Friday, July 27, 2007

Update - Motorcycle Ride Across Canada
For Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness

Here's the latest update from living liver donor Robert Crawford and sister-in-law recipient Marilyn Olivo-Crawford on the progress of their ride, which was originally slated to start at St. John's, NF but due to cancelled airline connections the Motorcycle Ride for Organ Donation Awareness started in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

July 20
The Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride for organ & tissue donation awareness has started! As expected with the best created plans and schedules, they have changed already. We are sitting in the Halifax airport right now.

Our flight from Toronto to Halifax on July 19th at 7:00PM was delayed due to rain. We left Toronto at 8:15PM and missed our connecting flight to Sydney by 20 Minutes!

Joining the growing group of disgruntled passengers we waited in-line to find out that the next flight to Halifax was not until 9:10AM the next day. On the positive side we meet a very nice couple who were also traveling to Sydney. We all pilled into the hotel shuttle bus and drove through the never-ending industrial sections of Dorval, Quebec. I think the driver got paid by the km. It was good to get into our room and get some sleep.

Our 9:10AM flight boarded and everything was looking good….Then the captain said in his deep voice that the computer was not working and they needed to “reboot them”. I laughed out loud at that one. People who know what I do at Bell will understand why that is funny to me.

Several “reboots” later the pilots left! They left the IT guys in the cockpit to sort it all out. They didn’t! We shuffled off the plane at 9:30AM and went back to the same ticket desk, we were at 12 Hours earlier. The customers were not any happier today. We did receive a voucher so all was not lost.

The next flight to Halifax was at 11:10AM. The connecting flight to Sydney would be at 5:20PM. This meant that we will miss the 3:30PM ferry to Newfoundland. Oh Well……..What can you do. We will start our trek westward from Sydney NS. Newfoundland will have to be part of the Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride II.

We are all well and still eager to get going. Jacob has been talking to many people about his upcoming adventure. He is a great spokesman for the cause.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement and I will send out another update as soon as possible.

July 21, 2007
After a nice evening in Sydney, NS we started on our “modified” schedule. Jim & Margie Poirier gave us a tour of the area and then took us to Ramsey Cycle in Sydney to get our bikes. They had been all washed and looked great! The weather was very over-cast and we couldn’t decide to wear our rain gear or not. Well it turned out that we needed it every piece of rain protection we owned. Including garbage bags on the luggage.

We headed towards the Cabot trail and took a much smaller ferry ride (100 yards) across English Bay. We talked to some local residents on the ferry about our ride and they paid for our crossing. That was very nice! Along the Cabot Trail the pouring rain started and then the fog came in. Marilyn & I went very slowly up & down the twisty roads. It was too bad that we could not see the mountains or valleys. Everything was covered in fog and mist. The rain was running over the road in rivers.

After a couple of hours we arrived into Margaree Harbour for the evening. We are staying at Ernie & Terri’s cottage. All our stuff is soaked and we are trying to dry it all before tomorrow. Tip: Don’t use an oven to dry riding boots. Jacobs have grill marks on them now.

The next day we plan on heading west towards Halifax. We need to be in Halifax on July 23rd to do an interview with CBC at noon. The segment will be on CBC Noon Today show. I am sure that they will talk to Jacob and ignore Marilyn & I. He gets all the press.

July 22, 2007
In the morning we visited Terri Olivo’s mother, Hatti. She was very interested in talking to Jacob and giving him hugs & kisses. We then loaded up and headed towards Halifax. That ride was very good and the weather was a nice and sunny. 30 minutes out from Halifax Mike Cox rode his 1978 Kawasaki Z1-R out to meet us. We were able to follow him and not worry about map reading while ridding. At about 6:00PM we arrived at their house. It was a very welcome site.

In the evening the calls with CBC started to arrange our on-air interview on July 23rd. The location and times changed every 30 minutes. They had a hard time finding a camera crew and remote microphones.

July 23, 2007
CBC started calling again and we changed the location 2 more times. The media portion is necessary but not my favourite and these changes were not helping our nerves.

Mike rode to downtown Halifax with Marilyn, Jacob & I to show us the latest interview spot. When we arrived…Guess what? The location changed again. We moved down the harbor to where the satellite truck was located. The 2 motorcycles were moved closer to the water so we would have a good background. At 11:15 we started getting hooked up with mics and earpieces. They did some testing and made sure we could hear the garbled voice though the earphone. Then the waiting started….Marilyn & I discussed what we wanted to say and tried to remain calm. Jacob was not nervous at all. The people around us wondered who we were and why they were fussing over us.

The interview was live on-air during CBC News Hour at noon. It lasted under 10 minutes but seemed to go well. After that, the process of unhooking us started. Once we were un-tethered we explored Halifax and were now able to relax. Mike joined us after his work and led us back to their place.

July 24, 2007
Because our schedule had been modified, we had an extra day. Mike & Cathy graciously took us around the area to see the sites. It was sure nice to be chauffeured.

