What is your favourite Robert Munsch book

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2008 from Winnipeg to Camrose

Chapter three begins to two weeks and I'm ready to take my new road bike on the journey. What can be better than riding a new bicycle in a 1200 km relay from Winnipeg to Camrose.

Hmmm let me think - actually I guess there a quite a few things more appealing. But nothing beats the presentations to elemnetary students who love hearing Robert Munsch Stories.

More posts to follow

Take care and if you want to financially support our literacy cause please call me at 780 672 1956 and I will gladly send you a pledge card or send me an email to david@sammiam.ca

Until next time

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Canada Map

Chapter One of Munsch a Bunch of Miles for Literacy was Camrose to Winnipeg in 2006 and Chapter Two was a trip from Prince Rupert to Camrose in 2007. The map shows the route and stops along the way. The question for 2008 and Chapter Three is which direction and how far?

Monday, October 29, 2007

The very very last day

After a great breakfast we are off to Sherwood Park and the Westboro Elementary School for our "second to last" presentation. In front of a gym, full of students, we do our best to promote literacy and tell a few stories and poems. The students are great and we have a surprise gift for one of the teachers. Helen and David's daughter in law (Allison's mom), Jenny, is on maternity leave and has come to listen to our story telling. At the end of our presentation we give her a book about mom's love and how much they love their babies. First, Grandpa David reads it out loud to the assembled students. He bought the book while on tour in Prince George with the thought of giving it to Jenny and Allison. After our presentation the kids crowd around Jenny to see Allison and the pictures in the book but we are off down the road for our last stretch of highway that needs to be travelled in this tour.

At the junction of Highway 14 and 21 Alan gets on his bike and heads off east. Helen and David drive forward to the junction of 14 and 833. Secondary Road 833 is new and the pavement is smooth. Helen jumps on her bike and in no time has crested the small rise in the road leaving David to wait for Alan to arrive. Before David can listen to one episode of Afgananda on CBC radio there is Alan! "Mr Zoom - Zoom" of cyclers.

Off we go to catch up to Helen, which we do just at the Camrose Hutterite Colony. At that point David decides to ride, but instead of taking his bike out of the van he decides to ride Helen's bike! Big mistake - it's a great bike for Helen but the frame is too small for David and it will proof to be the last time he ever rides her bike.

We have agreed to meet the Camrose City Police on the edge of the city. From this point until Chester Ronning School, in the heart of Camrose, we will have a police escort. Very cool! One squad car in front and one following us with Lights flashing. Officer Matt asks how fast we want to travel but I'm sure his speedometer can not go that slow because it is the fastest 10 km we ride! By the time we get to the school we have had a very good work out! I have a vision of a Camrosian wondering why the police are chasing the cyclers down the highway.

We have arrived at the school before the students are ready for us so the vice principle asks us to disappear for fifteen minutes. We escape to Alan and Ruth Ford's deck for a quick glass of ice tea. Then it's back to the school and what a reception they have planned for us. We are treated like heroes which is a very humbling experience. This is our home school, our children attended this school and we greatly enjoy having the opportunity to return something to the school and teachers who helped our children learn.

Thank You Chester Ronning!

Alan David and Helen display the map with all the places they have stopped along Highway 16 over the past two tours.

The trip is over for 2007. Thinking has already started for next year as there may be chapter three. Stay tuned.

Into Edmonton

The ride from Niton Junction to Edmonton was fast. Four lane divided highway made the cycling a bit easier but the highway noise was crazy at times or at least it drove me crazy!

Outside Stony Plain we decided to stay on Highway 16X since our overnight destination was Chris and Jenny's place on the east side of Edmonton.

We managed to stay riding on 16 until the Edmonton city limits and then made a wise choice to quit riding! Traffic was very heavy and it was the start of rush hour. The trucks were much bigger than out bikes and the car and truck drivers did not seem to care about little 'ol us pedalling as fast as we could.

So once more we piled everything into the van and said goodbye to highway 16. Our next highway would be #14 and we were leaving the Yellowhead behind us.

Arriving at Jenny and Chris's place for our "sleepover" was great as it allowed us to have many things such as a hot shower, a great meal we do not have to cook, and time to play with our new granddaughter Allison. Allison is three months old and is Helen and David's first granddaughter. She is beautiful.

We enjoy our visit and our eye lids are very heavy to quickly and soon we are in warm beds for a restful sleep. Tomorrow is our last day on tour.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Niton Junction: What every community needs to be

When we left Jasper we thought it was possible to ride to Niton Junction or to a campground close by. Helen left Jasper first riding with a warm cup of tea. - it was cold that morning. Alan and I went back to the camp site and looked at all the wet gear and wondered "why"; why not stay in a motel, why not call for room service, why hurry , why, why, why . . .

