This little slice of the internet has been pretty much deserted over the last six months. I've been busy to an extent but for the most part routines have been formed and myself and the rest of the family have been slogging through them. Routines aren't bad. In my opinion one should be quite happy with their routine because for the most part, you should be the one who chose the things that make up said routine. I know that once you have kids or others that rely on your assistance and support you get less input on the types of things that make up the routine, but for the most part, even the things that your children are involved in are your choice. If I hadn't actively encouraged Jasmine to join basketball it may never have become so enjoyable for her. I don't mind in the least driving her to practices and games knowing that she gets so much out of it. It hasn't all been routine though around the Prosk/Theriault house over the past six months. We have been lucky enough to get out and smell the roses so to speak.
Over the course of the summer and fall months I managed to take 4 road trips. Yes, 4. I think back to the time of my University education when I would wrap up classes for the year and make my annual trek back to Quesnel to live in my parent's basement. I would have a few weeks of doing almost nothing before the summer jobs would start. For the most part, the summer jobs consumed all of my time and there was not time or money that would make a road trip possible. So, yes, I am quite thankful for the opportunities that I took advantage of this year.
Jasmine and I had great fun on our overnight trip to the Robson Valley Music Festival in Dunster. The trip was cheap (Jas will gladly point out that I love cheap things!) and we enjoyed a really unique experience that very few people know about. I would guess that at it's peak the crowd swelled to 6 or 7 hundred people on the Friday night that we attended. The cost was minimal, ticket for me, Jas was free, gas to get there, tiny fee to pitch our tent, and well priced food trucks to eat at. What we got was a chance to see some unbelievable musicians from all over the world. We got to hear The Chimney Swallows a banjo and guitar folk duo, who's guitarist Raghu Lokanathan I heard for the first time 10 years ago and have been a fan of his ever since. We heard Quesnel artist Doug Koyama doing his improvisional style electronica music. As the sky got dark and night moved in, the music just got better and better. Luke and Tess Pretty, both teenagers killed their set with fast paced instrumental tunes. Luke on the keyboards (he played 3 different keyboards at the same time) and Tess on the drum kit, they were seasoned professionals. Luke jumped up and down for 30 minutes while delivering the set and his enthusiasm was infectious. Next up was Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron. Jasmine and I had a pretty lengthy debate after the festival about who was the most impressive act we saw. Jack narrowly lost out to the following act, but it was darn close. Jack had impressive vocals which he belted out while shredding the accordion (is that a thing?). I just about fainted when after nailing a verse complete with corresponding accordion riffs, Jack picked up a trumpet with one hand and blasted out a trumpet solo. His song "Music Is the Key" was my favorite of the evening. You can check out Jack's music at: http://jackgarton.com/demonsquadron/
If the night had ended at this point, I would have been satisfied. It didn't end, and satisfaction continued. Likely, most of you will die never having heard the artist named Scott Jeffers who performs as the lead of the group Traveller. It's too bad because you will have missed something so unreal that it is difficult to digest all at once. I don't just want to see him again, I need to. I haven't seen a ton of concerts in my life but none of them come close to the show that Scott Jeffers put on. Jasmine and I voted him the top act of the night. he didn't have all of his band members with him as they are from Arizona, but he recruited a couple members of Mamguroove to perform with him. Scott plays the violin in a world fusion style. The music that he plays has a distinct persian flavour. When he isn't destroying the violin, Scott picks up the oud, bouzouki or cumbus and expertly shows his chops on all of the lesser known instruments as well. I was already swooning at this point, and had pulled a reluctant Jasmine up to stand right in front of the stage, when Scott decides it's time to pull out his Freddie Mercury impersonation. In a word, amazing. The night rounded out with: 1) Aurora Jane, a trio from Melbourne, Australia, 2) Kinnie Star, an alt rock/hip hop artist from Calgary, and 3) OKA, a reggae/hip hop fusion trio from Australia that we unfortunately were too tired to stay up for as it was past 1 am. Jasmine and I also enjoyed a couple of hours discovering the Ancient Forest on the way to the festival. We still chat about how much fun we had, and have been making tentative plans to include next summer's festival in our travel plans.
