Thursday, 26 January 2012


As I did in Newfoundland and in Ottawa I had roommates while living in Vancouver. One was Dennis who was the guy who drove down to Seattle in the middle of the night in order to drive me home from the airport after the Kansas City trip. After him there was Roger and then Cam.

Roger was a burly French-Canadian fellow from northwestern Quebec. I have suspicions that he may have been an ex-convict but he was always open and honest around me.

At the end of 1986 I had occasion to go to Portland, Oregon for a few days,. There I met Cameron (Cam) who talked his way into accompanying me up to Vancouver. In many ways he was a good guy but with one major problem  - he was addicted to the street drug called 'Speed'. He was a veteran of the US Navy and he was HIV positive. Because of that I drove him down to the Veterans Hospital in Seattle for checkups fairly frequently.

By the time that Cam arrived Roger had gone out of town somewhere. However, he reappeared and, one day, he and Cam went out on errands together. Like Kurt of the boarding house in Brisbane, Roger was also quite fastidious. On the way back from their errand they pulled up behind a convenience store so Roger could buy some cigarettes. While waiting Cam noticed that some over-ripe bananas had been tossed into the trash bin so he fished them out. While he was doing so Roger reappeared and was appalled.

Cam did like to cook and he was adept at fashioning banana-nut loaves for which the over ripe fruit was ideal. Roger understood later when he was served a slice.

Cam had grown up in a little town in southern Colorado and, upon reaching adulthood, had become somewhat of a nomad. I met him in Portland but he had lived in both San Francisco and Seattle before that. He had been in the US Navy too and told the tale of being caught when he and another seaman were 'making out' in a lifeboat! Yes - he had been around but, by him sharing with me, I came to understand that his family was far from ideal. While I never met any of them physically, Cam had supplied them with my telephone number so I spoke with one or two over the 'phone. I soon realized what a 'rang-a-tang' group they were. For instance - a brother who was a year or two younger than Cam was straight and had had a series of girlfriends. He would be with each of them until she became pregnant and then he would leave and move on to the next one.

Through Cam I met a man who owned a beautiful old mansion in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle and it was there that we stayed while visiting that city. There was an attic bedroom with two single beds and that was where we slept.

Our host was involved in the life of MCCSeattle. I was there one weekend when Seattle was hosting a District Conference and there was a potluck supper at the house. While the gang of ten or twelve were finishing up the meal preparations and setting the dining table one of them began to sing a familiar hymn and then others joined in with other hymns. Only, instead of singing the official lyrics, they were singing the words that each, as a child, thought were the official lyrics. That was hilarious!

In an earlier blog I mentioned - in passing - how many LGBT folk were attracted to MCC as a sanctuary - and then would become upset because the theology was not the same as that which they had experienced while growing up.

One of the members of MCCVancouver had grown up in a Roman Catholic family and had left because of the negative messages he was being fed by the parish priest. However, he took exception with Bob Wolfe, David Gunton and myself because we were NOT  like his old parish priest. Due to that - and for other reasons, I was backed into a corner and then was dismissed.

In the meantime I had had a visit from a Brother Lawrence of Victoria and was urged to move over there to start a new MCC congregation. His request was seconded by a Lesbian - Steph - from Victoria. Both Lawrence and Steph were Anglicans.

Cam and I went over to Victoria and visited with Steph and her partner and felt comfortable enough to move there. We did have a problem, though - Victoria is the Provincial Capitol and has a large navy base (Esquimalt) - as well as a small army base - and is the site of a growing university. Therefore available apartments were hard to come by. After a few days of looking we found a small one bedroom unit on the lower floor of a house the front of which was at street level. We had a yard of sorts between the alley and the street behind us along which was a row of mean little houses and then the fence of the Naval Yard. We lived there for a number of months until a gay couple - whom I had met in Vancouver - told us that there was a nicer 1-bedroom unit in the building that they managed. It was situated about a mile to the east of where we were living.

