“I think it’s neat you do what you want. Not enough chicks do that, if you ask me–just tell society and their expectations to go fuck themselves. If more women did that, we’d be better off.”
― Cheryl Strayed,
I almost forgot to get my passport out of my trunk before passing the boarder. As I crossed over the border the only differences, that stood out to me, were speed limits in kmh and gas is sold by the liter.
Vancouver was beautiful! I stayed in a hostel that was 90% Australians. They had free walking tours, so I joined one that went to Granville Island. A few of us stayed on the island and did a brewery tour of course. The group that stayed for the brewery tour friended each other on facebook and I ended up having two friends in common with one of them. Talk about small world! You know you travel a lot when that happens.
That night I met up with a girl I met in one of the Austin hostels I stayed at (not the smelly guy one). We had some amazing sushi, then headed back to the hostel bar to watch a rock paper scissors tournament. They had a referee on the mic and everyone was shouting for a winner. I arrived too late to join, but it was still fun to watch.
The next day was 4/20, which in Vancouver is apparently a holiday. There were different stages in town for the people talking about how marijuana should be legalized. It is medically legal there, so there was a lot for sale all around. There was also a whole event on the beach, so when I drove by on my way out of Vancouver there was a huge cloud of smoke in the air.
I also stopped at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. This was one of the top things people told me to do while in Vancouver. It was a beautiful day to be there. I was able to do the whole park in an hour. They have the 460ft suspension bridge along with a nice nature and cliff walk. There is also a tree tops adventure that made me feel like I was in the Ewok village in Return of the Jedi.
I made my way towards Banff, which meant that I am technically not only half way through my trip but “on my way home”. I had a few long drives ahead of me, so I downloaded Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Several people had recommended this book to me along my travels. I really enjoyed this book. It got me thinking about my trip and my future. What will I be doing with my life at the end of this adventure? It might have been the gloomy weather that I had for multiple days or being alone, but I definitely started to become uneasy. At the same time, I know this journey of mine is a once in a lifetime opportunity that not many people get the chance to experience. I have seen some incredible things and have met so many amazing people along the way. I can relate to Cheryl in Wild. I am not on a dangerous adventure where losing my shoes could mean a painful road ahead. I am a single female alone on an adventure, not knowing where I am going. “Fear, to an extant, is born of a story we tell ourselves.” The unknown of my future is terrifying, exhilarating, and calming at the same time.
“I realized there was nothing to do but go, so I did”. By the time I made if to Banff, the weather was overcast. Banff is still a very beautiful area. I spent some time relaxing in the Banff upper hot springs since the weather wasn’t good enough for a hike and my emotions needed a break. The next day I headed to Lake Louise which was frozen, but still picturesque.
That night I went to Saskatoon to meet up with my friend I met 6 years ago in New Zealand. She lives in a tiny town called Bruno with a population of 574. Her family lives close by in St. Benedict with a population of 82 (town fire hall pictured below). This is my third time visiting and every time I have been, everyone makes me feel so welcome. They are always trying to get me to move there. I was offered to work on the farm! She now has an adorable 15 month old daughter, who is so much fun. The first night I was there, my friend and her husband took me to all the bars in the area and of course they knew almost everyone. I continue to learn something new about farming every time I visit. For instance, I learned about elevators while visiting an old abandoned one.
The weather was still overcast as I headed back to the United States of America. I crossed over into Montana where I drove through various small towns. A friend had called me as I was driving and an alarm was going off. I was looking for an emergency vehicle, but there were none in site. My friend notified me that it was probably a tornado alarm. I’m learning so much on this trip, but thankfully I didn’t have to learn anything more about tornados.
I drove all the way to Rapid City, SD. There is so much to see in this area. I went to the Badlands National Park, where bighorn sheep roam throughout. The different colors in the sedimentary layers of the land is striking.
Mt Rushmore is about 1.5 hours from Badlands National Park. I was thrilled to experience a clear view of the presidents before the clouds moved over and I couldn’t see anything. I felt bad for the people walking in with nothing to look at.
I headed over to Crazy Horse, hoping the clouds hadn’t engulfed that monument as well. Thankfully, it was still visible. Crazy Horse is funded by admissions and contributions and if completed will be the world’s largest sculpture.
The last thing I did that day was take a nice drive through Custer State Park. Definitely a must do if you are in the area. The foggy weather made it extraordinary. I can only imagine what its like on a nice day.
With another 5 nights of solitude ahead I’ll leave you with one last ‘Wild’ quote: “Maybe I was more alone than anyone in the whole wide world. Maybe that was okay.”