Yesterday I stopped in to the neighborhood “Quickie Mart” for some cream for my coffee and a newspaper when I was greeted in front of the store by one of the countless street people in our city asking for spare change. Vancouver has more than it’s fair share of people who are down on their luck and live on the streets asking for change so they can either eat, drink, or in most cases, buy drugs that keep them where they choose to be in life. On the streets!!! I usually pass them by because I choose to help them get off the streets by making it just a bit tougher for them out there.
A lot of people would argue that by helping them out and giving them a buck or two, they would be able to survive, live another day and maybe get their lives in order. I, for one, think that we all are in charge of our own lives and are responsible for our own actions. I work hard for every cent I earn and the last thing I want to see is my spare change going into someone’s crack pipe…. Well, enough about that rant!!!! Yesterday’s meeting with an unusual elderly lady in front of the store floored me, to say the least.
I pulled up to the store, got out of the car, made sure it was locked ( not the safest of neighborhoods) and sure enough I hear, “Got any spare change?” I looked up and a woman, who appeared to be in her 60′s, asked me that question and the most wonderful aroma wafted up to me. There she was, smoking a Cohiba…. Of all things!!!! Wow…. I walked into the store, picked up a paper, cream for coffee at home and got my change and left the store. As I walked to the car I felt the need to walk back and inquire what cigar she was smoking.. She told me that it was a Siglo II and that, although she is a fan of the Lanceros and Esplendidos, she bought it because the wrapper was a bit broken and she got it at a discount. What???? I asked her why she was on the streets and she said that she had a problem with alcohol and cigars. I couldn’t believe it!!!
I didn’t feel the need to give her any money but I had a Montecristo in my shirt pocket and offered it to her. She politely refused and said that she preferred cigars from the Cohiba brand. Wow!!!!! Turning down my free cigar !!! I drove home in amazement and wondered how long she had been smoking Cohibas… Had she ever smoked anything else?? How could she afford to be so choosy???
We live in a beautiful city and there is an interesting story around every corner.
New boxes of Cohiba Behike in boxes of 10 are nearing the release date..This is quickly becoming a topic that I can’t get out of my mind, much like a kid that can’t wait for Christmas to arrive. I have mentioned before that the original Cohiba Behike was introduced in 2006 in celebration of Cohiba’s 40th anniversary. Anyone who has a box of those priceless cigars is probably holding on to them for financial gain because of how few were rolled but anyone else who bought a box and smoked them with friends would have MY vote as “Humanitarian Of The Year”!
A few details are now being released about these larger size Cohibas. The factory names for them will be Laguito No. 4, ( 4 11/16ths in length,52 ring gauge)….. Laguito No 5, (5 2/3 inches in length,54 ring gauge)….. Laguito No 6, (6 1/2 inches,56 ring gauge)….
One more bit of information released will be that the price of these new cigars from Cohiba are expected to be as much as 40% higher than what existing Cohiba cigars cost. The addition of the pair of sun drenched upper leaves from the tobacco plant (medio tiempo) will probably give added strength to to these cigars. I can’t wait!!!!!
Today was a day to travel around Vancouver and see some of the entertainment around town during the Winter Olympics. Vancouver has been bustling with excitement for locals, tourists and even a lot of attractions for kids. Today I started off with a visit to my favorite mall in North Vancouver where a stage was set up outdoors with a giant TV screen showing a few different Olympic events: skiing and curling.
The stage was set for a relaxing morning with a cappuccino and a Cohiba Lanceros. I stopped into a local coffee haven for folks from North Van and picked up a double espresso and chose a chair well away from mothers, children and the “pain in the butt” non-smokers. When I went to my humidor this morning I found a Lanceros with a silky claro wrapper and knew that the choice would be perfect for what I had in store… But….. I had no idea that events would unfold that would almost cause me to forget that I was smoking one of the most popular Cuban cigars ever rolled.
