Anthony Marr’s CARE-6 tour field journal #4


Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s

Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s

Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)

Field Journal #4

July 17, 2008

My last entry was written in Missoula, and now I’m in Janesville, Wisconsin, at the home of Marv and Betty Burns, parents of WI activist Amy Burns, with Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota already behind me. I arrived at 1:30 last night, from Minneapolis where I started driving around 9 pm. Betty had left the back door open for me and I just walked in and went straight to my assigned bedroom, which was spic-and-span as always, with a stack of fresh towels on the bed, and the faint night-lights left on. One of her two cats, Libby, was there to welcome me. As I had half-expected, I found the proof copy of “Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH” lying in the center of the bed facing the heavens. The first thing I did in the room after laying down my laptop and toiletry kit was to pick up the book and hold it in my hands. It was a magical sensation. Of course I’ve held thousands of books in my hands since I began reading some 60 years ago, but I’ve had this magical feeling holding a book only once before, and that was when I picked up a copy of my first book “Omni-Science and the Human Destiny” for the first time back in 2003. I’ve never had a child of my own, but it must be what a mother and father would experience when they hold their new-born child in their arms.

While I was still in Missoula, I had a few phone conversations with Lynn Wolff, the Organizer of the Dakota Resource Council head-quartered in North Dakota, which culminated in him making a series of phone calls to his colleagues in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. These states have something in common. They all have separate pipelines planned or already partly constructed, all stemming from Canada of course – the Montana one(s) coming straight down from Alberta, the Dakota one(s) down from Saskatchewan and the Minnesota one(s) down from Manitoba, all ultimately originating from the Alberta tar sands. Lynn’s efforts led to a series of meetings on my way east.

I left Missoula on July 14, Monday, around 8:30 a.m.. My first stop was Billings MT, driving time over 4 hours. The person to meet there was Mike Scott of the Northern Plains Resource Council, whose office is situated in a “green” building called Home On The Range, of some local fame, time set for around 1 pm. His group is a soft one in my view, and though they are aware of the pipeline situation, are hesitant to do hardcore battle against their government, and does not seem to look beyond the U.S. border to the root cause in Canada and do battle there. They appear to work only with the private landowners whose land would or might be impacted negatively by the pipeline. Their pipeline is in the public consultation process and they seem to be concentrating on this front. I asked him if any pipeline has been stopped by this process, and he said no. When I asked him to have their organization join the Coalition to Abolish the Tar Sands (CATS) to cut the pipelines upstream, he quickly responded with, “I’ll have to run this past the board.” When I asked him to come to Billings Gazette newspaper office with me, he said a very quick no, adding that currently, their organization had no hard position or strategy to present to media on the pipelines issue.

I called up the Billings Gazette myself, and talked to the editor Steve Prosinski. He was friendly enough, but said that he had no reporter available that day, but asked me if I would be in town the next day. Unfortunately, I had to go to Bismarck ND for further meetings the next morning. Anyway, without Mike’s cooperation to provide a local angle for a local newspaper story, chances are that there would be no story for the Gazette. I could check with Prosinski by phone when I have time, but a phone-call is likely all it’s worth. While walking towards my car on the way out, I noticed, to my unpleasant surprise, that my rear right tire had run itself almost bald since the start of the trip, and the left one wasn’t much better, neither had much tread left before the tour in the first place. It would be downright dangerous to run on them much farther, especially if it got wet, which thankful it didn’t, but no time to change tire tires for now, at least not till I get to Wisconsin. Meanwhile I reduced my speed from 125 kph (80+ mph) to about 115 kph (75 mph, which is the standard interstate speed limit in these parts).

