A Travellerspoint blog

Summerland to Revelstoke

leaving the Okanogan, into the Rockies!

When I left off last entry, we had just settled into Kelly's in Summerland for our first day off. Whatta day. Waking up to the smell of Kelly's delicious granola, warm and wafting the message "you don't have to make breakfast!!" - and being able to sleep in! luxury. It was gorgeous and sunny by mid-afternoon, and we went for a walk along the shores of Okanagan lake. It's a stark kind of beauty, dry - muted browns and greens, orange rocks and blue skies. Fruit stands are EVERYWHERE! I've decided to start just putting my pictures on facebook and using a public link for them (that you can see even if you don't have a facebook account) - putting pictures up twice is really time consuming, and not what I would like to spend time on on my day off! :)

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2039105&l=e1029&id=132701813

Our from Summerland to Vernon (Coldstream, really) was our longest yet during the tour - 102.7 km. That's Mary Anne's longest day ever! It was hot, so the first time I've ever been mildly glad of a headwind, which dried the sweat off of us before we could complain about the heat. What a beautiful ride it was - halfway along the shores of the Okanagan lake, up and down through little towns like Peachland and Oyama, (As we were exiting Oyama up a hill I said to Mary Anne, "Oyama biking machine!!!" -- I know, terrible.) and views of the like and the dry hills as far as you could see. Make sure to check out the pictures! Unfortunately, the whole ride was on a busy highway, and the sound of cars rushing by me all day puts me on edge - they are so loud, my heart starts pumping and I start to feel like I'm in flight mode - I bike faster, my heart beats faster, and I am just exhausted when the day is done. Hopefully I'll get used to it. Mostly, the cars and trucks have been really good about giving us the room we need, with a few notable exceptions (to the trucker in Kelowna: I don't FIT in a space 2 feet wide between you and a raised sidewalk with those paniers!!)

Since Chris and Sarah Brown (friends of the family who now live in Vernon) were going to feed us a delicious dinner, Mary Anne and I didn't need to grocery shop and decided to treat ourselves to the lunch buffet at Pizza Hut in Kelowna. I'm sure that if we weren't wearing our biking gear, people would have wondered how these two fairly slim girls manage to KEEP slim, as we both ate about 5 slices of pizza, not including dessert pizza, and two or three helpings of salad. Mmmm-mmm.

Staying with Chris and Sarah in Coldstream that night was a real treat - beds and dinner, and even a (gasp!) drive to the post office and grocery store. I really appreciate being in a car after that much biking.

The next day, we biked from Coldstream to 13 km past Sicamous - another long day, 97 km. Mid-day we stopped for lunch a hundred meters off the highway on a small farming road where we could at least get a little rest from the sound of rushing cars (although the highway was much less busy than the day before) and enjoy the view of snowy mountains. We had forgotten our daily application of "Chamois butter" (to avoid chafing and saddle sores on your poor, overused bum) and ended up just standing on this road, bike shorts around our thighs, smearing gooey white stuff all over our bums and laughing ourselves silly as the traffic passed by on HWY-97... we narrowly missed being seen by several cars coming down our little road sporting men in cowboy hats. You know you are close to Alberta when you start seeing people actually wearing cowboy hats?? And you're not near a bar?

We tried 2 campsites before finding a place to spend the night - first one no showers, second one too expensive - and found the perfect little campsite, complete with wooded trails, mountain-stream fed river, and best of all, close proximity to the bathroom and showers! We spent a very peaceful evening reading and reflecting by the river, with those snow-capped mountains off in the distance, whispering to us about hills to climb in the days to come...

The next morning we got up for our ride to Revelstoke and made ourselves the most massive pot of oatmeal so far. We keep overestimating the amount of cereal we need, but this was just outrageous. Please check out the pictures on facebook of our "too much oatmealllll" faces.

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2039105&l=e1029&id=132701813

We were both really glad to have done an extra bit of distance the day before, because although the ride was fairly flat for most of the ways into Revelstoke, the last few hills into town just killed me. Thank goodness for Mary Anne's willingness to let me draft behind her the last 10 km into Revelstoke.

Revelstoke is a beautiful, beautiful town with snow-capped, glacier-tipped mountains surrounding it and neat little shops and nice bike paths all over the place. We are staying with my aunt and uncle Sarah and Rory. Sooo good to see Chester, the dog we took care of for a year while my aunt and uncle were on a bike trip in Europe for a year, and great to get to play with my two little cousins Alexandra and Nelson. Pretty funny, yesterday after we had unpacked (and what I actually mean is - exploded all of our stuff on the floor) we went outside to find about 6 or 7 small, naked children running around the yard, playing on a trampoline and in a dirtpile waiting to be part of a garden. It was like fairyland!

