All the Bears

I can’t help myself. This blog post is entirely about bears. So if you don’t like bears, or naturey documentaries, feel free to skip this post. But if you are like me, and are simultaneously enthralled, slightly terrified and fascinated by bears, keep reading!

 

I grew up going to Yosemite and other places in the Sierra Nevadas in California where black bears are extremely prevalent, and in most cases, habituated to humans and human food. Going to Yosemite meant putting ALL food and scent related items, including deodorant and toothpaste, in bear proof bear boxes. We were taught that bears knew what coolers looked like, and saw videos in visitor centers of black bears effortlessly shredding the crap out of vehicles for a loaf of bread or bag of chips. There were some summers where a bear would come to our campsite almost every night to rattle the bear box, looking for food. I knew that bears could be dangerous if you came between a mother and her cubs or if you got in the way of a bear trying to get food. But I really didn’t think of these bears as being dangerous as long as you didn’t do anything stupid.

 

We have seen around 20 bears on this trip, most of which have been black bears (several cubs!) We definitely saw a juvenile grizzly crossing the road, and may have seen one fishing on an island across from our campsite. We have been hoping to see the mysterious Kermode bear that is native to Northwestern Canada (a white black bear). Camping in grizzly territory has been a new experience for me. None of the bears are habituated to humans to the point where they would tear open a car for food, so there aren’t any bear boxes. Our car is stuffed with food. I have definitely had a couple sleepless nights because I was convinced I could hear a bear rummaging around, and felt sure that my car would be in several pieces in the morning. We also made sure to get bear spray in case of a potential encounter at camp or while running on the road.

 

Despite watching lots of bear documentaries, and reading about bears in visitor centers, I feel like there is lots of conflicting information about what to do if you encounter a bear. Besides the advice to “don’t run.” That seems to be something everyone agrees on. Never run from a bear. What do you do? Throw things and shout? Try and look big? Move out of the way? Play dead? Fight back? I’ve read all of these suggested courses of action. I think I’ve even read something that said you might be able to outrun a bear as long as you are running downhill. Ridiculous.

 

I finally feel like I’ve gotten a comprehensive flow chart of “what to do if you encounter a bear” from the bear center in Stewart, Canada, and I want to pass on the info to you! For the most part, bears tend to interact with humans as they would with other bears (unless they’re looking for a meal), and so it’s helpful to understand bear behavior. For the most part, bears are very tolerant of each other and would rather avoid altercations if possible. Likewise, a lot of the time you won’t even see a bear in the wild because it will naturally take steps to avoid you if it can. Most of the time bear encounters occur with you and the bear staring at each other for a couple moments, and the bear deciding to move on. In this case give the bear space by slowly backing away while keeping eye contact.

 

Bears are a lot more dangerous when they are startled close up, when you come across them while they are feeding, or if you come between a mother and her cubs. What to do then? Start by identifying the bear. Never assume a bear type by color alone. Grizzlies can be brown to black, and “black” bears can be white, tan, brown or black. The best way to tell is by looking at the bear’s shoulder/back – if it has a hump on its shoulder, it’s a grizzly. Also, grizzlies tend to have flatter faces, whereas black bears have a more pronounced nose.

 

Ok, now to determine whether the bear is behaving defensively or not. Defensive bears are visibly agitated and may make grunting noises, cry, growl, and charge to let you know that they see you as a threat. At this point a grizzly is much more dangerous because they are more prone to defend themselves (they typically live in the open and have to), whereas a black bear would prefer to run up a tree or flee into the forest. At this point you should put your hands up, talk to the bear quietly, but firmly, and if possible stand upwind to give it your scent and identify yourself as a human. Slowly back away to give the bear space. Keeping eye contact, and stand your ground if the bear charges. Charges almost never result with contact. DO NOT RUN! Bears rarely run from each other; if you run, you have just identified yourself as food. Don’t throw anything (this is only going to make the bear mad). If the bear does make contact, this is the time to “play dead.” Lie face down to protect your vital organs, and cover the back of your neck with your hands. Make sure you don’t move until the bear is far away, or you may encourage a second attack. A defensive bear will stop once it no longer sees you as a threat.

