Kerry Dennehy's Enough is Enough Blog


Enough is Enough: The Ride

My wife Ginny and I were pondering where to go next. Since our beautiful boy Kelty took his life 13 years ago suffering from major depression, we were at a standstill.

The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation which we founded in 2001 had raised more than $4.5 million, but donor fatigue, volunteer fatigue, the recession of 2008, and the loss of our beautiful daughter Riley in 2009 from heart failure, kiboshed our plans to continue our lucrative fundraiser golf tournament in Whistler where we live.

Our new executive assistant, local Whistler gal Carol Baker, looked over at Ginny one day and said, "Why don't you ride across Canada for mental health?" Our reaction was like putting your finger in a light socket! Two wheeled adventure has seized the imagination of late boomers [Ginny is 60,me 63.9] and we were no exception. We had just completed two Vancouver to Whistler Gran Fondo's [122kms] and this fall rode through parts of Italy and Turkey. What a ball we had. Despite the inherent dangers, road biking is easy on the joints, tunes you into the great outdoors, and opens avenues to new clean living friends. Maybe best of all, yes, you become 'ONE' with the bike.


Kerry will be regularly updating the blog with further information about the ENOUGH IS ENOUGH bike ride for mental health, as Ginny and Kerry ride more than 8,000km across Canada to reduce the stigma of mental illness and raise enough money to develop a Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre in every province and territory in Canada.

Posted: April 16, 2013 Tags:     


An RV Made in Heaven

Now that Ginny and I have decided to ride across our beautiful country for mental health, what do we do next? Our good Winnipeg friends Rod and Jeannie Senft's son Riley had run across Canada the year before for prostate cancer. Talk about a feat! We decided to learn all about his journey and the Senfts graciously, as usual, arranged a meeting at their home.

In attendance were Riley's support team and we drilled them with questions. One huge advantage they had was Rod's purchase of a huge gleaming 34 ft motorhome. This is a deluxe motel on wheels, complete with generator. This means you can overnight in a campground and plug into their power or stop in the middle of the lone prairie and use heat and power from an independent source. It sleeps six, two in an aft private cabin, two on bunk beds in the midsection and the living/kitchen area, sets up for two more.

Now comes the heaven part. Ginny and I were kind of licking our chops thinking this would be perfect for our ride, when Jeannie blurted out, "Why don't we donate it to The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation?"

Well there you go for now. We have to learn all about it and none of us have ever driven anything bigger than a station wagon, but keep posted to see how we do.) At any rate this was a huge piece that thanks to good friends and supporters, The Senft's just fell into place. We plan to tow a support vehicle and we'll tell you how that piece fell into place later.

Posted: April 22, 2013 Tags:     


Cross Canada Fitness

Ginny and I have trained hard for this trip. Of course there can never be enough training, but in our case so many have given to the cause and to our foundation that we both spend a lot of time thanking others. This comes at a cost, as we love people, love our Whistler home and socialize more than average. What I'm saying is that we try to strike a balance, but we've turned into Spartans during the week and grasshoppers on the weekends.

Gin and I have different ideas on fitness. She loves spin classes at Tag cycling in Whistler. I tried it once, but found the last thing I want is someone screaming at me to pick up the pace. I prefer more cross training, walking with weights each morning, Grouse grinding and working out with my medicine ball. Gin says the grind is just following someone else's rear end up a hill. Of course we cycle together, especially when I come up to Whistler on the weekends. There are some great routes with adequate shoulders (in most cases). All are breathtaking, with beautiful scenery, wildlife, smells and sounds (this includes Harleys roaring by your ear doing 80 mph). Depending on the party factor the night before, we choose routes anywhere from 35-85km.

Everyone asks us about our training, but the truth is I'm not worried about it as much as being injured. Fact is if one of us has a bad crash, it'll be like playing the hockey game without a puck. Having said that I was rear ended by a five ton drywall truck on my way home last week, waiting for the light to change. Loudest bang I've ever heard and sandwiched my car into the one in front of me. My car's close to a write off. My back is sore, so I'm on the message table this weekend. Just grateful I wasn't on my road bike that time. SHEEEEESKKK !

Posted: April 26, 2013 Tags:     


The Route

When we started planning for our Cross Canada Ride for Mental Health called Enough is Enough, we thought we'd travel from East to West ie Cape Spear Newfoundland to Whistler, BC. Our executive assistant, trusty Carol Becker, bought the road maps, connected with BCAA and the cycling directories, and laid out a cool route complete with elevations. It only made sense to start East and head to the barn, right?

We felt comfortable until we disclosed our plans to one of the Norco executives who had crossed Canada three times who explained that because of the prevailing winds from west to east, that we were out of our minds. Norco's Skip Swan and Peter Stace Smith had been generous enough to sponsor Ginny and I with two brand new carbon bikes and all the accessories, so we thought it best to listen up. Carol obligingly made the switch and so here we are. You can see the route and all details of the ride on this site.

After much tweaking (Do we travel the Yellowhead or the Trans Canada in the West? How so we cycle the Monster, northern Ontario? Do we go through scenic Gaspe, or take a business like approach hitting bigger towns in the Maritimes?)

We wanted to be as business like as we could,n appearing in front of media and live audiences as much as possible, but we also wanted some Zen moments through the towering Rockies and the golden wheat fields of our prairies. Ginny and I have never been to Quebec City, I have never been to Ottawa, and neither of us have been through New Brunswick, PEI or Newfoundland, so the trip will marry toiling for a great cause, reducing the stigma and educating society on mental illness, with a big dose of Canadiana, cycling through what is without a doubt the best country on earth.

Once we get on the road, May 12, you can follow my daily blog here, too.

Posted: May 2, 2013 Tags:     


The Enough is Enough Launch Party

Our kickoff was a super success, not only providing our guests with some rockin' dancing music courtesy of Fabulous George and The Zodiacs, but raising more than $36,000 for the cause. The West meets East theme featured West Coast lox as appetizers and East Coast lobster salad and lobster pizza. The event featured the unveiling of Ginny's new book, "Choosing Hope: A Mother's Storey of Love, Loss and Survival". She was so busy signing books that she only got in 1.5 dances. Dan Ellis, a great guy and owner of Armchair Books in Whistler, was by her side and said he hadn't seen sales of a book like this since John Furlong's book on The Winter Olympics. Needless to say we are very proud of Ginny and the response from the crowd.

The silent auction was fabulous. The top item - an Antarctic Cruise donated by owner Andrew Prossin, of One Oceans Expeditions - went for $11,400. Ginny and I have been lucky enough to be on that cruise and it's a once in a lifetime experience. Whistler Municipaility allowed us to park our big RV and tow car in the village centre, so many admired what will be our traveling billboard in the next three months, as we roll across our great land. For more information, such as my daily blog or how you can be invloved go to www.thekeltyfoundation.org.

Posted: May 7, 2013 Tags:     


Our Trusty Steeds

How's this for bike beaking? Norco testifies our new carbon Valences will explode forward when we press on the pedals and will dampen road vibrations without sacrificing efficiency. Skip and Peter at Norco have fully loaded us with seat bags, pulsating front and back lights, floor and mini pumps, water bottles, Sigma bike computers, bike locks, Lazer helmets, custom saddles, special continental tires, two extra wheels, tubes, tires, gloves, jerseys, bike tools, a huge folding Norco tent, bike workbench and more. They are doing everything they can to advance our 60 year old bodies safely and swiftly across our beautiful land.

Uh, they're not done with us yet. Our first day Sunday we ride from Whistler to North Vancouver, but on our second day, the North Vancouver to Mission stretch, Norco are hosting a company BBQ at their Coqulitlam headquarters. Did I mention that they have sent our route plan to their national dealers, asking riders to join us along the way? Paving the way for awareness of mental illness? Resoundingly so!!

Posted: May 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 1: First Day!

Yea,we've done it. Our first days ride 122kms from Whistler to North Vancouver is done. Someone said it's like eating an elephant, one bite at a time, so today we chewed on his toe. We did it without sleep, as it rained in Whistler as hard as memory has served. Gin and I just looked at each other across the sheets thinking how can anyone ride through this? The Innuit have a saying, "it's not about weather , it' s what you wear," so off we went in Sugoi rain gear. How pleasant was our surprise being met at our send off point by 40 of our dearest friends, along with CTV and CBC camera crews. The rain abated a little as Gin and five local gals took off on the first Whistler to Squamish leg.

Quinn, Keenan and I all took turns driving the Starship (our big 33 ' RV; our tow car - a little Hyundai - we have dubbed the Starfish), all the while adjusting computers and cameras, blocking traffic for the riders and waving to the tv crews that leapfrogged ahead to catch the best action shots. We changed places and after a creamy Timmy's mocha in Squamish I was in the hot seat. Persistant rain kept us cautious, but my attention was diverted scores of times by waves and cars honking their applause along the highway. A couple of times along the route folks held 5'ves or 20's out the window to help our cause. One slip up reminded me focus is king. Unable to resist the buildup of speed going down he Furry Creek hill, halfway down in full tuck, I drifted over into the rumble strip. My back wheel slid out and the bike burbled as I regained control. A lucky one!

Gin piped up like a frisky colt that she wanted to finish the leg in from West Vancouver to Rona in North Vancouver, so off she went. We left the road dawgs to set up with Carol (our executive assistant), and after a beautiful hot shower returned to a warm greeting by about 40 of our great Vancouver pals and relatives. Our stage was two pallets and mic on which after MC Quinn's introduction, up hopped our beloved pal and hard driving Board member Sue Rae who presented us with $4,000 from Gin's best pals. I said some words, along with Andy Szocs, MP John Weston who has changed my thinking on how a politician can be a fine person. Others were welcomed to come forward to tell their stories, of which 5 or 6 did. Lanky, sexy Ashleigh McIvor - gold medallist in ski cross in the Whistler Olympics - arrived and will ride with us on our second leg to Mission tomorrow. Nice,Ash! We sold t shirts and Gin signed over 40 books and we dispersed with the boys followed by a hearty Chinese feast and bed by 9 PM.

Posted: May 13, 2013 Tags:     


Day 2: On a Mission to Mission

Ahhh, Hawaiian Hula Girl. Conjures up visions of sunny skis and warm Pacific zephyrs. Ah, but no one talks about the pounding rain in Hawaii and today, that's what I"m talkin' about. Ok, it started off with a little blue sky in North Vancouver and pretty well kept that way, with Gin and gold medallist Ashleigh McIvor leading the way out of the big smoke with the wheels churning towards Port Coquitlam where the Norco staff had a lovely reception and BBQ waiting. Once again they gave us a perfect send off, with executive Peter Stacey Smith leading myself and Ashleigh through picturesque back roads towards Mission. Peter is so gracious and a skilled rider having crossed Canada three times. He was full of tips covering everything from tire pressure to drafting to crossing train tracks at the right angle.

Just as Peter left us for the day, the heavens opened and a few minutes we were soaked like sewer rats. At least twice I heard Ash laughing behind me saying we were both leaving huge rooster tails in our wake. It wasn't a long day though and soon the road dawgs in the Starship were squaking their position at our destination for day two: the Mission Leisure Centre. Shortly after we set up our book and t-shirt sales stand inside and Ginny gave a talk on Kelty' s story. I think the next step is a hot tub and some chow, while the gear drys out. Tomorow to Hope with Hope.

Posted: May 14, 2013 Tags:     


Day 3: To Hope With Hope

Obviously fun passing around Ashleigh's gold medal and fun for the folks we addressed at the rally in Mission last night. Part of our presentation at the rallies is to get people to come forward and tell their stories, which validates the whole experience of coming forward and destigmatizes the process.

Anyway off we set this AM, with young Ashleigh breaking trail and Gin taking the first leg of our 95 kms to Hope. Guess what? Overcast but no rain, as we weaved and wheeled through the lush backcountry which is just an extension of the Lougheed Hwy., all the way to Hope. The RV (we dub the Starship) is like flying a 767 at 40 mph. Keeping the whole rig, including the tow dolly with the Hyundai behind is quite a feat on that narrow road. Young Keenan ( K- dawg) wanted to drive today, so I gave him the nod. No, I wouldn't say reluctantly but he's one of those kids who never cared too much about getting his license and one of his first procedures when he did was to pile my mother's car into a bridge, asleep at the wheel. With some anxiety though we let him cut his teeth, a critique here, a pat of approval there.

We rolled into Hope like a Swiss train, 2 hours early, and set up in a campground, compliments of the owner who sympathized with the cause. As a matter of fact a nice guy working on a concrete project nearby came over and offered to put us all up at his place on the Fraser River. " It's wonderful what you are doing," he said. "Come to my place: I have beds, lots of room, you can use the kitchen." ( for a while there I thought I was back in Turkey.)

The rally tonight was at a drop in centre, very nice with some live music, a welcome by the mayor, my story of Kelty, our foundation and our ride, a testimonial or two, some book and t shirt sales followed by a BBQ. Ashleigh and her soon-to-be Whitecaps husband, Jay, left us and now we're sitting around the campfire enjoying the ambience and crackle of the dry pine logs.

Posted: May 15, 2013 Tags:     


Day 4: Giddy Up Fraser Canyon

We surprised ourselves by sleeping 10 hours solid (duh,we're oldies), but took off towards the driest place in Canada: Lytton, BC, home of the California big horn sheep, rock doves, eagles and diamond back rattle snakes. Gin tore off the first 68 km piece, schussing down turnpikes and grinding up seven percent straightaways. She was unstoppable until we hauled her into a roadside diner in Boston Bar, where we filled up on chocolate shakes and fast food. Keenan as usual was offside, preferring to sleep off his late breakfast of a microwaved potato with pickles and hot sauce.

I hadn't gone two kms on my leg when, oh yea, the first flat of the trip visited. No problem, the crew just pulled out a brand new rear wheel, compliments again of Norco Bicycles, and we changed her up like a Nascar pit stop. I should add this was our first experience biking through railway tunnels. The rider has to pull over and press a button to warn other drivers you are passing through. Gin found it more than a bit unnerving to be peddling along a narrow, litter filled sidewalk as semis honked an echo-cracking honk of approval.

I found my leg exhilarating tucking the downhills, sometimes reaching 65 or 70 kms. Believe me: 70 is, at least to me, like loco speed and I would only do it on a perfect road - my heart has a big chicken section. Our day finished in a big Lytton campground on the banks of the Fraser, again compliments of the owner. With no rally planned we were free to lolly gag in the solar heated pool and hot tub, pace the trails and feel the last kiss of the sun as it sank below the ancient spires. We leave you today with Gin and I on the electronics, the road dawgs cooking up a delicious stag chili penne and some weird Turkish bop playing in the background. All good! Revved up and looking forward to tomorrow.

Posted: May 16, 2013 Tags:     


Day 5: We Follow The Mighty Thompson

At Lytton the Fraser and the Thompson rivers meet. Our plan to follow the Thompson up to Ashcroft on the Trans Canada was amended with a new destination of Cache Creek. We wanted a shorter ride tomorrow - groceries,wash,etc. It just so happened it was a good call because Gin's bike got out of gear sync, so when we arrived at Cache Creek the boys took off in the Hyundai ( Starfish), to a Norco Dealer in Kamloops (80kms up the road) for a retune. All in all a beauty riding day: sunny, low 70s, panoramic views of the river, and sweeping crumbling rock hoodos. Two or three highlights today:

- A swallow decided that our Starship looked too inviting and flew in the door.We looked around and a smiling Quinn came down the steps with the bird cradled in his hand. Our techies may have that posted online for you somewhere, as our cameras are always rolling around here.

- Lunch, if you could imagine, was in The Ashcroft Teahouse, right out of 1930s England. The server was a 70 year-old woman in a dress, with linen tablecloths, antiques adorning the grounds, and the best home-cooked chicken pot pie you ever had. Rhubarb coffee cake with whipped cream for dessert. That nice woman donated her tip to our ride!

- Nicki at Brookside Campground greeted us and we talked about mental health. She related that her son was bi-polar and how difficult that situation was. Again, stigma was underlined as a reason more lay back with fear of coming forward for treatment. Ginny went over with a copy of her book, which brought tears to her eyes. Mental illness is way more common that we suppose.

Anyway, we lie poolside waiting for the boys to return with a freshly tuned bike a and a treat for the BBQ. Tomorrow it's up to Kamloops and as we will try to do on every 6th day ,take a day OFF. Sweet!

Posted: May 17, 2013 Tags:     


Ginny's Weekly Review: May 17

In addition to Kerry's daily blogs, we'll be posting a weekly update from Ginny, describing some of the people and experiences from the ride. Here are some highlights from this week:

At the Hope rally there were lots of different people from all walks of life - some with mental health issues, some with drug and alcohol issues, and some who just wanted to see the Hope & Area Transition Society that had only been open for a month.

One of the workers there said she used the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre all the time; that it was a godsend when you are in a remote community.

Another woman described her experience of finally being diagnosed with bipolar depression. She thought all her life she was an outcast and didn't belong. Now she is able to talk about it with others and help to remove the stigma.

As a music teacher from Mission and his son said, it's great that we can share this message of hope and removing stigma since so many parents will not realize what is truly happening to their kids. I gave him my book, Choosing Hope, when he left, hoping it would further enable him help those parents who don't understand that this can happen to anyone.

As parents we need to understand what is happening to our children and not be afraid to ask them the tough questions, not be afraid to admit they have a mental illness. It's a disease that needs to be treated like any other disease that can affect our beautiful children.

My ride from Hope to Lytton was spectacular. I cycled around 68kms in 3 hours - not that I care how long it took; I just wanted to arrive safely and experience the wonders of the road. And there were many of them: going through the canyon, seeing where people would raft. The hills were steep but when the little engine starts saying "Yikes, this is too much!" I remember I have two guardian angels on my shoulder saying, "Mom, you can do it." And I did.

What a week! We have been touched by the number of people coming forward and sharing their story.

Posted: May 17, 2013 Tags:     


Day 6: Revved up for Revelstoke

Our Salmon Arm friends, the Caves, left us with a belly full of Road Island Red farm fresh eggs and coffee. The duckling we found a home for with a woman down the road who took care of all sorts of animals: ponies, morning doves and peacocks (I'm sure there is a kind woman like that in every town). Soon it was evident that the low mountain range gave way to the start of the real Rockies, defined by increased elevation, jagged edges and snow-capped peaks.

Traffic was bumper-to-bumper Alberta plates, interspersed by the usual supply train of semis, which sucked us along as they roared by within a few feet. Shuswap Lake cabins must be opened up and all ready for the summer season. My nephews Quinn and Keenan joined us again on the bikes today, Q dawg with Gin in the morning and K dawg with me in the afternoon. The rolling ups and downs took their toll on this 109km day and our roadside lunch of avocado, yogurt, hot tea and bacon, cheese and tomato sandwiches, disappeared without a trace. We pulled into The Lamplighter Campground, again compliments of the owners, about 3 PM and unwound, napping on the grass before welcoming hot showers. We don't have a rally planned tonight so are eying a steakhouse, 10 minutes walk from here. Over dinner we will strategize tomorrow's plans. Gin wants to cancel our day off in Golden and push on, but in a couple of days we face 3 days of rain in a row and it might behoove us to hunker down in the Starship and hone our cribbage games.

Posted: May 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 7: Just Ducky

We broke camp with Quinn and Keenan wanting to join us on a bike. Good thing we had brought a third bike because it was fun to have their company and have someone to yak to as we rolled down the highway. Our lunch stop at Sorrento was interesting because the cafe was adjoined by a motorcycle museum. I ride a BMW 800 and the road dawgs both have dirt bikes, so it was a natural for us. Bikes from the 1920s all the way through were featured. You got your Nortons, your Triumphs, BSAs, Indians, Moto Guzzis etc. The cafe featured home made baking, so "When in Rome" applied. After a huge piece of coconut cream pie and a pecan tart, I wondered if I would be the only one to ride across Canada and gain weight.

Once more we were cordially invited to friends' of Ginny's brother, the Caves, in Salmon Arm. Just as we wound down a country road to their hobby farm, alas we picked up another crew member. Quinn was making a tight turn and noticed a single baby duckling about to run under the tires. He jammed the big rig to a halt and rescued the poor little guy. He's now on board and we are Googleing how we might keep him healthy. Ginny is not too keen, but what happened to her happened to the NDP in the last election. The Caves have welcomed us and now we are showering and preparing to be wined and dined, Salmon Arm style. Enjoy it while you can as they say, for tomorrow we start to climb up to Revelstoke.

Posted: May 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 8: Canoodling up to Kamloops

Broke camp with an 'Auf Wiedersehen' to our Frankfurt campmates who enjoyed pork steaks and their Canadian Club the night before. Gin took off with a new fortitude reinforced by her night-before tune up on her trusty steed. The sun rose to accompany her through some eye-popping scenery, still following the Thompson, through winding piece of Highway One after another. Because of our 20km average pace, we picked up things the average RV would never see. A flock of big horned sheep in the sage or a sharp-shinned hawk patrolling the ditch. Reality too. We sit so high in the cockpit that we drifted by a hefer caught in a barb wire fence, a nasty open wound evident down its thigh.

A tasty roadside lunch of sea salt chips, pistachios, pâté, stone wheat thins, canned sockeye, Gouda cheese and green tea awaited me at my second leg halfway point. I took off again, a sweet tailwind at my back now silently singing and giving gratitude for where I was and who was with me. My luck held because Mother Nature just missed me with a sky load of hail just as we pulled in to the Kamloops gas station.

A big Safeway shop where everyone (even pickle and potato man) found what they wanted led us to our campground just East of Kamloops. A BBQ steak dinner was followed up by some top tier bocce ball. Then we retire to Keenan stroking his guitar, Gin and Q-dawg talking life, and me telling you about today. Tomorrow a day off, except for us accompanying Gin to a book signing and an interview with Kamloops TV.

Posted: May 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 9: Climbing Through the Big Rocks

We set off from our Revelstoke campground fueled by some of the best banana pancakes man has ever eaten. Our crew dawg Quinn proved another skill as a short order cook, whipping them up and cleaning it all up in no time. My contribution was an old trick by my ma (microwaving the butter in with the syrup ) and yes! You can try this at home. Quinn is like the Swiss Army knife around here, a veritable major domo, doing just about everything required.

Our ride of 66kms up to Rogers Pass seemed daunting but with the ice and jack-knifing semis, and the mainline CN and CP trains hauling their coal, lumber and containers, we knew the engineers couldn't make it too steep. We were right and knocked it off in no time, but it did take its toll.

After heaving down a hearty lunch, Gin was like a frisky colt and jumped on her carbon mount, wanting to reach Golden. One by one we fell into place. Quinn felt guilty not joining her, so we pulled over while he threw on his gear to catch her. The day was perfect for riding and with 3 days of rain in the forecast we wanted to get as far up the pass as we could. With 40kms left out of Golden, I hopped on my trusty steed and finished the job. Gin was right: it was just too beautiful to be cooped inside the Starship when we could be out riding.

As we pulled into Golden, I rounded a turn, and noticed the Starship (our endearing term for our RV) intercepted by a car. It turned out to be a local reporter who had suffered depression herself, who wanted to write story on our ride. We invited her for coffee the next morning, but now with some honest fatigue built up having done two days travel in one (148kms), we headed for the showers. Did you ever know how long it takes to shower? Lemme tell ya, when you put in a loonie and only get 5 minutes, my routine's about 6 minutes. Tomorrow we huddle over the weather, a big Sobey's shop, reaching Field and the Alberta Border.

Posted: May 22, 2013 Tags:     


Day 10: Golden to Field

We were late setting off, as a local reported saw our rig and pulled us over wanting to do an interview the next morning. She also had a story of bi-polar in her family and the wake of heartache it leaves behind. I'm thinking depression and bi polar may be more common that alcoholism.

