The Ryan Alford Blog: Ode to Canada and Vermont

I’ve always been very fond of our neighbors to the north – and by that I mean Canada.  Throughout the past year, the United States has been neck deep in economic problems and a presidential election.  It’s easy to look inward as a nation (we need to nowadays), but I think it’s essential to our forward movement to see what the Canadians have been up to lately.  Of course, in February 2010, the whole world looked to its second largest country during the 21st Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

As you may or may not know, Canada re-elected Stephen Harper as its Prime Minister.  Harper is described as a conservative – similar to that of a U.S. Republican, whatever that is – and is skirting the current worldwide economic issues.  The Associated Press quoted Harper as saying: “Americans are running deficits. We’re running surpluses. Americans are incurring debt. We’re paying down debt.”

Okay…that’s a fair assessment.  Canada is in a far better position, economically, than we are in the United States.  The banking system is strong and Canadian companies are performing well.  In fact, several Canadian companies are advertising with Snowshoemag this season: Sol Mountain, GV Snowshoes, Ursus Snowshoes and hopefully (pending an agreement) Bigfoot Snowshoes.  We had and – both Canadian companies – advertise in the past as well.  To all these companies, I thank you.  Your support is appreciated.

Dr. Krishnamurthy Narayanan, a hedge fund manager, had this to say about Canada: “The currency is ridiculously undervalued. I can’t think of any country in the world that has no fiscal deficit, no trade deficit and no inflation – except Canada. I think the Canadian dollar should go through parity.”

What many don’t know is that Canada is going through an oil and energy boom (and has been for a while).  The province of Alberta is home to a majority of the country’s oil sands, several refineries and largest oil fields.  Of course, where there is oil…there is opportunity…and a dash of environmental troubles.  So is this where Prime Minister Steve-O steps in and helps?

According to my sources, Steve-O and his conservative government have a pretty lame environmental policy. “It’s an utter embarrassment,” said an unnamed Ontario resident. “They both come from an oil rich state/province (Alberta) and that is really frustrating in terms of trying to make useful change.”

Duh-doh!  Didn’t the U.S. just go through eight years of backwards movement and an environmental policy that was the equivalent of a bucket of poo?  That’s right!  We did!  I’m so silly to think there could be similarities here.  I can only hope Canada and its residents are treated to champagne rather than poo.  We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.

To keep the positive vibes flowing towards Canada, take the time to hug a Canadian you may know.  If you can get away with it, love on them a bit.  They need it.  Because as far as I’m concerned, Canada is worth all the respect we can muster.  And they have some of the best snowshoeing!

So that’s my ode to Canada.  Now for my ode to Vermont.

Congratulations to Burlington, Vermont (the state’s largest city) for winning recognition as America’s healthiest city, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That’s awesome!  Snowshoemag loves Vermont because it’s home to many snowshoers.  It’s my guess, however, that Burlington has more snowshoers per capita than any other city in the States.  About 92 percent of its residents say they are in good or great health.  It also rates lowest in diabetes and obesity.  Wow!  That’s amazing and I give Burlington my most humble bow of appreciation.  Thanks for leading the way.

What I really love about Vermont is the Catamount Trail.  This 300-mile trail is open to the public for skiing and snowshoeing.  It spans the entire state, north and south.  Quite honestly, if somebody asked me if I could go snowshoeing anywhere in the world…my answer would be: “Vermont, to hike the entire Catamount Trail.”

The trail is divided into 31 sections and passes through some of Vermont’s most beautiful landscapes.  There are several country inns and bed and breakfasts along the trail, which really entices me.  I could only imagine spending the night in a different inn or B&B while hiking the trail.  That would be unbelievable.

If you ever read an article on Snowshoemag about my adventures on the Catamount Trail, then you know this entire project (i.e., me starting this Web site) has come full circle.  It would be an even more glorious honor to share the trail experience with my father and my son, Hayden.  But I’ll leave that for my dreams for now.

In the meantime, I have some exercising to do: Commerce City (where I live) is on the pathway to becoming America’s healthiest city in 2009.  We’ve got your number, Burlington!

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Ryan Alford