Liam’s Expedition

Just a little reminder….  If you are feeling so inclined, the deadline for donating to my baby brother’s cross-continent, 8+ month expedition is this Wednesday, April 16.  Thank you in advance!  Here’s where you can go to offer some support:  Liam’s Super Duper Happy Fun Times.

In the meantime ~ Remember those bunnies my dad and brother have been taking on all hiking and skiing trips for the last couple of decades?  Grinny and Gwvera Lapin?  You first met them in this post.  Anyway, they are up to their old tricks, and are pretty sure Liam and his friend, Jake, aren’t the only ones who can plan a little triple-country stroll.

Well my dad, um, I mean Burt (that’s the alias you wanted me to use, right dad?  so that your professional writing career isn’t diminished with silly tales of stuffed rabbits?) recently shared a little story of how the planning is going for dear Grinny and Gwvera….


Grinny and Gwvera decided (well actually Grinny was the one who decided; Gwvera just tags along — as usual) they were going on a grand adventure too. And THEY were going to be self-propelled as well (except for the Charlie Horse they would take over the busted bridge).

“We’re walking to New Mexico,” said Grinny.  “Any silly old person can walk to silly OLD Mexico!  Anyway Mexico’s old hat.”

Grinny hasn’t a clue where New Mexico is, never mind Mexico. It’s just that he saw the name on a mango and thought it sounded a good place to go, since mangoes are his favourite vegetable. (I’ve tried explaining that mangoes are fruit — but it’s hopeless) Then he saw Ecuador on a banana and said they definitely weren’t going there. He HATES bananas, he says they remind him of unripe carrots–those are the green ones he sees in the shops here, before they gas them. (The bananas, that is.)

A well-wisher — was it his brother Liam? — sent him a hat for the trip: If the hat fits, wear it, said the kindly note . . .  Grinny said it did, without a shadow of a doubt.  And it would keep them jolly warm, to boot, and save taking jumpers (for our American friends, aka sweaters).

They left on the Moon of the Falling Leaves, and it took them three days just to get to Mr. Kimbowsarbee’s who lives on the edge of town. Already Gwvera’s feet were killing her. Grinny said he’d kill her if she didn’t shut up.

“We’ve got to be brave,” he said. Then he slipped on a yellow banana skin (how inconsiderate people are, eh?) and cried like a baby; and then had to go to the doctor’s and get a mustard poultice on his left toe so he could get to New Mexico. (Huh! some hope.)

The way his toe’s swollen up he can’t even get his hiking boot OFF!  Grinny refused to have the doctor cut off the boot since it was the one and only one he had.  Yes, he was only wearing the one boot; he got them on lay-away and could only afford the left one before they left. So the eBay seller refunded half his money and said if it’s alright he’d keep the right one for when he came back.

So Doc put the hot poultice on the boot, hoping for the best.

Gwvera blames the hat for the accident.

“Rubbish!” says Grinny. “I didn’t trip on the hat; I tripped on the bloomin’ banana. Duh!  If it had been the proper colour I’d have seen it.”  (Rabbits are colour-blind; just another example of Grinny talking through his hat.)

Those who bet they WON’T make it can send a dollar, two dollars, ten dollars — as much as they like — to Grinny’s post office box, since he’ll be completely destitute — and broke — after this trip.

Those who bet they WILL make it — well you won’t get a hat since Grinny doesn’t knit. But he might send you a postcard with nothing on it (he can’t write since he had the accident; no, another accident he had when he was employed as a lumberjack and short-order cook — but that’s another story) to prove he got THERE (???).  Don’t be at all surprised if the post card comes from the Yukon, since the last I saw of the two Lapins they were heading in a northerly direction because his World Famous compass is busted. It was in his vest pocket when he slipped on the banana….

The Lapins.  Contemplating life.  And lunch.

The Lapins. Contemplating life. And lunch.

Rebecca Knabe.  And Burt.

Grizzly Comings and Goings

Guest Post:  The following is a true story written by my dad, David Harrap.  It took place a few weeks ago in the Canadian Rockies, not far from his home in Jasper, Alberta.


I was heading up the creek again to the top of the valley by the waterfalls, to climb a couple of peaks. Five nights on my own. And there they were in the mud again, but this time going my way.

I had already crossed the mud flats of the empty lake, and the tracks I had seen a couple of weeks ago on my scouting mission were still there, not just dancing in my head as though I needed a reminder. But now these tracks were up in the alpine in a big patch of mud beside gravel flats. Fresh. And I was camping half a kilometre ahead.


Damn! You never get away from them, they wander the mountains like they own the place. Which of course they do: this was their habitat, this was their terrain, this was grizzly country, the loneliness they roamed through–and I was right in it. I was in a place, the only one left on the continent where we are not top dog, where Homo sapiens bows like the sailor before the waves.

Spirit of the grizzly was in the air, in the meadows, in the woods and valleys, alongside the gravel flats, like static electricity before lightning strikes. Because of those prints, the mountains were bigger, the valley sides steeper, the forests darker. And I was afraid . . .

Laid out in my tent that night, like priestly vestments before Mass, were my ice axe, hiking stick, and a pathetic two-and-half inch pocket knife. In case. But they wouldn’t do much good if Moccasin Joe, as the mountain men called grizzlies, paid me a call. Not much good for defence against the king of the mountains that has been known to keep right on charging with half a head blown off by a high-powered rifle. But I felt better with them beside me, and the tent walls hiding me.


Not one moment in five nights and six days, except when I fell into uneasy sleep or was on tips of mountains with ravens for company, was my mind off Griz.

And there it was, I’m on my way out across the mud flats of the empty lake: another set of fresh tracks going in. Seems when I’m coming out Griz is coming  in; and when I’m going in Griz is going out.

But at least I can say with a certain swagger: “Yeah, I’ve camped in grizzly country. Actually there’s a magic with  it, sleeping among the great bear–like we’re brothers.”

David Harrap