Our day wasn't long but had a fair climb, which wouldn't have been so hard, except for the 4-club wind. Gin battled uphill and was almost blown over by the gusts. At one point she had to walk her bike over a bridge. I was next, settling behind the handlebars, into a good blow that negated even nice downhills. Our team parlayed in Field and decided to stay the night in the Provincial campground. High above in the mountains were a unique railway phenomenal called spiral tunnels. Previously it was merely a very steep railway bed, but numerous accidents facilitated a change. At Field they built a more gradual inclining spiral tunnel inside the mountain. It must have cost a fortune!

We sheltered our campfire behind the Starship and proceeded to enjoy a campfire grilled chicken dinner with campfire roast corn, followed by butter fried bananas with maple syrup: "The good life" as my good pal Charles Paterson always says. We tuck in thinking about our distances and tomorrow's weather.

Posted: May 23, 2013 Tags:     


Day 11: Passing the 1000 km mark, a 21st birthday and an old friend welcomes us

We left our campground in beautiful Field this am, having spread a titch of karma. The resident gophers were wild about the handful of peanuts tossed in their direction. The other involved Red Green. We had "lent" our precious duct tape to a concerned dad who had inadvertently locked his two year old son in the truck with the engine on. I have done this before and to say the least it's a little unsettling. The dad rigged up a tool with the duct tape and rescued the toddler. "If they don't find ya handsome, at least they'll find ya handy."

We pulled out with "Birthday" (you know, Beatles White Album) on full blast, celebrating road dawg Keenan Dennehy's 21st birthday. With his laid back, contrarian, philosophical style, Jamacian dreadlocks, and user friendly wide smile and big brown eyes, he's almost the opposite of his daring, lock and load, rip it forward "can do", big brother Quinn. They are both fantastic kids, who Ginny spoils at every opportunity.

Gin and Quinn took this morning's leg, a mere 28km pedal to the Alberta border and Hyw.93 junction, Jasper north, Banff south. The 28km turned into a grunt with the biggest climb yet, out of Field and again that dreaded three club wind. We blocked the riders as best we could when two lanes permitted, as the shoulder was non-existent most of the way, and before long they had completed their mission. Timing couldn't have been better as the heavens poured down cold rain and a phone call from one of our biggest supporters over the years, Sue Bjormark (Fairmont Chateau Whistler), came in welcoming us to take our two days off in the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Morale jumped off the chart, as Ginny loves her Fairmonts and the boys hadn't been to Banff before, let alone a chance to stay at the storied hotel. It just so happened that one of Fairmont's most popular GMs, Dave Roberts, had taken the reins again and not only offered a rate even a camper couldn't turn down but allowed our 53' rig to park almost in front of the hotel.

I use the term "old friend" to describe the Fairmont because of all the wonderful graciousness they have bestowed on The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation over the years. Sue Bjormark, based in Whistler, has gone out of her way with Fairmont hosting our golf tournament in Whistler from 2002-2008. This was our fundraising base for all those years and with their help we ran one of the biggest and most successful golf tournaments in Western Canada. Our take in one weekends event topped out at 385k, thanks to The Fairmont's donation of special rates on rooms and green fees, Fairmont's donations to our auction tables and other 'throw ins'. Of course this was all supported by many of you who came out and participated in some way and are reading this right now. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts to the Sue Bjormarks, the Dave Roberts and the Fairmont chain. You too, albeit indirectly, help change society's attitudes and save lives.

After a pre-dinner pool game and a tasty Italian dinner, we cocoon in our comfy Fairmont suite as the SNOW comes down against a background of pine forest.

Posted: May 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 12: Deserved Relaxation

I will try to catch you up on our ride to date. Actually, you catch us on Day 13, spending two days off in Banff, because we are two days ahead of schedule. We have passed the 1000km mark and of course have already crossed our own beautiful BC into Alberta. Outside of a wet start, the journey has been interesting to say the least. Combining the message of awareness of mental illness and pounding home the stigma associated with the disease will eventually change society's attitudes, so there is satisfaction in that aspect. So many have come forward to tell their stories and thank us for our efforts. Ginny's book, Choosing Hope, has been a springboard to launch our campaign and it's timing couldn't have been better.

As we prepare to depart tomorrow east through the mountains and into the Foothills, momentum is definitely building. West Fraser Timber plans a sizeable rally and BBQ at Rocky Mountain House and our Calgary event will be a two day monumental event with their Health Minister speaking, an open rally at McMahon Stadium and breakfast with various CEOs at The Petroleum Club, interaction with SAIT student body etc. Rallies in Swift Current, Winnipeg, Kenora, Toronto and even PEI are building.

On another front the journey has been a blast. Sure, peddling up through the Rockies is a grunt, but what goes up tucks down at upwards of 65-70 km per hour. Our bodies and machines are working like a Swiss train. The road dawgs as we call them (my nephews Quinn and Keenan Dennehy from Whitehorse) and us get along great. We are like a moving Las Vegas electronics show, with iPods, iPads, computers, walkie talkies, Hero head and bike cams, lights ,and more. It is glory to be in our RV Starship, our moving motel ,our home on wheels. We sleep like babies and prepare the gourmay-est of meals. We have great sounds and lots of storage, a tank that fills up around $400 and a tow car in case we need to break ahead to set up a rally of hustle groceries. Our dear old friend The Fairmont Chateau Whistler thanks to Sue Bjormark has set us up here in Banff at the storied Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. You may remember popular Dave Roberts the GM who ran Whistler for years. He is now running this hotel and has been so welcoming to Ginny and I and our crew.

Hope this helps you to follow our progress. If you wish to follow up my daily blog please go to thekeltyfoundation.org

Posted: May 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 13: Holing Up in Banff - Quite the Hole!

I guess holing up in the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the antithesis of camping. Gin and I began our day with massages (paid for personally for you Touche-Ross types out there), followed by a short walk over to Phil's (which used to be called Phil's Pancake House when I was 18). After a big feed, I wanted the boys to see a Banff classic, The Upper Sulfur Hot Springs. Feeling guilty and missing the cadence of our feet in the stirrups I insisted we walk the uphill 20 minutes to the springs. Same building, same pool as in 1965, but the temperature was102 degrees - not the 104-106 I remember, nor was there the memorable rotten egg odour, as strong as it used to be. The end result - the mellow, relaxing, spent, turn your limbs into spaghetti feeling - was the same, though. On the way back down I couldn't help reminiscing about our high school bus trips to Banff, where $100 could get you a week's vacation at Christmas, thanks to $5.50 ski tickets, $2.75 t- bone steaks (a third of an inch thick at Mr. Paris Steak House), and lodging at the kind old Czech woman, Mrs.Prozoney's, boarding house at $1.50 per night: "I love you young boys, but you're so wild."

The boys joined Gin at the hotel spa's mineral springs for the remainder of the afternoon while I relaxed with my iPad Kindle in our room, helplessly monitoring the snowfall outside my window. The crowning highlight of the day was joining the big boss, GM David Roberts and his wife, Dianne, for a single malt scotch in the renowned Rundle Bar, followed by an awesome sushi dinner upstairs where we were personally served by Ross, the hotel's food and beverage manager. Let me tell you: when you dine avec La Grande Fromage, the service really sparkles. We wound up a wonderful evening we will never forget with a nightcap, meeting new friends, and a final pool game in the hotel's lower German Pub, The Wildhaus, overlooking the spectacular golf course.

Posted: May 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 14: We conquer the Rockies and set foot towards the foothills

Despite last night's shenanigans, we pulled away from the nicest campground on earth, The Banff Springs, before 8am. Our first goal was hot coffee (success), but our second goal - air for the tires - was more elusive. Fact is, our rig is just too big to get at the regular gas station air pumps, usually tucked away in some corner. Since we can't back up with the Starfish (our tow car), because we might risk damage to the linkage, we are inept at any venue (gas stations, grocery stores, campgrounds) where we can't drive through.

We weren't in dire-tire straights though, so soon we were cruising north with Banff at our backs. The National Park left us a parting treat as we spotted a young elk browsing off to the East followed shortly after by a nice, healthy roadside Grizzly bear, 4 years old I'd say.

Gin, our morning girl, hit the road with a big smile, despite the rain and slushy snow pelting the pavement. Needless to say how proud we are of her and the sacred thoughts running through her head. Our mission today was an 80km ride from the Lake Louise junction to Thompson Lake Campground, deep in the Rockies. Alas, at the junction of Hwy 93 and Hwy 11 East we were able to fill our tires and change riders. We needed gas, but the attendant warned us off his sticker price: $1.89 per gallon. Although Gin's ride was colder, it was still snowing lightly when I set off, so I reached deep into my pack and got Medieval on the challenge. Three layers, rain jacket and pants, neoprene booties and full Gortex gloves did the trick. I created my own internal warmth and because we were on the backside of the Rockies, I actually made an average speed of 27.5 km p/h. It would have been a touch faster had I not have pulled over for a woman in her car on the opposite side of the road waving her hands and warning me of a black bear ahead. I made it to the campground uneaten, where we soon were enjoying campfire baked, sizzled in foil, Atlantic salmon. Beautiful stretch of Hwy, that #11: good shoulders, no semis, and scenery that makes you peddle even harder, just to see what's around the next corner.

Posted: May 27, 2013 Tags:     


Day 15: Under promise, over perform

We go as the weather goes, so we as we break camp on Day 15's sunny morning. We are feeling friskier than our 85km goal to Beaver Dam Provincial Park Playground and begin to size up our endurance for the next day's 85km into Rocky Mountain House as well. This will mean Gin taking on the first 50 km, me the next 50km and then tag teaming with Gin and I splitting the remaining 70 km. Gin is without a riding partner on today's leg, because Quinn is unable to ride the third bike (my Giant) we brought along because of a missing gearshift screw.

Pretty well pure heaven, I say, with the majestic mountains towering over scores of unnamed whitewater creeks and Caribbean clear mineral lakes and rivers. Wildlife, too, appeared in full force. We caught up with that black bear and surprised bighorn sheep, mule deer and whitetail deer. A pine martin scooted across the road ahead.

Gin finished her 50 km stint. "No problem, it's too beautiful to quit. Lets shoot for Rocky Mountain House". Keenan and I could hardly wait to get out there and despite a moderate headwind, we put our heads down and were soon finished our 50. Fuelled by salmon sandwiches, pickles, pistachios and hot tea, Gin and I crushed the last 70kms and swang up the hill into Rocky, two days early. After hitting Marks Work Warehouse for wool socks and the Liquor store for some red to accompany our BBQ pork ribs, we made our way over to the truck wash, in which we invested 12 loonies in soap and rinse to clean up the Starship and the Starfish. Soon we made our resting spot, at The New Oldtown Campground, and after showers some washed down the road bikes while others sparked up the BBQ and prepared a delicious stir-fry with Winnipeg rye bread garlic toast. Because of our 170km ride it was soon 10pm and Gin and I tucked away in the comfort of our aft cabin, while the road dawgs secured the vehicles for the night.

Posted: May 27, 2013 Tags:     


Day 16: Day off in Rocky Mountain House

From all appearances it's a fine clean little town (population 8000). We are settled in a nice campground, but not as settled as some who stay for several months. Seems that welders, pipe fitters and oilmen, who don't plan on being here forever, either crew up with their workmates or bring their families. They pull their big trailers in together and when you see a chord of firewood neatly stacked nearby, you know they'll be there for a while.

Today was a chore day, with groceries to buy and laundry to do. Gin and Keenan chose the laundry and we dropped them off wishing them luck in meeting new friends, while Q Dawg and I set off for Canada Tire and Extra Foods. I thought I would make my specialty, pan fried oysters, for as an appie before our roast leg of lamb tonight, but Extra Foods had other ideas.

The camper next to us was occupied by six or seven of those Alberta welders who had made it a basecamp. They wheeled in with 15 beers each and fired up the BBQ and a big fire and cranked some music on. We said hi and went about our own preparations. They didn't say a word about our glaring Enough is Enough billboard in their face. I thought of a bumper sticker I had seen in a roadside store in Lytton...."You'll never see a cowboy on a psychiatrist's couch." That's stigma, folks. That's what we need to change in society. In a way you can't blame people who haven't been exposed to change. What they know, what they believe, has come from their own environment. It's up to people like us who have been affected and who understand how serious, how widespread, the problems of mental health are to go out and make others aware.

As it happened, one of the cowboys after a few beers approached and asked us what we were up to. We all gathered together and explained what our mission was. Their leader came up with outstretched hand and thanked us and gave his respect, followed by handshakes all around. We ended the night talking with the boys about depression, a little more satisfied that we had spread the word perhaps a little further.

Posted: May 28, 2013 Tags:     


Day 17: Rally Plans

Our last day in Rocky Mountain House is a busy one. 9am finds us on a conference call with leader Mike Begin of Spartan Controls in Calgary and his crew and our crew in Vancouver strategizing for our 3 days of intensive rallies and meetings in Cowtown. At noon a reporter, Jen, comes by our campground for an interview and soon we are off to, the local community centre to set up for our rally with the Hank Ketcham's West Fraser Timber Group. Their operation here is not huge (one of 37 mills) through mainly Canada and the US, but they consider themselves a family and have their own HR watchdog organization called Burden Bearers. It the reason they support causes like ours, but don't simply write a cheque but want us to come out and interact with their people. 3 or 4 executives fly in from Vancouver in their Lear, pretty essential to get to awkward places like Quesnell and Williams Lake etc.

We pull our rig up and set up while employees just off shift and their families filter into the hall. A BBQ is followed by a welcome by President Ted Seraphim and then by Gin who tells the Kelty story, followed by myself to explain what we have done to date, what we are trying to accomplish and some of the dangers of depression, the stigma attached to mental illness etc.

All in all it was a productive and meaningful evening. Many of the employees we mingled with later shared their stories, thoughts and appreciations, which always keeps our tanks topped up. We closed the evening catching a couple of periods of Kings - Sharks Game 7, then back to the campground for a hot cup of tea. Tomorrow we ride 139km cross country to Olds, AB.

Posted: May 29, 2013 Tags:     


Day 18: Day 18 Riding the Big Caterpillar to Olds

Imagine a 139km caterpillar, big slow rolling hills, climbing 100 meters, then descending 100 meters into a valley usually with a creek meandering through, sometimes not. Throw in a good driving rainstorm, a cow farm here, a quarter horse ranch there, a steady hum of semis, welding rigs and oil patch pickups and you pretty well got our day.

If you're a rider it's wet, you're committed and you don't mind the climbs cause they warm the bones a tad. You're trying to get a good look at the cows and their newborns, the oil pump jacks rhythmically nodding their heads, and the patterns on the hides of the horses that don't look up at the traffic but eyeball a bike rider until you're gone, your glasses are wet and you only get a runny glimpse.

If you're in the Starship, you're fat. Few have ever driven across Canada at 20 kms/hr. Ok, you're on the lookout for traffic behind and pulling over to the shoulder to let the big guys by. You have to stay behind the rider just enough to "block" the traffic that has just passed so they won't cut in too soon and buzz your rider. Other than that you're in comfort, playing your favourite tunes on your iPod or the boys' (we have about 15,000 songs), finishing off a coffee or a snack, even phoning and texting (what happens in Alberta stays in Alberta). If you're not driving it's almost off duty, grab a nap, read a mag, diddle with your electronics. The highlight of the day was (for those of us inside), seeing a newborn colt on wobbly legs, slowly circling her spent mother laying in the grass. Thought farmer John took the pregnant mares into the barn when it was close?

We roll into the Olds Lions Campground who have received us, no charge, after hearing our story. Strange place for a campground, in the middle of Old's residential district, but it's a beauty and we leave you sitting down to a spicy spaghetti Bolognese. Life is good!!

Posted: May 30, 2013 Tags:     


Day 19: We ride into Cowtown with a full posse

We leave Olds(population 8,000) in a drumming rain on tertiary Hwy. 2A, to our rendezvous with our posse in Airdrie, Alberta, just 63kms down the road (hey get a load of us now: "just 63kms"!) Gin takes the first half and I handle the rest, both of us in full all-weather gear. The last 5kms merges with Hwy 2A into the monster eight lane Hwy. 2, the major connector from Edmonton to Calgary .Holy semi trailers Batman, you've never seen so many!

In an Airdrie Superstore parking lot, Gin runs in to bring us hot soup and we meet up with Carol, our executive assistant who will coordinate our rallies here. Soon we are joined by 15 other riders from supporters Spartan Controls, SAIT, and Stampeder alumni Bruce Coverington's company employees. We proceed single file through rural side roads over hill and dale until we can see the tops of city skyscrapers through the mist. Once inside the city limits we are safely cruising through a network of bike trails that will lead us, believe it or not, to SAIT at the centre of town. Give city planners credit here: to bypass the frenzy of rush hour traffic and ensconce innocent peddlers on treed paths sweeping by the Bow River, and right by the muskox and black bear pens of The Calgary Zoo, is a cycler's dream.

On our arrival at SAIT we are met by cameras and a whooping crowd of students and Spartan Control employees. Included in the group were my brother Tim and his daughter Kate, along with old friends Jack and Lisa McDiarmid. Gin and I told our story and joined the group for a premium, better than the average rally burger. We retired in the comforts of SAIT student housing, compliments of the college and completed the day with a nightcap, a recap and a panoramic view of the city from the 11th floor.

Posted: May 31, 2013 Tags:     


Day 20: Modern Day Spartans

When Spartan Controls CEO Mike Begin asked why we weren't coming through Calgary, I told him that we didn't really have anything going on there. He almost turned Calgary upside down to change that. As Carol said: "Can we clone that guy?" You know about the SAIT BBQ and the posse he organized to ride us in from Airdirie, but this morning finds us in one of the mahogany-paneled breakfast rooms of the posh Petroleum Club. Present are some of the most influential CEOs, architects and health professionals in the city. Ideas are tossed and turned like the scrambled eggs being prepared in the club's kitchen. They like our story and they like "our baby", The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre. They admit that the mental health system is in disarray and that something must be done. These guys will do it and we will be a part of it. It's more than a promise.

Mike and his group also set up the next rally of the day, a "tailgate" BBQ in the McMahon stadium parking lot with about 100 in attendance including some Stampeders, University of Calgary and midget football players, President of the U of C, Associate Minister of Health and Wellness, CTV, CBC, and Global TV crews and many more. After fond goodbyes and hugs all round (ever hugged Bruce Covernron, offensive tackle, 6'5", 305 lbs?) Hard to know where to start). We were presented with a signed Stampeders football. Then we were whisked away to The Hotchkiss Brain Institute, where we had a very interesting round table discussion with Dr. Sam Weiss, the centre's director.

Gin and Carol took off soon after to do a book signing at Indigo Books, downtown, while the dawgs tore down the roadshow and I escaped to the solitude of my SAIT student bedroom. Our night off consisted of some quality time with friends and Tim and family over dinner. Tomorrow, we shake off the rust and get back in the saddle for a 180kmTrans Canada trek east to Bassano, AB.

Posted: June 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 21: We hit the rolling plains

Mike Begin has arranged a pancake breakfast send off at Spartan HQ. Picnic tables set up in the parking lot, and many employees and family present on a bright Saturday morning. They are again so gracious and generous. Their personal donations have been unexpected, yet they keep coming. Mike calls his team "Spartans "and takes the mic to explain the impact he feels we have had rerouting our journey to come through Calgary. He emphasizes his words as he presents us with a cheque for $25,000 and promises that we will have a future part to play in Improving mental health in Alberta. With a standing "O", the Spartans send us off accompanied by seven other riders towards Bassano. Imagine how good that makes our crew feel.

Today is a long ride, of 180kms, sweeping through the rolling plains along #1. Tatanka used to roam these hills by the millions, now home to the odd deer and pronghorn. Our posse leave us with fond farewells after 30km in Chestemere, AB, except for an affable companion named Sylvester who is crazy about biking and our cause. He keeps Gin company for another 30km until we hit Strathmore, with the parting comment, "My God, she's a killer."

Young pup dawg Keenan joins me for our last leg, under overcast skies and 65-degree temps, perfect touring weather. The wind is neutral, the shoulders wide and we ride for much of the way side-by-side, just cruising and talking whatever comes into our heads. He tells me how much he is learning on the trip and how he feels it can bring out his leadership qualities. I tell him the story of driving down this same stretch of road, with Kelty, to his grade 12 year at Notre Dame in 2000. He wasn't many more months for this world and looking back now, I think he knew it. Why? For one thing Kelty wanted to spend as much time as he could with me before going back to school. I had promised to drive with him from Whistler, but at the last moment, as per usual in real estate, I had a big deal pop up and so I proposed we fly. He was adamant to the point of extremity that I keep my promise and so I did. Another extremity was his quest for knowledge about his family: "Dad, tell me all about GP (my father). Tell me what he was like, tell me all the stories you know about him. Ok, tell me all about older brother, Shaunie. Why did he live up north? What was he like? Was he your favourite brother? Why?" and so forth down the family tree.

One thing I had promised myself was not to backseat drive Kelty during his turn at the wheel. Not that he was a bad driver but he was a young 17 and had little experience. As he was perusing his answers, he was driving as fast as my SUV could go. As a matter of fact he had it floored. Top speed was 110 mph and he hit that several times, indicated by the governor on the engine cutting in and slowing the vehicle back down to 100 mph. "Kelt," I said, "I know this is a new car and there's not much traffic, but as a young driver a ticket here is going to cost me about $600." He just looked over and shrugged, as if that was the last thing in the world that mattered. Needless to say we got to Notre Dame in record time. What a great kid. He was my first thought when planning a golf game or a fishing trip. We miss him dearly.

Posted: June 2, 2013 Tags:     


Day 22: The Heart of Wild Rose Country

I learned something about horses yesterday. I thought they were dumb. When we pulled into the Bassano Campground (hey just a minute, did I tell you that as we were looking for the campground a Jeep pulled up behind us and the passenger ran up to us with a $100 bill, wishing us the best? Ok I told you: sweet, eh?) Anyway our first sight was a horse in an enclosure who didn't move much or look our way. We didn't think much of it until Quinn befriended our camp mate from Steinbach MB, no less, who had experience with horses. He too noticed that the horse was emaciated and walled over and asked the animal out loud where his water was. This guy said horses are smart, so this horse proved it by walking over to his empty water bucket. The Stienbach guy filled his bucket with water before the thirsty horse drank it dry. We found out later that the owner had been in a traffic accident and that he'd been in the hospital the last couple of days.

We were out of there a tad later than we wanted, Q dawg enjoying his sleep more than average, but soon Gin started off in an overcast morning which turned into a minor, b-movie thunderstorm. She pumped through her 50km without complaint as usual, soaked at the door looking for some hot lunch. I took over with K dawg on the other bike averaging over 26kms per hour, working our asphalt carpet, past pump jacks, agreeing with everything that past by and big sky vistas, semi double trailers and every 5th or 6th passenger car or truck honking in support.

On two occasions cars stopped on the shoulder ahead waving us down to cheer us on and crushing folded cash into our hands. Louie's thought to himself was right. We pull into Medicine Hat (an English translation for the Blackfoot word, Saamis, an Indian eagle Indian headdress, after a collective seven hours in the saddle.

Posted: June 3, 2013 Tags:     


Day 23: Wild Rosé Country gives way to Big Sky Country

We leave our beautiful Medicine Hat campground, tucked away in a valley on a lovely little golf course. This is home to the most glorious bird in the west, the ring necked pheasant. Our departure is almost delayed by my mistake loading the Starfish (our Hyundai tow car) onto the tow dolly. The car has to be loaded with exact speed up the ramp. Too little and one has to gun the engine and the tires spin on the metal serrated ramp: not pretty. This time though, I get too much speed and almost over ride the end of the ramp. Quinn is at the front madly holding the car from going over, with eyes wide open telling me to back up. I gingerly reverse and the tires settle into the proper slot, delay diverted.