July 25, 2007
Today we met out chase drivers in Halifax and picked up the car. There was a delay with the rental company and we couldn’t get the car until noon. My parents (Don & Helen) and Nick & Irene Bowles signed the papers for the car and we headed back to get the motorcycles ready for the next leg. At about 3:00PM we all headed towards Digby NS. To take the 8:45PM ferry to St. John NB. The trip was uneventful and we had great riding weather. The ride team said goodbye to our Halifax hosts and my parents at the ferry station. The bikes and car were driven onto the ferry at 8:15 and we tied the bikes down so not even a tidal wave would budge them. The Atlantic was very calm and the 3 hour journey was quite enjoyable.

At 11:45PM we arrived in St. John NB, and started to find a hotel. The first one was booked but located an alternative for us. At 1:00AM we all crashed into bed. A long but good day.

July 26, 2007
Jacob’s 10th Birthday! We got back on the road at 10:30AM and headed towards Fredericton NB. Along the route we met up with the Blue Knights motorcycle group. They escorted us into Fredericton and to the University of New Brunswick. There was no chance we were going to get a speeding ticket with them! In the afternoon we were interviewed by 93.2 “Fred-FM” radio station. The local Fredericton newspaper also came by to take some pictures. I think I need an agent!

All is going well so far and we are talking to lots of people about signing their organ donor cards. The momentum of media coverage is helping to publicize our cause and get the message out to Canadians….

Thanks for all the letters of encouragement! Stay tuned..

July 27, 2007
After a very hot sleep in the un-air conditioned, University of New Brunswick residences, we started on our way towards Quebec City. This would be one of our longest riding days scheduled. The Blue Knights police group escorted us out of Fredericton. They were a great bunch of people and we appreciated their support. We all rode for about 45 minutes and then they gradually dropped off to return home or work except one. Claude, rode with us for another hour and we all had lunch together. After lunch we rode until Claude waved goodbye. It was great to have his extra company for so long. The Blue Knights know the local highways very well and make navigating very easy.

The weather was still hot but good for riding. We jockeyed for position with large 18-Wheelers carrying huge pipes and logging trucks. The scenery along the way was very nice and we tried to focus on the road and not the landscape rolling by. We rode for almost 9 hours and everyone was very tired when we neared Quebec City. When I looked at the map of where our Rotarian’s home was located I was a little nervous about trying to navigate through the city. I called him to update him with our ETA. Dino must have read my mind as he offered to drive out to the highway to meet us. We were relived and followed him a good pace to his wonderful home. After a great dinner we were chauffeured around Quebec City to see the sites. We were all tired but eager to see as much as possible. About 12:00AM we flopped into bed. It had been a long but very enjoyable day & evening.

July 28, 2007
We got up at 7:30-8:00AM to get another whirl-wind tour of Quebec City by day. It is a very historic city and we had terrific and knowledgeable tour guides. Jacob was busy taking pictures and trying to capture all the scenes. I was glad to not be riding my motorcycle up and down the wet cobble stone streets.

After packing up and saying goodbye we headed out at 1:30PM for Montreal. Jacob and our host’s dog had one last run around and game of tug-of-war.

On the way to Montreal we hit some more heavy rain and lots of traffic. The rain suits got a good work out this day. We won’t try the oven this time to dry our boots. The temperature is still very warm. (25-30 Celsius) We made some wrong turns on the South Shore but arrived at 5:30PM to Nancy & Eric’s home. We pilled in and sank into their sofa’s in front of the TV. Everyone on the team was tired and just wanted to sit, eat pizza and relax. Jacob discovered the Sony Play Station and enjoyed a few games.

At each stop we are meeting and talking to many people about our ride and trying to educate Canadians about signing their donor cards. Everyone is very friendly and eager to hear our story. We have been giving out the one-page summary sheets as well. The media attention is still increasing and CBC even asked if we could do an interview in French! Unfortunately we are not fluent enough in French to conduct an interview. I should get some French language tapes to listen to while riding….

Next stop for the “Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride” is the rally in Delta Ontario.
Take care and talk to you all soon.

JULY 31st.Day 13
Had a lovely stay a Charlotte's house in downtown Toronto. Got up early and had a nice breakfast with Char and sent he off on her bicycle to work.
Very hot today, Started to load bike and get ready to find my partners in crime down at the Royal York.

Fighting traffic is not fun on a bike, but I made down there and off we went up to Toronto General Hospital for some speeches. Oh My!! We were met by a mob of reporters, flashing cameras sticking microphones in every direction for about 1 1/2hours. I was also met by my doctor, Dr. Leslie Lilly how gave me a big hug and he encourged me on and wished us luck on our trip. That meant a lot to me. Also the Old Fort York Members from CVMG met us there and will escort us after our interviews.

About 1:30pm 33c Hot!!!! we all went, 6 bikes in all, looking for a gas station on Queen street West, dodging traffic as so on. We got a little mixed up in some places and I ended up getting pulled over by the Toronto Police. He let me off, as I looked like I was going to cry, an told me to be on my way. We all made it out to Oakville and were escorted the rest of the way by 2 Oakville motorcycle police.
We had a few cold drinks with the boys and all split up for the night. Hope tomorrow is a bit calmer.
Love Marilyn
What a day!

