Having toured and gone camping with friends for about 2 months it was time to move on and make my way to Spain and Seville then onto Algeciras and the straits of Gibralter for a ferry crossing to Tangier in Morocco in North Africa. This was a land that time had forgotten in my view.  Having made the crossing and managed to get onto a bus bound for Casablanca and Marrakesh and places that you saw in the movies but didn’t think you would ever go to.  I remember that there seemed to be lots of backpackers doing these trips mostly so they could smoke “pot” in Morocco – it was legal there apparently.

I did meet many foreigners who had been there for a long time and were totally strung out on drugs – they had lost themselves.  There was some form of civil unrest as I recall because taking the bus everywhere you encountered Police roadblocks and bus searches. Often the bus would stop before these checkpoints and some passengers would get off and disappear into the woods to only reappear and get on the bus after the check point.  It was an uneasy time, but I was young and carefree.  I remember getting very bad diarrhea and needing to eat yogurt and an omelet for some time.  I was using youth hostels as they were safer and more secure.  Wondering the “suks” or markets and the narrow alleys of the old cities always made me feel on edge – I never really felt secure here, but did stay for about a month.

I had met travelers and had friends to hang with as we explored and enjoyed our new-found delights involving snake charmer in the markets, hordes of people, mosques with their minarets sounding off 5 times a day.  The chanting and praying in the streets on mass was a unique environment for me and a far cry from the cold winters of Manitoba.  Men would be urinating in street side troughs, kids were running wild through the streets and someone was always trying to sell you something.

I eventually had enough of the hippy life and wild abandonment of these days and decided it was time to head north to Europe and to the UK where I had a friend waiting. I recall an incident getting onto a bus at the market in Marrakesh.  I had bought a ticket and when I went to get onto the bus the porters demanded extra money to put my backpack on the top of the bus.  I refused as it was part of my bus fare and a violent argument ensued.  I ended up having to break a coke bottle and back onto the bus defending myself from being attacked by rather large Moroccans – they can be big.  I was glad to leave and return by ferry to Europe wiser from the experience and glad that I had some policing background.

My pictures are scarce for my next leg of the journey (where have they gone?) through Spain, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.  Having safely arrived back I headed to Malaga.  In trying to work out where to go and how to get there I was introduced to a truck of young backpackers that were touring Europe and I was offered the opportunity to join them.  This seemed an easier way to have a look at Europe with somewhat of a planned journey, tents to sleep in each night and meals available so I hitched up. This way I had company and the security of a group and it felt like luxury after my own time in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.

My beautiful picture
My touring arrangements

The gypsy-like group of young backpackers meandered through the rest of Spain on the coast via Valencia and Barcelona.  We crossed into France and north via Montpellier, Lyon and into Paris. Afterward, the group went to England while some of us headed to Germany and the Netherlands.  We took in Frankfurt and Amsterdam and many sights along the way.  It was an exciting time to be seeing all these sights and the countryside of these regions.

We eventually made our way to Calais and crossed the English channel and onto London.  I said goodbye to traveling friends and made contact with an English girl I had met in Manitoba – she had invited me to come stay with her family while in London.

Ashern
English girl I met in Manitoba

I did take her up on the offer as it suited the financial arrangements.  It allowed me to hang out not far from the city and an easy train ride to get to the city attractions.  I did the usual sites around London and the countryside.  I even got to witness the changing of the guard for the Queens birthday.  It was very impressive sight, lots of pomp and ceremony.

I also did some work at a youth center in the town I was living in (the name escapes me).  It was lots of fun working with the kids and the programs they had on offer.  I then decided that a cycle trip around parts of England would be exciting and an adventure so I packed up, got the backpack and a bicycle and headed off.  I had met a policeman from the Metropolitan police when at the youth center and he invited me to his country property where his parents lived and he and his family often visited.  A way to experience the life of country England and it was interesting and most formal as I remember.  They were great people and looked after me very well – even loaned me a suit for the occasion.

