Every day brings about new challenges. Some of them are unforeseen, some are expected, and others we’re learning to expect. This post is the first in a series that elaborates on some of the challenges that we’ve faced and that are a consistent part of our trip.
Finding a Place to Sleep
This can be hard but is also one of the most fun parts of this adventure. Every single day we have to sleep, and most days we don’t really know where that will be. The first 10 days of the trip were pretty well planned and we had more or less a set place to shower, eat, and sleep each of those nights so we were really quite pampered. We managed to make it all the way to Montreal without having to use our tents once. Once we left Montreal and began heading to Toronto (the leg of the trip that we’re currently on), we left our radius of comfort where we knew people and had known homes to stay in. This is when finding a place to sleep became a challenge for the first time.
Our first night out of Montreal we made it to a town called Oka, in Ontario, Canada. It was not where we were trying to end up but we didn’t have anywhere to stay that night anyway so we stopped when we got tired. We found a nice little patch of grass right next to the Ottawa river–it was a gorgeous night and this would make a lovely spot to pitch a tent. Clara and I sat down on a bench in silence, admiring our find and reveling in the beauty of the oncoming sunset. As we sat there, I noticed three people walking towards us. They finally reached us and a man spoke to us, “Hey! Where are you coming from?” “Boston,” we replied. “Oh wow! Need a place to stay?” . . . That was the fastest we’ve secured a stay for the night. Danny, Loewis, Bryan, and their children Glorianna and Dennett turned out to be such sweet people. They gave us a room to sleep in and made us a delicious breakfast in the morning. (Glorianna, in case you read this: follow your gut, hop on your bike and ride! You won’t regret it.)
The following night we made it to our next destination: Montebello, Ontario. This town was more of a summer stay for tourist vacationers so there were really only hotels around. We had no idea where we were going to sleep but we were told it was a cool town to check out–I would say maybe that’s true if you’re looking for a nice riverside getaway and willing to pay too much for a hotel. OR, you can do what we did and pitch a tent in their public park! It was a great park with solid bathroom facilities with potable water–practically a free campsite. This was our first and only night of stealth camping so far.
After leaving Montebello, we headed for Ottawa, the capital of Canada. We were told that here we could find an old jail turned into a haunted hostel, and that if you managed to stay the night in the spooky room at the top it was free. This turned out to not be true, and they were entirely booked for the night. But they did have a sweet BBQ going so we stayed for hot dogs, burgers, live music, and some good times. Meanwhile, we also messaged people on Warm Showers, a platform that connects touring cyclists with other cyclists who are willing to host them while they travel … for free! We’ve used this a handful of times but it’s not always reliable since it’s so last minute. To be honest, this was the most concerned I’ve been so far about our sleeping situation. We were in a big city with nowhere to sleep and the sun was setting. Cities are rough. Even though I’m from central LA, this is something I’m really just beginning to learn firsthand as I am now technically homeless. I much prefer the countryside. After washing my clothes (and myself) in the bathroom of a mall in downtown Ottawa, I sat outside and watched the sun go down while writing in my journal. There was some fear present but I also knew things would work out, since they had to. As I calmed myself down mentally, we got a message from some Warm Showers hosts we had messaged–Jenn and Houston wanted to host us! We booked it to their place and they hosted us so kindly. A warm shower, a nice bed to sleep in, and breakfast in the morning.
Last night was pretty spectacular. We arrived in Kingston, Ontario (“the city of limestone”) in the late afternoon and checked our phones expecting to see that at least one of the 15 Warm Showers hosts we had messaged that morning had replied–not one had. We were in a crappy city situation yet again. We weren’t too worried though. We went over to a bike shop right before they closed to get some stuff done on Clara’s bike. As Clara talked to the mechanics, a woman approached me and asked us about our trip. We spoke and I mentioned to her that we were looking for a place to pitch our tents but it didn’t seem that there were any campgrounds nearby. She said, “let me make some calls” and walked away. She came back a few minutes later and very innocently said, “would you like to pitch a tent in our backyard?” I was totally caught off guard and I think Clara was too! We were so happy so we followed her to her house and met her husband Dan and their tenant/friend Julia. They invited us right in and we talked the night away and played games and music. Being with them truly felt like being with family. They had a very special family and you could just feel their loving vibes exuding from their being. It was truly a special stay and I’m excited to keep in touch with them. Thanks so much Dan, Sue, Julia, and Zach!
Tonight, I’m writing this post from a barn in a town whose name I don’t know the name of. We didn’t make it as far as we had intended today–a consistent theme, and the topic for a coming post–but again, we didn’t really have a place to stay anyway, just a campground that we were aiming for. There was talk today about a storm that’s coming and we began to catch the first glimpses of it when we got to this town in the late afternoon, where we stopped for a pizza dinner. Considering how beat we were and the conditions that seemed to be a-brewing, we decided it would not be wise to continue forward. So after eating our pizza, we biked around and knocked on the first door we saw. We asked if we could pitch a tent and Lionel offered us the barn. At first he was was skeptical, as most people understandably are when we first knock, but then he warmed up to us. In fact, he warmed up to us so much that he left his own Father’s Day celebration to come talk to us. His daughter Jodie had to come get him and remind him that he had guests over who were waiting for him to open his presents. Lionel kind of just stared at her and we told him that he should go be with his friends and family. He continued staring at Jodie and then grunted and reluctantly agreed to resume his celebration.
Finding a place to sleep is something that we have to figure out every day but all in all hasn’t really proven to be very difficult. And that’s largely due to the fact that people are just so nice! We’ve yet to be turned away–though we have decided to decline an offer for a place to sleep because of a sketchy situation. Figuring out where to lay our heads to rest is probably the most exciting part of every day and so often brings us to some really wonderful people. I’m sure we’ll have to face some not so ideal situations at some points in the future but man is it an adventure!