Although the music had yet to begin while we were enjoying a nice hearty dinner, an instinctive conversation of music was delved into with no hesitation. (A tell-tale sign of real musicians.) A harmonica was the top of discussion that kicked it all off, which then seamlessly transitioned into Juan pulling out his new accordion and taking us through a little tour of it. Once that was busted out, you could tell that dinner was getting shoved to the back of the mind as music asserted itself to its rightful place that was front and centre.
Everyone started getting comfortable and began noodling around with their instruments while getting situated. An inevitable jam easily manifested quite seamlessly from there.
It was nice listening to everyone talking through the music with what they were doing in regards to chord keys, progressions, songs to play, etc. It's always such a different element to sit with a band when they are in practice rather than when performing a show. It gives a deeper look into their music the way each musician brings their individuality into a unity of cohesiveness within the collective in regard to how the music is navigated.
The Latin Lovers' music constitutes a good feeling within. Their interactions bring layers of harmony that is separate from the music itself, but then gives another sense of depth to what they are creating.
The third jam started with some heavy bass lines. Who doesn't love the thunder of a trembling bass as it rivets down inside. After a few notes, the rest of the band fell in behind the rumbles with the timing of unison. For an only 'months old band', they are noticeably tight. It was easy for me to drift away in that thought.
...and then out comes Oye Como Va by Santana!
Man, that was really smooth. They played for a bit, and then came to a short lull to talk it through, thinking they were playing it a little too slow. No sooner than that was vocalized, and unanimously agreed upon, did they get back into it with a bit faster of a pace. It was really well done...to the point where it brought me back to images of when I saw Santana down at the Gorge in Washington in September 1997. It made for some good feeling reminiscing.
When they got through Oye Como Va, it was 'on' from there! All the warming up was cast aside as they dove head on into the rest of the night. The shift in energy was palpable, quite noticeably so!
The intensity revved up!
At times I closed my eyes to see the music with more than my ears in the way I would at a live show. I do that to remove all visual distraction to be able to be closer to the music that I am hearing. As they dove deeper into things, I did the same.
The first thing I heard said by any of them once the tune was over was, "Drive it! Drive the shit out of it," which would give the indication that they must be feeling it too.
So, here we are with the, now all too familiar, rumbling bass kicking off once again. "Well, lookkit that shit!" was the thought rattling in my mind. Just like before, the rest of the band falls in behind as if the bass is a roller coaster and they all hopped on to take the trip to the promised land of thunderous bliss. Fantastic stuff!
Because of my deeply woven affinity for Bob Dylan, I will always have a soft spot for the harmonica in any capacity, so when that was brought into the mix, it was like a vessel that started to carry me home. A nice little security blanket of comfort!
The music never fully stopped during the break, even if only lingering notes were ringing out, there was always something there. So, even though there was an apparent break, where they were coming and going, the music carried on in a subtle context, and then, just like that, everyone settled into the music again without skipping a beat. I really enjoyed watching that play out.
Lots of smiles and giggling happiness permeated the room and filled it just fine. It was a good night!
When they said there was about 30 minutes left in the session, I got selfishly a tad bummed, because I was invested into the music and didn't want it to end. Having been seeing live music for close to 30 years I always take that as a sign of the performance: When you genuinely don't want it to end, and feel somewhat sad because it has, you know the goods were delivered!
It's almost unbelievable that The Latin Lovers have only been playing together for mere months now. Not only are they really tight within their music and cohesiveness, they also convey a feeling of kind wonderment that swirls within from hearing them play.
This jam session practice of theirs was a pleasure to witness and behold!
The Latin Lovers will be playing their next show tomorrow, March 7th, in Castlegar, BC. (Information below) They are also gearing up to be touring as much as they can throughout the summer. One can only hope that they might play a show somewhere near a beach because somehow it implies a sense of Latin romance on a sandy beach under a sea of stars on a warm summer night. How perfect is that?!
The Latin Lovers contact info...
Steve Marc Album Release for KBIA w. The Latin Lovers...
March 7, 2020
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
2320 Columbia Ave #2
Castlegar, British Columbia
(This started as a few sentence Facebook post to go with four photos, but I just kept writing. No editing. Just raw, honest writing...)
Sifting through thousands and thousands of photos. Seeing these definitely stirs up some emotion. They were from when I did the Vancouver marathon in May 2008. I did the race with not one second of training because it simply hurt me too much to run. I didn't see the big deal of running the same(ish) distance from Nelson to Salmo though, after all, it's just running.
Completing the marathon was never an issue or a problem, nor was it ever in question...just a simple matter of one foot in front of the other, and eventually the finish line finds you.
I got a stress fracture in my right foot around KM 18-19, which means I finished the last 23-24 KM on a cracked up foot...on top of no training and all the rest of the crazy pain and stuff in my body. I was a mess, but even still, it was no big deal to me despite all of that.
I remember staggering down the road along one of the waterfront parks in the city, and receiving a standing ovation from a full Sunday morning breakfast patio at some restaurant. (Yes, that tripped me right out!) I didn't care how beat up I looked like to everyone else, I still didn't feel like that was warranted.
(I have been told many times over the years that it isn't right for me to express that because my completing like I do, through the circumstances I do, evokes a real sincere emotion from people, and I am diminishing that whenever I say it is never deserved, nor warranted. It feels like such a complex contrast of perspective and emotion I find myself in amidst all of that between my point of view, and that of others. It just overwhelms me so much past how I really know to handle. It's definitely quite humbling!)
I hopped on the Skytrain and bus back to Biggsy and Deanna's after the race. By the time I got to their place I could barely move my legs. Dave found me out front gigglin' while unable to navigate the short 3 or 4 inch step in some part of their walkway or something like that. Needless to say, he found me stuck on his front path with legs that didn't work. :)
It was a tough drive back to Nelson. Tara and her folks saw me across the street from the El Taco patio the next day, and I will never forget the looks on their faces. Those people have seen me through some shit unlike anyone else, but even still, every so often I find a way to up the ante on that, and this was one of those times. They were horrified...but I just shrugged, laughed, and hobbled away with my slice of pizza from Thor's. (Something they have also become accustomed to. :) )
I went onto crutches right away for a firm set amount of time. I had to scratch some triathlons I had lined up, but I wasn't missing the one in Wasa Lake that was six weeks after the marathon. I was pretty upset about missing the races I did, but I did get a special pedal made for me and my bike refit so I could still ride with my cast on. My pedal was made from a mountain bike pedal, snowboard parts, screws, and skateboard grip tape. I still have it. It's pretty stylin'! Drease and Darryl, at Boomtown Sports in Nelson, took care of me.
