Monday, August 28, 2006

Why?

This post will soon be a glorious and philosophical examination of my trip around the city of Saskatoon. For now, I want you to know that I have been successful in an all too short 16 hours and 17 minutes.

Perhaps obsession would be too strong a word to describe it. But, I have been pursuing this goal for more than 10 years. Sometimes without diligence and sometimes with everything I had in me.

Why?

I have heard that question more often than any other in association with this quest of mine. Some people decree that it doesn't really seem that difficult. Why bother? Some think that it is an inane way to spend 16 hours. Could I be just a little bit crazy? Recently, Wendy wanted to know why it was so important? Why keep going back to this seemingly innocuous task? After all, since my first attempt I have lived in three different towns/cities, I have had two children and I have backpacked through Italy. It seems as though a walk around town should hardly register on the radar.

I didn't really figure it out until I was on the journey. You see, I don't want to climb Mt Everest. It seems like I should, but I just don't. In Pump Up the Volume(imdb), Mark says, "All the great themes have been used up and turned into theme parks." I disagree, and yet the point is well taken. I have this feeling that climbing Everest(wikipedia) is just the latest 'extreme' theme park. (And, I am very aware that this is spoken by someone who has never achieved the summit and looked down from the "top of the world.") Don't get me wrong -- I'm sure it is an incredible challenge, but it belongs to someone else. In fact, thousands of people at last count. Yes, there are other mountains (real and metaphorical) but this one is mine.

Agon(wikipedia). Time and again I come back to this Greek term. "The Struggle." I think that it is the one thing that Captain Kirk and I may actually have in common (besides a nice tan and striking good looks). Struggle is really what makes us become our best. Perhaps it even does define us as humans. This is what I came to realize: I did not want to simply walk around the city! I wanted it to be hard. Hard enough that I took a real risk of failure -- yet tame enough that there is no risk to my family that they would be orphaned by my failure. Telling everyone I knew about it before my departure wasn't so much for the well-wishing that naturally ensues, but to increase the penalty of failure -- to heighten the risk.

Well, that is a long answer for a simple concept. I trust that I have rambled long enough to outlast even my most stalwart readers. I would post some inline pictures from the trip but, alas, I have exhausted my flicker bandwidth limit for the month you will have to make do with this link to a Picassa album. Go with the slideshow option to get nice, big pics.
Around the City
Aug 28, 2006 - 13 Photos

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Going, Going...

I've been waiting for the opportune moment. And here it is. Saturday, Aug 26 will mark my third attempt to walk around the city of Saskatoon in a single day. Here, roughly, is my proposed route.
As you can see, it clocks in at around 60km. A pretty heavy investment. Lots of it is asphault, but even more of it is gravel and a fair chunk is just plain off-road. I'll be leaving from my house around 4am (if I can manage it, ug). If I could manage a consistant pace with a few stops, I should be able to do it in 12-14 hours.

Tidbits:
- first attempted with a group of questers in about 1994. I had to stop (about 38km) due to excruciating joint pain which largely abated, yet lasted for several weeks.
-Second attempt in 2005 (completed about 41km). This particular excursion was called on account of the impending hypothermia of my companion. There was a lengthy deluge of rain and hail in the mid to late afternoon!

I would love to see any or all of you for portions of the journey. I will take my cell phone (ask vin, or email me to get the number) so you can hook up with me wherever may be most suitable.

Be warned, I am keeping my own pace this year, and those who fall behind will be left behind.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Anniversary to me... er, I mean US

It' s not really our style to celebrate with expensive gifts or fancy hotel getaway weekends -- we are just too cheap. But we do like to camp. In contrast to our last camping experience (which you may have read about below), Meadow Lake Provincial Park was pleasantly vacant of other human beings. We camped for a couple of nights at Greig lake. Here are some of the hightlights.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Ex

I worked at the exhibition for a couple of summers, some 12 years ago. What a hell hole. The only thing that can get me back there year after year are the glowing looks on my children's faces and their delighted screams as they tear along the enormous roller-coaster.

Children's day isn't really half bad. $10 and the kids can ride until they drop. It's a bit of a zoo, but we were fortunate this year. A short blast of wind and an hour of rain really thinned the line-ups. Naturally, we all had umbrellas and rain gear.

