denim ugg boots Taking Olympic Torch for warmth
Here the thing about touring northern Canada in November. It cold, really cold, in places like Nunavut and the Northwest Terrorities and the Yukon. So cold that people here in the Lower Mainland make jokes about it, nervous jokes, because they can imagine heading out for a latte in 30 C weather. They can imagine it even if they are ex pats from the winter hells of Winnipeg or Toronto or even Edmonton, as so many British Columbians are.
But I not, having been born right here and thus a self avowed adorer of rain, which means I have neither experience nor tolerance for the kind of Great White North winter weather that requires down filled underwear. Heck, I don even use an umbrella.
And then there the flying. You see, as much as I hate the cold, I hate flying even more. I not so much a white knuckler as an avoider. If I don have to fly, I don Simple as that.
So, how to explain that I will be getting on a little plane Monday afternoon which will transport me to Comox, which early on Tuesday morning, Nov. 3, will make its way via The Queen Charlotte Islands to Whitehorse, and will see me, on an almost daily basis, jet hopping with that sleek sexy little torch around northern Canada, about two dozen touchdowns in all, in some of the most remote make that the most remote locations in the country. And on the planet.
The torch and I will be visiting far flung ice packed communities like Old Crow in the Yukon, Alert in Nunavut (famous for being the northernmost inhabited place on Earth), Gander in Newfoundland/Labrador and assorted towns and pit stops from the Queen Charlotte Islands to Churchill, Manitoba to St. John in Newfoundland.
That because I tagging along for two weeks on the northern leg of the 2010 Winter Games Olympic Torch Relay, an experience I know will shine a new light on these controversial Olympics, and provide me, and readers, with a different kind of Canadian perspective, a sense that the Olympics is not just about economics and protests, but about athletic grit and national pride, and being part of history.
In my column last Friday, the day the torch touched down for the first time on Canadian soil after its lighting in Olympia and subsequent tour of Greece, I wrote about the upcoming northern trip and the torch history, and about my expectations travelling with such an iconic superstar to places in my own country that, like so many of us,
I have never been.
It a long route, 45,000 kilometres through 1,000 communities with 12,000 torchbearers representing all Canadians: the details, years in the planning, are mind boggling, and many of them can be found on on Vanoc special 2010 Olympic Torch Relay website, including a map of the relay route.
I will be filing daily (provided I can get Internet access, or at least a phone connection), and also plan to update this blog daily along with, technology willing, videos of not only the dozens of torchbearers but also the spectacular scenery from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, via the Arctic Circle, showcasing both the majesty of our country and the intimate stories of the people and places that will be carrying and welcoming the flame on its trans continental journey.
I hope you travel along with me.
And while the cold is something I can dress for, the flying is something else altogether, although I do take solace in the knowledge that if the Olympic Torch is on the same plane then I in good company, because no one much cares if my light goes out, but the Olympic Flame, well that a different matter.
Meantime, the accompanying video provides a sneak peek at the latest northern fashion, or at least the not so flattering ensemble that I be sporting for much of the trip. It includes thermal socks, thermal underwear (tops and bottoms), thermal tights, layers of gloves, scarves and toques (not the least of which is one featuring the New York Yankees logo, because they are my team and because the Northern Lights won be as bright if they don win the World Series) and ChapStick, topped off with a thigh length down coat with a cinched hood and sleeves that have those built in wind guards.
And, yes, Ugg boots, which may seem a bit unorthodox for polar bear viewing in Churchill, Manitoba, but they are lined with Australian sheepskin and the good folks at Mountain Equipment Co op, where I seldom venture and where I loaded up on all this cold weather gear, assured me they will do the trick against whatever the Arctic throws at me as long as I wear a layer or two of wool socks,
tuck in some of those six hour toe warmers and don go for a long dog sled ride on an ice floe.