My Week living as a Nomad

Last week I did something that I’ve always wanted to do. I just loaded up the bike with my full backpack and left. Wasn’t sure where I was going except that I was heading west to the Rockies. Got up early on Wednesday and started my journey. The first day was a mix of cloudy and rainy weather. I didn’t mind cause at the end of the day I will be in the mountains. Things started to clear up as I made my way through Jasper which of course was beautiful. I then made my way to Valmount where I set up my first camp. The weather was nice and sunny. It was so beautiful. I was set up right next to a river where the salmon were spawning. They were huge.

My camp in Valemount

My camp in Valemount

Day two I was up early and ready to hit the road again. I would have another day of rain. Again I was okay with that. At least all my gear was packed away and dry. The scenery every day of this trip was beautiful. So I won’t keep repeating that. I made my way to Wells Gray Where they have these really cool water falls. The first I saw was Spahats Creek Falls.  This was supposed to be the lesser of the two that I decided to see. It was amazing. I couldn’t imagine the Helmcken Falls being better, but I was anxious to see them. After riding in 25k on really windy roads I was almost there, but the road started to get really bad. Is was really old pavement with potholes that were filled with gravel. I wasn’t exactly comfortable riding there, but I was SO close. I came this far. On the last sharp turn             ( not quite a hair pin turn, but close. ) I came around the corner and found nothing but gravel. I was not ready for this. I knew if I turned too sharp I was going down, but with the road turning so sharp I was running out of road. I turned a bit too much and down I went. I just remember sliding along the road hearing the sound of my helmet scraping the gravel.

Took some damage

Took some damage

That sucked. Day 2 and I lay the bike down. With help I got the bike back up and did a quick assessment. Bike took some damage and except for the mirror it was just cosmetic. I banged up my left hand a bit, but otherwise I was fine. I decided that I was going to see these damn falls anyway, which turned out to be right around the corner. I was angry at myself and had some time to think about what happened as I watched the really great waterfall. Decided two things. I wasn’t going to let this get me down and no more back roads with gravel all over the place

Helmcken Falls

Helmcken Falls

I then made my way to Kamloops where I was supposed to meet up with my cousin. I called him when I got in, but received no answer. After trying a few more times I had to give up as the sun was starting to set and I needed to find a place to sleep. I found a camp and got set up. Worried about my hand swelling up over night, I made sure to have ice on it all night. the next day the hand was swollen, but manageable. Also there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I headed south east through Vernon and Lumby. It was a solid day of really great riding. Just what I needed. Nice winding roads on a beautiful day. then I came upon a bunch of cars just stopped. First thought was maybe there was an accident up ahead or maybe a rock slide. Nope they were waiting on the ferry to cross Lower Arrow Lake. Fun. I get to go for a boat ride! After the ferry I made my way to Nakusp. The town was full of other bikers and they were all so friendly and wanting to help. I quickly set up camp in a site right in town. Once set up I decided to visit the Nakusp Hot Springs. It was a lot quieter than I thought. It was really nice to just soak in the hot water. It was also nice to just get cleaned up. Once back at camp I walked downtown to the Leland Hotel. The oldest hotel in B.C. They had a buffet so I went with that and a beer. I sat on the back deck which over looks the Upper Arrow Lake.

Leland Hotel

Leland Hotel

After a good night sleep I loaded up and just took a walk downtown Nakusp. Such a nice little town with cool old buildings. After a coffee and cinnamon bun at a small coffee shop I was back on the road.

I made my way north to the Shelter Bay Ferry. Another boat ride. I decided I wanted to set up camp a bit early and stopped off at a campsite that I knew was really nice just outside of Revelstoke. Everything was booked up except for one site. An older couple with a trailer showed up looking for a site as well. I offered to share my site with them for the night and then they could have it to themselves for the other nights that they wanted to stay. I ended up being able to set up in a site where other campers left early. It was really nice there and I decided that I would whip into town to book for another couple nights as well as get some laundry done. All the B.C. Provincial campsites are about 90% reservation and 10% first come first serve. It’s a pain when just traveling without a set agenda. I wasn’t able to book there, but I learnt about another small private one that was really nice and WAY cheaper. Thanks to the pretty girl at the visitor info place for telling me about it. It doesn’t show up on any map. Then I did a quick load of laundry and headed back.  Back at camp the couple that I met earlier invited me to dinner. The dinner was great and it’s always good to make new friends.

