Best laid plans…

We left off with our next post promising to tell of Margaritas sipping, swimming in the Sea of Cortez and eating a ton of fresh prawn tacos and taking a look at a bit of Baja Mx. 

Three amigos

But that didn’t happen. Our three Vancouver Island friends arrived just as a call came in that my (Deb’s) dad was hospitalized in Nanaimo. Being in southern California, the next closest children to fly to his side were my sister and brother, Marnie and Jim, in Alberta. Prognosis wasn’t good so I also flew in as fast as possible. On February 14 (a day for love and hearts), the three of us were at his side seeing how the doctors could help with his malfunctioning heart. My dad lived a very full life. As a kid, he was an elite athlete. Upon graduating from UBC, he became a high school physical education teacher who spent many years taking kids hiking down the west coast trail, coaching wrestling, rugby, volleyball and golf. He was a thespian who had lead roles in Nanaimo’s amateur musical theatre troupe. He always loved a party and had many friends.

he got around

His ”friends were family and his family were friends”. At some point he went sailing for the first time and decided to go around the world. To save money, he built a boat. This was not always what his wife’s dream was, so after 4 boats and 2 marriages, eventually he retired and built the 4th boat. Viski. She was probably his true love and with her he circumnavigated the globe. He lived aboard for nearly 20 years until he was 80+.

Boat #2 Eventyr and a lovely beer in hand

For most of his life he had heart issues but in February his heart was diagnosed as end stage heart failure, and he had no reason to stay alive waiting for his eventual death. After a life lived to the fullest and full of HEART he learned about making the choice to control the moment for his own death, with dignity and no period of suffering. His choice was made possible through Medical Assistance in Dying. In true Don Shore fashion, he asked us, his three kids, if we could organize a party on his last day. So, we did. His party, an Awake Wake, had 70 of his nearest and dearest, family and friends, come to the Kin Hut on the shore of Departure Bay, Nanaimo, to say goodbye.  

Pregnant with Elly, Eric almost 1, and our proud bellies!

Albert joined me on February 25. He stored our trailer in Borrego Springs, California; Jim’s mom came from Mexico; our son Eric and more relatives came from Alberta; our daughter Elly came from Montreal; friends and family from the Okanagan and throughout Vancouver Island and BC came to bid him farewell. We shared stories, cried, laughed, and sang songs. At the end of the party, with one last toast, he said goodbye to everyone, and they tearfully lined up to give him a last goodbye.

After the grandkids said goodbye, Marnie, Jim and I sat with him and our MAID doctor, telling old stories and sipping Scotch (his favorite tipple), for a couple more hours. He told and retold a few stories, also during the last couple of weeks since being hospitalized and learning of MAID, he couldn’t stop giggling. He was so relieved that this option was one that he could take. Then dad said, it’s time for a long nap and the doctor helped him off to his forever sleep. It was his way to go, and we really couldn’t have been part of a better send off.

This rainbow was with us all day at his party. When he left, so did the ferry and the rainbow.

For the first week that I was home, Albert waited in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) for word regarding Dad’s health. During this time, the weather cooled and there was snow in the hills around him. It was Presidents Day weekend down south and it seemed like half of L.A. and San Diego converged on the ABDSP. The progressively deteriorating weather made some challenging camping. Heavy rain, wind and hail hammering a fiberglass trailer ensures a restless sleep.

The wind was HOWLING

But with the discouraging prognosis for Don’s health and plans of the Awake Wake, Al packed up for the trip home. On the 24th the skies had cleared, and a beautiful desert day dawned on Borrego Springs framing it with snow covered mountains.

Such a contrast. Hot, dry desert with snowcapped mountains

After securing the trailer in a storage yard and driving two hours to a San Diego hotel, Al hopped a flight home at 6AM the following day. Like Swiss precision, the immediate family completed the tasks necessary to fulfill Don’s final celebration request. A party he would have! 

Albert and I flew back to San Diego on March 6 to continue our meanderings. Our friends Jill and Cam met us in Borrego Springs. Our first hike with them was to Hellhole Canyon in the ABDSP. It was about a 9 km out and back that climbs up to a palm oasis, waterfall and a wall of maiden hair ferns. Two years ago, Albert and I had done the hike to Pena springs which is upstream above the falls. Most of the HH Canyon walk is through a sandy wash, then up through some boulders in the canyon then up to the oasis.

It is designated fairly strenuous in our hiking book and after 3 weeks of sitting bedside with dad and doing no exercise, I would agree with that!! Not to mention 2 weeks of fast food and chips making that 9 k feel like a needed detox!

We moved to Blair Valley south of Borrego Springs with Jill and Cam on March 9. We wanted to find a spot that our other friends would also fit into as we “circled our wagons” in western parlance. The day was still young when we arrived, so we hiked the nearby Rainbow Canyon.

When Albert hiked there while I was away, it rained and lucky for us, the blooms arrived for our hike together. The desert, while blooming, is a spectacular site. Out of a desolate and brutal environment comes an intricate splash of colour that provides an atmosphere of cheer and a nod to the resilience of life.

Our friends Luba and Bill arrived on the 10th. Champagne was in order. There is great satisfaction in exploring and finding new places to see. There is also great satisfaction in sharing those finds with our friends.

This was a happy moment. Next day we headed out in our vehicles to the Agua Caliente County Park and the Moonlight trail walk. A dip in the pools and we knew this gem was a winner with our traveling pals. Luba had her 60th birthday the next day so we went wine tasting up in the Pacific Crest Trail hills around Julian, Ca. Sunset dinner was around our campfire with lamb loin chops anchoring a delicious mixed grill. More bubbly and wine. No downside.

Jill and Cam left yesterday on their way back to Victoria. We pulled up and headed to camp with full hookup at Agua Caliente.  

Tomorrow, we are out of the Anza Borrego desert for this year. We are heading to Arizona where more friends plan to find us near Sedona. Stay tuned for our meanderings through Arizona and beyond.

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