The Team

The Team


Election.

6.01.2010 | 4 Comments

Yesterday I was looking into obtaining travel Visas, given that I am traveling in two different African countries: Rwanda and Tanzania. I know that I need a Visa for Tanzania, but wasn’t sure if I needed one for when I land in Kigali, Rwanda. Wanted to make sure I had all that in place before my trip snuck up on me – it’s amazing how fast the time is whipping by!

So, I go onto the government Travel Information site, and pull up Rwanda’s info. This is what I see:

The level of Travel Warning in this report has not changed.  Sections 2 (grenade attacks in Kigali on May 15) has been updated. Exercise High Degree of Caution.

wut.

Travellers should be vigilant at all times. Although uncommon, attacks by rebel groups and incidents of violence occur from time to time. Grenade attacks have occurred in a number of areas in the country, including in the Southern Province and Kigali in 2009. A number of similar attacks have been occurring in Kigali since February 2010. The attacks usually occur at nightfall. A main central roundabout, a busy bus station and a restaurant at the center of Kigali were targeted in previous attacks, with the most recent one occuring on May 15, 2010. Casualties have been reported as a result of these attacks.

I send the info to Ali. She reads it and responds that upon speaking with a friend of hers in the area, she learns that there is actually an election taking place (only the 2nd election since the Genocide) in Rwanda on August 9th. That’s 5 days before I land in Kigali.

Now, I’m  not the most experienced nor the most confident traveler, and as you may recall, I tend to be a rather adept Disaster Magnet. I don’t think these are fantastic qualities to be in possession of when traveling to a place where there are grenade attacks happening at random.

I have a decision to make.

I go back to Marlin Travel, and ask to change my flight. I will not be going to Rwanda.

I must admit, I do feel like a bit of a wuss for this. Like I’m quitting, or giving up, or backing out… but I’m just not comfortable going to Rwanda. I haven’t ever been 100% sold on the idea, but I wanted to experience something totally out of my comfort zone. However, sitting in a Rwandan hospital with limbs missing is just a tad beyond my comfort zone, really, so hey… that’s that.

Sure. I know I have an over-active imagination. I fully realize that, and take total responsibility for my occasional freak-outs of gargantuan magnitude. And yes, maybe I’m totally blowing this whole “grenade attacks” thing out of proportion. But I’m willing to look foolish over this. I’d much rather be proven wrong than have my parents pick up a pine box at the airport back home.

So, I am now flying from Vancouver to Dar es Salaam. This will then give me the opportunity I have been looking for to spend some time exploring Zanzibar. Yes, I’ll miss seeing the mountain gorillas in Rwanda this time, and yes, I’ll miss out on doing so with Alison, whose dream is to see those mountain gorillas.

And yes, that does hurt my heart.

I feel like I’m making the right decision, but that doesn’t make it any less sad that I’ll miss out on witnessing  a good friend achieve her dream.

Guess I’ll just have to give her an extra hug when we’re standing on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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Scrounges and Brothers

5.31.2010 | 2 Comments

Ladner May Days was in town this weekend, and although I missed out on it for the most part, my dogs Jenn and Luna seemed to really enjoy themselves with all the wonder that the Fair has to offer. This is my impression of what was going through my dogs’ brains as we walked through the park this morning…

Tree, tree, dirt – HOTDOG!? Score! Grass, grass, I know that dog, dirt, tree – NACHOS! With CHEESE! Dirt, dirt – MINI DONUT! Tree, grass – FRENCH FRIES! Dirt – HAMBURGER BUN?! This is AWESOME!

In an attempt to steer them away from all edible, rain-soaked and disgusting things, I walked them through town. Along the parade route…

Plant, flower, sidewalk, plant – CANDY!! Paper bag, plastic cup – CANDY!! Plant, plant – CANDY!! Dirt, weeds, plant – CANDY!!

Needless to say, our 40-minute walk took about 2 hours. In the rain.  Stupid greedy dogs.

Aaaaaaaaaaanyway… Ali and I went back to hike the Brother’s Creek trail yesterday, and we had a lovely time. That really is a great trail, but it’s a bit short. It’s supposed to take 4 hours, but it takes us about 2.5 hours. We have decided to do it twice next time around. Well, that’s what we’ve decided now… given that we’ve forgotten about:

And:

(yes, that’s water cascading down those steps)

However, it really is a beautiful and unique spot. Check out this weird pond we saw:

Cool, eh? Oh! And what about the big, honkin’ trees? Those are cool, too!

