About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


List #2
This is a list of things that busted. Not so much fun as it is funny.

Blown Transmission
Dead Battery
Brake Lights
Turn Signals
Busted drive shaft
Brake fluid housing

Right side wall outlet
Pull out bed
Curtain rods
Leaky gas lines
Leaky oil lines
Leaky coolant housing
Leaky break lines
Steering wheel cover plate
3 Cupboard doors (the would swing open at will while driving)
mysterious puck sized dents in the panelling

Oh, and we blew 2 speakers jamming to Cinema by Skrillex. But thats our own fault. We can hardly blame Lily for that.

Cheers,The Boys

Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicago To Home.

After Iowa we encountered a strech of driving that was quite possibly the best of the whole trip. With the engine and brakes now working like it was 1979 and only 20 measly hours until home, we were loving Lily. Chicago traffic was embraced by blowing bubbles out the side window and loud music. With fresh tattoos, 5 happy campers inside, and bubbles flying out the window, Lily was a hilarious spectacle for onlookers. Eventually we made it to Jeremy's Aunt Linda north of Chicago and got to stay with her for the night. She prepared us a delicious meal and gave us a small work project in the community garden and after only 24 hours we were on our way. We were extremely thankful for real food, showers and real beds. We had one more stop in Chicago before we could set our sights on home. Our friend Anna Moriarty is in school at Judson University so we set up a meeting. The campus seemed like a good enough place... except the second we rolled onto the property we had campus security on our tail under concerns of a "suspicious vehicle." Eventually we straighten it all out, found our dear Anna and had some lunch together (in 2006, an RV run on barrels of vegetable oil spawned a terrorist alert on the campus, so security was on us instantly). The visit was brief, but great none the less. Now finally our next destination was not a Walmart lot, a distant relatives house, a long lost friends crib or the side of a mountain highway. Finally our destination was home. We got Lil ready for the last thousand kilometers and headed for the border. We made it to Sarnia at about 2 am, and made it home around noon the following day. Before the trip could be officially concluded we had one final order of business. We started our trip at Butterballs Diner in Jordan 5 weeks ago, so it was only fitting to end our trip here. We ate a delicious breakfast and with money still left in the blessing pot we thought what the heck, lets cover everyone's meal in the dining room. The waitress was more than helpful in this endeavor and we thought it fitting that our last deed (at least in terms of the trip) was at home. It was also nice because we received a great response and had a short but great conversation from each of the tables that were added to our tab. It was a quiet, yet perfect way to end the trip.

S0 that's about that! We made it home with everything intact, which is a miracle in and of itself. People would have lost money on the bet that our RV truly would make it home. We did.

Thank you so much for following the Open Road Project. We are so thankful that we are back home safe and sound. We couldn't have done this trip without the generous support of many of you and we want to thank you for that as well.

Please continue to follow this blog, as we have several more posts to come. Lists and reflections as well as some more video footage.
You guys are the best,The Boys

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Iowa: The greatest state on earth*

* = Subject to the opinion of its residents.
** = Subject to the opinion of its visitors.

After the repairs, and 23 hours of driving that Jer just spoke of in the last post we were actually on our way to a planned destination: Iowa. After having lily's ailments repaired, and even improved in some ways we hit the road with purpose. I messaged my good friend, (an American whom I met while living in Australia) that I potentially maybe able to come by and visit him. Justifiably, this is about as much certainty as I could give him due to our style of travel and fussy engine issues.

However, we clocked over a dozen straight drive hours and made it to Cedar Falls, Iowa on Monday. While attempts to yell out the RV window at anyone and everyone "HEY, DO YOU KNOW JORDAN MILANO?!?" did not produce promising enough results. Lily was in dire need of fuel so we stopped at a gas station, and I borrowed a phone for a local call by dialing a number that I was about 85% sure was Jordans.

Ring. Ring. Ring.
...no answer.
too bad.
10 seconds later, gas station lady's phone rings.
"Uhh, she thinks its for me?"
Jordan skeptically: "Hello?"
Me: "Hey dude, its me, Jamie. Im with 4 other buds in our RV, were in your town"
Jordo: GET OUT (in an excited Jordan voice that sadly cant be relayed via blog channels, yet is so distinct that anyone who has met him has likely heard it)
Jordo still: "Im on my bike now, I was going to the university to people watch, but instead, ill be there soon."

5 minutes later I saw my friend.
Then we did a few really fun things.

