Thursday, September 27, 2012

The LOVE/HATE relationship between me and WYOMING

In the few days since I have last posted, I have run into my first few speed bumps of what I am sure will be many to come:
After getting off to a late start on the 25th, I DID manage to make my first 1,000km and make it over TOGABY PASS. HOWEVER, along the way I managed to loose my sleeping bag! (An absolute necessity as it also snowed that day!). It must have happened when a very nice construction worker gave me a ride a couple miles through a heavy construction area on the pass ( I think he did it as much to be nice as to stop me from slowing traffic through the construction zone!). Well... when I realized what happened I sat beside a monument on the side of the road and contemplated my next step ( not in the best of moods I might add!). After about a half hour sat on the side of the road and kicking myself, for loosing a very essential and very necessary piece of gear; a very nice man by the name of Pete Peterson pulled over and asked if he could help.... I gladly accepted, having had enough of the rain and snow of the mountain. Pete helped me get in to town and get to a highway service station where I could get in touch with the construction worker to see if it stayed in his truck.... no luck. So... now what. It is getting late and the outdoors store is closed so I can't get a new sleeping bag tonight, I will have to stay in a motel.
Now, I may not be a religious person; but there are no words to properly explain my thanks to the religious community of DUBOIS, WYOMING.
Not only did the church pay for me to stay in a local motel they had an account at; the next morning, while at the outdoor equipment store in town, Fr. Eckley Macklin overheard my story and paid for my sleeping bag, as well as a few other things I was purchasing in full. Approximately a $150 bill!!( and he would have gone on to buy me half the store if I would have let him!)
After many thanks to the Father, I was on the road by around 11:30.
I may be out of the mountains now, but that does NOT by any meens, mean I am no longer surrounded by beauty. For the first few hours of riding I was surrounded by I landscape of a type of beauty I have personally never experienced before. A badland area, with massive red rocky hills and cliffs. ( I half expected that if I were to see any wildlife, it would be dinosaurs!).
Needless to say I did not see any dinosaurs, (or any other wildlife for that matter), as I continued on until around 7PM when I found a great little spot to put up my tent for the night along side MORTEN LAKE. When I reached the lake I found that I was, in fact, keeping time with the geese on their migration. The lake was full of Canadian Geese heading south for the have all the water bodies I have experienced so far.... My trip is, quite literally, A WILD GOOSE CHASE!
To continue on the love/ hate relationship I seem to have with the state of WYOMING; this morning when I woke, my rear tire was COMPLETELY DEFLATED. I pedalled on the 35km into RIVERTON (having to stop fairly often to add air to the tire).
When I arrived I went to the post office where I was having a map for my GPS sent (since I have been carrying the thing about for the last 2 weeks, with a terrible map, completely useless to me.)The lovely ladies at the post office promptly sent me across the road to the local newspaper ( the RIVERTON RANGER), who were more than happy to do a story on my ride! After a little interview I was directed across the road again to the bike shop (gotta love small towns!!).  Here I got new puncture resistant inner tubes in both wheels to protect from the goatheads (large thorns in the area that seem to reek havoc on bicycle tires), I also swapped the front and back tire as the back has lost all the treads in the 1000+km I have now travelled. The total of my bike work was around $45, A price I am happy to pay to take care of what is not only my mode of transport but also my HOME for the next few months!
So, yet again I have been delayed, I will not be able to make it to the next campsite and there are very few obstacles along the road behind which I could hide my tent (quite desert like in high and dry Wyoming!)... So, my mission for the next little while is to find a place to lay my head for the night.
I will update again as soon as possible. Please keep spreading the word, donating and encouraging others to do the same! We are off to a good start, but the mission is FAR from over!



