Dorothy was right, there is no place like home. As much as I like traveling and meeting new people, tasting new foods it’s still nice to get home – even if the humidity is choking!
I arrived home Sunday morning June 5 at 12:30AM EDT. I had left Rothschild, WI at 5:20AM MDT – 18 hours and 10 minutes of windshield time. All but 2 hours in the rain. It as a marathon driving day – the aforementioned 18 hours and not to forget the 1,123 miles (1807.293km) which averages out to a speed of 61.82 miles per hour. Not too bad I guess with all the rain. Total round trip mileage was 5,294 (about 8520km – km sounds more impressive!).
My trusty Saab 9-2x (Saabaru) performed admirably and even turned 150,000 miles somewhere near Duluth, MN. The only bad thing which happened to my ride was that someone stole the front badge from the car:
The car was made by Subaru for Saab in 2005 and 2006. The paint had worn off the badges long ago so I picked-up decals like what’s depicted above from eBay. A proper mashup of Saab and Subie. It wasn’t that they peeled the decal off but pried the actual base off. Small price for an epic trip.
Two reporters asked me why I went. I really didn’t have an answer. Julia Wong of GlobalNews Canada asked me if I had ever live through any kind of disaster. I mentioned Hurricane Fran as a possibility but only as a sub-conscious reason. Gloria Rodriguez of ABC11 in Durham, NC asked a similar question. Basically, I had been following the story of the Fort McMurray wildfires, the pictures, the video and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like to live through that. But, I knew I wanted to help in any way I could. So I ended up volunteering at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society for 7 days.
There is a saying that there is no such thing as luck. What you really have is preparation meeting opportunity. Maybe this volunteer effort was the result of Compassion, Opportunity (wildfires) and Opportunity (my availability) all intersecting in the Venn Diagram of life?
But maybe God had a hand in it? God doesn’t always appear to you in a burning bush as he did to Moses on Mt Horeb, charging Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and bondage. Nor does God always appear to you through the Archangel Michael, St Margaret or St Catherine as He revealed Himself to the teenager Joan of Arc. Sometimes, it can be a barely perceivable nudge. Sometimes the power of a Louisville Slugger applied across the Occipital bone is needed and sometimes a gentle push. I’m glad I perceived the nudge and didn’t require a larger force to be applied!
My kind, understanding wife of 34 years Debbie, had a take on this as well. She said that this epic journey was needed by me. She’s right. I think I received more than I gave this time. Let’s just say I’ve had some weirdness in my life the last 12 years that only became diagnosed the last 2. Nothing life-threatening or even something that would take time off my life just some small neurological thing – think of adult ADD and you’re in the right ball park. Consequently my opinion of myself was at a low-point. Things which used to be second nature were now a struggle. Basically my ability to multi-task was greatly diminished. Whereas I used to be able to juggle 5 or 6 things at once, 2 or 3 was now the norm. I’m fine with that. I’ve learnt to cope and even now realizing things were wrong have overcome some of it. Maybe I “found myself” in some existential way? All I know is that by helping others, I helped myself and as a by-product had an excellent adventure.
I traveled through a new state – North Dakota. I fell in love with North Dakota. I traveled two new Provinces as well, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Edmonton I traversed Wayne Gretzky Dr and saw the Rexall Centre in Edmonton. Both AB and SK have beautiful prairies like ND. Sometime soon, Debbie and I will head to Alberta to Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise for sure. I also got to see Lake Superior, train cars of iron ore, Duluth, MN and part of Michigan’s UP. I had planned to travel the UP all the way to around Cheboygan then take the Mackinac Island bridge down to the mitten of MI but realized I would be adding too much time and just wanted to get home.
Would I do something such as this again? “You betcha”! Isn’t this something friends and neighbors do? Maybe a little closer to home next time or maybe not, surely in Debbie’s car which has the more comfortable seats! I’ve meet some wonderful, resilient people from Ft McMurray. I’ve met wonderful Albertans such as Marion, John, Mark and Liza who I hope to count amongst my friends until my trip on this mortal coil is terminated. I will always have the memories and that makes me happy.
This chapter in my life is now over and so is this blog. I most likely will neglect it’s upkeep. My brother Patrick used to keep a blog and he referred to it as a “cruel mistress”. Brother Bryan continues to blog and brother Patrick occasionally guest blogs on Bryan’s blog. Sister Kelly even gets into the action now and then! I’ll leave the blogsphere to folks like them. I do have three regrets in life. They are that I wish I could write like:
- James Thurber
- Jean Shepherd
- Michael Caine
Thank you Debbie for suggesting to me that I keep some sort of journal and what I saw, felt and did. ILYSBT!
73 and 88 – Jim
PS – I have found my perfect retirement job. If it doesn’t yet exist someone please invent it. The company I work for supplies me with a Ford F250 Super Duty diesel and I drive around from 7AM until noon inspecting oilfield pumps/wellheads in northern North Dakota and or southern Saskatchewan. Then 9-holes of golf in the afternoon before 5:00PM cocktails. Get me my Binford 9000 snow-blower and a Ski-Doo!