I am day seven into my three week motorcycle road trip, and have finally wandered into the Canadian Rockies land. I have ridden over 1350 miles, not a big deal for people who rack up the miles, but quite good for me, considering two years ago when I first started riding and went on my first motorcycle road trip, my average all-day ride distance was a mere 150 miles. Here have been the significant events of the first week:
Day 1: GPS navigation would not work right when I started my trip. This has never happened. I decided to deal with it later, but before I crossed the border and was still in REI-land. After a little fiddling, I discovered the micro-SD card’s cage was not in the locked position, and so the card was slipping. Solved.
Day 2: Camera stopped working; the shutter release button would not answer my command. In the past this was solved by switching to relying on the battery pack’s shutter release button, only I did not bring the battery pack on this trip. I opened and popped out and pushed back in both the memory card and battery – and the camera started working again. Thank goodness, because these towns are so basic, I doubt they would contain a proper camera store, and by this point the big cities were all several hours away.
Day 5: Had a bit of a concerning situation, not exactly a medical situation but I should probably see a doctor when I get back. Or it could just be the stress of riding solo, knowing I have limitations, and being hyper alert for deer-moose-livestock-mountain goats-sheep-caribou-ducks that Canada signage says could cross the highway at any moment. In addition I have been pretty tired this whole trip, probably in part because of the stress of over conscientiousness. To hopefully ward off anemia, I have started self-medicating with iron supplements, as I need to manage 500+ pounds of motorcycle and gear in addition to keeping an eye out for that ever growing list of animals.
Day 6: All of my food was stolen: bear canister, 10 days worth of food, with special planning and food for the three day mountaineering course I have in a couple of days. I wanted to cry. I even took extra effort to remove the bear canister for a thirty minute hike, put it five feet behind my motorcycle at the edge of the asphalt and beginning of the foliage. Gone. And not by a bear. It is already often hard for me to eat at this point in time, and I can actually manage what I packed in there. I have not seen such food options out here as I packed in mind for the snow and ice course. At least it is just food, and there are a couple of days to scramble and get replacements before the course.
My best theory, as well as the theory of a couple people who were in the trailhead parking lot, were that the Parks Canada women who were cleaning the washroom as I left may have taken it, thinking it was not mine, but left behind by someone. I got a hold of the Parks Canada dispatch number, was pointed in the direction of a pay phone, had to remember how a pay phone worked (thank goodness they still exist). The woman on the other end of the dispatch line went out of her way to try and radio the cleaning crew to no avail, and connected me to leave a message with the lost and found office, whose caretaker was at lunch. She also gave me directions to the Parks Canada Jasper compound. When I showed up, the workers were super helpful. Maybe because I was on a motorcycle, or maybe because my story was so bizarre and they had already heard pieces of it, or maybe because they do not have interesting things like this come up every day. Regardless, everyone tried to pitch in to solve this mystery with new ideas, and followed all potential leads. It was almost fun if I was not fearful and sinking inside. A few hours after its disappearance, someone finally made contact with the cleaning crew, and they had indeed taken it. They hand delivered it to me, and explained that the policy is that they have to remove any visible food, regardless of whether it is a bear-proof container. I was already impressed with how helpful the dispatch office and people at the Parks Canada compound were, but was also impressed with the cleaning crew: they opened my canister, saw my contact information in the lid (a good last-minute decision on my part), and left me a voicemail, and by the timestamp, did so right away. Only because I am out of the country, I had not received the voicemail yet because I have only been accessing my phone services when on wifi.
So there are days like that.
But then, there are days like this, perfection aligned in the same space and time:
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