Monday, September 8, 2014

September 7, 2014 – Bike Accident

September 7, 2014 – Bike Accident
Bend, Oregon
On August 12, 2014  at approximately 2:00 pm I rolled into the small Central Oregon town of Prineville. It was a beautiful day and I decided to have a break at a Starbucks coffee shop. I spent 2 hours there reading and trying to decide on a plan of action for the rest of the day. I was headed towards the Oregon coast and debating whether to continue to the town of Redmond, about 35 km down the road, or stay here for the night. The weather was good and I had lots of energy so I decided to continue. At the time, I had no idea of the impact of that decision.
I cycled up a long hill as I headed out of town and soon settled down on a long flat stretch. The sun was getting lower in the sky but the traffic was light and scenery beautiful. I remember thinking that I would be in Redmond in less than 2 hours, lots of time to find a camping site and cook dinner.
I was headed west on Highway 126. The road is one of a few that crosses this part of Oregon and it makes up a portion of the Trans America Trail extending across the United States. The Adventure Cycling Association has mapped a series of routes for those interested in bicycle trips across the country and this road is on that popular route. As someone not familiar with the area, you can only rely on others to keep you from the busy roads but since this was part of the national bicycle route, it was an easy decision. The Association picks roads that are meant to be light in traffic and I had no reason to think it was any busier than any other road I have cycled on in the last 7 months. After cycling in some of the world’s largest cities in India, I had no particular reason to worry about a remote area in Oregon.
As I was biking, Ken and Marvie Moyer pulled on the highway. Ken was driving and Marvie was in the passenger seat and they were trailing behind a white pickup truck. Ken and Marvie saw me riding my bike and noticed that I was in the bike lane on the far right side of the road. Ahead they noticed a large semi-truck heading towards them on the other side of the road. Marvie suddenly yelled out that the white pick up truck they were behind had moved over into the bike lane and it was clear that he did not see me. The white pick up had pulled over into the bike lane to make room for the oncoming semi-truck. They both watched in horror as the mirror of the pick up struck me in the back. They saw me fly over the side of the road into the ditch. The driver of the white pick up pulled over as did Ken and Marvie and they raced to me lying in the ditch. Ken sat by my side as I kept trying to get up and he told me to relax. He tried to get my name but I did not reply. I managed to sit up and kept repeating that I could not breathe. Ken told me not to stand and held me up in a sitting position, trying to keep my head straight. Ken and Marvie called the local ambulance and then searched for some identification. At this point my bike was on the side of the road with my bags strewn all over the place. My front handlebar bag had flown off into the water in the ditch and my shoes were over 100 feet down the road. The pick up truck was traveling 100 km/h when it hit me in the back and the force of the impact was severe.
I met both of them later and Marvie was still very shaken up about the accident. She could hardly talk about it without breaking down as she was in the car right behind the truck that hit me. Ken stopped the truck and spent a lot of time ensuring I was okay. Ken took my brother Ed out to the accident site and both Ken and Marvie did the same with my sister Brenda. Ken came to visit me in the hospital on 2 different occasions and both came to the party that we held to thank all those who helped me. They were both grateful that I was making a recovery as they feared the worse after seeing the impact of the vehicle. Ken and Marvie, I can’t thank you enough for all that you did for someone that was a complete stranger.
Ken and Marvie Moyer
I was struck in the back by the mirror of the pick up truck. This picture was taken about 10 days after the accident and you can clearly see where I was hit on my back.
Imprint of mirror on my back
Here is a picture of the road where I was hit and you can see the narrow bike lane just as I crossed over an area with a creek on the side.
Area of impact
I was hit from behind and flew over this steel pole on the side of the road.
I just missed this pole
The impact of the vehicle sent me airborne and I flew right over this creek. I’m not sure what would have happened if I had landed in this water a few feet deep. My front handlebar bag with my glasses and camera landed in the water.
I flew over this creek
I landed in a bush on the other side of the creek, the only soft landing in the area. I was close to a barbed wire fence but managed to avoid it too.
Landing area
I am not someone who loudly insists that cyclists should wear a helmet but I could now be a poster boy for why they should be worn at all times. Something hit me on the back of the head. It might have been the mirror on the truck or it might have been from the impact of landing in the ditch but it is pretty clear that I would not be here today if I wasn’t wearing the helmet. The back part of a helmet has the thickest padding and there is a large chunk completely missing. I had a concussion but based on a picture of my helmet after the accident, it could have been much worse. The entire back section of the helmet was destroyed.
Helmet after accident
In my right rear pannier bag, I carry a MacBook Air computer. The computer had a protective cover and was buried amongst all the clothing when the car hit. Here is a picture of the computer after the accident which shows the power of the impact on my bike.
