Tag Archives: Travels

Made it!

I’m jumping well ahead on our journey by telling this, but it’s a significant moment for this blog. Today we went to Oxford and had lunch at The Eagle and Child. This has been a long time coming. A couple of pictures:

Outside The Eagle and Child

In the Rabbit Room before lunch

Plaque in the Rabbit Room

In the Rabbit Room after lunch

Oxford is a beautiful city–at least the old part of it where we spent the day. There are so many beautiful old buildings there I didn’t know where to start taking pictures, so I took almost none.  We got there at about 9:30a.m. Toni dropped us off in front of The Eagle and Child (we picked up our rental car today–a Mercedes! We were supposed to get a Ford Focus) and we walked into the city centre, which is full of shops.  Then we had lunch at The Eagle and Child. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either, but that didn’t matter–we were at The Eagle and Child and I had a pint in Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ honour.

The table we sat at had all the plaques and pictures of Tolkien and Lewis and the rest of the Inklings (in the Rabbit Room), but I’m not sure if that’s the room they actually sat in or not. The pub goes much farther back and judging by the stone wall outside may have done so lo these many years (unless they expanded into another shop).

After lunch we intended to head north and then walk a loop east and then down along the river and then back west, passing by Magdalen (‘Modlin’) College, Merton College and Christ Church, which I believe all have some connection to Tolkien or Lewis. Christ Church, at any rate, appears to be one of the more beautiful buildings of the university, as it is depicted on postcards and whatnot.  But the rain was coming down steadily and shortly after we had set out we realized that if we did this walk without an umbrella we would be soaked to the bone by the end of it. So we found a shorter route back to the city centre to find an umbrella.

We stopped at Blackwood’s Books on the way. Stepping inside it looks like an ordinary bookstore, but downstairs it impressively expands into a vast storehouse of books that covers much more area than the building stands on. I’ve never been in a bookstore this impressive in terms of size as well as holdings. It was worth a look, but by the time we found an umbrella, we figured we’d better find our car rental place first–and glad we did, because it was much farther to walk than expected. At the car rental place, I inquired about the restricted-access roads on the map of Oxford. Buses and pedestrians only. To reach these places by car, we’d have to drive all sorts of convoluted routes and back alleys and walking was too far this time of the day, so we decided to skip it. It’s a shame in a way that we were in Oxford for a whole day and didn’t see those famous buildings, but then there are university buildings peppered across the whole old city, so we did see many beautiful college buildings.

Tomorrow we drive to Bath.

First Class

Well, my blog disappeared for a while there. I bet you thought I’d taken myself off the grid–erased all record of me–and gone into hiding in London…assuming I’d arrived there, of course. Maybe this whole England business was a diversion, when in reality I’ve gone to Mexico and am spending my time fixing up a boat on the beach somewhere, waiting for my friend Red to get parole and then break it so that he can come down here and stay with me, assuming he finds the letter and cash I stashed for him under the black moon rock by that tree in that field.

That’s what you thought, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?

Well, in fact, my domain name had expired and the alert had been sent to an email address I rarely check. That’s what really happened, folks.

Anyway, I started writing this two nights ago, so the language is a bit dated, as you’ll see.

* * *

It’s 3:27a.m. here in England and I’m having trouble getting back to sleep. I’ve been asleep since around 10:00p.m., waking every hour or two with a full bladder. I’ve been fighting a cold since before we left and it doesn’t seem to be going away. My aunt and uncle gave me a couple of concoctions to deal with the constant runny nose (I’m making a good effort to rid their house of every last sheet of Kleenex). The second concoction put me out almost immediately, but now it seems to be wearing off–at least the drowsy bit of it. My body has decided that it shouldn’t be in deep sleep at 8:00 in the evening, as it thinks it is.

After missing our original scheduled flight to Heathrow airport in London and sleeping at a Holiday Inn in Denver on United Airlines’ dime, we went through security with some 4 or 5 hours to spare before our flight. After walking around looking at the shops (for some reason I’ve always wanted to buy a book at an airport, and there were several there I was interested in, but I bought none) we made our way to the Red Carpet lounge, to which international first class flyers had access.

We spent a couple of hours there reading and playing cribbage and helping ourselves to the complimentary snacks and drinks (alcohol excluded). I attempted to nurse myself back to health with a combination of fresh fruit and a steady stream of tea, water and orange juice, but to no avail. All the traveling and lack of sleep has just been too much.

