Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hippying out on the Summer Solstice

Yesterday, on the longest day of the year, Andrew, my mom, myself and a bunch of our friends decided to 'hippy-out' and head up to Grassi Lakes to watch the sun rise. Grassi Lakes used to be part of a trade route for the Native Americans as well as a 'Dreaming Place'. It is also sitting on a ley-line of energy that passes right through Canmore (and directly through the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company apparently!). We headed up at 5 in the morning to see the sun creep over the mountains on the other side of the valley and illuminate the ancient pictographs. The main pictograph depicts a man holding a giant orb that is said to represent the sun. Grassi Lakes has an amazing energy, especially at that point in the day. We proceeded to have a bit of a spiritual celebration, calling in the earth goddess and giving thought to our intentions for the next year while we allowed the growing light from the rising sun to infiltrate our bodies and our minds with positivity. Yes, okay, I did say that we hippied out.

Andrew and I with the Pictograph in the background at Grassi Lakes
Gathering energy from the rising sun.

After we headed home, I jumped back into bed for a quick attempt to get warm, then Andrew and I headed to the bustling metropolis of Okotoks, just south of Calgary. We had a big day of searching for bits and pieces for the van. We managed to find a really fantastic pot set that fits perfectly into our storage cupboard as well as new windshield wipers, collapsible strainer, some new tools as well as a couple other goodies. At the moment preparations for the trip are going slowly, but they are moving along. I know I could probably be more productive with the use of my time, but I am definitely working on it!
We have had quite a few questions of when we are leaving and what is the timeline and the route. Well to be honest we don't really have a solid answer to any of those questions, but the loose answers would be something like this:

Leaving: August 15...ish

Timeline: Six months to a year (broad I know, but leaning more towards the year side of things)

Route: North to Inuvik and Tuktoyuktuk, then heading into Alaska and exploring a bit of the southern areas, Ferry trip down the inside passage to Prince Rupert and from there pretty much straight down the west coast of North and South America until we hit Ushuaia. Of course there will be deviations from the coast line, but that is the basics of the trip.

We are both really looking forward to getting out on the open road, but we still have almost two months of prep (and work for Andrew) ahead of us, and lots to focus on and get ready before we leave!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Runnin' Down A Dream

Tom Petty needs no real introduction, but last night Joe Cocker was a pretty sweet intro artist. Andrew bought me Tom Petty & Joe Cocker tickets for my retirement present, and finally last night was the night. We saw Tom for the first time two years ago when we had just started dating. It was at a huge festival in Pemberton, BC and he blasted our minds. It seems only fitting for him to mark the beginning of the next chapter in our lives.
The Calgary crowd was loving it. Right from the start when Joe Cocker opened with "Feelin' Alright" they were one of the loudest crowds I have heard at the 'Dome. He also played "Come Together" which he sang in his cameo in one of my favorite movies "Across The Universe". Nevertheless for sixty six years old Joe Cocker was obviously loving touring with Tom and not having to play a full headlining concert himself.
For some reason I have always really connected with Tom Petty's songs. He seems to sing about things that everybody relates to. You could tell that when the crowd almost drowned him out in their rendition of "Free Fallin'". I mean seriously, who doesn't know the lyrics to that song?
However at the stage I am in my life at the moment, a few simple lyrics really stuck out in my mind last night. Here are just a couple:

"So I've started out, for God knows where
I guess I'll know when I get there"
-Learning To Fly

Yeah runnin down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin on a mystery, goin wherever it leads
I'm runnin down a dream
-Running Down A Dream

But my all time favorite lyric is this one:

"It's time to move on, time to get going
What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing
But under my feet, baby grass is growing
It's time to move on, it's time to get going"
-It's Time To Move On

Thanks TP for putting on yet another mind blasting performance, I am stoked for the new album which came out yesterday! And thank you Andrew for the tickets, you really know the way to my heart! (Lucky for you it's music and not something crazy like gold, or diamonds!)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

Many people have informed us, when we describe the trip to them, either that we are crazy or we are so lucky to be living our dreams. This always seems a bit funny to me, because living with the family that I do, living your dreams is an everyday occurrence. Growing up in a family like the Rubens has truly been one epic adventure after another, simply because we believe these things are not only possible but probable as well as doable. Although both my parents were insistent on good marks in school, they didn't seem to think twice about sending us away to pursue our passion of skiing, or taking us to explore the jungles of Ecuador, surf the Costa Rican Beaches, and, of course, hike the moors of Scotland
This season, while I was in Europe hurtling down mountains at 120km/hr, and my brother was in Morocco searching for any signs of snow to huck his body down, my father (between back country touring trips of course) was busy planning his next big adventure.
Finally, that adventure is about to begin. Over a year in planning, he heads off tomorrow to a place called Resolute Bay. For the majority of you who have never heard of this place, it is at the southern tip of Cornwallis Island... what? Never heard of that either? Well you know all those islands in the north of Canada that make our country so big? Yep, its up there somewhere.  

