Monday, August 17, 2009

hello & goodbye

It's been a little while since I posted, eh? I am still in Quebec City, but leaving on the road again in a few minutes...

In the time since Peter left for new adventures, I have been having a wonderful time trying to learn some french, staying with new friends, playing tons of music, etc... I hitch hiked 400k north into the bush to live in community with about 100 other peace-loving people, at a Rainbow Gathering that was happening... camping, working together, dancing and meditating and having the most incredible jam sessions ever... then I hitch hiked to Montreal to see people I know there, then back to Quebec...

It has been a crazy and wonderful time, but now it's time to head south, get pedaling again. I'm probably quite out of shape. We'll see, I have to cross the mountains tomorrow... fun! It's always worth it on that crazy downhill plummet, wind whistling in my hair...

Will update again before too long!

Peace, joy, and positive energies


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Change of Plans

Throughout this trip I have been reminded over and over: We can make decisions and move forward, but we can never separate ourselves from the great mysteries, the great uncertainties of life. So many times we have found ourselves surprised by something new and wonderful—or horrible—and all these things have added up into a grand journey beyond any of our expectations.

Last Thursday night, July 16, Dan and I were experiencing Québec City for the first time. (Beautiful, by the way. Extraordinary European-style buildings and little winding cobblestone streets.) Dan went to see Xavier Rudd. I went exploring. We met several hours later, he dazed in excitement and I in sleepiness. He told me joyously of the past few hours while leading me to meet his newfound friends. I nodded, bleary-eyed and quietly grinning. And then, as a side note before the new wash of adventure swept over him, he bore the news that changed everything—every solid plan I had for the future. (Since when were my plans solid?)

On Friday we planned together what each of us would do. We shared a delicious poutine and an ethereal Plácido Domingo concert.

On Saturday we divided our goods. I left for him the tent and the bike tools. He passed to me the seldom-used cooking stove and old shoes. We had our last words, grins, hugs. And I stepped onto the train to Montréal.

About midnight I had the supreme luck of just barely catching the Greyhound Bus to New York City. I slid my bicycle underneath and dozed beside a kindly Caribbean-Canadian lady. We stopped at the border for a very long time—I think my sleepiness and overall jubilance might have seemed drug-induced to the officials, and I had the pleasure of conversing with the curious gentlemen as they turned all my baggage inside out. The bus ride through New York mountains and forest was gorgeous. I wondered in awe at the world—how things work together.

At about 9 o'clock Sunday morning I arrived in New York just in time to flag down the bus to Philadelphia, about to pull away. We arrived. I unloaded and loaded up the bicycle. I pedaled as quickly as I could to New Jersey to say hello to Carly—and good-bye.

On Monday I cycled to my Mum's house in Allentown.

And here I am, in Pennsylvania, with only a week to sort out my paperwork, shuffle my possessions, say goodbyes, before I once again board the Greyhound Bus on next Wednesday night, to arrive in Vicksburg, Mississippi on Friday morning, July 31, to start in Americorps.

Yes. I made Americorps NCCC.

So here I am, floating bewilderedly from one adventure to the next, full of exuberance at the past month and for this great unknown future. And as I take this unexpected journey South, Dan will be continuing on, probably heading north into the wilderness of Québec. We part not in sadness, but in gleeful remembrance of this full month, the growth, and what the future might hold when our paths cross again.

And now that I see this blog from your perspective as a fellow reader, I'd say he'd better keep writing! As for me, I also have the joy over the next few days to share a few stories (and pictures!).

Venture on, my dear ones.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

hello! goodbye! best of times!

Well, it's been a little while since I've written. Your dear selves deserve better! It's just that we've been so busy experiencing Life at its fullest that there's just not enough time to write about it! We're actually still in Montreal. It's midmorning Tuesday, and we're about to leave. Yesterday it was making thunderstorms up in the sky, and we didn't want to serve as human lightning-rods, so we stayed another day.

I can say without a doubt that that the week of Sunday to Sunday was the best week of my entire life. Each day was so full of beautiful moments, new adventures and friends, freeing experiences... the (very) abbreviated version is that I: learned to really let myself go and dance, (and discovered the healing freeing power of uninhibited dance) connected deeper with another human being in two days than I have with most people in two years, experienced night after night of INCREDIBLE and varied music from all over the world, watched the sun rise over the city from Mont Royal, explored, played guitar with new friends in the park, watched fireworks during a thunderstorm, (explosions from below and above at the same time!) and really LIVED to the max, in the moment, every moment, finally free, not only on the outside, but finally on the inside too. I feel like I've grown more as a person in the last week than in the whole year before it, and I've found a place I want to be for a while and a person I want to be there to be with...

It's sad to leave here, today. But I'm also so filled up with gratitude at the excellence of life and filled with the joy and spirit and energy of this place and its people, and I'm hoping that's a spirit that's g0ing to stay a part of me forever.

I want to give you all some one word admonitions straight from the heart:

Love. Dance. Give. Play. Laugh. Be.

Maybe this moment is your last. Live in it to the max, if it's one of sorrow then really cry your guts out and if it's one of joy then laugh like mad, give of your heart to those around you, friends new and old, and be who you are freely without caring what people think. These are the lessons of my time in Montreal.

peace be with you


Monday, July 13, 2009

Farewell, Montreal

Today, after Dan wakes up, we will wave goodbye to our home of just over a week: Montreal. It is a truly extraordinary city, with towering skyscrapers, quaint old European-style buildings, massive parks, French (!) and English, an excellent library and free art museums (important for me), warm-hearted people, and le Festival International de Jazz de Montreal! We have spent this entire week basking in the glory of show after absolutely incredible show of music: heavenly, awe-inspiring, magical.

