Monday, September 26, 2011


We spent in Vancouver 10 days, a bit more than we thought we would, but we had great time there and we met great people. It was the first big city after we left New York nearly four months ago. Did we miss big cities? I think we did, surly some aspects of them; the first thing we did, after arriving to Van, was to go for lunch. But not just anywhere – we went to an Ethiopian restaurant; up until then the only ‘exotic’ food we came across was Chinese…
We wanted to stay longer in Vancouver, because there was few things we had to get done and only big city offers this services; first of all catch up a little bit with blogging (hope you can appreciate this; for those who haven’t checked it yet go to ‘route’ – Marta spent the whole day mapping our trip!), fix/buy/exchange some equipment (unfortunately one zip in our tent stopped working, but luckily we found a tiny repair shop run by an afghan guy who replaced the zip for $20, so we didn’t have to go through the whole reclamation process, that would be pretty complicated for us; apart from that we had to exchange the sleeping mat that was faulty and to get some more bits and bobs) and last, but not the least check our bikes. By the time we arrived to Van, we had over 5000 km on our speedometers – high time to do a check-up. We made small research and found out that there is in Van a community bike shop, as they call here places like The Bike Station; and so we visited one that works pretty much like TBS (we hope to write a bit more about this place and any other alike we come across soon). The things we were concerned the most were our wheels – if they are nit well centered they can get damaged quicker and after that many kilometers the spokes could easily lost tension. And so we were content to find out that they need just little adjustment – well done ‘bikeys’! (and those ones who built the wheels!)
We obviously did some sightseeing as well and we truly like Vancouver. It has just the right size (excluding metro), right location, not bad climate at all and great vibes. There are lots of green areas, plenty of beaches, ski resort 2-hour drive of town and plenty of nooks to discover. Our favourite place was Granville Island (thanks Justyna!), a tiny peninsula just outside of Vancouver Downtown, where there is always something to do – market with local food, arts&crafts, live music, small shops and galleries, we could wander there around for hours…Vancouver (and area) are definitely on our bucket list; maybe was the people, good weather, great time we had there, amazing food, but definitely Vancouver make a great impression on us. But this is most of all thanks to the people and their hospitality.
Justyna, Michael and little Lily, thank you guys so much! It was so good to meet you and to connect! If we ever did a list of most hospitable people, they’d be the leaders with little Lily on the top, as she let us sleep in her bed and in her room for all 10 days! But there was more than just warm welcome, we connect, had fun, we made friends and we hope to see them again.
And, thanks to Justyna, we discovered raw food. And Raul was so happy! J I’ll write about it soon an share some recipes for those who dare to try.Hhowever, the principal of raw diet is eating food raw, which means no cooking, roasting, baking etc., no high temperatures as this is what kills enzymes and all good stuff food naturally contains. The only process you can use is dehydrating. So we made our attempt to prepare dehydrated cookies; well, they were edible J still lots to learn…We tried some amazing food prepared by Justyna and we left their place with three big bags of dried fruit. We cannot wait to experiment more with it once our adventure is finished!


We spent in Victoria just one day, but we like it a lot. We had only time to stroll around downtown, get lost in their little Chinatown, have our ‘good-bye-Canada-and-well-done-guys!-Canada-completed!’ dinner (that we were again invited by some Angels, Thank you very much!) and in the evening go for a walk along promenade in Victoria’s little port and listening to great live music there.
It was also our last day in Canada and we felt a bit sentimental; over those three months we got to like Canada, or shell I say BC and a bit of Yukon? We haven’t even seen half of this country, but what we saw we liked a lot and what we experienced was only positive.
Thanks to all of you, who made our Canadian experience so special!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Southern BC - smells grass and tastes peaches...

After Rockies we didn’t head straight to Vancouver as we thought we’ll do, but - driven by stories about exceptional beauty of valleys, uniqueness of towns, warm lakes and sunny weather and best fruit and veggie farming in BC – we just couldn’t resist and were looping around  The Kootenays and Okanagan Valley for over a month. We probably did an extra 1000 km, but it was worth it. 

Kootaneys was our destination for two reasons – hot springs and Nelson. BC is famous for hot springs in general, but Kootaneys is definitely the ‘hot spot’. Just within maybe 30 km around a small town called Nakusp one could probably spend a week soaking each day in different pool. There is a book called  'Hot Springs of Western Canada' by Woodsworths; it describes all developed, undeveloped and supposed-to-exist thermal springs in BC and north-west US, with all details about pools and directions how to get there. We had an opportunity to have a look at it and some of the undeveloped ones are in very amazing spots; unfortunately they are normally not easily accessible (some only by plane or boat!) and there wasn’t any on our way worth the effort of half day hike or cycling 30 km uphill; so we visited two developed ones, which we enjoyed a lot. First, Canyon Hot Springs were in the right spot; just after Rogers Pass, the last big climb of Rockies and so our joints and muscle were so grateful for this bath. The others – Ainsworth Hot Springs are interesting for its couriosity – a cave. They were first discovered by miners and greatly appreciated after a day of hard work. To help the water flow the miners dig a U-shape cave. Nowadays there is a big resort around but they kept the original cave. The thermal water is full of calcium, so evaporating it leaves sediment on the walls, which creates this amazing shapes; walking throught that caves feels like being in mother’s earth intestine.
There is not a single big city in west Kootane and that’s what’s so great about this place. All towns are small and cute, all of them by the lake, surrounded by mountains, with their little coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, farmers market, all stocking and promoting local products. And each of them has different story to say – whether it is a history of silver mining, old railway crossing, or some nature treasures or curiosities. But there is one that we heard about miles before - Nelson. Place that for some reasons attracts all kinds of weirdoes (in the most positive meaning this word can have!) and thanks to them, I believe, has this unique friendly and open atmosphere. It is a place from ’60, hippie place, some say (easy to agree with it at first glance – never seen so many guys with long hair and dreadlocks in one town!:). Place, where you can meet the whole bunch of people with interesting professions, hobbies and stories to tell. Town, with so much life on the streets, where people have time to slow down, sit in one of many coffee shops and just enjoy conversation, go to a park and play guitar or just wander around; interesting place…
On the way to Okanagan we passed through ‘hay country’, Slocan Valley, where the smell of freshly cut grass and the sound of watering machines followed us all the time; and as we cycled the grass fields has been gradually replaced with orchards – we hit Okanagan, the tropics of Canada. This valley is apparently the northernmost tip of a dessert stretching between two mountain ranges - The Rockies and Cascades – all the way down to Mexico. And has just the right climate for fruit and vine plantations. We happened to be there just on time for cherries and peaches season as well as any sorts of veggies, we had lots of them! Places like that are obviously great for seasonal jobs, we heard about opportunities for making good money there, we even considered getting some jobs ourselves, but haven’t really try hard to get one. Well, the job found us….

