Kootenay Mountain Tour (On the road) - Notes from the road

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Poetry from the Cleaners
October 16, 2011
Sean Terrell

The sun swept through the valley floor, when night time held its ground no more.
The shadows lost to where the came, their marvels linger all the same.
The frost tells tales of winter’s toes, creep crawling behind autumns glow.
The vibrant life will rest its head; our colours turn from green to red.

So tip toe, do not count your steps,
this is no race it simply is,
a chance for souls to take a stride,
towards the light before they die.

Song birds sing their morning songs, before the morning light does dawn.
I never mourned a mornings light, only rejoiced upon its sight.
So happy rejoicing rise and shine, the morning star is burning bright,
happy rejoicing rising shine, this brand new day is feeling fine.

And by the time this song is through, our bellies full the sky is blue.
The little birds will sing and dance, the day wont last don’t miss your chance.

Tip toeing through these mountain ranges, my senses on fire, and my belly full, my cup is topped up. The generosity of humans never ceases to surprise me. I sit in Yahk, sipping on Bengal spice tea, protected for the stormy weather outdoors.Sharing conversation and a warm dry Laundromat with an elderly woman.

There is two weeks left in this amazing adventure. I plan to make the most of every inch of asphalt I share with my bicycle and every moment of time I spend with the wonderful individuals who have become family to me over the last month and a half.

Over The Mountains, And Through The Wind
October 13, 2011
Kayla Cornthwaite

The speed of the wind is picking up as we reach the border to Alberta. We tackled the Kootenay's and came out alive! The mountains were a struggle, particularly for those of us who have never toured before. I remember moments of bursting into tears because it seemed like I just couldn't make it and moments of hearing others grunt out loud noises trying to push themselves up the massive hills, every time we made it to the summits though we were all laughter and joy. It made every destination feel so great. Last night we listened to some great music, and enjoyed some creative quiet time, followed by a crazy dance party. Though I struggled with trying to go to bed before everyone else, I'm glad that we have reached a point in time where we can all be friends and have good times with each other sans awkwardness. With only a couple weeks left I'm starting to think about how much I'm actually going to miss these times. But, the memories shall last a lifetime.
Kayla C.

Living the Dream
September 26, 2011
Sean Terrell

What a wonderful "dream" this is. Every now and then I like to check in with myself and I usually do so by asking three questions. Where am I coming from? Where am I? And where am I going?

Not very long ago, I was in a place of unfathomable feelings, of infinite potential for growth and expansion. I had no solid expectations for this journey but I could not help but imagine it would inevitably challenge me to expand in all directions.

I am currently at a community center in Osoyoos trying to put words to what I have been experiencing on this tour. I have cycled with ten other possibly semi "crazy" young folks over some very big hills and through rain, wind, and sun. We have been so fortunate to bring smiles and some environmental education to countless people's days and we've only been on the road for a smaller number of days than the number of fingers and toes I have, this is truly remarkable. Tomorrow we will cycle up anarchist summit, potentially in the rain, I can’t wait! Riding a bicycle with everything I need to survive strapped onto the back of it is a very, very beautiful thing. I am pretty tired and my digestive system is very confused from all the different foods I’ve been nibbling on, this being said there is no place I’d rather be than where I am at.

Where am I going?.... hmmm, I guess I’m headed for many more giant hills as well as some frighteningly steep declines. We are headed East more or less for the entire trip, away from the mild coastal climate in it's closing summer days, towards fall and its lack of lush greenery. But there's something about the way a landscapes turns from green to red that fills my entire being with a sigh of relief, celebrating the closure of the fast past vibrant summer months.

Next week is the mid tour retreat, I’m not sure what happened to the first half of the tour... I look forward to the rest, though I am even more excited to continue cycling towards the Rockies. It’s so wonderful to know that the land that we will travel will be consistently stunning and breathtakingly beautiful.

During the many hours that I spend riding my bicycle, I find my mind is either thinking about how I can’t stop thinking about cycling or burning quads, or it coming up with great ideas and catchy songs. Here is one poem that came to me, enjoy:

Cascading creatures as ancient as the
stars and the planets that are orbiting me.
Electric horses are burning down trees
thunder is roaring and I feel free.

Kicking in coffins and robbing of graves,
he rose from the dead to set free all the slaves,
the wise ones we buried will one day be raised

Sorcerers slave away in their stalls,
designing the ships that will fly but wont fall,
alchemists manifest magic and spells,
that will make us believe we can't fend for ourselves.

Tail winds and pretty things 
will be the air beneath my wings
blue skies and apple pies
will keep me pedaling until I die.

Till next time

Sean 

Creating our mobile community
September 26, 2011
Megan Cronkite

To all of the people that support us and that we think of so often, this is for you--to give you all an idea of where we're at!

The weather has been glorious for the past few days! There has been a warm breeze as we bike by all of these tasty fruit trees. And we entered the desert being serenaded by harmonica and a relaxing day where we were finally able to take our time and eat lunch and swim by the river.

We are now staying at the Community Center in Osoyoos and there is a nice feeling of relaxation and exciting anticipation. We have finally had a few days to rest, collect ourselves, and to re-form the play to incorporate what we as individuals want our collective message to be (i.e., personal personablemessages, and more of a focus on solutions).

