Blah, BLah, BLOG
Saying goodbye to family is never easy, but after a week of family bliss we must continue our cross-country journey as nights are getting colder and snowy days is not too far away. On our way to Ottawa, we booked into another AirBnb for 2 nights in Carlsbad Springs. What a pleasant stay it was! Our host was ever so kind and looked after Dudley while we headed into the city to visit the Canadian War Museum and check out the Byward Market Square. Oh the smells of fries, fudge and baked goods filled my nostrils with delight while all the arts and crafts was a colourful feast to my eyes. Markets are a great place to stimulate your desire for creativity, which I really had lost touch with for quite some time. I have to thank my sister in law Lee for helping me find my way back to art. While in Peterborough, we were sitting on the deck, she was painting different colours of maple leaves on her little travel art pad, while I aimlessly doodled on an old canvas I had. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t really creating anything special. What mattered was the time we shared, talking about art. I thought to myself, at our next opportunity to get to an arts store, I am going to buy some paper, pens and pencils. Back to Ottawa, as luck would have it, we were able to have a nice visit with our friends George and Shelley catching up with all the events in our lives.
After 2 nights in Ottawa we headed east to Laval, Quebec. Our first sightseeing stop was on Mont Royal. As we stood on the lookout overlooking the city of Montreal, I couldn’t help but wonder what my parents were thinking when they first arrived in Montreal, immigrating to Canada in 1956. What an adventure it has been for them, like it is an adventure for Chris and I now. Canada is beautiful, diverse and abundant - I can see why my parents chose Canada as their new home. Speaking of which, we have to choose a place, but first, let's see more of country.
Montreal is an exciting and beautiful city, lots of architecture of days gone by. As we walk through the old cobblestone streets, there stood in old Montreal, the Notre Dame Basilica chiming her bells on the 12th hour enticing me to come inside. Chris knew that I had the desire to see inside this magnificent iconic church. He walked up to the attendant and explained that I want to see inside the church and need assistance (Chris had to stay outside with Dudley). The attendant told Chris that all three of us could go into the church, even though he told her that Dudley was not a service dog. I couldn’t believe it! We walked inside and after several minutes of adjusting to the dim lighting, I saw just how magnificent it was - starting at the floors, with detailed tiles, the walls had carvings on the wooden panels, the rich colours of stain glass windows, intricately detailed columns to the cobalt blue celestial designs on the domed ceiling. I truly felt the loss of my parents and the loss of familial ties with my brothers. Chris and I lit a couple candles for all those we loved and lost and to those who are struggling, including Chris and myself. Hope is why we are here, it is that simple. We are born to hope, we live in hope and die for all we hope for.
Onward to New Brunswick we stopped in Edmunston, it was a long day of driving, I can’t imagine for one minute that all this driving is difficult for Chris. We try to stop every couple of hours so it can a bit more comfortable, whilst it is not always ideal, but it is the best we can do with the circumstances.
Edmunston reminded me of Port Alberni, once was productive, busy city that withered to a town that just keeps on. Papered windows showing its vacancies, streets looking unkempt while the pulp mill stacks in the background puffing away slowly like a pipe signal sending for help. You see some people standing on the side of the road talking to their neighbours about glory days, local gossip and gas prices (like all small towns do...only most here were speaking in French). I wonder what the rest of New Brunswick will be like? I booked our next AirBnb in Port Greville, Nova Scotia for 2 nights.
We get up early, pack the car up readying for another long day of driving. Our first break was at Grand Falls, NB. We needed to get out and go for a walk, what better place to stop, to see the waterfall. After our little break, we drove on...the car droned on for miles and miles as we head further east, Port Greville was a long ways away. I think this was our longest drive yet. We finally pulled into the driveway of where we were to stay. The car bounced up and down, while the water jug sloshed and dishes clanged as we drove down the unpaved road on this dark rainy night. I had this vision in my head of us going to this place and never to return, like in a movie where suspense heightens as each minute passes and the hairs on your back starts to prickle. We see a little cottage in the corner all by itself waiting for us to enter. It was like a Venus Fly Trap waiting for us to come closer, waiting for us to be swallowed by its gaping hole. Okay, it is not like that really. It was a cute little vintage cottage welcoming us with lights showing us the way in. We enjoyed staying here, especially cooking meals in a kitchen and not eating in a restaurant. While staying in Port Greville, we explored in towns and parks such as Joggins Fossil Cliffs (part of the Bay of Fundy), Ottawa House by the Sea (park and beach), Bay of Fundy, FIve Islands Lighthouse Park, That Dutchman’s Cheese Farm and Parrsborro. While in Parrsborro, I picked up some art supplies. This time, I am going to try something new, ink pen drawings. Nova Scotia is a quaint, friendly and beautiful province. I love how it feels here. We have talked to so many people, wherever we stopped, for gas, groceries, parks and restaurants, people talked to us, and we enjoyed their stories as they enjoyed listening to ours. I have always heard about how friendly Atlantic Canada is. Well, it is true, the friendliest yet - I think it is a coastal thing. After a couple days stay in Port Greville, we head to our next destination Halifax/Dartmouth, NS. The drive to Halifax was magnificent, little communities lined the coast with adorable colourful houses on green pastures rolling alongside the coast, it was like a Norman Rockwell painting. Do you know why the houses are so tall with windows facing the ocean? I have been told they are Widow’s windows. Where the fisherman wives would go up to the top floor and watch and wait for their husbands to return from sea. Imagine those stormy nights while the wives anxiously waiting for their husbands return. Fog hauntingly forms ghostlike apparition hovering over their homes as if to protect them of what's to come. To pass the time, quilting feverishly, she looks out the window waiting for his return. What a hard life that must of been. Okay, back to reality, my imagination runs away sometimes (smiles) and find its way to another place, another time.
