The Epistle of Q — Chapter Forty-Five (Part A)

What do you do with three energetic teen-age grandsons for two weeks?
That has been the challenge since Tuesday. In fact, that is why I’ve been noticeably absent from writing for the past little while as I actually tried to plan for this event!!

These are my American grandsons, born in Chicago in the very early part of this millennium, spent their early years in the Greater Memphis area (which allowed me to do on-site research into the filming of “The Firm”!!) and now live in the Greater Phoenix area (Chandler to be more precise, although they first lived in Gilbert). Their Dad is the best son-in-law a person could ever want but since he isn’t here I’ll talk about him some other time; my daughter has always been pretty special — in fact she’s my favourite daughter.

Tuesday morning my daughter and the three arrived at YYF so I didn’t have to drive to Kelowna to get them. That was a nice touch, especially since they brought all their hockey gear as they will attend one week of hockey school at the Okanagan Hockey Academy. We piled some on top of the SUV and we got it all home okay. En route they stopped to watch their Grand’mere dragon boat and then stopped by the local Dairy Queen (it’s a tradition!!). By the way, seeing the dragon-boaters who are all over 55 was a good reminder that working out is not age-restricted. The rest of the day was fairly laid back since they had needed to be up at 3:45 a.m. to get their first flight out of YEG where they had been visiting cousins at two different family re-unions (Kelti’s was celebrating her materal grandmother’s 90th while Brett’s three brothers were all home to celebrate a get-together with their parents).

At noon we started a new tradition. Since their birthdays come when I’m seldom able to be in Phoenix (due usually to teaching gigs) it was decided we would hold a birthday party each lunch — in order of birth times. So Tuesday’s birthday lunch was for Hayden, the first of the twins to be born some 15 years ago. We had a tasty DQ cake, decorated in a hockey-motif and quickly devoured. Naps, video games, reading and “vegging out” were the order of the day until late afternoon when it was determined that we all should head to Skaha Lake Park. This provided some opportunity for swimming, and some bocchi ball as well as Brendan and I tossing a football for quite a while. Although all this did lead to a later desire to actually go to bed.

As a result of the late night, the boys were not up as early as planned. We didn’t get going till about 10:00 a.m. when the four of us headed out on a bike trek — downhill along the Penticton Creek till we came to the KVR Trail (it is the old railway bed from the days of the Kettle Valley Railroad). There we turned and started the climb out of Penticton. As it was the first day of serious biking for them, we set a target of the big parking lot near the Hillside Winery. We managed to make it (where they now have installed a bike repair facility as well as a water pump to provide refills for water bottles). We even had to go through a construction site where the city of Penticton employees were very helpful getting us around the equipment — one guy even lifted one of the bikes over the digger’s big tracks so we could continue on our way. While returning we happened across a little picker’s house that has been converted into a rest stop. Delightful place where you can even pick your own cherries if so inclined — we weren’t, instead we had ice-cream cones!!

We made it home although what was an easy ride to start the morning down the creek turns into a very challenging pedal, going up on the return ride!! Nevertheless we managed to bike a total of 15.31 kms, burn off 942 calories, average a speed of 13.2 while maxing out at 25.7; a fairly credible inaugural run for them. And we made it back in time for Connor’s birthday lunch (the other twin, who is also 15 — he was born on the same day too). Again it was a DQ cake festooned with hockey images, and it too was thoroughly enjoyed.

By now the guys were getting into the swing of the new time zone, so in the afternoon we went down to Okanagan Lake which is still feeling the effects of the earlier spring floods. Most of the beaches are still under water, but we found an area where sandbags had helped preserve some sandy space. We set up our chairs and the guys, in spite of the debris yet to be cleaned up, did get in some swimming. At that point I checked out the “Wibit” which is an inflatable piece of equipment that floats off-shore and contains slides, bouncy parts, a pyramid and an iceberg to climb. The boys had tried this on an earlier trip here and certainly were willing to go again. I got them passes and then enjoy some 90 minutes of observing them attempt to do all the challenges the equipment offered.

After exhausting themselves they returned to shore where they dried off and along with their mother we then went to supper at a restaurant right on the beach. The menu was very diverse so everyone got want they wanted (and there was even a bottle of wine for my daughter and I…not sure how that appeared). After dinner, the guys decided they should go back to the Wibit while my daughter and I talked. Finally, over an hour later, they were tired enough to decide to call it quits for the day. As they were drying off this time, they noticed an ice-cream shop right beside the restaurant. That proved to be a delicious dessert break!! It also helped generate an earlier bedtime.

Thursday got started a little earlier which was a good thing as we had a bigger biking challenge. We again headed for the KVR, but the destination was the old Arawana Station Stop. This was a tough slog, with many stops for water drinks. But I’ll give the guys credit…they persevered. It was over 30C and much of it was in the sun. There also were a good number of walkers as well as other cyclists to look out for. But, after all is said and done, we made it back by lunch time. This time we had covered a total of 30.83 kms, burned off 1,536 calories, averages 15.2 km/hr and max’d at 29.6 — and everyone, including grandpa, was tired…

What revived us was Brendan’s birthday lunch. He turns 14 in another few weeks but as you might expect, he too likes DQ cakes — especially those decorated with hockey images. This cake likewise was devoured before it could melt. Afterwards many of us had a wee nap… And then it was off to Skaha Lake Park again… This time the boys spent almost all the time in the water — I found some shade on the beach and caught up on sudoku’s, crosswords, other mental puzzles and some freshly picked (by someone else) cherries. By the time the boys were ready to come in it was getting close to supper. After a energizing pasta meal, it was deemed time to make a pilgrimage to Okanagan Falls wherein there can be found the original Tickleberry’s (look up their web-site if you wish). This place makes perhaps the best ice-cream in the Valley and they are not reluctant to put it into your cone (sort of like Jewell’s on PEI). They are very popular too — going through some 80 to 100 tubs of ice-cream in a day. Anyway we all had some spectacular waffle single cones (which come with three scoops — they have a different understanding of “single” than most places, but who’s complaining).

By the time this trek was over, it was determined the best “next step” was to return home, watch the pvr’d football game between the BC Lions and the Montreal Alouettes. Slowly but surely as the game progressed, one by one, the guys drifted off to bed… And so Grandpa survived another day and it seems as if the boys are actually enjoying their pre-hockey school time in Penticton.

We’re see later how Friday goes…