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yellowstone and Grand Tetons (last of Montana and first of Wyoming)

So I am now through my first state and into Wyoming. Each passing day seems to be better and more rewarding than the day that came before (though not necessarily easier!). I have met some WONDERFUL people, seen some BEAUTIFUL landscapes, and a variety of wild animals in the last few days.

 some of the highlights of the last few days:
  1. Seen some beautiful landscapes and natural phenomena in the AMAZING YELLOWSTONE PARK, including OLD FAITHFUL, boiling river hotsprings (the most amazingly natural hotspring I have or will ever experience), a variety of waterfalls, vents and mud pots... which being the biology and geology geek that I am absolutely astounded me..... I had NO IDEA just how raw the beauty and concept of yellowstone was untill I experienced it! I recommend it as a destination to anyone with the possibility of experiencing this example of nature at it's finest.
  2. met some wonderful people including Julie and John who fed me a wonderful dinner of steak and potatoes in my mammoth springs campsite and Robert Patterson who toured me around yellowstone on my day of rest showing me the sites and allowing me to use one of his cameras for the day. ( A HUGE thank-you to both of these parties, your kindness is greatly appreciated, and I am sure karma will award you at some point)
  3. Experienced a bit of Yellowstone's wildlife; including bison, a bull snake (I almost stepped on), a black bear, and elk (in mass amounts while soaking in the hotspring and sitting in my campsite... the sound of their bugling a constant and beautiful "white noise of yellowstone")
  4. And my personal favorite- I did a bit of a "photo shoot" for a Japanese tour bus with the Tetons as a backdrop, it always amazes me why people why people would want a plethora of photos of a person they have never seen before and are unlikely to see again!! (though there must be some very nice pictures of me on my bike... if only they spoke a bit more english maybe I could get my hands on a few!!)


After awaking to the beautiful hunter that needed the gate I had so rudely dropped my tent in front of on the 20th and wishing I could join them ( not because I ama fan of hunting; because they were on horseback and as many of you know I AM a fan of horses... ANND good looking men!). Anyways the rest of the 20th proved to be a fairly easy day of long gradual declines. Unfortunately, however I was unable to see the beauty that surrounded me ( with mountains on either side) as there was too much smoke in the air from local grass and forest fires.

I DID however get to see my first wildlife of the trip, a few herds of pronghorns grazing in near by fields.

At the end of the day, when I reached the campsite in LIVINGSTON, MT. I was surprised to learn that I had travelled around 80 miles that day!! A personla best so far, regardless of the smoke. ( I was also surprised to learn that the campsite had wifi!... I continue to spend time and money in establishments in order to use an internet connection only to arrive at a campground and find they have one there! who goes on the internet while CAMPING???... well I suppose I do so I cannot complain! but really?)

The next day (21/09/2012), I got off to my latest start yet (11:30), after a terrible nights sleep as I was coughing all night ( I suppose the smoke did effect me afterall). I contemplated riding at all that day, and even made a sign- planning on hitch hiking my way into the park. However, after only a few minutes standing roadside I felt guilty and decided if I am going to feel sick anyway...why not just feel sick on my bike. So, on I pedalled in attempt to make the 50 slightly up hill miles into yellowstone. And I was sure glad I did!! Not only did I feel much better once on my bike; It was to become my best day yet!! ( which would quickly change the following day...and again the day after that!) I took  a local recommendation of getting off busy highway 89 on a small local road ( East River Road) running parallel, which took me through some beautiful county. I did not however make it all the way to the entrance town of GARDINER, ending up setting up camp in a little fishing pullout off the side of the road a few miles out.

On the 22nd I had a nice early start and made it to the Yellowstone enterance town of GARDINER by around 8 AM ( having seen some playful mountain goats and a bighorn sheep on the way!). Not long after entering Yellowstone I realized, pedalling through the park ( at least the north part) was going to be a challange! Not only were there more hills than you could count; the roads were winding, with no shoulder and the edges were quite deteriorated! So, yet again, I spent a large portion of the day pushing my bike along in the ditch to avoid the nonstop traffic on terrible roads!

At around 2PM I came to a place some local guys told me I NEEDED to check out. This place was BOILING RIVER; an amazing little hotspring where a river that WAS literally boiling mixed with a normal temperature mountain river and you could soak in the mixing area... It was an experience UNMATCHED by anything I have seen before! not only was it the most natural hotspring I have ever seen, there just happened to be a herd of about 30 elk who were also enjoying this natural phenomenon!

