Friday, June 29, 2007

The Peg for a few days...

So what have I been up to for the last little while?

Finding my joy in cycling again, seeing this country and enjoying the views, the rain, the wind, the people. The joy of this tour for me has been the kind people that I have met, people that share their lives and homes with me as I go. One day I decided to do something a little crazy. I put in 301km in one day on the old bike! This was something I never thought I would be able to do. Definitely a challenge for myself. I put in almost 11 hours on the bike that day, the sun slowly, every so slowly sinking into Canada's prairie. Giving me as much time as it could to allow me to reach my goal. I had to turn off the Trans-Canada at about 10pm. I was afraid of getting under the wheels of some nice truck as it got dark. As I began winding my way down a nice little rural road, a dear came out to greet me, leaping over the fence on the side of the road it helped push me on. I finally stopped at 301km on the doorstep of a nice couple who didn't even flinch when I knocked on their door at 10:45pm and asked if I could camp in their backyard. They didn't miss a beat. Offered me a hot chocolate. I sat talked and celebrated with the lovely people of Manitoba. This is a day I will never forget.

The next night was another great surprise. I met Dan and Jordan who are cycling across Canada this summer as well. It was a wonderful opportunity to sit and chat with other people who are really cycling across Canada. The next day I rode with them to Winnipeg enjoying the sun and laughing along the way. I wish them the best on their trip.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 24-28 - Moose Jaw, SK to Winnipeg, MB

I woke up to thunder at 5am in Moose Jaw, SK, got out of the tent and saw dark clouds to the horizon. Not wanting to pack-up in the rain, I started packing my stuff away. Derek got up and started to do the same. The storm passed with barely a drop of rain. I started putting my tent back up. I wanted more sleep, and sleep I got. I woke at 8am, ate breakfast with one of our hosts, Fred, and was on the road by 9am, riding to Regina against the wind. By the end of the weekend in Regina, I just felt depressed. I'd lost my mojo for cycling, playing - I was on the verge of quitting. Sunday night after our show at The Club, I felt exhausted and sick. The next morning I decided it was best for my mental health to be alone. It was a good thing, too, because the next few days were my hardest mentally, by far, on this entire trip.

The first day was spent cyling into the rain and wind, going slow as molasses, and my trailer got a flat when the rain was at its worst. I felt so tired and sick at one point that I actually took a nap on the side of the highway, while the rain fell on my face. It was... a rough day. I only made it 90km - 30 less than I needed to keep pace for Brandon. I was worried I wasn't going to make it, that I might have to hitch-hike my way there, but thankfully the wind had changed direction by morning and was at my back. Taking advantage of the good wind fortune, I cycled 225km to Oak Lake, MB, where my friend Tannis Slimmon grew up. I asked some folks who were gardening there if they knew her, and if they knew anyone who might be willing to have me camp in their yard, and Pete and Marion Masson volunteered their yard to me. I ate heavy there (more pork liver pate wraps) and slept well, but woke up to a freezing cold north-east wind. And guess what direction I was heading to Brandon? That's right - North-East. So, of the 55kms I had to cycle to get to Brandon, I spent about 45km of it fighting against the bitter-cold wind, wearing my winter gloves, sweater and jacket. The three days of cycling were physically exhausting, and when I got to Brandon my tiredness showed. Susan, who owns Scarlatti's, kindly warmed me up with a pumpkin-pie flavoured caffeinated beverage. Yum! I played the show well (very much exciting Susan, who said my tunes "turned her on" - ha ha), made decent money, sold some discs, and - hallelujah! - was offered a ride to Winnipeg by a nice kiwi man named Cameron. The debate of "cycle-trip pureness VS car-pool chance for some extra rest" did not last long, as I have been experiencing knee-pain again, as well as a new development - numbness in two fingers on my left hand. So off we went, chatting the whole way to Winnipeg, arriving just before 1am at my friend Chris' place. I stayed up late e-mailing Asta, and slept super-well.

Today I have been able to relax, do laundry, and get bits of business done. It has been good, and I am once again feeling happy about most things on this tour.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pics 2

Do I really need to explain this?

