Vets Who Paint World War II Planes

The goal today is to find shelter near Nanaimo Bay because tomorrow is a big meeting with a National Geographic photographer.

The first option is to ride past Nanaimo Bay and stay with a friend of a friend in the city of Nanaimo. Luckily, a better option shows up to stay in Parksville with a Warmshowers.org host.

 Veterans at Comox Airport Museum paint a helicopter from WWII

Veterans at Comox Airport Museum paint a helicopter from WWII

Like the day before, I disembark with the Three Wisemen off the ferry and follow them for a bit. I feel like Sam or Frodo following Gandolf to discover the way through the mountains.

Detleft or Bill, or maybe Hugh, keeps bringing up a scenic option around Courtenay. This differs from my original plan to hop on the main highway and put in the miles.

A low blood sugar of 55 mg/dl causes me to get off Dark Roast and sit next to a stop sign at an intersection where rolling stops are acceptable. This is the type of town where each of the daily walkers comes over and asks if I am “OK.” Can I bottle up all your kindness?

The Three Wisemen go off towards this scenic route leaving me instructions for the dull highway cruise. I stare off as they go on their merry way…

“Oh what the heck,” I convince myself to do the scenic route.

Where did that plane go?

A 747 airplane skims the horizon and slaps me with a wave of air and noise. Where could this plane be landing?

Around the corner is a small airfield. A long empty road is useful to snap a photo of a solo rider cruising along. No giant airplane landed here.

A fighter jet mounted on a pedestal looming over an intersection catches my attention. Behind a chain link fence is the roaring of the engines from one of those old WW2 bombers type planes, probably used for supply runs or something (this type of speculation is outside my paygrade).

“Military Road” makes it a bit obvious who this airfield serves.

An Open-Air World War I and WW2 Museum

At the end of the airstrip is when I stumble upon the coolest public museum. There are jets painted with the Canadian maple leaf, bombers from WWI and WWII, and then a military jeep pulls up next to me: “Welcome to the Comox Airport Museum.

A group of veterans take a volunteer salary of coffee and donuts to paint and restore military memorabilia. Their most recent project is a medical helicopter.

They offer coffee and a chance to hang out longer. I fill up a cup and listen to the stories.

One of the other veterans is restoring the names on each tombstone in preparation for a milestone event coming up. Maybe a 70 year celebration?

Before being handed a paintbrush, I push off from the airport.

Oh yeah, there is a commercial airport shared with this military base! You may fly into Comox one day and see these old airplanes out of your window.

Playing Doubles

Staring into the headlights of a tracker tailor is a warning signal that you messed up. A few more pedals and I turn into the correct street and off this highway.

I pull into the Warmshowers host in time for a thunderstorm to begin.

Alicia and her partner are a couple my age who have been living together with their new playful puppy. They offer a dish that is new to me called Borscht soup made of cabbage and beets. It is delish and low in carbohydrates (good for any cyclist with diabetes.)

Alicia invites me to come down to the local bar to play pool with her dad. This works out well because then we can play doubles.

Her dad is a real pool shark. We all make a bit of fun of the singer downtown playing so loud that none of us can talk. The show has some breaks giving us a chance to learn more about each other.

I have some luck in the beginning stringing some shots together. Then, my true colors are shown.

Getting back to the house, Alicia tells me that they are both headed out early in the morning. She kindly tells me to lock the house and garage whenever I decide to leave. Isn’t that something?

  Dark Roast  leaning against Alicia's shed.

Dark Roast leaning against Alicia's shed.