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It's in my Boots - Rhonda Stone

( Rhonda, AVC class of 2015, travelled with the Chinook Project to Sheshatshiu and Rigolet)

When a backpack or suitcase won't do the trick, it's always good to have a trusty pair of boots to bring along.

Rhonda's boots- and some of the items they carried[

Before arriving in Labrador, The Chinook Project participants were asked to pack lightly. There wouldn't be a whole lot of room on the plane and any additional space we had in our luggage would be used to carry veterinary items we needed on the trip. To cut down on space, but also plan for unforeseen weather, I packed two pairs of footwear, my sneakers and my rubber boots. Now, the boots took up quite a bit of space in my bag and I debated leaving them behind, but I couldn't chance that I might need them when I got there. So, I took them along. Just before leaving the house, I grabbed a few snacks for the road including a couple of granola bars and a red pepper. With all my bags stuffed, I quickly threw these items into my boots (don’t worry, they were in a container).

When we arrived in Sheshatshiu, we were greeted by a tired and hardworking team #1. Our team wasn't scheduled to start with clinics until the next day, so a couple of us went back to the motel kitchenette and prepared supper. We had plans to make nachos, but we were lacking vegetable toppings and that is when I suddenly remembered, the boot pepper! "I've got a pepper in my boot!" I proclaimed to the group. Thus began a long standing joke about the things you may find inside my boots.

The weather was incredibly warm when we were in Sheshatshiu and we all had sweat dripping from us. This was certainly not boot weather! Anyone who has traveled knows that packing, unpacking, and repacking can be a pain when you’re on the go. Things get shuffled around and lost in the nooks and crannies of your suitcase. I was really worried about losing the much needed items like my cell phone charger, my glasses, and my bug spray. So, without hesitation, I placed them into my boots.

In Rigolet, we heard about they had the 2nd longest boardwalk in the world and we all really wanted to check it out. So, early one morning before clinics while the fog was still and settled on the water in the bay, we headed out for stroll. Finally! A chance to wear my boots! We walked along the trail and took in all of nature’s beauty that surrounded us. It was a peaceful and serene morning and as the trail was winding near to the water, I stepped off the boardwalk and waded through the shallow northern waters wearing my boots.

Rhonda, in her boots, on the boardwalk in Rigolet[

So many memories were made while on the Chinook Project trip and I craved to take a piece of Labrador home with me. We visited a small craft shop in Rigolet and another in Goose Bay on the way home. I gathered small trinkets as reminders of my time with my amazing Chinook Project team, the beauty that I saw in Labrador, and also to remind me of the wonderful people I had met along the way. With the final leg of our flight ahead of us, I traded my boots for sneakers and placed these carefully wrapped memoirs into my boots for safe keeping.

I started this trip as an adventurous vet student bringing a pair of rubber boots ‘just in case’, but ended it as a more confident and resourceful individual. My boots, to me, have became a symbol of security and adventure. You never know where your boots will take you and how they may come in handy!

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