Penticton to Kaleden to Okanagan Falls: all trail, all lovely
As I prepared to shove off from the west side of Skaha beach, I was delighted to run into the much rumoured Gorgeous Georgia’s ice cream bike. It had proved to be elusive, though I’d had my eyes peeled since arriving in Penticton.
I am a food zealot. My holy grail is artfully delicious, local, seasonal and organically grown. With a shift away from cow’s milk, proclivities like ice cream can be a challenge. Luckily, it’s a rising trend to focus on natural yummies with a wider variety of fresh ingredients than yesteryear.
To kick off the southern leg of the tour, I treated myself to a natural, fresh fruit blueberry-peach popsicle.
“OMIGOD OMIGOD DUDE GET IT OFF ME!!!”
As I exited the campground washroom, a couple of 20-year-old-ish men were dancing around, screeching. One of them was holding out the fabric on the front of his tank top and the other one was screaming “Jesus, what IS THAT?” while swatting ineffectively at his friend.
The swatting friend had a piece of clothing in his hand and was too scared to come close enough to be accurate, so the floppy, swishing fabric did not dislodge the deadly monster.
This post has no picture. This post starts in the dark and ends in the dark.
I have a project underway. This minimalism project. My minimalism does not include paying large amounts of money simply to sleep.
My bicycle has a tent, sleeping bag and a comfy mattress. So my place to sleep has no door to lock. No walls, no heater, no AC. My place to sleep depends on the goodness of strangers, the weather, the sounds and smells of the world. If someone wanted me killed, raped or robbed, it would be fairly easy.
WTF??? Are we STILL in this place? This place where coffee shops label their dark roast “strong” and, get this, this is a good one, the light roast option is a medium roast watered down.
I brought my cup back after one sip, my little face all scrunched up and confused, then got the explanation. The people around here don’t understand. They think a light roast means it’s weak, so the shop “has to do it that way”.
Cheeses H Cripes, seriously? How about don’t offer a fricking light roast if you don’t actually have one, and teach the locals about coffee if you do.
Coffee is special. It is nuanced, like wine. It has terroir and all the influences of the roaster and the brewer. Grind, water temperature, equipment, timing. Blah blah blah.
Look, I’m not saying everyone has to care about all that. I’m saying that if a shop doesn’t care about all that, just serve the damn coffee without pretending anything. Just tell it like it is.
By the way, they’re not beans, they’re seeds.
— end of transmission —
Wikipedia defines sensate focusing as “a set of specific sexual exercises…with an emphasis on mindful touching…that lead to a whole new set of sensual possibilities.”[OMG she’s talking about sex again. Relax, it’s okay, I know what I’m doing.] Mindful touching – without thinking about goals – expands what’s possible in the sense experience. Masters & Johnson said so.
This leg of the trip is sexy as hell. I didn’t hold back or think too much or let goals cloud my senses. This definition of sensate focusing is perfect for anything we do with our mouths, eyes, noses and fingers. If I think I know what a muscat wine is going to taste like, I will absolutely miss something. No predetermination. Beginner mind. Buddhists make good wine-tasters. Except we’re not really supposed to take alcohol. Whatever.[Speaking of which, the Muscat Ottonel at Summer Gate Winery is off the hook.]
Starting in Naramata, there was a bit of a noisy surprise: wild peacocks and peahens (I never heard the word peahens before, have you?). They are just kind of hangin’ out about the town. This one was scratching up a flower box and cared not at all about my approach. Historically, there has been a community battle about getting rid of them vs. leaving them alone. Occasionally, you can see vehicles with massive stuffed animals attached to the hood or roof. This, apparently, keeps the birds from landing on the vehicles scratching the holy hell out of them.
A fresh-picked, tree-ripened nectarine, cold on a hot day, will make you feel that all is right with the world.
Close your eyes. If you decrease the dominating visual neurons (some researchers put sight at 83% of sense input), you can increase your perceptual range of taste, aroma and touch.
Bringing yourself into deep awareness of the senses is a break from the skittish, tiring human mind. It’s a small act of meditation. A small reminder that what’s real is the present moment, not your thoughts. And it feeeels gooooood.
First, Myra Canyon
The trestle bridges are pretty as a picture, the views are stunning and the trail is just fine for touring bikes. There were occasional challenges with sand and minor fish-tailing. No biggie. The grade was almost entirely a gentle downhill – all the way to Naramata, as a matter of fact.
The dark tunnels feel a little adventurous. For a moment, I thought I was entering the Lonely Mountain from The Hobbit. No gold, wah. But then, no Smaug, either
Quite a number of people were out on bikes and legs. With a wide pannier load, it was necessary to dismount on all the bridges.
