Wrapping up and What I Learned

26 Aug

How do you put a life-changing experience like this down on paper?  You don’t… you attempt to capture it in a blog (ok not funny).  My point being, that at the end of an amazing adventure like this it is difficult to remember every specific piece of the puzzle, but I will always remember each of the friends.

In response to one of the local news articles that I was in (the Peterborough Examiner), someone wrote that they have over 500 Facebook friends that are merely Mob allies or fellow Farmville farmers.  In my case, other than the casual Scrabble or Family Feud game with a friend on Facebook, I never really got into those games.  It has been my policy that in order to be a friend with me we have to have met in person.  This is partially because I am now a qualified teacher and one has to be more careful, but mostly because I believe Facebook is a tool for maintaining friendships, not creating them.  This means that all of my over 1,200 Facebook friends range anywhere from acquaintance to family to best friends.  Of these 1,200 I visited over 300 in the last month.

A lot of people have asked me what I’ve learned about myself over the last month.  I wanted to say that I learned that I can deal with being alone for prolonged periods of time but I always suspected that they were looking for something a little deeper.  The biggest thing that I learned was about friendship.  Now if you have read the rest of my blog you know some of the big life conclusions I have recently discovered.  I think the coolest part of this trip was learning that friendship is not time-sensitive and it does not have to fade with distance and time (if you do not want it to).  Friendship is not based on the amount of times someone likes your status nor the number of years they post a birthday message.  Facebook does not dictate the way we become friends nor does it control the extent to which we stay in touch.  Facebook cannot make you send me a message or post a song that reminded you of a great memory.  Facebook does, however, facilitate a way of staying connected with people across the province, country, or even the world.   It is through social media that I have been able to maintain friendships with some of the most amazing people on the planet.  This statement may sound cliché or childish, but in reality I know who I will be friends with forever.   Years from now when I am financially stable I know that I will travel to visit most of these amazing people.

That being said, friendship is a two-way street.  Many people believe that friendship is about give and take.  This I believe is true but not in that one person gives while the other takes.  For those of you who read that and don’t understand, it is most likely that you are the taker in most friendships.  Before being upset think about it.  If you read that and realized that you are usually the giver, this is good.  The downside is that there are far more takers than givers in the world (in my opinion).  The optimistic look at this is that, if you know what you are looking for, you can find friends who will put the same amount of effort into a friendship as you do.  For those people who don’t know what they are looking for, you have two options, figure it out or expect nothing from everyone.  Expecting nothing means that you will be pleasantly surprised when something goes well, but never really happy with your situation.   I was asked on Live television if I had “unfriended” anyone on this trip.  The answer I gave was no, no one lost their status as “Facebook friend”, but I will admit that a few people (not many) did get reassigned.  Most of the people I visited were more than excited to see me and hear my stories.  It wasn’t until I came closer to home that I found people who, to paraphrase Mark Twain, made me an option when I made them a priority.  No matter how old you are, where you are from, or what you do, the realization that some people genuinely don’t care about you or genuinely about themselves is a tough one to swallow.  It is difficult to move past but once you do, you will be able to find better, deeper, and stronger friendships with other people.  Who knows, maybe those people are already on your Facebook list and are just waiting for some amazing opportunity to reconnect with you.  It is this that I am most thankful for.

As wrap up you can see me on Canada AM (here), Global Morning (here), CTV Regina via Skype (here), and CTV Ottawa (This one didn’t make it online).

Looking back at some of the best photos I still can’t believe that a month ago I hadn’t seen any of it.  I also did not realize the extent to which I had missed my friends across the country.  I could not have dreamed of a better way to spend my summer and now that I’m back I have started to plan more camping trips with all of the amazing product from Canadian Tire that have been unloaded from my car.

One month.  332 friends. 17,000 kilometers.  One dream.  One amazing summer adventure.

Here’s to an amazing adventure of discovery!  Thank you so much Canadian Tire!


Day 32 – The Meaning of Friendship

13 Aug

Today is a busy day and it hadn’t even started yet.  I had planned to have breakfast with my friend Elsa, visit a few other friends then pack up and head to Algonquin Park for a concluding hurrah.  Got a call during breakfast that Chex TV in Peterborough wanted to run a story so my day got more packed and even more interesting.

