Down the Cassiar, Westy troubles and Whistler Canada Cup

 
Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, Northern BC.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Full moon rising over the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Aïsha keeping us entertained on long drives with her ukulele songs.

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Leaving Burns Lake pulling our broken Westy on a U-Haul platform, still unsure where we will be able to get it fixed and even less when…

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde showing great form on a steep line during the Whistler Canada Cup.

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Mathilde, proud to finish that tough race!

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Aïsha at the beginning of the race.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara feeling tired.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara on the left and Aïsha on the right.

Mara

Mara

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Mara dug deep to finish that race.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Teammate Zachary Brunelle taking one of the technical A line on the course.

Mathilde in 3rd place!

Mathilde in 3rd place!

The Whistler Canada Cup course was the most technical race the girls had ever done. On top of that, there was 240 m of climbing PER lap. Some sections of the course were only a few days old and very loose. The whole course was incredibly dusty. Aïsha crashed during the preride; she was in pain during the race and had lost her confidence, so she decided to opt out after one lap to avoid another crash and save herself for next weekend Canada Cup in Canmore. Mathilde coughed all night (and kept everybody awake) and was feeling miserable on the morning of the race (we all brought back a nasty virus from Whitehorse). She freaked out a bit after the first big climb when she stopped and felt like she was choking, but thankfully, coach Dan Sams @terraridersyukon was right there and talked her through it and she kept on going. She finished her race and grabbed the 3rd place. She was super proud to have finished such a tough course in her physical condition. After a sleepless night, too much preriding the day before and still healing from her nasty crash at Baie St-Paul, Mara was able to hang on to 4th place. Quite a feat in her condition! The field of Expert Women U17 was very strong with a few BC riders who are super strong technically. It was a good experience and the girls know what they need to work on for next year!

We were super proud of the girls’ Yukon teammates from U Kon Echelon who came all the way down here to race, not expecting such a tough course, but did it nonetheless! Way to go, friends!

And the girls now have Instagram accounts: @aisha.roldan, @mara.roldan.mtb @mathilde.roldan
Go give them a follow if you want!



 

Kluane to Chilkat international Bike Relay

 
At the Dákų̀ Nän Tsʼèddhyèt Festival at Da Kų Cultural Centre in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction). You go ahead and pronounce it.

At the Dákų̀ Nän Tsʼèddhyèt Festival at Da Kų Cultural Centre in Dakwäkäda (Haines Junction). You go ahead and pronounce it.

Throat singers from Nunavut

Throat singers from Nunavut

Beautiful campspot at a friend of a friend in Haines Junction. Hiding in the Westy because of the bugs. We spent hours just looking outside at the light and clouds shifting on the mountain range.

Beautiful campspot at a friend of a friend in Haines Junction. Hiding in the Westy because of the bugs. We spent hours just looking outside at the light and clouds shifting on the mountain range.

Mara getting ready to tackle Leg 1 and 2.

Mara getting ready to tackle Leg 1 and 2.

Mara at the start line

Mara at the start line

It’s a go!

It’s a go!

Mara leading the head peloton. She had the fastest lap time overall for leg 2 and the fastest lap time for female for leg 1 (in the 5-6-7-8 person-team category, since the other ones do not have split leg time).

Mara leading the head peloton. She had the fastest lap time overall for leg 2 and the fastest lap time for female for leg 1 (in the 5-6-7-8 person-team category, since the other ones do not have split leg time).

There was LOTS of trafic because of all the support vehicles. it was a bit ridiculous…

There was LOTS of trafic because of all the support vehicles. it was a bit ridiculous…

Waiting for Noah to finish Leg 4 at the Haines Summit. Cold and windy. Even in June.

Waiting for Noah to finish Leg 4 at the Haines Summit. Cold and windy. Even in June.

Like my friend Antonio says: that’s the kind of race who appeals to everybody: from the monkey suits to the spandex suits.

Like my friend Antonio says: that’s the kind of race who appeals to everybody: from the monkey suits to the spandex suits.

Noah chipping in and passing it on to Aïsha.

Noah chipping in and passing it on to Aïsha.

Ready!

Ready!

Strong headwind.

Strong headwind.

Working in peloton helps.

Working in peloton helps.

Approaching the end of Leg 5.

Approaching the end of Leg 5.

Tiny Aïsha getting ready to tackle a long climb in Leg 6.

Tiny Aïsha getting ready to tackle a long climb in Leg 6.

Annoyed by Mathilde who was singing silly songs to keep her motivated on the climb!

Annoyed by Mathilde who was singing silly songs to keep her motivated on the climb!

Aïsha did amazing. She was the fastest female in both her legs!

Aïsha did amazing. She was the fastest female in both her legs!

These kids finished first overall in the 8-person team category over 71 teams! They had put together a team of 6 (still qualifying as a team of 8, but the twins were doing 2 legs each) with 2 boys and 2 girls from the cross-country ski team (all 14 or 15 yo).

These kids finished first overall in the 8-person team category over 71 teams! They had put together a team of 6 (still qualifying as a team of 8, but the twins were doing 2 legs each) with 2 boys and 2 girls from the cross-country ski team (all 14 or 15 yo).

Mathilde getting the chip from Jimmy - she was on the U Kon Echelon team and was doing the last leg (Leg 8).

Mathilde getting the chip from Jimmy - she was on the U Kon Echelon team and was doing the last leg (Leg 8).

It rained for her leg, but she was zooming through it, passing lots of people.

It rained for her leg, but she was zooming through it, passing lots of people.

Mathilde crossing the Finish Line in Haines, Alaska.

Mathilde crossing the Finish Line in Haines, Alaska.

Muddy and proud.

Muddy and proud.

The local roadies like to joke that the Kluane Chilkat international bike relay (KCIBR) is the only day of the year when Yukonners road bike. While this is not exactly fair, most people start training about a month before the bike relay and turn to mountain biking after it.

The KCIBR is a huge road bike race - even more by Northern standards - with over 1,000 riders this year. It starts in the Yukon - in Haines Junction, near the Kluane National Park - and finishes 238 km later in Haines, Alaska (with an elevation gain close to 1,600 metres). Some people do it solo, but most do it in teams of 4 or 8 (and some in teams of 2 and solo). If you want more course details, click here.