So imagine this times 100...
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies

This are big hills in these parts! All jokes aside I have found this province very beautiful and much more interesting than I thought it would be.

They get snow in June... no its part of a salt mine.

I do believe in the Flat Earth Society now!

Regina looks closer than it is...

Riding into Regina felt like my first true prarie experiance. You could see the city 25km before you arrive. It seems as if they put the road away from the town, it seems to just sit still, looking at you saying "You are not allowed in!" But alas I found a way in, found the bike shop and bought all the bits I needed to tune up the bikes. The best part of leaving Moose Jaw was breakfast, I found a place that had a good old fashioned breakfast that only cost me 3.17$ what a deal! I thought the guy was kidding at first.

Johnny woke up at 5:15am and starting packing his stuff because it seemed like there was a big storm coming and he didn't want to pack in the rain or wet. I got up as well in a daze and started packing, the storm passed with our more than a few drops, he put his tent back up and I just left real early. I get the feeling that he doesn't really enjoy camping that much, packing wet is part of the deal sometimes, not getting up at 5:15am to avoid a little rain!

That evening we played a concert at Lorinda and Kirks place. It was nice to play a show again that didn't have so many coffee machines making noise. The accoustic in the basement was a treat as we had some natural reverb.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 21 - Moose Jaw, SK - in the heat

skin sizzles beneath this sun
each second deeper sinks
the burn

I can feel it out there
an apparition in a bad horror flick
a laugh maniacal
behind a useless wall

still and lethargic
hard to get up for it
for anything at all

so here I sit
trying to will coolness
feel - really feel - the fan's breeze hit
any semblance
of respite
of breeze
of "aaaaaah - that's it"

June 20 - Besant Campground, SK

Today the day feels long.

We stopped early, a little over 30km west of Moose Jaw, at this campsite.
We swam, sat soaking the sun, ate a big dinner.
By that point, I felt cooked, full.

I just napped for a couple of hours.
My book put me to sleep.
Yes, it really is that dull.
(Perhaps I have been pampered
by Guy Gavriel Kay and Paulo Coelho
but shouldn't all my reading stand strong with these?
My apologies, David Sedaris - you are not in their league.)

I sleep again.

June 18 - Tompkins, SK

Wrote a song today
joyed by the sunshine
reassurance for my heart
so astonished to know affection again
to feel it coming back

She is in my mind's eye
all the time


"Got you live on my mind, all the time" - Bruce Cockburn

Moose Jaw!

Well we arrived in great time so are relaxing a little. Yesterday we got to go for a swim as we stopped early as we both wanted to do the same thing, play guitar! I finished another song so that's now 3 new tunes that I have written on this tour. Moose Jaw is a cute little town, the nicest we have been in for a long time. We have another interview with CBC in a little while which should be fun. The Cafe in Moose is a sweet little spot so it should be a fun show tomorrow. The sun has been giving us what for after all the complaining we did about the rain so I will just burn with a smile on my face.

Peace and sunshine to all today!

PS can anyone tell me why this town is called Moose Jaw?


Monday, June 18, 2007

Pics 1

So to make things easier for people to find I will just label the picture posts Pics, hows that for easy.

A nice rainbow at the end of the day, they always make me think of my Mom.

A blurry pic of Johnny in Lethbridge, read his post about that gig and you will understand why it should be blurry.

Notice the funnel cloud in the middle....

Before the hail we were riding through... and the funnel

This can't be good....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

June 16 - just east of Bow Island, AB

This was not my best day. After a lacklustre gig in Lethbridge last night, where the patrons were there to party and could care less about us (Derek played AC/DC - that should tell you enough about it), I felt physically off today while struggling against the wind and some more strange weather that wouldn't settle in to hot or cold, rain or shine. My one highlight of the day was a yelling conversation with a farmer:

"How far are you going?"
"All the way to Halifax!"
"Good for you!"

Kind of lifted my spirits a bit. The rest of my day was spent in a vacuous head-space, pr pondering how horses, llamas and cows take great interest in us, or reminiscing about the beautiful Asta K (our hostess in Vernon, BC), who I have kept in touch with because she drew my interest back there and, well, I am one to follow-up on my interests, as is evidenced by this trip.