Catching up with Elsa was wonderful.  I have to say she is pretty wicked even if she is from OC.  OC is one of the four colleges on campus at Trent (kind of like the houses in Harry Potter).  My college and my home really, is Lady Eaton College.  Elsa graduated before she could switch, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

After breakfast Elsa and I went down to see Jing Jing at Millennium park.  It is basically my favourite place to meet people in Peterborough and it just so happens that Jing Jing works at the Silver Bean which is right by the water in the park.  My favourite this about hanging out with Jing Jing (ok maybe not my favourite, but it’s great) is that Jing Jing is from Thailand and in Thai her name means “really really”.  This means that we tend to make sarcastic comments as fun humour.  For example:  Jing Jing would say, “the sky is blue.” So I would respond, not with “thanks tips,” but with “really, really?”  It sounds mean but it’s actually quite funny because there’s enough of a pause that it doesn’t sound like I’m saying her name.  We discussed if it was ok, she said it’s not as hilarious as I think it is but she doesn’t mind my odd sense of humour (as she continues to make fun of me).

We also walked down to this random festival that was happening on one of the major roads in downtown Peterborough.  This festival reminded us of how wicked Peterborough is and as we were walking towards the stage in the middle of the street we ran into several people we both knew.  Coolest of all we ran into my dear friend Maryam who is one of the most motivated and inspiring young people I know!  It was great to see her, even if only for a few moments.

After having walked off my breakfast, it was time to eat again (let’s be honest, it’s not, but I planned to have lunch and I can basically eat anytime).  I meet my friend Liisa for lunch (yes there’s supposed to be two i’s) and we catch up and talk about the complexity of friendship.  I think that is one of the most frequent conversations I have with people; friends, reporters, family and strangers alike, the conversation of what defines friendship.  For me I think friendship as a base is defined by actions and by the people who are willing to go out of their way to make sure that you know they care.  It is interesting to think about friendship as a whole based on the 300 or so Facebook friends I have seen in the last month.  I think I will ponder this more tonight while camping in Algonquin Park.

Speaking of which, after having a few friends bail at the last minute, my friend Jess and I headed out to Two Rivers Campground in Algonquin Park.  Jess had never been camping before so I told her she was in for a treat.  I mean 30 second tent, wicked air mattress and (if I do say so myself) a relatively awesome person to be camping with for the first time.

We set up the tent (which Jess had never even seen before) in under 60 seconds and were all set, threw the air mattresses in and went to start the fire.  I bought two bags of wood and a pack of kindling.  In case you don’t know, kindling is only really effective if it is small… this kindling was not.  Anyways we finally got it lit (it was also wet) with some help from my buddy Ethan who is a gate guard at the park.  Claire (my good friend Lauren’s sister) also stopped by to visit as news of my excursions travelled across the park.  It was really fun, we roasted marshmallows with rolos inside and hot dogs with a stick I found.

After Ethan and Claire had left, Jess and I started to discuss “the meaning of life” in regards to friendship.  We discussed several analogies when I finally broke it down to this one.  Friends are like insects in the forest (clearly there are many).  The mosquito is obviously the poor friend, spending all of its time feeding off others and building him/herself up by the misfortune of others.  As much as it sounds non-optimistic (which I usually am not), the mosquito is the most predominant of the insects in the forest.  The spider is the decent friend, although scary to most, the spider is actually quite beneficial to the overall wellbeing of the forest, and in this analogy actually eats the mosquitoes.  The most important, and for the purpose of this analogy the least predominant insect is the dragonfly.  Dragonflies work tirelessly to eat the mosquitoes and help others in the forest.  They go out of their way to be kind and to show their generosity.

This analogy is not perfect so please don’t judge, but for now it works.  I am thankful for those friends in my life who are dragonflies, and even those who are spiders.  This trip has helped me to realize that maybe it’s time to smack the mosquitoes before they take me down any further.  A great friend said on this trip that she has a very hard time letting people leave her life and that she believes that everyone enters her life for a reason.  To her this analogy became clear, in the forest you need the mosquitoes to appreciate the spiders and the spiders to love the dragonflies.  In friendship it is the same.  It comes to a point though when you realize who your supporters are and who your downers are.

