During preparations for this trip I would commonly come across accounts of all the people that would take in cyclists, feed and wash them, and send them on down the road with a plethora of connections. I wondered if it was just the nature of certain people to be taken in, and how that would translate to my own trip down the road. Two months along and I can now attest to the overwhelming kindness of everyone I have met. The reason I am sitting in Alberta writing this post started about 4 connections back in Smithers. One of the true treasures for a touring cyclist is the couchsurfing site warmshowers (which I have mentioned before) that allows us to connect with potential host in cities all around the world. Through warmshowers we connected with Emily in Smithers. She was house-sitting at the time and unable to take us in, but put us in contact with Kerrith. Kerrith is a biologist that had spent the summer doing field research in Alaska, had just returned from a local canoe trip, and had a few weeks off before beginning her next contract. She graciously took us into her home, fed us, and showed us around the comfortable and small town of Smithers. During the beautiful 4 days we were in Smithers we helped Kerrith paint her house and do some end of the season yard work. She must have believed we were respectable guests with an interesting story so she found us a place to stay in Prince George with some of her close friends. We slogged east down the Yellowhead Hwy, sleeping at roadside rest areas, and were relieved to know we would have a night in a house before pushing south towards Vancouver.
In Prince George, Carol and Wayne had adjusted their dinner plans to include us, and before we knew it we were surrounded by friendly souls sharing travel stories. We were in awe at the company we were in; mountaineers, backcountry enthusiasts, paddlers, and avid travelers. It didn’t take much persuasion over dinner to convince us to deviate away from the busy road south and seek out friendlier passages. That detour included a contact and a place to stay with another friend of theirs in Valemount. As we cycled through the Robson Valley, and pondered the map every evening, we realized how close we were to the famous Icefield Parkway and the national parks of Jasper and Banff. A quick phone call to our new contact in Valemount assured us that it would be a very worthwhile detour to make, and so we climbed up and over the Rocky Mountains and into Jasper. According to everyone we talk to, this last few weeks has been the best summer weather they have had all summer, and it’s October. So, with the tourist throngs mellowed down by the lateness of the season, we had the road, the sites, the campgrounds, and the experiences along the Icefields all to ourselves. With all the miles we have done to this point it allowed us to sit back and appreciate where we were, the cycling became incidental as we meandered through valleys and over glacier packed passes. Not to sound too dramatic, but the bike ride from Jasper to Banff was pure bliss; clear starry nights, crisp mornings, and bright burning sunny days. I was riding in shorts for the first time in months, and we were in the Canadian Rockies where it had just snowed the week previous.
We were swallowed up by Banff and our gracious warmshowers hosts, Kat and Mike, in Canmore. Because I have great friends who are not deterred by 10 hr road-trips, we were visited by Caitlyn and Cassy from Bozeman. After a great day and night in Banff where all our distractions from the trip were washed away, I now find myself a little confused and lost as to what I am doing. For the first time so far, the trip had taken a back seat and I awoke the other morning in a hotel in Banff at a loss for motivation to keep moving. It was so strange to have my friends climb back into a car and head back to Bozeman without me. What I have discovered in the process is a transition from a destination driven trip to one based on experiences and opportunities. Vancouver and Seattle are the next destinations, of course, but I find myself weeks behind when I expected to arrive there, solely because I wanted to take the opportunity to experience the Icefields Parkway by bike. It makes little sense to detour this far east in Canada in October if I am trying to arrive in Vancouver and avoid being swept up in a blizzard. Yet, if I am looking for a unique experience as an “end-to-end” touring cyclist then I have to following the paths that twist and turn their way through the Americas. Thanks to everyone who has had a hand in pushing Nathan and I in this direction, it has been an experience of a lifetime. Thanks to Caitlyn and Cassy for their brief but fun interlude on our trip, the needed distraction it provided, and the comfort of an old friend’s hug. We are pushing onward today (at some point) and hope to rush across the country to our next road of interest, the Sea-to-Sky through Whistler. Depending on weather and the like, it should be somewhere between 10 days to 2 weeks before we arrive in Vancouver at the dramatic shifting point in the trip. A break from the rural and adventurous nature of our trip so far, and into the populated world of the west coast as a solo-cyclist once again.

4 Responses to “Connections”

  1. George says:

    Hells, yeah! Just caught up on the blog after a week in Kauai. So my life is sucking way less than it was in the summer, thank you very much! Anyway, hope you get to Vancouver without hitting any bad weather. If you’re looking for a distraction in Vancouver, I know a guy in Victoria that would certainly enjoy hosting you if you want to explore Vancouver Island. He’s a big sea kayak and hockey guy and does quite a bit of world travel. He, his wife and two daughters are very cool so let me know if you’re interested in another side trip!

    – geo

  2. Dan Lloyd says:

    I (we) am (are) still following your progress on a daily basis and really enjoy your postings/pictures. The stories are fantastic, very colorful, and hold the readers intrerest. Glad to here you have taken some time to wonder off the main HWY to see the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Ride safe!!

  3. Caitlyn says:

    SO great to see you and to meet Nathan! Our jaunt up to the Great Sunny North (it turns out) was just what I needed too. I think that had you have gotten in the car with us you would have enjoyed a week, maybe two in Bozeman…then would have gotten restless and lustful for the road again. So keep on keepin’ on, my man. “Fight the good fight!” and all the rest. Lots of support still coming your way from all your friends here in the ever constant ‘zone. Enjoy! 🙂

  4. Martha says:

    As always, it’s such pure pleasure to read about your experiences and your thoughts. I love that you’ve transitioned from destination to experience. The side trip to Jasper/Banff seems to be what the real trip would best be about. You can then call the southward pushes the “side” trips! We’re off to Spain on Thursday so won’t be able to stay in touch until November 1, but that will make it like Christmas–I’ll get to open up a lot of posts/presents all at once!

Leave a Reply