Sunday, February 04, 2007

Assorted Minor Adventures

I've fallen way behind on writing about my adventures. Not that they have been big adventures, more travel than adventure really.

In the fall Shelley and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Banff Mountain Book and Film Festivals. (Check out the intro on YouTube.) We always enjoy the book festival more because it's smaller and has more live speakers and panels, but the films were good too.

A week and a half later we went to Las Vegas for a week. We thought it would be cool to stay on the strip and climb at Red Rocks, especially since I hadn't seen Vegas for 20 years. It turned out to be a poor idea. The strip is just not our cup of tea. Too many people, too much of everything I don't like about humanity. But we did enjoy a couple of Cirque de Soleil shows and some good dinners out. The other downside is driving in and out of Vegas to go climbing each day. It's not far but it takes a while through the traffic. I'd be more inclined to camp but the campground is pretty bleak. The climbing was great, although both times we did longer multi-pitch climbs we got stuck behind slow beginners which was a bit frustrating, especially since overall it wasn't that busy. But we were picking moderate routes which I guess explains the traffic.

A week and a half later we went to the Florida Keys for 10 days. We flew in and out of Miami but didn't spend any time there. My first impression was that the Keys were just one giant strip mall. But once you get off the highway it's great. We took a boat to the Dry Tortugas and camped overnight there, explored the fort and snorkeled off the beach. Luckily we avoided contact with the Portugese Man o' War which were abundant. They can give a nasty sting. Conditions weren't ideal (too windy) but I did get out for a couple of dives one day at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. I tried out my new waterproof housing for my camera. The only problem was that I accidentally switched it into movie mode so every time I clicked the shutter it would start/stop recording, which of course filled up the memory card. So I didn't get as many good shots as I would have liked. Shelley came along and snorkeled a bit on her own around the boat. Pretty good considering she's nervous about it in the first place and it was quite rough.

And then we spent Christmas with my sisters in Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Considering the time of year we were pretty lucky with the weather. One big storm (which is one of the attractions) but also a few nice and amazingly dry (no rain) days. We got out sea kayaking for a few hours which was great. I'd love to do more sea kayaking on the west coast. But the really brave people were the ones out surfing in the sub-zero weather (snow on the beach!)

After those trips in quick succession we've had a bit of a lull. But I'm going to a conference (Etech) in San Diego at the end of March so we're going to go down for a week or so before the conference, rent a car, and drive down into Baja. Maybe another chance for some sea kayaking and diving or snorkeling. :-)

Sadly, all these trips were shadowed by my mother, Pauline McKinlay, dying in the fall. She was 80 years old and had a good full life, and she went peacefully in her sleep the way she wanted. But that didn't make it any easier. We had been good friends. In many ways she was my inspiration for leading an adventurous life. Not that she was a climber or adventurer in the conventional sense, but she nonetheless had many adventures - leaving England to go to East Africa with my father for ten years on a "whim" and then leaving there to settle in Saskatchewan - a place they knew nothing about and that was about as opposite from colonial East Africa as you could get, both climate wise and culturally. And she had the right attitude for an adventurer, no matter how tough things got, right up to the end, she always managed a smile. I miss her dearly.