Welcome to the Stinky Feet Project!
Welcome to the ongoing series of four adventures, dubbed the "Stinky Feet Project". Each adventure is a journey into one of the four elements (fire, water, earth, air).
The most recent adventure was "Fire", an 8000-kilometre bicycle journey across Canada from May to August 2011, following a variety of recreational trails and unpaved highways starting at the Pacific Ocean in British Columbia and finishing at the Atlantic Ocean in Nova Scotia.
The Stinky Feet Project is 3/4 done - in 2008-2009, I completed a very wet and wild adventure exploring the element of water by circumnavigating the planet by sailboat. Before that in 2005-2006, I traveled along the Andes from the equator to the end of the world at Cape Horn for the Earth adventure.
For more details, you may visit my personal website: www.stinkyfeetproject.org
July 29th 2011
Of all the distance travelled during an adventure, it is often the last few kilometres that one remembers most vividly and fondly." The feeling of jagged stones being squeezed beneath a pair of spinning tires, the contrast of soft, moist leaves and sharp, rigid branches brushing against skin, or the taste of salty ocean air getting thicker by the minute; these are the sensations one can expect to experience while riding a bicycle down a rugged trail towards the coast, the finish line of a long, hard journey lying just around the next corner or two. I remember the screaming in my calves and the pounding of my heart – part exhaustion, part euphoria – but I remember just wanting to peddle faster no matter how much it hurt, just to savour the final moments of ... read more
July 25th 2011
We were well into the fourth song when the man on my left side turned to me and shouted into my ear. We've got to get you up so you can daunce! You're going to daunce, aren't you?" "Daunce?" "Yes, daunce!" I took a moment to consider this. The guitars and stomping feet made it difficult to make out what he'd said, but after a few seconds I realized I had stumbled upon yet another piece of local dialect. "Oh, you mean dance!" "Yes! That's what I said! Daunce! We've only got a couple of songs until lunch." "Lunch?!" "Yes, lunch!" Something was wrong now. It was nearly 10:00pm - surely he didn't mean lunch. Then I began to smell the fresh tea, tuna sandwiches and baked desserts. They were being laid out on white plastic ... read more
July 23rd 2011
In the last blog entry, I had biked along the delightful cycling trails of Quebec on the Trans Canada Trail, en route to New Brunswick. Almost immediately after crossing the border and biking through the town of Edmunston, the trail deteriorated into a state that can only be described as mostly unusable. Gone were the young families, the elderly, and shrieks of laughter I heard along the trail in Quebec, these sounds replaced by the silence of the forest (not so bad) and occasional growl of an all-terrain vehicle or shotgun firing (not so good), and the squeaks and groans from my bicycle as it bounced over rocks and became bogged down in ankle deep sand (downright unsettling). Here in New Brunswick, the trail seems lost and forgotten, grown over and neglected. The gates which once ... read more
July 16th 2011
It was the best of trails, it was the worst of trails. There were trails of fine gravel and rest stops, then there were trails destroyed by washouts and abuse. My route from Montreal followed the Route Verte due east towards Sherbrooke, then swung north to Quebec City. This portion of the Trans Canada Trail is a world class bike route that draws thousands of bicyclists of all ages each year, taking advantage of its carefully tended surface and immaculate picnic and rest stops along the way. Although it's not the most direct way of travelling between Montreal and Quebec, many retirees make the 600-odd kilometre journey during the summer, staying in the various Bed & Breakfasts along the way. Much of the trail has been converted from railway, so in addition to being straight and ... read more
July 16th 2011
So let me get this straight. You take french fries, coat them in gravy, then smother the whole thing with cheese curds? That sounds pretty high in calories, doesn't it? Make it a medium. No wait, you better give me a large. This is after all an adventure dedicated to the element of fire. Before embarking on this journey, a few people asked what bicycling across the country has to do with fire. Apparently it has a lot to do with metabolism. When I'm not pedaling, I'm shoving food in my face in an attempt to recover as many calories as possible. Give me a crisp apple, a litre of milk, a whole bag of muesli, and a jar of peanut butter warmed by the sun. These simple pleasures make my day. I can often be ... read more
July 1st 2011
Some say it's the coldest summer we 'ever had. But I just call it the warmest winter." - Man in front of the general store in Sioux Narrows on a chilly day at the end of June Pine needles and creosote. The smell hit me shortly after arriving to Ontario, while bicycling south on Highway 71 between Kenora and Fort Frances. A brisk morning wind rushed over the treetops and into my face, a wind carrying something familar and comforting. To call it a smell doesn't really do it justice. Almost a spirit, really. Something that rushes past the olefactories and goes right to a hidden corner of the brain where long forgotten memories are stored. Ah, Pine needles and creosote. It may only be the middle of June, but the sun is strong enough to ... read more
June 15th 2011
It's a bad year, alright. Up to 3 million acres won't be seeded this year in Manitoba. It's worse in Saskatchewan - they say it's 11 million acres. Everything's under water." - Resident of Nesbitt (MB) on this year's historic floods Stretching the entire width of Canada's great plains, all the way from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the boreal forests of the Northeast, lies a quiet stretch of road that our country - and it seems time itself - forgot. Some sections only see about 2 vehicles a day. However, at one time it was the only direct route across the prairies - and became famous as the route that brought law and order to Canada's wild west by the members of the North-West Mounted Police. It is the Red Coat Trail. On ... read more
June 5th 2011
How did you know my restaurant was here?!" - Owner of the "Spur of the Moment Cafe", the only restaurant in Glenwood, AB Throughout the Southern prairies, a number of towns rose from the dusty ground at the turn of the 20th century. Many were placed along the new railways to facilitate the shipment of grain, or to support mining operations. In the roaring 1920's, things began to bustle in this part of the country as restaurants, pool halls, hardware stores and grain elevators sprang up in the young towns as newcomers flooded the countryside with the promise of free land and a life of freedom. However, as drought and economic depression began to plague the region in the latter half of the 1920's, many of these towns began to fade. Residents left for larger urban ... read more
June 2nd 2011
It's not the places you go that matter, it's the people you meet along the way Normally I wouldn't agree with this statement - I've always valued the destinations while traveling - but I admit that until now, I'd never traveled by bicycle before, not to mention through the Southeast corner of British Columbia. There is a certain spirit in the Kootenays. You can sense things are different here. Maybe it's the fresh air and clean water, or the "outdoorsy" atmosphere that make people interested in the guy with a solar panel strapped to his bike, or perhaps within these huge mountain valleys there's just a little extra room for an open mind - particularily in Nelson, a town that seems more accepting of dreadlocks and hemp clothing than of dandelion-free lawns. During every single day ... read more
May 25th 2011
As a continuation from my last blog entry, riding along the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR) trail to the so-called Mile 0 in Midway, British Columbia, then picking up its sister railway, the Columbia & Western (C&W) which runs another 175 kilometres to Castlegar in the Kootenay region of the province, and finally, a short section of the old Great Northern railway which traveled between Salmo and Nelson. Although there are very few bikers this time of the year, there were plenty of fantastic people to share the experience with along the way, resulting in the usual pleasantries and share of odd but wonderful encounters you often have while traveling. One delight greeted me on the last stretch to Midway, where a handmade replica of a caboose lies at the side of the trail, south of the ... read more