That's not entirely what happened, but traveling by hitchhiking means that your plans mean nothing and you have to adapt to how situations evolve. Simply put, you might not make it, you might make it, or you might overshoot your target by far! In this case, I didn't make it.
Unfortunately I have forsaken the duty of writing in my journal and the blog for a little while already, and I forgot pretty much all the names of people giving me rides considering most of them were short.
When I set back out onto the road I had to wait for nearly an hour before I got my first ride.
Somebody else did pull over before, but they were heading to Jasper up north, while I was trying to go further west and then south. The people who picked me up were an American couple on a holiday trip.
During the ride through the mountains we saw really long trains going up the mountain to our right and going into a tunnel. The American couple pulled over to take pictures of the train (which are truely long in these parts, some of the ones I saw later on took several minutes to pass me!) driving into the tunnel. I was told that there is some sort of spiral tunnel inside the mountain, made specifically to stop the trains from derailing and crashing. Previously they just rode down the mountains but in doing so they gained too much speed and crashes were very common.
Now though there was a solution cut out on the inside of the mountain, like long rounding mining tunnels. Amazing!
They drove me a little bit further but had to turn off somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and so they dropped me off at the side of the highway. I stood for half an hour or so in the valley before I got my next ride.
Inside the car were a man and a woman, he from Calgary, she from Germany. They had met eachother on that very same day through www.couchsurfing.org, and they planned on doing some hiking in the Glacier National Park. I wanted to get to Revelstoke, from where I needed to turn sout h to Kelowna. Glacier lay before Revelstoke, and so I was offered the choice: they could either drop me off in Golden, or they could take me along into Glacier National Park, where I would be in the middle of nowhere with Golden 75 kilometers behind me and Revelstoke 75 kilometers ahead of me.
I figured the chances of me getting a ride from Golden all the way to Revelstoke were slim, so I decided to join them untill we got to the National Park. We had a very pleasant conversation along the way, and when we found a good parking spot for them to hike from we said goodbye. They walked off to climb a mountain and I stepped back on the road to stick out my thumb again.
The next ride I got took me just a little bit farther, but on this road there was nowhere else to go but to Revelstoke, and I decided to take every ride I could get, no matter how far they went.
The closer I made it toward Revelstoke, the higher the chance I would get there. The man who gave me a ride turned out to be a park ranger. His job consisted solely of attracting bears for studies, both black bears and Grizzlies. The car smelled really bad, and he told me the reason of the smell as we drove off: the back of the truck was filled with rotting meat, as smelly as possible to attract more bears. Great, I caught a ride in a snacktruck for bears! Thankfully the roads are pretty safe and I suppose the bears stay away from them. I got dropped off at another parking spot at the side of the road with a few shacks I could use for shelter should it start to rain. Clouds were forming overhead and they were looking pretty grim.
I managed to evade the rain though, as my next ride pulled out of the parking spot maybe 5 minutes after I set up there. Inside was a woman somewhere in her forties, and she drove me out to Revelstoke. We had a nice conversation on the way there, talking about books. She showed me around downtown for a bit and bought me a tea, and afterwards helped me to find a motel for the night. This motel was recommended to me by the German woman from Couchsurfing, who had stayed there a few days earlier because it was a really cheap place: just 50 dollars or so.
There was a slight mix-up with the room assignments it turned out later in the evening as another family tried to get into my room. Apparently there are multiple keys for rooms, and I was given the wrong one. They headed back to the front office and got a different room from the clerk, so all was well in the end. I got out when it was dark in search of a wifi spot and found one at the restaurant tied to the motel and the gas station (they were all part of eachother).
The next morning I decided to have a slow start and so I sat down outside of the restaurant after getting something to eat at the gas station, and started reading a book.
After maybe ten minutes a man walked up to me who must have been in his forties somewhere as well, and started talking to me. He asked me if I was a hitchhiker, and after I said yes he said he was hitchhiking around B.C as well. He could show me a got spot to get a ride he said.
Now, I have read stories of people being lured off to be robbed this way, but he looked friendly enough and at any rate, I have the means to defend myself if need be. More importantly, I set out hitchhiking because I wanted to learn to trust people more again, and as such I joined him for a walk across town. We crossed a bridge over a river that ran along the town and found ourselves on the edge of it when we reached the other side. This was a good spot for hitchhiking indeed.
We stood there for quite a while however. At first he seemed pleasant enough but he talked a little bit too much for my liking, and after a while he started to become more and more racist.
Thankfully that's when he announced he was going back to town to get something to drink. He asked me to come along but I said I would try to get a ride for a little bit longer.
So he walked back, and I was left alone by the side of the road, and within 5 minutes another car pulled over with a young man inside, around my own age I guess.
He took me farther down the road and dropped me off outside of another town which I can't recall the name off. The road stretched on and disappeared from view a bit further down the road as it bended around a mountain. The other road, the one I actually needed to follow, was closed off for construction and as such I had to make a detour around another town further up ahead.
It took me about half an hour or so before I got another ride from another young men, somewhere in his late twenties. He was very friendly, and he told me about his work planting trees and maintaining the woods of the area. He wanted to become a forest firefighter, and that's why he did the job he was doing now: to better understand the woods and gain some needed experience.
The job he wanted to do sounded extremely risky. In his description it would be required of him to be dropped off at the top of a hill or mountain to fight the fire from there, sort of like a paratrooper.
Ofcourse, on top of a mountain there is no where else to go as the fire creeps up on your position, and the chance of being burned to a crisp are pretty high haha. In essence, they were the 'firefighting special forces'.