After we shoved all the wet stuff in several garbage bags we started down the highway to find Helen. We found her several kms past Jasper and with her we found the sun! It was going to be a beautiful day after all! We stopped at a road side rest area and pulled out all the wet gear. After something to eat Alan proceeded down the highway towards Hinton while Helen and David stayed behind drying out gear. It looked like we were having a garage sale with gear covering bushes and rocks. Seems like people passing by thought the same thing as one couple stopped to see what we were selling! Too bad they were not at our camp site that morning as they could have had everything for a hot cup of coffee.

We proceeded to make the miles disappear as we passed Hinton and then Edson. Alan and David rode up the pre-ascent for the Obie summit and Helen, who wanted to ride up the Obie summit did just that. It is the highest point on the Yellowhead highway and a good challenge for cyclers. Way to go Helen!!! You made it and the hills that follow it.

David's job today was to find a camground for us to stay at that night. Unfortunately the one campground along side of the highway just east of Niton Junction was closed for renovation. This sent David looking for a dry place to stay (that was also cheap). What he found was unbelievable and turned out to be trip highlight.

David stop in at the Niton Junction School to see if there was a phone number he could call for advice on where to stay. Luckily there was still a teacher in the school who offered an innovative solution to our problem. "Why not stay in the school? said "Saint" Margaret. After she checked with staff, we had a place to stay. They set up two cots in the community library and we were in heaven! Not only did the school have the community swimming pool which meant we had access to showers but we also had access to the home ec. room to cook our breakfast.

The only downside for David was having to walk 50 yards down the school hallway to go pee in the middle of the night. David also mentioned it was very hard to sleep in the library with so many books whispering " Read me, Read me, Read me"

The next morning we missed a hard frost and therefore woke up warm - Yahoo!!

The students piled intot the gym for our preseantion just after 9:00 am. The big surprise for us was the grade eight students who sat in on the presentation. It was the first time we did our presentation to older students and we were very impressed with their participation and interest.

Two of the teachers want to exchange places with us however they withdrew their offer when it seem that David, as class room teacher, might wreck the good job they had already accomplished. I mean who would want to come to school when the teacher was offering free food and fun everyday!!!! Actually that already sounds like Niton Junction School - except for the free food part.

Our Niton Junction experience is one I hope I remember for a long time. I even learned how to properly say "Niton Junction". Our expereince of Niton Junction is not unusual. A man called Tim Johnson also writes about his experience at Niton Junction. Maybe there is a lesson here for all schools to learn.

Bears? - What bears?

This is the stretch of highway we were told would have more bears per mile than any other road we travelled. Hmm - and I am QUITE AFRAID of bears!

While travelling Helen was convinced she saw a bear in the the distance on the opposite side of the road. If that had been me I would have turned around and peddled fast in the opposite direction. As she came closer to the bear it was not leaving the highway so Helen began to plan her strategy to get around the bear safety. Perhaps a truck would pass the bear at the same time she went by or maybe - just maybe the bear would leave. In fact another thing happened - the bear turned into a sign just as Helen cycled close enough to see. Helen swears the sign turned back into a bear after she rode past :) Perhaps this will become an rural legend about the bear who became a sign. Makes sense to me - we have other legends of bears becoming signs in the heavens (ursa minor, ursa major) so a why not a road side sign?

We arrived in McBride with plenty of time to gas up our Chrysler van and find a little liquid refreshment for ourselves. Then we made our way to a great campground just east of McBride. The Beaverview campground has great facilities and very welcoming owners. I could have stay there longer but it will definitely be a place I will return.

The next morning after another big breakfast of Sunny Boy Cereal we headed for the road and wind! This first part of the day was perhaps our worst day for riding into a head wind.

We rode past the Terry Fox Memorial Park and the memorial placed along the highway to remember a man who was very courageous. His journey and accomplishments makes our journey seem very small by comparison and I pause to remember his spirit. The following is from the BC parks website.

"The beautiful Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park lies adjacent to the western boundary of Mt. Robson Provincial Park, encompassing Mount Terry Fox (8,700 feet/2,650 metres)

Mount Terry Fox is dedicated to the memory of Terry Fox of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Terry Fox lost a leg to bone cancer, but undertook to run across Canada on an artificial limb to raise funds for cancer research. He completed 3,360 miles (5,375 km) of his epic journey before illness forced him to end his run. His valiant effort against incredible odds touched the hearts of all Canadians and people around the world. Terry died on June 28, 1981. The mountain that bears his name will serve forever as an enduring and fitting memorial to a young Canadian's determination, selflessness, and courage. The park was officially dedicated by the family of Terry Fox and the people of British Columbia on September 22, 1981."