The first sign of trouble was a sign reading “Free Pizza” that hung proudly in the middle of this closed off open air area in front of a few shops. Usually anything free will attract more than your usual passers by but the crowd that started lining up for the breakfast treat was anything but polite and patient and the sizable german shepherd tied to a bicycle a few feet from the lineup was about to lead the charge in the rude department. A few pre light draws revealed easy air movement , which gave me a bit of relief since these cigars can have the odd construction issue due to their thinner format. I haven’t run into big problems as a rule but now and then slight issues appear. Everything was going well when I clipped the cap off my cigar and applied my torch to the foot, the first few puffs told me that I should take my time because this is the time that cigars are a tad harsh. We all know that they need a moment or two to get into their stride. The pizza line was moving smoothly as well but the trouble started when someone dropped their free slice. The German Shepherd made a dash for HIS free snack, dragging the bike, which caused quite a lovely metallic scraping sound on the pavement. Someone thought it would be a good idea to pull the dog away from the lineup by the bike which caused a yelp to erupt from the canine and the dog and bike’s owner appeared.
The cigar was revealing a strong Cohiba grassy taste combined with a subtle bean flavor that, I knew, would strengthen as well into the first third. The dog and bike’s owner decided to push the man who had the bike’s rear wheel in his hand and the poor guy fell back into a large family of children. Now we have crying children, two angry men ( one father and one dog owner) and one very angry guy who was hell bent for revenge. Next thing that happened was that the pizza company ran out of fresh slices and announced that a few minutes of patience would be required while they went into their restaurant for more.
Alcohol must have been playing a part in this drama because some very strong language was thrown about which seemed to irritate a few mothers holding their children. So now we have a barking dog, angry mothers, an angry dog and bike owner and hungry people starting a chant of ” hurry up hurry up” towards the restaurant. The coffee I was drinking went well with the Lanceros and I was feeling that this may have been one of my more entertaining mornings in an otherwise sleepy neighborhood. The cops showed up!
Things mellowed out in the line-up when more pizza appeared but this was a growing crowd that obviously showed up with a big appetite. They ran out of pizza again and I started to hear sirens and more cops showed up, this time with a paddy wagon. There was a police dog (another German Shepherd) that started barking at the already agitated dog which made the dog owner throw a few obscenities towards the law enforcement officials. The cigar was really starting to taste great when a mother pushing a stroller over in my direction decided that shrieking at me about the foul smell in the air, ruining the whole Olympic spirit. I told her that this was a job for the cops!!
Things got out of hand when a kid wearing a white chef’s hat( who obviously worked for the pizza joint) took down the free pizza sign. The crowd didn’t like that at all … More yelling, more barking, more shrieking about my cigar and I felt that I had died and gone to Heaven. This was an incredible Cohiba and I wasn’t about to put it out… Do you think I’m crazy?? I knew that the cops had their hands full with an unruly mob and so I let the irate mother and now crying kid in the stroller get all of this angst off her chest as I leisurely sipped my coffee and noticed the cigar moving nicely into the second third. Now the “dog and bike” owner was face down on the ground as the cuffs were being applied to his wrists when a folding chair was tossed into the window of the pizza joint. Strong glass and no damage…. But….. More cuffs came out and the inside of paddy wagon was starting to see a few more new faces. The rain started coming down and I decided that it was time to make my way over to the car for the quick drive home.
I love the fact that our city has this much world attention and I’m happy about our athlete’s medals so far. I’m also happy that there are a record number of law enforcement officials from all over Canada in our city, taking care of business whenever the free food runs out!
Yesterday was a day for disappointment for some Canadian Olympic fans. The U.S beat our hockey team by a score of 5-3. The last goal went into our Canadian open net….. Nooooooooooo !!!!! Well, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet and so we still have to wait to see what will happen as far as medals are concerned. I, along with millions of Canadians, am feeling optimistic that we’ll get the gold.