We dodged another mishap that day too as our resident skateboarder Keenan decided he would take on the steep road winding down into our valley. As he had a Go Pro camera in his hand, we saw it all on film, good speed control at first, then control lost as a truck "foolishly" past and sent him and his board in different directions. Elbows and asphalt don't mix, but outside of a bloody scrape, the lad survived.

Gin and Quinn set out in light rain and we left town delighted to see two pronghorn antelope, grazing at the city limits. Soon after K Dawg and I took the saddle we hit the Saskatchewan border and yipped with delight over our accomplishment. We are now entering the Cypress Hills, the last remaining vestige of the Wild West. Buffalo, mule deer and protection against bitter winter winds made it a sound choice for aboriginals. Sitting Bull and his Ogalla Sioux fled to these hills, Sheridan's union cavalry hot on his heels, after Custer's massacre at the Little Bighorn. They were all set to pursue him and his stragglers across the line, if it weren't for the newly formed NWMP and their commissioner James Walsh, who turned them back and invited the chief into the sanctuary of these hills. Sitting Bull and his people stayed for a couple of years until lured back across the line prompted by news of a final Indian uprising that never materialized. He was murdered by US Army troops soon after his return.

The day dried out but we faced unseasonal Easterlies all day and drafted behind the lead cycler as best we could. The only relief was turning off #1 south towards Maple Creek. Keenan and I screamed down the 8km incline with the wind at our backs, taking vengeance on the nasty Easterlies we had battled all day. Soon we were enjoying the ambiance of our pretty campground, a rack of lamb on the fire, baked potatoes, and heavenly broccoli with a zesty cheese sauce.

Posted: June 4, 2013 Tags:     


Day 24: Cruising Through Ancient Glacial Plains

Aahhhhhaa, we wake to blue skies and a welcoming sun, a couple of Baltimore orioles feeling on the bright yellow flowers of a caragana hedge filling our windshield. Greg Norman says, "Happiness is a long walk with a putter." We say, "Happiness is a downhill with a good tailwind, just after a semi has passed you doing 120kms." Today we have those conditions and we're licking our chops to hit the road. Surely enough Quinn and Gin finish their leg with an average speed of over 30km/hr - a new record. We make Gull Lake in record time and tuck into t-rex size burgers and trucker gauge java.

We have been joined by two of Swift Currents best wheel jocks: Peter, a fireman and bike shop owner, and his bud Larry, retired mortgage guy. They patiently wait for us to finish before we set out for the remaining 57 km to SC. 10km out however, we are met by another 8 or 9 more amateur posse, who accompany us into the town centre. Nice!

K dawg has gone ahead in the Starfish to set up our sales tent and we arrive into the market square just as the crown starts to trickle in. The air is mixed with the smell of BBQ smokies and human scents of what's going to happen next. The deputy mayor and David Spencer from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Gin, and I all speak. After, Quinn the MC invites anyone from the crowd to come up and relate their story about the cause. Surprisingly or not, three come forward and tell moving stories about their own depression and loss and thank us and the organizers for the rally. Susan Motkaluk, CAO, who I got to know after renting mom's cottage at Victoria Beach to, has played a big role in this and Susan: we thank you. All in all a satisfying day, but not completely until we leave the Indian restaurant, with full bellies of lamb curry, butter chicken, rice and a double ration of buttery hot garlic naan bread.

Posted: June 6, 2013 Tags:     


Day 25: Pure Saskatchewan

Alright now, sitting in your seats? Stick your gum under the desk and listen up. Provincial flower: Western Red Lily. Tree: Paper Birch. Bird: Sharp Tailed Grouse ( my very favourite).

The province is a mix of rocky Canadian Shield in the north, lakes, rivers and boreal forest and rolling to flat plains in the middle/southern belt. Not in any order, tourism, forestry, mining, potash,f arming and the new baby on the block, shallow gas and light crude, drive her to #5 on the revenue charts. Don't forget U of Saskatchewan (specializing in agriculture) and of course old PM, John Diefenbaker, and Saskatoon Hilltops Jr.'s Roughriders football teams. Blackstrap, a man made pile of dirt is their main ski hill.

We leave Swift Current on a south wind, sometimes helping, sometimes hurting. We sweep past sloughs, with healthy populations of mallards, teal, coots and snipe. Yellow headed cowbirds and red winged blackbirds spring off bulrushes and protectively wheel over our heads, giving us a parting "bugger off" glare. We notch up a passel of small towns as we pass, as in Waldeck, Herbert, Ernfold, Morse, Chaplin and Parkberg. Many of these towns had wooden grain elevators, originally about 7 miles apart (the distance on average a farmer's horse could pull a grain wagon). Now it's all cement elevators loading 100 times the grain with a 20th of the workforce. The Cargills, The Patersons, Pioneer and the P&H's are quick to adapt.

Our destination today is Mortlach (population 250), but we only stop to take a peak and have a well-deserved ice cream at a tiny cafe run by a nice old Welshman. A sign on the Trans Cananada "Besant Campground, Oasis on the Prairie's"' is more luring 8kms along the road. The Queen on board wants a hot shower and she's not to be denied. We check in to this beautiful park-like setting, full of bird life with a stream meandering through it. We end the day with shirts off (but not the Queen), tired but energized, ensconced in our lawn chairs, soaking up the last of the western sun, cocktail in hand and a nice chunky Atlantic salmon sizzling behind us on the barbie.

Posted: June 6, 2013 Tags:     


Day 26: A Fence and a Fast Ride

Today we'll do the day in reverse, like in the country music song in reverse, where you get your smashed pickup and your job back, and your wife comes home to your trailer. At the end of the day, we have accomplished our goal of 110kms from Mortlach to the Queen City and we are in a happy campground where plenty of fancy motor homes abound. The only thing out of place, as Keenan sees it, is that fence. I'm sitting at a picnic table, just watching the wind blow through the trees and Keenie sits down beside me and says, "You know Ker, the only thing around here that's depressing is that fence. If people could only see through the dark ominous obstacle that stops them and disables them, if they could see through the cracks to the golden wheat field beyond, lit up with sunlight. If..."

It's our job and your job to help these humans, who for whatever reason are burdened with mental health diseases to help them see through the fence. If we guide them, if we care, if we listen and try to understand what torments them, they will believe they have a place on the other side. There will be no stigma, no shame, for when you're carried forward on strong shoulders, you don't have to exhaust yourself in the quicksand. If we are stronger, or smarter or luckier, let's use whatever we have to help those with mental illnesses. Simply put we'll all be better off for it.

Our ride was amazing today, averaging nearly 40kms per hour thanks to a big westerly blow. Quinn hit 62kms on the flats. We arrived in Regina so early, we took a side trip to Kelty and Riley's old school, Notre Dame, where we have spent some of the Foundation's money on a bursary and training teachers and counselors on signs and symptoms of depression.

Thanks Keenie, you gentle guy.

Posted: June 7, 2013 Tags:     


Day 27: A Day off in the Queen City

Before the Provinces in the west were formed, the whole area was known as the Northwest Territories. In 1882, Regina was founded, originally called "Pile of Bones" because of the buildup of buffalo bones slaughtered by hide hunters. The CPR had expanded to Qu'Appelle and was destined to go through Battleford to the north, but the "scheming " Lt. Governor at the time, Edgar Dewdney, had purchased a large tract of land at present site of Regina and guess what: the CPR "decided" to go through Regina. Interesting way of doing business as Gin's uncle Bill Parish would say. Eventually the area was populated by the lure of 160 acres for $10.

On a sunny Friday afternoon, we staged a rally in F.W. Hill Mall, where passers by grabbing a bite sat to hear our story. The rally was put together in a hurry so the crowd was thin, but the media responded in force, with CBC and Global doing an extensive shoot as well as interviews by The Leader Post and others. Keenan, who was in French Immersion in Whitehorse, even did an interview in French. Again members of the audience approached Ginny and I with their stories and gave thanks for spreading the word across Canada. One elderly woman said she had to battle against the thought of taking her life every day since she was 14. I learned we can't please everyone though. An elderly man in a faded ball cap approached me angrily and said, "Do you know what I was looking for? I was looking for a denunciation of psychiatry: Freud was an atheist, didn't you know that?"

As the lights go out in the trailer park, we study the changing weather for tomorrow and strategize distances.

Posted: June 9, 2013 Tags:     


Day 28: A Cordial Reception in Wolseley

We started off the day with no antiseptic. Steady rain and driving Easterlies greeted us and there was nothing to do but do up our chinstraps and clamp down on the stick in our teeth. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide: just 5 hours of grunt work ahead. My shift was fortunately broken up by a hot lunch which gave me the fortitude to complete the toughest day so far into the prairie town of Wolseley, Saskatchewan.

Things improved immediately though, and as soon as we were set up in the Sleepy Hollow Campground (yea, lots of cracks about a visit from the headless horseman), we were welcomed by the mayor, Dennis Fjestad, who insisted he give us a tour of his fair town. We were surprised by its rich history, the brick opera house, the original courthouse, even a swinging bridge that was built to span a lake dammed up by the CPR in the last century .The town took it's name from General Joseph Wolseley, a British General who had worked his way up through the ranks as a sniper, sent out by John A. Mac Donald to chase Louis Riel. The railroad hadn't quite reached Wolseley by 1880, and Riel slipped away 15 minutes before the general and his army marched into town. By 1900 Wolseley boasted some of the poshest homes in the west, as it was a centre for tree farming (to sell trees to homesteaders to shelter their shacks) and flower gardens (to supply the Easterly CPR expansion of railway stations and settlements).

After our tour and hot showers we were invited by the Mayor and his wife to join local residents Shar and Ken who lost their beautiful son Sean Patrick to suicide because of his bi polar illness, just a month ago, for dinner at the Chinese cafe in town. I think they took comfort in meeting us and hopefully some strength to move forward in their journey. Wonderful people who no doubt cherished the time, albeit too short, with their son. After a great feed compliments of the kind mayor, we skipped across the street to hone our pool game and catch the last period of the playoffs. Feeling the fatigue of battling the Easterlies all day, we skipped the overtime and tucked into our kips, asleep before we could conjure up any thoughts of the headless horseman riding into camp on his hopped up black stallion, his fiery pumpkin and all his other little apps.

Posted: June 10, 2013 Tags:     


Day 29: Manitoba Border Crossed

Today's goal was a campground in Moosomin, Saskatoon, but considering the fine weather, strong SW winds and busy forthcoming day in Brandon we decided to get another 40kms under the wheels past the MB border to a campground in Elkhorn. Instead of doing the 166km in half we tried a relay, Gin doing 40,me doing 40, then a second shift of 43/43. If butts could talk they would say, "That worked for us." Before cruising into Moosomin for a scrumptious lunch, we admired the roadside wind farm, huge propellers rotating into the west wind. We also proudly posed for photos in front of a big P&H grain elevator.

Soon we were whooping and hollering, taking pictures at the Manitoba border. Internet was sketchy but Gin noticed flags at half-mast at the Sask. border and on investigation on the net found out that Eddie Murphy had been killed in a skiing accident, although we later found it was a hoax. I don't think Eddie would have minded our dark jokes about Saskatchewan farmers, mourning his loss. We pulled into Elkhorn just in time to miss a purple curtain of rain and lightning and set up our new Weber, which char broiled our juicy chicken to a turn.

Posted: June 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 30: Brandon Warmth and a Royal Escort

Another gusty westerly blew us albatross into Brandon so early we had an afternoon nap. Ginny's old ski pal, Gallagher McGuinness (phillaneous appellation, no?), was the organizer of the whole rally. Our first meeting at the Husky was with two RCMP cruisers. "We're here to escort you through town," said one and hopped in and turned on his flashing lights. Gin and I were met by another guest rider and formed up behind the cruiser, feeling like royalty as we proceeded through red lights while honking cars gave way.

They waved goodbye as we pulled into the site for the rally, the Fowler's Hyundai dealership. About 50 greeted us including the mayor, Shari Decter- Hirst, and some mental health workers and interested townsfolk. Several gave speeches, we mingled, sold books and t shirts and the Folwer's donated a nice $500. Gallagher had a nice BBQ lined up with all sorts of volunteers.

From there we proceeded to his beautiful 40 acre ranch outside of town and settled in to tour the grounds and get to know his family better. Gin goes way back with Gallagher when bear traps were harnesses and boots came with laces. He and his generous wife Barb turned out a delicious dinner topped off with a birthday cake for our techno-wizard Q-Dawg, who turned 23 today. Cute as hell, Shelagh Hare was the surprise guest: besides being a close friend of Gin's she is a great friend of Gal's too. Shelagh has supported The Kelty Patrick Dennehy every year since we founded, not only personally but through grants through her brokerage firm, RBC. Thanks She, you're the best. Thanks Gal, Barb and family, and thanks Brandon!!

Posted: June 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 31: We Ride a Wizz Bang Westerly into Portage La Prairie

Galloping Gallagher McGuinness and family filled us with heavenly waffles compliments of daughter Bailey ("You fluff 'em up by folding in beaten egg whites, boys.") Soon we were flying down the asphalt, a big westerly at our backs. We love the Westerlys. They allow us to sleep in an extra hour and still make our appointments in the next town. Today we have a substantial rally in Portage where locals have remarkably rallied to our cause. The Dawgs set up at the modern Portage Recreational Centre, in a lovely treed park beside a beautiful man made lake. 50 or so turned up and besides Gin and I speeches were given by the Deputy Mayor, representatives from CMHA and other community supporters. As usual listeners approached us with moving stories about depression and suicide. One woman's story was particularly memorable. Her nephew, 37, had taken his life in a forest: wife, two children, good job and no sign of depression at all. Proves just how many can wear a mask and are shamed to come forward for help. A tragic waste.

We all agreed that it was cool to see the heart of Portage, with the parks, lakes and bike paths. The same goes for Swift Current, Maple Creek, Medicine Hat and other Canadian towns, which we easily dismiss as we cruise by with a sidewise glance on our way to the Banffs, Calgarys and Vancouvers. We feel fortunate to travel slowly behind the bikes and are getting our full serving of Canadiana.

Our reservation post rally is in Miller's RV Park, a little more than most parks( $37), but clean, protected by lush Elm groves, not to mention a games room and a resort caliber pool, heated to 78 degrees. We had some fun with the waterproof cameras and I confirmed my unaquatic-ness, by only winning a Bronze in the swimming heats. Surf and Turf on the Weber, do the dishes up, put away the bikes and soon we were off in LaLa Land oblivious to the trillions of mossies, stirred to a frenzy by our CO2, fighting to get in through our screened barriers.

Posted: June 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 32, 33, 34, 35: A Busy Respite in our Home Town

We breezed into Winnipeg in preperation for that night's party at a bar in St.Boniface, hosted by Jay Kilgour and organizers Noah Hughes (Kelty's best pal at Notre Dame) and my old bud Paul Sweatman. They had thoughtfully set up a live band, food and all the invitees. It was moving to see so many familiar faces in support of us and our cause and we mingled and danced while the donations rolled in. Just a word on the Sweatman family's loyalty: Wynn Sweatman, Teddie, Paul,Scotty, Margie and Allan all turned up at the party and Gin's book reading and were so loving and generous. My old pals, Jake Mac Donald, John Kilgour, Clint Harvey, Jim White, and Jim Richardson, just to mention a few, and some of Gin's old buds, Claire Powell and family, Suzie Dowler, Cathy Applebee, Shelagh Hare, Leney Richardson, and so many others turned out. Sorry for those names I didn't mention: you were there too and we appreciate your presence. You guys are zero cool - we are proud to be counted as your friends. You keep our spokes spinnin'.

The next morning was an early and live (deadly combo after a party in your honour) interview on CTV at their downtown studios. Apparently we pulled it off and soon we whisked away to set up for a rally at the CMHA HQ on Portage Ave. The turnout was great and afterwards we had a review of CHMA Winnipeg's operations and a tour of their facility. Any time off was spent mostly with our parents, although my poor momsie (90),was recuperating in the hospital.

Friday was another busy one, with a meeting with the mayor Sam Katz, followed by a TSN radio interview. Nice of all the media to fit us in as it was not only UCF's debut in Winnipeg, but on Sunday the Manitoba Marathon. That evening 40-60 congregated at McNalley's Books for a reading, handled exquisitedly by Gin's sister Catherine. Did I mention Choosing Hope is McNally's second best selling book? I know Gin was very proud to have her parents, Bob and Rea Spear along with her aunt and uncle, Donna and Bill Parish in the front row. They both have generously donated and Bob is in his element, bringing us snacks and treats for the road.

Saturday was as close to a day off as we got, highlighted by a early golf game (nice 78 Gibby), followed by a couple of icy barley's and a sangie. A visit to momsie, and back to Paul (Gibby) and Catherine's for Father's Day laughs and presents rounded out the day. The feature drink of the day quenched our thirst on this 85 degree afternoon. The Desert Dawg recipe: fill a scotch glass with ice, pour in enough tequila to kill yourself and back it off a little-3oz. lime juice, a cap full of Triple Sec to take out the bite, squeeze in a lime wedge. If you've got any spring wood ticks on you they'll be dead in 10 minutes.

Posted: June 17, 2013 Tags:     


Day 36: East to Feast on the Big Elephant

Respectful of the 170kms we had to travel today from Winnipeg to West Hawk Lake, Manitoba, we were up early, chafing at the bit like all good roadies should, to get back in the saddle and put some pavement behind us. It took a good GPS, patience, good will amongst the crew and teamwork to maneuver around the Manitoba Marathon route which seemed to have a patrol car blocking every exit we chose. Soon though Gin was singing along at 33 km/hr, riding a fair weather westerly. Our bikes were in top condition after complete tune ups(thanks again to the Norco Guys) and new chains. 6.5 hours later we pulled into the Provincial campground at West Hawk Lake.

West Hawk is the deepest lake in MB by far having been formed by a meteorite slamming into the earth 150 big ones ago. Gin and I proved deep (386 ft.) is cold by diving in off a granite ledge and wasted no time reaching the shoreline again. Holy Shrinkage Batman! Once again, we experienced Canadiana in slo-mo, as I had been to the Lake of the Woods a million times, whipping past this landmark at 70 mph, but had never drove off the highway to take a look. I hear there are some monster lake trout patrolling the depths here, so I may return with my gear someday and try my luck. Deer freely roamed the townsite and campground and we mingled with the wildlife on a leisurely stroll to a locals favourite log cabin restaurant. Quinn seemed happiest of all devouring his deep fried cheese and potato perogies with fried onions and thick cut koubassa (obvious guess at the spelling folks).

Posted: June 18, 2013 Tags:     


Day 37: Into Ontarie Aire Arieo

With only 60kms into Kenora, we set out together, each greedy for the spectacular ride across the border and into bonafide lake country. Pure Canadian Shield baby, deep clean current blue waters, pines and birch forests, and island-dotted Group of 7 scenes that so many cottagers have tied their souls to.

After many preparations by our BC crew coordinating with Eileen Wilton of Kenora, we both rode into town and were received at the Whitecap Pavillion, harbourside, Kenora by 7 female First Nations drummers, the Mayor, OPP community police, a local musician, some members of the mental health community and familiar faces of friends and family. After the mayor's welcome Gin and I told our story and invited those in the crowd to come forward to tell their stories. A few brave souls approached the stage and told compelling histories of their own, always spoken from the heart, always moving, usually tragic, but not for those who found a way to survive with their mental illnesses. We ask people to come forward and point out that by coming up, this is in itself is a way to reduce the stigma of mental illness. A friend of Kelty's was in the crowd, as a matter of fact his best friend through grades 4-10. He had not only lost Kelty, but two other of his friends in car accidents and was suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). He had found a good antidepressant and was getting by helping his dad renovating his cottage. Just to show you how "deep", one can go with this "important stuff", (and I say it humbly because I am learning every day), I reached out and gave him a hug and listened as he told me his trouble. I gained another level of respect for his parents who had adopted him and always stayed by his side. When I told Ginny about our meeting she encouraged me further to keep in touch with him and reach out from time to time. This says a ton about Ginny, doesn't it? We are searching for his email as we speak.

After the rally, we retired to my great old pal John Kilgour's lakefront cottage and zipped across the bay for sandwiches and a cold one at my cousins', Michael and Gail Dennehy. Back at John's we relaxed and caught up with loons calling in the background, a magnificent setting sun and a hearty prime rib roast surrounded by roasted potatoes, crackling away in the oven.

Posted: June 19, 2013 Tags:     


Day 38: Loving the Lake Country

A busy start to our day had Gin prepping for a live TV interview in their downtown Kenora studios ,while I tried to micromanage my lovely ill mothers future from my cellphone.Late morning we were off in John's boat for a tour of the lake,stopping every once in a while at a promising point or reef to fish for Lake of the Woods favourite game fish,the pickerel ,commonly known as the walleyed pike.John our guide told us not to try to hard as he had taken out some nice fillets from the freezer earlier that day.We complied.

Te rest of the day was rather stress free,Gin and I catching up on our dose of vitamin D on the deck,with our Kindles and Q and K dawg alternating between the paddle board and the kayak,exploring Lily Pad Bay and area.

After a dinner of Walleyed pike, dipped in flour,then eggwash,followed by a coating of breadcrums,cooked to a golden brown,we set out with Cameron,John' youngest son to catch the evening bite.Sure enough we located the fish off a rocky point and had 5 keepers in the live well ,as the sun lit up the last of the western sky.If you ever get a chance to visit here,jump on it.Eagles,loons,pelicans,shorebirds,fish and more seem to all co-exist in this spectacular part of Canada,with the flourishing town of Kenora at it's doorstep.

Note- the picture included here is of a lake trout - 38 pounder by the way!

Posted: June 20, 2013 Tags:     


Day 39: Nothing Like the Lake

A beautiful Lake O'Woods sunrise awakened us, but it was business as usual as Gin prepared for an invitation from Eileen Wilton to set up a table for our cause at the Farmers Market, harbourside. This market is set up at The Whitecap Pavilion and is quite something for a small town, a mini Granville St. Market if you will. Gin sold several books and friends of friends came up to our table and seemed to know all about our trip and either bought books or left well wishes. This has been quite an "opportunity" for lack of a better word to not only connect with friends but with their relatives as well.

Our lollygagging day was hijacked by a chore day as K and Q Dawg helped to shop groceries, after setting up for Gin. We were then off to the bike shop to repair a front Shimano derailed on my Giant, then out to Kenora Truck and Trailer to get the oil changed on the Starship. We found out there that the Starship was not propelled by a 10 cylinder Ford engine as we thought ,but with a Chevy 454 V/8 power plant. At both the bike shop and the garage we qualified for the golden rule of the road, which is, even if both are completely busy (which they said they were), they will make time for folks on the road. Quinn and I killed sometime in Kenora, over a cold pint on a deck overlooking the harbour, while Gin lunched with an old family friend, Sharon Abbott. K Dawg was back at John's, exploring the neighboring islands in a kayak.

We all reunited before dinner and dove into the late May temperature waters to remind us that we were still alive and warm blooded. Dinner, if anyone is interested was a pasta smorgasbord, featuring a steaming bowl of whole wheat pasta, and add your own helpings of Alfredo mushroom sauce, rich agostino sauce, purchased at the market and scallops and shrimp sautéed in butter with white wine. A delicious hot cheesy-jalapeño bread and crispy Caesar salad rounded out the meal. Did I tell you about special coffees and fresh lemon pie for dessert? The meal was consumed on TV tables as we took in the 4th game of the Stanley Cup. We relish the time off here, as we contemplate the rolling hills and long days we face on the carbon twins ahead.

Posted: June 20, 2013 Tags:     


Day 40: Last Day in Kenora

Not much taking place today, which afforded a good sleep in and leisurely breakfast, reading our novels in deck chairs facing the morning sun. Soon Linda Radcliffe was picking up Gin in her Bayliner for lunch and Q Dawg and I got ready for the Kenora Boys' Thursday golf classic. Many of them are Winnipeggers who stay for long periods at the Lake Of The Woods or Clearwater Bay and some are local guys who I got to know through university.