After a terrible sleep last night thanks to some mice and drunken neighbors, I am set to go to bed early. Tomorrow we rise early to ride the remaining 45km to Medicine Hat to play our Jazz Festival gig at Cafe Caprice at 2pm. I hope I am not too rusty, because I plan to play some more-jazzy tunes that I haven't played much at all, or yet, on this tour.


a poem before bed:

Your smile: an infectious grip at my collar: "Get up! You dullard! Embrace me, or love this air between us but do not sit one moment longer letting my heart pass by when yours flutters at my motions." I watch long you move quiet eyes swallowing grace given by an attitude a strength commanding respect and seducing some adoration out of me To hold your hips hold you to me under a leaf-scattered moon or on a breeze of soft beach I could hold content holding those hips watching your smile lips lasting ages in my mind and if there were any quiet glint of light in your eye kiss for some eternity For when that kiss stops it is gone forever So, it must last as long as it takes to commit every curve and crevice of each lip its parting its moisture to my memory forever I daydream of you and this and more as my days pass me closerto, if only, a look your face that smile your hair brushing gentle on my hand on your cheek: a quiet hello of affection before we

June 14 - Lethbridge, AB

The Main Street Cafe in Nanton was a badly needed wonderful show, with an attentive and responsive audience, and kind and accommodating owners. After some rough weather and tough shows, it lifted our spirits back to happiness, reminding us of why we do this. Many thanks to Pam and Kevin for having us in, and at their home.

On the way to Lethbridge today, we met every kind of weather imaginable: sun, cloud, rain, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning, hot, cold, freezing - even a funnel cloud started its way down. It has been a wild welcome to the flat lands so far!

We just went to an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet, thinking our voracious cycling appetites would make us bank-breakers, but we quickly realized that, while we do eat a lot, we eat often and small, and our stomachs are actually smaller than they were before the trip began. So, Derek is on a walk to either burn it off or be sick, and I am lying down letting my gut work through it. I ate a little less than Derek, so I think I am a little better off than him, but boy is my stomach bloated!

I am finding myself wondering how Asta K is (from back in Vernon) - she had a big exam Tuesday, and I wonder if it went well....

We are currently camped in the very small back "yard" of a girl named Meghan, who works at The Slice, and was kind enough to offer us this space to camp in. We're a little nervous about the show tomorrow a) because there are a couple of bands playing that we weren't told about, b) because it is a bar, and we're not really bar music, and c) because we were guaranteed money and a meal, but have no idea how they will afford that with two other bands playing. Wish us luck! (We might need it.)

June 13 - between Black Diamond, AB and Nanton, AB - staring at open fields

I could see why
they were environmentalists
and nature worshippers:
The majesty of the mountains
and ferocity of the rivers
could not be ignored.
Nature was a force there.

I can see why
these are god-lovers
and clear thinkers:
The beautiful broadness
and empty simplicity
causes one to stare out,
pondering the meaning of things.
God helps fill the spaces here.

June 11 - Calgary, AB

Long time enduring this slowed heart
aching for the pulse to quicken
beauties come and gone in fits of attraction
when passion was loose, too easily forgotten

So good, to be back on my heart again
feeling promise and prospect
possibility and imagination
all of which and come to nothing
if that is what will happen -
the chance to feel excited again
will remain appreciated
the change of heart
will be permanent

I will no longer accept
anything less
than a heart laid down
on the spectrum of love
whether beginning an attraction
with quiet admiration
or with loud despair
watching long love end

It is deserving that drives me to this
I have it coming
I have paid my respects
I have given my hommage

Powers that make hearts dance,
be gracious unto me -
I've spent long times enduring
this slow heart aching

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cones in the sky.. no not ice cream

