An Update from Okanagan Falls

I am currently sitting on an old piece of wood overlooking the beautiful high-ranchland of south-central British Columbia (BC). I am also typing with nine fingers, which I will further explain later on in this post. I have been wanting to post on my blog for almost two months, but I have been extremely busy travelling through Japan, finishing Grade 11, exploring Tokyo, flying to Canada, and starting out the last leg of our year-long journey. I am finally relaxed and can now update you about some of our travels through June and the last week or so in Canada.

To briefly inform you about my nine-finger situation, I had a rather unfortunate accident earlier today after finishing up with lunch, but it could have been a lot worse. It happened when I was slowly riding my bike over a cattle-guard that covered the road that we were crossing to get back onto the main highway. I had previously crossed it with more speed when coming off the highway, yet after lunch I was going at a bit slower of a pace and I was essentially setting myself up for failure. Nevertheless, unaware of the risks of crossing a cattle-guard, I started riding across, quickly started bumping up and down, and before I knew it I had fallen over with one leg between two of the large metal bars, one foot still clipped into my pedal, and my upper-half sprawled across the hot, hard, metal bars. I was stuck between having one leg in the cattle-guard and my bike was on top of me. I was still in partial shock when Tarn came over to help me. Somehow, I unclipped my pedal, untangled myself, and stood up with only a few bruises, yet my left punkie finger hurt quite a bit. At first, I was actually quite amused as the finger was so slow to react compared to my other fingers, and I was still dumbfounded by the fact that my leg hadn’t snapped between the bars of the cattle-guard, but the pain within my finger began to grow. I was also amazed by my luck that I hadn’t hurt myself more severely. Anyways, we are unsure of the exact state of my finger but it is currently taped up to a splint that we made with a plastic spoon. Hence, my nine fingers.

In spite of my finger that is currently immobile, I was able to continue biking for the remaining 20 km today and I even played guitar (partially) for a bit earlier this evening. I have been recently trying to learn chord theory from a book that I have been carrying for the entire trip, and I am finding it very helpful as I am slowly linking more and more things together that I have previously learned. Tarn is helping me with quite a few different confusing aspects and it is interesting to hear his interpretation of how different things work such as the circle of fifths. I am hoping to gain a better base understanding of chord theory by the time I get home so that I can have an easier, and more enjoyable time jamming with friends once I am back in Calgary. Since I finished school on July 3rd, I have been playing my guitar almost every day and I am very glad to be using it as I have carried it all the way around the world. However, I will be quite happy to play a full sized guitar once we return to Calgary.

During the past week of our re-entry to Canada, we have had some very memorable experiences. Starting off from the airport, we did something that I had been waiting to do for over a year; we went to Tim Hortons. Soon after we got our baggage and were ready to put our bikes together, dad gave me some money so that I could go get some donuts. I was initially a little bit disappointed to see that they were out of most of our favorite donuts, yet I was glad to see that they had a full rack of apple fritters, which in my opinion are one of the best donuts out there. I also happened to notice a sign that said “No Ice Capps”, which reminded of my good friend Maharshi, who would be extremely disappointed if he ever encountered a sign such as that. I ended up getting five apple fritters, 20 Timbits, and somehow forgot to get a dark-roast, black coffee for my dad.

After enjoying our donuts, packing up the bikes, and riding into a neighborhood in East Vancouver, we arrived at our Warmshowers Host’s house. His name was Leon and he was one of the more interesting people I have met. He was a long-haul trucker that lived with his girlfriend Kate, and her daughter Kaitlyn in East Van. During the two nights that we were there, I heard more stories from Leon than I had ever heard from one person in such a short time period. He told us all about his various travels, Rainbow gatherings, international girlfriends, and about how being a nudist for two weeks was a far better decision than sitting in a cubicle. I think that I learned quite a lot from him as he gave Markos and I a very thorough, descriptive, and detailed description of what a Rainbow Gathering is and what goes on during these alternative, mixed-belief and diverse gatherings. He was overall a very unique individual and I would say that he is definetely somebody who opened my perspective on a lot of different things that I had previously had little to no knowledge about. He told us these many stories during our various explorations in Vancouver such as taking part in the “Car Free” festival on Commercial Drive, visiting the University of British Columbia (UBC), and touring through the rather gentrified parts of coastal Vancouver.

