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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

10
Oct

The Next Six Months

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Today marks the six-month countdown to our flight from North America to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where we will start our trip. Time has flown – and having reached $12,000 in donations yesterday, so have those numbers.

The next six months will be a whirlwind of activity for us – not only fundraising as we have already been, but a heavy training schedule (with twice-monthly training weekends starting in June) and gathering our gear together before shipping it overseas ahead of us in early September.

I was looking at my calendar just a couple days ago and realized how few weekends I will have to myself this summer; with the exception of three or four, every weekend is chock full of training, fundraising events, or Amtgard events… where I will be pushing for further donations while having some fun.

Long-time readers will have noticed a slower update schedule here on the ‘blog, but do not worry – it’s just because we’re so busy getting other things worked out. In the months ahead we’ll see some great swag to buy in support of our cause, a few contests and a lot of great opportunities to have fun and help us out… in addition to our usual requests for your help in general! We’re returning to a more steady update schedule soon, including a Better Know Your Route post from yours truly next week!

10
Oct

First Taste of Snow

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Until just yesterday, Toronto had not seen much snow at all this winter.  We had seen some flakes falling here and there, but never had it really stuck to the ground longer than an hour or two in daylight.

Yesterday was a combination of rain and snow, and as the temperature fell over the course of the day it became more and more snow.  And ice.  By the end of the evening, as I walked home from a nearby mall, there was still an unpleasant amount of slush on the ground but it was rapidly freezing.

It has been easy to walk through the entire Toronto autumn this year, and until today I was wondering if it would be a problem in the winter as well.  This morning I woke up to a heavy layer of snow over everything and slippery ice hiding beneath it on the sidewalks even from my front door to the bus stop, so I am finding myself doubting the chances of finding another weekend in the near future to do an impromptu 20km training walk like Andrew and I did a few weekends ago.

The gym I have been attending for over a year now is kind enough to allow us to train there on guest passes, so sometime in the next month we will be gearing up for a terribly boring 28km treadmill walk.  With the treadmills we will find it easier to keep pace, since they won’t let us slow down to enjoy the scenery – but with the same lack of scenery the walk will seem a lot longer.  I usually aim for about 5 kilometres per hour when walking, so including a half hour break after the first 10 and an hour’s break for lunch after the first 20, we will be looking at just under seven and a half hours at the gym.

I enjoy my time at the gym for the most part, but a big part of my love of walking is the scenery – seeing places, seeing people, even places I’ve seen before.  Removing that and just walking the treadmill can be dreadful, even during my regular weekday workouts of one or two hours.  Walking a treadmill for six hours will be a challenge in and of itself.  Hopefully having the rest of the Wayfarers with me will help.

What do you do to help occupy yourself at the gym?  Do you listen to music, watch the TVs that some treadmills have?  Let us know in the comments here or on Facebook!

10
Oct

Conversations and Music

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This weekend Andrew and I decided to do an impromptu (roughly) 20km training walk.  It’s getting chilly here in Toronto, though it’s nowhere near what it usually is in December; I started bundled up and left the house at a brisk -6 degrees but ended up not wearing gloves or a hat by the end of things, and having taken off my sweater.

Turns out walking really does warm you up.

Walking with a small group – especially a group that can be broken into pairs – is easy. You can lose yourself in conversation, about anything at all.  The fact that you’re not just on a treadmill staring at the same spot for several hours helps; training on treadmills is a thousand times harder than walking city streets, even familiar city streets, for exactly that reason.

When I walk alone, though, I find it much easier if there’s music playing.  I like a wide variety of music, and keep an eclectic collection on the MP3 player that I always keep with me for long bus rides or walks.  Because of this, though, I’ve noticed something that anyone who works out with music notices straight off – the tempo of the music matters.  So do the lyrics.

I am easily affected by music (listening to sad music puts me into a sad mood, happy music puts me in a happy mood, etc.) – it’s why I often listen to more upbeat music than most people, especially in my general group of friends.  When walking, especially on a cold winter’s day, I want to listen to something with a good tempo for sure.

My top three bands for the last few months of training have been The Beatles (their “1″ album), finger eleven (“Life Turns Electric”), and Maroon 5 (“Hands All Over,” but also their single “Moves Like Jagger”); fast beats keep my feet moving and my mind off of any particularly bad hills.

I am, however, looking for something new to listen to.  When I say my tastes are eclectic, I mean it: in addition to the above, my MP3 player has singles from Jay Z, Tim McGraw, Ellie Goulding, Adele, Vivaldi, Omnia, and video game sound tracks.  Eclectic.

