Chad McCoy's Youthful Adventures Ep.2 - Apples, Potatos, More Mountains

The second installment of the ridiculous adventure that I embarked upon in my wild youth! So far I've hopped a freight train from Sudbury to Edmonton, hitched through the mountains and slept in ditches to get to Kelowna, and broke my arm falling off a skateboard while living under a tarp in an apple orchard. Things start getting wild around here, so read on. Also, I took me awhile to develop any sort of writing style, so bear with these first few entires…

Two Princes and a Queen

(somewhere around mid-late September maybe? 2009)

Hey everybody!

So on a decision made very quickly after a sleepless night, I'm heading up to Prince George to visit some family I haven't seen in 20 years (I never made it, sorry Penny and Aunt Trish!), then to Prince Rupert to take the ferry to the “Queen Charlotte Islands”, better known as Haida Gwaii. 

I picked apples for a bit, but that went sour. My stupid cast and the poor orchard conditions left me realizing I would never make enough money, and I was having no fun. I was also not real keen on the pesticide dust and earwigs falling into my cast and crawling around. True story. 

So we left, on good terms. Two good friends, Luc and John, came and we spent a night at Steph and Natalie's in Kelowna and were joined by Steph's French exchange parents from years ago. We made dinner, had some drinks, then the guitar came out, and the pots and pans, and various other kitchen items, and we had a huge silly jam. Pierre, who didn't speak a word of english, played the cheese grater with a pen, his solos were maginifique (he ended up grating the pen down to the ink and got it all over his hands and laughed and laughed).

The next day Steph took us to a winery for some photos, then to the highway to hitch on out. The plan was to split up and head to Osoyoos, but we ended up in downtown Vancouver at a party in a tiny apartment where everyone was so wasted I couldn't understand a thing they were saying, so I slept on the roof. (anyone who has heard the "Vagina!? What the f*** is a Vagina?" story, that happened during this hitchhike) (sorry Mom)

We decided to look for jobs here, but after doing up a resume, I realized that I can do manual labour, play music, and wash dishes well, none of which I can do with a cast (I have slightly expanded my skill set since then) . Soooooooo, on a whim I decided to check out Haida Gwaii, which I hear is beeeeautiful, unlike anywhere else in Canada. This way I can take a week or 2, check out central BC, see what's up, and maybe come back to Vancouver a little more healed and positive and try again.

Thanks go to....Steph and Natalie for putting me up, or putting up with me. Pierre and Annie, for sharing a multi-language dinner with us. Jen Pola for letting me crash her couch here in Van, she made me put on a silly rubber glove and do her dishes though, evil woman (this is untrue, I offered to do the dishes, she didn't make me, sorry for lying Pola), Kiel, for letting me crash his roof. $1.50 slices of pizza here in Vancouver, a real lifesaver.
And Luc and John, for demoralizing me and smoking all my weed when I needed it most, thanks guys. Sincerely.

Alright, talk to you all soon!

Me washing Pola's dishes. Pretty sure she took this picture, I bet we were laughing.

Me washing Pola's dishes. Pretty sure she took this picture, I bet we were laughing.

Sometime in early October, 2009
pleasantly picking potatos in Pemberton

Ok, so I'm in the Pemberton valley harvesting potatos and living in a cabin with no hydro or running water. I fill up buckets with water from the river for dishes, there's a wood stove so I have a fire every night to keep warm, a little coleman stove for cooking, good books, a bed and a chair, and I wake up every morning with the sun and pee outside with a great view of the mountains, which as of this week are covered with snow about 2/3rds of the way up. Yes, totally random, and awesome.

I was hitching out of Whistler, an old man picked me up, took me to his place for breakfast (he had some sort of Whistler travellers home stay thing going on, so there were a bunch of random people there. He was also something going on with his brain and he kept forgetting what he was doing, he drove me to Pemberton later that morning and had to ask his wife who was in the passenger seat what they were doing that day, then he'd laugh when she told him they were picking up the chainsaw carving from that guy in Mt. Currie, it was comical, and scary). A girl there gave me a phone number to get potato picking work, I called it, started the next day and things fell into place from there. It's work I can do with the cast on and I'm good at it, so the farmer offered me the cabins at the back of the farm to live in in exchange for reliable work, and it's been working out great so far. (I was able to name 3 of the 4 varieties of potato on the farm on sight, pretty sure that's what got me the job, ha)

I've been here about 2 weeks and made some good friends, the Root House Manger is a great guy and we work and play well together. I get to drive huge dump trucks full of potatos, sort potatos and dirt, do potato quality control, and package potatos for sale, which is right up my alley. Sometimes I call the potatos "bahdaydas" like my dad, like "What's wrong with the machine?" "A bahdayda got stuck up in there, gotta unjam it with a screwdriver" You know, stuff like that. 

The farm is an old family farm, right in the middle of Pemberton Valley, also known as Spud Valley, which has some of the best alluvial soils in Canada, prime for growing potatos, which they've been doing for many years. About 7 years ago they went organic, which is nice to know that I'm not inhaling pesticide dust everyday. All of our culls (bad potatos) get shipped to a vodka distillery that started up in the area a few months ago. It's called Schramm Vodka, small batch organic potato vodka, delicious. 

A little japanese guy came to work on the farm for a few days, he spoke very little english and played guitar, mostly he sang american folk songs on his out of tune guitar in an equally out of tune voice, the affect was strangely haunting and enjoyable. I had him over for dinner and we didn't speak much, but passed the guitar back and forth sitting in front of the fire. I made beans for dinner, he enjoyed them, so I was pumped. I love beans. (I still love beans)

The wilderness near the cabins is amazing, mountains, waterfalls, species of birds and plants I've never seen, huge trees, rivers, etc. I send a lot of my time trudging through the bush and collecting firewood, and wild mushrooms. A friend showed me which are edible and there are tons out there, so I've been foraging, this weekend we're going hiking for pine mushrooms, yum! (did we find and eat magic mushrooms? I'll leave that up to you to decide!) (sorry Mom)

So things are great, I'm making friends and money, and learning more about farming and life without electricity, which I like. I might stay until the end of the month, or maybe two, we'll see. (the cabin life was a real influence on my life direction, currently working hard and saving up to build my own little cabin. When I get hired out to rock parties, most of the money I charge goes towards that dream)

Tonight were going to the Pemho (Pemberton Hotel) to see a local band called Baked Potato. I'm not making any of this up.

Ok, that's all I can think of, a lot more has happened, but I can't recall everything right now.

Thank yous- Andrew and Lia for feeding me and letting me do laundry, and feeding me moosemeat. Jaqueline for folding my laundry and letting me play her guitar. Tessa the dog for making me realize I'm not as fast on my feet as I thought I was. Harriet the Irish girl for the countless potato jokes. And Ed for picking me up on the side of the road in Whistler even though I looked like a scruffy weirdo and setting this whole series of events into motion.