When I was just a little lad,
My mother said to me,
Consider it an honour son,
To live here in B.C.
Where the country is so beautiful,
The people fair and kind.
Never go away my son,
And leave it all behind.
- Tall Timber Tom Mitchell
As he got in the car he asked me, "Did you see Hunky last night?"
Told him, "Fuck yeah." Passed him his personal thermos. Hunky had provided me with a bag of dried mushrooms of which I had measured six tablespoons and made tea. We poured each of ourselves a small sweet cup and drank up.
We were on our way to Sunflower Downs. No point going there less than totally fucked up.
We talked about work and how much we fucking love it and listened to the first of five Free cds I had bought in a box set recently. Outtakes and such mostly. Brilliant stuff. The mushrooms began to do their work just before we began our climb out of the ratfuck's ratfuck of the Fraser Valley into the rock steady mountains of Canada.
Jimi suggested we stop for breakfast. Stopped in a place full of families. Families on vacation. Happy families having a big summery bite of their short but sweet Canadian strawberry pie lives.
After the waitress took our orders Jimi asked, "And can I get a beer with that?"
The waitress laughed. "Can't get you or anybody else a beer until eleven."
"But that's four hours from now. I'll probably be too drunk to drink beer by then."
If our country was as Free as it pretends to be a man could buy a beer to have with his bacon and eggs. Everybody likes to piss on Mexico, they think the country is fucked up, which it is, just like every other country, but you can get a beer to have with your breakfast there.
The coffee and food had sorted me out some. In the car we had another small cup of tea, Jimi grabbed a couple beer from the cooler, and we were on our way. Still too early for me to hit the beer.
It is not as hard to drive ripped out of your fucking skull on mushrooms as you might think. It is, I imagine, a little like space travel. There was very little traffic and not a cop in sight. My big car roared beneath me like a Stanley Cup Riot on Mars.
At the top of the mountain pass we stopped to piss. We found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of fucking marmots. It was all we could do not to step on the squeaky little motherfuckers as we made our way back and forth from the roadside shithouse.
Into Princeton, the small town which had beckoned us to join them at their annual Race Day, early, we aimed ourselves north first to Tulameen to have some fun before the real fun began. It is some kind of country up there. Did some redneck gravel road driving over and around Rabbit Mountain before sitting some cooling our feet in the icy Tulameen River all the while keeping an eye on our watches so we could get back to Coalmont in time for the 100 year old hotel to open its doors.
I too was drinking now and we made ourselves at home within the hotel's legendary 100 year old interior. Enough said about that. If you have not already been advised to stop by for a beer or something there you have now. Do not wait half a century to do so as we did.
The beer could not have been colder. We stayed longer than we had planned until at 2:30 we had to race to Sunflower to make the first race, bouncing off the canyon walls a few times as we did so.
The crowd was small when we arrived but grew quickly. I made both our bets for the day as soon as we got there, Jimi at last too wasted to manage such simple tasks on his own. It was hotter, much hotter than forecast and we were soon surrounded by about a thousand like-minded horse racing fans in the beer garden.
Picked the first two right and had a feeling we might just clear the table when in the third race Absolute Magnitude slipped surging into the lead on the final turn sending jockey Kassie Guglielmino to the dirt before landing square on top of her, then running on as if nothing had happened across the finish line. That is how it looked to me from my beer garden rail vantage point anyway. The turns are scrambly at Sunflower and the young rider looked to have taken the turn just a little too aggressively. She lay there motionless and appeared to remain so until the ambulance took her to hospital. As of this writing I have no further word on her condition.
After a delay the racing continued. Picked two of the final three races. Reminded, as we were by the accident we had witnessed on the historic oval, of the fleetingness of our well-being, of our very lives, Jimi and I and much of the crowd drank even heavier. You only live once, motherfuckers. Do not fuck it up living like that is not the most important truth of all.
On the way home Jimi and I repeated the same words over and over, "Hope that cute little jock is going to be ok." It is all I am thinking now as the Canada Day long weekend opens its welcoming Coalmont Hotel barroom doors to us all.