Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Last Day On The Road...


Today we drove through extremes of scenery - from arid desert-like hills with salt bushes and great chasms - to the alpine, twisting roads of the Fraser Canyon. We passed gold mining rivers and dusty towns that had come and gone with the gold rush. We passed tourist attractions and run down roadside stops - including one totally over-the-top Elvis themed cafe run by a very unhappy man... Somehow we missed Hope, where we intended to stop for a while and drove on to Chilliwack. Neither of us were ready to end our holiday and enter the so-called civilized world... We stopped and Marilyn soothed her angst with a fabulous camera. I bought a part for my GPS and a teeshirt. Eventually we could delay it no longer and drove the last few miles. Our week had been great and after we polished up the motorhome and left it in my friend's field, we bought some of the delicious Blackberry Wine - the one that goes so well with white chocolate fudge - to tide us over until the next trip.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Thursday

I woke up late and took a coffee and chair over to the lakeside. The mosquitos swarmed me but I tried to ignore them and drink in the serenity all around me. Suddenly, above the trickling and lapping sound of the lake, I could hear slow, deep rolls of distant thunder.
We were in a valley with steep, rolling mountains covered in blackened pine-beetled trees as far as the eye could see.

Earlier we had seen a bear, calmly eating grass and I imagined the forests around me teaming with wildlife that I couldn’t see.
It took us an hour to wash ourselves and last nights dishes and to get our rig ready for the road. Just as we we
re about to leave there was a violent crack of thunder and huge drops of rain started to fall. As we drove away, everything had turned grey, little rivulets formed and the sound of thunder and rain on the metal roof of the motorhome sank both Marilyn and I into a kind of reverie.

Wednesday

After polishing and cleaning up and filling the camper with water – and sharing a fabulous brunch with Allan, we were on the road again, feeling satisfied – even exuberant - about our trip. We left Prince George and drove through rusted brown forests destroyed by the pine beetle – Julie had not realized how serious the pine beetle problem was. We were saddened to see thousands upon thousands of acres of devastation.

Next stop Barkerville. What we hadn’t realized was that this historic gold-mining town had closed at least 3 hours before we arrived. There were chains on the gates – but a guardian angel appeared and agreed to give us a personal tour in his trusty pickup. It was such a treat to wander through the deserted streets – without tourists it was so much easier to imagine life as it was when the town was built in 1858. The very first town in BC. I was thrilled to find a library and even more thrilled to sit inside and check out the dusty exhibits.





















We found another beautiful spot by the side of the road next to a huge lake without a house in site.
This time I entertained Julie with stories of bears who were clever enough to open doors. Good thing we have a fierce guard dog who barks at her own tail! After three hours of swatting mosquitos, we fell asleep.

Monday - D-Day (day of the conference)

At 7am Allan had the coffee on and wordlessly we went through all the usual morning rituals. Both of us had a whole swarm of butterflies in our stomachs! Just minutes before our presentation, we learned that the Mac can’t just plug into the projector and we needed a special connector. ‘Beyond Hope’s’ wonderful IT men – thank you Roy and Nathan – went out shopping for us and all was well that ended so very well.

As I was sitting frozen – and zombie-like – knowing that everything that could be going wrong seemed to be happening. Julie sneaked out of the room and discovered that the IT people brought back the wrong connector. The presentation was only 15 minutes away… After a few more technical disasters attended to by our heroic IT guys and a last-minute room change, Julie and I began our session. The next hour and a half passed in a blur and we were left with the glowing feeling that our talk had been well received.

The rest of the conference was fantastic – it was neat being able to put a face to some of the names I’ve only read about. We also got to visit the Chief Librarian’s corn snake, Darth Slitherous, who resides in the children’s area and feasts on a diet of weekly mouse.
The next day felt like a huge hangover – despite which we were at the conference by 11 o’clock so that we could enjoy some of the other sessions including a fabulous yoga session.

Sunday

I woke up at 5 am to watch the sunrise. I sat enthralled looking at the birds on a wire and ducks playing.














The RV b
ehaved today. So did we! We took our time driving through sleepy little, pine-beetle infested towns in the interior and periodically sun-bathing by the side of the road.

Eventually we arrived in Prince George where my friend Allan welcomed us with open arms. We parked behind his house - the RV had become my second home and we still slept in it. However we did spend hours in Allan’s amazing massage chair. Comfort camping at its best!

We had a minor technical glitch the night before the presentation. After backing up the Mac, my presentation disappeared. I was beside myself with worry – and Julie’s calm demeanor made me even more furious. Eventually we found my presentation in the “Time Machine” – I love PCs!

Saturday

Waking up this morning was a slow process and it didn’t happen until 10:30am. After peeking through the curtains, I realized we were only 10 feet away from the edge of a ravine! And sure enough, there was the waterfall we heard the night before. Somehow, the scary monsters and angry rapids of the night before had turned into tranquil, moss-covered trees and gentle running waters. Having a disability presents numerous challenges – part of me wanted to climb rocks and explore our surroundings - the other part of me realized that myelopathy makes it difficult for me even to walk.

However, I pushed limits and pre-conceived ideas firmly out of my mind and climbed the darn rocks. What a great start to the day.

