Rocky Mountain

Share |
Monday, May 14, 2007 - Saturday, June 30, 2007

Our last entry:

We knew that our entry into Calgary would be special. After all, we had been on the road for about 1150 km and 55 days.  We had presented to hundreds of people in multiple towns, schools and churches.  We had conquered the Rockies and witnessed their beauty.  We had cycled on gorgeous days sunny days and on refreshing rainy days.  Calgary would be special indeed: it was hail that rocketed from the sky moments after our symbolic "welcome to Calgary" sign picture session. Might it have been nature's way of saying hello?

Our troops performed their last acts at Prairie Sky co housing, at George P Vanier Middle school,  and then reunited for one very special closing performance at the Arusha Center.  But the message of hope would find other outlets during this last week.  A chalking bonanza in downtown Calgary as part of the RmTour's "Transportation Week" culture jam activities reached, informed, entertained and inspired – no doubt, thousands of locals who would stop to read while passing by.  One team even created a bike lane for Calgary at no charge!  The very next day, the Rocky Mountain Tour's very own 3 choruses spent the afternoon singing gratitude to locals for using public transportation and helped around downtown by being superheroes to those needing assistance of any sort.  All this for fun (and fair trade organic chocolate, hmmm).

But as our time together was approaching its end, great moments would only seem to multiply:  music jamming and singing with the Prairie Sky residents, a 16-cooks-16-ingredients-cooking-with-challenges sessions, calling old friends Adam and Jenikz in Toronto, Liz in the UK and then our own phone (which had been mailed back a few days earlier).  We made 2 RMTour songs, had a blast with mock skits rich with inside jokes, treated ourselves to some Ethiopian cuisine and held a closing circle at Prince's Island Park to share together on last time.  We prepared "Warm and Fuzzies" parting notes for each other, produced 2 DVDs for each which contained a total of 2900 pictures from the trip.  We exchanged unbreakable bracelets, booklists, music lists and addresses.

And one by one we parted. Some left together, some faced the real world back again on their own.  Emily and Chris opted to reach the east coast by bike, covering part of the way with Erika D.  Josh tried hitchhiking back to Winnipeg.  Erika, Alec , Emma and Ashlie headed back west, some retracing (with emotions) the same route we had biked.  Laura stayed with family before returning to Victoria.  John and Genevieve bused it together to Toronto and Ottawa respectively, just in time for Genevieve to celebrate her birthday!  Vicky, soon off to China, returned to Saskatoon first.  Jannah returned home before setting off to Quebec City for a French language program.  Adam, already pretty busy with his summer camp.  And, Damien and Emi, reflected on the experience together in the O-mobile as the glory of the Canadian landscape unfolded before their eyes at a pace which seemed so much faster than usual.

It will take some time for all of us to process the experience we have just lived.  We'll turn the page but we won't forget.  We've inspired and been inspired. We've taught and we've learned from many teachers. We've conquered the mountains but were humbled by nature. We've lived fully and lived justly. We are the Rocky Mountain Tour and we have many reasons to dream.

June 23-30, 2007: Cochrane - Calgary

The cat’s out of the bag… most of these journal entries can’t qualify as “breaking news”. If any of its authors had been hardcore journalists they would be have been demoted to writing skeezy dog horoscopes by now. As of 5 hours ago the 2007 Rocky Mountain Otesha tour officially ended, and the heartbreaking disintegration of this family unofficially began.

But for all of you who have been diligently keeping updated on our journey, and have been under the pretence of reading the Otesha “current events”…

A bird once told me that it’s best not to dwell on the sad and remember the good instead. And out of this giant pie of Otesha goodness I choose to reflect on the Canmore-to-Cochrane-to-Calgary slice. Not only is this time the next in our chronological journey, it’s definitely the best. It was so much better then any other time that it demands dynamic depiction.

Thanks for all the long-distance support our readers have given the group. The real trip is only just beginning.

