Friday, July 27, 2018

We Took The Long Way Home

It's my 49th birthday.  We celebrate the day before during our day off in Fruitvale at a campground with a disc golf course!  Rick grills up a chicken BBQ with corn on the cob and coal-baked potatoes.

Roadside flowers that follow the morning sun and close up in the afternoon, appearing to be weeds in strict contrast to their incredible morning show.

The boys had just been lamenting their loss of sailing this summer as they weren't at their usual summer place - Camp Mishawaka.  However, low and behold we were hosted that night by a Warm Showers couple who treated the boys to access to their Hobie Cat, as well as a competitive game of Settlers of Catan.

An Elvis siting?  I think this guy was an imposter.  He showed up on our path as we pedaled another part of the Kettle Valley Trail.

Living outside...Sampson will especially miss the daily jump into a cooling waterway on our path.

I celebrate my birthday all July long.  This is another of my birthday treats.  Vanilla ice cream, craisin walnut oatmeal cookies and fresh strawberries.

The mountains in BC are endless.
Our last 3 weeks ride, Vancouver to  Calgary, an intentionally drawn out and thoughtful return home  - such a key part of our transition back to our life living a more "normal" lifestyle.  The ride has been fantastic.  It seems as though we've climbed innumerable passes (summits) but indeed I think it has just been 6 thus far - 2 more to go.  We've been astounded by the Selkirk Mountains, the Purcells, and now that we are about to cross the Rockies I do believe these mountains of ours (Calgary's) are really the most special of all.  The route we've traveled appears quite circuitous if you view it on a map - why would we add numerous kilometers to our return-to-Calgary-route that does need to meet a timeline? (Sampson's diploma exam for English, August 1 and 3, lurks just days away).  Our choice of route follows the same program we've followed the entire journey - make the most of opportunities that pop up in your path.

The last few days have been peppered with press.  Rick sent a note to the Calgary Herald, "Would they be interested in covering our story in the news? The note received an affirmative.  The initial article, first in the news blog and then in the physical paper was followed by several more interviews with local publications.  It's fun to talk about our journey, and I hope we are getting better at expressing the entertaining bits to people who find our trip of interest.  I guess I hope to get across the point, that for me, the trip is all about experiencing the great unknown successfully with the result of each of us attaining priceless respect for each other.  What more could a mother of three teenagers want?l

I will drink in the last remaining four ride days of the road home.  I offer to each person we brushed paths with on this trip a sincere appreciation for their involvement, support and additions to this incredible year we've had. Our life in Calgary and the upcoming adventures here await.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sweet Home Canada

"Cowboy Chili", a perfect meal for dry camping along the trail.  Rick is a mean cook and it isn't just that food tastes better outside.

Blueberry morning, creamiest oatmeal we've had in a year!  Something special about returning to food you are familiar with.  We passed by fields of blueberry plants loaded with berries as we rode towards the Rockies out of Vancouver.  Two pounds fresh picked, sold out of the farmer's garage cost $4 Canadian.  How could we pass that up?
After a day of biking and starting out the Kettle Valley Trail out of Princeton, British Columbia, Tarn is deep into his downloaded book.  We camped on a piece of land donated to trail users in honor of the original homesteaders of the land.  Most gorgeous wild camping we've had. Not a speck of garbage, wildflowers everywhere, and layers of mountains beyond the gentle high country valley we were traveling up at railroad grade - 3%.  Pretty awesome.

