June, 2008 Archive

Letter to SLO Tribune

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Hat’s off to SLO Tribune for some investigative journalism and analysis of a quality rare these days in the mass media or elsewhere.

The McClatchey series on Guantanamo alerts us to the dangers and follies of the secret coup afflicting the judicial systems of the nation, both civilian and military, and exposes the dark heart of the Bush administration.

Closer to home, Bob Cuddy’s article last week on the money spent per vote by candidates for County Supervisor shows how the democratic process has been outsourced to questionable business interests. Whether it’s the low of $18.98 per vote spent by Mecham or the whopping $52.64 spent by Lenthall, almost all that money ends up in the pockets of professional campaign consultants, advertisers and the producers of junk mail. Its encouraging that, as Cuddy says, “money¦cant buy a county supervisor seat,” but until we set reasonable spending limits and public financing of campaigns, it still looks like the elections are for sale.

Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (7)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 27

Chute Lake’s placid surface mirrored clear skies on Tuesday morning. Behr and Robert drove off and the five men remaining headed down the trail whose surface was hard packed after days of rain. For the whole of the 30 km descent the slope remained steeper than anywhere on the ascent, increasing speed and ease of pedaling. Bleak burnt and logged-over landscape gave way to mature second growth forest carpeted with grass and wildflowers. A rushing stream crisscrossed the trail.

We stopped to explore Rock Ovens in the woods built to bake bread for the railroad work crews. The nurses whizzed past shouting instructions for us to bake bread for them. Lionel replied that their place was in the kitchen. Flush with downhill speed, we overtook the women slowed by their bike trailers, and stopped at an opening in the forest cover to take pictures of the sand cliffs, endlessly stretching lake, orchards, vineyards and small settlements in the Okanagon valley below. As soon as Andy broke out three beers remaining from yesterday, the nurses came barreling down behind us and screetched to a halt when we held out the bottles. After a shared toast, they passed around a mickey of powerful cinnamon liqueur, and we agreed to meet for lunch at a vineyard once we reached Naramata.


Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (6)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 26

The morning remained rainy and foggy, the prospect of more pie and pool playing and of getting a tour of Doreen’s husband Gary’s museum made most of us want to lay over for a day, but Behr was eager to return to Vancouver and look after his mother. After extensive discussion a vote was taken and Behr decided to head back on his own. Murray didnt like the idea.

The remaining crew of five agreed to rent one of Doreen’s cabins, a log house fitted out with beds, kitchen, bathroom, and red curtains, none of which was unappealing after four nights in tents. Steven and Murray dove into the cold lake. Doreen joined us for Murray’s morning Pome reading.

Gary reminisced about his history as a lineman and union official during the violent conflicts with BC Hydro in the ˜50’s and then led us through his extensive museum of local antiquities, including his locked collection of electric line insulators, one of which he had sold for $11,000. Among thousands of intriguing items was a portent of the future: an electric lamp whose current flowed through a meter informing the user of real time energy cost.


Zunoquad Squad Cycles the Kettle Valley Railroad Trail (5)

Friday, June 6th, 2008

May 25

John left on his mission early.

The diminished band of six packed leisurely and pedaled through the parking lot at the approach to Myra Canyon. At the end of curved cut in the rock a vast panorama unfolded. A huge gulf dropping to Lake level was scooped out of the high plateau to which we’d ascended for three days. A dozen or so side canyons covered with the charred remains of a burnt forest and numberless rockslides, opened into it. At the top of the canyon rose a single, wide, snow-covered peak. Volcanic eruption, landslide, holocaust: a display of nature’s power, demonic and sublime.

Next into view came a fine level line threading its way from where we stood, in and out of the side canyons, heading off towards the snowy summit and then back toward us on the other side of the abyss, supported across gaps narrow and wide by a delicate latticework of trestles.

After a lengthy stop to gaze, we crossed the first trestle on a surface of new planking that produced a clean hum from the tires.

It was a smooth thrill of a ride, created by a double human triumph over nature. The first was the original construction of the railroad, motivated by the desire to extract her wealth. The second was the recent reconstruction of the trail and trestles after decay and fire, motivated by the desire to provide pleasure to visitors. As we stopped again at the end of the first trestle, two kids and their parents on bikes came up behind us. “It’s just like Disneyland,” said one.