Many years ago, I have seen a picture of a tall lighthouse sitting on rocks that looked like melted gray wax pooling and flowed into the sea. This place was Peggy’s Cove. Chris and I spent many hours at Peggy’s Cove, walking all over the rocks, crossing over cracks and crevices, listening to the waves crash as the sun sprinkles diamonds all over the water. It was such a beautiful place. It seems surreal sometimes when you see pictures of places you would love to see and finally years later you’re here. While visiting this quaint town, we decided to try a traditional meal that is popular in Atlantic Canada, that is the Lobster Roll. Not at all what I expected. I was thinking, hot lobster stuffed with something rich and saucy into a pastry roll. Uhm...no, it was just cold cooked rubbery lobster stuffed in an equally cold bun. Meh, I think I will leave this traditional dish right in Nova Scotia. I put that one down as ‘tried’ their iconic dish. Lobster rolls were EVERYWHERE, there was no escape from Lobsters here. Lobster stew, Lobster Roll, Lobster pizza, lobster, Lobster, LOBSTER! I swear I will never eat another lobster in my life.
The next day we decided to explore downtown Halifax, so we walked along the waterfront, into the city and went inside the Parliament building. As we stood outside of the building, a security guard (named Chuck) came up to us and started to talk about the history of this old building and we were encouraged to go inside. Chuck looked after Dudley while we toured the Parliament building. Time and time again we experience the friendliness of Atlantic Canada.
I can not believe how much I have seen in the last 7 weeks, Chris and I had planned to do this trip for several years and it is now happening, and in this journey, I bring my mom and dad with me, stored in my heart...creating memories.
Onward and East we go...
So here we are in Thunder Bay, giving camping a break, we booked a night in a hotel. It was nice not having to worry about organising the campsite and setting up the tent. Most times I find this to be difficult to adapt to constant changes of new surroundings.
It has been many days since we have watched tv, and boy, we really haven’t missed much. The news seems to get more ridiculous and shocking. We would rather enjoy sitting outside next to each other talking about nothing, something and everything. Even in the hotel room we had the tv on and not paying much attention to it, well in fact, Chris fell asleep while I was catching up on social media. Driving can be so exhausting for Chris.
We were ready for our next venture, heading East - Wawa, ON. A long day ahead of us, forecast was, WAIT FOR IT….RAIN! It seems like all we get is rain since we hit Ontario. First comfort break was just outside of the city, we visited the Terry Fox memorial. We stood there in awe, of how one person can make such an impact, I don’t think many of you know that Terry Fox helped me get through my first marathon. It was the Royal Victoria Marathon (my first, in 2008), I ran out of gas, my body decided I had enough, I was ready to give up. Then, Terry came into my mind, I thought of how he ran 42 km (26.2 mi) every day - I told myself, if he ran this distance every day, I can finish this one, and ‘my can’ do attitude found its way back into my body and made it to the finish line. I thanked him for getting me through it. As I looked up to the statue of Terry, my eyes started to sting and some tears fell. How can you not admire a young man who ran this distance for 143 days, 5,373 kms in total till the cancer forced him to stop - and lost his life. Because of him, 650 million dollars have been fundraised in his honour at the annual Terry Fox Run since 1981. Powerful.
After our visit at the memorial, we hit the road, munched on trail mix and fruits while enjoying the beautiful scenery. Then we saw this sign, Thessalon - lots for sale, Chris made a spontaneous decision and turned off the highway and into Thessalon. We drove through a new little development, the view of Lake Huron took our breath away. We stopped at a park that was nearby. While Chris was feeding Dudley, I went to the washroom, and on my way, I saw a couple of families having a picnic. So I stopped and asked them what was it like living in this town. Community was the key word here. Whilst we made some friends in Nanaimo, we never felt it was a warm community. Maybe we could live in Thessalon, put up with the cold winters, maybe become snowbirds. Finally, after several hours of driving we hit our destination - Wawa. WA..WA..the heck is this town?! I feel like we were the last man standing in an old 60’s spaghetti Western movie. It was kind of spooky, not a soul stirring in the streets, businesses shut down, we were just waiting for a sundown duel springing into action..nope, no excitement here. Our next stop was in Chute Provincial Park in Massey ON. We pitched up our tent here for 3 nights, a welcome break for Chris. This is where I had my best runs (did 2 here in the trails using my #RunGo app and #applewatch. This time I made my own route because the trails were wide and well maintained. It was a hot day but running in these trails had a beautiful canopy of spruce, birch and cedar, and the edges of the grounds were bursting with colourful wildflowers of deep purples, yellows, oranges and whites. I felt so lucky to still be able to see such colours, such beauty. I will never forget this place, nor shall I forget my most embarrassing (to self) incident. Our first day here, maybe within the first hour of staying here, I went to the washroom. I walked into the disabled toilet, did what I had to do, grabbed the toilet paper and then I noticed the kiosk door was on the wrong side, I seem to remember that the toilet paper roll was on my right and it is now on my left. AAACK! there is a URINAL in here!!! At the moment of awareness, a man walks in, so I wait, I look at my shoes, good, I am wearing my birkenstocks, men wear them too so I can pass as a man from the shin down. But, not with nicely shaved legs and pink toenails. OI Vey! So I keep waiting, I am NOT going out there until I know it is safe to leave the toilet to wash my hands ever so quickly to dash out. A song popped into my head, so I sing (in my head, not out loud, that would be a dead giveaway that I am not a man) 100 bottle of beer on the wall, 100 bottles of beer…. After 79 bottles of beer on the wall, I escaped and ran all the way to our campsite laughing. From there on, we had a nice relaxing time here except for the last night. At around 1am, a loud crackling boom jolted me out of a deep sleep, I realized we are having a thunderstorm. The flashing and rumbling lasted for a few hours and the rain was pouring so hard that I actually heard it. I have never heard rain without hearing aids before. I kept thinking to myself, “I can’t believe I can hear the rain!”. We woke up to a very very wet campsite, and have no way of drying our stuff out before putting it into our car. We packed all the gear, dog and us as quickly as we could and drove off. it seemed like we were inside a snowglobe, minus the snow and the whole car smelled like wet dog.
Onward East - after many hours of driving we finally hit Nobleton, ON (about ½ hour from Toronto). We stayed at a family home for 3 days and it was our first experience with AirBnb. Most of our time here we visited our friends in King City and enjoyed our time catching up with them in real time rather than in the chat room. The place we stayed at was next to some wonderful trails, so I took advantage of it and did 2 runs. With the cooler nights and wet weather, we decided that AirBnb might replace our camping, unless weather goes in our favour.
