Hey look, I wrote a book! Only one copy, no publisher, no isbn number — just my blog pages re-ordered chronologically. Feels good in my hands though!
Hey look, I wrote a book! Only one copy, no publisher, no isbn number — just my blog pages re-ordered chronologically. Feels good in my hands though!
Today’s diptych from Catherine, taken as we were sitting on the deck listening to our audio book. Left hand picture at 4:25; right hand picture at 5:25 pm.
Hello all! You already know we’re home, but you don’t know the crazy details. It was a day of extremes: 2 ambulances, a limo, a private twin-engine jet plane and new and old crew at every phase.
We had to fly high to avoid thunderstorms all along the route. 35,000 feet up, things were pretty smooth. We had a moment of suspense at the end of the flight. Because of ground fog in Halifax we were informed that the pilot might be re-routed to Charlottetown, PEI or Moncton, NB. Catherine momentarily thought, “That would be cool for the blog!” And was comforted to know that all of you out there would support us in our decision, whether it’s what you would have chosen or not! We agreed to Moncton, not PEI, because there’s a road that we know well from Moncton to Nova Scotia, whereas we’ve never driven the bridge and didn’t want yet another new experience. Enough already!
On our second approach, the pilot successfully landed on a pretty foggy Halifax strip, and we were back in Nova Scotia! We were met at the airport by not one but two vehicles: an ambulance but also a limo from Woods Limousine in Wolfville, with Chris Woods himself booked to drive me, since I was not allowed to ride in the NS ambulance, by NS Public Health authorities COVID-19 rules; and also to drive Jenny and Brad back to Halifax after they safely delivered us home, since they weren’t allowed in the ambulance once the patient they were caring for was no longer in the vehicle. Complicated, eh?
Then back into her wheelchair as soon as it was humanly possible!
Home free COVID-free, and that was the goal!!
Yet my heart and mind spare a moment to remember the many thousands of people who don’t have the luxury of escape, don’t even have the luxury to stay off work and out of harm’s way! It is a luxury to be able to take oneself and one’s loved one out of a dangerously out-of-control situation — to hire ambulance and crew and private jet planes — all of this is not inexpensive. And I resolve to do what I can to support those who are stuck in that sorry mess, in whatever way I can.
It does indeed take a village, and in our case, it took a village that spans an entire continent.
The myriad ways in which Jenny Kok, Brad Glahn and Larry Moberg came to our rescue, above and beyond the call of duty, are only hinted at in the pages of this blog. Every day and every mile, every pitstop – planned and unplanned – they were there with us and for us. They kept us well fed, well informed, and well protected from every person, environment, or surface that might carry Covid 19. They absorbed all of the stress of our journey’s halting progress and setbacks, while never sacrificing their commitment to our comfort, our well-being, and yes, our enjoyment. That we were able to make this journey successfully, and to complete it with fond and lasting memories, says everything you need to know about these three heroes, and our deep respect and affection for each of them.
Our village began to grow well before Jenny, Brad and Larry arrived at our doorstep in Tucson.
Carla and Michael and their extended family had welcomed us and kept us safely and happily sheltered for much longer than our usual southwestern sojourn. In the final, and wee-small, hours before our departure, Carla fitted us both for luxuriously comfortable masks and engineered custom cushioning for Catherine’s very long lie-down. And when it came to the final crunch, it was young Jett who did what five adults had failed to do, locating Notso in his hiding place and “persuading” him to surrender to captivity.
During our very long deliberations about what method of transport would be best suited to our predicament, Cher and Steve provided essential brainstorming and problem-solving support, boosting our confidence and our enthusiasm for a mode of accessible long-distance travel – the adapted camper van – that remains a very bright gleam in our eyes. If and when it happens, you will read about it here on this blog.
Dee and Kevin, vloggers and adventurers themselves, https://www.youtube.com/accessibleadventurers offered ideas and resources from their extensive network of experts in disability-friendly travel. Their offer to shepherd us home on the final leg of our journey in their accessible vehicle sets a high bar for crip solidarity that we appreciate greatly.
And still there were others who guided our deliberations and offered invaluable suggestions. Stephen, your caring and concern helped to keep us grounded and focused. Brenda, your observation that all of our options “sucked” made us laugh out loud, and feel comforted that our agonizing dilemmas were truly understood. Paul, your suggestion of a hybrid ground/air approach made it possible to commit to a plan without unbearable uncertainty. Jane, your first-hand experience of air ambulance rescue, complete with photos, helped Catherine to prepare mentally and physically for her experience. And Kathy, to our best recollection it was you who first pointed us toward LifeSupport, the medical transport and repatriation providers who offered our ticket to freedom, Canadian-style: orderly, compassionate and inclusive.