We found a 'worship space' to rent in the Fernwood Community Hall towards Saanich from downtown Victoria. The church thrived until two people decided that they would change everything. More about that later.

Victoria is a beautiful smaller city and is noted for its gardens. As well as the famous Butchart Gardens there are other public spaces where glorious flowers grew and practically every householder seems to have a 'green thumb'. Situated as it is at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and fronting onto the Strait of Juan De Fuca, few streets are straight but tend to wander. For somebody in a hurry that is maddening but to those who like to wander, it is ideal.

A few miles northwest of Victoria is the bedroom suburb of Sooke to which Cam and I often went just for the drive. Part way along that road another road leaves the main one at a right angles but meanders around and then returns to the main road a couple of miles further. Along that road is a small house situated towards the back of an acre or two of land. All of the area between the house and the road was one large rose bed. How lovely - but that is Victoria.

There are two main routes into Victoria  from elsewhere. One is the Malahat Highway which is considered to be part of the Trans Canada Route 1 and comes down from the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal just north of the other Island city - Nanaimo. The other route is the connection to and from the ferry terminal at Sidney where the boats from Tsawassen/Vancouver land. The two highways merge with each other and then become Douglas Street  through the main commercial district. A little closer to the waterfront from Douglas is Government Street. Tourism is very important to the economy of Victoria so both of these streets have many stores, motels and the like catering to the tourist trade.

                              The top corner of the Empress Hotel - it is a large 'castle like' structure

Where Government and Douglas merge is at the Inner Harbor. To the left is Victoria's 'Railway Hotel' - the Empress - and., at right angles to that, is the Legislative Building built in the classic style even to a domed roof. Both of these buildings face the Inner Harbor and the terminal for seaplanes (the terminal for ferries which come from Port Angeles and Seattle is just north of the Inner Harbor).

The Empress Hotel is a very stylish and popular place to stay so there have been many famous guests registered there. One of them was Paul Lynde whose best claim to fame was as one of the original Hollywood Squares. The story in Victoria was that he was looking out of his window - facing the harbor - at dusk when the lights outlining the Legislative Building came on. He is reported to have exclaimed, "Oh look! The Fairy Palace is all lit up especially for me!"

                                                           Paul Lynde's 'Fairy Palace'!

Another gem near Victoria is the Butchart Gardens. Mr. and Mrs. Butchart came from England and settled on a few acres of land near Brentwood Bay. A large limestone deposit was there and Mr Butchart supervised the quarrying of the stone to be used for the buildings in the new city. Brentwood Bay is a part of Douglas Arm (a fiord). The story has it that Mrs. Butchart was looking out of the window of the house one day admiring the natural beauty of the location and noting the ugly scars from the quarry. She had an idea - turn the blight back to beauty as gardens! Now these gardens are one of the big tourist draws in the Victoria area. They are open all year round both in the daylight and in the evening when the gardens are delicately lit by dozens and dozens of lights. While Cam and I were there a local theatrical company staged a 'Revue' each evening beginning just before sunset and ending after dark. A very well staged piece of entertainment out-of-doors in a glorious setting.

The Empress Hotel is famous for English High Teas but the cost is fairly steep. The municipality immediately to the north of Victoria is Oak Bay and there is a wonderful older hotel there that also serves afternoon tea.. Cam and I were there more than once - it was more affordable and the English tea, fresh cucumber sandwiches and the little cakes that were served were really delicious

Esquimalt has the huge Naval Base and -- at that time - the smaller Work Point Barracks (an Army establishment) and a number of beautiful parks. A few yards from the building where we lived Fraser Street went south off of Esquimalt Road down to a lovely park. Across the lawn was the waters edge and huge boulders. It was possible to sit there and just fish in the salt water - or look across Juan de Fuca Strait to Port Angeles, Washington and the Olympic Mountains.

Next door to the building where we lived was a neatly kept cenotaph and to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony there was very powerful.

