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Published: October 4th 2008
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Sharon:

Well, we're in Victoria, the city that feels to us like our "gateway city" to the rest of our trip. We took our time getting to Victoria, as my uncle had kindly offered up his ocean view apartment in downtown Victoria for the weekend (he is staying here during the week taking a course at the college and goes home on weekends). How could we turn that down?

The first day or two leaving my grandparents' house really felt like "Rollyview days" (slang for "feeling like we're not getting anywhere and we're certainly not getting there fast" - Rollyview is a town really close to my mum's house, but it seems a lot further on bike...) We also had rain, the sniffles, and bike mishaps, leading to one or two "What's the point of all this?" conversations. Don't worry though, we're still enthused and ready to go - it's just when you're standing on a corner in the middle of Nanaimo in the pouring rain, boiling hot in your rain gear and poncho, having just climbed a big hill and staring at the next one, with a sniffly nose and a stomach ache, needing to use the washroom, realizing you've only gone 8 kilometres in the last hour, AND THEN someone cuts you off in traffic, it's hard to imagine that sitting in your pjs on a comfy couch, curled up in a blanket in a nice warm house wouldn't be more appealing. Then comes the thoughts.... Would I rather be comfortable than adventurous? Isn't there more to life? Does comfort equal happiness? That's all I want out of life is convenience and routine? Really??

Anyways, then we hit a milestone location, see something unique, meet someone interesting, or have any number of experiences that proves to us again that this really is the experience of a lifetime and there's nothing we'd rather be doing. "What would you rather be doing?" is the question that comes up everytime in the doubtful periods on the road. Usually the answer from either us is, at first, "I'd rather be at home eating chips," but we don't really mean it (most of the time!). It's hard to think of anything I'd rather be doing, though the grass is seemingly greener on the other side once in a while. This trip is definitely challenging, and not because of the long hills, the hard seat, the RV drivers, or the diesel fumes like one might expect. It's challenging to keep focus, and remember that the point of this trip isn't to realize that I'd rather "settle" in life, even when it feels like the easier choice. And no, I wouldn't "rather" be in law school!

Enough of that - more of our on the road adventures! We've had a pedal problem (Mike) and a broken gear cable (me) and a generally hilly road from Fanny Bay to Victoria - but we did have beautiful scenery, quirky communities, and shortbread cookies and other grandparent contributions to keep us nourished. We met my Auntie Shirley on the road near Parksville, not 5 seconds after exclaiming "we sure our close to Auntie Shirley's house!" did she pull up behind us on the side of the road. We ended up marooned in Nanaimo after Mike decided to fix his pedal problems, which (after some hammering with a can of beans and other remedies) ended up not so successful. Discouraged and a bit grumpy, we headed to a bike shop for a spare part. The people at Oak Bay Bikes spent about an hour helping us out - at no charge! In much better moods, we headed to a campsite in town (it was getting dark), where we met another great person - he told us this trip was "the most important thing we will do in our lives," and was so nice that we couldn't help but love him! An older Asian man, he was a bit hard to understand, but definitely gave us a much needed boost in enthusiasm. He came by our campsite later to give us money back as he "liked hearing our stories so much."

From Nanaimo we headed to Duncan, stopping in time to set up the tent so we could listen to the Canadian leaders' debate on the radio. Three minutes of hand-cranking and a few minutes of searching for the right station (it resets everytime and doesn't have a tuner) and we had a good 20-25 minutes of listening - it was great! I won't get into the political discussion here, but I think it's pretty obvious who I won't be voting for. Despite the wisdom that we are born socialists and die conservatives, it is still my goal in life to never lose my "idealism" and focus only on what seems best for me and my family (all politicians can talk about) and vote based solely on my own individual short-term best interests. I realize that one day I might succumb to "society" and have the dog, the career, the mortgage, the kids, the marriage, and the goldfish, but it's still my goal to keep a forward-looking approach in my political views - not one that focuses solely on who will reduce the GST or give me a tax break so I can send the kids to piano lessons. The external costs of our individual comforts are, in my mind, too great to ignore (and I'm not just talking about environmental issues). Anyway - I'm stopping there before I start ranting and stepping on toes!

Yesterday, thanks to some great advice from my Grandpa, we managed to skip the infamous Malahat, which is apparently a treacherous stretch of road on Highway 1 by taking an alternate route through Mill Bay (and we got to go on another ferry!). Thanks Grandpa! It poured and poured with rain yesterday - Victoria is doing its best to convince Mike that he doesn't, in fact, "Love the rain." It's all part of the adventure - and it certainly makes us look hardcore - if not a bit scary in our giant rain ponchos!

Having already cycled over 1500 kilometres, we're ready to leave Monday morning for the glorious US of A! The plan is to catch the ferry across to Port Angeles (the cheapest route) and start the 2500 km journey to the Mexican border. Life is good!



Mike:

Having the luxury of two computers, Sharon and I are writing our posts simultaneously - so I'll spare the details of the logistics since Fanny Bay.

If I had to choose one word to describe the past few days, it would simply be 'blah'. I've come down with a cold - which is nasty while biking. It's always raining - or feeling like it will at any moment. The hogs are disintegrating before our eyes - I'll get into that later. Overall, it's just, well... blah. Perhaps the cold has jaded my perspective - actually, I'm positive it has - but the ride to Victoria wasn't the euphoric coastal journey I had imagined.

Come on, Mike - it's not that bad! It has just been a bit of an adjustment from the first leg of the journey - where we had a definite destination, and a timeline to get there. We could push through 'bad' days, knowing we were that much closer to Fanny Bay, and knowing that we were ahead of schedule really drove us forward. Of course, I longed for the days of being able to just ride fancy-free, no 'goal' for the day - just be pseudo-nomadic neo-hippies. The grass is always greener...

It's strange what keeps people motivated. It seems, at least to me, that we are always looking to the next 'big thing' - graduation, promotion, retirement - to 'get' through the day. The thought of reaching Victoria pushed me to it, and I'm sure I'll do the same down the entire coast. Then what? Will reaching Mexico be the end of the trip? Will I be utterly fulfilled? Will I look around aimlessly and ask 'what next'? If there's one thing I want to learn from the trip, and I sincerely hope I do, it is to live in the moment. It sounds cliche - perhaps for a reason.

Back to the bikes... they're not that bad! Perhaps I should work on my cynicism as well....

Squeaks (my hog) has suffered from a loose left crank almost since we left; I initially had to tighten it once every couple days, but since we left Fanny Bay, the frequency had increased to an intolerable rate. So, I tried to take the bolt out entirely to inspect it. That was my first mistake. I did quite a good job of warping the top of the bolt, using the wrench as a subsitute for a rubber hammer. Once I filed down the bolt and managed to get the nut back on, I decided to give it a real good tightening. That was my second mistake. I had just reached a point to where it was perfect and thought, "one more quarter-turn for good luck." Sure enough, the bolt snapped, and I was left with only a right crank. Now, I don't know if you've ever tried to ride a bike with only one pedal, but it's not easy! Thankfully, a bike shop (Oak Bay Bikes) was only 2km away, and Cory gave it a good 'temporary' fix, for no charge! By the way, most of this occured while Sharon was getting groceries - so discard her story, which I'm sure made me seem even less competent.

Rattles (Sharon's hog) has some gear-shifing problems, which can be attributed to the rusty, frayed rear derailer cable. So, if I manage to unglue myself from this computer at UVic, we are going to take a trip to a bike shop, pick up some cable, and hopefully install it ourselves.

So, a few big thank-yous since the last post...
Sharon's grandparents for their gracious hospitality
Cory at Oak Bay Bikes
John Jun at Jingle Pot Campsites
Todd and Shirley for the sweet digs
and everyone else not mentioned!

On to America!


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4th October 2008

The best things in life
"The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars; but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life." Robert Louis Stevenson
6th October 2008

What an adventure!
I am really enjoying following your journey. Amazing that you haven't even left Canada yet, and already such an adventure! Keep enjoying your trip and each other's company. I look forward to many more entries.
9th October 2008

hello
hey mike and sharon...sounds like a blast. first i have to say is that i am sorry i jinxd you on your flat tires if you can remember me telling you that..lol...with all those goodies you find in the ditch,they could come in handy some time"one mans junk is another mans treasure"...but stay away from those apple juice filled bottles..haha..i've had an experience with that, but i found a 4 litre milk jug FULL...agh!..but anyways now that i know where to look for your journey updates i will keep posted...jen and leah are doing great...but i will talk to you soon ..i hope..haha...later guys tyrone,jen and leah

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