Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The trek across Canada

Guess where I am!

So it's been a while again! The last post was made in Thunder Bay, and I made it quite far in the mean time.
After a resting day we drove on to Brandon, according to Fred's car a whopping 950 km!
The day after that we got to Saskatoon where there was a little incident, and the day after we reached Edmonton. All in all Fred and I drove together for some 3000 kilometers. He was a great guy and I cannot thank him enough.

As to the little incident in Saskatoon, it involved three guys and a woman in a really big fight, about what I do not know. As soon as I  checked into the motel and went upstairs to my room I was greeted with really loud screams. At first I thought somebody had his TV on too loud, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.
The closer I got to my room the louder the screaming became, and for a moment I was convinced it was a rape in progress. I turned around and ran back down to the lobby to inform the guy behind the counter. At first he didn't seem to take me seriously and continued helping some other people standing at the counter, but a few seconds later there were people running into the motel from outside reporting the same fight, which by now had moved outside onto the shared balcony. Apparently, one of the guys slammed the head of another into the iron railings. So the police was called, and ofcourse they only showed up after two guys already had fled the scene, leaving behind a third man and the woman. I stayed out of their business so I still don't know what went down in there, and that is probably for the best. Apart from alarming people and getting help, there wasn't anything else I could do.

Anyways, back to the good stuff. I spent a last night at a motel in Edmonton after having said goodbye to Fred, and set back out on the road the following morning.
It took about an hour before I got a ride from a somewhat short guy of Indian descent who was returning from fitness. He drove me to Red Deer, though it was out of his way. He didn't have anything to do though and seemed glad to have found a distraction. It set the tone for the rest of the day.

After being let out on the highway past Red Deer I spent some 5 minutes sticking out my thumb before catching another ride from an older gentleman who stopped at a truckstop so I could fill up my Kamelbak with water, because it was really hot and humid. He helped me get halfway to Calgary, which I had set as my goal for the day.  He too let me out on the highway.

The third person to pick me up was Mo, short for Mohammed. A guy in his fifties I think, who came from Pakistan and worked in the oilfields of Alberta after doing the same work in his home country for quite a while. He was a really nice man, keeping high his principles and wanting to help out in the interest of humanity. The day was still pretty young and I now set my sights on Banff instead of Calgary. Mohammed had to go left in front of Calgary, heading east, but instead he took the exit on the right and drove me all the way around Calgary and dropped me off on the Cross-Canada highway, highway 1. It was around 5 o'clock and the road back into Calgary was absolutely stuffed with cars, so I think it might have taken him quite a while before getting home. He said he didn't mind, because it gave him a lot of satisfaction being able to help someone out, and he gave me two bottles of water too.

Another few minutes passed as I again stuck out my thumb, and after a short while (shorter than I expected, considering I was near a really big city of around a million people!) I got a ride from Tracy.
She was heading out to the mountains to walk her dog, a trip that took her at least half an hour or more out of the city! To me that said a lot about her, as a lot of people seem to think it's a big chore to walk their dogs all the time, and most of them just stay in their general vicinity. But Tracy took her dog out to the mountains where he could run free, and she took me beyond the point she had initially intended to go and into Banff.
Awesome stuff! She was the last ride of the day, but each and every one had gone out of their way to get me somewhere. All in all a great day!

I stayed in Banff for three nights in a newly opened hostel, where I met Dominick from Germany and Paul from England who had been traveling together for a little while and now started sharing my room after the first night. They were really nice and social guys, and that afternoon I joined them for a walk downtown and an attempt at getting a much needed sun tan.

Me on the bridge outside of downtown Banff.

The Bow River.

After my third night I decided to move on. I decided to walk for a while instead of trying to get a ride, but got misdirected. I did end up on the road to Highway 1, but it was heading eastward, not westward.
So I walked the same half hour to get back into town, missed another road and spent another hour or so walking the wrong road and back. At this point I was sweating badly and decided to get a cold Coke at the local McDonalds. I whipped out my iPod and checked my location on the map app, and let it calculate the proper route. 
So I started back out again after having a nice cold drink and found highway 1, and it was heading in the right direction too! Wonderful! 
However, I can't say I regret having walked down so many detours, because I ended up getting a ride from a pretty girl who took me to Lake Louise, where I decided to stay for another few nights. I had heard a lot about Lake Louise and I definitely wanted to check it out. And, she might come back later that evening to the bar attached to the hostel. Unfortunately it seems she got sidetracked at some point or I must have simply missed her (though I definitely have been looking! haha).

So I had to switch out one beauty for another one: Lake Louise.
After a refreshing night of sleep I caught a ride up to the actual lake yesterday from a nice man who turned out to be helping out a German hitchhiker as well, who had been staying with him for a few days, and whom he was now taking out to see the mountains and Lake Louise. His name was Doug, the fellow hitchhiker's Daniel. We parted ways at the lake, and I set out to get the best view of the lake. Ofcourse I first walked up to the base of the lake.

As you can see it is an insanely beautiful place, unfortunately somebody decided to build a massive hotel right at the lakeside to capitalize on it. It's a good-looking building for sure but to me still felt like a whart on the face of beauty.

