Route 66


Hi friends, I began this project to get back to blogging, perhaps writing humour shorts again for a magazine from yet a new adventure. I thought I could put this material with many of the stories about other trips I have taken and finish off a travel book.  Park on the Road, would be an appropriate name. I really had not taken a big adventure since my accident and I certainly had not written anything worthwhile so I thought perhaps it was time to get back on that horse.  What I learned is when  your horse dies… dismount and move on, by foot if necessary.

I discovered something I am sure most of you already know and that is what you find on an adventure has little to do with discovering new things about the places you go, the people you meet or the things you see but rather what you discover about  yourself.

What I discovered in the end is that this will be my last adventure and probably my last series of blogs.  As we travel through them I am sure  you will agree what I learned was of value and it is time to put this horse down.

For me this is a sad realization because I have not seen what is behind the other doors yet, but I am sure something exciting is waiting me.  Let me know if you enjoy any of the stories.

Thanks,  Layton

Wainwright – AB:

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A friend who doesn’t want to be made famous in my blog, so I will refer to him as the Orange Runner, as in Rum Runner (someone who runs across international boarders with contraband, to be explained in a later chapter) and I packed up the old motorhome and headed out from Edmonton.

The goal was to reach a ¼ Ton and LA by the end of October. That means adding 9,500 kilometers (6,000 miles) to the RV and losing 60 lbs. between us. The later seemed a pretty tall order so we changed it to ¼ tonne which means we only have to lose 10 lbs. between us a much more realistic goal.

We got away late in the afternoon so we only traveled about 200 km to Wainwright where my old friend Morley told us to stop by and he would throw a bar-b-q for us. Maybe the thought of losing any weight is unrealistic. As we pulled into Wainwright he called to say he was riding his Harley from Lloydminster so would we mind picking up the stake and meet him at his beautiful hide-a-way. Unsure of what he might have to go with it we picked up potatoes, sour cream, corn on the cob and some beer. We arrived at his beautiful log home and started preparing supper when another old friend Terry Sharpe showed up with a 114 foot long motorhome and slide outs that added five more rooms to his unit. He was soon followed by Morley riding in on his bug coated bright yellow Harley.

As Morley dismounted the bar-b-q ran out of propane and he said he would go get some however Terry had an extra tank in his motorhome and we continued with the potatoes and corn. Morley mixed up an incredible rub for the stakes and the meal got underway. Of course Terry had to go back to his motorhome and get some butter for the corn but Morley did have the salt and pepper so we were happy he had invited us.

Of course this is not typical of Morley’s hospitality I just enjoy pointing this out as his hospitality is usually as perfect, as the meal turned out in the end.

Morley’s sheds and garages provide home to an awesome collection of vehicles. The new shed included a: 1958 Apache truck, two 50 mercury’s, one a great hot rod, a 49 Mercury convertible, a 1932 International truck, A 1949 Hudson Wasp, A 38 Hudson rat rod, a1954 Buick, a 50 Ford one ton, and more, but I just didn’t remember them all.

The older shop had a 1928 Indian with a 1939 engine, a Indian bike and side car, and seven Harleys, one of each engine design… sorry photos did not turn out.

Morley’s Barns turned out be as good as a museum as one might find in most towns and more importantly is that each vehicle comes with it’s own unique story.

Day one was ;short but complete and we had a good nights rest and were ready to begin the journey.

There will be many more stories to this adventure… stay tuned.

Heroes of Puerto Vallarta – Chapter Two


Back at the hotel from our down town phone adventure, I got off at the bus stop and walked across the street to the OXXO store to pick up a few things.  When I got to the check out and reached for my wallet I realized it was gone.  I had just used it downtown at the cell phone store.  I had a couple hundred Canadian and more in US funds plus a few pesos.  The part that really bothered me was my driver’s license, my credit cards, my bank card, and several other personal items such as my medical card.

I left the basket on the counter and told the clerk I would be right back.  Outside the store, I looked across at a small road side kiosk that we had bought some tours the day before.  The man who owned it, Louis, spoke perfect English and was most helpful.  I ran over to him and explained that I thought or at least hoped my wallet was on the last bus which had just left a few minutes before.  What should I do?

Louis left his kiosk and went down the road to another bus and he explained in Spanish what had happened and that bus driver got out his phone and made a call.  It took some time for the first bus driver to pull over and answer, then the bus drivers had a conversation while passengers quietly waited.