 

If the bear is not acting defensively, it may be curious/a juvenile testing its authority, it may want you to get out of its path, or it may see you as food. Again, you should put your hands up, talk to the bear quietly, but firmly, and if possible, stand upwind to give it your scent and identify yourself as a human. Get out of the bear’s path. This may be all it wants. At this point a bear that is merely curious will have backed off. If the bear appears calm, is maintaining eye contact with you, and is not backing off you have a problem. If you see a black bear in this situation, it is stalking you to eat you. Fight back and DO NOT play dead. This has happened in the news recently in New Jersey. Same goes with the grizzly – be loud and aggressive, and fight back if the bear attacks. If a bear comes into your tent or house, always fight back – this is not normal.

 

Bear spray has been shown to be fairly effective at deterring bears, but you need to wait until the bear is 2-3 feet away when you can spray it in the face. Guns are more iffy. You need to be a good shot under pressure – a bad shot is more likely to make the bear angry and more likely to attack.

 

Generally, bear attacks are really rare. It doesn’t hurt to know what to do in these situations though. Caleb and I are always thrilled to see a bear, and half of the time we have gone looking for them. As long as they don’t come into camp at night, I’m happy.

Stories of Hope!

Hi all!

I just wanted to give a financial update!  Over $1,700 has been raised so far in support of the run!  Thank you SO much to these generous individuals who have donated.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance yet, please consider donating to Hope Matters International at http://www.hopemattersintl.org/give.html.  Even small amounts like $5, $10, and $20 make a difference!

This organization does wonderful work.  Hope Matters runs a medical clinic in Kipkaren, Kenya and provides medical care to people who can’t afford it or who would otherwise have to travel great distances to obtain it.  In addition to running a clinic, these guys provide medical trainings and clinics to community leaders as well as undertake community outreaches.  I’m constantly amazed by the types of illnesses that this clinic sees and their attempts to provide people the best care possible.

This is an example of the work this organization does.  Michelle, RN and co-founder of Hope Matters, has recently been blogging about a baby girl named Geilla.  Michelle writes: “We were at an outreach about 30 min drive down a dirt road when someone mentioned that there was a baby crying that sounded like a cat. I searched out the cat-cry sounds and asked the mom to come back to the clinic for a full exam.”

Geilla is 14-months-old and has a rare genetic syndrome called cri-du-chat, or Cry of the Cat. The syndrome got its name because the babies literally sound like crying cats when they cry. Because of this, Geilla has two holes in her heart and is blind from cataracts in both eyes. We are trying to get her a consult with a cardiologist.  This was in the beginning of August.

August 15th, Michelle wrote the following:

“Praise report! Things are coming together for baby Geilla to be seen by an American cardiologist specializing in pediatrics! Pray that the details come together so she can be seen in the first week of September while the doctor is in Kenya. Geilla and her mother will have to travel to another part of the country for this appointment. I’ll keep you posted as things move forward. We were cautioned that due to her genetic syndrome she may not be high on the priority list of there are many, many children needing help. So let’s just keep the situation and all of the children needing assistance covered in prayer.

August 26th:

Baby Geilla officially has a cardiology appointment scheduled. She will be seeing an American pediatric cardiologist on Sept 1st. She and her mother will make the 6-hour journey to the hospital on Aug 31st. Please pray for safety while they travel. Also pray that the specialists would be able to put together an action plan for helping Geilla as well as the many other children traveling to the hospital from all over East and Central Africa. We also hope to be able to follow up regarding possible surgery to restore her sight. When you support Hope Matters International financially you are helping us make a difference in the lives of children like Geilla.

This is just one of many stories, to read more go to http://www.hopemattersintl.org/stories.html.  Please consider supporting Michelle and Hope Matters as they advocate for others!

Updates Galore!

Hi all!

Sorry for falling off the face of the earth for a bit. The last 2 weeks have been busy and gloriously lazy at the same time, and we’ve mostly been out in the boonies with limited cell and internet service. Lots and lots of updates. Mostly all good! However, this trip has been one wild ride. No sooner do we make plans, than we realize that our initial ideas are not going to work as expected. So pretty much forget what we previously described as “the plan” in our last post. Here’s the basic rundown 😉