The Kenora golf course is a real roller coaster of a track, with blind shots into greens, tee boxes on granite cliffs and drop offs so steep and forested that momma deer hide their fawns there amongst the Titleists and Nike's. Throw $10 each into the pot and you get a chance to win a skin or low net. A good time was had by all and after the dust settled over a cold beer and accounting, Q Dawg had doubled his money, winning a nice skin on #12 .

A quick shop on the way home and we were soon back at our lakeside retreat, preperations well along for a fabulous tenderloin steak dinner. Walking that course was a good enough workout for me to call it an early evening along with most of the crew. John's youngest boy Cameron and Q Dawg possibly pumped up by his skin-win that afternoon, weren't about to shut things down and headed into town that night in the 50 horse, looking for... well, more skins.

Huge thanks to Eileen Wilton for setting up the rally and my old pal John Kilgour (Nickie) who filled his freezer with food, gassed up his boats and even laundered all our sheets to make our stay at his lakeside cottage one to remember.

Posted: June 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 41: Kenora at our backs. We take on Lake Superior

The big Gitchagumi beckons us from our comfortable nest at The Lake O' The Woods but we 're up to the challenge. Q Dawg played Rip Van Winkle most of the day while we manned our posts.

Chagrinned to be facing the beastly Easterlies again, the upside was a not lengthy stretch of 137kms to the pulp mill town of 8000, Dryden, Ontario. Adding to the 1 club wind against us were once again rolling hills reminiscent of The Foothills. Gin finished her first 40km stint tired and sweaty. I was next and finished mine in similar fashion as we pulled into Buster's BBQ, in Vermillion Bay. Alternate 30km stints carried us into Dryden.

I knew the town well as a fishing guide throughout my university days and had flown by floatplane, Beavers, Otters, Cessnas and Twin Beeches from there many times to get to our lodge at Bending Lake. A couple of summers later I returned to fight forest fires there and developed a genuine affinity for the country. Our lodging had been all set up by a fellow, Jeff Proudfoot, who had resided there but now lived in Lethbridge, AB. Jeff had lost a son to suicide and as many have done, connected with our cause and the loss of our Kelty and our Riley. In some ways as another mother, who suffered a similar fate said, "We all speak the same language now." He had directed us to a beautiful old lodge on the Wagagoon River called Riverview Lodge. This was no Motel 6! Riverview was built in 1910 originally for the GM of the leading employer in town, The Dryden Pulp Mill. Set on a 3.5 acre treed site, the building was chink log construction and although doubled in size later by a brick extension, the original part has been superbly maintained. There are only 12 rooms and in its heyday waiters served dining room customers in red jackets and vests. Jeff went all out, placing Gin and I in the presidential suite and gentlemen (dawgs) in the executive suite. In addition Jeff took care of the dinner, with all the trimmings, even the tip! We polished off a tasty dinner and were coaxed by the proprietors into their special finale: homemade almond roca ice cream (best we've ever had.) All in all not a bad way to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. As we closed out the evening we agreed that we would not have wished to be anywhere else or with anyone else on this special day. YYYYYYYiiiiiiiiiiPPPPPeeeeeeee!!!!!!

Posted: June 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 42: Ignace, Ontario: Familiar Country

Once again we face easterlies, which slow down our averages to 21-22 kms/ hr. The highway isn't as user friendly as before. Not as consistent are the wider shoulders and for long stretches there is only a 2 foot strip on a two way highway. You definitely have to keep your machine inside the paint and hope that when one semi simultaneously meets another on the other side of road that he is on his game. The very real prospect of a semi trailer swooshing by you 3 or 4 feet away at 110kms/hr, sucking you forward as it passes ranges from uncomfortable to scary. We try to keep safe by wearing bright riding vests and checking our mirrors for approaching big rigs. The law states that we are not allowed to "block", ie slowly follow the rider as it will slow down normal traffic. Anyway this is cross Canada bike travel and we deal with it. We are relieved when shoulders widen and when semi's give us a wide birth when they pass.

5 hours in the saddle gets us to Ignace and the Davey Campground. As a guide at Bending Lake throughout my university days, Ignace was the closest fly in point, probably only 25 miles as the crow flys. The southerly fly in point was Ft. Francis, Ontario, a resort town on the US border just opposite International Falls, Minnesota. This was a hub of course for all the "you alls", itching to get at our abundance of pike, pickerel, lake trout, bear and moose.

Gin has some history here too, as this is where we spent our honeymoon. No Bali, Las Vegas, Hawaii, like they do now: this was a solid tenting, fishin, float planning, campfire cooking, Black Tower drinking extravaganza. What a girl and she'd do it again. We softened up our "moon" a little the last couple of days and accepted an invitation from my old boss to stay in the lodge and dine with the rest of the guests. The fishing was fabulous and Gin caught one of the biggest lake trout I have ever seen come out of Middle Bay. It now hangs proudly on the wall of her parents cabin on the Red River with a gold inscription below...."The Honeymoon Trout".

We loose another hour today (our third since leaving Whistler), and dinner time conversation revolves around stories of days gone by and tomorrow's 102 km ride through lake country to Upsala.

Posted: June 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 43: Biting Into Ontario

We continue through lake country, setting out with a bellyfull of Quinn's winning banana pancakes and thick cut Harvest bacon. (Melt the syrup with the butter in the microwave. You'll never go back.) Once again we have our work cut out for us facing an East wind. The weather is reminiscent more of Newfoundland than Ontario: misty, dank and cool. The road is again a concern, with shoulders as narrow as a foot in spots and plenty of semi traffic. Most drivers are charitable, pulling way our when passing, but some are oblivious. I caught up with one auto carrier who passed within a couple of feet of me at a truck stop ahead and gave him a bit of my Irish Ire. Maybe he'll give the next cyclist a wider birth.

Rolling forested hills, the odd creek and lake and clear-cut patches are our terrain today. Once in a while the Shield has been blasted away to make way for the road. This leaves basalt cuts, usually grey and carbon, but occasionally cuts through pink granite seams that glisten even through the 4 layers of tint on my pricey Maui Jim's.

The weather worsens and we pull Gin over to have her put on an iridescent vest. She labours and we try to follow as best we can without holding up traffic. At least she has had a dry ride, but as soon as she pulls over, I saddle up in my rain jacket to face a dark curtain on the horizon. Throw in a visibility challenge, the rain and stream of semi traffic and it all adds up to a grunt into Upsalla. Upsalla, named after a Swedish city, harbours still many of Nordic ancestry and we swing into a pleasant campsite on a picturesque lake. We wanted to go further today to cut the long 145km ride into Thunder Bay, where we have several rallies, speeches, book signings and motor home repairs, but given the weather, we hunker down for the night.

Posted: June 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 44 and 45: Two Memorable Days in TB

Westerlies sweep us out of mosquito ridden Upsala (sorry Upsala) towards today's destination 145 kms ahead. The weather had cleared and we make good miles through rolling lake country, where at least one obliging moose has made a roadside appearance. An old pal Ed Stiffe meets us at a junction outside town on his gleaming Harley. From there we make our way down to a Lake Superior lakeside log home where we are received by two of Skip Swains ( our Norco sponsor's) good friends Bill and Colleen. After running the Starship in to a truck garage to have the brakes looked at and my steed dropped off at the Norco shop for a tune up, we are back relaxing at their cabin. Bill is an old Whistlerite, so we easily share stories and many laughs.

We fuel up the next morning on Thunder Bay (pop. 109,000), famous Finish pancakes at a place called Niva's. We had no problem finishing them (deep apologies) and moved along to our main rally of the day held in a Walmart parking lot. Gin and I told our story and were joined by speeches from the Mayor and the head of TB youth suicide prevention arm. Local TV was present as were several interested participants. Some shared stories, either behind the mic or privately and we were surprised by the magnitude of the problem when the mayor related that the epidemic of suicide in TB and the areas north were the highest in the world. We then helped Gin set up for a book signing session at Chapters.

Timing was perfect for the return of the Starship and the steed and we all rejoined at Bills after a mega grocery shop. All of the most important causes vaporized the day, but we had a pleasant mixer with Bill before dinner while the dawgs chased around the big lake in kayaks .Gin prepared a wonderful paella, preceded by my pan fried oysters. Super comfy digs, wonderful hosts(thanks Bill and Colleen),a first sight of the Great Lakes for the boys and spreading awareness of the cause in a part of Canada that needs it most, all added up to a memorable visit.

Posted: June 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 46: We make Hay along the Shore of the Big Lake

We decide to embark from a historic, sacred site that all Canadians should visit: The Terry Fox Memorial Site on Highway 17 by pass above Thunder Bay. This is where the courageous young hero had to cease his cross Canada run, because of his advancing cancer. In fact this stretch is known as the Courage Highway and there is a plaque on the actual spot on the highway where he had to stop. A politician had asked Terry the day before if he was looking forward to finishing the long and punishing ride through Ontario. "I'll just be thankful to get up tomorrow, sir" was his reply.

A nice Sowesterly helped us overachieve at least until I took over after 50 kms. Then the wind changed to a Southerly, and nature's kind hand turned to indifference. The sun blasted away however and riding was pleasant. Although still concerned about narrow to non existent shoulders, we agreed at a truck stop in Nipigon (our actual days destination), that we should make hay and exceed today's mileage by another 40kms to Rossport. Nipigon was established - believe it or not - in 1649 as a trade route for fur traders and conduit for settlers westward ho-ing. For centuries it was a settlement of Ojibwa tee pees, until the railway decided to main route through the place circa 1859.

Gin and I yinged and yanged places along the route, through rolling hills, lush birch and pine forest, and peak a boo views of Lake Superior below. Keenan and I finished off the last few kms having to climb 3 big Rocky Mountain sized hills into Rossport but grinning and exchanging knuckles after exhilarating downhill schussing. Our timing was perfect as the sky's darkened and a rainstorm blew in from the big lake, just as we entered Rossport. We had heard about the place from good friends who had passed through and we pass on their commendations. After checking out the near sold out accommodations in the pouring downfall, we settled on a cabin at the famed Rossport Inn (est. 1859). To this day it is the oldest hotel on the north shore of Lake Superior. After coaxing the only restaurant in town to stay open until eight o'clock, so we could grab a quick shower and unpack our duds, we unloaded into the 600 sq. ft., 2 double bed plywood shack, a stones throw from the CPR mainline. We felt lucky to get dry accommodation and a hot meal and adjourned back at our "cabin", for a special coffee, a piece of key lime pie, or chocolate cake, or both, and then off to a good night's sleep (of course until the first of the CPR trains came by through the middle of the shack at 60 mph, horn blasting, rousting us all in a fit of laughter.)

Posted: July 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 47: A Misty Ride to Prisoners Cove

Bacon, eggs, and hot coffee fuels us for our next stint, Rossport to Nay's Provincial Camp Ground, only 95kms up the elephant. A heavy fog has followed the low off Lake Superior and Gin sets out in full rainwear. "Even the sparrows are walking today" is a term pilots use. The wind is neutral at times, helping at others. It dries out a bit for me and the riding is quite pleasant. As I tool around one corner there is a moose, not 30 yards off the highway. She's in wonderful shape, dark black coat, in her prime, an animal I'd say 5-6 years old. If she has a calf nearby, it's well hidden. I stop my bike and speak gently. Whether it calms her or not I don't know, but she continues to munch away ,paying little attention. "Hi moose, what's up? What ya eating? Having a good spring?" You know, all the regular things you'd say to a moose.

Gin hops on her Norco and we misjudge distances because soon she is leading the way into our campground at Nay's. This park is a beauty, full service, rangers patrolling the roads which wind around the shores of the big lake. There are several trails: The Dunes, Lookout and Prisoners Point, named after some beached boats which once carried prisoners of war to the nearby Pic River to mine silver. Q Dawg chose to run, as his exercise of choice , while K Dawg did a strenuous yoga workout followed by a long trail walk. Gin and I were excused as we had paid our dues, but Gin didn't accept her hot shower and cocktail until she had scrubbed the Starship's floor on her hands and knees (something we had not thought of). Lamb burgers sizzled away on the Weber as a golden moon rose over big Gitchagumi as it had done for millenniums.

Posted: July 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 48: Peddling Hard Through Superior Country

More grey skies and a Nor' Easter set the tone for another tough day. Although only a half club wind, it and the hills wore us down. Gin had some big hills rolling out of Marathon, which smoothed out when my turn came behind the handlebars. When we filled up near White River the owner said the fishing was unreal, with walleyes so big it was tough to get the small ones. (For you non fisher persons: popular theory in the old days was to keep the big ones and let the bananas go. New theory which works much better - duh - is to release the big ones (the breeders) and keep the little ones.)

One bit of fun for me today was on rounding a corner, a nice size black bear began to cross the highway on the opposite side. I had good speed up and he was ambling as black bears do, so I had to brake some and swerve over to his side as he passed. He stopped in the ditch and turned with a "What the hell was that" look, before he continued along. Gin and I alternated and I finished the day in a light rain at a campground at a place called Hammer Lake. This spot I don't recommend for a honeymoon. The campground was run down and we were met by droves of mosquitoes. The only redeeming feature must have been the good fishing, because we peaked in one freezer and it was full of good-sized rainbow, walleye and northern pike fillets. Another nice surprise is that we could connect to internet, albeit slow as it was and we catch up on the outside world. On nights like this where we can't enjoy the outdoors, we get out the chess, crib board, scrabble or a play a new card game called Dutch Blitz. We tuck in after a nice supper prepared by the dawgs.

Posted: July 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 49: Mosquito Hell to Heavenly Superior

None of us had sweet dreams last night.10 bazillion mosquitoes made sure of that. Actually we were attacked all night by the big three, Ontario's finest: the mossie, the black fly and the noseeum. There were swarming in the Starship and at first we thought they were coming in through the vent systems. Then we realized that through sheer volumes that they swarmed in the door every time we opened it (all a part of Canadiana, right?) Our displeasure changed though, buoyed up by a sunny morning with a Nor'Wester. Our goal was the Agawa Campgroung on the sandy shores of Lake S. and Gin and I made short work of this with an average speed of 28 kms/hr. We have agreed that the hills here rival the Rockies. Some have 7 percent grade and I can get over 70 kms/hr on the downslope which is F-18 Hornet speed for a jet fighter. It's hang on to your hat, trust your carbon and, to be honest, saying to yourself: how much more mangled up can I be crashing at 70 than crashing at 50?

We continue to see wildlife along the road. Maybe animals are used to the whine of the semi's and cross because they can't hear our bikes. I flush a spruce hen and her little one out of a ditch, but that doesn't even make the qualifying heat, as a lynx gingerly pads across the highway on Gin's shift. Soon we pull into the Agawa Campground, unable to have made a reservation on a busy Canada Day weekend. We are able to secure a non power spot on the shore of the lake, buffeted by a glorious sea breeze, which is hot and bug free. PDQ, we are beer in hand, arse in beach chair, and admiring the 5 mile stretch of sand and lake which attracts so many vacationers. Of course we want to get a bit of Gitchagaumi on us, so we plunge into the clear blue liquid. I don't know the degree separating water from ice, but believe we found out that day. Yikes! Bone chilling is a mild description, but how great it felt to get out back into the 80-degree sunshine. After roasted bratwurst and stir fried book choi with garlic and mushrooms ( if you're keeping track?),we took some remarkable pictures of the setting sun ,before retiring for the evening. All in all a wonderful day!

Posted: July 2, 2013 Tags:     


Day 50: Move over Big Dawg Superior,We Want Lake Huron

Refreshed by a bug free sleep and fresh winds, we depart one of our favourite campgrounds so far, where a cloudless blue sky and another friendly Nor'Wester await to carry us to the "Soo". At Sault Ste. Marie, Lake Superior ends and runs into huge Lake Huron. The traffic is intense and the shoulders sketchy. We passed a guy walking across Canada pushing a wheelbarrow on the other side of the road. Earlier we saw 4 people peddling what looked to be a square cart with a frilly cloth top across the country. How the semi's dealt with their width is in God's hands.

Not to be too hard on Ontario, but it's a fact that only a tiny fraction of the cars and trucks honk anymore, let alone pull over waving cash donations. If Ontario is the centre of the universe as we in the West are told, do they not have the same challenges with mental illnesses? Where are their souls, their hearts, has no one been affected? We simply don't get it. Can someone help here?

Moving along, we reach the KOA Campground just east of the city. Our hosts, Bill and Joan Richards have "comped" our 2 night stay here and what a spot. Heated pool, movie theatre, wood and ice delivery right to your campsite, pool table etc. have won this KOA many an award. Gin presents Joan with her book which is appreciated. The dawgs head out for mini golf and us old folks meander down to the pool for a dip and soak in the last rays of the western sun. "Yea, mon, the good life," as my good friend Charlie Paterson would say.

Posted: July 2, 2013 Tags:     


Day 51: A Day Off in the Soo

We bathe in luxury at a KOA campground, surely le piece de resistance, looking at all the awards the owners have garnered over the years. Without the "aid "of an alarm clock, we rise at 9 and cobble together BCLT's washed down by hot coffee. The hot sunny day is sure to pass quickly as each of us forms our plan for the day. We haven't been able to get a rally going here, so it's open field running for the day. K Dawg seems to be into his computer before his big yoga workout. Gin is the clean freak on the trip (thanks dear) and heads to the campground laundromat to meet new friends. Q Dawg and I are heading down to see the famous Bushplane Museum, and maybe get a peak at the locks, lowering the big Great Lakes freighters down from Superior into Huron.

The museum, under promises and over performs and Quinn and I enter the planes, see the movies in the theatres and play the interactive video games. Sault Ste. Marie is still a bush plane hub as a stepping stone into Northern Ontario servicing hunters, tourists, miners and loggers. A few hours later delayed by a necessary stop at the DQ, we return to camp, where Gin is relaxing by the pool with her book ( her #1 pastime) and K is glistening after his workout. It's almost 5 PM and he's got a panfull of food on the stove."K Dawg, we're having dinner in a couple of hours." "Oh,I thought it was noon." And so it goes.

I join Gin at the pool for a drink and a dip, while the dawgs work the solids and stripes on the pool table. We grill a pile of lamb chops and unfold a map of Ontario to review the next few days of our journey. Tomorrow we hug the shores of Lake Huron, our destination, Blind River.

Posted: July 2, 2013 Tags:     


Day 52: We See the Way to Blind River

Now we sweep the shores of another of the mighty Great Lakes, Lake Huron. A cute little red fox bids us adieu as he cuts across a trucking lot on Soo's outskirts. Le soleil brille as Gin rides a Sow' Wester on a double highway out of town, making excellent time. After her 40 kms, I take over to do mine. The road narrows and the shoulders are very thin to non existent. Although the big hills are behind us, the traffic is heavy. At one point I pull over to take a hit of Poweraid and two pilot cars are leading a semi loaded with what must be a 16' trailer. This load covers the whole shoulder, leading down to a gravel incline, so I consider the timing of the thirst quenching stop a lucky one.

Now we are kind of in "No Mans Land", because all of the towns for the next few days are small, but Ontario - even in this area - is well covered by satellite and towers so Internet is ok. We see highway signs warning of slow moving vehicles etc. but don't catch on until an Old Order Amish man doffed in the cult's favourite color, passes by in his horse drawn buggy. We scramble for our cameras, but this guy is on a mission and disappears around a corner. There is some confusion as I pull off on a side road to take a leak and the crew whizz by on the Hwy. We are to meet in a small lakeside town for lunch, Thessalon, but they think I am in front of them and after driving through the hamlet, decide I have missed the turn and continue east. After a bit of a wait, we connect back in town and settle in for the biggest serving of beer battered fish (whitefish) and home cut chips I've ever seen. Q Dawg, a major scoffer, can't even finish!

Gin and I alternate along our route with glimpses of the big lake and follow the Mississagi River into McIvors campground, arriving about 4pm. Hot showers, some frisbee and catching up on e mail bring us to dinner. Q Dawg and I battle it out on the scrabble board and darkness comes quickly on one of the longest days of the year.

Posted: July 3, 2013 Tags:     


Day 53: We Leave the Trans-Can for the Path Less Travelled

Our goal today a long ride of 164 kms from Blind River to the Northeastern Manitoulin Islands, specifically Little Current, Ontario, and De,de,de,de,de,de... Batmans Campground. We cut south off the Trans-Can at Espanola, taking #6 South. Along the route a burly pannier laden biker caught up to me, named Cayse Ruiter. He had left Tofino early June and was heading for Ottawa on a mission for organ donations. "If people could get over the taboo about talking about death and realize that they could save lives," thus his website...outliveyourself.ca We wished each other well. It was gratifying to see a young 26 year old immersed in a good cause. You can't help but think this journey will be a foundation stone for the rest of his life.

I told him Kelty's story, specifically about our decision to donate Kelty's organs. His corneas allowed gave two others sight, his lungs, his kidneys, his liver and his beautiful heart, gave others a new lease on life. We received a letter from a grandfather who received our son's heart. His letter was so moving, we could see where the ink was stained by his tears. He gave thanks for being able to see his grandchildren again and thanked us and our son from the bottom of Kelty's heart. Please everyone give permission on your drivers licence. It's a phone call away.

We rolled up and down in the sunshine, into Canadian Shield country again, helped by a south wind and glorious sunshine. We pulled into Batmans campground and were immediately greeted by the owners, Lisa and Andre, who had "comped" us for the night. They had saved us a perfect site overlooking the lake and were soon there with a load of firewood, asking all about our mission. Gin gave them a book which I'm sure they appreciated. These islands kind of separate Georgian Bay from Lake Huron proper. Its gorgeous country and the lake here had warmed up nicely.Great site, bug free breeze off the bay, and fresh fish on the Barbie: after a hard days ride, very satisfying indeed!!

Posted: July 4, 2013 Tags:     


Day 54: A Ferry Boat Ride

Morning comes and we face a short 63 kms,to coordinate a 130 PM departure on a Ontario ferry crossing a 1.5 hour stretch of water separating Georgian Bay from Lake Huron.This adds a bit of variety to our journey and the Starship gets a bit of a rest too,as we cruise past islands and a cool lighthouse.if you google ,South Baymouth ,ferry departure point and Tobermory,landing point,you will see our route across.Both towns are quaint villages,antique shops,marine shops,fish 'n chips,etc.

Our work is not done as we have another 50 kms to the Lions Head Campground on Georgian Bay.Once again our spot is comped and it's a beauty.Our massive front windshield allows us a panoramic view of the bay.The dawgs check out the Lions Head pub and Gin and I take a dip in Georgian Bay,where the temperature is starting to cooperate.An old hunting pal Rob"Chopper" Mac Donald and his fun good look in' wife Susan drive up from Collingwood to meet us for dinner.We have a raucous time on the beachfront ,and many laughs ,before turning in for the night.It's neat country and we're thrilled to be here.

Posted: July 5, 2013 Tags:     


Day 55: Wheeling Through Rural Ontario to Lake Hurons Shores

Fresh riders join us for today's 145km cycle from Lions Head west to Lake Huron where Scott and Dawn have their beautiful lakeside retreat. Also joining us is Rob from Hamilton and neighbours from Whistler, Deb and Barrie. All are experienced riders and have rode in our BC Gran Fondo. The 5 of us peel away, whereas Barrie who kind of beats to a different drum decides to take his our route. The country is scenic and interesting. We roll through pastures, wind farms, mixed crops, corn tomatoes, vegetables, berry fields and seas of wheat, just turning golden. This is Scott's home turf and he knows the best back roads. Sometimes we follow the lakeshore whizzing past everything ranging from three room cottages to lakefront mansions. Small resort towns hawk fish 'n' chips, ice cream, and beach toys galore. Rent a fishing boat, or a canoe. Ever tried a kayak or a paddleboard? Quinn puts away a deep fried cinnamon sprinkled beaver tail and I have a tough time getting a bite.