We went to this thrift shop called St. Vincent De Paul, that was super cool and super cheap.
and THEN we went for dinner at this Mexican place called Pablo's that was super duper cool and just as super cheap. We then drove back to his and Ian's (his roommate) house. These dudes live in the most insanely fun house of all time*. I should add that Jordan pays $100 dollars monthly rent, but then again this is the fantastic perk of having your mattress on the living room floor. No one will ever tell these guys how to live, because they do it pretty well. It was a Monday, so naturally we were going to Cypress for free pool. That was also awesome. Jeremy and Adam also caught a local show at a cool but sketchy venue. Perhaps though, the two most awesome events of all didn't happen until the following day. The first was Lily's new Tattoo's. I was almost sure that Jordan, an avid tattoo and spray painting enthusiast would love to leave his mark on our trip somehow. S0, we gave him the canvas (our RV) and virtually unlimited freedom. He went to town.

The final product is, as you will see, great.
This is our friendly monster, The Gobbler and on the opposite side, in classic graffiti style essentially cementing the arbitrary name that was given to our RV over 5 weeks ago, The word "Lily"
Also this morning, even prior to the spay painting and a delicious 5 egg breakfast, we set out for our "act of blessing" here in Iowa. I warned Jordan a few days prior, that if we did show up, we'd love his help finding someone that could use ours. The hardest things for us (since we move from place to place so quickly) is having the time to settle in a find someone that truly could use help. We have come to learn that try as we might, always the best interactions were the ones that fall on our lap. That's what we asked Jordan for, and that's what he did. He got talking to his mom asking if she knew of anybody in a difficult situation and what she offered fit our mission exactly. I will spare most details, but because of a difficult home life situation, Mrs. Milano's friend (who lives with an alias) and her two kids, were now living at a near by hotel. Despite her alias, we still managed to track her down by describing her to one of the workers, and it ended up being the best case scenario. After we explained to Corrie (the lovely staff member) our idea, and with bags and bags of grocerices in our hands, she told us that actually the woman we were looking for had just left and even let us into the now vacant room. This was great because now, we got to unload the grocieries, putting them away into the fridge and cupboards. Almost hidding them in a way that she wouldn't immediately notice all at once, but slowly realized what she has. We left the kids a few school supplies on the table, along with a brief note and our best wishes.
This was a pretty cool stop. We never even met the family, but that almost made it all the better.
Cheers,The Boys

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lists Part 1/3

When Jamie wrote the post W.A.L.T he listed all the names that family and friends have called this trip. After reading it, I realized just how great lists were. The more I thought about it, the more I decided you would like to see a few lists. So, three lists will be coming your way, in the next few day pertaining to things we have reflected on during our trip. Enjoy!

List #1: Essential Items for a 5 Week Road Trip

Several times over the course of the trip people that we have met have told us that they like the way we travel. We have heard more than once that we travel in style. The following are the bare necessities that can be found in our RV, that are crucial to traveling in style:

Lint Roller
Painting of “The Last Supper”
Hockey sticks
Basketball net
3 piece Suits
5 Lawnchairs
Cajon (Box drum, table, chair combo)
20 Pairs of Sunglasses
6 way speaker system and 10” sub
A dozen pillows
20 different hats
Gas powered generator
Portable stereo (or “boombox” if you will)
5 man tent
2 coolers
Giant bag of pretzels (2kg)
Bolivian Steering knob
Plexyglass window
Multiple multi-tools
Graffiti tattoo's
this is all just off the top, but if you remember just a few of these you should be ok.

Cheers,The Boys

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How We Got Here

We would like to apologize that we have kept you in the dark regarding our situation over the past week. We do however, have a pretty good explanation. Since approximately August 18th at 11:00pm Mountain Standard time, the fate of our trip was taken... nay, yanked completely out of our hands. As you likely know, we have been experiencing minor technical difficulties since departure. However, as we approached the final mountain range of the trip in Wyoming, USA we could tell that Lily was not going to cooperate.
We knew the problems started when we pushed our RV into a no camping zone at dusk. Why push? Because she stalled. Why at dusk? Because she wouldn't start and even if she did, no alternator=no lights. While we were nervous about the NO CAMPING sign with fine print saying "Punishable with $2000 fine or 6 months prison," we felt that we had a legitimate excuse (also how are $2000 and 6 months in the clink similar punishments?). We woke up in the morning to a State Trooper who thankfully called a tow truck instead of locking us up.
West Yellowstone is right on the border of Yellowstone National Park and this is where we spent the day. We decided to finally treat Lily to a new alternator, so while she was in the shop, we set up a base camp at a laundromat that had free wifi. Our first order of business was cashing in a few $20's for quarters and officially making it "Free Laundry Day." We befriended many patrons, mostly families travelling through to see Old Faithful (the same reason that we were there).After a long day waiting and $200 later, we were on our way. By now it was almost 18:00 so we decided to try to drive through the night to make up for lost time. We stopped at Old Faithful and enjoyed the spectacle.
Now it was time to get some serious miles behind us. To this day, I question why we thought that our only problem was the alternator. We all knew that it couldn't be that easy. The next stretch of road proved us right. Words will not begin to describe how we all felt at 01:00, while we got out to push Lily up the mountain. The cold Wyoming air chilled our bones and the high altitude sucked the air out of our lungs as we ran desperately behind a finally rolling Lily. Josh, not wanting to lose momentum was last seen driving into the night up the hill as the four of us were left only to watch the now working lights fade off into the distance. We were going to die out here.