The last road trip of 2014 for me saw the Prosk men (well, 3 of us anyway) take our almost annual pilgrimage to attend a sporting event or two. This year, my brother Ian was able to join my dad and I on our drive down to Vancouver. We crashed at my mom's sister's place. My auntie Steph, my uncle Fred and their 4 children played host as we had dinner and caught up. I hadn't seen any of my cousins or my uncle for many years, so it was really nice to get the chance to catch up. We spent the evening updating each other on our lives before we found some sleeping space to crash for the night. While my dad and I took off in the morning to see the Whitecaps and Sounders soccer game in Seattle, Ian hung out and visited some more before splurging for his first tattoo at a nearby shop that he had researched. We met up with him the next day in downtown Vancouver.
I had never been to Seattle, and with the limited amount of time we got to spend in the city, I still kind of feel like I haven't really seen it. What I did see, was quite nice. Dad and I found our hotel and relaxed for a bit before getting our Whitecaps gear on walking towards the stadium. Seattle has a really cool marketplace called Pike's Market that backs right onto Puget Sound. Fresh seafood was a given, but there was dozens and dozens of other quirky little shops and stalls. After checking the market out we continued towards CenturyLink Field. There were pubs all along the way, and the soccer fans were deep along the sidewalk for the last mile or so towards the stadium. We were plenty early when we arrived, so the stadium's 67,000 seats stood mostly empty. Except for the top right corner of the upper bowl. There, the Southsiders, the top supporters club for the Whitecaps FC had set up shop. An hour before the game and their group was already hard at work. Singing endlessly, it was quite a sight. Dad and I speculated about just how big the crowd would be. As the warm ups took place, the stands filled. Soon, our awesome seats at centre pitch 15 rows up were closed in. We were a lonely couple of Whitecaps supporters in a sea of lime green. As it turns out some 56,000 fans showed up, making it one of the biggest MLS crowds of the season. The game itself was a struggle for the Whitecaps. The Sounders had never lost a game in front of a crowd of 50,000+. They had lost 1 home game all year. The Whitecaps have a poor goal scoring record on the road. There were numerous stats pointing towards a Whitecaps loss. The Sounders were the best team in the MLS at the time (they went on to win the Supporters Shield awarded to the top team in the league). I will never forget the out of this world feeling when Kekuta Manneh scored for Vancouver just before half. Dad and I were jumping up and down wildly screaming and shouting while tens of thousands of other fans were groaning and swearing. Of course, there were a few hundred other Whitecaps supporters sprinkled throughout the crowd but none that we could see from our spot. Except for the Southsiders in the upper bowl who's numbers had swelled to around 1,000. The Whitecaps spent the whole second hanging on for dear life. They pulled out the win, 1-0. The Sounders fans were top notch, I have got to say that. There were a number of times during the game that the entire crowd broke out in song as part of one tradition or another. The call and response the fans did for the player introductions was chilling. Likely, this was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at a sporting event.
While we were waiting to cross the border into the United States in Cloverdale not far from my Aunt and Uncle's house a strange coincidence too place. I was driving Dad's car and I noticed an Oilers decal on the back of the truck just to our left and ahead. Mildly amused, I planned to shout to the occupants about their wise choice (lol, not really!). As we crept a bit closer, I recognized the guy in the back right seat. It turned out that 4 of the lads from my soccer team in Prince George were in the pick up truck! Matt, Jeremy, Andy and Nick were riding in Nick's oilers branded pickup. I had a conversation or two with a couple of the guys who had been considering taking a road trip on the same weekend that Dad and I had already booked. The chances of being right beside them in the border lineup were slim to say the least. We chatted away as we slowly moved forward and realized that we would be sitting one section apart at the game. As the Whitecaps celebrated their Cascadia Cup win after the game (a challenge cup awarded to the winner of the Seattle/Vancouver/Portland season series) I joined the boys in a rousing rendition of "When the Caps Go Marching In". Dad and I said our goodbyes, badly in need of finding some food. As we left the game we stopped to hear a few songs from the Sounders resident marching band. A touch of class, performing even after a home team loss. Thanks Dad for suggesting and organizing this little jaunt to Seattle.
As we made our way back to Canada the next day we were corresponding with Ian who had made his way downtown. By the time we arrived in Vancouver, Ian had already checked into the hotel. Excitement from the soccer game hadn't subsided but now it was time for hockey. I had seen one Oilers game live a few years ago in Edmonton, but now we were set to see them in Vancouver. It was the first time I would see a hockey game in the current Rogers Arena. I did get the chance (thanks Dad!) to see a couple of NBA games in the arena when the Vancouver Grizzlies were a thing. Ian had recently bought a slick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins jersey, and Dad and I soon changed into our Oilers t-shirts. We wandered around the downtown core, eventually eating at the mall while doing a bit of shopping. Vancouverites weren't hostile really, with the odd jab at us for our choice of attire. We arrived very early for the game, taking in the warm up from up close before finding our seats in the nosebleeds. The Oilers started out strong but ultimately disappointed us and their other fans in attendance. Sometimes I wonder why they are "my team". A huge barrage penalties seemingly did them in and the Canucks took the game in a shootout.
