Pandemic Sept 11th 2021 – Cruise-in Car Show

A&W the drive-in days
aldergrove langley car cruise in
The Langley Good Times Cruise-in 2021

Keen to get out of the house, we decided to go see a car show.

Now there hasn’t been one for a while due to stupid Covid and all the rules and restrictions, but finally, in Aldergrove, they were able to organize the Langley Good Times Cruise-in.

How could we not go? There’d be hot rods (for the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World), food trucks (for The-Youngest), and, err, ah, well nothing really for The-Oldest since we couldn’t find any classical orchestras playing there, but whatever, he’d surely have fun listening to me talk about Shelby and the 1968 Gran Prix. However, for me, I go for a different reason that I’ll explain a bit later.

Now, it’s not like the world has returned to normal. Not even close. However, let’s put aside the insanity of the world and instead, go to a different time. A time when fossil-fueled cars ruled the world like shiny dinosaurs.

This car show was, by far, the biggest we’d ever seen. 1200 cars set up along Fraser Highway from 272nd to 264th.

That’s one long route (plus all the side streets that were filled with fancy cars).

Sadly, there was rain, (ok, not hard rain – spitting rain), but we risked the downpour and headed out anyway.

Now, to be honest, I’m not the biggest car guy. I know that if I stick my key in the keyhole and turn it, the car will start. I can change a tire or the oil, and I can look at a light on my dashboard and say, man, I need to fix that.

But looking under the hood and being able to identify a 283-cid Turbo-Fire V8 with a four-barrel carburetor is beyond me.

That’s not to say I still don’t have fun, but my fun is different. Sure, I like shiny cars. I like Mustangs. I like the cars that jump up and down. I like the funny-looking ones. I like hearing the roar of a hot rod and the hum of a Ferrari, but more than that, I like the experience.

See, a car show is not like going to an art gallery. Not by a long shot. And that’s what I love.

There is a smell there. The acrid smell of burned rubber. The garage-smell of oil and exhaust. The familiar smell of old leather jackets reeking of cigarette smoke.

It’s something you can’t get anywhere else.

Then there are the people. The old guys standing proudly beside their automobiles, eager to explain where they found an original 1937 Ford model 78 door handle. I love the guy dressed in army gear showing off his WW2 jeep. I love the pros with matching jackets standing in tents protecting their ultra-expensive sports cars. I love the car club booths set up so car guys can talk about cars.

Sadly, I don’t usually go to those booths, though, since my conversation tends to be like this. “So, what kind of car would Gandalf have driven?”

Still, there was so much to love there.

There were the bands to see, rockers with long ZZ Top beards and raging guitars. There was Elvis singing with little kids. There were families all lounging behind their cars, taking in the day.

There was even a group set up on the street along the way out who had a sign that said, “burn rubber!” (which was hard to do since leaving was a traffic jam worthy of a good Canucks game) but they would raise a beer to anyone who did.

I think most of us had a good time. I know The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World did. She loves cars and car engine sounds and funny car horns and white-rimmed tires and cars with that funny paint that is different colors depending on how the light hits it.

For The-Youngest, well he got to talk about how Teslas could destroy all of these cars in a race. Over and over.

And The-Oldest? Well, I think the highlight was eating Mac and Cheese called Jurassic Pork.

Being me, I marveled at all the cool characters there, stopped to listen to conversations, took pictures of the coolest cars, and tried to engage The-Oldest. “Look at those hub caps, they look like plates!” or “What music would they have played in that ’67 convertible?” or “if you had to write a song about that car, what would it be like?”

I doubt I made the experience any better for him, however.

My favourite car, you ask, was actually a truck. A bulldog truck. Tall. Super short front end. Super. Short. And kinda brown. It reminded me of Mater from Cars.

Hey, I like Mater!

A&W the drive-in daysThe best display, though, was an A&W one. The picture does more justice than my words ever could.

So, with luck, we’ll be able to go to more of these events in the future as the world returns to normal, even if it’s a Salvador Dali version of normal.

And thanks to everyone who reads, comments, or otherwise looks at this blog. If you like what you see, please follow the blog and/or like-share on FB.

Something bigger is coming in the very near future. Stay tuned.

 

The Wedding Ceremony

OMG! The bride looked absolutely gorgeous!
OMG! The bride looked absolutely gorgeous!

From the moment the bride glided in, looking so exquisite, so graceful, the wedding became something amazing.