The next day I packed up and headed to Wadey, the new campsite that I learned about at the visitor centre. As I was told it was really nice. I booked for two nights. Once set up I could just relax some.

Wadey Campground

Wadey Campground

After relaxing and walking around the campsite, checking out the lake and talking with some of the other campers I headed back to my camp. I realized that if I was staying there a couple of nights then I could head into town and pick up some real food and BEER. I rode into Revelstoke to the nearest cold beer store. I was pretty sure if I asked nice that I’d be able to get some kind of beer promotion insulated backpack. I was right. With my backpack and a six pack I headed to the grocery store and grabbed some food and ice. I headed downtown to where I knew the live music would be starting up. I decided to have a beer at a bar called Chubby Funsters. ( Great name ) There I could sit and watch the entertainment with a beer. I did end up getting a burger and fries as well.

Chubby Funsters

Chubby Funsters

Just as the band started playing it started to rain a bit. I didn’t want to ride back in the rain or wait until it was dark so I headed back to camp. It was raining pretty good, but I was content to sit in my tent listening to the rain and playing sudoku till I started to fall asleep.

The next day I woke to a nice sunny morning. I made up some eggs and coffee then went and explored a trail that I found. It was a really nice trail that never went too far from the lake.

Trail at Wadey

Trail at Wadey

After hiking I decided to check out the Revelstoke Dam. They had a really good self guided tour there. Then I decided to head into Revelstoke and just walk around downtown and check out some of the stores and all the old buildings. After an hour of that it was back to camp where I cooked up a big meal. After dishes I grabbed my six pack and my sketchbook and just hung out at the lake till dusk. It was so relaxing there. After a good nights rest I packed the bike up and gave my little cooler with three left over beers and some food to some campers that were beside me. It was time to make tracks.

That day I did a lot of riding through four national parks. Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho and Banff. It was such a good ride. I made my way to Canmore. I set up camp right in town at Wapiti campground. It wasn’t much but they had showers. Later I found out that they charged $3 for 6 minutes. I was pretty disappointed to hear that and decided that I would just go to the pool. I relaxed in the hot tub there for a while and enjoyed having a nice long shower. Then it was off to the Grizzly Paw Brewing company where I enjoyed some food and of course one of their beers. They brew really good beer. Then I headed back to camp. As I laid there in the tent I was thinking how good my bed was going to feel tomorrow night.

Packed up the bike for the last time the next morning. Grabbed a coffee at the local Tim Horton’s and made my way back home. It was sad seeing the mountains fade in my mirror, but it was time to get back. Once you leave the mountains the roads all level off and start to get a lot straighter. Quite boring to ride after some of the awesome roads I’ve just been on. I didn’t make too many stops. Just for gas and a quick bite. I made it back home  a couple hours before sunset. After a shower I unpacked the bike, visited with my daughter who stopped by and then headed straight for my bed. Man it was so comfortable.

 

My Edmonton Art Walk Experience

This last year I have been making art a priority in my life. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed here and there, but never really focused on it. After many years of enjoying Edmonton’s Art Walk on Whyte Ave. I decided that I would have enough paintings done in time to show at the 2015 Art Walk. I managed to push myself to keep at it, but after a while I found I didn’t have to force myself to paint. I started to really want to. Ideas for painting seemed to come easier as well.

With enough paintings done I stand in line for registration. This turns out to be a great experience. I met some very lovely and talented artists while standing in line. they started showing each other their artwork which was all great and then they asked to see mine. I was a little reluctant cause up until that time only a few of my friends had seen my paintings. To my surprise they all seemed to really like my stuff. It was such a good feeling. A real confidence boost. The hour in line seemed to fly by and eventually we were all registered.

With registering done I now had to make sure I was ready. Now the work begins. I decided that I wanted to be able to sell prints of my work. I know in the years that I have gone I just couldn’t afford to buy every painting that I liked. Luckily a lot of them had prints that I could enjoy at a cheaper price. So I had to start shopping around for a place to scan and print my paintings. That was a lot harder than I thought. After a lot of research and even trying to do it myself, I found one place to do my scanning and another to do the printing at a reasonable price. Next was figuring out how to show my paintings. With the help of some other artist friends I was able to find a place where I could get some grid walls and everything else needed to set up.

