12 March 2013

Tim Geist's CCG Deceiver

I try not to regurgitate too much content between this site and the Saltwater Fly Journal with my writing & editing duties over at the Clear Cure Goo blog, but this is too good not to share.

New Jersey-based CCG and Regal Vise pro staffer Tim Geist runs an awesome website called The Flybrary; you'll be hard-pressed to find better photography of flies anywhere else on the internet.

While I was working in West Africa, we discussed getting a step-by-step tying tutorial on the CCG blog. It turned out to be quite detailed and picture-heavy - too much for West African internet - so into a  DropBox shared folder it went until I was away from a slow, goat-powered internet connection.

Now I've landed on the west/left/wet coast, and I had time last week to finalize the editing and formatting of the post. 

It. Is. Awesome (if I do say so myself).

Tim went above & beyond online fly tying tutorials for this one, with FORTY-NINE high-quality pictures in the tutorial.

Check it out here. You will not be disappointed.

08 March 2013

A driver never sleeps

A: Fredericton, NB - Thursday, 21-Feb

The plan, as it was conceived, seemed simple enough: wake up, load up the truck, tidy up the apartment, say last goodbyes, and start driving. I assumed we'd be on the road by 1400h.

At  2030h (Atlantic Time), we finally pulled out of town. It would have been logical to wait until morning, but there comes a time when you just have to go. We were delayed by a day already due to bad weather, and more bad weather was on the way.

The drive from Fredericton to the Quebec border was slow; heavy wind gusts with the kayak on top and occasional snow & ice-covered highways resulted in top speeds of 80km/h (~50mph, 'merican friends).

But we were on our way.

B: North Bay, ON - Friday/Saturday, 22/23-Feb

We pulled into North Bay at 1430h (Eastern Time) on Friday afternoon and quickly found a near-deserted Comfort Inn to rest our weary bones and order a pizza.

The front desk staff were friendly, helpful and courteous. They made sure we had a drive-up room so we could easily take the dog out as well as keep an eye on all of our worldly possessions in & on the truck. Sleep came easy that night.

Total travel time, Fredericton - North Bay: 18 hours. I made the same trip in the same truck (with a different dog & a lot less stuff) solo back in '06; it took me 14 hours...and a lot less gas. I did have an hour-long nap at a highway rest stop on this trip, however; thus making the title of this post an outright lie.

C: Thunder Bay, ON - Saturday/Sunday, 23/24-Feb

We set out on the big portion of the never-ending trek through Northern Ontario, or Nontario, as I like to call it. It doesn't seem like the Ontario of Toronto & vicinity, who give the rest of Ontario a bad name.

Nontario seemed a lot more inhabited than in Ought-Six; I distinctly remember thinking if I were to become stranded I'd have to eat my former project manager's black lab back then. I didn't have that feeling this time.

In fact, there was a lot of traffic, which sucked at times: there were not many places to pass transport trucks, and it meant using a lot of windshield wiper fluid.

We checked into another Comfort Inn at ~2200h. The free wifi & continental breakfasts are solid, though this particular one charged for Awesome staying in the room. Front desk staff was also friendly & helpful here, too.

Before bedtime, we decided it'd be most appropriate to stop at the Terry Fox Memorial in the morning. I'm glad we did.

Non-Canadians: click here for more on Terry Fox.

Canadians not knowing who Terry Fox is: Leave now. Get on an ice floe, push off and float away in a slow, southerly route. Far from shore. I don't want you here.

Total travel time, North Bay to Thunder Bay: 13 hours and change. This is where the comparisons between 2006 & 2013 should stop; in '06 Thunder Bay was a gas/coffee/bathroom stop, and I kept going...right through to Saskatoon...

D: Regina, SK - Sunday/Monday, 24/25-Feb

After paying respects to the Terry Fox Memorial east of Thunder Bay, we once again pointed west and were off.

Today was to be a wildcard day of driving: if we made it past Winnipeg, I'd be happy. Any further than that would be a bonus. We just wanted to be out of Ontario and eventually, we were: we made it into Manitoba.

High-level negotiations between driver & passenger carried on throughout the day to determine how far and how long we would go into the night. The driver (me) was feeling pretty good: alert, not stiff and well-rested. The passenger, unfortunately, was not.

Compromises were made, and a (rough) plan hatched: stop for the night in Brandon, MB; then take a short driving day the next day to rest our weary souls and bones. The passenger dozed off, and I pushed through to Regina, Saskatchewan. Bam.