So, tomorrow, weather permitting, Mary Anne and I will climb Roger's Pass, which promises a climb of about 1300 m in 70 km. It's the highest mountain summit on our trip, and we should see some breathtaking scenery!!

Posted by Ericabikes 17:12 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (1)

Vancouver to Summerland

Mountains, bears, deserts, and tired little legs.

-17 °C

Weeellll I'm in Summerland now, enjoying my first rest day since we started biking in Vancouver on the 15. There is nothing quite like biking for 6 days in a row, wow!! Can't really prepare for that sort of thing. Here's Mary Anne and I, right before we left, and Mary Anne dipping her tires into the Pacific!

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Getting out of Vancouver was pretty interesting, we had a good map but it was hard not to get lost. We did manage to find some sweet bike paths through the city, some even winding their way through rivers and forest, and ate our first official lunch in the shade beside a beautiful little creek. A few times on the way through the park Mary Anne dropped her bike and couldn't pick it back up again... the first of many times I laughed til I cried. It seems that the combination of biking constantly and being with Mary Anne produces a lot of hilarity.

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We went to Mission the first day and stayed at a quiet little campground, where the woman warned us offhandedly that the bears were coming down the mountain, but don't worry, they wouldn't bother us. We thought she was just kind of showing off, and we decided to camp near the outskirts of the campground where it was prettier. I joked when we were setting up our tent that the little path beside the tent was where the bear trundled up and down to check out the campsite... but then a bear DID trundle down, when we were eating our dinner. We just froze until it walked away and then looked at each other, not really knowing how to react - eventually we decided to just hang our food, clean everything up as much as possible, and sleep in our tent which was a mere 5 feet away from where the bear had been... but it was all good, we weren't bothered at all.

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Here's where the bear was. Oh yeah.

The next day we left to go to Agassiz, where we stayed with some organic farmers who had 30 horses, a huge house, indoor arena and viewing room where we stayed, complete with our own bathroom and kitchen!! They made us a big dinner that we ate together with their parents, who also live with them, in a separate part of the house, and a few other relatives that were visiting. Later on the husband of the house, Claus, took us to the hot spring pools in Harrison. We were so happy to stay in such a beautiful place, and Miel and Claus were so young - it was really inspiring to see how they had set up such a successful farm in such a short time.

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On the way to the horse farm
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Miellie Meadows, the horse farm.

The next day we rode 35 km into Hope, where we were warned that we should probably start the climb into Manning Park in the morning, not after lunch, but we decided to go for it anyways for some reason.
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You start climbing as SOON as you get out of Hope, and I mean CLIMBING. The grade was pretty steep, so we were only going 6 km/hr (I walk at 5), and it was 33 degrees in the shade. I surprised Mary Anne with a tiny portable stereo that a friend donated before I left, and it saved us up that mountain. At one point, we stopped at a mountain stream to dunk our heads and shirts in the water to cool off.

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It's too bad you can't tell from these pictures how steep it was, but we went for four hours at that pace - many stops! ... including this one here, at the no stopping sign... we did technically stop BEFORE the avalanche zone... heh heh... ahhh.
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Eventually we realized we weren't going to make it the last 20 km into the park, (42 m to about 1200 m elevation was good enough for that day), and we were originally planning to camp on the road, but then we saw a group of cars up ahead and went to go see what was going on and if we could get a ride (it was 7:30 by this point and getting cold). When we got there we realized that everyone was gathered to look at - you got it - two bears on the side of the road. We used the, "we're tired and we're biking and there are BEARS" line with great success and a really nice couple loaded our bikes into their pick up truck and drove us into the park, where the lady at the front desk gave us the conference room to sleep in, and insisted that we used their showers, pool, and hot tub. Yes, please!

This is me at the park being too tired to get up and get my water:
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The next day we climbed the Sunday summit - to about 1200 m again (you go down into a valley in the park and then shoot back up again). It was a hard climb, but not as hard as the day before. We biked beside the Similkameen river, which was broiling and muddy with spring runoff. It was the highest most people had ever seen it, and we even saw two growing trees being RIPPED from the bank into the river as we watched!!

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P5189358.jpg (here's my, NO MORE HILLS! face)
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We came into Princeton on the biggest downhill I have ever had the pleasure to ride down. 5 km of just, DOWN. I was screaming my head off down that hill the whole way, I'm sure the cars heard my happy yodels!! When we got to the sign for Princeton we did the "we're still going down!" pose.

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Next day we biked from Princeton into the "desert" of BC, into Keremeos, where I did a 10-day course when I was 16. Keremeos is full of scrubby mountains, rockslides, and a LOT of sprinklers.

