First Steps

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, November 12, 2007

The train ride from Toronto to Vancouver brought delight and surprises. We were thrilled with the beautiful scenery of the Canadian Shield (billion-year-old rocks eroded by time) which covered hundreds of miles and was dominated by small lakes and fascinating moss-covered rock formations. Then there was an abrupt transition to the great rolling prarie of Manitoba, Saskatchawan, and Alberta where the natural landscape co-existed with small and large cattle ranches, coal mines, and antelope. After many miles of a relatively flat landscape we were eagerly anticipating our first view of the Canadian Rockies. The approach to the great mountains was awesome as we snaked our way into the center of the Rockies, viewing elk, big horn sheep, deer, eagles, canada geese, and lots of other birds.

The surprises were the variety of relationships we developed over the three days. Maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise, since when you have time, as we are looking forward to in the days of walking ahead of us, you learn so much more about one another and you have opportunities to explore ideas and beliefs as well. We enjoyed discussions with folks our age, and became quite close with some young people who allowed us oldsters to join in their fun. We hope to have continuing relationships with all these new-found friends.

Vancouver is a very large city, set in a dramatic location with the Pacific and islands to the west and mountains to the east. Its public transportation system is extensive and reliable. We stayed in the guest room at Cranberry Commons co-housing, hosted by our friends Ruth Walmsley and Tim Bartoo of Vancouver Friends Meeting. They were part of the planning for this community, and we saw it in 2001 when it was under construction. It's great to experience some of the benefits of urban community living.

While in Vancouver, we received an email from Eugene Friends Church with the following query which was included in its Sunday Bulletin:

"As a Christian steward, do you treat the earth with respect and with a sense of God's splendor in Creation, guarding it against abuse by greed, misapplied technology, or your own carelessness?"

We are very pleased with this query and hope that others will consider such questions within their congregations.

Saturday we were invited to participate in and help facilitate a "Global Warming Cafe." The "cafe" format is used to encourage people to share their fears and feelings about the effects of global warming and provides tools for change. It was a very powerful experience (with an attendance of about 60 people) and we thank those who are promoting it and for asking us to participate. Friends from Vancouver are very involved in fine-tuning it and bringing it to the greater Vancouver area. You can learn more about it at

Soooooo, yesterday we finally took those first steps towards San Diego. We were so tired of just talking about what we were going to do that it is a relief to begin. Vancouver Friends were very welcoming and receptive to our John Woolman program, and provided a delicious and abundant organic potluck. Although the weather was predicted to be rainy, we lucked out on our first day of an 11-mile walk with just some sprinkles. Nine people joined us for this first leg of our journey. They ranged in age from 9 to 64. We were a festive bunch, carrying a rainbow peace flag and our small Peace for Earth Walk banners. Drivers honked with approval, and that buoyed our spirits. Before leaving we were interviewed by two reporters, one from the Canadian Press (similar to the Associated Press) and the other from Sing Tao, Canada's premier Asian press.

Even after walking 11 miles, we never left an urban setting and always had to be mindful of our safety because of heavy traffic on many parts of the route. We are very grateful to Ruth Walmsley for scouting out the route and finding the safest and most interesting way to travel (we walked along the Fraser River on a bike path for several miles) to our first night's lodging in the New Westminster home of Vancouver Meeting Friends who, though away for the weekend, provided the key, food, and warm welcoming via a note. With sore feet and bodies, we plopped ourselves down into comfortable seats, feasted on a zuccini lasagna, and toasted ourselves for our walk which began after 3 p.m. and ended in the dark at 8 p.m. We hope that this will be the last time we walk in the dark. This experience taught us that we we will need to put more reflective strips on our clothing and packs in case we're out in the dark again.

With a forecast for a blustry and rainy day, we decided last night that we would hang around here for the morning. Then after lunch the four of us (Brad and Ruth will continue with us for the next couple of days) for a 7-mile walk to our next hosted site. A family with young children plan to meet us this afternoon at a Skytrain station and walk part of the way with us. We'll be back in touch around Thanksgiving time in Bellingham, Washington.

Ruah and Louis
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