Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kerry's Final Blog

by on Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 10:11 PM

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With the discipline and perseverance that we were able to muster across Canada so many times before, we sprang out of bed, bolted down an egg muffin and coffee and hydro dressed, for the last leg (a grunt extraordinaire actually), out into the pouring rain. Ahh, what the hell: "Been der done dat."

It warmed our wet hearts to hear the cheer of riders waiting to accompany us outside, including Greg Diamond, Joan Swain, Aaron Lawton, Dawn Titus, and Iron Maiden Christine Sutter, who donated all proceeds from her achievement only 3 days before to our cause. Super charged Board member Sue Rea and her pal Marliea Creighton joined us at the Husky later. The ride was wet but fun with wise cracks flowing and cars honking all the way up. Greg took on the role of photographer whipping ahead for some prime shots and video. The municipality had prepared a warm welcome in the Olympic Plaza, but due to the weather Carol moved it to Millennium Place.

Amidst all the excitement we had climbed Hydro Hill before we knew it, soon after being waved into the Plaza by well-organized volunteers (many thanks guys and gals), where we were greeted by a large mob of friendly faces. What a great feeling to be welcomed back to the home we love after 93 days on the road! With no time to change we had to drip dry and soon were shivering in our seats in My Place, greeted first by old friend and mayor (her name was McGill but she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy), Morden. Following summaries by Gin and myself, Andy Szocs, Christine Sutter and Ashleigh Demerit (nee McIvor), rounded out the rally. After a piece of cake (again many thanks),Gin and I peddled home in the rain, no fanfare, just my well thighed beauty and I dreaming of a cold one (Coors light) and a hot one (skinny in our hot tub), before preparing for our homecoming party courtesy of the fabulous Gibbons family.

And the party, if you're wondering was typical greatness. Imagine all your pals together, tired but energized after a big uphill climb in a hard rain, with a Longhorn spread that could feed the 6th Army and Dick and Colleen smiling and laughing around every corner. Sweet! A super ending to a super trip for such a worthy cause. I speak for Ginny and I when I say: WE DID IT CANADA and you know the key...WE DID IT TOGETHER.

The Ride to Whistler: Kerry’s Final Blog (Part One)

by on Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 10:05 PM

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With Gin and Quinn arriving safely from their cross-Canada ride in the Starship from St. John's on August 25, it was time to move forward to our finale from Vancouver to Whistler. Part one was the Vancouver kickoff at the Terry Fox monument in front of BC Place, with speeches and a major cheque presentation, then a ride up to Squamish for a second rally at 6pm.

Gin and I were summoned at 9am for an interview with Global National TV in Coal Harbour. We scampered around for breakfast and soon joined the swarm of volunteers at BC Place for the rally. BC Place brass had kindly allowed us to set up our sound system, balloons, sales table and even the full RV rig beside the monument of Terry Fox. At noon about 100 listeners were gathered to hear welcomes and speeches from various dignitaries and people affected by mental health.

One highlight was Andy and his wife Cheryl Szocs's donation for $1 million dollars! Andy decided he wanted to make a difference and attack stigma associated with the disease and that we were the best people to help execute a program in that direction. Andy spoke passionately about the cause and both Ginny and I believe we can make a difference under Andy's guidance. A million thanks Andy and Cheryl: you are really special people. Of course we would like to thank all the vollies, speakers and organizers, chiefly Sharon Smith-Swan.

We pushed off from BC Place with the aim of riding up to Squamish for another rally at 6 pm, along with 3 other riders .As we began our journey way back in May in the rain, so it was when we left for Squamish. Actually, it was a comedy of errors from that time on. We were meant to coordinate with the big rig and the Dawgs in North Vancouver, but they ran the car over the loading dolly and needed a tow truck to bail them out. En-route we lost two of the riders in Vancouver, and Ginny got a flat tire out of Horseshoe Bay without our support crew. After we fixed things up, one of the riders had a not so intimate meeting (they never are) with the asphalt and had to turn back with her knee in bandages. Worried about being late for our rally, and soaked to the bone, we boarded the Starship in Britannia and raced to The Squamish Youth Resource Centre.

Just in time, we addressed a small group along with our favourite MP, John Weston, before making our way to our complimentary rooms at The Executive Suites (many thanks) and after a quick fish and chips at The Wig and Pier, we checked in for hot showers and the immediate rack, excited about our final homecoming on the morrow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 12 or Day 109 On the Road

by on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM

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Quinn and I left our campground in Kamloops around 9:30. We knew we only had about a 6 hour drive so we were not too concerned. Kerry was coming down from Whistler to cook us dinner with his brother Clancy and Carolyn, his beautiful wife. Keenan had returned from his travels so we would all be together for this celebratory dinner at Kerry's apartment in West Vancouver. Kerry could not leave Whistler until after 1pm as the Iron Man was taking place and the roads were closed. I think about those athletes who compete in that Iron Man. Unbelievable. Such determination and stamina. Wow. Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever be in the cards for me. I have waited way too long in my life to take on a challenge like that. As Quinn and I got closer and closer to Vancouver the emotions started to rise. We actually did it. We travelled about 8000 kilometers on our bikes and now we had just completed 8000kms in 12 days coming back. As I have done many times in the past days and months I reflect back on the whole experience and think how fortunate I am: fortunate to be healthy enough to do the journey, fortunate enough to be able to take the time, fortunate enough to have an amazing team of people and supporters behind us to make this happen, but most of all fortunate enough to truly have the passion to want to help others somehow not travel the journey Kerry and I have had to with the loss of our two beautiful children, Kelty and Riley. We are fortunate to be able to speak out so openly about this disease as I believe once we remove the stigma of this disease the healing will start in so many ways that we don't even fully understand that today. We arrived at the Eagles-nest (Kerry apartment) had a lovely reunion with our team members and family. Our homecoming was very special but we know the job is not quite completed. We have a rally in VCR on Wed, ride to Squamish Wednesday afternoon with a rally there later that night and Thursday morning ride to Whistler where we will finally be home, in our community that means so much to us. The journey began in Whistler and the journey will end there but that is just the beginning of so much work that still needs to be done for those that are dealing with mental health issues, as I have always said and truly believe that "Together we will make a difference for mental illness."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 108 or Day 11 On the Road

by on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM

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We left Banff at a very respectful hour considering our destination was Kamloops. Before we left we had what everyone must do at least once in their lifetime: The Banff Springs Breakfast Buffett. Considering my wing mate had not any dinner the night before he had a total recovery and took full advantage of every food station they had. We now were completed fuelled up and ready for our voyage through the Rockies on our way to Kamloops. Going through those Rockies was quite the experience remembering the days we cycled up those mountains, riding on those shoulder-less roads and the narrow snow tunnels, and wondering how we did it. We did it because we had our adrenaline flowing and our determination on high. We had set out on this challenge and we were going to complete this task no matter what.

Looking back at this, it was a bit daunting but it brought back those moments when I did not think I could get over that mountain. When I then realized I had my two angels on my shoulders nothing would stop me. We pulled into the campground that we had stayed at on our way out in May. Beside the campground is the BC Wildlife park that I decided I wanted to go see. Once again I was too late so I took off on a walk. Sitting in an RV for 11 days is a bit of challenge considering you have being biking almost every day for 3 months. I hope the muscle memory kicks in when we take on our last challenge from Vancouver to Whistler in a few days. As I walked back to the campground I met a lovely women who asked what ENOUGH is ENOUGH is about. I told her and she told me why she was here. She and a few friends had just completed in the BC Senior Games. She told me how some of the competitors were in their 80s and 90s. She said just being around these amazing seniors going beyond their comfort zone was truly inspirational. Her parting words to me as we left that I should consider entering next time in the cycling category. Hey, you never know! I love challenges.

I went back to the campground and started to prepare our last BBQ that Quinn and I would have together. As I was outside a couple came up to me and asked me what the RV was all about. I told them and they then shared their story with me. Their daughter had lost her battle with mental illness 3 years ago. She had suffered for 25 years. She was 43. They shared their journey through the frustrations of trying to get appropriate help, the stigma associated with the disease and how they had tried but it was just so hard to see their beautiful girl suffer so much for so many years. I gave them a gift of my book and a big hug as we now were connected. I always remember what my friend once said to me: “Those of us who have lost a child speak a different language,” and it's so true. That child can be 17, 23 or 43: they are still your children.

Quinn and I had a lovely dinner knowing it would be our last together. We shared stories and we reflected the past 3 months and how we have a bond that will be there forever. How fortunate we are to have been able to share this time together and to learn so much from each other. We said our good nights, me to watch another episode of the Orange is the New Black and Quinn to do the dishes! Tomorrow would be the day we returned home. I would see Kerry again. I miss him. We are soul mates and soul mates need to be connected. Tomorrow we will.

Dat 104 or Day 8 On The Road

by on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 9:45 AM

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After a good night’s sleep we were ready for our short drive to Banff. First we had a few things to take care of. I had a nice visit with my sister in law and then we had the task of washing the RV. Finding an RV wash place was not that difficult as there was one on the way outside of town on route to Banff. Washing the starship was another issue. You see I think every butterfly, mosquitoes, bug had decided its burial ground would be on the front of our RV. Quinn took to the front of the RV and I tackled back and sides. It took us a good 45 minutes to get it clean. What a job! And for sure next time: wear your bathing suit as you get soaked! Off we went on our way for a little rest and relaxation to the Banff Springs Hotel. I was very excited about going there as I had booked a massage and we were going to meet our good friends David and Dianne for dinner. I looked over at my partner and saw he was not very chatty. He said he had a stomach ache and was not feeling well. I could not figure that out as we had both eaten the same thing for dinner the night before. He admitted that he thought all the Red Bull and Pepperoni sticks were finally catching up to him. The life of a driver for the past 3 months has taken a toll on our man. Quinn said he was out for sushi that night and just wanted to stay in his room and relax. So that is what he did. I, on the other hand, was taking full advantage of staying at the lovely Banff spring hotel. A little shopping, a little pool action, and then that beautiful relaxing massage. The only thing I don't like about massages is when they’re over! Went up to my room, relaxed and got ready for my sushi dinner at the hotel. If anyone ever has the opportunity to go to the Banff Springs I highly recommend the sushi restaurant: it is some of the best sushi I have ever tasted. We ended off the evening by going back to David and Dianne home for a nightcap. Since David is the GM of the springs the home they have is the former home of Sir John A MacDonald. It was quite special knowing that one of our Prime Ministers had lived there many many years ago. David so nicely walked me home as Dianne was scared that a bear might get me on the way back to the hotel. All was well, no bear attack and I was soon snuggled in my cozy bed ready for another good sleep.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 101 or Day 8 On The Road

by on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM

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After our great party with friends and family last night I knew I only had one more full day in Winnipeg which I wanted to take full advantage of. The day started perfectly with a wonderful massage at the Fort Garry Hotel Spa that our friends Ian and Colleen Ross had so generously arranged for me. My dear friend Clare picked me up and off we went to the Victoria hospital to see Kerry beautiful Mother Dodie. She is such a wonderful women who has given so much to so many over her lifetime but to see her go through the stages of old age is always hard for all of us. The good news is she was doing a lot better than a few days ago. Clare and I met our other great friend Tammy at the Boston Pizza for lunch. Clare said that was a great place to go as they had VLTs. Not really knowing what those were all about I was game for anything because for me it was all about being with my friends. It seemed those girls knew what they were doing as we each walked out of there with just about $100.00 in our pockets. I kept on saying "Let's cash out, let's cash out!" Thank heavens they finally listened to me as our winnings could be considerable less as those two were ready to go for bust! Clare and I went on too have a visit with her Mom who was set up in a lovely retirement home on the Red River. Quinn had taken the starfish into see Dodie and when he returned he too had a smile on his face. He had picked up a scratch and win ticket and won $300! The stars seemed to be aligned for the Road crew that day for sure.

That night was spent with my family, eating leftovers from all the great meals we had, watching Board Walk Empire and hitting the sack very early as we were planning on getting up at 4.30am so we could be on the road by 5am as we were destined for Calgary to reunite with more Dennehy's. Quinn whipped into town to see a few friends that evening but knew he had the 4.30am wake up call so it would not be a long evening. It is always sad for me to leave Winnipeg. This is the place where my wonderful Mom and Dad are, and so many special family members as well as dear friends, but I know I still have not completed what I have set out to do and I will always be back again. Winnipeg is in my bones and as much as I love living on the west coast, I know I will always be a "Pegger " at heart.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 100 or Day 7 On The Road

by on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 4:28 PM

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It was a treat to be able to sleep in and just enjoy the rest and relaxation of being at the cabin. Quinn totally took advantage of the not having to get up and probably slept until well into the after noon. He deserved it. My dear friend Jan father had died while I we were on our trip and fortunately I was able to be there for her as today was the funeral. He was great man and so many people were there to pay their respects to man who has definitely left a void in this world of ours. After the funeral we headed back to the cabin where my father had wanted to put on a celebratory dinner for Quinn and I . It was so special to have so many good friends and family to celebrate our journey with. The night ended with a wonderful fireworks display. It was a perfect way to end a perfect evening.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 99 or Day 6 On The Road

by on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 5:59 PM

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Quinn and I left the campground in Thunder Bay knowing our destination would be Winnipeg where we would see family and friends and have a few days of rest and relaxation. We started early as we wanted to be in time for my sister Cath's birthday dinner. We knew if we were to do that we would miss something that I had been planning to do: spend sometime in Kenora with friends. I was sorry not to be able to able to spend that time relaxing on the docks in Kenora and going for a beautiful swim in those clear waters of Lake of the Woods. Oh well, another time. Instead, we had a lovely lunch of left over tacos and salad by the side of the road with all the other truckers. Once we passed Kenora I felt we were almost home as we had done that stretch many times before. We hit the perimeter of Winnipeg and headed directly to the "cabin" - my family's summer home on the red river. We were welcomed by barking dogs, my sister Nancy and her husband Jim from Bowen Island and my Mom and Dad. I cannot tell you how good it was to finally have that great big hug from them. My sister Cath came down with her partner Paul and once again we were reunited. She said, "I am so glad to see you: I was not sure I would ever see you again when you took off on this adventure of yours." We had a wonderful time, telling stories, lots of laughs and few tears, which was so wonderful. Nancy had made a wonderful dinner of fresh trout, which she caught, and moose that Jim had shot himself. A tradition of a Winnipeg Birthday was complete with a Jeannie's Birthday cake. Great times were had by all. Relax and no wake up calls were in store for tomorrow.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 98 or Day 5 on the Road

by on Sun, Aug 18, 2013 at 4:15 PM

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We left our stomping grounds of MacIvers Campground fairly early as we knew we had a pretty exhausting ride ahead of us - to Thunder Bay. With Blind River at our back and Sault Ste Marie ahead of us I knew the fuel I had to give my driver: lots of coffee and pepperoni sticks. Amazing what kids can survive on, but that's Quinn's fuel of choice and I am not going to mess with anything that works. Before we knew it we were turning the corner and saw the mighty Lake Superior. All as I can say is: it's beautiful and it's big. Once we turned that corner we also knew that we would be out of 3G range so CBC was going to have to be put on hold. It was either Jack Reacher or a toss up for finding music that we could both tolerate. The good news is both of us have a pretty good range and know not to go too deep into areas that are questionable!!!

Driving through the great Canadian Shield makes you realize how massive and impressive this country is of ours. I honestly could not believed that we had biked up these hills. They were long and fairly steep. I know we both commented at times they seemed harder than the Rockies but now travelling through them in "reverse" it will be interesting to see what I think of the Rockies. I was also so grateful that we listened to our dear friends at Norco. The winds were wild and I can only imagine biking against them. We had a hard enough time keeping the mighty Starship travelling in a straight line.

We stopped for lunch in Wawa, Ontario, must be the home of the big geese as they were all over the place - on the buildings, lamp posts, everywhere. I had a craving for a hamburger. Bad idea. I ate it and I thought I would explode for the rest of the afternoon. One of those homemade ones at a stand. No fast food hamburger places to be found in Wawa. It was not bad but just way too much for someone who is sitting on her butt for 9 hrs. Big mistake - won't be doing that again!

We needed to find a place to rest the Starship for the night so I called the KOA in Thunder Bay. I must tell you if you are ever RVing or camping, KOA are the place to go. They are consistent and always have such lovely people who run and own the locations. I explained on the phone who we were and what we were doing and they said of course we will comp your campground. It would be an honour she said. We pulled in around 8 pm, registered and I gave the young girl a copy of my book for the owner as a thank you for their generosity. Q Dawg had wanted to make tacos for dinner so that is what we did. It was another early to bed as we wanted to be on the road early as our destination tomorrow was Winnipeg - to see the family and yes celebrate my sister Cath's birthday. As we were leaving the campground I ran into the owner. I thanked her again and she responded, "It's the least we could do and I am so looking forward to reading your book....so thank you."

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 97 or Day 4 on the Return Trip Home

by on Sat, Aug 17, 2013 at 7:36 PM

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We made a pact with each other that we would crack and sack early and try to be on the road by 8am since we had gained an hour. Did not quite turn out like that but we were heading out of Mirabel campground around 8:30. Being the Google navigator that I am I had us going out Hwy 50 until we had to make a diversion off the main road, as the map seemed to say, before we got back on the major hwy again... Well once again I think Google maps was wrong because we could have kept on that road but the good news is we were back in the country roads of Quebec reminding us of all those wonderful roads we had cycled on our way out.

We went through the tiny French villages of Papineauville which we would have never experienced on the major roads. Took us a bit longer but it was worth it. Both Quinn and I commented how already we could see the leaves changing. Is it all happening this fast?

As the afternoon progressed we listened to John Meyer and for me it always brings back memories. That was one of Riley's favourite albums. We would listen to it together. As I remembered back to those times with tears in my eyes I once again reflected on the enormous journey we have just completed...not only physically but mentally and emotionally.

We had planned to make it to Sudbury but decided to see how it all went and if we could go further, we would, because the next day would have been extremely ugly - almost 1,000 kms to Thunder Bay. As luck would have it, we pressed on. Totally getting into our audio book of Jack Reacher we were destined to Blind River which was 184 kms further. With the easterly sun in our faces through a windshield that was the burial ground for every bug from here to St John's, Newfoundland, we pulled up to MacIvers campground. Hey, we've been here before. It was the place we stayed on our way through.

Nice guy - who said that this summer had been brutal for him but he expected the fall bookings to be way better because they are right in front of a river that has some of the best fishing around. Q Dawg and I were just getting ready to settle into our Friday night steak night and looked around and saw we were getting invaded by our noisy biting friends ...yes those deadly mosquitoes ...we had visions of Hammer Lake all over. We vowed not to go outside once we got our steaks off the BBQ and sealed up the Starship like never before. We had learned our lesson coming through when staying at Hammer Lake in Northern Ontario - those mosquitoes have no mercy! Luck would have it… we were safe from the beasts. I settled down with a cup of tea and another episode of "Orange is the New Black" on my Netflix and soon nodded off to sleep.

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