A New Beginning

Wow, its been a while since I’ve written in this blog.  Oh, how interesting that such lengths of time go by, during which I am not moved to write what-so-ever, not tempted to record my journey through life.  I suppose that usually I am moved to write when my life is indeed taking a journey, when its not sitting stagnant in the middle of a big puddle of predictability.

Yet, even though I am not leaving the country right now, I feel drawn to write, drawn to pour the inter-workings of this thinking brain of mine out to the universe.  Perhaps this is my beginning of a different sort of journey.  It sure has been feeling like one.

Once upon a time, in a way-long time ago (last October), I stumbled across a place called an Ashram, during an Otesha bike trip.  I liked it so much, I went back.  For an entire month.

An Ashram is a yoga study centre, where individuals can stay and volunteer through Karma Yoga, or take courses, and explore the deeper teachings available.  In a walnut shell, an Ashram is a centre for spiritual and personal development, achieved through different forms of Yoga.  Yoga is not all bends and twists, my friends.

This Ashram is one of very few in North America, and is called the Yasodhara Ashram.  It was started by a woman named Swami Sivananda Radha, and primarily focuses on spiritual teachings found in Eastern regions of Europe, specifically India. 

(Google Co-ordinates of above photo: 49.711223,-116.865419, facing SW)

And so, I’m moving there.  For, 8 months.  I’m taking a course called the Yoga Development Course, or the YDC.  The course is 3 months long, and I’m staying an additional 5 to pay off a bursary I’ve received for the course.

What is the course all about, you ask?  Well, good question.  The course focuses on individual spiritual and personal development.. in a nut shell.  I guess it’ll be about whatever I make it about.  But, the many individuals whom I’ve spoken to about it, have said that the course was “the best single gift they’d ever given themselves, in (their) whole lives”.  I like gifts, I think.

In fact, the Ashram, and the workshops I’ve already done there in the last month, have already provided me with more clarity of thought, more ‘gifts’ of heightened awareness into my own life that I can only dream of what an experience such as the YDC could bring.  After being at the Ashram for the month of November, and returning to Vancouver in December to move out of my room and to prepare for the transition back to the Ashram, I already notice a huge change in myself.  I notice I am more aware about my speech.  I feel I am more aware of my ego, and the affect it has on my life.  I am more aware of the tendency in myself to lean out on my surroundings (friends, religion, family, hobbies) for support.  I have discovered, since returning to my old life in Vancouver, that I have been running, and hiding from myself.  THIS, is something that I find really interesting.  I can’t believe after all this time, I hadn’t seen this in myself?!  I have recently collected all of my old journals.  I plan to read them.  For some reason, this scares me a little.  What is it about my past that Im afraid of?

I have also revisited my past in a more physical way.  The above shot is of a trail I frequently rode as a kid.  This particular section, is of special importance, because of an event that happened here in my childhood.. 

Cow Brain to Cow Feet:

Prodeed forward, occupy gravel trail, thus obtaining land of freedom.

Tyler Brain to Brian Buchnanan’s Ears:

“Hey man, I love riding bikes with you on the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.  ..What the haybale, there’s a cow on the trail!”

Left Cow brain to Right Cow brain:

Warning.  Intruders entering immidiate proximity.  Proximity alert.  Get the hell out of here.

Cow Brain to Cow Legs:

Begin forward momentum.  Don’t go go too fast, bessy.  You’ll upset the milk.

And there they were.  Little Brian Buchanan and Little Tyler Walker puttering slowly along on their bicycles, stuck in traffic, behind.. a cow. 

But wait!  Brian deakes left, and tries to go for a pass!  The cow spots him, and casually..  forces Brian off the trail, and into a marsh. 

Tyler flairs up his engines.  He makes it past!  Only to realize he’s by himself.. Where’s Brian?  Tyler spots a sloppy brown object emerge with a bicycle from a swamp.  Bike Zombies?

And that’s why Tyler still eats free-range hamburger.  ..Sometimes.

 

Above:  Benny, the coolest, most completely loving and permanently zen-like dog I know.  Either that, or he’s just become a little slower with old age.  Or both? 

Below:  “Name-less” the Sheep, a neighbor.  This, is the fattest-looking, puffiest, most block-like sheep I have ever met.  And I’ve known a lot of sheep.

And like other sheep I’ve met, the only, ONLY way he wanted to interact, was with his tongue.

So here I am.  Floating, in a time of transition, drifting, in a lake of possibilities, loving, putting my feet where the clouds are, letting the current of life take me, putting my head closer to the earth, closer to my home, closer to my heart, and the ones that I keep in it.