June 16-22, 2007: Lake Louise and Banff





Our stay in Field was beautiful with many mountains greeting us from our tents, but it was time to move on Lake Louise. We started the ride off with a bit of a climb and emerged from the fog just in time to cross the border of British Columbia andAlberta! The Otesha Rocky Mountain Tour had crossed an entire province! Several riders also were able to spot a black bear and a cub ambling across the railway line. The ride intoLake Louise was beautiful and some riders (Jannah!) sped right along getting a great rocky mountain workout! Although the ride to Lake Louise was short, we were in for a busy day with food squads cookin’ up yams and play squads preparing for the first performance with new roles. A few riders had left Field early to get a head start on visiting the lake and hiking up to Lake Agnes to visit a

lovely teahouse. Some more of us found a few minutes to bike up the long hill to visit Lake Louise which was a great experience.

We had a great performance in the Lake Louise Campground, meeting an amazing family from New Zealand who are in the middle of their own adventure and we all wanted to be adopted into their family.

Our stay in Lake Louise was short (although long enough for us to visit the bakery/coffee shop once or twice). It was on toBanff with the majority of us taking the Bow Valley Parkway. The parkway delivered an amazing and scenic ride with sightings of grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and elk. A beautiful day welcomed us into Banff.

Our stay in Banff was ideal with accommodations right downtown and within walking distance to the lovely Wild Flour coffee shop and bakery, which provided us with endless hours of chit-chat and even a few donations! We were lucky enough to be in town during an important and informative panel discussing climate change hosted by CBC Radio host Paul Kennedy and we made some great connections with the public at that event. We decided to start our first whole day in Banffwith a group hike up Tunnel Mountain which proved to be a beautiful change of pace from pedaling. Chris and Laura had decided to hike up the night before and when we arrived, we learned that Laura’s sleeping bag had made the plunge off of a steep cliff into the woods below! After the hike we prepared for our performance in the Bison Courtyard who had set up our accommodations for our stay. The crowd was great and we had fun sharing our performance with the residents and tourists. The next day we met up with Colin Funk who had written and performed many environmental themed plays and gave us a boost of confidence and inspiration during our group chat. That night “Bob and Rob” led the GREAT BANANA CHAIN GAME workshop in the Bison Courtyard, including residents and tourists of Banff.

Our last full day in town was busy with a long but beautiful hike up Sulphur Mountain which allowed the group to see a birds-eye view of the spectacular scenery that we had been biking through for the last few days. We then enjoyed some more time at Bison Courtyard, taking part in National Aboriginal Day. The group then moved to a nearby park to play an intense game of Ultimate Frisbee before heading back to the scout hall to eat some donated pastries and play Clothing Jeopardy (some team members partook in some extra point earning festivities!). Then it was on to Canmore, just a short 25 km ride away.

June 15-17, 2007: Field





From the day we arrived in Golden we had been staring at the looming climb that awaited us.  And as the morning arrived for us to leave this cozy and welcoming nook, everyone braced themselves for a tough biking day. Lo and behold, the month and a half of biking finally paid off, with most arriving at our wonderful campsite with plenty of energy to spare!  This was despite monstrous winds that created an extra challenge getting up mile long hills, and the rain which soaked and chilled the last crew of riders to the core. 

Presenting the food scene to the Field community who had gathered to watch an Inconvenient Truth, the “red fish, blue fish” crew debuted their now infamous version of “If I Had a Million Dollars” (otherwise known as “If I Had a Reusable Container”). With the mountains as our backdrop and lulled by the pittering of rain on our tarps and tents, we all slept beautifully. 

The next day was a day full of exploration, as some went to see nearby waterfalls while others explored their coffee drinking capacity at a local coffee shop that served bottomless cups of coffee (the record was 7 cups).  That evening, the “Thing One, Thing Two” crew performed to a pretty huge gathering of campers on a beautiful outdoor stage.  Full of energy and so inspiring, we all left the performance with our heads held high. 

Sadly, we had to leave to head to our next destination, another campsite in Yoho National Park: Lake Louise.

Big thanks to Joe, Rachel, and all the staff at Kicking Horse Campground. You’ve provided us with so many memories, and warmed our hearts with your kindness and hospitality.

