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Tidings for the New Year
Colin and I celebrated this Christmas and New Years in a much different way than a year ago. Last year we sent out our holiday wishes by satellite phone from about 15.87 degrees north and 36.12 degrees west, which is to say we were still in our rowboat Ondine, still on the Atlantic Ocean, still thousands of miles away from land and months away from completing our journey. While rowing we would fantasize about our next year’s Christmas – decorating a tree, celebrating with friends and family, and eating a BIG holiday dinner (well actually several dinners, as well as dessert, eggnog, wine, etc.). And that was just what this year offered. Being home has lived up to all our fantasies of comfort, but to be honest, there are moments when we miss the blue vastnesses of the Atlantic and the menagerie of fish, dolphins, turtles and birds that kept us company.
“What is it like to be home again?” people often ask. It’s sometimes strange, often a relief, but not yet boring. After almost two years of cycling/hiking/rowing for 12 hours a day, always sleeping in a different place, worrying about hurricanes, blizzards or scurvy, it is occasionally surreal to wake up in a warm bed, hear the rain outside and realize that we don’t have to cycle all day in it. At the moment we are still reliving the expedition from the comfort of our living room. Colin just completed his book, Beyond the Horizon, which will be hitting the stores March 27th and I am working on mine, which will be released in Fall 2008 through Greystone Books. We produced a one hour documentary, also called Beyond the Horizon, which won awards in all film festivals it has been showcased in, and is now also available through our website. We traveled across Canada, from Vancouver Island to Halifax, showing the film and speaking in museums, cinemas, theatres - meeting almost 7,000 adventurous people in the process. Worried about the carbon impact of our tour, we offset the emissions with Zerofootprint and raised almost $10,000 for non-profits focused on active living and conservation. Now, we are doing a US tour with National Geographic and are still reeling from the surprise of jointly winning the 2006 Adventurer of the Year Award from National Geographic Adventure. Receiving the award was just as overwhelming, especially since it was at a smashing party in their Washington headquarters where we had the chance to meet with adventurers we usually admire from afar, including last years winner, legendary mountaineer Ed Viesturs.
As much as it’s fun to work with the video footage and write about our last expedition, we are also dreaming about new adventurers. We joke that marriage will be the next adventure (many people tell us it’ll be our toughest yet), but really we are planning another expedition for 2008. If you think that 145 days of rowing on the Atlantic would put us off rowboats for life, you may surprised to hear we want more. Our next expedition is to travel from Scotland to Syria by rowboat to connect and explore our ancestral homelands (Colin’s parents are Scottish, while mine are German and Syrian). It will be a 5,500 km journey following canals, rivers, coastlines, traveling across the English Channel, as well as portage routes when waterways are impassable. The waterways are completely interconnected for the entire journey; however, due to shipping congestion or strong contrary currents, we may need to travel on adjacent paths and roads. We are designing an amphibious rowboat that will carry a bike and trailer, so that we can carry all the equipment needed to travel exclusively by human power. As the preparations for this journey unfold we will record them on our new website, www.angusadventures.com. If you have not yet explored this site you will also discover two new projects we’ve taken on: The Adventurer’s Handbook, which contains hard-to-find information on subjects such as ocean rowing, offshore sailing on a budget, bicycle touring, and many other subjects, and The Featured Expedition, which profiles a new ongoing expedition every month. We’ve also revamped this newsletter and will try to bring it to your inbox once a month.
Belated Happy Holiday Wishes from 49.67 degrees north and 125.03 degrees west.
Compared to traveling 43,000 km around the world, crossing Canada on a film tour might seem tame, but let’s not forget that Canada is the second largest country in the world - over 4,500 km separate Vancouver Island from Halifax and as East Coasters informed us “We’re closer to Europe than Vancouver Island”.
