The Luxury and the Misery

After Doug suffered through two gruelling weeks of being out at various rigs (we figured he slept at home 3 nights out of 14), I whisked him off on a trip to Jackson Hole in northwestern Wyoming and Teton Valley in eastern Idaho.

On Friday the 7th we headed up to Pinedale with a friend of ours, Andria, and her two dogs, Belle and Chase. It was a beautiful, sunny day and perfect for the day hike we had planned in the gorgeous Wind River Mountains (a range within the Rockies). After trying to figure out which trailhead to start from, we ended up on the Pole Creek Trail that leaves from Elkhart Park in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. It’s a popular trail with day-trippers like us and backcountry campers, so we weren’t worried about bears, just about slipping in the poop left behind by the numerous Llamas being used as pack animals for campers.

After a couple of hours we stopped for lunch at this picturesque overlook. Andria was kind enough to share her gourmet lunch fixings like pine nut hummus, wasa crackers, and peaches. I had a generous hunk of white chocolate/lemon/mint bread from the farmer’s market that I contributed and we feasted like kings. Then we headed back to the trailhead where Andria embarked on her two hour drive back home with a Llama poo-covered dog (why do dogs enjoy rolling in excrement?) and Doug and I booted it north to the swanky mountain town of Jackson, where our B&B; awaited us.

Jackson is an incredibly expensive place to live and play, and July-August is peak season. Doug and I don’t mind paying a little extra for a special experience, but in a place like Jackson the Best Western costs you $230/night and the nicer places can run $400-$500/night. Luckily I’ve got some experience hunting up deals and found us the most amazing place to stay at a 40% discount because we squeezed into a one-night spot between reservations. I had high expectations for The Bentwood Inn after poring over the website and it did not disappoint.

We arrived at 5pm pretty grubby after our hike, but the co-manager, Peter, welcomed us warmly and gave us a quick tour of the Great Room (above), the breakfast area (home-baked chocolate chip cookies available 24/7), and showed us to our lovely room (below) complete with Scandinavian Inglenook bed, jetted tub, private balcony, and gas fireplace. After we cleaned up, we enjoyed their nightly wine (imported from the Republic of Georgia) and cheese (and fruit, and crackers…) in the Great Room while chatting with the other guests.

After some discussion about dinner options, we decided to go to the Snake River Brewing Co. in Jackson, which I’d heard had some great microbrews. It was packed full of outdoorsy-people but it didn’t take long for them to find us a table. By then we’d already grabbed a Zonker Stout (Doug) and a Hoback Hefeweizen (me). Then we had to decide what food would complement our ales. Doug picked a unique pizza: bbq sauce, grilled peaches, italian sausage, and goat cheese. Once he was able to shift his “pizza paradigm” he enjoyed it quite a bit. I had their award-winning buffalo chili and a chunk of corn bread. Delicious!

I could see Doug starting to come back to life after his exhausting stint in the field. After a 10-hour sleep in the cozy room and an incredible three-course breakfast replete with what I have dubbed Beavertail Coffeecake and a sundried tomato and goat cheese omelet, we were ready to head out into the wilderness and rough it for a couple of days.

