Finally, the finale (of this challenge)

Well, we made it.  We crossed 5 provinces in 8 days, no need to stop at Best Buy in Regina (or anywhere else) for DVD players, and everyone still talking to each other.  The girls were allowed to listen music or audio books on our phones, with their own headphones for a couple of hours each day – it kept them entertained and we could listen to the music we wanted to here up front. One of my favourite moments was when C had her headphones on, but R was bored by hers.  Little R let out a plaintive “I miss my sister”. Who she’d been trapped in the car with for about 4 days at that point.

We had this grand plan to run in each of the provinces as we drove across – a goal, a challenge, a way to move bodies that had been sitting for hours.  And we did great through Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  It was the smells that stay with me – the woods in Northern Ontario (and the swim in Lake Huron after to cool off).  The river in Winnipeg.  The sage in Saskatchewan.  And the ocean – oh, the smell of the ocean – in BC.

We didn’t run in Alberta, though. Somewhere outside of Calgary, things got misty.  And we kept hearing about the smoke from “the wildfires” on the news.  I kept asking the radio “where are the fires” – but surprisingly got no answer.

Until we got into the city.  It was smoke from the wildfires in BC. I was baffled – there was the Rocky Mountains between us. And the smoke was so thick we couldn’t see the mountains until we were driving through them.

Our first night in BC was in Golden.  There was ash on the car when we got up the next morning.  It was then I looked at the BC Wildfires Map.  My province, BC, is burning.


This is the Okanagan.

The north is in worse shape. The area where my parents’ home is, where spent so many summers, growing up, that my mum and dad bought shortly after they got married, where the house my dad built with his hands stands, is on evacuation alert. Fortunately my dad has moved into PG with my sister.  But most of their belongings are still there.We were lucky – although that side of the lake was on evacuation “alert”, but no order.  And even that has been removed now.  My province is burning – hectares of standing deadwood, thanks to the pine beetle infestation that has overrun this province for years now. Winters are no longer cold enough to kill it off – and the damage is done.

But it wasn’t until we had been in BC for 14 days before I could do the final run in the “run through 5 provinces” because even on southern Vancouver Island, the smoke was so thick that we are all coughing and wheezing and taking all kinds of medication.  Finally, though the smoke has cleared. After what has been called the second worst fire season in BC history.

So, this is the sad side of my welcome home, to the province I’ve been longing to return to for 2 decades – and it’s scary.  Climate change is real. And devastating.  And here.

But on a positive note – I ran in 4 of the 5 provinces!  I’m still not a fan of running, but it was a nice way to spend some intentional time in the environment of 4 very different parts of this amazing countries.

So – what should the next challenge be?  Because running will never be my favourite thing, and having a goal, a challenge, something to justify? makes it easier to do!


Running through 5 provinces

We’re moving west.

We sold our house, bought a new one (almost – still working out those bank details), packed everything we own into a moving van, stuffed the car so full we wondered how both children would fit in it, and we’re off.  From the largest city in Canada to a tiny town on Vancouver Island. I was telling a friend that we’re going from a city to a town where our house will be on septic and possibly a well – and he helpfully pointed out that we do, indeed, have indoor plumbing!

This has been my dream since I left Victoria, over 20 years ago to go to school.  I knew that I would be away for a while, but had no idea how long.  Or that I would be returning with a wife and 2 children, after having fallen in love with the big city. But it’s my chance to go home, and my wife and 2 children love me enough to embrace this adventure.  It’s my dream job – working 3/4 time in a church and 1/4 time in a camp.  It’s my home – between where I went to high school and where I went to University.  It’s exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Like all the best adventures.

We are driving across the country – taking a few days to have a family holiday. And we have decided to make a little running challenge. Run in all 5 provinces from Ontario to BC.


I started in Blind River, Ontario. The best part of the run was being able to jump into Lake Huron afterward.

Sounds very grand and ambitious – but since I’ve been running my slow little shuffle only every so often, it will be 3-4 km for me, more for Beth who actually has kept it up. It’s kind of fun, but it will also be a good stress relief.  We’re driving 4,588km.

And I have declared there shall be no videos in the car.

We’ve downloaded some audio books for the girls.  Friends have been arriving with books and crafts and very thoughtful packages of activities the girls can do in the car. Everyone is very worried that we won’t survive without plugging in, but these 2 lively little girls have travelled to Grandma’s since they were very small, have driven all around England and Scotland with us last summer, are creative and engaging and we’re all used to the last hour of the drive all being completely squirrley. At least this time, there are no roundabouts and we drive on the correct side of the road!

But a run at each stop is a very good way to stay sane. And it’s fun to have a little challenge – although one that doesn’t involve shoes. If my math is right, if I run twice in Ontario (it’s that big) and once in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC, then I will run 15-20 km.  Out of 4,588. Well, at least it something.

We’ve done the first Ontario run, the next will hopefully be in Thunder Bay – because it does take several days to cross Ontario!

Wish us luck.