By the time I arrived in Bismarck, it was around 9 pm. I got a room at the Motel-6 right off the highway, room cost about $50. At one point, after loading my laptop, etc. into the room, I went out to my car one more time, and found that I’d left the key-card in the room. So I went back to the office to get a spare key-card. In there was a young man at the counter getting a room, and behind him in the small lobby was an older gentleman around 55, with salt-and-pepper hair and beard, waiting to get a room. While the young man was about done, I’d had a light chat with the older gentleman, and told him with some embarrassment that I had locked myself our of my room. He offered for me to go before him, since to get a spare key-card would take much less time than to book a room. I thanked him, got I spare key-card, said good-night and left. The next morning, I went to my 9 a.m. meeting with Mark Trechock, head of the Dakota Resource Council and Lynn Wolff’s boss, and Mary Mitchell and Wayde Schaefer, both of the Sierra Club, at the Mr. Delicious cafe. We had a little initial laugh when Mark recognized me as the guy who locked himself out of his room, and I him as the courteous gentleman who let me go first. In the meeting, it was Mark who talked the most, and most freely. All three had pretty well accepted that the pipeline through North Dakota was a done deal, but its extension into South Dakota was still being fought. Upon being asked to join CATS, Mark had no trouble saying yes, whereas the Sierra Club people again said they had to consult their board. Before ending the meeting, one of them mentioned an anti-tar-sands group in Montevideo MN, called Clean Up the River Environment (CURE). Finally, there was a group not just about the pipelines, but about the tar sands itself, for me to talk to.

While in Bismarck, I also had a long phone conversation with Stephanie Trask of Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota, and they are tackling the pipeline that is now coming down from North Dakota, but again, I feel that their method is a little on the soft side, and concentrating only on the local property owners impacted by the pipeline..

Before leaving Bismarck, I called the newsroom of the Bismarck Tribune. I’ve been forewarned that all North Dakota politicians and media and average Joe either pay no attention to global warming or think/say that global warming is a hoax, and are generally in favor of the pipeline. The editor John Irby, on the other hand, was friendly, and passed me on to a reporter-columnist named Crystal Reid. Crystal invited me to go into their office for the interview. The interview lasted a good half an hour and it went well, but even before it began, Crystal had forewarned that there were no promises.

After the interview, I drove on to Fargo, ND, to meet with Lynn Wolff. We met in a restaurant parking lot around 8 pm, and shared a late bite. He looked exactly like the image I had formed of him based on his voice on the phone – late 60s, slightly heavy-set, and very affable. He and I liked each other on sight, and had a nice dinner together, during which he called his wife to look up CURE for me, and went on to make an appointment for me with CURE for first thing the next morning, while I called the Fargo Forum daily newspaper, and had a 20 minutes chat with the night editor, who sounded interest, but again no promises.

After saying goodbye to Lynn around 9 pm, I drove on towards Montevideo, but soon ended up on a slow 2-lane highway, which, just past midnight, brought me to a town called Morris about 40 miles from Montevideo. Along the way, all gas stations were closed, and all small towns and villages seemed asleep. Morris was the first place with a motel, and there was no guarantee there would be anything in Montevideo when I got there. So, I went to a road side Super8 in Morris, which proved to be full, but the counter lady made a phone call for me, and found me a room in a nearby motel called the Prairie Inn for $69; no choice but to take it, but that would be about the last motel I would need for much of the rest of the trip.

The next morning, I spent some time on the internet before driving the 40 miles from Morris to Montevideo, and got there in time for lunch, CURE’s treat. The executive director is named Patrick J. Moore. When I called CURE to inform them of my ETA, I asked the front lady if Patrick had come from British Columbia, to make sure he was not the infamous Dr. Patrick Moore who had turned from being a co-founder of Greenpeace to a logging advocate. Good thing he was not. Patrick, in his late 50s, with bushy grey hair, invited his colleague Duane Ninneman, 40s, bald but with a full dark beard, titled Long Range Development Consultant, to join us for lunch. I liked them both, and they are both well versed with the tar sands. In fact, while in their offices, Moore gave me a copy of “STUPID TO THE LAST DROP – how Alberta is bringing environmental Armageddon” by William Marsden, to keep. When I asked them to have CURE join CATS, Moore said without hesitation, “Absolutely.” I asked him, “You don’t have to run it past your board?” He said, “I can make unilateral decisions for CURE.” So that’s a done deal.

Moore also lined me up with an environmental attorney for Plains Justice in Minneapolis named Paul Blackburn and his spouse Kelly Fuller, environmental advocate. After the lunch with Patrick and Duane, I drove on to Minneapolis and arrived at Paul and Kelly’s by 7 pm. We chatted until about 9 pm, and I punched into my GPS the address as Marv and Betty Burns in Janesville, Wisconsin, where I will be staying for the next several days, ETA 1:30 in the morning. I finally got to bed by about 2 a.m…

This morning, I woke up around 8 Central time, and read in bed for a while before getting up for a shower. I started on STUPID TO THE LAST DROP. Its Prologue outlined how the oil industry considered used low-yield atomic bombs to extract crude oil from the tar sands. And its Chapter 1, titled Highway to Heaven, started as follows:

Dr. John O’Conner, the coroner for Fort McMurray, had warned me: “Never drive Highway 63 south or north on Thursdays…Sundays or Mondays.”