Computer damage
A few minutes after Ken and Marvie called the ambulance, a lady named Karen Yeargain drove by the scene and stopped to help. Karen was the first person with medical training on the site and she ran to my side to provide assistance until the ambulance arrived. Here is Karen, the lady who drove by and stopped to help despite seeing a number of people by my side. Thank you Karen for your help. You didn’t have to stop after seeing there were a number of people already there but I am grateful for the effort you made to stop and help.
Karen Yeargain
The ambulance arrived and a man with CPR training kept trying to assess my status. He asked me my name and I simply stated Fred, not telling my last name. He said I was in an agitated state and difficult to calm down. He then asked who the President of the U.S was and I didn’t respond. When the helicopter came, the pilots advised the people around me that they could see a black bag about 50 meters in the field so they retrieved that and found my passport. The police came and interviewed the driver of the pick-up truck and Ken and Marvie and also took my bike and some of my belongings. Some of my bags and belongings were also put on the helicopter with me. The helicopter landed in a field on the other side of a barbed wire fence. I was put on a stretcher and a number of people lifted me over the fence and into the helicopter. I was airlifted to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. I still do not remember a single thing about the entire half hour I was on the ground or the trip to the hospital. By the way, Canadians have medical coverage but I am not a resident of Canada so am not eligible. I have private health insurance that I paid premiums on since I left Canada. It’s a good thing too because the cost of the helicopter ride alone was $25,000 and the estimated cost of my 10 days in the hospital would be between $150,000 - $200,000.
After a total of 30 minutes I was admitted to the hospital, still unaware of what was happening. The doctors asked the name of relatives and I gave them my twin brother Ed but they could not contact him with an unlisted number. They were able to get hold of my sister Brenda and advised her of the accident. Brenda called the rest of the family and plans were immediately underway for Ed to fly out to the hospital the following night. The doctor advised my family that I was in serious condition and that a family member should make travel plans to come to Bend. The hospital was most worried about my lungs and were not sure if I would have to go on a breathing machine to stay alive. It was not the best news for family members to receive late at night (it was about 1:00 am in Toronto) and the news caused a lot of anxiety.
I was admitted to the hospital about 5:30 pm on Tuesday August 12th. The list of injuries included,
-      bi-lateral collapse of lungs (both lungs)
-      contusions (bruises) on both lungs
-      fracture of my left shoulder bone
-      fracture of 2 bones in my spinal column
-      14 broken ribs
-      concussion
I was admitted into Intensive Care and received a needle decompression in my right lung and a tube was placed in the lung. I had CT scans on my head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis.
Here is a picture on one of those early nights in the hospital. The red pillow is a cough pillow that I would hold close. It hurts to cough with 14 broken ribs and holding the pillow tight against your chest would cushion the blow a little.
Sleeping in the hospital
On the first night I woke up at one point completely disoriented, not knowing where I was or how i got there. I was on pain medication, had a tube in my chest and was hooked up to a monitor. I was told that I had a few phone calls but do not remember talking to anyone.
The next night, Wednesday August 13th, my brother Ed arrived in Bend. He asked me if I remember anything and the only thing that came to me was that I remember hearing a voice say “I can’t breathe”. I must have been hearing my own voice as that is what I kept repeating to the people that first came to my assistance after the accident.
The following day a reporter from the local t.v station came to interview me. I watch this video and vaguely remember talking with them.
The video was played on the news in Bend and numerous people came forward to offer hospitality. On the third night I remember a man and his young daughter walking outside of my room. I motioned to my brother to ask them to come in. They were from the Philippines and heard about my accident and the fact that I was trying to raise funds for an orphanage in their country and they just came to thank me. I can’t tell you the impact that something like that has on someone sitting in a hospital, far away from family and friends. The outpouring of encouragement and support was incredible and the small gesture of just coming to the hospital to say thank you will always stand out in my mind.
Another couple who heard about the accident was Jim and Jane Kress. Jim went out of his way to track down my family in Canada. He heard that my brother was on his way to Bend so he went to the airport late at night to pick him up. My brother was flying into a new city, not really sure of what he was going to face and full of anxiety. He arrived and saw a sign with his name and was offered a ride to the hospital. Jim and Jane offered their home to me and to anyone in my family. He also offered us the use of his vehicle as long as we wanted. Here is a picture of this kind family. Thank you both for your generous offer of hospitality.
Jim and Jane Kress
One of the nurses at the hospital that attended the party was Heidi. She was one of the nurses when I was on the first floor and one of the first to care for me during my stay.
Heidi Dinkel-Jimenez

My brother ended up staying at a local hotel due to the proximity to the hospital. He would come to the hospital early every morning and then spend the day with me or taking care of other tasks. Ken Moyer drove him out to the accident site and they found my sunglasses and watch sitting in the ditch. Ed also went to the police station to pick up my bicycle and then took it to a bike store to put in a box for the flight back to Canada. Ed is a Physical Therapist and Osteopath and was able to communicate with the doctors in their language so had a good understanding of my condition and what it would take to recover.
