Day 62 North Conway, NH- Falmouth, ME

WE MADE IT!! I can’t believe it. Rolling up to the Atlantic didn’t feel real. I guess because the whole trip has been so cumulative it wasn’t as big of a burst to finish. We were greeted in Falmouth by the Farnham family. They had graciously made a welcome sign and a cake shaped like Canada (including the altitude of the Rockies)! We took a good 15 minutes to work up the courage to jump off of the high dock at the end of their road into Casco Bay. You would think we would be fearless after this journey, but I guess not fearless enough to jump. After finally working up the courage to take the plunge, we went inside and took warm, well-deserved showers.

After a great dinner out in Portland with my mom’s college friends, I found the last few missing stickers I needed for my collection on the bike. I treated myself with a heaping cup of gelato, post sticker hunt. We couldn’t believe, all night, that we’re done. I don’t know that I will ever look at hills and roads ever again!

More updates on the fundraising to come once we return to Vancouver on Thursday!

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Day 61 Twin Mountain- North Conway, NH

Almost the end of our journey, and still one of the most strikingly beautiful rides of the trip today as we ventured though White Mountain National Park to North Conway, NH. We climbed a bit at the beginning of the ride and then the rest of the morning was pretty much downhill. We left early in attempt to beat thunderstorms coming through the mountains. Luckily, we got here on time but accidentally passed the subdivision we were supposed to turn on to (oops…) so we had a nice, accidental brunch in town and then backtracked 5km down the road again to my mom’s aunt and uncle’s house. Lots of other family were also staying here: my mom’s cousins and their kids. I spent the afternoon chasing Sam, Zoe and Hazel around the house playing hide and seek. It was probably more tiring than today’s bike ride. It was so nice to see everyone and be welcomed into their home.

Tomorrow we complete our journey across the continent. As I think back on when I decided this was something I wanted to do, almost a year ago, I question my sanity. I didn’t, in any way, realize how big of an under taking this would be. I’m thankful for my mom who has accompanied me and made this possible. I had initially wanted to do this alone but was told by my parents that would not happen, ever. Luckily, I somehow convinced my mom to come with me. So far, it’s been an experience I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned so many things that I would have never otherwise learned.

I never truly feared the athletic component to the riding; I only feared the vastness of North America. I’ve learned that fears can be overcome. Fears can push you further than anything. If you don’t let them stand it your way but rather let them push you, one can be propelled past their initial fear. This can be pertinent to anything in life not just this once-in-a-life-time crazy bike ride.

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Day 60- Woodstock, VT- Twin Mountain, NH

I don’t think many people realize what we do when we’re not biking. I like to spend pretty all of my down time watching Netflix. To be honest, there isn’t much else to do. It’s exciting when we have laundry. Today, for example, our motel doesn’t have laundry, so we had to sneak through the bushes to the place next door and use their laundry room. Ok, it wasn’t really sneaking, we were allowed to be there, but we try to find more adventure in everything. The dryers were about 50 years old and tiny. We ended up having to pin-up all of our clothes on the clothes lines and come back for them after dinner. When we went to collect our clothes we had to be careful about what we pulled off because someone else had hung their clothing when we were gone. My mom accidentally pulled a shirt that wasn’t ours off and stuck it in the dryer because it was still wet. It wasn’t until we went to fold it that we realized it wasn’t even ours. We, as discretely as possible, placed it back on the line.

A lot of days it takes me a good half hour to actually get out of bed. I try to stretch the lie-in as long as possible by eating breakfast and putting on my sunscreen whilst still lying down.

As you may be able to tell, today was a pretty routine day. We are in the White Mountains and will head out of them to North Conway, NH tomorrow to stay with my mom’s aunt and uncle and other family visiting. We are slowly making the transition back to a civilized life style. Two days to go and we will have made it, coast to coast, across North America!

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Day 59 Middlebury-Woodstock, VT

I accomplished a major life goal today: I visited the Ben & Jerry’s factory. Now, if you know me, you should know a major food group of mine is ice cream. During basketball season and this summer (and truthfully most of the rest of the year), I eat about a bowl of ice cream a night. My whole family can vouch for this. At night if I hear someone in the kitchen getting a bowl out of the cabinet I can be counted on to yell ‘that’s my ice cream’ from my room no matter what time of night.

We rode 75 very hilly km in the heat today. We tried to leave early and did around 8am. Lucky for us, since my grandparents are visiting with us they were able to carry our bags today. Since we haven’t ridden without the 40 pound bags in almost two months, we cycled, quite noticeably, faster today. Going up hills seemed 100x easier yet they were still quite difficult.

After a delicious pizza dinner in town we headed to bed. The sun really tires you out a lot more than one may think. We have three days left in our trip. I can’t believe it. Have we really come this far? It seems like I just finished my last exam. This summer has flown by so quickly.

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Day 58- Middlebury, VT

A great day NOT to be riding. It was 35C degrees and extremely humid. Even walking around town seemed like an incredibly arduous task. As I said (I think in the last blog), my mom went to college at Middlebury so she knows this area quite well and spent a lot of the day reminiscing, although a lot has changed since her time here.

She brought me, proudly, on a tour of the campus. Although hard to stay interested because of the heat, I was happy to get a glimpse into a part of my mom’s past I know nothing about. Thankfully there was a fro-yo place in town so we were able to meet up with my grandparents and cool off after a couple of hours in the sun.

We then took a speedy tour around campus trying to determine what was sidewalk and what was road by car with the grandparents. A couple of times we tried to go over curbs onto sidewalks by accident. A great quote of the day by my grandma was “If it’s a one way road, go on the wrong side, there will be less traffic” …to which I replied, “traffic in which direction?!”

Middlebury seems like a great school but is incredibly rural and not something I would think about considering in my future. On the other hand, I could definitely see my brother, Sebastian, going to a school like this.

As always, highlights of today included a trip to the laundry mat and the local grocery store for some bananas and sun screen.

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Day 57 Burlington-Middlebury, VT

We used the first-aid kit twice today, but for minor injuries, not to worry. We broke it our before even leaving when my mom somehow managed to cut her finger attempting to pump up a bike tire. The second time we had arrived for the day and when my grandma ran to greet us she somehow managed to cut her toe and it was bleeding. I patched it up, excited to be able to use all the supplies we’ve been hauling around with us this summer.

It was horribly hot today, around 35 degrees. I would argue this was one of the hardest days we’ve had to date. The heat combined with never-ending, steep hills made for a tough ride. In the Rockies, I didn’t stand to climb while riding as often because it’s a much more gradual ascent. Here, the hills are sharp and at around an 8-10% grade, so standing is pretty much the only was to get up them. I think I went through 5-6 bottles of water today; as I said, it was HOT.

It was nice to have an actual view today (instead of just never-ending forest or prairies). We looked out on the Adirondacks to the west and Green Mountains to the east. We followed back country roads most of the day; it was nice to be off of the highway.

Besides the excitement of seeing my grandparents, there was a moose today. Well, not a real one. My grandma has been following along by blog this summer and clearly learned about my fondness for moose. She bought me a moose figurine and was very proud to present it to me. Thanks, Nanny!

