Back Home in Canada and Off Again I Go

Back Home in Canada and Off Again I Go

So, after my exhausting flight back to Vancouver on May 21, 2024, I realized I had travelled 35,500 km (mostly by air – 23,100 km – in 34 hours of flying time). I drove 7,700 km in Australia (1,900 km of which was in a motorhome with my gal Laurence HOFFMANN) and 4,800 km traversing both islands in New Zealand, so my fitness level has taken a real beating with all of the sitting around I have been doing. I did as many micro-burst exercises along the road as I could, but overall I am turning to mush. I hit the gym near my home 5 days a week for the month that I was home. Thanks to Jane DENIZMEN, who is renting my place while I am away, I am generously allowed to be a guest in my own condo. It takes me two weeks to normalize after my hectic and stressful pace Down Under. I visit friends for coffee in an effort to unwind and decompress; I make many phone calls; the Police Judo crew has a farewell dinner for me, I get as caught up as I can.  I will miss them all when I hit the road again soon. I go to the Odd Squad-sponsored Gord Spencer Memorial Golf Fundraiser established by retired VPD member (and Odd Squad’s gang expert) Doug SPENCER. I saw many retired pals of mine and pondered my career. I feel lucky to have been a member of the VPD…

I find far less attachment to my comfortable home as I set to embrace the suck of loneliness, discomfort, and uncertainty that drifting down the open road brings. I look forward to downsizing soon. It is time to let go of the old and get to know a newer version of myself. It has been said that to find yourself, you have to lose yourself–travelling on the razor’s edge can provide this opportunity for growth. I am forced to listen to myself in those quiet moments of uncertainty. I am careful to answer back with all of my collective positive wisdom that I can muster.

I begin prepping my leased car, a 2023 Nissan Rogue, which will be first-class transportation, but 3rd-class accommodation. I visit my sister Marilyn and her husband Joe in Victoria then see my lovely daughter Shimona HENRY and her partner Kane before driving to the west coast of Vancouver Island, to thank my retired Parks Warden buddy, Dan VEDOVA, for starting me on this law enforcement instructional career three decades earlier. I ended up being the tactical communications / use-of-force instructor for Parks Canada (coast to coast) for a decade in the 1990s. I presented Dan his second degree black belt in Nisei Karate-do a few decades ago, but we are both students of life and are happy to learn from each others as we age.

I reach out to another martial arts pal (and co-author of my first book), Joe FAULISE, who lives in  Tok, Alaska, to see if he has any police contacts up there. If not, I would likely have given it a pass, as it is a 3,000 km drive north of my cross-Canada trip route. As it turns out, two of his former martial arts acquaintances, twin brothers Jack and Jess Carson, are now both Lieutenants in the Anchorage and State Troopers respectively. Did they attend a clinic I put on in Tok in the early 2000s? They graciously agree to help me in my quest to make policing safer for both the officer and offender alike.

I feel like I have stayed too long at home, as I have so many miles to cover. The upcoming winter cold will chase me towards the southern border of the USA. I toss so many things into the back of my car after picking up a foamy on which to sleep and hit the northern road on June 23. I drive a very short distance to Chilliwack, so that could say goodbye to my brother Kevin STRAND and see my cats Ceate and TLO. After a 2 nights stay, I make my way to see a Police Judo instructor friend of mine, BC Sheriff Sgt. Brad Endean, who lives near Kamloops. We spend a few days to get caught up.  He was saying, his right arm in particular, was still sore from being tortured as my arrestee in my last book on joint locking. He felt so bad that he bought himself a new pontoon boat on which to cruise around Shuswap Lake, which he has moored a short walk from his place.

I visit my judo friend, John HUNTLEY (7th dan), for a coffee and look at his martial arts library in Kamloops. I drive north on Hwy 97 for 7 hours to sleep in a Walmart parking lot in Prince George. I see drug addicts and homeless people everywhere, like I so often witnessed in our Skid Road beat. I feel sorry and dismayed about our societal decline…

I celebrated my daughter Shimona’s 39th birthday over the phone with her. Gee, I am getting old! I am so proud of her efforts to re-invent herself as so many obstacles fall in her path. She is full of strength and creativity! I drive through the Cariboo to Houston, BC, where I am stopped by heavy rains, so I sleep in a random rest stop. It is now Friday June 28, and I wake up and listen to bits of  the TRUMP/BIDEN debate, if it could be called that. I have trepidations about the future of the world and worry that my tour may get shortened due to travel complications with WW III, another plandemic, or enhanced climate crisis strategies looming like a black cloud on the horizon

I remind myself that I only have here and now in which to live my life. I heard the comedian Jimmy CARR, of all people, provide an interesting perspective about seizing the day. He suggested that in thirty years (or how many decades that would make you very elderly) we would give up everything we had to be where we are today…so much younger and way more healthier. We cannot live in the future anymore than we can live in the past. We only have now, imperfect as it may be. Our past has been laid out by what we are doing in the present moments; our future is also being laid out by what we are doing today. Today is indeed precious, fleeting, and irreplaceable, so do your best now while you can, was essentially his message. This reminds me about why I am on this lonesome, less travelled road. I feel that it’s a bit of a race against time while trying to smell the roses along the way. I have to try more to do the latter. Carpe diem, indeed…

I got to meet an RCMP officer as I was speeding through the tiny town of Smithers, still in northern BC., then I decide to drive to Prince Rupert, just to say I saw it. The Skeena Valley was very beautiful–Prince Rupert was a rose indeed…a nice, small, friendly town. I boot it part way back up the valley and find a great rest stop where I could have a short rubber band workout around a covered picnic table. VPD Chief Adam PALMER called to get an update about my tour thus far and I lament to him about a recent letter of rejection from a Communications Sgt. at the RCMP training Depot in Regina. Adam is willing to help me get in to monitor their training. He is such a great supporter of both Odd Squad and Police Judo. Who could say that my quest is not an honorable one (besides the Goulburn Academy in New South Wales and the one in W. Australia). Who knows, maybe there is crushing political pressures at play that squashes transparency. Adam wishes me safe travels on my trip to Alaska, one that he wants to do. I hope he does it too.

I make it back to the well-maintained Stewart/Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37 N) that had light traffic, mostly RVs. I relax at the Nass River rest stop to eat more gas station food I bought earlier. I long for a salad! I divert westward along Hwy 37A to drop into Stewart. The road skirts very closely to excitingly beautiful mountains south of the road, complete with glaciers and tumbling, near-vertical waterfalls. I chat with three friendly Indo-Canadian males in their white SUV bearing the sign “Surrey to Alaska”. I dive into the back of my car to avoid pulling in mosquitoes with me and get back on the road north. I am always sleeping now before darkness sets in, well after midnight. I see a few bears and other animals too (a fox, wolf, etc.). I stay overnight in a rest stop just short of the Alaskan border after seeing two crows in the middle of the highway pecking another crow to death.

I wake up and cross into Alaska at Beaver Creek. The border guard was very friendly. I am now 174 km from Tok, on an extremely new and smooth road. This lasted for a few miles before the road became poorly maintained. Darn! I buy a can of “Alaskan cologne” (bug spray) as the little buggers are everywhere.  I pull over anywhere along the highway and it almost seemed that they were just waiting for me! I saw a fox and an Interior Grizzly along the side of the road. I scared the later animal own with my terrifying whip-poor-will call. I go to the Tok Information Center, one that is nicely adorned with stuffed wildlife and information stations, until Joe’s wife Tess appears and guides me to their home, a few miles out of town. Joe comes home hours later and we quickly get caught up since we last got together, far loo long ago. Joe is in the firefighting business  and is looking to retire soon. We have many evening sessions of recollecting his training days in Vancouver under the tutelage of Master Shou-Yu LIANG, in his International Wushu San-shou Dao Association located in our notoriously drug- and crime-infested Downtown Eastside. he recalls fighting off two robbers with his gym bag while walking to his first class with us. Welcome to the Skids! We also talk abut our experiences going on the 1994 North America  Martial Arts Tour to China. This “Friendship Tour” was an amazing experience, but that’s a tale that be told another time.

For now, I have to finish lining up my contacts in Anchorage and Fairbanks. My vehicle is at last fairly well kitted up for the road. bring it on!



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