I stayed in the Intensive Care unit for 9 nights and in that time did not leave the bed. I used a small bottle to go to the bathroom as I couldn’t even get up. On 3 different occasions I tried to walk and each time I fainted but was caught by the nurses without doing any more damage. Those first days were a struggle to say the least. Every morning I would have a chest x-ray and was closely monitored 24 hours a day.
My brother left after a week and my sister Brenda was going to be the replacement. On the day she arrived I was moved to another floor. I was still struggling to move around but did manage to go to the bathroom on my own so was seeing some signs of progress.
Another in the long list of people offering hospitality was Ron Rousseau. He also heard about my accident and contacted my brother. He offered his home to me and Brenda after I was to be discharged. His home had a lot of steep stairs so I couldn’t stay there but Brenda took him up on the offer and she stayed with him for 4 nights. Ron cooked meals for my sister and she really enjoyed her time there and his kind hospitality. On behalf of my entire family, thank you very much Ron.
Ron Rousseau
Every morning at 5:00 am I would be woken up by Bethany. Bethany is a medical student working with Dr. Van Amburg. She would take my blood pressure, listen to my breathing and ask questions about my nights sleep. This would be followed by a team coming in to take chest x-rays. Dr. Van Amburg and Bethany were always positive and encouraging and always made me feel better with their visits. Here are my primary care givers at the hospital.
Dr. Van Amburg and Bethany
I also had special visitors. In that last week Cor and Jane Kors visited me in Bend. Cor is the brother of one of my brother-in-laws. He lives with his family in Los Angeles. Prior to the accident, my plan was to bicycle to L.A and leave my bike with Cor and Jane while I flew back home to visit my family. They were on vacation in Canada and driving back to Los Angeles when I had my accident so they stopped in Bend to say hello. It had been a lot of years since we saw them but it was nice to see familiar faces.
Cor and Jane)
On August 20th, the 9th day in the hospital, Dr. Van Amburg was wrestling with the decision of when I was to be discharged. They were concerned with my fainting episodes when I tried to stand up and also concerned about my left lung. The tube into my right lung had been removed but the left lung was not improving so they inserted a Heimlich valve through my chest and into the cavity of my lung. It was a very painful procedure but nearly 300 ml (the amount in a can of coke) of fluid was removed from the lungs. The valve was removed the following day and after a final x-ray, I was given approval to be discharged. I spent a total of 10 days in the hospital. The doctor was concerned that I might acquire pneumonia if I stayed any longer so pushed for my release. At this point I was able to have short walks in the hospital but was still struggling to breathe and the walks would exhaust me. I was told that I had to come back for another check up in a week so we had to stay in Bend while I started the long recovery.
Tim Lester is another one of the many people from Bend who offered to help. He heard about the accident and being an avid cyclist was eager to help. A few years earlier he lost is partner to cancer and he had a lot of hands on experience dealing with people needing home care. Tim called my brother and offered his home. He came by the hospital and along with my sister Brenda, we all headed to his home.
We could not have asked for a better place to recover. The room I would call home for the next week was on the ground floor and opened up to a large deck that was perfect for walking around when I needed exercise. Tim offered the use of his car for Brenda and she would go into town to buy food for all of us. We would eat breakfast and dinner together in the room. It was a very quiet and peaceful home and absolutely ideal.
One day Brenda was talking to Tim and expressed her appreciation for how many people in Bend offered their hospitality. She said she wished there was a way to thank everyone so Tim suggested hosting a small party. We invited all the names of people we knew that offered help. Many were not able to attend but there was a large group present and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner one evening.
Here is a picture of my sister Brenda. She gave up 2 weeks of her summer holidays to take care of me. She made meals and was constantly by my side the entire time in the hospital, at Tim’s house and on the long train ride back to Canada. I could not have made it home without her. Her positive outlook on life and high energy level were invaluable in those early days where I struggled to move around.
With all the love and support that we found in Bend, Tim Lester stood out. He opened his home to us both without any conditions and just made everything easy. He gave me a stroller that I am still using to walk around. He hosted the party for all the people we wanted to thank and then drove me to the hospital on the follow up check. Finally, when it was time to leave, he drove us 6 hours,all the way to Seattle to catch our train for Toronto. There is just no way to express our gratitude for this kind man.
Tim Lester
Here is a picture of me in Tim’s house. I pretty much stayed in that exact position for 6 days.
My room in Tim’s home
Here is the view I had from the bed.
My view from Tim’s home
I was able to get outside and enjoy some of the beautiful weather in Bend.
Recovering in Bend, Oregon
On Wednesday August 27th, I had a final check up and was given the green light to leave Bend. I was told that it would be risky to fly with my lungs so we arranged to take a train from Seattle to Buffalo and then have a family member pick us up to drive into Canada. The trip from leaving the door in Bend to arriving in Buffalo would take 80 hours, over 3 days.
Tim drove us to Seattle where we picked up the Amtrak train heading towards Chicago. We had a small sleeper car and I spent my days sitting there reading or sleeping.
On the train
In Chicago, we transferred trains to Buffalo and were met there by my sisters Linda and Sandra. It was then a short trip to Oakville, my home for the next few months.
I arrived at my brother’s place in Oakville, Ontario on Saturday August 30th. At this point I was able to get up and walk and started a routine of 2 to 3 half hour walks every day. I am still taking pain medication to ease the pain in my lungs and ribs but am slowly seeing some progress. I still have extensive bruising on my back and arms. This photo was taken 23 days after the accident.
Back and arm - September 4, 2014
The accident has obviously changed my plans. I will spend the next 4 months with my family in Canada and will not be updating this journal but I waned to make a personal plea to all those who have followed my trip over the last 7 months.
As you know I was riding to support the Angel House Orphanage and it is devastating to me to have my trip cut short without having completed my goal of biking around the world. I feel like I have let the orphanage down and don’t want the 15,000 km’s I have biked to have been in vain. I gave up a lot to do this trip and it almost cost me my life so I want to make a final request for support.
A week ago, the Angel House Orphanage joined up with the Global Giving Foundation (GGF), an organization that accepts charities registered around the world. If Angel House is accepted, it will provide access to donors around the world and really help ensure the economic survival in the long-term.
In order to be a member of the Global Giving Foundation. Angel House has to prove that they are a legitimate charity capable of raising support. They have 30 days to raise a total of $5,000 from 40 different donors to prove that they can raise support and I told David that I would do my best to help them reach that goal. The idea of raising $5,000 shouldn’t be a big deal but we need your support.
In January 2014, I left Bangkok with a goal of helping Angel House and this is a great opportunity. If they are accepted by GGF, it may mean people from around the world will help finance the great work they are doing.
I will not be providing another update here until at least Christmas so I want to make a final plea for help. I believe in the work Angel House is doing and would like to ask for your help. We need 40 people to raise a total of $5,000 within the next few weeks. Contact people at work or at your church and encourage them to donate. Get a group of friends together and donate a small amount. I can’t do any more cycling now because of my injury but if you have been reading my journals over the last 7 months and want to support the effort I have made, please donate today. Any amounts would be greatly appreciated and if they meet the goal of $5,000, it will go a long way to increasing exposure around the world.
You can write to me at, if you are interested in helping. If you want to see the work that Angel House is doing please visit their website at,
I did the best I can do and gave everything I had. My attempts have been cut short after getting hit by a car but my enthusiasm for helping Angel House has not died. I will continue to support them and simply ask that you join with me now to ensure that the work done to this point is not in vain.
Thank you to everyone who offered words of encouragement in the last month. The road to recovery will be long and painful but I am grateful to be alive and thankful for all the family and friends that have shown support.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fred is recovering after being struck by a pickup truck in Oregon, USA.

This is Robert Allen, the person who maintains Fred's blog. Fred is alive and recovering after being hit by a pickup truck in central Oregon, USA. He is currently in the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. He will need about 3 months to recover. See below for more info. As I learn more or as soon as Fred is well enough to compose his own messages, additional information will be posted.

Link to the Oregon State Police news about the incident:

Source: Oregon State Police
Source: From NBC affiliate KTVZ in Oregon

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 8, 2014 – Welcome to America

August 8, 2014 – Welcome to America
Boise, Idaho
Day 205 - Distance biked so far: (14,049 km)
I spent a day in Banff and really enjoyed the small town. I went to an art gallery on the main street and spent a few hours looking at pictures from a local artist. He was there and gave and a small group a tour of his work. He focused on wildlife had a picture story of 3 grizzly bears that he has been following since they were cubs in the Banff area. They are still roaming around together and he spends time every few months looking for them and taking their pictures. It was remarkable to see the growth in the cubs over the last few years. Here are a few pictures of the beautiful town.
Downtown Banff
Small church in Banff
I cycled from Banff into Calgary to visit a friend that I had never met in person. Celine Soulard is a fellow cycling enthusiast and we have been communicating over the years. She was very generous in her support of the relief efforts after the typhoon in the Philippines despite not even knowing me. She follows along on my trip and it was a pleasure to meet her and her golden retriever Tashi. I stayed with Celine, Eric and Tashi for 2 nights and really appreciated their generous hospitality. Celine has many stories of her very adventurous life. She is also a restless spirit and planning her next bike trip down in Central America.