He wanted to drop me off at another town, from where I could get on the road toward Kelowna, but as he turned we saw two other hitchhikers standing by the side of the road, so I asked him to let me out a bit farther down the road. I didn't want to get out in front of the other two and perhaps 'steal' a ride they might have been waiting on for hours. My driver understood and ended up driving me quite a bit out of town to make sure I was in a good spot. I thanked him for his troubles and he swung his car around to drive back and resume his own path.
From here it took maybe another half hour before getting a ride. It was a slow day getting rides!
As my new ride pulled over and I ran up I saw the other two hitchhikers I had seen earlier sitting in the back, and after I had gotten in we had a nice conversation while the driver kept pretty quiet in front. One of the hitchhikers was of an Asian descent, while the other was Native-American, with long hear, a throat-beard and feathers in his cap. He was a very charismatic guy, talking like a philosopher. I got along well with both of them. All of us got dropped off at the same spot, some very small village that happened to have a small market going on at the moment, and so we looked around there for a bit before moving on.
When we did, the other two decided to split up as their destination wasn't the same. The Asian fellow (unfortunately I forgot his name because I've known him for only half an hour or so) wanted to go to a different town ahead of us, while me and the Native guy who had introduced himself as Iji-Tada (not sure of the spelling at all haha), "Little Wisdom", wanted to get to Kelowna, and it's really hard to get a ride as a group of three!
So the two of us walked further down the road and stuck our thumbs out.
Fortunately it didn't take long to get a ride which took us down to the next big town which I can't recall the name off. We were well within the city limits however, and it took us a bit of a walk uphill to get to a suitable hitching spot. We stopped at a store to get something to eat and I bought my fellow hitchhiker an iced drink. As we sat down we started talking about nature, philosophy and I ended up talking about Walden by Thoreau, which he had heard of but never read.
So I dug into my backpack and fished out my copy and let him read a few passages, which he seemed to like very much.
As we prepared to leave we met another traveler walking past. Iji-Tada had a habit of calling out to pretty much everybody, especially people who seemed to be traveling like us, or those who were Native as well. "Brother!" he would call out, and he'd run over to them for a chat. A little bit earlier we chatted to an elderly Native woman who asked him if he needed some money, and she dug out all her small change and poured them into his hands. He had a high regard for the elderly like most Natives seem to do, and he was very respectful and thankful. Quite the social fellow haha!
When we got back on the road we managed to get another ride, this time from an older woman somewhere in her sixties or thereabouts, who drove us to another small town just a bit north of Kelowna. She told us there were cherry orchards here as well and since both of us were looking for a job, we wrote down the adress and the phone number of one of the orchards.
Both of us had somebody to meet in Kelowna though. Iji-Tada had to meet up with his uncle, and earlier on the day I had phoned to an acquaintance of Leigh that had answered to her plea on Facebook to find me some possible places to stay for a few days during my travels.
So we got out on the road once more, and after just a few minutes we managed to get our last ride of the day who took us the rest of the way to Kelowna and dropped us off at a university.
We both called our contacts and waited. Iji-Tada's uncle got there sooner and so we said goodbye and wished eachother good luck with the rest of our adventures. I remained seated at the bus-stop and started reading from my book again, untill I was asked if the seat next to me was available by a girl with a French accent. It was, and so she sat down next to me and I started a conversation.
She had been in B.C for a few months and was now waiting on the bus to the airport, to head back to Quebec and her family.
Soon after my contact, Tim, showed up with his wife Luzia (I'm afraid I don't quite know how to spell the name!), and considering the airport was just down the road Tim offered to drive her there.
She seemed a bit reluctant at first, not used to getting rides from strangers, but accepted the ride.
When we had brought her to her destination and saving her some time, we now drove to Tim's house where I could stay for a few days as I looked for a job.
There house was beautiful and the air-conditioning felt great after a long day out in the sun.
The next few days I spent exploring downtown Kelowna, and Tim and Luzia showed me a local winery, a really fance place with it's own clocktower.
The entrance to the winery
This area is sometimes used as an outdoor theatre
The view from right next to the tower
Inside the winery
I had a few very pleasant days this way, and eventually I found a job picking fruit.
When I called I got told I could go there the next day, and I could camp out on the farm.
The same day I found a job I requested a SIN (Social Insurance Number) card at Service Canada, and was able to use Tim's adress for this. No adress, no card, and you need to have one though you can use the number straight away.
The next day I got a bus to the farm as far as I could, but ended up climbing the hill up which took me nearly an hour with my heavy backpack. As a Dutchman I am not used to anything more than a bump in the road so this walk was quite hellish haha. I've been to the French Pyrenees and the Belgian Ardennes though, but that has been quite a while ago and I'm not accustomed to walking up a slope anymore!
I settled at the farm after meeting the raspberry farmer called Dan, who is a very nice man who looks after his workers really well. He came back from town after picking up another person who wanted to work, and she was walking to the area where we could pitch our tent.
She was from France, and after we had set up our tents we walked down the other side of the big hill we are on to get some food from one of the stores there. When we got back the other people camping at the farm had returned from downtown. They were all from Quebec.
The next day another two girls from Quebec arrived. I was surrounded by French-speaking people, but furtonately they tried their best to speak English when I was around even though they occasionally fall back (understandably) to their native tongue.
In the next few days three people of the existing camping party left, a guy and two girls, leaving me with one other guy and three girls. They are all really nice and at this point the amount of English spoken increased dramatically haha.
I spent the past week working in the morning and relaxing or walking to town in the afternoon with my new friends at the farm, and that's what I will continue to do for the coming week.
Unfortunately two of the girls on this picture (the two in the centre, Catherine and Chai) have continued on. We are now with the three of us, Anne-Sophie on the right and Olivier, not on the photo.