You wouldn’t think that after all these years on the road I still be an unorganised chaotic mess.
The list of things I’ve forgotten/lost along the way grows again. Added this time are, a coffee filter, my bikini, a pretty japanese smiley-spoon, an I-pod (yes ANOTHER I-pod) and my camera…. (I got that one back but I’ll get there in a minute)
On the other hand. Generosity & hospitality has gone beyond imagination!
It all started with a lovely couple who run a small diner in Devon, not far from Edmonton airport.
They kept pouring me coffee while a chatty local tried convincing me of the importance to believe… I do!
Just not in the same things he does.
I believe in good people and it was immediately confirmed by the owner not charging me for my coffee and offering my a sandwich 🙂
So I decided to peel their potatoes. I was waiting anyway.
Last June Cameron cycled through Iceland in opposite direction to me. That’s how we met.
He happens to live just north of Vancouver with his wife Andrea and two teenage kids. They not only introduced me to the typical Canadian dish called ‘Poutine’ (Chips&Cheese&gravy)
Andrea also drove me around town, getting my last bits and pieces sorted before hitting the road.
In this country there’s stuff like bearspray to think about before you start cycling & camping in random places.
I woke up my first morning to a fresh layer of snow… Seriously!
This early in September. And I just left all my (really) cold weather gear in Iceland.
Not to keen on riding the busy highway out of the city I hitched a ride to Jasper.
Just back from a trip to Iceland herself she had driven out in glorious sunshine so not bothered putting the window’s or roof on her Jeep. At least we both had gorgeous jumpers to keep us warm.
This first night I figured I better get to a campground. If I’ll be able to outrun my neighbour I should be alright and don’t need to worry about bear, cougar, wolves… all the wonderful animals Cameron & Andrea -and just about every next person I met- have warned me about.
That was a shock.
22.50$ for a little tent on a campground! Seriously Canada?
Good thing I found a friendly motorbike-dude to share a camp with. He had the fire going already and I had my whiskey handy.
Camping in this part of the world can be slightly hazardous. All smelly things should be stored well away from the tent. On official campground you find bear-proof metal boxes where you put not just your food, but soap, toothpaste, everything.
I never knew that in Japan. And many people here seem surprised grizzly’s live there too. So was I, especially when I nearly ran into one…
At places without food-storage boxes you can ask fellow campers with vehicles to store your food in their car (and make instant friends while doing so)
Or you can rope them up in a tree. As of yet I didn’t have the need to do that.
It was a glorious ride!
And I got some company! I had met Peter from Seattle that morning on the campground, he told me he was headed towards one of the wilderness hostels. With the temperature dropping to -9 that night it didn’t seem too bad a plan.
And in fact, it was a great plan! Not only did I just catch up with Peter (and ended up riding together a few days)
I also met Margaret & David. Both keen cyclist who happened to live ‘just down the road’ and invited me to call ’round when in the neighbourhood.
Eric, who happened to look after the place decided to join Peter & me up the hill the next morning.
We got to see the surroundings in all kind of weather. And sun or rain, it’s still mesmerizing. Peter kept on moving towards Seattle (see you there!) while I hung around and drank beer. It has to be done at times.
But that had nothing to do with losing my Ipod.
That was on a closed campground.
-Closed campground are great! They are free-
Carefully I picked out a spot and cooked my meal far away from my tent. It was only the next morning I realised it had disappeared, and despise back-tracking and having a good wander around it seemed lost to the forest.
Hope those wild animals like Dolly.
Making a lot of noise is the way to keep the unwanted away. So I sang loudly. (I believe it works for both man and beast)
Except in one little town, where on a car park at a mall I was asked if I would come home and sleep with a random male. He did ask me first if he could be blunt… So I guess he was almost polite. (I declined his invitation though) And I guess I wasn’t singing in the first place…
As I freewheeled it down a very steep hill into the small community of Radium Hot Springs I thought I misheard when someone called my name.
Now I didn’t need to figure out where to go.
My non-existent plan was taken under the loop by David who has spent extensive time travelling and working along the back roads of BC, so with a bunch of maps he sat me down to tell me where I should be going and what not to miss. Along with many great (and scary) bear- and cougar encounter stories.
Very helpful indeed!
