With 2013 drawing to a close we thought we’d recap on some of the stories and events we’ve brought up over the year:
Family Syria Crisis: Earlier this year we did a fundraiser for Julie’s family in war-torn Aleppo. Many of you very kindly contributed to the cause, and these efforts have helped immensely. As most of you are aware, the crisis in Syria has only worsened, and with challenging bureaucracy and other hurdles it has been difficult making forward strides.
The good news, however, is that Julie’s cousin, his wife and two young children have made it to Germany as refugees. Julie’s cousin is a pharmacist and his wife a doctor, so we are thrilled that they now have the opportunity to begin a new life. For them, the precision, order, stability and beauty of Germany is world apart from the rubble, bodies and stench left behind in war torn Syria. The news is not so great for Julie’s uncle and wife and three children, still living in Aleppo. Chaos continues to reign in the streets outside their bullet-riddled apartment building, and the kids are struggling to adapt to a world with no school, and little food and heat. Despite the daily struggles, they are all in good health, in a large part due to funds (some of which came from our fundraiser) which Julie’s father has been sending regularly so they can purchase food, medicine and heating fuel. Thank you once again for all your help.
Julie is now working with a small non-profit to send medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps and in the last year they sent nearly one million dollars in medicine to a refugee camp in Northern Iraq. To find out more visit www.peaceandhumanrights.org.
Bankruptcy of Largest Canadian-owned Book Publisher: Julie was finishing the final edits ofOlive Odyssey (the book detailing our Olive expedition) when she received news that her publisher was filing for bankruptcy protection. Douglas and McIntyre, based out of Vancouver, was struggling in today’s rapidly changing publishing environment. Sadly, this is a familiar scene, and over the last few decades most of Canada’s largest independent publishers have either closed their doors or been sold to multinationals as imprints. In 2002 I faced a similar situation when Stoddart, then Canada’s biggest publisher, went bankrupt while I was finishing the final draft of Lost in Mongolia.
Fortunately, we have a story of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. While the company itself went bankrupt, Douglas and McIntyre, and Greystone (their largest imprint) were sold to two different publishers as imprints. Heritage House (based out of Victoria, BC) purchased Greystone, the imprint Julie is with. Rob Sanders (publisher) and Nancy Flight (Senior Editor) stayed with Greystone, and they’ve done a great job revitalizing the business. Greystone released a super selection of books this fall and is charging forward with all cylinders firing. They currently have a runaway bestseller, The Great Flood of 2013, and are looking forward to a busy and fruitful 2014.
Olive Odyssey is scheduled to be released mid-May, and we’ll keep you posted as the date draws near.
Star Adventurer of the Year: We’ve talked about a lot of great adventures this year including our own quest to break the speed record on the Yukon River, but one of my favourites was Sarah Outen’s successful row across the Pacific. She became the first woman to row across the North Pacific, and even more importantly, she completed what is probably the most challenging leg of her human powered journey around the world. Sarah’s Pacific crossing was her second attempt after being hit by a typhoon and getting rescued. Now that’s tenacity!
Sarah is currently planning her next leg which will commence in the spring of 2014 and promises to be equally exciting (and with more dramatic landscapes). She will be kayaking through the Aleutian Islands to mainland Alaska where she will begin trekking and cycling across North America.
Sarah, currently back home in England, will be coming out to Vancouver Island this February for kayak training in preparation for the grueling paddle ahead. We can’t wait to meet her!
Leif the Viking: This recap wouldn’t be complete without an update on adventuring as a family. Our little guy, Leif, has recently turned three, and is no longer a helpless colicky baby but a VERY independent ‘big boy’. Of course, his belligerent independence doesn’t necessarily speed things up as he spends an eternity trying to open a stiff door or untie his knotted laces. But it is enthralling watching him explore a world where everything is new and exciting.
We’ve had a few people ask how he’s doing with the hand surfing. Two and a half years ago (when Leif was six months), we included a video in our newsletter with Leif balancing on my hand. Well, things have progressed from those first precarious moments and Leif is now en route to being a professional hand surfer. You can see his latest hand surfing here (along with him doing a Big Bad Wolf skit with daddy). For those that would like to see the original video when he was six months you can see it here.
We’ve got a big adventure planned with Leif this summer. The focus of this one will be exploring through Leif’s eyes, and we’ll be blogging and uploading pics/videos regularly. For those interested in adventuring with little ones, it will be a fun one to follow. We’ll keep you posted….
Have a Merry, Merry Christmas and an Exciting New Year.
Best wishes from all of us here at Angus Adventures.