First we had to decide where we were going. The original plan was to go to the Alaska Basin on the western edge of Grand Teton National Park for a one-nighter and then to Yellowstone National Park for a two nighter at the end of our trip, but I had glimpsed in the local newspaper that Yellowstone was in the midst of its busiest season in decades: 900,000 people in July alone. There was also major road construction going on that was causing long delays. We both agreed that we did not feel like dealing with those hassles during our relaxing getaway.
So we changed things up. We drove the mountain pass through to the Teton Valley – formerly known as Pierre’s Hole – on the Idaho side. Then we went north of Driggs along a one-lane dirt road into the Targhee-Caribou National Forest where we parked and embarked on what we hoped to be our first successful overnight backpacking trip to Green Lake.
The hike started well enough. We knew there was a good chance of rain and that it was going to be chilly in this alpine region, but we felt we were prepared. Lugging our bags up the steady incline was challenging, but we were well-rested, well-fed and in good spirits. We enjoyed the views, the beautiful alpine meadows, and chatted amiably with the sparse groups of folks we encountered.
Then the drizzle started. No problem, we though, just a scotch mist. Then it started coming down harder, turning the dirt path into a muddy stream and coating the wildflowers so that brushing up against them soaked our pants nearly up to our waists. Then the rain turned to freezing rain, then to hail, then to wet snow. By the time our three-hour, 2000-ft climb ended at Green Lake, I was so cold, wet and tired that I didn’t even bother to rock-hop across a stream: I just waded through it. My boots were soaked anyways!
We set up camp as quickly as possible in the cold rain, struggling because our fingers were numb. Then we ditched our wet clothes under the rainfly, towelled off as best we could and piled on whatever dry clothes we had before bundling into our sleeping bags. It was about 3pm but Doug passed out for two hours. I was too cold to sleep so tried my best to distract myself with M&Ms; and a book I’d brought along, Jenny of the Tetons.
It was an appropriate book, set in the 1870s in the Teton Mountains. And I felt silly about putting myself through potential hypothermia and privation on purpose when Jenny, Beaver Dick Leigh and their family had to deal with it for survival. In any event, I finished the book by the time Doug had woken up and the rain had abated. It was time to venture forth to make a fire and dinner but our boots were still soaked so Doug fashioned himself some ziplock booties and I wrapped my dry socks as best I could with tied-up garbage bag pieces and we gingerly put the boots back on.
Then we went in search of dry wood (quite the feat) to make a fire in an attempt to dry our clothes. The next step was to try and light it, but while our matches were waterproof the boxes (and strike pads) were not. After finally striking them successfully, then the toilet paper did not want to catch. In desperation, I started ripping non-essential pages from Jenny of the Tetons, which lit beautifully. I figured a Shoshone woman and a pioneer woman would both encourage the action. The fire didn’t manage to dry our clothes despite our best efforts, but its warmth and cheeriness dispelled some of our gloom. As did our freeze-dried Louisiana Red Beans and Rice with lots of hot sauce.
It started raining again during the night, water pooling on the rain fly and dripping into the tent. It was perhaps the coldest night I’ve ever spent, and the next morning we awoke to hail around the tent and a light coating of snow on the ridge above Green Lake. We broke camp as quickly as possible, scarfing a granola bar for breakfast. We knew that as soon as we got dressed and got out we would need to start moving to stay warm. I put on as many top layers as possible: t-shirt, hoodie, fleece, rain jacket. Our only dry bottoms were shorts, though, which in the end we decided might be better in the sodden meadows anyway.

We power-marched it back to the Element, fantasizing aloud about dry shoes, clothes, and the warm bed we’d be sleeping in that night at the Grand Targhee Ski Resort, but all the while trying not to kill ourselves in the muddy mess that had been the trail.

After catching our breath in Ellie, enjoying the feel of warmth and eating a lunch of jalapeno-cheddar bread, buffalo sausage, and chocolate pudding, we left the woods.
But the adventure was only half over…

Hiking southwestern Wyoming: Scott’s Bottom, buttes, and Wild Hairs in Butts

Since we got back from Colorado, Doug has been extremely busy with work (for those who were wondering, he passed his oral exams with flying colours) and I’ve settled into my new schedule of working on For the Love of Flying things in the morning and doing background research for my novel at the library in the afternoon.