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Day 56 Ellenburg, NY- Burlington, VT

We raced a solid 70km today without stopping in hopes of making the earlier ferry across the lake. Luckily, although completely exhausted, we made it with enough time to spare to get some snacks before we left port. It was very hot today and the topography is beginning to become mountainous again (yay?). There are lots of windmills in this area because apparently it’s in the red zone for wind, whatever that means. We were very grateful that the windmills weren’t very effective today, meaning it wasn’t very windy.

After getting off of the ferry, we were in Vermont. I was happy because it was only about 5 more km to our motel. Sadly, what I didn’t realize is that VERMONT IS NOT FLAT. IT IS EXTREMELY HILLY AND THE HILLS ARE VERY HIGH IN GRADE. (I don’t know if you’re able to notice, but I did not like that.) I was dripping in sweat by the time we arrived.

Once showered, we headed into downtown Burlington. We walked around and then settled on a place for dinner. Needless to say, we’re happy we didn’t have gas station food for dinner. I really do miss home-cooked meals.

Tomorrow we are headed to Middlebury, a very hilly 70km South. My mom went to school in Middlebury, so she knows the area pretty well and my grandparents will meet us there. It’s supposed to be over 30 degrees, so hopefully we are able to cope with the heat and hills!

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Day 55 Cornwall, ON- Ellenburg, NY

We spent our time off of the bike today wandering around random towns’ graveyards in the uppermost part of New York State looking for long-passed relatives. We had heard that we would be going through the town where my mom’s dad’s grandparents owned a farm at the turn of the 20th century, and remembered that at least one very old, distant cousin was still in the area in the 1980’s. All we knew were a couple of possible last names and that they would be buried in the Protestant graveyard. We wandered around three graveyards carefully reading the oldest grave stones. We found a few possibilities but weren’t sure about any of them. Anyway it was pretty cool and a different way to use our break time!

The War of 1812 and its impact were very prominent in the towns we rode through today. There were countless historical markers and memorials. After having learned a lot about it in school this past year it was cool to see some of the locations it took place.

We re-entered the US today, and every time I do so, it shocks me. I think I saw 5-10 signs that read ‘gas, groceries, guns.’ It’s very interesting how the whole gun culture changes so drastically even 5 minutes past the border.

We luckily avoided a storm today and it looks pretty clear for the next few days (seeing as we also only have a few days left!!). Tomorrow, we will ride to Port Kent, NY where we will take a ferry across Lake Champlain to Burlington, VT where we will stay for the night.

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Day 54 Ottawa-Cornwall, ON

Cornwall, what an interesting name. We heard from our inside, Canadian, sources that this town is very frequently made fun of. We feel sad for Cornwall because of this; it really was a ‘big’ town. Even though our motel room door was banged on and screamed at at 9pm (basically midnight for us), for forgive Cornwall because our adventure at the Bulk Barn made up for it.

At the Bulk Barn, I was pleased when purchasing my half kilo of sour candy strips. I have no idea how and when I will eat all of these, but I’m not worried, I will find a way. We debated going to St-Hubert, a very Canadian chicken restaurant for dinner, but then decided against it because it was a whooping 800m away and it was absolutely pouring rain. We eventually settled on another very Canadian place, Boston Pizza, for our final night in Canada until our return to Vancouver.

Tomorrow we cross the border into New York State and make our way East to Ellenburg. It’s quite rural yet pretty historic so we will see if we happen to find anything exciting!

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Day 53- Ottawa Rest Day

It was great to wake up in a home today and not a motel for once! We were eager to get out and explore. After heading downtown and walking around the ByWard Market for a bit, we had a delicious lunch and then headed toward the Rideau Canal and parliament. We took an obligatory selfie and headed out after five minutes as it was crazy busy.

After a night at one family friend’s house we headed to the other side of town to visit with Amy, a good friend of my mom’s from Holland. My mom and I were quite committed to seeing Quebec. So, on the way across town, Amy drove us to a lookout so we could at least see Quebec! Same thing, right? After posing with Quebec, we had a delicious dinner and it was great to catch up.

Tomorrow we are headed to the border town of Cornwall, ON. There are supposed to be big storms so we will have to see how we get there.

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Day 52- Sharbot Lake-Ottawa, ON

Ottawa, finally! We’ve made it to the nation’s capitol! We seemed to be going a lot quicker today, which was a nice change! It wasn’t increadibly hilly and we were on nicely paved back road for the majority of the day. We’re staying with friends of ours from Holland tonight and tomorrow we will spend the day here in Ottawa with another friend we knew from there. Good conversation, a delicious home-cooked meal, and the comfort of a well-loved home have left us feeling very welcome and grateful.

It’s crazy to be so close to the end of our trip. We only have eight more days left of riding and 10 total until we arrive!

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Day 51 Campbellford-Sharbot Lake, ON

So slow so very slow, once again, today. We tried to ride the Trans-Canada Trail but it was an absolute mess. It had stormed the night before so there were ditches filled with half a meter of water that we had to try our best to avoid, which was near impossible, so we abandoned that plan after 10km and found our way back to the road

We stopped in the town of Tweed for lunch; we had a delicious meal at the local coffee shop. After eating, a lady came up to me and asked about our journey. I told her what we were doing and she suggested that we should head over to the local newspaper and she would introduce us. She explained that the town doesn’t get much excitement. This was also the town where I saw a man riding his lawn mower down the main street with his dog on his lap; it was pretty exciting.

Sharbot Lake was also a pretty special town. My shoulder had been bothering me quite a bit so my mom made a spontaneous appointment at a massage therapist whose office is adjacent to the motel. When Annette (the masseuse) heard that we were only in town for the night, she went out of her way and made an extra trip to schedule us in. During the treatment, we told her the story of our ride and the fundraising for Katcham School in Cambodia. Then, Annette made a connection that really brought this entire effort and journey to life: Annette has a friend, living locally, who was born in Cambodia in 1974 and lived in Canada House, an orphanage run some amazing Canadian women, when she was a tiny baby. In 1975, these women rescued Annette’s friend and more than 50 other orphans from the troops of the Khmer Rouge. Through a daring escape, they and brought the orphans to Canada where they were placed with and raised by Canadian families. You can read more about this incredible story here. Although a tragedy that it ever happened, it was incredibly moving and in some way fulfilling to hear about this Canadian-Cambodian connection from Annette, right here in rural Ontario. Thank you for sharing, Annette — and also for helping to relieve my shoulder!

Tomorrow we head 130km North to Ottawa!

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Day 50 Bowmanville-Campbellford, ON

Rain, rain, so much rain. It was absolutely pouring by 7pm when we arrived in Campbellford for the night. I think this was the slowest day of riding we’ve had to date. It felt like we were riding through molasses and we couldn’t speed up. One thing that may have contributed to this slow riding was the fact that we were on bad (mostly dirt) road a lot of the time. It was also extremely hilly which did not in any way add to our happiness.

A highlight of today was food. We stopped for a great lunch along the lake on the way. I had a delicious chocolate milk shake and a wrap. When we got to our motel, for dinner I had two frozen meals we had purchased on our way into town and about 1000 (actually) calories worth of swiss rolls, it was absolutely delicious.

A weird part of the day was that the GPS kept routing us through random subdivisions. We would be taken off of the highway to ride through constructions zones and weirdly, a small foot path which had a gigantic tree across the path. We had to carefully manoeuvre around that one!

An epiphany I had (–we really have too much time to think!!) was about the holy Triscuit, my new favourite snack. I truly believe they are named what they are because of two factors: (1) they are made with three ingredients, which make up for the ‘tri;’ and (2) they are biscuits, when you combine these two things, you get Triscuit. This is why I’m also convinced the world is pronouncing the name wrong. Let’s figure this one out.

