March 21, 1999


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What's New!!

March 21, 1999 - Journal Entry (Hope, BC)

Writing from Hope, I am enjoying a rest day after 158 kilometres in 4
days of travel. This has all the makings of a fantastic journey, and I
am a very happy fellow.

It wasn't an easy week though. My original plan was to be completely
prepared by Monday so I could sit back and enjoy my birthday, then have
Tuesday as a last minute little details day. Ha! Instead, it was
pandemonium supreme as there were still things undelivered by me and to
me by Tuesday. Without the rented van, I would still be hunkering stuff
around. Having left so many things to the bitter end, some things were
less than perfect, but we're going with it. I have given the trip it's
first dish of what will be many nicknames: "Man in Prototype" Tour,
"Randomly Planned & Thinly Thought Out" Tour, "The Desperate Man" Tour
and so on...

Happiness arrived on Tuesday in the form of Spectrum Signal Processing
coming to the rescue to sponsor my shipping costs for my deliveries
across Canada. Thanks to Rochelle Todosichuk, Doug Johnson, Marty
McConnell and Barry Jinks for their wonderful gift.

In the final hectic Vancouver days, with the support of my incredible
friends, I reached the Wednesday morning launch. Key to this was the
realization that even though I was leaving for many months (I just
actually noticed it was 9.5 months instead of 8.5 months - what a putz),
I have friends who could help me with stuff I had not completed prior to
my departure. Hooray! I relaxed...

Wednesday morning arrived with the Vancouver rain, the odds on weather
favourite. Jane & I moseyed down to the City Hall to unload, drop the
van and get set up. Even at this point, my mind was not engaged in
excitement or anticipation, it was simply dealing with details. I think
it would be different if someone else was accountable for my gear and
the logistics of the trip, since that is what I thought mostly about.

As people came forth, I was surprised to see many friends from the past
6 years in Vancouver. It was a fantastic feeling of closeness. To see
them standing there with joy and enthusiasm for me and my little trip
was a lifetime high. Everything blurred for me. All the details of the
trip, any fears I may have had, any concerns about anything vanished as
I looked upon the smiling faces of these fantastic souls. They brought
their good wishes, their hugs and their love. I am a rich man.

Monisha guided us through the ceremony like a pro. Jono, as the last
minute mayor substitute, made a silly speech followed by a spontaneous
eruption from Ted, then Luke. Melanie sang the national anthem and
Sulabha from the Peace Run made a speech about the torch we would carry
today. Isn't it funny what makes people cry? Crying can be quite
confusing since it is related to both extreme sadness and extreme
happiness. I felt extreme.

After some of the most intensely satisfying hugs of my adult life, the
two motorcycle cops led the way down Yukon Street to West Broadway. This
was the first time ever running with the fully loaded RoadRunner, and it
was as smooth as molasses on a sheep's ear. The police escort allowed us
to reach Burnaby without stopping for those silly red lights that mere
mortals must obey. It was a bit strange, of course, but there was about
10 of us running and cycling, so we were able to laugh together.

These journal updates will not be about how many kilometres I managed to
scare up each day, or anything about what I have been eating or how
tired or sore my various body parts are. These updates are about the
interesting things that happen to me. Or if nothing interesting happens,
they will be about the lies I tell you.

Interesting thing that happened: At Production Way in Burnaby, a strange
group of yahoos were standing on the side of the road cheering me on.
Upon reaching them, they confirmed my worst fears. They were protesting
the run on grounds that no one should have this much freedom. Just
joking. They were the wild people from Spectrum Signal Processing who
had stood in the rain for over half an hour to greet me and wish me
well. This is the type of goose bumpy thing that I will always remember.
Thanks Spectrum! You rule!

Our original estimate for today was 7k short of the actual distance.
Which is fine except for the whacky folks that came with me for the
entire way. Thanks to Rob, Mel, Jun, Jane & Nancy who arrived with me in
Maple Ridge completely wiped out. Hooray!

Followed was a sensational party with even more extreme moments. Some
people were confusing this little journey with a fund-raiser, but I
could not convince them otherwise. So much support that I felt a little
guilty leaving them all behind the next day. Can't wait to get back!
Thanks to Barry, Nona, Cally & wee Maggie Margaret for hosting this
sensational evening.

The boys stayed up until 1:00 preparing the RoadRunner for her first
real day. Jeff, Rob and Barry were in their element as we laughed it
into shape.

Day Two had the large crowd of Jane seeing me off. This is still a
substantial crowd compared to what most days will be like. So I'm off.
It's surreal. It's a journey of discovery. New sights and sounds and
sensations. It's my new world and it is very simple. Do the distance,
keep the gear organized & care for the body. Simple.

What came as a bit of a shock to me was having people stop on the side
of the road to talk. This has happened often. For some reason it happens
right when I could use a break, or when it would be nice to have a shot
of encouragement. Four times now, the press has stopped me for photos or
interviews. Curious families, enthusiastic well wishers, dreamers and
people in general seem to have some interest in this outrageous device.

Since I'm still so close to Vancouver, there have been instances of
friends pulling up alongside me. Just as I was getting hungry, Ron &
Xenia pulled up with ham & cheese bagels. Then Chris pulled up with
Peanut Butter Cups. Carl with his treats and Rochelle for a run and some
homemade snacks. As I pulled over to make a phone call, a fellow came up
to me, handed me a box of chocolate covered almonds, saying, "You'll
probably need these". Really? Okay. I stopped in to a convenience store
for an orange juice, and they said, "No charge". Really? Okay. A
journalist bought me lunch on Seabird Island, and we had a fantastic
conversation about dreams and choice. I'm told this type of thing is
typical of Canadians. Really? Okay.

My first night in the DrYad tent was pretty good. This was also my first
night using my multi-fuel stove, which worked fine. Same night was my
first night in my Infinity Sports sleeping bag. Yummy. So far, so good.
Just gotta work out a system for gear organization, but it all fits, and
it all works.

Saw my first caterpillar, first ladybug, first wasp and felt my first
headwind. Holy smokes. Glad I wasn't cycling, but with my rig, I just
put my head down and put power into the walk. It's actually a great
workout and good change of pace, now that I know everything will stay
strapped on. Tried my first walking day. That's a day of walking only,
you know. Even with the strong head winds, I did 40k in under 7 hours,
so my confidence is high. Of course, the elevation gain was only 200
metres, so there will be more tests later.

As I'm walking along, I'm wondering why this hasn't been done before?
The RoadRunner is an incredible journeying device that works amazingly
for a prototype. I think there's a future to this kind of thing. At
least for me, there is.

So I'm staying with Sue & Henry in Hope which is a perfect place name
for my first day of rest before heading into the mountains. The snow
level is at 400 metres, and I'll be going through passes of 1300 metres,
trying to find a campsite. This will be my first real camping test. I've
survived the test of continuous days of travel. The RoadRunner has
survived the test of holding together and doing everything it's supposed
to do. Now it's up to my survival skills. But with your happy and
positive thoughts, I will manage.

Every day holds precious memories for each of us. It's up to us to
observe them, choose them and love them. Hold on to each day.

Kevin Thomson


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