We are on the road again, this time we are heading to Peterborough, ON. We plan on staying for maybe a couple days...which turned into 6 days! We enjoyed our time staying with family (and some also visiting from the UK). Chris and I both caught a nasty head cold which kept us from doing much exercise. While staying here, we thought it would be nice to get ‘hitched’ with family around us. So off to the city hall we go. Without hesitation we filled out our forms, handed it to the clerk, she checks it, I give her the form stating recent divorce. She said, “I’m sorry, that is not acceptable, we need the original copy.” Okay, we have a plan, we called Nanaimo Court house to explain the situation and the clerk there said it is here on file for some reason it was not sent out. Okay, no problem, we will call Purolator and have them send it to us here in Peterborough. After a few very long frustrating calls, we got it all set up and will be sent to us by noon the next day. Ten-thirty am rolls around and the courier truck showed up in the driveway, by this time I was feeling more relaxed. We make our second trip to the city hall, and apply for our license once more. The clerk, checks our application, my certificate was approved! Then she said, “I’m sorry, we need to have Chris’s original divorce certificate.” She didn’t even bat an eyelash, as if she enjoyed giving us bad news. Chris was then trying to explain why hadn’t they told us yesterday about this. It would've saved us money and a 2nd trip to the city. At this point I had to walk out, feeling discouraged, I started to cry. We drove back to Chris’s sister home in the countryside, They welcomed us as if a wedding was about to happen. After telling everyone what had happened, Chris’s sister created a mock wedding for us and presented us with a floral bouquet and boutonnieres - this moved me to tears. She made it all okay, I really felt that I was part of this family, which is something I miss so much since losing my dad recently.
With the long weekend coming up, we decided to hit the road and try another AirBnb, this time in Carlsbad Springs, QC. I will sign off for now...toodle loo! Au Revoir!
VIP: Buy a good quality flashlight and keep it with you all the time (use a carabiner and attach to to your belt loop so it doesn’t fall out of your pocket).
Oh man! Can we have a redo for this week? It was late, we were tired and out of desperation we booked into the Super 8 Motel (a step up from MotHell 99 in Grand Forks, where we felt safer if we’d had slept in the car, never know when the Sasquatch may show up) outside of Pincher Creek, Alberta, in the middle of nowhere. We woke up early to get a head start on our drive to next destination: Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
It was about 8:30 when we hit the outskirts of Moose Jaw with a big sign welcoming us to the friendliest city. I thought to myself, we will see. We turned on to Cariboo street, just a couple kilometers away from our campsite, the car gave a clunk and a nudge and then there was nothing...the clutch went. So here we are at the traffic lights, people passed us and then two young men came up to help us push the car out of traffic and park on the side of the road. Chris called BCAA (and CAA) arranged for the tow truck to take us to the campsite. The time was now 10:30; it was pitch black and still yet to set up our camp. By this time we were both frustrated, tired and frazzled. We were lucky to have nice people from the site next to us help set up our campsite while one young man stood there holding a light so Chris and another fellow could see what they were doing.
The next morning Chris arranged the towing company to take our car to the garage, we asked for the same company so we could return the lights to the driver. Chris went back into town with the tow truck driver to make arrangements to get our car fixed. As I was tidying the campsite, I felt some raindrops pitter and patter on my head, I look up over the trees and saw a big black cloud. I thought to myself, being out here in the prairies, I have little time to get all our stuff in shelter - all our belongings: clothes, electronics, documents and camping gear were about to be drenched if I don’t act fast. I scrambled to get the small tarp out, using rope and bungee cords I made a makeshift shelter to protect all our belongings. Chris came back and by this time the wind picked up and was pouring, so after a couple of hours of tackling different geometrical shapes or tarp origami, we settled for the pup tent style shelter - seriously, the tarp was bigger than our actual campsite! We were both damp and exhausted, we called it a day and hoped for a better tomorrow.
Our bodies craved for some exercise, so Chris went for his walk and Dudley and I went for our run. Using the rungo app and the apple watch fully charged, I decided to do an out and back run on the Trans Canada trail - Moose Jaw Connector. It was already 30 degrees out, I managed to run just over 6K. I promised myself to start the next days run earlier in the morning. Already two days in Moose Jaw, we walked through the historic downtown and did a little bit of groceries. After calling the garage, more bad news fell onto our laps, the part for our car has to be ordered and should be in by Friday (we arrived Monday, with only the intention of staying for 2 nights). By the third day, we had to make arrangements to move our tent and equipment to the next site because our site was reserved for another camper. Just as we were about to make breakfast, we ran out of propane. So we called different stores and garages (within walking distance) to see if they have any disposable propane bottles. All we heard was, “sorry, no, we don’t have it”. Chris found a place and set out to walk into town while I stayed behind to wait for the office to open and arrange for our new campsite location. After about an hour later, the office opened (hours of operation was 12pm - 8pm), I walked into the office and guess what I saw on the floor...yep, you guessed it, disposable propane bottles for sale. So back to the campsite, I dragged the picnic table, about 50 feet to another site, set up camp and everything looks all organized and tidy. My gut had a sinking feeling so I decided to check the site number and I set up our stuff on the WRONG $% SITE!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! So back at it again, I double checked where our site was supposed to be and marked it with our lawn chairs so I have a focal point. By this time, Chris had been gone for at least 3 hours, I started to feel panicky and worried, I tried calling him and no answer. Anxiety was building,
took a lot of effort Back from our exercises, we decided to eat brunch, Chris started to prepare our food and as he was about to cook, the propane tank was empty! Have I told you yet, that I love camping?! After many phone calls we found a business that sold propane canisters. Chris, like a true trooper set out for his walk into town to get our fuel. I stayed behind so I could register for another night of stay. Finally, noon rolled around and the office was open. As soon as I walked in to the store I noticed they sell propane canisters, OH NO!