“Why’s that?”

“Shift changes at the oil sands. The traffic is crazy. Your heart is in your mouth.”

Then, he told me about the last accident he investigated: it’s winter and dark. A logging truck swerves to avoid a pickup truck parked on the shoulder but with one wheel on the road, its driver fast asleep. Logs fly off the flatbed, piercing the windshield of an oncoming van. Two workers died, one screaming for an hour before his heart finally gave out…

Let me add to not drive on Hwy 63 on Saturdays either, the day I almost had the head-on collision while passing two vehicles.

Now, it’s July 17, Thursday, afternoon. At 6:30 pm, I’ll be giving a talk in a park in Beloit WI. Last time I got a newspaper article out of it. Let’s hope for a repeat performance this time.

More later.

Anthony Marr, founder
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
www.HOPE-CARE.org
www.MySpace.com/AnthonyMarr
www.ARConference.org

Anthony Marr’s CARE-6 tour field journal #3


2008-07-12-Sat.

Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s

Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s

Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)

Field Journal #3

by

Anthony Marr

founder of HOPE

lead campaigner of GEO

“road warrior” of CARE-1, CARE-2, CARE-3, CARE-4, CARE-5 & CARE-6

I’m still in Missoula, staying at Anja’s place. But the tar sands have not been left to the back of my mind. What I saw from the air and on the ground, in the latter case also smelled, will never leave the fore-front of my mind for as long as I care for this Earth.

I when I entered the UBC back in 1966, I put myself into pre-med program, but I’m not destined to be a healer, at least on the biological level. I was so squeamish and weak-stomached that I could not tolerate even the sight of the color photographs of skin diseases and almost all internal ailments exposed to view, let alone the real thing. Meanwhile, I did an IQ test, and deemed myself fit material for physics, and switched over to pure science. Why physics? Well, since my childhood I’ve been wondering what I was. I mean, I asked myself as a child, “What am I?” The notion that I was a human being and sitting at the pinnacle of all creation just didn’t satisfy me. In secondary school, under the Irish Jesuits, my quest for meaning and purpose was formalized in the Catholic format. For example: Question: What is your purpose in life? Answer: To glorify God, and to get my soul into Heaven. I almost volunteered myself for the priesthood, until I found out, and not from the Church, about the Inquisition, where, in the Middle Ages, millions of people were burnt at the stake, and at that after prolonged and hideous torture, for basically the freedom of thought and speech and non-violent action. I was shot out of the Church as if by a canon propelled by my revulsion. So, what does that leave me? Physics. I wanted to know what I was made of, physically, and most basically, on the subatomic level. Spiritually, I’d just have to pray, basically to myself, and nonetheless arrived back at that I was a healer at heart.

So, by a series of seemingly random events spanning the ensuing decades, I found myself, on July 1, 2008, in the right seat of a Cessna 172 chartered from McMurray Aviation for 1.5 hours, looking down upon the gaping wounds and oozing sores on the face of my beloved Mother Earth, I found confirmation for the name of the organization I founded in 1999 – Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE).

