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 in Seattle for nearly 3 weeks. On Saturday, I'll pack my bicycle in a box and fly the furthest north I've ever been--to Alaska.
After I left Dexter, I took a 4 hour train north to it's big sister city: Portland. From San Francisco to Eugene, Portland to Seattle, and--soon--Vancouver, there's pretty much one dominating theme: homelessness & gentrification.
In Portland there's a joke that you don't meet anyone actually from Portland anymore. And it's true. I met folks born in Portland only in Eugene & Seattle, and they had a wealth of knowledge to share.
From the half-dozen cranes stacking gross luxury apartment complexes in Portland's Pearl District to a new-age/city-integrated sprawl of Amazon's office towers that blight Capitol Hill in Seattle, big tech companies have drastically changed these cities. And if you pack a bowl at the ever-growing tent cities that form in clusters under nearly every bridge in these Pacific Northwest cities, you'll learn how these "developments" aren't helping its people.
I never saw someone sitting in a public space tied-off, needle-in-arm, searching for their vein on the metro in Santiago (as I did in San Franciso's Civic Center BART station).
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!