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Cruisin' Canada

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Greetings from the boat (with a Canadian accent, of course) on the way from Victoria to Seattle!  The sun is setting on the San Juan islands and the seas or dead calm as the catamaran zips along cuttin’ buttah.  I had no idea what to expect when I finally reached Canada, especially being a new father and coming in fresh from Spain with only a few days to prepare for the final haul south to Cali.  I figured it would all just fall into place and, as always, it did.  But in Canada it fell into, well, perfect place.  Man, I LOVE Canada !  If you’ve never been up here, come one!  Get out n about n check it out, eh? (again, all with Canadian accents)

Okay, so fresh in from Spain the bike was under mom’s piano in pieces, gear scattered in every direction after coming in from Guatemala in July, and somehow I had just a few days to put it all together.  But now I was not only panning my expedition but also a new expedition the California Peace Ride with my RV as the support vehicle for Luca, Cris, Mom and whoever may join us from around the globe.   So the new logistical challenges kept the 3-day turnaround interesting.  RV, bike racks, baby seat, stoller, surf boards, wetsuits, tarps, tents, chairs—oh yeah, bit of luxury on the final leg from San Francisco to San Diego.  If the California Peace Ride talk s new to you, check it out at

Okay, I drove the camper from San Diego to Santa Cruz via LA for a stop to see Big Rich for his B-day.  In Santa Cruz it was day after day after day in the studio recording voice over for the film/TV efforts with some surfs, rides, packing and family sessions with my two cousins Tessa n Shannon.  The camper is resting in Santa Cruz where I’ll also be resting in 2011 onwards after this adventure finally ends.  But we’re not done yet!  Let’s hit up Canada, eh?

After long days in the studio I was not feeling super inspired to arrive in my regular run and gun filming mode.  I rather allowed myself to just be, let whatever inspiration to film come, and be okay if I decided to just enjoy the last taste of raw freedom.  So first stop was Vancouver Airport where my good friend Vanessa and her boyfriend Rob picked me up on a rainy evening.  I met Vanessa in 2003 in San Francisco and she rode with me in South Africa and Swaziland in 2006.  I was thrilled to reconnect with her and lucked out since her roommate was out of town so I had my own room in their pimpin’ pad with a kiler view of Vancouver. 

The next day we were able to do a brunch with another Canadian soul sister Kellie who I met in korea in 2002 and traveled with in Nicaragua too.  She and her boy friend James live in Vancouver just up the water from Vanessa so we had to celebrate a lazy Sunday with great food, white wine and lovely conversation.  If that was not enough, Peace Pedalin’ soul sista #3 Natalie just happened to be in Vancouver from Whistler and agreed to drive me up there to visit one of my favorite resort towns and meet up with my childhood troublemakin’ brother Dave Marino and his lovely family.  We caught the Niners game (what a disgrace against New Orleans…man I heard my dad screaming from the grave!) and loved meeting up with his kids Dylan and Maddy and wife Karen.  We felt like part of the family.

Natalie was able to work some magic and get some days off work to have another go at riding.  We met in 2006 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa where we rode two days there, several days in Zululand and into Swaziland with Vanessa back in 2006.  Natalie was in a bit of a “transition bender” coming in from 6 years of living and traveling abroad.  So I turned my attention more on being there for her as a friend than being in cameraman and host mode where I’m really only about ½ available real support giving, quality listening kind of companionship.  I’m glad I stepped into this mode as we both got an amazing amount out of our time together. 

It started at Horseshoe Bay where we left her car and loaded up the tandem for adventure.  The first challenge was the fact that the new chain was not meshing with the old cassette.  You would think that after 8 years of this I’d know by now that you can’t do that.  But I thought the cassette was not as worn as it was so we got off to a scary start.  But we managed to work around it and found ourselves about 15 out of the 27 speeds that we could run the bike in which was manageable yet far from ideal.  Add to this a mysterious issue going on inside the hub that Larry said he got working better but was clearly far from it when loaded to the t with weight. 