And then there are the weird, wonderful, wooly animals!

Ok, so it’s not the best photo, but still… it was a totally bizarre dog. Like a basset hound crossed with a yellow lab. Odd little bugger. Cute, but odd.

And of course, there is the view from between the trees…

It’s a great hike. Not too strenuous, and we did a whole lot better this time around than when we first attempted it. Oh, and no Nazi tree this time! It had been hacked up, splintered and rotted to within an inch of its life. Crazy what a difference 4 months can make in the forest.

And so, we finished our hike, and headed for home. We soon saw that the Lion’s Gate Bridge was at a crawl. We weren’t opposed to sitting in traffic, but as we discussed it, we realized that we shouldn’t sit in traffic because… ummm… all that idling would be bad for the environment. We needed to step up and do our part to keep the planet green! Proudly, we made the decision to turn off before the bridge and to do something for the good of mankind…

Muuuuuuuch better…

Happy beering hiking!

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Team Lug Nut – Steady as She Goes

5.24.2010 | 2 Comments

So, Ali and I left the city yesterday to enjoy some time in nature. Ali had told me about this great campsite she knew of in Brackendale that was right by the river, so I agreed to jam the car full of camping stuff, and pick her up at 9am.

Good morning! Ready to go, Ali?

READY!

And so, into the woods we go. After a wrong turn here and an “I don’t remember this” statement or two, we were finally on our way down the World’s Longest Backwoods Road which was rife with pot holes and death-wish squirrels. Ali realized that she had to make a work-related phone call, so I turned down the stereo so that she could book flights for someone and seethe in relative silence.

Given that we’re driving into the middle of Upper Cougar Crotch (as my mother likes to call any sort of wilderness-related destination), the fact that Ali lost cell reception wasn’t all that surprising. We drove on for a few minutes more until BLAM! I hit The World’s Largest Pot Hole dead-on and my front tire blew out.

Awesome.

That’s ok! We’ll just call BCAA… Oooooh, right. That no-cell-phone-reception thing. Well, looks like it’s up to us now. Hey tire… you, me… bring it on.  Awwwwwww, yeeeeah…

Now, for those that know me, you will recall that I have two rather large dog crates in the back of my car. Which, of course, are tied down with enough rope and bungee cord to create excitement in certain sections of the population. I’m not sure, but I believe a photo of my securely-tied dog crates was the feature picture on TieMeUpTieMeDown.com last month

Aaaaaaaaanyway… While Ali grabbed the “How to Change a Tire” book from the glove compartment, I set out to find a way to remove the spare tire from under the dog crates, without actually having to remove the dog crates.

Let me tell you this: changing a tire isn’t all that tough, but it does take some strength.  And a little bit of rhythm.

You kind of get a rhythm going when you’re jacking a car up, so I was really in the groove for a while there. But then Ali wanted to play, so being the generous friend that I am, I gave her a shot at it, too.

Jenn is not amused.  At all.  “Hurry up, Lady!”

And so, after completing the tire change, Ali and I were really quite proud of ourselves. After a well-deserved high-five, we posed for a photo with our conquered prey.  ALL HAIL TEAM LUG NUT!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand then we drove back into Squamish and went to the Canadian Tire, crossing our fingers that it was actually open on a Sunday morning. Don’t forget the Tire of Doom! Buckle up for safety!

Now, I will admit it: I was scared to drive on that little tire, and the fact that it is referred to as a “donut” didn’t do much for my confidence. I put on the 4-way flashers and drove about 40km/hr back up The World’s Longest Backwoods Road toward civilization. 4 hours later (kidding!)… we reached Canadian Tire safely, and as I walked in the three people at the service counter stopped their conversation and just sort of stared at me. Looking down, I realized that I was probably the dirtiest I had been since childhood. Apparently this is not a good look for me. The nice lady at the desk said they were “booked solid” that day, but that she would squeeze me in ASAP. Ali and I went to grab a coffee and by the time we got back, the car was ready! …sort of.

Turns out that the rim was shot, and so they couldn’t put a new tire on. I would have to drive home on the donut. “Ummm… is that safe?”, I ask. The lady looked at me and said, “No. Not at all”, then handed me back my keys.

And so, I now have to drive from Squamish to Ladner, down the Sea-to-Sky hwy, in the rain, on a donut.