Last night my brother and I, along with my nephew watched the Canadian Women get beat by the women’s rink form China. Curling is be a sport that Canadian players should rule, but last night we watched 4 very capable Chinese curlers outplay and outscore our women by a score of 6-5 in the 11th (extra) end. Something is amiss and I believe I have the answer……..
Yesterday I met up with members of my family and smoked NON-COHIBA cigars…… Yes, I know I know….. What was I thinking????? Well, from now on, where pivotal games are concerned, I’m going to be bringing Cohiba cigars of all varieties and sizes. Maybe the results of the Olympic games DON’T rely of what cigar I choose to smoke……But……. From now on I’m not taking any chances!!!!!! Cohiba Cigars ARE luckier!!!!!!!!!
Today will be a fine day to see if there are any Steelhead in the Chilliwack river. The sun is shining, it hasn’t rained in days and the river’s clarity will probably be impressive. Problem is….. Sun, clarity and low levels of water are the worst conditions you can look for when going after Steelhead. You may wonder why I’m so excited about packing up my waders, boots, equipment and real smelly bait so I can probably get skunked… Well….. I think its time to sit by a river and smoke another Cohiba piramides EL 2006.
I have a lot of confidence that the Canadian Olympic hockey team will do just fine on the ice against the U.S. and so maybe sitting on the side of the river with an awesome cigar will somehow channel confidence into the universe to help our guys kick some butt!! There is another reason why I want to get out of Dodge this afternoon. My neighbor is a recent transplant from the good ol’ USA and I don’t want to be in the neighborhood on the off chance that we DON’t win……. I highly doubt it though….
Tell ya what….. I’ll let you know what happens to me on the river and give all of you a report on the kind of day I’ll end up having. Will there be a fish in my future????? Will the Canadian men’s hockey team be victorious?? How will my Cohiba taste out in the sun on the side of a river?? I think that as you read this you’ll only be able to answer the third!!!! Wish us all luck!
Last night my neighbor drove home after work and so I thought I’d walk over and see how his feelings were towards me since the day my outboard motor was catapulted over the hedge dividing our pieces of property and landed on his new Lexus causing both gas driven pieces of machinery to go up in flames. Through the years we’ve spent a lot of time together on our back decks, smoking cigars, discussing world affairs and complaining about the government. We are both cigar smokers and I felt that a good idea would be to present him with a gift of 10 aged Cohiba Robustos as a bit of an olive branch.
This guy is a bit of a volatile character who pushes the boundaries of anyone’s patience whenever dealing with him. He is one of these guys that never really listens to you when you speak but merely waits for his chance to blurt out the first thing that comes into his mind, regardless of whether or not your feelings get destroyed in the process. I’ve met his father a few times and when they say that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, I guess they ( whoever they are ) were, pretty much, describing this guy to a tee. Like everything else, if you put in enough time to get to know someone, or something, you’ll eventually see the good side of people.
These cigars are favorites of his and mine, we’ve smoked quite a few over the years and these particular cigars were worth their weight in gold. In other words, I didn’t want to part with them but sometimes peace in the neighborhood is invaluable. All lawsuits are off and all ill feelings are eliminated.. Women will sometimes give flowers, wine, pieces of jewelry as gifts to their friends but men will always be able to conquer any battle with a gift of quality tobacco. Its been that way for centuries!!!!!
Last night an old friend dropped by and we took an old TV out on to the back deck and watched Olympic highlights and smoked a few cigars. Once again I am reminded that Oban single malt Scotch whiskey pairs so nicely with Cohiba cigars. Last night we broke into my supply of Cohiba Siglo II’s… Having bought them at the Vancouver Cigar Company 4 years ago, the rest allowed them to age nicely and revealed that the mellower side of Cohiba cigars is as intoxicating and pleasing as some of the more powerful members of the Cohiba family.
