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May 18- Day 11

It was a dry night, no dew in or on the tent.

I'm by a beautiful peaceful river, the birds are singing and the sky is blue... so why don't I feel happy? Maybe because I've got nobody to share it with. I think I'm the type of person who feeds off other peoples emotions, which is probably part of the reason I'm always so helpful. But when I look at this gorgeous scenery I can't help but think "that's nice, when do I leave?"

Before I left, the english couple gave me a cup of tea, and I gave them a poem. It was the same one as before, but for them it was even more appropriate.

It's almost noon, I'm at Keremeos, and I'm totally, totally torn. I get different opinions from everyone about which route to take from here. Some recommend going up to Kelowna and then over the #1, while others recommend the #3 all the way. Which is worse? Neither. Which is better? Neither. Which is shorter? NEITHER! How did I choose? In the end, I flipped a coin.

Time spent cycling: 8:44:05!

Distance traveled: 166.91km!

Total distance: 632km

Average Speed: 19.1 kph

Maximum speed: 78.1 kph

Current Location: Bear Creek Provincial Park (outside Kelowna)

Oh my god am I in pain! My left knee is killing me, I can't even walk properly. I am serious, this HURTS! But today had its upside as well. As you can see, I covered a lot of territory today. Nearly 167km! Not bad, eh?

The land here was mostly arid, desert like in quality. Dry enough that the fields I passed needed constant irrigation.

Quest for Babes: as a side note, when I was in Keremeos, I heard I had missed two young ladies also crossing Canada by bicycle by only two hours. I was tempted to hurry to catch up with them, since the person who told me also knew their general route, the #3 (Crowsnest highway). Largely because I could use the company, a bit because I thought I could use them in the story. In the end, though, I changed direction and headed north...

I headed for Penticton with visions of gloom and despair about my choice. They are both bad choices, but the north route has two advantages. First I will pass Kelowna, which will allow me to update everyone via internet. Second, I heard that the hills aren't quite as steep (with a couple of exceptions) and the roads have broad shoulders.

As I headed up another seemingly endless uphill, I came to Yellow Lake, which is basically a giant aquarium. You see, because it's a very still lake, it has very little oxygen, and thus no fish. To fix this they installed two giant air pumps at either side and run it as needed to keep oxygen levels up. Thus fish can thrive and be caught by anglers.

On a sidetrack, I should note that despite the hardship that you'll hear about further on, the weather was great and I stopped a few time for fresh apples and oranges. Mmmmmmm... fruit has never tasted so sweet as it did then! I also picked up a 1950's SF novel at a yard sale in Hedley.

After Yellow Lake, it was almost all downhill! My God did I cover ground! By the time I hit Penticton it wasn't even 2 o'clock! My average speed was around 25kph, and frequently I was in the 60-70kph range. In fact, at one point I recorded my trip down one of the hills, including a near accident at of 50 on a unseen bump.

Penticton was surprisingly big! It was really nice with tons of attractions. An airport, a beach, a huge lake, boat rides, water skiers, malls... I left it as soon as I bought some Tiger Balm for my knee. The red kind, extra strength. That and a bag of cheddar popcorn.

I was cocky after this last run, and thought I could make it to Kelowna before 8. For as far as the eye could see it seemed the road hugged the coast line. For a long time it did, and I was doing 30kph on the straightaways. Then I hit Summerland, and it kicked me with a nasty surprise. I guess coastal folks don't like highways going through their backyards, so it was a loooong walk uphill for me as I went around it. Then it went down and I made up for lost time, until the next one, and the next, and the next.

Finally, after passing Westbank, it was downhill to Kelowna. By this time my knee was in so much pain that I couldn't walk on it without gritting my teeth or screaming. I kept peddling because it hurts less when I don't stop. This was agony, but I had to make it to Bear Creek, the nearest provincial park, where I hoped to do the same thing as the night before.

I could just write for a few pages about my pain, but I'll skip to the end. I made it to Bear Creek at 8:30, with about 45 minutes of sunlight to spare. You can see Kelowna from the lakeshore, but I'll have to backtrack 7km just to get to the turnaround to get there. I found a nice couple from Holland here on holidays who didn't charge me a dime and gave me tea and cookies. I love good people.

So, I'm staying here at least one day. After that, my knee will decide. Which way I go is equally uncertain (either through Kelowna, or on a local road this side of the river) but I have time enough to worry about that tomorrow.

May 19- Day 12

Today I rest. I called Tracy early in the day and Gillian later so she can email everyone briefly that I'm fine in case I'm not able to get on the internet.

I have been reading a few chapters of that book I got at the yard sale... not that bad, really. But it's a bit of a strange concept. This is how the back of the book reads (keeping in mind that publishers come up with these things and have no bearing on the quality of the writing inside the book): The Place: The awesome disc-shaped world of Mesklin - so cold that the seas were liquid methane and the snow frozen ammonia, with a skull crushing gravity of more than 700 times that of earth... The Problem: A research expedition was stranded on Mesklin and somebody had to go down after it - someone who could withstand the physical horrors of the alien world... The Answer: Barlennan - merchant seaman, fifteen inches long, thirty-six legs, and the sharpest trader a conniving Earthman ever met!

