The Next Adventure: Cycle Trekkers

Canada was amazing! Vancouver was amazing! But, for now, we are back in Sunny Perth, planning the next adventure.

Since we finished the France to China cycle tour last year, we have been itching to get back on the bikes and hit the road again. We have definitely come to realise that cycle touring is one of the best ways to explore a country. It puts you out there, right in the country, with the locals.

First we had planned to cycle across Canada, then this turned into a cycle trip across Canada and across the USA, which then turned into Canada, the USA and Mexico. Well, we finally decided, ‘screw it’ let’s just cycle around the world. So, next year, we plan to head back to Vancouver in Canada, to start our World cycle tour.

We want to take our time this time, no time restrictions, less restraints. We want to be able to explore the countries we visit, and stop when we feel the need to stop. For this reason we are planning the trip to take at least 5 years, maybe longer. Obviously, this is going to require a lot of money (hence the trip back to Oz). We also expect we will need to work along the way, which isn’t a problem at all. We’ve posted our proposed route on our new website – if you think you might be in an area the same time as us, or that our paths might cross somewhere along the way, then get in touch. You can reach us at info@cycletrekkers.com

While we are cycling, we decided we would also do some research into our future dream, owning a hostel. This has been Michael’s dream for sometime, as for me, I’ve always wanted to own an eco-tourism business. We thought we could combine the two ideas and create a eco-hostel. So along the way, we will be researching different green businesses and hostels, to discover what works and what doesn’t work. We will be sharing this information on our new website, Cycle Trekkers, as well as sharing general cycle touring info, updates and reviews. I will still be posting travel and general stories on this site too (though admittedly I’ve been pretty slack lately)🙂

Anyway, that’s our latest news! If you would like to share any tips, or get in touch then drop us a line, or comment in the comment box below.

Ciao for now xx

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Help exchange in Canada (or as Michael would like to call it “the ramblings of a Shellduck”)

I decided not to blog about Hawaii – it was sunny, it was beautiful, I made a lei, I danced the hulu – it was Hawaii and I did the typical Hawaiian touristy things! That pretty much sums it up. I spent a lovely few days there exploring the island, but I was excited to get to Canada and give this “help exchange” a go.

Making a lei in Hawaii

Making a lei in Hawaii

So, what is help exchange? Basically, you agree to work a few hours each day in exchange for room and board. The terms are usually agreed before you arrive at your hosts place.

Mother and baby relaxing in the sun on the farm in Langley

Mother and baby relaxing in the sun on the farm in Langley

The two main sites that I use are helpx and workaway, both offer a variety of different jobs, from hostel work, to farm work to au pair work. There is also a new site called workingtraveller, (which I have actually started writing for), though I haven’t actually had the chance to use it yet. There is also wwoofing – which is volunteering on organic farms that follow the same principle as the other sites.

Friendly baby goat at the farm in Langley

Friendly baby goat at the farm in Langley

So, I arrived in rainy Vancouver, extremely jetlagged and on a mission to get to Squamish by lunchtime. Surprisingly this was quite straightforward. After spending a few hours soaring down the stunning sea-to-sky highway I finally arrived in Squamish.

Squamish sunset

Squamish sunset

Having never helpx’ed before I had no idea what to expect. I had heard several horror stories about hosts taking advantage of travellers/ helpers, so I was on my guard. Obviously, I’ve taken plenty of assessed risks before, particular during last years cycle trip. I’ve lost count on the number of times I’ve had to rely on the help of strangers, however that doesn’t stop the insecure feelings of doubt develop in the back of your mind. In most situations when these feelings start to develop I start creating an “escape” plan – I do this for practically everything. Currently my escape plans are all bear related – what would I do if I see a bear on my trail runs? I then run through hundreds of different scenarios. Funny enough, I actually started doing this after watching one too many zombie movies – yes, I have about a thousand survival plans for the zombie apocalypse. Anyway, back to farms and stuff.

Squamish

Squamish

I was pleasantly surprised by my helpx hosts. Rolf, host in Squamish, picked me up from the bus terminal and drove us 20 minutes to a rural hobby farm in the Chekamus valley. Squamish area is absolutely beautiful – snowy-capped mountains, bald eagles, rainforests, plenty of hiking trails and alpine lakes. This is also where Twilight was mostly filmed. I was in my element!

The farm I was housesitting/ helpx'ing at in Squamish

The farm I was housesitting/ helpx’ing at in Squamish

The plan was to stay in Squamish for about 3 weeks. I was housesitting for the owners while they went away on holiday. While they were gone I was to look after the house, tend to the farm animals (goats, chickens and rabbits), and clear some wood and rocks in preparation for Spring seeding. The work was relatively easy, and was usually finished by lunchtime, which meant I had the afternoon to explore, cycle and hike. I was even allowed to use the car. The only downside was, after a week or so, I was quite lonely and there is only so much hiking you can do alone. I was quite happy to see some friendly faces by the time the owners returned. I stayed on at the farm for another week after the owners returned, and helped out where and when it was needed. The meals provided were plentiful, organic and fresh. On my last day on the farm a film crew visited the farm to film a GM commercial – a different experience in itself. The directors decided to include the goats in the footage, which meant I was given the job as “goat trainer”. The end result can be found here and here. The commercials were filmed completely at the property, so it gives you an idea of how beautiful the place was.

Cleaning out the goat's pen

Cleaning out the goat’s pen

After helpx’ing in Squamish, I headed down to Langley area, where I had arranged to help out on another hobby farm/ dog kennel. Langley is typical country – wooden barns, fields and small-scale private farms everywhere. The area is flat, but surrounded by the snowy mountains in Washington state in the US, and the mountains north of Vancouver. I soon learnt that the TV show Smallville was filmed there, as well as the new TV series (that I haven’t actually watched), called Bates Motel.

Life on the farm in Langley

Life on the farm in Langley

The set up at Langley was completely different; less strict schedules and planning and definitely more random. The jobs varied – tending to the farm animals (sheep, goats, dogs, chickens), seeding, clearing rocks, cleaning floors or windows, cleaning dog kennels, constructing new kennels, accompanying Kira (my host) on her on shopping trips/ craig’s list trips/ hiking trips/ seed buying trips, the list was endless. The first night I was there, Kira and I discovered that one of the sheep was pregnant… not only pregnant, but due to deliver. So we spent the first night delivering our first baby lamb. Amazing!

After delivering the baby lamb

After delivering the baby lamb

I was at Kira’s place for 2.5 weeks, and the time flew by. I was sad to say goodbye, but also excited to head to Vancouver, see Michael and start actually working (yes, I don’t say that too often – however, when you’ve just scored a job working in a rainforest, there’s something to be a bit excited about). I’m definitely glad I gave help exchange a chance. I met some amazing people, learnt so much and had some great, memorial experiences.

2 of Kira's friendly dogs - I miss their faces already!

2 of Kira’s friendly dogs – I miss their faces already!

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Home Sweet Home! Australia!

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China – the transition from cyclist to backpacker

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What made our cycle trip different?

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We made it to China, by bicycle, from France… what the?!?

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Discovering the land of yurts and… Borat! Cycling in Kazakhstan!

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