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Day 49 Toronto-Bowmanville, ON

Formerly, I had believed that walking through drive-thru restaurants was illegal. As it turns out, it’s not. We happily discovered this at a drive-thru doughnut shack in Bowmanville tonight. We were craving frozen cake, but sadly, the gas station didn’t have any today. The doughnuts were mediocre are best but the excitement of procuring them made up for their lack of taste.

We were pretty hungry after traveling 100km in the heat out of Toronto today. As any city would be on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the streets were littered with pedestrians, dogs, cyclists, rollerbladers, beach goers, boaters, joggers, wanderers, cars, trams, busses and much more. There were over a thousand directional cues when leaving so I had to listen to the GPS on my phone. We made a lot of wrong turns.

The next few days headed towards Ottawa will hopefully be a lot less busy and more straight forward. We only have 13 days left, which is crazy! We had to say goodbye to my dad and brother today and they headed back on the lake sailing. We will see them again when we return to Vancouver in a few weeks. Tomorrow, we head North-East 110km to Campbellford, ON.

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Day 48- Toronto

We awoke early today to be ‘crew’ aboard our grandparents’ sailboat as they brought it from one dock to another one on the other side of the city. It was very windy, rainy, and cold, which is why I stayed down below deck pretty much the whole time. I took a nap; I always seem to be able to take naps anywhere and everywhere. It took about two hours on the boat to get there. After having a nice lunch we headed back into the city to meet my mom.

My mom and I walked around where our Airbnb is and I was very excited to find a cupcake shop. Sadly, upon biting into my delicious-looking cookies and cream cupcake, I found that there was no sugar nor gluten within the cupcake. It is a crime not to put sugar in a cupcake, honestly.

We watched a few episodes of Parks and Recreation which we love; it’s extremely blunt humour amuses me. Sadly we part from my dad, brother and grandparents tomorrow as we head North-East towards Ottawa, where we will be in four days. After a final dinner together we took a picture with the lake lit up by the sunset and said our goodbyes.

It will be hard to get out of the city tomorrow but I will try to navigate using my phone and listening with headphones. Hopefully I don’t use up all my data, that would not be much fun! We have a fairly flat ride along Lake Ontario tomorrow to Port Darlington, ON.

Day 47- Toronto

Today’s excitement included Ripley’s Aquarium and seeing my dad!

My brother and I spent the morning at the aquarium with our grandparents. It was super crowded but still very interesting. I liked the sharks and stingrays, although the best part was obviously the ice cream.

After that we met up with my parents and hung out for a bit. It was nice to see my dad for the first time in more than a month! We hadn’t expected to see him and my brother until we got back, so it was good we were able to take a quick detour.

Delicious watermelon, steak on the grill, and time with the family made for a great evening. I was exhausted and went to bed pretty early. Tomorrow we will go for a sail on the lake and hang out some more!

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Day 46- Toronto

Today we slept in, scoured for food in our neighbourhood which only seems to have kale-related juices, and went grocery shopping for real food, i.e the cupcakes and bread my brother Sebastian and I have already devoured. We agree that these are the two foods which form the basis of our diets.

My dad arrives tomorrow and we will get to see him for a day before he heads off sailing and we continue cycling. We only have 10 more days of riding left (and 4 rest days to see friends and family) which is crazy!! This summer has gone by so quickly, although at times it’s actually seemed quite slow.

We had a lovely dinner with family of our good friends Rani and Nelson, who we knew when we lived in Qatar. After eating a increadibly delicious, home-cooked Sri Lankan meal, we were surprised with an impromptu musical concert! How amazing to be welcomed into the home of people we had never even met; we had an unforgettable evening of hospitality and fun.

Amazing news: we hit our fundraising goal of $15,000 CAN!! Sadly, because exchange rates are always in flux and the Canadian dollar has dropped significantly, we are still a bit short of our goal of providing funding for one year of operations at Katcham School. For this reason I am determined to keep going and raise whatever more we can. Katcham won’t stop needing support after one year, so contributions to the coming years will be just as beneficial! Let’s see if we can get to $20,000 CAN!

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Day 45 Sault Ste Marie- Toronto, ON

One of the most amazing things we have learned on this journey is that we are in command of our route; every day is our own. We can decide to head east or north-east, make a long or short day of it… change course in the event of weather, etc. Today we made a huge and exciting decision to veer off course and head south to meet up with my dad and brother, who happen to be in port in Toronto for a couple of days on their own sailing trip with my grandparents!

This change of plans required that we drive south for about 7 hours (whereupon we will have to backtrack by bike NE towards Ottawa come Sunday, to remain on course). Once the plan was in place, my mom was so excited, she could hardly (did not) stay within the speed limit.

We shared a delicious, “non-gas-station” meal together with my grandparents and brother (my dad actually arrives on Friday) and are now slowly swapping stories about summer adventures we have respectively missed.

They’ve been crossing Lake Ontario over the past week so I got a quick tour around the sailboat which brought back vague memories of the last time I saw it more that six years ago!

Within the excitement of the day we brought our bikes into the Skiis and Biikes shop here as we like it so much in Vancouver we thought it was definitely worth checking out their store here.

Tomorrow we will hang out with the family, meet some friends here in the city, and, of course, do some much needed laundry.

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Day 44 Newberry, MI- Sault Ste Marie, ON

Canada again, finally! We crossed the border quickly today around 100km into the ride. We had to traverse a dramatic, scary bridge over the Sault — Ste. Marie (Soo) –which looked pretty awesome, even though we later had to research what a sault actually is.

We got compliments on our neon outfits, as we always do. We’re so very fashionable on this trip. We had an early lunch at a diner before crossing the border so were very hungry once getting into Sault Ste Marie. Unfortunately we had no time to pick up Ben and Jerry’s or a frozen cake today. Instead, we devoured a dinner and had cinnamon nachos for dessert, quite interesting.

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Day 43 Munising-Newberry, MI

Although there were no storms this morning it was a bit chilly! We took our time getting out as I had a killer headache last night so didn’t get to sleep until quite late- must have been because of a day not biking!

We rode down highway 28 which had an extremely small shoulder today, making for a not very fun day of riding. It’s hard when there’s no shoulder because it forces you to concentrate a lot more and try not to get pushed around by big gusts of wind that trucks make! I got another sticker from a gas station, which added to the day’s excitement.

Newberry is known for being the moose capital of Michigan which, of course, made me very happy. We rode into town and there were moose statues and signs everywhere. Although, when we asked a local what they thought our likelihood of actually spotting a moose was, it was very low– sad.

Tomorrow we’re heading back into Canada! Sault Ste Marie is around 110km down the highway. The weather looks good for tomorrow and it’s a relatively flat ride.

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Day 42 Munising, MI

We were stuck here for the day because of crazy thunder and lighting storms. Once they stated rolling in we were very thankful we had made the call to stay. I don’t think I had ever heard thunder so loud in my life; it was awesome!

Our motel was pretty much in the middle of no where on the highway so we spend the day tuning up our bikes, tweaking the route, and watching Netflix. We ordered pizza once again as it was the only food in the area without having to bike somewhere!

Tomorrow he head to Newberry, 90km down the highway. The weather is supposed to be clear so hopefully we get out alright!