I cycled out of Calgary along one of the numerous bike paths and then headed south along the Cowboy Trail towards Waterton Park. It is a spectacular part of the country with the prairies running right up to the Rocky Mountains that you could see in the distance.
View heading towards Waterton National Park
I reached Waterton and the first view was the Prince of Wales hotel perched on a cliff overlooking the small town.
Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton
The beautiful sunny day disguised the storm approaching but for now the scenery was incredible.
Waterton village
The weather forecast on the day I arrived called for a wind warning with winds in excess of 100 kmh so I thought it would be a good time to have a day off and do some hiking. I set up my tent in the late afternoon and walked into town to see the sights and have a dinner. After my meal and as I was walking back to the campground a sudden hailstorm hit. The entire road was covered in small ice balls with cars being pelted and people running for cover. I stood undercover for about 20 minutes as the temperatures plummeted and when it passed I returned to my tent. The tent was nowhere to be seen and the campground looked like a tornado had ripped through. I had put all my pannier bags in the tent for added weight but it still managed to end up over 100 meters from where it was set up and my rain fly was torn.
Damage from the storm
I tried to apply duct tape but there were too many holes so had to move my tent inside one of the picnic shelters to sleep for the night. The next morning I bought a sheet of plastic and can put that between the tent and rain fly to provide a waterproof cover until I find a new tent.
The magic of duct tape
Here are a few of the ice balls from the hailstorm. Getting hit by one of these would sting.
On July 25th I cycled across the border into the United States. The border crossing is at the remote Chief Mountain on the edge of the Waterton/Glacier National Park. Waterton Park and Glacier Park are extensions of each other that happen to have an international border run through. It is the world’s largest Peace Park, not sure how many others there are though.
Peace Park
Here is a summary of a few things since I left Bangkok on January 15, 2014.

  • Days on the road – 190
  • Km’s cycled – 14,049
  • # Of flat tires – 3 (none in Canada despite cycling 730 km of gravel on the Dempster Highway)
  • Countries visited – 6 (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, Canada)
  • Money found on the road - $28.31 (to be donated to Angel House after 2 years on the road)

Books read in Canada
  • Land of the Midnight Sun: A history of the Yukon (Ken Coates, William Morrison)
  • Walking Home from Mongolia (A walk from Mongolia to Hong Kong) (Rob Lilwall)
  • Moods of Future Joy: A bicycle trip around the world Part 1 (Alastair Humphreys)
  • Thunder and Sunshine: A bicycle trip around the world Part 2 (Alastair Humphreys)
  • Twenty Thousand Miles to See a Tree: An Around the World bicycle journey (Cindy Cohagan)
  • Canadian History for Dummies (one of the best general History books I have ever read) (Will Ferguson)

Welcome to the United States of America
Canada/U.S border
I was wondering about the level of security at the border. My bags have never been searched and thought they might crossing into the U.S but the guard just asked a few questions and welcomed me in. I know that a lot of people now try to avoid the U.S because of the over zealous immigration policies at airports but the land crossing was easy and in a matter of minutes I crossed into country number 7.
I crossed from the province of Alberta into the State of Montana.
Welcome to Montana
Montana is the 4th largest State in the U.S.A, an area slightly larger than Japan, but ranks only 44th in terms of population. It is far more populated than the areas I cycled in the Yukon however, so it felt like I was definitely back in civilization. The State of Montana’s economy is largely dependent on ranching and grain farms and I would be passing through those on my way south.
The Waterton and Glacier National Parks are both World Heritage Sites. I cycled south and soon passed the official entrance to Glacier National Park. One of the world’s great bicycle rides, in addition to the Icefield’s Parkway that I rode in Banff/Jasper last week, is the Going to the Sun Road across Glacier Park. The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the winter as Logan’s Pass, at the top of the Continental Divide, often has up to 24 meters (80 feet) of snow. Due to the severe weather, it is only open from early June to mid-October. With the narrow and windy road going up or down, they have placed restrictions on when you can ride a bike. The road is closed to cyclists between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm so I went up to the pass in the morning and then had to wait 5 hours until I could descend. I used that time to go for a hike. I carry hiking boots in my panniers so it was another chance to use them.
The road going up was under repairs but for the most part was hard packed dirt. It is a steady incline but not particularly steep. Here are a few views, climbing up the Going to the Sun road on a picture perfect day.
Wisps of clouds
Large valleys
As I neared the top, I stopped to take in the views and a couple was in a car parked to the side. The girl came out and said she was so inspired that I biked all the way up on a fully loaded touring bike that she insisted on taking my picture. I assured her that the road was not steep and it was a very enjoyable ride but she said if anyone deserved a picture it was me, so she snapped away. Maybe I looked worse than I felt.