After two miles of walking, we finally caught up to Josh (who thankfully didn't roll off the cliff), once again stalled on a hill. This is where we would sleep. On the side of the most isolated Interstate in the country.

We awoke in the morning groggy and sad. We hadn't miraculously made it to civilization. With the closest towns almost 100km in either direction and no cell phone service, we could do nothing but hope that someone would care enough to stop. And thankfully people did! We sent for a tow truck in both directions, one East and one back West. However, we had no idea if the people we sent would have any luck, so we sent Josh and Adam to hitchhike to a payphone. While Charles Jamie and I hung back at the RV, we tried to pass the time as best we could and not worry about the situation. However, as we ran out of things to do and with our friends who knows where, we almost started to worry. Then a State Trooper showed up and told us that help was on the way! Ted's Towing out of Sheridan should be around in an hour. Now we were hoping that our friends would make it back from their adventure.
Funny how things work out. Where we stopped was almost at the top of the mountain, and if we would have made it, we would have obviously decided to go down. We would surely have forgotten that our brakes were less than reliable. We would have very likely ended up going through a guardrail. After all, it was the steepest grade we had seen to date, almost 10%. Josh and Adam arrived back at almost the exact same time as the tow truck. We piled in to the little cab of the big truck and made our way to Sheridan where there was a 24 hour mechanic. Our time with this shop was most interesting and I can say that Lily was driven harder than perhaps any time in her life while they were trying to diagnose her sickness, but thankfully, they solved all of our issues by Sunday morning, and at a shockingly reasonable cost.

Once we finally got on the road, it was smooth sailing. With the mountains behind us and the prairies in front of us, we were once again feeling rejuvenated and as we like to say, morale was up. Whether our issue was being stopped in the middle of the road to having no breaks or lights, we are truly thankful that we are safe and sound. Next stop, Cedar Falls Iowa. If you read this whole post, congratulations and thank you. It was a long one.

Cheers,The Boys

Friday, August 19, 2011


Our machine is in the shop at the moment.
We're treating her to a tasty new alternator.
While we wait, please enjoy a new video.

Cheers,The Boys

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hello Seattle

After a brief sleep in the Ferry parking lot (why not take full advantage of our $16 overnight parking?) we awoke to a days drive into the United States. We got up and running pretty early in the morning, but as it turns out (from the border wait time) it wasn't early enough. We normally wouldn't get too worked up over a few hours of waiting in line to cross the border, but when the line before the booth was taking forever, we feared the entire afternoon was lost. Weeks ago, when we crossed over into Minnesota we experienced an extensive search. With a dreaded driver, no front window and 4 other scruffy hooligans on board, we expected no different this time around. We certainly were reasonable suspects and we were preparing for the imminent interrogation. In Minnesota, it took over 45 minutes as they used giant dentist mirrors, dogs, the whole deal. So we were fairly anxious, anticipating our Washington investigation so far from home. As we creeped along, we finally made it to the border guard. "Here we go again" we thought to ourselves as Jer spoke through the crack in our makeshift plexiglasswindow. After barely a peak into the back window, and a few questions about drug use, he sent us on our way.

....wait just a second, WHAT!? He was just going to let 5 unshowered, groggy, 20 year olds driving a barely legal Winnebago older than himself into his country, with not even a second look? Not cool. We could have had anything in there!? I must say we felt a bit ripped off, violated even.

But not to worry friends, the feeling faded quickly since we were now on our way to Wally Martins in Seattle. Here we met up with Dana, a friend of Jeremy, Josh and Charles from their time is Isreal last May. She is a super cool chick and stories were traded as we bussed our way downtown. As it turns out, our hometown MLB team, the Toronto Blue Jays were in Seattle for a series! So we picked up some cheap tickets for the game, and then caught a train down to the market, where we couldn't resist checking out the world's first Starbucks considering how often we steal their internet.

