Grand Prairie to Lloydminster

Our Journey Begins From Grande Prairie Alberta

The Whirlwind Of Preparation

After an incredibly busy last couple of weeks it is now April 30th and tomorrow it begins…

The last two weeks have been filled with preparation. Getting the decals on the motorhome, ordering Hoodies and T-shirts for sale, trying to fit in some speaking engagements for the walk.

Finalizing things at the office and with clients. Getting all of the essentials put together that would be needed for the trip. Cramming the lives of 6 people into a 30-foot motorhome.

Not to mention the LONG list of things that need to be done when you are about to leave your house for four and a half months.

Moving Mom out of her house and putting all of her furniture into storage as she decided to sell the first house that she and Dad purchased together and move on with a new chapter of her life when we return home again mid-September.

With how busy it has been the last few weeks, my mind has not been on the upcoming trip and the adventure that we are about to embark on, nor has it quite sunk in yet. I have had an emotional connection to the walk since I made the decision to undertake this challenge last September. it has not quite hit me yet as to what is about to come…but tomorrow we will hit the road for the first steps of the Can-Survive Walk 2018 and this incredible journey that we have ahead of us.

Flowing Tears of Happiness (May 1)

With everything loaded up in the motorhome, everyone dressed, fed and ready to go, we were just waiting for the clock to hit 8 am.

Last Time at Mom and Dad's House

Last Time at Mom and Dad’s House

As Mom locked the front door of her house for the last time that morning, it finally hit me that none of us would be coming back here.  All of the memories that we had made in this place, all of the good times, family dinners, visits and sleepovers, holiday gatherings and just quality family time spent together. This place was only in my life for a short period but it had so many memories. Two people in my life that both had huge impacts took their last breaths in this house, Meme Doucette in 2008 and then Dad in 2016. This was the only home that the grandkids knew for Meme and Pepe. After today they will never see it again. A tear ran down my face as I too close that door on a chapter of my life and get ready to head out on this new adventure and the road ahead.

CBC Interview

CBC Interview

With the crew all ready to go and the CBC news camera rolling, we took one last moment together as a family and said goodbye to the house and had a little pep talk.  A short interview later and all six of us were on the road.  Thankfully Kristie’s dad was there to drive the motorhome for us so that we could all walk for the start of this journey. With a few close friends at the house to see us off, we exchanged hugs and quite a few tears.

First Steps on Our Journy

First Steps on Our Journey

With our RCMP escorts in place, we took the first steps on this epic journey across Canada with the Can-Survive Walk 2018. Hand in hand we all started down the road together.

Now it was all starting to come together for me and reality was setting in.  We were heading out on a trip of a lifetime. We all walked together for the first 45 minutes when we then swapped out drivers and Mom took over so Grandpa could head home. After another round of hugs again and a few more tears the kids and Mom were loaded up and following behind us.  Kristie and I walked for a way together, until she decided to ride the rest of the way.

Smoky River Hill

Smoky River Hill

The first day went well at 44.17 km in 7 hours and 21 minutes.  We made it to the top of the Smoky River Hill. I have travelled that hill my whole life and always wondered what it would be like to walk up it, now I did. I would be lying if I said that there weren’t a few times during that first day where I questioned my motives and furthermore my sanity… I would remind myself why I am doing this and the impact that it will make on so many lives.

Not paying too much attention as this was the first time spending more than a few minutes outside this spring and so I did not apply any sunscreen at all. I was smart enough to wear a long sleeve shirt all day, but my poor legs and the back of my hands – got a nice sunburn only on the right half of my lower legs. So I was red on the right and still white on the left, truly Canadian eh? Now not only did my body have to deal with the pounding and punishment it was taking from the pavement, it also had to cope with a sunburn which made for interesting sleeping patterns for the next week.

Heading back home for the next few nights to still be able to sleep in my own bed was what I thought going to be nice. Little did I know that walking all over the house was going to be a challenge and not as beneficial as I first thought. After the first few nights, I was looking forward to being in the motorhome.

The next few days were painful, to say the least. With blisters forming on my feet where there were none previously, I thought that I had the blisters all sorted out and had callused up my feet already. My ankles were not conditioned to walk on the pavement and were rather swollen. Taking the first steps in the morning or after stopping for a break during the day was quite painful.  I am sure I looked like I was crippled for about the first five to ten minutes. After that, I was able to get warmed up and walk through the pain and get my stride on.

All of my almost 1,800 km of training to date was done on my treadmill under my desk or on the indoor walking track.  With the weather not cooperating, still with snow for the last few weeks of April, coupled with being busy and trying to get as much done as possible I didn’t make time to train outside as much as I wanted for the last few weeks.  There was a small benefit however as it allowed my body to recover and rest.  It also meant that it was going to take some time getting used to the pavement and the new challenge.

