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Vancouver Island Chapter 4

Tofino, British Columbia, to Asheville, North Carolina

Beginnings and endings

In one of my earliest blog posts, I wondered whether I had reached the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end, in life.

I was at a crossroad after facing compounding rejection that had me doubting my perception of reality; my gut, my inner monologue, myself.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about beginnings and endings.

On going home

During a recent long-overdue call with my friend Anna, we talked about the concept of home.

Is it a state of mind? Is it a physical place? Does it manifest in the presence of another? Is it constant or does it change? Can you have many homes, simultaneously?

Perhaps it's the place where you happened to arrive into this world. Or maybe it's the people you're surrounded by when it's all said and done.

A few days before leaving south for New Mexico, I went on a bikepacking overnighter with my friend Will. While in the mountains of Gold Hill, I picked up a rock and somewhat mindlessly dropped it in the left pocket of my puffy down jacket.

That rock is still in my pocket.

Since mid May, every time I put my hand in the pocket I felt that rock. I'd hold it in my clenched fist and roll it between my fingers and palm, memorizing its asymmetric ridges.

It reminded me of home.

For me, home is multifaceted. It's being in Boulder. It's sharing a meal, a laugh or a walk with my dear friends. It's when I feel at ease amongst the flora. It's trail running—alone—in the early dawn hours. It's when and where I can contribute; where I am needed and wanted, and have purpose.

With that being said, I absolutely felt moments of homeness on the trail.

Besides Boulder, I have never felt a tug as strongly toward a place as I feel for Tofino. It's still fresh so I don't fully understand what it means, but the fact remains: to me, Tofino is an incredibly special place.

Nolie rides a sea plane

In order to squeeze every last minute of time into Tofino, I splurged and booked a sea plane from Tofino to Vancouver. It was so easy to take the bike (I only needed to take both wheels off) and it was SUCH a fun experience!

I did it

From the Vancouver Harbour, I rode a short distance to my third Warm Showers host, Ivana's place. Coincidentally, I was Ivana's third guest!

Randomly, on one of the sidewalks was, "You did it!" written in chalk. I paused and let out an audible, "Hell yeah I did!"


Ivana is an incredibly kind soul, originally from Serbia and living in Vancouver since 2008. Arriving wet from the steady rain, she made me a cup of hot tea to warm up with, which was later followed by a glass of sweet port wine.

She had recently adopted a tiny, sweet little fluffball of a kitten, named Greycie. For such a runt, Greycie had a huge personality! The poor thing had been spayed the week before and had to wear the cone of shame. If only she'd sit still long enough for me to take her picture...

A day in the big city

After dropping my bike off at a bike shop in Vancouver to be boxed and shipped back to Colorado, I grabbed a late brunch and sipped coffee while people watching downtown. Then I visited the Vancouver Art Museum, where I spent way more time than intended... they had some fantastic exhibits and I could have spent even more time there.

In the afternoon I headed to the airport where I was catching a red-eye to Chicago, then my final flight to North Carolina.

A rude welcome

At Vancouver airport I was randomly selected for intensive security screening, which included a complimentary full body massage by a woman wearing blue latex gloves and a man dumping my bags out and rubbing an explosives detection wand all over my stuff—going so far as taking the Otter Box case off my phone.

Upon going through US Customs in Chicago, I was pulled aside and escorted to a detainment area where I wasn't "under arrest" but I "couldn't leave."

After thirty minutes of waiting in the room with zero information and a connecting flight time coming up hot, I grew impatient.

Finally I was brought to another area (now around 7:00a) where I was interrogated and asked some pretty random, personal questions for about twenty minutes. Then he said, "Okay you're good to go."

Utterly confused and frustrated, I pressed them for answers on why I was flagged. If I had done something wrong, was in danger or should otherwise be alarmed as I reentered the US. The man who questioned me said he couldn't give me details, but assured me I hadn't done anything wrong. He then pointed me toward a website where I could file a request for more information, from US Customs and Border Police.

After some sleuthing of my own, I think I've figured out what it was all about, and luckily there's no need for concern.

The middles

With all my worrying about whether I was at the beginning or the end, I had completely overlooked the most robust, most important part of it all: the middle. That meaty section where most of life happens.

Like sound waves of a song, the middle is flexible, with surprising moments of crescendo and decrescendo, whereas the beginning and end are usually focused, intentional, orderly and somewhat predictable. The middle is also where kismet is possible.

Perhaps more akin to free-flowing jazz or a rambling funky jam sesh, there's room for play in the middle, for experimenting and interacting with players of other instruments, together building up the components for beautiful sound. Assembling the kind of storied song that is vivid and interesting enough to be bottled and played again; for yourself, or shared with others. The kind of tune that could send you twirling back into fond reminiscence—in the future, once you've brought that one to a wrap and started a new one.

Would it be cheesy to equate a lifetime to an album—a concept album? Yes? Okay.

In my defense, I'm writing late at night again and have totally gotten off on another tangent... but all's to say that perhaps my biggest takeaway, so far, is the realization that every day I'm already right where I'm supposed to be. Just like when I was riding through the Great Basin.

It turns out the middles are pretty extraordinary. It would be a shame to wast the middle clinging to the beginning or rushing through to the end.

Revel in the middles.

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