Returning to the church, everything seemed to go smoothly for many months - that is until Hallowe'en of 1988. It was decided that, as Cam's medical problems were gradually increasing - he was HIV positive - it would be better for him to return to Seattle where he had more resources to fall back upon. I tried to find secular work but - with two exceptions - I was not successful.  There was a small company with offices there that completed income tax returns. I was hired by them for two 'seasons' and was placed in a kiosk in a shopping mall. Unfortunately, that work did not extend beyond the period of early January until the end of April. Also I was hired by a small company as a part time bookkeeper. I could find nothing that was permanent.

The shopping center 'gig' was interesting.  The mall had been built upon land that had been occupied by a drive-in movie theater. The piece of property was landfill on the edge the Gorge Waterway. Also, the West Coast of B.C. is subject to the odd earthquake so the mall had been built on 'rollers' which would move if an earthquake struck. At the opposite end of the second floor of the mall from where I sat in the kiosk was a branch of one of the national department stores.  The staff used wheeled dollies to move merchandise and - when that happened - the entire building vibrated which was very disconcerting to the person sitting across from me while I prepared the return. Repeatedly I had to affirm that the shaking was NOT an earthquake but store staff moving goods.

Back to Hallowe'en 1988. My telephone rang and one of the women from the congregation asked if I would be in as she needed to come to talk with me. I said that I was and that I would put on the coffee pot. When she arrived she walked in but was not at all as friendly as she was usually. She declined a cup of coffee and then mentioned what she had come to tell me. She had decided that I must leave and that the leadership of the congregation would be given to Steph (the woman who had invited me to come to Victoria in the first place). Also - the congregation would become entirely female and our male members would have to look elsewhere for spiritual guidance. I, of course, would have to go. Steph was mortified but there did not seem to be anything that could be done outside of a showdown which I was not up to.

A short time later I had an 'apartment sale' and sold almost all of my belongings. I had told Cam of what had happened and he came up from Seattle. A day or so later I left, drove Cam back to Seattle and then drove along the Trans Canada Highway to Toronto.




Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Birds and the Bees

At the Memoir Writing Group which I attend on most Monday afternoons we have a system we use to select topics. There is a coffee can and a bundle of small cards. If any member of the group thinks of a title/topic for a blog, she or he picks up a card, writes the thought on it, and drops it into the can.

We begin our sessions at 2:00 PM and write for two hours. This gives us enough time to write two entries and then read each out loud to the others. While there has been no panning of any contribution, each of us may comment upon the offering if we wish to do so.

On this past Monday I had an obligation to attend to so I had to leave early. However, I waited until the second topic was chosen. It was the title that you see at the top of this blog. While this does break the thread of most of my entries, I thought that I could have some fun writing this for all to see.

In case you have not read my earliest blogs, I am the oldest child in a family of four offspring. After me came my sister, Alda who is 22 months my junior. My first year was troubled by a serious illness and the impact of that has colored the rest of my life.

For instance, I understand that there is often some jealousy exhibited by an older child when a new one enters the family group. I have no recollection at all of Alda until I was about four years old and our family unit had left my grandparents' home and moved to a little cottage  about half a mile away and in the forest. My memories of that time are mainly of playing in the yard during a summer - although I do have a vague memory of me attempting to change Alda's hair color from fair to dark by using black shoe polish! That is the first spanking that I can remember receiving. I don't know why Mom was so mad at me - all I was doing was trying to help?

We four kids were spread out in age. The next one to arrive was Gladys (known to us as 'Babs'). She was born in December of 1943 on the day before Alda's sixth birthday. Daniel (Dan) was the last born - in 1949 when I was 13 and nearly 14. Here was when I remember the 'Birds and the Bees' lecture happening.

