James Miller

James Miller

I try to practice what I preach and rather risk hitting the restart button on COVID-19, I decided not to have a birthday celebration this year.

It was a minor milestone, it had a “5” in it — two 5s in fact. A friend of mine turned 60 a day earlier and he will be inviting everybody (we hope) to his 61st birthday party next year.

Those who can’t live without a huge party and were compelled to participate in mass gatherings on the lakefront turn my stomach. As they say when someone cracks a tasteless joke about a recent historical event — “TOO SOON!”

Our province is slowly reopening, but it doesn’t mean we can go back to the good old days — 2019, at least not yet.

As much as I love the company of others, I was still able to enjoy a great birthday.

The highlight was definitely a bike ride up the KVR trail to the tunnel, past Naramata. For fear of angering my friend J.P. Squire, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve lived in Penticton for more than a decade, but have never experienced the KVR. I also mooched some advice in advance from Herald columnist Chris Hopkins, which greatly helped.

What a view, what a ride, what an experience. It’s like a great ride at an amusement park. When you’re finished, you immediately want to do it again.

Thanks to a gift certificate from a friend to Pedego Electric Bikes for a three-hour rental, I was able to experience an e-bike for the first time. Believe me, it’s not hype ... it’s an amazing experience.

I’m not strong enough to cover that distance on a regular bike (I’d still be out there), but the e-bike assists you and you will get some exercise because pedalling is required.

This was followed with pastrami sandwiches at Loki’s Garage on the outdoor patio and a few craft beers at The Cannery (again using safe, social distancing.)

We then took Milo for a walk. Every special day has to include your dog, at least for a few hours.

Being a tourist in my own town was pretty cool and for those of you who can’t get away this summer due to COVID or other obstacles, consider doing this. Find an attraction or activity in your city that you’ve never done and go for it.

“Staycations” are just as much fun and you don’t have to pack luggage. If you have to be stuck somewhere, the Okanagan is not a bad place to be.

I also relived my childhood by taking in two classic movies at Landmark Cinemas — “Jaws” (which I had never seen on a big screen) and “Grease,” which is no longer the word because parts are now politically incorrect.

The shark in “Jaws” still looks fake and the actors in “Grease” were five years too old for high school. (Stockard Channing, who played Rizzo, looks like she was three or four years from being able to apply for CPP.) But, movies were made to be enjoyed on the big screen and in the company of strangers in a dark room.

The shark theme by John Williams sounds scarier in a theatre. You can’t help but sing along to “You’re the One That I Want” — complete with “ooh, ooh, oohs” — when you’re watching Danny and Sandy on a big screen.

One of my presents was Mary Trump’s new book, but it won’t arrive for another few weeks due to a huge backlog on orders.

I guess if I had a birthday wish, as simplistic and idealistic as it sounds, I wish we’d just all get along and love each other again.

Canadians vs. Americans, B.C. vs. Alberta, Summerlanders vs. each other and now Kelowna vs. Penticton. Unscientific conspiracy theories, internet trolls considering themselves more knowledgeable than educated people like Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

We’re on the carnival ride of life only once. Let’s appreciate each other.

James Miller is managing editor of the Penticton Herald. Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca