Week 25,Whitehorse and Further

I flew up to Whitehorse on June 8th to visit Olivia and had a great few days in the north. I was a little shocked at first because they were experiencing a 50 year record for heat on the 8th and 9th , the 10th was decent and by the 11th it was a normal ,cool ,northern spring day ! But June 9th was 29 C and I had a hotel room that didn’t have any A/C. I survived. The lack of darkness was another thing I had forgotten about and. It was only dark from about 2 am to 4 am.It looks like high noon at 8 pm!

I had a great time though hanging out with Olivia and touring the north with her. We walked and talked around town on Thursday after I arrived and she showed me the city. The mighty Yukon River runs through Whitehorse and I was impressed. We decided to go for dinner around 6 and went to Klondike Rib and Salmon which is one of the best places I have eaten in quite awhile. It’s been on the Food Networks show “You Gotta Eat here” and deserves to be.

 

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Me and Olivia at Mile’s Canyon

 

On Friday Olivia took me on a road trip to Skagway Alaska. It’s only a 2-hour drive and in the summer there is no shortage of daylight, so there’s no need to rush the drive. One thing that immediately struck me as unusual is that we would be driving south to get to Skagway! I just assume Alaska is north. The drive to Skagway was beautiful. We were on the Klondike Highway and there were so many lakes and rivers and mountains. But first we stopped 70 km from Whitehorse at a community called Carcross which is home to the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, with a population of about 250.They have a terrific small but unique boardwalk commercial area set up for the summer tourist season with food and many crafts for sale.

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Pole at Carcross

After this , we were Alaska bound with a few stops for some great pictures.

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Tagish Lake

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Tutshi Lake, a larger image to appreciate the mountains

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I could have taken a picture every kilometer of the drive , it was so awesome

Our last stop before Skagway was Dyea a former town with just a few small homesteads left. It’s at the convergence of the Taiya River and Taiya Inlet and it is the south trail-head for the Chilkoot Pass. Dyea was abandoned for the offering of deeper port waters at Skagway a hundred years ago. The Chilkoot Pass and Dyea are U.S. National Historic Landmarks. When Lori and I were planning our West Coast Trail hike that we completed in July 2016 we talked about doing the Chilkoot Trail. Now that I have been up in this country, seen how beautiful it is, I am going to revive the conversation.

The links for the Chilkoot Trail and the Chilkoot Pass are different if you’re checking them out.

 

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The south trail-head at Dyea

 

It was now on to Skagway, a mere 10 miles away. Skagway was a surprise for me to see and totally captivating. The main street and the side streets off main have all been restored and maintained to their original appearance of 130 years ago. The population is only 1,060 but it doubles in the summer to handle upwards of 900,000 visitors, most of who arrive on the cruise ships. During the Klondike Gold Rush the town was virtually lawless and was described at that time by a North West Mounted Policeman as “hell on earth”. People came from all over America and Canada, up the pacific coast to Skagway before heading for the Yukon gold via the Chilkoot Trail. I have fallen for Skagway and I need to get back there. From Skagway you can catch a ferry to Juneau and Haines if you wanted. Skagway had more than enough to keep me busy for awhile taking pictures and snooping around before we settled down to the reason we had come to Skagway;the promise of a big, fresh ,crab dinner

 

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State Street , Skagway

 

We had a fantastic 1lb crab dinner each with ice tea to drink and hot melted butter for the crab meat! I don’t even remember the name of the restaurant or I would cite it here because the staff were so friendly, and service was good. I could have eaten another. I was stuffed though. After dinner, we hit the streets again and Olivia treated me to a t-shirt!  We bought some candy for the drive back to Whitehorse and we headed home but we had to take 4 tries to get out of town, as I was filming a snap chat and had to get it perfect,while even just correct. Olivia has more patience than I remember her having.Ha

Another thing to mention is the weather. It was 29 when we left Whitehorse and 9 when we got to Skagway and 27 again when we got back to Whitehorse ,at 9 pm.

 

Saturday, we stayed around Whitehorse and one of the things we did was go to the Pride Parade. That was my first Pride parade and although not as big as Calgary’s it was bigger than I expected. Also, you can see by the picture that this has to be the coolest Pride sticker ever.

