It was necessary for me to leave Tofino well before I wanted to. Dave and a sailboat were waiting for me in San Francisco and I still had about 2500 km of ground and 40km of Ocean to cover in order to get there. I would have to wave goodbye to my community of family and friends.
I didn’t even get the chance to catch up with some of my friends while I was in Tofino due to the fact that many of them were unaware that I was leaving so soon. It turns out some of them were thinking I might not continue on the journey, that I would consider calling it quits after crossing Canada. That thought never came close to crossing my mind.
One of my sisters friends questioned me as to how I could leave my nieces and sister, pointing out that they needed me. Poor timing to guilt me into giving up on my long time dream. It didn’t work. I had moved to Tofino to be with my sister and nieces knowing I would eventually be undertaking this journey. I didn’t point out that my sister had moved to a small town at the end of the road about as far as you can get from our family and community in Toronto. She had long ago come to terms with being far from family. I understood, appreciated, and accepted why she did this. She didn’t need me and neither did my nieces. Sure, family can always use help but I knew she would be fine without me and had a strong community to support her and the family. Besides, I wouldn’t be of much help if I wasn’t happy and healthy following my heart. I won’t go into this any further, apart from saying that I believe love in the form of attachment often leads to suffering. The best love comes from a place of acceptance.
The community of Tofino is very accepting indeed! It is a diverse community of awesome characters who have often sacrificed something(often including their proximity to family) in order to live at the end of the road in what some might call a paradise. Or a lovely rainbow bubble floating in a different reality.
I was a bit overwhelmed and uprepared for the awesome support I received when I decided to dance out of town. Bob Purdy of Paddle for the Planet presented me with a beautiful paddle. My lovely friend, the honorable Mayor Josie Osborne, was present. An elephant like creature on stilts and many friends of all shapes, sizes, and colours were there to help dance me out of town. For some reason I failed to prepare myself for being the center of attention. I felt inclined to give a speech but hadn’t planned any words and ended up feeling quite awkward as I stumbled over my thoughts. Thankfully I was wearing tiny flourescent shorts and not expected to be taken seriously anyways.
There was a parade of about 50 of us dancing and cycling out of town. It was bittersweet. It felt so good to be surrounded and loved by this awesome community but it was also the last time I would see most of them for a very long time.
As we made out way out of town down the bike path that I had cycled thousands of times the crowd began to thin out. One last dance with some bears at the info center and I was on my bike with the remaining six riders. My 7 yr old niece, Ocea, was one of them. I was super impressed considering many of the others thought it was too far to continue from that point. People’s sense of distance and what they can accomplish is bizarre sometimes.
Four of us, including my sister, made the journey all the way to Ucluelet. It was great to have company on the road and I hoped many more people would continue to join me. I stayed the night at my friend Dave’s place.
In the morning Dave, my friend Sam, and I cycled the nice path from Ucluelet to the junction where the highway heads back north to Tofino or across the island to Port Alberni and Nanaimo. I hugged goodbye and left the peninsula I call home for what I was guesstimating to be five years.
The road from the coast is narrow and not very bike friendly. It winds back and forth beside rock walls and precipitous cliffs as it climbs to a mountain pass. It was raining at sea level but by the time I made it up to the pass I was biking beside a snow plow. My hands and toes were numb but my spirit was warm and happy for the adventure ahead.
I made it to Port Albernia that night to give a presentation to a small group of mostly friends that I had made there while fighting fires. The next day I rolled on to Nanaimo to speakto a group of planning students at Vancouver Island University. Before the event I spoke live on CBC.
My bicycle was in decent shape but I was in need of new tires for the long journey down the coast. One of the professors at the University introduced me to the owner of a local bike shop that offered to help me out. Rock City Cycles deserves some big respect for helping a stranger in need out. Thank you!
From Nanaimo I continued south to Yellow Point to stay with a good buddy from university and his quickly growing family. The next night I cruised to Duncan and stayed with some friends who I knew from Tofino. I then had a beautiful ride while passing some of the few remaining ancient trees on the island to Port Renfrew. I was sure to arrive there in good time to celebrate the upcoming marriage of my good friend and Routes of Change board member, Jessie. I would miss the wedding in June while in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
After the stag I cycled down the coast road past some good surf breaks to my friends place in Sooke. From there I had a pleasant ride into Victoiria along the Galloping Goose Trail. I arrived in time to speak at an event organized by the Victoria Green Team. The Mayor of Sanich was also there to say a few words. We then planted some trees in the park.
While in Victoria, I stayed at my good friend and Ocean Rowing mate, Adam Kreek’s house. Check this out if you don’t know the story. www.oarnorthwest.com Unfortunately, he was on a road trip with his family down the coast ahead of me and we never crossed paths. I did a presentation at the MEC store and visited with several different friends. My new friend who helped organize the event in Saanich also introduced me to The Ancient Forest Alliance. They have done a great job of working with all shareholders to save the remaining Old Growth Forest on Vancouver Island. I’m happy to be supporting them.
I was also planning my departure from Canadaby crossing the water to Washington. My good friend Harold at Whitehall Spirit Rowing had introduced me to his coworker Diane. She was keen to row with me across the Juan de Fuca strait to Port Angeles, USA. I was grateful to have company for a crossing that could quickly turn into an epic and excruciating challenge.
My sister and nieces came down to say goodbye once more before I left Canada for the long haul around the planet. I was hoping and pretty sure they would come visit me somewhere along the way but it wasn’t written in stone. It was an emotional last couple of days with them. We would both be very different beings the next time we saw each other.