The house where we were living at that time was heated by a wood burning stove. Out back of the house - and off to one side - was a woodshed. Dad and I were out there with him splitting and me stacking some wood. It was then that he (rather shyly) tried to explain the facts of life to me and I was really clueless. Something that Dad said then puzzled me has remained with me ever since. Was there a girl in my class at school the presence of whom bothered me?

I believe that Dad was referring to the usual boy/girl thing that so often seemed to be more hostility than amorous interest. I don't think that Dad knew that I was Gay - it would take me many more years to come to that conclusion myself.

Shortly after the woodshed incident was when the local Roman Catholic School Board decided to close down their schools in an attempt at forcing the Provincial Government into funding Separate Schools. The reaction of the Public School Board was to institute a swing shift with senior high school students attending from 7:30 AM until noon while the junior grades attended from 12:30 until 5:00 PM.

I was the only male person in our neighborhood who was in the senior grades so I had those afternoons all to myself.  Above our house was the forested ridge and I spent many afternoons on my own tramping through the woods and the ravines thinking and wondering. It was then that I began to realize that I was gay and, therefore, had no interest in females. Around that time a friend (actually - Alda's boyfriend) helped me to explore that further.

Yes - there was the High School Prom and also Graduation. It took an awful lot of steeling on my part to get up courage to ask a girl to be my date. I don't think that she really had that good a time!

Birds and Bees?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

More California Traveling.

Maybe this is due to my advancing years but something new - especially in the field of electronics - makes me nervous. I would rather wait until someone was here to coach me as  I progress - but that may not be at any time soon so I had better get on with it and see what happens! To what am I referring?  Blogspot has been taken over by 'Blogger' and, as the layout is different, I am confused.  
This blog is meant to be a continuation of the previous one.

I traveled to California and back many times during the 1970s and 1980s - mostly by driving there but, occasionally, by flying. When I flew to Los Angeles I would take a shuttle from LAX to Beverley Hills and Hollywood and the drivers used freeways to get us to our destinations.

On one trip, after the driver had loaded we passengers into the van - a mini-bus - and the luggage into the back, he announced that the 405 freeway - which passes on the east side of the airport - was blocked due to an accident so he would have to drive via regular streets. A woman passenger piped up, "That must be the same accident on that freeway that blocked us when we came to the airport to fly out last week while on our way to our vacation!" To this the driver responded, "I believe so, Madam!" A slower drive into Hollywood but the detour was past the La Brea Tar Pits where oil was found decades ago. They are still in operation and are an odd site in the suburbs of a metropolis.

All in all, the least interesting of the routes south from Vancouver is I-5 which extends from the border to Tijuana, Mexico.

The State of Oregon is crossed by a series of low mountain ranges. This made for one interesting and anxiety ridden drive while I was on my way home from San Francisco. It was evening and pouring rain.On every up slope there were huge trucks chugging along in the slow lane and throwing walls of spray over the passing lane.  I had my heart in my mouth every time I went to pass one of them.

The town of Yreka in Northern California - 'ranch country'. Again, my thanks to Michael W. for his permission to use this photo.

           About an hour of driving south of Yreka one passes Mt Shasta - California's volcano

As I indicated earlier, the drive along I-5 does have some scenic parts but it becomes markedly not so where the freeway enters the Sacramento Valley and then the San Fernando Valley. However, in the daylight, one can see many different crops from walnuts near the northern end to irrigated fields growing vegetables of all sorts to the south. One drive along that route was the only time that I have seen a cotton plantation -  that was just prior to the route climbing up over the hills on the north side of the Los Angeles Basin.

In the previous blog I mentioned Route 101 which was the original 'express highway' along the west coast. It passes through Santa Barbara - a pretty city -, San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach (famous as the home of one of the major golf tournaments). From Pismo Beach, California Route 1 continues along the coast while Route 101 moves inland. Instead of passing through Monterrey, it goes through Salinas - a place immortalized in a song - and then San Jose.

