I am very happy to once again have Christine Thelker as a guest writer. This blog will hopefully inspire you, as it did me, to go out and enjoy life regardless of what is holding you back. There is always a way. Thank you so much, Christine, for your inspiring story.
Travelling with Dementia: a journey of unbelievable proportions
The journey over the last year has been unbelievable, not all has been easy, but all have brought about some very amazing sights, sounds and meeting of some of the most amazing people imaginable. The last time I wrote I was on a journey to return to Cassiar Cannery, a favourite place of mine to retreat and regroup. It was there that I met Suzanne and her husband, which lead to me appearing as a guest writer on this travel blog. There were a few things I had not mentioned in that blog, one and the most important being that I am a person living with Dementia. That trip was taken because the doctors were talking about taking my license away, and my health was declining. This trip leads me on the most unbelievable journey. I became involved with Dementia Alliance International. It is an association that is in 47 countries run solely by and for people living with Dementia. Delving into becoming an active member saw me advocating, and writing a blog about living with Dementia – Chrissy’s Journey can be found on Facebook.
I spent seven months unable to drive, which was heartbreaking, and challenging, but I persevered. I travelled differently, mostly on foot, saw things from a different perspective, and saw things close to home that I had always missed. It taught me to stop the car, get out and look around. Seven months later, after spending months working on lifestyle and nutrition changes, and exercise programs, I was once again driving. Oh, happy day. Since then there have been many road trips. Some close to home, some like my trip to Chicago last July to speak at the International Convention on Alzheimer’s. Trips as late as last week, with a new found partner, who I am also grateful to have, and who is thrilled to journey down the highways and byways with me.
Chicago was a lifetime and life-changing experience. There I met many of my colleagues with Dementia Alliance International, where after having had many zoom meetings we all converged to speak at the convention. From as far away as Japan, we had people from around the globe representing our group. It was wonderful to meet face to face. Exploring Chicago was a pleasant surprise and a city I hope to return to. Chicago is clean, safe, and has easy access to everything, from the buses that show you the sites to city buses, trains and boats. They are all easy to navigate. The waterfront is stunning. The Magnificent Mile is truly a treasure. Walking it along the riverfront, restaurants, and coffee shops abound. We felt safe walking at 11 at night. In the morning, getting to and from venues, and the airport was so simple.
It somehow doesn’t feel like a city. It has a relaxed atmosphere; people don’t seem harried or rushed
here. If you get the chance, visit this city.
Returning home, it was time for my partner and me to make plans for our life together; we had committed to each other. This commitment saw Jim move from Prince George to Kamloops and me from Vernon to Kamloops to combine our lives. We would be living in a fifth wheel trailer. Kamloops is desert-like, a lovely city which offers something for everyone. The surrounding area is stunning on its own. From there Jim’s work took us to Spences Bridge, the warmest spot in Canada. Spences Bridge is a very old town with stunning scenery and great fishing. There is no shopping, but there is a wonderful little log cabin pub, which offers great food, a combined coffee shop/post office / small store for essentials only. We were there for about a month, which allowed for great exploring the surrounding areas and what I refer to as circle tours, great little day trips. The back road to Merritt is a lovely drive. There is no need to stay on the main highways when you explore. Merritt a lively small town. The trip from Merritt to Logan Lake, another town that is unexpected is a mining community, set in some beautiful country. Continuing on your venture to Ashcroft which can also be accessed from Highway 1, but the back road from Logan Lake to Ashcroft gives you many awe stopping moments. Ashcroft is a delightful town. It has a bit of everything.
Another circle tour saw us go from Spences Bridge to Lytton, and on to Lillooet. Another town steep in history, quaint, and yet it has maintained its unique style but up to date at the same time, with everything including lovely wineries. We then arrived back in Kamloops for a couple of weeks then another move this time to the West Kootenays, finding ourselves in Castlegar. The Kootenays have offered us much to see and for me a homecoming. I was born just down the road in Trail and grew up in Fruitvale. After 46 years of absence, I have returned at least for a time. This trip has been an unbelievable chapter in my life, exploring Rossland, Trail, Nelson, and surrounding areas, Fruitvale will be next and will be a chapter unto itself I think. Many great little circle tours here. Castlegar, Trail, Rossland, and back around the majestic Nancy Green Mountain. These towns offer a glimpse into the past and how much of the past still function here today side by side with life as we have it today. Taking the highway from Castlegar through the Slocan Valley to Nakusp and down into the Okanagan, is another breathtaking journey. Lakes abound, Kootenay Lake with the majesty of Nelson perched on its hillside, Arrow Lakes, home to Nakusp, New Denver, Slocan Lake which boosts the quaint town of Slocan.
I have more areas yet to explore, but this is what the last year has looked like. I hope to share more of my journey as long as my health allows, and life sees us having the opportunities. My advice to everyone, don’t just drive through towns, stop the car, get out, take a walk, you may meet some incredible people and see things you never imagined. These are things and moments that make life memorable