I apologize for not having any pictures from today, I’ll try for tomorrow!

Day 41 Champion-Munising, MI

Once again we found ourselves in the bushes this morning trying to get some wi-fi. After connecting and a nice breakfast in the gas station across the highway, we were on our way. We had 120km to ride in a much more populated area of the UP of MI.

Around 40km into the ride we stopped in Marquette, a lake-front town. Riding into town, we spotted a Best Buy; my mom had lost the headphone jack to connect her head phones to her phone case so we decided to go in to see if they had a replacement. They would only sell us a whole new case, which included the jack, and it was something hard to go without, so we went for it. Joke was on us because 30 minutes after purchasing it my mom found the ‘lost’ jack in her wallet. Good one, mom. We will be returning the case.

After Best Buy, we stopped into a Starbucks. A guy came up to me and said he had seen us riding down the highway earlier that day. He then asked where we were coming from and going. I told him about our trip and a few other people came over to talk to us. Everyone was giving us advice about where to go and what to see. Right before leaving, one of the people remembered there was a bike path that went right through the city but they couldn’t remember where it started. They then proceeded to ask the whole shop if anyone knew where it began and people started replying. We got the directions and were able to ride this great path another 30km.

Right outside of Munising, where we were staying for the night, was a town called Christmas. This town really did capitalize on its name. There was a giant santa statue and a pole marking the North Pole as well as Christmas-related street names and motels. Luckily, this is the town where we got our flat tire. We changed it quickly and rode out the last few km to our motel for the night.

After ordering delicious pizza for dinner we looked at the weather and realized there were going to be huge storms tomorrow. We decided to wait them out a day here and then carry on the day after, basically moving our rest day from Sault St. Marie to tomorrow.

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Day 40 Mass City-Champion

The day started with us accidentally sleeping in until 8:30am and a big breakfast. I forgot to mention that yesterday we crossed into the Eastern time zone, which would obviously account for waking up late. 😉 I had the ‘adventure omelette,’ which was delicious, though I could only eat half of it.

We had quite a long day today, and it felt like we were moving incredibly slowly. One thing I’ve noticed about MI so far is that they have a lot of great road-side parks. We met a couple of bikers at one who were also riding coast to coast. They were the first cyclists we’ve met in weeks!

We arrived at the motel, again, in the middle of no where and had to wander over to the gas station for dinner. Today, the ice cream selection wasn’t as good so I settled on a frozen cake, which we carried back to the room on the back of the bike. The wifi only worked if you sat in the bushes of the parking lot, so we moved some chairs over there and made ourselves comfortable. It didn’t work very well, but we stayed long enough to have a couple of German tourists come over and ask what we could possibly be doing sitting in the bushes. We shared the wifi secret and when we went inside, they took our seats.

Getting back to the room we realized my mom’s back tire was flat so we had to go ahead and change it. It turned out that there was a big metal staple that had pierced through. Good thing we found it at night and not in the morning.

Tomorrow we will be riding 120km to Munising, MI.

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Day 39 Ironwood-Mass City

This is the first night we’ve had wifi in three days, so here come three blog posts!

Our day largely took us through national forests, which made for quite the scenic ride! We rode to the northern part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP), a very remote area– hence the no wifi or cell reception.

After stopping for lunch at a local diner around halfway, we had to ride up a huge hill. It almost felt like we were back in the Rockies. It was around 3km long and was at about an 8-9% grade– not so much fun!! The funny thing is, I was telling my self all the way up that hill, come on you can get up this hill, the faster you do the sooner you can watch Netflix! Joke was on me.

We arrived at the Adventure Motel to a note stuck on the door (see pictures). We were the only ones staying at the motel… slightly creepy? There was no restaurant to be found so we headed over to the gas station to get our dinner. A container of Ben & Jerry’s was a must, and we finished that in around 5 minutes. I had some ramen noodles and a frozen dinner, and my mom had some pasta. All cooked by the miracle microwave!

Tomorrow we are heading to Champion, it should be around a 125km ride.

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Day 38 Bayfield-Ironwood, MI

Crazy, crazy wind today. Up to 40 mile per hour gusts, which is about 65km/hr. It was definitely not safe to ride! We spent a little bit of time re-routing the next few days and decided to catch a ride to a town 20 miles east of Ashland with our friend Jane, who was headed home to southern Wisconsin. Thanks again, Jane! We would spend the night here, in Ironwood, and then head on forward, hopefully wind free, tomorrow.

We arrived here midday, which gave me plenty of time for a nice nap. My mom and I have started watching the Netflix show Grace and Frankie, which we really like so far! Tomorrow we have a 110km day heading north-east. We have to make our way across the upper peninsula of Michigan, which is quite rural and isolated. Tomorrow night we are staying in a place called the Adventure Motel and Cafe, should be a true adventure!

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Day 37 Bayfield Rest Day

We had a great day today on Madeline Island, a quick ferry ride away from Bayfield. Overall, it was a pretty uneventful day, spent with friends and Finn the dog. We visited the beach, had a picnic, and sat at the local coffee shop for some wifi time. We haven’t had very good connection the last few days. Apologies for the fact that this isn’t very exciting; I can’t promise tomorrow will be any more exciting. Here are some pictures of our low-key day!

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Day 36 Bayfield Rest Day

Today was my one day to sleep in and wake up late, but of course, for the first day ever, I awoke on my own at 6:50am. Why can this not happen every other day of the trip!? We’re staying in a small beachy town on the southern shore of Lake Superior. It is hot. Today was the first time I’ve gotten a sunburn all trip and we weren’t even biking! (Of course, this is because I forgot sunscreen.)

We met some more family friends today and spent the majority of the day hanging out and catching up with them, which was very nice. Definitely a welcome change to talk to people other than my mom!

I got an update from UWS today on the status of Katcham school. It seems they’ve already put the fundraised money to good use by repainting the school. Katcham is one of the only UWS schools that hasn’t been forced to close yet for the summer because of monsoon season! The paint will help protect the building in the upcoming months of intense rain and weather.

Updates like this continue to propel us forward on this journey. It may be hot, hilly, or boring, but I just need to keep remembering what this is all for and how fortunate we are compared to children in UWS schools all around the world.

To everyone who has played a role in making this project a reality, thank you once again! 100% of your funds go directly to Katcham School and are already making a difference in the kids’ lives.

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Day 35 Poplar-Ashland, WI

Wild blueberry pie, a bonus laundry stop, Harley Davidson bikers in bars, and a happy reunion with a friend and her dog… another delightful, colourful day on the road as we continued to cross Wisconsin and pulled in for the start of two rest days in Bayfield, on the shore of Lake Superior.

Our first stop, in Iron River, was timely as we arrived right in the midst of the local blueberry festival. Of course, the best thing to do was get some blueberry pie from the local cafe. We also took advantage of the Iron River laundromat to do a quick load of laundry. Whilst waiting, we napped on the lawn outside of the building.

We carried on and felt the day heating up quickly, then stopped at a road side biker (as in motorcycle) bar where the lady there told us it was around 95F degrees. It was interesting to see how a bunch of guys riding Harleys stopped in, drank a beer, and then continued on the road. We decided to wait here and Jane, a good family friend, and her lovely dog Finn came to pick us up.