I lived in the bush then, so I was crutching up and down the mountain over logs, rocks, and through long brush and all sorts of bush-y life. Of course, I got charged by bears a few times crutching in the bush 'cause I'd still try to sneak up on them to watch those beautiful creatures.
Other than riding with my cast on, and crutching through the bush up and down the mountain, I did everything right. I had broken the same bone in the other foot several years earlier, and was not given good advice, so it never healed fully correctly. This time I just laid around with my foot up, except for those other two things.
Above photos by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Because Interior Health is so speedy, it took me 4 weeks to get an appointment for a bone scan. By then my foot had healed to where it didn't show up on the scan. (I stayed on crutches for another week just to be safe.) The doctor happened to be walking by when I was still on the table, so he looked at the results from the radiologist. He came into see me all perplexed. My foot was fine, but then he tried to argue with me that I had a broken rib. I assured him that I didn't have a broken rib. He argued me otherwise.
(Trust me, I did not have a broken rib. I have bruised and cracked ribs, and even pulled muscles between my ribs, and all of them make it really hard to breathe, cough, sneeze, and laugh. This was nothing like that.)
That was the moment I learned the flaws, or more correctly, the loose results of a bone scan. He said what it really does is show "hot spots" that can indicate broken bones, cancer, arthritis, and some other thing that I forget. It was one of the many times I had to go up against a doctor trying to tell me something was wrong with me that was not. (I have dealt with that countless times over the past 26 years.)
Anyhow, much to my physiotherapist's dismay, less than three days off of crutches I raced again in Wasa Lake...just outside of Cranbrook, BC. (Off crutches Thursday afternoon...racing Sunday morning.) I compromised though by doing the swim and the bike (with my fancy pedal) and took myself out of the race at the second transition before the run.
It was the season I bought a trophy and medallions to give to the athlete who transcends adversity to compete in each triathlon I was at. (I competed in 10 over 15 weeks coming off of the crutches.) That turned into a whole other experience that really overwhelmed me as well because of how amazingly it was received. Goodness!
Presenting the Spirit & Determination Award (Named after an award I received at the 2009 Christina Lake, BC Triathlon.)
I never made it to the next season when I had some epic global aspirations because I got beat down by a freakin' goat of all things. It is a crazy story that everyone instinctively laughs at initially, but inevitably end up horrified by the time I get to the end of the story and what it meant to both my body and my life.
I went on to lose about five and a half out of the next six years of my life. It is impossible to describe what happened to my body during all of that, but it was real, real bad...even for my body's already crazy standards for pain. I have not been the same since.
When I happen upon photos and memories like these, they definitely evoke my own sense of emotion...mostly of letdown, failure, and even longing to the missed potential I have always believed that resides inside me.
As time rolls on, and my body gets more and more worn down, it gets harder and harder to draw upon the strength that I don't have to find the fortitude to forge through the obstacles in front of me and the impossible standards I set for myself. Regardless of ever worsening conditions and breaking down inside my body, I still have an unbreakable belief in myself for doing something truly remarkable. I've tried so hard and been knocked down so many times, but I still believe it is there regardless of any failures or stumbles I might have repeatedly face-planted on.
I don't believe in impossible. As so many people know, I don't give a damn what others say about the unaccomplishable things I dream up. I cannot ever compete with anyone, so I am only left to compete with myself, but inside what that notion entails, I just know there is something inside that is longing to be released within me that has never been done before by any human.
Travis Hauck... 3rd overall, 1st in his age group. World Champion!
In the past week, I have had three friends that have left a very indelible impact on my mind and in my heart...
Travis, who, after winning the National Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships last summer went all in on a year long journey with the goal of competing in the World Championships in Quebec this summer. Unfortunately, he blew a tire about half way through his race, and DNF'd. It was a crushing blow, but he regrouped and overcame his adversity by signing up for a 60km race the following day that was separate from the world's, but at the same site. It was a huge stacked field from around the world, and Travis won his age-group, and took third overall. In the face of that adversity. He carried himself like a champion to refocus, and took down that race, and as far as I am concerned, became a 60km cross-country world champion himself. (Although he firmly disputes this with me, and I completely disregard the technicalities in the face of the matter. :) )
Sarah, who, also overcoming adversity through injury, just qualified for the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon World Championships next weekend in Nice, France (Bib #1378);)
Sarah and her husband, Rob, after finishing Ironman Arizona at the end of 2018
...and then Leo who needs to hit top 30 in the world rankings over the long qualifying process to get to the World Cross-Fit Games. In his words...
"No the qualifier to get into those competitions is right now. They release workouts every Wednesday and you have until Monday to do them, video them and submit them... ...top 30 get the nod. I’m currently 10th in one and 5th in another."
He has to keep that consistency up until sometime in the spring. I asked Leo for the link to his youtube channel so I could watch them. All I had to do was watch the first one to get stunned into disbelief! You hear around town how much of a beast this guy is, but when you actually see it, it's a whole other thing! I'll let you make your own mind up about that.
Old photo I scooped from Leo's Facebook page.
All three of these incredible people are stratosphere's beyond anything I could ever chase down, but even still, all there have found glimmers of inspired-ness from the way I have thrown myself into the athletic meat grinder of my own making. I am so humbled by them, I could never put it into words. They are three legit, world level bad-asses...and then there is my doofus self!
I am so inspired by Travis, Sarah, and Leo, but I also feel like I have been living a lie within myself when I see what they are all bringing to a fruition of reality, when all I do is have stumbles. I don't give a shit about all my body issues, they are irrelevant towards my standards for myself; but I somehow find myself living in the ever widening gap between a constantly breaking down worn out pain-filled body, and aspirational standards that surpass my imagination.
The biggest fear I have is seeing that gap widen more and more as my body slips further and further away, dying before I really tap into the potential I know I have. I am well aware of the scope of the unfair pressure I put on myself because of it, but I don't care, because it is never gonna change. It shreds my mind to pieces every day, but is also the very reason why photos and stories like that Vancouver marathon exist. I know I have pulled myself through shit that only the very, very rare few do, but for me, it is still not good enough...my aspirations that I refuse to let go of are just too big.
These three people have given me something to really think about. Stumbling onto these photos cemented it. I know my body keeps trying to get in my way, but my mind is thinking up some new shit...especially after messaging with Leo a couple days ago.
Tomorrow is gonna spark the beginning of some kinda something that I have ideas of right now. Tonight I will sift through it and share what that entails with the three of them. The only thing I really know is that it is gonna be hard for me, hard on me, will hurt me, will inevitably injure me, and test every bit of mental and emotional fortitude I have inside of me.
(I began something like this in the spring when I got cleared from surgery by my doctor, but a massive life change turned my world upside down this summer, so I was forced into some adjustments...and also took the first real vacation I have had in 13 years.)
