Friday 29 January 2021

Van Life

An old VW Van rolled into my driveway, it sputtered, stalled, and coasted the final bit.  I could hear an emergency break engage and out jumped French.  He said, "Shit I think I need a new fuel pump". He called Sweaty to see if he could source one.  Sweaty always says "he knows a guy" for every situation.  

French had traded an 80 hp Evinrude for his "new" van.  He'd picked up the outboard engine at an estate sale, but had never found the right boat for it.  So now he'd embraced "Van Life".  His plan was to drive it down through Windsor into Detroit, then Cincinnati for a Reds game, and then visit some bourbon distilleries in Kentucky.  He'd really gotten into Buffalo Trace Bourbon; can't say I blame him.

Bruce Fish always calls French's van "Charlie Brown" because of the stripe.  The paint job was a bit rough, but we got the fuel pump changed...and some varied electrical issues fixed as well.  It was in my yard for a few months.    #VanLife

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Hot Tub Beers

We got another big dump of snow last night.  The weather report called for 2 cm ...bullshit...more like 10 plus.  Too much for this cowboy.  I just got the snow blower put away, and I heard a rumble coming down the street.  A huge plow was coming down the cul de sac.  It was of course sweeping half of the snow bank into the newly cleaned driveways.  I put my coat back out, and grabbed the shovel.

I had just started hacking away at the new pile, and French pulled up and honked his horn.  He turned down the AC/DC...a bit and rolled down the window.  He held up a case of Beau's Lug Tread Lager.  Sweaty was in the passenger seat and he held up a few more and started singing "It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll" at the top of his voice.  They never said a word, and just drove off.  

French has a hot tub.  He fires it up and grabs some: "Hot Tub Beers".  He buys the Lugtreads in the perfect 600ml size.  I got working at the massive pile of snow blocking my driveway.  Time to crank the tunes, and crack a couple of cold ones, in the hot tub...or License to Chill as Sweaty calls it.



When I was 15 I got my first real job.  French, Sweaty and I got a summer job on a Horse Ranch.  We made $100 a week.  I thought I'd hit the big time.  I also thought I'd get to meet, and hang-out with all of the girls that boarded their horses at the ranch.  Turns out they weren't too interested in the guys that did all the shovelling...not at all.  French and I did the bulk of the stall shovelling and Sweaty would wheelbarrow it out behind the barn.  One day the boss had us paint the fences with creosote.  Every black splatter of paint burned in the hot summer sun.  Soon I missed shovelling horse shit in the barn.  We only got a bit of a break when there were riding contests.  We'd spend the day setting up the course and directing traffic.  

A few years ago we hadn't heard from French in a few months.  He finally answered our texts to let us know he'd been in Wyoming working at a Dude Ranch.  French spent a season herding cattle, and taking tourists on trail rides on the weekends.  He said that "it was a hellavuh a lot better than our first ranching gig".  Yeah wide open skies, fresh air, and beautiful mountains on the horizon.  Plus he got to keep these sweet Ely Cattleman shirts!  

Now I know why French loves that line from the movie Rushmore: "I ain't even here right now; I'm in Cheyenne Wyoming".  We made this idea into a poster.

He has it hanging above his snowblower in the garage.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Big Sur


French was the one who introduced me to Jack Kerouac.  He "made" me read On the Road, and Dharma Bums in senior year.  He had a copy of Big Sur as well.  French started it, but said "fuck this...I'll read it when I get to Big Sur".  

Many years later he finally did it.  The year before Covid locked us all down he drove his van down from B.C. to California.  On the way he bought a bottle of Highland Park 18 year old Scotch.  It was an expensive dram, but it was smooth sipping as he read through the novel.  

The novel takes place over 10 days, but French is a speedy reader.  He read the novel over a weekend sitting close enough to hear, but not see the Ocean.  

I asked him about the trip.  "Shoulda just read that goddamn book in High School! Reading Kerouac in one's teens, versus one's forties is...a different experience.  The scenery and the the Scotch were top shelf, yah top shelf".