Taking a ride alone on a quiet country bike lane surrounded by farmland in a small French-speaking village just outside of Montreal was not in the game plan. Then again, everything that has happened since purchasing Janey-Rae a year ago was never part of a mapped out route fixed in stone. The plan was to buy an RV then explore the vast American continent come what may.
The adventures found us soon enough. We have covered 18,000 miles (30,000 kms) and if I learned one thing from the journey to date, it is life is an adventure waiting to happen. Embrace the unknown and push yourself out of the comfort zone, if you don’t do it life will certainly make you squirm as its path will throw you some curves for sure. The latest curve, which found me cycling in a village named St. Roch de l’Achigan speaking French while my family were well-installed at our next helpx site, happened when Janey-Rae decided her alternator had reached the end of its charging days driving out of a traffic jam in a rainstorm on the outskirts of Montreal. We luckily made it to a gas station in a small village five kilometers off the highway, filled up, then turned the key to continue, and for the very first time on this journey, we were stranded – dead. After a jumpstart we made it a further 300 yards (meters) down the road. When the engine finally stalled we silently rolled Janey-Rae into a parking place across from a public park with toilet facilities and right in front of the volunteer firehouse with an outside electrical outlet for us to plug into. The timing was late Friday afternoon on the eve of Canada Day weekend. Nothing happening till Monday! Our friendly helpx hosts picked up Louis, Angie and Chessie Saturday after lunch, as I opted to stay with Janey-Rae for the weekend. I was invited to a barbecue, met some nice locals, and explored the local area on the bike path.
We are now all at Sylvie and Marcus’ lovely place set in a heavily wooded area surrounded by lakes and hungry mosquitos. Between walks in the forest, kayaking on the lake and sumptuous feasts we are fitting in some projects like rebuilding a terrace, making curtains and weeding the garden to earn our keep. Angie even snuck in yet another walk-in yoga class, notching up one more of many she has attended around the continent. Sylvie’s colorful career as a director of French documentaries and Marcus’s diverse career composing music for movies makes it all the more interesting. (I even learned he played guitar on this song from my childhood that he never got the credit for as he was an underpaid studio musician). Chessie and Louis’ budding interest in video editing has taken a giant leap forward while here, so yet another diverse experience for us all.
Our road towards the great white north found us re-exploring the beautiful mountains of North Carolina from Marshall to Beech Mountain. Enjoying traditional Appalachian music at the Bluff Mountain music festival to getting reacquainted with our friends in the downhill mountain biking world in Banner Elk. We had to say our sad goodbyes to my niece and her family once again, then we parked not too far away at Steven and Beverley’s, friends we went camping with last year when we started our journey. I even helped Steven build one of his commercial storage units this time around and we all enjoyed swimming in their small pond and basking in the good company.
Afterwards driving slowly up the Blue Ridge Parkway felt a bit like the adventure was ending in some ways, but we knew deep down every day would still throw something our way. We revisited Aunt Mary, still sprightly at 91. Cousins Jen and George, always welcoming, showed us their small bee hives and George showed us a hand-written formula by Einstein he had recently been entrusted to ship across the country from his UPS store in New Jersey. We walked to waterfalls near Albany, New York with our friends Patty, Rich, Jai and Maile with whom our adventure began a year previously while sorting out Janey-Rae for the upcoming year. We also visited the NY State museum with them- our second museum of the trip! Always fun catching up. Here’s a video Jai, Louis and Chessie put together to commemorate the journey. The music is a song recorded by another friend Duffy we helpxed with in California.
All these memories and adventures while also a very intriguing year in American history to say the least. To quote The Grateful Dead, “What a long strange trip it’s been!!”
Vermont saw us stopping at Ritchie and Dylan’s house, friends from the mountain bike world who have the pleasure of living in Stowe. Their house built in the 1800’s oozed character, and their surrounding fields pushed up fresh veggies as Ritchie and his partner Chandra strive to reach a modicum of self sufficiency in our quickly growing dependent society, be it on technology or supermarkets, so it was a breath of fresh air to sneak a quick glance at yet another path leading to a different way of life. Shortly after leaving Stowe we crossed the border heading into the latest leg of our adventure.
Our gut feeling while driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway a few weeks ago that the adventure is not over yet, feels oh so very true!
Enjoy this version of a song I’m sure you know. Always inspired by this one!