Thursday, June 24, 2004

souris manitoba, home of canadas longest swinging bridge!

Ah, Manitoba. We were greeted with a wicked crosswind and horizontal hail almost instantly as we crossed the border into the 4th of the bigger provinces on our tour. Finally some free camping, the small town we stopped in on our first night seemed to be a gift of sorts, the turn-off appearing through the cold hail just as we were beginning to tire of the rain and the sign that said 'camping by donation' was enough for us to set up camp right away. After spending $15 to stay in the mosquito infested baseball diamond/ swamp they called the campground in Carlyle Saskachewan, this place was heaven! Seems as though the less we pay, the better the camping. I think that rule might just apply to us though, we don't have to worry about pulling a 40ft motor home around, or power and water hook ups, or even more important things like satellite t.v...... go figure ... I don't know how we survive either.

After all that time off (4 days did seem like an eternity) it's good to be back on our bikes. We should be all the way through Manitoba in 5 days, Kenora on June 29th. I lost our maps yesterday, it's a good thing the trail is easy to follow! For the first time in a month of pulling out the map case and poring over the distances eveytime we stopped I finally forgot to put it back in my bag. I didn't really feel like biking back 25kms to go get it so we've let it go. Both Chloe and I have decided that it was probably for the best. The maps were free CAA maps that were not quite as accurate as we would have liked. The only big loss was the old used maps of B.C. Alberta and Sakachewan that we had marked with a marker in order so see our progress. It certainly was motivational to look back on that sinuous black line weaving its way forcefully across the maps and know that we had covered that much distance. Ah well ... at least we don't have to carry all that extra weight anymore!!

And on to province #4 "MANITOBA": Chloe

So far I like Manitoba. No shoulders on the roads but for the most part highway 2 is quiet and the traffic moves over. The people here in the small towns are really friendly and interested to know where we are going. Yesterday we stopped for coffee in Reston, as we were in the restaurant a group of old timers sitting together got up and left. As soon as they were out side they spotted our bikes and spent at least 5 minutes pointing at them and discussing something about the bikes and trailers (they pointed at them a lot?).
We are taking a rest day today in a town called Souris. There are peacocks here. Some one started a bird sanctuary, and these peacocks are every where. We spent all last night trying to figure out what kind of bird was making the horrible noises ( I thought it was seagulls mating) and it turns out to be the peacocks. Pretty neat looking birds when the puff there back feathers up.
Once again we have some interesting neighbors in the camp ground. Two couples in there 50's traveling together. Our first contact was when they were heading out for a walk and as they walked by us they commented "do you think we'll make it through the night" (the weather has been cool, but this was a bit extreme). We got a kick out that. They were over concerned on how we actually handle being outdoors in the weather and biking in it day in and day out. They brought us some puffed wheat square latter in the evening which was very nice. It certainly helped us make it through the night!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Marquis Sask.

Flat ...... pretty darn flat is what I would say if you asked me to describe this place. Flat but comfortable and pleasant, chloes' grandmother, aunt and uncle have been our hosts for the past 4 days, to sum it all up we sleep in till 10, relax all day in a real bed, or in the hot tub and eat ..... I've gained 5 lbs in 4 days, we're fed well to say the least. I'm starting to feel a bit of a longing for the vertical terrain though, climbing up ontop of the storage hoppers (32ft) just isn't doing it for me anymore. My memories of the rock in the Bow valley are starting to be a bit muddled I think ... all I can think about are pitch after pitch of beautiful limestone ... anyone who's climbed much rocky mountain limestone will know the extent of my delusion.

It seems along the way that we have become entertainment, entertainment for people passing in cars (please don't honk at us ... we can't see you waving as you streak by at 120kph) and entertainment for the livestock ... that's right, cows, horses, lamas, donkeys, you name it. It seems that we move at a slow enough pace for these animals to truly appreciate us. As soon as we come into sight every barnyard animal who's tall enough to see us will stop what they're doing and stare as we pedal past. You could only imagine the pressure as you're riding your bike, of a herd of a hundred cows all standing quietly, staring at you as pedal by ... I hope we're as entertaining to them as they are to us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

On the farm: Chloe

We made it to Grandma's house in Marquis Saskachewan, which is 30 km north of Moose Jaw. It is so nice to be here. We will take 3 or 4 days off here. My uncle Gean and aunt Gail who live in the same yard but different houses (my uncle runs the farm now) have a hot tub which we have been making good use of. My grandma continues to over feed us, every 15 minutes she is offering new suggestions of what we can eat. We got here 2 days ago and are feeling very relaxed. We had been getting rained on a fair bit prior to getting here and its nice to have a few nights to sleep in a house, and not worry what the weathers doing.
We have now biked over 2000 km, in theory we are a quarter of the way across Canada.
Biking through Saskatchewan has went very quickly, It took us 4 days to reach Marquis from the Sask boarder. 2 of those days we biked 145 km. Its amazing what you can do with the wind at your back. We plan to hit the Ontario border by the first of July.

Its really neat, with all the rain, there are a lot of puddles in ditches and in fields which are full of frogs. Its such a soothing sound to ride by, 100's of frogs chirping happily in there little puddle. I have also been enjoying all the birds, and there songs. They sit on sign posts and it feels as if they are talking to you as you bike by. I try to chirp back but I find I sound nothing like them.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Swift current Sask.