All the stress of the day melted away when I saw her, radiant in her stunning dress, escorted by her two boys.

I could tell she was fighting tears. As was The-Oldest. And The-Youngest was doing his best to be mature.

My world telescoped just to her. All I could see was her face. Her smile. She looked so very, very beautiful.

I took a deep breath, fighting the tears of happiness that built behind my eyes.

We were officially getting married.

This was it.

The girl I knew I’d marry the moment I met her, three years, ago, Feb 26th, at 3:15 in a small coffee shop in Langley.

I felt so happy to be here. I felt so lucky to have found her.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

My cutie.

Mawwage
Mawwage

She stopped beside me, only glancing in my direction. Her beautiful blue eyes shone. She was trying to hold it together. She feared a mascara disaster if she let go and just let the emotion overwhelm her. Behind her, the junior bridesmaids took up their station and, her boys – both as handsome as I’ve ever seen them – went to stand beside me.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I listened together as her mom began the ceremony.  All else faded into a blur around me.

We laughed when her mom put on her hat and recited the Princess Bride marriage speech. Her mom had been nervous about this part, but she carried it off with great humour and dignity.

It was so wonderful to see The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World laugh. I would be happy to make her laugh like that for her entire life.

When it came time to say my vows, I belted them out. Proudly. Happily. The Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World whispered hers. Nervous. In her head, she said later, she thought she was shouting them out.

Then it came time to make my vows to the boys. Not something every groom does, but The-Boyz are such an important part of my life, I wanted to ensure they knew how much I’d come to love them, too. I’d spent a night figuring out what to say, then passed it along to the officiant to whisper to me so I wouldn’t forget.

The-Oldest listened, then nodded his approval. Or just nodded ‘cuz it was over. I don’t know. The-Youngest didn’t pull a face until the end, not sure, I think, what to feel. What to say or do.

But it felt good to tell them how I felt. It felt right.

So, so beautiful!!!!!
So, so beautiful!!!!!

Then I turned back to my gorgeous bride, we exchanged rings after the boys fought to get them out of their pockets and we were pronounced man and wife.

I couldn’t have asked for a better ceremony.

I kissed my new wife like I want to kiss her every day. With passion and love.

Then we turned to the room.

A room full of smiles and cheers and applause.

Joe 3.0 had been upgraded to Joe 4.0. A newer, greyer, wrinklier version that will likely crash a lot.

I doubt there was a happier man in the world than I was at that moment.

******

Tournament Trials – The Games – Part 5

calvin in bedNormally, getting the Youngest out of bed is like prying a clam out of its shell, but not on this day, the day of the tournament.

I won’t say he leapt out of bed, cuz, you know, that would be a total lie, but he did roll over, fall out of bed and crawl to the bathroom in a reasonable amount of time.

I call that a win, dammit!

IMG_8373[1]Of the two of us, though, I looked more tired. Outside, it was cold. Frost covered the car windows. I wanted to crawl back under the warm covers and hide.

But we had to get dressed, eat, and find the other parent (and his kids) I was supposed to give a ride to… then get us all to the first game.

Had I been a lot smarter, I would have arranged to meet the other parent and his kids in the morning somewhere. But no, I didn’t think of that until the morning. So we had to track them down after eating. It wasn’t that hard in the end, the motel isn’t that big, so we all loaded up the gear and drove off.

The boys were excited. Despite a night of running around and playing, they were keen to get on the ice and play. I was keen to get more coffee. The previous night I’d marked all the nearby Timmies in my phone. Not the hospitals. Not the arenas. No, the vital coffee shops that would keep me alive.

So, we had 3 games ahead of us. 3. I didn’t know how the boys would be by the 3rd game, but for the first one, they came out skating hard. Hey, I thought, maybe we’d actually win a game. Wouldn’t that be cool?

But then the puck was dropped. The opposing team’s center took it and skated left, skated right, dodged here, dodged there then pretty much zipped through our entire team, ending his run with a goal on the Youngest who looked like his skates were mired in molasses.

It wasn’t a good start. 8 seconds into the game, and we had a goal scored on us.

goalie failI began to envision a very depressing ride home. Plus, within a few more minutes, it became apparent that the Youngest had caught a case of the goalie derps. It’s a horrible disease of fate where every bounce goes against the goalie. If a shot hits the crossbar, it bounces off the goalie’s back and into the net. Or a puck decides to randomly hop up in the air and over the goalie’s stick. Or, worse, one of your own players deflects the puck into the net.