Day one setup without a tent

Day one setup
without a tent

I was told earlier not to bother picking up a tent because I wasn’t allowed a tent in my area, so on the first day (Friday) I show up with all my stuff and discover that everyone has a tent. Oh I’m actually in a tent area. So there I was amongst all the tents without one. It wasn’t that bad though. I had a lot of people looking at my art, taking business cards and asking questions, but I sell nothing the first day. I actually wasn’t disappointed though, because a lot of people had a lot of nice things to say about my art. Also I got to talk to some of the other artists and they told me that Fridays are usually slow.

Day two setup this time with a tent

Day two setup
this time with a tent

Day two I have my lovely daughter to help me and I have a tent. There are way more people than there were the previous day and it takes a little while, but people actually start buying some of my prints. One thing I noticed is that once someone purchases something other people take notice and pay more attention to your stuff. Also I had so many friends come by to visit. It was really nice to see all the support I had. Some even brought me treats. I like treats. So Saturday was a great day.

Sunday came and was calling for rain. My daughter Alicia was with me again. This day I decided that I would take advantage of having her there and venture out to see some of the other art work and talk to some of the other artist. All the artists were so nice and so willing to share information. I learnt so much from them that weekend and made a few more friends as well. That day I sold more prints and came so close to selling one of my original paintings. If only I was able to take Mastercard. The rain managed to stay away until after everything was loaded back into the truck. Now that’s good timing.

No original paintings sold, but I sold quite a few prints and a lot of people really seemed to like my work so I’m really happy with that. I also made a few more friends and got to meet a lot of great art lovers. It was a really great weekend and especially great that I got to share it with my daughter. What a great weekend.

With the experience of having done one and all the great advise from other artist I’m already looking forward to next year. Until then I am already registered to do some other smaller shows and there is still a lot more work to be done. And more painting

Moving Forward

I’ve decided to write about moving forward mostly for my own benefit. Recently I’ve been packing up some of my stuff from the other house to bring here. Being there, packing up everything made me feel kind of sad. It made me feel as though I failed. In a way I guess I did. All the  items I was packing up seemed to spark memories. Some of them were good. Some of them were bad. I was packing the stuff up because my wife had been asking me to. It’s been almost a year since we separated and she’s ready to move on. I don’t blame her. I kept putting it off for some reason. I guess there’s a part of me that is scared to let the past go. It just feels like once I take that step of moving everything, then there is no going back.

Now I’m in my little house and I have no idea of what my life is going look like in the future. Not sure where I’ll live, where I’ll work, or even what I’ll be doing for work. I gotta say it can be a bit scary.  The scariest to me is wondering if I’ll be alone.

So, what’s the best way to move forward when your life goes through drastic changes? That I do not know. All I know is how I plan to move forward. One thing that I’ve decided is that I am not going to fear the unknown and just think of it as an adventure. For some reason thinking of things this way makes it more exciting and less scary to me. Also I’ve written a couple lists of things that I want to accomplish every month and in the next year. These lists gives me something to focus on. I have even longer goals, but the stuff on these lists are things I need to get done to achieve those goals. An example would be working out so many hours a week which will give me the long term goal of having a fit and healthy body. I’m applying this to all the different areas of my life. So far it’s seems to be working and it’s helped me to stay motivated.

I think of moving forward as having an idea of where you want to be and like the beginning of an adventure, pick a path and start walking. You might even find yourself on the wrong path, but you’ll gain the knowledge that gets you onto the right one. You might end up on a path that takes you to an even better place. Who knows? The only way to find out though is to start walking. Advance toward your goals, celebrate the successes, learn from the mistakes and always enjoy the adventure.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”    ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude

I kind of touched on the subject of gratitude in my last blog “Changes”. One of the things that I’ve really been taking notice of lately is the power of gratitude. It is such a huge component to just feeling happy. So many of us are trying to make our lives better, as am I. Which is great, except we tend to just focus on what we want in the future. We focus on the money, things and lifestyles we don’t have yet. When we’re constantly thinking of what we DON’T have we tend to lose sight of the things we DO have.

Compared to the majority of people on this planet we are all rich. There are so many people who don’t have a proper roof over their heads. They have to worry about food, clean water, clothing, diseases that we cure with simple medication. The thing that gets me is when you see them with so little, with hardly anything at all and they can still manage to have a smile on their faces.

I highly doubt that I will ever in my life have to worry about food, water, clothing or shelter.      ( never say never )

Since I’ve started consciously being thankful for the things I do have, I really have noticed that my mood is a lot better. I am happier. Even on really crappy Monday’s. I look around and see so many things, people, opportunities to be thankful for.

Let’s just take the first couple of hours of my morning for example. I got to wake up in an extremely comfy bed. Then I get to relax in a tub full of clean hot water while drinking coffee and watching a movie on Netflix. A lot of people wouldn’t even dream of a morning like that.  If you went back just a few years ago, the richest man in the world would not be able to have the same morning I just did. Feels good to be rich. If you’re reading this you’re rich too.

Do yourself a favour.  Everyday when you wake up, think of three things to be thankful for. It can be any thing or anyone. It could be as simple as it’s a nice sunny day. Practice being grateful throughout the day. Another thing you can do is follow @MelshaShea and answer the question that she asks every day. Who or what made you smile today? It helps make you think and appreciate the little things.

Hope you all practice gratitude and live a bit happier.

Changes

It’s been a long time since I wrote on here last. About two years in fact, and a lot has happened in the last two years, especially the last one. I found myself in a place where I wasn’t really sad, but at the same time I wasn’t really happy. The biggest thing was that I felt really alone. Here I was married for 22 years and feeling really lonely. Despite really trying to make my marriage work, it just wasn’t. I got tired of trying and started to ignore the situation. After a year of that we ended up separating. I moved out March 2014 into our first house that was kept as a rental property. The house is only a few blocks away so if I’m really needed I’m not too far. Jacob my son moved in with me for the summer. It was nice having him here, but he now lives in Edmonton with one of his buddies to be closer to school. The absolute biggest thing that I miss is my daughter Alicia. I don’t get to see her as often as I thought I would. She’s seventeen now and with school and work, she only has weekends to spend with her friends. I don’t get those brief moments in between like I used to when I lived at home. I miss her SO SO Much. We do have Father/Daughter days though, which are really great.

So for now it’s just me and my lovable dog Sasha in our little house.

Other Changes I’ve made? Well I finally got a tattoo. the first of a few. It’s of a fire fighter’s Maltese Cross. Fire fighting has been a huge part of my life for the past 10 years. I’m really proud of the time I put in as a fire fighter. but I think I might actually be quitting pretty soon. It’s amazing how politics can take something you’re passionate about and completely destroy it. Whether to quit or not is going to be a really tough decision for me to make.

I’ve started painting again. Which I’m really loving. I plan to complete at least one painting a month and hopefully have a booth for the Whyte Ave art walk this summer.

I’ve also started working out with a trainer and eating really healthy. Well I have the odd cheat days here and there, but you only live once.

In the warmer months I rode my bike. A LOT. To and from work everyday and a few really nice road trips. One not so good, but it was definitely an adventure. Buying a bike was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

IMG_0645

So what’s next? We’ve just entered 2015 and I have a lot of plans. Home renovations are an ongoing thing in this old house, but the place gets nicer all the time. I’m not just planning, I will complete all three Spartan races this year and earn the Trifecta. Hopefully with a team because I think it will be more fun with friends. Also hoping to take the bike to Tofino and try surfing for the first time. Going to design another tattoo. This one will show my love for Halloween. I also plan to start playing my bass again. I think I might actually take some lessons so that I can learn to play properly. Another thing I will be doing this year is figuring out another way to earn a living. With the New Canada Post ending door to door delivery, I do not want to be standing at boxes and sorting mail all day, every day. That’s not the job I signed up for. Also, I really plan to work on myself. Try to be a better person and be more appreciative of the life that I do have. My life may seem shitty sometimes, but the truth is that I have so so much to be grateful for. I’m really starting to learn that one of the keys to happiness is gratitude. So many of us worry about what we don’t have instead of spending those thoughts on the things that we do have.  One more change that I had planned was to get this little blog up and running again. I’m gonna try once again to post here about once a week and share my thoughts and experiences with you. Hopefully my writing gets better.

 

 

 

2012 a Horribly Good Year

Once the new year started I noticed a lot of people wishing for a better year than last. It’s true that 2012 wasn’t a great year. It was the year my mom passed away. We also lost one of my favourite  aunts. The firehall went through some huge changes and due to politics lost a lot of our members. At work Management implemented new procedures each one of them making our jobs harder to do. Looking back on 2012 I have a lot of reasons to say it was a horrible year. That being said, I’m choosing to look back and remember the good things that happened throughout the year.

I finally had the opportunity to take the last course to finish off my Firefighter (NFPA 1001).

It was my first year putting together a professional haunt. We raised over $600 and tons of food for the food bank. For only being open four hours I think that’s pretty good.

I was able to go on four separate trips which allowed me to bond with my family. The fishing trip to Radium with my brother and my father was a great way to just get away and spend some time together. Heading back to Costa Rica with Barb was an escape that we both needed. It is so beautiful there and so relaxing.  The weekend in Calgary at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo with Alicia was incredibly fun. Meeting actors and artists as well as checking out all the great artwork and costumes was such a great way to spend a summer weekend. My son and I both enjoyed hiking on Mount Robson. Just as beautiful as Costa Rica only in a different way. I believe that trip was an adventure that brought my son and I a whole lot closer.

The year was also full of those little moments like weekends at the lake, drinks around the kitchen table, going out to movies or for wings and beer. Taking in shows at Shell Theatre in Fort Sask. as well as a few concerts. All done with family and friends. Some of those friends were ones that I met in 2012 and are now close friends.

So ya 2012 was a bad year, but it was also a great year. I think as long as we take the time to be with friends and family then every year has the potential to be a great year.

 

Geek in the Mountains

One of the thing that I love to do is to go hiking in the mountains. When I say mountains, I’m referring to the great Canadian Rockies. They are just so beautiful, either from a distance or right up close.

Recently I went on a five day hike on Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. What made this hike extra special was that I got to do it with my son. 

In the picture above you can see my son Jacob with Mt. Robson in the background.

We started our adventure a day early. We were going to hike half way up the next day, but decided to leave early and camp an extra day. We hiked up to Kinney Lake the first day which was a 7k hike. The trail takes you through a forest of amazing giant cedar trees and everything is covered in a blanket of bright green moss. Jacob said it was like walking through the Enchanted Forest or the world from Avatar. It really is beautiful.

It was a short hike the first day, but it still felt good to get our packs off. Our packs weighed between 30 and 45 pounds. As light as I try to make my pack it still seems to be a bit heavier than I’d like. Each trip helps me learn where I can knock off a bit more weight. This trip I learned that I don’t need to bring so much fuel for the stove. Better too much than not enough though.

After the first night camping at Kinney Lake we packed everything back into our packs for another short hike to the Whitehorn campsite. It was only another 4k. We arrived there fairly early which gave us lots of time to explore without the packs. We ended up climbing a mountain getting as high up as we could. Not quite to the peak, but close. From that high up we could see the lake where we camped the night before. At Whitehorn there were lots of really beautiful waterfalls everywhere you looked. Amazing place.

Next day we started our hike to Berg Lake. We headed up through the Valley of a Thousand falls. I don’t thing there was a thousand, but there was a lot. The most impressive was Emperor Falls. It was so HUGE and you can get right up close to it, which is awesome on a hot day when you can use a bit of a cooling off. 

Jacob posing in front of Emperor Falls above.

After the falls we continued on past Mist Glacier then to Berg Glacier which dips into Berg Lake. It is named after the ice bergs that can be seen floating in the lake when pieces of ice breaks off of the glacier. We set up our tent and decided to go on another hike past Toboggan Falls to a cave. We were told it was just a 2k hike. We were not told it was 2k straight up. It was well worth the hike though. The falls were spectacular with parts of it being all this rock that has been carved by the water with all these curves and bowls dug out. The other part was a huge flat surface on about a 45 degree angle that had the water flowing over it. It kind of looked like a big water slide. Not one that I’d like to ride though.  From there we kept climbing till we got to the cave. The view from the top was incredible.

Picture above shows Mt. Robson, Berg Glacier & Lake from the cave site.

Below Jacob and I enjoy a little bit of spelunking.

 After checking out the caves we made our way back down to camp, which went a lot faster than the way up. Feeling pretty tired we went to sleep to rest up for the next day’s hike. It rained that whole night, but had subsided by the time we got up.

Once up we made some coffee and breakfast, which was some more freeze dried food. This time it was some kind of breakfast skillet. It was edible, but just barely. With some food in our bellies and small packs with snacks we were on our way to the Snowbird Pass. This trail brought us past Robson Glacier and then starts to climb and climb till you reach a beautiful meadow with lots of grass, flowers, creeks and the odd snow patch here and there. After the meadow there is another climb over the top of a mountain ridge. Once over the top we were treated to the view of a huge glacier (Coleman Glacier) that seems to go on forever. You get that feeling of being on the top of the world.