From there we went to get some lunch and coffee at a cafe in Ashland. We made our way along the coast to the small lake-side town of Bayfield. We dropped our bikes at the local bike shop which we had heard about through a friend. Tom Hart, the owner, knew exactly what our bikes may need, tune-up wise, at this point in the trip. Coincidentally, we somehow discovered that he knew a couple of my former teachers from The Netherlands, as he had taught with them in Asia. Small world!

We will have two rest days here in Bayfield and will spend time with friends who have come up from southern Wisconsin. It will be nice to be out of the heat a bit and enjoy this area and the beauty it’s know for!

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Day 34 Floodwood, MN-Poplar, WI

There was definitely a strong focus on food in our day today, which is never a bad thing, as we made our way across the Minnesota- Wisconsin border and caught our first glimpse of Lake Superior.

Shortly after our morning departure, we stopped at a roadside gas station, thinking we could find yet more gas station “food” for breakfast. Happily, this was a gas station plus bar/grill– not a convenience store– so we sat at the counter alongside Leroy, the local, 80 year-old blueberry farmer, and tried to blend in. Settling, myself, on a huge omelet, and my mom on pancakes, we sat and waited and soaked in the scene. I don’t actually like omelets, but this one was particularly delicious. It had everything you could think of in it and was slimy with grease, delectable. It was so interesting to talk to the Leroy and the cook/waitress about the local history, including, centrally, moose hunting and walleye fishing laws and restrictions.

From there, we had a pretty straightforward ride to Duluth, where we passed a restaurant and were literally drawn in by the smell. Once inside, we realized it had been on the show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives! It was pretty exciting and extremely worthy of its title. We had pizza, pasta and the best tiramisu in the world. We also picked up sandwiches for dinner– savouring the flavours!

Upon arrival in Poplar, we had to find our warm showers host for the night. He had an adorable, old dog and an extensive dead, stuffed animal collection (taxidermy?). I slept on the couch as my mom had already called the deer pelt on the ground. The dog, who’s name we never found out (we named her sunshine), slept on me, it was very cute.

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Day 33 Grand Forks-Floodwood, MN

Finally, some gorgeous, rolling hills for most of our 70km today! Because it was a short day, we slept in, then relished in some Caribou Coffee, followed by a Starbucks (at Target).

I was annoyed as the new book I’ve started, The Invention of Wings (which is very good so far)– wouldn’t play for some reason so I got quite bored.

In an attempt to avoid thunderstorms, we tried to time our ride accordingly. As it turns out, we were more chasing storms than meeting them. We were all ready in our rain gear for ‘the big one’ to roll in; it never did. We rode back roads, crossing the Mississippi River a couple of times and finally seeing lots of trees and marshes for the first time in a while.

We arrived in Floodwood quite hungry, so ventured over to the local Supper Club (what is that), and had the local Friday Night Fish Fry. I have to say, it was deliciously greasy.

Tomorrow, we cross the border into northern Wisconsin and begin the southern route around Lake Superior.

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Day 32 Cass Lake-Grand Rapids, MN

Cruising our way through Minnesota! Welcome to lake and woods country: everywhere we stop sells live bait and Big Game Licenses, kind of exciting for us city-folk. And, happy to say, the places to stop for a break are becoming more frequent… although we are already tiring of gas station fare for the majority of our calorie intake. Our 104km day ended in Grand Rapids, with our motel fortuitously placed next to a movie theatre– meaning we finally got to see Inside Out! Great movie, but unexpectedly moving; my mom cried for most of it and we especially loved the ending. Beyond that, even had time to do some laundry and dine on a terrace in a “fine restaurant” including real (non-plastic) utensils and cloth napkins.

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Day 31 Fosston-Cass Lake, MN

Today’s 100km ride was punctuated by several gas station snack breaks– nothing too noteworthy. I never thought I would be so happy to see real trees again, but I am! We’re out of the prairies for now, which is good. We’re starting to go by a lot more water and lakes, getting closer to the Great Lakes.

Tonight we’re staying at a hotel connected to a pretty run down casino; can you say ‘experience’? We’ve noticed that this place is covered in entertaining signs, so I’ve included a few in the pictures. Few will find them as funny as we did. We had a huge, not very delicious dinner for $10 total. As bad as it was, who can complain for $10.

We’re officially half way through the trip in distance and time: 31 days totalling 2,750km! It feels like we have most of the trip behind us, but we’re not done yet! We are still working towards our goal of $15,000 to fund operations at Katcham School for one year. Even though our trip will end at some point, the need for schools and funding in the remote, post-conflict regions where UWS works has no end in sight. If you are still reading this, thank you– and as entertaining as it may be to live vicariously through us as we fumble our way across the continent, please remember the reason we’re doing this, and spread the word!

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Day 30 Crookston-Fosston

I fell asleep very early last night, forgetting to do my blog post for the day, apologies!

It wasn’t a very exciting day but we’re starting to come out of the flat prairies, which makes riding a bit more interesting.

We had a pretty easy 75km with rolling hills. We arrived pretty early and went to eat at the local grill, not restaurant, as they call it here. I’ve pretty much been having burgers most nights as there aren’t many other options. I’m not complaining, yet! On the topic of food, something I’ve noticed in pretty much every gas station is this machine that makes milkshakes or smoothies for you on the spot. Pretty weird but a good idea nonetheless.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Cass Lake– a good 110km further down highway 2. It’s definitely getting easier to appreciate and notice that we’re not completely in the middle of nowhere anymore. There are more and more places to stop in between destinations and we don’t need to worry as much about carrying enough water and food.

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Day 29 Grand Forks-Crookston

We’ve made it to Minnesota, although, sadly, there was no welcome sign upon crossing the border into the state. This is something I’ve been looking forward to when crossing province and state boundaries; Minnesota, you’ve let me down. It was a very, very quick 2 hour 40km ride today. Other excitement included meeting an 79-year-old man who is walking across the US for his 7th time?! What…pretty cool.

We got here and had nothing to do, so decided to head over to the Wal-Mart across the highway–pretty exciting. We got some food for lunch and upgraded our toiletry bag, which was formerly a ziplock bag. My mom had her call and I took a two-hour nap. How else would I spend my time?

We saved the nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner and headed over. It was pretty delicious. We finished off the meal with popsicle from the vending machine in the motel–our exciting lives!

My mom thought it would be a good idea to flip my tires as the back one is wearing out faster than the front, just because of the weight of the load. This would mean going through the process of changing two flats, without changing the tubes, just switching the tires. Basically, this meant a lot of work. I deflated a whole tire (which takes about 15 min to pump up), before my mom yelled oh my gosh what are you doing. I then had to explain to her that it wasn’t as easy as flipping the wheels, you had to take them a part and just flip the tires. After she realized this, we decided we would wait. I then, of course, had to pump up the totally deflated tire, which was a blast (no pun intended).

Tomorrow we’re riding to Fosston, MN, 75km South East of here. It should be a pretty easy ride so, luckily, a late start is in order.

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Day 28 Grand Forks Rest Day

A day in the life of a rest day: do nothing. We are usually staying on the outskirts of town and it’s hard to get to civilization. I’ve noticed most of the cities we go to have the bigger chains and well-known hotels and restaurants right on the highway, outside of town for people stopping in for the night. It’s very interesting to see. Today, for example, I got to sleep in until 11, which was heavenly. We then left the road-side motel and gas station part of town and cycled about 10km through the university to the inner part of the city. We were aiming for a Starbucks, which we found. It happened to be right next to a movie theatre so we spontaneously decided to go for a movie. We were debating whether to watch Inside Out or Train Wreck; we decided on Train Wreck because it was starting then and we didn’t have to wait another two hours. It was ok, it had it’s funny parts.