Farming around the various communities is often devoted to one type of agricultural product or another and the 'City Fathers' of any town in that vicinity have often erected a sign reading like "The Walnut Capital of the World". The town of Gilroy - just south of San Jose - boasts with the sign "The Garlic Capital of the World". And so on. One time I was being driven by friends to Hollister (just south of Gilroy) and the driver detoured through there - the entire town reeks of garlic.

Hollister is a pretty little farming town south of Gilroy and, if you have noticed one of those ubiquitous t-shirts with 'Hollister' emblazoned across the front - that is the place. It is the host of a famous motorcycle rally every July 4 weekend. I am sure that there are far more 'Hollister' t-shirts and tank tops out there than there are residents in that community. The town also has a small airport at which there is a 'Hang Glider' school and a Sky Diving school. My partner and his best buddy went there to learn how to sky dive. The buddy quit - or so I believe - once he got married while my partner, Ric, quit when he ran out of funds. Just before quitting he misjudged a landing and one of his feet went into a gopher hole breaking a bone. My reaction? "Poor gopher!" While you could not pay me enough to jump out of an aircraft, I do respect his love for that sport.

A friend who reads these blogs moved to the West Coast a couple of years ago. He has said that reading these has made him want to drive down to California. I hope that you do - and enjoy the trip as much as I have.    

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Pacific Coast Highways.

In Canada there are no highways that parallel the Pacific coastline for any distance whereas, in the United States, there are highways all the way from northern Washington to southern California. It is about one of these that I am now writing.

First, though, automobiles.

When I moved back to Vancouver I was driving the Ford Maverick which I had purchased shortly after I arrived in Ottawa. As you may have noted, I put many miles on that odometer so the car began to play out.

Once I was employed by Gordon Fabrics I felt affluent enough to go shopping for a replacement vehicle. When Dad passed away he was driving a Pontiac Acadian which my kid brother inherited. Just before I went shopping for a new car he traded in the Acadian for a Pontiac Firebird. Not to be outdone, I went to a GM dealership and drove away with a Camaro Z28. No more chugging up mountain passes - then I was able to sail all the way up in the passing lane. That ability was pertinent through one section of Interstate 5 - between Medford, Oregon and Yreka, California - where there is a mountain pass.

                                Mt Baker - the most northern of the West Coast active volcanoes

The quickest route to drive is I-5 from the International Border to Central California, Los Angeles and San Diego. As well as saving time, there are the attractions of gaining fairly closeup views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Mount Hood and Mount Shasta - all a part of the volcanic chain along the West Coast. Yes, Mount Lassen and Mount St Helen's are a part of that chain as well but those peaks are situated further back and are not so obvious from the highway.

                                 Mt Rainier as viewed from downtown Seattle, Washington

When I did not have a tight schedule I indulged myself by driving on secondary highways and, therefore, different scenery. For instance, during one vacation trip I decided to really take my time. I drove down to Olympia, Washington and then north on Highway 101 all the way around the Olympic Peninsula. At a viewpoint near the northern end of that route I stopped and looked down below me at the town of Port Angeles and then across Juan de Fuca Strait to Victoria.

                                      A lonely lighthouse perched on a ledge along that coast.

Turning back southwards the highway began to hug the Coast with magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and the crashing surf where the ocean swell met the huge boulders along the shore.

 That route took me to a bridge across the Columbia River to the town of Astoria, Oregon.

I am adding photos which belong to Michael. He drove along the Oregon Coast quite recently.

Further south are many beaches and, beside a number of them, are camp grounds. I had a tent and sleeping bag with me so I camped in one of them with a large sand dune between me and the ocean - I could still hear the crashing surf - and scrub brush between me and the highway. I had fantasized about a dip in the ocean surf but, as I am a non-swimmer, I decided to be sensible and get no more than my toes wet.

Again, this photo is courtesy of Michael W. currently of Vancouver, B.C. This view is similar to the beach where I camped for the night.