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We stayed at the Eagle Campground, which looked like it was about to be swallowed up by falling rocks above!!
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There was a bit of a climb out of Keremeos, but the scenery was AMAZING. Cows and horses everywhere, mountains crowding the road, and neat little plants dotting the landscape.

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We met with another beautiful hill on the way to Penticton with Kelly, from Otesha, who took us to his home in Summerland. We love these signs. I realized later I had gone 69 km/hr down this hill! Woops... sorry Mom :S

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So we are very happy to be resting today - our legs are definitely feeling the last 6 days of biking - and our backs, bums, and hips too!

Posted by Ericabikes 13:30 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (3)

Vancouver

trees, mountains, landscaping!??

Before I get going, thanks for all the comments on the last few entries, it's really great to know that you're reading these!

So Mary Anne and I got together for lunch and a ride to Stanley Park on Sunday. We ate at Andrew's restaurant and then headed down towards Kits beach and circled around the peninsula to get to Stanley Park. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and when we took off our sweaters we discovered that we actually have a very similar outfit... we kinda like looking the same though!

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Vancouver is a funny city, spread out all over the place and every house has every detail attended to - I keep seeing men running around in trucks doing the landscaping for an entire street - cutting the grass to the exact same length on each lawn - I wouldn't be surprised if they were coaxing the trees into greater synchrony in their blossoming time!!!

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Where are the ramshackle sheds, the garbage spread out on the front yard, the scrubby lawns with cheesy fake animals on them? I never thought I'd miss them here, but I do. It's too well-manicured for my rural Nova Scotia sensibilities! But, it is gorgeous. I mean, look at these pictures.

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Even the buildings are pretty when there is a blue sky behind them. And the mountains are always there, snowy and scary.

Scary because we'll be in mountains in a few weeks. Ahhhhhh.

Anyways, I really enjoyed Stanley park - it was more of a pedestrian slash rollerblading dodging trip than a ride (Sunday + warm weather = crowded park) but it was so good to reconnect with Mary Anne and remember how much fun we have together. We laughed the whole way around the park.

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Yesterday I headed up to UBC to check out the campus - at one point I was seriously considering going there - and it was as nice as I expected - I didn't really do too much exploring on campus because I found the botanical gardens and ended out spending about 2 hours in there wandering around. Their gardens are so amazing, huge tall trees and a massive asian garden with flowering plants up the wazoo, a north american garden, food garden, gardens from the 7 continents, a wooded trail... man oh man. Little benches and nooks everywhere to sit down and enjoy a book and some trail mix.

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Here is where a large tree couldn't decide if it wanted to eat me head or tail first:

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Yesterday night I went to dinner at the NAAM with Andrew and my friend Lauren from Acadia. The NAAM is a restaurant that uses local organic food and sells their delicious meals for ridiculously low prices. YUM.

So right now it's raining, and making me lazy, but tomorrow is Mary Anne and I's prep day, and we set off for our first official day on Thursday! Wahoooie!

Posted by Ericabikes 17:45 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Rockin' out the West Coast Islands

Victoria, BC and Orca's Island, Washington

It was so good to see Anna in Victoria. We left my bike at the shop to get it checked over (needed a few new bolts and the brake cable got all crimped up on the plane) and explored the city. I have to say, I think I could actually live in Victoria, I've never felt so comfortable in a city before, and so surrounded by greenery in an urban setting! (In Canada that is...) We stopped to eat in a few of Anna's favourite haunts. We both had the most delicious lunch of all time - homemade flax wrap with warm yams, avacado, sprouts, fresh carrots, sooo good. It was so cute, we told our waiter that they were the best wraps we'd ever tasted, and we heard him in the kitchen saying over dramatically to the staff, "best wraps of their LIVES guys!!!!"

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We then collected our bikes to head down to the beach where there were kite-surfers surfing on the ocean - one older guy kept doing jumps for us (we were appreciatively hooting and clapping whenever he made a particularly exciting move). We visited "mile 0", the official start of the transcanada, and also dipped my tires into the Pacific ocean! Ice cream and a scenic drive along some of the richer parts of the city made for a wonderful ending to the day.

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The next morning I went back along the lochside drive to Sidney where I caught the ferry to Orca's island, Washington.


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My friend Jocelyn from the Otesha tour last year met up with me when I got there and we biked back through rolling, steep, long hills with stunning views of turquoise water and crumbling cliffs smothered in evergreens to the Bullocks Brothers Permaculture Homestead. This farm takes 10 interns a year that work on various projects as a group to learn as much as they can about permaculture farming, a method of farming where the goal is to be completely self sustaining. We ate good, fresh food - greens taken from the garden and rainbow trout caught from a nearby lake and mushrooms from under the blueberry patch, and I met some amazing people. The interns work 4 days on, 3 days off, and most mornings there is a project supervised by one of the 3 brothers who owns the farm - while I was there we cleaned up and made sure the drip irrigation system was working - a system that used gravity to pull water down a slope from holding tanks to only water plants that need to be watered.