There was brief but exciting moment when I passed a boulder spray painted with “Michaela [backwards ampersand] Adam was here”. Exciting because even common, ubiquitous nasty grammar will inspire some creative cussing on my part. But nasty grammar spray painted across nature’s pretty self? WTF, Michaela and Adam?? I wish I had caught them in the act so I could scrawl “Cathrine were here” across their dumbass backs.
Why Okanagan Valley?
Today begins The Senses Tour. Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada, from Kelowna to Osoyoos. This ride is about sense pleasure. Not hedonism; don’t get me wrong. It’s about deep, meditative sense-joy to feel richly alive.
As a student of Vipassana meditation, which develops body awareness, I know the satisfaction of being deeply aware of every inch of my body. It’s grounding, it’s delicious. This trip, I commit to taste, smell, feel, hear and see with rapt attention.Therefore OKANAGAN! This place is a sultry, beachy heaven of orchards, market gardens, wineries, distilleries and artisan producers of every kind. There are ample trails and beautiful views.
One of these lumps is my shampoo bar and one of these lumps is my deodorant. They both live in little baggies and were easy to tell apart at first. As a lightweight, self-supporting traveler, it’s good to turf the dead weight (and space) of packaging wherever possible.
I use solid shampoo to save the water-weight of the usual products, and take the deodorant out of the plastic container. Smart, no?
Let me describe the mechanics of commercial underarm deodorant: it makes your pits hydrophobic and water doesn’t stay on them.
Let me describe the mechanics of shampoo: it makes your hair hydrophilic and pulls water as close to your scalp and hair as possible.
Let me describe what happens when you rub deodorant on your hair: you have to spend the next 20 minutes and a half-gallon of shampoo getting it off.
Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I did something like this to myself. The other time worked out better, though. I had put chain lube in a small travel squeeze bottle so that I didn’t have to take the entire container on a short trip. It was a cherry red colour, same as a leave-in hair oil I use.
Let’s just say that my hair had a lovely sheen and was quiet at high speeds.
This little tent has done a marvellous job in many climates. It has seen blowing snow in Alaska and heat blasts in Hawaii.
It’s technically a 2-person tent, but as a touring cyclist, I would not like to share the storage space unless there’s a safe place for gear elsewhere. It’s a tight two, so to speak, and a perfect 1+gear. As of August 2016, the Seedhouse 2 is not listed on the Big Agnes tents page. They now make a Seedhouse SL, which I gather is the sexy next gen.
I would have to agree with the copy-writers at Big Agnes when they say “Like a gin martini or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Seedhouse SL tents are simple, efficient, and classic.” Frankly, anything like a gin martini when I’m covered in sweat and dirt sounds like a good time.
This tent has been reliable, good value for the price, great in bad weather, easy to set up and lightweight.
One thing I’ve had to be careful of is pegging out the fly for good airflow. In cold weather, condensation can build up and in hot weather it’s, well, hot. But the all-screen tent does a good job with airflow and if you don’t need the privacy or weather protection, the openness is divine. The vestibule is big enough to provide a bit of rain shelter which putting shoes off and on and allowing a little storage on each side.
When first we wander
I started using a ‘pee funnel’ while on a bicycle tour in Alaska. It was late fall with crisp days and cold nights. There are many reasons to not hang a bare butt out for a pee and freezing weather is chief among them. Since then, I have used a number of brands in a variety of situations – there are definite pros and cons, depending on your needs.
Situations? What situations?
Cold, yes, is a great reason to pee without de-panting. Not just as you adventure through your day – being able to pee while in your tent (even mostly still in your sleeping bag!) is a major gift in the night-time. Keep a plastic pop bottle or other well-sealing container handy and simply kneel up for a moment. Your feet stay cozy in your sleeping bag and there’s no wake-up shock of chilly night air on your bits. Recommended: a bottle with a narrow top to decrease the chance of spillage in the dark.
Like any repetitive activity, it’s important to unwind whatever you wind up. Cycling is particularly rough on the upper back and quads. Frequent stretches tucked into the day will go a long way to preventing more serious strain later.
1. back stretch
Use the bike to stretch your body long. Relax your upper body into the stretch. Relax your shoulder blades. Let go of every muscle not needed to stay up.
2. upper chest and shoulder stretch
Stand up straight – feel yourself into a strong line, hanging in gravity like there’s a string from the crown of your head. Do not stand military-tight. Just stand there like you believe in yourself and you’re cheerful to see the world ahead of you. Grasp the seat behind you and let your upper chest streeeeetch open. Let your shoulders relax into the stretch.
3. quad stretch
This one is richer than it looks. When you stand, feel yourself into a straight line, and notice where your hip bones are. Make them parallel with each other (neither higher than the other). Notice your butt. Unclench it. Notice your whole self. Unclench it. Life a leg and let the quad stretch out – now readjust your hips back to level with the horizon. Don’t let one rise up. If you have swiveled an arch into your back by tilting your hips forward, swivel them back (tuck your tail under). See how much more stretch you get in your quad and iliopsoas?