That’s our story on a ‘China Farm’
We were offered a job on an organic veggie farm – help with weeding. We heard before that weeding is the worst of all seasonal jobs you can get there, but we thought ‘nothing can be that bad that you cannot do it for a week’. We were told that they are ‘demanding, but good people’ on this farm and we thought ‘we can work hard, we will do our best’. What we didn’t know was that they were Chinese! (Please anybody, don’t feel offended, we have nothing against any nations, it was just such a stereotypical experience) The weeds were huge, some like a meter tall and there was plenty of them, sometimes you couldn’t see what is supposed to grow there (that is all about organic apparently…) and so we worked hard – those who know us imagine us getting up at 5:45am, just to be on the field at 7am, working for 10 hours under Okanagan sun with temperatures reaching 35C, with just 2 hours brake in the middle of the day, squatting or kneeing all the time. Apparently  it wasn’t enough – Chinese people in the age between 20 and 80 were on the field at 6am working without a single break (not exaggerating!) for drink, pee or stretch until 1pm, took break for lunch (hopefully some water and pee as well) and were back to work at 3pm (or earlier) to work for another 5 hours. And like that 7 days a week. And so not surprisingly everybody was tired, overwhelmed by job that needs to be done, not in a mood for friendly conversations ‘halloes’ and ‘how-are-yous’.
We stayed there 6 days, made the money we wanted and were gone as quick as we could.  We are happy we did it, that was good experience, but, to us, it not the right way…
The day we left the farm we were invited for a BBQ by other seasonal workers. That was their leaving party, it took part in the back yard at their bosses’; we barbequed veggies they used to pick, the bosses happened to have a jam session with their friends the same evening; so there was good local food, local wine, life music and all those people laughing, joking and enjoying the evening together…

We are now in Portland, Oregon, US; BC seems distant already... we had some good time in Vancouver and met great people, cycled through rain forest in Washington (had some rainy days, but not very many luckily) and now having few days off in Portland and getting to know this apparently 'best for cycling city in US'. More pics and stories coming soon!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

With our mouths wide open

Although, I'm not a fun of labeling everything down We have to admit that is a human tendency choosing what is the best, the most famous. The road that goes from Jasper National Park to Banff National Park trough the Rockies is considered the 3rd most scenic road in the World, Highway 93.
For Marta and me to cycle across the Rockies has been a causality. While we are on the road traveling, We have this healthy idea of asking local and travelers for tips, places ... And the Rockies was one of those places that more and more people were suggesting us to do it the closer We got to Alberta. Before We crossed those Mountains the only images I had of Rockies were the one from some of the Western movies made up here. If those images are breath taking on the TV You can not imagine how much better are when you are there cycling as We were It is indescribable right from the beginning when We crossed the Park gates and this carpet of flowers covering all began, streams of water everywhere, turquoise lakes and overall those mountains, They are one of the most beautiful rock formations I saw in my entirely life. If there is a God, in this place he made one of his best jobs. It is fascinating how the forest, the light, the glaciers dressed up those rocks formations in such an unique way.
I had this feeling few times when I was staring at them that perhaps that is how the Planet used to look like years ago. Maybe there is not just one Eden Garden if not at least one for each climate and definitely the Rockies is one of the Gardens for the North Climate.
For us it has been also the place where We have seen, touched and walked on a Glacier for the firs time in our life, those vast, enormous, ancient ice being has been there for thousands of years taking care of the water equilibrium in the Planet, being around them has made us a bit more conscious of their role keeping an environment where humans can live. It is very interesting how they has passed from just being a massive peace of ice to be more familiar and respectful the way you look at them at least certainly the way I look now at them.
Something very interesting that is happening in this National Park and I believe in many other Parks where the animals are protected against human hunting is that the Wild animals have understood that We are not a threaten any longer so many of those animals are quite comfortable having us, humans around, the image of an Elk or a Deer eating totally in peace, not bothered at all of having this bunch of tourist taking endless pictures of them while they are feeding their selves with fresh grass.
And the last but not the least of the magic moments We had over there was at least very much for me to spend the day of my birthday in one of the glacier and turquoise lakes, something I won't forget ever this lunch by the lake with our feet in the water so much beauty, so much surrounding everything
Those are this kind of moments were I feel deeply thankful of being alive
If you want to see the rest of the picture go to the photo section on the menu and click on Alberta album "what we see" and "what we do"