Monday, August 29, 2016

"IF YOU TELL THE TRUTH YOU DON'T HAVE TO REMEMBER ANYTHING!"


            I have always been a fan of Olympic sports and I have great admiration for the dedication, perseverance and the sacrifice that Olympic caliber athletes have to make in order to get to that level of competition. I have watched a fair amount of television coverage of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games over the last two weeks and there were some amazing athletic performances from so many athletes. Particularly our Canadian athletes as Canada tied its best ever medal haul. Thank you Canadian Olympians.
            Unfortunately, the athletes’ performances seem like secondary news to the media covering the games what with all of the standard Olympic sized scandals happening on a daily basis. Right off the bat there was a big scandal as a top ranking Irish IOC member was arrested in a ticket scalping scheme and if the Olympics are on there HAS to be a doping scandal or twelve and Rio was no exception.
Again, it isn’t an Olympic games if a judge or two hasn’t thrown his integrity away for a few bucks or blatantly cheated for his/her own country. I am not being cynical here as the evidence of cheating is overwhelming when it comes to international sports competition. It always happens.
            There will forever be a debate over the excesses of The Games. Zillion dollar facilities being put up while nearby residents are living in squalor. Athletes raking in millions upon millions of dollars in incentives and endorsements because they can run fast or jump high while the construction workers building the stadiums and fields are working for peanuts. I am sure these injustices have been debated at every Olympic Games for decades.  
Then there were the American swimmers who were partying hardy and made up a story of being held up by gunpoint only to have the whole story blow up in their faces once the truth came out. And the truth always comes out which reminds me of one of my favourite Mark Twain quotes, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” Hmmm….remember that.
It also reminds me of something my Dad drilled into me while I was growing up and that is that lying about the deed is usually worse than the deed itself. Own up to your stupidity, take it like a man and admit you were wrong. Lying will only exacerbate the situation and prolong the misery.
            I don’t have enough room for all of the details but the story goes something like this: there were four American swimmers who were out partying and went to a convenience store to use the bathroom and upon finding the bathroom door locked they proceeded to kick it down. The convenient store attendant called Security and the swimmers were confronted about their actions. One of the swimmers claimed that they were held up at gunpoint with a gun being held to his forehead. He has since apologized for his “exaggerated” version of the story and he is paying a dear price for his “immature behaviour”, or lying as it were, as he has lost all of his major endorsements and is looking at further discipline from the United States Olympic Committee. Truth or consequences, man. 
            I still have great admiration for the hundreds of athletes who cleanly participated in The Games to the best of their abilities while sacrificing so much. My feeling is that the few that bring the integrity level down should not be given the biggest spotlight but that’s not how our world works, is it?   


“A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”-Mark Twain.

Monday, August 22, 2016

LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL SPOTS!

            There were some advantages and some disadvantages to being a PK (Preacher’s Kid) following Dad and Mom around moving from one community to another and from one province to another every few years. Finding new friends and fitting into new schools presented challenges but on the flip side we got to see a lot of different geographical areas within the two provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
            There are 778 kms or 484 miles between Lethbridge Alberta, where the family started and Kipling, Saskatchewan, where I ended up. That’s a lot of area to cover with a lot of diverse topography in between. Even though the entire area is within the Western Canadian Prairie region the rivers, lakes, hills and plains give very distinct characteristics to the individual communities and the land that surrounds them.
I may have mentioned in a previous column or two that Mom and Dad loved to picnic and their kids loved to swim and play at the beach so we found our way to a lot of different watering holes over the years. From Indian Battle Park and Henderson Lake around Lethbridge to Shamrock Regional Park near Gravelbourg to Bisant Regional Park and Buffalo Pound Provincial Park near Marquis and Kenosee Lake near Kipling. Each spot was unique and beautiful in its own way.
This past weekend 50 members of Rose and Lowell Hubbard’s family gathered at one of those unique and beautiful places, Wakamow Valley in Moose Jaw, for our annual family get-together. It’s a jewel of a place along the Moose Jaw River ideally suited for that type of family gathering. There are a lot of fine facilities and recreational activities to be enjoyed within Kiwanis River Park at Wakamow Valley. You should check it out sometime.
I am fairly well acquainted with Moose Jaw, having lived only twenty miles north of the city for five years in the 60’s, I spent a year there in the 70’s while I attended STI and I have two siblings who settled in Moose Jaw so we still see the city quite often during our family visitations. I like all of the history of Moose Jaw and the city is very unique in so many ways and I’d have to say that it is one of my favourite places on the planet.
Like most cities and towns around it’s “street repair and construction time” so the access to the park was diverted through an area of the city that I didn’t even know existed. It was a rough ride over patchy streets and broken pavement, over the train tracks, through an old neighbourhood, along a bit of a gravelly road and then…boom…you drop down into this lush park. You’d be surprised at how many places there are like that in this province.
Travelling about with Mom and Dad and now traveling on our own we have been quite fortunate to have seen so many of these nice little spots. I’m going to keep on looking because I am sure that as many as I have been to there are probably twice as many that I haven’t.

“When you leave a beautiful place, you carry it with you wherever you go.”-Alexandra Stoddard-(1941-).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

KENOSSEE LAKE MEMORIES


 

            Soon after our family moved to Kipling in July of 1970 we found our way to Kenosee Lake at Moose Mountain Provincial Park. Dad and Mom loved nothing better than packing up the family and spending a Saturday or Sunday picnicking and playing in the park. We’d load up the old Hibatchi barbeque, the charcoal briquettes and a cooler full of food and beverages and off we’d go to join the thousands of other like-minded people at the resort.