Time to focus the intensity again to drive myself insane going after the dreams that lie beyond my imagination. Hopefully the next two years are the most intense, painfully exhausting, yet undeniably rewarding years I have had. Only time will tell how that all plays out, but the only way to find out the truth of it all is to dig in and go after it...
Coming into the finish of the final stage of the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic
At some point earlier this summer, I asked how Travis' legs were doing, and where he was at with everything leading up to the world's. He said he wasn't where he wanted to be.
(Trav works hard, and he is an amazingly committed family man. As intense as he trains, he doesn't let that come in the way of his priorities...the life of his family!)
While I was on my summer wanderings with my doggie, I would think about him, and his preparation towards August...especially with those thoughts in my head of him not being where he wanted to be. Charging the world championships is a huge thing, and I wanted for him to be able to go there as prepared as possible, peaking at the right time, to lay smackdown on everyone else.
I do realize it is weird saying what I want, but the truth of the matter is that I want him to win, and in order to do that, he's gotta have everything aligned perfectly. In that respect, yes, I do want him to be as prepared as possible.
At the end of July, Travis popped up on the radar again right before the first stage of the Trans Rockies Classic. I was around home a bit then, but coming and going all over the place still, so I wasn't overly accessible.
It wasn't the first pre-race post he put up that got me, it was seeing his day one results that triggered something in me. I was elated for him, but that feeling of shittiness from missing out had punched me right in the gut.
That was that, I couldn't take it anymore. I was to the point where, how can I even call him a friend if I don't get out there and go see him at some point during those six remaining stages. Immediately after seeing his post, I started looking into it all. I sunk right into the Trans Rockies website: www.transrockiesclassic.com/
Quite quickly, I took a screenshot of his results from Day 1, and posted it on his page.
After I did that, I looked at the course. Before I saw the dates for each stage, I messaged Travis to ask him if there was a rest day in the middle. There wasn't
When I was looking into it deeper, I was kinda getting a little deflated with each stage's start/finish locations because I had some casual commitments that wouldn't let me get to any of those places. Everything turned around when I got to the last final stage though! It started in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and finished in Fernie, BC on the Sunday. (July 28th)
"That's the one!"
Image from the Trans Rockies Classic website.
Even though I couldn't fully commit until I figured a couple things out, I instinctively knew I was going. I couldn't miss it. I'd be so upset with myself if I did, and it would eat at me. (I can be my own worst nightmare.) I messaged Travis that I was hoping to go, and in part, I wish I hadn't as I would rather have just shown up.
(I had just done that to my friend from Whistler when she was playing in a charity hockey tournament in Kelowna the previous weekend. Debbie was on the ice when she saw me, and her legit, double-take reaction of shock was worth the overnight drive!)
Yaaaay for Debbie!
I couldn't escape the thoughts of my brief 12 year history with Travis. I mean, somehow in all of that, I was standing next to him in the hospital room when Tobi was being passed Caden from their nurse shortly after he was born. (That is a hilarious story from my point-of-view that I will tell another time; but I will say that I have never felt more out of place in all my life.) I just love those guys so much, and I couldn't miss him racing this time. I felt like I'd be letting him down, even though, in his nicest guy ever language, Trav would tell me to go fuck myself for even entertaining such a notion.
So, it was settled, I knew that whatever I had to figure out would somehow work, and I'd be on my way to Crowsnest Pass for the start of the final stage...and then drive into Fernie for the finish.
I left at somewhere around 1:00AM to drive through the night. I gave myself enough time to poke along and take a break or two if I needed it.
Crowsnest Pass is right in the Rocky Mountains, hence the name of place, and is just over an hour east of Fernie. I was really tired, and my butt was super sore, so I pulled over about 30 minutes west of Fernie to take a little break. That would give me a smooth final little 90 minute coast into the small town.
I timed it so I would arrive at about 7:15AM so I could park my van, let my doggie out, and then find my way to the race area with some time before the 8:00AM start. I woke up from my little siesta with the perfect amount of time to get there, so I looked at my dog, and said,
"Sweet! We totally nailed it, Fennario!"
About ten seconds later I got reminded once again of how big of an idiot I am, and realized I forgot about the time change. It was an hour later than I thought! Our perfect arrival time of 7:15AM was actually 8:15AM...fifteen minutes after the race start, which would be perfectly the worst time to show up!
I turned back to Fennario to say,
"Well, I fucked up again! Daaaaamn! When'r you ever gonna straighten me out?!"
In a way, I wasn't totally surprised that I messed that up, and I'm betting that if you asked Travis, he'd likely concur with that notion, "Yup...big surprise there!" I was pissed off though...like, really, really mad at myself...so upset! There I was, just letting down my friend again.
Since there was nothing I could do about it, I just crawled back into the bed in my van and went to sleep again. I was too mad to be awake anyway.
Immediately upon opening my eyes, I cursed myself out several times. Apparently that seemed to be the theme of the morning.
I took my time driving the last 30 minutes into town...stopping along the way to take some photos.
When I got into town, I started looking for my friend's school bus craft shop she has parked downtown that's called, Ace Ferguson. That bit of meandering led me to the skate park. I had to get out there to poke around and take some photos.
Inevitably, I was thrust into reliving some nostalgia from when I was a little kid in the 80's charging on my skateboard. (If I wasn't all crippled like I am, I'd still have one to play on.)
I noticed there was a lotta commotion at the bike shop right across the train tracks beside the park. There were all these little kids with their bikes, and their parents signing them up for some kind of race. I had to go check that out.
Being in the parking lot of GearHub Sports was fantastic. It reminded me of the Kids of Steel events at triathlons I have done. You see all these little kids with streamers on their bikes, some dressed as super heroes, and all that fun stuff. It's so great to see. I have always loved that.
Kids Rally Registration at GearHub Sports: www.gearhub.ca/
I asked what the event was, and where it was located. They told me it was a kids rally. The Kid's Bike Rally was in its 13th year. The registration was at GearHub, but then there was a bike decoration station at the Fernie Bike Park that was right across the street from the skate park. The rest took place by the rec centre and finishing area of the Trans Rockies race.
I love that stuff so much. Seeing the young kids out to give 'er is so amazing. I'll never not love that.
One thing I realized there was that no matter what the kids event I might see, or stumble into, I always get reminded of this one little girl in the Kids of Steel triathlon in Summerland, BC years ago in 2007. (About 5 days before I met Travis and Mike) She was having trouble getting into the water for the swim. She wanted to so bad, and kept motioning herself into the water, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She was turning around in half of a panic, pleading with her parents, and crying. Even still, she wanted to do it, and we all knew it. She just needed to find that millimetre of a push within herself, and she'd be fine. Everybody on the beach got behind her. The volunteers in the water were incredible. We were all going nuts cheering for her. She finally found the strength to get in and do the little swim course. The applause that we generated for her was really something else. When she stood up at the end of her swim, she had the biggest smile on her face, and the whole place just erupted! It was awesome. I felt so fortunate to be a part of it, and I have never forgotten her. Being in the parking lot, watching all the kids registering for the bike rally, brought all of that back again.