It was such a beautiful and warm day that I figured going for a swim at 2200meter was a great idea. And it was!
With hugs and good-wishes and the promise to catch up soon I rode out of Radium Hot Springs.
And that’s when it got strange.
Having a coffee outside a supermarket an older gentleman inquired about my travels. He then decided to take me ’round to the local paper. -here is the article. they wrote about me (but it’s not overly correct)
I enjoyed the road recommended by David. A lovely quiet way along the west bank of the big lake. Gorgeous weather once again. And not much traffic at all, although I was aware of a certain blue Subaru overtaking and stopping a few times… I noted down the number plate just in case…
A lovely fairly non-eventful day of easy riding followed and I ended up chatting to the Dutch lady who owns the fuel station in Skookumchuck. She kindly offered me to pitch my tent out the back and I gladly excepted.
It was then I got a message: “Mark thinks he may have passed you on Westside road, heading south of Invermere?”
Then why did he not stop?? Was my reaction.
I had met Mark, and his friend Richard (who send me the message) nearly three years ago in New Zealand!
They were on a bike trip there and we rode together for a couple of days.
Of course I knew the boys were Canadian. But it’s a pretty big country.
Mark wasn’t sure it was me so didn’t wanna scare a lone girl on a quiet road by jumping out of his blue Subaru… that’s right! The same car that worried me a little earlier that day!
He drove up to where I camped and I stayed another few days in the area. Mark’s mum and dad made sure I was well loaded up with fresh fruit from their garden
It made for a late start, but also for another lovely encounter, as the lady who picked me up next, and was only going a few km up the road decided to show me around. I saw the red salmon spawning in the river and the house she and her husband are building before she decided to drive me all the back to my bike. Just because she could 🙂
Richard happened to have friends in the next few towns I passed.
First up was Kimberley, a lovely town tucked away in the hills where Jewels has settled with her gorgeous little girl for the time being.
Being a wanderer herself she knows what living on the road is like. She has joined a circus in south America and travelled the continent before spending 6 years living in Brazil. She recommended me to visit the hot springs.
But I had left my bikini somewhere along the way. coincidentally her job was selling bikini’s! So she ran upstairs and handed me a pair before I set off for a big push.
I finally got off the paved roads! Autumn is kicking in, I couldn’t tell from the temperatures but the colours start turning and made for a pretty sight.
With grades up to 16% it took me all day to get to the pass. There was very little traffic, but the cars that stopped all kept telling me how brave I was.
I was just glad a friendly hunter had given me his bearspray the previous day… Just in case.
And I have to say I was getting a little nervous when the top didn’t seem to arrive before sunset.
But a grand 16km downhill lowered me 1500 meter into grey greek. Where Paul happens to run the campground. And made sure I got into the local paper before heading out in the morning and taking the lovely ferry ride across the lake.
I had not expected him to organise a hotel room for me. But that’s just what happened!
And that was very lucky this night as it started raining pretty hard and my tent has stopped being waterproof. It’s nice to have all your gear dry in the morning.
This was the day I ran into my first bear.
Sadly it was very dead on the side of the road.
When the rain didn’t slow down as I hit the little community of Castlegar I decided to try another tactic.
Together with a Swiss couple on their honeymoon I’d met days earlier in Radium Hot Springs! We had a lovely evening talking about the things touring-cyclist talk about and all headed for the hills when the rain eased off in the morning.
Richard had mentioned a hut on the top. I wasn’t too worried camping out as I had the company of a whole group of hunters, the season had just started so now is the time to be very careful and make sure you do not look like a deer at all as you cycle the little backtracks of the Kooteney mountains.
I’ve never looked like a deer much : “You’re really well-endowed in the leg department” Is a compliment I recently got… Yeah 🙂 Thanks, I guess.
But I finally managed to get onto the Kettle Valley Rail Trail, another suggestion of David.
Very happy to get off the main roads.
But I only made it to Grand Forks when my tyre went flat.
I sat on the sidewalk fixing it when Ted cycled by. I didn’t know that but as he turned around and asked me how far I’ve come I found out he cycled the across the USA before and asked if I had a place to stay.
He didn’t have to tell me twice!
So here I am, slowly getting myself acquainted with this brand new world (well, continent actually)
And I like it!