We stayed at (another) Comfort Inn in Regina. The bag o' douche at the front desk gave me the "we have a room available" routine, as if to imply there was one and only one room available, and it was going to be expensive...in terms of the Comfort Inn. I didn't give a rat's ass whether it was $89 or $129, I just wanted a bed.

Then I almost broke my neck in the icy parking lot while outside with the dog, which endeared all-things-Saskatchewan to me even further.

Total travel time, Thunder Bay to Regina: Seventeen-ish hours. We stopped for a 'fancy' lunch in Dryden, ON, the birthplace of Chris Pronger...if anyone cares...

Fun fact: once crossing the border into Manitoba, I set my cruise control for ~105km/h (65mph) and didn't accelerate or decelerate from that speed for about an hour and forty minutes. Love the Prairie Provinces.

PS - Comfort Inn, Regina: eat a dick.

E: Medicine Hat, AB - Monday/Tuesday, 25/26-Feb

As agreed to during high-level negotiations of the previous day, this was our short day. A half-day...or more like a third-day, by the rate we had been travelling.

After a lazy start to the day, we made it into Alberta and checked into a nice Best Western in Medicine Hat by mid-afternoon.

Pizza was ordered, sleep was had.

Which is good, because the mountains were coming at us fast...

Total travel time, Regina to Medicine Hat: Five hours. If only all the days were like that.

F. Chilliwack, BC - Tuesday/Wednesday, 26/27-Feb

The day started ominously: at the first intersection of the morning, I needed to pop the truck into four wheel drive in order to move at the green light.

As y'all can imagine, I had been paying attention to the weather for days leading up to and throughout the trip. Our drive from Fredericton and through Quebec was a precision-timed masterpiece, avoiding storms by mere hours ahead of us and behind us.

I knew weather would be touch-and-go for the first two hours out of Medicine Hat but with minimal snow accumulation and no chance of freezing rain. And once we were past Calgary, it would be clear skies for much of the day through the mountains...but I also knew it wouldn't last for long: bad weather was a-brewin'.

I'll tell this part of the journey through Twitter:

Alas, it wasn't all rainbows & unicorns on this last big day of driving: I had a solid forty minutes of white-knuckled, butt-puckering, scary-ass driving on the Coquihalla Pass1.

This was the worse part of the entire trip. I hated it, while my lovely passenger slept soundly through it all. I'm sure she still doesn't believe there were snowbanks towering over the truck (there were) with three feet of snow on the road at the summit (more like three inches).

But two lengthy Matthew Good songs2 later, we were out of the mountains and into a light, mild3 rain.

We stayed at another Comfort Inn. Not as good as the Comfort Inns of Ontario, but a zillion times better than that shithead Comfort Inn of Regina.

I didn't sleep well as I was constantly checking on the truck. When I first moved to Vancouver in '06, some dick smashed my driver's side door window, probably to see if the newly-landed New Brunswicker left anything of value in the truck. He got thirty-seven cents; I got a $345 repair bill.

As we say back east, the bastards would steal Christ from the cross and go back for the nails. Fuckers.

1 - just pronounce it Coca Cola Pass and you'll be fine.

2 - like this one and this one (they're worth a listen. Right now. Go ahead).

3 - mild by Canadian standards, as in, it was 6°C (43°F). Goddamned tropical by eastern Canadian in February standards.

Total travel time, Medicine Hat to Chilliwack: Fifteen hours or so. We stopped in Canmore for lunch and in Kamloops for an extended dog-walk. Plus the whole snowpocalypse on the Coca Cola Highway slowed things down...

G: Comox Valley, BC - Wednesday, 27-Feb.

Nothing much to report on this part of the journey, except we finished it. Anticlimactic, isn't it?

We were on the road by 0800h (Pacific Time) with a quick Starbucks Coffee from beside the motel, and efficient use of the carpool lane through the Lower Mainland to North Vancouver to make it onto the 1030h ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

I had a huge breakfast on the ferry for not that much money and we chilled out for the ride; happy to be out of the truck while making forward progress.

Once on Vancouver Island, the goal line was in sight. We pulled into the Safeway in Courtenay around 1330h to grab a few groceries, and we were off to check into our seaside cottage hideaway.

We were asleep for the night by 1630h. Pacific time.

Total travel time, Chilliwack to Comox Valley: about five hours, with 70 minutes spent waiting to load on the ferry and almost two hours on the ferry.

*          *          *

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