August 5th
The ride team rode to Terrace Bay from Sault Ste. Marie (408KM). There were no scheduled events planned today and that made the ride easier as we didn’t have to meet a deadline. This stop was possibly going to be bypassed but Marilyn needed the rest.

We stayed at a motel on the main strip of Terrace Bay. Check in to the motel was at the gas bar. Talk about multi tasking at its best! The lady was taking money for gas, selling cigs, pop and chips and was dispensing towels to the patrons of the motel. Carolyn was impressed!

The trucks were whizzing by and helped to “lull” us to sleep. Marilyn & Shelley were on the second floor of the motel. The balcony had a serious tilt and there were holes in the concrete that needed Mike Holmes.

During the night we heard someone mention outside our window, “That’s a 1200 Bandit”. Rob perked up and wanted to make sure his “baby” was O.K. These locals we think, were just admiring the bike?

The beach was across the street and the view was spectacular. Lake Superior is so huge. We have been riding/driving 2 days and it is still on our left. Dinner was at a Chinese food restaurant and was surprisingly good. Afterwards we all were tired and didn’t have a problem falling to sleep in spite of the traffic noise and watching old black and white movies.

August 6th
The destination was Thunder Bay. We stopped just outside of Thunder Bay at the rest stop that has been dedicated to Terry Fox. The beautiful bronze statue was designed by an Oakville artist. Reading the memorial just made you realize what this young man was trying to achieve - very inspirational! We could see the “sleeping giant” in the distance and took many pictures.

We arrived about 2:30PM at the Lakehead University Residences. Once we drove around the campus 300 hundred times (Shelley and Carolyn gave us the scenic route) we found our rooms. We had a 4-room townhouse all to ourselves. This was provided at no cost thanks to Lindsay Crawford’s efforts.

In the evening we went out for dinner and then did a radio interview for AM640 based in Toronto. That was an interesting session as we were in a parking lot with cars driving by and a guy asking us for money during the interview.

We decided that we wanted to see a movie and had to divide and conquer. Marilyn, Shelley, Jacob and I saw the “Bourne Ultimatum” and Carolyn took Abigail to see “Underdog”. Just before the movie I thought my helmet had been stolen due to a communications breakdown. After freaking-out when I realized I didn’t have my helmet, I made a dash across the highway and even checked out the guy who asked us for money. I then interrogated the store attendants who had seen the helmet on the car but didn’t see any one “take it”. I went back to the movie theatre and was not in a good mood. What I didn’t realize was that Shelley and Carolyn had seen that I had left it on the trunk of the Chase vehicle and thought that was odd. I had it there during the interview. They put it in the trunk for safe keeping but forgot to mention it to me. We had a good laugh. Ha ha….

Back to the residence we all crashed out. Carolyn & Abbey got the short straws and slept on folding cots.

FYI - I must have been so tired. The cots were really comfortable and I had an amazing sleep!

August 7th
We knew we had a long day ahead of us. Marilyn went to do some laundry, Carolyn and Abbey went swimming at the Fitness Complex on the University property. It has been great seeing where our niece Lindsay attends University. Shelley did a coffee run and Jacob hung out and watched TV.

The Rotary Club and volunteers from the Trillium Gift of Life arranged for us to speak at a function in Thunder Bay for noon today. Marilyn & I gave our presentation on organ & tissue donation. The event was held at the Prince Arthur Hotel in downtown Thunder Bay. The Rotary Clubs do many great things in their communities and world wide. After the meeting we were interviewed by TV and the local newspaper. Jacob got interviewed for the TV station as well. He looked like a real seasoned performer while being asked questions. There were the required motorcycle shots and driving away shots to arrange.

Marilyn spoke with Gary Cooper, a retired OPP officer who received a liver transplant also by Dr. Lilly. They had a lot to speak about. While we were wrapping up, Carolyn took Abbey down to the Marina to see the boats and let her stretch her legs. We have 352 km to go to reach Dryden.

At 2:30PM we left for Dryden. It was a good ride full of great scenery and also some areas of clear-cutting. The devastation from the clear cutting is hard on the eyes. Looks like some controlled fires to thin out the areas makes for the landscape to look ravaged! There is a steady stream of trucks carrying logs eastward towards the mills.

Along the way we passed into the Central Time Zone and gained an hour. Great, we will take that! We arrived at about 7:00PM and some of us went for a swim in the hotel pool.

Carolyn and Shelley went cruising the strip to pick up some items. WalMart is the big store here. They shopped at some grocery stores and picked up some supper for the rooms. No whole roasted chickens to be found, but we had some chicken pot pies, salad and carrot sticks.

We are constantly drawing on the strength from one another, enjoying the children, learning even more about our family, the people and realizing how blessed we are to live in such a great country. We take every opportunity to speak about our “mission” and we gain strength from touching one person at a time.

We leave tomorrow at 9:00am for Winnipeg and another media event…. And for you “bear lovers” we will be seeing an area dedicated to none other than “Winnie the Pooh”…Abigail will love that! Robert Crawford.