Eastbound and Down Load It Up and Walk It!

The first week went by in a blur as we all settled into our rhythm and routines. Getting away from home starting the second week was going to make things a lot better, in my mind anyway.

It was great to have the opportunity to walk with a few of the kids’ classmates and some of the other classes in Valleyview from the schools.  My wonderful team from the office came with us for the walk up Main Street as well which was a lot of fun!

Making our way from Valleyview we set our sites on Fox Creek.  Glad to have some company from Valleyview and then onwards to Fox Creek.  Thank you, Kim, Braydon, Carol and Shari. It’s surprising how quickly the time and kilometers fly by over a simple little thing as conversation. The first night away from home was spent at a roadside rest area that was a little off the highway.  The kids played and found all kinds of interesting ‘treasures’ while I just rested.  This was giving Mom and Kristie their first experience of roadside gourmet cooking and set up and tear down, which I must say they nailed.

Next stop Whitecourt. We arrived early into Whitecourt with two live radio interviews lined up we headed downtown Today I was going to get more company again as my cousin and her whole family were going to join us for the day.  With our RCMP escort on our tail and the motorhome leading the pack, we walked through Whitecourt. Thank you, Nathalie, Yoan, Jayme, Guy and Faby for the company and visit.

Thankfully shortly after Whitecourt, the hills got smaller and farther and farther apart.

The next few days were nice cool mornings and hot afternoons.  I am starting to get into my rhythm now and travel for two and a half to three hours then stop for a rest for twenty minutes. Then repeat until we hit 50km’s or my feet can’t take any more.

Heading towards Edmonton as the next ‘Big’ Stop on the way. Thank you, Kala, for the company and conversation even though you were seven months pregnant.

We turned the corner at Onoway and I was on a mission to make it to the Highway 43 – 16 junction. Thankfully it was an overcast and cool day so I was able to push for a longer day and hit my goal and the longest distance travelled so far at 54.15 km. Edmonton was so close that we could see it

The first day of rain happened when we hit Highway 16.  It was not a terrible downpour but more of a light drizzle that was quite warm and not as bad as I had envisioned, watching the traffic go by and the spray that was coming off the vehicles. Had a visit from the Westlock Town and Country Newspaper this morning and then later by Global TV Edmonton.

Traffic has been surprisingly courteous so far on our trip and we have at least a dozen people stopping per day to see if we are okay or need a ride or some assistance.  I like to see how far I could get a ride and so far Saskatoon SK has been the best offer.

Roadside donations continue to roll in as well when folks stop to see if we are okay. Some give cash while others have made online donations after.  I try to leave each person that stops with a smile.

Walking through Edmonton wasn’t as bad as I had thought as we rolled through some of the city early in the morning.  We had a quick stop over at CTV Edmonton for a live news interview.  Then as I could see it was causing mom some issues and made navigation difficult we needed to replace a rear view mirror on the driver side of the motorhome after another motorhome got a little too close and clipped the mirror on the motorhome and broke the glass.  After a few phone calls, we found a shop that was able to fix the mirror.  Leaving Mom and the kids with the motorhome me and Kristie unloaded the Nissan and headed back to where we left off to complete the walk through Edmonton, which in retrospect was probably the best way to complete that part of the walk since the Nissan is easier to maneuver and fit in smaller spots moving in and out of traffic.

We had a great dinner arranged by Uncle Paul that had 30 friends and family members in the area come out for.  Thank you, Uncle Paul, for organizing that on such short notice.

The following day turned out to be the biggest number for company in a single day.  Thank you, Tyler, Ian, Pat, Jan, Sherry, Natasha and Alan for all of the company and pushing me the extra distance.

The next few days were nice and cool in the morning then heated up in the afternoon. We made some good time pushing towards Lloydminster and the first border crossing on this trip.

With another mission to make it to the border, we pushed through some light rain in the morning and a really close call with a wild animal. I was walking along in the early morning while it was still dark and about 25 feet ahead of me I saw something out of the corner of my eye wander out on to the road in front of me. I froze with a touch of fear until I realized what it was…

Alberta-Saskatchewan Border

Alberta-Saskatchewan Border

A skunk was trying to cross the road in front of me, he made it halfway into the first lane on the double lane then saw the headlights of a vehicle coming and turned around and hightailed it back into the ditch. I was thankful that it didn’t get hit right in front of me but I wasn’t sure how far back into the ditch it went or if it was now spooked and at the ready.  Thankfully I was able to pass without getting skunked and we carried on.

We made it to the border today! A little sad that we were leaving Alberta but also excited that we were through one province and on to another one carrying on this adventure.

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