  • Caleb and I attempted tag team running for about a week after our last post. And when I say Caleb and I, I mean mostly Caleb. Even after taking it easy/not running for a week I was still hobbling, and seriously wondering if I had injured myself. Not being able to even eek out 2 miles is pretty sad. I was considering whether I would need to quit the run for the sake of future mobility, and decided that I needed a professional opinion. Caleb and I both came down with minor colds during this time, and for a few days it was a pretty sad state of affairs.
  • I went to a sports specialist in Prince George and got the happy news that I was injury free!! In the words of my dr. “no injuries, but your hip and knee are very angry with you.” I’ve improved a lot, but decided to take another week off to recuperate before attempting “round 2” of running.
  • I was offered, and accepted, a job contracting for NOAA when I get back! Hurray for employment!
  • Happy birthday to me! (as of last week) Here’s to the 30s!
  • Caleb and I have been visiting scenic places in the woods. We went to Horsefly (this requires a lot of gravel roads and we passed through a cattle drive) and went to the “Fall” festival, which was a very small town fair with local produce and animals. I was kind of amused that they considered it their fall festival (late August), when I looked around and noticed that the trees were in fact starting to change color. I’m not sure how this happened, but we’ve gone from brutal summer heat to cooler temps within the span of a couple days (I guess we did drive north a bit, but still!!) PS Caleb denied my request for a traveling baby bunny.
  • We decided to take a spur of the moment trip Jasper, which was never in the plans, but it was so close not to visit. We could barely see or breathe driving east. Apparently the smoke from BC fires, as well as the fires in Eastern Washington, was being blown north. We talked to other tourists who had been in Banff, and they said that it was even worse down there. Luckily for us, most of the smoke cleared for a day and we were able to enjoy the park. It was stunning!!!! Everyone needs to go there at least once!! We’ll definitely be back. We saw lots of elk, and a couple black bears, but no moose 🙁 I’m beginning to think that Canada really doesn’t have any.
  • After 2 months of living out of a car, it’s starting to get a little old. Caleb and I set up our tent in the pouring rain last night. We were actually pretty dry, but I’m not looking forward to adding wet clothing/tent into the mix. Those teardrop trailers are starting to look really appealing.
  • Ok, new plan. We’re actually currently bound for Hyder, and we’re going to run south as far as we can go until October. What??, you may say. I know, I know Hyder was supposed to be our final destination. Hear me out. At this point, Caleb and I are looking forward to getting as much running in as possible, but we won’t be anywhere close to reaching our targeted milage.  Considering that fall is pretty much here in northern BC, we want to run towards better weather rather than run towards rain and snow. It was difficult to envision cooler temps when I was sweating profusely packing in Seattle heat, so we’re not entirely prepared for fall/winter weather. Oh, I guess I have to mention that we want to catch the grizzly bears who are at the tail end of feeding off of summer salmon runs. I guess these guys start hibernating soon.

So to recap: Running round 2 is beginning. Caleb and I are both running, starting from Hyder and going south until October when we need to start making our way back home.

PS. Overall, I love Canada. I could quite easily defect here. The scenery is stunning, the people are friendly, and they have poutine!!

Runners knees, massages and meteor showers, oh my!!

There are a lot of updates this week!! The most significant is that my knees have been progressively bothering me. I’ve been good about stretching and taking days off if they are needed, but last Thursday I tried to go for my normal run and barely got a mile in before I was hobbling and truly having trouble just walking. It was hard to admit that running wasn’t happening that night, but my body was pretty clear about the fact that I needed some extended time off. 217 miles is apparently my limit before bad things happen. We attempted to move to a different campsite last Friday, only to find that we had stumbled upon a really popular lake, and that all the sites were taken for the weekend. At this, we decided it was time for a vacation from vacation.

It was wonderful.

We found a cute place in the country near 100 Mile House on airbnb.com. It was glorious to have a kitchen and a real bathroom again. I went and got a massage, and found a Jacuzzi to soak in, both of which helped a lot. We watched movies and had good access to high-speed internet. But most of the weekend I couldn’t walk well and got really stiff if I sat in one place for more than an hour.  I got antsy after 2 whole days off, and tried running again Sunday night when things started to improve. I managed to get 6 miles in, and didn’t feel too terrible on the run.  However, it was bad news bears again on Monday.  Ugg.  I have a really hard time resting and backing down from a challenge, especially when we are on such a tight time schedule.