August 8th
We left Dryden at 9:00AM as we had scheduled. The distance to Winnipeg is just under 350kms. My sister Shelley wanted to experience the ride on the bike and was my passenger for 3 hours. She enjoyed seeing the country side from a motorcycle perspective. Who knows, she may purchase a motorcycle and we could have all my siblings take a motorcycle trip together.

We took a rest stop in Kenora that took much longer than expected. Again the scenery was impressive. We saw our first buffalos en route to Winnipeg. These buffalos were waiting to become buffalo burgers as per the road-side sign. We still have not seen other any large wild life on this trip!

We finally reached the Ontario/Manitoba border at 11:50am. We took many pictures at this border and couldn’t believe we were finally out of Ontario.

Shelley came back into the chase vehicle and Jacob got back on the bike as we made our way into downtown Winnipeg. We reached City Hall at 1:59pm, one minute ahead of our planned arrival time. Nice job. The media was already in place and filmed our arrival to City Hall.

The Lions Eye Bank of Manitoba and Northwest Ontario, Transplant Manitoba, Gift of Life organization, The Kidney foundation and the Manager of Protocol from City Hall were waiting out front for our arrival. It is a great feeling to see all the hard work that the team has put into planning the ride come together. This was a very nice welcoming!

We met with Councilor Jeff Browaty and he was very gracious in his introduction. Marilyn & I outlined the ride and its mission to the assembled cameras and then we gave our individual speeches. Jacob also did an interview with CTV. Winnipeg is a much bigger city than I thought with a nice mix of new and old buildings.

The Lions Eye Bank, part of the Lions Foundation generously offered to lead us to a hotel and paid for our accommodations. That was a very nice surprise and helps us a great deal. We all went for a swim to relax and Abbey conquered her fear of the waterslide. Then it was a battle to get her to leave.

This was Shelley’s last night as part of the chase-driver crew. She flies back to Toronto tomorrow…we will miss her! It has been a great bonding time for our children to spend some time with their aunt. Carolyn will be the sole driver until we reach Regina. We went out for supper and recounted the adventures on this leg of the ride.

Tomorrow the team heads to Brandon MB, where we will be greeted by our good friends Charlene and John. There will be many more opportunities ahead to talk about our ride message.

Robert Crawford says that access to the internet is difficult to find at times but he will do his best to keep us updated. His most recent report is below. For a day-to-day update of the ride from start to finish click here.

August 9
We got organized and dropped Shelley off at the airport in plenty of time for her 10:30AM flight. We rode out from Winnipeg at about 10:00AM for0 Brandon. It is only 210km away so we didn’t have to rush. The highway was straight as an arrow and not very busy. This was our first look at the prairies. I really like the huge wheat fields and ranches and seeing the massive irrigation systems in place. You can see so far down the road that it seems like you are hardly moving. We actually passed our first motorcycle on this leg. It was a Harley with 2 riders who were in less of a rush than we were.

The weather was sunny and a very nice day for a ride. With the long straight highway we were able to take some good pictures of the bikes and chase car. Carolyn came up along side of us a few times so that she could take some pictures and for Abigail to wave and blow kisses to us.

Along the route we stopped in Portage for a drink and quick rest. We were recognized by another traveler from our segment on Winnipeg TV. He was very nice and gave us a donation towards our ride. People have been incredible along the way and it is encouraging to know that the message is getting some attention. The chase car and bikes now have many green-ribbon magnetic logos attached to them, thanks to the Kidney Foundation. I think this is helping to get people’s attention to our little entourage.

At 2:10PM we finally arrived in Brandon. John & Charlene Schneiderbanger met us at the local Tim Horton’s (our favorite watering hole!) It was great to see some familiar faces. We sat down and were introduced to Alf Kennedy from the Brandon Lions Club. There are 4 Lions clubs situated in Brandon alone. Alf knows “everyone” in Brandon and is helping us while we are in town. He advised Marilyn & I that we will be doing a radio interview in 10 minutes via his Cell phone. Cool! No rest for the weary.

After the interview we loaded up and followed John & Charlene towards our hotel. The Victoria Inn in Brandon donated 2 rooms for our team for two nights. That was a welcome surprise! We could also park our bikes right outside our window to keep an eye on them.

We had 45 minutes “free” to get cleaned up and ride over to City Hall to meet the media and Mayor Dave Burgess. He spent some time with us talking about the ride and our travels. There were some good opportunities for pictures. The Wheat City Journal and The Winnipeg Sun interviewed us and took some more pictures. I wanted to mention that all the media people have been very kind and helpful with us.

After City Hall we went to John & Charlene’s great home and then we were whisked off to a donated dinner at a local restaurant, Albert’s Bistro and Lounge. Most of us had prime rib that was sooooo good. Others had fish. You can guess who had what?

After dinner I went back with Jacob to John & Charlene’s and did what all other major media stars do….We did laundry until 11:30PM. Carolyn took Abigail to the hotel to sleep and Marilyn went back to the hotel to rest too.

