Week 4 - Washington State to Vancouver (in words)

Day 24 – Tuesday July 23rd – I had stayed with another Couch surfing host, Laura Reber, in Spokane, Washington. The aim today was to make the Canadian border, get some Canadian dollars, set up a Canadian phone plan with Rogers Cellular and get to Kelowna. It was quite a lot to get accomplished. Another day of beautiful mountains through the Cascades. I reached the border at around 1pm. An older man helped me inside the border control building. He asked lots of questions about my trip. Feeling like I was on a mission from God I spoke confidently and told him everything I was doing. Afterwards I wondered if I’d given him too much information and sat waiting, a little bit nervous. I sat and waited, other people came and went. Eventually the gentleman handed me back my passport and just said, “we’re all done here.” And I was through the border! I made it into Canada! I stopped at a fruit stand because Edith Trowers from church had set a goal of picking a peach in British Columbia. I bought one peach and ate it right there. Amazing to drive along with Okanagan Lake to one side and the desert mountains to the other. Somewhere in the lake was the infamous monster. My phone’s data service had turned off by now and I was flying blind with no GPS or texts or cell phone service. I stopped at a bank in Penticton and got some Canadian cash from the bank, and then headed to Rogers Cellular. They were very helpful but couldn’t set me up with a plan. So I will be finding free WiFi wherever I go, and do my updates that way. Until I arrive in Alaska– back to US territory and regular cell service. That night I stayed with I Laura Ramsey’s (couch surfing) in Kelowna, British Columbia. A young 29 year old, with a 2.5 year old son (Nic). Laura had done just about everything. Serious heart condition, multiple operations, wasn’t supposed to have a child, had couch surfed around most of Europe, been around Asia, landed in India and opened a restaurant of her own, lived in India for two years, then moved back to the states.

Day 25 – Wednesday July 24th – The plan: to drive to Vancouver and get to Vancouver one night early, to be close to the Triumph dealership and get a motel room. I had a major service appointment for the bike scheduled for the next day. In a motel room I could spend time quietly updating my blog and web site– it’s very difficult to create trip movies, blog and web site updates, etc when I’m staying with people. The people are more important, so I spend time with them. The blog tends to get neglected. I headed west from Kelowna, past the vacation setting of the lakes, along Route 97C west towards Merritt. The road climbed into the mountains, up to 4,500 feet, the air got chilly. There was nothing out there at all except for pine trees and mountains. There was a fence all the way along the road to keep out moose and bears. I arrived in Merritt and there was a tourist info office as I drove into town. A quick stop that paid off. Penny, the lady there, helped me book the cheapest motel room in Surrey, BC close-ish to the Triumph dealership, I bought BC and Vancouver maps from her, and then she told me to take the scenic, two-lane route to Vancouver. It was longer by an hour and a half, but she said it was worth it. It was indeed. The two-lane road winded through farmlands and desert of Canada, with high mountains to either side. This was real country. The largest ranch in the world is out here somewhere. I took Route 8 to Spence’s Bridge, and then south along the Trans Canada Highway towards Hope. Here the mountains are higher, the trucks use the road, the road follows the Fraser River. The Fraser River is wide and rushing, a powerful river, for white water rafting etc. The salmon swim up this river to spawn, which is remarkable that they can fight this water. Rode past Hell’s Gate– a large ravine, a tourist spot– I didn’t stop. I stopped just after there to fill up with gas and met a lady called Serena that was riding her sport bike 1800km or so in 24 hours– non-stop except for gas etc. How could she do that? Wasn’t it dangerous? She just kept going and I thought it was amazing stamina. I got into Surrey, BC (south part of Vancouver) and situated myself at Econolodge for the night. I made YouTube movies of my journey.

Day 26 – Thursday July 25th – Time to get the bike serviced at Pacific Powersports in Richmond, BC. Told Joseph in the service department all the stuff that needed checking with the bike, offloaded to upstairs store room in the accessories and parts dept (thank you Scott for allowing me to do that). They said it was too much work to do in one day and that they were fully booked up. They would do their best. As it turns out they did get nearly everything done. Just need to do new discs, new chain and sprockets– I will try to get this done in Anchorage. I will call ahead. Federico helped me out with buying a new helmet. I knew my helmet was in bad shape, but he took one look at my old one and said it was dangerous and no good any more. I knew that to be the truth. After trying many helmets on we settled on a bright silver Arai helmet. The service and the helmet cost a fortune. I hold onto money very tightly sometimes and hate to see it flowing out of my bank account. But there are other more important things and I have every faith that God will provide exactly what I need, when I need it. There will be no shortage. Just follow God. He’ll see you right. I made it to Judy and Chris Christopherson’s house by 7:15 or so. Judy is the Executive Director of UrbanPromise Vancouver. Judy was at a Victorian tea event and Chris and I sat talking all night. I got the whole life story. Chris told me to really think about the Arctic Circle– that maybe it wasn’t worth the risk trying to get up there. I am hoping that I can find someone to ride along with. It would be safer. My prayer– “Lord, direct me in this decision. Give me wisdom. Let me listen. You’ll show me the way.”