Both my siblings have been checking in on me, and both have been imploring me not to sacrifice my knees for this trip. This is simultaneously annoying and endearing because they are right (even though I don’t want to admit it). They both know that I am stubborn enough to drive myself into the ground without a second thought rather than to admit defeat or back down. The reality that I do need some more rest before continuing has been slowing sinking in. I guess I could go float in the lake for a bit…

The good news in all of this is that I don’t think I’ve done anything irreconcilable – inflammation and pain go away with rest. And having taken Monday-Wednesday off, I’m walking normally. Hey, this resting thing may not be too bad. The only problem? My timeframe.
I always knew that this was somewhat of an ambitious trip – 3 months is not a long enough window of time unless I started doing more than 10 miles a day. I have to be back early October for an important family wedding (hurray!), my potential new job, and frankly the weather will turn nasty around this time as well. So I can’t really extend the trip, nor can I (at this point) cram more miles into the day. What to do? Cut particular sections? (Sounds like cheating) Do as much as possible and be happy with that? (I wouldn’t be happy) Call it quits? (um, did you read any of the above?) Caleb and I talked about a potential solution and this is what we came up with! I’ll let him take it from here:

 

(Caleb:)
We knew we’d be modifying our plan for conditions as we went, but to be honest, neither of us were prepared for some of the conditions that have made both the run and living on the road difficult, such as how hot it’s been up in the interior of the province.
And just as Kim was starting to have pain and difficulties with running, I was starting to notice the effects of not enough exercise: besides taking care of camp as we worked our way up the route, I had mostly been sitting and trying to work on my laptop when I had free time (or wanting to do nothing except crash in the shade when it was hot). I had brought my running and hiking gear with me, but as I thought about it, I sheepishly realized that I hadn’t gone for a single run yet since leaving Seattle.

I didn’t realize just how much the lack of exercise was affecting me until it occurred to me that in the last few weeks I had started to feel a bit “down,” like a cloud that had gathered so slowly that I didn’t notice until the sun was hidden. I couldn’t attribute it to any other cause besides too little exercise, as well as not eating as healthy as I could, and—last but not least—neglecting prayer/meditation/quiet time. Those disciplines are so crucial to one’s mental health and overall well-being, and yet they’re so easy to neglect!

I knew it was time for a change, and that’s when I started to wonder if we could turn this run into a relay! I could get back into the rhythm of running, while helping make up mileage. We could potentially cover 20 miles in a day if we both ran on the same day in top form. And one of us could still run while the other took a rest day. Kim welcomed the idea when I proposed it, and even though I didn’t know if I could run hundreds of highway miles or not, or even if I was still in shape to run long distances, I was willing to give it a try. It was time for a personal change, if only to get back into shape… but also to take on a challenge, boost our flagging morale, and recover from our setbacks.

I did my first run on Tuesday, just before sunset, on an arrow-straight section of highway just south of the village of 70 Mile House. It had been hot that day, but had turned into a delightfully cool evening. It felt strange for us to reverse roles as I got geared up and started my running tracker on my phone. I took off with a spring in my step. It felt great to run. The sinking sun was glowing fiery orange behind the seemingly endless flat, boggy boreal forest. Only occasionally did a logging truck or RV whizz by me, and I remembered how wonderfully peaceful and meditative running can be. I felt like I could charge on forever.
Then my phone squawked: “One… mile…!”

Oh…boy…how many miles did I say I was going to try to do, again?

 

PS. We had incredible seats for the Perseid meteor shower. Until we both fell asleep…

The Good. The Bad. The “Um, that just happened.”

The key word for the last week is heat! It’s been in the 90s (even at night) and it regularly reaches 100 degrees during the day. This has made for super slow going, because we don’t want to do anything! Our campsite has actually been pretty busy due to a 3-day weekend for British Columbia Day, but if you look around the campground, people are slumped over in camp chairs unable to anything else! We’ve been surviving and getting work done in the itty bitty town libraries that miraculously have AC. We’re due for some cooler weather soon, and actually got some rain last night, huzzah!! I think this week can be divided into the good, the ugly and the “um, that just happened” categories:

The Good!
•    I made it to the 200-mile mark!!!
•    We did a day trip 50 miles away to the major town of Kamloops on my rest day. It was glorious!!! They have a Costco, and we probably spent 2 hours stocking up. One can never have too many potatoes, especially in food deficient towns. We also finally found coconut water, and digestives (the best cookie ever!) We also found this incredibly cute farm that had a bakery, and the largest green onions I have ever seen. We got some peach blackberry pie too! If you can’t tell already, good food that isn’t grossly expensive is super exciting to us.