June 12-15, 2007: Glaciers, Rogers Pass and the Beautiful Golden

138 kilometers, Glacier National Park, and Rogerspass is what stood between us and Golden as we prepared to depart from our beloved Revelstoke on Tuesday morning. This was a day many of us had dreamed of (or dreaded) long ago when we looked at our route for the first time. However, in typical Otesha style, one of our biggest challenges became one of our greatest joys. Our well-seasoned legs spurred us up the hills and over the pass, and we strapped on our spandex (and reflective sashes) as we whizzed down the other side through windy tunnels and  past glaciers perched on mountain sides high above…all avalanches were avoided.

We met up after 100 km to see everyone buzzing with energy and super psyched to push on to Golden. Unknown to most of us, however, we had passed over a time zone and lost an hour of the day…so we decided to stick with the plan and make the trip in two days. A kind ex-NHL player let us camp out near his campground and we had much anticipated dinner between rain showers, and fell asleep to the pitter patter of raindrops on our tents.

Waking up to more rain, countered by some deliciously warm oatmeal, we were off to Golden the next morning. Although the ride was a bit longer than we expected, the hills were a blast. The day was a long, wet rollercoaster ride as we screamed down the pass with water hitting our faces. After the odd peanut butter and jam sandwich break we arrived in Golden—wet, tired, and excited to settle into our new home.

Our home: a campground conveniently located close to a homely coffee shop, the river, and an extremely busy railway track. While Vicky took special interest in waving to trains, the rest of us practiced our play. It was time to switch things up so we exchanged roles, mother earth characters becoming light bulbs and visa versa. We also wrote a new song about reusable containers, marking an important moment in RockyMountain tour history. Curious? Don’t worry, it’s sure to be a top hit on the radio sometime this summer…

That evening we were blessed with one of the most delicious and memorable dinners of our journey. Wildsight, a grassroots environmental education organization in interior BC, met us at the campground with homemade veggie lasagnas and apple pie. It was inspiring swap stories and bounce ideas off each other. To show the Wildsight folks what Otesha was all about we performed a few scenes and had some laughs as we tried out our new roles.

With full bellies and many thank yous, we rode off to further inspire ourselves with a slide show given by David ……. David, who had climbed the seven highest summits on the seven different continents in seven months, was giving this presentation to fundraise some money for a few Golden-ites (Goldeners?). It was exciting to see some of his breath-taking photos and hear him chat casually about climbing Everest. Although some of us wondered about the green house gases released from all his flights, it was nonetheless interesting and thought-provoking to hear his stories.

June 9-11: Revelstoke





We then got to the small town Revelstoke on Saturday June 9. We were happy to see that our temporary home, RevelstokeUnited Church, was right downtown, in the middle of a very cute “main” street. A street in which something was going on the next morning: the Relay for Life. Some of us cheered cancer survivors and supporters while they continuously walked around a track, relay style for 12 hours. This tribute to life warmed our hearts. We then attended the church service, and performed in the church basement in front of a respectable crowd, including a little boy who was giggling the whole time. Great audience J.



Later that night, some of us when to have a relax time at the river. Geneviève and Alec went to a clothing swap, at the giggling boy’s mother’s house. They met a bunch of great people and came back with a new look, creating jealousy from their peers.

Monday was going to be our day-off. However, the red fish blue- fish troup biked to Arrow Heights elementary school for a last-minute and well attended presentation. Several people went for awesome hikes in the afternoon.


Monday night, we had guests for dinner. Sarah and her family (including a giggling boy), Saki and Verena from the clothing swap. Verena gave us a presentation about mountain caribous, which was really interesting, and thought provoking. Clara was also present, an 11 year old OTESHA fan / future member / action addict. In brief, we were blessed by some inspiring connections. After dinner, a man from the church named Harrison dropped by. He offered us some beautiful songs that he wrote. (In every pile of ***, there’s an once of gold). He delivered them with passion, and touched our hearts. This was the perfect conclusion to our stay in beautiful Revelstoke.