After a long but satisfying ride we pull into Scott and Dawns cottage. Priorities, a cold beer and a dip in Huron are taken care of, while the boys are wild eyed when Scott offers them the keys to his two jet skis. Deborah has made a stack of appies and Barrie has to be picked up and driven back. Once again the good laughs and the warmth and generosity of our hosts makes our day. Rob has asked us to stay at his home in Hamilton next week so we cancel our reservation at a local inn. He and Scott will also rejoin us for a ride in the Hamilton area. The sun sets and we enjoy shish kabobs and ice cold drinks on the deck. Thunk...into the kip...no tossing and turning tonight. None.

Posted: July 8, 2013 Tags:     


Day 56: Leaving Lake Huron for the Interior

After a rousting breakfast at Scott and Dawn's, another keen rider joins us for our 145km stint today to Petersberg, Ontario. This young keener is Thomas Dowler, a childhood friend of Kelty's and son of good Vancouver friends (of course ex-Winnipeggers), Jim and Judy Dowler. Jim had previously been on our board and has generously donated time and money to our effort. Thomas has been living in Guelph in the agri-business field and this tri- athlete jumped on the chance to reunite with us and spin spokes for a few miles.

A sunny day and a friendly south wind carried through farm fields of soybeans and wheat, mixed in with some cattle and horse ranches. Horses still play a big role in this area, especially with the Mennonite population who eschew modern technology and still use old fashion horsepower for all of their operations. We chose Petersberg as our day's destination for two reasons. One was that it was equidistant from Hamilton and Niagara Falls that we are travelling to tomorrow. Secondly we heard it has a famous pub called the Blue Moon. In the end we got the equidistant part right but the Blue Moon was pretty well a bust. Another campground owner went out of his way to comp our stay and help us in any way he could. These campground folks have been fabulous to us and to other travellers promoting worthy causes. We look forward to our day off tomorrow and our expedition to Niagara on the Lake and Niagara Falls.

Posted: July 8, 2013 Tags:     


Day 57: A Respite to Niagara on The Lake

We set off this AM in the Starfish (the littler tow car we brought along), mainly to have the dawgs see Niagara Falls, given the nod by Winston Churchill as one of the most beautiful sights in the world. It was a muggy day for a trek, but pretty once we got off the turnpikes and into quaint Niagara on the Lake. Linda Radcliff had set up accommodations or us with an old Balmoral school friend Lil. This was the boarding school Gin went to so we qualified for the stay. We arrived at Lil and Herb's summer home where the boys got set up in the main house and Gin and I in the guest cottage. The A/C was a relief at the cottage but soon we were off to see the world famous waterfall.

After walking to the falls we split up and Gin and I had a nice lunch, while the dawgs headed for the go cart track. A good day was had by all and after a pre dinner nap, we were entertained over a home cooked dinner by Lil and good humoured quips from Herb. Suddenly all the driving and humidity and indulgence caught up with us and crawling between the sheets in that cool guesthouse was all we could think about.

Posted: July 9, 2013 Tags:     


Day 58: Rolling into Steeltown

Protein derived from home made cold stewed rhubarb on toast (no sugar, of course) with copious cups of joe fortified us for our Tour de Canada today on our leg from Niagara on the Lake to the home of the Tigercats of Hamilton. A nice surprise was being joined again by 2 expert guides and riders Rob and Scott, who had joined us before. They led us through pleasant back roads that most Torontonians would never see. Before long we arrived at Rob and Bonnie's lovely home in the outskirts, complete with cool saltwater pool. After a refreshing plunge, a respite from the 91 degree temps., we tucked into cold cut sandwiches and icy bevies.

From here on it was all business as a good friend Janice Goodbrand had set up a rally at a local pub. Although there were no health care professionals present there was a great group of well wishers, a hot hamburger and an auction table and raffle, which all made for a fun and I hope for them, an informative evening. One chap there had lost his son some months before and took the mike after our speeches, to share his story and determination to raise the awareness through a website and fundraising activities of his own. After mingling and many photo ops we adjourned back to Rob's home to review the day and basically eat them out of house and home. I think we all really felt good about resuming the most important part of the trip, raising awareness and destigmatising depression and other mental illnesses.

Posted: July 9, 2013 Tags:     


Day 59: Into the Big Smoke

As we left Rob's for our ride into Mrs.Saga (an old Indian name for Mr.Saga's wife), there was a bit of climbing to get across the Escarpment. The escarpment is an unusual piece of terrain that stretches for hundreds of miles, probably from Collinwood on Georgian Bay to Hamilton. This rise in the earths crust produces isotopical conditions whereas sky's shed their moisture when they pass from north to south and temperatures are quite a bit higher on the sunny south side. This is the reason all the fruit orchards and wineries are located here.

Rob guided us through some back roads and Gin and I rode along, drafting when we could in a light drizzle. Our first rally was at The Grange Heritage Centre. Garry Sault, Obijiway Elder, blessed the opening with a drum song and smudge and we were welcomed by Diane Marshall and a city counselor, Bonnie Crombie. Gin and I again spoke and some members came forward to tell of their experiences. Soon we were off across busy Toronto for our 5 PM rally at the Cricket Club. This affair was arranged by Gin's old IBM pal Barb Sheedy and her host of volunteers. Blackrock, one of our sponsors donated the wine for the evening and appies were served. Over 120 guests heard our presentations and the response was generous to say the least. Several came up to tell their stories including one courageous couple who had just lost their son to suicide. Many stayed to mingle and most agreed that pursuit of a one-stop shop like a Kelty Mental Resource Centre would be fitting for Toronto. Although tempered to stay and mix with old friends, we decided to return back to our hotel to get ready for next mornings live early Global news interview.

Posted: July 11, 2013 Tags:     


Day 60: Hogtown to Brighton along Lake Ontario

I heard George W. sent a few scouts over the border, so I rounded up a few of my sharpshooters to take 'em out.

Gin and I were up early for a big media day in Toronto. Our first session was live morning Global TV, which I think went well. After was breakfast with Kristine Skelly, who schools there. She is daughter of great friends Bill and Jan Skelly of Vancouver (via Winnipeg of course), who have always supported us and our cause over the years.

An awkward double cross town trip to pick up the RV, finally had us on our way to Brighton until Global called again and wanted us to meet for another shoot for their evening news. We finally hooked up and did quite a long piece, including interviews, and cycling shots from different angles. It's certainly great to have their support and the producer assured us he would contact the Halifax and Montreal stations to get a session there. Soon we were in our comfortable KOA (the Caddy of Campgrounds), complete with pool and hot tub. Folks continued to give along the route today. Some lady stopped us in the parking lot and gave $5 - thoughtful. Another stopped and gave $20 - nice. The campground owners, besides "comping" us for the night, wrote out a cheque for $200 - sweet! A hot muggy day made the dip in the pool that much more enjoyable and the cool wind blowing up the ridge through the screen in our aft cabin made for sweet dreams.

Posted: July 11, 2013 Tags:     


Day 61: A Rally in Kingston, Mon

Outside of getting caught in a wee monsoon en route from Brighton to Kingston,we arrived in time for our rally in the Queens University town. Many of my pals had gone to Queens,but with my marks I was told to proceed to the University of Manitoba.A reception of about 2 dozen met us at the Providence Care Hospital Foundation and director Dr. Roumen Milev greeted us with an introduction.After speeches a self confessed mentally ill woman had the courage to take the mike and speak about her traumas.She insisted that luck played a big part in her survival,as well as the Mental Health Association for offering her employment.

About 630 we headed to our campground ,a behemoth of a site,practically full of all kinds of motor homes and campers.Again our stay was comped and Gin presented the owners with a copy of Choosing Hope. A simple but elegant mushroom pasta and mixed salad,was enjoyed followed by tea and baked goods left over from the rally.Most agreed it was a reading night and I finished off Susan Riley's interesting story of her fathers suicide,We Watch the Waves.

Posted: July 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 62: Kingston to Perth

A short-ish ride albeit in the increasing sweltering South Ontario heat took us into our pretty campground earlier than usual today. The mayor of Perth saw to it that our spot for the night was comped and warmly received we were. This 27 acre treed site on the Tay River is named Last Duel Park, the scene of the last pistol duel in Canada in 1833.

Law students Robert Lyon and John Wilson, duelled for the honour of Miss Elizabeth Hughes (must have been quite the vixen). Lyon was considered a crack shot, but both shots missed their mark. The pistols were reloaded and fired simultaneously. Lyon fell mortally wounded. Wilson was arrested but later acquitted. John Wilson married Hughes in 1835 and had three children. Wilson went on to become a lawyer, judge and an MP. The actual pistols can be seen in the Perth museum.

The stifling heat led me and the dawgs to a pool hall where we hydrated and tried their hardest to beat up on old uncle Ker. Double not. A tasty BBQ and a deep sleep rounded out a wonderful day.

Posted: July 15, 2013 Tags:     


Day 63: Perth into the Nation's Capital

Veteran rider and new pal Scott Turner (remember we stayed at his place on Lake Huron) and his tall athletic daughter, Maddie, joined us for this stint into Ottawa today. We found some cool back roads into Ottawa and on Scott's prompting agreed to ride the Rideau Canal bike paths into downtown. The trip was worth it and cycling by the powerboats, tour boats, kayakers and canoe-ers meandering down the canal, we soon began to see the reasons the inhabitants loved their city so much. We chilled on a patio over fish and chips, then proceeded to, of course, the Parliament Buildings and the locks. After a a few hammy pics we headed back along the other side of the canal to Maddie's place to plan the next move. Try as we could to set up a rally in Ottawa, the members were not sitting and focused on their families and cottage country.

This had the dawgs joining Maddie at the annual blues festival and Gin and I headed to our new host, gracious Liz Styffe's townhome in east Ottawa, complete with swimming pool. Liz is sis to Whistler pal Ed Styffe, who has lost some good friends to depression over the years and has supported us from the beginning. Cheers to you Eddie. Liz had thoughtfully arranged drinks and steaks on her back deck and that about concluded our day. Gin and I weren't long for the world as they say and I would have had a deep slumber if it were not for my special worrisome buddy shaking me awake not once but twice screeching at me at 2AM to get up because it was my time to ride. Chill dear.....

Posted: July 15, 2013 Tags:     


Day 64: Ottawa - Sights and Smells

Fresh strawberries and yoghurt awaited us this am, thanks to Liz. Scott was around with Quinn to pick me up for a golf game at Falcon Ridge, near Mac Donald Cartier airport, while Gin opted for cool side - pool side (smarter) and Keenan's different drum had him beating into Ottawa's Chinatown on his skateboard to see what makes the city tick. The golf was more an endurance test in the heat, but we got our workout and had more than a few laughs. Gin had a chill out relaxing day and K Dawg returned with a dream catcher around his neck, a new straw pork pie hat and a pair of green clear lens glasses. "People will think I look smarter"??

A wondrous dip in the pool cooled our brains and skin and prepared us for our dinner date. Scott chose a Thai place in a shopping mall. "Don't let appearances fool you, guys, this is the best outside Thailand." Joining us were friends Lorne and Dustin and the scoff lived up to the billing. All in all a great day.

Posted: July 15, 2013 Tags:     


Day 65: Tiger Lilies and the Hudson

A long day started with a bye bye to Liz and regrouping in the Walmart parking lot to meet Kimberely, Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness. Although we tried to request meetings, rallies and funds, it all fell short and we were very disappointed by the government's lack of participation. All those at the trough were concerned about the cabinet shuffle and their time off. Kimberely was nice and left with a couple of Enough is Enough souvenirs.

We were helped by a SW wind today and made good time along the back roads. Only a tiny sign marked the Quebec border so we continued on without snapping a photo. The countryside didn't change, corn and wheat and hayfields, cattle and dairy farms, but we did notice a drop off in the major fast food joints, most eateries going to mom and pop ownership. Quebec's provincial flower is the Blue Flag Iris, but given the abundance of Tiger Lilies, I was surprised as these grow wild in the ditches and valleys. They are everywhere. Before long on my run the farmlands gave way to a shaded drive along the Hudson River. It was a beautiful drive, not unlike Marine Drive in West Van. and we admired many lovely gated estate homes mostly built of stone.

Cross town riding became difficult especially in rush hour, so safety being first, I jumped in the Mothership and we all crawled through traffic to our KOA campground in South Montreal. This KOA also had a pool that is a boon to all who sweat and cycle. After a refreshing dip and a cool shower we fired up the Webber and enjoyed a meal outside until some of Quebec's finest mosquitoes decided to join the party. Their buzzing has a distinct French accent and they bite like they want to separate with a pint of your Anglo blood in tow.

Posted: July 16, 2013 Tags:     


Day 66: Old Montreal

For those that have not been,honte sur vous.We unload the starfish( little car) of all the rally stuff,crank up the Garmin and head into the morning traffic.We want old Montreal,as all tourists.Keenan hadn't been before ,Quinn once ,Gin once or twice and me once on a senior hockey tour.(actually saw Les Habs play their last game in The Forum).

We park the car and our feet are on the ground ,so good ,now how do you get to see the real sites? Gin and I separated from the dawgs and we decided to make our move based on being in the same position in NY: The Grayline Tour.You know the gooby open top bus ,the cliche,the tourists snapping their pictures of everything that they pass.You did hear the tragic story about that Japanese bus tour that got robbed recently? Bad news is they lost all their money.Good news ,they got 1,789 pictures of the guy.The only ungooby thing I can say about us were that we weren't wearing Tilley hats.Floridians in front of us were choked because they had come up to Canada to cool off and it was torture hot.

We had plans to reunite for lunch and for sure it was going to be poutine and Montreal smoked beef.Plans being plans though,the Joe Beef's and Swartz's of old Montreal were not about to dissolve their one hour lineups for us rubes.We confirmed that pretty well all restaurants in the city are good by randomly picking a beauty.We went quiche ,Caesar salad and sangria ,the boys pizza ,something you could get in Yorkton,but it was great.Gin and I split up after ,she shopping for a Panama hat (cute and inspired by multiple K - Dawg's headwear purchases ( Gin hates to be out shopped) and I to the Beatles Museum,for a look at Lennon's flower painted Royles Royce and collection of the Fab Four's Gretch's,Rickenbackers and Fenders.

We reunited back at the bar where Gin's two old IBM pals Carl and Normande,met us for a cocktail.Soon all the chickens were in the barn and we motored back to the KOA with our minds on that cool saltwater pool.Apologies for going on about the food,but I'm determine to show Canadians who are worried about being too thin that one can actually cycle across Canada and gain weight.To that end we grilled marinated tuna kabobs,fried peppers,garlic and onions,accompanied by brown rice and Gin's fav,Swiss chard.Our A/C unit was a game saver as we tucked in to read with a fingernail moon rising in the black sky beyond.

Posted: July 17, 2013 Tags:     


Day 67: Montreal to Trois Rivieres along the St. Laurence

Our first bit of business is a photo session with a Globe and Mail freelancer. Action shots "Up the hill, down the hill, together, single file, now a still in the broken sunlight, out to the highway, along the highway, cornfield background, now how about some pointing at today's route map? Smile, I like that, looks good, I like the sunlight coming through the trees there, etc." The pics and article are going to be in The Globe and Mail Sat. July 27, if you're a buyer, all based on a previous interview Gin did with a reporter last week.

Finally we set off on a back roads route, Hwy. 138,which basically follows the north side of the mighty St.Laurence, so wide that it is called lakes in some spots. We spin past towns most Canadians will never see, L'Assomption, Berthierville, Maskinonge, Louiseville, Yamachiche. At one point we all pull over to watch the windsurfers ripping thought the waves on a windy stretch of the river. We find respite from the humid afternoon in an air conditioned cafe and finally try the poutine (overrated?) K Dawg the contrarian, of course has frites with spaghetti sauce. We really enjoy these back roads, sometimes taking us through open farmland, sometimes through heavily treed residential districts, othertimes by palacial riverfront estate homes. Today we are helped by strong SE winds, which push our hinies and evaporate all the fun running through our skin from the night before.

We arrive at our campground (not much is comped in La Belle Province),which has a pool and other amenities. On our arrival though we are caught in a torrential downpour, so we get relief from the heat in a different way. Keenan shows discipline by continuing his yoga under the awning in the downpour and Quinn gets caught mid jog in it and comes in with a chagrined, "Oh, spork" look on his face. The evening completes a bon journee, with Gin and I battling it out on the crib board, the boys immersed in their electronics and a nice dinner.

Posted: July 18, 2013 Tags:     


Day 68: Along the St. Laurence up to Quebec City

Set out from Trois Rivieres in cooler weather, for a nice cycle with peak-a-boo views of the big river to our south. The channel along the southerly side must be deep to get those big freighters downstream to Montreal, because some parts of the St. Laurence we passed looked like you could walk to the other side it was so shallow. The road was tres bien, made for cyclists with a good shoulder and many fellow cyclists we did pass. We did lunch, roadside as we usually do, in the Starship, hydrated by copious cold drinks.

Our day was multi-tasking all the way, as we had to reserve the Mothership at a garage for repairs (brake pads and windshields wiper motor repairs) and have the job done for an early Sunday AM takeoff. To our relief we had fixed the front A/C unit on the RV and so were guaranteed of cool sleeps from now on. While it was in the shop Friday, we couldn't exactly sleep in it, so planned a hotel for Gin and I and a hostel for the dawgs in Old Quebec City, Friday and Saturday.

We arrived at the KOA in time for a cool dip and noshed on a delightful specialty that, yes, you can try at home. Imagine a Canadian, no American, to be truthful a small American sized football. This football is two juicy fillets of salmon tied up with string like a prime rib roast, stuffed with a creamy shrimp and spinach filling. It came in a foil tray and I just sealed the top part in tinfoil, ten minutes per side and your crew is guaranteed not to mutiny that night. Night everyone. God Bless.

Posted: July 20, 2013 Tags:     


Day 69: A Free Day in Quebec City

First into the garage with the big fella for some key fixes, then we pile into the Starfish for old Quebec City. We drop the boys off at a hostel and we check into a boutique hotel, moderately priced considering the summer season is in flower and there's a huge music festival going on. There are beer gardens on several corners (a great Reggae band, just down from us) and some big names on stage at the Plains of Abraham, notably Sir Paul McCartney on Tuesday.

We're beginning to love these little 7-8 room boutique hotels. It's kind of a self serve, don't complain (there's no one around to hear it anyway) place with an orchid on the window sill in the vacant lobby, rich oil paintings on the wall, self serve and good coffee in the morning and a little fridge for all, where you can keep your wine, beer and pumpernickel and salmon mousse cold for cocktail hour. Simple.

The hotel fronts as a cafe, with wooden floors bustling with customers, a croissant and an espresso, a pint of Carlsberg and a quiche, a grocery store next door, a wine shop on the other side, a tiny boulangerie across the street and rows upon rows of tiny restaurants all along Cartier Ave. The check in person is the bartender and she asks us for a second while she boils the milky froth for a cappuccino. Soon we are off to walk the streets and almost immediately are caught in a Caribbean squall. We laugh it off, 10,000 tourists can't be wrong and continue snapping pics, people gawking and checking menus in windows along our way.

Tonight we are expecting a guest visitor, my nephew from Halifax, my sister Darcy's son, Hamish. He wants to come by train from Montreal to see us and reunite with Quinn and Keenan, his northern cousins. We make arrangements to all meet back at our hotel, where we have appies and drinks on the street front balcony and then make our way to the avenue below. The late hour curtails our search for an eatery and we choose Italian, not a block away. We make jokes over our order of sweetbreads with Gin squirming in her chair in horror. This is a zero cool place folks, all the good reports we have heard are true. A bit of Europe right here in Canada. A great pic of Gin here, eh?

Posted: July 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 70: Historical Quebec City

I suppose we don't have rally's here because 95% of the residents speak French. This left us with time to languish over a late breakfast, before exploring the old town, through walking the streets, reading, listening and once again Grayline touring, we soaked up some of the history.

Lets start with old. How old? Well, a lot older than the blue cheese we bought at the fromagerie last night. North America's oldest city is here,Augustine, est.1639. Second is Jamestown, Virginia. Oldest Hospital in NA too, The Sisters of Augustine,e st.1639. On a larger scale the province can fit 4.5 Frances into its space, although their population is 48m vs Quebec's 8m. The city was built as a perfect place to control and defend the traffic on the river. Quebec is a Huron word for, "Where the river narrows." Fortifications and a wall were built around the city and so any intruders had to somehow land troops and attack on foot.

That's exactly what British General James Wolfe did in 1759, when he clashed with French General Montcalm's men on the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe fooled Montcalm by bringing his men up a steep embankment from the river, which took Montcalm by surprise. Some say, not true, that a dog actually warned Montcalm by barking "wulf,wulf." (Sorry here.) Fact is Montcalm blew it by not standing firm behind the fortifications and took his 2,000 troops to meet Wolfe's forces on the plains. In following the warfare tactics of the 7 years war between the 2 nations that was going on at the time, in Europe, it was unfortunately the Generals who led the soldiers onto the field. As a result both generals were mortally wounded, Montcalm dying on the battlefield and Wolfe a day later in the city. When The Treaty of Paris was signed the vanquished King of France, Louis XV, gave Quebec (New France) to the English for two small Caribbean Islands. He was never forgiven for trading his people for rum and spices. Anyway there's a dash of history for ya.

We let the boys do what they do and Gin and I strolled down Rue Grand Allee in old Quebec, where we chose a modest place for dinner. It was Saturday night in the old city, but with the music festival etc, West Palm Beach had nothing on the Rue. It rocked and rolled and all the cafes and restaurants were packed. Wow, good times in Quebec City!!

Posted: July 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 71: "On The Road Again"

Beautiful breakfast is included at The Cafe Kreighoff. Espresso and eggs Bene Norweigan for moi and Gin can be in Moose Jaw and the order is the always the omelette. I shouldn't make fun of that omelette though. Quelle omelette! We pick up the lads who are there, wavering curb side, but on time. Off to get the Starship at the garage and it seems to be fixed alright, something of a crapshoot leaving tour vehicle in foreign lands with folks you don't know. If you've travelled all over though you'll agree that if you can set the tone with a little humour, friendship, and panache, most react favourably and fairly.

The weather was different. A high had moved in and sky's were blue, but the temp dropped 10-12 degrees down to 23 (nice for us carbon riders). A good backing wind whisked us along, veritable human spinnakers we were. We both rolled through Quebec hayfields, corn, horse and dairy farms, all the way with picturesque views of the St. Laurence, off our left brow. It was quite the bike route attracting many cyclists, no doubt because of the wide shoulders and, as mentioned, the quaint countryside. (Big side benefit of biking all you who don't own carbon....yet). On this pleasant Sunday the remainder of the traffic was motorcyclists, cars and plenty of campers. Roadside cafes abounded as did garage and antique sales, fresh produce, a boat a vendre, here a car or ATV, a vendre there.

We rolled into our campground at Rivelle-Oumlette about 5 and took a dip in the pool that seemed chilly, as the temp had dropped. One nice touch tonight was someone in the campground had walked by our rig and emailed how proud they were to be in the same campground with us. Ok, we all love to be flattered, but this kind of thing keeps us going. Just a day before we were in an ice cream shop and an old Frenchman who had noticed our van, came over and heartily shook our hands with his best wishes. Same deal.

Quinn and I started a game of Scrabble, but after juicy lamb burgers, we thought we'd all end the evening with a cuppa tea, a cookie and a book.