After the movie we continued aimlessly cycling around, stopped for some lunch and decided to take a wander around Target. Of course it was then time for another Starbucks. We wandered the aisles trying to think of things we could actually use that were small enough to carry: shocker, nothing. We ended up buying some new face soap, which we were out of, and dinner: a bag of salad. Honestly, I never thought I would be able to get sick of junk food. Now, being able to eat literally whatever I want, I’m sick of it and we’re only a month into the trip!

I’ve finished two more audiobooks, A Man Called Ove, about a funny, grumpy, old man. It was very sweet and heart warming–would definitely recommend it! I then started The Girl with All the Gifts but didn’t like it much so I moved on to Paperweight, which I’ve since finished. I’m now listening to All the Bright Places, which is entertaining as of right now.

Tomorrow we’re heading 40km down the road to Crookston, MN. My mom has a work call, so we had to cut the day in half in order to get there on time.

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Day 27 Minot-Grand Forks

First of all, I want to start by saying a huge thank you to Garrett, who graciously saved us from the 40km/hr+ wind today! We left Minot getting stuck in the State Fair parade, which left us taking about 500 wrong turns before getting on the correct highway. Once on the highway, we weren’t really on it; we kept on getting pushed off into the gravel by the crazy wind! We pulled over to a rest area about 30km in and I tried to open the door to the washrooms, but it was so incredibly windy I could barely get the door open and left the lady in an onlooking car laughing.

Later in the ride the highway curved and we turned, pretty much directly, into the lunatic wind. We decided that this wasn’t in any way safe, we were going to fall, or worse, if we kept going. We decided to try our luck at hitch hiking, once again. Lucky for us, the second or third car stopped and Garrett offered to drop us in Grand Forks. It’s crazy how there can be so much kindness found in complete strangers! We had a great ride filled with interesting conversation and a stop at Starbucks. We learned lots of things about North Dakota and Minnesota, like the fact that North Dakota is boring and flat and even more boring but Minnesota is much more exciting.

Probably the most exciting part of today was the fact that Garrett was transporting a giant shopping cart! We had no idea what it was at first, but when we were told it was totally obvious. There are many pictures below, because yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.

We’re currently about 10km from the border of Minnesota. We will have a rest day here in Grand Forks tomorrow as the wind isn’t supposed to have died down yet. After that we will head onward to the East. The big excitement of the tomorrow will involve doing a load of laundry.

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Day 26 Kenmare-Minot

The highlight of today was, most definitely, the pizza dinner. It was the most delicious pizza, we both agreed, we’ve had in a while. We’re staying at a B&B in the city of Minot, and we’ve learned that the North Dakota State Fair is being hosted here-starting today!

We had a pretty eventless ride today- rolling hills entering what I believe is the Red River Valley (thank you Socials 10?). The best road side signs I think we saw today riding into Minot read (on the left): ‘Dirt for sale, call here’ and (on the right): ‘Dirt wanted, call to sell.’ It was quite comical and we had a nice laugh rolling into town.

Tomorrow we’re headed 100km to the small town of Rugby. There are supposed to be westerly winds of up to 40km/hr! Hopefully they help us rather than hurt us!

We’ve gotten good at finding foods with the most calories (since we burn 4,000+ per day); I would hope this skill doesn’t continue once we’re done with this trip! At just one gas station stop today I ate a whole burrito, bag of chips, pack of mini doughnuts, and an iced tea! Obviously, there isn’t much choice when it comes to food. Let’s just say, once school starts up again, I won’t be craving junk food very often as I would have had 1000x my share of it this summer!

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Day 25 Estevan-Kenmare

Lucky for us, it ended up not storming today. We cycled through rolling hills and fields of cattle right up until the US border crossing. We met a very, very cute puppy at the crossing and because of that had to extend our stop to play for a few minutes. Five minutes past the border, we were, once again, riding through the middle of nowhere.

Big excitement (more of an annoyance): the Sherriff stopped us right after entering the US! He told us we couldn’t ride on the road, which had barely any traffic, and that we had to ride on the shoulder. My mom pointed out that there was no shoulder, and he responded saying we then needed to ride on the gravel. I was very annoyed about this because riding on gravel with our bikes is near impossible. Welcome to America (not)!

We stopped in the shade off the highway for a few minutes and I happily lay down, ate, and relaxed for a little bit. My knee has really started bothering me the last couple days so I need to stretch more often whilst riding.

Tomorrow we are headed to the city of Minot, South East of Kenmare, where we’re staying tonight. It’s only about a 90km ride and hopefully mostly flat. May the wind be at our backs!

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Day 24 Weyburn-Estevan

We left earlier than expected this morning when the weather, which predicted thunderstorms, suddenly changed. We didn’t think we would make it in time before it started pouring, but we did- it also never started pouring. Tomorrow is supposed to be even worse- we probably won’t be able to avoid the rain, and that’s ok, it’s the lighting we’re more worried about. I actually quite enjoy riding in the rain.

We are 2,000km into our trek across the continent for Katcham School. It seems so surreal. I would have never guessed, even a little over a year ago, that this is what I would be doing this summer. It’s already taught me more lessons and skills than I would have ever imagined knowing or understanding.

In 2000, the UN set forth sustainable development goals in hope of beginning to solve some of the world’s biggest and toughest issues. The goals expire this year and will be renewed in September. Those goals cannot be achieved by governments alone; people need to get involved, understand, and want to strive for a better world. Education is a big part of the cyclical dilemma of poverty. Although we’ve already almost raised enough money for one school for one single school year, this only makes a dent in the over-arching problem. People need to take action in order for change to come. Inspired by these goals, I feel my fundraising goal should be raised. I feel that these children of Katcham School should be supported. Every child should be supported in education, but this is a place to start. School by school, year by year, this problem can be cured, but not without the help of the world and a reliance on stable, strong, loyal acts of determination and empathy.

A specific goal pertaining to education is as follows: “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This strongly connects to my belief that it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, who you are, or what you want to do, everyone should be given the opportunity to pursue what they want. For many, education factors into that. I, personally, love to learn, and I cannot comprehend how a child, who is in so many ways similar to me, wouldn’t be given that right, just because they were unluckily born somewhere that didn’t offer it. I am riding to raise awareness and funds for these problems. More importantly, I want to help give that right to others whose lives and circumstances can be changed for the better with the aid of education.

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Day 23 Moose Jaw-Weyburn

The start to our day, at 7/11, included meeting a REAL cowboy, again. He talked to us for about an hour about his life, which seemed totally normal to him but crazy to us! He told us how he had rescued two wolves, when hunting, as pups, and raised them as dogs that he now had on his farm. He also talked about how he vacations every year for a month by riding a chuck wagon with his family through the prairies!

We rode 150km today and it was flatter than I had ever imagined it could/would get. We finished pretty quickly probably averaging 25km/hr or more. We had nice cloud cover and the heat and wind held out on us. Technically this was he longest day of the trip, distance wise, but it definitely didn’t feel like it!