Gotta love kids who charge!
My little bad-ass hero in the stripes!
Being at the kids registration area definitely wiped clean all the frustration I had within myself for screwing up the time change and missing Travis' start at Crowsnest Pass. (It's nice to feel not pissed off. Haha.)
I went back to get in my van to drive over to the finishing area and check it out. After being such a dipshit in the early morning, I had to make sure I had everything all set for when Trav would be coming down the finishing chute. I wasn't missing that for anything!
I scoped it out, but had lots of time before his estimated finishing time, so I found an excellent shaded area to park. Fennario and I then walked the few blocks away to Ace Ferguson to see Kate and her kick-ass bus!
We hung out with her for quite awhile, but then with about 30 minutes left til race finishing time, we strolled back to the park area. I put Fennario in the van, rolled the windows down, and put out her water for her. With my doggie all styled out, I walked over to the finishing area.
I walked around wondering where the ideal place to see the end of the race would be. The finish line was in an outdoor hockey rink. I decided that the best place to be was right where the dirt met the opening to the boards of the rink. That way I could see him pop outta the bush and he would ride right past me, only a couple feet away, and unobstructed. Perfect!
I asked one of the race officials about the estimated time that they would be arriving. I told him that Travis said it would be around (whatever time he told me), and he confirmed that. The official then said that Travis had been on fire!
I told him I had driven from Nelson just to see Travis, and also told him of my time change screw up. I welcomed him into making fun of my stupidity with me, and he happily obliged. We had fun making fun of me for a couple moments. (I earned it...might as well embrace it!)
From that moment on, I planted myself right where I was, and was not moving for anything. Not a damned chance!
I was around 20-25 minutes early, so I had some reflective time on whatever my brain wanted to wander through. I looked a bit at the summer I had been having, but really I was just thinkin' about Travis, and the bigger picture of this Trans Rockies race he was leading.
I know how hard he works for all of this, and what it really means to him. Seeing his positioning at the top of the leaders board for this grueling race made me happy, but not necessiarily for the Trans Rockies itself. I was looking at what it was all saying about his overall conditioning for the World Championships later in August.
He was never far from my mind during all my summer journeys, and until this race, the only information I had was him saying he wasn't where he wanted to be with his training earlier in the season. Leading this insane 7 Stage race that averaged 79km in distance and over 6000 feet in elevation gain each stage told all the story one needed to know about his conditioning...
I got really, really happy for him. Super, super psyched!
I looked back to that wintery dinner of us sitting at his kitchen table, when he looked me right in the eyes and said with such conviction that he wasn't going to the worlds just to compete, that he was going there to win. I stayed with that image in my mind for a bit.
I know how much he has put into it all. That idea reaches further than all the long hours he puts out on his bikes. Before I had come over for that dinner in the winter, Travis had sent me the sponsorship/media packet he put together. (He emailed it in a pdf.)
Travis has always commented on my writing, and knows I have a done a bunch of sponsorship/media for myself, and have helped other people with that if I'm ever asked as well. He'll send me stuff like that because he knows I love it, but he also asks me what I think about it. (Quite flattering!)
The kit he put together was amazing! When I saw him next, he put the hard copy in my hands, and we got into it. He worked hard on it, and you could tell. It was so well done.
From my own experience, I know first hand how much goes into putting those sponsorship/media kits together, whether that being the time, or the mental and emotional energy. They don't just happen on their own, and you cannot just whip them off. I loved seeing it. I loved that he sent it to me, and then put it directly in my hands when I saw him shortly later.
It's more than the obvious that speaks to me about Travis, it's the fine unseen details of his passionate, and fierce commitment towards what he is doing. It is infectious!
Make no mistake about it, going to the world's is a big deal to him...past the obvious to what so many others might see!
That's the stuff I was staring into when I was standing there waiting for him to come down the finishing chute. It's also why I was so pissed off at myself for missing the start of that final stage. I know how much it means to him, I know how much he has put into it, and he's someone I give a shit about; so I just found myself swimming in thoughts of happiness for him because of the way he laid it down for the Trans Rockies. Trav completely annhialated any of those apprehensions he might have had quietly swirling when he told me earlier in the summer that his training, and body, was not where he wanted to be.
I understand that kind of mental toll in this respect. I can't speak for him obviously, but I know all about the far depths of the spirit one gets submerged into when pushing into the ultimate extreme. The things one's mind can do when treading within that realm can be absolutely brutal, so I can only imagine where Trav's mind was at fighting through everything when his body wasn't where he wanted it to be after the countless hours he poured into it all.
Of course, I could be 100% wrong!
I almost felt a sense of elation when I was standing there waiting for him. Despite the 7 days of hard pounding on his exhausted body, it had to be some sort of big release to crush down the Trans Rockies the way he did! Good bye apprehensions, hello world championships!
If I'm being completely honest, I gotta say, I was getting a bit emotional. I was glad that I came to see my friend finish this epic race that was the big springboard testing ground towards the world's. (That is a fabricated thought within my mind, he has never implied such a thing to me.) Outside of being able to go to Quebec itself, if there was one race to come out to see him finish, it was this one.
There was a little comedy yet to come...
An elderly couple walked up and stood beside me. We started talking right away. They were super sweet. The lady was firing off all the questions. She asked me if I was from Fernie. I told them that I had driven overnight from west of Nelson to see my friend Travis finish the final stage. I then had to explain the deal with it being the final stage, and what that meant. They were pretty blown away by the scope of the race, and also were pretty psyched that I would drive that far just to see my friend wizz past us for all of 15 seconds.
The comedy played out when they both asked where the racers came out from to the finish area. I pointed down to the brush with the cone markers along the ground. She then asked if they would know where they were going. I told her that I have done a bunch of these kinds of races, and that I have never looked at a map, and never had a problem as courses are always marked. I then said, "These guys race all over the place, they know what they're doing!"
The couple were diggin' it, and stayed hangin' out til the boys came charging through. Well, seems she was right, because when the boys popped outta the bush, all three of them went the wrong way...they took a right instead of going straight.
All three of us started laughing. She totally called it! I turned to her and said, "Well, you totally nailed that one, huh?!"
It was most excellent!
Back on track to bring it home!
The three of them got quickly back on course and blew past us into the finishing chute in the hockey rink. Trav was out front, and in his words, "I couldn't resist," pulled a huge wheelie on his bike into the finish line.
It was great!