Of course, life can’t be all work and no play! The weather’s been hot and sunny for the most part, so I make sure I get Riker out for his ‘big exercise’ first thing in the morning. Three times a week that means going for a jog around the neighbourhood, dodging the inevitable stray dogs and unsupervised children. The other mornings I take him on more off-road adventures and there are certainly oodles of off-road places nearby when you live in southwestern Wyoming.
One of our regular walking spots (and a popular place with other walkers and bikers) is down at Scott’s Bottom/FMC Park. With the rainy spring, the vegetation is in overdrive down there and thistles (like the one in this photo that a bee is trying to gather pollen from) grow as tall as a person. Just this morning I was down there and spotted at least five mule deer. Luckily Riker couldn’t see them over the abundant field grasses and wild flowers!
With a very Wyoming logic, the Scott’s Bottom nature preserve abutts (if you’ll pardon the pun) the archery and shooting ranges. If you continue on past there, however, there’s an access road that takes you to acres and acres of open scrubland. Doug and I headed over there with Riker last week on one of his rare days off. The circle of life is in plain view in this sometimes harsh landscape.
Last Tuesday I, in the local parlance, woke up with a wild hair/hare up my butt to do some hill climbing. So I packed my day bag, “borrowed” Doug’s sunglasses, and drove down to Scott’s Bottom. There, I took a side path (which might just be the dry bed of an intermittent stream) and followed the game trail to the left. It was still pretty early, but the sun was warm, and I was certainly feeling the exertion as I crested one hill. Then I looked up and saw this butte (above) and decided to try and climb it.
Luckily in this butte’s case, there was a back way up, so I picked my way along the trails the pronghorn antelopes and mule deer had made, observing the occasional scat from coyote and other animals as I tried not to look down.

What a view from the top, though! Riker and I paused for a drink and to watch the hawk that was circling (likely hunting the swallows and field mice we saw) heard it give three of those otherworldly cries that always awe me. When we turned around to start picking our way back down, I noticed a buck antelope that was keeping an eye on us. Then he started moving away, and I saw that he was standing guard over a group of at least five female antelope (his fall harem), making coughing noises to warn them of potential danger (i.e. me).

They don’t have anything to worry about from Riker and me, though, since they can reach speeds of almost 100km/h for several minutes (they evolved in North America when there were prehistoric cheetahs hunting them). Me, I’m happy putting one foot in front of another to explore the area while keeping my butt in shape!

Desert Escape

After our aborted Adobe Town camping trip, we had an extra day to fill before Doug went back to work. I had read that there were some pretty interesting sites nearby and suggested we do a picnic dinner and evening hike at the White Mountain Petroglyphs, Boar’s Tusk, and Killpecker Sand Dunes this past Monday.

The site of the White Mountain Petroglyphs is an easy 1/4 mile walk up from a dirt road a mere 1/2 hour’s drive from our house. The sandstone formation juts out of the high desert sage country. As Doug said, if this site were in Europe somewhere there’d probably be vendors all around and you’d have to pay for parking, to use the restrooms, and to access the site. Here in Wyoming, we were the only ones around for miles and miles…

There are many carvings along the walls, but it’s very hard for my untrained eye to tell what was put there 200+ years ago and what was carved in more recently by vandals. Except for the person who dated their 2005 carving – that made it pretty easy. And I’m pretty sure the Plains peoples didn’t write Jake loves Jenny.

From there, we drove another few miles along the dirt roads to the Killpecker Sand Dunes, an incredible Sahara-esque locale smack dab in southwestern Wyoming. It was pretty hard to resist walking around gasping “water, water” and here Doug does his best impression of being lost for days in the desert. What a ham!

I had a real laugh when I found this little plastic army man stuck at the top of one of the immense sand dunes. Someone has a good sense of humour! Here he’s ready to ambush the enemy from behind a ‘tree’ – little does he know the monster’s behind him!!!

As we were driving away from the sand dunes the sun set near Boar’s Tusk, what’s left of an ancient volcano and a religious site for local native groups. I plan to head back to hike to the site – the Element simply couldn’t handle the rough track.

As dusk settled on the plain, pronghorn antelopes came out in droves to feed by the side of the road. Most quickly ran away, their white bottoms flashing, but these two young bucks were quite intrigued by us (or had possibly been hand-fed from vehicles in the past).