From here we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. The waitresses were friendly and the food worked wonders for our stomachs that had been empty since breakfast. From there we gave away a few tickets to the baseball game (which proved to be harder than we thought as most people had evening plans) and then headed back to the stadium for the opening pitch. It was an exciting game, with the Jays scoring 6 runs in the first inning, and going on to win 13-7.

Another really cool and random thing happened while in Seattle. Tia, a friend of Jer and I from Laurier was in Seattle as well, so we connected and watched the game together. It's always nice to see a familiar face in a new city. We traded stories about our most recent adventures and snapped a few pics as per usual.
We got back to the RV fairly late and after some interesting encounters on the city bus we played some President (it's been our go-to card game) and then hit the hay. Now we have a bunch of long hauls ahead. The long journey home has begun.

Officially homeward bound.
Cheers,The Boys

Monday, August 15, 2011

BC's best kept Secret: Victoria.

On Monday we awoke quite literally at the crack of dawn to drive to the ferry terminal for the first departing cruise onto the island. We prefer to call our 1.5 hour ferry ride a cruise, because honestly, it was pretty easy going. Cubicles for laptop users offering free wifi are pretty enticing to the internet depraved traveler much like ourselves. Still, it is hard for us to stay put in these cubicles when the strong sent of the coffee shop or full breakfast buffet reaches our nostrils. I could really go on and on about our cruise, but really it served it's purpose when it brought us to Victoria- perks or no perks. Arriving at Schwartz Bay, we caught a bus that took us right into the city centre. We made our lunch stop at Subway, but not only did we enjoy a delicious meal. Along with chatting and story telling with the lovely staff, we armed ourselves with some gift cards to be used on the unsuspecting strangers we were sure to meet during our day in the beautiful city. Lately we have loved the invention of a gift card. Now that we are finally at the coast, and without any contacts to pave our way, it is purely up to us to do something of purpose (opposed to our previous stops that usually involved work projects made ready for us). Lately we have been making a push at this random acts of kindness scheme. Gift cards are perfect for several reasons. It avoids the awkward exchange of trying to hand someone cash, but still holds the same value. It sends the nice message that: we went out to buy this, with you, a perfect stranger in mind. We also enjoy the cards because we can bless a new homeless friend with a meal at a restaurant and avoid the offer of cash that could be alternatively used for who knows what.

Jer here for a sec. For part of the afternoon in Victoria, we rented scooters to cruise along the coast (a passion ignited back home, see our E-Scoot post which some of you hardcore readers may remember from our blog before it became The Open Road Project). It was a beautiful ride and these gas powered Honda's really did the trick. Much to our surprise, when we got down to the pier, we had some serious dejavu when we saw what appeared to be our RV parked by the water. Turns out, someone didn't steal our RV and ferry it to the island. Rather, a really sweet woman (also a lead singer of a local band) had the same make and model as us only just about three times more pristine. We got to see what our baby would look like if she wasn't all modified with new cupboards, new seats and a gutted bathroom. Anyway, we snapped a nice pic and then continued on our way.

Jamie again. After the scootering was said and done- we saw some more sights, met some rad fellow travellers, and then were spoiled with a fancy dinner. We were enticed by this illustrious place downtown called the Bard & Banker. With its recent 3 million dollar reno’s this Scottish pub is potentially the nicest of its kind in Victoria. It’s so nice we were surprised they didn’t have a dress code. This explains why when we walked in with our backward baseball caps, value village attire, wiry facial hair and massive hikers pack, we basically gave them no choice to walk us past the nice business meetings, men really trying to impress their new girlfriends, and other well dressed customers to sit us hidden away in the back corner. All in all it was a great meal and the 2 for 1 fish and chips deal that our server gave us really saved the bank. Our Day in Victoria was a good one, next it was off to Seattle to meet some friends and catch a Blue Jays game.

Cheers,The Boys
By Andrew.

Cheers,The Boys

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Yesterday was a huge day on the town. With our RV safely stowed at the Grandview Wal-Mart, we made our way to the train terminal to cruise into down town. From train to bus to other bus we made it into Stanley Park to visit the world famous Vancouver Aquarium. With intentions set on random acts of kindness- we brought along packs full of little treats to give to strangers. Gum, sweets and of course Goldfish Crackers (because seriously, what’s a better snack at the aquarium?)
We dished them out to families and tourist groups, and we generally got a positive response. We have come to realize that since in our world it is so unnatural to be nice to someone for no reason (which is what we wish to change if only slightly), there are things we can do to overcome the initial hesitation (or even sometimes opposition) and spawn good conversation, which at the end of the day is our true motive; to get people thinking. So after a day at the Aquarium, and when our packs were a little lighter, we departed Stanley Park and headed for downtown. We walked our way to the Olympic flame where we allowed a fellow tourist to take just an atrociously crooked photo of us and about ¾ of a Olympic monument (oh well).
Business continued as usual as we made our way to the Rogers Arena, Home of the Canucks. Unfortunately, John Legend was playing for a packed house which made our planned forced entry into the Vancouver dressing room more impossible than anticipated, none the less we did get a nice tour of the perimeter and good vibe of down town Vancouver. Beluga’s, dolphins and the sights of Vancouver made for a great day in the city. Then it was time to head back to our good friend Wally Martins place where we could set up lawn chairs and play some cards by the Coleman.

