Back to Reality

Lake Louise

Last Friday we officially made it back home from our wonderful trip. Although it’s only been a week it feels so long ago that we were cycling the west and snuggling into our sleeping bags at night.

The last time I gave an update we were in Nanaimo. From there we continued westward on Vancouver Island to check out Tofino and then spent a few days in Victoria, where we reached 2000 miles. We took a ferry back to the US to Port Angeles, took a hike on Sunset Ridge in the Olympic National Park, camped for the last time at our very first campsite (Manchester State Park) in Port Orchard, and finally went back to Seattle to catch our flight home.

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

taken at the Butchart Gardens

taken at the Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

over 2000 miles!

over 2000 miles!

beautiful Victoria!

beautiful Victoria!

Sunset Ridge

Sunset Ridge

This really was a trip of a lifetime and I’m so incredibly grateful that my parents and I were able to make it happen. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for bringing me along on this trip. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy as I was during those six weeks. It was like we were in our own little bubble of unreality where we didn’t have to think about real world problems. I’ll definitely miss the adventure of it all, that satisfying feeling at the top of a mountain pass, not knowing exactly what the next day will bring, and cracking up with my mom while secretly taking pictures of my dad sleeping … no, Dad, I won’t post the pictures. 😉 Heck, I’ll even miss getting lost from time to time.

I’m naturally a very practical person. I do the things that are expected of me in life and rarely spend my money on things outside my necessities. However, I don’t want to live my life being boring and not experiencing the things I dream of. This trip really made me realize that we only have so much time on this earth. We’re not guaranteed the next day in life so CARPE DIEM!

What’s next for me? I’m starting my senior year of college (I know, crazy!). In terms of athletics, I’m getting back into my normal running routine. I was able to keep up some mileage when I was biking and got a lot of practice running on tired biking legs. I know I’m fit right now, but biking fitness isn’t the same as running fitness. The sports use different muscles, so I’m planning on gradually building up this fall and possibly doing a couple of shorter races in October or November. My long-term focus will be on the Boston Marathon. Registration opens up in mid-September, so hopefully I’ll get a spot with my qualifying time.

at the beginning of our journey

at the beginning of our journey

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Rocky Mountain High

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Fast forward a week and we’re already on Vancouver Island! Tomorrow we’ll be headed towards Tofino on the western side of the island as we hear it is absolutely gorgeous. From Lake Louise we made our way up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, Valemount, Kamloops, Pemberton, Whistler, Vancouver, and now Nanaimo.

The Rockies were incredible and my parents and I agree that it was our favorite part of the trip so far. The ride from Lake Louise to Jasper on the Icefields Parkway was incredible. It was just miles and miles of amazing views.

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my dad and I trying to wade into the glacial water. We made it up to our knees!

my dad and I trying to wade into the glacial water. We made it up to our knees!

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It was also interesting for me to see a mountain that would be impossible to climb up unless you were an experienced rock climber. I probably should’ve realized that earlier when I was researching about the Canadian Rockies, but it’s just so foreign to me. All the mountains in Vermont and even the bigger ones in New Hampshire might have a few tricky spots, but are definitely climbable. Those are little dinky hills compared to the massive mountains out here, though!

the icefields in Jasper

the icefields in Jasper

Taking pics. Don't want to drop your phone off that ledge!

Taking pics. Don’t want to drop your phone off that ledge!

We did a short hike to Lake Kinney

We did a short hike to Lake Kinney

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We didn’t even know it, but British Columbia actually has some desert. It seems like after only a few short days after leaving the Rockies we found ourselves surrounded by dry desert and then canyons. None of us were really expecting that and found ourselves a bit surprised… especially after finding out that one of the campsites we were supposed to stay at was in the middle of an industrial park in the desert. Needless to say we decided to skip through that one and go ahead to the next one. It’s funny how some of the most expensive campgrounds we’ve stayed at have actually been the worst while we’ve actually had some really nice $10 ones.

the desert

the desert

more desertville

more desertville

The beautiful weather at the beginning of our trip definitely spoiled us and we’ve now had a few odd weather days. In Pemberton, BC we were really looking forward to a nice hike the next day, but that just wasn’t an option when we woke up in the morning. The valley was all hazy with smoke from a few wildfires surrounding the area. Now we’ve had a few days filled with rain off and on, but we still are having a lot of fun. We went to a little local fair today as well as a wildlife recovery center, which was really interesting.

the slugs seemed to all emerge during the rain when we were in Whistler

some giant slugs seemed to emerge during the rain when we were in Whistler

One thing I’m looking forward to when I get back? Reliable wifi. I accidentally published the last post as a page instead of a post and didn’t realize it until just now. I apologize to anyone whose comments got deleted! I’ve got things figured out and that won’t happen again. I definitely am not in any rush to get back home, but a decent Internet connection is something I am really looking forward to. In some ways it’s been kind of nice because I’ve barely been online and it feels good not to be plugged in all the time. On the other hand, I know I’m going to have a bunch of real-world stuff to deal with when I get back to school.

Wildlife spotting! We had the amazing opportunity to see a wild black bear in its natural environment the other day. It was pawing through some nettles to reach the abundant blackberries growing in Squamish.  The only odd thing was that it had on a bike helmet as well as bike gloves…

my dad, the rare black bear

my dad, the rare black bear

Okay, but in all honesty we have seen three black bears so far; two adolescent bears crossed the road a ways away when my dad and I were biking and then we spotted a pretty big one eating some berries on the side of the road when we were driving. We also saw a caribou just chilling and munching on some grass.

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It’s hard to believe that our trip comes to a close in less than a week. I remember us wondering if 6 weeks was too long for a trip, but we’ve been having the time of our lives. We’ve never done anything like this before and we’ve been making some amazing memories. That’s all for now. Happy trails!