Friday, August 26, 2011

Fooled you!, Suprise ending!


Riding through the plains has been tough on us mentally and physically.  Most of the time we have had the dreaded headwinds keeping us from breaking any land speed records.  The treeless, rolling hills have their own beauty but that got old for us pretty quick.   Throughout a day we have many phases of our own energy levels.  We have experimented a lot with several different (legal) ways of giving us that extra boost we need throughout the day.  Most of the time we just need something new, cool, fresh and exciting to get our spirits going.  Often times this ends up in the form of a milkshake.  After a tall cold milkshake in a small town diner I am instantly ready to crank out another 20 30 miles no problem.  We have decided that for us to really give us the boost we need for the rest of the trip though we would need something else.  A full slow morning had a thinking hard of the possibilities.  We again needed the something new, cool, fresh and exciting to kick start us for the last leg or legs of our summer.  Brad had the idea of getting a puppy.  We could start it out in a handlebar basket and train it to tour with us, it would also double as great kitchen clean up and a bear alarm.  Mary (being the slightly more practical one) thought up a surprise ending to our trip.  We tossed a coin and Mary still said no to the puppy idea.  So here is the NEW and hopefully Final plan... We are turning south.  From Lethbridge, Alberta we are going southbound to Glacier national park in our home country of the United States. (finally Payday candy bars will be available again)  Then we are going on a National park tour home, through Yellow Stone, and Grand Teton.  Probably spend a couple days with all our friends in Jackson hole Wyoming (where we both worked as river guides last year) then through Logan and onto Salt Lake city.  Whew there it is. We chose this for many reasons, but really we wanted to see some good friends.  From Salt Lake we will probably only stick around for a few days, then we are driving to our original destination of Alaska.  Then we have to get real, find jobs quick before we have to sell a kidney and start our new Alaskan lives.  We are super excited about this plan, riding through some epic country, and ending hopefully with a warm welcome from friends (preferably with food and hugs)  We have already pedaled more than 5300 miles which is more than most other cross Canada tours, so I do want to stress that we are not cheating, or quiting early, just continuing to make this trip our own, and the best.  Since making this route change our spirits have been at nose-bleeding altitudes and our daydreams of riding the homestretch are storybook.  Hope to see you all soon.
\brad was so excited to reach Alberta he crack climbed up the sign!

This guy saw us riding in the heat in Medicine Hat and invited us to take shelter at his house- including great meals, laundry, a bed for the night, AND he tuned up our bikes! Thanks Doug!

little tent on the prairie...

While riding through Taber we couldnt turn down signs for a cornfest! We showed up and the locals gave us free corn, elephant ears, and cold bottles of water. A fest worth stopping for!

we got the first ears of the festival!

everyone says they are riding for some cause, we are riding for a marraige :)

B-rad working on some of his tricks.

this is mary trying to put on a positive face for the constant headwinds...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saskatchewan- hard to spell, easy to draw...

We are well into to Plains- for the last week we have been biking through Saskatchewan- we've had lots more adventures, and met some great people who have infused some energy back into us. We camped through a severe thunder and lighting storm in which Mary was sure we would be struck and killed, battled some intense headwinds (only getting 26 miles one day) and been invited to stranger's houses for a warm shower, a bed, and a good meal. We have been magically surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies, and biked along endless amber waves of grain. My favorite part of our prairie rides? The skies. Always big and full of majestic clouds- even though the plains can be boring at times, they have a beauty that we are learning to appreciate after weeks of being a part of them. 

A birds eye view of our typical camp kitchen, with the special extra of an occasional picnic table.

i was a sunflower once for halloween, so i feel right at home.

just keep adding up those miles!!!

Ron, our friend we met in Regina, fed us a delicious meal and had a pretty complete bike shop in his garage! What a great place to stop!

sometimes stealthy campsites are hard to find on the plains, so this wide open field was all we could find.