June 4-7, 2007: From the Okanagan to the Shuswaps: Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm & Sicamous





Finally the day arrived when we had to bid a sad farewell toVernon, and we got up in the wee hours of the morning, packed our panniers, and biked onward for an early morning presentation in Armstrong. Then it was on to  Enderby, our camping place for the night.  Here we saw a 90° turn in the weather: after many days of sweating in the heat of record breaking temperatures, we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of constant downpour!  Though wet, most of us welcomed this rain with open arms – it was quite the refreshing change from cycling in the sweltering heat. Huddling in the camp shelter, we held our meeting, played some card games, and ate some tasty food, then retired early to our tents, where we fell asleep to the soft patter of the rain.










Tarps set up to ward off the rain in Enderby


After our night in Enderby, we biked on through the rain to Salmon Arm, where we had two very exciting, though extremely busy, days.  Soaking  from head to toe, we arrived at Salmon Arm Secondary School, our host for the night and audience for four presentations and four workshops.  In addition to memories of hectic mornings, hilarious nightly meetings, and mountains of donated Tiramasu cakes, many of us will fondly remember our trip to the Shuswap Coffee Company, arranged by the wonderful Joel. We were welcomed  with freshly brewed fair trade organic coffee and chocolate chip cookies, and were treated to stories of visits to coffee plantations, starting a roasting business, and the experience of getting fair trade certification. We even witnessed the roasting of several pounds of beans. A highlight for many, we left inspired and excited (and not just from the caffeine fix!). 





Josh & Laura watching the coffee roast at the Shuswap Coffee Company

Finally it was time to pedal forward to Sicamous. After a beautiful (though, yet again, rainy) ride that hugged the shores of the Shuswap Lake, we arrived at the door of Laura’s family cabin, nestled in the woods 15 minutes outside of town. Together the warm wooden walls, 70’s decor, and heat radiating from the wood burning stove created an incredibly cozy atmosphere that we had no trouble settling into. After a comfy night’s sleep, we were ready for a well deserved day off to hit the town, hike some trails, take a dip in the lake, or, in the case of a few, take a morning off and sit around multiple cups of tea and a game of scrabble. As we sit around the cabin, excited about our days’ adventures, we’re preparing for what’s to come tomorrow:  a morning presentation, a tour of the local dairy, and maybe – just maybe – a peek of blue skies!



Nightly meetins, Otesha style, at Laura’s cabin

Some interesting stats from midtour:

Flat tires = 15
Total KM = 650km
Wheel Rotations:

313,487 for 26 inch tires
304, 267 for 27 inch tires
295, 573 for 700 cc tires

Cycling Days= 11
Cycling Hours= 43 hours (driving time=5 ½ hours)
Calories Burned = 115 apples for the girls or 54 cups of ice cream (14,444 calories); 152 apples for the boys or 72 cups of ice cream (19, 087 calories)
Summits= 2

Coquihalla summit of 1245m
Pennask Summit of 1728m

- 2 nights roadside
- 2 nights in gym floors
- 7 nights in house/co-housing
-9 nights on farms
- 11 nights in churches

Presentations = 16 presentations to about 400 people

By practicing “mellow yellow” we have saved approx: 1360L of water a day 
31, 280L over the entire trip (156 bathtubs)

June 5, 2007: Salmon Arm Secondary School, Salmon Arm

Halfway there!

Sadly it was time to say goodbye to the wonderful community at Rutland United Church and make our way to Winfield, ourwheels had just started to turn and we arrived! The nearby park was like a giant green magnet and we stuck around there for most of our first afternoon, swimming and learning some great debating tips from Josh. That night our hosts, Winfield United Church, held a potluck dinner for us which we thoroughly enjoyed. We returned the excellent gesture with a performance which was well received. We celebrated Ashlie’sbirthday with the official opening of the “Yar-brary”*. The lake beckoned again and some of the group members enjoyed the freedom of skinny dipping in the moonlight. We enjoyed our journey across the highway to an organic orchard and we were greeted with some of Bob’s own delicious apple juice. We learned a lot from Bob about organic farming and where our food comes from; we even ended up getting some more apple juice for the ride home!