There was no class system in our international flight from Saskatoon to Denver, but we flew to Chicago first class. It really is a different world up there. Upon boarding, we went to the seats on the left, everyone else to the seats on the right. They even had the little curtain between us and the proletariat in the back of the plane.

Almost immediately upon sitting down I was offered a drink of juice or water. I don’t think I’d even arranged my pillow nor removed my complementary blanket from its plastic wrap before they approached me. “Orange juice, please.”

Under the pretense of killing some of the bacteria in my throat, and because it’s “good for the stomach”, I enjoyed a glass and a half of complimentary Cabernet Sauvignon with my meal (a soggy but delicious toasted turkey sandwich, salad, and a bag of sun chips). My brother-in-law warned me that a glass of wine on an airplane in flight feels like three. I seem to recall reading that this was a myth, but then he’d experienced it and I hadn’t. I was ok after the glass and a half. Of course, my body mass index is probably three times my brother-in-law’s, so that could make a difference.

Arrived in Chicago O’Hare with an hour to spare before boarding, so we headed over to the Red Carpet lounge again. This was exclusive to international first-class travelers –club members and business class travelers had their own lounge–so it was much less busy and quieter (no business men their designer jeans and sport coats making a show of wandering around talking on Bluetooth ear-pieces to their associates).

The hostess told us to help ourselves to snacks and drinks, and this time it included alcohol. I’ll tell you now that I didn’t put a dent in that $8,500 worth of alcohol Dixie jokingly suggested I should drink, but here I was presented with an unusual opportunity.

I have a bit of a problem restraining myself in help-yourself/all-you-can-eat situations. I can’t remember the last time I left a smorgasbord or buffet feeling as if I had eaten the perfect amount of food to satisfy; I always leave feeling as if I’d had significantly over-eaten. I guess I would have myself believe I’ll never have another opportunity to try any of these things again, so I’ve got to try it all.

In the Red Carpet Lounge at O’Hare I was presented with a table of shrimp and (I think) sushi, sandwich meats, an assortment of cheeses and fruits, and a variety of desserts. What made my eyes go wide, however, was the fridge filled with all manner of international ales and a shelf with any hard liquor or liqueur I could think of. ALL COMPLIMENTARY AND SELF-SERVE!

I looked up the recipe for some mixed drinks I would like to try but would never pay for at a pub. Brandy Alexander, perhaps? In the end I decided not to try and mix my own drinks. Instead I had an Amstel Light, which is a Dutch beer I’ve always wanted to try but is not available in western Canada as far as I know (it wasn’t that good–couldn’t hold a candle to Heineken), and a bit of 12-year-old Scotch (“I love Scotch. Scotchy Scotchy Scotch. I’m gonna drink it down–down into my belly”). Also: a plate of shrimp and fruit and a couple of buns.

This was a mistake. Before the plane had even finished boarding, we were presented with menus for that flight’s evening meal, which could, if I so chose, include several courses. And I had just stuffed my face with shrimp and dinner rolls. But there was filet mignon on the menu, and I couldn’t pass that up. I ordered the filet, but opted out of the other courses and dessert. I drank water and tea on the flight. I know now to pace myself on the return flight.

I should describe our accommodations on this international first class flight. We each had an individual pod–only six of them in first class–which had a chair that could recline, put my feet up or lay down flat to sleep; there were two pillows and a thick blanket waiting, as well as a toiletries bag with a sleep mask, earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitized and socks inside; each had our own approximately 14 or 17″ TV with a remote/game controller and a pretty good selection of TV shows, documentaries, films, and video games available on demand. (I got through about half of Iron Man 2; I’ll finish it on the return flight.)

Also, they gave us hot wet cloths before and after every meal. I’m still not sure what to do with them. The first time I used it to wash my face (felt really good), but Dixie gave me a funny look. So from then in I just used it to wash my hands. Waste of a warm cloth if you ask me.

It was a pretty good situation, I’d say. But then, as all those poor families in economy filed in past us, I felt quite stupid with my feet up playing a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. Next time I might try boarding last. I don’t know.

The flight was uneventful. I didn’t sleep well–maybe 3 or 4 hours of the 7.5 hour flight. Maybe less. We arrived at about 11a.m. (6:00p.m. the previous day, Manitoba time) and were off to Hampton Court Palace with my aunt and uncle.