It is incredibly blustery out on this late September afternoon. The strong wind intensifies the eerie, anticipatory feeling I have as I sit in the grass of the community center and watch the distant specks of cars slowly inching up Anarchist'sSummit--the mountain climb that we will be accomplishing tomorrow! eeek, we are all so strong, both mentally and physically.

We have such respect for our group and for the individuals that we have come across as I continue to notice the pattern of reciprocity in our interactions. There is a strong feeling that we are carrying (or cycling, if you will) a resonating and inspiring message into communities, and we are treated with such incredible kindness as people open their homes, schools, cupboards, and ideas with us.

It is refreshing to be in a group with such humble, passionate, driven, open-minded, approachable and adaptable individuals.

Being away from my homes, both on the west and in the east, has enabled me to reflect and appreciate you all with a different perspective than I do when I am around you. I know this seems impersonal and a vast generalization but I mean every word. I care about you all so much and you are all in my movements and in my thoughts.

I feel so supported with my spokes bracelet :-) and Nammy it was so refreshing to speak with you in Penticton!

more later...
Love, Megan

Enjoying Smells and the Little Things
September 19, 2011
Kayla Cornwaithe

We are on our last night in Penticton, the sunny, warm, beautiful haven in the Kootenay Mountains. Almost one month into the journey I have realized the truth in how some things change but how some things really do stay the same. There was, and still are, struggles, laughter, and tears no matter how far in. Things don’t necessarily get easier. Some things seem less daunting and some things seem more daunting. One thing for certain is that every time we perform to a gym full of students a smile spreads across my face knowing that even though not every child is moved, there’s that one who comes up and gives us a high five or says that they really enjoyed the play. It makes me smile because I know that we are getting through in some way.

Biking through this province has been a scary but amazing journey so far. On a completely separate note, one thing I noticed is the abundance of smells! So, I share with you now this little poem I wrote while riding through these smells:

Smells.
So many smells in this land;
good, bad, new,
smells that remind me of my old man.
Riding.
Riding against wind;
uphill, over a bridge
we feel like it will never end.
We get to the top
and see our new friend
realizing what we don’t want to end
is this journey.
Yearning,
for change.
Even if it means struggling
Through this mountain range.

--Kayla C 

Planting the Seeds
September 19, 2011
Emily Irene Bedal

Dear Friends, Family, Supporters,

I can't believe there is cinnamon soy latte hitting my lips as I write. It tastes SO much better than camping coffee. I am sitting in a calm, cool, collected, but buzzing coffee shop (The Blue Moose), here in Hope, BC - 65 km from our last destination, at the Yarrow Ecovillage - all the way on Highway 9, which we trekked in the rain. But we did it, with the help of motivational singing, screaming, and bell-dinging, our team of eleven mighty, mighty people rolled into the mountainside town of Hope last night around 6 pm. 

Last night after arriving, we were greeted by members of the Katimavik House, a volunteer project house here in Hope that houses 13 young people aged 17-21 who are learning to cook, clean, volunteer, live and learn a second language. They are beautiful, bright young people.

The past week has been filled with longer days, eating tortilla wraps in a self-storage office to take shelter from the rain, making sure peanuts stay away from our peanut allergic teammate, holding baby goats, burgers from an Otesha alumnus's father who welcomed us in a home, building a log bridge, picking pounds of blackberries off the side of highways, chalk directions, showering in high school locker rooms, donated apples, jam sessions, climbing hills, wearing superman spandex bike outfits, fixing flats, checking in, checking out, trail mix, and, and, and...  

It's easy, for me at least, to get lost in the everyday tasks of the Otesha team. Each day as I wake, there are a million things already running in my mind, and running through the team's mind. Who is making breakfast/lunch/dinner? Who is getting the food? Is it donated or bought? Does it meet our team mandate? Who is navigating? Let's meet for the route! Who is traveling with who? Who's got the trailer? Emily, get your guitar! (That's me!) Who's taking the tent down? Who is calling our host for the night? Where are we stopping to cook lunch? 

As I've been riding this first week, I have felt a lot of gratitude. I've been taking better care of my body and appreciating myself more and, therefore, have seen other people in my life in their correct light: through the eyes of love. 

It's been interesting being at our performances so far because it's easy to give up hope when we perform in schools and then see the lunchroom garbage cans filled with recyclable material and food that is just thrown out. But this project is not about perfection. It's about planting the seeds, I remind myself. Otesha is the water for the seeds that I have been planting in my own life. Every pass we make over a beautiful stretch of land, I feel humble. Every hill I climb, I choreograph funny wedding dances in my head. Every time I go down a stretch of road at 40km/h and start crying because I am laughing so hard, I feel more and more alive, and just that more ready to spread hope.

We aren't riding to push things on people, we are all riding because we have our own “tipping points” that all follow a story line of realizing something didn't feel right about the way we were living - then we all had experiences that made us realize there was more to life - and we want to learn for ourselves what it is that human beings, and the human spirit, are capable of.

Today marks the anniversary of Andrew Wolf's passing last year. At 4pm, our team will hold a ceremony for Andrew in celebration of life. I am here, in this body, as hard as it is sometimes. I don't know what happens on October 25th (my 22nd birthday) and also the finish of the Otesha Tour. But what I do know is that it doesn't matter right now. Not even a second. Because I am here, at the Blue Moose, about to return to a loving group of people who have just given me ginger and water and a thermometer, and loving words, and I've known them for a week and a half. And these things give me hope.