“What colour of wallet was it?”  I’m thinking he has more than one?

“Brown leather,” I said.

“Where were you sitting?”

“Half way down the pass anger side.” – more waiting.

“He has it.”  The driver was beaming, “But he cannot wait, he must continue on his route.” We thanked him and Louis directed me back to his kiosk.

“Come on.  Get in that taxi.  The new hero said pointing to one in front of his stand.

I jumped into the front passenger seat, he into the driver’s seat and we sped off.

“You own the taxi as well?”

“No but I know the route and drive faster than the driver will.”  Louis cut back and forth changing lanes and cutting off other drivers, much like in the movies.

“You do not mind if I drive like a Mexican?”  Who was I to complain, we had just stolen a taxi.

“There do you see it up there?” He said after a few miles. “When I pull up along-side wave out your window at him.”

A few minutes later the bus pulled over beside the road and I was standing on the steps.  The driver was smiling proudly as he held up the tri-fold wallet by one end and I could see it had all spilled out and he had jammed everything into one bill compartment.  I took it, thanked him and looked at the mess inside.

“Is it all there” He said and Louis repeated in English.

I could see Canadian hundred dollar bills, several American and Mexican bills but more importantly my cards and driver’s license were there. I figured if anyone had sole something they would have taken more and if the driver had he would have simply said he did not find it so I said yes and peeled off two US twenties for his trouble.

Back in the car the driver said he knew all the drivers as they stopped at his stand every day and I really should tip the first driver as well as we would never have found this had he not taken the time to call.  I took out the last of my US money and handed him thirty-five dollars, “Is this enough?”

“Yes, that will be enough, I will see he gets it tomorrow.  He will be happy.”

Back at his kiosk Louis suggested that I give the taxi driver $30 pesos for his car, which I did while he explained in Spanish why we took it.  Later I figured out the value of 30 pesos, $1.38 US, which is why he looked so dejected.  Sorry.

I told him I had to go to the ATM at the OXXO store, get my groceries and a tip for him.

I returned with three five-hundred pesos bills for him thinking it about $60 dollars but later calculating it was just over $100 Canadian.  He was most pleased and told me the next day the other driver was thrilled as well.  Over $200 in tips was a small price to pay as they could have made more just keeping the wallet.

It made me realize how kind and honest Mexican people, like most people, really are.  Too often we hear rhetoric casting doubt on all people of one community or another.  None of the four Mexican people I met this day had any reason to step up and help but they all did and I am very grateful.

 

On the beach


So life here is hard.  I just finished a lobster for lunch with all the trimmings plus 4 margaritas… ran the bill up to almost $35 with tip, Canadian so I thought why not go all the way and had another foot massage by Abraham again, He does an amazing job a half hour for $18.  Boy do my feet feel good.  Now I am chitlin with some more Margate’s then back to the Pages in the sun.

Pages in the Sun is my coffee shop. The best coffee house bar none, in all of Puerto Vallarta is just across the bridge into the romantic district.  Out front under a roof providing shade are several tables for the shop and the bar next door.  Most are occupied with wintering Canadians like Frosty and Teddy from Victoria.

I prefer the coffee shop for several reasons, first being the coffees and food which are great.  The severs are all friends and personable and often I have a couple of beers, a cookie and lunch while I work on my book, running my tab as high as $10 Canadian.

The real reason I love the place is they have a large table that will seat six, with six reclining silaving  office chairs making working for four to six hours quite easy.

I think I will write something very inspiring there if I can stay awake.  Happy Monday to those that aren’t offended that I didn’t say the 11th day of Christmas.

 

 

 

Heroes of Puerto Vallarta – Chapter One


The day started uneventful enough.  We took a bus to downtown Puerto Vallarta to get a new screen and sim card for my old iPhone 6 plus.  The first place we found had a nice young woman working there, who spoke no English.  I struggled to get my message across and she tried equally hard to understand me.  Finally, a dishevelled looking man, 36 he told me later, stood up from where he was squatted on the sidewalk and asked in almost perfect English, if he could be my interpreter.

“Please.” I responded. After some back and forth Spanish he told me that she had sim cards but could not fix the screen but he knew a place less than a block away, so off we went.

Neither of the two men in the store could understand English so again after some more Spanish dialog my new friend said, “They can fix it in an hour for $100 US dollars.”

“What?  This is Mexico I can get it fixed for less than that in Canada.”