Make that 7,000 kilometres

Just drove to southern Manitoba and back over the course of 2 days.  Another 1,800 clicks on the old odometre.

On the way, Luke and I spent the night at the Russell Inn.  This is significant only because a few years prior, on a bleak, snowy return from Winnipeg, we passed the Inn, which looked horribly cozy in the twilight: white Christmas lights strung along its roof, big snow flakes falling.  It was “horribly” cozy only because, even though we wished to stay the night there, we were too cheap (or possibly in too much of a hurry) to stop.  Some of the Inn’s cozy-factor is lost when there is no snow and Christmas lights are not ablaze.

* * *

I actually over-estimated how far Russell was from home.  It’s actually quite close to the Saskatchewan border and only slightly over halfway to Otterburne, which meant another long drive on Saturday morning.  Shortly after departure the fuzes on the car-adaptors for both the portable DVD player and the fm-transmitter for my iPod blew.  Spent the rest of the 4.5 hour trip scanning through crappy fm radio stations.  Luked stared out the window.

* * *

Handed over cheque for trailer purchase at approximately 1:15pm on Saturday.  We now have two homes.  We will survive there–it’ll be cozy and we’ll have to get rid of more stuff, but we will survive.  We may even flourish.

* * *

Faint wet dog smell after windows have been closed for a while.  To be expected, as the previous owners had two dogs and a cat.

* * *

Children in Steinbach speak German.  To each other.  By choice.

* * *

Decided, instead of staying in the trailer overnight and driving 10 hours today, that I would drive as far as I could last night.  Made it to Russell by 1:00a.m.  Settled by 1:30a.m.  Slept in van.  Up and at them at 7:30am. to claim $5.oo breakfast coupon from previous stay at the Russell Inn.

* * *

Picked up my first ever hitchhiker in Yorkton.  He stood at the highway 16 junction–he looked a bit like someone I grew up with, both in appearance and mannerisms.  I always feel a bit of guilt as I drive by hitchhikers when I have empty seats in the van.  Some people don’t look trustworthy, and I wouldn’t pick up two people hitchhiking together, and there are the shady legalities of hitchhiking, but I often do feel a little guilt and regret as I drive by.  This time I really felt like I should pick this guy up.  The clincher was his cardboard sign, which read “I SMELL GOOD”.

I kept driving for several kilometres but couldn’t shake the feeling that I should go back.  I pulled over and cleaned out the front passenger seat and then sat there for a while, thinking.  Turned around and went back for him, looped around the intersection and rolled down my window as I approached.

“Where are you headed?”


“I can only take you as far as Kandahar, which is where I turn north.”

That last phrase sounded odd, naturally, as neither of us was in Afghanistan.

Took him the hour or so to Kandahar.  Nice fellow.  He enjoyed Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs playing quietly on the stereo.

“Good traveling music,” he said.

“It is.”

“I should listen to more Bob Dylan,” he said.

“Yes, you should.”

Dropped him off at the 16west/6north junction.

* * *

Drove on to Watson, where Luke decided to become obstinate.  I wonder what all the screaming in the bathroom sounded like to those wandering by?

* * *

Home by 1p.m.  Straight to bed.  Slept the afternoon away.

Tonight: possibly Napoleon Dynamite.  Tomorrow: we must get to work.

There and back again and then over there and then back again.

Got home late last night from our tour of southwestern Canada–all the way to Tofino, which is nearly as far west as a person can go in Canada.  We drove just a hair under 5,535 kilometres over our 3 weeks on the road.

I’ve been offline for most of the time away, which I’ve enjoyed.  I didn’t really miss the internets all that much, which, I suppose, is a bit of a lesson for me.  I plan on doing some posts about the trip in the near future.

I’ve unpacked the van and now I’m preparing to repack the van, as Luke and I are driving down to Otterburne tomorrow with a vanload of books, etc.* and to pay for our the trailer we bought.

As I’m boxing all of our books, Dixie and I get into a debate about my manner of packing.  You see, I’ve got a scheme in mind for the limited bookshelf space we will have in Otterburne.  I figure that if we have to choose a limited number of our books to shelve, then it should be those which we’ve already read.  Dixie, on the other hand, is more inclined to choose books in a set (i.e. matching spines–such as Penguin classics) or books she wants to read.  My argument runs thusly: if Joe or Jane Visitor comes over and looks through our bookshelf, as many people are inclined to do, and pulls out a book and says, “How was this one?” I think we should be able to give an answer.  Otherwise, the conversation will go like this:

“How was this book?