Cheers,The Boys

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lake Country, BC: Home of Ogopogo

After our driving adventures through the mountains and a brief stop at Lake Louise, we made it to Lake Country B.C. home of Jamies mothers bridesmaids brother, Andy. Umm, yep, that is about as random as it gets. Our time with the Weathersons, who less than a week ago were complete strangers, was a huge blessing. They live in a cozy home in full view of Okonagan Lake (Home of Canada's favourite and most elusive sea monster Ogopogo. Also, we swear we saw him with those nice binoculars, it couldn't have just been a tin boat...)
Between all the wonderful food, laundry, showers and refreshing pool, it was very hard to leave the place. We got there on Wednesday night and enjoyed a nice dinner, met some of their kids (Luke and Lisa) and played some extreme boccee ball. Now as we all know, at all of our stops we like to get involved with the community. This time around, we were helping out with a VBS day camp that the Weathersons run at their church. Between the five of us we were running bouncy castles, making cement stepping stones to decorate, running group games and just hanging out with the kids. We had a great couple of days doing so and it was easy work for how much hospitality we were shown. We loved chatting with Andy. He's an interesting guy, who was a computer scientist right on the brink of our technological era (he invented some of the technology you are using right now!).
Since day camp only went until lunch, on Thursday we had an afternoon free. So, we replaced the beach balls, parachutes and screaming children with work gloves, tree trunks and a roaring log splitter. Andy's kind neighbout, Mr. Brian, needed some wood split as he heats his house with a wood furnace all winter. So we spent the afternoon helping him out. One thing we have learned is that it is hard to do a nice thing for someone without getting blessed in return. Mr. Brian ended up filling our tank with gas, and for that we are super thankful. We are also super thankful for Andy's mechanical abilities as he helped us fix the minor problems we were having with the RV. (minor problems Jer??...)Our stop in Lake Country would not have been complete without a brief stop at Jarome Iginlas place, to give him a card.

As we were leaving, we learned or at least remembered a great lesson. Some of the best encounters of a trip aren't planned, but rather fall right in your lap. After departing the Weatherson’s we were met by a particular section of the highway through the mountains that climbs for over 30 km. We love our RV, and we hate working her too hard, so as we climbed this stretch of highway, we found a rest stop to pull her over to giver her a break. Amidst the 18-wheelers at the "brake check" station we noticed two very full vehicles that were pulled off the highway. Watching from our mirror, we determined from the 10 litre jerry can that the first vehicle had run out of gas, and the second was just returning from town with some petrol. We watched as the friends from the car took out the tiny can and added it to the van. With a much larger jerry can of our own, and having literally just been given gas earlier that day, the opportunity was almost too obvious. We strolled over to determine that they did in fact run out of gas and then introduced ourselves and offered what we could. They were more than grateful! Big hugs were received from each and every one of them as we talked, and got to know somewhat of their tragic story. This group of friends from Vancouver were in Kelowna on rather unfortunate circumstances, only made worse by running out of gas on a long stretch of the highway. We were glad to help! After we told them about our trip and blog, we sent them off with a few bags of the chips. These spontaneous encounters are some of the most fulfilling, and we are thankful for them.

Now it is off to Vancouver. Thanks for reading!
(how did all those people fit into two cars?!)

Cheers, The Boys
Written By: JG & JE

Friday, August 12, 2011


Wilderness Adventure Learning Tour (or WALT) is a name for our trip that was given to us by Mr. Willms. While we decided to go with The Open Road Project®, the past few day of our trip could not have been more fitting for Mr. D Willms name. On Tuesday we drove through the mountains from Jasper to Lake Louise. This 4 hour drive was filled with some very neat, and very scary moments. In the short drive we: nearly hit a coyote crossing the road, stopped to snap some pictures of a black bear, and continued passed deer, mountain goats and gushing waterfalls. We saw the Athabasca Glacier from the RV, as we continued to putter into Banff. “Putter” is actually the correct word to use, and unfortunately also brings up one of our scarier moments. As we climbed the mountain roads, we can feel our dear girl going slower and slower, struggling to find the right gear to climb the hills even with (the transmission swap acting like a heart transplant). With the pedal to the floor, we could only hope. While climbing this hill, we were making quite a scene as the cars started to pile up behind us. At least she’s still driving... right?