Perhaps due to that dark landscape haunting my vision on my drive from Fort McMurray back to Edmonton, I had a near miss that could have ended the tour right there and then, not to mention the lives of Taina and myself. I value the life of Taina highly, but place my own life way below that of Mother Earth, which explains why I mentioned the tour first. To me, the tour means the life of Mother Earth herself. If the tour fails, Mother Earth herself may fail. The tour is tough going, even with the able help and generous backing of Dr. Peter Carter, Julie Johnston, Taina, Nan Sea Love, Rebecca Monaghan, Charlotte Templeton, Dominique Landis, Lane Ferrante, Janice Kobi, Doris Lynn, Lois Baum, Natalie Jarnstad, among others. If I do not believe that our mission can save Mother Earth, I would just as well go to another planet. Anyway, Highway 63 is a two lane highway, namely one lane in each direction, which means that if you want to pass somebody, you always have to take a risk. And, as you may well guess, many of the vehicles were 18-wheelers. So, at one point, I initiated action on passing an 18-wheeler, when, not until I was halfway past it before I saw that in front of it was a small pick-up truck that the 18-wheeler was tailgating. This totally screwed up my calculations. Oncoming was another 18-wheeler, which all of a sudden looked lethally close. As soon as Taina saw the pick-up truck, she said, “Yikes!” I forgot what I said, but remember doing a quick calculation on whether I should jam on my brakes and retreat behind the 18-wheeler I had half-passed, or going for it. The pick-up truck was being tailgated by the 18-wheeler anyway, so it couldn’t slow down to let me in even if it wanted to. My foot chose to press on the gas pedal, and my car issued a growl and shot forward and slipped in front the pickup truck with a very slim margin to spare.

After we resumed cruising, I asked Taina if her heart rate had risen. She said, “Nope, I trust the driver, and yours?” I said, “Nope, I trust my car. By the way, did I say anything when you said ‘Yikes’?” She said, “Yeah, you said, ‘Yep’.” Not one of the famous last words, haha.

Back to Missoula, as I mentioned in the last entry, I was invited by the Independent to go to their office for an interview, which happened 2:15-3:00 pm on Thursday. I brought with me my laptop, and showed the editor Skylar Browning the photos of thawing permafrost on the spot. He had no problem grasping the seriousness of the situation, but being a new editor (as of June this year), he might want to stick by the book, and said that he needed a local “hook” to run the story. I asked Browning back, “What if WW3 breaks out, but it hasn’t bombed Missoula yet, do you still need a local hook to run the story?” He said, “Yes, and the hook would be maybe a Missoula man fighting the war somewhere. So I took my fall-back position and told him that I gave a presentation to Footloose, Anja’s Missoula-based anti-trapping group – not exactly a lie, since Anja was Footloose and I had spoken about global warming to her. He said that might work, and that he would call up Dr. Steve Running (see entry#2) and ask him a couple of questions. So, there might be a story next Wednesday, or there might not. I also checked out the Missoulian, whose editor flatly said that it was not newsworthy, and closed the door on that. Well, you win some, you lose some. Can’t win them all, as they say. And, as I say to the HOPE-GEO team, we work on percentages. If for every 10 attempts we get 5, that’s 5 successes, not 5 failures. So for every failed attempt, we move one closer to the next success. I guess here’s proof that I’m the cup-half-full kind of guy.

By Anja’s intervention, I got to meet two man also on Thursday, Steve Woodruff, Deputy Director, Northern Rockies branch of Western Progress (www.westernprogress.org). It is not a sharply focused group, and Woodruff, according to Anja, is a hunter, but he is pro-environment where global warming is concerned, and has testified in Congress. We might consider inducting his group into our Coalition to Abolish the Tar Sands (CATS).

The other person I met was David Merrill, Executive Director of Global Warming Solution (www.globalwarmingsolution.org). They had thought of the same problem of how to build a global green fund, but has advanced a different solution – for the UN to impose a half-percent tax on all foreign currency tradings. This might be even easier to achieve (or should I say: less difficult) than ours, though it would not simultaneous achieve a step in global disarmament as ours would. I ran this by Peter while on the phone, and he said both should proceed, and I concur.

One person I contacted yesterday was Lynn Wolff of the Dakota Resource Council at Dickenson, North Dakota. He and I had a phone conversation back in April or May. Their problem was, and still is, the tar sands’ southern pipeline going right through North Dakota and South Dakota on its way south to Texas. At this point, the pipeline has been laid in ND, but not yet SD, and they still intend to stop it. Upon hearing that I had over-flown and actually visited the tar sands, he became even keener than before, and offered to organize a mini tour for me to cover the cities of Billings (MT), Mile City (MT), Dickenson (ND), Bismarck (ND), Jamestown (ND), Fargo City (ND) and Cedar Rapids (IA). He and I talked again twice today, the second time, I told him about the Animal Rights Conference and my profile in it. I said that 1,000 people will attend that conference, and I intend to transform the movement with my 11 speeches, particularly my 12 minute Sunday evening plenary speech titled “Act Globally” shared with only the famous Jewish author Richard Schwartz (a great honor), and that stopping their pipeline is of enormous import in the global warming scheme of things. I said, “Trust me, I will not let you down.” He was driving, and asked me to email him the link to the site. We agreed to talk again tomorrow.