Boy, after writing that, I'm rethinking reading this book.

I'm also able to use my mini radio (about the size of a large watch without the strap) to pick up local stations. It's supposed to be sunny and hot, but as of 10am that hasn't happened yet. I'm sure that will change, though.

Time spent cycling: 0:00:00

Distance traveled: 0km

Total distance: 632km

Average Speed: 0 kph

Maximum speed: 0 kph

Current Location: Still in Bear Creek Provincial Park (outside Kelowna)

I'm staying with a group of campers, they've got to all be either high school or freshmen university. Two guys, four girls. I chipped in 5 bucks to the site, good deal overall. I had a shower and gave my clothes a bit of a wash.

It's funny, but out here in parkland, it seems strange to hear about the latest internet email virus on the radio, even though I'm using a computer right now.

My knee is still killing me, and I don't know what's wrong. If I did, at least I'd have an idea of how to treat it. This could be bad. Really bad. The Tiger Balm isn't working, so I switched to ice. After that I'll be using a tension bandage. Imagine if you will limping painfully as you wander around the park, and turn on your radio only to hear "Born to be Wild" playing. It happened.

Whereas once I did not want to over plan my trip, I now find myself pouring over my two sets of maps (computer and paper... mostly paper) trying to discern the best possible route. No easy task when every route sucks. I've already determined that this is the last time I'll be at a campsite for a while, unless I want to sacrifice a day at Vernon in a motel... then my next stop could be Yard Creek Park. That will all depend on whether I'm able to use the Internet here or not. Of course, the other advantage is that I'll make an okay distance (about 50k) without straining my leg too much. I'll just have to see how it goes. If it's giving me trouble at Vernon, I'll stop.

I've had this complaint before and I'll have it again. The worst part of traveling alone is BEING alone. The teens went into town, which left me in a nice park with a nice lake and nice scenery... and I was BORED. Granted it had a lot to do with the fact I can't get around much, but still... I know it would be different of someone was traveling with me. Oh well, I've done it before and I'll do it again.

Another thing I've noticed is just how little I notice (or remember) when traveling. You might think there is a fair amount of detail in my notes, but not when you consider everything I've seen and been through. And I don't even remember most of it anymore... just a fleeting blur in my mind. The problem is that I'm focused, focused on the journey. I see a hill I don't see a hill to admire, but to conquer and move onto the next one. When I find a place to crash for the night, I don't really get a chance to admire the view much. Once the tent is up I'm inside for the night usually.

Much of this has to do with time. All I think about lately is how much I miss Gillian. How much I miss home. Any home. But you see, home really is where the heart is, so if someone, family or friend, were here with me, I'd be happy to slow down my pace and enjoy the view more. I'd have a better reason to take a day off than simply to lick my wounds. But still, I also know part of me would be anxious to get home again.

Maybe I'm not cut out for this crap. Aren't I supposed to be having FUN?

You know, for all the people who have compared me to Jack Keroack, all I know about him is the title of his book On The Road . What did he do besides travel and talk to people? I'll have to read it someday, I suppose.

One positive note here. I've mapped out my route so far, and the way I've seen it, I've covered just over of BC! With that in mind, I predict I'll be in Alberta by the 25th... just don't hold me to that.

Do you want to know one of the ways I get through all this biking? I play the Last of the Mohicans in my head. I have it on tape, but can never be bothered to use it. I just play some of the more memorable bits from it when I'm trekking somewhere difficult.

If I was a religious person, I'd say I've been given a test, and passed. If I believed in omens, I'd say this was a sign. I called Gillian today, who strongly suggested that I take the following solution to my problem. I could store my bike at a friend's in Kelowna, take the bus back to the coast, spend the week at Gillian's recuperating, and in a week's time we'd return to Kelowna and I could continue the journey. They were planning to come here next Friday anyways, you see.

I was tempted. I was so sorely tempted. But I knew deep down that if I went back now, it would be ten times harder for me to leave again. I might even cop out altogether, and site my knee as a reason. Perhaps everyone would believe me. But I wouldn't.

It was, perhaps, the hardest thing I have done yet on this trip. I so very wanted to see and hold Gillian again after so much time without any familiar face. Sure there was Chilliwack, but I always knew it was a layover. In many ways, my mind skips over Chilliwack and remembers the trip on a steady stream.

My throat got all swollen as I refused her generous offer, and explained my reasons why. And the strangest thing of all happened then. The pain in my leg subsided. A lot. Now there is only a slight ping where once there was searing pain.

If I was a religious person, I'd say I've been given a test, and passed. If I believed in omens, I'd say this was a sign. But I don't believe in either. I am simply doing what I have to do.



Onto Day 13...