This little mareva has a length of 5 inches and a 42 ring gauge which can take up an hour and a half of your time if you are a slow smoker with bit of patience. A very surprising fact about this smaller cigar is that it often reveals a lot of the same flavors that it’s big brothers have to offer: grass, chocolate, coffee and cocoa mixed in with wood and if you have a delicate palate, even a slight note of cinnamon. It almost sounds like the description one would hear about the Cohiba Robusto but a lot milder and even sweeter at times.
The one joy I have in life ( I have quite a few ) is noticing how a burst of caramel can come rushing on to the scene after swallowing a mouthful of fine Scotch and then taking a puff of a good cigar. The taste buds can reveal a lot of secrets that are hidden in Cuba’s soil and the fantastic tobacco that is produced on that Island.
I guess I have a lot on my plate today and any thoughts of taking advantage of this nice weather and hitting a few balls around a golf course may have to be postponed for a day or two. This is still February and we have a long season ahead of us golfers…… Season???? Actually, we golf 12 months a year so the season never really ends. My recent road trip to visit western Canadian friends resulted in one nightmare after another and to tell you the truth I’m feeling a bit tentative when the thought of leaving the safety of my home occurs to me. Why don’t I start off small by opening the sliding door that leads out to the back deck, reaching out with one hand holding a small mirror tilted upward to make sure no lurking raptors are perched on an eavestrough over my head.
If you are visiting this site for the first time, scroll down to ” Cohiba Road Trip” and follow my travels into the unknown, then all this will make more sense…..
My neighbor is at work and I felt safe to sit out back with something that would be perfect for an early afternoon smoke. My humidor yielded one final Cohiba Coronas Especiales that had been with me for a few years. I was given a gift of 5 of these smaller ring gauge ( 38 ) cigars a few years back and they have been mellowing nicely in their own corner of the humidor. Cohiba has seemed to have blended a real beanfest with this one, tons of vanilla moving towards chocolate but finishing off the final third tasting woody and peppery.
I sat quietly smoking, listening to songbirds and contemplating a trip down to Cuba in the next few months. April/May seem to be perfect months to go down and I need to stock up on hard to find Cuban cigars for summer golf and fishing!
Getting out of Regina, just in time, and starting my trek home to the west coast would take a few days if I took it easy and tried not to get any speeding tickets. I wanted to soak in the scenery through the Rocky Mountains and try to forget the countless mishaps I had experienced since I left home, besides, why was I in such a hurry to face my neighbor and hear all about the law suit and the war he would wage on me after seeing his new Lexus go up in flames. For the time being, all I wanted to do was watch the sky change colors in my rear view mirror as the sun rose in the east which was all very inspiring and made me wonder how many colors would be needed to accurately paint that scene on canvas. We’ve all sat in restaurants and shopped in stores that have ceilings someone has painted in a ham handed fashion with blue and white paint, depicting wispy cirrus clouds, low to the ground stratus clouds or the big Kahuna of all clouds, the mighty and picturesque Cumulus. I’ve often looked upward to these tacky ceilings and always felt that there was something missing….. How about 16 more colors!!!! In every sky where clouds and sunlight are present you will be able to locate purples, reds, yellows, grays, pinks and I don’t know how many shades of blue. I was able to see all of these colors in my rear view mirror plus an oscillating black dot that was growing in diameter and starting to block out the full spectrum of color behind me in the east.
Like many times in this road trip, I started to feel extreme discomfort when I realized that this wasn’t a vehicle on the road behind me but something flying in the air and gaining on me by the second. I sped up to 70 miles per hour on the Trans-Canada Highway but the dot, which now I could detect was no longer a dot but some type of bird, kept closing in on the back of the car. At 90 miles per hour the bird, which I could now identify as being a hawk, passed me, appeared in my vision a few feet away from the windshield and dropped a little bloody rodent on the hood of my car. The bloody, sandy colored carcass of a perforated gopher slid up the hood towards me and got one of it’s hind legs snagged in the driver’s side windshield wiper. After an unsuccessful attempt at trying to free this mottled crimson prairie dog with the wipers at high speed, I was left with a perfect arc of pink on the windshield in my line of vision and a lifeless prairie cadaver staring at me as it quivered in the wind all the way to the next gas stop.