When we finally filled up with the elusive propane and bought a few groceries, we were serenaded by a live, three piece band playing “When the Saints come marching in” – fabulous! The day was full of small adventures. We started our pilgrimage of local libraries at the Yale Public Library, which turned out to be a great little place attached to the elementary school - and only open 3 days a week (we lucked out in that one of the days was today).

Julie conquered her fear of heights by dangling hundreds of feet above the boiling waters of Hells Gate just outside of Boston Bar, BC. And I laid down on a suspension bridge made of strong, steel mesh with the rushing waters just below me. I have been testing my limits today walking up and down slopes and standing for long periods of time at a museum about salmon spawning in the Fraser River.















The terrain beyond Hope is spectacular. We began our journey surrounded by alpine mountains and the awe-inspiring Fraser canyon.
Slowly the hills became less jagged and steep (the RV – or Julie – was relieved) and there were valleys, some of them quite desert like. I discovered that Julie is obsessed with trains – we stopped, watched and filmed 4 huge trains, each with more than 100 carriages – all within the space of an hour. We drove to an odd little town called 100-Mile-House, where we spent the night on a lakefront next to a racetrack.

Video of Marilyn on the bridge.

Click here to see Julie watching the trains.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 2 - Roadtrip to Beyond Hope...

Day 2 – Friday June 5, 2009

Happy 19th birthday Thomas! ReBuildingYou’s talented systems executive becomes an adult!

Julie and I woke up to the sound of a donkey braying – after all, it is spring and love is in the air (men looking for sex are damn noisy!).

Julie spent the morning pulling weeds, while I made myself comfortable with a book on a wooden swing under a shady oak tree. We took a picnic lunch to the beach and I tested my walking powers on the pebbly beach. Life doesn’t get much better than this!

Our goal that evening was to reach Hope – and, really, we needed to leave right away… However, it was just too tempting to have a FAR INFRARED sauna and a long shower in Karen’s executive suite before we left. We drank glasses of ionized water and learned just how much better – and cheaper – this is for us compared to Evian (or wine).

Nine o’clock found us on the road - and excited to be on our way after a great day. There were a few technical glitches with the RV – something about propane, duel fuel, a leaky water tank, gauges that didn’t work, a broken GPS holder-thingy and an airlock. Not to mention that we are both directionally challenged at night and had a hard time finding east! Somehow we made it to Hope – by 1:00 am!

Just as we limped into Hope (we were dangerously low on propane) the engine sputtered, refused to switch to gasoline and died. This was not a good place to stop – on a bend, with the threat of a semi whisking around the corner at any moment.

At that moment, I panicked while Julie stayed calm and finished making our curry. Apparently the engine just needed a ‘little time’. Luckily after we were happily fed, the RV started (thank you god!). However, two miles up the road the engine died for a second time – we weren’t sure why? Everything was pitch black and we couldn’t even see the stars. We were in the middle of the forest with huge pines on either side – in the background we could hear the angry rush of a waterfall and rapids (too close for comfort). We were tired… We needed to rest.

This time I stayed calm and started telling Julie about the Highway of Tears story. Then – being in an RV – I got into my pajamas, brushed my teeth and went straight to sleep. Julie spent the next two hours scared out of her wits, with an axe beside her bed (I had the pepper spray!). As I drifted off to sleep, a wolf was howling in the background and questions about my sanity did cross my mind...

Julie and I have embarked on a strange and wonderful adventure. We are travelling to Prince George in an RV to present at the Beyond Hope library conference. Our session is called “ReBuilding Health from the Ground Up” based on the best example of ‘grass roots’ health information we know – our website www.ReBuildingYou.

Let me backtrack and tell you a little about myself. I am the new creative director of ReBuildingYou.com and a passionate librarian and advocate. And as you probably know, Julie is a counsellor and founder of ReBuildingYou and we are traveling up to Prince George to present our brand new model of consumer health information – a system that will focus on the lived experiences of clients.

Roadtrip! Prince George Library's conference, 'Beyond Hope'

Day 1 – Thursday June 4, 2009

Julie and I decide to take leave of our senses – and Victoria – and drive to Prince George in a 1982 RV (we are not sure if the brakes work and there seems to be a hole in the water tank). Is this decision in any way a result of Julie’s brain injury? No! Not one bit. We both have learned that in order to make life truly worth living it’s really necessary to push boundaries and take chances. This sounds like one of those times?

The ferry trip was almost too easy. Our first stop was just over the U.S. border at a beautiful retreat in Point Roberts, owned by Karen Stanwood and offering luxurious hospitality just one hour south of Vancouver. Midnight found us sitting on lawnchairs, in waist-high grass with a glass of chardonnay, gazing at the full moon.


Julie and I have embarked on a strange and wonderful adventure. We are travelling to Prince George in an RV to present at the Beyond Hope library conference. Our session is called “ReBuilding Health from the Ground Up” based on the best example of ‘grass roots’ health information we know – our website www.ReBuildingYou.

Let me backtrack and tell you a little about myself. I am the new creative director of ReBuildingYou.com and a passionate librarian and advocate. And as you probably know, Julie is a counsellor and founder of ReBuildingYou and we are traveling up to Prince George to present our brand new model of consumer health information – a system that will focus on the lived experiences of clients.