Category Archives: Adventure

A 5 Year Old’s Guide to Hitchhiking

When I was five years’ old I hitchhiked. 

At one point, my childhood friend Julie and I were standing in her front yard and she showed me that if you stuck your thumb out, then someone would stop and give you a ride.  So really, it’s all her fault.

This is me at age 1. I couldnt' find a picture of me at age 5. But I was cute. Trust me.

This is me at age 1. I couldnt' find a picture of me at age 5. But I was cute. Trust me.

Here’s what happened.. one lovely summer’s day, my family and I (Mom, Dad, Barb, Lara and myself..) were on the way home in the station wagon and we needed to stop at a Mac’s Milk for.. well, milk. My sisters and I were kind of fighting and my mother was very annoyed with us. 

My dad ran in to get the milk and as he was heading into the store, he noticed a bird’s nest in the rafters and commented on it and how you could see the baby birds.  We wanted to get out of the car to look, but my mother wouldn’t let us because we weren’t behaving. I was annoyed. I wanted to see baby birds!

We went home and I think we had to all go to our rooms since we were misbehaving.  Well, let me tell you.. the misbehaving was just beginning.

We lived in a bungalow at the time and my bedroom window opened onto the front porch. Being the amateur escape artist that I was… I decided that I didn’t want to stay in my room and climbed out the window and went to Julie’s house. 

Julie wasn’t allowed to come out.. so for some reason, I decided that it would be a good idea to walk to the Mac’s Milk to see those baby birds.  I  craved adventure.

Please keep in mind that I was 5 years old. And that Mac’s Milk was located at the intersection of Hwy 8 and Hwy 20 in the east end of Hamilton Ontario. And it was about one and a half miles from my house. This I was unaware of.. being 5 and all.

So I started walking.. walking all the way down King St (Highway 8)… and passing by numerous things that I had only ever passed in the car, but was curious about. Like a little shed that my sister Barb and I were SURE was home to some elves or gnomes.. in reality, it contained water pipes. I was deeply disappointed.

When I finally got to the Mac’s Milk I looked up to see these baby birds. And saw NOTHING. No freakin’ nest. No freakin’ birds.  Awesome. I looked and looked. Nothing. Suckage.

I started walking back toward home.. and I was tired. (Remember? Five years old.. over a mile.. short legs.. )

I suddenly remembered how Julie told me that if I stuck my thumb out I’d get a ride. So I did. And a car stopped.

It was a black car (a Chev I believe..) with red interior and there was a man and a lady with a scarf on her head. I got in the car.. and they asked me my name and where I lived.  And we started driving and I gave them directions.

(At this point I’d like to thank God, Jesus, Buddha and Allah for sending these people instead of psycho killers. Thanks.)

We headed toward home and at some point it suddenly struck me that I might get into trouble for this little adventure. I tried to get them to drop me off on the corner a block from my house.. and they refused. They wanted me to get home safely. So I had to tell them exactly where I lived.

I distinctly remember saying to them that I lived in the house where the man was washing the driveway.  (This was before we all got all environmentally conscious and you could still do said things.. ) They pulled up and left me in the care of my lovely and hopefully hugely forgiving .. father.

Needless to say, my parents were unaware that I left the house.. I have no idea how long I was gone.. but …also needless to say.. I got in a LOT of trouble. A LOT.

There are several morals to this story.. first of all.. you really shouldn’t hitchhike. Especially if you’re five. Don’t take rides from strangers. I just got lucky that they were nice strangers.  And as much as you crave adventure, be careful.  That, and I had a better sense of direction at age 5 than most adults I know do.

Oh, and if your dad tells you there’s a bird’s nest… just take his word for it.

Life: All good baby… all good
Love: Makes the world go around..
Pants: Looser.

What I learned by Seeing a Dog get Hit by a Car….

I didn’t intend to post twice today.. but when the mood strikes.. there ya go.

I saw a dog get hit by a car today. 

these dogs were leashed and therefore made it home safely.

these dogs were leashed and therefore made it home safely.

I took the wonderdogs.. Barley and Mocha… out for a big walk.  We started out on the  Iron Horse trail and kept walking…. I was enjoying the crisp autumn air.. the falling leaves… and the dogs themselves (except for when they tangled around me and tried to trip me.  I think it was on purpose too.. you THINK they’d be more grateful.)