Our stay in Winfield was brief but enjoyable and we were excited to hop back on our bikes and continue our travels through this beautiful region of the province. We all took advantage of the many crystal blue lakes, the water definitely helped to cool us off from the 30+ degree weather. It was onward (and slightly upward) to Vernon where we were welcomed with open arms to Mary’s house. Her family (including Maggie the dog) was all very interested in our project and we were all interested in learning about Mary’s own project called “Wheels for Change.” It was time to get back to our performing and Thursday we performed for a global education class who had just returned from a class trip to Nicaragua. They were very educated on global issues and quite a few students were excited about the possibility of joining an Otesha tour in the future. That night we finished creating our care package for the Sunshine Coast tour and filmed our own 80’s themed, bike inspired workout video complete with neon spandex and handmade knitted headbands. Friday was the start of our mid-tour retreat and we spent the day talking about our goals and what we have accomplished so far on our tour, the day was capped with some energetic and entertaining s performances at a local coffee shop called The Talkin’ Donkey. We met up with some of the students from the class we presented to and incorporated them as props into a spontaneous performance in the parking lot. Saturday was a continuation of the retreat and we focused on team-building and improving our tour for the next few weeks. We did some speed dating to learn more about each other and completed a blind maze of trust. We traveled to nearby Kalamalka Lake to finish our retreat which proved to be the most ideal setting. The setting sun and crashing waves allowed all of us to focus on where we’ve come in the past few weeks and where we’re all going as this mobile community pushes forwards through the province.

*Yar-brary: a collection of books, yarn and random knitting memorabilia that people have cleverly transplanted from their panniers into the car

Saturday, May 26, 2007:  Rutland United Church, Kelowna, British Columbia

Otesha-ites Storm the Interior – Merritt to Kelowna

Without warning one early Merritt morning,
Otesha-ites found they were no longer performing,
With our schedule clear and some time to kill,
We hopped on our bikes and toured the local landfill,
Fresh sneakers, duct tape, and scissors were found,
We were frustrated at wasted recyclables around.

Otesha-ites questioning the abundance of boxes such as these found at the landfill.

Kim, our guide, shook her head at what was left behind,
But Ashlie and John were thrilled with their beautiful find*.

John modeling his SWEET shoes found at the dump.

As our days in Merritt came to an end,
None were prepared for the mountain ’round the bend
The hills stretched on for hours and hours
But we conquered them all with our SUPER POWERS!!!!
A mix of blue skies, rain, sun, and snow,
Accompanied us along our climb from below,
Seventeen hundred and twenty four meters was our summit.

The Pennask Summit sign on the way to Kelowna – the highest highway mountain pass in British Columbia and the second highest in the country.

After which point we began to plummet.
This downhill journey was beautiful.

The breathtaking view
on the trip into Kelowna.

Then we arrived in Kelowna and ate ICE CREAAMM!!!!!!*

Enjoying a “Mega-Moo” at Moo-Lix in Kelowna.
We performed to young whippersnappers at KLO school,
Ms. Wendall, their teacher, was reallllyyyy cool!
Through a group connection to the Friendship Centre,
A sweatlodge ceremony we were welcomed to enter.
Edna and family gave prayers and sang songs in surround, as we partook in an experience most profound.

We returned with a mixture of sadness and smiles
A birthday celebration, and a departure for miles,
On Vicky’s champagne birthday (she turned 24),
We said goodbye to Jenikz, who we would see no more.

A HUGE shout-out to Jenikz who had to depart to take
care of business at home – we miss you!

Wicked awesome things that we didn’t find rhymes for:

Bike Ballet: After learning that one of our presentations were cancelled, we took to the streets of Merritt with some improv bike acrobatics!

Roadside Campsite Sunset: The stunning sunset at our highway campsite halfway to Kelowna.

*Disclaimer: No animal products were purchased with Otesha funds.

Friday, May 18, 2007:  Crossroads Community Church, Merrit, British Columbia

What a trip!  Our last two days have been filled with a menagerie of activities:  watching hummingbirds battle it out for feeder space, eating veggie somosas, participating in lazy breakfast discussions, perfecting our play introduction, and, of course, climbing mountains! 