I am sitting in the lovely public library in Lethbridge Alberta. It was a "fun" ride getting here. There was an amazing wind at our backs most of the day, what a joy wind is, when its at your back. The crazy part was when it started to rain, then hail, then I saw a cone forming in the sky, yes a tornado type cone up in the sky. As I wondered if it was going to touch down and take me for the ride of my life, what did I do, stopped to take a few pictures of course! It wasn't a huge cone but for a guy from a place than never sees things like that it was enough to make me a little excited lets say. Well it went away and did try and make me go really fast on my bike. Sorry no pics right now but I can't hook up my camera to this library computer.

the show in Nanton was great, a real joy to play to an audience that listens to every word you sing and really feeds you the energy you always want to get back! Main Street Cafe Nanton Alberta, more kind folks! Tonight we play the Slice Bar and Grill here in Lethbridge which is perfect because I have been craving Pizza like a mad man!

I'm going to sit in a park, play some guitar and work on some new songs I have been bouncing around in my head on our nice long bike rides.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Calgary and the end of the mountains...

Well as I sit and type this in more or less flat Calgary I will soon have lots of time to reflect on the wonderful riding in the mountains. As we rode out of Canmore I kept looking back wishing it wasn't over... I don't know when I will be in those mountains again so I tried to enjoy every minute of it.

Things have been interesting to say the least, some gigs have been a little rough around the edges, lots of press, radio, all the right things just not a lot of bums in seats. The thing that has kept my spirits up is the kindness of others, it has been amazing. This trip has given me hope in people, how kind they really can be. Johnny and are also starting to find ways to share the stage more and more which is good. Both of us have felt that we are very different and not always inclined to share the stage but are finally finding a way to make it all work. I will be curious to see what happens with the show as it continues to progress.

The good gigs of recent however have been at the Artists B'n'B which was great! I lovely place, made all the more enjoyable by its owner Victoria. The show was one to be treasured as people were all ears and I could see peoples reactions to some of the lines in my songs, what a treat.

Vernon was also a good gig, I played for about 3 hours that night as I was feeling a little homesick and just wanted to play until I was ready to fall over. After just about every song I could think of I packed it in and was still be asked to play more. I went to sleep that night by the river and slept like the dead with soar fingers and throat, a good feeling.

Today was funny as we did a little interview with the CBC and they played back some of the clips from the first interview and we could hear how things have changed even in this first month. I wonder what we will be saying in another few weeks...


June 9 - Calgary, AB - at the home of Amy Dryer and Aaron Jensen

long week
rain and cold
climbing hot sweat from the ascent
chilling in the down breeze

shows cancelled
finances weak
tensions riding high
as though on a wire
with not but the raging flood river below
to break our fall

what sweet respite it is
to come to old friends
relax in simple luxuries
before, taken for granted:

hot meals
soft cushions
cold beer
a movie
a good night's sleep

you can't pay for these things
but you can tally your blessings

June 7 - Field, BC

not the beauty of the mountains
not the quiet of the town
not the vibrant cafe
not the wonderful smells and tastes

the kindness of the people
will bring me back to Field
in heart-beat

June 6 - Golden, BC

It's the off-season
the river's floodin'
there ain't no show in Golden, baby

I been climbin'
I got soakin'
I ain't too happy in Golden, baby

So if you got somethin'
that'll get me back smilin'
please send it on to Golden, baby

June 4 - Rogers Pass, BC

I have had some redemption! This morning I shooed three baby deer off the road so that they wouldn't get hit.

Today was an extra-long one - from 6AM to 6PM - but very productive. I cycled a little over 100km, including a trip in and out of Revelstoke in the morning to get CD covers printed, go to the bank, and buy a bike pump, patch-kit and tire irons.

The climb up Rogers Pass was difficult only because I did it at the end of a long day that included rain a-plenty. Compared to the peaks going from Hope to Keremeos, I found the climbing relatively easy. Of course, I am a stronger cyclist now. (The Kiwi fellow I met yesterday said he'd much rather go from east to west over Rogers, but I am learning something about the cyclist's perspective: the downs always seem steeper than the ups. When you are screaming down a hill at 50km/h, you can't help but think, "Boy, am I ever glad I am going down this!")

Tonight I am dealing with bugs for the first time on this trip - good prep for Manitoba and Ontario! I ate dinner inside my tent to avoid being a meal myself.