A couple of times I drove all the way down I-5 to Ashland and then took a secondary highway southwest to where it met Highway 101 near Crescent City, California. The drive along that other highway through the coast mountains was quite pretty and with the big attraction for me of the Oregon Caves which I toured. Very beautiful and fairly extensive.

Going south from Crescent City to Eureka, California (a different town than Yreka, California which is situated alongside the inland I-5) the highway passes through the Redwood National Forest. Along that stretch of highway is 'Trees of Mystery' which is a privately operated tourist attraction. Whereas privately run 'tourist attractions' are, in my opinion, too full of kitsch to be attractive, that one - in the middle of the giant trees - is awesome - if you can get past the recording of Gracie Fields singing "Bless this House" at a huge hollow tree (the same kitsch was used at the Jenolan Caves in the hills east of Sydney, Australia and in one of the more colorful caverns).

South of the Redwood National Forest the highway passes the busy seaport of Eureka and then agricultural towns like Ukiah and Santa Rosa and then through the lovely northern outer suburbs of San Francisco in famous Marin County. This route leads to the Golden Gate Bridge and the 'City-by-the-Bay'.

On another trip (to the UFMCC General Conference in Sacramento) I opted to spend a few days in the gay tourist area on the Russian River at Guerneville. This was in June and not yet 'High Season' so camping sites were readily available. I chose a site that was beside the river and underneath a nice tree. When it came time for me to strike camp I discovered that that tree was infested with earwigs which were all over my camping gear as well, Yuck!!!!

While there I explored some of the surrounding areas.

One drive was along the highway that followed the river bank to Jenner-by-the-Sea where large sand dunes formed a bay. The beach was beautiful white sand through which the river estuary meandered. On the beach were a number of tourists as well as a number of sea lions and each was in perfect harmony with the other.

From there I drove south to the community of Bodega Bay which is the locale used by Alfred Hitchcock for his film "The Birds". From there I retraced my route and drove north to the village of Mendocino and then inland to Ukiah and back to Guerneville. The highway along the coast was a two lane road that meandered all over the place affording wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean.

Also, while at Guerneville, I had to go up to Sacramento for some pre-Conference meetings. Being the adventurous person that I am, I did not use the faster highways but drove across country to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Using that route I was able to drive by the property that was once owned by the writer Jack London.

Famous rulers and politiicans do not grab me as much as do famous authors and/or artists.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Off to Denver

In early October of 1986 a clergy conference was scheduled at Burlingame, California which is just south of San Francisco. It had been a busy summer and I needed a break so I wrote to the MCC Pastor in Denver asking if there was a place where I could stay for a few days.

I had it in mind to drive along I-80 from San Francisco to Denver but my friend, Geoff (with whom I stayed while in San Francisco), suggested that I leave I-80 at Sacramento and take US 50 through Lake Tahoe and Carson City. I traveled along that route all the way to where it intersected with I-70 in Utah and then by freeway the rest of the way.

                    US Route 50 ('The Lincoln Highway')  in California and east of Sacramento

US 50 rises up the Sierra Nevada mountains to a pass from which I could see for miles to where Lake Tahoe lay at the eastern foot of the mountain range. The view is spectacular! The highway took me along the southern and eastern shores of the lake and then over some more high ground and down to Carson City. There I picked up a hitchhiker who was trying to reach his family home in southern Utah. He was a very pleasant travel companion and, as we did not reach the point in Utah where his route diverged from mine until the following morning, he shared the motel room with me in Ely.

The view from the top of the pass - Lake Tahoe is in the middle distance.

Lake Tahoe with the Sierra Nevada Range in the background'

To some eyes the drive along US 50 across Nevada would be boring but I found it to be starkly beautiful. There were low and eroded 'mountain ranges' to cross with deserts in between - and much of the route was very colorful. It was a little unnerving to see - suddenly - a sign reading "Military Ammunition Range - Do Not Park Nor Leave Your Vehicle"! However, we were not shot at.