“Well, better put the 4-ways on”, says Ali, and away we went…

I white-knuckled it home, dreading that the donut would blow at any minute, and send the car careening off a cliff. In my head I had decided that should the donut fail on me, I would try my best to swerve left, so as to ensure that Ali would have a good chance at walking away from any accident. Was I nervous? Nooooooooooooooooo…

(Yep. Those are bite marks on my hand, as I kept chewing on myself to keep from screaming.)

However, we FINALLY made it home (after a few stops where I simply had to pull over and relax for a moment), and when we made it through the Deas Tunnel, both Ali and I took our first real breath since we changed the damn tire however many hours ago. Then we started laughing. Then we realized that we suck at camping.

Or, do we?

Yep, that’s right – we went back to my place, lit a pathetic fire in the fire pit on my balcony, ate some terrible hot dogs, and chowed on the Worst S’mores Ever. We finally got to experience camping after all…

Best. Camping trip. EVER.  THREE CHEERS FOR TEAM LUG NUT!!

Hooray!

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Burning Down the Stuff.

4.28.2010 | 2 Comments

First thing yesterday morning I received an email from Ali. In effect, it said:

You know that warehouse that stores all the excess Whitecaps soccer gear that you and I are taking to that Rwandan orphanage to donate? Yah, well… that warehouse burned down last night. We lost everything.

Gone. All of it is gone. There were shirts, cleats, socks, shorts, soccer balls… everything that we were hoping would bring a little more joy into the lives of some kids on the other side of the world. Gone. How completely surreal and totally unexpected.

Why did this happen? I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So… what’s the reason for this loss?

Even though Ali and I were both saddened by the loss of all the stuff, we quickly realized that the stuff wasn’t the important thing. We don’t need stuff to give. We have our time to give instead. Why not go to that Rwandan orphanage anyway, and spend a couple of days playing soccer with the kids? Maybe I’m totally wrong here, but something tells me that they’ve been getting by just fine with what soccer stuff they currently have…

And in my head I just can’t help thinking that maybe just going over there and spending time with the kids would make more of an impact than coming laden with stuff. It’s just STUFF.

And that impact I’m talking about? I have a funny feeling that I’m talking about myself there. I think I’ll be learning more from those children than I could ever teach them. That makes me anticipate the trip even more.

Strange that it took a burned down warehouse for me to understand that.

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With Our Powers Combined, we are… TEAM KILI 2010

4.20.2010 | 0 Comments

This morning I am having a very exciting meeting!

I am hoping to add two more outrageous women to the Kili 2010 team that will join Ali and I in our weird African Adventure this August. The really cool thing is that just last week, Ali’s friend Christopher took the big leap and said he was in, too! We are now a team of THREE!

I know that one of the women I am meeting with today is on the team for sure, so she and I are going to work hard at getting the SECOND woman to go. Even though she’ll probably get mad at us for not flossing on summit day…

I really hope that tomorrow I can tell you all that the Kili 2010 team is five strong.

Cross your fingers for me!!

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Thanks Constable Dales!

4.19.2010 | 4 Comments

Since yesterday was Ali’s birthday, we thought we’d spend it doing something awesome…

We have been fortunate enough to secure a FANTASTIC gift certificate from Kaymaran Adventure Tours (KAT) for the Kili Gala raffle draw, and so I called up KAT owner Tony Dales to check the place out before I raffle the certificate off. That’s right… Tony Dales. Not only the owner of KAT, but he was also the DSS liason officer when I was in high school. I am so glad my truancy was off his radar, or this could have been an awkward reunion.

Anyway… Ali and I were really looking forward to a nice, relaxing paddle on the river. We signed our waiver, got our PFDs, maps, safety gear and a bottle of water, and we were ready to go!

As Tony set up our boats and chatted with us, Ali and I were positively agog with thrills!  Tony said, “now, the Harbour Seals are out right now, so…”

And Ali and I interrupted with, “Awwwww! That’s so cute“, and “Alright! They’re so adorable!”

To which Tony replied, “…did you READ the waiver?”

Apparently Harbour Seals aren’t all that nice to kayak around. Ooops. But hey, at least we knew to keep away from the swans and geese!

And so, we were soon good to go, and were pushed into the water, happy as larks and excited as could be. Now… for those who know me well, you will know that I am inexplicably *terrified* of kayaking. What you are about to see will both shock and amaze you…

That’s right – that’s me HAVING FUN in a kayak! I particularly like the quality of that last photo. Alison sure has en eye, doesn’t she?