So please: comment here, on the Facebook group, @ us on Twitter – let us know what you recommend to listen to for long walks and help us with our individual training.

10
Oct

The Little Things: Water

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Ah, it’s always the little things that can really get to you, isn’t it? No matter what it is, the tiniest thing can really ruin a good outing – anything from an hour to our Quest.

While I’m sure each of us is going to have a couple small irritations on the walk, Dan and I have talked a couple times about one that will probably seem rather odd, but that we both share:

Water.

Specifically, both of us react extremely negatively to getting water in our eyes, be it rain or in the shower. It stings about as much as if there’s an irritant in it – I can remember complaining, as a kid, that the no-tears shampoo was a filthy, filthy lie.

Personally, I also can’t stand being slightly wet – if I’m caught in the rain, I usually end up feeling tense and uncomfortable until I either dry off completely or can get home to shower – one extreme or the other is okay.

Unfortunately, Scotland in October is rather wet in parts, so there’s every possibility this will end up being a personal bugbear on the trip for both Dan and me. I’ve been forcing myself out in the rain recently, but I’m likely just going to have to learn to live with it while walking!

Do you have any experiences of trips being ruined, or almost ruined, by something pretty small? What do you think would be your biggest little irritant while on this walk?

10
Oct

Might for Right

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There was a lot of fantasy in my childhood.

I remember taking walks through the park in the back of my childhood apartment building with my dog Grover (named after the blue Muppet from Sesame Street), my mother beside me.  She would start us off: “Once upon a time…”

“A dragon lived in a cave!” I would say.  Or “a Knight was searching for a damsel!”  We would continue like this, back and forth, making up a story as we went for a long and winding walk along the back paths of a forested ravine in the middle of Scarborough.

When I did this, I broke my dad’s ribs. Summer off with pay! I was a great son.

I had always been a reader, ever since struggling my way through literary classic “Hop On Pop” by the esteemed Dr. Seuss.  I devoured the Frank Dixon’s Hardy Boys books (and even a lot of the older Nancy Drew series, given on loan by my grandmother with bright yellow hardcovers).  It wasn’t until I discovered King Arthur in the compilation of legends by Howard Pyle – later also responsible for my love of Robin Hood, alongside Errol Flynn – that I found my literary true love.

10
Oct

St Andrew’s Day

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At the risk of sounding like I’m buttering up my brother or that other guy, today I felt obliged to make a post about St Andrew’s Day – the traditional “feast day” of Scotland’s patron saint and lesser-known counterpoint to St Patrick’s Day.

In Scotland, today is a “bank holiday,” which seems like a less-adhered-to version of Canadian statutory holidays from what I’ve seen.  It is also their national day – an equivalent to July 1st in Canada and July 4th in the United States.

In addition to all of this it is also a “flag day,” which gives the Scottish government the opportunity, on government buildings with only one flag pole, to replace the United Kingdom’s Union Jack with the blue-and-white Saltire (or St Andrew’s Cross), as seen above.

Scotland’s emerging role as an country independent from the United Kingdom is the source of a lot of debate amongst my anglophile and caledophile friends, but no matter its political place right now today is a day of celebrating Scotland’s history, its culture and – yes – even the romanticised versions thereof that are so prominantly repeated in today’s mainstream media by movies like Braveheart.  (Personally I prefer the other Scottish film released in 1995, Rob Roy, which is also romanticised but a bit less over-the-top.)

I have a lot to say about Scotland, and (I’m sure) will be saying it in the months to come, but for now I’ll leave you with a great quote from Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight from the Office:

Scotland is the Canada of England!

10
Oct

Thanksgiving

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While our Canadian Thanksgiving was taken up by a two-day walk, today is Thanksgiving for our neighbours to the south and in honour of that I am going to post today what I had wanted to post a little over a month ago – the things I am most thankful of this year.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien.  This year I am thankful for Tolkien and, to a lesser extent, Peter Jackson, who brought Tolkien’s story to a much broader audience than those who could slog their way through Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first birthday.

Tolkien took mythology from all over Europe and turned it into a story for the day – not a new concept by many centuries (likely many millennia), but the way he did it was world-changing.  He made mythology acceptable to greater society as a new type of “speculative fiction” the likes of which had been seen in Stoker, Shelley and Verne in the past; he made elves more than cobblers and brought goblins out of shadows and into nightmares.