The Bad.
•    We have been waiting for weeks to see the movie Minions and finally made it to an area that had a theater. It was terrible. So terrible.
•    Running has been really tough this week. I ran for 2 days in 95-97 degree heat (and I started at 7pm), and it kicked my butt. This is an entry from my journal:

“We are now a month in, 200 miles down. I am truly exhausted. I woke up this morning in a fog – unable to move my limbs, flies landing on my face and allergies ablaze. I now understand why older people don’t like moving if they can help it. It’s hard, and painful and takes a lot of mental energy. A cup of coffee, some AC, and Aleve makes me feel like half a real person again. Only 2 days in, I’m scheduled to go running tonight, but its not happening. My body is rebelling against me, and is finally saying “enough. I’m done with this madness.” And as much as I would like to get some more miles in, I know I have to listen or I’ll never move again.

It actually works out. The last few days I have been running in 90+ degree weather, and it’s supposed to cool off tomorrow. Running in that kind of heat really does something weird to you. Your legs get crampy and don’t want to move at all. There is something in the air that makes you feel like a sloth, and there is a lot of mental energy devoted to fighting inertia.

Surprisingly though, it was on one of these runs where I was close to fading that a forgotten song came on and I was filled with adrenaline and tackled the last remaining hill. It felt good just to run for the sake of running. I was flying up the mountain and nobody was going to stop me. These moments are rare in my semi-permanent state of fatigue, but they do happen and its one of the many reasons I run. Ok, its naptime. I’m pooped.”

The “Um, that just happened.”
We moved north to a new campsite. It’s small, nice enough, and super cheap. The catch? The owner. The owner is a Tex-Mex, big, really tan kind of guy who used to live in Mexico, but now owns this RV park. He is an avid gardener and makes money by selling produce off the side of the road too, and looks like he really enjoys chatting it up with people who come to buy his tomatoes. He also offers an all you can eat BBQ every night. He also has major OCD.

•    First thing he told me was that I couldn’t hang my towel on a post in our campsite. He told Caleb to get the hell out of his kitchen when he poked his head in to ask about the wifi password. You have to pay a dollar to use the shower, and you had better $&#@ well pay him before showering occurs.
•    I was very groggy one morning and came out of the common bathroom. He was next door talking to a group of other people, and I was walking away when all of a sudden I hear “Did you turn the light off?” It takes me several seconds to figure out that he has abruptly stopped his other conversation and is now talking to me. “Yup,” I answer. He does a closer inspection to double check that I have in fact turned the light out, and is pleased to find that I have. “There’s a good woman!!” he shouts for all to hear. I still don’t know what’s going on.
•    We decide that BBQ sounds great, and that we may have more normal interactions with the gruff owner if we attend. There are several different meat options, including “roadkill” ribs, chicken and steak. Caleb orders the chicken and I get a steak. The owner turns to me and says, “right or left breast.”
Me: uhhh, excuse me?
Owner: “Right or left breast?
Me: “What?”
Owner: “Most people have a preference.” (Completely deadpan, I might add)
Me: “OK, I had no idea. But I’m not getting the chicken, so you better ask him.”
Owner turns to face Caleb. Caleb decides he wants the right breast. Owner asks, “How long have you guys been together?
Caleb: “2 years.”
Owner: “No wonder you want the breast.”

And so the adventure continues.

Life on the road, three weeks in

Where to start? We’ve been on the road now for a little over 3 weeks! It’s hard to believe at times, and everything is starting to blur together a little bit. As of this evening, I will have run 178 miles! Only 702 to go…no big deal right? The last week we have been traveling through some HOT, dusty and tiny towns and have just made it to the town of Cache Creek, which actually has a real grocery store, a luxurious campground with showers, wi-fi and a pool, as well as a few gas stations and chain restaurants. We are in heaven!!! A lot of our energy has been spent just trying to take care of living necessities and passing out, but here’s a few bullet points of what life on the road has looked like this week:

–    We have left the mountains (I ran from a place called Hell’s Gate up to Jackass Mountain. That should give you an idea of the incline), although I am still running on rolling hills. We had been following the Fraser River, but Hwy 1 turns and follows a major tributary called the Thompson. The Fraser is brown and silty, whereas the Thompson is a clear, beautiful shade of blue/green. The prettiest run of the trip thus far was a beautiful river run along the Thompson where I just 10 feet above the river. We have left the Thompson now, and are running through rolling sagebrush hillsides. I think we’re about to hit ranch country.