It was a gorgeous day. I mean, a totally awesome, still-water, sun-shining, birds-swimming-by, perfect day.We meandered past the houseboats, paddled through the marsh, and got a little lost. I can’t for the life of me understand why! I mean, Ali was guiding us with the map!

Oooooh.

Ali and I spent a couple of hours on the water, and could have stayed out far longer… but someone started to talk about sandwiches. Then we both started talking about lunch. And since there isn’t a kayak-up cafe anywhere around, we had to head back in and go to Speed’s Pub.

However… Ali and I will certainly be going back out there soon. Kaymaran Adventure Tours is AWESOME, and I am shocked that I haven’t ever been brave enough to try kayaking like that before. Poor Tony. He’s never going to get rid of us now.

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Hiking The Chief – Take One

4.18.2010 | 4 Comments

Yesterday, Ali and I hiked up the Stawamus Chief in Squamish, BC. We’d both done the hike before, but never together. And so, I would like to apologize to all the lovely people who had intended to have a quiet hike in Squamish yesterday, only to have the quiet of nature ruined by the two of us as we laughed and snorted our way up in between creative bursts of Trademarkable cursing.

Hiking is serious business. You have to have the right gear, and you have to be prepared for anything. Right, Ali?

The right footwear is essential. For those of you that have been following along, you already know what a stinky copycat Ali is…

Sometimes when you’re hiking, you’re not feeling or looking your best. It’s important to always show your hiking partner some respect when taking their photo unawar…ALISON!

So, being that we were now both prepared for the journey, up we went! The Chief trail is really quite amazing, and when I remembered to look up, the view was always inspiring.

We soon came to a little rest spot where we took off a layer and had a quick rest. Alison suggested I go sit on a rock so that she could take a photo. For some reason, I was concerned about getting my pants dirty. I have no idea why.

Considering it was POURING RAIN, and also considering what the rest of the trail was like…

We soon came to a spot that Ali had aptly named “The Big Rock”, and she was so tired she nearly flung herself off the edge in a fit of desperation. Thankfully there was something there to save her!

Gooooood doggy! Thank you for saving Ali’s life, little guy. She was much happier…

And while Ali was posing, I looked down and HORROR OF HORRORS!!

I GOT DIRTY! Look! See?! Right there – that little mark of dirt! Oh, the shame!! It was almost enough to keep me from throwing my body into some ridiculous pose so that Ali could be amused when she took a photo. Lucky for her, I’m stronger than that…

So anyway, after I dried my tears, Ali and I continued onward and upward. There was so much laughing that she and I had to stop on more than one occasions to either catch our breath, or beg the other person to shut up so that we wouldn’t barf up the 2 litres of water we’d both consumed up to that point. We have decided that we need to tip our guide A LOT of money, because the poor bastard is going to have to put up with us for seven whole days.

The trail was slippery. The trail was sketchy. The trail began to get more technical than either of us had remembered. It was raining, we were sopping wet, the clouds had socked the mountain in so views were non-existent…  but we soldiered on. Up ladders, clinging to chains, jamming our feet into pockets of granite, gripping the rock with our hands and breaking our nails… BUT… we made it!

However… we had NO IDEA where we were. Neither of us had come up this route before. In fact, when I looked down, I saw this:

See that ledge down there? THAT’S where I thought we were. However, being the extremely intelligent woman that I am, I quickly deduced that if that ledge were down there, and I was up here, then I could not possibly be on that ledge at that moment. I haz a smarts. But what I *don’t* have are navigation skills. Bad, guiding Robyn, baaaaad…

I’m sorry.

So anyway, after Ali and I decided that we didn’t really care where we were, we decided that the best thing to do would be to get off of this horrendously slippery, lichen-covered mountain as soon as we could. We tried our best to keep things on the serious side, but we couldn’t. We laughed and slipped, lost our grip when we doubled over and needed our hands to hold our sides, we fell into poor, innocent trees when someone said something that made us snort so much that we nearly lost consciousness. It was an epic descent.

However… there is a sad ending to this tale. My trusty camera decided that being trusty was no longer a quality that it wanted to possess. It died. Stupid camera. Drop it just *one time*, and it breaks. Get *a little* dirt in the dial (that now makes a crunchy-grindy noise), and it stops working. Pffft. Piece of crap.