During our climb to the Coquihala summit, we oscillated between moving at the snail pace of 8km/hour during steep climbs, to racing downhill at speeds exceeding 60km/hour.  To keep themselves pedaling up the hills, some members hailing from the prairies employed a unique tactic: they mentally converted the challenge of the hills into the challenge of headwinds – something they’re very familiar with.  This seemed to work well for Vicki, who, amazingly enough, booted it up part of the huge 8% stretch in her third gear!

Despite two of our members taking an accidental 30km detour (or in their words,  “an extended warm up”), we all made it to the top of the mountain.  Reaching the summit (1244m) was an amazing experience for all of us.  Along with the euphoria of conquering our first major physical challenge, it presented a spectacular view of the Cascade Mountains as they stretched out from a valley deep below.  Props went to Emi, who, bouncing up and down with her arms flailing, cheered us up the monstrous hills.

Last night we camped out 57km along the highway, and after a delicious carb-heavy supper to refuel our tanks, we crawled into our tents for a wonderful sleep under a starlit sky.

Today we were awarded for yesterday’s hardwork with an AMAZING ride.  Coasting up and down the hills with our loaded bikes, the 65km ride was like 3 hour endorphin rush for many of us.  Ending in a 13km decent into Merrit, we arrived with smiles on our face and energy to boot. 

Starting off in Central Park in Hope, the “Chainsaw Carving Capital of the World”, and ending in a little church in Merrit, the “Country Capital of Canada”, our last two days have been full of sweat, tears, and endorphin rushes.  We can’t wait to see what the weekend holds!

May 14th, 2007:  Ethical Addictions Café, Abbotsford, British Columbia

“Give me a holla, Give me a scream!
We’re here to awaken an amazing dream…
Welcome to the world of hope and solution
That’s right everyone, it’s a revolution!”

Finally off and pedaling along the first leg of our journey…

Highlights from our journey thus far:

But let us start from the moment this journey began, on the glorious morning of May 1st when we all first assembled on the beautiful lands of UBC farms, ready to kick off a week of training. It seemed as though from those early moments of the week, that the Rocky Tour was going to live up to its name… 

Our asphalt bike pad, still empty at 3pm on arrival day… despite half our team having arrived!

Virtually all members were missing either their gear or their luggage and arrived on the farm, stressed after having to deal with the red tape that IS greyhound. Though we all came to know “Eric” from greyhound as the day progressed, stress levels remained high as we all attempted to make tenting arrangements and scrounge for extra sleeping bags to make it through our first night, many sans-gear. 

Training week was jam packed with many discussions, team building activities and of course, lots of fun. Despite the constant rain that accompanied our daily activities, we discussed our food mandate for grocery shopping, balanced sticks (aka our attention à symbolism), smashed through blackberry bushes or chilling out with our fabulous meals, and lay down the foundation for our mobile community.   

So many memories, so little space to elaborate… maybe some pictures can help capture some of what we did…

Yoga on Wreck Beach as a part of our hard core super star training to prepare for the Rockies! 

 A massage circle to de-stress after spending a night in un-waterproofed tents/ without proper gear/ missing sleeping bags…

What “otesha” looks like when 40 people try to capture it in a freeze frame…

But back to our journey…

Noon, on May 8th, we gave our first performance to a an environmental club at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School. Within 2 minutes of leaving for the performance, we had our first flat tire, with Jenikz’ tire having an unfortunate encounter with a screw…

Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye to the sunshine coast tour, and packing our own bags to leave UBC farms… Our supposed to be short ride to New Westminster took 5 times as long as we projected because of crazy Vancouver streets…

We were better on May 10th, making it on time with TONS of energy to perform at Queensborough Middle School at 9am. After some workshops, random scene rehearsals and a quick lunch, it was off to Langley!  Two highways, two busy bridges and a couple of monstrous hills later, the weary group of 20 finally made it to Windsong Co-housing. 

We’re in Windsong right now, and the community is simply fantastic. Our stay has been fabulous- with the hospitality, the wonderful reception to our first full run through of the presentation, the great weather, and the loads of free food that has come our way from various generous donors in the area…

“Rethink, relearn, renew respect…

Be the change you wish to see”