OK OK, enough of the automated Picture of the Week posts, I’ll post a little update to what I’ve been up to for the past little bit. It’s been a whirlwind of a month already and doesn’t seem to have any reason to start slowing down, as the countdown is on, October 17 comes quick!
I had a great time in New York City with new friends exploring areas of the city that I’ve never been able to see, getting a grand tour of the city from a local is surely different from a tourist guide, but I already knew that – New York is a huge place, and I’ll start to take back some of my nasty comments I’ve said about it in the past 15 years of visiting. One thing that kept me going was the street food vendors, om nom nom! Really, there is no reason to buy groceries when you can just walk down the street and pick up something tasty for a ridiculously low price. I also returned back to the state of Connecticut, where I participated in heightening the stupidity level of society by attending a taping of the ‘Maury Show’ – unfortunately there was no baby mommas, no paternity tests, but the experience was a good look at how a subset of the population so foreign to my lifestyle operated. I did a couple headstands in various parts of the city, came down with an amazing flu (something I still haven’t shaken yet) and went to Coney Island. I couldn’t stay for much longer as I had some looming commitments to deal with, so flew back to Vancouver via Phoenix, AZ arriving 2 years to the day of when I first left for my solo bicycle trip. Cloudy, grey, much cooler than that I’d been used to over the past few months, and I couldn’t help but notice the fact that the residents couldn’t look at you in the eyes, and almost seemed like they were walking around with walls up and something to prove. I did get a chance to see my Dad again which was nice (I’m staying with him while I am in BC) and started hibernating for the next few days focusing on writing a speech (or rewriting, after data loss on my computer) for the upcoming weekend.
The universe provided as per usual and my bicycle and all gear made it back from Nevada safe and sound, so while I was taking a rest of speech writing I started the laborious task of cleaning playa dust out of everything I owned. 7 rinses later of my 2 tents and they were finally clean, and I plan on taking my panniers and other bags down to the car wash to pressure wash them, in hopes that they will become sparkly again. Vinegar is a well known trick to break down the Alkalai dust but I was leery of putting acidic liquids on my brand new Hilleberg tent. The bicycle actually made it through OK, after a rinse with water (there will be further cleaning) the chain and drive-train looked in fine form, and rode like it did all over the United States without issue. I still plan on changing the oil once I fly to South Africa to start fresh as I’m now in the possession of a proper oil change kit. Apparently the seals can leak during Air Travel, so I will likely drain the hub before I fly, and fill upon arrival.
September 17th was a big day, the real reason why I rode across the United States and back into Vancouver – What can be safely said as ‘my oldest friend’ brought friends and family together from all over the world in celebration of their love, and went ahead and got married. There was lots of activities leading up to it, dinners with various family members from both sides, long distance travelers, rehearsals, and suit fittings, but on that cloudy day in Richmond, BC it went off as best as it could regardless of a few speed bumps that inevitably get in the way. I was chosen to be the best man of the groom (well, there were actually 2 grooms) and couldn’t help but smiling the entire time as the ceremony went forward, trying to maintain my balance thinking my knees were going to buckle out from behind me, worrying that the days joking that about juggling with the ring were actually true and I no longer had it in my possession. It was still with me however and when the two grooms kissed 40ft flames appeared out of nowhere doing their best to shock and amaze the crowd, not to mention singe off a few of the groomsman’s body hair. The reception was a beautiful heartfelt ceremony with lots of speeches, fantastic food and some dancing. I couldn’t help but realize how many of their friends had pitched in to make the whole wedding work. From food, to music, to construction of the Ice bar, to wine selection – it goes to show that what you put into life comes right back to you, people are awesome and want to help. I’m surprised my face isn’t frozen into a perm a-smile from the whole ordeal.
After a short few days of rest I saw myself yet again at the Airport hopping through a handful of Canadian cities before ending up back over in the very far east of Canada – You can’t go much farther than St. John’s Newfoundland! You might recall that I spent the winter here (nearly losing my mind in the process from the massive amounts of rain, snow, and erratic weather) and I’ve been surprised at how green things can be here, marveling at the beauty of the Avalon Peninsula and what it has to offer. It’s only been a little over 5 months since I was last here but I reconnected with close friends immediately like I hadn’t been gone more than a day, surprising a few in the process that I had returned. Some things have changed in this city as well, bike lanes are everywhere causing commotion with the drivers – it’ll take a few years for them to get used to it I suppose as I get the feeling Newfoundlanders generally don’t take to change well. A brief walk on the world famous East Coast Trail saw me took a tumble and rip open my hand but I’d say the most exciting part of it so far was heading over to the Seed to Spoon collective’s farm, checking out what tasty vegetables, fruit and flower they had grown throughout the short season before learning how to catch a chicken, cutting its throat draining it of the blood before removing its head. I’ve never put myself in this situation before and I’ll have to admit my nerves were a bit jumpy throughout the process where I dropped the chicken once on its head, scrambling to catch it again, and my cutting technique surely needed a bit of work. At the end, it tasted great on a pizza made with fresh vegetables and a rye bread crust. I’ll be here for a few more days before returning yet again to Vancouver where the push is on to prepare for Africa.
I’m starting to get a bit nervous about the whole affair, wanting to make sure I have appropriate equipment, first aid kits replenished and more importantly, a clear mental state. It’s likely to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life every single day of the journey, but I’m also very excited for the expedition. I feel my training over the past 2 years has me ready for it, but in reality, I have no idea what to expect. My traveling partner Brenna is in New York City right now departing 3 weeks ahead of me and I’m looking forward to finally meeting her and sharing the adventure with her.
There is still a lot of friends and family that I need to see before heading to the Dark Star, and quite a few locals have emailed me for a coffee or beer which has surprised me greatly, so I’m sure I’ll be in good hands if I need to vent or project some of my fears of the months and years to come. I don’t plan on coming back to North America any time soon, so if you want to come join in on the fun and wish a well good bye to me, let me know!
A final request – I’m in the midst of setting up a new Bicycle Touring resource for people interested in long term travel on two wheels. I will be merging BicycleTouringBooks.com with a larger site that is community supported featuring free trip journals, photo galleries, classified ads, gear reviews, and a listing of free campsites for cyclists. It’s technically done, and I just need to work on the final touches of the user interface with many other upgrades planned for the future. It’s going to be free but I’m looking for some assistance in naming the site. Since most of the domain names are already taken it has to be a bit creative, and my little brain is working overtime with little creativity for catchy names. Since the goal is for other tourists to hand out their website to friends and family they’d likely have a website name of (username).biketouringsite.com – so it’d have to be something easily remembered. Perhaps you can help with the naming of the site?