Well, as we pull to the shoulder, to let the line of vehicles pass, suddenly the engine dies, our rig clearly mad at us for working her like a dog. Then we begin to roll backwards. Jer quickly tossed her into park and yanked the parking break and we all sat for a second. He then turned the key but alas, nothing happened. Battery’s dead. We are now stranded, helpless parked on a steep incline with nothing but our emergency break keeping us (and all of our belongings) from rolling down the mountainside, and essentially off the cliff.

(Now, I should mention that this battery issue is nothing new, for the past few days we have required a boost to get the engine firing, but today, parked vulnerably on a steep incline, on a mountainside road in jasper- the location was less than ideal.)

We hooked up the booster cables and Jer waved them at passers by. In no time we had a friendly man to our rescue. Rightfully so I suppose, he was slightly intimidated by the group of us, and justifiably asked if we would step away while he started his car (as if we were going to jump him). However, he did give us the juice we needed and wouldn’t even accept any cash as a thank you.

Jer here now. The morning after this escapade, we woke up at our camp site (this time our refuge was a rest stop off the Trans Can) and it was time for another adventure. How about no brakes? We were in the middle of no where, in the mountains no less, with barely any brakes and no sign of a gas station for some more fluid. Thank goodness I have years of experience with my Jetta (R.I.P) and leaky brake lines. Don't worry mothers, we ended up finding some brake fluid tucked away after about an hour of driving.

We’re now back on the road, with yet another interesting experience behind us.

Canada is beautiful.

Naming this post reminded us of several other names we have heard people say when asking about our trip:

• The Magic Tour Bus Across Canada Trip

• The Great Canadian Odyssey Trip

• The Hippy Wagon Boys Trip

• The You Won't Make It Past Grimsby Trip

• The Travelling Nice Guys Trip

• The Five Intrepid Adventurers Trip

• Sammy and the Shifty Boys

• and many many more that just will not come to my noggin at the moment.

Anyways, we remain thankful that we are safe. We are also starting to think that we are invincible. Probably not a good thing.

Cheers,The Boys

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vertical Limits

Mom (Sue) if you are reading this, please stop now. I am serious. If you were that unsettled after Running With The Bulls- you do NOT want to read this (because I love you so much of course).

Since the beginning we decided that throughout our trip each of us is allowed to pick one destination, event or thing that everyone would have to do. No questions asked. This weekend we found ourselves in Jasper. I thought that I would use my event. We were going to climb a mountain. Which Mountain? It would naturally fall into place.

On Friday, with high hopes for adventure, we strolled into the Jasper Info Centre, because it seemed like a good place to start.

"Welcome, Bienvenue." said Lisa our info guide.
"Hi Lisa, we would like to climb a mountain." we announced.
"Which Mountain? Lisa asked with a quizzical look.
"A big one." Jer and I responded simultaneously.

We went on to become friends with Lisa, eventually she leaned in close and even divulged a secret lake front location we could use to park our RV for free and clear of any of those scary park rangers. Also because of our new friendship, and gung ho attitude, apparently we were deemed fit for even more high clearance info.

Lisa was able to direct us to an exclusive, almost hidden mountain void of the typical tourist bunches and frequent visits. It was a site that you could say was off the beaten track.
Our camp site was just on the border of British Columbia, with a trail head starting from HWY 16. After a 3.5 hours, the treacherous 14km climb took us about 2100m above sea level and completely disconnected from any other humanity (Jer here. We were not happy with the hike that Jamie took us on. In the pic below we look happy. 10 mins into the trip we were halfway through our water rations) So we set off:

Past switchbacks, pine forest, marsh and rocks, our campsite sat alone one a glacial lake surrounded by walls of kilometer high mountains. This was our base camp.

Sure, we thought. Lets climb one of these mountains. How hard could that be?

** Pause Story **

Seriously Mom, I know you. Please don't read this.

** Resume Story **
So with packs filled with bug spray and peanut butter sandwiches, we set off "prepared".
Eagerly scrambling over rocks and boulders we crawled our way up the mountain slowly but surely. We stopped on occasion to crack a joke or chase a mountain rodent, eventually finding ourselves above the tree line. All the while we had our sights set on "the big one" (the peak in our range that we arbitrarily chose) but as it turns out, with no other humans for miles, nature can be crueler than we like to pretend. As we ascended higher and higher, we came to a stark realization. We stopped for lunch after a particularly steep section of o
ur scramble. After we had eaten, we looked up at the rock face and down from where we came. Suddenly it felt like our situation had changed. The falling rocks were no longer neat and the beautiful mountains now loomed ominously. It honestly got to the point, where we had to admit to ourselves that to continue our assent would place us into more and more legitimate danger. Several times the rocks would slide from beneath our feet only to tumble and fall for about 1800 feet. This threat of vulnerability did not stop us from enjoying some laughs, PB&J and smacking a few golf balls from our peak.

