Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Shower; A License....

Shower Girl - Nicole (L) and our daughter, Ginette, (R).  Ginette is showing her 15th week in pregnancy and Nicole is simply emulating her friend.
Another busy week and weekend.

Daughter Ginette flew in from Edmonton to assist with organizing one of her best friend's shower party. The party was hosted at our home this past Sunday.  Nicole's mom (Aline) and soon to be mother in law (Kathy), Jana (future sister in law to Nicole) and Ginette - along with several more busy bees - readied our house, decorated, furniture was rearranged for a large gathering and food was prepared for the main event.
L-R   Aline, Kathy, Jana and Ginette - Busy with early morning food prep and decorations.
Aline and Kathy - busy and looking forward to the shower party.
Twenty three women participated in 'showering' Nicole in advance of her wedding to Trevor, this coming November 4, 2011.

Aline, Nicole (Bride to be) and Ginette....busy with food prep.
Party well underway- Kathy with Aline (mothers in law to be)
Presents galore...
Jeanette was making some type of presentation.
All were having a good time.  The party was active when I checked in.
While the food preparation and decorating was happening, I was with my group of friends at a White Rock Tim Horton's - solving the world's problems.  When I returned home, the place was buzzing with laughter.

Nicole, with her niece to assist, opens presents as Ginette looks in.
I meant to snap a photo of the 13 or so cars that dotted our driveway and the street.  I had advised our neighbours of the event.  Good thing!  They may have wondered what was going on!
The after party when Jeanette took this photo of Aline, daughter Tamara (with her baby boy and daughter) and the shower girl, Nicole.
Although we have lived on the Canadian west coast these past 30 years, our dually and 5th wheel were registered in the province of Alberta, these past two years.  Why?  Well, when I sold my multimedia production company on the west coast a few years back, I was also involved in business in the Edmonton area.  Although we kept our home here on the coast, I was busy with driving and flying back and forth to Alberta.  At one point, I took an Alberta driver's license because I was spending more time there than here on the coast.  I knew it would be for a couple of years.  During that time, we purchased our truck and 5th wheel in the USA and I registered both in Alberta.  Why not?  I had an Alberta driver's license! That is the short of it.

Hitched and ready for a few hours of driving and completing the 360 degree check.
We still have business investments in Alberta but when we sold our White Rock, BC, home and moved to our new home in Langley (20 minutes further east) this past March, 2011, I thought it best to renew my BC license.  That was when I discovered that although I was legal to drive my truck and 5th wheel in Alberta, I would have to study, write a written test and take a 90 minute driving test in BC to legally drive and pull a 5th wheel.  What?  Although I have pulled my 5th wheel for over two years (well over 25,000km) I now need to be tested and re-licensed in the province of British Columbia?  What's with that?
I am practicing my 360 walk about to ready for the driving test.
In British Columbia, it is mandatory to obtain what was previously known as a Code 51 endorsement (now known as a Code 7 endorsement) to pull a 5th wheel over a certain weight.  Well, any 5th wheel over about 20 feet seems to require the endorsement.   OK, I thought, bite the bullet, obtain the study guide in preparation for the written test, take the driving test and get on with it. Hey, we want to head south this winter!

I studied the 65 page book, wrote the test (must get 80% to pass), got 93%, was awarded a learner's license and could only pull my fiver with an experienced and licensed BC registered driver.  Go figure!  (I hate bureaucracy....)
This Trailair pin system requires air in the air bag and shock to dampen the bumps.  I can vouch for its smoothness when pulling.
When I was studying for the written exam, I also read, in great detail, about the 90 minute, 360 degree walk about and driving test.  It reminded me of how our son does a complete walk about before he starts and airplane and flies off. One is given 30 minutes to detail everything about one's truck (fluids, lights, all accessories, springs, shocks, etc., etc., etc.) and the fiver too. One must tell the driver examiner virtually everything...and point it out too.  It is very involving.
My instructor and I are leaving for a couple of hours of learning.
Talking to a motorcycle friend, who recently purchased a 5th wheel, he explained how he had retained the services of a driving instructor to pre-qualify him and prepare him for the driving test.  I took his advice and hired a well experienced driving trainer.  The owner of Euro Driving School walked me through the comprehensive 360 degree walk around and made me do it.  Good advice.  You are only allowed 10 demerits (mistakes) and that is easy to do unless you rehearse and rehearse.  I made it through with one demerit.  I failed to verbally identify that my dash lights were working. Imagine that?

Forget to test the horn, windshield washer, prove that the heater fan works, or that you have three license plates,.... and you could fail the test.  Forget to verbally show and tell that you can check your fluids, hoses, running lights, yadda....yadda....yadda.....and you could easily fail.
Felt good to be pulling the fiver again.
My instructor was so good at pointing my own deficiencies (because we are creatures of habit) such as where to place my hands on the steering wheel, avoiding my fiver wheels ever touching a yellow or white line, and so on.  He awakened in me the need to be most diligent  while driving with an examiner from the testing facility.  I really appreciated my instructor's advice.

Yesterday morning - bright and early - I woke up at 5:00 am, re-read my study materials, committed myself to following the necessary norms expected by the driver examiner, waited for my instructor to show up (because I could not legally drive my rig without a registered license holder in the cab) so we could drive to the testing station for an 8:15 am appointment.