Once he was finished, he had to give interviews for their media and such. He had cameras right in his face. I loved watching it. Lil' bad-ass!
I walked to a different spot on the outside of the rink to take some photos while he was doing all of that. When I saw it winding down, I went back to where I originally was by the entrance that they biked into as it was also the way they came out. That's when I got to see him and talk to him finally.
For some reason, I was kinda at a loss for words. I wasn't even sure of the last time I saw him, and even considering everything, I still didn't have much to say. I remember thinking about the way I get whenever I have finished triathlons, and I think I let that get in the way of any conversation with Trav.
My races are a spectacle for exact opposite reasons of Travis, but I get swarmed by people at the finish line. It totally overwhelms me, and really I just wanna unwind, chill out, and much to my friend, Shelby's, dismay, eat ice cream. Talking to people is the last thing on my mind. End even when I see close friends at races, I don't have too much to say to them either. I know for sure, that got in the way of any kind of proper conversing with him on my end. I was also aware of the grind he put himself through, so figured he might be a tad bit tired.
We small talked for a bit, but made plans for me to come over for dinner before he left for the world's in Quebec. With that, I took off straight for the ice cream stand...The Happy Cow!
I talked to that lady for a bit. She was selling these amazing home made ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream was bookended by two fatty, fresh baked cookies. Daaaamn, they were good.
I saw Travis walking by somewhere when I had just gotten mine, so I yelled over to him to see if he wanted one.
(Also, much to the dismay of Shelby. In a small, little way, I kinda offered it to Trav in total defiance of Shelby... The story behind this is that Shelby is a naturopathic doctor, and really close friend I have known for over 30 years. She doesn't have a damned thing against ice cream, but said it is the last thing your body wants/needs after doing something like a triathlon, or in Travis' case, a grinding mountain bike race. Well, stick it to the man...haha, Shelby!)
Travis was all over the offer, so I grabbed a second one to give to him. We indulged together. I got some guy to take a photo of us cheers-ing our sandwiches, but for who knows what reason, he didn't know how to push a simple button on a camera to take a photo, and screwed it up. I was bummed when I discovered that at home.
We talked for a minute or two more while shoving ice cream in our faces, and with that, I was on my way.
Before we parted ways, without him knowing, I took a photo of his shoes, and his skinny little calves. I always love looking at his legs because they're so gawd damned savage! Whenever you see photos of him on the podium, he's always the tiniest guy up there.
I come from the triathlon world, and even though it is extreme endurance, I am used to tree trunk legs, so I have always found it most excellent looking at Travis' little legs. Those lil' fuckers are like unassuming assassins! Don't mess with them 'cause they will whup your ass all up over the place!
Even though I messed up getting to see Travis off at the start of the stage, I was really happy about having been there. I never saw the whole getting emotional part coming, but I embraced it because I love the guy and was just so psyched for him.
I let Fennario help me with the last of my ice cream when I got back to my van. Then we walked back over to say good bye to Kate before we left town.
A few last post race photos!
Keep chargin' Trav! I was glad to see you race for 15 seconds!
I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
I am writing this holed up in a dive hotel in southern Wyoming in the midst of a three week road trip with my doggie. It is basically an agenda of simply being on the road to wherever, whenever. The only thing on the agenda was to go to Colorado to see an old friend I haven't seen since July 9, 1995. The date is easy to remember as it is the day of the final Grateful Dead show in Chicago.
Since I was going to be in the area, I got tickets to the final two shows of the Dead & Company tour that was finishing in Boulder, Colorado. In quite often typical road trip fashion though, I have had some crazy break down stories on the mountain passes east of Vail. They definitely put a huge fork in the road for the journey I have been on. There is no doubt about that.
I missed the first of the two shows because of it all, but was able to get in for the final one last night. It was an incredible concert, but that is a story all of its own. What I will say about it is that while I was swimming through the height of bliss for that string of hours in that stadium, thoughts of seeing The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam!
Dead & Company - Boulder, Colorado - July 6, 2019
Starbelly is a festival back home in Crawford Bay on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, BC on July 19. This is their 20th year!
Last night, the festival, and The Wild Turkeys, had both found their way into the stream of all my thoughts of what The Grateful Dead has meant to my life: Everything it has given me, and especially all the people it has brought my way!
(The vast, vast majority of people in my life are due to the trickling effect of that band. It is doubtful I would even be living out in BC without it.)
It made me smile when the Turkeys came into mind while I was gruuuvin' in that stadium. I love the Wild Turkeys! I haven't seen them too many times, but that's mostly because I don't get out much. It is a band of local guys who all share a passion for the band I love so much, The Grateful Dead. They just have fun covering their tunes, and only play shows around our area.
**I wrote something about them last year.
As far as I am concerned, The Wild Turkeys are quite synonymous with the Starbelly Jam festival as they have played there many times over the years, dating back to the first year the festival was held. That was in July of 1999...the same year I had moved to the area.
I moved to the West Kootenay on May 1, 1999. It is no secret that I live and breathe all things Grateful Dead related, so my impending collision with the Turkeys was inevitable, and the first time I saw them was only weeks after my arrival to the area. They were playing at The Royal on Baker Street in Nelson. It was the simple 'Steal Your Face' image on their poster that grabbed my attention, and drove me to going to their show, of which my mind had been to before it had even happened.
Timmy was the first one of the boys I met in the band. That was when a bunch of us were all crammed into the little band room downstairs after the Fat Cats show at The Civic on Vernon Street in town. (Renamed, "Finley's Bar & Grill" by great new owners since around 2003.) He and I were sitting at the same tiny table, and were immersed in all the fun with everyone else.
**It turns out that some of the guys are tied heavily with the Fat Cats, which naturally extended a further branch towards them as The Fatties are really good friends of mine.
The Wild Turkeys - Some fantastic West Kootenay boys!
As for Starbelly Jam itself...
Phot0 by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
I have very vivid memories of Starbelly, but they are not from me being there as I have never been!
I lived with Christa in Queens Bay for the first three years I lived here: July 99 to April 2002. (Q.B. is five minutes from the ferry to the festival, but on the opposite side of Kootenay Lake.)
My tiny little 14 foot cabin on Christa's property in Queens Bay, BC
Back then, Christa had an ice cream truck, and she hit the festival circuit hard! Her traveling partner was her daughter, Hazel, was only 7 months old then. I'd always see them preparing for, or returning from, whatever festival.
It could get quite comical looking out the window of my little cabin to see Christa up and down the ramp carrying all her stuff in and out of the truck because Hazel would be at her feet the whole time. Mostly she just wanted to help her mama, but she was a baby, so it was like walking through a moving mine field for Christa.
Her arriving home from festivals was one of my favourite ways to hang out with Christa. I would come and play with Hazel, and kinda run some interference so Christa could get stuff done. I'd just be hangin' out talking to both of them...mama and baby. It was fantastic. I love those two so, so much!