I don’t know how many people are reading this and it still shocks me when people say that they have read my blog.  As my trip comes to an end I am wondering if any of you have any thoughts on friendship.  If you’d like to leave a comment below I would love to read it.

P.s. it makes me super happy when someone sees the “30 second” tent in action because we talk about it for so long.  It became a centre for discussion at the campsite and Jess truly enjoyed her first camping experience!  She even burnt her first marshmallow!

Day 31 – True Dorothy, There IS No Place Like Home

12 Aug

Today was a busy, busy day.  I woke up this morning and went to spend some time with the lovely ladies at Queen’s.  If there is one thing I know really appreciated from Queen’s, it was the amazing staff who work there.

Then I headed over to see my old friend Michelle at the Goodes Building.  Even though I’m a Queen’s alum I had no idea what said Goodes building was, turns out that Goodes Hall is the Business program.  I haven’t seen Michelle since our days on the Student Senate and my time as Student Trustee.  It was really cool to relive some of the cool memories.

Then it was off to meet Martha, my associate teacher from this year who has become a very good friend of mine.   This year I learned so much from Martha this year so today was a great chance to catch up and have coffee.  When I got there, Martha had a gift for me, a portrait of her royal highness the Queen of England.  Now you are probably wondering why…  Well, Martha has a portrait of the Queen in her classroom and when it came time for me to apply for jobs we discussed how I should request a letter of recommendation from the Queen because she had seen all of my teaching.  That and she will be put up in my classroom one day.  I had coffee with Martha and her family and really enjoyed catching up and telling fun stories.  Stories of the whales, the ghosts in Halifax, the oceans, etc…

With time running out in my busy day I booted it down to Downtown Kingston to meet Jan (my landlord and “Kingston mom”) for lunch.  Before we left I got to meet some of the people that Jan works with.  They were all super nice and it was really cool for them to say things like, “I know you from tv.” “I know you from the newspaper.” “I know you from the radio.”  Not going to lie, it was a really cool feeling (still keeping my ego in check though).  Lunch was great and although short, we had a really great chance to catch up and tell some fun stories.  It is interesting for me to have so many more stories to tell.  If you know me, you know I’m never short of things to say, now I’m stoked to have even more fun adventures to talk about!

Then I headed down to the Canadian Tire for an interview with the Whig Standard.  The article is going to look legit and I’m pretty stoked.

After that I headed over to meet my friend Tiffany at the other Canadian Tire, which is apparently the biggest in Canada.  She was somewhat saddened to hear that the one in Vancouver is three floors of similar size.  However, I think it still might be the biggest single-floored Canadian Tire.  She was somewhat happy with that.

On my way to Peterborough I stopped to have dinner with grandma and met Magen and Kalel for a quick tour.  Made it back to Peterborough as darkness hit, and still it felt like home.  It has been an amazing trip, the most amazing month, and the stories are endless.  That being sad, I’m still happy to be home.

When I come to Peterborough I stay at my friend Bert’s house.  Honestly, it’s like being home.  It is pretty wicked to know that I have a place to crash when I show up.  It’s pretty legit.

Day 30 – Oh Hey Ontario, it’s been a while!

10 Aug

Today I made my way back to Kingston, ON.  It rained most of the trip, but I did snap a pretty great photo of a Canadian Tire truck.  Good times.

When I arrived in Kingston I had dinner with my friends from the curling club.  The Cataraqui Golf and Country Club was an awesome place to be this year.  The people were amazing and accepted me right away.  I curled with some of the most amazing people in Kingston!  Good memories!  The picture below is the mixed team that I curled with.  They are great people and we had a lot of fun this year!!  It was wicked to get to catch up and tell some great stories about my trip!

Then after dinner I headed down to the Kingston Square to watch a movie on the outdoor screen with my friend Holly.  I got to meet 5 of her friends and had a really great time.  What a cool idea Kingston!  I haven’t had a chance to catch up with Holly in a long time so this was a great opportunity for us to chat.

Day 29 – Today I Think I’ll Drive…

8 Aug

Very little to report today.  Drove a lot.  Enjoyed stopping to use my French in little towns in New Brunswick and in Quebec.  Took a few good photos.  I will have more to report tomorrow.
I included a picture of one of the French signs in Quebec.  Please note how amusing it is.  These signs range from “The signs are talking to you, please listen” to this one “Danger risk of collision”.  My favourite part about these signs though is that even if you dod not understand a word of French you can still get them from the picture.  So awesome.