Where am I going next?  Who am I, really?  What’s my secret middle name?

These, and other mysteries will have to be answered in another episode. 

My middle name is Robert.

With respect and love,

Tyler

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Bok.

Hello everyone.

My apologies for the lack of entries as of late.  Its only because Ive  been having an absolutley great time doing basically everything.  So, Ill keep it short and simple, just so I can get some pictures out.

First off, its getting COLD outside… my hopes and dreams that winter wouldn`t actually come this year are getting destroyed.  No snow yet.  Yet.  But its getting sufficiently cold at night to make me nervous.  Ive recently re-adjusted my gear to compensate for a potential slippery `white` morning, putting more weight on the front wheel to increase traction while steering.. but, I imagine no matter what changes I do to my bike, as soon as the white stuff falls, my thumb will rise.  My `biking around Europe` trip will become a `Hitch-hiking around Europe with a bike` trip.

Above photo:  A massive castle wall located in Ilok, Croatia.  Google Maps: (45.224311, 19.374846)

Below photo:  A FAMILY of touring cyclists, from France.  What you cant see, is their two kids in the trailer behind Simon, the father.  They were on their way to Turkey.  This photo was taken outside of the home I stayed in for 3 weeks, in Novi Sad, Serbia.  (45.245834, 19.782485)

And so, what exactly have I been up to these past 4 weeks?  Well, biking through part of Croatia, for one.   I clipped through the very NE part of it, on route to Serbia.  My first day crossing into Serbia was a pretty exciting time…

8pm:  After biking 130km, Tyler rolls into Novi Sad, Serbia.  Its dark.  He knows he has a place to stay in this town, and has a phone number and address for a fellow named Danny Fernandez.  “It should be easy,” he says, rolling through the suburbs as he approaches the city centre.  “I looked at Google Maps before I left Osijek, Croatia.  It should be super strait forward to find the place.”

Enter problem One:  Serbia uses a different Alphabet.

After looking at a few  of the street signs, Tyler realizes that he cannot read ANY of them.  Few of the letters resemble the standard alphabet he used to write down the address, as the Serbian Cyrillick alphabet is used interchangeably with the typical Romanized alphabet English uses.  Conveniently however, Tyler has a phone number for the place hes staying, and is easily able to find someone with a phone.

Enter problem Two:  Tyler wrote down the wrong phone number.

“Really?!” he exclaims in disbelief.  “I can`t believe it!  What will I do?!”  After riding around a little more, he however manages to find someone who can translate his Romanized adress into a Cyrillick one.  “Phew, that was close.  Now all I have to do is ride around, until I find this address.  Google maps showed me it was very close by, and Google is never wrong.  There`s no way I can foul this one up!”

Enter problem Three:  Google maps is most definitely, definitely wrong.  The street he is looking for does indeed exist, but definitely does NOT exist where he thinks it does.  All hope seems lost, until…

“Hey, are you lost??”  puffs a young boy on a bicycle, out of breath from chasing Tyler down street.  “YES,” Tyler states, with a wave of relief.  “I most definitely am.”

A half-hour of following this boy and his friend around town, while making wrong turns, making more wrong turns, asking directions, asking directions again, resulted in the eventual and fateful finding of the house of..

The New Radicals!  (http://attheturningpoint.org)

These are a group of 13 Christian volunteers all volunteering in the community of Novi Sad.  They host an English conversation club at a local cafe, they hold free clown performances at local schools and community centres, and they have a daycare they now run out of their home.  Their ages range from 1.5 to 28, they communally clean and care for their home, and they made me an honorary member for 3 weeks.  Three awesome weeks.

Above:  Some good times.  An awesome Halloween party, and a Rockin` birthday party.  Below:  Aaron expresses his distaste for anyone who didn`t rock out at his second birthday party.

Below:  Nat and  lovely Butterfly.  The motivation behind Nat`s expression:  “Hey Nat.  I want to look more excited than you`ve ever been in your entire life.”  Bingo.

Above:  Some war-torn buildings in Croatia.  I am so thankful that I was not here when this damage was done.




And finally, some very large and awesome churches, the white one being in Belgrade, Serbia, and the red in Osijek, Croatia.

Well, Im off!  Hopefully it wont be another 4 weeks before I post again.  Where am I now?  Brcko, Bosnia (44.879471, 18.808594).  And, Im just about to leave on bicycle for the Istra region of Croatia, and the Mediterranean Ocean.  Holy freaking awesome.

Love you folks, thanks for reading!

Tyler


Love.