But we were able to roll and we hit the Sunshine Coast for a planned 3-day ride up to Powell River where I’d reconnect with partner in crime #4, Eilish Murphy who I met on continent #4—Europe while riding in Wales.  Eilish invited both Natalie and I to stay with her parents so we were off and rolling.   We were both admittedly in horrible shape compared to South Africa 4 years ago.  I had been in Spain for months and she was off the bike due to an ankle injury.  But after we shook the cobwebs out we had the bike moving at a nice clip and we were blessed with clear blue skies, moderate traffic and exceptional scenery. 

We landed some local advice to find a small regional park our first night.  And what good advice it was.  Check the photos to appreciate the free oceanside campsite we landed that truly was priceless.  It was at this campsite where I decided that I was okay with not filming for that day or any day going forward.  For the last 4 years I lived through the eyes of a video camera.  And I was ready to, well, not do that.  And I’ll accept whatever happens with my production as a result.  We just walked the rocks, talked, played with jelly fish, gawked at the moon rise, had deep conversations, listened and shared.  I had forgotten how great it is to just be a traveler and friend! 

Everyone in the area walked their dog in this area and they all had the local knowledge of a strong storm heading our way the next day.  So Natalie and I decided to do a longer 2nd day and hit Powell River that next day.  The 2nd day of riding was just as stunning as the first but with bigger, longer hills.  But Natalie got her cycling legs back and so did I so we were soon crankin’ hill after hill chatting about all sorts of conversations.  By the time to arrived on the second ferry we heard a loud “Jamie!!!”and there was Eilish there to greet us 30KM south of Powell River.  I was getting a bit late since the ferries were not running so often but we opted to ride it minus a bit of weight offload in Eilish’s car ;) 

Our last kilometers were truly bliss.  The sun was setting, the wind from the approaching storm starting to brew and just a magical feeling that comes after your ride tandem and share for mile after mile.  Natalie and I did decide to do a riding interview all the way to Eilish ‘s parents place where we were greeted by the lovely Evelyn and Sean Murphy.  Since all their four kids were grown and out of the house Nat and I each got styled to our own room, had a hot shower and a perfect home cooked meal with Eilish and her friend John.  Nice!

The storm came in just as the locals predicted with gale force winds and sheets of rain.  I don’t think my tent would have handled it that night so I’m glad we were warm and cozy with the Murphy family.  Eilish had to work that night so we called it an early night.  Natalie had to leave the next day back to Whistler and my poor bike needed some love so Frank the local mechanic took the next 24 hours to get her working as well as he could.  By the time I picked it up it was runnin’ like butter with a new cassette and lots of TLC.  But the rear hub was still suspect and questionable whether it would make it to Cali. 

The was said to start lifting on Sunday so Saturday night was my last night in Powell River.  And the famous WunderBread disco band was playing at the community center so Eilish got tickets and she had the night off so it was game one.  We met some local Powell River characters for a pot luck feast before groovin’ the night away to some world class disco covers that got the town bumpin’.  It felt good to get out and dance!

The next day the rain had mellowed out but the winds were howling southerly---not good considering I was going to be riding solo on Vancouver Island  south from Comox that afternoon towards the turnoff to Tofino.  I was so comfortable n the warm hands of Sean and Evelyn who had become my Canadian parents those days in Powell River.  We had lovely home cooked meals, teas, rich conversation and I was not ready to ship off that Sunday afternoon.  Maybe the headache from the Wonderbread dancin’ and drinkin’ night had something to do with it. 

----Update-I’m outside Portland now getting ready to ride the final miles of the Pacific Northwest adventures down to Eugene with my bro Willie from Spokane who flew down to ride with me.  From Eugene I trade my Bob trailer for a Burley baby trailer for Luca since Burley is in Eugene they are hooking me up.  Soon after my best buddy and 1st guest rider of Peace Pedalers Rich Nason’s wedding I’ll be picking up Luca and Cris in San Francisco for the family Peace Ride adventure to San Diego J---back to Canada…----

So I mustered up my will and loaded up the steed to pedal to the ferry to Comox.  By the time I reached the ferry I was already feeling better.  Eilish rode over to say goodbye and she was working on getting some days off to come and ride with me the next day and onwards to Victoria.  Those nurses have a pretty flexible schedules so we were optimistic about some time to adventure together.  On the boat my spirits were future lifted when I met a chap Gary who invited me to lunch and we chatted the entire ferry ride over.  I landed with a full belly and excited to hammer solo into the mean headwind towards Parksville. 