We hiked up the trail past the Stampede Corral and then took a turn along a piece of the path that we hadn’t yet explored.  It curved around and we ended up on a little sidestreet which emptied out back onto Stirling… so we turned that way to head back home.

As we strode along there were suddenly two small dogs at my heels.. one looked to be a pug and the other some type of pointy dog.. and consequently I had dog leads wrapped around me and four dogs sniffing and exploring one another amidst some growling (from Mocha, of course..) 

These dogs did not have collars on.. and as Mocha is sometimes not good with other dogs, they frankly made me a little nervous despite their small stature.  I kept trying to walk.. but they kept following.. and Mocha was not liking it.  Suddenly a woman called out behind me and asked that I stop as she couldn’t run to get the dogs as she was pregnant.  I stopped… but then her dogs ran away.. far ahead of me.  So I walked a bit further… they came back to me again.. so I stopped so she could catch up.  I turned around and she was gone.. I saw her at the far end of the street walking back toward her home.

Sooooo.. I continued walking.. hoping these dogs would have the sense to head home as well.. but they bolted again and ran far ahead.  I crossed the street .. hoping to get back on the path and out of sight of the two pups.  But suddenly they turned around and came running back again.. one of them spotted us across the street and came bounding across… barely being missed by one car, but then getting clocked by a second vehicle as I watched in horror.

The pug immediately jumped up yelping.. the driver pulled to the side (God bless you sir) and the dog went running best he could.. limping and yelping toward home… with no sign of his buddy in sight.  A man much further down the street picked up the dog and appeared to be taking it toward his home.

A man doing yardwork asked if I knew these dogs.. whose they were.. I had never seen them before.. we chatted briefly about it.. then I headed back on the path toward home.

During my walk I had been debating about doing something… weighing pros and cons…. reasoning.. and hadn’t reached a decision.  However, I am and have always been a “everything for a reason” type of person.

It illustrated to me that things can change in a heartbeat. An instant. One minute you are out frolicking.. the next minute you’ve been smacked upside the head. 

I wouldn’t have turned for home leaving my dogs on such a busy street… but I don’t know what that woman’s situation is.  Neither would my dogs be running around without collars.  But.. you can’t force your opinions on others.. nor can you control someone else’s actions.

 Therefore, I’m going with my gut. I’ve made my decision. And whatever happens with it… I’m happy about it. I feel it’s the right thing to do.

Carpe Diem. Seize the day.  Because in a fingersnap, it can all change. 

And keep your dogs on a leash.

“I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER… “

You know that movie about 4 teens who end up getting stalked by someone after they run over a guy and dump his body in the ocean?  Yeah, my summer was kinda like that.

roller coaster ride. Obviously before I suffered brain damage. Wait, look at that smile. May be after...

roller coaster ride. Obviously before I suffered brain damage. Wait, look at that smile. May be after...

No, no you won’t know if that’s what EXACTLY happened until you read this post. And I won’t tell you till the end if I actually smushed a guy like in that movie…or if I just mocked something till they wished I had smushed them.  And don’t skip to the end. The program tracks those who do. Which may or may not be how that guy may or may not have ended up  in the ocean or perhaps just with hurt feelings…….

I recently noticed that summer was over and I felt like it had passed me by.. as if I hadn’t really DONE anything this summer.. so I made a list..

In early June it was my son Josh’s birthday.. the lovely boy turned 14. He’s taller than me now. Guess the “I’ll put you over my knee” threat no longer is valid. We went go-karting. I gave him money. Good day. We also played Rock Band.

Mid June brought UpTown Country.. great festival put on by a fun group of people. Shout outs from the stage from Sean Hogan and lots of hugs from people I hadn’t seen for a while. I miss y’all too. 

End of June.. Josh in his dark suit and Chucks’ graduated from Grade 8.  I am a proud mama.

Jodi the BFF’s birthday –  we celebrated by going to see the Fray with the 3rd Super Exciting Friend, Fernando.  Thankfully, we spent much time in the lounge as the Fray is pretty near as depressing as Coldplay and therefore sorrows needed to be drowned.  On the way back to the car, we were nearly attacked by seagulls.

with my cousins in Pembroke. SO much fun

with my cousins in Pembroke. SO much fun

Josh got a really bad sunburn that resulted in the nickname “Lobster Boy” for at least a week.