After this climb it was nice to know that the rest of our hiking trip would be all down hill from here. We spent a little time taking pictures and enjoying the view before heading back down. During the trip back we encountered some rain which then turned to snow and then rain once again. Still the views were so magnificent that everyone was still in a great mood. Oh I should add that we caught up to four other hikers and decided that we would all hike out together. Once we got close to the berg lake campsite and feeling quite damp it was SO nice to see smoke coming from the chimney of the cabin that is located at the campsite. A couple had lit the wood stove inside making it warm and cozy inside. We made some supper ( chilli?macaroni ). Which was probably the best of all the food packages that we brought with us. Once we were done eating it was really nice to sit inside the warm cabin and chat with the other hikers that were in drying off as well. Kind of felt like a little pub in the middle of nowhere. I really enjoyed myself that night.

After another night in the tent, we packed everything up and headed back down. We were booked to spend the night at Emperor campground, but with it raining and both of us craving real food we decided to just continue to hike out. The 21k hike went quicker than I thought. Once back at the car we changed some of our clothes and headed into Jasper. We grabbed some A&W, because we wanted to make it to the hot springs before they closed. The hot springs felt so good. We then spent the night at a camp ground near by. The next day we drove home. What a great trip.

The pic below is some of the cool hiking gear that the geek in me just loves. 

All my dishes fit in that one little pouch and I have figured out that I can lose some of it. The lighter the better. Headlamps are easier than flashlights and they sure came in handy in the caves. My stove fits in that incredibly small plastic case which also fits inside my pots. The gorilla pod is the tripod for my camera allowing me to set my camera up almost anywhere, even on tree branches. The SteriPEN is like a magic wand that makes water from lakes and rivers good to drink in seconds. It kills all the bacteria and other nasties with ultraviolet light. I added my iPhone in there because the battery in my camera died before heading out on the Snowbird Pass. My iPhone allowed me to continue to take pictures and video during our trip. I may have used it to play some sudoku and watch an episode of Buffy as well before falling asleep.

Hair today – Gone Tomorrow

This is a story that people seem to find interesting when I tell it to them, so I thought I would share it here on my little blog.

The first time that I noticed anything out of the ordinary was one day while shaving. I noticed a spot about the size of a nickel on my chin that was just bare. I mean there was no stubble there. I didn’t think too much of it and just put it out of my mind. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beginning of a big change for me.

A couple of weeks later, one early December morning in 2010 I woke to get ready for work. I get into the warm shower and start cleaning myself up. When I start to rinse the shampoo out of my hair I notice strands of hair left in my hands. I talked myself into believing it wasn’t anything to be concerned about. It was just a few hairs after all. This continues to happen every shower after that, only the hair seems to come out more and more each time. I remember standing in the shower and grabbing a chunk of hair and tugging it. I was a bit horrified at how easily the hair could be pulled out. Now this was not normal male pattern baldness happening. Hair was coming out in spots all over my head. It was not looking good.

I decided to ignore it the best way I could. I wore a cap. My attitude toward my situation would change on the evening of our Christmas party. It was a formal party for the fire fighters in town. I got dressed up in my suit and talked myself into believing that my hair wasn’t as bad as I thought. That I was just being self conscious. That ended really quickly once my wife noticed my hair and started asking me about it. “Shit” I thought. Someone else being concerned about it made it all of a sudden seem real. I now had to wear a cap with my suit. All night I felt uneasy being the only one at the party with a cap on.

After my shower the next day I took a long hard look in the mirror and decided that my hair now looks ridiculous with it’s bald patches all over my head. That’s when I grabbed my razor with a fresh blade and shaved it all off. Now I was completely bald. A very different look, but not near as bad as it was. Actually I kind of liked it.

Next I had to know what caused this to happen. I made an appointment with my doctor. I told him what has been happening. He asked me if I had been stressed or if I had been close to radioactive material. I answered “No, not that I know of.” to both questions. When ever he needs me to get blood work done, he gives me a list and usually checks off one or two out of the thirty or so tests that he wants done. This time it seemed like he checked all the boxes. After the results from the blood tests came back, the doc called and gave me the news. I was perfectly healthy. That was a relief. He also made me an appointment with a specialist.

The specialist informed me that what I had was a condition called alopecia. Apparently my body was rejecting the pigment that was found in my hair. There was no way to tell if my hair would come back or not. She gave me a bottle of lotion that was supposed to help promote hair growth. I used it once or twice, but then just stopped using it. I was getting used to being bald and really didn’t mind it.