Adobe Town

Yesterday morning, Doug and I and Riker headed out in Ellie for Adobe Town, an amazing geological formation in the Red Desert about a two-hour drive south-east from our house. Armed with GPS maps, our camping gear, and about 5 gallons of water the plan once we exited the I-80 was to take the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) roads and then take the jeep track as far as we could along Skull Creek Rim.

In our research, we had read that any rain could turn the roads into impassible quagmires. May and early June were among the wettest on record here and even though it’s been mostly sunny the past few weeks, we have had some wicked afternoon thunderstorms. This meant there were some puddles and some mud. For the most part I managed to keep us going, but partway up the jeep track we got stuck and Doug had to do some pushing. He got us out, though, and we parked in a nearby dry spot and decided to start our hike a little earlier than expected.

Strapping on our 20-lb packs (complete with tent, canister stove, sleeping bags and pads, water and food) we headed out over the sage brush grassland, wondering if Adobe Town actually existed or if we were already lost. You see, it’s an ancient river basin, so when you’re driving or hiking along the high plateau you can’t see it until you’re almost upon it.

I came upon this skull-shaped rock when we took a break about an hour into our hike. Maybe it’s why the area is called Skull Creek Rim?

Below is a greater short-horned lizard that gave away its position when Doug walked over it. Adobe Town is a proposed wilderness area in Wyoming and one of the reasons for this is its abundance of wildlife. We saw wild horses, pronghorn antelope, and heard a multitude of songbirds (that quickly went quiet when a large bird of prey circled overhead). Apparently there are lots of other species hiding out there as well but were smart enough to hide from the scorching sun.

Not so for us. Our original plan had us stopping for a couple of hours at midday in a shady spot or in the tent, but we were swarmed by great hordes of biting midges every time the wind died down. So there was no rest for us or we would succumb to madness. After hiking about 6 km we were at the half-way mark to our proposed camp site at East Fork Point. With rain clouds threatening to the southwest and no relief from the midges in sight, we decided to call the trip and head back to our vehicle.
This 13-km (8 mile) power march from 10:30am to 3:30 p.m. (i.e. hottest and sunniest part of the day) was exhausting and we were disappointed at our second bug-infested trip in what is supposed to be one of the least buggy States in the union. If we had known we wouldn’t be overnighting it, we also could have drastically reduced the amount of weight we carried on our hike.

Doug made it back out through the mud but these cows threatened to block our way (there are still a couple of active ranches in the area but oil and natural gas companies are rapidly encroaching). By dinnertime we were back home, sunburned, sore, and midge-bitten but still confident that someday we will combine a hike and camping trip in one!
p.s. Doug and I subscribe to Backpacker magazine and they did a great feature last September on Adobe Town. Click here for the article.

Launching Summer

Although I missed my official book launch at the Book & Bean in Green River, WY on June 15th because of car problems, the owner and I decided to schedule a little meet and greet on Saturday, June 20th. I made sucre a la creme (using my aunt Micheline’s recipe) and gave out maple candies to the few folks who came by to chat.