Well there it is, pretty much on the 75th parallel North. Why would he go there? Isn't that a little bit far north for a reasonable person to want to go? Well that's not actually where he is going, that's just the organizing hub, so him and his partner, explorer extraordinaire, John Dunn can unite and make sure everything is ready before they head... that's right... further north. To Ellesmere Island, just past Eureka to be exact. Ellesmere Island is the worlds 10th largest island as well as the most mountainous in the Arctic Archipelago.
Their plan is to walk a thousand kilometers almost from top to bottom in two months. Why, you ask? I ask that as well. Compared to this trip mine seems almost luxurious.
Here is a brief overview of the route they will take:
Well, from what I have gathered from very vague explanations from my father... is basically they are going up there to walk around and 'check shit out'. I feel that sounds like the best manly explanation anyway. But in all seriousness, John is a very experienced Arctic explorer and comes home after his trips and does lecture tours informing whoever wants to listen about Arctic life and, i suppose, lack of life. Click Here to check out some of his prior adventures and incredible photography.

A picture from John's trip to Baffin Island courtesy of http://www.arcticlight.com/

All in all I feel like this explains my ever growing wanderlust, and I blame my parents for feeling like home is the place from which you plan your next adventure.
Best of luck, Dad, with your new adventure. I am proud and excited for you, and I will wait earnestly to hear your epic stories, and most of all I will wait earnestly to hear that you have defeated all the polar bears with your tiny pen launcher.
Check back for updates of his locations!

My dad (Clive) back in the day hiking/backpacking in the peaks around Kashmir

Oh yeah, my mom is pretty great too. She just recently published her first book of poetry for sale at Cafe Books in Canmore, or Pages in Kensington.

Mom, (Wilma) Hanging out on the Land Rover, somewhere in Afghanistan!

Monday, June 7, 2010

When one door closes, Another opens

"I'm not coming back."

They were only four words, but as they spilled out of my mouth, tears spilled out of my eyes. I was thankful this conversation was on the phone and the head coach of Alpine Canada couldn't see my heart breaking.
I have had an extreme love-hate relationship with the sport of alpine skiing since I was a kid when my parents dragged me away from my bed and my friends in the city of Calgary to the snow capped rocky mountains. I had tried to quit twice before and never succeeded. The first time was when I was 12 and I felt the sacrifice of a normal childhood social life was too much for me to relinquish. My parents finally convinced me to join the club for just one day a week. They told my coach if I didn't have fun that year, my ski career was finished. Five years later I had found a renewed passion for the sport and just qualified for the Canadian National Team after moving quickly up the ranks through the provincial squad. After two camps with the team I decided at 16 I had once again had enough. I couldn't deal with the stresses of high school combined with the stresses of ski racing. I shocked many the day I decided to stop to finish school. At that point I really believed I wouldn't go back. Seven months later, when I knew I was going to graduate and realizing that going to school 5 days a week isn't as glamorous as I had imagined, the provincial coach called me and asked if I would like to accompany them to National Championships... just for one last stab. I agreed and headed off to Quebec for a week or two where I realized I did have more to give to the sport. I was graciously offered a place back on the Provincial team for the following season. They even let me get the final cobwebs out of my system by providing me the time to backpack around Europe for six weeks with two of my school friends. It was just what I needed to allow me to dive head first back into ski racing. After the year on the provincial team I was bumped up to the National team. This time ready and raring to go. After a quick 2 week camp with the Development team I was transferred up to the senior team and put straight into the World Cup Circuit. I was determined and dedicated to do whatever it took to get me to the top.
To make a long story short I spent an amazing 5 years on the National Ski Team. Representing my country in one World Championship and two Olympic games as well as capturing 6 National titles. As with too many alpine skiers, I tore my anterior cruciate ligament and my medial cruciate ligament in my left knee requiring surgery and a seve month recovery. I also broke my hand and cracked my shoulder. I spent the winters in Europe and travelled to South America and New Zealand in the summers searching for skiable snow. I met more close friends and incredible people than I could have hoped for and created more memories and stories than some do in a life time.

Unsure what to think of my results but happy to be there! Super Combined at the Olympics, my best result with a 12 place finish.

Danie Poleschuck, Georgia Simmerling, Shona, Emily Brydon in front of the Olympic Flame at the opening ceremonies in Vancouver

In April 2010 I realized I had nothing left to give. I put everything I had for ski racing into the year leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Although a lot of people believe the Alpine Team fell short in those games, I choose to believe differently. Anyone that was a part of the games realizes that even without the medals we still infused pride in the people of Canada. The hugs and the well wishes that I got from hundreds of people at the bottom of my races made me question my results. I felt like looking at the times to see if I had, in fact, reached the podium, because that's the way the people in Whistler treated me. It blew me away, and looking back, knowing I had the second best result of my career I can say that I am proud, I can say that I gave it my all, and most of all I can say that I have no regrets.

Flying through the air at the National Championships in Nakiska

But that is not what this blog is about. That is my background, the past, and as with most things in life, when one door closes, another one opens.
I am extremely looking forward to the next chapter... the chapter that this blog is about. Myself and my boyfriend Andrew are breaking out of our comfort zone and driving a 26 year old Volkswagon camper van named KUMU (meaning 'teacher' in Hawaiian) from Canmore, Alberta up to Alaska and then down the coast to the southern tip of Argentina. From there who knows how we will get home, who knows if we will have any money left, but if you read on, you will find out as soon as we do! We will both be posting blogs, so it should say at the bottom who posted what so you dont get too confused!

Oh and by the way, the tears have, for the most part, past for ski racing, and even though it will always have a special place in my heart, and even though im terrified of leaving a life I have known since I was three years old... well, who knows there is always Big Mountain Skiing!