Over the last days in Missoula, I spent almost all my wakeful hours on the internet and the phone. I did have dinner with my dear friend Dave Taylor, his spouse Jerry and Anja on Thursday evening. Otherwise, all Anja could do was to drag me out on nature walks an hour a day. She has two dogs, one looking like a wolf, named Jasper, and one looking like a fox, named Annie. They barked at me for the obligatory initial 10 seconds upon my first arrival (when Anja was not home), but after that, it was all tail-wagging and lying-next-to. Jasper slept in my room two nights, and come when I call. Annie is a bit cooler, but trustingly eats out of my hands (with Anja’s permission of course). In one walk, we encountered a Vietnam vet named Dennis West with two half-Husky-type dogs, one black, one white. He showed us the front view of an advancing grizzly bear taken at close quarters (within 10’) with his cell phone, and told us that he was saved by his two dog right after taking that picture, that the white dog leapt on to the back of the bear, and when the bear stood up, she hung on, while the black one bit the bear in its groin area, causing it to flee. “My ex told to its my dog or her, and guess which I chose,” he said. Yes indeed, if anyone said something like that to me, whether or not I loved the dogs, I would chosen them.

While walking by a swift-flowing river yesterday, Charlotte called and told me that she had rented a storage space for the 1300 books I’ll be asking Lightning Source to ship for conference. She told me it cost $75, and of course we’ll cover it. Charlotte has constant physical pains, and a family to raise as a single parent, and yet, is putting out energy galore, as do Nan and Rebecca. I am so bless, as is Mother Earth in these small yet profound ways.

This evening, I will write media releases to my immediate destinations in MD, ND/SD and IA.

More later.

Anthony Marr’s CARE-6 tour field journal #2


2008-07-10-Thur.

Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s

Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s

Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)

Field Journal #2

by

Anthony Marr

founder of HOPE

lead campaigner of GEO

“road warrior” of CARE-1, CARE-2, CARE-3, CARE-4, CARE-5 & CARE-6

I left Calgary, Alberta (from Karen Orr’s home) on July 7, and am now in Missoula (staying at Anja Heister’s place. AH is the head of Footloose Montana, an anti-trapping group), Montana. On my way down I drove through Glacier National Park, MT, and was stunned by the scenery, and that is from the viewpoint of a person from spectacular British Columbia.

Media-wise, Calgary was a washout, except perhaps a feature article in the Fast Forward weekly written by a journalist who attended my presentation at the Cardel Theatre on Saturday. On Sunday, I received a message from CTV to call them. But when I did, all their cameras were tied up, and I was advised to call them again on Monday, and when I did, surprise, all their cameras were tied up again, by what? – the damned Calgary Stampede (the largest rodeo anywhere – opening day same day). Same for both newspapers the Herald and the Sun – no reporters available for anything other than the Stampede. So, my fall-back position – to do media there when I pass Calgary again in November at the end of this tour. GRRRRRRRR!

But Missoula is another matter. I will be meeting with the editor of the Independent weekly, and possibly with the Missoulian daily here is Missoula, and likely one or more media outlets in Helena and Bozeman tomorrow and/or day after.

This time, I tried out a new tack, which seems to work just as well as the time capsule – our RUNAWAY GLOBAL HEATING HAS BEGUN! I found that when I told the editor half the story on the phone, they would invite me in for the second half. When I was on the phone with Skylar Browning, editor of the Independent, he asked me after my phone spiel, “Have you ruined our interview?” I said, “No, that’s only half the story.” “Okay, why don’t you come in at 2:30 this afternoon and tell me the other half?” Done deal. No mention of the time capsule at all for this one.