After soaking for about an hour, I continued on my way- walking my bike up the winding hills ( and almost stepping on a BULL SNAKE) to a near by campsite. I continued for a while until a very nice man by the name of Robert Patterson, was kind enough to give me a ride to the camp at the top of the hill, getting me out of the nonstop traffic and off the roads that were not very accomodating to a cyclist.

I spent the night in a hiker/biker campsite in mammoth hotsprings. Meaning I had entered Wyoming, spending exactly one week in the beautiful state of Montana. It was here that I met the wonderful John and Julie who provided me with an excellent meal and the offer of breakfast that I had to turn down do to another act of kindness. Robert had offered to take me around the park he knows quite well the next morning, giving me a rest to my legs and allowing me to see things \I would never have been able to fit in otherwise.

We spent the day touring around taking pictures of wildlife,waterfalls, and hydrothermal pools ( that were soo clear and blue I wanted to jump in... but to do so would most likely meen immediate death!), I also got to see OLD FAITHFUL...completing my YELLOWSTONE experience in style. ( Robert also lent me his camera for the day so there will be pictures to come, but right now my computer isn' cooperating so I will add them to all my blogs in a few days when I stop in RIVERTON, WY)

After resting my head for the night in Lewis Lake's hiker biker campsite. I continued my journey out of yellow stone and into the GRAND TETONS. Where I saw more beautiful scenery, met more wonderful people (including entertaining the Japanese tour bus at a roadside stop.) And met another cycler who was headed from Nunavut, Canada to Argentina..putting my trip to shame! We shared the road for a while until my knee started acting up and I had to call it a bit of an early day, staying at an RV campground (Grand Teton Park RV)  where I am now in a little cabin the owner gave me at a wonderful price!

Today, I will be getting to a late start again, having taking the morning to update this blog. I hopefully be breaking my 1000km mark today and undertaking the last of the big mountain passes I have to cross (that I am aware of). As much as I am sad to be leaving the mountains I look forward to their end where eachday I can travel further and come that much closer to my final goal.

Please keep spreading the word, and making sure I not only reach my goal of miles/kilometers travelled but also the funding that this trip is all about to bring the wonderful people of LITTLE CORN new learning opportunities. I will be adding pictures to all the blogs in the next few days to add to the story. Until then wish me luck and I will keep pedaling, even if I don't reach my daily goals...each turn of the pedal is one step closer to my final destination!

boiling river, yellow stone

Thursday, September 20, 2012

THE MOUNTAINS (in more detail)

As I have already mentioned in the short post prior to this, in the few days since I left GREAT FALLS, I have covered a decent amount of ground; entered AND exited the LITTLE BELT MOUNTAIN RANGE, met wonderful people and had experiences that will stay with me for a life time. Let me indulge you:

The day I left Great Falls (18/9) was to turn out to be the best day of the adventure so far, but it was to begin and end in a somewhat sketchy fashion.

I got off to a bit of a late start (AGAIN), after having a terrible nights sleep. By 8:30 I was headed south on highway 89. The highway had absolutely no shoulders and there were plenty of semis' passing faster and closer than I would have ever liked. ( A flashback to my first morning comes into my head)... only this time there was a wind factor. There was a cross wind coming in strong gusts making it very hard to keep my bike on or close to the non-existent shoulder. I carried on this way for a few hours or so before I stopped to have a cigarette to relieve my frustrations and anxieties (no, cycling almost 800km has not kicked my habit yet... you win dad, so far!). After not 2 minutes of being stopped a lovely biker man( in a truck at the time with his bike in a trailer), stopped and informed me he was going to give me a ride off the plateau and out of the winds. It wasn't an option it was a fact, "if his trailer has blowing then I must be in hell and it just aint safe". After about a 15mile ride; full of advice on the area and sharing of travel stories we were off the plateau and we said our goodbyes (me, my thank-yous') at the beginning of the incline that would be the first of the mountain passes I would conquer in the upcoming days.