This entry is dedicated to Andrew Wolf.  On September 16th, 2010, he passed away, while bike-touring with the Otesha Project in Canada.  Andrew, your passing has taught me many lessons, some that still continue to sprout in my mind.


Dear Life, I Love You.

Thank you for bringing me to wonderous places.  Thank you for introducing me to fantastic people, over and over.  For smiling on me when I least expect it, and for pushing me into a thorny bush when I probably need it.  Thank you for the unforgettable, unique experiences that I have encountered through my journeys again and again, from cycling by myself through Central America, to farming in Western Hungary, to bringing me to the doorstep of open, generous people in cities where I know no one.  Here I am, in Pécs (pronounced ‘peach’), yet again in a town that was previously unknown to me.  And yet again, here I am surrounded by friends I didn’t even know I had.  A couch surfing host tells me she can only host me for a night.  The next morning her Dad and I bond over several guitar songs, a recorder jam session, and me talking about travelling on bicycle for an hour and a half.  “Please stay with us” he asks, after I express the possibility of my leaving Pécs due to not wanting to stay at a hostel.  Of course I will stay.  Another recent acquaintance says, “Stay the weekend.  We’re having a party on Sunday.  If you need a place to sleep, we have plenty of room.”  encounter after encounter leaves me smiling, fills me with sunshine, and makes me ever more appreciative of the life that I have been given to live.

Dear Body, I Love You.

Dear body, I didn’t know that you had it in you.  To bike so far after a night of precious little sleep.  To bike so far through frozen, dark valleys, up steep, end-less seeming climbs, and over kilometers of rolling farmland.  Through community after community after quaint Hungarian farming community, over a surprise night-time mountain range, through cold clouds of swampy, moon-lit mist.  All the while, pulling a loaded-to-the-nines trailer complete with guitar, much food, and everything apart from a kitchen sink, and pretending that this feat was an average, everyday task.  I didn’t know we could do that.  I didn’t know you could do that.  When the 50km mark came and went that day, I thought we were done.  I was ready to give up, to take a train to my next destination, to expire for the night in a farm field some where.  I thought you were done.  How wrong was I.  How wrong was I, when I found out you had this ability, this persistence and endurance that is endless.  10 hours.  10 long hours we spent climbing hills, pumping along at an unwavering cadence that, even after kilometer 110, screamed by ‘casual’ cyclists in downtown Pécs, Hungary.  Last night’s ride seemed endless.  And despite the physical abuse, here we are, walking, biking, and laughing as if nothing happened.  Slowly, my thighs are starting to let me know that ‘something did happen last night’.  But its only a glimmer, a casual fading ache as I jog up flights of stairs, and cruise around town on bicycle.  To my body, I give you my unending appreciation.  I also give you two day’s rest, even though you might seem to barely need it.

Dear Scott-John, I Love You.

Scott-John.  You are un-dying.  Un-wavering.  Thank you for being my constant, while being wrestled through dense forests, while towing trailers down flights of stairs, while riding out unexpected ‘potholes’ at 40km an hour.  Thank you for being dependable, for never giving up on me, and for keeping me safe in the hairiest of road conditions.  Thank you for putting up with EVERYTHING I can throw at you.  Every time I climb on top of you, I feel home.  I feel comforted, carried, helped, and empowered.  You are my familiar, worn in sweater on a cold, fall evening.  You are my loyal donkey in an ocean of untethered chaos.  You are my brother amongst a crowd of apathetic faces.  And I appreciate you for it.

And this, this is how I feel right now.  I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity of travelling like this, on bicycle, through towns, communities, and wilderness.  I feel so grateful to have the physical abilities to do so.  I feel so appreciative to have my life to live.  And I plan to use these opportunities to the most.

Thank you Andrew for helping me realize the opportunities that have been laid out plainly before me.

 

 

Above:  Me expressing my ‘love’ to some large, some what hazardous Hungarian cattle, back at the farm I worked at for 2 weeks.  No creatures in this photo were harmed, including me.

And now, on to something completely different.  Last Monday (Oct. 11) I left my beloved farm on bike.  It was a little tough to leave, I really, really felt at home there.  Who wouldn’t feel at home, being continuously surrounded by healthy variety of spunky animals?  I use the word Spunky on purpose.  Many of these animals had unique, definitive personalities..  the above Hungarian Cattle, for example, were like a flock of antelopes (as I have said in past posts).  The Rooster (who I don’t have a good picture of), was an angry and possessive jerk.  He pounced on chickens.  He chased chickens.  He chased kittens.  He chased the dog.  And he chased WWOOFers.

