Monday Morning Musings

Posted on January 7, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Cooper hanging out at the Victoria Golf Club


“Walking the dog, I’m just a walking the dog,

If you don’t know how to do it, I’ll show you how to walk the dog.”

Walking the Dog. Rufus Thomas

I’m spending three weeks in Victoria dog sitting. The only thing is that the dog isn’t doing much sitting. Cooper and I walk twice a day- sometimes three on days that it doesn’t rain. We do at least 15k each day. He is a young poodle and full of energy. I’m an old dog and am inexorably slowing down with every passing day. The exercise is good for both of us. Come evening, we’re both flaked out. We had a dog growing up as kids but judging by Chipper’s girth, I don’t think he ever walked further than the food dish.

Judging from the weather back east, walking a dog would be mightily challenging during the dog days of winter. It is cold, snowy and icy. The picture posted above is not meant to evoke envy. It is not surprising that Victoria is the retirement capital of Canada. Winters here are benign with snow a rarity. It is very conducive to outdoor activity like walking, biking,golfing, gardening and hiking. Spring will arrive here shortly. More and more aging Canadians are likely to look at Victoria as a winter retreat as health issues come to the fore, especially for those who travel to other countries for a winter getaway.

The timing of this visit is perfect after the uncontrollable eating season of Christmas. It is a perfect time for me to do a reset. Many of you are familiar with the El Camino, an 800k walk through Spain. Actually, several of you messaged me to say that you had done the walk at some point in your life. I’m hoping to tackle this walk in May and my daily walks with Cooper are perfect to help get myself physically prepared.

Having run the Boston Marathon a couple of times, I know the importance of being prepared both physically and mentally. And you also have to have the right equipment, footwear and clothing. With Victoria being a walker and hiker’s paradise, I thought that this would be the perfect place to get properly equipped for the Camino.

While there are many excellent stores in the region where one can buy gear, my brother suggested Robinson’s Outdoor Store, a family owned business that has been in existence since 1929. Yes, this business started during the Great Depression. The first owner, George Robinson, bought what was then a bicycle shop. During the Depression when driving a car became unaffordable for many people, the bicycle business took off and Robinson’s never looked back.

I made my first purchase on Boxing Day. I am gradually breaking in an excellent pair of Merrell walking shoes. Arguably, the most important piece of equipment (besides a positive attitude!) for doing a long hike is a backpack. My brother did the walk last spring and offered to loan me his. He suggested that we go to Robinson’s to have it fitted properly. It was my lucky day, as one of the fourth generation Robinson’s and part owner, Erin Boggs was there to help this rookie hiker. She gave me all the time that was required to make sure that the backpack fit properly. I even tried one other pack for comparison purposes. I could have easily been convinced to buy a new one but Erin thought the one I had was perfectly good. I was impressed by her integrity. When you’ve been in business 89 years, you learn a thing or two about client service. Without spending a penny, we left the store.

The following morning, I loaded up the pack, 14.5 pounds in total and did a two hour walk with my brother and the dogs.

A few days later, I wandered back to Robinson’s to get a long sleeved walking shirt to ward off the rays of the sun while traversing Spain. I also purchased some socks specifically made for long walks. Much to my delight, I was waited on once more by Erin. We shared travel stories and I spoke glowingly about the ethos of her business and the excellent client service model that the business employs.

Ringing in the purchase was none other than Erin’s mother, one of the previous generation owners. I had a lovely chat with Gayle Robinson. She spoke of the core values of the company including corporate social responsibility. Every year, the business makes a sizeable donation to Power to Be, a non-profit organization “that empowers people living with a barrier or disability to explore their limitless abilities through inclusive adventures rooted in nature.

It’s not hard to support a business where you feel like one of the family when you step inside the door, where client service is second to none and that has a social conscience.

I was planning to go on a health care rant but I’ll save that for Thursday.

Have a great week.


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