Posted: July 23, 2013 Tags:     


Day 72: Goodby St. Laurence. We Peel Southward

The first part of the day from our camp spot to Rivere de Loop was fantastic riding. A bright sunny day combined with strong westerlies made for 30 km average speeds. Gin was so, "one with her bike", she didn't want to get off, so we both continued into the town. After lunch it was a different story. Turning south away from the river we were soon in country reminiscent of Northern Ontario. Back to the grind of long hills, swirling winds, horseflies and moose warnings. At one point I looked over and saw a place called The Jasper Motel and began to wonder what was going on.

After a long day in and out of road construction, my fifth flat tire and a big grocery shop, we made our campground. It was a pleasant spot on a nice lake, just out of the town of Degelis, Quebec. The temp had warmed up considerably and we took a dip in their refreshing pool. Steelhead trout on the BBQ went well with the stir-fried green beans, cashews and mushrooms. Perfect temperatures and no bugs made for a well-deserved rest.

Posted: July 24, 2013 Tags:     


Day 73: Peeling Back the Onion

There's always another side to any trip, especially a 3 month'er. Travelling in a 34 ft. (300 sq.ft.) space, 2 young bucks, very different themselves, along with their 60yr.old uncle and aunt, is bound to bring the lava to the top once in a while. I know I have described the adventure as an amazing journey and many of you said, "OMG, I wish we could be there" - in fact some are joining us for the last 2 weeks.

Anyone who has travelled in a group for an extended time knows adventure is not all sunshine and bluebirds. I was reminded of some of our long and yes, adventurous canoe trips in the Arctic Rivers, The Coppermine and The Nahanni today. Although there are 8 paddlers, and you try and reach a consensus, it's hardly ever unanimous. Once a decision is made, it's time to move forward, regardless. Arguments and hard feelings follow, but hopefully forgive and forget prevail.



The humorous part is the reconciliation. Emails are streaming in about what remarkable, inspiring Canadians you are but within the 300 sq. ft., you may be fending off accusations of being a turkey or a dork or worse. Whether it's different standards of safety, not securing the bike on the rack well enough, taking the wrong road, playing the music too loud, or not doing your share, it doesn't take years of practice to be a critic. Given three months together, disagreements are inevitably.

Depending on your personal hang-ups, maturity level, or books read on Buddhism, some gravitate to basics quicker than others. Added to that of course is the fact that we're not four university students travelling together, so as equal as some would want it to be, it's not. Some are paid to support the ride in all aspects; some don't have ownership of the equipment, although it's their duty to maintain it in top-notch condition. I think that will suffice for now, as unfairly, I do have the power of the pen and realize humbly there are always two sides to any story, etc.



Various conditions can add oil to the flames. Today for instance, Mother Nature added a couple of scoops of chicken shit to the chicken salad. Soon after we left Delegis for Perth Andover, it began to pour and our windshields wiper snapped in half. We were on the Trans Canada because of the wide shoulders and the traffic, especially the semis, were spraying us with each passing. An unfriendly Easterly sapped our energy and huge rolling hills (often over 15 minutes in the granny gear), sapped the rest.

Soaked in the Starship and driving up and down roads searching for our campsite, ended a long gritty bike ride. The proprietor welcomed us with, "Like what you're doing for mental health, but can only give ya $11 off cause we got flooded out last year".


He indicated with his hand chest high the level from the St John's River that passed through his office last spring. Speaking with him further he told me he had a 35 yr. old son living in his basement with schizophrenia. "We're not going to be around forever - then what'll he do?" Later on her way to the shower, Gin kindly took him a hat and a book, which he sat down to read immediately.



Well that's the daily report folks. Still want to come on the magical tour? Kidding aside, facts are you got yer, short, medium and long term. I could go home tomorrow and know I will cherish every mile we have made, every corner we have turned, every hill we have ascended and descended and all the experiences and people we have met. And I will know...better yet...we together will know...that adventure has many moving parts, disagreements can forge relationships, maybe weld them stronger than "good times" and shallow cocktail conversations.



Our overall fatigue has us hitting the hay early in preparation for tomorrow's longest day of the trip yet, 180 kms. from Perth Andover to Fredericton, NB.

Posted: July 25, 2013 Tags:     


Day 74: Riding the Dragons Tail Into Fredericton

Waking up to the longest ride of the trip (180kms), we were relieved it wasn't raining. We knew however that we would get wet, because you could see through the grey clouds, dark blue curtains of squall on the horizon. Given the length of the ride we changed our tactics. Firstly, we decided to keep to the Trans Canada, because of the wide shoulders and not ride the scenic back roads. The shoulders not only offered us safety from traffic, but smoothness, so we could highball along at a faster clip. Secondly instead of doing a big opening ride (Gin likes to gulp it and do 50- 60 kms on her opening), we thought we'd try to do a kind of a "fresh horses" pony express relay, with Gin doing 30,me 30,Gin 30,me 30,Gin 30, me-30.

For the most part I think it paid off. With a break for lunch after Gin had done her first two 30s we were still reasonably fresh to the finish. We both got wet, but managed to dodge the thunderstorms for the most part. The road was different from any other part of Canada we had travelled. If you remember my blog about the riding the rolling caterpillar into Olds, AB, with its long undulations, this was somewhat similar but magnified. This was riding the dragon's tail. As Quinn, our patient driver pointed out, there were no flat spots. As soon as you climbed a hill, you descended and immediately started climbing again. The ascents although mostly gradual, were very long. Whistlerites, we're talking at least two Furry Creek climbs. Fortunately the pins were up for the task and all the training and hard work we had done to this point had turned us into road warriors. The legs trumped any pain and the lungs handled the cardio. It's amazing what the old bod can do if it gets some firm direction. We are proud of our accomplishments today and I am very impressed with my girl's fortitude and grit. You don't want to get into an Indian leg-wrestling match with either one of us.

As we approach the capital, I am waved inside, as we usually do (dangerous to ride through cities in rush hour where you don't know your directions), and we zig zag across town until we find our hotel room. We have a rally tomorrow and a book reading and we want to be close to the downtown. The hotel is situated on the St. John's River in a lovely park and after showers and a drink; we walk down the street where we find a funky new place for dinner. A break from the Starship and a break from each other has morale rising again and dinner together is all laughs.

Posted: July 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 75: A Day in Fredericton

First impressions of a nice little city (pop. About 75k), remain until we leave. Parks along the St. John's River, UNB, set in hilly terrain, cool shops and restaurants, guys driving cabs that could be your father or grandfather, reasonable prices, general good vibe.

We are happy to be back on the rally circuit, doing what we do best, triggering thought and discussion, educating against stigma, describing our vision about a Kelty Mental Health Centre in every major hospital in each province, inviting audience up to describe their struggles or relate stories about mental illness and promote Gin's Choosing Hope, sell some t shirts and lastly to stay on and have others approach us about their personal stories. At today's rally Gin had a lineup of people wanting to speak to her and I am approached by a mother with a 14-year-old daughter who has struggled with depression for years. Although her eyes mist over when her mother tells me her story, she tells me that her daughter has become a mentor for others in her school who may be vulnerable. It feels good for me to give her a hug, encourage her to continue her mentor ship and urge her to buy a road bike.

After a massage, shower and a relax, we part ways, Gin off to promote her book at a local shop and Q Dawg and I over to the pool hall where we try to figure out the bigger surface with lightning nylon tabletop. Gin and K dawg meet up with us there later. All day we have been busy on the cell and Internet planning forward for rallies at St Johns, Wolfsville and especially Halifax. With lots to do and think about we digest a tasty Indian dinner on our walk home and the silk before 10.

Posted: July 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 76: A Mari Usque Ad Mare

Yes, our hearts bounce as we finally get a glimpse of the Atlantic today pulling into St Johns, but not before a long wet day. This morning as we pack up to leave Fredericton, we are met with a steady drumbeat of rain. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide: "Suck it up Buttercup," as Gin likes to say. "Kid, just shut up and do your chinstrap up," as my Montreal friends say. There's a few heads up when your road biking in the rain. When early morning rain hits dry heated asphalt from the day before it bring the oil to the surface, unstable for 1.3 inch racing tires. In addition painted lines become more slippery and railway tracks are skull and crossbones. Tracks even for experts must be crossed perpendicularly. When it's wet they are like ice and the rider is down. Maybe just a scrape, maybe a broken arm or hip. Novices should at minimum get out of their pedals and if its a triple set, even walk the tracks. Gin breaks all the rules going over the tracks and escapes with a rear tire nearly shooting out from under her. I give her %^<{¥ about it and she humbly admits she €#+~]~£ up.

Anyway, wet we get, soaked rats we are and it's not like the west, it's a wet rain. We find a solution to sweat and rain running into our eyes, rendering sight impossible, but donning a baseball cap underneath our helmets. The hat does twofold duty and allows us to glide into St. Johns with some consolation. We are somewhat on the time lock as we have a rally downtown and earlier Zoe Grams our fantastic media consultant from ZG Communications gives us a high alert e mail that CBC want to interview us before the rally. Quinn squeezes the big 53ft rig expertly through the narrow rush hour streets of St Johns until we hit the town square .

After a successful rally, we head to our campground in the pouring rain. Friday is always "steak night" for Gin and I since we were dating when she was 16, so we are armed with choice tenderloins, corn, asparagus and new potatoes. Keenan the contrarian is "armed", with two giant portobello mushrooms which he calls his steak. Different views on armour, eh? On goes the music, out comes the white wine, morale is right and we can smell the sea in our nostrils.

Ps The picture is of an Avro Lancaster WW11 bomber that actually flew 11 combat missions and was later turned into a reconnaissance aircraft.We came upon this beauty at a little airstrip in the middle of nowheresville New Brunswick

Posted: July 29, 2013 Tags:     


Day 77: Crossing the Bay of Fundy into Nova Scotia

It's pretty well an off day for us as we don't have to catch out ferry until 12. Ahhh, luxury. We change our alarms from 6.30 to 9AM. Weaving through the narrow streets of St Johns we are soon in the hurry up and wait line. The 3 hr. passage is spent relaxing and reading. As you can see from the photo, the dawgs could have a nap during a Cape Canaveral (guess it's Kennedy now) launch (strapped to the rocket.) The hamlet of Digby is known for it's scallop fishery and soon we are tying into kabobs and chowders, par magnifique. All this seafood seems to go so well with a dark beer or a Chardonnay that we go with the flow. A walk up the Main Street in and out of the little souvenir shops completes our visit and we're off to our campground.

Weather is spitting rain so we pass on the pool, but get into the spirit of the place later, kind of caught up in the hoopla. The place is huge and being a Saturday night, everyone seems to be in a party mood. There are lots of fires going, bingo if you can dig it, a spirited bunch of old gals selling 50/50 tickets, fireworks, the whole deal. We haven't had a fire in a while so I trudge back with a load of wood, hang up our new Chinese lanterns and we're "all in". Several campers are interested in our cause and come by to talk, so bit by bit we spread the word. Temps warm up and here's no skitters, so we set up our picnic table near the fire and enjoy a yummy whole wheat seafood and sautéed mushroom pasta dish, followed by a Kahlua, tea and a cookie. Just right!

Posted: July 29, 2013 Tags:     


Day 78: Rural Roads into Wolfville

Because of our good experience with rural roads in Ontario, we decide against the TC Hwy 101 and take he narrow, but less travelled scenic Highway 1 east to our destination, Wolfville, the home of The Axemen, Acadia University (pop. 4,100). Another reason for stopping here is to stay with my great old pal and fishing partner, Dr.Bill Doran and his wife Dianne. This works well for Ginny's first leg as the Sunday morning traffic is sparse, but becomes bumper to bumper later as folks cruise by the constant series of garage ( junk) sales. We switch to the main 101 route to finish.

Before we meet up with the Doran's however, I am greeted by a husky biker on a roaring Harley, who yells out as I pass on my bike, "Hey, you Kerry?" This is the mayor Jeff Cantwell who we were trying to coordinate our arrival with but Murphy's law prevailed and it was just Jeff and not the planned gaggle of riders who accompanied us into the quaint town. Jeff had kindly set up an interview with a local reporter, Wendy, knowing that every opportunity to spread the word helps the cause and possibly indirectly works to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Soon we were off to Bill Doran's, secluded 23 acre homestead, just out of town. Bill and I had met while fishing guides in Northern Ontario, as summer jobs through university. Something about fishing and lifelong friendships and he still comes out every spring to fish at my lodge at Lake George in Manitoba, where we angle for frisky lake trout, bass, northern pike and whitefish. Good old Billy knows his chow and has juicy tenderloins, new potatoes and corn on the cob in no time. He is a fan of the local wine and copiously pours chilled local whites and reds, to wash down the fare. For dessert Dianne has made a sponge cake ,and covers it with mounds of raspberries and high bush blueberries. These blueberries and huge and so tasty and unlike the wild or even commercially raised low bush blueberries, grow chest high. The Doran's only found out about them after they bought place 10 years ago. We take a walk out to the back 23 and wonder at the high bush crop and the size of the berries. We end the night catching up together, recalling some pastimes and playing with the household pets, two great dogs and a couple of cats ( I'm a dog man).

Posted: July 29, 2013 Tags:     


Day 79: From Wolfville to Halifax, with an escort

Reinforcements arrive this AM for our ride into Halifax in the form the two Grant boys, my second cousins removed, named George and Charlie. They were driven from Halifax by their mom Liz and a friend who will be the lead escort car. These Grants are not bike savvy but leap on the saddle and take to it in no time. We say adieu to the Dorans and are soon churning up the turnpike.

Despite an easterly, the gaggle makes pretty good time, until it's my turn. As usual easterlies bring the weather, and in minutes we are tracking against a pounding rain. Charlie has a tough time until he trades his fathers old Italian steel bike in for his fathers new Cannondale. His ego is reinstated as he leads the pack, almost catching Keenan who wants one last crack at the road before we tuck him into an airplane, Wednesday night.

We arrive at my sister Darcy and husband David's place and get ready for a book reading set for 7 PM. The tiny bookstore produces zero turnout, but Rob and Liz are there, so it's fun catching up. We return home and all grab a bite a short walk from there. Tomorrow is hectic, jam packed and all business.

Posted: July 31, 2013 Tags:     


Day 80: A Great Day in Halifax

Gin and I are up very early for a live Global TV interview, followed by a breakfast with the "Go to Guy", for mental health in Nova Scotia, Dr. Stan Kutcher, Professor and Director, Dept of Psychiatry at Dalhousie U. We discuss all aspects of the challenges ahead in mental health and retire to his offices to see what Stan and his team are working on. We come away very impressed with the work they have done and by the graciousness and down to earth, practical manner of this leader. Working together and not duplicating services is our goal and we plan to connect very soon after our trip. The good doctor has a saying that resonates with us," If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together". Check out his teams efforts at http://www.teenmentalhealth.org

Next we rush over to the rally planned inside the renovated bowels of the original Keith's Brewery. At all these events we are at the mercy of the organizers to bring out a crowd and speakers. We have no idea whether there will be 7 or 70. Thanks to some dedicated speakers and health professionals,there are over 100 milling around as we begin. Speakers include Minister Maureen MacDonald, Mayor Mike Savage, Dr. Stan Kutcher and a couple of survivors of mental illness. The spirit of Atlantic warmth and compassion fills the square as each speaker delivers their spin on mental illness, what to do to stop the stigma and best ways to move forward. A lovely young woman comes forward to unabashedly describe her woes with her demons, then retrieves a guitar, to serenade us with a beautiful song. The Enough is Enough crew feels good about the session and we are invited to lunch by Ian Cavanaugh of Ambir Solutions, who has been so generous to our cause.

Next we rush over to the bike shops where the Norco team surveys the rattles and rubs, then off to the RV repair shop where we need oil, grease and a new windshields motor and wipers. Exhausted we grab a siesta for a couple of hours, to get ready for an evening rally at cousin Grants Carleton Bar. About 50 show up and we mingle and have dinner before doing our thing at the mike. The rally concludes with Rob Grants son Charlie's band rocking some of their latest hits. The Grants generously feed and "water" us all, a true testament to Atlantic hospitality. Rob will join us in the saddle for our ride to Truro tomorrow.

Posted: August 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 81: A Free Day in Halagonia

Sleeping in until 9 is luxury when you're on the media circuit and lazing outside overlooking the bay with a coffee and a piece of toast confirms that it's the simple things that score. Boring takes on a whole new flavour on this hectic fast paced journey and we're greedy for any opportunity to sit back and diddle with our I Pads or read the paper. Soon though the phones are ringing for our attention. It's CBC Charlottetown wanting an interview. Afterwards, Gin and I are off to our massages, as usual with me driving the Starfish and Gin with the trusty Garmin, interspersed with the not so odd, "Jeeze Kerry", "Watch out", "For Christmas sakes", you get the idea. By pure chance alone we reach our destination and relax to the best massage yet so far on the trip.

Our next errand is visiting Laing House, a non profit drop in centre where the proceeds of last nights gathering were donated. Conveniently there is a tiny pub across the street where we sit in the shade and enjoy a lunch. We pick up our carbon steeds on the way home. The mechanic declares them good to go for the rest of the trip.

Alas it's time to part ways with one of our crew, the Keenan Dawg, who has done his tour and is getting on a plane to Calgary to see a concert.We brush off any sentimentality by affirming that we will see him in a month at the last week finale in Vancouver/Whistler, but it's not that successful. He's blood and no matter how different the personalities are,everything runs full circle,with family. We accept an invitation to dinner with Peter and Chris across the street, old friends of Darcy. Thanks all of you who made our Halifax stay a memorable and meaningful stop. Bravissimo Atlantic Canada!!

Posted: August 1, 2013 Tags:     


Day 82: North to Truro Our Nose Pointed to PEI

It occurs to me every morning just how similar this is to flying. Although I've only got about 4 hours solo in a Cessna, Quinn and I strap ourselves into the cabin and do our checks..."Sides in, check, jacks in, check, power and hose disconnect, check, generator off, check, steps and awning in, check, bikes secured, check, all aboard?, Keenan where you going?"

We leave our new buddy Halifax about 9AM, with loving hugs to sister Darcy who has just returned the night before from canoeing the Yukon River to Dawson. We are accompanied today by my cous. Rob Grant, who knows a cool backcountry route to Truro. For safety's sake we motor over a couple of bridges through Dartmouth and drop the riders on the other side. Again we have dodged the rain and a sunny day awaits. Although the road is single lane, there's not much traffic and the cruising is top notch. We weave through rural Nova Scotia and unless you have a good guide like Rob along you'd miss the points of interest. He points out the plethora of dairy farms. "A lot of Dutch dairy farmers here." "On the right is the biggest gypsum mine in the world." "Coming up here is Grand Lake where hockey great Sidney Crosby has his cottage. Big security gate at the entrance, only young hotties in bikinis allowed through." "Now Logan Drilling here on the left has cornered 90% of the geo-tech work in the province", etc.

We spin past hamlets like Wellington, Lantz, Milford, Alton and through a Mic Mac reserve, with names like Stewiacke and Shubenacadie. Rob challenges us for fun..."Kerry how would you pronounce that?". Soon we roll into Truro. Rob knows it as he had had a few cases there and directs us to The Split Crow Pub, for some fine fare and a pint of local Propeller Ale. Afterwards we do some banking and grocery shopping at the local Sobeys store. Sobeys are clients of Rob's firm and for those who read the paper, know they have just acquired Safeway. Rob says that old man Sobeys started off with a small butcher shop and then began to carry a few staples...voila...now a giant coast to coast. I don't know whether it's because it's a Nova Scotia store where the whole thing started but the service is exceptional. A butcher actually follows us eavesdropping on our palaver down the meat isle, until he is satisfied we have picked out the juiciest lamb chops. From the fish counter Quinn and I go for the fillet of haddock, but Gin gears down to the salmon. Haddock is s white fish, kind of a cousin to the codfish and because of the decimation of the cod stocks is now the replacement in the province. To my way of thinking discerning the taste of whitefish is similar to discerning the tastes in white wine, subtle but definitely discernible.

We check into the Elm Ridge Campground,a large well kept friendly affair with a beauty swimming pool, good power and sweet well water.Out come the solar powered Chinese lanterns and the pots and pans. Q Dawg, who is a very good cook in his own right, volunteers to be the chef tonight and it turns out to be one of our best meals yet. Pan fried haddock, simple, s and p, butter and lemon, accompanied by a delicious cherry tomato and buttered spinach stir fry, baked potato side. Cuppa tea, frozen chocolate chip cookie (sorry Hurl, we like all things chocolate frozen) and tuck with our novels, completes our 82nd day.

Posted: August 2, 2013 Tags:     


Day 83: Along the Sunshine Trail with The Northumberland Straight off our Right Shoulder

The Trans Can here is called Hwy 104, but we take the side roads for some of the best cycling of the trip so far. Gin works her pedals hard, head down, building up an honest sweat. She's not excited her first stint behind the handlebars is over and kind of whines for more mileage. (neat, eh?) There's not much shoulder, but not much traffic either. It's the kind of terrain that's perfect for cycling. With that I mean that the country rolls constantly like a slinky. Climb a short grade and you are rewarded by a downhill pump and tuck, building up so much speed and momentum that you can make the next uphill. Not that every grade is perfect for this, ie, sometimes you're up on your pedals, making that last 200-300 meters, but it makes for great, "up in your stirrups" riding.

We pull into a schoolyard for a mobile lunch. The sky is overcast and the temp. is perfect for a cross country dash. Gin finishes her second leg and mine takes us to The Confederation Bridge, so we actually leave Nova Scotia and cut into a slice of New Brunswick, before the bikes are pulled into the Starship (no bikes on the big bridge). The Confederation Bridge is billed as the longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world. I think Tourism PEI should say they are the richest waters you've ever crossed in the world. (With 7 lobsters over sq. meter that's $1.8 million in lobsters)(just made that up sorry for any shallowness here). Anyhows, it is a thrilling ride over the big fella and almost directly over the bridge is our campground, the new KOA, Borden Carleton Campground. Hey, it's "comped", and Gin takes her a book, as a gratuitous memento.

The site is immaculate and Quinn and I excitedly visit the games room.2 pool tables, sweet!! Also on the site are 2 huge shuffleboard surfaces and the beach game of golf ball toss. There is even live entertainment proving these KOA folks are taking their business to a new level. It's a fun night, lots to do and ps...those lamb chops were ssssooooooo good!

Posted: August 3, 2013 Tags:     


Day 84: PEI Birthplace of Confederation...The Gentle Isle

Up early we are joined by 5 other Charlottetowners as our escorts along the 62km stretch into the city on the Trans Canada. All these riders are jocks and we make great time swooping up and down the hills on the wide shoulders. At times we ride side by side and get to know each other snatching a sentence or two when we can. Our first stop is at the organizer's sports store, John Horrlet. From there we ride in a gaggle through residential districts and through parks, setting up a few times for photo ops for reporters from the local newspaper, The Guardian. Finally we are greeted by applause by several townsfolk as we swing into a seaside park to a gazebo, exactly where the Fathers of Confederation first met to draft up the constitution.

A cool band is strumming some old hits and volunteers are hustling about preparing hot dogs and setting up for the rally. After welcoming speeches by a city counsellor and an MLA, Gin and I tell our story. The sun shines brilliantly this afternoon, some buy books and t shirts, some from the mental health community approach us and tell their stories. For those with no money, we give a copy of Choosing Hope. This nice affair ends by 2 PM and John takes us to the local community college where he has kindly set us up with a 2 brd. apartment for the night. He has kindly invited us to dinner, so after a siesta and a whistle wetter, we are picked up at 5:30 in a two car escort to John's coastal seafood restaurant, about 20km out of town. The place is bustling with diners as many have summer cottages nearby and there is a huge campground close by. Licence plates are from all over, Vermont, Virginia, Tennessee, etc

The restaurant is set at the end of a picturesque bay and we have two tables reserved on the wooden patio. The idyllic scene is overthrown in minutes as a black thunderhead screams overhead and unloads on the bay. "Just a day on the island" as they say and we continue with our drinks inside, standing shoulder to shoulder with the patio folks as the lucky insiders order their meals. Twenty minutes later the storm blows over and we are reinstated on the deck. The Islanders joke that PEI is where 3 weather systems converge. "Says, one, ever see The Perfect Storm? We're not far from there ya know". "The conditions are totally unpredictable. The weatherman uses a rock, puts it outside and if it's wet, that means rain, if it's white... snow, etc."