He spoke with them some more then said he knew another place so far away so off we went again.  The fellow in the new shop seemed even less interested in our business and apparently said he could fix it for $200 but it would not be ready until 7 pm.

“What do you want to do?  I don’t know of any more places.”

“Okay, let’s go back to the first place and start again.”

After taking the order the man suggested we should go near-by to wait and have a beer.

“Can you buy us each a beer?”

“Sure,” I said looking around for a sidewalk café or pub.

“Over there, you can buy two at the OXXO store, the Mexican equivalent of a Mac’s store.  We went in and bought two cans, then came out, found a shady spot and then sat on the edge of the sidewalk, opening the beers.  I don’t know the last time you sat on a sidewalk and drank beer, but it has been some time for me and I was surprised at the looks cast our way.

My new friend told me how he had worked for years in New York City but had been caught with a joint and shipped back to Mexico with no charges and now lives on the street.   He saved his money and boarded a plane for Vancouver as he thought Canada would be a good place to live.  The customs agent asked him how long he was coming into Canada for and he said he wasn’t sure, two or three months maybe.  She asked if he had a place to stay to which he said no.  Then she asked how much money he had.

“That’s personal I said. Then she said I must know.  I said what difference is it to you, if I have a dollar or ten thousand dollars? Then we got into an argument and she put me back on the airplane to return here.

I’m going to try again when I save up enough money, maybe you could give me your address and I could use it as the place I will be staying.”

“Sure” I said, why not so I gave him Eddie Wrights address.

“Say do you have ten dollars?”

I thought well he had been helping me for over an hour now and it had been a big help so I said sure and gave it to him.  He finished his beer and said, “Just wait here, I will be right back.”

He returned a few minutes later and asked if I smoked pot.  I assured him I did not so he took the two joints he had in hand and re-rolled them into one.

“They make these so skinny now.”  He admired his handy work and lit up.

“This can’t be legal?” I said.

“We have an expression here that rules are made to be broken.”  He smiled showing his healthy gums where I am sure teeth used reside.

“Look when the police come I am not going to jail with you.”

‘No problem.”

As stated the job was done in the hour and we were back at the first place.  “She needs 300 pesos for a sim card and a plan that will work for a month, with unlimited international calls.”

“Does she take a credit card?”

Some more Spanish then, “No. but I know where there is a bank not too far from here.”

Three or ten blocks later we arrived at the bank.  He waited outside while I went in to the ATM machines as the branch was closed.  I put the card in and remembered the Spanish for pin number but the next screen had several choices that I could not understand.  I didn’t think it a good idea to solicit his help so I went back outside and told him my card was rejected.

“What will we do now?”

“My son Liam is in the area I will text him to come and lend me the money.”

“Well this is taking longer than I thought, do you have another ten dollars?”  Feeling a little bid extorted I gave him the money thinking I was doing so to help a fellow human in hard times.

Back at the store Liam finally showed up and gave me the money I needed.  My friend brought a wireless speaker over and asked if I would buy it for him.

“I’m sorry, you have twenty dollars of mine, buy it yourself.”  Too harsh?

We tried to test the new phone but it died and I had to take it back to the room and charge it before for calling Myrna.  I called her three times then texted her as it was not like her not to answer.

Her reply was simple. “Try again your calls all registered as coming from Belgium.”  The phone works fine if you all answer your Belgium calls.

I was to run into Hector again the following day and he helped me with some more shopping and we shared a great fish at a very out of the way Mexican place.

This was the quiet part of the day; the rest was to end in a missing wallet and a high-speed chase.

 

 

 

Unreserved!


Miss Kitty at workI

Miss Kitty Pickles at Work!

I hope to get this blog to the attention of “Unreserved,” the name of a popular CBC radio show hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, and reporter Connie Walker, who take you behind the headlines of the top trending stories from Indigenous Canada.  There are some very interesting stories and today it made me think of one of my own.

I was raised in a town that had three reserves nearby, yet growing up in the 50’s I only knew three or four indigenous people. We all have prejudices, as by definition the word simply means preconceived ideas or beliefs.  The prejudices I have about my children, friends and relatives are all quite positive. The general definition today, however is that prejudices are all negative. Words become emotionally charged and we learn to associate positive or negative emotions around them based on what we were exposed to and learned in our youth.

