Sunday, July 2, 2006

Wendy and the Newfoundlanders

I understand that something like 1200 and more hits a week are being recorded on Wendy Killoran's 'Round the Rock' blog site as she tells us the story of her remarkable 'voyage of a lifetime' around the island of Newfoundland. Not only is this a very high number, but that she has achieved such a large following so rapidly speaks both to the high quality of her writing and photography as well as to her ability to provide such fascinating content. I believe it has set a new benchmark standard for expeditions to meet. Everyone who launches from now on will be judged on how well they kept their fans informed of their progress and on the nature of the places they visit along the way. Everyone will be asking, did they tell their story as well as Wendy told hers when she paddled around Newfoundland?

Obviously it has attracted many loyal fans who return again and again to see how she is progressing. I am no judge, but it seems to me that this may be the first time so many people have been been able to play such an intimately connected part of a major paddling adventure. The fact that Wendy has been able to post both updates and pictures almost daily has provided viewers with a real sense of 'being there' on the journey. Not only have we read her story, but also we've been given the opportunity to add our own comments back to her. At times, she has managed to respond directly to her fans, opening a dialogue between fan and paddler. After a long day on the water, to go this added distance just for her fans is no easy feat! An added bonus too has been the input from islanders who have hosted or met Wendy. This has proved yet another part to the tapestry being woven on this superb blog. What a wonderful sense of being connected to her adventure!

I have no idea what Wendy's reaction has been to being in such public view. She strikes me as a quiet and somewhat private person for the most part who has bravely and suddenly thrust herself upon the world's stage for all of us to see. Certainly she appears to enjoy our close attention and behaves like the real pro she obviously is! Hopefully she sees us as being there to encourage her onwards through the salt laden winds and waves she faces almost daily. Perhaps we also provide a connection for her back to our world, where people don't paddle for months on end, camp on windy beaches and have cold, salt spray splashed on their faces on a daily basis, hour after hour!

The other aspect of the blog which Wendy has brought to us viewers time after time, is how wonderfully hospitable the many Newfoundlanders she has met are as a people. Imagine for a moment some stranger pulling into your driveway, tired, wet and slightly disheveled. Would you rush out and offer them tea, dinner and a shower? Would you insist they stay the night? I doubt many of us would have the nerve to go that far, but that's what Newfoundlanders have been doing for paddlers for years. It's part of who they are. They are obviously a special people, much like the Inuit who did the same for me when I paddled their country. It's a way of life most of us have lost long ago and no longer remember. Today our properties are plastered over with 'Keep out' and 'Private' signs. 'Beware of the dog' signs are about as friendly as we get!

So my hat goes off to you Wendy and your Newfoundland hosts. You are all remarkable people. Thank you for openly sharing your world with the rest of us. We've learned so much! And to Wendy who still has a few miles to go, the Best of Luck and safe paddling! We're all behind you every stroke of the way!

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