On Wednesday the 24th, possibly the sunniest, warmest day the county had seen so far this summer, I was scheduled to give a talk at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs. I had my powerpoint slides all set and when I arrived it was a great room with a big screen and ceiling-mounted projector. The weather was not conducive to an indoor event, though, and even with decent local media coverage the turnout was small. It’s quality not quantity that counts, however, and we had a great chat.
The weather was iffy on Friday the 26th when some friends and I set up our booth at Festival in the Park, part of Flaming Gorge Days here in Green River. The day began with torrential rain but tapered off a bit while we put up our sun/rain shelter. Halfway through the afternoon a thunderstorm hit us again and we all huddled together trying to protect our wares. Saturday the weather was much nicer and the Festival was much busier, but we all realized that people were there for sno-cones and Made-in-China souvenirs and were not interested in our artisanal products (my book, hand-made pottery, garden-planning “flower fan,” and broadsheets). As Doug remarked after a few hours of people watching: this is definitely not your target market. I guess I should have known when one of the headlining events was cage fighting.
My friend and booth-mate, Luke, handing out his self-published broadsheet, The Fiddler at Festival in the Park.
So after a tiring few months of deadlines and travelling and a pretty disappointing result from my Wyoming events, I decided to take a week or so off to relax and spend some quality time with Doug and the pets. One of our first orders of business was to head to Recreational Equipment Inc (REI) in Salt Lake City to purchase our camping gear. Then of course we had to go test it out. Which we did July 1st (both Canada Day and Doug’s birthday) at the Popo Agie (pronounced popo-zha) Wilderness Area in the Shoshone National Forest.
We stayed at the Popo Agie Campground, a no-fee, no services grouping of tent sites with very limited vehicle access. We were actually there the first day that section opened (it’s an alpine region so the snow recedes later) and no one else was camped. We loved the seclusion but the mosquitoes were plentiful in all the little snow-melt ponds and chased us out a day early. But we got the chance to test our gear in sun, hail, wind, and heavy rain – all in one 24 hour period! And Riker has decided he loves camping – especially weenie roasts.

Roadside “waterfall” in Shoshone National Forest

We attempted a hike from Christina Lake trailhead, but I hadn’t slept very well (who knew nature was so noisy at night?!) and the bugs were really getting on my nerves. So we called the trip and decided to go home, catch up on rest and regroup. This turned out to be a very good idea as I seemed to come down with a 24-hour bug once I got home and was out of commission yesterday.

This morning I felt great, though, and Doug and I headed for a hike up White Mountain to Pilot Butte (the rock formation behind me). We drove a short ways north to the Wild Horse Loop and then deked onto a track for a few kilometers before getting out and tramping through the sage brush. In the process I startled two pairs of sage grouse which made me screech and just about gave me a heart attack. But we made it and had a great hike, seeing several wild horses, pronghorn antelope, and what I think was a red-tailed hawk.

Riker is loving all this fresh air and exercise. We even bought him his own collapsible “Adventure Dog” bowl for trips. We’ve also discovered that the farther out his tongue hangs, the more tired he is. The tongue in this picture lets me know he will be comotose for the next day! Sure enough, as I write this, he has been passed out at the bottom of the stairs pretty much since we got back four hours ago…

At Pilot Butte there’s a metal ladder to get you to the very top. It’s pretty solid, but still a little nerve wracking.

Under Pressure

I am so stressed out right now, I’m finding it stressful thinking about writing about how stressed I am.

The last time I felt this overwhelmed my mum was undergoing cancer treatments, I was struggling through a difficult master’s program, and Doug had taken me on what was supposed to be a 14km hike and I was standing at Despair Pass at the 20km-mark (and was way past despair).

This time around, it mostly centers on the book that’s going to the printers in less than a month (with a gagillion things left to do for it). And the fact that Doug has returned from Scotland. And we just bought a car (a used Honda Element). And maybe even because the media keeps telling us that the economy has tanked and everyone seems so anxious it’s wigging me out.

All I know is, adding a trip to a new doctor’s office and trying to figure out private health insurance wasn’t bound to help my stress levels. And boy did it show on my blood pressure check. I didn’t get the exact number, but the nurse gave me a very concerned look and said it was much too high for someone of my age and apparent health. Did I eat a lot of salt? No. Was I on any other medications? No. Did I smoke? Heck, no.

So I told her that my first book is due out soon, my husband just re-invaded my space, and the thought of all the out-of-network charges for a doctor’s visit had me worried (the initial tests the doctor had ordered would have cost around $500). I also mentioned that I do yoga twice a week, have started training again to run a 5km, and walk my dog for about an hour every day. I told her the only pills I take are multi-vitamins and that I’m all about the whole grains, veggies, fruits, and don’t eat much red meat. She agreed I wasn’t a good candidate for hyper-tension.