Our journey continues to Jasper where we overnight in Whistlers Campground. This federal campground is very nice and we might have had a fine evening sitting around a fire except the rain starting to fall at 8:30 and it drove us into our tents for an early night.
Later that night I was spoken by sounds that I first thought were wild life close to our tent. Unfortunately it was not four legged wildlife as I suspected. Rather it was two legged people enjoying their intimate company. The very loud sounds of ecstasy, grunts and groans they made went on ALL NIGHT!! I applaud them for their stamina :)

It snowed in the mountains at Jasper overnight and it was quite brisk in the morning as we had our hot cereal and made our way to the Jasper Elementary school.

Jasper students who received the Munsch Book and the resource book we left at every school.

Helen moments before departing Jasper.

At Jasper our only injury happened and it did not happen on a bike!
It was David's turn to be Loretta in the Munsch Story "ZOOM" During par tof the story telling both Helen and David had satrted to Zomm around the gym or classroom for added effect. This mornign when david went to Zoom he pulled a groan muscle and became a candidate for our injury reserve list. He did try to ride his bike for 40 kms later in the day but told us it was very uncomfortable. Just before the Obie Summit he become our van driver and and gave us one of the best surprises on tour at Niton Junction!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Onward to Vanderhoof BC

Thursday afternoon we left Mouse Mountain School in Fraser Lake at continued riding east with our evening destination in mind "Vanderhoof, which claims to be the geographical centre of BC. Vanderhoof is in the beautiful Nechako Valley and surrounded by farmlands so this prairie boy was feeling at home in this countryside even if it was surrounding by forests and mountains above.

We were motivated to get the Vanderhoof by the compelling visionof soft warm bed instead of a tent (well at least I was) Tonight we were guests of Alan's friends Paul and Ann Collier. and the supper Ann provided was delicious and the conversation was warm and friendly - we had a great time. The memory I will have from that night is the slice of lasagna Alan had. IT WAS HUGE and I'm sorry I did not run out the the van and grap a camera for digital proof. Ann accustom to feeding young athletics high calorie meals . We probably had more calories in the one meal than most people need in a week but we didi our best to burn in all the next day between the school presentation and the ride into Prince George.

On Friday morning we said our goodbyes to Ann and Paul and made our short journey to the school in Vanderhoof.
After the WL McLeod Elementary School presentation we again jumped on our bikes and headed out onto the highway. The school presentations alway gave us extra energy to cycle. Sharing reading and writing with students is important and hopefully one student will to a littel it better because we were there - who knows - I just hope that is possible.

On our way to Prince George we meet the dream team for cycling fundraisers - Cops for Cancer. 22 police officers from northern BC were cycling from Prince George to Prince Rupert, the same trip we were going but they were heading west, Their support team and equipment was a sigth to behold.

Our Van seems small when side by side with their truck. Interesting point - both fund raisers were sponsored by Chrysler - Way to go Chrysler dealerships in Camrose and Prince George!

Our arrival into Prince George marked the end of our first week on the road and gave us the promise of a day off - well not really but it felt like it. Luckily for us the weather was friendly and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Prince George.

On Saturday morning we went to the Prince George Public Library and gave our presentation to a small group of kids and parents. Heck we'd do this presentation if one kid was present.

While in Prince George we do a little bike work to Alan and Helen's bikes. Alan bike to squeaking and Helen needs a new tire. This is all the repair work we need to do for the entire journey.

Then on Sunday morning we went to the United Church in down town Prince George and spoke there - We only did on Munsch Story - I love You Forever. After the service we were delighted to meet Cowboy Bob. Bob Chorney, also known as "Cowboy Bob", has shown love, acceptance and compassion to all he encounters for 30 years. Bob has been able to encourage, persuade and direct people to the appropriate helpers. His constant presence as a friend has earned the trust of many who have "fallen through the cracks" of society. He has provided a linkage between downtown services and the wider community. Bob has conducted regular "get acquainted" tours introducing any who wish to accompany him to each separate agency educating citizens of their own city network.
Cowboy Bob is nominated for the Prince George Community Foundation for Citizen of the Year award. I hope he receives the award, however I know it will not change what he does for his community.

Sunday afternoon the ride begins again! Our rest day has ended. We decide to leave Prince George early and make a few miles before coming back to Van Bien school to do ur presentation Monday morning. We decide to ride about 60km to Purden Lake - home of the famous Gourmet Burgers.

We reach Purden Lake and get to taste the Gourmet Burgers before we set up camp. We discover Purden Lake has no telephone line BUT the waitress told David if you stand on the top of the community fire truck at the front then you are able to get cellphone service.

This picture is Alan calling home using his cellphone on top of the community fire truck. The next morning David used this space as his office to call CAMFM to deliver the morning Munsch Report.