My plan was to spend a week or so chilling in Seattle after I returned from the Sierra-Cascades ride. During this time, I would relax, swap out my tires, throw some additional gear into the panniers (bear spray and the such), and then head out for the next adventure -- a few months riding the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide.
|My route for the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide.|
For those of you not familiar with these rides, the Icefields Parkway runs from Jasper to Banff, in Alberta, Canada. The ride is 140 miles of flippin' gorgeousness, with picture perfect lakes and icefields as far as one's laser-vision-corrected eyes can see.
The second ride, The Great Divide, stretches from Banff to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The Great Divide is a 2,750 mile off-road bicycle route that follows the Continental Divide through the Rocky Mountains.
I've been excited for these rides for a few years now. I purchased the maps for the Icefields Parkway three years ago. And I began salivating about The Great Divide when I first watched the Ride the Divide documentary, which was released in 2010.
The Great Divide, in particular, is a grueling tour. It's remote. It's on dirt roads. And it includes more than 200,000 feet of climbing. Plus, there are bears and other similar goodies to contend with along the route.
I was going to ride the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide solo. I knew it would be tough and that it would push me beyond my comfort zone every single day of the ride. But I thrive on that kind of stuff. I was looking forward to the ride as a way of giving me that final confidence boost that I desired before I began touring overseas -- by myself, if it came to that.
But...then I met a boy (see A Pleasant Surprise, When Least Expected). That pleasant surprise, when least expected, required that I make a decision:
Option A: Ride the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide...by myself.
Option B: Explore a relationship with a like-minded handsome and charming chap.
'Twas a really tough choice, but after a prodigious split-second of deliberations, I settled on Option B. Assuming no massive geological restructuring in the next few decades, the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide will always be there.
For what it's worth, Ferit faced a parallel set of decisions:
Option A: Go back to work, as he had originally planned upon returning from his "sabbatical."
Option B: Postpone going back to work in order to explore a relationship with a similar-minded, stunningly gorgeous and captivating lass.
It was a really tough choice for Ferit as well, but he quickly settled on Option B. Assuming no massive downturn in the economy, a job will always be there.
So, what's next goes something like this...
Ferit and I are leaving shortly for a month-long trip to Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. Vancouver Island is the largest island in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand. The southern part of Vancouver Island is somewhat developed, but the northern part of the island is quite wild and remote.
I realize this may come as as a shock, my dear readers, but this won't be a bicycle trip. <Insert gasps here.> Instead, we'll be taking Ferit's Toyota Expedition Four Runner, with its super-duper awesome car-top tent.
|Ferit's camping set-up, as featured on pages 29-30 of his|
"Not All Who Wander Are Lost" photography book.
We will travel with no particular agenda -- just a rough idea of where we'd like to go. In a nutshell, we'll focus our explorations on the remote northern section of the island.
We also have a rough idea of things we'd like to do during the trip. At the top of that list is to relax, enjoy the outdoors, and enjoy each other. Not too far down the list is to go kite surfing. I've never kited before, but rumor has it that Ferit is an excellent instructor. Lucky me!
Kayaking is on the list, too. As well as hiking. And perhaps some overnight backpacking. There will be some reading. And some writing. (But we'll probably pass on the 'rithmetic.) Drawing and photographing are on the list. Plus, watching downloaded TED videos. There will be some dinny skipping. Definitely some star gazing. And most certainly some dream making.
After the trip to Vancouver Island, we'll return to Seattle for a short while before flying to Europe for six weeks or so. The specifics of the trip have yet to been determined, but we know we'll definitely spend some good time in Turkey.
As excited as I was about the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide, I'm even more excited about my upcoming travels with Ferit.
So, yeah, anyway, life is pretty good.