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May 27- Day 20

I can't believe it's nearly three weeks since I left Victoria! Well, at least now I'll make up for lost time. We had a breakfast and gathering, said goodbye to Steph and Glen who once again left early. I couldn't eat to be honest, since I won't be seeing any of these people again for who knows how long. I don't think my speedometer is off, since Erin and Linda's computers are pretty close to mine.

Time spent cycling: 5:20:07

Distance traveled: 134.65 km

Total distance: 1300 km

Average Speed: 25.2 kph!

Maximum speed: 74.6 kph

Current Location: International Hostel on 7th SE Avenue in Calgary

I nearly cried.

When we left Ilan and Shannon at the park, I didn't feel bad. I gave what has now become my personal "good journey" farewell by using the last two lines of that poem I wrote nearly three weeks ago: "May your travels be fun and your compass be true". It's not poetry, but it's mine. I didn't feel bad about leaving I&S because I knew that this was where they had to stop for the time being. Charles had always been here and gone, and Steph and Glen sorta kept to themselves (in comparison to the others). I also didn't feel too bad because I left with Erin and Linda, and we rode all the way into Calgary together.

We stopped near Canmore at an information center, where I found out Calgary had a hostel with really reasonable rates ($16 for members). There are no parks in the nearby vicinity, and I knew that the Calgary area wouldn't exactly be lush with vegetation to hide in, and I should be able o use their phone for the internet, so I considered it a good plan.

On the road to Calgary it wasn't nearly as flat as I thought it would be. No, instead we had very rolling hills, some of them very steep but mercifully short. We made excellent time as you can see by the average speed. There were times I was going slightly uphill for many kilometers at a steady 33kph!

This was not, however, the last time we saw Ilan and Shannon. About 2/3 of the way to Calgary, they pull up in the truck they were getting a ride to Edmonton in and surprised us with lunch! They got us buns and cheese with mustard, watermelon, fresh orange juice and bear claw donuts! That was such a great thing for them to do!

Also en route we saw a small amusement park. I kinda wish we could have stayed, but it would have been expensive, no doubt.

I was never really certain when I actually entered Calgary until I saw the sign. For many klicks before that, there was tons and tons and TONS of housing. My god it makes the term urban sprawl sound pathetically inadequate. Very depressing. The traffic is bad in the city and the shoulder evaporates. Plus the drivers are rude. Welcome back to the big city, kid.

Before he left the group yesterday, Charles had made an excellent suggestion. Maybe some of you will remember it from a certain fictional bar that shall remain nameless. He suggested that we each stop in Mountain Equipment Co-Op and leave a message on the bulletin board for the others who passed by later to see and read. A simple way of keeping in touch. Those of us going the entire distance will do so again at Ottawa. We agreed to use red paper to identify ourselves with. So Linda, Erin, and I after buying a few things there (they needed thermarest, I needed something more reflective for the bike) did just that. I got the red paper from a copying shop across the street and left little hellos and updates for everyone, as did the girls, and left paper behind for those who followed.

This was where I had to have my final goodbye. I tried to be cool about it, but my throat was choking up. This group, this merry band which I had just happened into, made the trip not only bearable, but enjoyable as well. To think that I may never see them again was almost too much to bear. Even now as I write this my eyes are quite misty and my face hot. Part of this sadness is the knowledge that I'm on my own again, but a very real part of it because of the friendship that managed to grow in such a short time.

I got a room at a hostel. Bunk 5 in room 103. There is a bike shed where I secured my bike tightly, and a locker room that only staff can access for me to put my gear. I should be fine. Being a non-member means I had to pay extra: 20 bucks. Still, that's twice as good as the motel in Vernon. And since it's non-profit, there is no tax! Hopefully they'll let me use the phone tonight so I can upload all this to everyone.

Let me tell you a little something about Calgary on the weekend. It's DEAD. You know how you can tell Toronto in a movie trying to be New York because of the lack of traffic and people? Well, Calgary is to Toronto as Toronto is to New York. Nothing is open after 6, and I wandered around after 6 in vain searching for something to do. There is newspapers blown around like tumbleweeds, and often the only noise to be heard is the clanking of metal wires being blown against flagpoles. They do have a great idea for transit here, however. Downtown trains are free! But man, this place is a ghost metropolis!

I had to try the free train (similar to TTC) ride, and was surprised by the comfort of the seating. Actually padded instead of just molded plastic. This city appears to belong to the young punks in evening, but they don't seem to have a clue what to do here any more than I do! One really sad case was a young teen who was probably drunk talking about how he put his "bitch" in her place.

The hostel itself has a nice atmosphere. Communal gathering room, out in the backyard there is a barbeque going on. I hear there is a pool table and stuff... but I don't know if I will try anything social like that... I'm a bit drained emotionally to make new contacts already. But I will probably ask one of the staff to do the survey before the night is over.

I'm in a bar. The hostel was a no-go for the internet, and this place (above a hotel) turned out to be the next best thing. It's not too full, there are a number of toasty people, as well as just casual drinkers here. Seems like there are a few backpackers resorting to staying here. Maybe too scared or unaware of the hostel? Maybe they're going as a group into one room like we had planned to in Banff.

The bar thing didn't work out. Went to the copying shop I went to earlier. No luck, nor with another two places. Finally a video store clerk was cool enough to let me.

Okay, this is it for a while. You might hear from me when I get to Brooks, you might not. We'll have to wait and see.

Expect me when you see me.

Onto Day 21...