The KCIBR is celebrating it’s 25th year this year. The amount of volunteers (and the work that these volunteers had to do) to create such a well organized race that ran smoothly is just incredible.

After most people have crossed the finish line in Fort Seward, the celebration continues at the Alaska Fair Ground with a huge fish fry meal for all the racers.


 

Hayman Classic stage road race, Penticton, BC

 
Mathilde during stage 1 (TT). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde during stage 1 (TT).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara trying to keep up with the boys during stage 3 (crit). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara trying to keep up with the boys during stage 3 (crit).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara (at the back) losing ground on the all-boys peloton. Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mara (at the back) losing ground on the all-boys peloton.
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde (center in purple + turquoise helmet) taking the start of the crit. Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Mathilde (center in purple + turquoise helmet) taking the start of the crit.
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (purple shirt toward the middle) during stage 2 (circuit). Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (purple shirt toward the middle) during stage 2 (circuit).
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (left) during the circuit. It was wet! Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Aïsha (left) during the circuit. It was wet!
Photo by Cody W Gannon.

Drawing her friend who had a bad crash at the last stage of the race and got a concussion, and adding it to a care package she is preparing for her.

Drawing her friend who had a bad crash at the last stage of the race and got a concussion, and adding it to a care package she is preparing for her.

While the girls were gone, JF and I had a beautiful weekend of mountain biking in Carcross.

While the girls were gone, JF and I had a beautiful weekend of mountain biking in Carcross.

And good local beer too!

And good local beer too!

The Hayman Classic is a multi-stage road race that consists of a time trial hill climb and circuit race on the first day, a criterium on the second day and a road race on the last day.

Rather than dividing the field based on age and gender, the field was self-selected based on ability. The change was designed to provide “flexibility to help each rider find their appropriate level.” An unintended side effect of this change, is that most top-five finishes were being awarded to male riders. Since Mara was the only girl riding in the ability ‘A’ category, she is the only Yukonner who got a podium prize money.

Despite only having one gear thanks to mechanical issues, Mara finished her race. Aisha rode in the ability ‘B’ criterium, finishing in ninth for females, just one minute and 50.5 seconds behind the winner. In the ability ‘C’ criterium, Ava was second, Tori third and Mathilde sixth on the female leaderboard.

After Tori took a bad fall, Ava stuck around to wait for her and rode with her until they reached medical attention and Tori withdrew from the race. It was a beautiful example of team spirit. Mathilde took over and Ava was able to finished her race.

The Hayman Classic was the first major road race for our girls, and it was a great experience will to prepare them for the Western Canada Summer Games in August.

Only a day after coming back from Penticton, Mara and Aïsha flew to Québec where they will do two Canada Cup mountain bike races, while Mathilde will take part in the last of the major Yukon road races, the Yukon Energy Road Cycling Championships.

And for those who haven’t read about the butt foam on Instagram:
After a race, we like to ask the girls to share a positive and a negative of their race. This time Mara said: Being the only girl in the A category and being able to hang on to the peloton toward the back allowed me to see all the strategy that was going on. On the down side, 5 or 6 guys from the same team had used a strange shammy butter that started foaming because of all the rain and started flying off everywhere. The guy beside me just had time to say: “What the hell is that?”  before getting hit in the face by butt foam.


 

Driving up the Alaska Highway, 2019 Edition

 
After a few days in Langley (a suburb East of Vancouver) where we went to a garage we really like to get the bus ready for the long drive, we stopped in Hope and slept at the Othello Tunnel trailhead for the night (the exact location is in iOverlander). It’s a section of the Kettle Valley Trail that leads you along this beautiful baby blue river through many tunnels. Unfortunately the tunnels were closed for the winter season.

After a few days in Langley (a suburb East of Vancouver) where we went to a garage we really like to get the bus ready for the long drive, we stopped in Hope and slept at the Othello Tunnel trailhead for the night (the exact location is in iOverlander). It’s a section of the Kettle Valley Trail that leads you along this beautiful baby blue river through many tunnels. Unfortunately the tunnels were closed for the winter season.

It was still a short pretty bike ride. And there was a bear on the trail!!

It was still a short pretty bike ride. And there was a bear on the trail!!

When then started our way North and were rewarded with incredible views. And snow, which felt pretty exotic to me.

When then started our way North and were rewarded with incredible views. And snow, which felt pretty exotic to me.

And lots of wildlife too.

And lots of wildlife too.

Stone sheep on the side of the road (and on the road licking minerals) in the Stone Mountain Park.

Stone sheep on the side of the road (and on the road licking minerals) in the Stone Mountain Park.

Such a spectacular drive! It’s the first time we drive up that early and it truly is the best time of year to do it!

Such a spectacular drive! It’s the first time we drive up that early and it truly is the best time of year to do it!

Muncho Lake, usually turquoise, was still frozen.

Muncho Lake, usually turquoise, was still frozen.

The Liard Bison herd. There were lots of brand new calves too!

The Liard Bison herd. There were lots of brand new calves too!

Liard Hot Springs!

Liard Hot Springs!

Paradise!

Paradise!

_CFO8460_DxO.jpg
_CFO8463_DxO.jpg
10 o’clock sky after leaving Liard toward Watson Lake.

10 o’clock sky after leaving Liard toward Watson Lake.

We saw lots of cariboos since it was still so early in the season.

We saw lots of cariboos since it was still so early in the season.

We slept at the Watson Lake territorial campground boat launch parking lot since the campsites were still covered in snow! You know what struck me the most this time driving up North: the complete utter silence. It's probably because most of the lakes are still frozen here, but it's as near as the Yukon winter silence as I've been in many many years.

We slept at the Watson Lake territorial campground boat launch parking lot since the campsites were still covered in snow! You know what struck me the most this time driving up North: the complete utter silence. It's probably because most of the lakes are still frozen here, but it's as near as the Yukon winter silence as I've been in many many years.

_CFO8490_DxO.jpg
And we made it to our friends’ place in Whitehorse! This is their backyard on Kookatsoon Lake, our view from the bus for the next few weeks!

And we made it to our friends’ place in Whitehorse! This is their backyard on Kookatsoon Lake, our view from the bus for the next few weeks!