10
Oct

Childhood Inspirations

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Since my research into whether or not we can carry torches around safely and within the bounds of the law has hit a bit of a wall (and by that I mean I have no clue whatsoever and no idea where to look) I thought I’d share a bit more of a personal note today. I mention in my own bio about having enjoyed many fantasy stories when I was younger. This was heavily influenced with what I now describe as a borderline childhood obsession with dragons. I don’t mean any of these as book reviews, because in truth I barely remember what they were about. All I can say is that they were something I enjoyed somewhere between the ages of 5 and 15.

 

I thought I’d start with a book from my very early youth. The Muffin Muncher by Stephen Cosgrove. In truth, being that this is a vague recollection and it took me numerous Google searches to even recall the title, I was pleasantly surprised at being able to still find it in print. Admittedly a muffin eating dragon isn’t exactly the mighty beast most of us might picture in high fantasy novels, but it was still one of my early favourites (and to be honest, you’re pretty much getting whatever books I still remember). I’m not going to lie, I likely only owned this book because I saw the front cover picture and went “Mommy dragon buy buy buy!”. Maybe moments like that is why bookstore owners got a twinkle in their eye when I returned.

 

 

 

Next up is the Paper Bag Princess. I’m sure there are many of you out there who recall Robert Munsch’s books fondly. I know I did at least, and this one had the added benefit of having a giant green lizard in it! When looking this up I find it’s often describe as being a good book to read to young girls because it flips the princess cliche around. Maybe the social ideal melted into my head in a subtle manner but…to be honest…I tended to get weird looks when I told people about it as a kid. I think it was mostly because I was rooting for the dragon.

Gotta give me some credit though, for those of you who recall how it turned it out…Princess Elizabeth might as well just have let the dragon eat Prince Ronald. Might well have been doing the kingdom a favour.

 

The last one was a personal favourite of mine, and lately I’ve been considering actually seeing if I can’t locate some of them again. Before I ever played anything like Dungeons and Dragons, I used to frequent the library looking for books from the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever . I use to also enjoy the old Choose Your Own Adventure series, and Lone Wolf was much like that but with an added touch of skills you selected as you went throughout the books. Ah yes, before I was ever introduced to dice…there was a page at the back of a book where you were suppose to close your eyes, turn your pencil upside down…thrust it downwards and hope to God you didn’t die. I have a tendency to assume anything I did when I was 10 years old has since been swallowed up into a forgotten void…so I have to admit I was shocked to discover not only where these still in print…they are still being written. This walk down memory lane may prove to have future consequences on my spending habits.

 

I did a lot of reading as a child. Heck, sometimes it was even the book the teacher told me too! It was quite a note of frustration for both my teachers and parents. I could spend 3 hours in an evening finishing off these books…but there was simply no time for the half hour assignment based on it afterwards. I wonder how well I actually could have done if I had submitted a book report about how I saved the world in Lone Wolf #2 with nothing more than a broken stick and a frying pan?

10
Oct

We Are Thankful

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It is chilly here in Scotland — the perfect temperature to put us in mind of Thanksgiving in our home and native land, parts of which look shockingly like the landscape around us.

Today, we are thankful for our family and friends, so far away yet so supportive.

We are thankful for how small the world has become, to allow an adventure like ours.

We are thankful for how large the world yet remains, for such an adventure to still be the stuff of dreams.

We are thankful for John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and the millions of stories he has sparked.

We are thankful for other authors, filmmakers, and dungeon masters for taking those sparks and planting them in our minds and hearts.

Drew is thankful for his friends, like Dan, who seem to find ways to drag or push him into hapless adventures; to his family, who have helped support him when he needs it (sometimes a result of previously mentioned adventures); and for the opportunities he has had in the last few years that have kept his life anything but dull. He is also thankful for all the people around him who share, enjoy, or at least tolerate his quirks, tardiness, and questionable sense of humour.

Dan is thankful for the internet (for making him feel better while he was sick), for Drew (for never blaming him no matter how frustrating the situation), for all the amazing women in his life (Brittany, Jenn, and all the non-Wayfarers as well), and last, but not in any way least, for Victoria, who has done so much more for this trip than he ever expected (most recently, handling our Twitter account and making sure his spirits remain high even when they try to plummet).

We are both incredibly thankful for all of you. Every pair of eyes reading is someone who is helping with each exhausted step we take. Every dollar donated is one that shows us this is all worthwhile.

Who and what are you thankful for today?