Wow, what a country we live in.  We have traveled through 18 countries in the past 12 months and I am so happy to have these last few weeks to travel mine.  True pleasures?  Speaking the language and talking to people. Being able to get local knowledge multiple times a day. Buying food I'm familiar with and being on a closer time zone to family and friends.  Traveling slow, our style, through areas I've zoomed by in a car - the route from Vancouver to Calgary.  Taking in the beauty of the Canadian Rockies from the western approach.  Currently we are in Okanagan Falls taking a rest day.  The weather has been hot and clear for days, following our wet, chilly exit out of the lower mainland Vancouver.  We hopped onto the Kettle Valley Trail (a rail-to-trail route) and found amazing camping, fun single track and chopped up loose/rocky portions that were possible to  route off of to quiet and smooth dirt or paved roads.  We must be home by July 31st, Sampson takes a diploma exam in Calgary on August 1st.  Ahead we have numerous mountain passes and friends we hope to visit along the way.   We continue to "write our itinerary" at the end of each day; we are amazed each evening at what adventure and un-predicted circumstances and opportunities we had encountered that day.  We love this way travel, yet love our life in Calgary also and this trip will come to conclusion very soon.  I look forward to the smiling faces of the kids I get to care for in my Day Home, having a stove top with iron cookware and an oven for the baked goods Sampson, Markos and Tarn have brought up time and time again over this past year; our shady back yard and our wonderful neighbours who have cared for our home and our dear cat Vera over this past year.  Homecoming will be outstanding!

  (But we still get to live the life of the traveler for 2 more weeks!  Yee haw!)

Monday, July 9, 2018

Tokyo to Vancouver

The "Cocoon" building, from the 45th Floor of the Tokyo government municipal building.We began our three days traveling as "tourists" with a view of Tokyo from the top.
Sampson captures some angles inside the Tokyo Forum convention centre.
The "Hello Kitty" display at the Tokyo Tower gift shops are the place-to-go when in Japan!
Night lights in Sujuko. We met our friend Adam for an evening meal at an Izakaya, the Japanese version of an Irish pub/Spanish tapas bar.  Adam has lived in Japan for a bit of time and teaches English in Tokyo.  It adds so much to a big-city experience to have local knowledge and to go out with friends - how lucky we were to be in Tokyo with both!
Rick cooked the fish, Joan made the salad, another delicious meal with great people.  Joan and Rich took the role of a major support team during our time in the Tokyo area.
Good-bye Japan. China Airlines flew us through Beijing to Vancouver.  Unfortunately, an abrasive female security officer confiscated our lithium battery (used to re-charge the computers), it's a good thing school is out!
Sampson and Markos hula the hoops at a car-free fair on Commercial Drive, Vancouver.  We take a day off the bikes to acclimate to the new time zone (14 hours difference from Tokyo) and have a bit of fun!
Tokyo to Vancouver
What a whirlwind. And a good one.  We spent 3 days in Tokyo as tourists.  We took on the town with daypacks and ideas AND ended up with three fantastic reunions with friends new and old –what a setting.  The lights, the sights – we conquered the challenge of the megacity with style and had an incredible experience.  From finding an affordable hostel close to a neighbourhood veggie and dry goods market to having great consensus and harmony between the five of us, making a strategic plan for each "tourist" day.  And then, our exit, a 70 km ride through the city to get to the airport.  Surprisingly it proved to be smooth and doable…a civilized affair compared to the entry/exit from Phnom Pehn, Cambodia and Hanoi, Vietnam.

A short list of “Japan” for the McFerrins:
-“onagiri” rice/seaweed treats for a daily snack, “squid snacks” and little dried, salty minnows for a pre-dinner appetiser, additionally we will remember Rick’s skills at making popcorn with our camp kitchen
-the heaven/spa experience of finding an “onsen” on rainy days
-urban camping and the cheery interest of Japanese park walkers
-forest descents along rushing waterways, unexpected mountain bike “roads” and hidden shrines below towering trees
-cleanliness, order and kindness

We have arrived back on the North American continent; door-to-door…. 51 hours straight of biking-flying-biking.  Wonderful Warm Showers hosts at both ends.  Walking the aisles of Canadian Tire to find a new helmet for Tarn and shopping at Canadian Super Store for groceries was full immersion into the extreme array of products available at the fingertips of North Americans.  All the “stuff” that my simple life for the past year has been void of.  It’s nice to have the option to find whatever you need in one store but wow, the vastness of product is something to fathom.  We look forward to the remaining days of our simple life ahead as we cycle back to Calgary.