The Beginning ~ Tuesday, May 17
It all started with a Facebook message. Peace & Dignity Journeys (PDJ) runners needed a place to stay while in Fort Nelson on route to Alaska. We hooked them up and they stayed in our holiday trailer while getting some help with their van from my husband, Greg Lomen, Archie Harrold and my Uncles Greg and Bonzo. Away they went, off to Alaska. Turned out that I knew one of the runners, Teo. He had run in 2012 and we met them at Tetsa to FNFN. Small world.
At 1:12pm we were at Liard Hotsprings to see if the PDJ runners had taken their rest day to go for a soak, as Vanessa, the Coordinator had hoped, but nope, no runners, so instead we used the bathrooms and took off. BUT, before that, again I told them they had to sit somewhere they hadn’t sat and beside someone they hadn’t sat beside. “Grumble, grumble, that’s impossible, but wait, what?!” It’s all about unity, kids. I told them I had an activity once they sorted themselves. This was the seating arrangement:
Ashton, Troy, Evelyn
Seth, Savannah and Corrina
The activity was to tell us all one thing they had in common and one thing that made them different – this was some of their answers were:
“I’m short, he’s tall.”
“We’re both brown.”
“We both like to scoot.”
“He’s a boy and I’m a girl.”
1:33pm – Smith River Falls
2:15pm – Fireside and a ½ tank of fuel
3:30pm – Lower Post Gas Station ¾ tank of fuel
3:45pm – Arrived in Watson Lake, YT
We arrived just in time for PDJ closing circle. We drove to the Rec Center hall where all the staff bundles were laid out and the altar set up, everyone was in circle and welcomed us instantly. It was a sight to see, all the staffs laid before us, speaking so many things, yet lying there silently. The group was larger than when it arrived in Fort Nelson because the group splits up at Watson and one group goes west and one group goes east toward FNFN. I got to tell the kids how honored I am to be with them during this journey and how happy I was to be there with the runners.
After circle, we had some down time. Seth forgot his blanket, so thankfully family was able to bring him one because I didn’t even know until his family told me. Crazy kids. As part of ceremony, men and women sleep separately, so the girls and I set our beds up on one side of the hall and the guys were way across on the other side. It was a pretty chill evening until we walked to the Sign Forest and heard screaming and hollering behind the building located next to it (which turned out to be the Visitor Info Center). As we kept walking, I noticed 2 ladies peeing behind the building (yikes!) and then later on more hollering and some clanging around, and here’s a guy trying to punch the signs off the posts. Needless to say, we got the kids out of there quickly and went back to the safety of the hall. There’s a lot of action in Watson Lake it seems.
Wednesday, May 18
Thursday, May 19
Rise and shine at 7:15am. Everyone got to shower so everyone is happy. Louise, Trina and Wes were very helpful. Thank you!
Picked up a runner, Teagan Moon, she was on her way to FNFN for the weekend with family and saw the girls and decided to stay and pray.
12:39pm – Left LHL with beautiful skies and roaming bison.
4:00pm – Gone 50kms from LHL, people are sore from running but in good spirits.
4:22pm – Trout River
4:31pm – Savannah carrying main staff all uphill. Go Sav!!
4:41pm – Hashtag #pdjprobs was born. Everyone has to exit PDJ van to get up the hill. LOL!
5:31pm – Munch Park pull-out for lunch, 209,027kms on van, Jarrod keeps singing ‘500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers. I play them that song on the iPod and ‘Walk Hard’ by Dewey Cox.
6:07pm – Ev gets out of PDJ van and her skirt falls to her knees and she doesn’t even notice because the elastic broke. Thankfully, we wear leggings under our skirts. Haha! #pdjprobs
8:51pm – 209,101kms on van, somewhere LHL side of Toad River, so close, yet so far.
Friday, May 20
8:39am – Rise and shine to beautiful blue skies at Uncle Rup and Auntie Sharon’s cabin at Tetsa.
Upon leaving, Vanessa got stuck. #pdjprobs
Bird hit window during circle. Ok, though.
I was gifted copal from Guatemala from Vanessa. It was gifted to her after her last PDJ run and it represented unity and the community coming together. Yes! Blessings. Back to reality, after a short lapse in my sanity.
9:24am – Road construction. I went to find cell service to call my Mom, Crystal and Auntie Sharon to send the troops (more runners, fresh legs) and food.
11:19am – Toad River! Bathroom and snack break.
Called Mom again – sending the troops! Crystal is bringing us soup and bannock! Yess! Score. Excited. Lunch and runners on the way!
12:50pm – 209,358kms on van
“I hate when I try to put on socks and my feet are wet. It makes me so mad. I’m just like, “Come on buddy!”” Kid conversations are the best. I probably laughed this trip more than any other trip I’ve been on. Good times.
Chief Terry Brown stopped me and donated $100 to the PDJ – mahsi cho, Chief! She said she was off to visit her grandbaby Sadeya for the weekend at FNFN.
1:30pm – Sign reads: 162kms to Fort Nelson, 14kms to Summit
“OMG, I’m soooo sore!!”
“Remember, they’re running to Panama…”
“Yeah, but they’re professionals.”
2:20pm – 209,388kms on van, stopped at Summit Lake to do water blessing and prayer.
Sometime after this, Crystal showed up with soup, bannock, iced tea, fruit and yogurt! Ahhh, heaven! Soup was still hot.
5:46pm – Tetsa Hill PASSED! Ashton and Corrina conquered it. Whoooo!!
5:53pm – Pick up Danielle and Savannah and they say a motor home stopped them and asked, “What kind of ritual sh*t is this?”
They tell the man they’re on the Peace and Dignity Journeys and they’re waiting to be picked up.
He says, “A cab?! If you were in town, you’d get a ride quicker.”
Stranger danger left.
6:24pm – Last pick up and Arbor bound. We aren’t going to make Fort Nelson tonight but we have supper waiting so we head in.
Arrived at Arbor at 7:30pm, later than planned but praying takes time and things don’t always go as planned, and patience is key, remember?
After circle, we enjoyed a nice soup and bannock dinner hosted by Fort Nelson First Nation. Thank you to Robin Capot Blanc for dinner and to my Mom for keeping six until we arrived.
Auntie Lovey offered the runners a place to stay, so after dinner, and going to rest the staffs until the next day, we all went home and crashed. I think everyone was excited to be home and contemplating whether or not they’d run the last stretch home. I reminded them the importance of finishing what we set out to do but also that if they didn’t complete it as a team, like they started, they’d regret it. They all hummed and hawed and seemingly secretly wished I’d leave them alone but in the end, I think they all knew I was right. All but one of the youth was unable to come due to plans for the long weekend.
Saturday, May 21 - HOME STRETCH!!
Our Journey in Photos
Photos by Renee & Greg Lomen, Crystal Dettieh, Corinne Diamond-C and Vanessa Quezada
Renee Lomen, Executive Assistant