Top: Christa and Hazel during 1999/2000.
Bottom: Christa, Hazel and I skating on the pond at the Balfour Golf Course - December 31, 1999
(These are the only photos I have of the two of them.)
I had heard great things about Starbelly right from the beginning. Each year I lived in Queens Bay, I house sat for Christa while the festival was on, so I did not attend. Her stories of it, upon coming home from the first one, added to the whole picture of the West Kootenay region for me.
In the years since the beginning days of the festival, other things have also kept me away as well. After I left Queens Bay, I moved deep in the bush, up the mountain, west of Nelson. All told, it was about an hour and fifteen minutes away (When factoring my gnarly driveway.), so it was no longer just a short pop down to the ferry kinda thing to get to.
Even back then, I had many friends who had Starbelly marked on their calendar as an annual event they were not missing. There was always great music, and lots of other things to do for everyone. It was equally great for the individual, as well as families and their kids. The tales coming out of that festival every year grew and grew.
Above three photos by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
Aside from the housesitting for those who would be attending, my body's epic journey of pain was a big contributing factor on my missing out on Starbelly!
My body first fell apart in 1993, but in June of 2002 stuff happened that I could never express into words...the worst it has ever been. (I'm not getting into the depth of that here.) I have never been the same since.
Despite all the craziness in my body, I dug into dragging my banged up self through triathlons. I was hooked right away from the first race I did! I didn't care how much it hurt to do them, I just found them liberating and invigorating. (Just as with my body, my triathlon life is a massive story of its own for another time as well.
Fundraiser at Save-On-Foods with Tiyenna (She totally bailed me out to help me pull this off.)
I got so much from the triathlon world, that I wanted to start giving back to it somehow, so in 2007 I did my first ever fundraiser at Save-On-Foods. I wanted to raise some bucks to buy a trophy to donate to our local triathlon. (It was for the athlete who overcomes adversity to race.) The date given to me by the grocery store was the Saturday of the weekend of Starbelly Jam. I missed another one!
Even though they beat the living hell out of me, triathlon had taken over my life during my summers for some years, so festivals were not a thing on my radar. There was also another massive life turn that came when I got beat down by an animal on June 30, 2009. That set off a chain of events where I ended up losing about five and a half of the next six years of my life. It also left me with more permanent changes within my body as with my 2002 breakdown.
It just seemed to be that something was always keeping me away from the festival, but the stories from those who went never ceased to keep rolling in!
I have always been intrigued by Starbelly, and even with never having been, I have grown an attachment to it in my own way. This will be their 20th anniversary of the event, so it seems like the perfect year for me to attend for my first time.
(It was on hiatus for one summer a few years ago, and even never having been, it left me a bit sad to know it would not be happening. I was delighted to hear it would be returning when it did.)
Timmy showing me his new amplifier last month.
I went to Timmy's house a couple weeks before I left on this road trip down to Colorado (and the ensuing wandering). He's such a great guy. He was showing me his new amplifier he had just gotten, and was super psyched on. He invited me to come to their jam sessions leading up to the festival, but unfortunately I'm unable to attend because of my road trip in the States. (There could be a likelihood that I roll into the festival straight from the USA.)
This road trip I am on has seemed to add to the nature of attending Starbelly Jam to see the Wild Turkeys. I have been some gorgeous places on my trip, but back home in the West Kootenay is really a special place! It is so damned beautiful and full of so many incredible people...and it's home!
When I was riding that train of bliss in the Dead & Company show last night, and having the image float into my mind of being at Starbelly watching the Turkeys play gave me a nice feeling of my home...one of rippling warmth. It made me smile more, and painted more happiness into being there gruuuvin' hard in Boulder last night!
The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam is in eleven days, and I can't wait!
Starbelly Jam Society
Box 15 Crawford Bay, BC
I clicked on Brittany's Facebook page to message her about playing some tennis. When I saw her profile photo it punched me right in the face with some imagery that I couldn't really make sense of. I can't really grasp the words because it speaks of so many things that are beautiful about life, but I still put down some words in a vain effort to try to capture what this image spoke of...
**Photo by Natasha Thaesler
"The Radiance She Shines"
She smiles with a radiance
It is penetrating
A beautiful being
On a forested road
Language of her body
Speaks of a loving soul
Free with passion
Embracing life in essence
Emittance in substance
Of a light touch
In a light sense
Caught in stillness
In a moment of happiness
Suffused in wonderment
Infused in astonishment
Symbolizing everything right
In a simple expression
She gives purpose to gratitude
The gratitude of hope
Hopeful in its depths
Dispelling chaotic notion
With beauty in simplicity
The simple notion of optimism
That is elated in contentment
Thoughts stripped down
To their purest formative meaning
Like eternity bottled in rhyme
Her image in this time
Symmetry of perception
In the gratitude of hope
Luminously found within
The radiance she shines
I saw this photo of Kimberley about 20 minutes after she posted it with these words:
*insert inspirational song lyrics here*
I wrote this in about 5 minutes. The words fell out quite easily...
"A Girl Named Kimberley"
She is a girl
As kind as they come
With her smile
She lifts you up
Softening hard rock stone
Comforting hurting souls
With an essence of beauty
Inviting in her kindness
Embracing in her warmth
She makes you remember
Everything that is good
Forgetting everything that ails
Living in such a way
To see freedom in oneself
Illuminating a path within
Through the way that she walks
In strides made up of balance
Written in the pages of harmony
Penned in the ink of her heart
The beautiful words of life
That make everyone remember
And everyone to see
The natural wonders
Such rippling kindness can hold
Effortless in giving
In doing nothing
Just from being
Her beautiful self
A self of warmth
A self of radiance
A self of worth
Given unto us
The lucky ones
Fortunate to have known
A girl of this magnitude
A girl of this kind
A girl named Kimberley
A girl so kind
**I was looking through Aszjeca's Halloween series of photos, and just started writing this in mid-thought...all in one shot, unedited and raw, as is the way I will often write.
It's not even just about what she does with her skills, there is just something about the way Aszjeca captures her creations in how she poses in her photos. They're not just straight photos of the make up and then done, she knows how to bring them to life even more by adding other layers of depth.
(This is the photo that put my mind into writing mode)
I haven't read the original thing I wrote about Aszjeca last year since I did it.
I kinda just write and move on. I do believe I said something along the lines of me not being a make-up kinda guy. I love natural beauty and don't think it should be covered up. Aszjeca is the exception that makes me a total hypocrite though, because what she does is unreal!!
After seeing her Halloween series this year I kinda got sad that it was over. It was then that I realized that Aszjeca is my favourite artist in this area. There is a very deep and rich community of artists around here, and I don't want to disrespect any of them because this place has some damned talent...my goodness does it ever have talent, but she is on a different level.