We had to move to the site next to us as the one we were in were already reserved. After about an hour of resetting up our camp I sit down, looking quite proud of the neat and organized area, my gut feeling invaded my peaceful moment. I had this sinking feeling that I should check our site number, so I got up to look, oh F**K!! I just dragged a heavy wooden picnic table about 80’ across the campsite, along with all our worldly possessions and gear only to have to do it again! By this time, nearly 3 hrs passed and Chris was still out there, it was a very hot day and I began to worry, so I called him, no answer. I frantically moved our campsite to the right one. I checked first before dragging the heavy old table. Once I moved all the stuff over, I looked around our chaotic grounds which looked like a tornado swept through. I quickly put our site together, just moments before completion I fell over some low boxes and cried out in pain, Chris walked into our site and I fell apart. Pain, worry and emotions just overwhelmed me. I was so happy to see Chris, I was crying from the pain, even felt sick. Chris went to the office to ask for an ice pack...he came back (they had insufficient first aid kit - which was nothing) with a pack of ice. After a few hours, I was able to walk again, which is good because I actually thought I cracked my tibia - turns out just to be a nasty bruise. So much for running the next day.
So long Moose Jaw, back on the road again. We stopped in a sweet little town called Wolseley, SK for a bite to eat. It was what I call a one street, drive through town. Local folks would sit outside and reminisce of days gone by, watching the paint dry, and eyeing us with curiosity. Everyone had to say hello to our dog, Dudley as we sat outside to wait for our lunch. Onward to Manitoba, we drove by the fields of gold stretches as far as the eye can see. With a few text messages, we made. arrangements to visit our friends at Bird’s Hill Provincial campsite. It was nice to see Leslie and Burnie (they too, are doing the cross Canada road trip), we had lots of fun sharing meals, wine and touring Winnipeg. We visited The Forks Historic District and the Human Rights Museum. I must say a few words about this incredible museum. This is a must see museum (we were in there for 3 hours and still not enough time to see it all), it left us with inspiration to help, to speak up and to act on doing more for our communities, near or far. The museum was accessible for all, I was so impressed how they had tools for those that are deaf, blind, deaf-blind and partially deaf-blind. I took advantage of the smartphone like gadget that had options of voice-over, earphones, or hearing aid compatible audio which describes the exhibits and floor plans in the museum.
After 2 days in Winnipeg, we went our separate ways, our friends going West and us going East. After several hours of driving we are finally in Ontario - we stopped at Aaron Provincial park and camped there for 2 days. Enjoying the rest from driving, we did some exploring around the park and yes, I did manage a little run through the trails and around the campsite using the RunGo app. Always enjoy running off road, no traffic, no people - just me and my dog. Every time I run in the trails, I think of Chris, imagine that he is beside me - telling me funny stories, or telling me to duck, left, right, no everybody else’s right, and stopping to look at the most beautiful waterfalls and wildflowers. He fights for every beat of his heart, while I fight for every sight I see. Funny how we are here now on a journey that takes us across Canada, knowing we may never do this again. So here we are, now in Thunder Bay, Ontario, we asked ourselves the question during dinner, ‘What is our destination? Where are we going?’. We both looked dumbfounded, still no answers - time will lead us to where we are meant to be. I will bid a good night to all, we have a long day ahead following where the wind may take us.
August 7-17th Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario
I actually feel comfortable with the idea of having no home...for now, it is early days after all. How is this for a start, the freaking engine light goes on in our car - Chris and I both agreed that we needed to have that dealt with before heading out on the road, luckily Canadian Tire had an opening at 8am that morning (July 31). Six hundred dollars later, it is fixed creeping into late afternoon. No such thing as a perfect plan, so without a plan, we head south, towards Victoria, as we had an appointment to go to the following day in a beautiful seaside town. Without thinking, we did not make any reservations at any campsite or hotel. It is a real challenge when you have to look for a place to stay and is pet freindly at the last minute. Hungry and irritable we were. Desperately looking for something healthy to eat is like....forget it! A & W it is. We always regret those choices, and yet we never learn. After a few phone calls at the restaurant we found a place to stay for the night. Let's just say it was an expensive day, but hey, its all good! Because of this day, I made sure we had a campsite for Saturna Island - 5 days was booked.
Chris and I had to go to the southern tip of Vancouver Island (keeping you all in suspense, not revealing location as of yet) to talk to the architect/project planner of our possible new home. We want to spend the rest of our days looking at the ocean on the deck, reading good books, painting, writing, sipping wine and making new friends, this place may have all of this for us. We had our meeting and time was ticking on, I check the ferry schedule once more and in a panic, I said to Chris that our ferry was for 3:20, it was already 2:40 and we were not going to make the ferry, it was at least an hours drive.. So in a scramble, we gathered all our papers and left in a haste. We will just have to settle for the next sailing time. We drove into the paying booth and the BC Ferries cashier said the next ferry was for 8:10 pm. We have 4 hours wait before we get on the ferry, just as well, we had to get some food to feed us for the next few days. We drove into Sidney and got groceries and wine. We are all set.
Just minutes after boarding the ferry, the sun was sinking into the horizon. You can see the affects from the fires, (Southern BC) turning the skies into a smokey haze leaving the sun shining like a bright garnet stone. Even in disaster, there was beauty. After 2 hours of sailing past 2 islands (Pender and Mayne) we finally docked at Lyall Point, Saturna Island. It was pitch black! Chris turned his head to me and in a voice nicest way possible, said, "Rose, it is going to be dark, and we will have to set up camp in this so we have to be patient, and not to get frustrated, and get angry, we just have to do the best we can." I nodded my head in agreement, "yes, we will do our best". We drove off to the ferry and miss the campsite right away...GPS gives us a little drive around some country roads for about 2 kms. - apparently, our GPS garmin does not do U turns. We found the campsite...unfortunately we can't drive out this time because it was the only campsite on the island and everything else is shut down for the night (10:30pm) OH WHY DID I BOOK FOR 5 DAYS!?!
