Tuesday, November 1, 2016

John's rides

I've been trying for months to find the magic third picture so I could write about John's fascination with anything wheeled. On Monday, there it was: A wicker motorcycle in front of a Granville store. The sign reads: "Original price $6,000; reduced price $3,000."  John's response? "You could buy a real one for that price."

John tries out an electric bicycle at a Saltspring store. He liked the bike because it had a solid place for carrying things at the back. But he didn't bite -- he wants to make sure he'd really have a use for it.
The driver of this electric truck picking up garbage along the West Vancouver waterfront was a bit bemused when a man with a camera started asking him detailed questions about his vehicle. But when he realized John was sincerely interested, they had a big conversation.

Wheels. Speed. Motion. As a non-driver and non-bicyclist who found jogging (and it was barely a shuffle) too fast, I have always been mystified by John's fascination with things that go zoom. But so it is, and he comes by it honestly. As a kid, he ran fast for soccer and track and field, and would have been a race car driver if heaven had sent him the ultimate life-dream. But finances and reality being what they were, he had to settle for racing karts and motorcycles. By the time he got around to bicycles, alas, the "kids"-- anyone younger than 60 -- were just too fast.

Cars are another whole story. Young and poor and adventurous, he drove a rickety Austin-Healey Sprite (winter trips with snowbanks higher than the car's plastic windows, no heater) when he worked at a bank in Revelstoke. I'm glad to have missed that era, but I was in for three successive Volkswagen Beetles when he was a poverty-stricken young photographer in Edmonton. (Alberta didn't have many hills, but when we went to the mountains, there was a serious possibility we might not get up them.) With a secure job in Vancouver came a Volkswagen Rabbit, an ironically yellow lemon that gave lots of trouble, and there was a string of fancy cars after that.

 One day he came to pick me up in a brand-new Toyota Supra -- surprise! -- and I recall an ill-fated BMW. But somehow those cars never seemed to take, and our favourite vehicle of all time was a 1990 blue Ford Aerostar van. It was plain, comfortable, capacious and accommodating, but eventually the transmission blew, and it had to be hauled home on a flatbed truck, its dignity sorely impaired. It's the only vehicle I ever felt like having a funeral for.

John has given up on fast vehicles, given that speed is no longer an option in the gridlocked Lower Mainland. But lately, he's found a whole new reason for stopping to inspect the wheels we see on city streets. To me, they're just ordinary-looking cars, bikes and motorcycles, but to him they're fascinating portents of the future. Electric vehicles have arrived, it seems. I expect that one day -- surprise! -- he will come to pick me up in one.

A better view of the electric bicycle, with its rack on the back. 

And the electric garbage truck in all its waterfront glory.

1 comment:

  1. Wow....that's quite a history of cars....I had no idea! Having really no interest in cars, ours have been very dull. The main purpose spending the least amount of money on them. One of our favourites was a late 60's Buick Skylark we bought for $300. It had a fabulous comfortable interior, ran like a charm, but did have lots of rust. The Industrial Arts teacher at the school I was at used it as an example of what rust could do. I think the students wondered why a teacher would drive such an old beater. Well, we would have rather spent on money on trips to the south of France...