Then I started to lose all my hair. I would lose my eyebrows, my eyelashes, all my body hair. I was now bald from head to toe. this period really sucked cause I looked like a freak with out eyebrows. This wouldn’t last for long though, but it did however get weirder.

After a week of having absolutely no hair, it started to grow back. Good right? Well there was a catch. The hair growing back was white. I mean a really bright white. whiter than snow. I looked exactly like an albino without the pink eyes. I kept shaving my head, but couldn’t hide my white eyebrows or even weirder looking was the white eyelashes.

About a week later I decided I would stop shaving my head and just see what the white hair would look like if I let it grow out. I was hoping because it was white and not grey that I might be able to pull off a sort of Billy Idol look. “That wouldn’t be so bad.” I thought.

The hair grew out and it was really soft, kind of like baby hair. After a few weeks and a couple of inches of hair growth I noticed something new. I was getting dark roots. My brown hair was making a comeback. My eyebrows and lashes darkened up, as did the hair on the rest of my body. Time went by and I remember plucking a hair from my head and half of it would be brown and the other half white. People that didn’t know me would have thought that I just had my tips frosted.

A couple of haircuts later and my hair was pretty much back to normal. All the white hair is now gone. Hopefully it never comes back. I do at times miss the bald head though.

Oh, I would like share one more thought about dealing with alopecia. I’ve often thought that as bad a situation as it was, I can only imagine how much worse it would be for the women and younger girls that end up having to deal with this. It has to be so much worse for them.

Geek Among Geeks

This last weekend my daughter Alicia and I drove down to Calgary to check out the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo. I picked up some weekend tickets at Wizard Comics in Edmonton on Thursday which would save me $20. Friday after I was done work and Alicia was done school we left for Calgary. The plan was to check it out Friday night and then all day Saturday. By the time we arrived in Calgary it was already 7:30 and I wasn’t about to pay 13 dollars for half an hour of checking things out. So we decided that we would just head to the motel room. Once we found the motel we went for a walk to grab some munchies. While on our walk we seen about ten people dressed as Ghost Busters. They looked so cool and I’m pretty sure that they weren’t afraid of no ghost. 

Once back we ate our munchies, watched some TV and called it a night.                                 The next morning we headed downtown to the BMO Centre to check out all the wonders it had to offer. We arrived just after 10:00 and were greeted by the little puppet dude from the Saw movies. All remote control. It would be SO cool to have something like that outside of my home haunt at Halloween.

We were able to get in right away with absolutely no line up. Handed them our tickets and we were given out passes. Once inside we noticed that there were a lot of people dressed up in costumes. People dressed up as super heroes or their favourite Anime character. People wore Starfleet uniforms and Victorian Steampunk outfits. They wore robes like Jedi Masters and armour like Master Chief. Alicia and I were really under dressed for this occasion.

After having our pictures taken with characters from the Halo Universe we went around a corner and sitting behind some tables with glossy photos of themselves were WWF wrestling stars that I used to watch back when I was quite a bit younger. We walked over and spent about 20 minutes talking with Jake(the Snake) Roberts and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Both seemed like great guys. What a great way to start the day. Then around one more corner people were beginning to line up to meet and get autographs from some of the other stars that were there. All the original cast of StarTrek TNG were there along with others like Stan Lee, Adam West, Adam Baldwin and more.  Now I’m not one for standing in line to get someones autograph, but I’ve been a fan of Wil Wheaton’s work for a while and he was right there. The line up hadn’t had a chance to build yet and there  was only 5 or 6 people in line. That’s a line I can handle. I picked out a recent pic for him to sign and got to talk to him while he mixed some honey into his tea. He seemed like a really nice guy, but maybe a bit of a germaphobe. He declined to shake my hand but opted for a fist bump instead. I found it to be a bit odd, but who am I to judge.

From there we found our way into the main hall where everyone had their booths and tables set up. There were so many talented artists there. Both Alicia and I really enjoyed looking at all the artwork, watching the artists draw and paint and just talking with them about their artwork. I did end up buying a couple of prints. I just need frames now.

There was also tons of comics. I wasn’t about to thumb through all the comics mostly because I thought is would be boring for Alicia, but she decided that she wanted to buy some. She looked through some and decided on some Simpsons comics. Later we would bump into a writer that did a lot of writing for Simpsons comics. Alicia showed him the comics that she had just bought and he responded with “Ya I wrote all of those ones.” and was happy to sign them all for her.