The hill, though steep, did not seem as bad as I had been imagining in the days leading up to the task. I stopped often for various reasons; out of complete exhaustion, to take a photo or just absorb the absolute beauty of the scenery surrounding me, and even stopped for a swim in the mountain creek I had been filling my water bottles in that ran along side the road.

Not only was the scenery BREATHTAKINGLY AMAZING in this area but SO WERE THE PEOPLE. After coasting down the long hill that lead into the village of MONARCH, I stopped at LAZY DOE'S (a recommendation from my new biker friend). I paid $7 for a soup(wonderful) and a beer, and left with over $17 in donations towards the trip from both the management and the patrons of this wonderful stop.... If passing through this section of highway 89, LAZY DOE'S is a MUST.

I then continued on pedalling the slow incline into the next town of NEIHART, where I stopped a little bar that advertised the only wifi on the road ( I need to take advantage of Internet whenever possible to get the blog updated and upload pictures, without a story... there are no donations). However, the internet there seemed to be about the same quality as everywhere else I have been, and after a few minutes of typing and a few pictures loaded, my connection was lost. But by this time I had made some new friends who were quite happy to sit and chat about the ride and buy me some beers. By the time I finally was able to sneak away I had had a beer or two more than I should,considering the sun was setting and I had not found a place to lay my head for the night. But, I was assured there was a campsite just a couple miles out of town and it would be no problem. While leaving town I noticed that the General store was open ( I was told it wouldn't be... after all IT IS A TUESDAY IN NEIHART???). Well, of course the lovely ladies at the shop wanted to chat about where I was coming from, where I was going and all of that fun stuff. and after a bit of a chat they gave me the loaf of bread I was planning on purchasing, with hope that I will send them a letter when I reach my goal or close. (there information is in my "important" drysac and I have every intention of staying true to my word.)

WELL, now upon leaving the shop it was complete darkness and I still had a few miles of highway to cover. I turned on my lights and thought nothing of it, but as I got further from town I began to get nervous... maybe because it was my first night in the mountains and I was on winding roads in the darkness OR MAYBE it was because I had had my first beers in a while. Regardless of the reason, I was nervous and I was sure I had gone more than the 3 miles to the promised campsite. My solution.... flash an SOS signal at a passing car to ask when they last passed a campsite.The lovely young couple could not remember but offered to turn around and drive back up the hill to see.BLESS.... I had NOT passed it, it was 3/4 mile up the hill. I arrived safe and sound, but vowed to have no more than 2 beer BEFORE reaching my destination for the night. (with all the stops and beer and other delays, I still managed to pedal over 95km through the mountains that day!)

The next morning (19th), I was on the road by 7:30 where I was promptly greeted by a 6% incline that seemed to go on forever. I spent most of my time up until 12 walking my bike(partially because of the incline and partially because of the non-existent shoulders of a winding mountain road). By the time I reached to top of KING'S HILL, I had traveled only about 14 horizontal km but over 3 vertical km!!

When I finally did reach the summit, I was rewarded with a nice LONG 6% decline, with my hands on the break and one eye in my rearview mirror I coasted for AGES, taking in my beautiful surroundings.
The rest of the day was rather uneventful, mostly a slight decline with easy pedaling..the occasional hill as I said good-bye to the LITTLE BELT MOUNTAINS.

I managed to make it about 120km that day, where I slept on an approach at the side of the road... to be awoken by some good looking hunters that needed the gate I had placed my tent in front of.... But that story my friends, will have to wait until the next set, as my computer is about to die, and it is time for me to go to bed.