Camping in BC can be pretty expensive, but it is also fairly easy to find free camping spots as long as you are not on the islands or the coast. We used a combination of iOverlander, Park4night and Campendium (where I posted many reviews years ago about many spots in Northern BC) and were able to not pay for a site once after leaving the island. Granted, there were quite a few parking lot and industrial area nights, but as soon as you get North of Prince George, there are many rest areas and pull outs on the side of the roads where you can sleep for free, all the way to the Yukon!

 

What to do and where to eat in and around Victoria, BC

 
The Parliament.

The Parliament.

The Royal BC Museum.

The Royal BC Museum.

The Royal BC Museum has many life size exhibits. Here: a salmon cannery and an authentic village.

The Royal BC Museum has many life size exhibits. Here: a salmon cannery and an authentic village.

Miniature World.

Miniature World.

Miniature World.

Miniature World.

Munro’s Books and Habit coffee shop.

Munro’s Books and Habit coffee shop.

Agrius and Fol Épi.

Agrius and Fol Épi.

The best fish and chips are at Blue Fish Red Fish (well-worth the line!).

The best fish and chips are at Blue Fish Red Fish (well-worth the line!).

10 acres.jpg
Jordan River Regional Park campground is only $15 June-Oct or $10 Nov-May and right on the ocean. There is no Canadian cell service (no Bell), but 3 bars 4G LTE Verizon on our American phone, however it fluctuated a bit. I posted my full review on  @campendium   It's a bit out of the way but the perfect place to be far from everything and to go hiking or kayaking.

Jordan River Regional Park campground is only $15 June-Oct or $10 Nov-May and right on the ocean. There is no Canadian cell service (no Bell), but 3 bars 4G LTE Verizon on our American phone, however it fluctuated a bit. I posted my full review on @campendium
It's a bit out of the way but the perfect place to be far from everything and to go hiking or kayaking.

Juan De Fuca Trail

Juan De Fuca Trail

Our birthday hike tradition continues with this beautiful hike on the Juan De Fuca Trail that leads to an isolated beach for my 41st birthday.

Our birthday hike tradition continues with this beautiful hike on the Juan De Fuca Trail that leads to an isolated beach for my 41st birthday.

Mystic Beach.

Mystic Beach.

Discovering Victoria has been so much fun thanks to all the great recommendations many of you gave me. I'm so impressed by how green most of the restaurants and coffee shops are! No straws, all compostable containers and utensils, compost and recycling on the premises, locally sourced ingredients. 

We really fell in love hard with this city and the whole area. If we had to pick a place to settle down in Canada, it would definitely be our first choice… if lodging was affordable (which it isn’t). I can officially announce that we have decided to stay on the road at least for another year (as long as the bus doesn’t die on us…). We had said that we would not make a decision until we come to Vancouver island. Our time here has been incredible and the girls got to rub shoulders (and race with) very strong and pro riders. It has allowed them to see how our lifestyle gives them the flexibility (in terms of school schedule AND moving around) to keep progressing in the racing world - something all 3 want to do. After talking with many kids who go to school and race, our daughter who was curious about going to school changed her mind. We have a pretty exciting summer and fall ahead of us, and I can’t believe I will finally get to visit the Magdalen Island, where my dad’s side of the family comes from!

But for now, we are headed North to our beautiful Yukon!


 

Two more Island Cups and turning 15

 
Celebrating their 15th birthday racing in the rain in Campbell River!

Celebrating their 15th birthday racing in the rain in Campbell River!

Mara took the first place in the women expert field! A great birthday gift to herself.

Mara took the first place in the women expert field! A great birthday gift to herself.

Mathilde got first in the women beginners and Aïsha got second in the intermediate women! A memorable race!

Mathilde got first in the women beginners and Aïsha got second in the intermediate women! A memorable race!

Simple and beautiful birthday for our sweet girls.

Simple and beautiful birthday for our sweet girls.

A bald eagle feasting on a dead seal during our morning walk…!

A bald eagle feasting on a dead seal during our morning walk…!

The view near our campsite in Comox. So pretty!

The view near our campsite in Comox. So pretty!

The Cumberland Island Cup was a very muddy one on a beautiful but tough course. Mara lost her chain twice on her last lap, but managed to finish third in the women expert. Mathilde pushed too hard on the climb and got sick, while Aïsha had to stop since the pain in her neck and back was too intense (again - my poor girl).

The Cumberland Island Cup was a very muddy one on a beautiful but tough course. Mara lost her chain twice on her last lap, but managed to finish third in the women expert. Mathilde pushed too hard on the climb and got sick, while Aïsha had to stop since the pain in her neck and back was too intense (again - my poor girl).

So muddy! One turn in the washer wasn’t enough to remove all of it…

So muddy! One turn in the washer wasn’t enough to remove all of it…

We only spent 10 days in the Comox-Cumberland-Courtenay area, but really loved it. We were camped at Cape Lazo RV Park since we needed water and sewer hook-up with all that mud! It is a great little RV Park right by the ocean, but it is crazy windy. We nonetheless recommend it and would go back there!

The biking community here is very active and the trail system is very well developed. Parts of the village of Cumberland reminds us of the old downtown Whitehorse, before all the big box stores moved in. Actually, all these stores are not far, in Courtenay, 15 minutes away, so it allows Cumberland to keep it’s charm and local shops and restaurants.

 

The Bear Mountain Canada Cup

 
The whole Dalbix-Siboire Team for the Bear Mountain Project with the coaches.

The whole Dalbix-Siboire Team for the Bear Mountain Project with the coaches.

Mathilde taking part in the race even with her 12 stitches.

Mathilde taking part in the race even with her 12 stitches.

Aïsha going strong even with very intense back pain.

Aïsha going strong even with very intense back pain.

Mara finished 3rd on the cross-country course! A pretty impressive feat for a first year cadet!

Mara finished 3rd on the cross-country course! A pretty impressive feat for a first year cadet!

Mara giving everything she had on the short track. She kept her second place for most of the race and slipped in a corner on her very last lap… She still finished 3rd and was very happy!

Mara giving everything she had on the short track. She kept her second place for most of the race and slipped in a corner on her very last lap… She still finished 3rd and was very happy!

Left: Mara sharing the short-track podium with one of her teammate from Dalbix. Right: Mara and Aïsha with their wonderful coach who has been training them from afar since December.