 

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Sunday, we drove a couple of hours up to Haines Junction and into Kluane National Park. At Haines Junction, you can choose to continue on the Alaska Highway towards Anchorage or you can carry on through Kluane and to Haines Alaska. Kluane was beautiful, windy and cold. All at the same time. We saw a couple of bears in the park and got some good photos of the one guy who was not interested in us at all. He just tried his best to ignore us and carry on his way.

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Mr. Black Bear above and Kathleen Lake,Kluane National Park

 

 

 

On our way home, we stopped at Haines Junction at their famous little bakery and we both had a drink and I added a cinnamon bun before we made the trek back to Whitehorse. I was leaving for Calgary the next day and the thought came to mind as to why so many people want to drive the Alaska Highway each summer. It’s been added to my list of things to accomplish. I had a great time and great time hanging out with Olivia.

 

Whitehorse is a pretty nice little city and I have always loved the north. I’ll be back.

 

Finished the Willie Nelson autobiography this week and I’m a little disappointed in it.Compared to the Gregg Allman autobiography and Stephen King memoirs I’ve recently read, I felt like Willie glossed over a lot of things that did or might have happened that I would have been interested in. It was very clean. Not one story from the bus! I felt like he wrote it and was far too careful not to offend an ex wife or a friend and it seemed like he possibly was hiding things from his adult children.That being said,it was Willie Nelson and it was still an interesting story.

 

The song this week is from Bonnie Raitt who Lori and I saw on Friday the 16th. 

She is as good today as she was 40 years ago! This is her singing one of my favorite songs  written by John Prine, another favorite.

 

 

 

The quote this week is from Howard Zinn.

“The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll drop back next week………….

 

Week 23 & Mental Health

I could hear it in her voice when she said hello. How are you? I was returning my daughters call from 30 minutes earlier. Olivia is an addictions counselor and she moved up north at the beginning of January to do this. One of the young men she has been working with for quite awhile had committed suicide the day before. She was hurt and she was sad. One of the deals about being a parent is that when your kid hurts, you hurt. I never asked his name so I know I’ll sound clinical when I call him “her client”. Her client was a 23-year-old male addict who struggled with his addictions. We talked about him for awhile and the progress he was seemingly making but that progress can disappear quickly with an incident or set back. I have always been proud of Olivia for choosing Social work  and I commend her and all Social Workers for what they do and what they contribute to  our society. I knew when she became a Social Worker that this day would happen and unfortunately it will happen again. I know my daughter well and if we have Social Workers then I am very glad she is one of them. She’s awesome at her job and we need people in this line of work who care about people, society and their belief that they can and will make a change. She’s been doing this since she was in Junior High when she and some friends put on a fundraiser at school to help the victims of the disastrous tsunami of 2004.In a few years, in between grade 11 and 12 her and her friend Emily would spend their summer in Mozambique, working in an orphanage for children who had AIDS or had lost their parents to AIDS. I was hurting for my daughter but at the same time I knew there was no one better suited for this work than she is. I’m flying up to see her this Thursday for the weekend and I know we’ll discuss this more.

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The unfortunate thing is she will see this again. I have spent 25 years in the rooms of recovery and I have seen too many suicides. One is too many. I’ve seen more than that. Most of us, in recovery or not in recovery, have been touched sometime in our life, by suicide. It’s a human condition. I don’t judge anyone who has committed suicide and contrary to some others I don’t believe it’s a selfish act. My pal, Tim M committed suicide on an Easter Sunday at his home. Tim and I came into the rooms together about 1 week apart.  We even had the same sponsor. I had no idea Tim was even close to this. There were no signs, no cry for help, it was his final act. It happened a year and a half after we first met. So often the people left behind ask why and what could I have done? Nothing could be done. The signs are often camouflaged by an outward appearance that is a lie. I feel for these people who do not see an alternative. Imagine the desperation and hopelessness someone feels when suicide, to them, is their best option. I don’t believe it’s a selfish act nor do I believe there is a lot of thought into the ones left behind. It’s an act of insanity and sadly it’s temporary insanity. I have heard the phrase so many times, “a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I hold hope that the person contemplating suicide will have a moment of clarity and get to an emergency room where a temporary commitment can be enforced and hopefully there can begin something new and different that offers them hope.

 

This video of a famous Ali speech is a must watch and at only 3:21,why not? This is not about boxing or about sports. This is about something far higher than that.It’s so good!