Finally moved out of Barrie.  My big send off involved myself and my new friends via Twitter.. Robb M (@astroboy) and Jon (@JonAston) getting together for a drink.. or several.  I believe we found the answers to world peace, Peak Oil, how they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar and whether or not Britney’s breasts are real.  Of course, there were several beers and dirty martinis and all of those answers have been lost….

July 15th. Moved from Barrie to St. Catharines to live with BFF Jodi. Thank God for Fernando and Joe and their amazing packing skills.. and for Jodi for not punching me when I brought so much stuff to her house..

Josh and I took a trip to Marineland and determined that we should get season passes which requires not only pictures, but  fingerprinting and a brain scan.  Apparently there have been issues with identical twins borrowing each others passes…  We skipped the “go up really high and then drop from the sky and hopefully don’t smash into the ground like a bug” ride as we didn’t want to climb the big hill.  We fed bears corn pops, ate pizza, saw whales, enjoyed the musical stylings of Walter Ostanek… and then proceeded to ride the Dragon Fire roller coaster 6 times or until I could literally hear my brain sloshing from side to side. 

Jodi and I took Josh across the border for the first time and we ate dinner in Lewiston.. A few days later we went across again and took him to see the Trews and met my Twitter friend Nancy (@nannerland)… and enjoyed an awesome show and people who danced in puddles.  We also fed Josh old candy out of our purses because we spent all our money on beer.

In August, we went to Kitchener and had lunch with Randy Bachman and took him to Home Hardware (you can read about that here…) I did a very long interview with him.. which you can read about here…  then we watched Bachman-Cummings that night and it was AMAZING!

Chris (Katy’s BF) and I overruled Katy and Josh with our duet on American Idol. Yeah. Even Simon liked us.

After several years I finally saw my buddy Mike Lynch .. cause he too lives in St Catharines!   We had wings and beer and I learned where 2 more dirty St Kitts bars are.. check out his music..

 Went to see the Gin Blossoms but not before I had to YouTube some of their songs cause I couldn’t think of any.  And we went to Top’s Friendly Markets. Steven was right. Sweet Baby Ray’s is the best damn BBQ sauce ever.

Went for a visit to the Ottawa Valley for my Aunt Pat’s 80th birthday party.. great seeing all the relatives and catching up with everyone. Much laughter and fun.  Also was able to hook up in Ottawa with more Twitter friends.. Lynda Partner (@lyndapartner) and Kneale Mann (@knealemann)… awesome!

One of the adventures of the summer was going to see Miranda Lambert and Kenny Chesney in concert.  Sure, the music was great… but before we even got there we had already survived a tornado touching down in downtown Toronto and me ripping out the seat of my pants.  Again, thank god for the Amex Lounge and people with expense accounts.

Had a lovely dinner at my sister’s with our cousin Maureen.. fun fun.

My friend Steven and I went to Lewiston’s ArtPark for the final blast of the summer to see Peter Frampton. Took Josh. This time I brought enough money that he could get pizza. There were THOUSANDS of people there. I don’t believe there were any fatalities.

The Germans.. Alex & Carl.. came to visit and we hooked up for a visit while they were here. Beer, conversation, laughter and more beer. And more laughter. Carl’s website is here.. he is the authority on heavy metal .. not just in Canada or Germany, but world wide. And he likes beer.  http://carlbegai.com/

There was also much barbequing, socializing and fun.  So even though the summer is over (I was in  denial for weeks, obviously..) the fall’s been pretty good.. AC/DC.. family celebrations.. Oktoberfest.. it’s all good.

Oh, and no, I didn’t hide a body over the summer.. however I did accidentally run over a possum.  Thankfully, it has not come back to seek revenge…..

Life: It’s all GOOD.
Love: Amazing.
Pants: Looser. Again, All good.

Serendipity.. Life Lessons Learned in the back of a Cab

Serendipity: A very good coincidence, often leading to something really awesome. (Urban Dictionary.com)serendipity-new

I had occasion to take a cab yesterday.

I do one of two things whilst taking a ride with a stranger…. I either end up having a lengthy conversation about current events, the weather or the city I’m in or where I’m going.. Or I don’t talk much at all except to give the address and such. 