The first route I decided to walk led me to an overview from the left side of the lake called Fairview Lookout.
It was about 1,5 km of walking through the woods. It would have been a nice walk if it wasn't for the swarm of mosquitoes that were after me. If I stopped for just a second I had at least three of the buggers on my legs. Despite that, the walk was worth it.

I decided to not walk any further down this route on account of the mosquitoes though, and so I walked back down as fast as I could and decided to walk around the right side of the lake which fortunately had a lot less mosquitoes flying around. I guess that is partly because the route I took there didn't go through the woods but led me along the lakeshore, and in the end led up the mountain past most of the woods, to the glacier behind it.

The side of the lake.

Made from the same position, looking to the back of the lake.

There were some beautiful sights along the way up the mountain.

And it had some nice climbing spots too!

From the back of the lake. Note that the greyish area is still water. This is where a small river flows into the lake from up above.

Another shot of the back of the lake, this time without my mug blocking the view.

The river flowing into Lake Louise.

A closer look.

Me at the river.

And because I don't want to repeat myself too much, here are some more pictures of the trail leading up the mountain.

And now a really cool part: one of the little streams coming down the sides of the mountain in waterfalls had a roof of ice! The water had simply excavated a way through, and it ended up forming a really neat tunnel.
Ofcourse I had to investigate and cool myself down at the base of the waterfall. I might have taken a shower if I hadn't had sensitive equipment on me that really shouldn't get wet, and I took enough risks with those as it  is. First in the upcoming video, a nice overview of the area. Right after that I move through the tunnel!

Aaaand back to pictures of the rest of the trail up!

And finally, the path leading to the teahouse at the end, one of two in the area, and the farthest.

At the teahouse I got something to drink as I had run out of water, and decided to get something to eat as well. There are a few people who stay up here throughout the season. They stay there for five days and head back down for two days. They carry back down the trash they accumulate throughout the week and hike new supplies back up when they return!
One of the girls working there was really nice and we had an interesting conversation for as long as the rest of the clientele permitted it, as it was quite busy up there.

After having sat down there for a while two new guys came walking in: Doug and Daniel!
A nice surprise, as both of them are really nice. Clouds had set in and so I waited a while longer as Doug and Daniel had a rest and something to eat and drink, and we walked back down the trail together.

Also, squirrel. Cheeky buggers try to enter the teahouse to steal some food constantly! :D

I shot nearly 70 pictures, of which the above are just a few. You can see all of them here:!cpZZ1QQtppZZ16 

Today I took a day off and washed my clothes, and bought two new books: Congo and The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.
Tomorrow I will move on again, hopefully getting to Kelowna or it's vicinity!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A week in Ottawa

My last post was made from Barrie, the day before I moved back down to Whitby, the place I started hitchhiking a few days earlier. After staying for about 3 nights in Barrie it was time to return so I could get a ride back to Ottawa for Canada Day!
So early in the day I tried to find the highway I came in on. I ended up walking through the entirety of Barrie and a little further down the road for nearly two solid hours. I found the highway I needed and started hitching. This highway was a large one and I was under the impression I could get into trouble for trying to get a ride here but I wasn't sure. I sincerely hoped I would get a ride before a cop would show up and fine me, and thankfully I did.

The first ride of the day was given to me by a couple by the names of Mike and Krista, who took me to Orillia. They were very nice though I thought that my presence made Krista uncomfortable at first, so I asked her a few questions and she started to open up a bit more.
They drove me down to Orillia, where I needed to get onto another highway that could take me down to Whitby. Unfortunately Mike didn't drop me off on the right side of town, and so I had another walk across a whole other town ahead of me. After another hour and a half or so of walking my feet and shoulders started to ache but managed to get to the edge of town and stuck my thumb out again.
After a little while I got a ride from Jake, a guy that seemed to be younger than me, and a big metalhead. He was returning from work and got me down to Brechin. I had not gotten as far as I wanted and I didnt want to stop to cook something, so I bought two bananas for dinner.

After getting a ride out of Brechin by a guy somewhere in his fifties I found myself on the wrong road. He told me he knew of a better way to get down to Port Perry, my goal for the day, but I ended up in 'the middle of nowhere', so to speak. The road was not a main road and thus had very little traffic, and it meandered off into the countryside. So I turned around and got a ride back toward the proper highway. Thankfully it didnt take long before I got another ride who got me there, and thankfully it was just a few minutes away too. As I walked back onto that highway cars were passing me, and after a while of standing there a big truck pulled over. I haven't had much luck with trucks so far and considering I didnt go a long distance I didnt try to get a ride from the big trucks, and I hadn't tried with this one, but it pulled over for me anyway.
Inside was sitting Don, a pleasant man somewhere in his forties, who turned out to be only driving trucks part-time, two days a week. The rest of the time he was working in real estate! Go figure. I almost got sidetracked again when I misunderstood Don's intentions, and I had to ask him for a quick stop before we were down the road toward Lindsey in the east too far. I thanked him for the ride and wished him good luck with the rest of the trip.