I was in no mood to play the role of ” Roadkill Funeral Director” so I decided to pay the few cents extra for fuel when I pulled into the full serve stall at the Chevron station on the outskirts of Swift Current. I politely asked the pimple faced kid who came up to my car if he’d take care of the crime scene, check the oil and squeegee the red streak from the hood ornament to the driver’s side wiper, then I made my way inside to get a coffee and some Rolaids. After paying for the gas I decided against the slow paced drive to a sleepy hotel on the other side of the Alberta border, it was time to make tracks for the coast.
Alberta came and went without any incident, as did the majority of British Columbia. As I was driving into Kamloops, I guess I must have been going over the speed limit after I noticed the dazzling red and blue flashing lights in my rear view mirror. The rather good natured RCMP asked me why I was in such a hurry, as I handed him my driver’s license and insurance papers. I told him that I was on my way back to Vancouver after attending a funeral in Saskatchewan for my uncle who was a retired cop. The youngish rookie proudly announced that he was from Saskatchewan and used to drive tractors and shoot gophers ( Hey, I like this guy ) on a small farm where he grew up, just outside of Oxbow. He told me to slow down, handed me my papers and walked back to the patrol car.
After four and a half more hours of driving in the dark through the mountains, then into the Fraser valley, I finally got to see the lawn damage in my front yard and heard the cracking of fiberglass under my tires as I crept into the driveway up to what used to be a sea worthy vessel. I was in no mood to survey any other damage to my hedge or peer into my neighbor’s yard so I unlocked the front door and made a beeline to my humidor. The first cigar I had smoked on this unholy journey was a Cohiba Magicos and I felt that it was time to set fire of the foot of my last one.
There are those who love to experience the unknown in life and will get into their cars and drive into the night to destinations that are new and exciting and there are those who love to curl up into a fetal position on the floor with a tumbler of Scotch and a good cigar. I was now firmly rooted into the second category.
Walking into a kitchen in the morning with the smell of bacon in the air will automatically cleanse your soul, wake you up and bring you back to those days of your youth when your mother made the type of feel good breakfast that stuck to your ribs until noon. The dentist’s wife set a steaming cup of coffee in front of me and said, “Mama has just what you need to start the day off right.” I saw that there was an elaborate art deco decanter of amber maple syrup in front of my plate which told me that pancakes and bacon would be just around the corner. I mentioned that I was really hungry and all I heard was, “Quit your squeaking, you’ll be eaten in a second!” A moment later a two foot high stack of golden pancakes surrounded by strips of bacon appeared on my plate.
Although Canadian Maple syrup is very sweet, I know that it contains manganese and is a good source of zinc so instead of being shy, because I know real maple syrup CAN be expensive, I poured almost 3 cups of the miraculous reduced tree sap on my stack of pancakes. With all of the healthy qualities the syrup contains, I felt no guilt about stuffing 4 slices of fatty bacon into my mouth and swallowed them in one gulp. The smoky flavor of the bacon had an almost hypnotic effect on me so I snatched 4 more slices off my plate and gulped them back. For some unknown reason I knew I needed to be alone in the room so got up out of my chair, walked to the front closet and picked out a pretty blue umbrella, brought it back into the kitchen and opened it up at the table over my head…. No one could see me now… I was safe and alone..