When we started planning for this tour our goal was to reach as many people as possible, to talk about our adventure and to also talk about what we can do to reduce our carbon emissions from transportation. But we knew it would be impossible for only two people to organize an extensive tour across Canada so we posted the idea on our website. People all around the world offered to help, probably blithely ignorant of the amount of work they were signing up for. Nonetheless, these dedicated individuals organized venues, talked to media, sold tickets, put posters up and more. And because of their help we were able to give 20 shows, starting in Courtenay, BC on October 4th and finishing almost two months later in Halifax, NS.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Canadians don’t have an adventurous spirit. We were overwhelmed at the response to our show; almost 7,000 people came to hear about our journey. And we heard many incredible stories about their journeys – the 86 year old woman who walked 100,000 km all over the world, the two young men who traveled across Canada in a birch bark canoe, the couple that cycled from the tip of North America to the bottom of South America. At each show we were able to give away prizes for active sports including clothing, bike equipment and health supplements that were donated by our sponsors. But the most exciting draw was at the end when we gave away a Helly Hansen “Vinter” Jacket and Norco VFR4 Bike. “It was like riding a thoroughbred racehorse compared to a workhorse, like my old bike“ Norco bicycle winner Kathleen Hennig from Courtenay told us after taking her new bike for a spin.
A big part of our expedition and this tour was to promote active living, because as we all know it’s good for us, good for the planet, but most importantly because it’s fun. Many of our presentations were done as fundraisers and we are pleased to have raised almost $10,000 for charities dedicated to active living and conservation. One charity we chose to highlight throughout the tour was the Trans Canada Trail, which is helping to build an 18,000 km trail connecting all three oceans bordering Canada (www.tctrail.ca). For our work, the Mayor of Vancouver has recognized us as Active Community Champions, and involved us in their Active Living Campaign, which is aimed at getting people 20% more active by 2010.
Being active and reducing greenhouse gas emissions can work hand in hand, and we try to live according to those principles by using bikes for transportation, attaching a trailer for cargo hauling and by not owning a car. However for some events, such as our Canadian Tour, it is impossible to eliminate all greenhouse gases emissions. For our tour we reduced emissions as much as possible (by using a fuel efficient vehicle, driving at a moderate speed, ensuring our tire air pressure was optimal, etc.) and then we offset the remaining emissions so that our tour was carbon neutral. Offsetting is achieved by investing in projects that negate your greenhouse gas emissions by activities such as planting trees or investing in renewable energy. We worked with Zerofootprint to achieve carbon neutral status (www.zerofootprint.net).
Although our Expedition Canada Tour is over, we still have a number of public presentations coming up. We are currently in the middle of a US tour with National Geographic, New York City (Jan. 13), Chicago (Jan. 27), LA (Feb, 10), Washington (Mar. 3) and Washington (Apr. 17). For those of you in British Columbia, we will be presenting at the Vancouver Mountain Film Festival on February 21, the Victoria Words and Music Festival on February 24 and Vancouver North Shore Writers Festival on April 21. Colin's five city book tour will take him to Toronto ( April 9 & 10), Vancouver (April 12 & 13), Victoria (April 16), Calgary (April 23) and Edmonton (April 24). For more details on the dates and locations please visit our website at www.angusadventures.com/tour.html.
New Website Launched
Over the last few months we’ve been developing our new website www.angusadventures.com. We wanted to create a site that not only offers live dispatches, webcasts and photographs from our upcoming expeditions, but also provides answers to many of the questions people have about exploring, and shares stories from other explorers currently in the field.
The Adventurer's Handbook is a 70,000-word, free online resource that details hard-to-find information we’ve gathered over the years. Here we are compiling information on ocean rowing, offshore sailing on a budget, cycle touring, cold weather travel, long duration river exploration, and more. The first section is completed and details all the particulars on planning an ocean row, including choosing a boat, route planning, food preparation, safety equipment, etc. This resource will be of interest not only to potential ocean rowers, but also for anyone keen to learn about the equipment and concepts of planning a long ocean voyage. A new section will be added every two weeks and the next subject is a comprehensive guide to bicycle trailers. Adventurer's Handbook.
The Featured Expedition is for those interested in learning about other exciting expeditions that are taking place right now. Every month we will profile a new expedition. Currently we are featuring Rosie Swale-Pope, a courageous English woman jogging around the planet. After Rosie’s husband passed away from prostate cancer in 2002, she made a life changing decision and began jogging eastwards from her home in England. She has been jogging for years, traveling solo, completely unsupported, and pulling all her equipment in a cart. Rosie has traveled over ten thousand kilometers, through some of the most remote and rugged areas on the planet and is currently jogging through Alberta, Canada. Featured Expedition.
The Online Store has also been launched for all the people who have been asking about purchasing DVDs and books. Currently our DVD Beyond the Horizon is for sale along with Colin’s books Lost in Mongolia and Amazon Extreme. In March we will also have the award winning films The Yenisey River Expedition and Amazon from Source to Sea available. Online Store.