Having toured the English countryside I did find the narrow lanes, villages, and pubs fascinating.  I would stay at many of the pubs along the way as my journey meandered the countryside.  I would cycle all day and arrive at a town or village and check into a pub.  The locals would always arrive after work and good conversation and pub meals followed.  It was a fun and exciting way to explore, meet up with local people and experience their ways of life but after many months away I decided it was time to return to Canada and resume my Policing career.  I was missing it, the stability of a full-time job and my friends.

NWT & Family

After returning from my European escape it was time to think about settling down and taking the Policing career seriously. Having dated various girls as I grew up and had the company of many more as I went through RCMP training and my initial postings in Ottawa and Manitoba, it was in Fort Good Hope NWT that I met my ex-wife.  She was Australian on an around the world nursing working trip. Her planned worldly journey ended in Canada when we were married in Inuvik, NWT on 20th of June 1975.  We divorced after 21 years in Australia in November 1997.

jason-baby

Jason the oldest son was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories on a cold winter’s night in October 1975. Your life is different when your single and newly married but the arrival of children changes everything – and this was no different for us.  It was winter in the Arctic when Jason was born on a cold, snowy night.  We had 3 fantastic children during our married life who are now wonderful adults with their own families. We enjoyed all the typical joys, tribulations, up and downs and experiences of family life.  There are some wonderful memories to cherish.

We took our first family trip and headed to Australia for family visits and to see some sites.  It seemed such a long way and little did I know then that I would be returning back to live there one day.

Innisfail, Alberta visit

While I was undergoing RCMP dog handler training, the first time, my family came to visit for a month and we lived in a cabin on a Pine Lake not far from the training facility outside Red Deer Alberta.  It was a bit of an isolated location but was inexpensive to suit the budget and it was a great place for BBQ & relaxing.  I believe it was a bit lonely for my young family as I would be off training every day and they had little to do for enjoyment and entertainment.  When I completed my training we moved to Ontario for my posting at Toronto airport.

jason-oldies

 

Toronto area, Ontario living

Our move to Ontario (the first time) for me to take up Drug Dog detection duties at the airport was organised and we were on our way. We were looking for a house outside of the immediate Toronto area as they were less expensive and a better environment for raising Jason.  It was an opportunity to let the Canadian grandparents see Jason and enjoy time with him.  We got to travel to Orillia a few times and to check out where I grew up and meet the neighbors – May who looked after me, got to meet my son.

We settled on Shelburne, Ontario a small town of only 2500 people north of Toronto in Dufferin County also known as “The Burne” located at the intersection of Highway 10 and Highway 89. Shelburne is best known for the Annual Canadian Championship Fiddling Contest that is held each August.

 

St John’s, Newfoundland living

The twins were born in St. John’s Newfoundland in September 1979 as the days were turning to autumn and the weather was getting cooler. We had two different houses when we lived in St John’s – one was in the Goulds just outside town and the other was in a city suburb. The Newfoundland weather was very different due to its coastal location with days often experiencing 2 or 3 seasonal changes – from cold, to wet to snow.  It was a harsh climate but we enjoyed our times here.

The family was young and life was busy.  The twins were born here at St Clare’s Mercy Hospital on Sunday at 4.34 pm. Buying a flipper pie one day at Bidgoods Super Market near our house in the Goulds was the worst mistake I had made in food choices.  It was well-loved by those raised in Newfoundland but not for me – it was very fishy, oily and sickening as I recall – one bit and out it went.  Lobsters were plentiful and cheap.  Purchasing them from the dockside at $1.00 each was an in-season joy.  We often had fresh lobster feeds – it was a big event to cook them up. We went camping in the provincial parks here when summer was prevailing as the weather was always so unpredictable.

British Columbia living

While I was working at Coquitlam Detachment we decided first to live in nearby Maple Ridge which was an adjacent smaller town.  Later we moved to our house in Mission, BC living on Ewert Ave, a rural suburb that provided a large house and big yard, ideal for kennelling of the police dog.  We were both working and trying to juggle shift work and 3 kids – it was a challenge as we often worked the evening and night shifts.  We tried a nanny at one stage to try to help out but that wasn’t such a great success.  Our oldest son started school here as I recall at Hatzic Elementary school.