Greetings from Fredericton New Brunswick Canada…kind of…
I made it to Fredericton easy enough, there were a few bus transfers over the night and I didn’t get much sleep but I still made it to the destination on time and without any real problems, which is the important part. Originally when I booked the tickets I didn’t look at the map that closely and booked the bus from Montreal. I then booked a train from Quebec City back to Montreal to catch the bus, with a 4 hour layover, even though the two stations are side by side. Also, the bus goes up to Ste Foy on it’s way to Fredericton, which is just outside Quecbec City, and 10-15 minute drive from my friend’s place. So rather than spend the whole day backtracking, I threw out the train ticket to Montreal and the bus ticket to Ste Foy, they were non-refundable, and caught the bus that night, saving me half the total time on a bus and/or train. I’ve been looking closer now with my planning transit routes.
|On the road again.|
Catching up with Friends
It has been 15 years since I last saw Aaron and Danielle, who I stayed with while in Fredericton, I was still in highs school and they had joined the military and been posted out. With social media so common place in our lives now a days we met up on Facebook and when I started planning out where to go and stay I sent Aaron a message. Next you know we’re sitting in a car with his family reminiscing about the good ole good in high school and talking about where everyone is now a days. They had set me my very own room in the basement, well almost, I shared it with the cat, who had decided I’m her new best friend. I spent a good deal of my time sitting in the front room working on blogs and planning things for the UK, when they were home we talked about all sorts of things, like my journey and life leading up to it or what they had been up to in the past 15 years, at one point Aaron brought the fact he and Danielle had a discussion of what we’d talk about, being that we hadn’t seen, or spoke much, in 15 years. Aaron had made the comment that it’d be just like picking up where we left off, like it was yesterday. He was right. It’s something we’ve noted about the people we grew up with back home, we can not see or speak or one another for years on end, show up one night and continue on like those years a part never happened. A true sign of real friendship, although it did make me miss a few old friends I haven’t talked to in years.
|Leila sent me some American Girl Guide Cookies! They were so good!|
Another friend I hadn’t seen since high school was Greg, he and I were in the same classes for the first half or so of school, and had met up a few times during the Christmas get-together at the bar back home. We had kept in contact online and he had even offered me a place to stay, but I had already made plans with Aaron. we met up for lunch one day and grabbed some food at a local diner. Since I last saw Greg he had released from the military and was now sporting a huge red beard, suitable enough to have a spot on the TV show ‘Mountain Men’ and shaved, or lost, the curly hair I remembered him having in highschool. As we talked caught up on life and talked about all sorts of things he brought up something that is dear to him, volunteer work he does with an organization set to help soldiers with PTSD with medicinal cannabis, called Marijuana For Trauma. It’s something I also believe in and think should be more widely accepted to help out our men and women that serve us. I in turn told him about al the accounts of those who have done Jiu-Jitsu helping them deal with PTSD and the different programs I’ve seen out there for teaching soldiers to cope through Jiu-Jitsu. We both agreed, if more people did Jiu-Jitsu and smoked weed there’d be a lot less problems, and a lot more happy people in the world. Seriously though, I believe both medicinal cannabis and Jiu-Jitsu therapy can help cure, or deal with, a lot of problems we are facing today.
It was great to stay with and hang out with Aaron and Danielle, thanks to much for taking care of me, feeding and even giving me drives around town! Also, thanks Greg for the pizza, it was great to catch up with you, too. Until next time guys!
The Snow Storm..
|the snow storm. I tried going for pizza. I make it to the corner store. what you don’t see is the tractor clearing out the intersection of snow 30 feet away from me. The lights were green, but no one could see, luckily no one was driving either.|
As I was staying in Fredericton at Aaron and Danielle’s word that a huge snow storm was coming in was going around, and each day was dumping a lot of snow, but intermittently, and it wasn’t quite enough to stop me from training (Thanks Aaron for the rides!), or my bus to Moncton, although we were an hour late. But once I got to Moncton the snow came down hard! I believe it was a total of more than 8 feet of snow that dropped in a period of 24 hours. The entire east coast of Canada was shut down, businesses were closed, and I was trapped in the hostel I was staying in. With the weather as bad as it was I was unable to train at all, in fact this section will cover my stay in Moncton, which is why I grouped it in with Fredericton. Other than a run through the blizzard to the corner store I only made it out once while visiting the town, I walked to the movie theater and watched Lego Batman and John Wick 2, both were great movies and well worth the long walk, but it would have been nice to train as well.