Below:  Some WWOOFers with unique and definitive personality traits.

Above:  Taking some me-time with a guitar, next to the cow pasture.  Yup, thats a volcano behind me.  The same one I saw every morning, while I was there.

Billy the Goat also has a personality with some pretty distinct traits.  Billy likes to headbutt.  A lot.  All the time.  And its about as much cute as I can handle in one sitting.  He does the whole stand-up-on-hind-legs-drive-head-down-and-into-you routine.  Conveniently, Billy is a small Goat.  And you can usually catch his head in one hand, without too much difficulty.  But, despite his petite size, I still wasn’t willing to risk having my own head beaten in by his horns.  Notice my left hand protecting me, in the below picture.

You better believe that the horses had unique personalities.  This is Zerba, and she is somewhat lazy.  Only in the sense that she seems to really just prefer hanging out her paddock, eating grass.  She enjoys being brushed.  And, she really, really likes to use her body weight to her advantage, such as pushing you around when you try to clean her hooves, or stopping dead in her tracks when you’re trying to walk her.  My time working as a Project Leader for Katimavik paid off for me once again in this situation.. I know how to deal with people who jerk you around, just as I now can comfortably handle a horse that does the same.  Zerba and I got a long quite well, once we had a few discussions as to what my expectations were of her.  I definitely plan to seek out more WWOOF farms with horses.

Below:  The fare-well group photo.  From left to right:  Peter (man of the farm, originally from the UK, Barbarbra (my Mom away from Mom, originally from Hungary, Peter’s partner), Leah (WWOOFer from Australia), Nathaniel (WWOOFer from Washington State), Wallace (the dog), Coralie (WWOOFer from UK), ME!, and Tom (WWOOFer from UK).  Im going to miss these folks.

And so I left.  To my surprise and delight, much of my first day’s ride was along OFF-STREET, PAVED TOURING BIKE PATHS (see very very first photo).  Can you see a road nearby?  Well, there is one.  But its not anywhere close to where Im riding!  Despite my excitement to ride these wonderous paths, I didn’t actually ride very far in the first portion of my trip that day.  I went sight-seeing instead.  And, the castle pictured in the above, below, and very first photos of this entry, is where I stopped first.  Holy Lord of the Rings batman.  This castle was 400 years old!!  The Google Coordinates of the very first photo are 46.810433,17.443968, the castle is SW of that location.

The above photo, is not a castle.  It is a Church, where I stopped to eat lunch.  (46.765678,17.243084, unfortunately covered by clouds in Google).

And finally, I made it to one of my destinations.  After two days of biking (the second being the harder) I arrived in Pécs.  I am Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com) here, and it rocks.  It rocks knowing someone in this town!  It makes it a much more hospitable place.  Above:  Some of the really awesome artwork located in downtown Pécs.  (46.076173,18.228098, more or less). Below:  A stuffed squirrel, inside of a museum my host took me on a tour of.  Little brothers, this monster’s for you.

Thanks again for continuing to show interest in my do-goodings.  Hey!  Is there something particular you like about my blog?  Something you don’t like?  Can everyone read the posts alright?  How is the colour of the text versus background picture doing for everyone?  All of these things I can change, if you leave a COMMENT for me 🙂

With Love,

Tyler

Whole.

Hello again.

Its been a while since I could write in my blog, almost 3 whole weeks! But this has been for a variaty of reasons, almost all of which I’ll describe in great detail in this post.  Reasons not covered in depth include: 1)Laziness, 2)Too Busy Eating, and 3) Just Too Lazy.  But, my moments of lethargy have been few and far between.

The above photo:  My ride to my WWOOF farm.  70km in, 30km to go.  Hours of pouring rain, incredibly strong head/side/tail winds, and no shoulders on the road.  But, I have good food in my belly, a sturdy bike between my legs, and the coolest freakin’ rain coat I’ve ever owned.  I had a really, really great day.  I’d like to shout out a special thanks to FERN ESAU, my mom, who donated some funds to me with the intent of me aquiring new rain gear.  This rain jacket is a direct result of that.  It is floursecent orange, has massive reflective stripes ALMOST EVERYWHERE, AND, best of all, is 100% waterproof.  The lack of breathability is made up 10 fold by the fact that I stay WARM AND DRY when the weather is COLD AND WET.  This jacket will be a survival tool in the months to come for sure, it already has been last weekend.  Google Maps co-ordinates of above photo: (47.01376,17.762317) facing South West-ish.