Near the top
It was quite hot outside but still snow and ice on the side of the road.
Ice in July
At the top I changed from cycling shoes to hiking boots and spent a few hours on the spectacular trails that branched out from the Visitors Center. On this one you can see the traces of the road that I’ll be cycling down later.
Green Valley
View from hiking trail in Glacier
At 4:00 pm I got back on my bike and headed down. It was the best downhill I have ever biked despite having to use my brakes a few times to slow down on the curves or to stop from running into the cars in front. There is a speed limit going down and I would easily hit that and have to slow. Here are a few views going down.
The road going down
The best downhill
In Montana, they put up white crosses to mark the spot were people have died on the road. It’s a good reminder for drivers and I was amazed at how many I saw as I cycled south.
Crosses on the road
The people in Montana are working hard on their manners.
Polite people in Montana
I was soon down on the flat ground and following one of the many lakes heading towards Missoula.
View heading towards Missoula
I biked late one day as I had a relatively late start. The weather here is very hot during the day but cool at night and in the mornings I am struggling to get up as early as I used to. It is usually a sign of fatigue when you don’t jump out of bed so I will take a day off in Missoula to rest a bit. There were some long uphills coming through Jasper, Banff and Glacier so maybe the cumulative effect is starting to make me tired. One night I was looking for a place to camp and noticed a small building off to the side. It was a small roadside information site with a picnic table and bathroom and I decided it would be a good place to stop. I didn’t really look around too much as I had to cook my dinner and set up my tent before dark but I did notice a small road going under the highway I just turned off. I thought it was one of those U-turn roads where you get off the highway, go underneath and then back the other way. Behind the washroom was an old trailer that was abandoned but with the warm weather and clear skies, I decided to not put up my tent and would just sleep beside the trailer on my air mattress and sleeping bag. It was in the open but I would be hidden from view beside the trailer.
The next morning I got up and as breakfast was cooking, wandered over to the information posters. It turns out that the road under the highway wasn’t a U-turn but one of those roads built for animals to cross under the highway. The tunnel had a camera in it that would take pictures of the animals to monitor the numbers and types that were using the tunnel to get across the highway. The sign had pictures of the animals that crossed through in the past few months. The pictures showed black bears, grizzly bears and a few mountain lions. In other words, all the animals that could have eaten me. I slept about 10 meters from the path leading into the tunnel. My first thought was I was lucky nothing came through last night or at least, nothing that I heard. My second thought was that at least there was nothing that could have crawled over me since I wasn’t in my tent. On my walk back to get breakfast, I noticed this sign.
Time to sleep in my tent again
Montana has the most outwardly signs of religion that I have seen anywhere in the world. There were large billboards everywhere sponsored by churches or religious groups with messages focused on anti-abortion or with crosses and bible verses written on the sides. There were also numerous churches of various sizes. In a somewhat ironic twist, the other highly visible establishments that seemed over represented based on the population were liquor stores, gun and ammunition retail outlets and casinos. I’m not sure what that says about the people in Montana but they do appear to have somewhat conflicting priorities.
I have always had some inner conflicts over how people pick and choose what they believe in. For example, most religions are opposed to killing. In Buddhism, one of the precepts is an admonition against the taking of life, which means all life, including animals and insects. I attended a 10-day silent treat in Thailand back in 2012 and remember one of the Buddhist Monks giving his Dhamma talk. At one point a mosquito landed on his arm and instead of swatting it like most of us, he carefully picked it off his arm and let it free. For them, life is life, and so they are also vegetarian. I like that consistency in thinking. In the Christian faith, there is also a Commandment that says thou shalt not kill but it has different meanings to different people. Conservatives are strongly opposed to abortion yet often support capital punishment. There is argument over when life starts which creates the conflict in terms of abortion and then there is the retribution value of capital punishment. There also appears to be little opposition to killing animals as hunting is quite popular with many people. The end result is that you can have areas with a lot of churches and gun stores, side by side, with little sense of irony. I’m still trying to figure out how the large numbers of liquor stores and casinos fit into this picture.
The road going south in Montana ran right through the Bitterroot Valley with prairies on one side and mountains on the other.
Prairies and Mountains
There are areas here that you would picture if you think of the remote areas of Montana. I think of rivers, mountains and fly fishing and this is exactly the kind of scenery that I would see.
River in Montana
As I entered Missoula, the temperatures continued to be warm. I saw this sign at 7:00 pm, it translates to 37 Celsius and it was much cooler than it had been earlier in the day. On the roads without shade, it makes for some hot days and it promises to get warmer as I head through Idaho and Oregon next week.
