Road trips and Mello Yello 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ANGELO COLUCCI – FLICKR.COM/PEOPLE/ERAVASHER/

For a guy who often looks as though he's slept in his clothes — you mean everyone doesn't? — has a casual relationship with barbers and the personal grooming aisle of drug stores, and clearly believes shoes shouldn't be replaced until the soles fall off, I'm beginning to get uncomfortable with the Stuff of Life that seems to have collected around me. I never set out to become a collector of stuff, and not infrequently conduct major purges, but there's truth in the cliché, Stuff Happens.

Thinking about it, there are several forces that have ganged up to give me that overstuffed feeling. Age, about which no more shall be said except there is a formula that measures the rate of accretion of stuff over a lifetime and it's impossible for a 25-year-old to hang on to stuff for 30 years. Trends of a fickle consumer society, almost all of which I've managed to dodge over the years but would have to admit, under duress, there may be a Pet Rock or Rubik's Cube amid the detritus in the basement.

And, most significantly, an unnatural and possibly psychopathic tendency to anthropomorphize things and thus form a bond that triggers my deep-seated, reptilian procrastination mechanism every time I think of getting rid of whatever I'm thinking of getting rid of.

That, and a lifelong fascination with certain vehicles that stirred my soul for reasons it would take therapy to understand, explain the 36-year-old BMW motorcycle encased in a thick layer of undisturbed dust in the garage at Smilin' Dog Manor. I have no immediate intention of purging it since it doesn't take up much space and even thinking of parting with it brings on angina-like symptoms.

I felt much the same way about the 30-year-old, air-cooled, Volkswagen Westfalia known affectionately as Mello Yello... at least until someone suggested they'd be willing to pay north of five figures for it. Despite many fond memories, I have not imbued it with sufficient human characteristics to blind my economic reality-o-meter. Besides, I hadn't roadtripped it in for something like five years and only start it often enough to keep the battery from becoming a paperweight.

Which explains, sort of, why I'm in northern B.C., in September, camping in the drizzled greytones of late summer, preparing to navigate the last hundred or so kilometres of the Highway of Tears to Prince Rupert. I have never been to Prince Rupert. I do not consider that an omission I'm ever likely to lose sleep over. The Wonderful Woman in my life hasn't been there either; her curiosity is considerably greater than mine. And she reasoned we should take a trip in Mello Yello before making any rash decisions about selling it. Hence, we go.

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