Tomorrow should be the mark of the entering into YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK and the end of my time in MONTANA, andthe beginning of new experiences in the state of WYOMING. ( I will be taking it slow for a few days to see the park... I don't want to be the only one to benefit from this but I DO want some benefit.....aside of course from the rock hard buns and legs, and greatly reduced body fat percentage I am creating with each passing day)


Into.... and out of the mountains

Sooo, I just spent over an hour writing a wonderful new update... however, apparently it wasn't automatically saving and I lost it all when I went to publish, it is getting dark and I need to find a campsite. So I will write a quick little entry to let you know where I am and will go into further detail when the opportunity presents it's self. sorry guys. As I have said before and I am sure I will say again.. I HATE technology.

In the few days since I have last updated I have gone over 220 horizontal km and a fare few vertical as well. I have entered and exited the beautiful scenery of the LITTLE BELT MOUNTAINS, met some wonderful people, seen my first groups of wildlife ( mostly deer species; white tails, muleys, and pronghorns), AND have injured the same ankle AGAIN- causing it to swell to a diameter greater than that of the calf that proceeds it (but anyone who knows me will know that my intentions are to ignore the injury completely continuing on at a normal pace)

I am now in LIVINGSTON, MT.
 Tomorrow should mark my last day in Montana as well as my entry into YELLOWSTONE PARK. After that I should be staying with some friends of the family and taking a bit of time to explore the park so this should give me ample opportunity to get this blog up to date and some photos added). Sorry for the inconvenience of not a full update. Will fully inform ASAP.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Across the first border and into Montana!


I have now completed my 5th day and approximately 500km of cycling. My average travelling speed is around 17km/hr, with a max speed so far of 55.3km/hr (on a hill obviously!!).... I ache in muscles I didn't even know I had; I am completely and utterly exhausted and I LOVE it.
 I crossed the border into Montana at about 9:30AM Saturday the 15th and by around 4:30PM on Sunday I have made it into Great Falls!
In my 5 days of travels so far I have sustained one minor injury, one minor bike injury, and a variety of laughable experiences... here are a few examples.

some funny things that have happened along the way:
  1. boarder security officer: " so you are biking to Nicaragua. Do you plan to go through Mexico or are you going to try to go around it?You should probably think about going around it". You work the border.... you would think you would know that the United States only borders TWO countries. I am on a bicycle; is this a serious question??
  2. Decided to sit beside my bike while stopped to prevent it from blowing over.Great idea Steph.... HOWEVER... you will not prevent it from blowing over, you will just get grease all over your back from the chains and when it DOES blow over; you will be stuck underneath of it and the approximate 110lb of gear it is carrying at the side of the interstate!... NICE ONE!
  3. Got the cops called on me.    In CANADA, when people are worried about you when you are resting at the side of the road... they stop and ask if you are ok. In my experience so far. In the STATES.... they keep going and call 911. It has happened twice now in the 2 days I have been in the US...really?
Tomorrow Monday the 17th will be a day (or at least a half day) of rest to get some logistical stuff done. (get and American phone number, buy some groceries, hopefully talk to the local media...all that fun stuff.Because, up until now all I have done is eat, bike, sleep, repeat.)
 If you are interested in learning about my trip in a bit more detail continue reading:

If anyone is interested... I am not a fan of Lethbridge!
After injuring myself on the way into town and needing stop for the day, I woke up bright and early and was on the road before the sun at about 6:50AM... HOWEVER, not 10 min into the ride (for some unknown reason) the mudflap on my front tire went all wonky and bent out of shape. Causing me me to stop, get out my multi-tool and do some roadside fixing. With everything all fixed and back to normal (or as close as I could get it) it ended up being around 7:30 before I got going again.
 The day went well. Even with my swollen ankle and many long gradual inclines I ended up making it around 90km into Milkriver. Where I treated myself to a burger, tried my best to get in touch with my mum (which I failed at...sorry mum) and settled down for the night in a golf course campsite (free of charge) right next to the highway, ready for an early start.

