trip preparations

I continue to plan my bike trip to Europe. Yesterday I went to MEC, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and as usual I was like a kid in a candy store in the place. I’ve belonged to MEC since it was in a ‘closet’ in Kensington back in the late 70s.

A memorable aside about that old store; I was with my boyfriend at that time, about 1977, and we were preparing for a cross country trip into Lake O’Hara Lodge if memory serves. What I know for sure is that they had this huge, battle-scarred and ancient black cat who lived in the store and on this day, he was partially hidden under low-hanging cross-country knickers. I read and speak cat fluently and as my boyfriend went to pet the cat, I warned him, “You might not want to do that. He’s old and cranky.” My boyfriend pointedly ignored me, started petting him which was fine until the cat flopped over and exposed his belly. Then as I went, “Noooo, don’t do that!” my boyfriend began to scratch his belly. The cat instantly grabbed his arm with his front claws and proceed to kick him furiously, as they do, with his back claws. He got the hell scratched out of both sides of his arm. Funny what we remember.

Anyway, every time I go into the amazing, state-of-the-art, two storey Calgary MEC store I still marvel at the grandeur of the place since its humble beginnings. I exchanged my small mummy bag for a medium sized one, bought two small camping pillows (this had been on my list since Viet Nam in 2009 – everything about Viet Nam was spectacular EXCEPT the pillows; mostly tiny and hard as concrete) and a little protective foam case for my teeny Mac Book Air. The only thing in the camping department I need now is my tent, and that is a 30 year old but beautiful and still functional MEC tent which is presently in for a minor repair. I do enjoy planning a trip almost as much as taking it!

I’m going to camp at least part of the way. One place I particularly want to camp is near the small village of Oudezele, Belgium which is exactly where the soldiers I’m going to be following, were billeted just before they got their orders and marched east about a dozen miles straight into the terrible 2nd Battle of Ypres on April 22nd of 1915.

Today I’m going to start nailing down the French part of my itinerary with the aid of detailed maps of Normandy and Brittany. Flanders area in Belgium I know very well so that information is already in my head. The planning continues…

Flanders monument to the fallen of Calgary's 10th Battalion (now the Calgary Highlanders) and the 16th

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