August 10
This morning is bike maintenance time. We have separate appointments for each bike to have the oil changed. These were donated by Brandon RV and Leisure and Forman Honda Power. Both bikes were checked out and ready to roll another 5,500kms. I picked up some cream to help remove burnt on boots from my exhaust. Jacob keeps using my exhaust for his foot rest. It is tough keeping your legs in one place for so long.

At noon we had a live TV interview scheduled with CKX television. We were escorted to the Green-Room that was really burgundy. There was makeup and extra clothes in the room. We all felt like real TV stars. Still no bowl of only Red “Skittles” like my contract clearly states. Oh well the show must go on!

Marilyn & I were ushered onto the floor where the Noon News Show was in progress. We tried not to trip on all the wires and cables. They wired us up for sound and we waited for our queue to come onto the set. It was interesting to see how things work behind the scenes. When it was our turn we sat with the host and she introduced us. We talked about the ride and the need to sign your donor cards.

We also thanked some of the Brandon groups and companies who have helped us so much while we were here. The “Schneiderburgers” will never forget being mentioned on TV. Once we left the set we met Lloyd who is in need of a double lung and liver transplant. He will be coming to Toronto for the surgery in early 2008. We will keep in touch with him to see if we can make it a little easier for him.

After the interview, in the parking lot, we saw the biggest wildlife so far, a huge jack rabbit that was 2 feet long. It was gigantic and Abbey wanted to take it home for a pet. “You can keep it if you can catch it”. I played the odds. We truly looked liked real tourists as Jacob and Carolyn were trying to get a picture of it!

John & Charlene brought us back to their home where they provided us with lunch before we headed out for a personal tour of CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Shilo. John drove us around the base and we got a detailed explanation of all the base functions and areas.

Charlene drove behind in her car with Carolyn, Abigail and their 4 year old daughter Maya. They were able to hear John’s commenting via walkie-talkies. We also were taken through the base museum and saw all sorts of cool artillery, gun carriers and tanks. There is some Russian and German equipment there that is not seen very often. Abbey & Jacob enjoyed playing on the anti-aircraft gun that could be rotated and the barrel raised & lowered. There was a photographer called Lori from the base following us around taking pictures. Next week we will be in the “STAG” one of the base’s newspapers.

Having the base commander give the tour had its benefits. We went into some areas where others can’t go and were also taken to the Officer’s Mess for a drink and some food. We met many soldiers and enjoyed talking to them.

It is hard to think that many of them are shipping out to Afghanistan very soon to face some very real dangers in trying to help that country get back on its feet. It will make the news stories out of that conflict much more real to us now. We hope they all come home safely and soon. Those men & women deserve a lot of credit for what they are doing every day.

After a long but enjoyable day we had some great Buffalo meat burgers and called it a day. Abbey wanted to stay overnight with John & Charlene’s daughter Maya. It has been great for Abigail to have a playmate for a couple of days and be reunited with Maya. Carolyn bought them some beads to make some jewelry. We will pick up Abigail early on Saturday on our way to Regina.

We will be changing chase drivers in Regina. We will be saying good-bye to Carolyn & Abbey as they fly to Vancouver to be there when we finish the ride on August 16th. Carolyn and Abigail will be meeting up with her sister Anita and spend 4 days at Harrison Hot Springs. She will also be finalizing all the details for the wrap up bash in Vancouver with her sister for August 17th. We pick up Ernie & Terri Olivo at the airport at 9:00pm tonight.

Carolyn has been a key reason that we have been able to make this ride a reality. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to plan and organize for us. I wanted to be sure that everyone knows how much I appreciated all her hard work in supporting me with this project. It would not have happened without her support. Thank you!

Next stop Regina..

August 11
The destination for today was Regina SK. We picked up Abbey at John & Charlene's house at 8:15AM. After saying our goodbyes we hit the road at 8:30am. Everything in Brandon is 10 minutes away so in 10 minutes we were on highway #1 heading west. The weather was chilly and very windy. The 2 bikes were getting blown all over the road. When the 18 wheelers passed us we made sure to hold on tight.

Beautiful to see the rolling prairies. We also saw our first oil-pump and of course many bales of hay. We stopped to get Abigail some milk. As she started to drink it she complained that it tasted different. Carolyn didn't realize that she had purchased "whipping cream"!

The wind kept picking up and the temperature was dropping so we made a stop to add another layer of clothes. We reached Indian Head SK about 1:30 and realized that we had gained an hour. The real time was 12:30PM so we were doing very well to get Carolyn & Abbey to the airport by 2:30PM.

FYI John.....would you believe we met your right hand man "Chuck" from the base in his “Civi's” at the Craft-Tea Elevator Restaurant? It is a small world! We wish him well with his upcoming hip surgery!

Closer to Regina Carolyn moved to the front of the group and expertly led us right to the hotel. The hotel is very nice and will be a good spot to explore Regina from. Once we unloaded our stuff we drove Carolyn & Abbey to the airport. This will be Abbey's first airplane ride. She is very excited.

The airport is close by and be were able to see Carolyn & Abbey while they went through security. I am sure Abbey will keep the other passengers entertained on the flight.

Jacob & I will miss having the other half of our family with us and providing so much support. Carolyn has been a key person in making this ride the success it has been.