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Individual or smaller projects are worked on in the afternoon, like gardening and composting and sewing. Jocelyn was learning so much, from organic farming to welding to compost tea spraying to building to tree grafting to chicken tractors. What's a chicken tractor?

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Only the coolest concept ever - a mobile chicken coop that fits over a row of garden that needs to be turned over - just move it over the new spot that needs turning, sprinkle a little grain in, and the chickens scratch the old vegetation up, turning it into the ground as they peck at it and search for food. Their manure is also worked into the garden. In a few days you collect the eggs they've laid, move the coop, and they do it all over again. What an efficient way to use animals.

Each night on the island we had a musical jamming session with singing and drums, didgeridooing, guitars, and even a makeshift base that was made from a big old overturned tin bucket, with the bottom centre tied to a long string attached to a stick that kept the string taut. Makes me want to learn how to sing or play guitar!

Unfortunately, it was pretty cold at night and I didn't have enough clothing to really keep myself warm - had to borrow some of Joc's clothes, which worries me - I'll have to pick up some more before hitting the mountains. Thankfully Joc let me sleep in her big double bed - under a duvet and a tarp for warmth! I really liked sleeping "out in the open" - I've never done it before, beats waking up to that sticky, too-warm feeling you get in a tent in the morning.

The ride from Orca's to Andrew's place in Vancouver was a bit of a gong show - just a long day really. A 45 minute ride up over those hills again to the ferry terminal at Orca's, 2 hour ferry ride, 15 minute drive to the ferry to Vancouver, lucked out with an early ferry sailing to Vancouver, rode through Ladner and waited an hour for a shuttle (after being told it didn't exist and the bus would pick me up, the shuttle eventually did appear) to take me across the Massey tunnel, got ridiculously disoriented in Richmond - couldn't find my way onto the Oak St bridge with the directions from the map I had and went through getting lost twice, a Spanish man with very little english to two hotel front desk clerks to a waitress before I found my way across the bridge into Vancouver, where the route marked on the bike route wasn't possible to take (no left turns allowed, no crosswalk on a 6 lane street!!) and finally made it to Andrew's house at around 6:00 - then had to go to his work to get the key and come back before I collapsed into the shower. I had a good dinner with Wil, and then talked with Andrew until 1 or 2. Now it's off to Stanley Park with Mary Anne!

Posted by Ericabikes 10:22 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (5)

Day 1, week 1... VICTORIA!!!

green leaves, wahoooieee!

Woke up at 4 AM this morning to get ready for that "bad bird in the sky" as the West Jet people call them, and it's now 1:30 AM Nova Scotia time, so forgive the length of this post!

I didn't actually get much sleep - too excited and I had restless legs to boot. hehe. I tried sleeping on the plane but again I was way too hyped up and nervous about putting my bike back together (especially since Megan, who helped me pack it up, said that it was the hardest packing job she's ever done on a bike!!). I had good company on the planes (toronto, edmonton, then victoria) and lo and behold, my bike and bags actually made it to the airport.

They actually have a little shelter with a bike stand and air pump for putting bikes together at the Victoria airport! I took a picture of my bike just after I put my head set and seat on... looks pretty pathetic:

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When all was said and done, it took me 2 and a half hours to get that puppy back into working shape (well, roughly working) but I relaxed and played music and was careful about it.

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I met two french guys biking from here to Rimouski, Quebec this summer who lent me their pump - should have stayed longer to chat, but I was hungry and tired and anxious to be on my way!! Anna and I will take Alice (my bike) to her favourite bike shop in Victoria tomorrow just to give it a final checkover before I feel totally comfortable riding it.

I found my way to Anna's house by going along the lochside and galloping goose trails, beautiful trails for bikers, horseback riders, walkers, and runners. I cannot BELIEVE the number of people on bikes!!! They are everywhere! And they have nice GEAR! And nice bikes! One thing I found strange was that everyone had on jackets and tights - I was in shorts and a tank top. I stopped another biker to get some route advice and he asked me, "aren't you COLD??" I guess everyone here is used to it being a little warmer than Wolfville in the spring... hahaha!

So anyways, my bike looks fine, and I am tired but happy - I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was on the way here. One scary thing: it was clear enough all the way across the Rockies to see all the mountains... and they never ended... ever... they just kept going... and they were so snowy... ahhhh!!!

Need more clothes!! :)

Posted by Ericabikes 21:29 Archived in Canada Tagged bicycle Comments (1)

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