 

The song this week is from Coldplay

 

The quote this week is :

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.
Rumi

Week 22 and There is a Solution

On Saturday it occurred to me that most people think I showed up to A.A., quit drinking, worked the 12 Steps and here I am 24 years later. But that’s not how it happened and I was reminded of that when I saw Conrad D. at the Cochrane Roundup this past Saturday. I always love to see Conrad and have the opportunity to catch up with him. Conrad was the greatest influence on me to get into the 12 Steps of recovery.

I had quit drinking January 7th 1993 and haven’t had a drink since. However I never went to a 12 Step meeting for my recovery. Why would I? I had quit drinking hadn’t I? As the days and weeks passed my life started to suck. Months passed and it got worse. My anxiety was through the roof. My temper was out of control. My patience was nil. I was angry at the world, 24/7.I had quit drinking so didn’t the world owe me something? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.No wonder I was angry.

I would run into Conrad on the streets of downtown Calgary a couple of times a week during this stage of my sobriety. He was in the drilling industry and so was I.I looked up to Conrad. He was genuine, funny, and he was successful and had been sober quite a number of years at this time. I wanted to be a lot more like Conrad. When I ran into him on the streets I would have an opportunity to complain to him about how horrible my life had become since I quit drinking. He would listen to me for a few minutes, sometimes he would mention A.A. and always he would walk away when I still had more to say. I was slowly becoming delusional and paranoid. I was messed up in my head. In September of 1993 I ran into Conrad as usual but as I was approaching him he put his hand up in that halt, or stop sign motion. So I stopped and before I could say anything Conrad said the words that I will never forget. “You may have not had a drink in a few months but you’re a bigger ass_________   than you were when you were drinking”. I was stunned. I was frozen in place and time seemed to have stopped. I think I stood there for about 30 seconds before I shook myself only to see Conrad had already walked ¼ of a block away. I was very hurt by those words.

I was so hurt that I went to an A.A. meeting that night. I called central office and there was a meeting that night at St. Michael’s Church on Bow Trail and 45st.I went to that meeting with the intent to join A.A. and change my life. There had to be more to life than the existence I was living. In my eyes Conrad was living proof that those 12 Steps worked. I showed up to The Bow Trail Group that Wednesday night and for the first time in longer than I can remember I had some Faith. Faith that A.A. worked.When they asked if there were any newcomers I stuck my hand up and when they asked if I wanted a newcomer’s package ,I said yes. I bought a Big Book that night and although the first man I asked to be my sponsor said no, the second one I asked said that he would. Something felt different that night and that feeling was hope. For so long my life had been hopeless but on this Wednesday night I had some hope that maybe I could make a life worth living. That I could find happiness and contentment.

Prior to that meeting I had become what is known as a dry drunk. Unbeknownst to me I had untreated alcoholism. Alcohol was only a symptom of my alcoholism. Alcohol was my solution to life and without it I had to find something different as a solution to my problems. I have since found my solution and it is far more than I had ever dreamed of.In A.A. I didn’t learn how to stop drinking. I learned how to live peacefully.

I have this, thanks to my good friend, Conrad D., who cared for me enough to tell me the truth, at the expense of, and despite my feelings. I have no idea where I would have ended up had I not gone through those doors of St Mike’s that night. It scares me to think about it.

I hope that each and everyone one of you has someone in your life that will help you find your truth when you’re too blinded at the moment, to see it yourself.

 

Was there any doubt that the song this week would be from Gregg Allman? If you know me then you saw this one coming. I was hurt when I got the news Saturday that Gregg Allman had passed on. Some of you might recall that Lori and I flew to Vegas last October to see him. He was on the venue with ZZ Top but he had to withdraw due to illness. Recently I did a search to see where he was going to play in 2017 only to find out he had cancelled all his gigs to build up his strength. He was able to keep me guessing and hoping to the end. He died on May 27 from complications due to liver cancer.I spent my teenage years listening to Southern Rock and The Allman Brothers were the pioneers of the genre. I’ve read today that fans have been asked to line the funeral procession route but the family will have a private ceremony. He’ll be buried next to his brother Duane, who was killed in 1971 in a motorcycle accident. This weeks song seems most fitting for the circumstances.

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This is Soulshine , released in 1994.

 

 

The quote this week is from the same man, Gregg Allman

 

I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make you cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.

RIP

 

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you’ll drop by again next week………………….