However, when we assessed our descent and began our return, I will admit shamelessly that I was scared. Several times the ground from beneath us would slide away and carry us several feet stopping barely a foot or two from a ridge or cliff. I watched with binoculars as Josh scaled down a straight rock face only to slide 20 ft on the snow patch beneath him. There was even a time when I was left hanging from my hands as the rock I placed my weight on shifted and fell. It is safe to say we entered the situation in rather naive fashion. Reaching the summit of a 3km high mountain is not something you can just jump into, it’s not like picking up a guitar and trying to play. Careful planning, equipment and guidance is crucial in situations like these. The mountain we set out to climb is climbable. We were not attempting the impossible; we just set out over zealously and found ourselves on a route that was far more hazardous than we had anticipated. But that’s the thing about climbing. The difference of a couple hundred feet, from where we were supposed to climb, to where we accidently climbed could have meant the
difference of life or death. We set out unequipped, and we learned that the hard way.

After a few hours we made it to the bottom safely with only a few cuts and bruises. We thank God for that fact. Back at base camp we discussed over the fire the days events and prepared for another freezing night and our journey home in the morning.

We’re now home safe in Jasper for the night planning on heading to Lake Louise tomorrow.

The camping video is now here! Check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOpenRoadProject Just Click Here!

Cheers,The Boys

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If you haven't seen the heroics during Running With The Bulls yet, check it out...


Cheers,The Boys

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Brightwood Ranch: Building Lives Worth Living

Last week we spent a few days at Brightwood Ranch in Alberta. We knew nobody at the camp, nor had any of us ever been there before. Basically, we found this guy Brent (who happened to be the camps director), in a directory of people that welcome travelers to stay for a day or two on their journey. We were very stoked as we soon realized that Brent is perhaps the most interesting man in Alberta. To the 80 or so campers he is know by his camp name, Old Spice. But he let us call him Brent. Brightwood Ranch is a camp run for underprivileged kids. Their main partner is Hope Mission in Edmonton (which is also a sweet organization). The facilities were fabulous. Coming from a fairly extensive camp background, I talked to Old Spice about various things such as how his camp is run, the different programs and staff hiring. I quickly realized that his camp runs like a well oiled machine. The activities that the campers can take part in are almost endless. Whether they want to play some sports, ride some horses (it is a ranch after all), go biking, hiking, zip-lining or just hang out at the petting zoo, its all there. Wait, why not some archery, riflery or rock climbing? Old Spice and his team of essentially international volunteer staff make it all happen. We loved this place.

But in the nature of our trip, we obviously couldn't just hang around and play games all day (although we would have loved to) so we asked Brent to find us some work to do. For our first day there, we drove into the middle of a 13,000 acre cow pasture and set up a campsite for a horse camp that was starting in a few weeks. This location was literally in the middle of no where and we drove through fields and forests on unimproved roads to get there. It is definitely an incredible location to learn and grow.

The next day, we helped Brent with some stuff that wasn't quite camp related. We helped him move his uncle into a new place. This was also a ton of fun as we got to hear some neat stories and also share our story with him. When we found his vintage hat collection and showed extreme fascination, he let us each take one for helping him out. That alone made the day awesome. You should see some of the beauties we found.

That night we went back to camp and participated in some activities. We hung out by the campfire, played a sweet wide game with the kids and got to know some of the staff. While a lot are from the west coast or around the world, there were quite a few from Ontario and some of us even had mutual friends which is always great. We are super thankful for our time at Brightwood especially because they fed us and let us shower during our stay. We also now have some leads on places to stay in B.C. which we are stoked about. So to all our friends at Brightwood, thanks so much and God bless you guys as you dedicate your summer to serving kids!

To read more about what Brightwood does, Click Here.
Cheers,The Boys
Post by JE

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


If you find yourself in the Edmonton area on the morning of August 3rd around 6:30 or 7:00, why not tune into the Pepper and Dylan Show on 104.9 FM, Edmontons New #1 Hit Radio Station!

We will be on air talking about what we are doing and some of the adventures we have had along the way!

If you missed us and want to hear, click here!
Lookin' pretty good for 06:45!