Left: Mara sharing the short-track podium with one of her teammate from Dalbix.
Right: Mara and Aïsha with their wonderful coach who has been training them from afar since December.

Proud team. Such amazing young people!

Proud team. Such amazing young people!

The Bear Mountain Canada Cup was the first national race to which the girls ever participated. They are finally old enough for it and did great for first year cadets (U17)! If, like me, you are a neophytes to race lingo, you might not know the difference between a Canada Cup and the national Championship. The Canada Cups are a series of 8 races to which anybody can participate (so there were US racers who came to race it in the Junior category - U19) whereas the national Championship is a once a year event to which only the best Canadians can participate. Bear Mountain was the first Canada Cup of the 2019 season and Mara and Aïsha were racing in the cadet field (15-16 - the age at the end of the year) as first year cadet. The big race (the XC race) was on Saturday and there was a short-track race on Sunday. There was also a big Enduro race happening on Sunday, as well as a Bike Festival, so it was quite the event!

Mathilde is still too young to be part of the Canada Cup, but she could take part in the Bear Mountain Challenge XC on Saturday morning. However, she crashed on the Enduro course while pre-riding with the local team (Dirt Squad) group 4 days prior and ended up in the ER and needing 12 stitches on her knee… She was very bummed to not be able to race, and at the last minute decided she still wanted to give it a go and said she would stop if it was too painful. She did one lap and decided to stop (her race was 2 laps), and was very proud she gave it a try.

It was a wonderful team experience for the girls and they were so happy to be part of such a big event. It was great to be finally reunited with the team and their amazing coach. I’m already looking forward to the next Canada Cup… and coming from me, this means a lot!!

 

The Hammerfest race and a visit from Grand-Père

 
The Hammerfest race was a really fun event. The course was long for the expert, but Mara had a great race, finishing 2nd in the U19 field. Aïsha is still struggling with some back issues and a vertebrae pinched during her warm up, forcing her to stop the race after one lap since she has lost sensations in both her legs.

The Hammerfest race was a really fun event. The course was long for the expert, but Mara had a great race, finishing 2nd in the U19 field. Aïsha is still struggling with some back issues and a vertebrae pinched during her warm up, forcing her to stop the race after one lap since she has lost sensations in both her legs.

Mathilde had a great race and placed first in her field!

Mathilde had a great race and placed first in her field!

My dad took the train across Canada and came to spend a week in Victoria.

My dad took the train across Canada and came to spend a week in Victoria.

He taught me to shuck oysters.

He taught me to shuck oysters.

My dad and I took a road trip to Port Renfrew. We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park along the way.

My dad and I took a road trip to Port Renfrew. We stopped at French Beach Provincial Park along the way.

IMG_7031.jpg

There is so much to explore on the Island and we will not see it all in the month or so we are here. I’m glad I got to see a part of it with my dad while he was here with us!

 

First week in Victoria, BC, and the Hartland Island Cup

 
IMG_6527.jpg
Pre-riding the Hartland Island Cup course. Quite a change from the AZ courses!

Pre-riding the Hartland Island Cup course. Quite a change from the AZ courses!

Checking out the lines.

Checking out the lines.

Practice, practice, practice!

Practice, practice, practice!

There is still snow on the ground. It’s very unusual in Victoria!

There is still snow on the ground. It’s very unusual in Victoria!

The view from our beautiful campground - Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina.

The view from our beautiful campground - Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina.

IMG_6583.jpg
Look at that water!

Look at that water!

The girls were pretty excited and nervous to race the first Island Cup of the season (it’s their first time here). Mara had a great start and was keeping up with the strong girls until she got a flat, Aisha’s and Mathilde’s timing chips got mixed up, so they didn’t have their results, which wasn’t acknowledge before podiums (Aïsha was waiting for her turn on the podium and someone else got called because of the mixed results, even if she really was third…). They all acted with such maturity and positive attitudes, it was very heartwarming to see. Mathilde said she had her worst race ever (they rode a lot this week and their legs were shut), but that she had fun and was proud of herself. All in all, a success! And this community is simply amazing.

The girls were pretty excited and nervous to race the first Island Cup of the season (it’s their first time here). Mara had a great start and was keeping up with the strong girls until she got a flat, Aisha’s and Mathilde’s timing chips got mixed up, so they didn’t have their results, which wasn’t acknowledge before podiums (Aïsha was waiting for her turn on the podium and someone else got called because of the mixed results, even if she really was third…). They all acted with such maturity and positive attitudes, it was very heartwarming to see. Mathilde said she had her worst race ever (they rode a lot this week and their legs were shut), but that she had fun and was proud of herself. All in all, a success! And this community is simply amazing.


_CFO7547_DxO.jpg
_CFO7555_DxO.jpg
Mathilde and I when on a paddling date. It was so beautiful, seals were playing hide and seek around our kayak, a trumpeter swan landed beside us and a bald eagle took flight nearby. We could even see the snowy peaks of Olympic National Park in the US in front of us.

Mathilde and I when on a paddling date. It was so beautiful, seals were playing hide and seek around our kayak, a trumpeter swan landed beside us and a bald eagle took flight nearby. We could even see the snowy peaks of Olympic National Park in the US in front of us.

JF and are celebrating our 20th anniversary (well, as you know, we’re not married, but that’s 20 years from our official dating date) and it is my birthday in a few weeks as well, so he treated us to a guided tasting flight in the cellar of Bear Mountain Resort. Every Friday, there is a different theme and this week was Italy. How perfect! The sommelier led our group down to this incredible room with a huge table covered with canapés prepared with local cheeses and charcuteries, and guided us through a tasting of 8 different wines. When they brought out the lobster cakes, I looked at JF with big round eyes and asked: How much was this thing? He said: well it said from 40$ per person… So we laughed imagining cameras looking down on us to see how much food we ate from the decadent spread and charging accordingly! It turned out to be just a little over that and I kept bugging him that it was because he went for the prosciutto 3 times! It was so fun to be with him in such a different setting. It really felt like we had traded life with another couple for an evening, in a weird but cool way.

