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September 22nd, 2009 - Vancouver, CA

The Hwy 99 was a long and twisty hell. On a bike with an oil leak, I really didn’t enjoy it one bit as I my riding pants got soaked and construction road blocks at every bend made it a 5 hour ride. The leaking oil kept dripping on the exhaust and every time I stopped, a cloud of smoke encircled me which made breathing difficult.

I got to Vancouver during rush hour and found my way toward Sarah’s apartment. Sarah was my CouchSurfing host on Friday and Saturday and she was a great one at that.

On Saturday, I finally found a valve cover gasket and oil filter and Andy offered his garage to do the operation. Andy read about my problems with the bike and called me when I was in Williams Lake and he even offered to ship the complete rear wheel off of his bike to get me down to Vancouver (I had already changed the tire by that time, but his selfless act of kindness was touching). On Sunday afternoon, we tore the bike apart once again and changed the valve cover gasket along with the tar colored oil in Andy’s garage and had a great time talking about old GS motorcycles the whole time.

My Sunday host had canceled on me and I had nowhere to go so, with Sarah’s help, I found a cheap hostel called the American Backpacker in downtown Vancouver. This place was rundown to put it politely. If I concentrated hard enough, I could do a study on rats and other small mammals in their natural habitat. But if cost only $10 and I needed a place to stay so I checked in. The only parking spot was in the back alley and as I was getting my stuff out, I noticed that there was broken window glasses all over the lot, so I put 4 different locks on the bike and started walking in. I was only 15 feet away from my bike when I heard a window shatter and saw a guy running with something in his hand and that was enough to turn around right there and go back to the bike. I moved the bike to right in front of the hostel and chained it under the light, but I still didn’t feel completely safe, so I opened the double door of the hostel and moved the bike inside in the front hall. I didn’t care what anyone would say, I was not about to move it an inch, no matter what.

Besides being a dirty place, this hostel was one of the coolest places I’ve visited in Canada. I made many friends from all over the world and had a great time.

On Monday, I managed to get a print shop to do my brochure printings. Thanks to TR Trades Production, LTD, I now have 500 brochures to pass around. Danielle Dongan, the owner of the shop, was super helpful and she even tri-folded them for me before I picked them up. Thank you Danielle, you’re a doll.

I spent Monday and Tuesday at Elizabeth’s. My new host was a cutie who rides her yellow JAZZ scooter all over town and her dream is to do the Tour de Europe on her Bicycle. An explorer at heart, she was smart and very enjoyable to talk to.

On Tuesday, I decided to do some fundraising on the rich side of the city, so I setup my display in front of the Starbucks (one of my sponsors) with the help of a pretty and very enthusiastic Persian girl named Natalie (I hope the spelling is right). Natalie provided muffin samples, a donation bucket and tables, but as the day went by, I realized that it’s hard to get a penny out of this pretentious bunch.

5 hours of begging and only $20. That has got to be a new record for me. (I didn’t see one beggar in the whole area; maybe they knew what I didn’t know!) There was a lady who bought a bottle of water for her dog while pushing her $4000 stroller and refused to throw her change in the bucket (she ate the free sample though.) I watched a parade of Lamborghinis, Mercedes, and Ferraris go by with people in them who had so much but spared so little. When you talked to them, they all bitched about the economy, like they were suffering. I suppose they used to use their helicopters to do the shopping, but now they are forced to drive their crappy Rolls-Royces. There is truth to the saying “the less they have, the more they give.”

I am leaving for Ferndale, Washington tomorrow. It will be good to get back to the States after all.

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