“Dunno.  Haven’t read it yet.”

“Did you like this one?”

“I haven’t read that one either.”

“Did you read this book?


“Have you read any of these books?  How many of these have you read?”


And so on.

In my opinion, we shouldn’t have a bookshelf in which 90% of its contents are unread.

There will also be boxes of books marked “to read”, which are those books which we own, haven’t read, but want to read.  And, finally, there will be a third level of box holding books which we are in no hurry to read.  We may want to consider simply getting rid of that last set.

I have tentatively won the argument.  For now.

And so tomorrow the Vandermen set off once again.

Had a brief meeting today with our real estate agent.  We’ve lowered the price again.  We need to sell the house.  We also discussed some of the finishing work which should probably be done to sell the house.  I found it a rather depressing meeting.

But all shall be well.

Checking in

Writing a post at my brother-in-law’s toasty apartment in the Granville area of Vancouver.  He’s off to get some sushi and noodles for supper.  This morning and afternoon we whipped over the Coquihalla in no time (driving the Speed Limit +12–the No Ticket Speed Limit–helped).  The Coquihalla is not as much of a white-knuckler as I remember it being.  I remember my parents and I drove it one time one summer when it was still a toll highway.  It seemed like a big deal at the time.  Afterwards, Dad bought a bumper sticker that read “I drove the Coquihalla”. 

Unfortunately, the bridge that connects the west-bound Trans-Canada highway to Vancouver was closed for several hours due to a fatal accident involving a motorcycle.  We moved along at a snail’s pace and were eventually re-routed to another bridge from downtown Surrey.  Just rounding the corner before going down the hill approaching the bridge, we heard on the radio that the bridge on the Trans-Canada had re-opened.  Figures.  We would have been better off to visit our friends in Langley and wait out the traffic jam.  As it was, it took us almost as long to drive from Surrey to our current location in Vancouver (maybe 30kms) as it did to drive from Kamloops to Surrey (about 300kms).

But we did fine and the kids were great.  Madeline was hyper, Olivia was sitting in a runny poop-filled diaper and Luke had to pee.  But we made it.

Backing up: a night in Kamloops (all of us asleep by 9:30 local time) and an hour in the pool with the kids.

Prior to that, two nights with Dixie’s relatives in Calgary.  Went to the zoo sans Dixie, who stayed at home sleeping to fight off a cold.  Impressed by the elephants (they’re always impressive) and the grizzly bears.  We may have been there at the wrong time (most of the afternoon), because many of the animals appeared to be resting and out of sight.  Oh well.  Still: elephants and grizzly bears!

Oh, and the night before that with friends at The Field.  Quiet.  Relaxing.  Could’ve spent a week there, easily.  Without the kids.  Of course.

Tomorrow we plan on visiting the Vancouver Aquarium and spending some time in Stanley Park.  The following day it’s off to Tofino for a couple of nights.  I’m very much looking forward to it.

Whither The Eagle & Child?

I was thinking of posting some church-related musings tonight–you know, something meaty, significant.  But I shan’t.  But neither shall I not blog for the rest of May, which was another option.

Instead, I alert you, dear reader, that we’re off for a marathon drive to Manitoba tomorrow, where we will do some reconnaissance work on Friday–on the seminary, lodgings, schools, etc.  On Saturday we will spend the day with friends in small town Manitoba.  On Sunday we will join the good folks at Faith Covenant in Winnipeg, before making the marathon return trip to Prince Albert that same day. 

It’s bound to be a tiring, but useful weekend.

I’m getting tired of myself referring to us doing “reconnaissance work”, which I have done several times.  And it was only marginally clever the first time I said it.  If that. My sincerest apologies to those of you who’ve had to hear it more than once.

In other news, I emailed  my second (yes, only the second of several) seminary assignment to Briercrest the other day.  I made an enquiry into the process for getting a due date extension (it’s officially to be done June 10).  I was merely asking questions, because ideally I would like to get this course done on time, but with home improvement things and whatnot I thought perhaps that final research paper might need a little extra time.

It seems that officially, the extension ‘process’ is simply a request for more time, though it comes at a price: $75 for a 4-month extension.  I wouldn’t expect to use another 4 months, but whatever.  As it happens, they granted me an unasked for, free 2 week extension.  This will make a world of difference.  A due date of June 26 sounds a lot better than June 10, doesn’t it?

