Oh, and we blew 2 speakers jamming to Cinema by Skrillex. But thats our own fault. We can hardly blame Lily for that.
Jer here for a sec. For part of the afternoon in Victoria, we rented scooters to cruise along the coast (a passion ignited back home, see our E-Scoot post which some of you hardcore readers may remember from our blog before it became The Open Road Project). It was a beautiful ride and these gas powered Honda's really did the trick. Much to our surprise, when we got down to the pier, we had some serious dejavu when we saw what appeared to be our RV parked by the water. Turns out, someone didn't steal our RV and ferry it to the island. Rather, a really sweet woman (also a lead singer of a local band) had the same make and model as us only just about three times more pristine. We got to see what our baby would look like if she wasn't all modified with new cupboards, new seats and a gutted bathroom. Anyway, we snapped a nice pic and then continued on our way.
Jamie again. After the scootering was said and done- we saw some more sights, met some rad fellow travellers, and then were spoiled with a fancy dinner. We were enticed by this illustrious place downtown called the Bard & Banker. With its recent 3 million dollar reno’s this Scottish pub is potentially the nicest of its kind in Victoria. It’s so nice we were surprised they didn’t have a dress code. This explains why when we walked in with our backward baseball caps, value village attire, wiry facial hair and massive hikers pack, we basically gave them no choice to walk us past the nice business meetings, men really trying to impress their new girlfriends, and other well dressed customers to sit us hidden away in the back corner. All in all it was a great meal and the 2 for 1 fish and chips deal that our server gave us really saved the bank. Our Day in Victoria was a good one, next it was off to Seattle to meet some friends and catch a Blue Jays game.
As we were leaving, we learned or at least remembered a great lesson. Some of the best encounters of a trip aren't planned, but rather fall right in your lap. After departing the Weatherson’s we were met by a particular section of the highway through the mountains that climbs for over 30 km. We love our RV, and we hate working her too hard, so as we climbed this stretch of highway, we found a rest stop to pull her over to giver her a break. Amidst the 18-wheelers at the "brake check" station we noticed two very full vehicles that were pulled off the highway. Watching from our mirror, we determined from the 10 litre jerry can that the first vehicle had run out of gas, and the second was just returning from town with some petrol. We watched as the friends from the car took out the tiny can and added it to the van. With a much larger jerry can of our own, and having literally just been given gas earlier that day, the opportunity was almost too obvious. We strolled over to determine that they did in fact run out of gas and then introduced ourselves and offered what we could. They were more than grateful! Big hugs were received from each and every one of them as we talked, and got to know somewhat of their tragic story. This group of friends from Vancouver were in Kelowna on rather unfortunate circumstances, only made worse by running out of gas on a long stretch of the highway. We were glad to help! After we told them about our trip and blog, we sent them off with a few bags of the chips. These spontaneous encounters are some of the most fulfilling, and we are thankful for them.
Well, as we pull to the shoulder, to let the line of vehicles pass, suddenly the engine dies, our rig clearly mad at us for working her like a dog. Then we begin to roll backwards. Jer quickly tossed her into park and yanked the parking break and we all sat for a second. He then turned the key but alas, nothing happened. Battery’s dead. We are now stranded, helpless parked on a steep incline with nothing but our emergency break keeping us (and all of our belongings) from rolling down the mountainside, and essentially off the cliff.
(Now, I should mention that this battery issue is nothing new, for the past few days we have required a boost to get the engine firing, but today, parked vulnerably on a steep incline, on a mountainside road in jasper- the location was less than ideal.)
We hooked up the booster cables and Jer waved them at passers by. In no time we had a friendly man to our rescue. Rightfully so I suppose, he was slightly intimidated by the group of us, and justifiably asked if we would step away while he started his car (as if we were going to jump him). However, he did give us the juice we needed and wouldn’t even accept any cash as a thank you.
Jer here now. The morning after this escapade, we woke up at our camp site (this time our refuge was a rest stop off the Trans Can) and it was time for another adventure. How about no brakes? We were in the middle of no where, in the mountains no less, with barely any brakes and no sign of a gas station for some more fluid. Thank goodness I have years of experience with my Jetta (R.I.P) and leaky brake lines. Don't worry mothers, we ended up finding some brake fluid tucked away after about an hour of driving.
We’re now back on the road, with yet another interesting experience behind us.
Canada is beautiful.
Naming this post reminded us of several other names we have heard people say when asking about our trip:
• The Magic Tour Bus Across Canada Trip
• The Great Canadian Odyssey Trip
• The Hippy Wagon Boys Trip
• The You Won't Make It Past Grimsby Trip
• The Travelling Nice Guys Trip
• The Five Intrepid Adventurers Trip
• Sammy and the Shifty Boys
• and many many more that just will not come to my noggin at the moment.Anyways, we remain thankful that we are safe. We are also starting to think that we are invincible. Probably not a good thing.