Take the word “Indian” for example.  That was the word used in my town to mean people from the reserves, not always in a positive light although my definition was defined by the popular western movies of the day. In my mind it was a better word for the proud Indigenous people in the movies.  Today I have a number of Indigenous friends, some who prefer the word and are proud to be called Indian.  One told me it is what his grandparents, parents and reserve called themselves Indian and he prefers to do so as well.

Another becomes quite defensive and says the word to him is an insult because although he is Aboriginal he grew up with a white family in a white community and the word Indian was used as a slur in describing him and his people so he prefers Aboriginal, First Nations or Indigenous, but never Indian.  The same word but one enjoys a positive feeling with the word the other a negative feeling based on prejudices he experienced to it.  For that reason I restrain from using the word Indian in my blogs but there are some circumstances in which I feel the word works better and may use it but only with the most respect.

I got my first buckskin jacket at five and have owned several since.  I fell in love with Indigenous art at a young age and have acquired a large number of pieces.  I was once accused of approporating their culture because of it and it made me became somewhat concerned about showing it off. Then I met an Indigenous lady who was head of a Federal Aboriginal Art Museum in Ottawa, who told me she also answers proudly to being called Indian.  She explained that I am not appropriating their culture as it is important for non-Aboriginals to enjoy and buy the art work of Aboriginal artists or the artists cannot make a living.

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The bear is on the right

Which brings me to the reason, after a long silence, I need to send this blog out today.

It seems I am being blessed daily by having more and more First Nations people right here in my family.

It started with my son-in-law who I am proud to say is a member and councillor for the Haisla First Nations and who has now given me two beautiful Haisla grandchildren.

Apparently, my other daughter has a part Cherokee grandchild on the way for me as well.

Today I learned from Ancestry.com’s DNA test that one of my daughter-in-laws is part First Nations as well, something she didn’t know but may explain her beautiful dark hair, skin and eyes.

Finally the reason for today’s post is to introduce you to my youngest daughter-in-law, the First Nation artist known as Miss Kitty Pickles.

Miss Kitty Pickles is an Alberta Aboriginal artist with a very difficult but interesting past.  Born to an indigenous mother and white father she was bullied while living on the reserve for being too small, too white and probably too cute. Her parents separated and then her mother died when she was still very young. Kitty left the reserve and got by with the help of her fraternal grandfather but when his wife became ill and later died, Kitty left to be on her own as a young teenager.

After a few years struggling to get by, she met my artistic son who recognized and began promoting her artistic talents. She decided the best way for her to be a paid well as an artists was to become a tattoo artist and now is doing very well and she still sells her flat work as well.

Indigenous art and artists are now being recognized for their true value and although Miss Kitty does not limit herself to traditional subject matter, she has a most unique style. Kitty is bright, kind and well spoken, although a little shy but I am sure that she will one day be recognized as a Great Canadian artist.  She just needs to get more or better exposure to help fast-track her success.

I am hoping you will help in promoting her and her art by sharing this blog. Perhaps it will find its way to “Unreserved” or some other media that will interview her and help show her artistic talents and intellect.

Please view and share her web, buy an original, print or tattoo while she is still affordable.

Thank you.

Layton

Samples of the work of Miss Kitty Pickles:

The art of the resilient and talented young artist known as Kitty Pickles can be seen on her Facebook pages as well, Links below:

https://www.facebook.com/artofmisskitty/

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011490285315&sk=photos&collection_token=100011490285315%3A2305272732%3A5&lst=576366744%3A100011490285315%3A1493574139

 

 

Does Bad Service Make You Angry or Laugh?


Normally when I experience bad service it makes me laugh because of the irony of it all.  Companies spend millions of dollars promoting and advertising as to why customers should do business with them, only to have some half-wit undo their investment by making clients angry.shell-in-mission

Case in point today.  I stopped at the Lower Mission Shell station, to fill up my truck.  Just as I started my phone rang and I answered it.  An old lady came out of the building and across the parking lot waging her thumb and finger around her ear signaling phone and yelling I can’t use a cell phone at the pumps.  I looked at the pump and saw no sign but decided to comply and quit pumping. I walked over to the sidewalk to finish the call but she was not satisfied.

The old lady walked over to the next pump and pushed the intercom and asked the attendant inside to cut my pump off.  I started laughing and the fellow in the other end of the call asked what was so funny and I told him this snarky old lady was giving me a rude and bad time about the use of my iPhone. She obviously overheard my comment and spun around then grabbing her jacket she tore it open like she was the queen of Bourbon street during the New Orleans Mardi Gras.  Unfortunately, it only exposed a Shell shirt as old and worn as herself so I smiled and waved as she pointed to her shirt and hollered she was the manager.

