Sunday, January 04, 2009

Moose Fence

Being the father of three kids I have learned the value of patience. I have also gained some modicum of sense. As a young man I was an impatient dummy so things are trending upwards for me. In fact you might say I'm a Pisani type. ;)

Now unlike LT I'm just getting going on this whole Dad thing but the clan had a really big test this past two weeks as we took our first of three big family roadtrips we will be taking in the next seven months or so. Charlottetown or bust and I figured we would be fine seeing as we made an eight hour straight run from Goulais in summer of 2006. That time I was coming off a weekend of drinking with the descendants of Neil McLean and we were just fine thank you except this would be 1700 km twice in two weeks rather then a single run 750 or so. Plus its a winter drive. Plus we have a van loaded to the brim. And oh yeah, a five month old baby .

Now the baby did fine on our test run to Sudbury a couple weeks prior, sleeping the entire way to and from but again, we weren't being lulled to sleep by this success. Nossir.

And yet our trip east was smooth sailing. We had a lot of stops and we jacked around but we had 15 minutes of crying outside of Montreal (some wag asked if that was me) and 15 minutes of snow outside of Shediac and other then that we were golden.

The baby's a peach. Of course you knew that. ;)

So we were laying plans for the return. Leaving Friday with the plan being arriving Saturday night what with Capsule hitting the ice Sunday as well as the wife having a soccer game. And then the storm hit before midnight on New Year's Eve.

Maritime storm. Thirty plus hours of snowing and blowing. Could not get out the front door for the drifting. Could not see the end of the driveway for plenty of it. We were storm stayed and good. At 5:30 am on Friday I was up to powder my nose in the little Canucks' room and looked out and the storm was still going alright. When I got up three hours later (I love my inlaws!) it was blue sky and we were going just past the noon hour.

We're not dummies. I've grown into that state and my wife was born that way. So we packed a cooler full (no stops for food until supper) and held off giving the kids anything to drink until we were nearing time to gas up (or they began to get noticeably listless ;) ). Clear skies as we raced to the bridge and over the strait to New Brunswick. Along the old highway 15 to Moncton and then into the rolling wooded hills to Fredericton. Out for a pee and a fill up and then away we went again. Darkness is beginning to fall and my wife is beginning to worry about moose, they're so bad that there is a fence along the highway between Fredericton and St. John because of all of the cars they've wrecked that way.

There's plenty of moose from my neck of the woods but the rule of thumb there is try not to drive at night during the spring. That's when they're at their worst for coming out on the highways. But my wife is from the Island where there is nothing bigger then a fox or a crow and she keeps seeing the "Beware the Moose" signs and she is starting to worry. I reach back into the old Northerners' knowledge and say we're good to go.

No worries says I and we stop for dinner at an A & W in Grand Falls, an old style one where they still serve the root beer in big iced mugs. The kids are duly impressed even though its milk for them. We're old style, my daughter is 5 and no pop has passed those lips. When she gets a job first thing she can get is a case of cream soda or Wink. Into PJs for them and back into the van and away we go, past Edmundston and then up the road through the pitchblack to Riviere Du Loup and we've gain an hour and suddenly we're 700km in and its 8:30 and if we push on we'll be in Quebec City in two hours and be halfway home.

The kids are all asleep and I'm wide awake and soon I'm the only one and we push westward until there we are, nine hundred kilometres behind us.

And Saturday we were awakened early by the animals and I packed them into the van and then filled up, all the while freezing in a bitter Quebec cold, augmented by a vicious wind. And then we were on the road, just past nine. We feed the kids snacks and hold back on the water (cruel it seems but crueller to spend another two hours on the road) until Drummondville and then through gleaming Montreal and we stop at the border for sandwiches (roast beast for the adults, peanut butter for the rugrats) and a pee and one last fillup and then down the 401, pushing it now, home in sight. In the far reaches of the suburbs the baby awakes and begins to complain about twenty of thirty hours spent in the carseat, the boy is slumped over, exhausted and snotty nosed, the eldest, far in the back, sings along to the Veggie Tales for the umpteenth time.

I gave up the ghost past Cornwall, recognizing the danger signs, head nodding, mesmerized by the road, and so I throw cheese sticks and gingerbread men back to the beast in the back and try to mollify the screaming baby, unsuccessfully as I haven't a tit to thrust into her mouth, while my wife suffers through the baby's screams and steers us home.

800 kilometres in eight and a half hours and that's driving just above the speed limit folks. That's what you call planning. Smarts and patience. And luck. Of course.


So forget about that smarts thing because after all that I stayed up way too late watching hockey last night and Eberle was the big story against the Russians and here's hoping the organization is smart and patient with this guy - junior is junior but the kid has hands, smarts, he's quicker then I thought and he'll go into the dirty areas. He's having a nice tournament.

Sweet as well was the Oilers beating the Stars, again. Two wins out of three and should have had a point at least in the third match, imo. I've always disliked the Stars most of all because when I became a fan they were breaking the Oilers' hearts annually.

And so much to like about the game. Roli will get himself a contract next year, possibly with Edmonton, based on his play and the PK was great, even if it was against the Stars. Gilbert and Grebs had solid games and Souray and Visnovsky were impressive again and up front you had the kids looking fine and Brodziak winning every draw in his zone and Stortini bashing and Reddox had a nice game and Horcoff took over and Penner scoring and knocking a guy silly with one punch.

And with all of the terrific play it was Erik Cole who was the Oilers' best player.

Its sad, really, because Edmonton has 15 million tied up in Visnovsky, Souray and Gilbert and another 14 million in Hemsky, Penner and Horcoff and while we all would like to believe they could move Moreau and Staios to free up some space they still have to worry about Grebeshkov and a goalie and in two summers it will be Gagner and Cogliano to sign and a cap that likely will be falling.

Now going back to smarts, here's a guy who they brought in to get some results and first thing they do is play him out of position and then what do they do when that fails but play him with Ethan Moreau and Kyle Brodziak. Now I can see the rationale because this team has been shedding experience and tough sledders ever since June 19, 2006, but playing Cole with two pluggers, one on his way up, the other down, is probably not the best use of the guy.

And finally someone figured that out and gave him a centre who can make things happen offensively and with Gagner by his side suddenly Cole looks like, well, Cole, the guy we have been waiting for all year. And Gagner suddenly has a finisher and a guy who gets the puck moving the right way and all of a sudden he looks a lot better and holy smokes the Oilers have a second line that can score.

Good thing Erik Cole is patient.

And we fans as well.


doritogrande said...

We did our 1700KM in a day there, and two days coming back. Just got home about two hours ago.

I, unlike you, had one of those road trips that are now in your past. I can't remember parts of 5 nights, and was shot-gunning beers before each day of snowboarding. Loved every minute of it.

Also, I think you probably have the best kids on the planet, at least in the road-trip sense.

HBomb said...

I'd spend money on Cole before Grebeshkov (not to mention give up Staios and Moreau for 7th rounders). The fact is, they gave up Joni f'n Pitkanen to get the guy, and he brings things to the table this team lacks.

I think they're going to make a strong attempt to keep him.

Black Dog said...

HBomb - I hope so, I think that he's the type of guy who keeps things moving the right direction - hopefully they can find the cash and he is interested

dg - for sure we do

Sounds like you had a lot of fun.

Bastard ;)

Schitzo said...

Black Dog - great story, as usual. We did that trip last summer, 3 kids from Edmonton to the Shushwap.

The littlest was only 3 months, and boob+sleep did the job just fine. That said, we had the chance to go again this year and flat out refused. Too old to sleep the whole trip, but too young to watch movies the whole way? To hell with that :)