Hamilton, ON

Day 4:Manning Park Resort to Princeton (Or Where I Met Saint Heather)

Day 4:Manning Park Resort to Princeton (Or Where I Met Saint Heather)

Day 4: Manning Park Resort to Princeton

252km to 320 (68km)

Suggesting Listening:

With the early night last night I’ve found myself pretty much wide awake by 7am. Wade had already left the room to hang out in the lobby to read and attempt to get slightly better access to the terrible wi-fi. With some time to kill I figured I’d start writing a bit of today’s blog as I eat my nutritious breakfast of “sweet chilli heat” Doritos. Hopefully I get something more substantial before we leave.

With what we’re are expecting to be a pretty easy day of riding (minus on substantial hill near the end – nothing compared to yesterday) we’ve opted to take our time leaving this morning. For the most part we’re expecting today to be a much welcomed largely downhill ride into Princeton. Tonight we’re being hosted a woman named Heather that I connected with through couchsurfing. If our communication online is any indication of who she is in person I expect her to be pretty amazing. She was the first person to accept our request for a place to stay and did so with enthusiasm! She is even excited to cook us a vegan and gluten free dinner! Does it get any better than this?

To be continued…

To answer my own question – it does in fact get sooooo much better. But I’ll get to that a bit later in the post.

After packing up Wade and I opted to have breakfast at the resort restaurant and were served there by a lovely waitress who unfortunately I’ve forgot the name of now that it’s late into the evening. As expected the food was totally overpriced and mediocre at best, but at least we had something to eat.

After breakfast (around 10am) we got on the road to begin what as I explained earlier was expected to be a pretty easy day. Besides the small shoulder to ride on the first quarter of our ride started off pretty easily as it was mostly downhill (and not the terrifying kind). After this first quarter of the ride though things changed drastically. There was a hill much more substantial than I think both Wade and I realized along our route and after tackling so many yesterday we weren’t exactly impressed with it. With the weather being 36C for most of our ride we were pretty much dripping sweat the entire time. The comfort of knowing there was a Booster Juice (maybe they’ll read his and give me a free Booster Juice?) in Princeton helped me motivated to push o the through the heat. Besides the big hill there were a couple of other hills while being less substantial still weren’t particularly fun to ride. I recall taking a break with Wade after one of them in some shade and talking about the protein bar I was eating. Having had one of the same bars the other day he remarked at how much he enjoyed it and that he was surprised as many others he had eaten tasted like “someone had shit and than added sand to it”. Just typing that makes me laugh again and again.

After tackling the mountain/hills which felt like they were never ending came some absolutely terrifying downhill. And by terrifying I mean nearly shit your pants scary. To say I tested the limits of my brakes would be an incredible undestatement. If I didn’t have disc brakes I’m certain I would have absolutely nothing left of my brake pad. To make it even more terrifying was there was traffic often quite close by and the roads weren’t exactly the smoothest (read: they sucked). The positive thing is that Wade and I realized today that while I tend to take the uphills quicker than him he’s more comfortable taking the downhills quicker than me so it often balances out well.

Once arriving into Princeton we quickly headed straight to the Booster Juice and indulged. There were met a lovely family that shares our passion for cycling and got to chat a bit about the ride. While drinking my Booster Juice I coulldn’t help, but think about to a summer long ago when my close friend Derek and I would get them all the time. My lovely co-worker and friend Amaris also came to mind as she’s recently become addicted to them as well. After having one today after our ride Wade and I decided that we were going to get one at every opportunity. Booster Juice sponsorship, anyone?

At this point we made our way to our hosts place which was almost literally a stones throw away to unload our gear and have a shower. Our host Heather explained she wouldn’t be back until around 4pm, but had left the place open to us to make ourselves at home. Before getting there though Wade and I had a good laugh about the fact that she lives within sight of an A+W restaurant. Ever since the first day when Wade and I were talking about food and Wade shared with me that A+W adds whey (a milk derivative) to their french fries (which blew my mind and is something we both can’t understand at all) we made a game out of pointing out all the A+W’s along the road. We’ve come to the conclusion that either there are a lot more out here or simply because we’re looking for them they seem to be everywhere.