I ended the call and got back in my truck with only $30 worth of gas but decided I would buy it somewhere else, after all gas at all the stations is the same price and comes from the same refineries, so why put up with this Gas Nazi.

As I drove away I thought, I buy more fuel per month that this person makes but she has just drove a customer away from her place of employment.  Maybe she was not the manager, maybe she was even a special needs person just working there, but if so why would the man inside follow her direction?

I couldn’t let it go so. I thought customer service like this hurts us all as we all profit from the tourist industry so when someone acts like this it leaves all visitors with the wrong impression of our city.  So, I decided I should investigate it further as I was sure she was wrong.  A quick google turned up numerous sites claiming cellphones igniting gas stations to be nothing more than a myth or urban legend.

On the CANADA SAFETY COUNCIL web site, I found the following:

“Dr. A. Burgess studied all formal reports on gas station fires in great detail. He established the fact that there has not been a single confirmed incident where a cell phone has ignited gasoline vapors. There is now official acknowledgement of a lack of any evidence that a spark caused by a cell phone would ignite gasoline vapours.

Use of cellular phones at gas stations will not ignite a fire or cause an explosion.”

I don’t plan to go back to this station but if you do perhaps you should share this blog and tell the manager that this employee is not only losing him business she is giving all Kelowna a bad name when it comes to customer service.

 

7 Reasons to Blog


I was reminded today these 7 reasons to blog.  Maybe that will motivate me to get going again.  What excuses are you using not to influence or make someone else smile?

1. Influence the world – successful bloggers get noticed and become trusted advisors, being able to influence decisions made by others

2. Raise your game – blogging forces you to continually expand yourself and gain more knowledge in your area, because you constantly need fresh content to engage your audience with

3. Help others – no, it’s not a cliché! Blogging is a simple way to improve the lives of others and a great way to give back to your community through helpful and practical content

4. Networking – other experts in your industry are always looking for potential partners to work with…and your blog is a great way to get noticed and attract the ‘A’ players in your field

5. Discover more – simply listening to your audience helps you gain so much insight into your own business and how you can help people with their daily problems

6. Engage to sell – engaging with your audience and understanding what their problems are means you can create products based on what they need and what they want. This means helping them while also making money!

7. Become an author – ever wanted to write a book but didn’t know how? Blogging is perfect for you to talk about topics which are important and once you’ve built a good audience, you can simply put your content together into a book and sell it!

A book for ID 10TS


There is an old joke that states that 1 out of 3 people are idiots. If you look at the person who lives on your right and they seem okay, then you look at the person who lives to your left and they too seem okay then it is you who are the idiot.images

They (who ever they are – I suspect they work for Google) say that there is a little truth in all humour. I spent a lifetime either as an unconscious incompetent or trying to justify or hide my idiocy with humour. To understand that statement you have to understand the four core competencies of everything.

  1. Unconscious Incompetent – someone who doesn’t know they don’t know. For example learning to type. Someone, from a newly discovered tribe who has never seen a typewriter (Oh wait that could be right her in North America) or keyboard would not know they don’t know how to type.
  2. Conscious Incompetent – is the person who has been introduced to the keyboard or typewriter and now knows they do not know how to type.
  3. Conscious Competent – is what they become when the learn how to type but have to think about each letter and finger in order to do so because they know they know but it takes thought.
  4. Unconscious Competent – with a great deal of experience, perhaps Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, the person’s fingers now fly over the key board typing words as fast as the mind thinks of them without ever thinking about the letters or the keys. They now don’t know or think about what they know it just comes automatically. This applies to everything from riding a bike to flying a jet.

In any event I thought it should be the start to a new book called ID 10TS, which is what the geeks always say is the code for what is wrong with my computer. Either that or they say I have a PICNIC problem

But I digress. The purpose of this book is to explain some of the fundamental places where we all go wrong and when it comes to going wrong, I have completed my 10,000 hours, left turns, or mistakes so I can call myself an expert in this department.

Now I know what I should have done but time has stolen most of the youth I need to do it.

This is not a poor me book, as I am sure that everyone, no matter how accomplished, thinks the same thing. If I only knew then, what I know now! Code for ID 10TS!

What do you think? Would you like to contribute?