Favorite musical moments of mine:
Tamtams: Sitting upon a stone wall speaking with an old dreadlocked follower of Krishna as Dan danced wildly to the music of the earth beating from the many drums.
The Lady in Satin: As she crooned majestically and confidently the melodies of the 50-years-dead Billie Holiday, I felt myself melting in the bliss of the moment.
La Fanfare du Belgistan: The boisterous melding of Balkan and Middle Eastern brass and percussion elevated us all--balding white-haired men, graceful women, little boys--to an uninhibited free dance.
Nikki Yakofsky: Just as she stepped out for the encore, the sky exploded with a fierce, violent downpour. Umbrellas flew up from the front to the back, and as I listened, the 15-year-old Ella Fitzgerald broke out with a simple "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" dedicated to her late father. I stepped forward, wading through the sea of umbrellas--plaids, patterns, polka dots--watching the dear ones cling to each other tightly under their private shelter, watching the uncaring ones dance jovially as onlookers chuckled. "Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me...." I wandered forward, sopping, at peace with the world. Kind souls smiled pityingly as I walked by. I saw a woman, standing alone in her raincoat, mouthing the words with her eyes closed. "Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh, why can't I?"

This city now holds many warm memories for us, and it will be sad to move away. But we both have been infused with a strong desire to return someday, perhaps to study French (or teach English). Ah! Who can know what joys and surprises the future has in store?

In the meantime we journey onward to Quebec City (probably a journey of two days), where we will wander for a day or so. Then we will finally begin our southward trek back into the United States and along the east coast to whatever adventure awaits us after we get off our bicycles. But we still have at least two weeks left!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Short Confession

As many of you dear readers might have guessed, of we three busketeers I have certainly been the most negligent in the blogging area. In these past weeks (has it been four already?) I have left only, what, two or three posts? I had written a rather lengthy lament after Dan and I parted ways with Carly near the New York border for our separate adventures, but it seemed far too much like a eulogy for my liking, which would not be fitting seeing as Carly is still very much alive (and probably significantly stronger in the leg area than many of the rest of us!). The fact is this: I am horrid at juggling. I can spend hours dazed in front of a backlit computer screen, or I can immerse myself fully in an ocean of exciting escapades. But alas! I have not been blessed with, or have not yet developed, the ability to preform both simultaneously! This is why my long-distance communication skills are often quite lacking. I love you. I really do. I'm just not good at juggling... yet.

But there are times when my ocean of joy overflows into the city sidewalks and country roads, and I cannot keep it in! I cannot! And so for these times, when my pen is finally exhausted from lining my journal pages or scribbling postcards, I may finally turn to this blog to share with you as I really long to. Mark you: this is no resolution to type many more posts in the future. But my joy has been unusually full lately and so maybe, just maybe, I might finally say a word or two.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

quick update.

Writing you from Bloomfield, Prince Edward Country, Ontario. I don't have much time, as we need to be getting on the road about two hours ago, but I'll write something quick while Peter signs our new friends' guestbook. We're staying at the home of two of the coolest people I have ever met, KT and Rick. They own a super cool small-town bike shop, grow a huge organic garden, and live in a bike/art/awesomeness-filled barn behind the shop. Their mantra is "TV Sucks, Ride Your Bike!" and they live a bold, free, positive, and natural existence. They have shown us incredible generosity and warmth, fixing up our bikes and giving me bike shoes (no more cramped toes and aching feet!!!) and making incredible meals full of fresh vegetables and fruits and natural stuff... we do all the dishes and play a little music but really the only way to repay such generosity is to pay it forward to those that we find in need... They've really been an inspiration for us, we've ended up staying here for 3 nights and abandoning our plans to get to Ottawa for Canada Day, what are plans in the face of existing in geographical congruence with amazing people?? So, today we're finally headed out. We'll have to ride about 80 miles each day for the next two days (camping somewhere in between) to make it to Ottawa without having to camp two nights.

So, last time I wrote was in Hamilton... after that we rode into through Toronto to stay with Aaron Clarke (a friend from BMA) and his awesome family, stopping to check out the CN Tower and downtown... I ended up having my first crash right in downtown Toronto, I didn't take enough of an angle when crossing the streetcar tracks and I went down. Luckily, there wasn't any traffic coming at the time and I only had two cuts (one fairly large down my shin) and a little bruising. No big deal! We decided we didn't want top pay a lot of money for Toronto busking permit, and moved on. It took us a while to get out of Toronto and we ended up camping right on lake Ontario, on a cliff over the beach. It was beautiful! The next morning Peter's front wheel wouldn't turn, but we made a temporary fix and set out. It poured cold rain most of the day, but we were in pretty good spirits, and made the 91 miles to Bloomfield before nightfall, aided by the help of a guy we met by the grocery store who told us the quickest route and offered us to stay in his cottage if we go through Vermont. People are the best!! Well. we're off...



ps. OHH I almost forgot!! On our ride to Bloomfield, Peter's odometer hit the incredible number 5,000!!! So cool, he has ultimate bragging rights...


Today is Canada Day. I have thus far not heard a single note of "O Canada," and have only seen one maple leaf flag. But then, the day is still young.

But! I have noticed an odd trend of stylized red maple leaves pasted onto signs of various stores and fast food eateries. Ontario's Pizza Pizza pops a spiny leaf smack dab in the middle of the last "a" (eh?). Wendy's? No more apostrophes for us! This is Canadian fast food because we have a maple leaf in between the "y" and "s." But my favo(u)rite by far has been McDonalds, the grand double-golden arches tattooed cunningly with a little red leaf as the "M"'s bellybutton! How very natural!

In Ottawa, I'm sure, the festivities run quite rampant, but we are not destined to arrive there for another few days, now cycling through the calm countryside, engaging with beautiful people and hoping for a bit of dryness.