(This photo deserves to be full size...that shit's crazy!)
Aszjeca's skills are off the charts fantastic, and so is her imagination for what she comes up with to create. She never ceases to blow my mind that way. The thing that takes it further though is that extra layered depth she gets through knowing how to capture each moment in a photo.
It may not seem like it to many, but I am a very artsy person, and in anything I do I pour everything I have into it, and look for as many ways to add layers of depth as I can. I stretch my imagination beyond what I know to do. I venture into the unknown through my art, quite often by mistake, but I love the pursuit of uniqueness as it is often the thing that drives me.
It's in that realm of thought where my mind goes when I see the way Aszjeca captures her creations...whether that be through wearing a wig, or onsie lookin' thing, the way she has her hair, or just through the way she poses. She brings in several aspects of art all at once, and it is just so damned mind blowing.
The thing that is even more excellent is the way that once she is done, she cleans it off and that's that! I liken it similarly to Buddhist Monks doing those absolutely stunning sand mandalas. Their creations are so gorgeous, and leave one completely in awe. Then once they are done, the monks just sweep up the mandala...and that's that! Countless hours just gone. I know those mandalas are all about the journey, and not the destination; but the odd time I will think about that likeness between Aszjeca's art and that of a Buddhist Monk's sand mandala...a stunning piece of work that gets washed away. It all seems crazy, but it is really just wrapped in brilliance.
Within the notion of her art, the simplest thing I can say is that I am a guy who straight-up doesn't like make up, but I am always looking forward to what she is gonna do next. Aszjeca is just that fuckin' good!
Yesterday (November 2nd) I sent her this message:
"I'm assuming your Halloween series is over now? You gonna do a Christmas one?"
She told me she is for sure, so stay tuned 'cause Christmas is coming fast!
Here is Aszjeca's info again!
Her page on Younique Beauty Products. (She has been killing it with this stuff!):
Aura Spa & Salon at The Hume Hotel in Nelson, BC, Canada:
Bonus photo she posted beginning of November...
"Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground ✨" - Aszjeca
LaRae has popped back up on the radar a few times over the past few days. I was fortunate enough to have seen her a couple times, and sitting her reflecting on that a bit right now I kinda feel like this really overdue.
I usually write things in their own time without much thought. Get hit by something, sit down and write it! Just like that. I don't even read or go through half the shit I write. I just fire it off in one shot and move on. This one feels different though, and I feel kinda shitty for taking so long.
LaRae is fuckin' something maaaan!
It's really hard to encapsulate how she came into my life...and maybe that's why it has taken me so long to do this.
A couple years ago, I stood on a stage with tears rolling down my face in front of about 200 people when I was at a cancer fundraiser. Listening to the speech being given, I kinda just broke down.
While I was standing there with those tears, some girl came up to me and took my hand in one of hers, and then wrapped her other arm around me...and squeezed. I didn't even flinch to look and see who it was because all my attention was for the person speaking on stage.
This mystery person completely latched onto me in a very loving way. She gave me a kiss on the cheek a few different times while holding tight the entire time.
Even though I didn't even look at her, and had no idea who she was, I got filled with this deeply profound feeling of love for another human being coming from her. At times, in that moment on that stage, all I could see was that love she was expressing. It was unreal! Whoever it was, you could tell she just cared, and she really, really fuckin' meant it! A complete stranger to a complete stranger in a crazy moment. It was actually quite overwhelming.
When the speech was over, she gave me the biggest hug ever...I mean, loooong hug! Squeezing real fuckin' tight! This person crammed an eternity of love in a moment, and then with one last little kiss on the cheek, vanished back into the crowd...
Just like that!
She came outta nowhere, created this unreal amount of love, and then vanished.
I don't know why I didn't look at her in that moment, but I fully engrossed in the emotion she was sharing. I've never experienced anything like it, and given the levity of all that night entailed, I know I'll never experience anything like that again. I knew it at the time too, and I savoured in it. The weight of it all did not escape me. I was in the midst of something special and I reveled in it...even in tears in front of a couple hundred people.
I found out who LaRae was a couple days later. I had just met her cousin about month earlier, and I asked her who that person was, because she was really nice to me, and I just wanted to say thanks.
That's how I met LaRae!
She will forever be one of the most special people to me in my entire life because of how we met. Even if we had never seen each other again that would still hold true.
I've been very blessed with a lot of really good people in my life. No matter where I go, they just keep appearing. LaRae is something else though. Getting to know her since, everything about the way we met just made sense.
Crystal. Fuckin'. Clear!
The vibrancy of this woman is insane! She is like walking sunshine! It doesn't matter what you're going through, her presence just fills everything with life, love, radiance her profound, profound vibrancy!
LaRae has this thirst for life, and goes right the fuck after it! She is a mountain top standing, laketime kayaking, waterfall finding, snowboard riding, festival going, pure love creating absolutely gorgeous soul! She is one of the good ones.
If you're lucky enough to have LaRae come anywhere near your life, count your blessings because she is an angel sent from the divine of whatever your trip is. A true gift of everything that is good in life!
I hardly ever see her, but she makes every single moment seem like a life time. She appears...and disappears! Appears...and disappears...but leaves you totally blown away every time! If only everyone let their vibrancy shine like she does, I can guarantee a lotta hurt in this world would be mended.
I love the special soul that LaRae is. I love knowing that someone like her exists. She put the truth of the humanity in her heart on full display standing next to that stranger on that stage, and it's the only thing I'll ever see in her.
The word 'astonishing' should be reserved solely for LaRae because she is everything that word dreams to become!
LaRae = Best! Hugs! Everrrr!
From September 18, 2018
When I was on my way to the Okanagan for the last of my three triathlon trips this summer I hit a deer just before I got into Grand Forks. I was absolutely horrified by the accident as it was a little spotted fawn. I'll save that story for another time.
I stopped in town to assess the damage before I kept rolling down the road, especially since it was somewhere between 3:00 -4:00am.
There was only some minor damage to my front driver side light and signal light that I was gonna need to get sorted, but nothing serious, so I kept on my way. When I got home from the weekend I got in touch with Joe & Al to set up an appointment to get some lovin’ for my van.
When I pulled up to their shop at Steel Toe Joe’s in Krestova I was greeted by Rosie in the driveway as soon as I got outta my van. She saw my dogs, and had to immediately 'cess the situation with who these fuckers were at her place. (I had Paul's doggie, Cecelia, while he was away at Red Rocks in Colorado for a Greensky Bluegrass show).
Rosie the shop dawg!
Rosie is pretty excellent. As Fennario is my work's hotel doggie, Rosie is the shop doggie at Steel Toe Joe's! She even has her own seat that she seems to have taken complete ownership of.