            I remember the first time we crested the big hill by the golf course and took our first glimpses of the massive parking lot filled with cars. Wow! There wasn’t a lot of pavement showing in that huge parking area, I can tell you that much. It was wall to wall vehicles. Back then it seemed like every family had a minimum of seven children and everybody went to the beach. I haven’t done any real data tracking or anything but I seem to recall hearing that on the July 1st weekend during the 1960’s and ‘70’s Kenossee Lake had the third highest population in the province after Regina and Saskatoon. No wonder there was little room for vehicle or people parking.

            I also remember the big slide that was in the lake at the main beach. Chances were pretty high that it would be a long wait for your turn to go down that slide and on the really, really hot days the metal slide would heat up so much between riders that it felt like you were burning your exposed skin off all the way down. That was if you could get going at all. Youch.

I am at or nearing the “uphill both ways” age and I have started my share of conversations with “remember when”…but remember when those summer days were so hot the pavement was melting? It was! Really! I know that it probably does that now, too, but I just don’t go barefoot on pavement as much as I used to so I don’t really notice it as much now.

You know, it just didn’t seem like a successful trip to the lake if you didn’t come home with some tar burnt into the bottoms of your feet. Ditto the hot sand on the beach! Yowza! Remember digging your feet deep into the sand until you found the cool stuff? Ahhhh, relief.

            I’ve got another “remember when” moment for you…remember when there were so many frogs everywhere down there that the vehicle traffic on the highway sounded like they were driving on rain-wet pavement? True story. It was like an actual version of a Twilight Zone episode. Yuck!

            A lot has changed in the past four-plus decades since I first visited Kenossee Lake and it remains one of the most beautiful places in the province. They may not get the huge numbers that they did back in the old heyday but the amenities are just as good, or better, and there are still a lot of familiar faces. Older faces, mind you, but still the same people you swam with, played football at the beach on Sunday afternoons with, went to Grandison Hall’s dances with, sang around the campfire with or got tossed out of Kenossee Garden’s when Jones and Leipert thought that you had had enough. Oh, right, that was someone else’s memory not mine. Whoops.

            I don’t get down there as often as I used to but when I do go the old memories flood back and I’m taken right back to the old happy times. Such a beautiful prairie oasis. Good old Kenossee…gotta love it!

“The sand may brush off, The salt may wash away, The tans may fade. But the memories will last forever.”-beachblissliving.com. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

DID YOU FORGET EVERYTHING THE DRIVER TRAINER TAUGHT YOU??


            As of today we are officially halfway through summer/vacation/road construction season. Have you been travelling Saskatchewan’s highways and byways this summer, too? Isn’t that something? Mind you, there are only so many days in a year that are conducive to new highway construction and road repair so it’s a case of short-term pain for long-term gain. We have to put up with the delays if we want to drive on better roads, don’t you think?

            We recently travelled to Macklin, SK, with our Eden Valley Senators baseball team for the annual Saskatchewan Baseball Association’s “Geezerball” Master’s Twilighter Tournament. If you don’t know where Macklin, Saskatchewan is, I can tell you that it is approximately 1330 kilometers, or about 7 hours of one-way continuous travelling time, northwest of Kipling, right on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border 250 klicks west of Saskatoon. It’s a bit of a drive but we did see our share of beautiful Saskatchewan landscapes with the brilliantly coloured fields of yellows, blues and greens of canola, flax and cereal crops oftentimes while sitting in a queue of traffic waiting for the flag-person to flip the sign from “stop” to “slow”.

            While travelling, our truck runs on regular and I run on Dark Roast so one has to be ever so careful when it comes to mapping out our pit stops, if you know what I mean. I can’t be stuck in traffic too long with my intake of liquids. To accommodate these frequent stops and to find the route least-likely to interrupt the drive I Googled a construction map of Saskatchewan and on the map every construction zone is marked by an orange pylon. The entire map appeared orange! Take your pick. It’s going to be painful anyway you go.

            But, you know, it is what it is and road construction is a part of travel but there are still road ethics to be followed. We’re all in this together, aren’t we? If we are all a little patient and cooperate with one another we will all get where we are going eventually. But noooooooo. There are always those one or two drivers who are completely selfish and think that road rules never apply to their “don’t you know who I am?” attitudes. “I am so much more important than you! “Zipper merging” is not even in my vocabulary! Why should I wait for you peons? Outta my way!”  

Then the faceless jerk flies down the suicide lane thinking all sixty-eight of the cars in the lineup must be out of gas, or something, or are just sitting there taking in the scenery and as I see him blowing by the passenger door of our truck I’m thinking…don’t let him in, don’t let him in, don’t let him in…but somebody always does and like the proverbial spoiled child the !*$%#@# gets his way and does not learn anything from his bad behaviour and poor judgment.

             I am far from a perfect driver but I’ll compare my 40+years of driving stats with anyone’s, and, having said that, I cannot believe how many dangerous and stupid drivers there are out on our roads. Did they forget everything they were taught in Driver’s Ed?

You know what? In many areas of life one needs to perform continuing education. Whether you are a teacher or doctor or fitness trainer or whatever there are courses one takes yearly to keep you engaged and reinforce lessons learned. I would propose to SGI that there be a mandatory bi-annual driver’s refresher clinic to review proper driving practices and to enhance one’s driving skills. They don’t even need to retest everyone just put them through the paces so they don’t forget everything they learned moments after the driver tester handed them their first driver’s license.

So if you are going to be out travelling the Saskatchewan roads sometime in the remainder of the summer please be careful on our highways and be kind to your fellow travelers because all they want is to reach their destination safely and in a timely manner as well. Don’t we all?

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.” -Dave Barry, (1947-).

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