Day 27 – Friday July 26th – At 2:15 today it was time to meet the first group of UrbanPromise children! An exciting day indeed! Judy Christopherson was there waiting for me to arrive, outside of the property’s fence. Inside the fence the children were all excited. We’d all been waiting for this moment for some weeks. It was time to finally meet. I was given the signal and I drove the bike around the fence and entered the back garden of the center, through the gate, along the path, and parked on the concrete in the corner. The children were holding posters up, tooting their noise-making horns, clapping and generally making a big rowdy welcome. It was a pleasure for all of us! United in a common goal– them and their well-being. The children were all around 6 to 12 years old. And several Street Leaders were there also. They had made posters “Welcome Andrew”, “Welcome Smithy” and an AMAZING poster with a motorcycle on it. Judy introduced me by microphone and the children gathered around. I proceed to tell them about the bike and ask them all sorts of questions– how much do you think it weighs?, how for can I go?, etc. I gave them a tour of the bike and the equipment. Then I told them about my dream to do this trip and we asked the children about their dreams. They asked a lot of great questions throughout my visit, and their dreams were wonderful (detailed and specific). I asked them questions about their dreams to get some more details out of them, really to get them to focus on their dreams to encourage them to think more specifically. Their dreams included: being a Marvel comic artist, riding a tiger, becoming a chef, visiting France, becoming an actress, becoming an artist, and plenty more. I was amazed by their enthusiasm, talent, spirit, intelligence and love. I’m really happy that we’re all supporting UrbanPromise children together. Even more so now. Judy is a dynamo and does so much at UrbanPromise Vancouver as their Executive Director, and everything else that she does.

Day 28 – Saturday July 27th – This was my tourist day out in Vancouver. I took the bike, without all the extra weight (just the tank bag) and drove towards Vancouver’s city heart. I took Marine Drive all the way west. At one point I headed south into a place called Southlands– full of stables and horses, a little like the country in the middle of the city. I’ve been amazed by how forested and how much green space that Vancouver has. I past beaches laden with people sunning themselves in the midst of one of the longest spells of sunshine that Vancouver has had. I stopped in the midst of the University campus, at a viewpoint, where I met an asian guy named Yung who said he wanted a Bonneville and wanted to ride it to the tip of South America. I got into the center of Vancouver’s heart. Congestion everywhere. It was slow going. Judy and Chris had recommended Gas Town, Robson Street, Stanley Park and Granville Island. In Stanley Park I found totem poles and two games of cricket, and a Gay Pride event. It’s a big park, one of the biggest and I drove all the way around it. Granville Island offers an eclectic mix of art galleries, restaurants, people milling, a great farmer’s market, and trinket shops. A great place to walk around. Lo and behold, I ran into an old school friend from home in England! Rachel Penaluna, Alan, Tom, Rachie’s mum and aunt Helen and her husband were all visiting Vancouver. We talked and caught up. We had a drink at Edible Canada. Such a small world.

Day 29 – Sunday July 28th – Judy, Chris and myself attended Whalley Presbyterian Church in the heart of the drug corridor (one of them in Vancouver). It’s a smaller church. Everyone was very welcoming. We did a lot of singing, which was great. I spoke to the congregation about following their dreams and read them the passage from “Love Does” by Bob Goff. I found out later that one lady was in tears talking to Judy. She was recalling her dream to be a missionary and it hadn’t come to pass yet. But Judy is on the case now and will get the lady involved in the ministry in Vancouver. It’s one of my hopes that dreams are inspired by this trip and they come into focus more– such as this example, where things happen and a lady starts to become the missionary she’s always wanted to be. Afterwards, I rode the bike into a fabulous welcome by the congregation and more UrbanPromise Vancouver children. It’s so inspiring for me to see everyone rallying around the idea of supporting UrbanPromise and each other’s dreams. I was even ceremoniously bagpiped. Another welcome poster drawn and created by the children. It’s so heartwarming! And they are so talented. I spoke for about 45 minutes or so. The children and adults all asked a lot of questions and I collected their dreams. The big acrylic box that Chris made was filling up with dreams. We collected $310 in donations for UrbanPromise that day– from poverty-stricken people in a not-so-good area. People’s generosity and belief in the results that UrbanPromise brings to pass is incredible. It’s a testament to the organization that people with not much give so generously. I have been amazed by the children and how talented they are, how they ask really good questions, and have very specific dreams. These children could be any one of us. They are no different, only getting a harder start in life. But UrbanPromise is there to make sure they are given the best chance possible, and judging by what I witnessed I can’t wait to see what they all become. They are motivated and enthusiastic. With UrbanPromise’s help they will excel and bring a lot to the table. It’s one of Judy’s dreams to see an UrbanPromise center in every city, and having met the children on Vancouver I can understand why there should be a center in every city. It’s a lofty goal, but a very worthy one.

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