Category Archives: travelblog

SD 43’s Annual MACC Writers Conference

When Cheryl A. of SD 43 asks you to participate in the annual MACC Writer’s conference for grades 6/7, the only response is to say yes and then figure out how to free your schedule. This year’s all-day event had around 300 students, and 11 authors teaching them the craft.

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From left to right: (top) Lee Edward Fodi, Sean O’Reilly, Richard Dal Monte, CC Humphreys, kc dyer, and Rob Taylor. (bottom) Pia Guerra, Denise Jaden, Me, Tiffany Stone, and Tanya Lloyd Kai.

I talked about one of my favourite subjects–Dungeons and Dragons. As a collaborative storytelling game, it really is the perfect training ground for young writers.

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But not all was school and writing and conference. I also stopped into a cafe along the way called, Coffee+Vanilla. If you’re in the Coquitlam/Maillardville area, this is a pretty sweet spot with very good coffee!

 

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Zombie Apocalypse: Clumsy and Claustrophobic

Ever wonder what authors would do in the case of a zombie apocalypse? For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting the answers to that question on my blog…

This week, author Lee Edward Fodi weighs in on his zombie apocalypse survival plan.

What is my best skill in the case of a zombie apocalypse?

I’ve thought long and hard about this, and have tried to imagine what I would do if I was dropped into a scenario of such apocalyptic proportions. It made me think of all the adventures I’ve had that might be comparable. Such an exercise made me realize that I’ve explored a lot of places to do with the dead.

See, when I was a kid I had visions of walking in the footsteps of such intrepid explorers as Indiana Jones, Tintin, or Stryder. I wanted to visit as many tombs, crypts, dungeons, and catacombs as possible.

The good news? I’ve made that happen!

The bad news? Turns out I’m clumsy and claustrophobic. Not exactly the best fit for a world explorer—or survivor of the zombie apocalypse.

There was the time I visited the ancient temple of Kom Ombo in Egypt. Located on the banks of the Nile, it includes a section dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god. There were many crocodile mummies here—so, if you think about it, I’ve actually encountered what is the closest thing to a real zombie. Unfortunately, it was at Kom Ombo where I fell into a giant hole up to my neck.

APOCALYPSE PREDICTION: If we actually set a trap to capture zombies, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be the one who plunges into it.

Another time, I was visiting the ancient temple complex of Tikal in Guatemala. You’d recognize these temples from the very first Star Wars movie ever made—they filmed the exterior of the Rebel Base here. They are also the biggest Mayan ruins in Central America, where different rituals and sacrifices were performed. Surely spirits inhabit this place—but, undaunted, I traipsed up incredibly steep staircases, the kind with narrow ledges and no railings and made it to the top of one of the temples where I watched an incredibly gorgeous sunset over the junglescape. The problem was that on the short trek back to our cabin, I got separated from my companions and became lost in the jungle. Howler monkeys screeched at my shoulders and shadows clutched at the meager path before me. Then a giant jaguarundi bounded out of the foliage, right across my way.

APOCALYPSE PREDICTION: If we have to hide from zombies in the wilderness then I’m probably not going to make it. The zombies will find me wandering around, alone and disorientated.

The final episode I want to discuss happened during my honeymoon. My wife and I decided to go to the city of love and romance: Paris. There are many romantic sites in Paris, but one of the first things we did was descend into the underground tunnels known as the catacombs. It’s here where you can see countless bones and skulls, testament to the long and often inglorious history of the city.

I could have easily got lost down there, but we had a guide, so I managed to stay with the group. There we were, creeping through the catacombs, absorbing the eerie atmosphere, when suddenly an alarm began to blare from my coat pocket, right in the middle of one of our guide’s spooky stories. Everyone turned and looked at me and I suddenly became that guy who can’t even turn off his cell phone when he’s on an incredibly cool tour a league beneath the crust of the earth.

I should mention here that I don’t even OWN a cellphone. It was my iPod and no one can call or text me through it. It’s just that I had set my alarm for a different time zone, and now it was shrilling.

APOCALYPSE PREDICTION: It wouldn’t be hard to imagine myself and a group of apocalypse survivors hiding in the root cellar, trying to avoid detection when, at the most inopportune moment, I knock over something or set off some sort of bell to alert the zombies to our location.

. . . So, what is my best skill in case of the zombie apocalypse? I hate to admit it, but probably a decoy. When you think about it, that’s what I do for a living anyway. I tell stories and provide distraction. During the zombie apocalypse, I imagine it would be quite the same.

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Lee Edward Födi is an author, illustrator, and educator—or, as he likes to think of himself, a professional daydreamer. He is the author of several books for children, including The Chronicles of Kendra Kandlestar and The Secret of Zoone, which is coming out with HarperCollins in 2019. In his free time, he’s a traveller, adventurer, and maker of dragon eggs. He especially loves to visit exotic places where he can lose himself in tombs, mazes, castles, and crypts. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and unhelpful cat.

James in his Jeep Getting Java – The Penny, Mission

 I have a favourite coffee place in Mission, BC. The Penny is an amazing cafe that gives back to its community by supporting an outreach program that offers comfort, relationships, support and food to those in need. (In their words from their site.)

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 Walking inside, it seems like any other cafe. Friendly staff, neighbours who greet one another, and plenty of comfy places to sit. 

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 But there’s something very special about supporting a neighbourhood space that is using its profits to better the situations of those in need. 

