Monday, August 30, 2010

Soggy, salty sandwiches

Al loading all the gear on the bicycles

It was our first bicycle tour.  We were riding around the western half of Nova Scotia.  We began in Yarmouth, endured some heavy rains, and were headed towards Halifax.  We carried all of our clothes, camping gear and supplies for two weeks on two bicycles, which meant we packed light.  Very light.  

Rissers Beach (I think)

On that particular day, we had ridden about 70 miles along the south western shore of Nova Scotia, enjoying the quaint harbor towns and the lovely coastal scenery.  Late in the afternoon, we stopped at Rissers Beach Provincial Park and were trying, somewhat in vain, to set up camp.  Al was setting up our little orange pup tent, which was a K-mart blue light special and definitely NOT of the free-standing type and  was having a frustrating time as the stakes kept pulling out of the sand causing the entire thing to collapse.  I was trying to start our little one burner camp stove and, due to a leaky o-ring, was having trouble getting enough gas pressure to ignite a flame.  Things were looking bad-no tent, no hot dinner.

And we were very tired and very hungry.

Aside from the can of soup that I was trying to cook, all we had to eat were some stale, smushed, cream cheese sandwiches leftover from lunch.  After a day of hard exercise, we were hoping to supplement them with some hearty vegetable soup, but things were not looking good in the hot food department.

The sandwiches were in a bag on the seat of one of the bicycles and while we were engrossed in our respective tasks, an opportunistic seagull swooped down and stole the entire bag.  I don’t remember who first noticed this unhappy event, but while I stood there watching in disbelief as our dinner flew away,  Al took action.

He ran up one side of a sand dune and down the other side to the beach shouting, “Drop them, you stupid bird!  Drop them now!”  The seagull did not seem to understand his command.  I followed behind him and stood on the top of the dune laughing while he ran into the ocean all the while gesturing wildly and screaming at the bird.   He ran straight out into the water, wearing his only clothes and shoes,  and finally when he was in waist-deep water, the gull dropped the bag of sandwiches.   Al waded over to retrieve the bag, now floating in the ocean, and came back, soaking wet, but with our dinner in hand.  Our sandwiches were slightly soggy and slightly salty, but still edible.

That’s the kind of guy he is.  He does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, to ensure the well being of his family. 

The seagulls took our sandwiches in 1981.  In the nearly 30 years that have passed since that night, Al has continued to do everything he could to ensure the well being of me and our kids.  Some days his protectiveness is irritating, sometimes really irritating,  but he is 100% behind us all.   I know I can count on it, the kids know they can count on it, and for that I am indeed grateful, today and everyday.

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