Note from Carolyn after arriving in Vancouver
Abigail did well on her first airplane ride. We didn't have much time to catch our connecting flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, but Abigail handled it like a pro! With her Dora flight attendant bag on rolling wheels, we made the flight with ease. There were many children on this flight Rob. We cruised at 450 mph at an altitude of 40,455 feet.

We sat with a gentleman who's brother received a kidney transplant two years ago. Unfortunately he is failing in health due to some other health complications. He enjoyed Abigail and was very interested in hearing what we are doing. He had taken a train ride across Canada with his wife about five years ago and was giving us his perspective of all the beautiful sites he had seen.

On our decent into Vancouver, I took some shots of the Rockies...gorgeous!

After our flight landed in Vancouver, we were able to visit with the Pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit for a good 15 minutes. They were very interested in hearing about what we are doing.

Anita and Alex met us that the airport with a great sign that Alex had made. We retrieved our luggage right away but had to wait for Abigail’s car seat. It had arrived in another location.

Charles drove all of us to Surrey where they live and we had a home cooked meal. Abigail watched Over the Hedge and I crashed early. I was nice to see Anita bond with Abigail and for Alex to enjoy his other cousin.

We are off to church in the morning and then leave for Harrison Hot Springs for 4 days. We are looking forward to the beach and hanging out together. Carolyn.

After dropping Carolyn and Abbey off at the airport Jacob & I went and explored Regina while Marilyn caught some zzzzz's. We found a folk festival and enjoyed the displays and music. The city was fairly quiet on Saturday night but still interesting. The Regina University is a unique building that looks like it belongs in Europe. At 8:30pm we are all heading back out to the airport to pick up our next chase driver duo; Ernie & Terri Olivo. They will be taking care of the driving from here to Vancouver.

I can't believe that we have so few days left of riding. Motorcycling is a great way to experience the country and gives the rider a lot of time to think. I would like to turn around in BC and ride back home.

Tomorrow is a +450km day so we will be getting an early start. We need to meet the mayor of Medicine Hat at 3:00PM. I hope the wind is weaker and the temperature higher. We will deal with what ever comes our way.

August 12
The temperature today was very cold and the wind was blowing quite hard. Not a good day to ride motorcycles across the prairies. We left Regina at 8:30AM and headed 450KM’s towards Medicine Hat, AB. We stopped about one hour out of Regina and had huge breakfasts along the highway. Marilyn & I put on more layers of clothes and we continued westward. I really like the prairies and enjoy seeing the wide variety of landscapes. Some people warned me that they would be so flat and boring. It is just the opposite. The land is not as flat as I thought it would be. The fields of wheat and hundreds of hay bales look very cool.

We did finally see some deer, prairie dogs and coyotes today. There were also the usual cattle seen as well. There were also large areas of what look like dried salt flats along the road. We will have to find out what they are. The remains of a large grass fire were also visible for several KM’s. It must have been quite a fire…

As the day progressed the temperature climbed but the wind stayed strong. We began the process of removing layers now. By the time we got close to Medicine Hat it was about 28 C.

At 3:00PM we arrived in Medicine Hat at City Hall but the mayor was a no-show. The city hall is a nice building with a large sundial provided by the Rotary Organization. We explored the area on foot and found a huge chess set that a group of people were playing. The pieces were all donated by local people and businesses. Ernie & Terri went off to find a hotel for the evening. They located a good one near the highway and it had a waterslide. We all needed a swim to cool down and clean the road grime off.

Friends of Marilyn, Ernie & Terri, who live in Medicine Hat, invited us over for dinner. We enjoyed a nice home cooked meal and sitting in their backyard under the trees and talking about or trip so far. They helped us to relax and unwind. Jacob played with their 2 dogs and kept them chasing balls all evening.

Tomorrow we head for Banff and will be there for 2 days. It will be nice to have a full day where we can do some site-seeing.

August 13
The weather man must know we don’t like wind because the day started very windy. We left Medicine Hat about 8:30AM (right on schedule). We were reluctant to say good-bye to the monster water-slide at the hotel. Maybe the hostel in Banff will have another one. Not likely!

The temperature was about 9 degrees C. We had all our sweaters on and rain gear to keep warm. I thought my hand grip warmers were a waste when I got the bike but they have been turned on for much of the few days. Thank you Sean for installing them!

Going west out of Medicine Hat we saw the flattest part of the prairies yet. They were still very cool to look at. We saw some huge hay bales that looked like large loaves of bread all stacked up. These things were about 15 feet long and 6 feet high! There were some tiny prairie dogs sitting on the side of the road looking around and flocks of small ducks splashing in the ponds. I liked the prairies much more than I thought.

The scenery was flat and then all of a sudden comes the rolling hills. Everything turns very green. We ate lunch just outside of Calgary and it was very expensive. Soup was $3.30 a bowl and a glass of milk was $2.50. This was a truck stop. I guess the truckers are rich out west. Leaving after lunch the drizzle started. It never got raining very hard and then tapered off as we neared Banff.