All these things happened in the 1st period. It was looking grim.

But the team rallied. We scored one, they scored two, we got two back, then one more, then they scored, again, then us again. After 3 periods of hard fought hockey, somehow, we won! Won!!!

The boys were ecstatic. Talk of future NHL careers filled the change room.

I thought, wow, how cool is this? They won one. Now they can go home with their heads held high. They’d won one.

But wait, the 2nd game proved to be a slaughter. For us. We won 9-7. We outplayed the other team, out hustled them, certainly out shot them, and won.

Now, you have to understand that our team has won maybe 2 games this year. Ok 3. But 2 in a row was unheard of.

The boys began to actually believe they could do this. They could win the whole thing.

The 3rd game began with us annihilating the other team in the first period 7-1. Good God, we were on fire. Passing the puck. Sniping the top corners of the net. Back-checking. It was amazing to see.

Then for the 2nd period, the other team changed their goalie. I felt so bad for the little guy who had to go to the bench. Being a goalie parent, I know the pain he would have felt. But the new kid they brought in, oh, boy, was he good.

He saved breakaways. He gloved shots fired to the upper corners. He poke-checked the puck in scrambles. He smothered rebounds.

You could sense the game change. That kid was a wall. Nothing was getting by him, and by the end of the 2nd period, we were at 7-7. Not that our team played poorly, but it is said that every dog has its day and boy did that goalie have his doggie day on this day.

We skated out for the 3rd period looking weary, but determined. Our best player fought his way to get into an open shooting lane and fired the puck in the top corner. 8-7. Then the other team scored on the Youngest, a mad scramble around the front of the net where someone poked the puck in. 8-8. Then, with minutes left in the game, we punched in another goal. 9-8.

All we had to do was hold on. All the parents were sitting forward in their seats or standing up with hands over their mouths. The other team knew time was running out and attacked with fury. But, where as in the first game, the Youngest couldn’t catch a break, on this night, on this ice, in the last minute of the game, he became a wall. He saved shot after shot, and even when they pulled the goalie, he was able to stop them time and time, again.

And time ran out.

We’d won. 3 games straight. We were going to the playoffs!

IMG_8390[1]The boys were so excited!

They had believed in themselves and they had won. No matter what the result was on Sunday, they had done Langley proud.

For his efforts, the Youngest even got the MVP award for the 3rd game.

It was, to quote the Youngest, “the best day of my life.”

But they all knew the really hard games would come tomorrow.

 

 

 

The Tournament Trials – Part 1

16 teams. 2 days. Add one motel, one ferry and 16 wild and crazy kids. Yeah, that is a good idea.
16 teams. 2 days. Add one motel, two ferry rides, and 16 wild and crazy kids. Yeah, that is a good idea.

Christmas had come and gone. So had New Years.  So what better way to start off 2016 than with a hockey tournament in Nanaimo? 2 days of hockey.  A day of travel to and from the tournament. With 16 kids.  And a ferry ride! And a motel!! And…possibly unsupervised playtime!!!

Such are the things that age me (or nearly kill me.)

I guess a part of it is that I was once a 9-year-old boy, and 9 year-old-boys are very creative when it comes to fun, explosives and sharp sticks. If you’ve read the blog, or seen some of the pictures, you know what I did when I was young, and I think I was a pretty good kid.

I greatly feared what the new generation could come up with.

But I also knew this could be a legendary weekend for The Youngest. Something he’d remember for years. Maybe for all his life. So I had to take him.

Hooooogan!!!!!
Hooooogan!!!!!

And the truth be told, I wanted to be there to be a part of that experience. Maybe as Sgt Shultz shouting “Hoooooogan!!!!” all the time. Or maybe just as a hockey supporter. Or maybe just as the proud parent of one of the few kids who didn’t pull a fire alarm or yell at the top of their lungs all the time.

So the plan was to head over on Friday, have a great time at the hotel, then buckle down and play 3 games on Saturday. Now, 3 games is quite a lot, even for young kids, and getting a goalie in his gear, out of his gear and in his gear over and over and over and over, again, can be a fun experience all on its own.

However, if we won the 3 games, we had a chance to go to the playoffs. If we won one of the playoff games, we’d go to the finals and probably get a trophy or a medal or a golden jock or something. But that was only a part of it. In truth, the kids were looking forward to pool time at the hotel more than the games, and they were looking forward to playing mini-hockey in the hallways more than the playing in the playoffs.