I am wondering where Derek's at right now - if he's ahead or behind me. At times I miss his guidance and company, while at others I am glad for what I figure is a healthy break. I am a very independent person who likes his personal space, and I can go a bit bananas when in close quarters with anyone for days on end. I am also glad not to watch Derek hurtling down hills at 70km/h through snow tunnels with no shoulders to speak of - too many visions of gruesome death there.


It is now 2:43AM. I've slept for seven hours already. I went up to go pee, and decided I wanted to listen to tunes. I am now going to drift off to "La Vie en Rose". Yes, life is surreal.

June 4 - Revelstoke, BC - 7AM

It was a stormy, restless night. The wind was whipping through the valley....

It sounds like a horror movie, but it is the beginning of my story from last night. I was camped by the highway with trucks and trains rolling by all night. I woke up around 4:30am, and I was on the road by 5:45. Now I am sitting in a cafe in Revelstoke, waiting for Coopers Foods to open so I can get some supplies for the climb up to Rogers' Pass. Word on the street is that heavy rains are coming, which bodes ill for Derek and I, but by hook or by crook we will both make it, I am sure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

June 3 - Victor Lake, BC - camped by the side of the highway

After a sweaty, hot night of restless tossing and turning in Sicamous, it took me a while to get going this morning. Derek left early at 9AM to try to make it to Glacier National Park (130kms or so) before nightfall so that he can go hiking tomorrow. I decided to take four days instead of three to get to Golden, making each day shorter, and didn't set off until noon. Besides another wipe-out providing more skin wounds, and a nice long chat with a Kiwi cyclist around 3PM, my day was pretty uneventful. I told myself I'd stop around 7PM, and did, after having covered 64km.

Some things I became aware of today:
1. How much more comfortable I am when Derek and I are cycling together. It has its checks and balances, and the break from each other is probably good for our sanity's sake, but overall it feels smarter and safer to ride together.
2. How sad I get when leaving good people and places behind. I had way too good a time in Vernon, and way too good a show in Sicamous, and now I am paying for it emotionally. I've been this way all my life.

I am now camping alone at the side of the Trans-Canada highway, preparing for another trip up a mountain, hoping it will go smoothly because I am melancholic right now. The hardest part of being a wanderer is having to leave behind you what you would love to stay with. My plan, after several years now of touring music and moving around, is to take a respite from it, save some money to make a new album, and spend time writing songs. Victoria has been growing in my mind as a place I might like to do this. It is a beautiful place, by the ocean, with a thriving little art community, and many people I like very much. It seems teeming with possibilities for me....

June 2 - Vernon to Sicamous, BC - at the Artist B'n'B!

In the morning I felt invigorated and energized, partly from the good sleep and partly from the good conversation the night before. I barely noticed the ride to Sicamous.

We arrived at the Artist B'n'B at 5pm and reveled in the beauty of its surroundings, the funky coloured exterior, the classy artistic interior, the lake available for swimming at the end of another scorching day, and the strong appreciative crowd who came out to support the way we are traveling. The B'n'B's living room was a perfect space to play in. I felt entirely comfortable performing, feeling a complete freedom to play whatever came to my head, which is sadly a real treat for the touring musician, though it should not be AT ALL. The audience really enjoyed Derek & I's differences and how we dynamically bounce off of one another. A few people were visibly emotionally moved by my songs, which was very satisfying, since that is the point of them - to give people a feeling that is worth experiencing.