Also today I saw 2 moose… none for 3 weeks then 2 within the span of 1 minute.  Good times!

Day 28 – A Day of Imperfections… ALL Worth It! And I LOVE This Tent!

8 Aug

Today started with a trip for breakfast with a very good friend.  Bryanne was my neighbour in first year university.  I haven’t seen Bryanne since graduation and breakfast was really awesome for me.  The downside is that it was raining (it’s Halifax so you’d think I’d know better), but it wasn’t raining when I left so I did not bring my raincoat.  By the time I got to the restaurant (a 35 minute walk from my friend Chelsea’s apartment) the rain had just started.  Y the time I left it was actually pouring.  Good thing I’m not made of sugar….  Soaked, but worth it.

Chelsea then took me down to the Church that we had visited on the ghost walk last night.  This church is 3 km from the blast sight of the Halifax explosion.  In the first photo you can see that some shrapnel from the blast is still imbedded in the wall of the church, left there after years of renovations and changes as a memorial.   As a result of the explosion the torso and head of a sailor was launched through window on the second floor.  Numerous times the window has been changed, and many have been to the inside of the second floor and seen nothing in the glass from the inside.  During the day you can see it plain as day.  Check it out for yourself!

Then we headed to Peggy’s Cove.  It’s one of the most famous tourist attractions on the East coast.  There are some great photos of the trip, including a fairly funny one of my trying to “hold” it up.

The day was supposed to end with a trip back to Fredericton… but Dorothy had other plans.  I had asked her to avoid toll roads.  If you know anything about the regular trip from Halifax to New Brunswick you know that there is a toll road on the route.  Dorothy, knowing I wanted to avoid tolls (and me not knowing there is one), had me take the 101 out of Halifax.  I pulled into a town about 10 minutes outside of the city to grab a bite and got a call from my friend Meaghan who had just landed in Halifax from St. John’s (she’s a flight attendant).  She met me in this town, told me that “the ferry is not a good option” and set me on my way towards the toll road.  4 dollars later I was all set.  Made it to Fredericton and back to Camper’s City, pitched the 30 second tent and attempted to build a fire.

The firewood was damp so this was a challenge, but after burning all of the newspaper I had, I resorted to Tim Horton’s cups, on ripped up inside another.  Worked well.  Great day!

Day 27 – Fun facts and creepy tale of Halifax, NS

7 Aug

Today’s cool recap starts with wicked news from some of my Facebook friends and a wonderful woman who is a very well-read blogger…  The Toronto Sun has run a FULL PAGE story on me in their Monday newspaper (link here).  This was super cool news and a great way to start the day.  Click the play button to see some great photos!

Even better in the eyes of the roadtrip is that the bed that is in Chelsea’s guest room is easily the most comfy bed I think I have ever slept on.  This morning was rough to try and wake up.   After finally getting up we decided to head to her parent’s house and go swimming in the Atlantic.  You will remember, if you’ve been reading this far, that I was able to put my hand in the Pacific with my good friend Jen Freele in Squamish, BC.  Now I have accomplished both oceans and truly met the goal of an amazing cross Canada Roadtrip!

Went swimming in the ocean and it was AMAZING!  The water was cold at first but actually really nice!  After that we headed down to Lunenburg to check out the sights.  The pizza photo was my favourite so I included it below.  I got myself some Salt Water Taffy and life was good!

Chelsea made this EPIC pasta bake for dinner that honestly could not have been better.

Tonight was the coolest.  So far on this trip I have seen cities from the sky, from the water, from the perspectives of people new, and from the eyes of people who have lived in the city forever.  Tonight I got the opportunity to do a ghost walk of Halifax and learn about the city in a very historical and intense way.  Our tour guide Glen was pretty great and the stories were impressive.   On the way back Chelsea decided she wanted a piggy-back.  Then after a while decided that she should give me one.  What a great night!  We had a blast!  I can’t believe that I start the trek home tomorrow….

(I’m sorry that all of these are coming at once… internet is more challenging on the East coast, which I find weird, but true).