Such is the nature of boyhood.

For me, though, I was more than a little stressed. See, I have control issues. It could be hard being a parent on a tournament. I would have to let the Youngest out of my sight and believe that he’ll make good choices. At the age of 9. With a mob of other 9-11 year olds. Yeah. That’s a serious leap of faith.

But the other choice was to keep him by my side at all times. Don’t think I didn’t think about this. I thought about this very seriously. But what fun would that be, so against all my fears, I wanted him to have a good time more than I wanted to avoid ending up in a mental hospital.

The BC Ferries could not have possibly imagined what awaited them
The BC Ferries could not have possibly imagined what awaited them

So, I nutted up, loaded him into the car with tons of equipment (forgetting, of course, the water bottle), and then picked up another parent and his two boys. My first test of parenting on a tournament would be the ferry.

What could go wrong on a ferry?

Well, now, that’s an interesting story.

Adventures in Parenting – Swimming Lessons

Sink or Swim

Literally.

After the pool experience in San Diego, where the youngest claimed he could swim and basically dog paddled his way to the bottom of the pool, it was clear that proper training would be required. So we booked lessons for both boys at the local pool. The WGRC.

walnut grove poolThe Walnut Grove Recreation Center is a model of recreation centers. It has a pool, a weight room, a sauna, a ping-pong table in the middle of a staircase landing, a full basketball court where sweaty teenagers push each other around, a library (with actual people in it reading actual books) and a huge staff information area where there’s a sign that says, please check in, but where the staff seem to largely ignore you in favour of talking to each other about the latest, omg catz video on youtube.

But the pool is a thing of beauty. Or should I say, ‘pools’. There’s huge hot tub pool where sweaty parents and bored kids hang out. There is a gigantic kiddie’s pool where any struggling 7 year old can stand up, get splashed by water buckets overhead or paddle around in what looks like a nerf canoe. And there’s a gigantic, dare I say, Olympic-sized pool where the more dedicated swimmers swim. A diving platform towers above the large pool, a rope swing hangs about 10 feet from one side of it, and above everything, twisting, winding, swooping ever downward, the most awesome waterslide of all time, (according to the youngest), a full 300 feet of slippery, slidiness.

IMG_4777[1]
From the Red Cross Guide
But we’re not here for fun. The boys are here to learn.

Seems the oldest never got past his level 3 swimming course. Not that he can’t swim, but the red cross –  being an institution of order – requires that someone finish lvl 3 before they move on to lvl 4. The oldest is not pleased.

Not pleased at all.

Because… well, let me put it this way…

There will be a time in his life that when he’s given the chance to hang out with a group of younger women, he’ll jump at it. Hell, he’ll pray for it. But at his age, 11, girls are still kinda icky and, worse, he’s been assigned to a group that has 5 younger girls. I’m not talking like 10 year olds. I’m talking 5-7 year olds.

He towers above them, his arms crossed over his chest, glowering as they giggle and splash and flail around. If there was a look that said, one day, I’m gonna get you for this, mommy, he had that look in the pool. Poor guy. But it’s the price of not completing something, of getting distracted and not finishing. So, he learns with the little kids.

However, there’s no goofing around on his part. None. There is no way in hell that he wants to stay in that group. He has to prove to the instructor that he can swim 5 meters, float a bit, go under water without panicking and perform some sort of backstoke I don’t quite recognize.

He’s motivated. He’s driven. He wants to be out of that group. Like Sting out of the Police.

The youngest, too, is on a mission. He has to learn to swim or he won’t be swimming. Saying “I can swim,” is, much to his surprise, not enough.

The bonus is that he’s fearless in water. Like I noted when we went in the hotel pool, that is both a good thing and a bad thing. Like having no fear of hairy, venomous spiders. Less screaming and flailing around when you see one and more, you know, death for trying to play with it.

So the youngest is going to try hard. Like his life depends on it. And, it kinda does. But he’s got some challenges a well. There are other kids in his group that’ll be fun to play with. There’s all kinds of cool things to do in the water rather than swim. And, towering above him, a slide that has to be tried, then tried again, face first, then tried, again, face first on his stomach, then face first, on his stomach, with his hands behind his back…

You can see the look in his eyes as he stares up at it, his instructor beginning to explain something super important.

The course takes a week.

They both have a week to pass.

But I have to wonder…Will their willpower to succeed overcome the obstacles?