While on the west coast, I also had the opportunity to visit a couple universities that I had previously done a bit of research about. If you don’t know already, I am looking into getting my degree in Fine Arts or Business, but I am more interested in finding a way to combine the two. I actually found an extremely interesting program called the “Bachelor + Master of Management Dual Degree” program which intrigued me quite a bit. It is a program that is offered through UBC and it would allow me to get my degree in Fine Arts, while taking business management classes throughout the time that I was completing my undergraduate degree. Overall, I would be able to get a degree in Fine Arts, and my Masters in Business Management in four and a half years. I am continuing to do research about different Universities when I can, but I know that I still have quite a bit of time before I will have to decide, so I’m not stressing about it… yet. We explored the UBC Vancouver campus which I found quite large, yet beautifully located, and I enjoyed visiting the campus. We also had time to visit the University of Emily Carr, which is one of the most prestigious universities for fine arts in Canada. However, it was fairly closed by the time we got there. Nonetheless, we were able to walk through the newly built central building and I had the opportunity to talk to a student there who was completing his Masters. The conversation that I had with him was extremely beneficial and I learned a lot about different universities for the fine arts across Canada and he informed me of various tips related to earning my Bachelor of Fine Arty (BFA). Once I have more time with access to the internet, I will spend more time researching various universities and degree programs that might be of interest to me.

Our entire journey since Vancouver, and likely all the way to Calgary, has been very day-to-day as for planning. Our general direction is East, yet there are multiple routes through the Rocky Mountains and we are continuously revisiting our maps to see what the best way through the mountains is. So far, we have climbed over one mountain pass (From Hope to Princeton), but there are still three or four mountain passes that remain. We are planning to visit my dad’s friend, Wayne, in Grand Forks, and some of my other friends who live in Invermere while we make our way back home to Calgary. It is crazy how fast the trip is coming to an end and I can’t believe that we only have 18 days left before our trip is over. Cycling through western Canada has been quite beautiful and I am learning many things about BC that I did not know before. Although the landscape is quite vigorous, we are keeping up with our plan and cycling about 70 km every day. We are now trying out the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) trail which my dad has been researching for quite some time. It is a path that stretches East to West across a good portion of BC and was constructed from an old rail-line. Because it used to be an old railroad, the grade is quite moderate and it is rather easy to bike along. However, it is mostly packed dirt so we aren’t averaging above 11 or 12 km/h, compared to our normal average of 17 km/h on the average road. Nevertheless, it is very nice to get off the busy highways and cycle on some paths that are much more peaceful. We plan on riding along KVR for the next two days and then we will arrive in the town of Penticton, which is situated in the Okanagan Valley. Our plan from there is still in the makings, but we plan on arriving in Calgary on July 31st, 2018.

To give you a bit of an update of what went on between my last blog post in Taketa, southern Japan, and when we flew from Tokyo to Vancouver, here are a few more snippets from our highly enjoyed travels through Japan that you can ask me about sometime when you have the opportunity to talk to me in person. In my opinion, I am able to give more detailed, and most likely more meaningful, explanations of our experience when I am talking to somebody face to face. Feel free to ask me about any of the following stories if you happen to remember when you see me next.

· The Samurai town of Hagi

· Visiting the breathtaking city of Hiroshima

· Our 15-day sprint from Hiroshima to Odawara

· Our wonderful hosts, and friends, Takehiro and his extremely welcoming parents

· Cycling up and around Mt. Fuji and the adjacent lakes

· Our two-day hike from Okutama

· Staying with our Warmshowers hosts, Joan and Rich, in the town of Hadano

· Taking our final exams at the Tokai University

· “Playing” tourist in Tokyo

· Meeting up with our new friend Adam in a local,” hidden-gem” restaurant in Shinjuku

· Bumping into our friends, Rikki and Peter, with their three kids, Simon, Jonas and Karnlilli in Shibuya

· Cycling 75 km through the endless urban area of Tokyo and the surrounding millions of people

· And of course, the many delicious meals that we enjoyed all through Japan

To finish off, I am glad to be giving you a bit of an update on our travels and I hope that you have been enjoying my photography page that I have been updating every week or so. I have posted many photos from all over Japan and many of them include small stories within their captions. I have also started up a “Canada” photography page for the photos I take during the last portion of our trip. Hopefully I will be able to write another blog post or two before the end of the trip, but it is coming up faster than I had thought it would and I’ll be back home before I know it!

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