To date: 1,449km
To go: 6,351km
You know it’s going to be a good day when you wake up, eat breakfast, promptly forget you have eaten breakfast and stop for a second breakfast. We stopped at the PetroCanada restaurant and had some pretty standard breakfast food – bunwich for me – and were on our way…
Everyday just seems to get hotter – and somehow we just seem to make the best of it and ride on anyway. Alex always rides ahead of me and he came up with the idea today to set up a tent for some shade during our breaks – since I am so slow, all I have to do is show up! It’s not quite the same as an air-conditioned restaurant to hide in, or a lake to cool off in – but it does the trick.
We had been told a couple of times that we should do a detour to Elk Water – a bit of a glacial anomaly apparently. I guess the glacier split and went around this one area leaving spruce trees and thick forest reminiscent of BC – and a glorious lake so far unheard of elsewhere in the prairies. The idea of going swimming at the end of the day was enough to sway me off course. We were hoping to find an alternate route East from Elk Water, but as we soon discovered all other routes were unpaved so for the sake of our bikes, we decided the next day we would just retrace our route back to the Trans Canada.
It was a hard day of riding to Elk Water – hills and heat were not a good combo. By the time we got there we were both entirely brain dead but yet somehow not suffering from heat stroke. As soon as we saw the water, we dropped our bikes and jumped in. The lake was teeming with tiny shrimp – Alex got excited by this because he has been carrying his fishing rod in hopes of catching dinner one night – and I guess this was a good sign! I however did not appreciate them quite so much – somehow one got stuck in my tank top and I swear it bit me!
We set up shop near the beach – I got the jet boil out for tea, and Alex checked over our bikes to make sure they were running smooth. We see a car pull up and we both immediately notice what seems to be a serious biker get out. We later learn that this is Anas – a Cross Canada cyclist I had been talking to on Facebook! What a strange coincidence meeting him completely off the main route! He is there with a family he is staying with – he has quite a unique talent finding places to stay – in reality I suppose it is very simple – he just meets people and asks if he can stay with them! What a wonderful family he has found this time – the woman has epilepsy and due to her medications has not been able to have kids of her own – so instead she finds people in the community – or from afar – and embraces them with open arms. This is what she has done with Anas. Such genuine warmth and caring you do not often see in strangers.
Anas goes off to eat and Alex and I ride around looking for a ‘free’ place to pitch our tents. We spot a dirt trail into the woods and opt for flat section of grass hidden among the trees. I am positive we are going to be spotted and kicked out. Especially when our little group of two widens out into three tents as Anas joins us. Since the mosquitoes make it unbearable to socialize outside, everyone gathers in my tent (the largest) to drink beer and swap tales of the road.
Anas asks us what we have been eating: “oatmeal, nuts, coucous, try to eat some greens, be sort of healthy” I reply, “what about you?”
without missing a beat, Anas seriously replies “A&W”
We all roar with laughter.