Yesterday, I went to the University of Montana @ Missoula to have a 1-hour meeting with Dr. Steve Running. Dr. Running is a co-laureate (with Al Gore and 4 others) of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on global warming, and one of the scientists of the IPCC panel. Some highlights of our conversation:

  1. How much influence did Exxon Mobil have on the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – Exxon was the only Big Oil on the panel)? Answer: Not much.
  2. How many scientists on the panel? Answer: ~600.
  3. Why was methane clathrate not mentioned in the IPCC summary report? No clear answer.
  4. I ran my thesis that RUNAWAY GLOBAL WARMING HAS BEGUN past him for feedback. He did not refute it, but said that he would not use the term in his own position, since he wanted to return to the IPCC for the next assessment report, so has to stay away from shock statements, but again, he agreed in principle. So, HOPE-GEO remains the first organization in world history to have made this claim, and it is proving to be a trump-card.
  5. Prognosis. Answer: He opines that the world must get together to solve global warming within the next 5 years, and must come up with the technology to combat runaway global warming (i.e. carbon capture and sequestration) within 10 years.
  6. Is he optimistic about these? Answer: He is optimistic about the technology, but not about the world getting together (which is what HOPE-GEO is all about).
  7. What does he think of the Global Green Fund idea? Answer: Excellent, as long as we can make it a reality.
  8. What does he think about the Alberta tar sands? Answer: He actually knows less about it than I do, and was visually shocked at what I told him.

Tomorrow, I will go to Bozeman to meet with the Wildlife Conservation Society, then do Bozeman media, then drive on due east.

More later.

Anthony Marr’s CARE-6 tour field journal #1


2008-07-06-Sun.

Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s

Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s

Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)

Field Journal #1

by

Anthony Marr

founder of HOPE

lead campaigner of GEO

“road warrior” of CARE-1, CARE-2, CARE-3, CARE-4, CARE-5 & CARE-6

On July 1, 2008, Tuesday, I set out from Vancouver on the first leg of my Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6. With me for this leg was HOPE-GEO team member Taina Ketola who volunteered to serve as a second camera-person especially for the fly-over of the tar sands scheduled for July 3.

The last thing I did in Vancouver was to bid farewell to my 89-years-old mother whom I’m not sure I will see again. And I’m sure she thinks likewise about seeing me again. She put on a brave face and blessed my journey, and promised me to pray for my safety and success every chance she gets. She and I held in our tears, but Taina said that she was on the point of losing hers.

The drive through the constant magnificence of the British Columbian scenic vista ended on this day at the foot of the spectacular Mount Robson in a village called Valemont near the British Columbia/Alberta border, where we over-nighted at a “cheap” motel ($90 – lowest among the three I saw). I was there while conducting my anti-hunting campaign back in 1996, and it is one of the most beautiful inland places I’ve ever seen.

After a heavy thunderstorm in the night, we started at 8, but within half an hour, we encountered a highway closure due to a landslide some miles ahead. Quite considerate of them to block the highway at a roadside rest stop with an info centre and a restaurant. The flip side is that we were trapped there from before 9 a.m. to after 4 p.m., by which time it was too late to for us to reach Fort McMurray (almost 1000 km/600 miles) by a reasonable hour. Thankfully, my Vancouver friend Judy McMillan’s sister Glenda lives in Edmonton, and we’ve met in years past, so Judy called Glenda, and Glenda, who had invited us to stay at her place on the night of July 4, extended her hospitality to also this night of July 2. We arrived at Glenda’s place well after 10 pm.

Due to the delay, I also called to cancel on Super8, the cheapest motel I could find at Fort McMurray ($150), for that night and changed the flight over the tar sands from 9 a.m. to 4 pm.

On the morning of July 3, Thursday, we started driving the 435 km from Edmonton to Fort McMurray due north at about 9 a.m. The highway was a 2-laner, i.e. one lane in each direction, and reputed to have an inordinately high accident rate, though, having been to India three times, and saw my fair share of the accidents there, this was nothing. It was paved, but bumpy and dusty. We arrived at this most expensive city (of about 60,000 and rapidly growing) in the middle of nowhere by about 2:30. We checked into the Super8 and I did a little catching up on email with the hour I had before going to McMurray Aviation at the Fort McMurray airport.

While the weather was at least dry on our drive, it turned overcast by 3. Our pilot Jonathan told us that we could expect some turbulence and thunderstorms on our 1.5 hour fly-over of some half a dozen mines, starting with those of Suncor and Syncrude. The first half went fairly smoothly, but then we began to be enveloped in rain and we saw numerous lightning flashes all around. At one point, the turbulence got so bad that if not for the seat belt, my head would have hit the roof. Jonathan decided to do an emergency land at the Albion Mine airport to wait till the storm had passed, and the landing was the roughest in a light plane (a Cessna 172) I’ve ever witnessed (I’ve been in bush planes aplenty in my younger days). Jonathan informed us that a cross draft of 10 kph at the landing strip was about the max in which a light plane could be landed safely, and after the landing, the airport personnel told us that the cross draft at our time of landing was fluctuating between 15-25 kph.