My instructor, Attila, from Euro Driving School, with his driving school magnetic emblems on my truck door.
He wanted a photo of me for his archives, I guess!
I pulled my rig out of my driveway and to a local shopping centre (illegally, so it seems) and waited for Attila to show up so we could take the freeway to the driver testing facility. Photo taken with my iPhone and no flash.
We arrived at the testing facility in plenty of time.  I paid the dues and proceeded to begin the 360 walk about with my driving examiner.  She was business like, but friendly too.  All that studying and repetitive rehearsals paid off.  Although it took me 35 minutes to complete the walkabout (only 30 minutes allowed) she felt I was so thorough that she didn't want to penalize me.  Phew!  One demerit only for failure to point out and verbally state that I did have dash lights that do work!

The driving test proved positive too.  Only 50 demerit points are allowed.  I knew the examiners were very strict.  And she was.  She would look at my RPM gauge at every stop sign to prove that I was at a dead stop.  I could not ever touch a white or yellow line with my fiver wheels (in turns, on the highway, in urban and rural areas, etc). Although Attila had repeatedly told me not to turn my front wheels to the left while waiting to make a left turn in an intersection (one of my habits), the old creature driving habit returned and I managed to do that three (3) times during the test.  YIKES!  That's 5 points for each infraction for a total of 15 demerits!

The only other infraction was 5 points off for hesitating during a left hand turn at a busy intersection.  I waited during a yellow light for what I believed was a speeding - on coming -  car that I felt may not stop before the light turns red. Yikes! 

My examiner suggested we head back to the testing facility...a full 20 minutes before my driving exam was to end!  What's with that?  I wondered!  She told me that I had passed! She stated that I was a solid driver, experienced, cautious, able to keep speed, had good perception, always in control, and that I was comfortable with my 22 foot truck length and 40 foot 5th wheel length, in busy traffic and on the highways and byways. She did put me through the paces and felt I was quite relaxed.  She liked that.  So, I completed the driving sequence of the test with only 20 demerits (max 50 to fail)...and with 15 of those demerits due to having my front wheels turned to the left while preparing to turn left in an intersection.

That story told, I am now legally license in British Columbia.  Before this, I was formerly legal in Alberta and every other Canadian Province and US State. I have it on good authority that BC is the only Province that now require a special endorsement to pull a 5th wheel recreational trailer over a certain weight and length. I never did check this out to see if it is true or not.  It is of little consequence or importance to me now that I have gone through the process.  I am legally licensed on BC now.

Now get this!  You do not need a special endorsement to drive a Class 'A' motorhome in British Columbia.  What is with that?  I shake my head at government and its rules (more encumbrances), but BC ranks as one province that loves sticking spokes in the wheels of its citizenry. That is what is so to like about Alberta.  The government there is less intrusive.  It is clearly a 'want to do' Province and hence the reason we do business there.
Jeanette took this photo from our living room window as I was backing on to the driveway following the driving exam.
Back in its parking spot....till we head south. All washed and cleaned too.
Thanks for dropping by.


  1. Looks like the ladies had a great shower party - don't they always!

    Your post about the 5'er towing license sure brought back some great memories for me - I took that same test last November!

    I just went back and read it again to see how we compared - looks like you beat me on the 360 walkaround as I missed 2 things: I didn't test my high beam headlights and I didn't do a truck door check (I still don't know what that is).

    Congrats on passing - I remember what a great feeling and what a relief it was too.

    Here’s my blog about the test.

  2. showers of happiness to the happy bride..and congrats on passing your exam!!..quite the feat!!!

  3. Congratulations on passing the exam. (and surviving the shower...being out helps)

    I'm just sitting here shaking my head over B.C. bureaucracy. Gah!
    Nice to see you both passed though, but my goodness!
    (I say "both", since I'm not sure if I had congratulated Rick at the time...)

    I do see the point of not turning the wheels left before the turn though. When I see oncoming drivers do that, my thinking is that he/she is going to get bumped from behind and end up right in my path. And THAT's the reason they nail you with demerit points. Not an easy habit to break either I would imagine.

  4. Bob,
    Your point about turning the wheels to the left while stopped at an intersection, waiting for a left turn, is precisely the reason why I got three demerits. My instructor had pointed that out but I still zoned out when it came to the test. True creature of habit, eh? I do agree that one's wheels should stay straight ahead before turning left. While out driving yesterday, I remembered the need to keep the front wheels straight. I guess the demerit taught me a lesson.

    I concur that we could argue the merits of some of the things we have to do and say during the 360 walk about - like opening doors. If one forgets to point out that the windshield is clean and free of cracks and dirt, that too is a demerit. Some 360 pointers border on ridiculous. That said, we do what we have to do to get the license. Big brother commands us to be compliant! LOL

  5. I would not like to take that test. I am glad I have a motorhome!

  6. Sounds like I am never moving to BC. In Alberta you need to have an air ticket to drive a large motor home with air brakes, but the course and test are more geared towards truck drivers and there is little content of use to us motorhome folks, but I guess just in case I feel the need to adjust my brakes I know how. Not sure surrounding motorist would be comforted to know that I adjusted my own brakes but what the heck I have the