On the up-side, I now am in the market for a new camera. But I am going to hunt down a decent video camera instead! Ali and I decided that our Kili climb should NOT go unfilmed, because it’s going to be so very, very bad.

And that’s just totally awesome.

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WAKE UP!!

4.06.2010 | 0 Comments

You want to know what really scares me about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro? Sharing a tent.

“Sleeping is a problem for most high-altitude climbers due to a phenomenon known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing. While dozing, the climber breathes normally for a minute and then stops completely for thirty seconds. Suddenly, breathing resumes at an accelerated rate. One minute you sound out of breath, the next, dead. It is often more disconcerting for the tent mate than the sleeper.”

Faaaantastic!

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Dea and the ‘Seven Day Hold’.

4.04.2010 | 0 Comments

And so, as I bravely unfurled myself from the fetal position, dared to rise from the couch-dent and leave my pity hovel, I realized that fresh air is somewhat invigorating.

Yesterday Ali and I decided to do SOMETHING, because we have been doing nothing for far too long, So many excuses! “The olympics are on… my knee hurts… I’m functioning on single-lung capacity… I don’t want to get blown off the top of The Chief and smoosh onto the Sea-To-Sky in all my gory glory…”  lame things like that. But today, we just got out there and walked. We decided to walk along the Deas Island trail in Ladner…

Or, ummm… Dea’s Trail…

Dea has such a lovely trail. Thank you for letting us walk your lovely trail, Dea!

It really is a beautiful walk. Full of the wonders of nature. Look! A rare Transiticus Busicus! How fortunate to get it on film!

In all seriousness, it IS a nice trail. It winds through Ladner for a bit, then crosses under Highway 99 by the tunnel, before leading one along the river to Deas Island Park

And once in Deas Island Park, you sort of wend your way through a quiet forest

Taking the time to just enjoy nature. Watching the birds on the river, smelling the damp, mossy forest, feeling the wind against your face as it blows through the trees, hearing the beautiful sounds of all that is natural and beau…

ALISON!!

Anyway… Ali and I walked for 2 hours, chatting and laughing, wondering how we were going to actually pull this Kili Gala off, wondering how we’ll actually manage to do this whole ‘climb-a-mountain thing’, wondering how we’ll ever afford all the gear, wondering how we’ll fit everything that we want to do into three short weeks, wondering how we can not defecate for seven days while we’re climbing in order to avoid the whole ‘used toilet paper bag’ idea… you know, the important things.

It was a really nice walk and I totally recommend it to all Delta residents (Deltans? Deltaites? Whatever.) as a nice little jaunt through the large beauty of the small place in which we live. I felt a great deal better after my walk (especially after the epsom salt footbath), and I think the fresh air did me some good.

I haven’t been eating much, and so have lost a fair deal of weight, which has led to a diminished energy level. However, by next weekend I am sure to be back at 100%, and so Ali and I have decided that we’re going to take on The Chief on Saturday. I hope.

Happy Hidden-Chocolate-Egg Day!

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Whine Warning in Effect

4.03.2010 | 0 Comments

FINALLY! I can breathe, I have some energy, I’m not coughing up small bits of highly important internal organs… today is the day! Ali has had a fitness goal of climbing all 3 peaks of the Stawamus Chief, so we’re going to do that today. I’ve got my lunch packed, my camelback filled, my hiking boots in the car… what’s left? Oh! Better check that weather report before we head off…

Let’s see.. mmm, hmmm… Squamish – ah, here we go! So, ‘5 degrees Celsius’. Not a problem. That’s practically balmy for Squamish!  ‘Light rain’ – pffft, no worries there at all. ‘Wind warning in effect for Howe Sound’.

…wut.

Hmmmmm. I *really* want to do this hike. But do I *really* want to be standing atop one of the world’s tallest granite monoliths in a gale force wind storm?

Processing… processing…

*dials phone*

“Hey Ali. Soooo… how are things? Mmm, hmm, that’s great. Good to hear.  Yah, so, about this hike today… oh, yah, yah, I’d still love to go! Absolutely! Funny thing, though… I don’t really want to, you know… DIE or anything, so I was wondering if you may want to do something a little… lower. Sure. Sure. Yep, you bet. Mkay, see you then. Bye-bye”

So, today is the day! Ali and I are finally going to walk the trails around Ladner…

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