Editorial – Going Your Own Way by John Dokurno

Rant and rave leave this town behind and start over with a new dream to climb. And a million vacations is what you’ve got in mind.

(McCracken/Dubois-Max Webster 1979)

With the unpleasant memories of covid finally fading, Lynne and I decided that it was time for each of us to take a small va­cation. Since having a rescue dog makes it impossible for us to plan a trip togeth­er, we plotted our own dream getaway for the dreary month of February. Lynne is especially deserving, having persevered through the worst of the epidemic soon after she took over the store. Her de­termination, ingenuity and innovations throughout the lockdown rescued the store from certain ruin. Throw in her own bookkeeping business and her work with co-publishing this paper, it was high time for her to finally fly the friendly skies. Two years ago, in mid pandemic, I was lucky enough to fly to San Francisco to visit my son Chris for Christmas, endur­ing pre screening and mask policies, but at least I was able to ski at Tahoe. Lynne, being more of a sun enthusiast, chose an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas. As an added bonus she was accompanied by our daughter Lizz and our granddaughter Alice. What an adventure for a 7-year-old! Daily updates, along with dozens of pictures and videos made my week alone with our sad and mopey dog a little more tolerable. Taylor really missed Lynne, planting herself at the front window after the second day, watching her Jeep to see if it moved.

By all accounts the trip was a smashing success. For our young Alice it was an adventure to be sure, with visits to sub­terranean caves, Reef Shark watching in glass bottomed boats and an up close visit with a dolphin. Even the chilly west Atlantic didn’t stop her from spending each day chasing waves with boundless energy. Memories for a lifetime! Unfor­tunately, they had a cruel reality check when they landed back in Toronto to the worst snowfall we’ve had since the New Year. Taylor was of course delighted to see Lynne but wait until she finds out I’m going away next for 2 weeks.

For me the choice was obvious. The city by the Bay – San Francisco. Firstly, to vis­it my son Chris and catch up, and second­ly, to log some serious ski time at Lake Tahoe with above mentioned son. My connection to the Golden State of Califor­nia goes back over 3 decades when I first began rock-climbing. Over the course of several years my older brother Mark and I climbed from the desert of Joshua Tree to the awe-inspiring Yosemite Valley and the legendary Camp 4 – a mecca of sorts for climbers. On one occasion Lynne and our young daughter Lizz accompanied us to the Valley and Lynne, also a climber, conquered some impressive routes. Iron­ically, 30 years later, Chris, also an avid climber, scaled the same routes I had those many years ago. I love when life goes full circle. It was during those early trips that San Francisco became a regular stopover and quickly became my favour­ite city to visit.

Although outdoor rock climbing at my age is off the table, we still dabble at lo­cal climbing gyms when I visit, but this trip is all about Tahoe and getting back on my skis. This time we will be carving turns overlooking beautiful Lake Tahoe or “Lake of the Sky” as it’s often called due to its elevation of over 6,200 feet. The peak of the resort we are visiting is locat­ed in the northern Sierra Nevada range and is over 10,000 feet in altitude so I’m expecting to be a bit winded until I ac­climatize. It’s been a long 2 years since I’ve strapped on the skis so I’m a little nervous. As I’m writing this column ten and a half feet of snow has fallen in Tahoe with wind speeds reaching 190 mph (That’s over 300 kph!). Another 10 to 12 feet is expected when I arrive. Great news for skiing but the Interstate to get there is often closed when ac­cumulations become heavy. Since ar­rangements have already been made to go, I’m hoping for the best from moth­er nature and the mountain. I do love a good challenge!

I feel its only fitting that I complete this editorial from the City by the Bay with my promise to Lynne that I will submit it remotely in time for our deadline.

As luck would have it, the worst of the winter storm had passed by the time I arrived in San Francisco. We rented a four-wheeler just in case and made our way to Lake Tahoe. The dozen or so feet of fresh snow from the previous week had now been groomed and flattened and conditions seemed perfect. As a result, the resort was like a small city, teeming with skiers and snowboarders of all lev­els, with lift queues of up to an hour long. This would be all about quality, not quan­tity. Although anxious about my fading skill level and the massive congestion on the slopes, I surprised myself on my first descent. I manoeuvred seamlessly around the hordes and found myself in a trance like state, concentrating on every turn, determined not to do a face plant. The sound of my edges carving through the snow was my rhythm and the famil­iar rush of adrenaline warmed my veins. Here I was at 62, doing what I loved do­ing for all these years and I was crushing it, and the grin on my son’s face when he high fived me at the bottom was my best reward. Sadly, the trip ended too soon, but it was a confidence builder for the next time I visit the tall peaks of the Golden State.

Someday down the road, when we are not bound by the responsibilities of dog own­ership, Lynne and I will be able to travel together, but until then we will continue to go our own way.