June 1 - Vernon, BC - House Concert @ Asta K's

We had a hard day getting from Winfield to Vernon because the distance was longer than we expected, the hills were steeper, the heat was scorching, and we were hung-over from bottles of red wine graciously provided by our hostess Kerry the night before. I woke up feeling nautious, which only intensified as the day went on, until only a few kilometres from Asta K's place I had to pull over to be sick. Shortly thereafter, Derek had to pull over to cool down. It was mutually agreed that heavy imbibing the night before biking was NOT a good idea. =) As seems the theme of my trip so far, a guardian angel again appeared to help me out - two, in fact. The first was a woman who had been at our Winfield show and just happened to be passing by checking her mail. She offered to take my gear up to Asta's for me, making my load lighter, and gave Derek and I cool drinks. Second was Ty, the boyfriend of one of our hostesses (Kris) that night, who came to give me a lift up the last few kilometres. Derek, of course, refused to get in a car (he has promised himself no motor vehicles for the duration of this trip), and cycled the rest of the way up (he is hard-core cycle man!). Both of us felt immensely better upon arrival and immersion in cold water, Derek in a shower and I buck naked in a creek that ran through the property, which was idyllic: Three beautiful log cabins tucked away in thick woods with the mentioned creek running through it, complete with a foot bridge made of planks on fallen trees and a wading pool in front of a small waterfall. If Asta and Kris' home was by the ocean and had a garden, I would be tempted to stay with them and never leave. As it was, I was pretty tempted anyway, and had no desire to leave in the morning. Asta and Kris put on the ritz, setting up a little festival-like stage for us complete with cedar boughs and Christmas lights, and a tickle-trunk provided some fantastic costumes that came in handy towards the end of our performance. People kept arriving as the evening deepened, bringing food for a pot-luck and tents to camp in. It was the last day of classes for Asta et al at their massage therapy school, so a party was gearing up. We played an acoustic set (our second such show in as many nights) that tested the limits of our voices and our knowledge of and willingness to play loud party songs. During our break, though, Ty brought us a little amp and microphone, and we got ourselves plugged-in for the second set. After that, things really perked up. People got dancing and enjoying themselves, and Derek whipped out a ton of party tunes he knows. I finished up my night before him, played "My Hammerhead Baby" after dropping my vest and drawers, exposing a shiny red sleeveless shirt, 1980s aviator sunglasses and a skin-tight pair of black and white vertical striped pants that apparantly looked quite good on me. After I finished playing, I felt mellow and famished. Our lovely hostess Asta whipped me up a super salad and even better conversation until 2AM when I had reached my zenith of exhaustion. I went back to my tent by the brook and made sweet love to the Sandman for 7 hours or so, experiencing THE best sleep in my memory.

June 1 - Oyama, BC

Where does love quiet the soul
on nights when blossoms mellow the air
and the crevices in a beautiful hand
can be traced to "I Only Have Eyes for You"?

Where is that porch candle glowing
warm on a full cheek at the edge
of an easy smile like home?

Bring me there
and make it by the sea
so I can smell salt on the air
and taste it on my lover's skin

From Sea to Sky...

A whole lot of pictures in this one finally. Problems have been large thee days, Johnny's computer died which is what we have been using to upload pics, my spare hard drive is on the fritz... things of a mechanical nature don't like this trip so far... enjoy the pics and more stories to come.


This is THE place to be in the Rockies, forget Jasper, Banff, go to FIELD! We played a show at Truffle Pigs and were welcomed with open arms by Sean and Jen. Also amazing was the fact that a large portion of the small town is from Quebec so it felt like home to me.
On the way to Truffle Pigs in Field

On my way up one of the mountains I saw this, pushing through the asphalt... Nature will survive no matter what we do to her...

At the summit of Rogers Pass I took a picture of the tour leader! He is my guide home as two of my favorite people who are waiting for me can tell you, ask me about SpongeBob.

As we rode through the mountains I took countless pictures, all the while thinking that no image can do them justice, they need to be walked in, cycled, something that lets you feel the change in temperature, the smells, they need to be lived. Go and live them if you haven't before, even if you have go again.

On the way to Field BC, mountains feed my soul, feed Johnny's frustration!

Golden under water... the river is really high while we were there, so were some of the people but more on that later...

That sign says $1.28 for gas in Golden BC!!!! Long live bike tours!!!

The summit of Alison Pass, Johnny's BIG fear!

Outside Charlies in Winfield, our own sandwich board...

The house concert at the Artists BnB was a wonderful treat, a hot day of biking then into the lake.

Live up at Asta K's in Vernon. We dressed up in costumes for fun that night, you should have seen what was under the nice clothes!