When I got into the cab, the driver gave me a friendly hello and of course asked where I was going.  I had to tell him where exactly it was as he wasn’t familiar with that area of town.  I told him as well as I could, explaining that I was a recent transplant to Niagara region and therefore really didn’t know my way around too well.  He asked why I had moved to this area and I gave him the Reader’s Digest version.. explaining that my life had been something of a challenge for the past year, but I was working on it.  He wished me luck with my situation and told me that if someone wants something badly enough, they just needed two things.. to believe in it, and work hard for it.

Just to create conversation, I told him that there had been a mass of emergency vehicles in the area that morning.. a random girl I ran into while waiting  had told me that some guy had jumped from his apartment balcony across the street.  We both exclaimed how sad and shocking that was and I internally said a short prayer for the poor soul.

Mr. Cabbie went on to tell me that he could understand someone becoming so depressed .. so hopeless.. that one would consider such extreme measures.

He explained to me that he had been sober now for 34 years.  I asked him what led him to that decision and he explained that it was his second wife. 

He had been married very young.. at 22 .. and it barely lasted a year.  He was a young buck who partied hard and his first wife could not withstand his wreckless behaviour and left him.

For several years he was alone and went through some great challenges, including being homeless. 

He had been living in an apartment in Niagara when one night there was a fire. He barely escaped with his life, never mind any of his clothing or possessions.  He didn’t even have a set of clothes… no insurance. Nothing was left.

He managed to talk a local store into giving him a small wardrobe and a winter coat on credit (it was February).  He had to live in a shelter for a time until he could get some work and rebuild himself and his life.. it was a very low period and there were times where he self medicated so often with liquor that he considered his life empty and perhaps not worth the effort to continue.

But he managed to find the inner resolve to push forward and rebuild as best he could.  Then he met a girl and remarried.

They were together for a year and he had once again succumbed to his hard partying ways and she left him. 

He was devastated.  He finally called her and said he’d do whatever it took to win her back.  She told him that he would have to pursue addiction counselling and quit the drinking and the drugs forever.  He agreed.

It was a tough go, but he had the resolve to do it because he knew that something better was there for him if he chose to work hard for it.  He continued by saying that he and his wife recently celebrated 35 years of marriage.. and 34 years of his sobriety. They’ve had a wonderful life together .. three children.. and continue to share much happiness.

He was tempted a few times over the years, but knew if he faltered he’d lose everything that truly mattered to him.  He’d been broke, homeless, addicted to booze and drugs.  He resolved at one point to change his life. And although sometimes it was a struggle, he did it despite the obstacles.

“Anything worth having is worth working hard for”.. he said.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly.

We pulled into my driveway and I scavenged in my purse for the money to pay him.  “I’ve enjoyed our conversation… by the way.. what is your name?”

“Ian”.. he said.. “I’m Beth”, I replied.

“That’s my wife’s name!” He remarked.  For some strange reason that did not strike me as a such a weird coincidence.

Every once in a while, you have what appears to be a random conversation with someone who teaches you something or brings you a valuable message or a life lesson. It’s serendipity. Finding something fortunate you really didn’t expect to find. 

Both my personal and professional lives have been rife with challenges over the last couple of years and at times I can get pretty discouraged about that.  However, here was a man who built himself up with far less going that what I have right now.  Proving to me that through sheer will and belief and hard work, you can succeed.

Ian.. it was a pleasure to meet you.  I think I’d better get back to working hard. I already have the belief that there is something better waiting for me.

Life: Serendipitous
Love: is a wonderful thing..
Pants: Just took a walk with puppy. It was lovely.

My Lunch with Randy.

“Beth Warren?” 

“Yes? Randy Bachman?”

This is how our adventure began. Randy Bachman called to let me know that he was at his hotel in downtown Kitchener.

“I don’t want to eat in the hotel restaurant.. looks too.. uh, corporate. You know this town. Where do you want to go?”DSC02154

To back this up a bit, I met Randy Bachman 10 years ago at the Canadian Country Music Awards in Ottawa Ontario.  I won an award that year. Randy said something nice to me about my win.  He was there to play in the opening number.. “Canadian Sunrise” .. with Prairie Oyster (he does the shredding guitar solo.)  I, of course, harassed him during the reception afterwards, got pictures with family and friends.. etc. etc.  After all, “Takin’ Care of Business” is one of my favourite songs of all time. And due to this fortuitous meeting, had the opportunity to see Randy play on several occasions both with his own band and with the Guess Who.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be best friends with him, I just know him.

