After a fabulous ride from Buffalo, NY, to Brampton, ON, with stops to visit family in St. Catherine’s, Cambridge, Guelph and Toronto, we rented a minivan and drove home to Ottawa on July 28 in time for Grandma Barbara’s 73 birthday.
We live a ten minute walk from Grandma B’s condo and love dropping by and seeing each other often. A year apart (even with a fabulous visit in Utah half way through) was a long time for all of us.
These are all the boxes of random things we sent home to my mom along the way. We gave away more things at thrift stores, campground book exchanges and to folks we met along the way. One of the big things we learned was how little we needed – just one change of clothes, a few pairs of socks and underware and stuff to keep us warm and dry.
It was so fun and special to ride through Southern Ontario (where Derek and I are both from) and see our relatives. We have met so many amazing people on the trip and I really wanted to conclude by connecting with our family.
Some of the highlights include the kids demonstrating their cannonballs for my cousin Andrea and her partner Josh, Jasper calling Grandpa Wayne for a pick up at kilometre 95 on our way into Cambridge, Anna and I riding on (with all our panniers, of course) for the full 120km, our longest day of the whole trip.
Jasper didn’t waste any time and hopped right on his Grandpa’s computer. Anna Sierra also didn’t waste any time and was baking with her Grandma, biking off to play tennis with her and generally catching up on all her favourite activities with one of her very favourite people.
Grandma Pat rode with us on the hottest day from Cambridge to visit two of her sisters in Guelph. Grandpa met us at Aunt Yvonne’s house with a huge picnic lunch. After a swim and a visit, we rode over to Aunt Adele and Uncle Peter’s and settled right in for a few days of long chats, big breakfasts, visiting with our cousin Heather and relaxing in Adele’s gorgeous garden. Usually we just share afternoon visits at big family gatherings, so we really soaked up our special time together and feel so much closer for it.
I felt really blessed that we were able to see both of my brothers and their beautiful families. These wonderful men were my first biking companions – my little brother and I even went on a couple of bike trips together in our early 20s – and I thought of them often throughout the trip.
And then we rode to Brampton, through the countryside by Georgetown where we saw fields of sunflowers and the most beautiful coyote bounding by and parked our bikes at Elaine and Johnny’s – Derek’s sister and our brother-in-law. They were on their way home from a cycling weekend away in Niagara. So we were able to have a moment of quiet reflection at the end of our ride with just the four of us. I cried. It is overwhelming to think of how far we’ve gone, how many incredible people we met and became friends with and that all four of us got along so well almost all the time. Derek and I exchanged high fives. We did it. We had a fabulous adventure and brought the kids home safe and sound and happy and strong too.
The next four days were one big party. My sister-in-law has become a big biker – she even switched teaching jobs within the Peel board so she could ride to work along the Etobicoke Creek pathway that is right behind their house. She commutes by bike year round now and is always adding new biking destinations to her routine. We rode all over the place with her and our niece Marlee – including to a thrift store for back to school shopping and to Brampton’s town square where there was a teen DJ session/karate demo on – after a quick lesson on correct tire pressure- they had been working extra hard on uninflated tires. In the evenings we’d stay up late catching up and learning about our niece Sophie’s job interviews and getting lessons on Snapchat from Marlee. Johnny even made Derek breakfast in bed one morning. It was awesome!
On August 1 we moved back home. Our tenants took very good care of it, cleaning the whole place and even planting us a welcome home tomato plant! It was a lovely feeling to be back home, in our own beds, on our own street, surrounded by friends and neighbours.
On August 2 I went back to work at EnviroCentre where I work on promoting sustainable transportation. It was great to catch up with colleagues – many who have been following along on our adventures via the blog – and find out about new and exciting projects on the go.
While I was at work, Derek and the kids alternated between sorting out the house, going for big bike rides – no, 12,800 km clearly wasn’t enough! – and visiting friends. It’s taking me longer than I expected to reach out to all our near ones and dear ones.
Getting used to being back at work takes energy and I’ve been coming home pretty tired. After a year of our little 4 person, 4 lb tent, I’ve been finding great joy and satisfaction is setting up our home – washing windows, painting, trimming the cedars, deep cleaning and organizing shelves and cupboards.
We are all happy to be home. The kids have been having a blast with their friends and are loving the freedom of wandering around the neighbourhood – something they didn’t do a lot of while we were travelling and always in new places.
Registering the kids for school couldn’t have been easier. Derek took them to the Board office and they were asked what grade they were going into. Anna Sierra answered 8 and Jasper answered 5. They filled out a little paperwork, gave their updated emergency contact info and were registered. That’s it!
We were asked so many questions about homeschooling and if the kids would need to write a test to qualify them for the next grade or if they would be eligible to continue in French immersion. Derek and I had been told by the children’s teachers that the return would be straightforward, but it was still a relief to have it be so simple and welcoming.
A few days ago we had the pleasure of sharing a few stories about the trip with CBC’s Giacomo Panico, a fellow bike traveller who knows how magical exploring the world on two wheels can be. It was a lovely interview that you can listen to here. If you want to hear it on the radio, it will air again tomorrow (August 29) at 5:40am!
If we haven’t reached out yet, we will soon! I’m relishing taking time to properly reconnect with friends one at a time so we have a chance to really catch up.
Thanks for following along and for cheering us on. All your love and support and kind words and good vibes were wind at our back, making big climbs and long days (almost) effortless.
Sending all of you our warmest wishes,