There’s a rooster not far from Allen’s farm. (Well, “farm” is using the term a bit loosely. It was a farm before he bought it, and it will be one again. But it’s going to take a bit of work.) This rooster isn’t particularly normal. We’ve been speculating why it doesn’t sound normal. Most roosters gain their sound by listening and mimicing the sound of other roosters. This rooster doesn’t seem to have rooster peers, so it lacks the stereotypical cockle-doodle-doo one would expect at 5:30 in the morning.
This one sounds like a cross between a coyote and a freight locomotive horn.
Ruskin is in the as-of-yet undeveloped region to the east of Maple Ridge. Slowly, but surely, this area will likely be developed as the valley fills in. It will take time, but it will happen. (Joel lives about 40 streets west of here — not really that far — on a property that had previously been a farm.) So coyotes, wolves, and bears are normal. We haven’t seen any, but they’re known to frequent the area. As for the locomotives — Canadian Pacific’s main line is about 250 metres away. It would be louder, were there not a small rise in between the line and the house.
Breakfast was in the house: porridge. I got turned onto this stuff hanging out with the Rocky Mountain Rail Society (Harry loves making the stuff, even if no-one else eats it). We had it with peaches, so it wasn’t too bland.
After showering and dressing, we ran a few errands. On the list: chickens for dinner (I was to make beer can chicken for five), and to look at kittens (Allen seems to have agreed to acquire one, maybe two, to control the rat problem on the farm). We started off at Bruce’s Market, which had us coming up empty-handed — no whole, unfrozen chickens. We ended up at the Save On Foods in Haney. We also grabbed lunch at a bagel shop.
We never made it to the Humane Society.
Stopping only briefly at the house before leaving again, we headed out to Tsawwassen. Alex’s friend of 20 years, Erika, was coming over for a visit and we were going to pick her up. From Ruskin, there is no easy way to Tsawwassen. You either have to double-back about 20 kilometres to the Highway 11 bridge, go down Highway 7 about 20 kilometres to New Westminster, or use the Albion Ferry.
The Albion Ferry is a free-of-charge service that takes cars between the north and south sides of the Fraser River, between Albion (just east of Haney) and Fort Langley (on the south shore). It’s heavily used, and you can incur long waits.
And that’s the rub — either you risk the chance of having a long ferry wait, or you drive the distance to wherever it is you’re going. In our case, it was the ferry. Which was fine with me — I’d never taken it before.
Driving quickly through Fort Langley (a beautiful little place), we headed south to the Langley By-Pass, and then onto Highway 10, which runs west across Surrey and Delta. This took us to Highway 99, which sped us across Delta to Highway 17, which takes us south and then west(ish) to the BC Ferries Tsawwassen Terminal.
It had been a very long time since I had last been there (see [[Touring in and around Victoria]]), and it looked to have changed a bit. It’s hard to tell, though, since it has been so long since my last visit. We found Erika inside, though she hadn’t been expecting us — she had been expecting Allen, who was originally supposed to pick her up.
We retraced our route back to Langley, looking constantly for a 7-11 (we were dying for a Slurpee). Failing at that, we settled for a Starbucks, attached to a Chapters on the Langley By-Pass. It was a long stop, as Alex and Erika felt the need to look at “sandwiches”.
This is code for looking at diamond rings. Why? In a building separate from the Chapters is one that houses a Quizno’s Classic Subs … right next to a Spence Diamonds store. They declared they needed to look at sandwiches and headed for the Quizno’s, diving off to the Spence store at the last second.
I eventually had to retrieve them so we could go pick up Alex’s grandmother.
Instead of taking the ferry, we continued across the south side of the river until we were able to pass under the Trans-Canada Highway, and join up with Highway 11 to go across to the north side of the river. That’s Mission, and that’s where Alex’s grandmother, Christena, lives.
She’s a wonderful woman. About 90 years old, Christena still has a high, young voice, and all the joy of life I hope to have when I’m that age. Make no doubt, she’s an old woman, and is missing some ability (she needs a hearing aid, and has a couple health problems). Aside from that, though, you wouldn’t know. And she’s still her her wittiness, which I can only pray to have developed by the time I’m that age!
Arriving back at the house, Alex and Erika went for a walk around the yard while Christena took a bath. Allen and I set to the task of making dinner. I found that the barbeque chicken is best when using powered spices, rather than chopped up whole spices. (Out of necessity, discovery is sometimes made.) In fact, I would say that it was the best beer can chicken I’ve ever made.
The vegetables were also made on the barbeque, using a grilling basket. This will forever change the way I make vegetables. I might never cook them in the kitchen ever again! A little spice (not much different than what went on the chicken), olive oil, and red wine vinegar, pop ’em in the basket and dump ’em in the barbeque, with an occassional stir. Mmm, mmm!
After dinner, Alex, Erika, and I took Christena home. She lives in a seniors complex about 15 minutes from Allen’s farm (which Christena used to own until a couple of years ago, when she sold to Allen). It’s not unlike Nana’s place, with a separate apartment (Christena’s is larger than Nana’s), central dining and lounge area, various services, and so forth. Naturally, we got the tour.
One thing Christena can no longer do is see small things, like fruit flies, which she had a minor infestation of due to all the fruit she has. While Alex and Christena played a game of cards, Erika and I went on a fly-killing expedition. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, as those little buggers are sometimes hard to swat. We at least cut the population down by 80%, and recommended that the fruit be moved into the fridge.
For the first time since our vacation started, we could clearly see the stars at the place we were sleeping (we saw them in Cranbrook, but clouds concealed the celestial sky by the time we got back to Fairmont). It was cold due to the lack of cloud cover, but the tent was warm, and the sleeping bags comfortable.