We rounded out our road trip with a return trip to auntie Steph's for turkey dinner. We got a chance to visit with the family once again, and meet cousin Ben's girlfriend Carolynne. A few other visitors joined us, and a very nice meal and visit was had by all. The trip wound down nicely as we headed back to our hotel for one last night. I didn't spend a cent on anything other than eating and gambling during the trip, which was odd. I don't tend to splurge too often but usually I find a thing or two to blow my money on. Not even the outlet mall in Seattle could tempt me to dust off the wallet. We made our way home on the Monday with a stop at Horstings Farm in Cache Creek. My Dad had been so very excited on the way down to see that the place had reopened after being closed for a few years. We picked up some fresh local produce and had delicious sandwiches made with bread that was baked just hours before being used. A nice way to round out the trip, and perhaps a new go to place on the arduous drives from Prince George to the Lower Mainland.
Here in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada winter has begun but with one little thing missing, the white stuff. For Asher, winter doesn't start on some arbitrary date. Nor does he measure winter by the temperature. There has to be snow, or winter doesn't happen. Further to that, Asher has convinced himself that once it snows ice will form under the snow and he will be able to play hockey at the outdoor rinks. Be patient my young man, hockey will come if you wait long enough. That doesn't mean hockey hasn't been part of our life, in fact, hockey kind of took over as it does annually in September.
Half way through November and I have had the chance to see 4 different hockey teams that I support live and up close. The Oilers as documented above are a sorry bunch again this year, but I still appreciate the chance I got to see them. Locally, I am pretty excited about the prospects of all three teams, the WHL Cougars, the BCHL Spruce Kings, and the BCMML Cougars. I caught the WHL Cougars opening night with my friend while working, then saw them again with Jasmine, Asher and my dad a few weeks later. The Cougars happened to run into the two best teams in the league on those nights, but overall they are at 11 wins and 11 losses. The Spruce Kings, who I saw with Sheila, Jasmine and Asher last week also lost when we went. But, they are looking really good in the standings at 14 wins and 8 losses. The best team of the bunch is the Major Midget version of the Cougars. These guys are a bit younger, ranging in age from 15-17. They were taking on the second place team out of 11 this weekend, so I took the opportunity to catch a game with the guys I work with on Sunday morning. Ian and his little girl Charlotte joined us at the rink. Despite it being quite cold, even in the rink, the game was top notch. These are guys who all have plans to move on further with their hockey, on to junior, and eventually to the professional ranks. Their desire is high, and it shows on the ice. The Cougars had knocked off the Giants from Northwest Vancouver 5-1 on the Saturday, so the road team was out for revenge. Despite getting a number of power plays in the first period the Giants could not find a lead. The scored really early, only to have the Cougars tie it less than a minute later. The Cougars took a lead in the second and never looked back. I was impressed with how physical the game was as well. Mostly clean, there was a number of huge hits in the game. Tempers flared at the end of the game, the Giants seemingly frustrated after taking two losses in Prince George after spending 10 hours on a bus travelling. The wins leave the Cougars at 15 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. The Giants are now well back at 12 wins and 4 losses. I'm going to make a point of seeing more of this bunch. Not to mention, the games are free! Jasmine would say: "that's probably your favorite part!"
As this post begins to reach biblical lengths, I can't help but mention one last hockey team. You see, I would have been foolish to mention the success of the Roseneau Transport Express a few weeks ago, because of course that would have put a terrible hex on the team. At that point we had played 11 regular season games in the Westwood Pub Prince George Recreational Hockey League with nary a blemish. 11 games, 11 wins. We finally did go down to defeat last week before bouncing back last night with a narrow 3-2 win. Our record now stands at 12 wins and 1 loss, good enough for a 6 point lead over the second place team. My continually improving level of fitness seems to be paying off as I have managed 8 goals and 5 assists in the 8 games that I have played. Proudly, I have only been called for 1 penalty, and it occurred when I wildly crashed into the goaltender, not because of anything malicious on my part. After my soccer team took the regular season crown for the over 30 division this year, this whole being on successful teams thing is quite enjoyable. I could get used it.
Until next time, hi Sheila!