A hot day
Missoula is the second most populous city in Montana and home of Adventure Cycling (ACA). I used to be a member of ACA but let it expire when I left the U.S back in 2007. ACA is an association dedicated to promoting cycling and has extensive maps of bike routes throughout the U.S. I will be following a few of their maps as I head across to the Pacific Coast and I wanted to see their headquarters, only partially because they give all bike tourists free ice cream. The building was a cyclists dream with an extensive collection of books on cycling and collections of numerous cycling memorabilia. All touring cyclists get there photo taken with their bikes and get on the wall of fame.
While I was there I had my entire bike and bags weighed. It turns out they weighed 55 kg (121 lbs.) but I wasn’t carrying any water. There was a time in the Outback of Australia that I carried 8 large bottles of water that weighed 12 kg (26 lbs.) so during those long stretches, I was pushing a total of 67 kg (148 lbs.). I’ll be thinking of what I can throw away before I head to South America and start cycling up the Andes Mountains.
In a few days I crossed the Lost Trail Pass at 2,138 meters (7,014 feet) and entered the State of Idaho.
Welcome to Idaho
From 2002 to 2007 I lived in Boise so this was in a sense a homecoming for me. I rode down the mountain pass and soon saw the familiar dry hills of Idaho.
Brown hills and river in Idaho
I was still following the mountains on my left and they offered a stark contrast to the rolling brown hills.
Mountains in the distance
My route in Idaho will follow the Salmon and then the Payette River all the way to Boise. The Salmon River was first and I would cycle along it for a few days. Here are some views as I headed south and west towards Boise.
Beauty of Idaho
Salmon River in Idaho
The speed limit is low in some of the small towns because if a car here hit someone, you would lose 14% of the population.
Population of 7
I passed a lot of people fishing or on kayaks and white water rafts.
Fishing in Idaho
A lot of the highways have an Adopt a Highway program that is a fantastic way for the local people to keep their roads clear of garbage. I have seen a lot of the signs in Canada and the U.S but I’ve never seen someone out on the road actually picking up garbage. One day I passed a lady carrying a garbage bag so I stopped to talk. She said when you sign up for the program, you promise to keep your designated stretch of highway (usually a 2 mile stretch) clean. That means picking up garbage at least once per year. It is a simple plan but could really be of value in a lot of places in the world. A lot of people in SE Asia would love to have cleaner roads and beaches but the governments do not have the resources to devote to the environment. Using the Adopt a Highway or Adopt a Beach approach, you take government out of the equation so things could actually get done. It would be great to see a similar program in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines.
Adopt a Highway
One day I had to face my ultimate dilemma. On one hand I could have a good coffee but on the other, the café owners were keen supporters of the NRA (National Rifle Association) an organization I am deeply opposed to. The coffee won out but I certainly did not join the NRA.
My dilemma
One day I rolled into the small town of Lowman, Idaho when the skies opened up and I took a brief refuge from the rain in front of an abandoned restaurant. As the rain slowed I headed out and a few minutes later noticed 2 dogs running across the field towards me. They were barking but didn’t look terribly aggressive so I simply got off my bike, an effort that typically stops dogs in their tracks. One of them lost interest but the other was getting close and more aggressive at the same time. I swung my bike around and tried to run my front wheel into him, an aggressive act that typically makes dogs back down. He immediately ran around behind me and kept inching closer. I turned my bike but with the weight of the panniers it fell down with me on stumbling down on top, with the dog only a few feet away and still showing it’s fangs. I grabbed my water bottle and raised as if I were going to throw it at him but it just seemed to make him more aggressive. I was now down on my knees with him very close and not showing any sign of backing off. I quickly opened my handlebar bag and pulled out the bear spray I have carried since I was in Inuvik, took off the safety and let him have it. The high-speed orange spray hit him directly in the face and he ran off yelping. I have never had such a close call with a dog that seemed intent on biting me but the spray worked. I read later that although bear spray is most effective on bears, it has often been useful to deter a dog attack. It is an irritant and the effects would wear off in about 15 minutes and does not cause permanent damage, although that was the least of my concerns. That dog should not be running loose but hopefully he will think twice about doing that to other cyclists.
The road from Lowman to Banks turned out to be a spectacular ride. The road meanders through a remote canyon and the lightning and thunderstorm that day made it eerie but beautiful. Here is a few picture of the canyon approaching Garden Valley, Idaho.
Wild canyon
I slept in the wild just outside Garden Valley and then continued following the Payette River towards Boise. I biked along rapids and could hear the rushing water all day.
Mist covered Mountains
The north fork of the Payette River in Banks, Idaho has Class 5 rapids that only elite kayakers would dare to challenge. They are considered Class 5 when the rapids are so big and continuous that if you fell there would be little hope of getting out of the water. This is the end of the Class 5 stretch of river.