The mountains rose up so quickly and it was a shock after the prairies. On the way into Banff we didn’t “rubber-neck” too much or you would drive off the road. We were staying at a hostel for 2 nights and I was just imagining what it would look like. When we arrived it was very nice. The rooms were clean and they had a full kitchen and laundry for us to use. There was free Internet access and a great lounge to sit in. I think this hostel is not reflective of the usual type found around the world.
We ate dinner at a local spot and then headed to bed. We wanted to get an early start the next day to cram in as much tourist stuff as possible.

August 14
Our “Rest Day” started at 7:30AM when we drove up to Lake Louise. It was a nice drive and we took the scenic route. As we rounded a bend we saw a large elk eating in the woods. We stopped and took some pictures while he was joined by another large elk. They were about 20 feet away and didn’t seem to mind us. An RCMP officer drove by and smiled at us as he “encouraged” us to move along. There was no more wildlife seen on the way to Lake Louise. It is well worth the drive up to Lake Louise! The lake is quite spectacular. We walked around and took some photos of the scenery.

Once done at Lake Louise we drove back to Banff and to the hot springs. Marilyn, Ernie & Terri all had massages booked. I am not a touchy-feely kind of guy and didn’t want to join them. Before the massages we all went into the hot springs and cooked in the water. It was 41 degrees C. It felt great once you were out and showered off. Afterwards, Jacob & I went exploring while the others went to be “kneaded”. We all meet back up and drove into downtown Banff and did some walking around. In our exploring we found a supermarket where Ernie & Terri purchased our inner ingredients that they made for us back at the hostel. All of us ate more than expected and we offered our extras to other hostel guests. It was a great way to meet other people staying at the hostel.

The next day we head to Kamloops and it is over 500kms. We went to bed early and all slept very well.

August 15th
After a good night’s sleep we got an early start out of Banff towards Kamloops. Riding through the mountains can be quite “cool” in the temperature sort of way. Marilyn & I had all our warm gear on and rain gear as well to help insolate from the chilly & damp air. The riding was great as the roads are twisty and have many turns. We kept riding and should have gotten gas outside of Glacier National Park but we didn’t. Entering into the park we asked some workers where the closest gas station was. They “thought” there was one along the Roger’s Pass or possible another 85kms away at Revelstoke. We would be running on fumes in about 60kms! While approaching the Rogers Pass we saw two guys along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. They looked like they just came off the set of the movie “Deliverance”. They waved at us and I crossed my fingers that I would not run out of gas along this part of the highway.

The gas station at Rogers Pass finally appeared and we pulled in. The gas was $1.30/Litre. By this point the temperature had warmed up enough to start the removal of some of our layers. The mountain roads continued to be great riding and we kept heading westward. The weather kept warming up each km traveled. Closer to Kamloops, Terri called ahead and confirmed our meeting location with Troy & Calinda from the Kamloops Rotary Club. Along with the Rotary people there was a large number of the “Sober Riders” motorcycle group.

The temperature in Kamloops was about 30 degrees C with clear skies and little wind. That is perfect motorcycle weather in my books. We pulled into the rest stop where we met up with all the bikers and enjoyed some cool drinks together. They were the nicest group of people you could ever hope to meet and they made us feel very welcome. The local landscape was very interesting to me and looked like the Badlands. We all sat around and talked bikes and no one was in a hurry to go anywhere. Kamloops gets very little rain and has long hot summers.

Once we were well hydrated and had put green “Organ Donation” magnets on all the bikes we started our engines. Many of the other bikes were Harleys and had a nice rumbling sound. I tried to compete, but a 4 cylinder Suzuki has more of a jet engine whine sound. We were escorted by about 15 motorcycles into Kamloops and right to our hotel. The hotel has a parking lot next door that overlooks Kamloops, where we all pulled into.

While we said our goodbyes to the other riders the hotel manager put up a “No Vacancy” sign! That was strange because the hotel parking lot had lots of empty spaces. It turned out that he didn’t like motorcycles and didn’t want us all to stay there. What a joke! We had a reservation and the president of the Rotary club checked us in and paid for our hotel rooms. We were given rooms at the back of the hotel so the other hotel patrons wouldn’t be exposed to the 3 unsavory riders. It must have been Jacob’s big smile that scared him! Maybe Marilyn, Jacob & I must have looked like we were going to cause trouble!

The night was so warm that Jacob & I went exploring until about 11:00PM. He was able to win a deck of cards at an arcade and was very happy with that prize. Ernie & Terri also walked around and Marilyn did some E-Mails. We all cranked up the A/C in our rooms and went to sleep. Nothing is scheduled until 12:00 noon the next day.

August 16th
About 11:30AM we all regrouped and looked very respectable in our “Event” good clothes. The Rotary Club was having their weekly meeting next door and we were invited to give a presentation on our campaign. Lunch was provided and we heard about all the fantastic things the Rotary Club members are involved in. After our presentation we were given 2 donation cheques; one was for our ride and the other for the BC Transplant Society. That was very nice and totally unexpected.