Well, whether we like it or not, we had to set up camp. Remembering what Chris said earlier, reminding myself to be patient and not get frustrated, this assembly under the midnight moon will put us to the test. Chris set up the tent while I set up the air mattress, with our car parked right in front of our site and left the headlights on so Chris could see while putting together our tent, me, with my super bright flashlight I searched for extension cord, adapter, pump and air mattress...so far so good, no cursing or falling over. As the air pump whirs into action, some zombie woman dragged herself to our site and mumbled something, "Pardon?' I said, she mumbled again, "Sorry, I didn't hear what you said." She then waved her arms like she was swatting flies and trudged on back into her tent. Oh, this place is like something out of the movie, Hills Have Eyes. Good news! We set up camp without any choice words, and by 12:30am we were lying in our lilo (the Brit lying next to me calls it that, we Canadians call it air mattress 🤣)
We woke up to brilliant sunshine, slinked out of our bed into the warm pacific breeze and had a good look around the campsite. First thing Chris said was, "it looked a lot better in the dark." I totally agreed. The site was tiny! Our view coming out of tent was the fence showing the back of some dilapidated trailer, grounds were littered with tinder dried leaves as if the grounds were never kept, lined with boulders as markers for the tent sites. What a visual nightmare! To our right, there were two one man tents side by side and just steps from there, a shower shack and a pit toilet. Lovely, it looks like we are camping in some one's back yard. We decided to use this day to explore the island and get the heck out of here tomorrow.
We hit some beautiful spots on the island, East Point, Thompson Park, Shell Beach and Winters Cove. We walked a lot; it was a hot, slow meandering kind of walk. The smoke was coming in from all directions and it got worst as the day wore on. As we walk through the old Salish trails of Winters Cove, the salal showed off their emerald green leaves bordering the 2nd growth firs, while the wind softly whispering stories of the past (okay, we read the signs in the self-guided tour). Running again is proving to be difficult with this heat wave and poor air quality from the BC fires - and it will get worst as we head East tomorrow. Our plans of eating heathily and exercising regiment basically went out the window. This is going to be a real challenge. Especially now that the poor air quality index is rising at a rapid rate. We decided that we seen the main attractions on the island and 2 days of camping here was fine and we will move onto the mainland. So 2 ferry sailings later, we landed in Tswassen and drove on to Hope (orginal plan was to go North, at this time there were road closures due to fires). What do you do when your tired? You book into a motel - really nothing to write about here. We had an unexpected visit with our friends whom just moved to Kamloops (and within 48 hours, they hosted 6 evacuees from Williams Lake fire), and we ended up staying the night. We had lots of laughs and enjoyed the quails gather in the nearby sagebushes and mountain sheep grazing lazily up the hills past their front yard. We bade our farewells to our friends, packed up our car and drove off onto the ribbons of asphalt, heading East. Next stop, Grand Forks. We really liked this town the first time we visited, 2nd time? No. We left Grand Forks and spent the most part of the day drving, by this time it was nearly 5pm and we stopped in Fernie, BC. What a beautiful town, we drove through it and stopped at the Information center and cooked our dinner in the park. Realizing that now is the time to look for a place to stay...called the holels, motels and campgrounds from Creston to Sparwood, NOTHING was available, all booked! What the heck?! What is happening in these small sleepy towns? Finally, we found a place to stay for the night in Pincher Creek, Alberta. This week is now officially done. Still, have not ran, it has been 35+ degrees outside, to dang hot to do anything but drive on in an air conditioned car. Perhaps our next destination will be a relaxing few days in a beautiful campsite not too far away.
After several years of talking about it and a few life hiccups along the way, we are finally going to do it, we are going on a road trip, destination - Canada. We have the 2nd largest country in the world and we have seen very little of it. We sold our home in Nanaimo, BC. That was the easy part. Now packing up, throwing out, boxing, taping, donating, cleaning and storing, what an overwhelming task this is. We managed to store our home in a 10x20 storage locker. I look at the stuff and think, 'WOW, we still have a lot of stuff!' I swear that one third of the stuff comes from our kitchen, I am guilty of buying a lot of kitchen gadgets (which I am very proud of the fact I didn't rush out to buy the InstaPot). Now, packing the car is another thiing...we still haven't decided whether to get a trailer or camperized van, perhaps after a week or so of tenting, we will find the solution to our dilemma. So we stuffed our Hyundai Sante Fe with our suitcases, cooler, tent and other camping paraphenalia like there is no tomorrow...oh and our dog, Dudley.
The purpose of our journey this summer is for two reasons, Chris - after last years health scare and myself - rapidly losing more vision than I care to admit. We live in such a beautiful country and it would be a shame not to explore from west to east, starting here in British Columbia. With this trip I am taking my #apple watch, iPad Pro and #RunGoApp. With my vision loss, exploring will be a big challenge, so I hope the app will help us, if anything, not get lost. But getting lost is not such a bad thing either, some of the best hidden gems are found this way, by accident. So this blog will be my journey, our journey, and I hope the wifi Angel will be with us so we can share our experiences with you. We will explore Canada like we never lived or seen before. Stay tuned...
Oh by the way... if you have done tenting, RVing or other forms of mobile living for several months, leave a message! We would really like to hear your experiences, pros/cons and advice!
You know that moment, when your dog looks at you, eyes boring into your soul, melting your heart and telling you something (it almost feels like telepathic communication). Okay, it is 4:30 and it is feeding time, let us not deny they have needs and if met, they will be your best friend. A man's best friend. Such a true statement. I have always had a dog throughout my childhood and into adulthood. Each dog we had were all different, some mutts, rescue dogs, and pure breds. It didn't matter what kind of dog we had, they all had something in common, they bring you joy.
I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (Usher Syndrome: progressive blindness/deafness) when I was 16, of all times in my life, that was a period when I didn't have a dog. I was in denial and decided not to deal with this and stored this into the 'back room' of my brain. It was a flawless plan. Over the years, RP was becoming more prevelant and reentered to the 'front room' of my brain, alerting me to pay attention to what was happening. Life seemed so normal, married, raising a beautiful daughter, a career...then death struck, I lost my mother to cancer, I had to give up a dog (not long before my mom's death), give up my job, losing my vision and marriage was failing. My emotions were fraying from the fabric of my being and it was spiralling out of my control. And yet again, something was missing - a dog. Then came Lucy, a chocolate lab (was a rescue dog). I met her before, she along with another chocolate lab was abandoned at the Gymnastics Academy. I was volunteering at the office at the time and asked around if anyone knows of these two beautiful dogs. After a week, I called the SPCA. I had asked them to contact me if they come up for adoption. To my surprise, after 2 weeks I got the phone call. Nobody had claimed them, which made me sad. How can someone abandon two beautiful chocolate labs? After much debate with my husband, we came to an agreement that I am solely responsible for the dog. As we drove up the the pound, I could see her peeking through the fence, she just looked frightened and was not vocal like the other dogs. The SPCA called her 'Purdy" (like Purdy's Chocolate) and the other one 'Rocky'. Rocky was in the same pen and according to the staff, these two dogs were inseparable. I told my husband we have enough room for two dogs. I felt like I was the child begging to keep the two dogs. It was embarrassing and demeaning. I lost. So we adopted Purdy and left Rocky behind. As we were driving off, he yelped and howled till we were too far to hear him. It was heartwrenching and I cried.
