The feeling I had when I first left NZ came back to me as I was heading to Gatwick Airport to catch a flight to Vancouver, my Europe trip was over and I was on to another exciting adventure, this time in Canada & the US.
Met 2 young guys from Whistler at the airport and they were telling me all about their past 2 months backpacking around Europe, shared stories and all agreed on Barcelona being an epic place.
Arriving in Vancouver was probably around 10 flights from Asia at the same time, so getting through customs seemed to take forever and all I wanted to do was get on the other side of that border to see Kelly.
Chatted to some people from Northern Carolina who were there to go on a cruise ship, the guy says to me ‘Oh I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand’ and then proceeded to tell me all the things he wanted to see there, however was a little bummed out when I told him that we don’t have kangaroos in New Zealand.
I wasn’t as grilled as much as I thought I would be, was asked why I was in Canada and for how long, when I was heading back home and if I knew people that I was meeting up with. But eventually I was out the other side and Kelly was there, super excited to see him and I met Ron Burgundy (Ronnie B) for the first time, our van that would take us on this road trip.
We hung in Vancouver for a short while, grabbed some lunch, got ourselves a GPS and then got on the road to Whistler.
On the drive to Whistler I began to wonder if perhaps Canada was going to give Switzerland a run for its money in the favourite country I’ve visited stakes.
The place that Kelly lives there is a cabin in the woods on the side of a stunning lake, in a suburb of Whistler called Whistler Creekside about 8 km before the main town of Whistler.
Kelly had put together a bike for me to ride, so that arvo we rode into town and checked out the village, all the while trying to fight the fact that my brain was at 1am.
The village of Whistler seemed a lot smaller than I had first imagined, but its so lovely and the mountains surrounding the village were awesome.
The following day we got our bikes and caught the gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain where I was to be taken into Kellys world for the first time and try to make it down the mountain in once piece. Before embarking on that though, we locked up the bikes and caught another gondola across to a different mountain range on the Peak to Peak. After some cheesy sightseeing, we were back at the bikes and I put on my knee & shin pads, full face helmet and gloves and followed Kelly down.
Yes I fell off, only once though, and not even while riding the bike! I was walking it down a real steep bit and I must have grabbed the brakes too hard and something happened which meant I got completely tangled in the bike and was soon on the ground. All of this of course in front of a bunch of guys doing some photo work, awesome!
Carried on and the burn in my legs was really starting to kick in, but we were soon at the bottom and I was totally keen to go for another ride however I was in some serious need of a rest and a beer.
We didn’t go all the way to the top on the second run, just half way, and I by the end there was no way I could do any more that day. It was just so much fun, the trails are built so well and it’s just a matter of confidence as to how fast you want to take it.
Oz is one of Kellys flatmates, he’s from Norway and flies helicopters for a few weeks to a few months at a time in the bush, so when he gets back from work he likes to enjoy himself.
The first night I was there, I got to see the hilarious side to Oz after a few beverages. We were awoken in the middle of the night by real loud music from upstairs, Oz had been out and brought the party back home with him. He came down the stairs to just outside our room, and was telling a girl all about the chainsaw that was there, after failed attempts to start it Kelly got up and started it for him and Oz runs upstairs. With no chance of being able to sleep, it was a classic ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ moment. We were greeted at the top of the stairs with Oz in the kitchen chopping up tomatos and bread with the chainsaw, also chewing into the wooden bench tops too. It was hilarious, even more so when he looks to Kelly to ask him how to turn the chainsaw off!
After a couple of beers and a heated debate between Oz and the boys about hand washing after using the bathroom, the girls that had come over for the party left and we went back to bed.
One of the nights we headed out to a dub-step club in Whistler called Max Fish. To get there though, we had to walk down the train tracks a few hundred metres and it was pretty cold out, so I wore my sneakers and carried my heels then at the end of the tracks I ditched my trainers in some bushes and changed into heels, sorted.
That day, the boys had told me about a thing that the locals in Whistler do called ‘Hot Tubbing’, where you sneak into someones place that has a hot tub and enjoy their facilities without them knowing. After we left the club and I had changed back into my shoes, I had a bright idea to mention that a hot tub right then would be awesome and Oz knew of a great place to go just along the train tracks on the way home.
Next thing we are bush bashing a little, and then it opens out onto a perfectly manicured lawn in from of a mansion, there were a few lights on and a radio playing outside but Oz knew they had a hot tub across the lawn and under a permanent gazebo thing. So we bolted across the lawn and while I was still trying to pluck up the courage and Oz was busy trying to check out if anyone was home Kelly was already in the hot tub.