However, last fall I saw Randy at the CCMA’s in Winnipeg and we chatted there and emailed later.  Long story short (it is a long and complicated one..) he asked if I’d be interested in seeing the Bachman-Cummings show in Kitchener, August 5th.. and we could do the interview I had asked him for months ago.

And maybe have lunch.

When Randy asked where did I think we should go.. I asked him what types of food he liked.. Mexican, salads.. etc.. and lots more.  ButI KNEW. I HAD to take him to Ethel’s.

Ethel’s Lounge is one of my favourite places ever. It’s just fun and cool and funky. It’s an old KFC from back in the day (the first in the K-dub) and has been a bar now for many years. ethels_lounge(Please note that the sign in the picture says “Carnies Welcome”. Yep, about sums it up)

Part of its charm is all the memorabilia that is all over the walls… posters from old rock shows (KISS, RUSH, Nazareth, Ian & Sylvia, Neil Young and more..) A Charlie’s Angel’s Pinball Machine.. all sorts of stuff.  It’s cool. And the food is stellar. I thought Randy might dig it.

And yes, Randy dug it.  He loved the old posters and such.. and luckily, Glenn was there. (He’s the owner). I intro’d Glenn to Randy.. they hit it off.. Glenn actually went home (he doesn’t live far) to dig up some old posters that he thought Randy might like.  He found one that read “Bachman Turner AND Overdrive”.. from the early 70’s and gave it to Randy. .. Randy in turn put Glenn on the guest list for the show..

We had a great lunch (I of course had the Rajah. I have to. It’s practically a rule). Randy had Fajitas. Jodi also had Rajah (oh, I invited Jodi along for lunch since she was with me when I picked him up.. he didn’t mind).  We also had a great chat, talked about lots of things and enjoyed our food.

After lunch and more chatter, Glenn asked Randy about “American Woman”… the story around K-W is that the Guess Who wrote the song in Kitchener.  But the story gets convoluted. Years ago I had heard it was at Bingemans.. then the Granite Curling club.. and a couple other places.  I did know that the story WAS true, but the curling club where it had been written was gone now.

So, Glenn asked if it had been written at the Glenbriar Curling Club. Yes, Randy explained.. they were jamming.. it all came together… a classic was born. I asked Glenn where the Glenbriar had been.  “It’s the Glenbriar Home Hardware now.. near Sonny’s.” 

We finished eating and got ready to head out. Glenn gave Randy some Ethel’s t-shirts and the BTO poster (Uh, Glenn. Considering that  #1 – I have likely spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at your bar  AND  #2-I brought Randy over… you could have given me a shirt.  Just sayin. You at the very least now owe me beer… )  Oh, and I forgot to take pictures of our food (I like to do that.) and stupidly did not take any pics of us having lunch. Just that one up there of Randy and Glenn.  (sometimes I’m more pretty than smart)

We left Ethel’s and headed out… and Jodi and I took Randy to the  former Glenbriar Curling Club.  It’s the Home Hardware on Weber Street in Waterloo.. between the Staples and Sonny’s. I’ve purchased various things there over the years.. yard stuff, paint, a plunger.. without even knowing it’s historical significance.

Randy got us to drive around back.. and told us a story of how the tour bus they had at the time slid off the precipice they had in the back and did some damage to the bus.. And again. Didn’t get pics. Duh. 

Randy seemed to enjoy the look around and said “wow, I’ll have to tell Burton I was here.. ”  DSC02204

Then we saw an older woman in Daisy Duke shorts and we left.

Too much fun. AND delicious food and many interesting stories.

Then, I interviewed Randy.  After that, we saw the show.   But that’s another post.

(I’m currently working on typing up my interview with Randy… I’ll keep ya “posted”.)

Life: uh, I hung out with Randy Bachman today. All good.
Love: I love the music of BTO. and the Guess Who.
Pants. I wore pants all day today. (except for in the morning when I wore shorts.)