I renamed Purdy to Lucy, it suited her personality - she was funny and clumsy. It was over a week that I had noticed Lucy didn't bark, she just sat on the kitchen floor and watched me all the time, observing her new owners and home. Even when someone was at the door, I often don't hear the knocking on the door, Lucy just sat quietly while I was going about my daily routine. So, I started to train her, to bark when someone at the door, some sign language for sit, stay and come. It was not long before she became my eyes and ears. She barked when someone was at the door, she helped me to 'see' when I dropped things on the floor, and was always ready and eager to help. After losing my mom, our puppy Millie, and my daugther in full time school, my weight was becoming a problem. Walking Lucy was a great start to improve my well being. We were out walking one day heading to the grocery store and coming down the hill was a runner. She was smiling and enjoying her run. It was as if she was a gazelle effortlessly running in the wild. I decided that day, I want to experience what she was experiencing and looking fit.
I would wait till I dropped off my daughter at school and walked down to the dike pathway so no one would see my attempt at running. Lucy was always happy to run. We would start out running and after about 20 seconds my lungs were burning, and I was gasping for breath, everything was hurting. I thought to myself, this is horrible! I can't even run 50 yards! It was then I remembered that woman running down the hill. I was determined to give this a go. So Lucy, with her energetic strides encourage me to go. It took me a few months before I could run 2 miles without stopping. I was elated, Lucy and I became a running team. She was looking trim and I started to lose weight. Running became my therapy. That year, I joined the newly formed running club and continued my journey to fitness. Lucy would train with me 3 days a week running and the off days we would do long walks or hiking. We were inseparable. After serveral months of training for my first 1/2 marathon I had lost 30lbs and then following year for my first full marathon I lost 47lbs. Lucy was a dog that saved me. She saved me from depression, improved my health and my loneliness. Sadly, she died of cancer (8 years ago). Losing her was like losing my best friend, my vision was worsening, depression was creeping back up on me and life just seemed hard. It was not till a year later, my daughter asked me to go with her to look at a dog, I was hesitant. She begged and said, you will love him, he is beautiful and needs a new home. It turns out, her friend's sister had this dog that needed to have a home because of the other dogs were bullying him and she had her hands full with a toddler and baby on the way. I agreed with my daughter to take him - I saw him, he is certainly a beautiful dog. I was determined not to get too attached to him too soon. We brought him home, my husband was not happy that I took him, I couldn't understand why, he never looked after Lucy so it was not like he had responsibilities for our Lucy. Determined to have a good dog, I worked with him to train him to all the things necessary to have a dog that is well behaved and to assist me.
Turns out he was very different from Lucy - I guess I should expect that. I renamed him Dudley (Doug was his original name, changed it because I had 3 friends named Doug and it just didn't sit well with me) and he also a chocolate lab. Not long after my marriage broke down (been a long time coming), I packed up with what little stuff I had and the dog (because I knew if I left the dog, he would not have the same care), and moved in with a friend, now my fiancé. It was during that time when bonding really started to happen with Dudley, I was accepting the difference of personality between the two dogs, he is sweet, lazy, smart and adventerous but loyalty is still a bit lacking. Or is he just a happy social dog that loves to go with other people and come home just as happy? He is now my running buddy, he helps me by pulling so I would not veer onto the road. He keeps me safe and actually uses his head to nudge me at every juction we approach, sometimes he stops dead in his tracks and unbeknownst to me a car drives by. There were many close calls, I just have to learn to trust him, after all, I am sure he doesn't want to get hit by a car either! And yes! he fetches my slippers too. As it turns out, Dudley is a great dog and he comes with us almost everywhere we go. He is always ready with the leash in his mouth for the next run or adventure.
Do you have a dog? Pet? Guide/support dog? So you understand my story. For those who never had a dog or always wanted to but afraid to, what is stopping you? Committment? Yes, it is a big commitment but comes with lots of benefits. Cost? Yes, cost can be a factor, but if you look after your dogs health and well being, that surely can reduce vet bills! It is a life changing addition to your life. Allergies? Consider talking to your doctor about getting allergy shots and research what type of dog suits you. If you don't want to commit to have a dog for very long, consider fostering at your local SPCA/ASPCA, become a puppy raiser for guide/therapy dogs (up to 18 months committment), or just visit the pound and volunteer to walk/feed/clean them. These are all good ways to have some of that canine love and who knows, as time goes by you will be ready to have a dog to be part of your life for many years.
Having a dog is a dogs bollocks! (It means fantastic by the way!)
https://www.puppyspot.com/ FIND ALL KINDS OF BREEDS/RESOURCES OF DOG BREEDERS AND FOR DOG OWNER
http://www.spca.bc.ca/ READY TO ADOPT? VOLUNTEER? FOSTER?
http://bcandalbertaguidedogs.com/volunteer/ VOLUNTEER OR DONATE, LEARN MORE ABOUT PUPPY RAISING
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Dash For Dogs 2017
Running solo is a challenge when you have less then 10 degrees of peripheral vision (most people have 175 degrees), luckily we live in the age of technology and I have assistance using RunGo app and Apple Iphone/watch series 2. It never cease to amaze me how much technology can have an impact on our lives - it is like having a longer lease on athleticism. A couple months ago, I came across an advert post on facebook featuring Dash for Dogs run in February. It turns out, it was an event put on by RunGo (app) - Craig Slagel for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs. Since having met Craig and 'Dynasty' (retired guide dog) at a race expo, I wanted to support this event and for a great cause. Chris and I signed up for the 10K run/walk. It was an opportunity to run another event solo using the RunGo app in the trails of Stanley Park.