–    Must find ice. I had totally forgotten that traveling on the road requires a lot of ice. In the 90-100 degree heat we’ve been experiencing, we’ve been going through a giant ice block almost everyday. I mean, who doesn’t love packing and unpacking the cooler every day?

–    We’ve been living off of Costco snacks and lunchmeat for the last week, as there has only been 1 tiny, sad and very expensive grocery store for the last 70 miles. Luckily, we’ve both discovered that frozen fish sticks are pretty good, and can generally be found. Restaurants are hard to find along the road, the exception being a very good little local café in Lytton. I’ve never heard of Chinese-Canadian Cuisine before, but that definitely is a thing here.

–    We made the mistake of going to campground called Blue Lake Resort. Sounds nice, right? On arriving, the office looked great and we were told we could get a sweet campsite right next to the lake with our own private dock. It was in a great location, so we jumped on it. Ok, so the word resort is a major stretch for this place. Apparently it was founded in the early 1900s, and probably was a nice place in the 50s and 60s. The lake was a dump, the bathrooms and port-a-potties were the worst I’ve ever seen, and the dock? Try partially submerged pieces of plywood. To top it off, 4 trucks of dudes set up camp next to us about an hour after we got there. Turns out it was a bachelor party (on a Tuesday night?) that was going to last for days. The guys had brought 50 pounds of meat, and had hauled up giant grills and set up a tent city. They were stoked. The conversation went something like this:
“Hey, do we got meat?”
“Yeah, we got burgers.”
“Are we gonna make them?”
“Burgers are easy”
“How many of us are there?”
“When are you gonna make the burgers, dude?”

Burgers graduated to beer pong, to drinking and smoking and other things. The camp host finally moved the dudes for their evening of partying, and we were able to sleep for a bit. The same conversation resumed in the morning regarding eggs and “artesian coffee.” We just had to laugh, and got the heck out as soon as we could.

–    We have gotten really good at setting up and breaking down camp. Staying at the same place for 3 nights seems like a luxury, and we try really hard not to only stay at a place for only one night. The provincial campgrounds are beautiful and well maintained!! And cheap! We love them.

–    I’ve never been an energy drink fan, but have recently discovered the many virtues of Red Bull. Enough said.

–    Laundry days are the happiest days.

Greetings from Gold Country!!

Hi friends! This might be the only blog post for the next week, as we’ve headed north on the Trans-Canada Hwy and have hit gold country! This area doesn’t have very many amenities, including wi-fi. Real showers have become a luxury of the past. BUT this area is stunning!!! We’re in the mountains now, and are still following the Fraser River. It really feels like the wild west in the sense that the landscape is rugged, and the only thing we can take for granted is the fact that there will be a freight train coming through the mountains every hour or so.

I had no idea, but apparently this area had a gold rush boom that rivaled the California gold rush. In fact, many California minors moved north in pursuit of gold after the California gold boom petered out, and at one point tried to get parts of BC to succeed to the US! I don’t tell people I’m really from California around here 🙂 We have panned for gold for fun, but no joke, you can buy legitimate gold panning equipment from any outdoor store.

This area is littered with little towns that were huge boomtowns at one point, first due to gold and then to the construction of railroads. We went to some abandoned railroad tunnels that had been turned into a park. It was amazing to think of all the dangerous work that went into blasting the mountains away in a narrow river canyon to get a railroad line in. And we even saw salmon migrating!!

I’m not sure if it’s the mountainous terrain or the fact that I’ve now been running for 2 weeks, but my body is started to feel the affects of running this long. I’ve lost weight, and feel a lot more muscular but I’m also tired a lot of the time. I am savoring the fact that today is a rest day. I had a ridiculous dream in which I went to the doctor and they told me I had to get a knee replacement. Hahaha, I was really glad when I woke up and realized that wasn’t the case. All things considered, I’m really amazed at how resilient the human body is. 81 miles down.

Over and out. Much love to you all.

I think this is what summer looks like

We’ve been on the road for about a week now and are starting to find a rhythm to the madness. We get up early in the morning. Caleb makes breakfast, while I prepare all the electrolyte water I need for the day. It’s been so warm that I would easily become hyponatremic drinking “normal water.” We quickly get on the road around 7 or 8am and return to our last stopping point. Then I wonder how I possibly have energy to run that day, eat some ‘magic’ aka sport beans, and hop out and go for it. Caleb checks in with me every couple miles as I have to stop to refill my “water,” and grab a quick snack. Sometimes I get rewarded with a cold beverage from the nearest gas station. I can’t even begin to describe how good those are when you’re running in 90 degrees.