US 50 is the first interstate route to be built (it is known as the Lincoln Highway as well). The Interstates are freeways - US 50 (The Lincoln Highway) most definitely is NOT!
                                                          Some Western humor!

In some of those old mountain ranges were small mining towns looking so bleak and inhospitable. Nice country to drive across but I have no desire to ever live there.

                                                    The old mining town of Austin

It was through terrain like this where we saw signs warning that we were crossing 'Military Ammunition Ranges'. A tad unsettling!

                       The town of Ely where the hitchhiker and I booked into a motel for the night.

A few miles past Ely Route 50 crosses into Utah and, about 20 miles further, crosses an interstate and that is where the hitchhiker left me to continue southwest to his family home.

I want to thank Larry and Bill who drove this route recently and gave me permission to display some of their photos. To view more photos of Larry and Bill's trip along US 50 (The Lincoln Highway), put the following into your browser -

The Interstate through much of Utah as well as Colorado was easy to drive with little traffic - except near larger settlements like Grand Junction. It was growing dark when I passed Vail and the other ski resorts so I was unable to get a good look at them. Of course, they are located near the highest points in the Colorado Rockies from where there is a fairly steep decline to Denver.

I found my hosts' home fairly easily and spent a few days there. Downtown Denver is/was spread along one street along which there is a free commuter train. Very pleasant.

One morning Charlie Earhart - the MCC Pastor - called to invite me on an outing with him and one of the Board members of his church. A new Mormon 'Temple' had been erected in the suburb of Boulder and, as it was not yet 'commissioned', 'Gentiles' (non-Mormons) were welcome to go on guided tours through the edifice. Would I like to tag along? I jumped at the chance!

The building was very modern and esthetically beautiful - but not at all like 'churches' that I am used to seeing. Upon entry we had to shed our outside footwear and don slip on slippers. At each point in the tour young Mormon women and men were stationed as guides. In the 'Inner Sanctum' there was a young man dressed completely in white. He gave me a warm and friendly smile so I wondered if I had met him already in one of the Gay bars in Denver? Perhaps I am being very sacriligious with that thought!

After leaving the building and putting our street shoes back on we exited at another gate than the one by which we had entered. There a group of 'ex-Mormons' had stationed themselves with their books and leaflets. I took a couple with me to read - only I forgot them at the home of my host on the next night!

The day after the tour I left to begin my drive back home. I took Interstate 25 north to Fort Collins and then a secondary highway to Laramie, Wyoming and I-80 back west to Salt Lake City. My hosts there were the Pastor of Salt Lake City MCC and his partner. The Pastor was a Methodist by background while his spouse was a Mormon whose sister worked for the church and was stationed in Germany. Her task was to search graveyard records to record family trees. In the Mormon faith a believer can have any and all ancestors called 'converts' to Mormonism no matter how long they have been deceased.

My hosts lived in a southern suburb of Salt Lake City. My route the next day was north on I-15 to north of Ogden and then northwest on I-84 into Idaho and on to Boise where the MCC Pastor there was to be my host. While on my way through the built up area of Salt Lake City I could see the Mormon Temple over to my right - but I did not get a glimpse of Temple Square.

I had left my host's home in Salt Lake as they were leaving for work so, when I realized that I had forgotten to pick up those 'anti-Mormon' books off of the bedside table, it was too late to return for them. Oh well!!!

Overnight in Boise and then on through Oregon and Washington to I-5 and north to the border and home again.

The Columbia River with Oregon on the right and Washington to the upper left. This photo is placed here through the courtesy of Michael W. in Vancouver.

In order to view and read the description of Larry and Bill's  trip along US 50 (the Lincoln Highway) put the following address into your browser -

Monday, 2 January 2012

Expo '86

Vancouver, B.C., Canada was incorporated in the year 1886. At that time there existed the hamlets of Hastings Mill, Granville (also known as 'Gastown') and, one or two others while the settlements at Victoria (on Vancouver Island) and New Westminster (on the Fraser River) were thriving towns already. However, it was not long before the newly created location would blossom to become the metropolis that it is now. The incorporation in 1886 helped to spur that development.