From our very first contacts with Patrick Hrusa and Graham Williamson at LifeSupport, we were made to feel as if our impossibly complicated circumstances could be handled as a matter of course and that both of us, along with our feline companions, my precious wheelchair and countless pieces of delicate equipment and luggage could be delivered safely, securely and swiftly home. As our journey took its many twists and turns, Graham and his entire logistics team at LifeSupport responded quickly and thoroughly to our every need and every question, and met their promise of service fully and faithfully.
And then there was Team Cat. Taking over from Larry when we needed him in the cockpit of our rig, Murray and Phil left the comfort and security of the Maritime bubble, and flew to Calgary in answer to our call. Over 5700 km of driving and dozens of text messages later, they delivered our van to Baxter’s Harbour, unloaded all of our luggage, and got Lucky and Notso comfortably settled in the Bunkie, each with private window views and room to roam. Now at home with their own domestic cats, they are counting down the days of their own quarantine, and we look forward in 2 weeks to a long and storied debrief.
On the home front, thanks go to Richard for keeping our home carefully maintained all winter, for clearing out the fallen trees and winter casualties, and for keeping our property from going altogether wild. Thanks to Kelcey for giving our house a thorough cleaning, to Shelley for pitching in as Cat Mom when our bewildered boys waited for food and love, not necessarily in that order. And thanks to Krista for filling our larder and standing by for further deliveries if our provisions begin to thin. You are the best neighbours one could hope for.
Along the way, as you have read in this chronicle, there have been dozens of dedicated EMS professionals, hotel personnel, flight crew, and civic minded volunteers who have offered and provided needed support. Dear friends and family members have cheered us homeward, nurturing our spirit of adventure (a nod to Erin), making immense efforts to catch us on-the-fly (hugs, Jane and Hilary) and offering to rendezvous distantly, if at all possible (a la prochaine, Moon and Audrey). New friends from afar – Teri and Arlyene, children, mothers and animal companions of our A Team crew – you have waited patiently for the return of Jenny, Brad and Larry, and we are forever grateful for your support of their choice to come to our aid.
We are honoured to share this village with all of you.
So much to tell! Tomorrow, I promise. But for tonight …
Thanks for all the great input. To put an end to the suspense, we are going to fly out tomorrow morning. Details still unknown, but we will be home in our own bed with our cats tomorrow evening.
“God willing” I hear my deceased father and aging step-mother chiding me. And I smile and say “Yes, God willing”.
Our bags aren’t quite packed yet, but they will be!
Leg 1: Ambulance to Fredericton for one night
Leg 2: Fredericton to home.
However, the ambulance is in the hospital. As soon as it’s discharged, we can go. But the official diagnosis was a ruptured high-pressure fuel hose, and surgical repair was not an option. (I have it on good authority that this is not a problem of negligence that could have been prevented through routine maintenance). Replacement is required and the part has been ordered from the US. It did not arrive today. It may arrive tomorrow and if it does, and if replacement goes smoothly, Plan A will unfold starting Saturday morning.
But if it doesn’t arrive, there will be no repair before Monday, which would mean hanging around here until Tuesday, with a crew that’s already been on the road and away from home for 2 full weeks with no break. If it doesn’t arrive Friday morning, we will have to consider
Leg 1: Local ambulance to airfield
Leg 2: Air ambulance to Nova Scotia
Leg 3: Local ambulance home from airfield
If we go with Plan B, the flight would be on Saturday and we’d be home on Saturday. Life Support dispatch has a plane on standby.
Leg 1: “Somebody“ goes to our house, gets our van, drives it to Ste. Hyacinth (8.5 hours) across a restricted border. That “somebody” would have to be a) able and b) willing to self-quarantine for two weeks upon return to Nova Scotia. There may be dozens of people who fit this description.
Leg 2: Catherine hops into her wheelchair, we hop into the car and our ambulance days are over.
BUT we are under strict quarantine orders, and any stops along the way, including bathroom breaks and a night in Fredericton may be considered violations of quarantine, with penalties ranging from fines to jail time. If “somebody” and I shared driving, we could do it in one go, but Catherine couldn’t tolerate such a long drive. We would have to get special permission to stop overnight in Fredericton or somewhere along the way. This is one very important role that Life Support has been playing all along, so that we didn’t have to worry about it. Without them, I worry.
Please feel free to weigh in and let us know what you think we should do, but don’t take offense if we don’t follow your advice. If I were fifty years younger (or if I were Catherine, who’s sleeping now) I could figure out how to set up a poll for you to vote on PLAN A, PLAN B OR PLAN C, but I’m just little old me and I don’t know how.
