – it was infiltrated with undesirables). I also removed certain people on WordPress that were, essentially, content parrots.

In case you question my analysis and methodology or consider this post to be disingenuous, please consider the fact that I have personally posted almost 400 original articles on WordPress in less than one year. Some of those posts are images and video, but the majority are articles that have taken me significant time and effort to research and write each day.

It has been a pleasure reading the many articles, including the photographs, artwork and video, from numerous people on WordPress. As one who embraces a rather eclectic approach to life and living, I do value the many different people, cultures, and countries represented on WordPress. I cherish the unique ideas and perspectives of others concerning matters of religion, philosophy, politics, the arts, etc.

If you are an original content creator that is willing to step out of the ordinary into the extraordinary – you have my attention.

Cheers!

The choices we make today become who we are tomorrow…

 

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A Chip Off the Old Block?

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©2017 Bruce Kraus. All rights reserved.

As a father and grandfather, it brings me great joy to see the good things in life being replicated in my children and grandchildren. There were times, especially during the teenage years, where I just wanted to sit down and cry, pulling out the ever increasing grey hairs on my head. Raising children is NOT easy, being a grandfather is a delight!

It makes me happy to witness my adult children, and now my grandchildren, take up the recreational activities that we did with them when they were young. I cannot overstate how important it is for parents to introduce their children to our natural world and the various means of transportation (cycling, running, walking, swimming, etc.) that will get us there.

A chip off the old block? Maybe, but pursuing healthy recreational activities in life builds character and a sense of belonging to something so much greater than ourselves.

Enjoy life – we are only on this great blue marble for a short time 🙂

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Share the Road: A Legal Right?

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When it comes to honouring the legal rights of cyclists on the highways and byways of North America, it is a grey area at best. While cyclists, in my home province of Saskatchewan, have many specific legal rights to the road (i.e. are considered to be legal vehicles or vehicular traffic), the general public does not always perceive it that way. In my opinion, a few motorized vehicle operators, especially in the city of Regina, would just as soon run us over, than yield to a slower moving vehicle.

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Many motorcyclists have the same issues with less-than-courteous or dangerous automobile drivers within the city. The exorbitant increase in insurance premiums (due to automobile-motorcycle accidents) by the provincial insurance monopoly, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), has forced many motorcyclists, especially sport bike riders, to sell off their now heavily depreciated motorbikes and quit riding altogether. I was one of those “insurance cost” casualties, bit the bullet, and quit motorcycling indefinitely.

As strange as it might seem, Harley riders and road cyclists have more in common than each group realizes. I often get a “low-five” by a passing guy or girl on a cruiser or sport bike. It is almost like we have a shared love for padded shorts, the open road, and an equal dislike or loathing for SGI. Birds of a different feather flock together?

Leather and spandex is a little kinky 😉

Sounds silly, I know, but over the years I have been the object of a whole lot of flirting by women, clad in leather, straddling their Harleys. I usually just stand there, feeling rather naked in my skin-tight spandex kit.

“Hey…honey…are you a Racer? Love the shorts…and the colours…do you know Lance Armstrong?” 😉

I just smile and try not to turn fifty shades of red.  I am probably old enough to be their father!

But…I digress…

Recently, a fellow cyclist (Randonneur) and friend, in his Seventies, was assaulted on a bike path in the city. The outraged attacker started swearing and yelling that a #%%%* cyclist has no business on the bike path, and proceeded to push him into the bush. The cyclist was laying on his back, somewhat shaken up, when the attacker came at him a second time. A well placed “kick to the nuts” ended the unprovoked assault in a split second. It was the attacker who was now lying on the ground in agony. The cyclist remounted his bike and just rode away.

I was astounded at this story, and equally surprised that the long-distance cyclist did not report the incident to the police. More disturbing was the fact that a pedestrian did not think a cyclist had any right to be on a bike path (now known a the Regina Multi-use Pathway). Bizarre…really bizarre…what kind of person would attack a seventy-year-old man on a bicycle?

You can see where I am going with this…

Cyclists in my neck-of-the-woods are damned if they do and damned if they don’t!

If I had a dime for every motorist who has %$$@@ at me for cycling on the road, I would be a wealthy man. Retaliating by shouting back or giving them the middle-finger-salute only serves to enrage an already out-of-control motorist.

Anger management….

It is a no-win scenario for a cyclist to take on several tons of steel, and the arrogant driver knows it. We have all heard of stories where an angry driver, succumbing to road rage, had turned around and ploughed through a peloton or group of riders intentionally, seriously injuring or killing the cyclists.

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To be continued…