Extreme Vacationing

Unbelievably, our long-awaited cross-country train trip has come and gone.

What a wild, wild ride.

It was our longest family vacation, to date. And certainly our most intense.

Compared to the hardcore Rocky Mountain hiking, biking and camping of my youth, it was physically a cynch. But boy was it emotionally explosive.

Here’s a random smattering of our two weeks away. You can snag a bigger peek here.

3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Ottawa to Edmonton.
A happy reunion with a long-lost friend.
An afternoon of waves and water slides.
Abrasions, bruises, a broken big toe and minus-one iphone, thanks to a harrowing afternoon on the Pembina River.
Thrilling road-side views of bears, elk, deer, coyotes and mountain goats.
Gorgeous views of mountains and lakes.
Such sadness at the news of Jack Layton.
An afternoon on horseback.
A glacier tour. A boat tour. A gondola tour.
(oh my)
A double-birthday celebration.
A day of badlands, dinosaurs and hoodoos.
An afternoon at the zoo.
An afternoon of heartbreak and hope.
A weekend of walloping western hospitality.
A decadent dinner with long-lost cousins.
A blast of all-consuming news.
A day in the old west.
3 days and 3 nights of luxury, relaxation and amazing scenery, Edmonton to Ottawa.
A happy reunion with Phae and our home sweet home.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this a vacation to remember.

And especially to Janice for beckoning us out, sharing her beautiful province, keeping us safe and enjoying one billion laughs with us through all the ups and downs.

Here Comes the 10:15 Conniption, Right on Time

In the first few years after it, Jay and I laughed that our 7650 kilometre coast-to-coast cycling slog had eliminated all chances of future adventure.

Once-thrilling ski and bike tours, tough as they were, left us unfulfilled.

Our bang bar was just too high.

Turns out cancer raised a bang bar of its own.

Mark lost his job Monday.
It blindsided us both.

But we’re all alive and healthy.

We’re concerned, curious and quite run down.

But this challenge, tough as it is, is well below the bar.

Everyone’s laughing and riding and cornholing except Buster.

Well, it’s Groundhog Day… again… and that must mean I’m up here in the frozen north, tip-tapping my keyboard and listening, obliviously, to the intermittent vacation plans and reports of family and friends.

I’m typically teflon to travel tales. But this morning – they’re touching something.

Janice rebuilding in New Orleans. Natalie and Mike asanaing in the Costa Rican jungle. Betti, Kathi and countless co-workers counting down sleeps to the sunny south.

I popped back, this morning, to glimpse my 2010 wood-chuck-chucking self and realized: Hey, I’ve escaped  Punxatawney. And I am the woman I wanted.

Now, I’ve got places to go and people to be.

Coo-coo-ca-cha! Coo-coo-ca-cha!

Since the timid travels of my youth, I’ve been happy to leave most geography to pros like Jay, Bill and Janice.

I’ve enjoyed their tales, over tea. Completely glad it wasn’t me. Blithely quenching my “thirst to stay at home”.

Then cancer questioned my stay-put strategy. Thoughts of spots I’d never be — not just because I’m chicken but because I’d missed my chance.

Lately, as I watched one fellow risk-skipper launch into adventure and one adventurous friend prepare to wrap his up, I panicked.

Had I made a huge mistake? Was it too late? Should I max out my visa and see the world?

Then I came across an article I’d written back in 2007. And I remembered who I am.

I’m chicken, yes. But that’s not what’s kept me from exotic adventure.
It’s just not my bag.
I invest in daily, local pleasures. And tame, tasty vacations.
I’m happy where I am.

The joys fear keeps from me are close by. Or internal.

Thanks to this journey, we’re looking forward to a celebratory visit to our Gratitude Statue‘s twin in Apeldoon, Netherlands, in 2014. We’ll enjoy a weekend in Manhattan, this April. And we still hope for whales in the Gaspésie and the Badlands of Drumheller.

In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying our comfortable little radius.

Coka, coka, coka, coh!