Class 5 rapids
Later that day I arrived in Horseshoe Bend, just outside of Boise. I had forgotten about the hill leading out of the town but was soon on a long stretch that rises 500 meters in a 5-mile stretch. The hill wasn’t that steep at 7% but as I went up, I kept stopping to pick up coins. As part of my support of the Angel House Orphanage, I pick up loose coins on the road and track the amount as I continue around the world. As luck would have it, I found 7 different coins on the climb. I admit it is a little strange to lose momentum by stopping on a long climb to get off your bike and pick up a penny but every little bit helps. I ended up finding $0.40 cents on the 8-kilometer stretch and then spent the rest of the distance to Boise calculating how much I would collect if I found the same amount of money as I rode around the world. My planned route is 50,000 km so if I found $0.40 cents every 8 km, it would mean $2,500 dollars at the end of my trip around the world. Now you know the very important things that occupy my mind at times.
As I approached Boise I passed the 14,000 km mark.
14,000 km
On Tuesday August 6th, I entered Boise. I am staying with different friends for 3 nights before continuing my route to the Pacific Coast. I have decided not to cycle back home to Ontario but will cycling west and south to Los Angeles. Once I am there I will be leaving my bike and fly back home to visit my family and friends for a few weeks. I didn't want to bike all the way across the Prairies and then have to bike back again to make it down into Mexico so will stay on the West coast and continue my route south.
My first stop in Boise was with Robert and Jeri and they welcomed me with open arms. Robert is the man who has created and managed my website for the last few years and is a former co-worker at an accounting firm in Boise. I arrived there and they treated me to a wonderful dinner at an Indian restaurant while we caught up on our lives. They couldn’t do enough for me and after a great night sleep in a real bed and a delicious lunch of pizza, I was on my way again. The visit was way too short but I thoroughly enjoyed my time and I can’t say enough about the hospitality they both offered. To Robert and Jeri, thank you for sharing your home.
Robert and Jeri
On Wednesday afternoon I cycled across town to visit the home where I used to live. This was my home for 4 years.
My old house in Boise
My next stop was with Patrick and Rachel Hugens. I had never met them but was introduced to Rachel on Facebook. We ended up having a lot in common. They are both avid bicycle tourist and often host other cyclists coming through town. They met each other years ago on their separate bicycle tours and have travelled extensively on bicycles around the world. Patrick is also Dutch and while there they gave me some Dutch salted licorice that I love. We talked about our various trips and plans going forward and enjoyed a fantastic dinner and a few beers. They were very trusting and allowed me to wake up on my own schedule as they left their home to go to work early in the morning. It is the kind of hospitality that is so endearing, people welcoming strangers into their home and having complete trust in them. I know they experienced a lot of that trust as they rode their bicycles around the world and now they are offering the same in return. I love that exchange of generosity and I just hope that one day I can return it to both of them. Here is a picture of Patrick and Rachel Hugens of Boise.
Patrick and Rachel Hugens
This is the Boise River that runs through the City. It is a right of passage for those living here to float down the river on an inner tube on a warm summer day.
Boise River
The Capital building of Boise.
Capital Building in Boise
For my last night I met up with my friends Hugh and Pam. Hugh is a good friend who helped me a lot when I was going through some difficult periods in Boise. We often had good fun conversations so it was a great chance to catch up. Pam cooked a delicious dinner and Hugh and I talked until late. It is too bad I wasn’t there longer as we had a lot of things to discuss. The next morning he had to leave for work early so I had a chance to talk with Pam for a while and also enjoyed that very much. It was great to meet up again and thank you both for your very generous hospitality and friendship.
Hugh and Pam
As I have mentioned in the past, the purpose of my around the world bicycle trip is to raise support and awareness of the Angel House Orphanage in the Philippines, their website can be found here,
As I continue around the world, life goes on for all the children being raised without parents. In mid-July 2-year old Ja and his 1-year old brother Jo arrived at Angel House for temporary care. David and his staff find homes for abandoned children but also will assist parents who cannot care for the kids for various reasons. Angel House provides a safe haven on a temporary basis for some children who need a break. There are now 15 children being cared for and the staff is being kept very busy.
Ja and Jo
A few weeks ago David and his staff welcomed a 3-year old girl into Angel House. This little girl spent an entire year living on the streets; think about that for a few minutes. She was admitted to the orphanage as a very sad girl, with very little to be happy about but a few weeks later, look at this wonderful smile. If you ever want to know what difference a donation can make to Angel House, just look at this picture.

Baby M

It is hard for me to imagine how a donation to any form of charity could provide more of a direct help to those in need. David does not receive any form of corporate support or financial assistance from a church but relies solely on individuals around the world. Please consider helping David and his staff cares for these beautiful children. If you are interested in providing financial support or wish to help in any way, please contact me via e-mail or David at the website above.