This is a video montage of our day set to The Beatle's lyrics and Bono's vocals. Little history(wikipedia) for those with inclination.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Perfection in all things

Last month I saw a woman cycling to work. Admirable in itself. She was dressed in a pants suit which made her biking look that much more important. In one hand she carried a briefcase and in the other she was talking on her cell phone. My only question at the time was which one would she drop if she lost her balance, as she was riding with no hands.

Today, Brad sent me a link to some fellows who thought that it was cool to take coffee on their bikes. They were right, of course, but I don't think they went quite far enough for me.

If you are going to do something half-assed, you may as well do it full-assed.

Here I am fully armed for the modern world. The bike enables me to credibly eat crunchy granola for breakfast while at the same time avoid the skyrocketing gasoline prices. I've got my PDA with MP3s blaring (so I can be organized while oblivious), my cell phone, my digital watch timing my arrival at nirvana, and my coffee keeping me awake for when I finally arrive. Now, don't think I'm being reckless here. Look at the carrier on the back. Never say that I didn't put safety first.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Alberta Summer 06

Things got off to a bit of a slow start. That is to say that it rained all the first day. Good thing we brought Wendy with us as she came with a whole host of supplies -- rain gear and umbrellas among them. When we did get a chance to be outside, the girls made their old dad proud...

We drove to Lloydminster and stopped at Bud Miller All Season Park. The gate was indeed open, but everyone else seemed aware that the 'all season' bit was simply a gimmick. There was no one in the whole place. That's fine. For given that we were headed full speed into the tourist trap of the Alberta long weekend, it was the last privacy which we were likely to have.

We had a quick snack at McD's and proceeded toward Edmonton. We stopped at Vegreville on the way for the obligatory photos with their tremendous egg. The rain had mostly stopped by this time and the girls took the opportunity to do a little climbing. I am ashamed to admit that I was compelled to tell Leora "no" when she asked to climb up into the huge metallic pysanka. Sometimes it really chafes, having to play at being responsible.

Once in Edmonton we were hosted by the illustrious Brad Stover, his wife Jen and there two beagles, Sisko and Milo. Aside from prying Milo off my leg a few too many times, the visit was pleasant, but all too short. We spent the night and the following morning treated ourselves to the biggest IKEA store in all of North America (so said Brad). We bought some new stuff for our upstairs bathroom--yet another on my loooonnnnggg list of projects for the end of the summer.

Anyway the next leg of the journey had much more pleasant weather. We stopped at a very crowded beach and grabbed a patch of turf for a very fine picnic from our well stocked cooler.

We bee-lined from Reddeer straight into the mountains. There were about 20 campsites from which to choose a pleasant vista for our next nights repose. Now we really are quite a smart family as a rule. Saturday... Summer... Long weekend... Beautiful scenery... hmmmm... FULL Campsites! After about 2 hrs of checking various sites with no success, a thoughtful woman stopped us on our way back to the highway and directed us to her TOP SECRET overflow campsites. It was actually quite nice. They were set up for large family gatherings, reunions, etc... and there was one not in use. We were rescued. $12 for the night and that included a private fire-pit, which I put to good use roasting some leftover VinBits.

The next day we drove to Banff to enjoy the 'natural' hotsprings. Next time we shall skip that part and put in extra effort to go back to Miette hotsprings. Banff was as you might expect--crowded, expensive and overrated. On the way we did manage to see some great scenery and a family of mountain goats, so not all was lost.
This was the parking lot at the banff hot springs.
We were lucky to exit with our lives and car insurance intact!


We slept in Calgary that night with Teela and her friend Heidi. Heidi had a new cat and we had lots of fun taunting it with a laser pen, which allows a human to play with the cat and be ever so much more lazy than if you are required to actually tie a piece of paper to a string and repeatedly lift it.



Fortunately, Heidi is a working computer programmer and so can afford the otherwise daunting cost of tiny pen laser batteries.

Next day was the zoo.
The girls did what they do.

And I did what I do.

There is really little else to say except that if I lived in Calgary, I would have a family membership to that place in a heartbeat.

On the way home we found a nice waterpark in Drummheller. Aunty Teela tried to show how young and vigorous she was by racing Anwyn around the huge fountain. Nice try!

The end