Saturday, August 16, 2014

Crashing, Enjoying Smithers, and Shameless Plugs, August 15-17

The Yellowhead Highway took us east into Smithers around 8 pm on Friday night.  We called up Debbie and Lothar, the folks we had contacted on warmshowers.  If you're not familiar wih it already, warmshowers is an online community for cycle tourists.  Tourists stay with hosts, then the hosts stay with other hosts while touring themselves.  If you're at all interested in having adventurous people of all ages and nationalities stay with you, sign up on!  No, you don't have to be a cyclist to host people.  (That's shameless plug #1)
The folks we stayed with in Whitehorse were amazingly friendly and welcoming, and we found Lothar and Debbie to be just as wonderful.  They invited us right in, and we had a great time hanging out with them and their dinner guests at their informal Friday get-together.  And we were able to experience Debbie's amazing cooking!  Great people.  Next year, they will be beginning their own bike trip to Argentina!  We look forward to sharing with them our stories and favorite places from down the road.
 Debbie and Lothar

The next morning we headed off to the farmer's market.  No bag necessary, we're just getting some veggies.  This is how that turned out:
That's kale and a giant zucchini strapped to my rear rack.  Both our handlebar bags were overflowing as well with bread, jam, and more local veggies.  What can I say? We love farmer's markets and will definitely bring a bag next time.
We then headed to the bike shop.  I needed to replace my chain, having ridden over 3000 miles without changing it, and I ended up getting a new cassette and handlebar tape as well.  Tam got a new chain and tape, too.  Oh, and we had to fix this:
  Very bent chainring on my bike

The day before, I had gone over to slap a sign on the side of the road (why not?) and spun out and fell in the gravel shoulder.  Tam was behind me and hit me as I fell, then she fell too.  Thankfully nothing was broken on either of our bikes except this chainring, and out of the two of us only I lost a little bit of skin on my knee.  Lesson learned.  I won't be attempting to high-five road signs any more (if you're curious, I did hit the sign).  The bike shop eventually led across the street to the cupcake shop, where I bought a bunch of small yet delicious treats for the two of us and our bike mechanic, Dave.
Dave took extra time to show us exactly what he was doing and how we could do it ourselves.  If you are ever in Smithers, go to C.O.B. Cycles and have a chat with or get your bike fixed by Dave!  He's also a world champion in kickboxing, definitely not your average joe. (That's shameless plug #2)
From the bike shop, we headed back "home" and sent some emails, wrote postcards, etc.  Then that night, with some contributions from Tam, Debbie cooked up the most incredible dinner for a friend's birthday.  She even baked a lemon poppyseed cake and made two types of lemon frosting!  What a cook she is!  She would tell you she's not a baker, but I would say she is quite a good baker!
Falafel, salad, chicken, the giant zucchini filled and baked, potatoes, tzatziki sauce...

The beautiful and delicious cake, candles ready to be blown out

Instead of heading out early today, we made pancakes for Lothar and Debbie, packed our stuff, then met up with their friend Dave (different Dave, not the bike mechanic).  Dave is in a wheelchair after an accident many years ago and cannot drive, so we drove him up the mountain (in his wheelchair-outfitted van) to the end of the road, where he wanted to hang out in the mountain air and sunshine.  The end of the road is also the trailhead for a popular, short hike to a crystal clear alpine lake, so we hiked while Dave hung out.  The hike brought us quickly above treeline, an expansive view for under a kilometer of effort.  
And the lake really was pristine.  Even though it was very cold, we, of course, went for a quick, refreshing swim.

It was bittersweet to be back on our bikes again after the good times in Smithers.  Sad to say goodbye, as always with friends new and old, but good to be back traveling, free, on no schedule but our own.  We biked about 30 miles then camped next to a lake close to the road.  It's a day use area, but there are no signs that prohibit camping, so here we are!

On a totally unrelated note, our friends Jess and Ricky, who we cycled with for a few days, have entered a competition to win money to donate to their charity of choice.  They asked me to vote for them, which I gladly did.  If you have an extra moment and would like to help them out, copy this link into your browser (sorry, I can't do hyperlinks from the phone) and vote for them too!  It takes maybe 30 seconds.
(That's shameless plug #3. I'm done.)

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