Biking Across Canada Day 6: The Sporting Life in Kamloops

Every city should have something like this

Today was a rest day so I could spend time with Jon and Lindsay. The three of us met back in 2002 when we signed up for an ultimate frisbee team organized by the Western Outdoors Club at UWO. Jon and I were both trying to date Lindsay at the time; he succeeded, but I can’t complain—they make a great couple, and I met my wife through the club the following year when I organized a slack week canoe trip to the Florida Everglades. We spent a lot of time this visit reminiscing about our previous wilderness adventures, and it was nice to be reminded about details I’d forgotten.

Kamloops bills itself as the tournament capital of Canada, so it seemed appropriate that most of our activities revolved around sports. We spent the morning at their son’s last soccer game of the year where all the kids got medals for participating, and (what was more probably exciting for them) a coupon for a free slushy.

It’s hard to watch the game with scenery like this

After a trip to a massive grocery store where I bought too much stuff that was on sale, Jon took me to see a wetland he’d helped design. He’s a civil engineer with the municipal government, and this pocket of land had previously been a soccer and baseball field that was frequently flooded by rain, providing fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. The city opted to turn it into wetland as a way to manage the large amount of stormwater flowing through the area. I was eager to see it after turning our front yard into a rain garden a few years ago. This wetland does the same thing on a much larger scale. It looked like a great success—it was a big improvement over a soggy field, the diversity of birds was impressive, and it provided some much-needed wilderness in the middle of the city.

After lunch we headed to MacArthur Island Park, a municipal park with lots of public sports facilities. We made use of the free mini golf course. It’s impressive what they’ve done in a small space with a little bit of landscaping, paving stones, and astroturf. It would be ideal to recreate on the Halifax Common to activate some of the unused areas.

They’re in the process of turning a former nine-hole golf course into an 18-hole disc golf (frolf) course. We played a few holes, and it was so much fun. They’re letting the course grow a little wild in the process to partially renaturalize the area. I managed to get my frisbee into an actual water hazard. The area was full of wildlife—lots of marmots (including a bunch of adorable baby marmots) and birds reclaiming the area. I’d forgotten how much fun disc golf is, even when you’re terrible. I’ll have to organize a game when I get back to Halifax. (Dan, are you in?)

In the soup
A mother marmot protecting her babies

Our last activity of the day was a visit to Red Collar Brewing Company. They make a lot of unpasteurized, unfiltered beers which are right up my alley. I got a hole in one earlier, so tradition dictates I buy everyone a drink. I enjoyed a couple flights while we played an oversized game of Jenga, which turned into a fort-building excercise, as all block activities must. All our sporting activities today were unscored—no losers, all winners. Maybe against the spirit of a tournament city, but more fun for us.

Tomorrow I’m aiming for Sicamous, following the South Thomson River to Shuswap Lake. I’ll be sad to leave my friends behind, but excited to continue my adventure.

John Kyle @JohnKyle