Need some pictures? Okay, these are from today:
Catherine spent yesterday in bed all day looking at a blank wall and getting a sore butt. Today Brad went to great lengths to rent a van, go to the rig hospital an hour away, strap the stretcher into the rented van and bring it back here so that Catherine could look out the window and vary her position easily to prevent a threatening pressure spot from flaring up. While it ain’t Lake Superior, it beats a blank wall!
So let us know what you think. Is it Plan A? Plan B? or Plan C? Or be creative and come up with a Plan D, E, F or G that we haven’t considered yet, why not? (And remember, I’ve already eliminated the geni in a bottle and Marc Chagall. See my post from May 5, 2020!).
Our bus is in the shop. Catherine is confined to bed without a wheelchair.
But we have a lovely clean carpet-free room with massive windows. I seem to have an infinite capacity for sleep. I missed a spectacular thundershower as I snoozed this afternoon. Catherine desperately wanted pictures, but didn’t want to wake me , so felt impaired by her confinement. But Jenny, quite independently from her own room shot pics of the ten-minute storm.
There’s a place I’d rather be! The lucky cats are already home and settled into the guest house.
Things could be better, things could be worse. We wait.
Just when you think you’re doing well, the bad mood of the night before has melted into renewed laughter and cameraderie, and you think you are starting to smell home on the wind … something happens. And that’s the life of travellers through the centuries around the world, right?
Ok, so here’s a picture from today
The oil slick incident came at the end of a fairly long day that started very well indeed. Our old friends, Jane and Hilary, drove up from their Huntsville cottage to wave to us as we zoomed by on the highway. And because we weren’t late yet, and because the spot where they were waiting for us was shady on a hot day, and because Brad and Larry are really, really nice guys, they pulled off and gave us a chance to say a masked and rigorously distanced hello.
Could have been so much longer — a lot of news and events, both political and personal that we needed to share thoughts on. But we were ever so disciplined and moved on down the road without so much as a shared hug or a single broken quarantine rule!
And then we drove for miles and kilometers for a whole day. We were getting very close to our previously scheduled stop for the night, so we were surprised when Brad, who was driving at the time, pulled off the road. Didn’t seem like the right place for a pee break, or the right time for a snack break. Did Brad Tour Guy have a special scene to show us? When our back doors opened, it didn’t take a genius to see that something was deeply amiss! The traffic triangles were out on display again in an otherwise unspectacular view.
Brad was ordering up a tow truck and an ambulance and the sense of deja vue was palpable! The ambulance came very quickly, we transferred to the local rig taking only essential bags and machines, and off we were whisked a hour up the road to our reserved hotel room. Too late to get repairs, no after hours shops open. Too far away to put Medic 22 back into service. What’s going to happen next??
Well heck, we don’t know but no use making a fuss about it. Just acknowledge our guardian angel, in the form of Brad this time, for being super quick to respond to a sickish scent of diesel fuel permeating the rig. Thank you Brad!!
I have to sleep now. Problems will have to wait for morning to be solved. Meanwhile I’ve fallen asleep three times just writing the final paragraph. Tomorrow we shall see. Now ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Oh what a frustrating day! From an hour in line for the only open bathroom in Wawa to an hour searching for an auto part that couldn’t be found in the Sioux, our comfort and security was tried and tested. We’re okay, but we’re tired! All five of us. And we’re anxious passing through Ontario and Quebec, trying to keep ourselves and others safe, but seeing lots of unmasked faces and hearing reports of higher numbers.
North of Superior is still spectacular and thrilling, and we had perfect weather, neither too hot or too cold, but no tourist stops and no ice cream. Nothing fun or educational or creative. Just bearing down on the road, trying to get home!
Truthfully, I slept through a lot of it. My side-saddle bench seat had its back to the lakeside views and when Catherine and Jenny said WOW I had to lean way forward to get a glimpse of the landscape. POOR POOR ME!
Complaints aside, we are a good tight group and we’re all going to get through this. Jenny started fantasizing aloud today about what she’s going to do on her first day home — a wonderful kind of nothing!
I’ll paste in a few pictures, but I won’t be able to do much to raise your spirits, I’m afraid.
And then, I’m sitting in the dark in my Microhotel room, and Catherine’s finally asleep and I’ve poured myself a big paper cup full of wine and my sense of humor finally kicks in and I giggle.
Because after all, we’re almost home – only three more days! And after all, we’re still healthy whereas thousands and thousands have lost their lives and many thousands more have been bereaved by this nasty little bug. And after all there are a LOT of people who would LOVE to rendezvous with us along our route, if only we could, and not everyone has that!
And after all, there’s this:
And of course, this
So … one more sip of wine, and my fresh clean bed awaits. All will be well.
Too tired to write tonight, but just letting you all know that we arrived in beautiful Terrace Bay, north of Lake Superior, after many hours on the long road.
And it occurs to me, if he can do that, we can do this!