There's something definitively supernatural about the wind. While biking through the mountains, wind is of no consequence really, it all depends on the road up, or down. In the prairies there is no up and down really, just the gentle rolling of the plains. Here its not all about "you and your bike" it's about "you and the wind". The last two days we've been with the wind... talk about a lesson in efficiency, yesterday we biked about 150km, today we did almost 100km, it feels like you don't even need to pedal sometimes and the gusts will carry you at 25kph for quite a ways uphill or down!

we stayed at a trailer park in Medicine Hat. What an entertaining sort of place! I'll tell you they don't make two trailer parks exactly the same (or do they?). The locals in the hat greeted us with a different sort of curiosity than usual. A mother and son after meandering over to our site and checking out our bikes, gestured towards our tent "what sort of bed do you have in there?" she asked, "oh, we've only got a couple of sleeping mats" she nodded her head, "have you seen my set-up?" I glanced over at her tent and peered through the door, inside was a huge queen size air mattress at least a foot thick. "That looks pretty comfortable, but I think it would be too heavy" I mentioned that we had to carry everything we had on our bikes. "I don't know how you could go without it" she said, "it's not that heavy." Then she belted at the top of her lungs "DUSTIN!! HOW HEAVY IS THE AIR MATTRESS!!?" ... "what?".. " HOW HEAVY IS THE MATTRESS??" ... "what?" this went on for a while until her son wandered over. Turns out the air mattress weighed about 20lbs ... probably the weight of our tent, sleeping bags and mats ... "Indispensable" she said ... it's pretty hard to do that sort of encounter justice in writing ... If you've ever seen the t.v. show trailer park boys, you should just picture that sort of situation in your head and you'll have a pretty good idea of the sorts of people we meet in almost every campground!

chris.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Through Alberta in 4 days: Chloe

It looks like we will be through Alberta in 4 days. It took us 14 days of biking to get through B.C, So this seems strange to zip through Alberta so fast. We are about 65 km out side of medicine Hat, where we plan to camp tonight. Tomorrow we will make to Saskatchewan.

Our Odometers are at 1530 km. We have been riding 100 km a day.

We have followed highway 3 through B.C and Alberta, today we will hit the trans Canada which we will follow until Moose Jaw Saskatchewan where my Grandma lives near by. We will take a good rest break there.

I really like rural Alberta. We got our bakery goodies free, this morning when we stopped for coffee and tea. The locals always give us good advice on where near by camp grounds are, and an interesting story or two. I feel very welcomed by the people we have met in this area.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

cowboys, country music, big hats and trucks. Goly! we must still be in Alberta.

Biking through this flat land is something new and compleatly different. Picking a point "just at the top of the hill" or "just at that bend" and going for it doesn't work too well when you can see the metal roofs of barns flashing in the sun 10kms away. We're still going strong though! Now that the stanley cup has been won we don't need to be picky about choosing a town with a pub to watch the game, should make life a bit smoother.
Hearing coments from our friends from afar on this web page is definately a moral booster! we're looking forward to seeing as many of you as we can on our tour east!

chris.

Oh Windy Prairies : Chloe

I'm loving being in the prairies, the huge sky's, the green fields the flat pavement, country music, pickup trucks and cowboy hats (Yee Haw!!). In B.C no body gave us a second glance, but here, we pull up to the coffee shop and everyone stares at us, and usually at least 3 people will aproach us to talk, that is that there is 3 people in the coffee shop. There are some interesting characters, I think quite a few don't understand why we would want to do something like this, but they are always friendly to us, giving advice about the area, the wind, etc.
Camping seems to be getting cheaper as well.
It is also much windier, but thats to be expected.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Bye Bye Mountains, Hello Prairies

We made it into Alberta yesterday and it feels great to know that we have biked across our first Provence. Were at just over 1200 km.
We have been baptized into the world of angry, impatient vehicle honk fest. There was a 50 km stretch of highway between Yhak and Cranbrook which was a narrow 2 lane highway, with a shoulder that was half rumble strip and half broken shoulder, so we biked on the road, and got honked at a lot. It didn't really bother Chris but I found it so un-nerving. I have an air horn on my bike that I haven't been keeping full of air until now, so if someone wants to honk at me, there getting honked back at. Other wise we haven't had any really problems on roads, most drivers have been very courteous to us.

It feels amazing to have biked over 1000 km, I was surprise when Chris told me we had went that far.

We spent our last rest day in Nelson B.C which is always a nice place to be.

Chloe

Alberta!!

Seems like we've been biking forever ... although I don't know if I shold say that now, seeing as that we've only pedaled through one province so far but what a Province! We pedaled over 1000kms up and down valeys, through passes and over mountains! Both of us agree that the downhill part was the best and we both agree that we won't have anymore 30km long hills to chug up. The road over Paulson summit into Castlegar is a good example of that. It took us 4 hours to climb 35kms to the summit and about 45 minutes to cruise down into the city only touching the brakes to keep in control.
We made a deviation from hwy 3 and went north through nelson in order to avoid salmo pass, wich everyone we spoke with assured us was the most terrible, steepest, longest pass in the rockies. Having just pedaled over anarchist mountain (very fitting name) we wanted nothing to do with that. We spent a day resting in Nelson, only in Nelson would you see a sign outside a shop that says "Please do not deal in the garden". From Nelson to the rockies the road seemed much tamer with very slight grades up into cranbrook, down for a while then slowly up all the way through fernie and over crows nest pass. Our legs felt pretty good after a week or so of steep passes and we managed to bike the final 500km from nelson to Alberta in just 4 days!
Now looking to the horizon we only see rolling foothills and armedwith the knowledge that everything on this side of the continental divide flows to the atlantic we're looking forward to a nice coast east!!