In 2 months, I took the train from Ottawa, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I stopped in Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton between. After I crossed the border into the US on a bus from Montreal, I arrived back in New York City's Penn Station at 04:00 AM. I assembled my bike, and I rode through Manhattan to Brooklyn--crossing the East River over the Manhattan Bridge.
I stayed in Brooklyn for a week, then caught the Greyhound to Miami--stopping for a week each in Asheville, Atlanta, and Orlando to visit friends & family.
Next week, I board a plane back to Chile. This winter holiday, I take my long-awaited journey to the south of Chile in Patagonia!
After a month in Vancouver, I rode the train to Edmonton, bussed to Calgary, hitch-hiked to BANFF, and then hit the rails again to Toronto & Ottawa. I'll be here in Ottawa for a week, then I take the rails up to Montreal, Qubec, and Halifax.
Vancouver & BANFF have been the highlight of my Canadian journey so-far.
If you can manage to find free rent in Vancouver (it's legal to erect an overnight tent on public property in all of British Colombia, per BC Supreme Court), you will find it to be a very cheap place to travel. The city's cycling, beaches, people, discount fruit, free events, and near-by hiking are great. For a $30 bus, you can take touring bike & all your gear up to Whistler, and ride the 120km Sea-to-Summit highway in reverse, descending the 600m from mountains to the sea, which is a beautiful & easy 2-day ride--but don't forget the bear spray.
We awoke to the sound of a marmot under our mini-van shelter atop Hatcher Pass. It was my last weekend in Alaska, and S wanted to take me outside the Anchorage bowl--where I've been living the past month. We ate breakfast as we gazed upon the snow-capped mountains in the distance, then grabbed our packs and climbed up to the ridgeline, stopping to appreciate the fine view of Mount Denali--the highest peak in North America.
I hosted S as a couchsurfer in my temporary "apartment" in Anchorage, but we initially met in an online form; we were both searching for a travel companion to split the cost on a ship from Anchorage, AK to Vancouver, BC.
3 months ago, S left her office job in Zürich, flew to Vancouver, and bought a mini-van named Bourbon. Living in Bourbon, she drove through BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and west into Alaska. I hosted her a few times when she passed south through Anchorage down to Homer, then again West to Valdez. Our last weekend in Alaska, we took one last trip outside Anchorage before she sold Bourbon
After climbing down from the ridgeline above Hatcher's Pass, we drove through the valley down a long gravel road to the Reed Lakes trailhead. 4 miles and much climbing later, we arrived at the most pristine, glacier-fed lake I've ever seen. A local told us it's the best lake in Alaska, and that the glacier that fed this lake (just over the ridgleine) was called "bomber glacier", as a crashlanded (world war 2?) bomber plane could be found atop the glacier. If we had more time, gear, and food, it would make a glorious multi-day weekend hike to Bomber Glacier--perhaps for my next visit to Alaska.
I've been living with my friend in the SF Bay Area for the past month. I'm writing this from a cozy, finished room in the corner of a large, leaky warehouse hosting a datacenter and massive library of books in Richmond, CA. The building is owned by a nonprofit library that digitizes books and makes them available online, and my friend has become something of its caretaker while in school.
Last weekend, on my friend's Spring Break, I went on my first bicycle tour in over a year. From the Bay Area, we took a train down to San Luis Obispo, and started riding ~300 miles along highway 1, through Big Sur, back to San Francisco. It was a trying journey--both physically & emotionally, but also really really really beautiful. And I needed the Vitamin D. But I could have been spared the Poison Oak and sunburn...
The SF Bay Area is always a great place to be. It was great to spend time with Friends & Family I hadn't seen since I moved from Berkeley to travel the world over a year ago. I'd like to stay longer, but there's still so much of the world to see. The weather is getting warmer, and Canada is calling!
Saturday morning I plan to wake up at the crack of dawn, load up my bicycle, and ride ~80 miles to Sacramento before Sunday evening. I'll spend a week staying with a new friend in Sacramento, then I'll be going up to Eugene, where I'll be staying with a friend at the Lost Valley Eco Village.