We talked to lots of people today, as many asked what we were doing and why on earth we were in SK. If you’ve ever seen the show Corner Gas, a very, very Canadian show, you might recognize some of today’s pictures! We cycled through the town that it’s filmed in, so it was neat to see all of the movie sets that are in the tiny community. When we were coming into that same town I saw more pick ups truck than I had ever seen in my life. They, probably close to a thousand of them, lined the highway. We were able to hear an auction going on in the distance with some farm equipment so it must have been a pretty big farmer event!

There have been lots of storms here at night. Luckily we’ve always gotten to our destination just in time and missed them; we shall see how that luck holds up!

I’ve started to get less sore at the end of rides. This may be because I’m getting in better shape, or possibly just because it’s dead flat. My shoulders, oddly enough, have been the only things that are getting painful. I don’t know why, as it’s more the muscle underneath the arm. I will just wait and see how it progresses.

Tomorrow we are heading South 90km, our last full day in Canada for a while! It shouldn’t be a long ride so I get to sleep in a bit!

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Day 22 Moose Jaw Rest Day

We wandered around town a bit today and ate a lot of food, which, overall, made for a good day. We got some mandatory Moose Jaw souvenirs, and went to lunch, which involved milkshakes and deep-fried pickles, before having to come back to take a Netflix/nap break.

Our afternoon outing involved going to the post office to mail post cards (let me know if you would like one!), stopping by the local bike shop for supplies, and the drug store for food. We’ve observed that everything opens late here, even if their signs say otherwise. We watched the shop across the street open at 10:38am and it was closed by 4:40pm. Can you tell we don’t have much to do??

We purchased a frozen belated birthday cake from the drug store, as a way to extend festivities and ate the whole thing with spoons once arriving back to our room. We tried to do candles, but after putting them in the cake, we realized we had no lighter and preceded by pretending to blow out candles.

Tomorrow we have our longest, flattest day of the trip. We’re heading South East to Weyburn, which is 150km away. I’m very excited to see Mac the Moose, the world’s largest moose statue on our way out of town tomorrow morning. Check back for pictures tomorrow night!

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Day 21 Herbert-Moose Jaw

I want to apologize for the fact that this is late and that I didn’t post it yesterday; it was my birthday and all I really wanted to do was watch a solid few hours of Netflix and go to sleep, oops.

I pushed it a bit and convinced my mom to let me wake up at 6:30am to leave at 7am. I was happy to not have to wake up before it was even light out. At 7am, we were on our way. It was pretty much completely flat the whole way. Luckily we also, finally, had a bit of wind at our backs so were able to pick up our pace a bit. Around 40km in we had planned to stop in a small town that we were told had a gas station. We pulled over at the turn into the town, confused. There was no gas station to be seen. We cycled down the dirt main street, which consisted of a church, hair salon, and darts club. It was 9am on a Sunday morning and we didn’t see even one person. I felt like we had gone back in time to a deserted town. We finally found a nature centre closer to the highway, it was open so we went in. The only food they had was ice cream, so of course I settled on that for breakfast.

We continued riding, which seemed easy today, even though we had to go 130km. I was able to finish by audiobook,1984,– which had a very abrupt and bad ending if you ask me. I started a new one, A Man Called Ove, which had been pretty good so far.

We stopped for lunch at a small cafe right off the highway. It took more than an hour to get out food but it was nice to take a bit of a break. The second half of the ride went quite quickly and we soon found ourselves in the great city of moose jaw! My love for moose had promoted my mom, a couple of weeks ago, unbeknownst to me, to call the hotel and ask if they could get a cake with a moose on it for my birthday. When we got there, they brought a slice of cake with cups of chocolate mousse on the side. Once we put the misunderstanding together we laughed quite a bit.

I spent the rest of the night happily watching Netflix. The next day would be a rest day and I slept in– so there was no real reason I had to get to bed early for once!

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Day 20 Swift Current-Herbert

Today was was planned out as an increadibly boring day, yet turned out to be extremely eventful. I got to sleep in, so I awoke very happily around 9am. We decided to leave later, around 12pm, in order to avoid a storm that was supposed to roll in later in the afternoon.

We departed our motel and went across the highway to the mall. We wandered around Walmart for a while, met a very cute dog, and purchased some new tire tubes, as we’ve had the bad luck of getting quite a few flats lately. My mom also decided that it would be a fabulous idea to buy a floor pump to strap to the back of her bike to make pumping up tires less tedious. Needless to say, three pumps and three stores later, she had a pump that didn’t work with our valves strapped on the back of her bike.

We spent the rest of the our time at the mall wandering around gawking at all the things we couldn’t buy because they were too heavy. We also ate some cupcakes in celebration of the fact that it’s my 16th birthday tomorrow and we may not see cake again for a little while.

Once leaving, the true excitement began. Not even 10km outside of town, my mom got a flat. This is the third one in three days! Every time it seems to be the same thing: a metal staple in the rear tire. It was really, really hot out so we took a while to change it. Another hour or two down the road (literally, it’s Highway 1, the TransCanada, the whole way), we could see a huge storm in the distance. We continued riding for a while, but then saw tons of lighting on three sides and the wind was seriously picking up. We decided the best option was to try to catch a ride. We were only 10km from Herbert, so it wasn’t too far. Lucky for us, the very first pick up truck we flagged down stopped and was kind enough to give us a lift a few minutes down the road. We got our bikes under cover the exact second it started to POUR. I had never seen a storm like this in my life. There was so much rain, hail, lighting and thunder; we were very lucky we got out of it!

I’m now sitting here in my newly purchased Saskatchewan fluffy pyjama bottoms, a very good gas station purchase, looking forward to sleep. Tomorrow we head onward 130km to Moose Jaw!! We have a rest day there, so I’m excited to do exactly that: rest. There are supposed to be thunderstorms again tomorrow afternoon, hopefully we make it there as we’re going to aim to leave around 7am.

My mom keeps asking me what I want for my birthday and how we can celebrate. It’s a bit odd to be having a birthday on the road like this just with my mom, no friends, in the middle of Saskatchewan. In the spirit of this ride I’ve decided it would be a good idea to tell people, when they ask me what I want for my birthday, to make a donation to United World Schools. This trip, more than anything, has shown me that material goods are so much less important than I had always thought. I don’t NEED anything more than what I’m carrying with me, but there are so many others, like the children at Katcham school who are in need of so much more.

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Day 19 Maple Creek-Swift Current

Whoever said that the prairies were flat lied. It was very hilly today, and since there are no trees and the roads seem to never end, it makes the hills look steeper than they really are. We had 145 km to do today. It was going to be hot too, 35 degrees. We woke up at 5am, I wasn’t very happy about that, and left at 6am.

We rode for a while but I started getting quite tired and fatigued. I tried to eat and drink more, but nothing seemed to help so I just kept riding and somehow got out of it a few more hours in.

I was able to finish the first audio book I’ve been listening to, All the Light We Cannot See, It was very good, I would strongly recommend it if you like less violent WWII reads. I then started 1984, which is excellent so far. I haven’t listened to audio books until now because it hasn’t been this boring! Mountains are nice to look at and keep changing, but prairies just keep going! I get through about half a book (7hrs of listening) a day, so if you have any recommendations, send them my way!

My mom met and talked to a man who was riding his BMW motorcycle in a circle around all of Canada, including the Yukon in Northern Canada, which is pretty cool; this is as pictured below.