(I just checked the syllabus and the paper doesn’t, for the moment, seem that daunting anymore.  Glad tidings.)

Got some work done at the church today.  I was feeling pretty useless there yesterday, but today was better.  Did some administrative stuff and finally got some idea rolling for my sermon on the 17th.  I sometimes wish I could record my thoughts, because my sermons always seem to be better (and more passionate) in my head than when they are put on paper and then into speech.  Even the transfer from thought directly to speech suffers great loss of clarity, so a dictaphone or recorder of some kind wouldn’t be much help.

Interestingly, ideas seem to flow best when I walk slow laps around the perimeter of our sanctuary.


I saw you nodding of there.  Yes, you.

Ho hum.

Whither The Eagle & Child?  Well, clearly not entirely here.

Let’s have another go…

In about an hour or so Olivia are off to Saskatoon to catch our flight to Kelowna, via Calgary.  Second time in as many months.  This time, however, we plan to explore not only Kelowna airspace, but also plan to land and make our way through the Okanagan Valley via ground transportation and sometimes by foot.

The week will involve:

I leave, as I often manage to do, on the tail end of a long blog discussion, which has left me exhausted, confused (it takes me a while to process all the opinions that get bandied about in these discussions), dealing with some issues of self-doubt, and regretting a little bit that I bring things like that up and then letting myself get caught up in the whole thing.  I think somewhere along the line I start taking these discussions too personally.  I need to learn to be a bit more aloof and distant in these discussions.

But I digress.

It should be a good week.  Olivia is very different now than she was in January.  On that first trip, she was a little angel.  I expect her to be a fidgety little terror this time around.

As usual, I don’t know how much blogging I’ll do while away, but you can always follow me on Twitter (also in my sidebar).  And I believe I’ve got my Twitters updating my Facebook status as well.

I blogged at Macy’s

There. Done.

Randall and I are having supper at Macy’s (formerly Marshall Field’s, est. 1850) in downtown Chicago. It’s a classy, elegant restaurant, with an old-school look and feel. But the prices are quite resonable. I’ll post some pictures when I get home.

Cheese platter is here. Better go.

Jazz tonight.

In Chicago

So I’m in Chicago and things are not going quite as planned, update-wise.  Saskatoon Airport has free wifi.  Winnipeg airport requires an account with Telus or a ridiculous credit-card charge.  The hotel which I’m staying at advertises “free wifi access in every room”, or something along those lines.  When I read that, I think “free wifi”, but the key word is actually “access”.  Because when I open Safari on my iPod, I need to go through a gateway to set up a charge account (or bill to my room) to get unlimited internet access for $9.99US each day.  I still haven’t decided if Twittering is worth that much.  I’m thinking maybe not.  (Maybe Randall with feel otherwise and let me borrow his iPod or laptop for a bit.)

And my iPod decided to freeze up after I got onto transit.  It won’t shut down, it won’t let me use it.  Can’t do anything about it until I get to the hotel.  So no Twittering from coffee shops in the city, I’m afraid.

It was an uneventful trip.  I was patted down at customs in Winnipeg.  I wasn’t sure if we’d actually leave the airport, it was such a blustery day there.  O’Hare is too much airport, but I found my way to the shuttle/bus station for a complimentary ride to the hotel.  The hotel is swanky, but the denomination has worked out some kind of deal so that we’re actually paying less than we’d probably pay at a budget hotel (aside from meals).

How am I doing this?  Well, I’ve made it to Northpark University/Seminary.  I am in the library and one of the assistants has kindly logged me in as a guest.

Getting here was my goal for today (success!), but now that I’m here, I’m not sure what I should do.  I’ll check out the library and the seminary.  I’ve wandered the campus a bit (it’s a nice campus) and I’ve looked at some of the student housing (from the outside).  But what else to do here?  I don’t know–perhaps the point is just to get a sense of the place.  I may end up at Northpark again on Wednesday with someone in the know (who should be en route soon).

After Northpark I plan on making my way downtown and wandering around the “Miracle Mile”.  As I say, I’ll be doing some touristy stuff with Randall on Wednesday evening for sure, but I couldn’t just sit in that hotel all day.  So I ventured out on this beautiful day.