JF and are celebrating our 20th anniversary (well, as you know, we’re not married, but that’s 20 years from our official dating date) and it is my birthday in a few weeks as well, so he treated us to a guided tasting flight in the cellar of Bear Mountain Resort. Every Friday, there is a different theme and this week was Italy. How perfect! The sommelier led our group down to this incredible room with a huge table covered with canapés prepared with local cheeses and charcuteries, and guided us through a tasting of 8 different wines. When they brought out the lobster cakes, I looked at JF with big round eyes and asked: How much was this thing? He said: well it said from 40$ per person… So we laughed imagining cameras looking down on us to see how much food we ate from the decadent spread and charging accordingly! It turned out to be just a little over that and I kept bugging him that it was because he went for the prosciutto 3 times!
It was so fun to be with him in such a different setting. It really felt like we had traded life with another couple for an evening, in a weird but cool way.

 

Gastown, Vancouver

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

Traveling from North Van to Gastown through the Seabus is really fun! 

The  Paperhound  Bookstore

The Paperhound Bookstore

Purebread  has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Purebread has amazing everything! Try the crack bars and the giant meringues (right).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

Nelson the Seagull has amazing bread, lemon custard marzipan croissants and delicious Flat White Coffee (and Avo toast for $9 too... but that's another story... don't get me started on Avo toast...).

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called  Space Lab  (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

And a walk through the Chinatown, of course. Lizard popsicle, anyone? The funniest thing was that amidst all these Chinese stores was a really cool vegan store that totally clashed with its surrounding. There is also a really funky store called Space Lab (with a totally hipster barber shop at the back) worth a visit.

Edgemont Liquor  is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

Edgemont Liquor is one of the best places to find specialty spirits, beer and wines in North Van (not Gastown). I was so excited to find the Mia Amata Amaro from Odd Society Spirits, the Kina Tonic and that Sour Wheat Gose was amazing (still haven't taste the Kaffee one).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called  Emilio FInatti  in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

And last, but not least, a little hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Emilio FInatti in Langley that has one of the best pizzas I have eaten in my life (and I LIVED in Italy for a year). Seriously. I am still dreaming about it. Not all their pizzas a great, but this one is AMAZING. It's the Capo Piquante with calabrese, chorizo, curried butternut squash, goat cheese, jalapeno, arugula and mushrooms. Oh, and a great selection of board games to play while you wait (it's mostly a take out place and there is a lot of action!).

Other locations that are not depicted and that are worth mentionning:
The Modern Bar Tender, where they sell a huge variety of bitters and syrups, but even better of herbs to make your own bitters for a fraction of the price. The great thing is that they have testers of every bitter for the clients to taste. 

A really cute consignment store called Hunter and Hare.

As for camping in the Great Vancouver Area, it is very limited. The only legit place to camp for free is in North Van by the Walmart in the street (not the parking lot). It's not the greatest neighborhood and it's not leveled, but it's free and only 2 km from the Seabus to Vancouver (Gastown). In Vancouver per se, forget it. We asked at the Costco in Langley if we could spend the night after shopping there and the manager said yes (always make sure to write down his/her name), but when we came back to the bus after less than an hour in the store, there had been an attempt to steal Mara's bike (a grab 'n go thing, but the thief didn't notice the big Shwab chain and the bike was hanging from it). So, we moved to an industrial area in Langley in front of the garage where we had an appointment for the Westfalia the next morning. It wasn't a great neighborhood, but JF had the good idea to switch the bike rack onto the bus, so the bikes would sit just behind our head as we slept. Late that night, as we had just fallen asleep, JF heard voices and opened the curtain to see 2 guys who literally had their faces in the bikes. That's when Stout heard them too and barked his powerful bark. It was pretty funny to see them scamper away like little boys!

So, like any big city, Vancouver is not camper friendly. The closest RV park is in Burnaby and charges over $50 per night. There is also this RV park that looks nice in North Van that would be closer to the Seabus to go visit Gastown. It's still probably your best bet for a safe quiet location to visit Vancouver.
 

Alice Lake Provincial Park and Squamish area, BC

_CFO6864_DxO.jpg
_CFO6929_DxO.jpg
_CFO6934_DxO.jpg
_CFO6918_DxO.jpg
_CFO6970_DxO.jpg
_CFO7037_DxO.jpg
_CFO7040_DxO.jpg
_CFO6981_DxO.jpg

The Coastal Forest is just magical... You cannot help but smile when you walk in it, feeling like pointy elf ears are gonna pop on your head or that wings will appear on your back. 

Alice Lake Provincial Park is a beautiful campground in that gorgeous forest. It's a popular family destination, so it's not unusual that the 108 sites are all reserved (and they don't have First Come First Serve sites). There are tons of beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails in the park and four lakes (only Alice lake is OK for swimming), but the hiking around Stump lake is beautiful. Dogs have to be kept on a leash everywhere and are not allowed on some trails and on the beach.

Nairns Falls Provincial Park and North Arm Farm, Pemberton, BC

_CFO6737_DxO-2.jpg
_CFO6745_DxO-2.jpg
_CFO6793_DxO.jpg
falls.jpg
_CFO6819_DxO.jpg
North Arm Farm, in Pemberton.

North Arm Farm, in Pemberton.

Picking blueberries at North Arm Farm.

Picking blueberries at North Arm Farm.

_CFO6829_DxO.jpg
The twins are both injured (bike crashes), so they are taking it easy instead of biking and climbing as was the plan for this area...

The twins are both injured (bike crashes), so they are taking it easy instead of biking and climbing as was the plan for this area...

_CFO6842_DxO.jpg
The Farm store and Café, a wonderful place!

The Farm store and Café, a wonderful place!

After driving through a very smoky sectors from Prince George to Clinton and seeing vast expanses of burnt (and still smoking) areas, we turned onto the Sea to Sky Hwy and the landscape completely changed. We could not believe how many vehicles were parked along the highway at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park and a quick search revealed why. There is a gorgeous 10 km hike that leads to 3 different green and turquoise lakes that look incredible. We'll be back another year outside of the busy season (and early on a weekday!). 

The grades are pretty steep before arriving in Pemberton and the bus brakes overheated (and smoked) quite a bit. When we arrived at Nairn Falls Provincial Park (our destination for the night), the campground sign indicated Full. We still went in and asked and got the last available site! The hike to the fall was beautiful, especially at sunset (make sure your wear proper footwear and not worn Birkies like me, the rocks are pretty slick towards the end). There is a well-hidden beach where it is safe to swim (the Green river is pretty strong). More info here.