Caleb has done an amazing job at filming, but he has this annoying habit of finding a really picturesque spot and pulling over. In my mind, I’m thinking ‘ok, I can make it to the car, and then I get a quick break.’ However, he generally pulls out the camera and tells me to just keep going for the sake of the shot, and all I want to do is collapse ☺ Its pretty effective though, nobody wants to see a movie of me walking ☺

These days I’m running through rolling hills that go through a lot of blueberry farms, cornfields and dairy farms. There are stray blueberries on the road, and I find that I’m often being stared down by goats and cows who wonder what the heck I’m doing. Yesterday I met a man who is pulling a cart coast to coast across Canada. He had just started his journey and we wished each other well.

I run from anywhere between 11/2 -2 hours depending on the day, and then we usually come back to the campsite. I have just enough energy to shower quickly and eat something before we both pass out in the heat of the day. We’ve had to resort to finding Starbucks and the local restaurant chain, Tim Hortons, to find air conditioning and wifi. After a nap, there is usually time for site seeing, grocery shopping, general exploring and a lot of reading. And then we start all over the next day. Despite the blisters on my feet, and the heat, we’re both really enjoying each other and this trip so far!!

Smokin’ up the Frasier River Valley

There were lots of unknowns heading into this trip; we knew that. But sometimes even the “known unknowns” catch you by surprise. We guessed that it would be a warm summer, and we knew that it had been an unseasonably dry winter and spring. But still, it was a shocker when just days into our adventure we were dealing with temps approaching 100° F. No problem though; we would just get up at the crack of dawn and Kim would run when it was cool. Then, our magnificent views of Mt. Baker, just across the border from us and often visible for our first few days, were covered in haze. This quickly developed into a brown shroud of pungent smoke. We quickly figured out that BC’s wilderness was on fire in hundreds of places. According to the Vancouver Sun, the wildfire season was already so bad that the province’s entire annual firefighting budget had already been spent. An air quality health advisory had been issued for the whole Vancouver metro area, and we decided to play it safe and stay inside.

It was discouraging to have to take a day off, but this morning, we were bailed out by the weather. A merciful Pacific breeze began to push the smoke inland, and moisture carried with it kept the valley cloudy and cool in the morning. Relief for the run came in another way as well: Kim’s route had until this point been mostly urban, but after less than a mile from her starting point this morning in the town of Mission, the route turned rural and picturesque. Cornfields and berry farms lined the highway, but just beyond the fields, rugged, forested hills rose up, walling in the fertile Frasier River valley and confining it more and more to a narrow gorge as we head eastward. By the time we reach the town of Hope, 45 miles to the east and north of Kim’s stopping point today, the rich fields will have given way to the dramatic, mountainous image of BC that I tend to think of when picturing the province’s landscape.

— Caleb

Day One!

Hi All!

We’re in Canada! The last few days have been fun and crazy as we’ve learned our way around Abbotsford and are recuperating from the last frantic days of packing. We crossed the border late on the 2nd. It was the easiest crossing either one of us had done, which was nice considering we were banking on a 20-minute interrogation. Several of the other cars in front of us had their trunks thoroughly searched, and we both amazed that they waved us through with just a couple questions with a car full of crap. I think we came across as harmless hippies ☺

We’ve been busy stocking the car with food and supplies, including that all-essential bear spray. Who knew you could get poutine at the Costco hot dog stand?

It has been HOT over here, so the first run I attempted was the evening of the 3rd. At 8pm, it was still 82 degrees out. I started at the border and ran through town. I had my first ever heat cramp in my leg – I’ve been drinking all the sports drinks I can get my hands on!! Our new plan will be getting up super early and getting a run in before it gets too warm. I think I need a salt lick ☺

It might be slow going at first as I adjust to the heat and get into the pattern of running everyday, but I’m still pretty excited about this whole thing!! Although I’ve mostly been on dusty highways so far, I’ve already passed some pretty wildlife reserves and blueberry farms and the scenery promises to get even better. We’re headed for the Frasier River next. Stay tuned for more updates!

Kim

P.S. we have a new traveling companion. His name is Bob the succulent.

P.P.S. we’ve already been offered a kitten for the trip from our first hosts. It took all my powers of restraint to say no.