Of course we have the lobster and although we've had it before several times, we have never eaten with Islanders. Detailed instructions on how to suck the meat out of the tiny legs, on how to pry open the body and go to work scooping the hidden meat out, eating the green stuff and eating the roe, a delicacy. The place is totally authentic, home made rolls, local entertainment on the deck, guitar and fiddle with the wife coming by once in a while to join in,coach and GM (now commentator), Doug McLean from Summerside paying his compliments. Home made pies from a lady down the road, lemon meringue, pecan, coconut cream, and everyone orders. As the clouds darken the sky, we roll home with John who fills us in on life on the Island. It been a superb day and we tuck in, soaking up our rich visions and experiences.

Posted: August 4, 2013 Tags:     


Day 85. Cruising through PEI and an Outstanding Find

We've only 65 kms to the Northumberland Provincial Campground today, so Gin and I team up and get behind the handlebars. The cruising is pleasant, wind and sun at our backs. Gin takes pride in pumping up the grades while my thing is to build up speed on the way down and tuck it out. In this way we are constantly passing each other and we chirp each other as we pass. Again every day is different and today because we are in rolling hills, we have some spectacular views of Northumberland Straight. I hurtle around a corner and a hawk flushes 3 brilliant yellow finches out of a hedgerow, who zip in front of my handlebars.

We reach the campground and it seems fairly ordinary until we curl through some woods and come out the other side to an immaculate grassy field overlooking the sea. A seaside drive-in movie, it is. Gin returns after a peek and reports a beauty red sandy beach, nearly everyone splashing in the waves. Doesn't take us long before we are basking in the warm salt water, just the ticket after a hot sweaty bike ride. A small group of people with buckets is combing the knee deep water. I go to inspect and they are digging out bar clams. These are prolific on this beach. The learning curve is short and after we learn the trick, we too join the hunt. The trick is to wade slowly until you see an aberration in the sandy bottom, a small black spot. This is the bar clams foot, barely sticking out of the sand. The trick now is to reach down quickly and dig like crazy with your hands and grab the prize before it beats you and digs down to freedom. These clams are fast, but we are good, especially Q Dawg, who soon has his hands and pockets full of the briny catch. We place them in a big pot full of seawater so they can self filter out their sand and Q and I begin a very lively chess game on the beach, interrupted by sips (of cold beer) and dips (into the inviting ocean). This place is paradise. Hardly any flies, warm water, families playing, gentle vibe and living off the land with seafood at your feet. Lucky Charlettowners are only 20 minutes away from this beach, which has just soared to #1 on my list (sorry Steve in the Bahamas).

Back at the Starship we discuss how to prepare our bounty. The old semi trucker next to us says they're too chewy to steam, unlike the smaller beach clams served in restaurants, more like razor clams which need the same prep. We decide to fry half for appies and mince the remainder for clam chowder. I take on the appie task. First we steam all the clams, so they open. Some are as big as your closed fist and the prize inside is substantial. I set them out and clean them by removing the gut and cutting the toughest part (the bright orange foot), into pieces. We wash the final bit of sand away, them drop them into an egg and cream wash, then shake them in a ziplock bag of crushed whole wheat thins and pancake mix. From there they go into into the frypan where a bubbling butter and lemon combo fries them to a golden brown. Gin is cautious, but overall we declare them tasty, downright potable in fact. Quinn is busy prepping the rest for chowder. We improvise as we go. Coffee cream comes out, bacon is diced and sautéed along with PEI's finest new potatoes and a dash of good old s and p. Broth is stolen from a package of Sapporo Ichiban and soon it too is bubbling on the stove. Because we have chicken in the barbie tonight, we stick the chowder in the fridge for our new guests to enjoy tomorrow.

Posted: August 5, 2013 Tags:     


Day 86: Back into Nova Scotia via PEI Ferry and on to Antigonish

Woods Island and The Northumberland campground has been one of the best stops along the route, but the road beckons and at 9:30AM we are on the ferry back to NS and our next port of call as it were, the home of St. Francis of Xavier University, Antigonish. After offloading from the ferry we pick up anticipated guests, Ian and Coleen from Vancouver. Ian is ED of the Crisis Centre in Vancouver, who runs an excellent organization for emotional support and preventing suicide. The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation has supported them financially for several years now. His wife Coleen is from Nova Scotia, so they are holidaying here and like many others want to part of our caravan. Coleen jumps on a bike and rides along with Gin, albeit, roughing it out on my XL bike.

The day is threatening with thunderstorms on the horizon, but we have a westerly and make it dry into Antigonish. It's bigger than I thought, with a big Staples and a Superstore at the entrance of town. We cruise by the immaculate brick buildings, with white windows, that make up the university. After a left turn a cute dolly in iridescent peach pedal pushers is waving, screaming and snapping photos from the curb. This must be no other than one of our best friends and most loyal and hardworking board member Susan Rae, who has joined us with her husband, jock, dentist par excellence and all around great friend and good guy Darrell Rea. Sue has just taken up road biking and we like to feel we have had some bearing on that. They will join us for the rest of the trip, culminating in D man's 60th in St. John's August 11th.

Sue has arranged for our accommodations from now on in, because our support staff is on holidays. They are checked into a hotel downtown and have booked us two lovely rooms at the Evergreen Inn on the outskirts. Our host, Lynn, "comps" us a room when she learns of our mission. Nice! Our larger than usual crew is in high spirits as we head downtown to a local pub and yak away until we realize that tomorrow is a new day.

Posted: August 6, 2013 Tags:     


Day 87: Storied Cape Breton, so Scottish, Even the Lobsters Wear Kilts

Off with our big keen crew after a fresh fruit breakfast at Lynn's inn. Before we leave Gin and I are interviewed by the local papers. We are headed for Baddeck, a sea side town, actually on a saltwater lake called Bras D'Or Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the country. Of course it's fed by by the mighty Atlantic through small channels and for this reason, the tides are almost non existent. Gin and her new partner, expert Gran Fondo biker Darrell, eat up the asphalt. It's a show off day, brilliant blues skies and a strong westerly pushing the duo along the shoulder. Before I can finish my blog it's our turn and I jump on my bike feeling somewhat like a plain Jane, beside the colourful spandexed to the 9's, Susan Rea. She has brought her bike all the way here via, cab, airplane and bus, to the Cape, but she rides Gin's Norco, while the mechanics work on the assembly of her mount.

We have fun chatting, toiling up hills and zipping down their backsides. I stop after our 30 km stretch ends after a big downhill, but Sue is well behind. On her descent her front tire pops and although she brakes properly has a snag getting unclipped and scrapes her knee on the guardrail. Welcome to the club Sue, now a true blood brother! We lunch at a roadside bakery and after alternating riders again roll into Baddeck with big red crayfish on our mind. This long weekend is regatta weekend and driving down the main drag is as busy as driving Banff Avenue. The harbour is full of sail and power boats and the whole place is jumpin' - so much so that the local fish market is all sold out of lobsters. Plan B is grilled rib eye and scallops, as my pal always says, "Wonder what the poor people are doing today".

We enjoy a boondoggle, when Quinn shanghais the rig down a dead end while we wait curb side with all the groceries. We can't back it up with the Starfish on the dolly, so Q makes a bold corporate Board decision to do a big circle across a guy's front lawn. Shortly after, the seconders are picked up and we are back down the road to our campground, Adventures East. Sue and D. have booked a small cabin and we pull the rig up to a spot beside them. Ahhh, another pool to wash away the days toil and cool the skin. Showers, dinner prep, Ian working on a fire, the site is a hub of activity. Morale is high after a day together proclaimed to be a big success. Narry a mosquito anywhere, we seat ourselves at a picnic table and tuck into our some fine fare. The highlight however is Quinn's homemade clam chowder (see day 85), swimming with hand caught bar clams and chalk full of creamy PEI new potatoes. No leg pulling, best chowder on the trip so far, bar clam, I mean bar none. A big party is out of the question. We have to tackle some rolling hills tomorrow and have had enough for one day. As we like to say, "Enough is Enough."

Posted: August 7, 2013 Tags:     


Day 88: The Cape's Daunting Climbs Gives Way to Her Riches of the Sea

Starting out there is only a two-way highway with no shoulders, but the traffic, although busy, passes safely. Our destination is Pleasant Bay, some 138 distant. A flat 138 is one thing, 138 in Cape Breton is another. We alternate, 30-30-30, then Darrell and I mount up to finish off the day. Immediately after we begin, D says to me, "look ahead". I peer upwards to see a strip of road winding and switch backing up a steep mountain, French Mountain to be exact followed by MacKenzie Mountain. The combined length is 8 km with grades from 8-12 degrees. I follow Iron Darrell up the first part, pumping for nearly all I'm worth (no jokes please) The temp must be 85 and the sun beats through our helmet holes. I climb a steep incline and round a corner to face another steeper one. Ok Ker, it's white towel time for me. My head is so hot it's reminiscent of my last Gran Fondo, where I went all out to better my previous year's time. I finished hard but left nothing out there and was slurring my words at the finish. This is called heat stroke and on this trip, I wasn't going to repeat that. We all have to take care of our mental health in the long run. Darrell, although we worried about him, stopped to take water once, but managed to climb the whole thing. He gets the gold and deserves all the kudos we can manage. In fact I'll say it's about the hardest thing I've ever seen anyone do, ever!

At first I feel like a quitter, a looser, not a bruiser, but not far underneath, I know I have done the right thing taking care of my body and learning from my past mistakes. Fact is it was out of my pay scale, the high jump bar set to a level I have never done before. I'm totally OK with it. Having said this I jump on my bike when my head cools and I ride most of the mountains. When we get to the top, there's a huge plateau of wild moose pasture. Every 1-2 km there are pullout viewpoints, absolutely spectacular views of the canyons, deciduous forests, and sea coast far, far below. D and I stop and admire the views, then begin the 8 km downhill screamer, with up to 17 degree descents. We discuss the downhill, daunting in its own right and agree because of the broken pavement and sharp switchbacks, that we don't let our wheels run, but astutely manage our brakes. Yes, and it's an absolute thriller downhill, my biggest ever by far and we are cooled by the winds we create as we glide into Pleasant Bay.

Safely home and into an air conditioned motel room, heavenly man! It's playtime and after cool showers some of us take to the lush grass field beside our motel for a little bocce ball. We have pulled our rig right up to the front door of our motel room, but with no kitchen in the rooms, we ask the motel-restaurant owners to cook up the 6 lobsters we have purchased before in Cheticamp. It happens there is a picnic table set under the shade of a big tree and we enjoy a festive time ripping away at our major crustaceans and dipping our prizes into the hot frypan of butter and lemon. Burnt out from the tough day of hill climbing, the party doesn't last long and the lights flicker off by 10:30. Satisfying and spectacular the day was and we look forward to another tomorrow.

Posted: August 8, 2013 Tags:     


Day 89: Cape Breton - Nova Scotia's Masterpiece

Beautiful Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail - named after Italian seafarer John Cabot, home of whales, whitecaps and windswept plateaus, fiddles, festivals and famous beaches, sailboats, soaring eagles and Scottish pioneers, coastal towns, coal mines and cultural diversity, surf, seabirds and soldiers, the town of Baddeck, home of Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of not only the telephone but the first airplane to fly in Canada, a tourist's delight with whale watching, seal and puffin sightings, motorcycle and bicycle heaven, riches of the sea and historic sites, Fortress Louisbourg, captured by the Americans, pre-revolution, Gaelic language, Acadians, links golf, The Rankin Family and more. As my good pal Bill Skelly would say, "Ker, you know what I like about this place? Everything."

The Cape's vistas are spectacular, and cruising the coastal mountains in a rent-a-car is one thing - this crew is on bikes! Gin and Darrell start out with trepidation, as they know the first climb leaving Pleasant Bay is North Mountain. The day is not as hot as yesterday, but they face a gruelling 8 km uphill with grades 8-13 percent. Gin grinds hard until gravity and inertia overwhelm and she pulls over. D helps her and walks her bike for a spell and carries on ahead. Gin, like me the day before, is determined to do as much as possible, and after a couple of good rest periods, jumps on and manages most of the hill. Sue and I have a lighter go of it and certainly better sea coast views, but enough terrain that our thighs are burning too.

We pick a nice beach for lunch and not long after, pull into to Joyfull Journeys Campground, where the kind owner (from BC) has not only comped our place but a rented trailer also for Darrell and Sue. With burgers on the Que and corn bubbling in the pot, we pick teams and battle it out on the bocce field. Following dinner we accept an invitation from our Cape Breton neighbours to join their campfire. They are friendly as can be and very interested in our trip and our cause. This is a part of Canada you must add to your bucket, people.

Posted: August 9, 2013 Tags:     


Day 90: A 6 hr. Ferry over to the "Rock"

Our original plan was to take the 12-hour crossing from North Sydney, NS to Argentia, NF and ride into St. John's, but the skipper ran it aground last week and all crossings were diverted to the far end of the island, 900 kms from the capital at Port Aux Basques. From there, because of time constraints (a rally in Cape Spear Aug. 11 and a book reading on the 12th), we have to drive the 900 on the next day. C'est la vie on the road. That morning then we drive a short hop over to North Sydney and due to my early bird wife, we are in the lineup with time on our hands. The ferry is a German-made boat, as somebody said, the BMW of ferries. The workmanship is rich and there's plenty of staff at the ready. In one corner an entertainer strums out some island favourites. On another floor a movie is starting. We have a 4-bunk cabin and some shower, read or snooze. At 2 PM we line up for a buffet dinner, and marvel at the value.

We're not off the ferry until 5:30 PM which leaves us within an easy distance to our quarters at Codroy Valley Campground. We set up a blazing campfire and a picnic table under a tree, when the rains hit. All the campers scurry for shelter, the fires fizzle out and the parties move indoors. We enjoy a jovial evening and BBQ ribs under the awning of the Starship until we realize we are having way too much fun for a bunch that has to arise early and drive the length of Newfoundland the next day.

Posted: August 11, 2013 Tags:     


Day 91: Driving Across The Rock

The standing joke about weathermen out here is, "In what other job can you be wrong 50% of the time and still keep your job?". This time the guy is right though and it pounds rain all night, driven by swirling dark skies and high winds. We break camp and grit our teeth in anticipation of the 900 km drive in the full Newfie gale. The morale is high though, this is a cheery and hardy bunch and we are armed with all the modern diversions, including CBC radio, iPads, cell phones, books, music, snacks, etc.

I take the wheel and it's a full two-handed clench, as the 4 club wind wants to pull the 12.5 foot high by 34 ft. long RV violently sideways into the opposing lane, especially when the wind gets an opening in the trees. As my great pal Steve Alsip always says, "Don't send a boy". The rain blasts our huge windscreen and although we have paid to have the wiper motor repaired twice, the wipers fail after an hour. Needless to say it's going to be a "heads up" crossing. My co-pilot for this leg is Q-Dawg who is busy scouring the ditches with the binoculars on moose watch. Moose had been imported here in 1912 and with no natural predators have increased to the point of being a real menace to drivers. At very heavy populated areas there are moose fences to keep them off the road. There are even solar panels activated by wildlife that trigger orange warning lights on the roadside, to warn motorists. After a 7 hr. drive we reach Cornerbrook and gas up, grab a burger and change drivers, the rain having abated but still fighting a howling wind.

Quinn handles the rig well, (young enough to be a boy, but no boy) and we pull into the capital about 8 PM. Our Campaign Manager, Carol, greets us in the parking lot as she is here with her mom on vacation and to cheer us on. Weary from the day's travel we check into the hotel and dine, with clean white sheets and cozy blankets on our mind. It's exciting to be in St. John's and we prepare for the final chapter in our cross Canada trek tomorrow.

PS. Yes, we did see two young bull moose who wanted to charge onto the road but were turned back because of the heavy traffic.

Posted: August 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 92: THE FINISH to Cape Spear

Our rally time at noon in Cape Spear allowed us to sleep in an extra hour, as the ride from St. John's is only 17 kms. The poor weatherman predicted heavy rain but it was warm and sunny. He kept his job. Our Campaign Manager, Carol, had been here for a couple of days and had scouted the route the day before, coming back with reports of long, steep climbs right up to the Cape. For this reason we kept breakfast light and Gin, myself, Darrell and Sue Rea and Colleen Ross were all pumped up and ready to go by 10 AM.

The climbing started right away and soon after we lost Darrell due to a broken gear on my Giant. Grades ranged from 3% to 12% which doesn't sound like much until you're on a bike. 13% is like straight up folks. The longest stretch was about 4 kms, so go figure, if you climb at 8 km/hr. that stretch alone will take you half an hour. One hill on the route was 500 meters at about 12% and after climbing for 4 kms. to get up on your pedals and pump to the top demands all you have in the tank. Hey, what the hell, the last day was supposed to be a push over...NOT!

Grinding and grunting we were rewarded by some nice downhill sweeps and beautiful vistas when you allowed yourself to turn your head. Checking our odometers, we knew we were close and nothing could stop us now. A cab rolled by it's contents: John and Mo Richmond from Whistler. They cheered us on and after 2 or 3 more turnpikes we could make out the lighthouse at Cape Spear. As we rolled in a small group welcomed us with applause, banners and an official finish line. WE MADE IT. Over 8,000 kms in the bank. After hugs all round we walked down to the peninsula, the most easterly point in our vast country and marvelled at the blue ocean, seabirds and wind swept cliffs. The feeling that we had ridden from sea to sea was exhilarating. A group of supporters gathered around the Starship and once again we told our story after greetings by the ED of CMHA and city counsellor Sheleagh O'Leary.

Two more things we wanted to do next were to visit the Terry Fox starting point in St. John's where he dipped his toe into the Atlantic to start his courageous journey and dip our our toes into the water to signify our journey's end. That completed we showered up and if you have been following my blogs folks you can guess what came next, right? Georges St. is only a block or two from our hotel, but its a short compact party block of pure bars, eateries, live music and general tomfoolery. Akin to drinking the sourdough cocktail and kissing the real decaying miners toe in the bottom of the glass, in the Yukon, we had to be Screeched In, in Newfoundland. This involves recording your name, paying a fee, in return for...well come out here and find out for yourselves...Ha. We bar hopped and danced well into the night, toe tappin' to the lilt of the Irish gigs, celebrating our achievements along with Darrell's 60th. A tough, rewarding day it was for all. Tomorrow we sleep as hard as we can and see the sights.

Posted: August 12, 2013 Tags:     


Day 93: A Free Day in St. John's

Another brilliant day awaited us this morning, but indeed it had to wait, because we had some sleeping in to be done. We split company today with Sue and D renting a car to see the sights, Carol and mom boarding a plane back home, Ian and Colleen off to continue their vacation (nice having you all guys), Gin plugging away on her iPad and Quinn and I off on an errand.

Although we had the windshield wipers "fixed" twice,they didn't notice that a metal armature had cracked, so we took a chance and took the part down to the local marine machine shop, where they banged it into place and welded it. And...it worked!!, so bring on the rain, we can handle it.

I enjoyed the sunny day walking the busy tourist streets of the capital, picking up the odd souvenir here and there, free of all the rigours of the fast paced journey we had just completed, clicking random pics, into Second Cup for a coffee expresso milkshake, you know, all the lingering things people do on holiday. I wanted to keep the legs moving, not only because you get addicted to exercise, but we still have that daunting Vancouver to Whistler ride to complete when we get home.

For some who haven't been following our rally schedule, we are planning a grand finale, starting August 28, noon at Terry Fox Plaza at BC Place, where the Premier and our sponsors and hopefully a good crowd will be on hand to send us off to our beloved Whistler. This finale will be in two parts, the 28th we will ride up to Squamish, where we will have a rally at 6 PM and stay overnight. The next morning we will ride up to Whistler where the muni will greet us and our rig at The Olympic Plaza, about noon, where we will end our journey officially and cut a cake. We hope there will be riders joining us on both legs of this finale. Please keep the good weather coming friends.

This evening Sue, D, Gin, I and Q, pick a nice place for a final dinner and close the curtain with a nightcap and some raunchy live music at O'Rielly's pub. Tomorrow, most scatter for home, mission complete, deal done, satisfaction guaranteed!

Posted: August 13, 2013 Tags:     


Day 94: Last Day in Atlantic Canada

We're up early helping Gin and Quinn load up for their long cross Canada drive back with the Starship and all the bikes. Sue and Darrell turn up to help bid them adieu, with hugs all around. Basically its 10 days at 800 kms a day. Quinn will do most of the driving, with Gin co-piloting and keeping him awake. She has driven a bit on the prairies however and will get behind the wheel, once they have Montreal and some busy highways in their rear view.

The day is bright but emails keep me busy until my massage appointment at 2. Originally I wanted to go out cod jigging, but sadly the season closed the day before. Although many say the fishery will never open again, there has been a resurgence in some areas and they have opened a recreational fishery, where fishers can keep up to 5 cod. I was told in some parts that the cod were so thick that many came up on the gig, side hooked or gut hooked, which attests to the density of the schools.

There's a distinct difference in attitude and custom here in NF. Humour is a big thing and whether it comes as a substitute for fancy clothes or slim hips, I'm not sure, but few are gloomy and seem to laugh easily and enjoy letting their hair down. Sitting down behind a beer like they do in England and Ireland is evident in St. John's too. Waitresses are all, "Darlin', what'll it be" or "Love can I get you a menu" or "That'll be fine sweetie". After a light lunch its a quiet afternoon of reading and relaxing. The day passes quickly and as the sky darkens I am out for one last forage into St.John's night life. Instead of busy Georges St., I choose the quieter Water St. and duck into an old Celtic Pub for a bite. Being my last chance at Atlantic fare, I'm on to the cod tongues (I wonder if there's no cod where they all come from?). These are chewily delicious and served with pickled cucumber and onion. This delight is followed by lamb pie with a puff pastry your mother, no not even your grandmother could make. Wow, no searching around for the lamb in this one. This is not M & M meatshops. The honesty prevails throughout here, even in the food.

The walls are adorned with cool stories and pictures of notorious St.John's residents. How about Mattie Strong, a famous drunk whose ploy was to stage a seizure in front of saloon doors until a passerby came by with a sympathetic tot of rum. What about Dickie Magee, after been badly beaten and cast on the Rock by a British ship in 1870, set himself up as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes, bragging he could solve any crime in turn for chew of tobacco. Fred Raymond wore 3 hats and 2 coats at one time. He boasted he could drink any man under the table and warmed up by drinking 2 glasses of olive oil and 5-6 rums just to see if he was in drinking trim.

Passing by the bars on George St. for the last time, the Irish music blaring and the rooms full of hardy laughter, it's a good reminder that life is to be enjoyed. Newfoundland, a special piece of Canada to be sure.

Posted: August 14, 2013 Tags:     


Day 95: Ginny and Quinn - on the Road Home

Quinn and I took off after lots of hugs from our fellow bikers, Kerry, Sue and Daryl. It was a bit weird, just the two of us, but we have a job to do... take the Starship and Starfish home. We knew we had a hard day ahead, not only the 900 km of driving but we had the ferry to catch at 3:30 am, and with no cabin confirmed, it was going to be a long day and night. We stopped in at the Sobey's to pick up some basic supplies so we could have dinner in the line up before we started boarding at 1:30 am. Brutal, yes. Quinn and I made the decision we were just going to stay in the RV. For all those BC ferry guys they would think no big deal but in the Maritimes - no, no, no, everyone on deck. No one is allowed to stay in their car - but we decided we would take the risk of getting caught versus sitting in a chair for 6 hrs and then have to drive 800 kms today. Our plan worked...except I kept on waking up from a dream thinking they had come in and found us. I said to Quinn in the morning, "did someone come in last night and give us a fine for staying in the RV?" Quinn looked at me and I could see by the expression in his eyes, this is going to be a long ride back with my aunt - she is already losing it.

