Saturday, June 6, 2009

North Vancouver Island

My old friend Bill emailed me an invitation to his baptism in the Baptist Church Campbell River.He must be in his 70's.
It was a nostalgic trip on the Harley up island.
I worked in Comox and Campbell river nearly 20 years ago. After taking the motorcycle across Georgia Strait on the Horseshoe Bay-Nanaimo Ferry I had a fast sunny ride at 110 on the new highway. When I pulled off at Courtenay I hardly recognised it, it's changed so much with development. Comox seemed more recognisable. I photographed St. Joseph's where I worked and the road leading to the Anglican church manse where I'd lived. Seeing the Mount Washington recreation site sign sure brought back memories. What a grand family ski hill. All winter I skiied there and loved it. The sign for Cumberland reminded me of the great time I'd had at the Skeet Club. Seeing the Comox harbour I remembered kayaking when I lived here and later bringing my sailboat into the harbour. The CFB Comox still has a grand display of old airplanes.
I remembered working long hours. I was scared alot. I diagnosed alcoholism and was threatened. The parents of teen age drug addicts accosted me on the street angry that their 'children' were being recommended 'treatment' . Late night threatening phone calls. There was alot of denial and threats of violence. So much of the North Vancouver Island industry back then was criminal. Today it's readily apparent that so much more business has to do with eco tourism. Still I can't pass some of the development without remembering the threats.
The documentary "Cocaine Cowboys" was finally made after the Florida violence. Maybe one day there will be a similiar "BC Bud Bad Guys" movie about these times. When I was working here there'd been shoots outs in provincial camp grounds. Someone took pot shots at my windows one night with a 22. I knew a doctor who gave up medicine to grow marijania because he made more money in a year than he made in ten, less politics and certainly no tax. Actually it always seems that only the good guys get punished with taxes while the bad guys get all the services for free. The newspaper this week said Marc Emory, the drug pusher, is up for extradition to the states. He's always advocating marijuania but then that's his business. No different from Al Capone promoting booze and prostitution. It's not whether or not these all might be better legalized it's just that Marc Emory isn't Robin Hood, Ralf Nader or Suzuki. He's a drug pushing criminal who wants to stay in business.
On the other hand , I worked with some great doctors and nurses back then and had a real priviledge serving some truly fine patients. One unforgettable nurse with a great sense of humor was also beautiful skier. I still keep in contact with some of the family physicians who were the best. Then there was one Campbell River community nurse, named Love and she was as big on brains as she was on heart. I continue to keep in contact with some of the folks in AA in the area and think it would have been great to have got connected back then. There was a great Campbell River physician known equally for his medical skill, his sobriety and his chasing mushroom seeking hippies out of his cow fields. The word that comes to mind about country medicine for me is character. Tolerance too but so much character.
Somehow there was also all this glorious time on weekends. North Vancouver Island is certainly God's playground. I saw the Horn Lake Caves signs and remembered caving. I don't remember going to movies or plays or opera but on the way up here there were lots of signs for such productions. When I was here it was just the outdoors that attracted me but now I see so much evidence of the sophistication that's moved to the country. The agricultural land around Black Creek was  alive with young sheep,cattle and horses.
The Gunther's Meats sign reminded me of all the hunting trips I took and bringing the moose and venison back to their fine care.
Bill, whose getting baptised tomorrow was my hunting buddy on alot of those trips. We've laughed alot in trucks, tents, campers and boats. He credits me in part with his baptism decision. I told him "you must have fallen pretty low to be where I could help you up!"
I attended a few churches more as a tourist than a member when I lived here. I figure it would have been a whole different experience, better in many ways, if I'd joined any one of the churches. When I was a member of one church in Saipan it really made me  more a member of the community and connected me with so many good people.

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