Escaping The Big City With Jesse Keefer Of Galiano’s Chill ‘Bodega Ridge’

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Life has hardly slowed down for Jesse Keefer since his international bicycle racing days. These days he’s devoted to working hard and chasing his daughter around, dividing his time between Vancouver’s West End and Galiano Island, where he has been operating the popular Galiano retreat, Bodega Ridge, since 2003. Every season is a busy one at Bodega, but somehow Jesse finds the energy to constantly improve upon what is already one of the most down-to-earth and satisfying Gulf Island getaways we know of. We recently caught up with Keefer in between floor tiling, wedding booking and kid-wrangling to ask a bunch of questions and get to know him a little better. Say hello to…

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Where do you live and what makes it home? Galiano Island. It is home because much of what matters to me is here. My wife, my daughter, my parents, my father in law and some very dear friends.

Coffee or tea? Coffee, though I am on an indefinite hiatus. I’m much more pleasant for my wife to deal with when caffeine-free although she and I both know that I am weak and will crack any day.

What was your worst job experience? Having a business relationship with a close friend fail.

Describe Bodega Ridge in ten words or less. Thoughtful, warm, genuine, serene peppered with moments of glorious debauchery.

The cliché that you overuse? You would have to ask my wife.

What keeps you up at night? My insomnia. Virtually any thoughts that I have that are remotely intelligible come to me at night.

Dogs or cats? Dogs. My old Great Dane, Gunnar, preferably.

Shoe of choice? Red Wing Ice Cutters.

Your three role models? Senator Larry Campbell, Gary Ross and Karri Schuermans.

Favourite Vancouver building? I love the entire block that encompasses the east side of 500 Beatty, that has housed Chambar and Medina to name a few. My dad’s office was there for a number of years and I’ve spent many great nights at Chambar. I love the interface of the old brick and massive fir beams.

A guilty pleasure that you refuse to give up? My overuse of the internet.

The place in Vancouver that you’d like to magically transport to Galiano? Neptoon Records

A bad habit that you wish you could quit? Neglecting to remember how fortunate I am. Perspective is so easily lost.

First album that made you love music? Rolling Gold, a best of the Stones album my mom had. Get Off Of My Cloud was my childhood favourite.

What was the last live concert you saw? The Drive-By Truckers at The Rickshaw.

Your all-time best Halloween costume? I was a Witch when I was 7. My mom was really into it. She was pioneering gender neutrality in the 80s.

What game did you love as a kid? Monopoly with my brothers at my Grandparents place on the North Shore. They had a bar stocked with pop. It usually ended in fisticuffs.

Some people remember their first kiss, tell us about your first bicycle… when did you buy, what kind was it? I had a hand-me-down Green CCM from my brothers. The coolest bike I bought when I was a kid was another matter though. I had a CW ‘Z’ frame BMX. The down tube was in the shape of a Z. Guess where it broke?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would go to Andorra to see my friend Svein who I miss on a daily basis. He’s winding down his career as a professional cyclist and I’d like to visit him before he moves back here.

The different career path that you could have gone on? Psychology.

Three films you would gladly watch again? The English Patient, The Godfather II and A Quest for Fire with my dad.

The last book you read? The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkle. It’s about a guy who opted out and lived in the woods in Maine. Incredible and true story.

Your favourite book of all time? I don’t have one but would put The Golden Spruce right up there.

Under what circumstances would you join the army? None that I can think of. That being said, we live in a different world now than my grandparents did and if I had been in their position I’m sure I would have.

Your most regrettable purchase ever? My education.

What was the luckiest moment in your life? The moment our daughter was born healthy. I was too busy making sure she was ok to notice what sex she was.

You’ve had a rough day. You just clocked out. What’s your drink of choice? Always beer. Right now it’s Postmark’s Cascadian Dark Ale, Strange Fellows’ Talisman or Phillip’s Shortwave.

What are you most proud of? That I have so many quality people in my life. Amazing family and friends.

The best thing about running your own business? Having creative control of the direction it heads in.

The worst thing about running your own business? The inflexibility it imposes on your social and family life.

What spring seasonal food are you most excited to eat? Josh Blumenthal, our chef at Bodega, makes a killer nettle soup and Galiano has acres of them.

The strange talent that you possess? I do a convincing Chewbacca impression.

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