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Four Days Out.

May 12th, 2015
Group at Kakabeka Falls lookout

Kakabeka Falls lookout

The empty spring fields of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are proving to be less-than entertaining so this one’s coming to you from the road. We’re four days out of Peterborough, Ontario and just about to cross the Alberta border.

Traveling long distances by car is something that you acclimatize to quickly, we’ve found. Who sits where is already well-established. The Town & Country has a “two, two, two” seat arrangement. Sam and Lara, our drivers, take turns in the two front seats. Ciaran and Dian are settled nicely in the middle. They are the car’s providers of snacks and drinks, having a cardboard box full of each under their seats. We removed one of the seats in the rear to make room for all of our gear and Robbie is tucked very cozily in the (little) remaining space back there.

Perhaps not unexpectedly for people that know us, we set off incredibly behind schedule on the first day and underestimated the time it would take to cover the 700km from Peterborough to Sault Ste. Marie. As a result, we arrived there at around 1:30am and checked into the first 24hr motel we saw.

Lara at Kakabeka Falls

Lara at Kakabeka Falls

Day two saw us start to get into the swing of things with a slightly earlier departure time of 10am, still leaving time for everyone to shower and have a leisurely breakfast in the morning. Within half an hour the first shrieks of European excitement were erupting in the car. We’d driven past a moose. Half an hour later, we saw the first bear; a young black bear, loping along the tree line that disappeared almost as soon as we’d seen it. Adrenaline levels definitely spiked.

We don’t have an adequate way of describing our reaction to Sam having to brake to avoid a second black bear as it crossed the highway in front of us but we lost it. Completely. The fact that situations like that even exist is so foreign to us, the idea that we’d ever experience one ourselves – well, we’ve not got our heads around that yet.

That’s something that has come up a lot actually. We’re actually doing this. We’ve bought a car, loaded it up and for the next two months are going to be driving it across North America. What? We haven’t even come close to getting used to this idea. For instance just earlier (after a 9am start and breakfast on the road – we’re getting better) we turned off the highway to have lunch. We drove along a gravel road for a while before finding a hill to eat our picnic on top of. We sat in the long, dry grass looking out over miles of rolling grassland. In the distance, the longest freight train any of us had ever seen was traveling slowly westwards. The sun was high in the sky, a light breeze cooled us and there was a moment when we had been sitting in silence and then all of a sudden we started smiling. Smiles quickly broke to laughter as we struggled to comprehend how this was happening to us.

Lunch in the prairies

Lunch in the prairies

We get the feeling that’s going to be happening a lot along the road. We just crossed into Alberta and are heading towards the badlands of Dinosaur Provincial Park where we’ll finally get a chance to leave the car behind and do some proper exploring on foot. We can’t wait; this has the makings of the trip of a lifetime.

 

 

Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.

Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:

SamLeakey

RobbieTravels

CiaranTragheim

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Road trip. Two months. Five friends.

May 5th, 2015

Road trip. Two months. Five European friends across Canada from Toronto to Vancouver and through the States from San Francisco back to Toronto via as many cool places in between as we can find. We’ve used cities as way-markers but our interest is in the land we’ll travel through between them. Along the way we’ll pass through more National Parks than you can shake a stick at. Camp stoves, beaches, forests, mountains, waterfalls, adventures and waking up in a tent somewhere new every morning.

Left to right: Sam, Ciaran, Robbie, Dian, Lara

Left to right: Sam, Ciaran, Robbie, Dian, Lara

Introductions. We are Ciaran, Dian, Lara, Robbie and Sam – we’ve spent the year on exchange at Trent University but now exams are finished, school’s out and summer’s nearly here; time for a change of scene. You’ll get to know us along the way but for now:

Ciaran, 20, from England studies history – his most recent big adventure was climbing Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro.

Dian, 21 from the Netherlands studies psychology and is our most seasoned road-tripper – having driven all over Europe in what’s possibly the world’s tiniest two door hatchback.

Lara, 20, from Germany studies environmental sciences, we’re all convinced that if she’d been growing up in the 60’s she would have made a great hippie.

Robbie, 21, from Scotland studies archaeology and spent his childhood scrambling up the Munros of northwest Scotland.

Sam, 21, from Scotland studies astrophysics and spent last summer hitchhiking and walking around Iceland. Very rarely spotted not carrying at least one camera.

It did all fit, eventually!

It did all fit, eventually!

Four of us met at the end of last August at an orientation camp organised by the university just south of Algonquin Provincial Park. We were driven there directly from the airport late at night, in darkness. We can still remember waking up early the next morning just after sunrise and walking outside to find that we’d been delivered to a log cabin built on the shore of a huge lake, steaming in the sun and surrounded on all sides by thick spruce forest. We’ve haven’t stopped smiling since! Dian joined us in January for the winter semester. I think it was only about three minutes before it felt like she was another old friend.