Tune in,The Boys

An Update on Kindness

While we are enjoying our time immensely on the road, our purpose remains: to do random acts of kindness. Sometimes it seems like a lot of the things that we do for people don't have crazy stories, but we wanted to let you guys know about some of the stuff that we have done. Simple things such as buying Tim Hortons, paying for peoples movies, or just randomly giving away stuffed animals or small amounts of cash have proven to be great ways to show kindness to others. These small acts have sparked many interesting and meaningful conversations. It has been fantastic to get to know people from all walks of life. We have also done a few small work projects for people and hope to get more work of that nature.

Since we have been on the road, our minds have become geared towards finding ways to do things for others and this mindset is now something that we hope will never go away. We look forward to our next few days just outside of Edmonton at Brightwood Ranch, helping out in whatever ways they have planned for us. Then we are going to spend some time in the mountains thinking and praying about the things we can do once we get to southern B.C. and all the beautiful cities down there.

Cheers,The Boys

The Running With The Bulls.

So they have this tradition in Strathmore, and it involves the gathering of ten thousand cowboys, cowgirls and all the wannabes in-between. These people fill the stands to watch the 100 or so men who step forward for a once in a lifetime challenge. The challenge that I speak of is of course: The Running of the Bulls. The crowd you find in line to sign waivers for bull running is an certainly an interesting one. Some are in it for the glory, some perhaps are trying to prove themselves or consider it a legitimate show of bravery. Others (like us), were simply there for a new and exhilarating experience. Finally, some of the people standing in line were truly and solely seeking the $1000 grand prize. Not to stereotype, but simply to give you a better picture of our bull running compadrés, please picture now a man with a moustache. He is naturally shirtless, tattooed, and most likely drinking beer. His cowboy hat is the most expensive thing he’s wearing and his belt buckle is what most would call large. Some would say too large. He may be missing some teeth, or they are at least brown from a lifetime of chewing tobacco. He also likely would have cursed about 5 times since I began this sentence describing him. However, most importantly, he thinks there is not a chance in the world that 5 kids from Ontario would be better, or less afraid of running with the bulls than he would be. To be shamefully honest the 5 of us completely agreed with him. That is what we were dealing with; that was our company.

Running with the bulls was scheduled for 18:00. By 18:15 it's safe to say we each had a bundle of nerves. By 18:20 as we made our entrance into the arena the nerves calmed slightly, until the bulls were released. Our hearts dropped. Watching five, 1200 lb bulls charging at you was certainly thrilling. But before I go any further please allow us to explain the event known as bull running with which we are now so closely accustomed.

The running with the bulls involves 80 contestants left to fend for themselves in a gated arena monitored by 4 judges. The "runs" are separated into three rounds. the first is 6 small (relatively speaking) 1200 lb bulls that are meant to be the least violent. The intermission includes judges making notable mentions to particular contestants that stood out. Then the second round ensues. This time it is 4 larger 1400 bulls that are after us. Again, the judges make their comments and then it is time for the final round: two, large, aggressive Mexican fighting bulls. If when all is said and done there are no fatalities, no severe injuries and no harmed bulls the judges then select their favourite contestants and put it to the crowd to select the winner of the $1000 grand prize.

Ok. So now that your caught up with stampede culture, back to our time of terror in the arena. First round, there was a few close calls, but overall relative safety. In the second round Jamie and Charles made a few daring stunts that distinguished themselves in the eyes of the judges. After the third and final round, with all limbs still intact, we were all extremely relieved to have successful conquered the running with the bulls. After the bulls again were caged away, to our astonishment Jamie was chosen as one of the 6 finalists. It was now up to the crowd the judges and fate to decide who was going home with the grand of cold hard cash. We pulled together as a team and every time Bob Tallman (world famous rodeo announcers) mentioned Jamie, we all went buck wild, preforming antics and the classic sports celebrations that we all know and love. With roaring applause Jamie made the finals and by this time it had surfaced that we were from Ontario and were up against a home town kid. However, along with this, somehow (we still have no clue how) news surfaced of our adventures and mission which was announced to the listening crowd. At the end of the day, to all of our utter astonishment, Bob Tallman, Grant Keibler and the band Hey Romeo decided in our favour and selected Jamie as the 2011 Running With The Bulls. They invited us all up onto the lift from which they were speaking and gave us an opportunity to share a bit of our story to the thousands listening in the crowd. To this date, this has been our teams favourite bonding experience and even from this exposure spawned many fantastic stories that will be posted next time we make into into a free wifi hotspot. But for now, we thank God for giving us $1000 right after we spent around that on our transmission. This has been an unforgettable experience!

Cheers,The Boys