It has started to get a little harder for me to get up in the morning as my body tires slightly (Monday's rest will do me good). So both of the next two days I ended up with a bit of a later start than I had initially intended. It didn't hold me back however, in these two days I made the most distance as of yet; going 125km on Saturday (from Milk River, Alberta, Can. to Conrad, Montana, US where I camped for the night) and on Sunday riding about 110km from Conrad to Great Falls.
I have enjoyed Montana so far, though it has had many rolling hills. When challenged with an incline I am almost always rewarded with a nice downhill stretch. Whereas with my experience in  Alberta I seemed to do nice slow incline forever without ever being rewarded with a decline!!... If your mother ever told you what goes up must come down.  you can tell her... this is wrong. In Alberta this is not true.
From here on in I might not be making as much ground with each day, as after Great Falls come the mountains. I hope the hills of the last few days have prepared me well.

It may be a little while before I can update again as I am entering an area where i am not sure of the availability of internet access. But I will do my best to update as soon as and whenever possible.

Wish me Luck! And don't forget to keep spreading the word!!... I want donations to increase as I bank km/miles! NOT decrease because it is yesterdays news!!

Here is another link to the fundraising page:

Thanks again guys for all the support!!! Will update as soon as humanly possible!!

-Steph :-)
sunset in milkriver


Sunday, September 16, 2012

My First Few days on the Road!

  DAY 1

 I stayed at my mom's house on the eve of my departure to be ready to go as early as possible. My mom woke me up at 5 so we could have a quick breakfast and get on the way as soon as possible so her and her boyfriend could get back to go to work.

They drove me out of the city a little ways so I could start my trip on a nice relaxed highway as opposed to the hectic highway 2 which would be crazy at this time of day with people commuting to work. A wonderful idea... or so we thought.

Needless to say I had a bit of a rocky start! The weight of the bags made me a little wobbly to start, and the highway wich I was assured was a good one to start on (eh hem...DAD :P), had no shoulders of which to speak and had semi truck after semi truck passing on their way to a nearby grain plant. After a little debate on whether to head back to highway 2, I decided to continue on my planned route (afterall I will have to get used to it sooner or later). So, on I went with my mom following behind me for a short while, having a heart attck each time a truck passed!... Oh, I also forgot to mention that when I started it was -2C having been the first night of freezing in Calgary!... GREAT!

But everything picked up shortly after starting... the sun came up, I got used to the weight of the gear and the shoulder widened after about an hour on the road. I ended up banking over 40km before 10 AM... but then it got hard; my next 10km took almost as long as my first 40 as I started hitting hills and wind. The breaks became more frequent and became longer ...I even took a nap at an approach on the road for half an hour... which proved how friendly Albertans really are... in 30 mins 5 people pulled over to see if I was ok ( not much of a nap really!), I also did an over the phone interview with a newspaper on the roadside. However even with all the breaks and sore legs I still managed to make it 97km where I stayed in a little campground in the small village of Champion! (wonderful name for a village, as you may know it is my favorite compliment...aside from inside joke I suppose)



 Woke up about 6(...I may have slept through the alarm a bit, oops.. tomorrow I'll set 2). I then  cooked my self a nice little breakfast of apple cinnamon oatmeal and coffee on my alcohol stove (alcohol stove by the way are AMAZING... instant coffee however IS NOT).

It took a little longer than anticipated to get everything packed and ready to go and I didn't manage to get going until around 8:30.

The morning went well, the sun was out and it was much warmer than yesterday morning and there were no hills for the first few hours. Around lunch the hills started to hit, and being day 2 my muscles were killing me (will take a few days for my muscles to get used to this crazy new way of life I suppose).  To make matters worse around 3 o'clock some a**hole decided to pass someone right in front of me coming much closer than I would have liked and causing me to swerve off the road and put my foot down. Giving me a nice little gash in the back of my leg and a good and swollen tendon in my right ankle from where the pedal hit my leg. It was an unfortunate event but I felt much better after waving a certain finger and yelling a decent amount (funny what can ease the pain, isn't it!)... I'm sure anyone who knows me is not surprised that I have managed to hurt myself on the 2nd day of the trip!