A couple weeks before the event, I recieved an email from Craig about a blog that I have done a few months back (RUN GO SOLO). He was impressed how I used the app and my iphone to guide me through the trails. This time, I will be using the Apple watch to navigate through the trail system of Stanely Park. After several messages back and forth, Craig again, helped me set up the watch/iphone ready for the run. How exciting is this?! The night before the event, Chris and I walked to the Denman Running Room store to pick up our race packages. After gettiing our numbers, Craig (always to the rescue!) made sure I was set up with the Apple watch and the route ready for action. It turns out that the trail has some obstacles that could hinder my run and he suggested that he could have someone to run with me. I understand his concern and decided that it was a good idea to have extra safety measures in place.
Alarm goes off at 6:00 am and so our day begins. We arrived in Stanley Park at 8:00am, Dudley, our chocolate lab was getting excited and I was nervous having to run with him with about 100 other dogs with their owners. I have never done an organised run with our dog. This event was a first time, and to be frank, I wasn't sure how Dudley would be. I imagined him to be all over the place and not to have any control with him. He generally runs really well with me, he stays pretty focused and tends to pull me off the road if I were to veer on to the road. He is my 'wanna be guide dog'.
We arrived at the beautiful Stanley Park early with plenty of time to do the usual prep for a run. It was about 8:55, I heard my name being called out and saw Craig motioned me to come forward. I was introduced to a lovely woman, Ashley Wiles. Before I even knew it, we started to run. I hear the app going off on my watch...then it echoed around me, a lot of the runners were using the RunGo app. Not surprising (smile). We were already comfortable with each other as we chat through our 10K. GAWD, these hills were killing me, haha. I had to stop a few times to catch my breath! My hip was hurting, but not bad enough to opt out. As we navigate through the trails, I understood why Craig wanted my to have someone to run with me. It was the stairs, some icy patches, low lying branches and a log to climb over. GOOD CALL Craig! Ashley and I breezed through the 'obstacles' no problem and the app chimed in at every turn, encouraging words and stating kilometers to me through the run without any problems. We chatted throughout the run (well mostly Ashley, as I was struggling through those hills). It was about 50 meters to the finish I said to Ashley, lets speed it up. Made it in 1:15, which was a lot slower than my last trail race, who cares? We had a good time! I actually used both RunGo app and the Activity Ring for this run. I can't wait to do more runs with the Apple watch (series2) as I become more familiar with it. As a determined individual, I want to run solo for as long as I can. I don't know how much longer I can run on my own, I won't worry about that for now. As long as technology and support continues, it will be a long time before I hang up my runners. Now if only my runners has an app for visual cues...
Special thanks to my love, Chris - who I know gets a little nervous as I head out for my solo runs, nevertheless supports me always. To Craig Slagel (RunGoApp) who continues to support my athletic goals, Fairmont Vancouver Hotel for your wonderful hospitality, and Ashley Wiles for running with me! What a great weekend~ So, see you next year?
AND... Craig did a fantastic job raising nearly $16,000 for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs!
Registered! That is how it all started, our friend (and my guide) Jodi posted on Facebook that she had registered for the Cowichan Autumn Classic 1/2 Marathon. Of course I had to check out the event on line. The description of the event sounded like the perfect run: mostly trails, the Zanata Winery wine tasting and great . After getting some information from the race director and Jodi, I decided that I could run this event without a guide. I needed a little help, you will be surprised to know, that help was done by an app called RunGo. A few years ago Chris and I were at the BMO Vancouver Marathon event and at the expo we met Craig Slagel, the founder of RunGo. It wasn't till after the event that I had downloaded the app and had used it on some of my routes while training. Since then, I got a new phone and the app went dormant. This summer I revisited the app and decided to do my training with this app. I did not realize how big of a role this app would be for my running.
Jodi registered for the 1/2, I registered for the 10K knowing that this will be a test for myself and the RunGo app. Typically, the night before the event I decided to download the route for the race, after several attempts, I could not get it onto my app. It was too small for me to see and I was frustrated that I could not do it, finally I gave in and messaged Craig asking for help, really not expecting a quick response. The next morning, I was pleasantly surprised that Craig had my route downloaded and ready to go! I was thrilled! This meant I could run with more confidence and I won't get lost in the trails.
We pick up our race numbers (Chris was able to register for 10K on the day) and it was raining heavily, but our spirits hadn't dampened. We were eager and optimistic that the run will go well. Chris and I went to our positions at the start line, I decided to go in the middle of the pack. I was carrying my cane folded up and wore my "BLIND" vest in hope to help others be aware of my running situation. The gun goes off, I slowly paced behind some costumed runners and decided to hang behind them till I felt comfortable to pass. At 17 min/km pace, I felt I can comfortably pass some runners as they were going too slow. So I passed a couple more, and kept going till I was running at 6:45 min/km pace within 2km of the race. I decided to stop at water stations so I can safely walk through the crowded areas without too much trouble. Nearly 3km into the run, we hit the trails, I was feeling good and the app was directing me flawlessly. My confidence grew and so did my pace. It seems like I was running as if I have no vision issues at all. I was able to run freely as I let the app guide me. It was liberating. The leaves carpeted the trails in a dizzying blend of reds, oranges and yellows which made it difficult to navigate. I needed to follow someones feet to get me through the roots, puddles and branches or any other obstacles for that matter. I found a Mutant Ninja Turlte to follow for awhile, then a bumble bee and finally I found some bright Wonder Woman booties to follow, but she was too far ahead and still a group of people to pass, so I run patiently. I stopped for a quick view on the bridge, looking down the small canyon with a raging creek below. Just then I realized that I am losing sight of my nemesis. As soon as I went around the half way point I bolted pass several runners to find Wonder Woman, she was gone!! So I decided just to run and be happy with the pace and forget about her. Just then someone said to me, "nice cosume, blind runner!" I quickly repied, "I wish that were true, it is not a costume."
and bolted past him. That alone, got my pace to a furious speed and sped past some more runners and at 7km, I saw her. I couldn't believe she was within my reach. My app chimed "7K at 6:15 pace, way to go!". I know it is silly, but I was motivated by this, so back to chasing Wonder Woman I go. I have not ran this pace in years. In fact the last 10K I ran was 1hr30min. I knew I was going to beat this time, my hope was to finish at 1hr.15min. I was feeling great at this point, I was tailing behind her at about 150 meters from the finish line, I unleashed the cane and steadily ran towards the finish line, still right behind Wonder Woman. I was estatic I had finished with no stumbles, trips, falls or bangs. It felt like I truly raced my best race. Thank you Wonder Woman and RunGo!