Just as I was going to start the demolition of the enormous pancake tower, little rivers of syrup formed along the tower walls and flowed down, causing quite a moat around the edge of the plate. A swelling formed inside the top pancake, growing bigger and more bulbous which forced a crack, big enough for a small head with an immaculate hairstyle to push through revealing that I now was in the presence of a very tiny David Bowie dressed in a gopher suit pulling himself up and standing on this mountain of fried dough. I was Goliath and he was David, the future king of Israel and I knew that unless I did something fast, history would repeat itself and I’d be just another smoted chump from the Old Testament. I thought of maybe stabbing him in the forehead with my fork when he reached into one of his gopher pockets and revealed that he was in possession of a miniature golden, scale model of the Cuban mansion, El Laguito, the birthplace and factory of Cohiba cigars. He held it with both hands in display over his head to give it some fresh air which gave me the moment I needed to go for the fork. As I made the attempt to seize my stainless steel trident, he slipped the miniature golden architectural marvel into a small leather sling, swung it three times in a circular motion and let it fly in a bright golden beam towards my temple. My torso fell forward and the last thing I remembered was that my lungs were filling up with maple syrup.
Too much Scotch and two hours of cigar smoke just before hitting the sack will do it every time. I turned on the lamp beside the bed and looked at my watch which told me that it was only 5:30 AM….. The fact that I was in a cold sweat and felt my heart pounding told me that I wasn’t about to get back to sleep any time soon, so maybe if I looked around in the bedroom for something to read I’d settle down enough to get a few more hours of shuteye before breakfast. Well…..Maybe I’d just have coffee and skip breakfast. I got up and saw a few Cosmo magazines in a pile but…. well….. you know…… I opened up the closet and saw a small set of shelves which held a stack of National Geographic magazines so I reached for the one that promised to reveal the secrets of the Pyramids. After getting back into bed and propping up a few pillows, I opened the magazine and a small manilla envelope dropped out and landed on my chest.
People use envelopes all the time for bookmarks so nothing seemed out of the ordinary and I flipped through the magazine until I located the egyptian special. I’ve always been interested in the different theories relating to the building of the pyramids. Talk about the unbelievable determination required to complete a task of that magnitude with the simple tools they had at their disposal. I read a few more paragraphs and then skimmed over a few pages with amazing photographs of the interior of King Tut’s burial chamber filled with so many priceless artifacts that have since gone missing. I think I was ready to go back to sleep when I saw a section at the back of the magazine with a special on prairie dogs…. That was all I needed.. I set the magazine down and decided to take a peek inside the envelope.
I instantly knew I was in over my head when I saw that these were photographs of my dentist friend’s wife and what appeared to be a happy family on vacation in Disney World.. This was not just a bunch of strangers’ faces posing with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in front of the castle. There was Mickey, there was the dentist’s wife, there was Minnie, there was a happy little girl eating ice cream, there was a crying young boy and holding his hand was the Giant Gopher cult leader. All desire to sleep was now gone and I felt my heart race again as I leafed through the rest of the photos in the envelope and started to notice a real resemblance between the children in the pictures and the woman that was sleeping upstairs with my friend, the dentist. The young girl in the Disney World pics was a miniature version of the woman holding her hand as they are buying balloons, as they are posing in wild west costumes and as they are standing in line for ice cream. These were the same children I saw being dragged through the shopping Mall a few days ago in Calgary.
The last picture I looked at before stuffing them back into the envelope, back into the National Geographic and back into the closet told me that it was time to pack my bags and leave Regina before the sun came up. Leave Regina before my host and hostess noticed I was gone. The last picture was taken in front of the Universal Studios sign in Orlando. Standing in the picture was my friend’s wife, a young girl who I was now convinced was her daughter, a serious faced young boy, the Giant Gopher Head cult leader and.. My friend the Dentist !!!
The roads were clear of all traffic as I made my way out of Regina at that time of morning.. My cel phone was turned off, the car windows were half open and the only sound I wanted to hear was the rushing fresh prairie morning air to clear my head of all memories of my road trip…… Well, maybe not the Cohiba Double Corona EL 2003… I would do my very best to hold on to that flavorful experience…….