Once we showered and unloaded our gear Wade and I came to the conclusion that we’ve simply packed too much and that some of it needed to go. Fortunately for us with Princeton being a small town the trip to the post office was only a short walk away. After sending some of our gear back home we went to Shopper’s Drug Mart to get some lip balm. It was here that we met two lovely woman from Montreal that were cycling back home together from Vancouver. Most of our time was spent talking with Isabelle (I hope I’m spelling that right!) and sharing stories about our trips. She explained that she had injured herself and was going to need to take a bit of time of riding and that she felt bad about having the other person she was riding with have to carry on alone. As we discussed our plans for the next day we realized that her friend while having a different end destination would be taking the same route for about half the ride. It was at this time that we got the chance to meet Anne Marie and chat about riding together. Both Anne Marie and Isabelle are students in Montreal. Being someone that loves people I was excited to have her join us and when I discussed the idea with Wade and he was on board with it we all got excited for tomorrow. Knowing tomorrow was going to be another hot day we made plans to meet at 6:30am and to exchanged phone numbers to ensure everything would go smoothly. I promised Isabelle and Anne Marie that I would visit them in Montreal one day when I have the chance so I’m hoping I can find an excuse to get out there sooner than later.

With those super cool plans now in place we made our way back to our hosts place, but not before seeing a mule deer totally just hanging out in the middle of the town eating some plants in front of the library. She was completely unphased by our presence and I was able to get incredibly close without spooking her at all. While soaking in her wonder this absolutely lovely woman came out from the library and started chatting with us. After chatting with her a while we introduced ourselves and chatted about our trip. Introducing herself as Paula she suggested we come inside so she could take a photo of us to spread among all the libraries in BC (I think I’m remembering that correctly). She also shared that she has a personal connection and did an author interview with a woman named Sue Oakley- Baker who published the book “Finding Jim” and has organized for many years an ascent of Mt. Kilmanjaro as a fundraiser for Alzheimer support. Doing this climb officially went on my bucket list! Inside we also met Jeremy that worked at the library and he explained that the news of our trip would be spread among a number of libraries so others could read about it. It was so amazing how one spontaneous conversation with the right person could turn into such a cool opportunity.

After what started as a quick trip to mail our extra things and get some lip balm and turned into an amazing experience of connecting with a ton of beautiful folks we went back to the apartment to meet our host and settle in for the night. Greeted with a hug and smile, I knew INSTANTLY that I was going to get along with Heather. Reflecting on all my amazing couchsurfing experience I must say that this one is definitely among the top. To describe Heather as a saint would be unfair to her as she’s is truly extraordinary. Throughout our few hours together feasting on snacks, dinner and dessert (which were all AMAZING) I learned a lot about her and shared some of my own stories. She also shared some homemade juice from Elder flowers which I couldn’t get enough of. It was so refreshing and delicious. I learned that she’s works as Operator for Weyerhaeuser and she usually works 14 hour shifts! I also learned that among the extensive travelling she has done that she works closely with an orphanage in India and visits every few years. We also had a really great conversation about having children and the responsibility connected to it. She spoke so highly of her 22 year old daughter that I’m now dying to meet her one day! She shared that at 22 years old she’s already been to 6 of the 7 continents in the world. How amazing is that? So amazing!

Heather – I really can’t thank you enough for everything! It honestly feels like a true blessing to have met you!

And as the evening wrapped up we ended it just the same way she started it – with a hug and smile! Time for me to sleep now though as it’s already quite late here we’ve got 115km (I think) of cycling planned for tomorrow.

Lots of love,

PS: I loved this piece of art on Heather’s balcony I couldn’t resist including it in the post.


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