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Steve’s Blog – July 11 and 12 – family play days – Fernie

Whether you are a tourist, traveller or adventurer is a state of mind.    

We took off two days as a hiatus from our journey. The first day was spent horseback riding, which I had only done once before, more than 30 years prior. It was fun, heart warming and scary, and the perfect thing to do with Lori, my boys, and their girlfriends, just so long as the girlfriends don’t worry that my high pitched startle-response may be congenital.

Today I am sitting on a vintage yellow school bus on route to a day of white water rafting. I have done this excursion many times in Fernie, at least 7-8, and at several life stages. 

The first time was when my children were babies. Lori and I would have gone alone, thankful for the break. 

The next time I would have gone with friends while I acted as a dutiful host. My boys would still be too young to accompany us, but close enough for me to imagine their delight.

The next few trips would have been with my boys and various family members. Family dynamics were probably at play, compelling me to play the role of father, brother or son-in-law. If there were tensions or issues, they would have dissolved – if only temporarily – in the mighty Elk River.

The last few would have been with a random assortment of family. My boys, no longer tied to nor interested in our schedule, would have had independent plans and priorities.

Today, I travel to the river with Lori, Mike and Jim. There is something unique about this trip – years ago I learned that Mike holds white water rafting as a bucket list item, and I have been planning this day ever since. This is also Jim’s first white water trip.

[Post river rafting] Well, that didn’t go as planned. The river is unusually high and fast due to a cold Spring and a concentrated melt season. Even the first few rapids – usually tame – were exciting. After lunch we head into a tight canyon where the biggest swells reside. As if in literary foreshadowing, just after we pushed away from shore, our guide announced that he could not finish his lunch as he was thinking about the rapids ahead.

I was the first to be thrown from the raft. I looked back to see that the raft was too far behind to reach, though I could hear their exhortations to paddle hard. Suddenly I was underwater. When I popped up, I saw that our raft had flipped, so I turned to focus on the river ahead. The vertical canyon walls and torrent leave little choice but to protect myself as I swept over boulders and into the right wall. Ultimately, the safety net kayaker pulled me away from the cliff walls to calm waters. That’s my story, but everyone of us had their own challenges. Lori sports the abrasions from scrapes against the canyon wall, Jim had the scare that comes from a belly full of river water, and Mike was initially trapped under the upturned raft. I should note that our rafting company clearly takes safety seriously, as we were trained for these exact circumstances and, even more so, so were our guides.

It is fitting and therapeutic that both last night and tonight we got to tell our stories to family at the end of each day – narrating story telling elements for dramatic effect or humour – and casting it as the adventure it was, and nothing more.

Tomorrow, we will return to the road. Adventure awaits.

3 Responses

  1. And cycling across the country seemed like an adventure. 🤷‍♀️
    Grateful that you are all ok and that will be one more adventure that binds you all together.
    Now back to the “garden type variety” challenges of cycling across this nation!🤦‍♀️🚴‍♀️

    Happy and safe travels!

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Why We Are Doing it

You have probably heard of Parkinson’s Disease. You may even know people who suffer from it.  Get used to it, as Parkinson’s Disease is the world’s fastest growing neurological condition, set to double in number by 2040.

Parkinson’s Disease occurs when the brain’s dopamine-producing cells die prematurely. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter necessary for many functions of the brain and body, including muscular control, and its loss affects all forms of movement and balance, as well as non-motor functions such as memory, concentration and motivation.  Think of dopamine as the electricity in an electric car: without it, the lights dim and the wheels stop spinning.

There is currently no cure, no bio-markers to aid detection, and little is known about how it is triggered, except that Canadians are disproportionately afflicted

Most people living with Parkinson’s reduce or even discontinue regular intensive physical activity after their Parkinson’s diagnosis.  Why?  Their actual skills and abilities do not suddenly evaporate on the date of their diagnosis, though their mental fortitude often does.  As a result, many abandon the very restorative health practices, such as regular exercise, when they are needed the most.  For people with Parkinson’s, intensive exercise can boost energy, sharpen the mind, elevate spirits and keep the body mobile.  Studies indicate that intense exercise can help train the Parkinson’s afflicted brain to use dopamine more efficiently and be able to do more with less.

Let’s use the dopamine we have to build the lives we want.

What are We Doing

Canada is a big country.  It is home to over 100,000 people living with Parkinson’s disease, 9 in 10 of which suffer in silence, isolation, or without the support of a knowledgeable organization or community.  Starting in June 2022, we aim to cross our big country by bicycle to meet as many of these people as possible to personally deliver this message: get moving to stay moving.  

We start In Victoria, British Columbia and ride east through every Canadian province, and hundreds of cities and towns along the way.  Our route is approximately 8,000 km, and we expect to average 125 km a day, six days a week for approximately three months.  Our Spinning Wheels Tour team will include two riders with Parkinson’s Disease, as well as two ride-along supporters to keep things moving.  Along the way, we will be meeting with people whose lives are touched by Parkinson’s, and encourage them to get moving with us, get engaged in support communities, and to set up their own group athletics.

We are not athletes, just people with the resolve to do what it takes to live well with this disease, and to encourage others..  

Along the way, we hope to hear these words, “If they can do it, I can too.”