I spent the next 45 mins to an hour in intervals of pedaling slowly and a bit wobbly and limping along side my bike.After this time a very nice young man pulled over and offered a ride for the last few km into Lethbridge. At first I didn't want to take the ride and felt like I was cheating to take a ride on my 2nd day! However, as we came into town I was glad that I did. The hills got much steeper and longer and there was ALOT of traffic, wobbly pedaling and limping along side the bike may have got me into a much worse situation!!
 So I made it into town (slightly ashamed), called it an early day and found a campsite where I could sit get my ankle iced and wrapped, put some muscle pain cream on and do some internet things. The campsite I found is called Henderson Lake campsite... a nice little campsite that would normally cost $30 when staying in a tent (craziness really if you ask me!, $30 to camp in town??), however... the wonderful lady gave it to me for free AND asked if she could have a paper to post in reception to support the cause. So, I suppose I shouldn't say anything negative.. they have my support if they are going to support me! I DID have Internet at the campsite, which is where I wrote this post. However, after spending about an hr and a half writing it and doing other things online the Internet died and I was unable to post it....hence why it is coming to you now.

I will be posting pictures just as soon as I figure out how to get them off my itouch (again I'm sure anyone who knows me is not surprised I do not know how to do this simple technological task).....Funny how doing an international bike trip is seeming to make me more computer/technology savvy!

Anyways more to come! Keep watching for updates and spreading the word! As I said before: I do not want to be the only person to benefit from my efforts!

-Thanks again! and wish me luck,

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On My Way!!

Her I go ,
I'm gone again.
Who knows when my journey,
 will come to an end.

Hope I can do it,
with in my goal.
But from now on,

After a bit of delay with grassfires in the area and health risks;I'm finallyoff. Will be starting my journey in Calgary, heading down to strathmore. Then to Vulcan and Lethbridge. Should be in montana by Friday. Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Almost Ready


After a few long stressful days of spending more money than I had initially planned. I now have all the gear I believe I need to start my trip (but I am bound to find something I have forgotten; after all this IS the first time I have done anything quite like this!)..

I have taken the bike I will be riding on a few short test rides.
The first of which was a bit of a surprise: On the way home from purchasing said bike, my dad (who came to pick me up in his truck), informed me he had a meeting and I would have to wait a few hours for him in the neighbouring town.... Well that seemed like a foolish idea, considering  my bike was in the back. It didn't have pedals or a water bottle rack on it yet but I figure I might as well get used to putting my bike together (or back together) if I am going to be on the road on my own for the next few months.So I strapped on the pedals and rack, and rode about 27km where I stopped at the house of an old family friend in Bittern Lake. I did the ride in about 1hr and 10 min. (not bad for the first ride in a while!). While visiting and waiting for my dad, as the sun had gone down and I hadn't put my lights on yet, I was happy to receive a personal donation towards expenses I will be experiencing on the first leg of my journey, as well as a nice feed!. (Thank-you Mrs. Murphy!)
The next run was just a short trip to say good-bye to my grandparents who live only a few km away. After a nice visit, a good lunch and another personal donation towards expenses (thanks gramma!, you may think I'm crazy, but always supportive), I rode home, the round trip being a short 10km and taking me about 40 min. of road time. This little trip taught me two things... I do NOT like gravel and I do Not like headwinds. I will be avoiding gravel as much as possible though winds I am sad to say I will have to live with.

I am now undertaking the painstaking task of packing. I am not a fan of packing at the best of times, never mind packing a bike when you have to take into consideration weight distribution and balance...DREADFUL.

As things stand right now,  if I can get all of the last minute preparations and good-byes done tomorrow; I could be on the road by Monday. If not my departure will have to wait until Wednesday.

Will keep the updates comming, and I ask everyone to work on spreading word on my mission and cause. As I've said before my biggest goal is to not be the only one to benifit from my efforts.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The crazy plan to ride about 6, 840km for the learning center: How it came about and what it entails

First a little background on the last little while in the life of Steph:
  I just got back to Canada on July 27th, 2012. The first time back in the country for 3yrs, the last 2 and a half of which I was living on Little Corn Island teaching diving.