The wind was brutal but I put on the tunes and just inched along.  Luckily my Angels came to the rescue after a few hours and they slowed down in the later afternoon.  For the next 48 hours or so I was on a solo cycling mission along the lovely ocean road 19a with almost no traffic and stunning views.  It was good to have some alone time riding, camping and just chillin’ out.  I finally rode through Parksville and onward to Coombs where I would begin my dream surf diversion to Tofino.  I hopped a bus that afternoon and was whisked away to one of the most beautiful places on earth on western Vancouver Island. 

The weather report was showing another huge storm on the way and I got word from Eilish that she was able to move her schedule around and get 5 days off so she was now going to me my guest there in Tofino.  She was expecting to camp and so was I, but with the cold rain coming I decided to see what other options I could muster up on my meager travel budget.  I just happened to roll by the 5-star Wickaninnish Inn ( near the surf break and popped in to check it out.  I fell in love with the place and ended up meeting the manager on duty who loved the Peace Pedalers project and was able to set me up with 2 nights free!  Score!  Needless to say, Eilish was super stoked when she came in on the bus that night and we began our adventures together in style.

We went to work the next day lining up surfboards and wetsuits for two days and four sessions of amazing surf.  The weather cleared the second day and the waves were super fun.  We turned the bike into a surf machine and sucked up the lovely Tofino landscapes, sunsets, funky restaurants and stunning nature.  We were blessed indeed!

We were both itching to get some riding in so we hopped the bus back to where I left off in Parksville and planned to do a two-day ride to Victoria.  We had a pretty scary start when the hub stopped working and we were unable to coast.  We found a local bike shop who opened her up and what came out was pretty scary—the hub was toast and in need of parts!  Luckily Phil Wood sent me the parts down to Seattle and the mechanic was able to figure out some solution that worked but was suspect.  But we were rollin’ soon enough and it was great to have strong, excited legs crankin’ the pedals indeed.  Eilish is a regular cyclist and had just ridden the Vancouver to Whistler race in about 5 hours so we were a force, hammering away in the sunshine the endless hills on the 19 crankin’ tunes on the double headphone setup to drown out the traffic. 

We landed a perfect campsite in Ladysmith just as the sun set on the ocean and the scenery was just divine.  All the locals were super helpful in making sure we were cared for.   We were offered places to stay at people’s houses and guided to just the right spot to call home for the night.  I got the tent set up and Eilish found us water for a fresh water shower.  Life was good!

The next day we had a 90km hilly ride to Victoria where we would be hosted by her friends Mo and Brodie.  The sun was shining bright and cozy from the first rays over the hills all the way to sunset in Victoria.  We were a great team on the bike and had endless conversations about all topics imaginable.  Just as we rolled on the last few kilometers of the ride to Victoria we finally killed the hub for good.  The last few kilometers we had to push the bike to a local rowing club where we were blessed to meet a guy Jared who allowed us to store the bike in their building so we only had to take our bags to Mo and Brodie’s apartment.  Perfect!

I fell in love with Victoria right away.  It’s my kind of city.  Tons of biking lanes, progressive community, artsy, rich history, cool architecture and fun nightlife.  We hit the town that night for some live Irish music and somehow Eilish still had tons of energy for dancing.  The next day she had to head back to work on the morning train and I spent the next day working on my re-entry plans strategy.  This is it—next stop was Seattle, Washington by ferry from Vancouver Island!   

On the boat to USA I watched the sun go down on the San Juan Islands and sat, once again, in awe of how amazing our world is.  Now over 80 countries of Peace Pedaling and I’m coming home healthy, strong, safe and excited to share the truth about the beauty of humanity outside our borders with the folks in good ole USofA.

Big thanks to my Canadian crew V, Rob, Nat, Dave, Eilish, Sean, Evelyn, Gary, Claire & Helen at Wickaninnish Inn, Eilish, Lynn, Mo and Brodi.  You all made my experience in Canada truly unforgettable.  Us folks in just south of you have plenty to learn from our northern neighbors.  I’ll be back! 

I'm rollin' in USA. Check out the latest ways to come play at See ya!

Live Big, Give Big, Love Big J


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