So she said she’d give me a second to calm down. Sitting there in the exam room with my eyes closed trying to do my best yogic breathing and relaxation, I was sure I was getting somewhere. On went the arm strap again. Result: blood pressure even higher.

Next she got me to lie down and turned off the lights. After about two minutes of trying desperately to relax, my mind started to think of all the things I needed to be doing for the book. I swear I almost stroked out on the table while she was gone. Result: blood pressure even higher.

Then she suggested I do some errands and come back in a few hours, but the clock was ticking and I had no errands to run that day except the stupid doctor’s appointment and subsequent visit to the pharmacy. So I elected to take the dog for a brisk walk at one of my favourite places. 45 mintues later I went back and on went the strap. Result: a smidgeon lower. But not low enough for them to be satisfied.

Now I have to go back in a week to be re-tested. There was talk of hypertension medicine but I’m not so sure. Aside from being a fan of the holistic approach, I have all the symptoms of burnout and stress (ask Doug about the exorcist moments when he doesn’t put his dishes away) and none of the indicators for hypertension. Give me a therapist, give me a massage, give me an assistant that knows how to write captions for photos! But don’t give me drugs (or expensive off-network doctor’s visits)…

Not a resolution

If you’ve looked at the newsstands lately you probably noticed that just about every women’s magazine (and quite a few men’s) feature New Year’s Resolutions. “Half her size!” One of them exclaims. “This is the year you reach your goals!” Another promises.

I personally don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, guilt-fuelled vows made after a night of too much drinking (and a month of too much eating, spending, etc) often aren’t backed up with much commitment. But maybe that’s why it’s the people who celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s on January 1st who make resolutions. We are all in serious need of detox by then.

When I was 18 years old I took a yoga class. I had just gotten over a horrible case of mononucleosis and I was weak, stiff, and feeling completely non-physical. So I took this gentle yoga class at the local recreation centre to try and ease myself back into the land of the living. At the end of every class, our instructor would take us through guided meditation. She would ask us to focus on our breath and try and clear our minds. This was tricky for me -my mind is always going a mile-a-minute – and the first time I got really frustrated with myself.

Then she said something revolutionary: every time you stop focusing on your breathing and find thoughts cluttering up your mind, acknowledge it, and then return to meditation. No guilt. No failure. Just awareness, forgiveness, and re-committal.
A week ago I found my thoughts wandering and my breathing shallow, in a sense. I wasn’t being as mindful of my health as I had promised to myself. Instead of getting angry, feeling guilty, or giving up and giving in to the all-you-can-eat IHOP gorgefest (it exists!) I sat with my awareness. Then I bought a rec centre membership, went to a couple of fitness classes this week, and began tracking my nutrition more closely.

One of the reasons I think so many people give up on New Year’s Resolutions – or any commitment to themselves – is that the second they slip-up they feel guilty. They think they’ve failed. As that yoga instructor would remind us, we’re only human and we’re bound to get off-course on our road to enlightenment, healthy living, or any other type of goal. Instead of beating ourselves up about it, why not accept the moment and resume our journey?

One year later

Last December I woke up one day and realized I was out of shape, out of excuses, and out of patience with myself. So I decided to do something about it. I already knew the basics of being healthy: eat a balanced diet and get off your butt. I still did a ton of research, signed up for some online accountability aids ( and came up with a strategy.

Here is a photo essay of my journey back to health and well-being.

Spring 2007 in Vancouver. I was still in grad school and in terrible shape physically, emotionally, and mentally. I wasn’t happy about things, but I wasn’t committed yet to changing my lifestyle.

July 2007 north of Vancouver. After crying on my first hike that year, I started to walk more so I wouldn’t be so unfit. Not making all the necessary changes yet or setting any concrete goals.