 Pretty much immediately after reaching, I was deciding how to leave as soon as possible.

It is NOT that I don't love my country or the wonderful friends and family I have here. I DO and ALWAYS will. This is my home!.. The way of life here however... is not for me. I am not really a fan of technology and every one's obsession with it ( we have become the Jetsons and it is CRAZY). I don't like the fast paced rat race everyone seems to be part of, and I hope I never again have to work indoors under fluorescent lights... just not my style, but I understand it is perfect for some people. Unless I am to settle down on a farm similar to the one I grew up on (will be a while!),  I think for now, Canada will be a wonderful place to visit little and feeding a horse.

 My original plan was to head down to Cancun and look for dive jobs with a good friend, but I seemed to get the feeling that I may be sitting around with little work until Christmas. I thought, why would I sit around waiting for work in all inclusive ville,  Mexico (also not my style); when I could have a job come Christmas in a place I know and LOVE. The people are AMAZING, warm and welcoming; the beaches and diving are BEAUTIFUL; and there is a sense of community EVERYONE should experience. This place is LITTLE CORN ISLAND.
photo by:
Brendan Lewis

The decision was made..

But now.....How do I leave the fast paced life I am expected to live now if I don't have the opportunity to earn the money needed to live until December?

About a year ago on Little Corn I met a lady ( much older than my self), that had cycled from northern Alaska, to Nicaragua. She inspired me. After that long distance cycling was always something I thought I would do one day. If she could do it I could do. (apparently Dolphin Dive inspired her too... she is now a dive master on the pacific coast of panama!) . The decision was easy.


At first, I did not consider the possibility of doing it to raise money for the benefit of others. It would be for my benefit alone. But it did not take long to realize the opportunity at hand; with a little more effort, I could help those less fortunate than myself.....and it was an EASY decision as to where money raised would go. The people of Little Corn, are a beautiful and welcoming group of people,  however, to have a chance in the world the way it has become.... they need help. They do not have a very good school system (at all), and they are selling out their land faster than is sustainable.(another tale for another time). All it takes is to friend these people on facebook or speak to a child about school to realize they need help to compete in this global economy they will inevitably be required to.

 What my plan to do is:
Ride my bicycle the approximate 6, 840km (4, 250mi) from Calgary to Bluefields ( the city you catch the boat to Corn Islands). I will buy all the required gear ( about $1, 600 plus food), only to be reimbursed if I surpass the fundraising goal necessary to complete the learning center ( over $ 7000.  but the exact number is as of yet,unknown).

The goal of the learning center is to provide computers for use (initially 30), a vocational library, and other services that will broaden the horizons and open learning opportunities to these people they never thought possible.

Please, IF you can, donate...maybe not now if you not convinced, but as I cross borders, bank hundreds, thousands of km or miles, and get closer to reaching my goal!If you can't donate..follow my trip, spread the word, make it known I am working to help these people and others should too!! I have no doubt in the world that I will make it to Nicaragua...I'm not 100% sure it will be before Christmas, but I'm gonna try ( Adam/boss man, I promise I will let you know if I have doubts in time for you to get another instructor for Christmas!!). But my main worry is that I make it to the island without sufficient funding... I will not stop trying until the learning center is fully functional...please help, everything helps...EVERYTHING.

here is a link to my fundraising page:                       
out!! Everything helps!!

One day...I will have a charity of my own, it is my dream!
but for now Common Threadz is an good, existing non profit organization, with a similar goal in a place I care about that needs help

Thanks for reading, I am new to blogging..... I realize that this probably isn't the NORMAL format for a blog, but I don't think a single person would describe ANYTHING I do as normal. and I'm fine with that! but feel free to criticise.

I will be posting more along route:photos, routes, experiences, etc., as often as my travels allow.
They will not be as long as this novel..... I just feel this is a necessary background to myself and my The last bike I owned I got for getting honours in Grade 1.... wish me luck!
- Steph