Our day off began fairly early but as we weren’t working I was able to brew a fresh pot of coffee and read my book in the cool of the morning. We had blown up the tyre of the second bike the day before and whether it had stayed inflated or not would determine our plans for the day. Roger rose just as Arnaud and Esha arrived with armfuls of food left behind by the recently departed renters of the Log House. They had been at Thunderbird Showjumping for the 2 weeks. This eclectic assortment enhanced our provisions from the shopping trip to enable some weird and wonderful concoctions.
The bike tyre seemed sound so we checked with Gaylene if it was ok to take the bikes as one is used quite regularly around the ranch along with the (golf) buggy and (Bobcat) gaitor. We also wanted to ask if we could have a look inside the Log House as Arnaud had said how impressive it was. She said yes so we cycled down to it and spent some time oohing and aahing at the place whilst opening all the doors and windows to be helpful as asked. It really is fabulous, similar styled furnishings but more intimate than the main house.
Campbell Valley Regional Park, our bicycling destination, is about 3 blocks away. There is one path to it starting on the trail we had walked a few afternoons ago. The other option is to keep to the roads which Gaylene recommended so we wouldn’t get lost as the path wasn’t direct but for which we opted as it seemed a much more pleasant prospect. I had checked out the route and copied the directions on to a scrap of paper so off we set. The path took us along a tree lined trail; there are so many trees in Canada! It sounds absurd but there really are, particularly on this western side of this huge land mass. I can’t help wondering if the oxygen levels are actually higher over here as the productions levels must be massively greater than the consumption.
We emerged from the woods unscathed bar wasp stings from little b*****s lurking by the gates who scored hits with Roger on his knuckle and me on the back of my arm! We made our way along side roads accommodating a variety of properties from huge impressive houses with barns and arenas to fairly modest dwellings, apparently separate, not staff quarters. Past horses grazing in the heat of the day wearing the obligatory fly mask, very functional but not a good look, almost makes them look like they have huge fly eyes. I was so busy noseying into other people’s back gardens that if Roger hadn’t shouted me I would have missed these two disdainful looking llamas just over the fence. Possibly a mother and baby but not particularly interested in us. As we were re-mounting our bikes I saw a dark, squirrel shaped object on the verge ahead. It didn’t move and was the wrong colour anyway so I carried on only for it to lollop slowly across the road, very squirrel-like but also almost black, must be a local breed.
We arrived at the park, well the densely wooded area which we took to be the park, but could find no entry along one street and with a significant hill ahead, I took an executive decision to turn round and try the perpendicular avenue. We found one entrance but it was explicitly not for cyclists so we continued and found a winery instead! Unfortunately there were no signs of life despite us lingering noisily for 10 minutes or so. Canada isn’t renowned for its wine but I have found a few of them perfectly acceptable and have also managed to filter out some dreadful ciders which appear to have artificial essence of apples added to what was probably half decent natural beverage.
We continued along 4th Avenue and at the next entrance dismounted as we’d decided to go in to the park anyway and just push our bikes. We wound along a horse trail without signs of four-legged or two-legged animals and came across a farmstead heritage site. I always find it strange, this side of the pond, that historical sites are younger than my house. Anyway, this was a rather lovely place with renters in the beautifully restored house.
At this point we also found a map of the park so were able to start determining a route. Ravine Path was our next trail so, still pushing the bikes, we ambled along a well maintained path through chaotic, branch and tree trunk strewn undergrowth with ferns managing to penetrate any and everywhere, as is their want. The trees were a combination of large, if not giant, Redwoods interspersed with the trembling aspens of Alberta, often distorted here by some previous incident or trauma. Sometimes they are so close to each other that they appear to originate from the same root, like unidentical twins, despite their obvious vintage from the breadth of the barely separate trunks.
We found the nature centre at the start of the cycle path and opted to rest here for our apple break, enjoying the peace as there were only 3 other people. The sun hadn’t been as harsh although the air temperature was still pretty high. The woods had afforded some cool which we hadn’t appreciated until we emerged. The cycle ride hadn’t been too challenging in that respect which was also a relief. But when we re-mounted I was most uncomfortable, these weren’t gel saddles and mine had been at a very retroverted angle! We swapped bikes which made things marginally more comfortable but, as this may be the only place within a reasonable cycling distance and having no access to other vehicles, may become a frequent haunt for our days off, I suggested we leave further exploration for another occasion and head back.
Due to saddle soreness and in the interest of exploration we chose to return via the road, Avenue Zero! This road runs parallel to the US border and the East/West roads are counted out from there. There is no border crossing here but we can’t even see or probably reach the fence. I’m not sure which side is keeping which out, after all, Canadians are renowned for their terrorism and undesirableness! I’m just about getting to grips with this road and street numbering system which has always confused me despite the obvious system, which is lacking but preferable in the UK.
We arrived back at the ranch and endured a swim for our aching limbs and bottoms and then relaxed on the sun loungers in slightly less oppressive heat burning sun than other days. Maddison, the 15 year old show-jumping niece and her 2 friends arrived to come to stay for a week. They would be sleeping in the exercise room and another one off it but I overheard them being told to take all their food stuff to our cabin where they would be eating. 6 of us in this little cabin, 3 in the huge house and no-one in the Log House, interesting! Arnaud had already offered to make dinner for us and with French and Italian heritage, we weren’t going to reject that offer. We enjoyed a balmy evening on the veranda with good food, good wine, good company and a lovely view of Meg, baby Angel and lovely 2 year old soppy Doc who enjoys what I’d like to think is nuzzling but appears to be more akin to wiping his nose on your shoulder!