It was very hot today and I had a little extra water in the Camelback. I learned that it’s really refreshing to pour a bit on you when you’re super hot, I’ll definitely keep doing that! Around 135km into our ride, again, we blew a flat 10km from our motel. I have the best luck. This is our 6th flat tire so far! I fixed it on the side of the road and we kept going for the last 10km.

We haven’t washed our clothes in about four days, and that doesn’t really work seeing as we only have two sets of clothes. When we got to our motel we hand washed them in the bathtub, which is always fun, and hung them to dry outside on some quite ‘alternative’ racks: a chair and our bikes.

Tomorrow, just because of mapping, we will only ride 45km. So luckily, I get to sleep in and we will go to the grocery store quickly before leaving.

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Day 18 Medicine Hat-Maple Creek

Saskatchewan, finally! We reached the border in around 50km. Some how, it was pretty easy riding and we got there in a little under two hours; the wind must have been at our backs, which we learned later that day was not always the case. We stopped off at the border. Of course I had to get some ice cream at 9am for breakfast. Some others cyclists came though, saw my ice cream, and decided it was a great idea, proceeding to get their own. Turns out that these three cyclists we met were also headed for the East Coast. As we started talking, Carol (from the night before) pulled up and it was a whole ‘gang.’ We all posed at the border sign and rode the rest of the way to Maple Creek.

The first 90km seemed easy and almost really enjoyable. It wasn’t until we turned off of the highway, to ride 10km into town, that it started to get hard and not very fun at all. We had TONS of wind coming directly at us and lots of hills. It felt like we weren’t even moving. I was pretty much ready to throw my bike into the field with the cows and walk back to Vancouver. Of course, the one thing you need when you’re frustrated like this is a flat tire; that is exactly what we got, a mere 2km from our motel for the night. I was mad, hot, annoyed, and frustrated but, somehow, managed to change the tire.

In ‘town’ we ate dinner and hunted for toothpaste and sunscreen: two obvious necessities. Apparently we were staying in the oldest building in SK, who knew? I was very, very tired and went to bed around 8pm, without wifi.

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Day 17 Brooks-Medicine Hat

Waking up was hard today, which made the day start out every slowly. I think I’m just exhausted. I’m sleeping 8+ hours everyday, which probably still isn’t enough! Last night we bought some sandwiches at the gas station across the road. I had the choice between a fried chicken sandwich or wrap (!) not much else.

It was a 110km ride into the big city of Medicine Hat. This time, I don’t say that sarcastically, it’s a pretty decent sized city. We were utilizing Warm Showers for the first time tonight. It’s a programme where other cyclists from the touring community put you up for the night; we didn’t really know what to expect, but were happy to be out of motels for a night!

There wasn’t much between Brooks and Medicine Hat; we stopped off at a tiny, and when I say tiny I mean one ‘shop’ off of a dirt road, town for lunch. We met some friendly truckers as well. They asked us about our trip and basically told us we were crazy, yet they see a lot of people doing this.

Although it was a long day of riding in the heat, we arrived at 4pm. Doug (our Warm Showers host) was lovely– he offered us drinks, snacks and it was great to talk to him about the route, our bikes, and touring in general. Carol, who passed us going down Roger’s Pass, was also getting graciously hosted by Doug. We she arrived, we talked a bit, ate a big dinner and then headed out on the town for a tour. Fun fact, Medicine Hat has the largest teepee in the world. The prairies have a lot of the largest things, I guess they have the room! A red, smoky sunset was also a part of the tour. There have been a lot of fires up North and the winds bring the smoke south.

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Day 16 Bassano-Brooks

I was so happy to wake up this morning. One, because I got to sleep in until 8:30am, and two, because we only had 50km to ride today. I had a fun time burning, and then cooking waffles in the waffle iron for breakfast. All food tastes really good these days; that’s probably because I’m just always hungry. I love food.

We rode over to Brooks in a quick two and a half hours, including a food break on the side of the highway. We rode past fields of cows and oil rigs. I had always known Alberta connected to oil but had never realized we would be riding through oil country. It was funny to see how in fields filled with cattle and (adorable) baby cows, there were also such industrial rigs.

We got to Brooks at around 1pm and (literally) ran across the highway to Boston Pizza for a very Canadian lunch. What we didn’t realize is that we should have saved the ‘good’ restaurant for dinner as all we were left with for dinner was McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Tim Horton’s. If you’re interested, we settled on Wendy’s for dinner. We were the only ones in the whole place and were able to witness a big fight go down between a man and the manager: our very exciting road life!!!

We popped over to the gas station and picked up some food for the road tomorrow as well. There are no towns between here and Medicine Hat, 110km away. I’m very happy because I get to sleep in until 6:45am tomorrow, which seems royal these days. I love sleep; as you can see in the pictures I took a nice long nap when we got here today. I might have to sort out a way to take highway-side snoozes.

Another exciting part of today was getting interviewed by a local reporter and a radio host. I had no idea Brooks was such a big town!

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Day 15 Calgary-Bassano

We said goodbye to my dad this morning before heading on our way again at 6am. It was COLD out in Calgary. The day before it had been 25 degrees, so we were surprised to wake up and it be 8. This is the coldest weather we had encountered so far. We took out our warm gear and bundled up.

Leaving the city we got lost quite a bit. We ended up having to make a few circles and carefully maneuvered our bikes down the very steep bank of a river to the bike path. With all of this, our first 30km took us around 3 hours, not too speedy at all.

I had heard that the flats are the hardest part of the trip, and I didn’t believe that until today. Yes, prairie is flat, but it’s also, very windy, smelly, and incredibly boring. Today we rode 150km into head wind. It was very, very hard. The weight of our bags seemed way more than usual so that didn’t help anything either.

We are getting to the part of the country were there are no towns except for where we stop at night. I’ve had to plan stops according to where there’s accommodation, not so much mileage anymore. We rode from Calgary to Bassano today, 150km, and there was one, very run down, gas station. That was it. We carried 4 extra litres of water in bladders, because that’s our biggest worry: keeping enough water. Almost comically, one of the bladders broke in my mom’s bike bag so everything was soaked though. We got it dry, but a bit of a bummer.

We had a good dinner at the truck stop across from our motel, quite adventurous! My mom has started to realize that there may not be too many vegetarian options for her here in the mid-west area! Tomorrow we head to Brooks, a mere 50km. We had to break it up this way because it’s the only town between here and Medicine Hat, and Medicine Hat is too far for a one-day trip. Hopefully I get to sleep in a bit in the morning, we’ll see if my mom is feeling generous!

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Day 14 Calgary Rest Day

Today was another boring day of rest in Calgary. It’s nice to have a boring day for once, but also weird not riding. I’ve realized how much I’m starting to enjoy having something to do everyday. We picked up our bikes from getting tuned up today. We had to have our chains and back cassettes replaced as they had already worn away. Shocking how fast that happened.

We spend the rest of the afternoon watching the Women’s World Cup final; it really was a crazy game. I almost thought it wasn’t real, I mean, that many goals is a joke in such little time.

Tomorrow we ride off again, cycling 145km to Bassano, a very tiny town South East of Calgary. Back to lovely 5am wake-ups. Obviously, I’m very excited. For once I’m not anticipating big hills, so a lot less to worry about. Tomorrow should be pretty much flat and downhill the whole way.

Sorry rest days are pretty uneventful, we try to make them that way! Back to more exciting blogs with pictures and stories tomorrow!