My appointment was at 2:00pm, and I guess I rolled in at 1:58pm. I knew this because they were half shocked about it.
Porter: "Who in the Kootenays is ever on time?!"
(Jon) Porter works for Joe in the shop. He is a super good guy. He just grinds away at what he's doin', and then every-so-often you'll hear him start gigglin' at our meandering conversations.
As casual as I am, and as much as I don’t like to hurry for pretty much anything, I do try to be on time for appointments as I find it prudent to be considerate of those who may be in front or behind me.
Joe was out test driving some guy's pick-up truck when it was my turn, so Porter hopped right in my van, drove it into the shop, and got right at it. Pronto service!
It wasn't too hard for him to figure out what headlight was messed up from the little deer because as soon as he popped the hood and lifted it up, the light fell right out.
He started laughing, “Found it!”
I got Porter to put on my snow tires while I was there too.
Joe came and went, working on this and that, and searching through the computer for parts while Al did her desk-y work. Al is the duty manager...also Joe's wife.
Joe and Al are amazing. Just really, really great people! I've known them for 15 years now, and they have become some of my closest friends.
First photo is Al trying to act angry that I took her photo. Second one is when I called bullshit on her being angry.
Over the years I have watched Joe's whole progression towards someday having his own shop at his home. While doing his apprenticeship, he had to go away to Cranbrook for school, and then to Kelowna over a period of four years. It was a bummer having to be away from his wife and kids, but it was all a part of the grander vision and he was doing what he had to do.
Joe worked, and worked, and just ground it out...even towing truck for three or four years. He would be in the shop from 8am - 5pm, and then be on call for the rest of the 24 hours...often being called out in the middle of the night. He did all this while having a family with Al and their three young children!
A family affair! Ollie (their youngest) helping mom and dad.
Joe is the epitome of a hard worker. On top of that, he is as solid as they come. When I think of what a good human is, he is one of the first people who comes to mind. In an industry that is widely known to have scammers and just a lotta shittiness, Joe is the one who stands out above the rest. There is no one more honest than him, and there is nothing he can't fix.
When I say there is nothing he can’t fix, I’m talking far beyond just vehicles. I once had a problem with my bike that no local bike shops could fix, nor could bike shops in Calgary and the Okanagan. It was a loose rivet that was the issue. I was sent to the riveting specialist in Nelson and even he couldn't do it, so I took it to Joe. He was working at Western Auto Wreckers at the time. I dropped off my bike, came back in a couple days, and it was good to go! Back racing triathlons again! (When I dropped it off, Corey and Perry came out and slobbered over the awesomeness of it.)
(Clint, Corey and the rest of the boys at Western Auto had always been real good to me. It always felt like they would give me a tad bit of special treatment there. With the exhaustion so deep in my body, there had even been times when I would pass out on their desk in the office, and they didn't mind. They were always into and entertained by what I was doing. They even used to sponsor me when I raced hard years ago.)
In a way I was a bit sad to see Joe leave Western because I liked the guys there, but when he told me he was finally goin' for it with his shop I was super psyched for him. Nothing in the past mattered at that point, because I was aware of the whole journey and what it truly meant to him to finally arrive at the foot of his dream.
Although the road to that whole dream of the home-based shop was not always an easy one, it came together real fast when Joe and Al found the amazing new home they bought in June of 2015. It is in Krestova on several acres of land, and had a shop on it.
For the first couple years the shop was designated as their social hangout. It was great for that! They had Thanksgiving in it in 2015 and called it, "Shopsgiving." They also had Christmas there one year and called it, "Shopsmas." I mean, how good is that?!
Joe's dream of his home shop persisted though, but it always seemed like a bit of a distant thing even though they had most of the pieces in place. Then, just like that, one day he said, "Fuck it!" and went for it.
Talking with him about it, it was all just the whole concept of having the courage to just dive into the unknown and go.
He had to do some reno's to his shop to get it full business ready, but nothing too crazy. He ripped out a small couple walls, raised a section in the roof so he could put in a lift, and put in a bigger sliding door on the front. Just like that, he was ready to go!
After the school year was done at the end of this past June, Al finished up with her old job that she had been doing for many years, and joined Joe in the shop as the Duty Manager.
In all the 15 years I have known them, and all the fun and shenanigans we have had together, Joe said my favourite thing I have ever heard him say at an annual party they had on the second weekend of August.
Deep into the night he and I were talking a bit about the shop, and I asked him how it was with Al there...how she liked it, how they flowed together in a working environment, etc.
Joe said, "It's great! I love my wife, and she loves me! We get along so well, and all day long we get to see each other. I love it!"
I don't really need to say how amazing that is, do I?! It was definitely one of those moments where you just get happy for other people's happiness.
I've seen Joe and Al in the serious grind of some of the earlier years just trying to make it all work, and now, without exception, every time I am here I just get happy for them because they are both truly living their dream. There is not a time that I go to their place that that thought does not enter my mind…regardless of why I am there.
The environment they have created in their Steel Toe Joe's Automotive shop is warm, inviting, friendly, yet very professional. They are both the kindest people ever, and absolutely freakin' hilarious too!
I know that sometimes women can feel intimidated at automotive shops. I’ve seen that kind of thing through advertisements and such of the rare auto shop that is owned and operated by women…where part of their advertising pitch is about their shop being a place where women can feel safe and comfortable.
I’m not gonna get into what I think of all that here, but what I will say is that no woman will ever feel that at Steel Toe Joe’s. Ever! It doesn’t matter who you are, when you are at their shop they will make you feel at ease. As I eluded to above, Joe is one of the first people who comes to mind when I think of what a good human is, and Al…shiiit…I don’t think there is a more caring person on this planet, not that I have ever come across anyway!
It just feels like home, like you’re hanging out with good friends while Joe and Porter take care of your vehicles and Al takes care of you personally. I’m not just saying that because I am their friend, but because I am very observant towards who they are. (I’m only their friend because of the good people they are.)
There is no way I could possibly recommend anyone higher if you are in the area from Nelson to Castlegar and the lower Slocan Valley. If you don't live in this area and you have car problems, it totally sucks to be you! I kinda feel sorry for you!
Steel Toe Joe's staff...some of the best people you will ever meet!
Left to right: Joe & Al Shaw, Jon Porter
Steel Toe Joe's Automotive is the shit! The best of the best! Honest, reliable, and the ass-whuppin'est car fixin'est mutha-fuckas there are!
You leave there happy, entertained, and with your car all patched up.
You can find them at:
3804 Pine Road
On Facebook at: www.facebook.com/Steel-Toe-Joes-Automotive-Repair-587555518068314/
Google Maps Link:
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.