To celebrate the centennial, the City Fathers opted for an International Exposition with the theme being the development of communications. In 1962 there had been an exposition in Seattle and, of course, in Montreal in 1967. While the one in Vancouver was larger than the one in Seattle had been, it was not as large as Expo 67. Yet, after a rather shaky start, it was an overwhelming success with attendance at well over 1,000,000 people.

For those of us living in Vancouver and environs, we had the opportunity of purchasing a season's pass which allowed us unlimited access to the grounds. My first trip to Expo was only a few days after the official opening and was followed by many others. I fell in love with the experience upon my very first visit.

I do not remember now how many countries exhibited but there were many - as well as most of the Canadian Provinces and a number of the States in the Union.

What did I love best at Expo? I really do not know - I loved almost all of it.

I loved the pavilion installed by Peru. Yes, there was the nod to modern communications but the big draw was the display of Incan artifacts - and especially those exhibiting sexual mores. I loved it when I found myself walking behind staid middle class farm folk when they came upon the so obviously phallic exhibits!

I loved the B.C. Pavilion with the IMAX film showing B.C. scenery - and, especially, the scenes of skiing and whitewater rafting. If one was seated in the middle of the auditorium there was a great sense of one's body moving to the rhythm of what was being depicted.

The Expo grounds extended for more than a mile along the north shore of False Creek and there were two methods of transportation around the grounds - small ferries along the shoreline and a monorail which made frequent stops. I took Mom to the Expo one day and, on the ferry, a lady sitting next to Mom asked her if she was from Vancouver? Mom's response was, "No - I am from Burnaby!" Burnaby is an adjacent suburb to the east side of the city proper. I tried to explain to Mom afterwards that suburban Burnaby would mean nothing to out-of-town folk. I got no where with that!

A local Ministerial Association brokered a deal with the Expo board that allowed various denominations to sponsor a Sunday service each week and in the stadium used by the RCMP Musical Ride. Various churches were invited to ask for an invitation so one of the members of MCC-Vancouver asked on our behalf - but did not even get a reply let alone an invitation. However, just in case, the Rev Elder Troy Perry and his partner, Phillip, scheduled a visit and I hosted them on their tour of the grounds and that was a hoot!

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a good-sized pavilion which we visited. Troy was convinced that he was 'cruised' by one of the young male staff members which, as Saudi Arabia is notorious for being homophobic, was an irony.

Twice each day a contingent of officers from the RCMP put their horses through the paces of The Musical Ride. I watched more than once and it is a breathtaking spectacle.

Most of the Canadian Provinces sponsored pavilions and, in some of them, local artists displayed their craft. I was most impressed by the music of Connie Kaldar from Saskatchewan and Men of the Deep from Cape Breton. The latter is an all male chorus made up of miners from that island. They were magnificent - but then, I am a sucker for male choruses!

Rita McNeil performed as well but I missed seeing her. However, her appearance at Expo 86 accelerated her concert and TV appearances and I did get to watch her perform on the tube many times.

Speaking of entertainment, there was a tent where international stars performed for those who had special tickets. Those tickets were out of the range of my budget but I was walking around the grounds while Liberace was performing and I did hear him creating his music.

This was the only International Expo that I have experienced, however I have attended annual fairs (Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver and Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto), I believe that I was born with sawdust between my toes.

Those visiting Vancouver now would see no hint of how the City looked before Expo 86.

For instance - the south shore of False Creek was lined with lumber mills and the like. Now it is a neighborhood of spiffy condos and marinas. At the same time, the north shore was an area of warehouses and now is the trendy neighborhood known as Yaletown.

Expo 86 lasted for six months but its impact upon the City is ongoing.