On the proper highway again I once more stuck out my thumb, and after a while another older man nearing his fifties pulled over. He was a real workaholic, working a regular job and maintaining a big animal farm on the side all on his own. I wouldnt want to be him, despite having a couple of cool Lama's!
The sun was now going down fast and it bathed the horizon in rich colours, but I had no proper camping site or motel in sight, and so I started walking down the road. Time was running out to find a sleeping spot before dark, so I didnt want to stay in one spot too long. After having walked a kilometer or two I got another ride.
When I said I wanted to find a motel he told me there was one just down the road. I could have made it on foot! Nonetheless he drove me there and dropped me off.
Now a problem arose: I couldn't pay for the room. My creditcard still has that same problem where it blocks the PIN, and this man either didnt know or pretended not to know how to manually authorise the card, and thus I found myself on the road again. After looking around for a place to pitch my tent and not finding any suitable spot, I tried to get another ride further down the road. However, by now it was pitch black and I didnt hold much hope of getting a ride now. But wonders never cease to happen and somebody pulled over, giving me a ride to Whitby! I got so many rides today that I forgot a lot of names.
In Whitby I found a motel that did accept my creditcard, and I had actually passed my goal for the day! All I had to do now was sit and wait to be picked up in the morning by Leigh and her sister.

I staid in Ottawa for a week. My days were spent in leisure. The first day I borrowed a mountainbike and drove into Gatineau Park, which is absolutely huge. I drove 7 km's into the park to visit Lake Pink, biking down dirt tracks and going up and down large hills. I had to be careful here, because an accident was not too far off with all the rocks and tree roots sticking out on the path!
The other days I spent reading, finishing the second season of Game of Thrones, and walking around and helping out a bit around the house.

Leigh and I also visited the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride, which was a really cool event where the mounted police performed a show on horseback (obviously), showing off several drills and executing some brilliant patterns that made you wonder how it is possible for them not to run into eachother constantly. The training must be quite something!
But before the actual RCMP show started we were treated to a different show entirely: the official Canadian sky-diving team, the Sky Hawks, jumped out of their airplane right above us, and after several awesome tricks landed on the RCMP Musical Ride grounds!

Balls of steel are required!

After that the actual Musical Ride started with an intro of their own: the marching band.

And then, ofcourse, the show by the men on horseback! I did record pretty much all of it, but uploaded only the latter part, still quite long! The entire show must have taken somewhere around 40 minutes!

On show: lance drills, some really cool patterns on horseback, and a charge across the field!

Some pictures of the event:

After the show you could walk to the edge of the field, where officers allowed their horse to be petted by the children, and other people a nice close up look!

And ofcourse I had to get a picture of me and an RCMP officer!

On sunday it was Canada Day, the event that I had come for. The streets were absolutely packed with people. The day was hot and sunny, but thankfully it wasn't too humid. We went down to the Parliament building in downtown Ottawa and were in time for the official opening, though we were standing somewhere in the back. The official opening started with the national anthem, Oh Canada! and was accompanied by a group of airplanes flying right over the Parliament building!

To illustrate the amount of people walking around, here's some pictures too!

It would have been one hell of a time for a zombie outbreak!

All the pictures of Canada Day 2012 can be found here:

After walking around for the better part of the day, we drove out of downtown to visit a marina on the Ottawa River, from where we could properly watch the fireworks. And it was quite the epic show with a fantastic finale!

After this week it was time to move on once again. I really enjoyed the hospitality of Tracey and it was really nice to see Leigh again too! It might take quite a while before I get back to these parts though, so it might have been the last time. I'm heading out West now, to British Columbia, where I hope to get a temporary job and earn some money back.

On July the third Tracey dropped me off outside of a place called Arnprior. It was around 10 or 11 in the morning. Right after I said goodbye and she had driven off and I had walked onto the road a car stopped on the other side. The man inside asked me where I was going, and after telling him he turned his car around to give me a ride. He had passed me when I stepped onto the road and stopped and turned around to ask me what I was up to, so he was actually heading in the right direction! ;-)
At first he was going to drop me off outside of a town in front of North Bay called Mattawa, but he ended up driving me past North Bay instead. I have his wife to thank for that! He had introduced himself as Jason, a military man, and a great person to talk to. We had a nice conversation the entire drive, which took me some 300 kilometers farther! That was farther than I had thought to get that day already, but the day wasn't over yet!

Outside of North Bay I resumed hitching under an overcast sky which threatened with rain. I stood on that side of the road for at least 2 hours I think before finally getting a ride, but I hit the jackpot with that one!
Inside the car I found a guy called Fred, another military man from Quebec, who is heading toward Edmonton, Alberta! So that day I managed to get all the way to Sault. Ste. Marie, quite the achievement I would say!
After spending a night in a motel there we drove on, and yesterday we made it to Thunder Bay! Today he's taking a day off, but tomorrow we will drive on again, who knows how far! He mentioned we might do 700 or maybe even 800 kilometres. I'll have to wait and see!