January 2008. A few weeks after I really committed to changing my lifestyle Doug and I headed to the beach in St. Lucia for our belated honeymoon. I had been working out religiously, tracking my food, and I was down about three pounds.

July 2008: By this time my lifestyle changes were set in stone. I had stopped tracking all my food and drink because I had internalized it (“stop eating when you’re full.” “Are you really hungry or is it something else?” “Eat 4-5 veggies and 3 fruits a day” “Drink lots of water”). I had snowshoed throughout the extended winter, done circuit training to increase my strength, and once the snow melted I started walking. Then I began a walk-to-run program so that by October’s CIBC Run for the Cure, I’d be able to complete 5km. I was down 25 pounds (my initial goal).
October 2008: I had just completed the 5km run without difficulty and was holding strong to my new habits, even though life threw plenty of obstacles in my way. Down 35 pounds.

(if you go to this website you can create a virtual model of yourself at your current weight and your goal weight. Plus you can try on clothes, etc).

This is “me” now – down 40 pounds and still going. I have my new workout buddy, Riker, who makes sure I get out for at least 1 hour of walking a day. I’ve also promised him that I’ll get a bike this spring and that I’ll take him along on hikes and camping trips. I’m also doing pilates which helps with flexibility and strength.

Most of all, I’m taking care of myself. I eat good food that fuels me, I don’t drink too much, and I get lots of rest. I even take my multi-vitamin, which should make my parents happy! 🙂

Healthy and Green Halloween

When I was a kid, I was all about big ‘E’ environmentalism: saving the whales and other endangered species; planting a tree on Earth Day; and raising awareness about catastrophes like the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska or Chernobyl. At home, though, I would grumble about turning off lights when I left the room or sorting recycling…

Now that I’m older and wiser, I know it’s the tiny decisions we make every day that add up. Do I walk the five minutes to the grocery store? Do I unplug appliances and turn off lights when I’m not using them? Do I hoard paper, plastic and aluminum in my basement until I can find places that recycle them?

In North America, holidays tend to be pretty disposable and gluttonous. So this year, I’ve decided to focus on healthy and green options for Halloween. This is good for the kids around here (whose parents drive everywhere, leave their cars running when they’re not in them, and generally have a spare tire around their middles). it’s good for me (I don’t eat the leftover candy and I don’t spend as much on throw-away junk!), and it’s good for the planet.

In my search for healthier and greener Halloween options, I came across a couple of good websites: Green Halloween and Alberta Health Services’ Capital Health. Here are some of the best tips from these sites.

What you could hand out to trick-or-treaters:

  • Fun pencils, erasers, finger puppets, mini cookie cutters, stickers or temporary tattoos
  • Sugarless gum
  • Packets of trail mix, nuts, corn nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Granola bars
  • Bags of pretzels, popcorn, or Gold Fish
  • Fruit leathers
  • Individual packages of hot chocolate

When shopping, planning parties, etc keep the following in mind:

  • Is this people-friendly?

Look for Fair Trade goods and support local companies that pay fair wages and provide safe working conditions when at all possible.

  • Is this planet-friendly?

Look for things made from recycled products, that are made from sustainably-farmed products, and that contain as little packaging as possible.

  • Is this kid-healthy?

Look for items that are organic or pesticide-free, made from healthy and whole ingredients that won’t contribute to the raising levels of type-2 diabetes and childhood obesity.

And, of course, don’t forget to roast those pumpkin seeds when you carve your Jack-o’-lantern and compost it before the neighbourhood kids smash it to smithereens!!

Run Day!

We just finished our 5km CIBC Run for the Cure a couple of hours ago and put together this montage to share with all of you! We may be far away from Ottawa-Gatineau, but we were running with Mighty Mary’s Miracle Team in spirit 🙂

p.s. Make sure you have your volume turned up!

© 2011 Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail. All Rights Reserved.