That night before we went to bed we decided we needed some good tactics to keep us going for this long trip. We decided we would try audio books. Quinn has always wanted to read Ulysses by James Joyce - a bit heavy, but I said okay, but let's try our first audio book with something a bit lighter. So we downloaded a Lee Child Jack Reacher book. We were set for the day. I could see my dear nephew was taking care of me, as the first CD he put on was Michael Buble. What a sport!

This morning when the people started coming to get into their cars we knew we could come out from our hiding spot. Off the ferry looking for a breakfast spot, a lovely cafe in Baddeck filled us up for our morning drive. It was so interesting now to be going backwards and seeing some of the hills we had climbed and the beautiful scenery we saw. We started off with Jack Reacher and after about 40 minutes we needed a break. It was getting on to be 11:30 when Quinn's favourite CBC Radio 1 show comes on - The Debators. Well as you can guess we were out of zone to get it on the radio but the smart people that we are, we had downloaded the CBC Radio app on my iPad and we are now ready for a total CBC trip! Good news is we both like to listen to it.

Quinn did an amazing job driving. I have so much respect for him doing the major portion of the driving load when we were cycling, going sometimes 25-30 kms an hour. But now to drive for 8 hours plus, straight, pretty good. My job is to keep him occupied which I think we will do fine. I must admit its really hard to just sit. "Quinn can you stop so I can get out and ride? I miss it!" We finally found our campground just outside of Fredericton. A major rainstorm/tornado hit us just before we arrived. Wow, can it rain in these Maritimes!!!

Tonight we do a little laundry, Quinn has his cod to eat and me, well sorry folks, I'm still a salmon girl. It will be an early night as we are pretty tired plus we are heading for Laval, Quebec tomorrow, which is over 800 kms.

Posted: August 15, 2013 Tags:     


Day 96: or as Quinn and I say, Day 3 on the Road

After a great sleep we were ready to attack the road. We had found a camp ground the night before just outside of Fredericton called Woolastook. We knew our guards were up when there was "Boil Water Warning" all over the place. Being low on water, conservation was part of the plan. We started off the next morning with a healthy breakfast of yogurt and berries and a cup of coffee. Leaving camp is a little easier when it's only two people but we both admitted it still is a little weird not to have the rest of our group.

Our destination was Mirabel, Quebec. Gas and propane were first on our list. We stopped at a gas station and as Quinn was checking the air I offered to get him a coffee. He said okay but he wanted to get a Quiznos...I offered to get it for him...he said "No it's okay. I know you would want to fill it up with all those fillers, like lettuce and vegetables!" (Didn't we just have breakfast?) So much for the healthy blueberries and yogurt.

As we travelled the countryside we both noticed how the Newfoundland and Nova Scotia landscape reminded us of Ireland and Scotland, and Quebec reminded us of France with the rolling hills and farm lands. As we drove through the construction zone outside of Quebec City it brought back memories of the flat tire that Kerry had on that stretch and we could not stop in the construction zone. Many memories are flooding back as we travel backwards. For me it was very emotional. I continue to be so thankful to be able do a trip like this, and meet so many amazing people. As the afternoon continued on, the rains decided to show their ugly heads. The rain came in buckets! It reminded me of when Kerry and I were in Quebec City on our way through, on the open tour bus, and getting just soaked but just loving it.

The issue is we have this wiper problem. We only have one and thank heavens it's on the driver's side but even in this downpour our one wiper was hanging on for dear life. Quinn was out there in the pouring rain with a zip strap trying desperately to get it to hold together. You are probably wondering, why not just buy another wiper. Not as easy as it seems. Hard to find 32" wipers is not as easy as it sounds. I thought truck drivers must need these all the time. But Quinn, my trusty driver, pointed out that trucks have a much smaller windshield than our Starship. We have ordered one from "Ronda" our new closest friend (the parts woman in Florida for Damon) who said for sure it would be in St John's when we arrive. Not so much. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they will forward the wipers to Winnipeg so we will have a wiper-happy drive from Winnipeg on.

Quinn and I, as I have mentioned, have turned into CBC junkies. On the show I learned all about a new Netflix show called "Orange is the new Black". About a woman who went to prison for laundering money 11 years after she did the one time laundering for a friend. We got to our camp ground in Mirabel, and I made dinner for my driver. After dinner Q Dawg went to his bunk to watch his movies and as for me, I settled into my new series "Orange is the new Black". We were both happy and ready for a good night's sleep.

Posted: August 16, 2013 Tags:     


Day 97 or Day 4 on the Return Trip Home

We made a pact with each other that we would crack and sack early and try to be on the road by 8am since we had gained an hour. Did not quite turn out like that but we were heading out of Mirabel campground around 8:30. Being the Google navigator that I am I had us going out Hwy 50 until we had to make a diversion off the main road, as the map seemed to say, before we got back on the major hwy again... Well once again I think Google maps was wrong because we could have kept on that road but the good news is we were back in the country roads of Quebec reminding us of all those wonderful roads we had cycled on our way out.

We went through the tiny French villages of Papineauville which we would have never experienced on the major roads. Took us a bit longer but it was worth it. Both Quinn and I commented how already we could see the leaves changing. Is it all happening this fast?

As the afternoon progressed we listened to John Meyer and for me it always brings back memories. That was one of Riley's favourite albums. We would listen to it together. As I remembered back to those times with tears in my eyes I once again reflected on the enormous journey we have just completed...not only physically but mentally and emotionally.

We had planned to make it to Sudbury but decided to see how it all went and if we could go further, we would, because the next day would have been extremely ugly - almost 1,000 kms to Thunder Bay. As luck would have it, we pressed on. Totally getting into our audio book of Jack Reacher we were destined to Blind River which was 184 kms further. With the easterly sun in our faces through a windshield that was the burial ground for every bug from here to St John's, Newfoundland, we pulled up to MacIvers campground. Hey, we've been here before. It was the place we stayed on our way through.

Nice guy - who said that this summer had been brutal for him but he expected the fall bookings to be way better because they are right in front of a river that has some of the best fishing around. Q Dawg and I were just getting ready to settle into our Friday night steak night and looked around and saw we were getting invaded by our noisy biting friends ...yes those deadly mosquitoes ...we had visions of Hammer Lake all over. We vowed not to go outside once we got our steaks off the BBQ and sealed up the Starship like never before. We had learned our lesson coming through when staying at Hammer Lake in Northern Ontario - those mosquitoes have no mercy! Luck would have it... we were safe from the beasts. I settled down with a cup of tea and another episode of "Orange is the New Black" on my Netflix and soon nodded off to sleep.

Posted: August 17, 2013 Tags:     


Day 98 or Day 5 on the Road

We left our stomping grounds of MacIvers Campground fairly early as we knew we had a pretty exhausting ride ahead of us - to Thunder Bay. With Blind River at our back and Sault Ste Marie ahead of us I knew the fuel I had to give my driver: lots of coffee and pepperoni sticks. Amazing what kids can survive on, but that's Quinn's fuel of choice and I am not going to mess with anything that works. Before we knew it we were turning the corner and saw the mighty Lake Superior. All as I can say is: it's beautiful and it's big. Once we turned that corner we also knew that we would be out of 3G range so CBC was going to have to be put on hold. It was either Jack Reacher or a toss up for finding music that we could both tolerate. The good news is both of us have a pretty good range and know not to go too deep into areas that are questionable!!!

Driving through the great Canadian Shield makes you realize how massive and impressive this country is of ours. I honestly could not believed that we had biked up these hills. They were long and fairly steep. I know we both commented at times they seemed harder than the Rockies but now travelling through them in "reverse" it will be interesting to see what I think of the Rockies. I was also so grateful that we listened to our dear friends at Norco. The winds were wild and I can only imagine biking against them. We had a hard enough time keeping the mighty Starship travelling in a straight line.

We stopped for lunch in Wawa, Ontario, must be the home of the big geese as they were all over the place - on the buildings, lamp posts, everywhere. I had a craving for a hamburger. Bad idea. I ate it and I thought I would explode for the rest of the afternoon. One of those homemade ones at a stand. No fast food hamburger places to be found in Wawa. It was not bad but just way too much for someone who is sitting on her butt for 9 hrs. Big mistake - won't be doing that again!

We needed to find a place to rest the Starship for the night so I called the KOA in Thunder Bay. I must tell you if you are ever RVing or camping, KOA are the place to go. They are consistent and always have such lovely people who run and own the locations. I explained on the phone who we were and what we were doing and they said of course we will comp your campground. It would be an honour she said. We pulled in around 8 pm, registered and I gave the young girl a copy of my book for the owner as a thank you for their generosity. Q Dawg had wanted to make tacos for dinner so that is what we did. It was another early to bed as we wanted to be on the road early as our destination tomorrow was Winnipeg - to see the family and yes celebrate my sister Cath's birthday. As we were leaving the campground I ran into the owner. I thanked her again and she responded, "It's the least we could do and I am so looking forward to reading your book, so thank you."

Posted: August 18, 2013 Tags:     


Day 99 or Day 6 On The Road

Quinn and I left the campground in Thunder Bay knowing our destination would be Winnipeg where we would see family and friends and have a few days of rest and relaxation. We started early as we wanted to be in time for my sister Cath's birthday dinner. We knew if we were to do that we would miss something that I had been planning to do: spend sometime in Kenora with friends. I was sorry not to be able to able to spend that time relaxing on the docks in Kenora and going for a beautiful swim in those clear waters of Lake of the Woods. Oh well, another time. Instead, we had a lovely lunch of left over tacos and salad by the side of the road with all the other truckers. Once we passed Kenora I felt we were almost home as we had done that stretch many times before. We hit the perimeter of Winnipeg and headed directly to the "cabin" - my family's summer home on the red river. We were welcomed by barking dogs, my sister Nancy and her husband Jim from Bowen Island and my Mom and Dad. I cannot tell you how good it was to finally have that great big hug from them. My sister Cath came down with her partner Paul and once again we were reunited. She said, "I am so glad to see you: I was not sure I would ever see you again when you took off on this adventure of yours." We had a wonderful time, telling stories, lots of laughs and few tears, which was so wonderful. Nancy had made a wonderful dinner of fresh trout, which she caught, and moose that Jim had shot himself. A tradition of a Winnipeg Birthday was complete with a Jeannie's Birthday cake. Great times were had by all. Relax and no wake up calls were in store for tomorrow.

Posted: August 19, 2013 Tags:     


Day 100 or Day 7 On The Road

It was a treat to be able to sleep in and just enjoy the rest and relaxation of being at the cabin. Quinn totally took advantage of the not having to get up and probably slept until well into the after noon. He deserved it. My dear friend Jan father had died while I we were on our trip and fortunately I was able to be there for her as today was the funeral. He was great man and so many people were there to pay their respects to man who has definitely left a void in this world of ours. After the funeral we headed back to the cabin where my father had wanted to put on a celebratory dinner for Quinn and I . It was so special to have so many good friends and family to celebrate our journey with. The night ended with a wonderful fireworks display. It was a perfect way to end a perfect evening.

Posted: August 21, 2013 Tags:     


Day 101 or Day 8 On the Road

After our great party with friends and family last night I knew I only had one more full day in Winnipeg which I wanted to take full advantage of. The day started perfectly with a wonderful massage at the Fort Garry Hotel Spa that our friends Ian and Colleen Ross had so generously arranged for me. My dear friend Clare picked me up and off we went to the Victoria hospital to see Kerry beautiful Mother Dodie. She is such a wonderful women who has given so much to so many over her lifetime but to see her go through the stages of old age is always hard for all of us. The good news is she was doing a lot better than a few days ago. Clare and I met our other great friend Tammy at the Boston Pizza for lunch. Clare said that was a great place to go as they had VLTs. Not really knowing what those were all about I was game for anything because for me it was all about being with my friends. It seemed those girls knew what they were doing as we each walked out of there with just about $100.00 in our pockets. I kept on saying "Let's cash out, let's cash out!" Thank heavens they finally listened to me as our winnings could be considerable less as those two were ready to go for bust! Clare and I went on too have a visit with her Mom who was set up in a lovely retirement home on the Red River. Quinn had taken the starfish into see Dodie and when he returned he too had a smile on his face. He had picked up a scratch and win ticket and won $300! The stars seemed to be aligned for the Road crew that day for sure.

That night was spent with my family, eating leftovers from all the great meals we had, watching Board Walk Empire and hitting the sack very early as we were planning on getting up at 4.30am so we could be on the road by 5am as we were destined for Calgary to reunite with more Dennehy's. Quinn whipped into town to see a few friends that evening but knew he had the 4.30am wake up call so it would not be a long evening. It is always sad for me to leave Winnipeg. This is the place where my wonderful Mom and Dad are, and so many special family members as well as dear friends, but I know I still have not completed what I have set out to do and I will always be back again. Winnipeg is in my bones and as much as I love living on the west coast, I know I will always be a "Pegger " at heart.

Posted: August 22, 2013 Tags:     


Day 104 or Day 8 On The Road

After a good night's sleep we were ready for our short drive to Banff. First we had a few things to take care of. I had a nice visit with my sister in law and then we had the task of washing the RV. Finding an RV wash place was not that difficult as there was one on the way outside of town on route to Banff. Washing the starship was another issue. You see I think every butterfly, mosquitoes, bug had decided its burial ground would be on the front of our RV. Quinn took to the front of the RV and I tackled back and sides. It took us a good 45 minutes to get it clean. What a job! And for sure next time: wear your bathing suit as you get soaked! Off we went on our way for a little rest and relaxation to the Banff Springs Hotel. I was very excited about going there as I had booked a massage and we were going to meet our good friends David and Dianne for dinner. I looked over at my partner and saw he was not very chatty. He said he had a stomach ache and was not feeling well. I could not figure that out as we had both eaten the same thing for dinner the night before. He admitted that he thought all the Red Bull and Pepperoni sticks were finally catching up to him. The life of a driver for the past 3 months has taken a toll on our man. Quinn said he was out for sushi that night and just wanted to stay in his room and relax. So that is what he did. I, on the other hand, was taking full advantage of staying at the lovely Banff spring hotel. A little shopping, a little pool action, and then that beautiful relaxing massage. The only thing I don't like about massages is when they're over! Went up to my room, relaxed and got ready for my sushi dinner at the hotel. If anyone ever has the opportunity to go to the Banff Springs I highly recommend the sushi restaurant: it is some of the best sushi I have ever tasted. We ended off the evening by going back to David and Dianne home for a nightcap. Since David is the GM of the springs the home they have is the former home of Sir John A MacDonald. It was quite special knowing that one of our Prime Ministers had lived there many many years ago. David so nicely walked me home as Dianne was scared that a bear might get me on the way back to the hotel. All was well, no bear attack and I was soon snuggled in my cozy bed ready for another good sleep.

Posted: August 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 108 or Day 11 On The Road

We left Banff at a very respectful hour considering our destination was Kamloops. Before we left we had what everyone must do at least once in their lifetime: The Banff Springs Breakfast Buffett. Considering my wing mate had not any dinner the night before he had a total recovery and took full advantage of every food station they had. We now were completed fuelled up and ready for our voyage through the Rockies on our way to Kamloops. Going through those Rockies was quite the experience remembering the days we cycled up those mountains, riding on those shoulder-less roads and the narrow snow tunnels, and wondering how we did it. We did it because we had our adrenaline flowing and our determination on high. We had set out on this challenge and we were going to complete this task no matter what.

Looking back at this, it was a bit daunting but it brought back those moments when I did not think I could get over that mountain. When I then realized I had my two angels on my shoulders nothing would stop me. We pulled into the campground that we had stayed at on our way out in May. Beside the campground is the BC Wildlife park that I decided I wanted to go see. Once again I was too late so I took off on a walk. Sitting in an RV for 11 days is a bit of challenge considering you have being biking almost every day for 3 months. I hope the muscle memory kicks in when we take on our last challenge from Vancouver to Whistler in a few days. As I walked back to the campground I met a lovely women who asked what ENOUGH is ENOUGH is about. I told her and she told me why she was here. She and a few friends had just completed in the BC Senior Games. She told me how some of the competitors were in their 80s and 90s. She said just being around these amazing seniors going beyond their comfort zone was truly inspirational. Her parting words to me as we left that I should consider entering next time in the cycling category. Hey, you never know! I love challenges.

I went back to the campground and started to prepare our last BBQ that Quinn and I would have together. As I was outside a couple came up to me and asked me what the RV was all about. I told them and they then shared their story with me. Their daughter had lost her battle with mental illness 3 years ago. She had suffered for 25 years. She was 43. They shared their journey through the frustrations of trying to get appropriate help, the stigma associated with the disease and how they had tried but it was just so hard to see their beautiful girl suffer so much for so many years. I gave them a gift of my book and a big hug as we now were connected. I always remember what my friend once said to me: "Those of us who have lost a child speak a different language," and it's so true. That child can be 17, 23 or 43: they are still your children.

Quinn and I had a lovely dinner knowing it would be our last together. We shared stories and we reflected the past 3 months and how we have a bond that will be there forever. How fortunate we are to have been able to share this time together and to learn so much from each other. We said our good nights, me to watch another episode of the Orange is the New Black and Quinn to do the dishes! Tomorrow would be the day we returned home. I would see Kerry again. I miss him. We are soul mates and soul mates need to be connected. Tomorrow we will.

Posted: August 26, 2013 Tags:     


Day 12 or Day 109 On the Road

Quinn and I left our campground in Kamloops around 9:30. We knew we only had about a 6 hour drive so we were not too concerned. Kerry was coming down from Whistler to cook us dinner with his brother Clancy and Carolyn, his beautiful wife. Keenan had returned from his travels so we would all be together for this celebratory dinner at Kerry's apartment in West Vancouver. Kerry could not leave Whistler until after 1pm as the Iron Man was taking place and the roads were closed. I think about those athletes who compete in that Iron Man. Unbelievable. Such determination and stamina. Wow. Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever be in the cards for me. I have waited way too long in my life to take on a challenge like that. As Quinn and I got closer and closer to Vancouver the emotions started to rise. We actually did it. We travelled about 8000 kilometers on our bikes and now we had just completed 8000kms in 12 days coming back. As I have done many times in the past days and months I reflect back on the whole experience and think how fortunate I am: fortunate to be healthy enough to do the journey, fortunate enough to be able to take the time, fortunate enough to have an amazing team of people and supporters behind us to make this happen, but most of all fortunate enough to truly have the passion to want to help others somehow not travel the journey Kerry and I have had to with the loss of our two beautiful children, Kelty and Riley. We are fortunate to be able to speak out so openly about this disease as I believe once we remove the stigma of this disease the healing will start in so many ways that we don't even fully understand that today. We arrived at the Eagles-nest (Kerry apartment) had a lovely reunion with our team members and family. Our homecoming was very special but we know the job is not quite completed. We have a rally in VCR on Wed, ride to Squamish Wednesday afternoon with a rally there later that night and Thursday morning ride to Whistler where we will finally be home, in our community that means so much to us. The journey began in Whistler and the journey will end there but that is just the beginning of so much work that still needs to be done for those that are dealing with mental health issues, as I have always said and truly believe that "Together we will make a difference for mental illness."

Posted: August 27, 2013 Tags:     


Kerry's Final Blog: Part One

With Gin and Quinn arriving safely from their cross-Canada ride in the Starship from St. John's on August 25, it was time to move forward to our finale from Vancouver to Whistler. Part one was the Vancouver kickoff at the Terry Fox monument in front of BC Place, with speeches and a major cheque presentation, then a ride up to Squamish for a second rally at 6pm.

Gin and I were summoned at 9am for an interview with Global National TV in Coal Harbour. We scampered around for breakfast and soon joined the swarm of volunteers at BC Place for the rally. BC Place brass had kindly allowed us to set up our sound system, balloons, sales table and even the full RV rig beside the monument of Terry Fox. At noon about 100 listeners were gathered to hear welcomes and speeches from various dignitaries and people affected by mental health.

One highlight was Andy and his wife Cheryl Szocs's donation for $1 million dollars! Andy decided he wanted to make a difference and attack stigma associated with the disease and that we were the best people to help execute a program in that direction. Andy spoke passionately about the cause and both Ginny and I believe we can make a difference under Andy's guidance. A million thanks Andy and Cheryl: you are really special people. Of course we would like to thank all the vollies, speakers and organizers, chiefly Sharon Smith-Swan.

We pushed off from BC Place with the aim of riding up to Squamish for another rally at 6 pm, along with 3 other riders .As we began our journey way back in May in the rain, so it was when we left for Squamish. Actually, it was a comedy of errors from that time on. We were meant to coordinate with the big rig and the Dawgs in North Vancouver, but they ran the car over the loading dolly and needed a tow truck to bail them out. En-route we lost two of the riders in Vancouver, and Ginny got a flat tire out of Horseshoe Bay without our support crew. After we fixed things up, one of the riders had a not so intimate meeting (they never are) with the asphalt and had to turn back with her knee in bandages. Worried about being late for our rally, and soaked to the bone, we boarded the Starship in Britannia and raced to The Squamish Youth Resource Centre.

Just in time, we addressed a small group along with our favourite MP, John Weston, before making our way to our complimentary rooms at The Executive Suites (many thanks) and after a quick fish and chips at The Wig and Pier, we checked in for hot showers and the immediate rack, excited about our final homecoming on the morrow.

Posted: September 16, 2013 Tags:     


Kerry's Final Blog: Part Two

With the discipline and perseverance that we were able to muster across Canada so many times before, we sprang out of bed, bolted down an egg muffin and coffee and hydro dressed, for the last leg (a grunt extraordinaire actually), out into the pouring rain. Ahh, what the hell: "Been der done dat."

It warmed our wet hearts to hear the cheer of riders waiting to accompany us outside, including Greg Diamond, Joan Swain, Aaron Lawton, Dawn Titus, and Iron Maiden Christine Sutter, who donated all proceeds from her achievement only 3 days before to our cause. Super charged Board member Sue Rea and her pal Marliea Creighton joined us at the Husky later. The ride was wet but fun with wise cracks flowing and cars honking all the way up. Greg took on the role of photographer whipping ahead for some prime shots and video. The municipality had prepared a warm welcome in the Olympic Plaza, but due to the weather Carol moved it to Millennium Place.

Amidst all the excitement we had climbed Hydro Hill before we knew it, soon after being waved into the Plaza by well-organized volunteers (many thanks guys and gals), where we were greeted by a large mob of friendly faces. What a great feeling to be welcomed back to the home we love after 93 days on the road! With no time to change we had to drip dry and soon were shivering in our seats in My Place, greeted first by old friend and mayor (her name was McGill but she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy), Morden. Following summaries by Gin and myself, Andy Szocs, Christine Sutter and Ashleigh Demerit (nee McIvor), rounded out the rally. After a piece of cake (again many thanks),Gin and I peddled home in the rain, no fanfare, just my well thighed beauty and I dreaming of a cold one (Coors light) and a hot one (skinny in our hot tub), before preparing for our homecoming party courtesy of the fabulous Gibbons family.

And the party, if you're wondering was typical greatness. Imagine all your pals together, tired but energized after a big uphill climb in a hard rain, with a Longhorn spread that could feed the 6th Army and Dick and Colleen smiling and laughing around every corner. Sweet! A super ending to a super trip for such a worthy cause. I speak for Ginny and I when I say: WE DID IT CANADA and you know the key...WE DID IT TOGETHER.

Posted: September 16, 2013 Tags: