Archive for the ‘KT16’ Category

Thinking About Privilege

July 31, 2016

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During the past month, I have shared my journey, my Karma Trip 2016. For me, it was a wonderful opportunity to revisit a similar experience from thirty years ago. I felt, brave and adventurous, nervous and challenged. The trip was very positive, uplifting, rewarding and beneficial for me.

But to be fair, I truly understand that it was a demonstration of privilege, no matter how I try to see it another way. As a white, middle class male of 50, I have many privileges that made the trip both possible and achieveable. Here is a great article in the New Yorker about privilege, http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-origins-of-privilege

I know that there are many others that would have been treated differently on the road. I know that others face bias and discrimination. I know that people, especially women are sexually and physically harrassed and harmed when hitchhiking or depending upon others.

I know that I had the financial means to sleep comfortably whenever I wanted, to eat as frequently and as healthily as I chose. I had the ability to stay fresh and clean and to maintain my clothes and possessions in a similar fashion. I had access to a cell phone with a Canada-wide plan and an iPad. I had the support of friends and family during my entire trip providing me with comfort, kindness, food and places to stay. Lastly, I had good health and mental health and no accessibility issues.

Often people describe privilege as special advantages, but privilege is the way that everyone should expect to be treated, not just some people. I paraphrased from point 4 of an excellent article at http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/09/what-is-privilege/.

I try to work for change so that others can safely experience the journeys and opportunities that they seek. I try to pay it forward and help others that I see on the figurative and literal roads that I travel. Please let me know when I need to do a better job.

Thank you for traveling with me.

 

 

The Kindness of Strangers

July 27, 2016

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In the last two posts, I have shared some of the stats about my trip. The numbers are interesting because they help me to analyze the trip and understand my journey.

Since returning, many people have commented that my trip was very fast and that they were shocked at how easily I was able to catch rides. I have said that I think people driving towards me said, “Look at that fat old guy. He shouldn’t be hitchhiking. It isn’t safe. I should help him.” And then they did. In part I am jesting, but in part, I think many people, for their own reasons, were drawn to help me.

When I started the trip and said that I was depending upon the kindness of strangers, I meant it. Without each person deciding to pull over and help me, my trip would have ended at Springmount. Grin, though I think some of my family, friends and coworkers might have rescued me.

I called the journey my karma trip and I really believe that it was. Each day, I focussed on being in the moment and in being positive. I tried to welcome the entire experience. I returned from the trip, in a very calm and balanced place with a sincere appreciation for my experiences and real gratitude for the kindness that had been given to me during my journey. If you are reading this blog and you assisted me, in any way, thank you again for making my trip so wonderfully profound and rewarding.

 

More Numbers

July 23, 2016

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During my trip, twenty people gave me nineteen rides as I made my way to Vancouver. I was very fortunate to get rides from women and men travelling alone and one ride with a family. Time and time again the drivers told me that they usually didn’t pick up hitchhikers, that they hadn’t picked up a hitchhiker in over ten years, etc. Yet, they all helped me make my karma trip come true. I thank them for trusting me and making my journey so wonderful.

Not counting Emily and her Aunt Linda, four other women decided to give me rides. Interestingly, three of them helped me on my first day of travelling and one helped me on my last. Sandra when she stopped, thought I looked familiar. She frequents the library and probably has seen me around Owen Sound. Marlene knew me from our shared work in adult education. Rola offered me a ride with her husband Muneesh and their family. She had heard kind things said about me from others on the Chi Chee Maun. Lastly, Ashley was on her own quest and was very in tune with the moment. I thank you all for being outliers and trusting your intuition.

Fourteen men gave me rides. The youngest person was 28 and the oldest person was 80. The average age of the men was 48 and the average age of the women was 46. At least six people went out of their way to provide a ride for me, often driving more that a half hour beyond their planned route. I sincerely thank all my rides for their kindness and generosity.

 

640 Km per Day / 115 Km per Ride

July 18, 2016

 

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Between July 6th and July 14th I travelled from Owen Sound, Ontario to Burnaby B.C. by hitchhiking. I finished off my trip by taking the skytrain into downtown Vancouver. I hitchhiked approximately 4460 kilometres in 19 rides.

My shortest hike was the 5 km at the start of the trip when my wife drove me from Owen Sound to Springmount. The longest hike was the 2322 km that I travelled with Ken from Marathon to Calgary in his truck. This ride covered just over half of my entire trip. Thanks Ken!

Excluding my shortest and longest rides, my average ride was 115 kilometres. Six of these rides were under 30 kilometres. Four of the rides were between 45 and 75 kilometres. Five of the rides were between 115 and 225 kilometres. Two of the rides were between 360 and 390 kilometres.

I travelled on seven of the nine days. I stayed for a day each in Sault Ste. Marie and Black Diamond. On the seven travelling days, I averaged 640 kilometres each day. July 7, my second day, I travelled the least distance, 144 kilometres. On July 10, I travelled the furthest, over 1000 kilometres.

Thank you to all the wonderful drivers that made my trip possible!

Home

July 17, 2016

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I headed home today. We were up early as I had to be at the Vancouver airport two hours before the flight. It was about an hour drive to the airport. Traffic was light until we were almost there. I said my goodbyes and thanked Bob for his kindness and hospitality. He will be coming to see us in early September.

At the airport, they bagged my backpack. I grabbed some breakfast and then was soon flying home. It was a great time to read more of Dragonfly in Amber. I landed in Hamilton after 6 p.m. It was so great to see Em. We drove home, stopping for dinner in Guelph, and caught up on the past twelve days.

Ben and Ginny welcomed me home. I am going to post this and go to bed. I will blog more about the trip in the next few days. It was an awesome time!

A Day in Maple Ridge

July 16, 2016

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I spent a great day with Emily’s Dad. In the morning, I worked on my postcards and I browsed his music collection.

I listened to:
Bob Dylan”s Highway 61 Revisited
Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall 1971
Townes Van Zandt’s High, low and in between
Townes Van Zandt’s The Late, Great Townes Van Zandt

After that we went for a 15 mile bike ride starting on the Pitt Meadows Dyke trails. It was fun! The sun was behind some clouds at the start and there was a nice breeze. The trails are flat and the ride was scenic. That is where I took today’s photo. We passed blueberry farms and an elk farm.

Bob is making penne pasta with a spicy rosee sauce, Italian turkey sausage and asparagus. Later we’ll have a wee bit of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey.

After I update the blog, I am going to to some reading / magic studying. It has been a great day. Very relaxing.

Guess Where I Am #3

July 15, 2016

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Last night I attended the philosophy class and then many of the people in the group went out afterwards for a beer. Many of the people attending are not students at Douglas College, but members of the wider philosophy community that are interested in Bob’s teachings. It was interesting yesterday to see the many different ways that people create community.

Today I am at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. I am in Heaven! 6 floors of books, magazines, information services, technology, etc. The inspiration lab is fabulous. There are hundreds of public computers in the building. It is truly a place of wonder. I roamed around the building taking pictures. Then I logged onto a computer and worked my way through over 150 emails on my work account. I have been checking it regularly, but I had not responded to any emails since Monday. I am now back on vacation. Off to roam the library some more. Cheers!

Vancouver Bound

July 14, 2016

 

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I had spent the night in downtown Osoyoos. I began hitchhiking from there, but I wound up walking uphill out of the core. It was the hottest day so far. My whiteboard sign read West because I was trying to get to Maple Ridge and (like Walters Falls at home) there are many ways to get there.

I had a false start when a fellow heading north to Penticton stopped to give me a ride. He suggested that I keep walking west past the Huskys Truck stop. I followed instructions and headed to the spot. The road west has less traffic, but I still saw a fair amount of vehicles in the three hours that I had started in downtown.

I realized that I should give Emily’s Dad a call and tell him that I probably wouldn’t make his class given that I expected that my final trip would involve a few rides and I was still waiting for my first. I didn’t call. I still had hope.

The next car stopped. Ashley is a herbalist and entrepreneur in her early 30s. With a background in international affairs and years of travel and work in other countries, she was now studying to be a master herbalist. She was on vacation from Ontario. She had borrowed her brother’s car and come south from Vancouver to go camping and searching for plants. She was on her way back to Vancouver. Various petals and a few plant parts were strategically placed around the car. Near my feet were wild rose petals that I was careful to not disturb.

The time with nature, plus some positives in her relationships had left Ashley very in tune with the moment. When she pulled over, her intuition had told her I was a safe passenger. She was ready to help others.

Before long, we saw two young girls hitchhiking. Annals and Sarah were heading back to Keremeos where they had a campsite. We rearranged everything in the car to fit two more passengers. The plant parts were wrapped in cloth or placed in a bag. We loaded my backpack in the trunk.

As we drove to Keremeos, we learned that the Sarah and Annais were from Quebec. They had started this trip five days ago and were heading to a spirit festival on Vancouver Island before heading down through the states to South America. Since it wouldn’t take long for them to pack up theircamp, Ashley offered to take them to Vancouver.

The picture is taken from the camping grounds in Keremeos. It is an underground community site on crown land. Scattered about are small campsites. The community ebbs and flows through the produce seasons. It was a beautiful spot. Within a few minutes, we were back on the road with the car packed with the four of us and four backpacks and lots of camping gear.

Sarah has been helping to build an intentional community for women in Australia. Previously, she was at school for social work. Over the past few years she has traveled extensively. The conversation in the car traveling to Vancouver was fascinating.

We made great time and stopped in Hope for lunch. It was a great ride towards Vancouver and then the roads became congested. Using the GPS, we realized that we were at Burnaby and above New Westminster, my final destination. If I hopped the sky train at the ferry station, it would take me farther out of my way and the traffic was very slow. Ashley, kindly drove off the freeway at the next off ramp and we dug out my backpack while stopped at a service station. I thanked Ashley for her wonderful kindness, wished everyone the very best and they headed to the ferry.

It was starting to rain. I learned at the gas station that it was a few kilometres to the nearest sky train station. I asked the attendant if he could call me a cab. Fifteen minutes later I was at the station. Approximately eight stops later I was at New Westminster. Douglas College is a block further up a steep hill. I ran through the rain with my backpack. I was wet and out of breath when I arrived at Bob’s office. My trip from Ontario to BC was complete. My quest a success. My ironic reward – a university philosophy lecture on nihilism.

Postcards Home

July 14, 2016

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Elaine sent me a message last night. I left my postcards at her house. She will send them to Owen Sound. The picture is of some of the postcards that I used on this trip. I send postcards home to the kids whenever I am away overnight. It started when Hannah was born. The postcards always feature animals. I am always on the lookout for animal postcards. I buy them in advance, but my pursuit becomes more difficult each year. Unfortunately, most picture postcards are now widely distributed and I find the same standard, generic photos everywhere.

Hannah and Ben have a couple of photo albums filled with the postcards that I have sent over the years. I always try to write about where I am and what I am doing and what the kids are doing at home, plus I include topical items about world events, sports, politics, etc. so that the kids can reread them later in life and have some fun memories.

I was sending the otter one to the library.

Osoyoos

July 14, 2016

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Richard dropped me at the Christina Lake General Store. I went in and bought a drink, gum, a chocolate bar and a power bar. They were yummy! I learned that the nearest motel was a twenty minute walk back. I decided to see if I could catch one more ride to Grand Forks which was about 40 kilometres away. If it didn’t work out, I would walk to the motel.

A man from Abbotsford stopped. He was going to Castlegar but was very interested in my trip. He asked to take a selfie with me. I agreed. I felt like Forest Gump.

The picture is of Osoyoos. That is the view from my hotel window, sans window. Around 7:30 last night, I left Christina Lake after securing a ride with Paul, a retired chiropractor and entrepreneur. He is 71 and is from Kelowna. He has four kids. He had spent the day hunting berries and was now going home.

As we talked, Paul decided to go the longer way through Osoyoos to get to Kelowna. We went through the Dairy Queen and got shakes. On the drive, he pointed out various places of interest and told me lots of BC history. We saw deer at the side of the road. The descent into Osoyoos was beautiful even with the darkening night.

I thanked Paul for the ride and started walking from motel to motel looking for my room. I wound up at the Holiday Inn. It is a lovely room, but my sleep was terrible. I woke up to an alarm going off somewhere. It was after 1 in the morning. The alarm wouldn’t stop. I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. Finally hours later, I gave up and tried to call the front desk. When I discovered that the phone didn’t work, I got dressed and went downstairs. It  turned out the supposedly non-vacant room next to mine was vacant and the clock radio had been set to go off.

I got some needed sleep and am now writing this post. I will grab a quick shower and head out. I spoke to Emily’s Dad last night and if I can get to Maple Ridge before 4, I would be on time to go with him and sit in on his philosophy class this evening. Let’s see what the road provides.

By the way: Paul’s son Tad is the bassist in Prism. He joined about 10 years ago.