Pandemicky Cancellations And Alternate Means

Thanksgiving weekend in Canada was to be my last big ride of the season.  It’s been a tough year and the chance to get away from the pressure cooker of teaching in a pandemic was something I was clinging to a bit too tight.  The daring plan was to finish another exhausting week of teaching in a too small masks in classrooms that are ignoring all the pandemic rules everyone else is following, get a much needed night of sleep and then make my way up to ride the Haliburton Highlands in all their autumn glory before spending a weekend far away from the noise of pandemicky 2020 in the woods near Bobcaygeon.  The ride back would have been 274 kms of backroads less travelled.


I discovered Friday afternoon that we’d been waved off from the in-law’s cottage because we’re too much of a pandemic risk.  The irony that I can’t get away from the thing that strangles me each week because I’m getting strangled by it each week isn’t lost on me.  Instead I took the sunny and 22°C forecast and headed up to Hornings Mills and River Road for some Niagara Escarpment twisties, except I never got there because forty minutes up the road just north of 89 in Shelburne the rain started to fall.


I turned around and came home again.  Riding with purpose through rain is an enjoyable experience.  The smells and feel during a rainy ride are unique and worth pursuing, but looking for rain when you’re on yet another pointless pandemic loop over familiar roads doesn’t make much sense, so I turned around and went home again.  Autumn colours were lovely and the Tiger ran like a top though.


The fire we thought we’d have that night didn’t happen because everything was wet.  The next day opened sunny and cold, but warmed up to the point where we went for a walk in the woods nearby.

When we got home I backed the Honda out of the garage and went for a ride in the cool, clear, autumn air.


Any weekend where you can take each of your two bikes out for a ride isn’t a bad weekend.  Soon enough we’ll be buried under a blanket of snow while the second wave of the coronavirus spreads in the closed places we share, like my classroom.  


The kick in the groin here was getting dumped by family on the weekend we were aiming to be away without warning.  Nothing like your own family treating you like a plague cow to really drive home the meaning of Thanksgiving.  What really burns my ass is having to depend on them to be able to access the things I was looking for:
  • getting away from the godforsaken suburbs and into THE WILD
  • off roading with my son
  • hanging out on a hammock in the wilderness with my wife
  • having a reason to ride beyond my usually riding range
  • being comfortable while we do it

I don’t live in the right generation to own a cottage (and the generation that does isn’t sharing during a pandemic), so I need to work out a way where I can check those boxes without depending on the vagaries of other people.  My wife won’t sleep on the ground any more so camping won’t cut it, but maybe a camper might.


A Skala Conversions Ram Promaster would do the trick.  With the right sized motor and towing package, we’d be able to tow my son’s ATV and my dirtbike into the woods and find our bliss without depending on anyone else.  Some crafty engineering and smart packaging and we could be mobile and efficient without a ludicrously large camper.  A membership with the OFTR and we could enjoy off roading together in a variety of different places and glamp like rock stars.  When we just wanted to disappear into the wilderness we could do that too.

A cheaper alternative is a used camper, and there are many about.  Eight grand’ll get you a low mileage older small camper.  The Roadtrek RS Adventurous looks promising and arrives in 2021. It gets great mileage (like 20mpg) and sleeps up to four.


If I had the shop space and time I’d go grab this disco 1974 ‘RekVee’ from where it’s parked up near Perry Sound for five hundred bucks, throw it on a flatbed and bring it back, strip it down and convert it to an electric/hybrid.  The electric RV isn’t viable yet with our medieval chemical battery technology but a hybrid diesel/electric option would work.


One way or another I want to get off the depending on other people to decide access to my mental health getaways.  What’s nice about the RV option is that it works while we’re in lock down.  Ontario is a big place and socially isolating when you’ve thousands of miles of wilderness north of you and your own place to sleep is perfectly doable).  When things open up again we could take the thing to Ushuaia.

In other circumstances we’ve gotten ourselves into a hotel when the cottage politics gets too thick, but the pandemic makes that next to impossible.  I need to engineer more flexibility and capability into our escape plans so we get to be the arbiters of our own mental health excursions. 

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