The wait lasted about 2 hours, during which time a 727 landed and disgorged a plane load of Albion workers, and took on an out-going load which was crowding the waiting room. Now I saw the faces of tar sands evil up close. Jonathan made repeated calls to check on the weather condition, and each time, it was not good. Finally, he decided to take a round-about route back, and the return trip was uneventful. Back at the counter of McMurray Aviation, the young woman at the counter, asked the pilot how long the plane was airborne. He said 1.4 hours in total, or about $300. She thought about it and said that it was not fair to charge me the full fair because I did not receive the “experience” I had reserved the plane for. The pilot called his boss Renee, who told them to charge me for 0.7 hours, or about $150. So, we saved on both one night of moteling, and on the flight. And what we saw and filmed was priceless. We’re going to make it pay.

On July 4, we went on our bus tour (10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.) of the Suncor and the Syncrude mines. What we saw on the ground was no better than what we saw from the air, plus a olfactory assault of unsavory odours which made Taina momentarily ill.

After the tour, I called the Fort McMurray Today newspaper. I did not precede the call with a media release several days before, because I did not want to alert the mines and the locals of my intent to prevent any unnecessary disruption. The chief editor was not in, and a reporter named Carol came on the phone. Initially, she sounded tired and lukewarm, but when I told her about the tour and the time capsule, she brightened up a little. At the spur of the moment, I added that I was there in Fort McMurray to choose a place for burial of the time capsule, and she brightened up even more. She asked if we were burying the time capsule on that day, I said no, and she cooled off slightly, and said that I should call back on the day of the burial. Too late to change my tune then. She asked me about the location of the burial, and I said that it was to be kept a secret anyway, so it wouldn’t make any difference when the burial would be. While still on the phone, I walked her through www.myspace.com/AnthonyMarr to show her the car magnetic signs and the brass plaques. Without further ado she asked me to come down to her office for an interview and photography. She took photos of me holding up the two plaques while crouching next to the car-side magnetic sign that said “Fix Global Warming or kiss our children’s future goodbye”. She also recorded the interview with an MP3, and took down copious notes, and said that if the main editor approves, the article should come out by Wednesday next week.

After the interview, I asked Taina for her impression, and she said that Carol understood and agreed with over 95% of what I said, and that she was not uninformed, but was in a state of semi-despair and resignation about the whole climate change situation.

After the interview, we drove back to Edmonton (435 km) and arrived back in Glenda’s place in the late evening. Her son Andrew and daughter Jennifer were both there, and I had a good chat with the family, and with Jennifer after the others had gone to bed.

One thing I learned from this experience is that the time capsule is indeed a media draw, capable of exciting jaded journalists and changing their mind from a no or maybe to a yes. Further, what they want to know is that the capsule would be buried on that very day.

July 4, I called the Edmonton newspapers the Journal and the Sun. I used the story of us burying a time capsule at a secret location somewhere in or near Edmonton that very night under the cover of darkness, and had no trouble securing an interview with the Sun. The Journal was also interested, but by the time I had to leave, could not find a reporter to interview me, and asked me to call after I had arrived in Calgary.

Arrived in Calgary by about 5:30 pm. I had a talk to give at the Cardel Theatre at 7:30. I just parked there and went in to set up. The talk was attended by only about 15 people, but the energy was excellent. I spoke for 1.5 hours and had all in the audience commit by a show of hands to sign and comment on the UN Global Green Fund petition, and to pass it on to at least 10 people.

In the audience was a journalist from the Fast Forward magazine, and she asked me several more question after my speech. It seems that I will have an article there as well.

My host for the coming two nights is Karen Orr, who was the first person to call me in 2005. She was with her daughter Brittany at the talk. They gave me Brittany’s room and Brittany slept in Karen’s bed. This is the kind of warm hospitality I’ve been shown everywhere I go in my tours, bless their hearts.

More later.