After a few hours we made it to the bottom safely with only a few cuts and bruises. We thank God for that fact. Back at base camp we discussed over the fire the days events and prepared for another freezing night and our journey home in the morning.
We’re now home safe in Jasper for the night planning on heading to Lake Louise tomorrow.
Last week we spent a few days at Brightwood Ranch in Alberta. We knew nobody at the camp, nor had any of us ever been there before. Basically, we found this guy Brent (who happened to be the camps director), in a directory of people that welcome travelers to stay for a day or two on their journey. We were very stoked as we soon realized that Brent is perhaps the most interesting man in Alberta. To the 80 or so campers he is know by his camp name, Old Spice. But he let us call him Brent. Brightwood Ranch is a camp run for underprivileged kids. Their main partner is Hope Mission in Edmonton (which is also a sweet organization). The facilities were fabulous. Coming from a fairly extensive camp background, I talked to Old Spice about various things such as how his camp is run, the different programs and staff hiring. I quickly realized that his camp runs like a well oiled machine. The activities that the campers can take part in are almost endless. Whether they want to play some sports, ride some horses (it is a ranch after all), go biking, hiking, zip-lining or just hang out at the petting zoo, its all there. Wait, why not some archery, riflery or rock climbing? Old Spice and his team of essentially international volunteer staff make it all happen. We loved this place.
But in the nature of our trip, we obviously couldn't just hang around and play games all day (although we would have loved to) so we asked Brent to find us some work to do. For our first day there, we drove into the middle of a 13,000 acre cow pasture and set up a campsite for a horse camp that was starting in a few weeks. This location was literally in the middle of no where and we drove through fields and forests on unimproved roads to get there. It is definitely an incredible location to learn and grow.
The next day, we helped Brent with some stuff that wasn't quite camp related. We helped him move his uncle into a new place. This was also a ton of fun as we got to hear some neat stories and also share our story with him. When we found his vintage hat collection and showed extreme fascination, he let us each take one for helping him out. That alone made the day awesome. You should see some of the beauties we found.
That night we went back to camp and participated in some activities. We hung out by the campfire, played a sweet wide game with the kids and got to know some of the staff. While a lot are from the west coast or around the world, there were quite a few from Ontario and some of us even had mutual friends which is always great. We are super thankful for our time at Brightwood especially because they fed us and let us shower during our stay. We also now have some leads on places to stay in B.C. which we are stoked about. So to all our friends at Brightwood, thanks so much and God bless you guys as you dedicate your summer to serving kids!
Running with the bulls was scheduled for 18:00. By 18:15 it's safe to say we each had a bundle of nerves. By 18:20 as we made our entrance into the arena the nerves calmed slightly, until the bulls were released. Our hearts dropped. Watching five, 1200 lb bulls charging at you was certainly thrilling. But before I go any further please allow us to explain the event known as bull running with which we are now so closely accustomed.
The running with the bulls involves 80 contestants left to fend for themselves in a gated arena monitored by 4 judges. The "runs" are separated into three rounds. the first is 6 small (relatively speaking) 1200 lb bulls that are meant to be the least violent. The intermission includes judges making notable mentions to particular contestants that stood out. Then the second round ensues. This time it is 4 larger 1400 bulls that are after us. Again, the judges make their comments and then it is time for the final round: two, large, aggressive Mexican fighting bulls. If when all is said and done there are no fatalities, no severe injuries and no harmed bulls the judges then select their favourite contestants and put it to the crowd to select the winner of the $1000 grand prize.
Ok. So now that your caught up with stampede culture, back to our time of terror in the arena. First round, there was a few close calls, but overall relative safety. In the second round Jamie and Charles made a few daring stunts that distinguished themselves in the eyes of the judges. After the third and final round, with all limbs still intact, we were all extremely relieved to have successful conquered the running with the bulls. After the bulls again were caged away, to our astonishment Jamie was chosen as one of the 6 finalists. It was now up to the crowd the judges and fate to decide who was going home with the grand of cold hard cash. We pulled together as a team and every time Bob Tallman (world famous rodeo announcers) mentioned Jamie, we all went buck wild, preforming antics and the classic sports celebrations that we all know and love. With roaring applause Jamie made the finals and by this time it had surfaced that we were from Ontario and were up against a home town kid. However, along with this, somehow (we still have no clue how) news surfaced of our adventures and mission which was announced to the listening crowd. At the end of the day, to all of our utter astonishment, Bob Tallman, Grant Keibler and the band Hey Romeo decided in our favour and selected Jamie as the 2011 Running With The Bulls. They invited us all up onto the lift from which they were speaking and gave us an opportunity to share a bit of our story to the thousands listening in the crowd. To this date, this has been our teams favourite bonding experience and even from this exposure spawned many fantastic stories that will be posted next time we make into into a free wifi hotspot. But for now, we thank God for giving us $1000 right after we spent around that on our transmission. This has been an unforgettable experience!