Sunday, June 23, 2019

Continental Ride

One of the last times I was on a horse was at a so-called "dude" ranch when I was about ten years old. My parents sent me there for two weeks and I ended staying a month.  It wasn't the horses that attracted me, it was the thrill of being away from home. The ranch was in Ontario in the Muskoka Lakes region; my parents were then living in Washington, DC. My precise recollection of horses is not very appealing.  We went on a wagon-train outing deep into the woods. It began to rain. There were only a few chuck wagons; and they were not large. Most of us had to sleep on the forest floor in a sleeping bag under a lean-to of pine boughs through which the torrential rain seeped profusely. This indignity alone would have been sufficient abuse.  I had the further unpleasant duty of hobbling the front legs of the horses to prevent them from escaping during the night.

In my old age I have abandoned horseback riding, skiing and tennis, in that order. Happily I still bicycle regularly (we went again today - about 20 kms from Almonte to Panmure Road past the Village of Blakeney).  Otherwise the focus is strictly leisure.  After our cycle this morning, I commenced the ritual ablutions - which included brightening a small piece of sterling silver jewellery - and generally perpared myself spiritually for a Sunday morning drive in my Lincoln Continental. I donned my favourite clothing (which is to say, casual), gathered up my technology paraphernalia and headed abroad with a skip in my step.

This morning's athleticism succeeded to purify this afternoon's gratification. The sky was distinctly summery, gauzed with mere skiffs of translucent white clouds. The air was balmy and the temperature had already reached 28℃.

After turning on the engine of the car (and waiting for the throttle to settle), I opened all the windows and put back the landau roof. This was going to be an open-air expedition; the music could wait. Strategically I contemplated the roads upon which I would wander. The motive naturally was serenity, no need to tackle four-lane highways. Given the time of year and the superb weather I was not surprised to discover that the masses had apparently effected their corporate escape to cottages, lakes and other similar rural resorts.  It was as I had wished, a lonesome venture. There may well have been a time when I squirmed for not equipping myself with more purposeful ambition; but today was all about the pleasing atmosphere, lush scenery and silvery drive.

Anyone who knows me, knows my consuming passion for a clean car. Accordingly a car wash was the first item on the agenda. Having one of those 90-day Petro Canada cards, I have an acceptable range of places to attend for this performance.  One for example (the "Glide") is a touch-wash conveniently located in Stittsville; another nearby is a touchless-wash; and a third in Bells Corners has been there for years and has proven to be the most efficient (for which assessment I embrace not only the washing but also the drying feature).

Though I previously diminished the appeal of four-lane highways for an ambling drive, the truth is that the "freeway" between Carleton Place and Ottawa is paradoxically desirable. It passes through nothing but fields for miles, smoothly undulating as it goes. The advantage of a four-lane highway for weekend travel is that it is possible to side-step someone behind who wants to speed ahead.

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