Eventually we realised that there wasn’t anyone home, and apparently there hardly is ever anyone at this house but they still keep the spa running, which was great for us!
Well and truly wrinkly, we eventually headed back home to the cabin, what a wicked way to end a fun night out.
We were due to leave and begin our roadtrip on the Thursday, luckily there was another van exactly like our one with a wooden bed frame already inside it and no one was going to be using it while we were away, so we nicked it out of there, extended the legs on it and we instantly had a bed, just needed a mattress.
We picked one up at the second hand shop, just a foamy and we were able to cut it down to fit perfectly.
On our final night in Whistler there was a big party at the cabin, we got a bonfire going and we tried not to think about how we had a massive drive the next day.
The next morning, we packed up Ronnie and the boys fabricated an extension to the bike rack using some wood and rope. We had 4 bikes to take with us and Kelly doesn’t ride the smallest of bikes so the normal bike rack didn’t quite cut it, but with some kiwi ingenuity they were able to get the bikes on board and we were ready to roll.
We were heading East, towards Nelson BC, planning to stop in a place called Christina Lake where Kelly’s friends are working, building a huge house next to the lake which is only accessible by boat.
Fighting hangovers we didn’t leave Whistler till late and with a pretty big drive ahead of us we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to Christina Lake all in one go, especially seeing as they would have had to come pick us up in the boat after dark.
The drive was beautiful across BC, Canada truly is a stunning country. We drove all day and into the night, just figured we would drive as far as we could and then arrive in Christina Lake in the morning, so eventually we found a road off the main drag down by a river where we parked Ronnie B for the night and headed off early the next morning.
Along the way we stopped at a place where you could walk 5 mins to a stunning glacial lake, it was pretty hot and Ronnie B doesn’t have air con so it didn’t take too much convincing for Kelly to jump in, being glacial though it was bloody freezing so he didn’t last long.
I had the best coffee since leaving New Zealand in a tiny country town called Deadwood Junction, they stamped the side of our cups with a thank you message that read ‘Many Thanks, You’re Appreciated, Thank you, Thanks so much’.
At Christina Lake we met a guy from NZ that has been living in Canada for ages and has owned the property where the house is being built for the past 15 years. He owns a company that basically builds houses off their own back and then sells them on, but its high end stuff, like the house is Whistler he is trying to sell at the mo is on the market for around 11 million.
Christina Lake is stunning, a kind of mix between the look of the Marlborough Sounds and the Nelson Lakes. The boat ride took about 10 mins to get to the house and it was there that I met Loran & Mya and Josh, Loran is from Taihape and Mya is from Sweden but has the thickest NZ accent from learning English with Loran.
We were originally only going to stay for 1 night but as soon as we were there we knew we had to at least stay for 2, I could easily stay there for weeks, just such a wonderful place to be.
I tried my hand at stand up paddle boarding, Kelly managed to pick up the smaller of the two boards and once he was up on it, it was barely staying over the water, I had the much bigger one so it was pretty easy to do.
Later on that day we got the speed boat out and had a go at wakeboarding, Kelly is really good and Loran is great on a single ski. I’d always heard how hard it is to get up on a wakeboard so I was a little nervous about giving it a go, but managed to get up on my 3rd go and got the knack of it after that. Definitely takes it out of your arms though, and a muscle in my back was taking a hammering too, but it was such a heap of fun and I was looking forward to doing it again.
We cranked up the fire on the beach and eventually sloped off to bed, waking up to the most amazing view over the lake.
That day we all went to Rylston to go riding on a mountain there, Mya opted to shuttle us so it was Kelly, Loran and me riding down a 15 mile track from the top to the bottom of this mountain. At the top of the mountain, Kelly was recognised by a bunch of riders and had his token photo taken with them before we headed down the mountain.
The tracks weren’t as easy as the ones on Whistler mountain, so there were a few times where I had to get off and walk to save me no doubt losing a heap of skin.
I was stuffed by the time we got to the bottom, had a few hairy moments on the way down, even Kelly nearly went off the edge at one point while walking his bike, so it even happens to the best.
In Rylston there is a dirt jump track so we stopped there for Kelly to ride a bit, and yet again had his photo taken with some kids there.
Later that evening, Josh picked us up in the boat and we headed back to camp, the stars were incredible that night, noticed the big dipper for the first time too.
We headed off early the next day to try and get as much driving in as possible, we were crossing the border into the states so there were a few slight nerves in the car as Kelly has to cross the border so much and tends to get grilled a lot. But it was a tiny border crossing and the guys there were really nice so we just sailed on through and we were heading in the direction of Vegas.