6 June 2007

Today was possibly one of the best days of our trip so far. We awoke after a long, comfortable sleep, had a delicious breakfast, and set off for Merritt by 10:00 (it was really hard to leave that nice little inn!). Merritt was only 65 km away, through the hilly desert, and we were told that our ride would be much easier than the previous day's. It was, indeed, pleasant--there was much less traffic on the road we took (Hwy 8) than on the Trans Canada, and the weather was cloudy and cool--but the day wasn't without its challenges.

The first challenge: hills. We thought this day would be smooth sailing compared to yesterday, but we were wrong. The climbs were not as long as yesterday's, but really, really steep. It was as if this landscape was messing with us: we'd go down a big, steep hill only to climb right back another one, just as big and just as steep.

The second challenge: wildlife. Or, as Dan put it, domesticlife. We were riding over small mountains sparsely covered in trees, some farmland, and native reserves. Everything was going smoothly when, all of a sudden, a big black dog jumped out at us from one of the farms on our right, barking and looking as if it wanted to devour us. Shortly afterwards, his partner in crime, another big, black dog, jumped out at us as well. We were forced to swerve into the oncoming traffic lane (which was fortunately free of traffic at the time!), and just narrowly avoided being knocked off our bikes and being chewed up by these dogs. It was absolutely terrifying. I don't think I've ever pedalled so fast in my life, and the adrenaline kept us going pretty fast for quite a while.

We arrived in Merritt fairly early, around 2:00. We headed straight for the visitors' centre, as our previous experiences with campgrounds had convinced us that this should always be our first stop to get the lowdown from the locals. Dan's gears (and mine, too, sort of) were malfunctioning, so one of the first things we asked was whether there was a bike shop in town. There wasn't, but the woman working in the info centre had a son who was good with bikes, and offered to drive him down to our campsite to take a look at our bikes. She also invited us to her house for dinner, an offer we graciously accepted.

We biked down to the campground we had chosen, called the Moon Shadow. This was a brand new campground in Merritt, and you could tell--everything was nice, new and well-kept. We were greeted by Roxanna, the park manager. She was amazingly nice to us, and even offered to let us sleep in the campground's spacious laundry room if it got really cold and wet outside. After a moment's consultation, Dan and I decided to ask her if it would be OK for us just to sleep in the laundry room regardless of the weather. It was so warm and clean and included a *free* arcade! Roxanna was totally fine with that, and we were happy campers :)

At 5:30, Catherine Oborne--the woman from the visitors' centre--picked us and our bikes up for dinner. Her son, James, helped us with our gear problems, and we had a pleasant dinner with Catherine, her husband Darch, James and Claudio, an exchange student from Switzerland. The Obornes treated us with tremendous hospitality, and even invited us to stay with them another day. They called a few friends of theirs in cities along our route, and arranged for us to stay at their places. We are so lucky to have met them, and look forward to spending another day in Merritt tomorrow!


Christa said...

That's awesome! What a nice lady.

Hilda McGrann said...

Hi Alice this is Hilda, Dan's aunt in County Down, Northern Ireland. I haven't been able to commnent to Dan's blog or to email him for some reason so please tell him I said hi and we're all loving the blogs and are really excited about it all. tell him I'm reading them to Conor and Aidan, Julie's up to date and I'm printing them off for Granny.
keep on pedalling!

Hilda McGrann said...

whoops - did I type Alice instead of Agnes? I did. Sorry!! --Hilda