It took until the end of February or so for us to realise that time was actually passing very quickly. We had all spoken of summer travels, and ‘going out west’ but never in any more specific terms than those. We had to get a move on! For Lara and Sam, the next month or so was spent navigating the used-car market. Steep learning curve and lots of obstacles. In the end though, after exchanging their British and German drivers licenses for Ontario, hours of insurance policy hunting, blocked bankcards and actual fraud on one account, we were successful. Parked just outside is the 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan that is going to carry us across a continent and back again. We haven’t named her yet – we’re waiting for something to happen on the road to tell us what she’s called.

The cabin we stayed in at Magnificent Hill

The cabin we stayed in at Magnificent Hill

Our European sense of distances and idea of what a ‘long drive’ is often amuses our Canadian friends. We find it hard to believe that we can drive for two straight days and still not have left Ontario! Despite that, our idea is to drive straight out west to Alberta. Sorry Manitobans and Saskatchewanians but we heard your prairies just aren’t as interesting as what lies beyond! Once in Banff, we’ll travel north to Jasper and then southwest via Kamloops, Whistler and Squamish to Tofino on Vancouver Island.

First morning_1

The view we woke up to on our first morning in Canada at Camp Timberlane.

The next leg of the journey will take us south into the States, the plan at the moment being to head towards Yosemite. From Yosemite onwards our itinerary gets more and more vague but we expect to spend some more time on the Pacific coast, visit the giant trees of the redwood and sequoia forests in eastern California, the deserts of Death Valley, and well, beyond that, things really do become vague. In planning this trip it was important to us to stay as flexible as we could. Over the eight weeks we have only four dates where we are tied to being somewhere. For the rest of the time, if we wake up to beautiful sunshine and decide we really don’t want to leave where we are, we’ll stay! No schedules, no appointments; just our tents, backpacks, us, and the road.

Lara on fire road_1

Keep up with us throughout our journey via the weekly blogs posted here that we’ll be writing for Osprey Packs or follow us on Instagram:

SamLeakey

RobbieTravels

CiaranTragheim

Travel , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Riding Cancer into the Ground

March 15th, 2015

Riding to work - phto by U of C photographer

I woke up at the usual time, 5:30 AM, on the morning of my last radiation treatment for prostate cancer.

It had been a long haul; from diagnosis of the most aggressive form of what is more typically a slow-growing cancer in October 2011, to surgery in November. Then started the 38 radiation treatments: five days a week for two months during the summer of 2012. I had asked my radiation oncologist, Dr. Stanley Liauw at the University Of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, if I would able to ride my bike to every treatment. It was a 44-mile round-trip from my home in Evanston, a northern suburb along Lake Michigan, to the Cancer Center in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South side.

“Well,” Stan said, “we’ll see how you feel about halfway through.” Read more…

Active Lifestyle, Ditch Your Car, Osprey Life, The Cycling Buzz , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gear Review: Bike Radar Recommends the Talon 22

September 14th, 2010

Thanks to Bike Radar for their awesome review of the Talon 22! They even went as far to say this popular Osprey favorite is an “incredibly comfortable larger capacity pack for epic adventures.”

Here’s the full review:

The Talon’s well designed harness system gives a truly comfortable feel out on the trail. The deep hip belt sits snugly in position and it’s easy to fix the weight to your shoulders with the looped adjusters.

The Ripstop fabric used for most of the body means that you’re not carrying extra weight before you pack up, and once you do fill your pack, the profile is still sleek.

The overall effect is that the pack feels like it’s wrapped round your core, so that it not only seems like you’re carrying less, but the load remains supple and moves with you.

The well thought out pockets include zipped numbers on each side that you can access without removing the pack, and a stretchy helmet/wet weather compartment.

This is the pack we’d choose for epic days, and it’s also available in a 20L size to fit narrower or shorter backs. It has a hydration slot, but no bladder.

Remember that even though the Talon doesn’t come with a bladder, you can purchase one of our HydraForm reservoirs as an add-on!

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What’s In Your Pack? A Day’s Worth of Adventure

July 23rd, 2010

A lot of good stuff got crammed into this Talon 22, and we’re pretty sure that means Flickr user Destructo Girl knows how to get in an excellent day hike. Frisbee, camera, travel journal… what more do you need?

We want to know what’s in your pack! We’re running our photo contest is running all month so there’s plenty of time to submit! We’ll be selecting one photo a week to feature here on our blog, and all weekly winners will score a Digi Stow! At the end of the month two people will win a Farpoint 70, perfect for packing on your next adventure. To take part, just upload your photos to our Flickr pool, tag with “whatsinyourpack” and be sure to write a description of just what’s hiding inside your pack.

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