We bought a couple of pizzas for lunch and sat with a guy dressed as Q from  StarTrek TNG. While eating we decided that we were never going to get through everything in one day so we decided that we would stay and come back on the Sunday as well.  After our lunch we went into the staged area where Adam West was speaking. He was very entertaining and fun to listen to.

We wanted to run out to the car to unload some of the prints and swag that we bought. Mostly because I didn’t want my prints to get bent. Almost left the building when a volunteer stopped me and warned me that if I left it might be a long time before I got back in. I guess the fire marshall said that there were too many people in the building according to fire code regulations and they weren’t letting anyone else in the building. So we stayed in. We then looked at more art work and took more pictures of people dressed up in their costumes. That really was one of the best things about the show. All the people who took the time to come up  with such great costumes and outfits. 

Seeing all of the great costumes made Alicia decide that she wanted to go to one of the booths to get her faced made up. She didn’t want to go the cute kitty cat route. I think the apple didn’t land too far from the tree, cause this is what she had done. 

That’s my girl.   After becoming Zombie Alicia she got a lot of attention which she loved. She was happy to pose for people who were asking to take her picture.

The day was coming to an end so we grabbed some supper at the Keg and I found us another motel room. Alicia tried to keep her fancy makeup job to wear the next day, but it got destroyed in her sleep.

Next morning after a bit of breakfast at Tim Horton’s we headed back. This time we weren’t going to be just walking straight in. There was a lineup from Hell. It basically went around the whole building with some snaked portions throughout. At one time there were so many people in one area that nobody could tell what line they were in anymore so instead of lines it just became one big funnel. For how long the line up was, it actually went pretty quick. Volunteers were going around telling people that if they didn’t have tickets that they wouldn’t be getting in because they were sold out. Luckily we had ours. It was probably 45 minutes before we got inside, but it didn’t seem that long. Probably because there were so many cool costumes to look at.

Once inside we found the spot where we left off. There was still so much to see, but today we seemed to be moving quite a bit faster. We entered a section with lots of collectables. Alicia bought ( with Dad’s money ) a couple of Hello Kitty lunch boxes. One for her and one for her friend. I picked up some magnets of cartoon style Firefly characters. I just had to have them.

There seemed to be even more costumes than the day before.

We then checked out the Batmobile and the Time travelling Delorean from Back to the Future.

Alicia was wanting to sit for a bit so we headed to the auditorium where luck would have it, Stan Lee was on stage telling stories about why the Hulk was green instead of grey and how he came up with Peter Parker’s girlfriend Mary Jane. He answered questions and told even more stories. Once Stan the Man was done talking and the crowd was finished with the incredibly loud standing ovation we were ready to continue looking around.

Came across this grand piano. On it were signatures of all the Star Trek TNG cast.  The piano is a Rolland V-piano Grand. It will be on display at Steinway Pianos of Calgary and will make a special appearance in Vulcan during Spock Days June 8-10, 2012. It will then be available for a worldwide auction in support of the Southern Alberta Make-a-Wish Foundation. Info can be found at www.steinwaypianosofcalgary.com.

Speaking of Spock Days in Vulcan, after leaving the piano we came across Garrett Wang of Star Trek Voyager. He played Ensign Harry Kim. He was there to promote Spock Days and was having a good time signing autographs and was happy to let people take their picture with him. Oh and he liked my Firefly t-shirt so he must be a great guy.

We then proceeded to take turns sitting in the captain’s chair. The one that is usually aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. Alicia also got a picture taken of her in the transporter room.

Next I remembered that the author Max Brooks was going to be there. We went to his table earlier, but I don’t like lineups and there was a long one. Now that it was a bit latter I decided to check on the Max Brooks table again. Oh I should add that it was just a coincidence that I had a copy of World War Z in my backpack. It was in there from when I went on holidays last month. Just a lucky chance. Anyways, we get back to his table and there is no one in line. Grabbed the worn copy of his book from my backpack and he was happy to sign it. I thanked him, He thanked me and I we continued on our way. 

Another person we met was Micheal Benyaer. Don’t recognize the name? Well he did voice work on one of my favourite cartoons at the time. It was Canadian, It was cutting edge. The first to use CGI. Yes Canadians did it before Pixar. 

Soon after it was time to go. Not sure who had the most fun Alicia or I, but we both had a great weekend together. I’ll be looking forward to going next year. So cool to be in a place where there are so many people into the same geeky things that I am.