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 This last Christmas while there, a neighbourhood Santa stopped in to greet everyone and offer candy canes. He’s been doing this for 33 years!

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 Everyone in the cafe was thrilled. 

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 I definitely recommend this place if you are ever in Mission. The coffee is great, and they very often have gluten-free treats!

For a theme song, I thought this fit well.

James in His Jeep Getting Java – Finn Slough

In 2016, I became fascinated by a place in Washington near La Conner called “Fish Town.” This was an area just south of La Conner where, in the 70s, a group of artists rented fishing shacks along the slough where they settled an unofficial town. As the tale goes, these artists wanted to shun modern day convenience for their art and used the slough as a way to get into town for supplies. Years later, the owner of the fishing shacks would sell the land to developers who would clear cut the area and destroy the town.

(You can learn more about Fish Town from this documentary.)

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Grinfinn enjoys the park at the end of 4 Road on the dyke.

One day while having lunch in La Conner, I decided that I was going to find Fish Town! Not only does it appear on Google Maps, but it also appeared on my GPS. So I set the coordinates and started to drive. What I discovered was disheartening–an area of land with new homes and no remnants of the rich history of what should have been a historic place.

This is why it worries me that the Fraser Valley Port Authority might one day push the residents of our very own Fish Town off land they’ve been living on for three generations. (Follow link to the bottom of the page.) In Richmond, British Columbia there’s a place called Finn Slough, a “town” of about thirty living in shacks that were built in the late 1800s. (Some have been restored with modern conveniences.)

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At the south end of Dyke Road is an off-leash park (watch for coyotes!) that overlooks the Fraser River, Mount Baker, and farmland. A fifteen minute walk will bring you to Diplomat Bakery where you can refuel on coffee and treats.

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From the river bank you can walk the shore and see the historic buildings and imagine what it was once like for the original Finnish settlers who built their homes either floating or on wooden stilts. There are still three original Finn families living here, and I often wonder what a conversation with them would be like. (This may happen soon.)

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These photographs were taken on two separate days, the cloudier ones in October and the sunnier ones in December. I missed going back here when the snowfall arrived, but I do wish I could have photographed it then.

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There’s a bridge over the swampy river that leads to a welcoming bench for people to sit and ponder. To the right and left are private homes with signs requesting respect for their privacy.

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Grinfinn enjoyed the tall grass as he explored the area and sniffed all the smells. I didn’t take him off leash, since there are coyotes in the area I wanted to have him close by my side. (Not that he walks fast enough that I couldn’t quickly pick him up.)

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The sun setting over the dyke and Finn Slough.
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There are bird feeders scattered among the many trees.

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Mount Baker, Washington, as seen from the shores of Richmond, BC

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If you want to learn more about Finn Slough, you can read about it here.

And for the chosen theme song for the post, I thought this fit well.

2017 in Review

2017 had a pretty rough start for me, but it finished extremely strong. When I look back on the year I feel pretty happy about the accomplishments I have made. I’m almost done my lib tech course, I began learning the ukulele, adopted a dog, took some road trips, wrote a new book, started submitting my work to publishers, and I met a really amazing woman.

Here’s a list of my top 12 events. Some have links to longer blog posts or to other sites of interest.

  1. Manresa Castle in Port Townsend.

That time I spent a night in a haunted hotel, and woke up the next day with the entire town dressed in steampunk costumes.

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2. Grinfinn the Pekingese.

That time I met a dog, and he chose me to be his caretaker.

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3. Friday Harbor, WA

That time I took a ferry to a town in the San Juan Islands, and met a couple at a cafe who turned out to be a good friend’s uncle and aunt.

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4. Leavenworth, WA

That time I went camping in a town that does Christmas all year long.

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5. The Steampunk Festival in Belligham, WA

That time I went to a steampunk festival and wished that I was in a costume.

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6. Coupeville, WA

That time I discovered the beauty of just sitting by the ocean with a cup of coffee, a dog at my feet, and a notebook on my lap.

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7. Arlington, WA

I wound up here by accident after taking a wrong turn. Then, after a second wrong turn, wound up finding the BEST homemade ice cream place I’ve ever discovered.

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8. First book signing since Flying Feet!

That time Denise Jaden and Eileen Cook asked me to be a part of their summer signing.

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9. Digital Services Tech at Richmond Public Library.

That time a part of my job was to create a digitization station for digitizing VHS, LPs, and cassettes. (It now does SO MUCH MORE!)

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10. Chosen to be a part of the literacy quilt.

The quilt was 50 feet from my station, and it still took me weeks and weeks to notice I was on it. In fact, it was a patron who asked, “Are you the James McCann that’s on the literacy quilt?” And then when the quilt travelled to another library, I got an email from a coworker who realized I was the author of one of her favourite books as a teen.

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11. Family came to visit.

My sister and mom came in July, and my nephew came in September. We took many road trips together and had an absolute blast.

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My sister, Grinfinn, and I in Horseshoe Bay on our way to Whistler.

Hell’s Gate was one of the many trips my nephew and I took.

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My nephew, Justin, in Hell’s Gate, BC

12. Had a Nice Surprise

If you follow my Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve been spending a lot of time with a special someone, Jessica. Here we are writing at the Penny, a really cool cafe in Mission. You can read Jessica’s work on Wattpad.

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And, I started learning the ukulele (as in actual lessons). I (almost always) end my blog posts with a song that fits the moment–so, here’s me playing the ukulele on week four.