We rode some of the bike trails the next day (they are OK, but not great for the area). Aisha had a crash and ended at the Whistler ER (it's not broken!). The waiting room was mostly populated with other mountain bikers, full face helmet under their arms, limping their way in... All you could here on the interphone was: Bike crash coming in. 

We also visited the magical North Arm Farm just North of Pemberton (40 km north of Whistler) and picked organically grown blueberries and raspberries. We also ate wonderful homemade food at their beautiful Café (breakfast tart made of croissant dough topped with homemade pesto, a farm egg, goat cheese and caramelized onions) and had their gelato. Everything was very decently price, especially for this area. 

By the way, check out this fun graphics of us and many vanlife nomads at Mighty Goods. It's just too bad that they didn't include the girls and Stout in it, but still love it! Can you find us?

The Big Pig Bike Race at Boer Mountain, Burns Lake, BC

Wild blueberries are the best. But picking them in a lesson in patience.

Wild blueberries are the best. But picking them in a lesson in patience.

On the downhill section.

On the downhill section.

On the pump track section.

On the pump track section.

Finishing the cross-country section.

Finishing the cross-country section.

Cookie medals are the best!!

Cookie medals are the best!!

Really cute piggie cookies.

Really cute piggie cookies.

Race face on.

Race face on.

Creepy pig bike light. Nightmare material.

Creepy pig bike light. Nightmare material.

They finished in first place!! They did 7 laps of 10 km in under 5 hours. They are the only team that did 7 laps! 

They finished in first place!! They did 7 laps of 10 km in under 5 hours. They are the only team that did 7 laps! 

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

Downhill race on Charlotte's Web.

This incredible little boy was doing the race and his daddy was following behind. 

This incredible little boy was doing the race and his daddy was following behind. 

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

The Four Cross Race was quite a show!

Keeping with the theme, of course!

Keeping with the theme, of course!

The Blood Sun (yes, that's the sun!) created by the smoke from the forest fires.

The Blood Sun (yes, that's the sun!) created by the smoke from the forest fires.

We have so much history here (just do a search with #burnslake on the home page)... A broken arm, mechanical problems, meeting friends, moon rise watching on the dock in our sleeping bags, bonfires and berry picking... It’s no surprise when a local comes and knock at the bus door, happy to see us returning once again and offers us a shuttle up the mountain.

I wasn’t excited to come back here again this year. You see, I long for discoveries and new places. All the time. My family likes a mix of both and the girls were *really* looking forward to come back here, especially for the Big Pig Bike Race that we have missed for the last two years since we left the Yukon too late... But as unexcited as I was, it didn’t take long for the magic of this place to hit me! I love Burns Lake. The bike trails are amazing, the community of riders is incredibly friendly and the camping is FREE right by the trails and by a gorgeous lake.

The BC Bike Ride event was here just before the Big Pig and they wrote a great article (with beautiful pictures) about this great place and the amazing mountain biking community.

So this year was the 10th year of the Big Pig Bike Race, which is the premiere mountain biking event in Northern B.C. It’s a family friendly festival, with kids events, downhill races, 4 Cross races, an epic cross country race and cross country events.

On Friday, Mathilde took part in the Pump Track, the Downhill and the X country challenges in the 10 to 12 categorie. She took the first place int he Pump Track challenge behind 12 yo girls and came in 2nd in the other two events! 

JF and the twins did the Dante’s Relay, a timed event in which teams or solo riders race to complete the most number of 10 km loops in a five hour period. For the past 9 years, one lap of 10 km was added every year to the Dante’s Inferno course. It culminated with a grueling 9 Rings of Hell last year (for 90 km). I remember reading Dante’s Inferno (in Italian!) when I went to school in Italy at 17. To describe it as dense and intense piece of work is an understatement!

Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK + Salmon Glacier

Lake Clements Rec Site  is another free camping paradise, 13 km from Stewart, BC.

Lake Clements Rec Site is another free camping paradise, 13 km from Stewart, BC.

So many thimbleberries! Thimbleberries taste like raspberry yogurt. We LOVE them.

So many thimbleberries! Thimbleberries taste like raspberry yogurt. We LOVE them.

Waiting for bears to come and eat salmon along Fish Creek in Hyder, AK.

Waiting for bears to come and eat salmon along Fish Creek in Hyder, AK.

Can you see the salmons in the water?

Can you see the salmons in the water?

Salmon Glacier.

Salmon Glacier.

If you look at the map of Northern BC, you can see that Stewart, BC, really is the end of the road. There is no US customs to enter Hyder, Alaska, and no customs again as you reenter BC to get to Salmon Glacier. Hyder really has this end of the road feel. A lot of houses are unfinished or abandoned. We have seen a few buses turned into houses with structures built on top of them. This must be the only place where you can enter the United States without identification.  The reason being, is that once you are in Hyder Alaska, there is no place else to go except back to Canada. (You will need a passport or Canadian ID to get back into Canada).

This article published in the NY Times really gives an accurate portrait of Hyder, AK.

For $5 per adult, you can go see bears catch salmons along Fish Creek. At this time of year, you are pretty much guaranteed to see them since the salmons are running.

If you keep driving up towards the mine, you will eventually reach Salmon Glacier (people might tell you that the road is rough, but it's not; you can get there in a 2WD vehicle). Trust me, it's well worth the drive. The view of the Glacier is stunning. And well, it might not still be there in 50 years. You can see here how much the glacier has retreated since 1975. 

**You can see on the map that I circled the places I talked about in my previous posts for reference.

Morchuea Lake Recreation site on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Beautiful Mount Edziza in the distance.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking fireweed to make a tea mix.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Picking mossberries for syrup. These berries are very juicy, but not very tasty on their own, but once cooked with a bit of sugar, they turn into a delicious syrup. A great addition to Gin & Tonic.

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

Clouberries are also called salmon berries or baked-apple berries. It's hard to get lots because every plant only has one berry. Again, this pretty berry's taste is pretty disappointing raw, but once cooked with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, they do taste just like baked apple!