Brad making friends with the locals and showing the effects of his 'no shaving on the trip' experiement.
Up next, Alberta!!! Keep following, we love to hear that people are still keeping track of us now and then!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Route changes and flat roads


Our previous post stated that our plan was to keep heading west and end at Prince Rupert, British Columbia, then take a ferry to our final destination of Alaska.  This also came with a predicted timeline of 5 weeks left (now 4).  This has all changed.  As it turns out you must be a millionaire to take the ferry even with just a bike.  So we did some heavy thinking and looked over some maps, we have talked about some options and have become very big fans of google maps.  Anyways we are pulling out the Gnarly card and pushing it on up to Alaska the old fashioned way, by road.  Furthermore we couldn't stand the thought of doing all this sight seeing and then saving a couple days by going around Banff and Jasper National parks, so we are headed through to Calgary then up through the parks and north to Alaska.  From where we are now that's about 2200 miles to go.  We have been averaging over 400 a week (450 mostly but lets round down because we have big mountains ahead) and so this will be about 5 and a half weeks till we are in the final frontier.  Once back on US soil I don't know how much further we will pedal or maybe call it good enough because after all the blog is only called canada2ak and not throughAK. 
     I myself am feeling the effects of a ton of biking, and little rest.  My body is pretty tired and sometimes it is tough to keep going.  I don't like to admit this but its true.  I don't have thoughts of really quiting or giving up, but I do daydream of sleeping in a bed for a week straight.  We have come over 4600 miles so far and the whole trip has already been the most amazing time of my life, however I think I am beginning to mentally wind down and its getting tough sometimes to keep motivated.  I also blame a ton of this on the newly discovered flatness of the roads.  We were originally really excited for the prairies because we thought flat roads would cruise by easily.  Not the case.  The flatness turns it into more of a treadmill.  There is no variation and you just keep pushing all day long.  Its been tough and I know its going to get harder before its easier but I am already excited for the rocky mountains.  Anyways, I hope this doesn't come off as complaining, or negative, because we are still having amazing experiences and still excited about the trip, but we are human and getting a little worn down.... it must be old age kicking in.
video     Yesterday we beat our long distance record again and rode from sunrise to sunset rocking out a cool 128 miles.  That got us to a campground right outside of Brandon.  Brymar RV and Campground, we were super tired and it was getting dark when we pulled in but the owner Bryan took us to the best site and filled us full of firewood and made sure we were all taken care of.  He just opened the place a month ago and has a really nice place going but not many campers yet, So if your in the area and need a place to stay the night this guy will make you feel as though your family, another golden Canadian.  -By Brad

We rode a little corner of Minnesota for three reasons.  We were only allowed 3 months of being in Canada at one time.  It was shorter. And Mary really was craving a Payday candy bar which is not available in Canada.

Customs into Minnesota put us through the ringer, emptied all of our bags and drilled us hard to spill the beans.  The customs officer wouldn't even let us take her picture..... and after all that all they confiscated was a bell pepper.

This is what happens to drivers who don't give bike tourist enough room when there is no shoulder.

This is a FLATTERING picture of the road

Mama bear with 4 cubs, only 3 cubs would pose for the picture though, you can BEARly see them

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a Superior ride

Well, the last few weeks have been busy- we biked up along the north coast of Lake Superior- the largest freshwater lake in the world! And biking on the longest national highway in the world. Pretty exciting. Lots of coastline, lots of hills, and lots of interesting people to see along the way! We hit 4000 miles and the three month mark this past week, and mapped out a potential route to Prince Rupert (on the west coast of B.C.).We decided that in case cold comes before we want it to, and so that we are not rushed for the second half of our trip, we will head to Prince Rupert and probably take the ferry up to alaska, unless we get an unusually warm fall! According to our calculations, should be there in about 5 weeks! WOW!



Met this guy- Jean- he's finishing up an 11 year walk around the world! pretty amazing guy, worth stopping to talk to! check him out at wwwalk.org



seems like every break we take nowadays, i just want to nap!

another interesting friend- this guy is running across canada, to promote awareness of prostate cancer- guys- go get checked- one finger can save your life! :) www. stepintoaction.ca


Frank, our warmshowers host in Thunder Bay- awesome guy! they had a huge BBQ full of cyclists at his place- made us want to stay longer!

the Fisk fmaily we met at church in Atikokan, the caoeing capital of canada. Pretty awesome people who fed us garden fresh food and gave us a bed and great company! Its so fun to meet new friends every day!
Well, so we are still making our way west, heading toward Winnipeg and beyond, still having lots of adventures!! Stay Tuned!!