During the final parts of the meeting Troy & Calinda talked about how they “connected” with our team. We all felt the same way and were glad to have the opportunity to meet them and the other Rotary & Sober Rider group members. Ernie made an impromptu speech about our ride and his sister Marilyn. It was very touching and came from the heart.

We had to leave right after the meeting. The next and last stop on our Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride is Vancouver. The weather for this part of the ride was opposite to the last few days. It was very hot in Kamloops and it got colder and windier as we approached Vancouver. The highway was incredibly hilly and exciting to ride along. Some of the hills were 5km long and very steep. Jacob was busy taking pictures and enjoying the scenery.

Closer to Vancouver we hit some serious traffic and were just crawling along. It was so slow I was able to show Jacob a 4” long slug on the side of the road. Then the rain started. We were to close to our destination to care, so we rode on. Our clutch hands were getting tired from the stop & go and were glad to exit the highway onto Hastings Street.

Traveling along East Hasting was a real shock to our entire team. There are so many people who need help in that area. We had never experienced this situation on this scale before, even in the poorest sections of Toronto. We rode on and were thankful of our own blessings……

Carolyn and Abigail had arrived to the hotel about 6:00pm and checked in and waited for us. We finally arrived at our hotel at 8:10pm and were met by the two of them and my parents. It was great to be back together and exchange stories on our adventures while apart. Jacob & I got cleaned up and ordered some badly needed food; tomorrow is our ending venue in Vancouver.

August 17th
There was a public employee strike in Vancouver, so we were unable to coordinate to meet with the mayor or have any event at city hall. Carolyn worked with Allison Brown (BC Transplant Society) to have the final event held at their head offices. This was scheduled to begin at 11:30AM.
he chase vehicle led us through Vancouver along many one-way streets and construction zones. The BC Transplant Society had a large tent set up out front for us and spaces for us to drive our bikes up on the sidewalk. Many BCTS employees and other people were in attendances. The cheque from the Kamloops Rotary Club was presented to the Director of the BCTS by us. We enjoyed some cake and cool drinks.

CTV news was there and interviewed us for the evening news program. After the official ceremony we were given a personal tour of the BC Transplant Society offices. This group looks after many aspects of the organ donation process. All the “donor cards” are processed through them and all cards are scanned and stored in a database for easy retrieval. Ontario is going to implement a similar system. Our representative, who provided the tour of the facility, had donated a kidney to his wife. He has a very personal interest with the “Organ Donation” issue.

Our ride team and other family members had some lunch together and planned the rest of our last day. At 2:00PM the chase car and the 2 motorcycles headed towards Abbotsford BC to drop off the bikes for shipping back east. We needed to be there before 4:00PM but got stuck in traffic and didn’t arrive until 4:45PM. The people at the shipping company were very nice to stay open later on a Friday afternoon.

Marilyn was happy to say goodbye to her bike but I didn’t want to have the riding journey end! I finally said goodbye to my bike and did enjoy being chauffeured back to Vancouver. The traffic congestion was also encountered going back into the city so we didn’t arrive until 7:00PM. The chase vehicle will have to be dropped off on Saturday, a day late.

We enjoyed a closing dinner with family at a revolving restaurant in downtown Vancouver. The night was clear and provided a great view of the city and surrounding areas. Jacob & Abigail enjoyed watching the buildings go by…..what a great way to cap off a very successful ride!

In Conclusion:
I want to thank all the ride supporters and our family members who have done so much in making this ride possible. We rode over 7,600km’s and saw many of fantastic parts of Canada. Each area of the country is different from the previous one and has its own unique beauty. The people we met were amazing and the memories will stay with us a lifetime.

I believe that the entire ride team has been able to encourage more Canadians to sign their donor cards. We hope the dialogue continues about organ & tissue donation to help all those people still on the waiting lists. Many of these people on the waiting list for organ donations and/or recipients were met along the route. They were encouraged by our efforts. During the ride I also received E-Mails from people who had personally been affected by organ donation and wanted to thank us for our efforts. They made us feel that we, in our small way, were making a difference.

Saving up to 8 lives through organ donation is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.

“Give to Live – Live to Give”

I hope you have enjoyed following us during our cross country adventure. We have appreciated all the E-Mails of encouragement you have sent.
Robert E. Crawford
Email Robert

Thank you from the entire ride team;
Robert, Carolyn, Jacob & Abigail Crawford
Marilyn Olivo-Crawford
Ernie & Terri Olivo
Shelley Murphy
Nick & Irene Bowles
Don & Helen Crawford

Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride
Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness

PS. We have over 1,500 pictures to go through and will send them out to anyone interested when they are ready.

Thanks for all the responses to our updates. They mean a great deal to our team and I will try to answer all of your e-mails.

Robert E. Crawford
Cross Canada Motorcycle Ride
For Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness
E-mail Robert.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network

Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear all is well and sounds like you guys are having a great time! I can't wait for the next update. Take care,Carole

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate life and your gift to Marilyn! My brother is (hopefuly) my liver donor at some point in the future and it warms my heart to hear about such unselfish acts. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

So happy to know you guys made it safe and sound,can't wait to see you back home .Great job! Take a few days to soak up the sun. Love Carole.