I got my medal, a wine glass with red wine. Not a bad way to finish a run! I headed towards the finish line to see Chris come in. I recognized his running style and my face broke into a smile of joy, his face said it all, it was a good run for him too. This brought me such gratitude and completeness. End of a perfect day.
PS. - Zanata Winery has a wonderful little Italian restaurant that we are
surely to visit in the near future.
- I highly recommend the RunGo app. It is Android and iOS friendly (including Apple Watch)
It has been just over a year since I ran in an organized race, last one was in Salt Lake City (July 2015). I had succumbed to an injury, one that I couldn't ignore any longer, so I thought to myself, 'if you want to continue running, you must stop running and start healing'. So I did, after 10 months hiatus from running I had the 'itch' to start again. In June I started to run...ever so slowly, being extremely cautious and reminding my self that I am starting as a novice runner. Knowing I had ran 14 full marathons, a dozen 1/2 marathons, couple triathlons, and various distances, it wasn't easy to start from the beginning. To celebrate my returning to running, I registered for the 15K Snowden Trail Challenge. Then came June 21, the day I will never forget. My world shattered, Chris had collapsed in the gym, actually he had died for 14 minutes. He was flown to Victoria wihin a couple hours. When I arrived at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Chris was on a ventilator and put into hyperthermic state. Tears just streamed down my cheeks when I saw him. Nurses were in and out of the room taking care of him as I sat there holding his hand, frozen with fear as the doctor said to me, "We hope for the best, and not sure if he will survive this, but because he is fit, we are optomistic." Counsellor was brought in to prepare me for the worst. Running now was on the back burner and I wanted to put all my energies to help Chris to heal. After nearly 2 weeks in the hospital, we came home and every day since, I just look at him in amazement how he had survived such an event. I really truly feel lucky to have him beside me. He is an inspiration. Chris is walking 1-2 times a day (and even doing a bit of jogging) and he is talking about doing events.
Just 3 1/2 weeks ago, I picked up where I left off, running every other day increasing my long runs 3 km each week. Thursday I ran approximately 12 km and decided I was ready for Sunday's Snowden Trail Challenge.
It is a beautiful morning, feeling relaxed and excited to do this run. Jodi (our friend and my guide) picked us up at 8 am and the drive took 1 1/2 hours to Campbell River. I usually have the pre race jitters, but I felt confident and did not put any pressure on myself, my goal was to enjoy the run. We arrived in plenty of time to do all the necessaries, pick up race packages, hydrate, fuel up and the dreaded porta potty stops. Can they NOT invent a better porta potty system? I can not hold my breath that long and I am not blind enough to see all the fecal soup brewing in the hole.
Just minutes before race start, Chris gives me that reassuring 'you can do this' smile as we said our goodbyes. I was feeling good, Jodi was her usual bubbly chatty self, and excited to get running. The gun goes off, our tether springs into life as we start to run. We were running comfortably, passing a few people as we head down the gravel road, after about 2km, we hit the trail. Suddenly the temperature dropped to about 16 degrees (was about 24 degrees celcius), I am thinking, this is going to be an epic run. The trail started out to be about 6 feet wide, and thinking "wow, this would be great if it was like this throughout the whole trail!". We were running a little slower now because of the different environment, dealing with shades, sudden bright sunshine which in itself is difficult for any runner to adjust, never mind being sight impaired. We were bumbling along and then the trail starts to narrow, and now Jodi, being the intuitive good guide she is, let the runners pass us as we step aside. We knew we have to concentrate on footing in the everchanging textures of the trails. We were 5km into the run, enjoying the tranquility, beautiful shades of lush
greens flash past us and we noticed that not a soul to be seen. Everyone is ahead, not sure how far ahead because the forest was thick and trails were winding. I really didn't care if I was last in this race, for me it was about my surroundings, not the clock. At around 8 or 9 km, we were running past this beautiful lake, oh it was so pretty. I took a picture of it so I could show Chris the beauty we had seen. Oh the smells was incredible, I could smell the Bracken ferns, Chanterelle mushrooms, and pine needles as we run. The Salals were over 5 feet tall! Jodi and I looked like tiny morsels for dinosaurs in a prehistoric jungle. The trail got really difficult at this point, we had to slow down, roots were embedded in all directions and it was like we were doing hopstotch along the way...that went on for about 3km, then up the hills, down, switchbacking to and fro...again and again. You would think we were discouraged that we had to walk some of this, but we weren't. It was just too beautiful and it has given us time to absorb all the colours and smells. At 10k we hit the aid station, OH MY GOODNESS! there was pretzels, m&ms, chips, cookies, oranges, jujubes, electrolytes and water. We decided to stop, snack and chat. Then back to our blissful run, still feeling really good as if I have never taken a break from running. We were nearing the end of the run, the last 2km was the dreaded rocky road back to the finish line. As we were turning around the last corner, we put our tether back on. Just as we did that we saw Chris with a camera (our personal paparazzi). There is nothing more what I love is to see Chris's smile as we head past him to the finish line. At the finish line there was our friend (also guides me) Kerry, his wife and kids from Comox and Annie from Campbell River. Our little reunion just add that extra special magic to my day. Jodi and I even got interviewd to do a testimonial for the event's promo video they were filming.
We were so excited to see beer, wine and pizza at the finish line. So after 2 glasses of wine and a bellyful of pizza, chips and cookies, we were ready to head home. What a wonderful, blissful day. I couldn't of picked a better running event to rejuevenate my life as a born again runner.
I. AM. A. RUNNER.