I’ve already met  a couple of Covenanters already–one from California, another from Alaska.  I was on the same flights as the Melfort church’s new pastor, although we didn’t introduce each other until we were in Chicago (but somehow I already knew he was heading to the conference).  Seems like many people know each other already here.  Me?  I’m one in about 8 million people right now and I know nobody.  The anonymity is kind of nice, but then walking around a hotel filled with pockets of people talking to each other…

From what I can tell, I fall somewhere in between a large crowd of hip, trendy twenty-somethings and the older, old-school looking Covenant pastors.  Not sure where I fit in.

Registered this morning.  Free books!  Well, “free”–they come with registration.  Some great selections, including Scot McKnight’s The Blue Parakeet and N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope.  Unfortunately, I already own (and have read) both!  No matter–they shall become gifts or church library donations.  Couple of other interesting books in the bunch as well.

Got into almost all of the workshops I wanted to.  Unfortunately, that did not include the one I really, really wanted to be in: Scot McKnight’s one-day workshop on The Blue Parakeet.  It’s a good book that has generated some questions.  Plus, I’m (attempting to) teach the youth Sunday school class on that book, so some more in-depth discussion about it would have been helpful.  Alas.  Maybe I can sneak in, or someone won’t show up, or maybe because it’s so popular (it filled up by December 15, well before I registered) they’ll add second workshop on the book (not likely).

Anyway, that’s all.  I’m off to browse the library catalogue for a bit, then to the seminary building, then to find my way back to the Blue Line (or Brown Line) and to downtown.

I didn’t see that coming.

I just got back from camping with Madeline and Luke.  More about that later.

For the record: we went to a campground, with appointed sites and a picnic table and a barbecue/fire pit thingy built in.  Some of you who read this are purists and will say that isn’t camping; that a person is only truly camping if he or she has hiked five hours into the forest somewhere remote and cooks everything on an open fire.  Poppycock.  Who decided on that line?  May as well make it that camping is really only when you hike into the middle of nowhere with no supplies whatsoever, kill, skin and eat your food right on the spot, build a shelter with your bare hands and then manage to live to tell the tale.  I don’t buy it.  My definition of camping: in a tent in the woods with a fire.  That is all.

It’s interesting how being away for even one day can seem like a big deal.  I phoned Dixie last night from Candle Lake and we talked and the kids talked to her as if we were away for a really long time in some distant location, instead of staying one night at a campground an hour away from home.  When I drove onto our street after our return to Prince Albert, I noticed the For Sale sign that has been on a house on our street for several months, and I thought to myself, That house is still for sale? I guess it didn’t sell in the last 30 hours just like it hadn’t sold in the last 3 months.  You go away for a day or two and you come back tired and dirty and the whole place seems different—like it went on a siesta while you were gone and it’s trying to shake itself out of its slumber because you’ve returned unexpectedly.

But I digress.

Today the kids and I drove to a different part of the campground to find a place to fish.  I had left the car to walk out to the lake to see what was what.  When I returned, there was a boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, on a mountainbike.   The confidence and sense of ownership it implied made it clear he belonged to a family of “seasonal campers” who stayed there for much of the summer.  The following conversation ensued:

Boy: It’s wavey today.

Me: Yes it is.

Boy: So you like coming to Minuwakaw, too?

Me: Yes, it’s nice here.  See you later.

I get in the car and drive off.  I park the car a ways away near a gated road that might lead to the dam, which is what I’m looking for.  When I get out of the car, the boy rides up on his bike.

Boy: This is the dam.

Me: Is it?

Boy: But you’re not allowed to fish on it.

Me: No?

Boy: No.  There’s a sign, see?

Me: Ah.

Boy: You know what you do on a mountain bike? You put it in sixth gear and you drive straight down a hill—like, straight down—and then at the bottom you go on a jump and you do a wheelie with your front wheel and both wheels in the air.

Me: Oh yes?

Boy: Do you have a mountain bike?

Me: Yes I do.

Boy: First gear is the bestest gear for riding all-terrain.  This isn’t my mountain bike, it’s my dad’s.

We arrive back at the car, where the kids have been waiting.

Me: Well, see you later then.

Boy: I’m usually on patrol.

Me: On patrol?

Boy: Yes, looking for people having sex in the campground.

Significant pause as I try to process his words.

Me: . . . You’re not allowed to have sex here?

Boy: No.

Me: Oh.  Well, good luck.