|Chocolate river. It’s level with the top during high tide, right now it just looks like a icy muddy pit.|
The hostel I was staying in was pretty nice and cozy, feeling more like a bed and breakfast. It was a big house turned into a hostel, with one co-ed room of 8 bunks. There were 2 guys who were staying long term, paying rent, and an Vietnamese woman, Mary, who was from Vancouver and had a boyfriend who trained BJJ, we talked on Skype once for a few minutes once to see which friends we had in common, showing that the world is indeed a small one. Mary was only staying a short while and was on her way to Vietnam to see her parents, and her flight left just before the blizzard hit us, lucky for her. She had a book, like a diary, but filled with all the places she’d been to, travel brochures and local currency taped to the pages and notes about getting around or ways to save money or sights to see for each place. It was a pretty awesome book to look through. She had been to Tokyo before and we talked about how great it was and what sights we each had seen. It was a fun time of conversing with other hostelers and and backpackers.
|The hostel staff having fun with the weather.|
Through this conversation I told the guys of my blog and my journey so far and intentions for Europe and Asia. I guess there is a journalist for a local paper that likes to come by and cover stories of the interesting people that stop by at the hostel, one of the guys had told her about me and my journey, she wanted to do an article on me and interview me for the paper. I never heard from her again before I left, I figured the storm put a stop to our intended interview, oh well, it would have been cool but I guess it’ll have to wait for another time. Luckily the roads were cleared in time for my bus to Halifax, and only one destination was ruined.
|The snowbank behind me is actually over 7 feet tall. When I got into the town in Moncton it was barely up to me knees. That’s a lot of snow in 3 days!|
Back when I was training in Quebec while I was on course for work for a month last year I posted about my experiences training at BJJ Quebec with Prof. Louis Berube. I got some responses on Reddit telling to check out some other BTT clubs in Canada and Synergy BJJ in Fredericton New Brunswick was one of them. Another one was Victory BJJ in Moncton but the snow storm cancelled that visit. I e-mailed the club soon after getting the referral on Reddit and talked to Melyssa about dropping by, which was no problem, and we kept in contact as I planned out the Canadian Odyssey.
|The brave few that made it out to class on a snowy night.|
The first night I made it out to the club neither Melyssa or Dana, the head instructor, were in for class but I did get to meet a few members of the club, who were all welcoming, during the no gi class. The next night both Dana and Melyssa were there and I was able to introduce myself and thank them for welcoming me. Dana seemed genuinely interested in my blog and journey and had even been reading it before class, unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of time to talk about it and never found time to set up an interview. The club is in a gym, but it’s not your usual gym, it’s a dynamic conditioning center, or cross fit gym if you will, what ever you call it it was a great training atmosphere. There was a stretch of fake grass for pulling sleds and flipping tires, squat racks and other equipment on either side, with the mat space being in the back corner. Each time I showed up to class there would be music blaring and people working away at all the stations of the gym, they had a good set of dedicated gym rats, but every night, at 8pm I think it was, everyone would suddenly be done working out and leave, with the Jiu-Jitsu club being the only ones left in the gym.
|No gi class getting some rolls in.|
Classes were welcoming and casual at Synergy, we started with some warm up drills then moved into techniques, adding to a chain of moves as the night went on. I wasn’t able to do everything as I had hurt my elbow when in Quebec, so using my one arm was quite restricted for most my time there, I only rolled one night and quickly regretted it the next day, remembering to let me body rest and heal and take days off is going to be the biggest and hardest thing for me to deal with while on this Odyssey. One the bright side I for the first time ever was able to do a set of berimbolos between a standing partner’s legs, it was during warm up one night, they took to time to get me to learn the proper movements and get them down right. Now you can be thinking “That’s not a big deal” or “Who can’t do berimbolos at 4 strip blue belt?!” or even “Who cares about berimbolos?!” I could go on about not caring for them because it doesn’t fit into my game style or what ever but really I’ve always had problems with them because of my shape, apparently being round makes rolling upside down harder, and so I never really cared for them. I will say though, weather for the use of berimbolos or not, they are great for drilling to really get to learn body movement, and because that class I feel I have a higher sense of my body movement, or lack of in some cases.
|Dana Teaching class.|
One class Dana decided to put us on Facebook live and gave me a mini interview so I could make a shout out for the blog and the journey, It was a fun ‘Panda Sighting’ to make on the spot, which is what I’ve been calling any pictures or videos of me showing up on other club’s or people’s social media accounts while on the Odyssey. I have the feeling there are going to be a lot more ‘Panda Sightings’ in the future. In fact if you have videos or pictures of me visiting your club let me know, I have a Dropbox folder to collect all the ‘Panda Sightings’ once I get a bunch I’ll see about putting together a photo album on the site.
After having fun hanging out with old friends and making new ones at Synergy BJJ…and then get stuck in a blizzard in Moncton…it was time to Head to Hailifax Nova Scotia and meet up with another old friend of mine Michael McCoag, who I met when I first joined the Canadian Navy and hadn’t seen in 5 yrs.
|It’s either an At-St walker and the rebel base on Hoth is being attacked by the Empire, or it’s a wind mill and I’m on my way to the east coast on a snowy day.|
Until next time, see you on the mats!
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