The Stewart-Cassiar  1 ½ oz  P ort Chilkoot Distillery Gin  ¾ oz Lillet Blanc ½ oz lemon juice ½ oz real maple syrup ½ oz rosemary syrup 3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters 1 egg white   Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

The Stewart-Cassiar
1 ½ oz Port Chilkoot Distillery Gin
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz real maple syrup
½ oz rosemary syrup
3 dashes of homemade lemongrass-cardamom bitters
1 egg white

Dry shake, then add ice and shake again. Add a rosemary twig for garnish.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

We found lots of gentian! I use the root to make bitters.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Mathilde's Boreal tea mix: Labrador tea leaves, raspberry leaves, pineapple weed, fireweed flowers  and red clover flowers.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

Our friends were traveling up the Cassiar and we met at Morchuea Lake for a night. Here, the girls were doing the dishes together.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love a good free campsite. With the bus, we don't need the services that a campground offers, but we long for the quiet of the wild, so recreation sites are the perfect solution for us in BC where campsites are pretty pricey (and busy!). Morchuea Lake is located just North of Iskut on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and has 8 campsites (2 that are closer to the lake). There were quite a bit of bugs (black flies, deer flies, mosquitoes...), but the gorgeous lake with Mount Edziza as a backdrop (and a kitchen tent!) made it worth a 2 night stop. 

Mount Edziza is an icon of BC culture and Canada's second largest young volcano. It is surrounded by lots of cinder cones. It is not accessible by road and the best way to get to Mount Edziza Provincial Park is by plane from Telegraph Creek. There is some spectaclular hiking to do around it and it's an area we'd love to explore more one day.

Boya Lake Provincial Park, BC, the Bora Bora of the North!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

I mean, look how clear this water is!!

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Picking Saskatoon berries on the trail to the beaver dam.

Isn't that place spectacular or what? OK, there are some leeches in the lake and lots of deer flies, but hey, Bora Bora has dengue mosquitoes and sting rays, so we're even. 

For more info on that campground, read my review on Campendium. Make sure your fridge is full of groceries and your tank full of water, because this is quite far off in the boonies. 

2017 Northern Migration - The Canadian part

Fruit trees in bloom in the Okanagan Valley, 10 km from the US border in Osoyoos.

Fruit trees in bloom in the Okanagan Valley, 10 km from the US border in Osoyoos.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg
Rock climbing in Skaha Bluffs Provincial park.

Rock climbing in Skaha Bluffs Provincial park.

JF showing the girls how to build an anchor.

JF showing the girls how to build an anchor.

Stout drinking in the Okanagan Lake at Evely Recreation Site campground, a little gem of a campground.

Stout drinking in the Okanagan Lake at Evely Recreation Site campground, a little gem of a campground.

Watercolor by the lake.

Watercolor by the lake.

Brrrr!

Brrrr!

upload.jpg

Such clear water!

Biking in Vernon with friends.

Biking in Vernon with friends.

Camping by Lodgepole Lake, near Kamloops.

Camping by Lodgepole Lake, near Kamloops.

Stout fell through the ice on that lake and gave us quite the scare.

Stout fell through the ice on that lake and gave us quite the scare.

upload.jpg
Dinner by Lake Kamloops.

Dinner by Lake Kamloops.

Late spring and very high water levels everywhere (Kerry Lake).

Late spring and very high water levels everywhere (Kerry Lake).

We got completely stuck in mud going to Inga Lake, just before Wonowon. A towing was needed to get us out of there.

We got completely stuck in mud going to Inga Lake, just before Wonowon. A towing was needed to get us out of there.

There was even snow between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson!

There was even snow between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson!

One of many similar gas stations/motels/restaurant along the Alaska Highway. The guy that lives there had grey skin. He says he spends his winters here all by himself. What a life!

One of many similar gas stations/motels/restaurant along the Alaska Highway. The guy that lives there had grey skin. He says he spends his winters here all by himself. What a life!

Liard Hot Springs.

Liard Hot Springs.

I am unclear about how to handle social media right now. It seems like the blog is more and more a rehashing of what I have published on Instagram and Facebook in the last week or so... I am really enjoying the My Story feature on Instagram right now (the bubbles at the top, where you post little blurbs that disappear after 24 hours, yes, a copy of Snapchat) and this is where I feel more compelled to post. I feel like the IG community is more active now than the FB one... So where does the blog fit in that? Not too sure, but I know I want to keep it up and going. Let me know what you think or what you would like to see more on the blog.

This is a text I published on my personal FB page and on Road it up Instagram. You might have read it already.

As we drive through rows of black spruce, the girls fight over iPad charging cables. I put my earphones back on, close my eyes and go back to the Masai Mara in Kenya with Tsh Oxenreider. I'm listening to her latest book, At Home In The World, the retelling of her year abroad with 3 young kids. She discuses with expats she meets along the way about how intense it is to be with her kids 24/7. I've never known anything else. I've been with my girls day in and day out for 13 years straight. As crazy as it may sound to some, I wouldn't want it any other way. Even on hard days. There were hard days when I worked in an office too (many more!). I smile as I now hear the girls laugh in unisson at a movie on which they finally agreed. I am back in Venice, eating gelato twice a day and drinking an afternoon macchiato with Tsh and her family when I spot a black bear scratching his back on a tree on the side of the Alaska Highway. We're home. Or rather, one of our home. But we're always home in our bus. The outside might be less familiar, but we feel home anywhere. 

I pause Tsh’s book and look ahead, lost in thoughts. What is home anyways? A familiar bed? A favorite mug? A sense of safety and comfort? A smell we recognize and that makes us smile? The way the light filters through the tall branches of trees at 10:30 pm?

I dig my face into the Yukon moss. Yes, I am home, indeed.

And South we go...

Our last few weeks in the Yukon were a series of awesome dinners and shared moments with friends.

These friendships that survive the distance mean so much to all of us.

A last evening at our dear friend Josée's.

Coloring at night in the bus.

Last sunset on the Alaska Highway.

Following a Westy from Argentina.

We stopped at Boya Lake on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway for a little hike.

And pick berries, of course!

It was the first time our California friends saw a beaver dam! 

We stopped for 4 days in Burns Lake to ride at Boer Mountain. It rained the whole time, so that's pretty much the only biking picture I took... You might remember our epic adventures here last year! Day 1 is here, then Day 2 (the shit hits the fan), Day 3, Day 4 and there are more posts on that beautiful place (just click Newer at the bottom of the posts)!