I'm on a train pulling into New Orleans on Mardi Gras, and the conductor informs us that the streets will be so grid-lock with traffic from the Endymion parade that we won't be able to leave the Amtrak station.
3 hours later, I manage to traverse the 10 miles down-river to the lower 9th ward, where I'm pitching my tent for $15 a day, less than a football field away from the levy that broke in 2005. When I unlatch the front gate and enter, I find a maze of a few dozen tents and a mix of mostly dirty, white travelers in their late 20s. In the middle is an unfinished, 3-story structure. Many long-timers here are doing a work-exchange building it. Much of the wood was dumpstered, needing nails removed.
After settling into my new tent city, I roll my fully-loaded bicycle into the grocery store and start hunting for nuts & bread. I fill my water bottle & go to checkout. The cashier is wearing a white fetish in the shape of a penis around her neck; I suppose it's a whistle.
a hand pops up from the ground...and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
Around 9, I roll out of my tent to the community around the wood fire. Someone asked about my bike, and I claim ownership, but inform him (S) that I came in via Amtrak. He tells me of his journey bikepacking through SE Asia & China, and---after preparing some food and a visit to the compost toilet, we bike together towards the French Quarter.
The route we took was different than how I came the night before, and probably safer too. After crossing the draw-bridge over the industrial canal, we dash down a grassy hill. A man sleeping by the tracks at the bottom of the hill asks if we have a lighter; we don't.
We meet the street at its dead end, and my new friend from Montreal goes to investigate a bicycle unattended by the road. Alarmingly, a hand pops up from the ground, and I can see the matted hair of someone hiding in shallow drainage ditch. It's broad-daylight, and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
When we get to Canal St, I part ways with my riding partners. I want to go checkout my cowork office at Lafayette Square; they want to sneak onto a cruise ship.
Mardi Gras itself was crazy. Indeed, I'd never been to carnival before. I had come ill-prepared without a costume, but there was so much waste cluttering the streets that I was able to decorate myself sufficiently before the sun set.
I've crossed the US by bicycle. I've crossed by plane. And now--I'm taking a train from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
I’ve crossed the US by bicycle. I’ve crossed by plane. And now–I’m taking a train
I just bought an Amtrak ticket from Atlanta -> New Orleans (for Mardi Gras!) -> Los Angles. It's ironic to realize that I've never done the good-ol cross-US road trip; I've never driven across the US (or taken a bus), but I suppose I shall one day (update: I did !). For now, I look forward to seeing the South via rail.
In any case, an update is due: After 4 magical months in in India, I came back to NYC just before the winter cold set in. After visiting friends & family, I traveled down the US East Coast.
I left a big duffel bag of possessions with a friend in NYC, and--due to price gouged bus fares ($700 flight from NYC to Atlanta? I don't think so) over Christmas--I tried my luck at hitching from DC to Asheville with a backpack and 2 oversized duffel bags. I could hardly walk 0.1 km without needing to rest my back hauling that much shit.
Within 10 minutes of holding up my cardboard sign indicating highway 81, a couple of southern boys (welcome back to Virginia) in an unmarked van stopped, started clearing junk out of the way in the back behind a full-size US flag strewn between the back and the cab, and told they could take me as far as highway 81, but wouldn't be able to drive me South. I declined their offer. In the next 6 hours, another 4 people offered to take me part-way.
Having too many bags to be able to walk my way out of a bad spot, I left for the DC greyhound, slept the night in Union Station on Christmas Eve, and took the next Greyhound to Atlanta.
After a week exploring downtown Atlanta (read: where Martin Luther King Jr was born), I took a bus down to Florida--where I currently sit, a true NY snow bird.
After I hit LA, I'll head north to Vancouver for Spring--traveling by train & bicycle along the majestic US-Pacific coastline. I've never spent much time in Canada; I'm sure looking forward to Vancouver!