Medicine making with arnica, yarrow, fireweed and rosehips and dutch oven apple crips with freshly picked thimbleberries and blueberries.

Prosciutto and sage leaves wrapped chicken and potatoes over the fire.

Lots and lots of dirty laundry. We rode in the mud for 3 days!

Diedra found out that the thrift store was doing a 5$/bag of clothes week. The kids were creating a play, so it was perfect! They are so creative!

The sun came out for 30 minutes and we could litterally see the earth exhale.

Kager Lake, right by the campsites at Boer Mountain. There are tent campsites all around the lake accessible through a fun bike trail. During our time there, they were doing controlled burns all around the lake and it was pretty surreal to come across these big campfires every 200 meters as we picked berries in the rain! They kept us warm!

Transitions. Every parenting book I read when the girls were little had a chapter on that. Every parent knows all too well the meltdowns that followed the announcement that we had to move on to something different, be it jumping in the car to go visit grandma or wash hands before dinner... In the Waldorf world, we had little transition songs for each of these moments, imaginative stories of foxes chasing little mice in the bedroom for storytime... It’s not easy to leave behind something that felt good and comfortable, something you were engrossed in and could keep on doing. That’s how it felt to leave the Yukon. We weren’t sad per se, but we could have stayed a little longer (in a warm house, not in the bus!). Most places we leave feel like that after a while, Tucson, Moab, Virgin... Our life is a series of transitions, of hellos and goodbyes and see-you-laters. An interesting choice for a girl that had lots of separation anxiety as a child... But, hey, I’ve always been the kind to grab the bull by the horns!

Or rather, I’ve always had that pull to explore, to get out of my comfort zone. Leaving for a year in Italy at 17, attempting to hike the GR20 in Corsica at 21, a little underprepared... Hitting the road in an old bus we had just bought! It’s not an adventure if there’s not a bit (or a lot!) of unknown in it, right?

Northward bound!

Martine has started a tradition to give me a mug evertime I visit. I LOVE this new one!

Snow fight at Lake Louise. The Lake was still frozen, but still a stunning turquoise!

Driving the Icefield Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Park. One of the most stunning drives in BC.

I love that we are following Spring all the way up North (remember the cactus in bloom in Tucson in February and the lilacs in Virgin in March?) and fall all the way down South! My two favorite seasons! Never too hot or too cold to play outside!

Aïsha and I could not resist peaking into this abandoned café and hotel. You probably know by now that I have a thing for abandoned place. This one was pretty sketchy, but fascinating. There is something about witnessing this life frozen in time... Of course, when your selling points to attract clients were clean rooms and cable TV, no wonder you went out of business...

Aïsha and I could not resist peaking into this abandoned café and hotel. You probably know by now that I have a thing for abandoned place. This one was pretty sketchy, but fascinating. There is something about witnessing this life frozen in time... Of course, when your selling points to attract clients were clean rooms and cable TV, no wonder you went out of business...

As usual, we were treated to a real show on our way North. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, a wolf, cariboos, moose, lots of bears and even brand new bison babies...

Oh and we stopped at Liard Hot Springs, of course! As close to paradise as you can get!

If you are planning to drive North, I recommend that you come up through Glacier National Park (crossing near Babb), check the Canadian side of Glacier (Waterton Lakes National Park) and head towards Calgary on Highway 2, then to Canmore on the TransCanada Highway (spend some time there, it's a super cool city, lots of biking, hiking, climbing), then a stop in Banff and Lake Louise, and then onto the Icefield Parkway. That's a must! Know that there is no connexion at all in Banff and Jasper National Parks, but there is some in Lake Louise, in Banff and Jasper (town). There are tons of nice hikes to do in these two parks. Our friend Melissa who knows the area pretty well recommended these hikes: Cirque Peak, Parker Ridge, Fish Lake (2 days), Bow Falls, and the little stops like Peyto Lake, Sunwapta falls and Maligne Canyon. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to do any of these this time, but are planning to take some time off work next time to explore more.

Then, take the 16 to Prince George and head North on the 97 to Fort St. John, and all the way up to Whitehorse! The drive between Fort Nelson and Liard is the nicest. Make sure to do it by day as you are likely to see many animals. There are pullouts along the road where you can spend the night. There is a nice flat pullout just before Summit Lake and a few more between Summit Lake and Muncho Lake. There is no signal from Fort Nelson to Watson Lake (you'll get some in Steamboat a little after Fort Nelson). Then, no signal from Watson Lake to Teslin. Make sure to have enough fuel or carry a jerry can of gas with you since the gas stations are far and few, some are closed and some are sometimes out of gas.

I am publishing this post from Teslin, 3 hours from Whitehorse. We'll be there tonight! So excited to be back!

A week in Rossland, BC

The girls decided to recreate the Princesses of the World book. They are so talented and imaginative!

It is asparagus season!!

Andy making his famous vegetarian poutine! Look at that t-shirt, it's the best! Andy has full of Andyisms that makes me love him even more. This morning, as I walked into the house, he said: I declare today a non-day. Everything you accomplish on a non-day is a bonus! Awesome man. I tell ya'.

Every year, Rosslanders hold what they call the Red Talks (Red Mountain is the ski resort in town, and you probably recognize the similarity with the Ted Talks logo). It was an amazing night! Andy was giving a beautiful talk on the Wisdom of giving back.

If you've been following our travels for a long time, you know our friends Martine and Andy. We first met in Costa Rica, when their 2 day impromptu visit became a 10 day long amazing moment. They crossed the States twice on their bikes with their daughters (and also biked in Cuba after Costa Rica). They are getting ready to leave in a few months for a year on a family bike trip in Europe combined with a 3-4 month rock climbing trip on a Greek Island. 

You might remember the bear and plums incident the first time we visited them in Rossland. Or how Andy gave our bus a facelift a year and a half ago.

During the last two years, they converted the Old Parish Hall into an incredibly beautiful house in Rossland. They now hold Tango lesson in their home once a week! They are incredibly talented artists and amazing people (art therapists, teachers, working with youth at risk, and so much more). They always welcome us (and our flaky plans...) with open arms and an open heart. They probably are among the most loving persons I know. We feel extremely fortunate to call them our friends. It was pretty special to see them connect with our friends on the road (the Vielhaber, of course!) and go on bike rides and share meals together.