Note:  For the Google Maps Co-ordinates, copy those suckers into the Google Maps search bar (http://maps.google.com/), and it will give you the EXACT LOCATION of where that photo was taken!  You can check it out via Satalite Imagery (or maybe Google Earth?) and get a cool idea of what the area is like.

Can anyone pronounce the name of that city?  ..No?  Well, neither can I.  Atleast, not well.  Welcome to the land of rediculous grammer, difficult to pronounce sounds, and occasionally-hard-to-interpret road signs.  But, conveniently, the roads in this area of Hungary generally ARE well signed.  Because, without them, I would be lost.  Im definitiely not at the point where I can ask for directions in Hungarian yet.  If I wasn’t leaving the country in only a couple of weeks, I would be sourcing out a langauge teacher.  Google Co-ordinates of sign: (47.191977,18.510114)  Co-ordinates of where I camped the night before, in a farmer’s feild: (47.18526,18.513485)

It took me two days to ride from Budapest to the farm where I am now.  160km, and about 13 hours of riding.  I left around noon from Budapest, spent the next 2 hours just trying to get out of the city, and the next three doing the 60km to Szekesfehervar, where I camped just outside town limits in a nook between two feilds.  While setting up my tent, I learned the hard way what Hungarian’s stinging nettles look like.  Fortunately, the sting is only short-lived, as the hives die down within the hour.  Still, not a pleasant surprise while trying to wrestle a bike and loaded trailer through tall grass and mud.  During my night in that grassy nook, a storm rolled in.  That storm taught me a few things.  1), My tent leaks.  Not greatly, but I had to sleep with my rain jacket on, so the drops of water would stop robbing me of sleep.  2) My rain jacket works 😀

This photo was taken on route from Budapest, on biking day #1.  Notice the lack of rain covers/plastic bags on my gear, and the dry roads.  Google Maps Co-ordinates: (47.327052,18.803608)

So, way back in the days of BEFORE I left Budapest, I got up to a lot of good fun.  Much of the fun was had through volunteering for this event or that, or through my regular volunteer position at the Budapest Bike Kitchen.  The above photo was taken during a car-free day in part of the downtown, during which the crew of the ‘Kitchen and I provided free bike maintenence all day long. The cargo bike in the picture was a beautiful feat of engineering that was regularly used by the volunteers.  Unfortunately, it was pretty difficult to ride, as your turning circle was absolutely massive.

Below:  A Toilet Bike.

Above:  Part of the Budapest Bike Polo crew.  These guys are the most aggressive, most competitive and most skilled Polo players I’ve ever seen.  Due to feeling exausted (and being entirely out of my league) I only ended up playing 2 games with them.

Below:  A typical ‘Public Bath’ in Budapest.  This place was a super-expensive tourist attraction, and was basically a series of pools in and outside, with a few different ‘Relaxation Features’.  Wasn’t all that good, but I had a good time.  A friend of mine and I unfortunately picked the MOST EXPENSIVE bath in Budapest..  we should have paid a little more attention to the choices available!   At least it was pretty.

Above:  A Sunset on the River Danube.  The  Danube runs right through downtown Budapest, and is one of many visually attractive peices of the city.  From impressive statues, to beautiful parks, to castles, to buildings coated in bullet holes.. there was always something to gaze at.  Too bad I was so ready to leave the endless traffic and dense population, there were many more things I could have explored in this city.  But, I needed to get out, 3 weeks in a capitol is more than enough for me.

And so, I did.  And, life got better.  Amazingly better.  Not that life was bad before.. it was just, different.  My first day on the farm was filled with the feeling that I had just stumbled upon something that had been missing from my life for a long, long time.  I had this feeling of being filled, emotionally, psycologically, and physically, with feelings, connections, and sensations that had been previously absent from my life for years.

And this feeling keeps coming back, every time I have to step over three racing kittens, walk around a rooster, and pat a dog just to walk the 20 feet to breakfast in the morning.

It makes me feel Whole.

Above:  One of many small Hungarian towns I passed through on route to the farm. (47.115914,18.137176)

Below:  The view Im subjected to every morning I wake up, here at Barbara and Peter Ware’s farm. (46.910734,17.535579, facing due West)

Above:  Billy the Goat and Sheep the Sheep.  These two motha hucka’s I get to walk every morning, kind of like pets, from their barn down to a pasture for them to eat.  They’re being raised for meat, but they sure are cute, and have a pretty fantastic life eating grass in the sun every day.  Mr. Billy Goat loves to head-butt you.  Luckily, he’s actually too small to really do anything. You can catch his head in your hand when he tries.. and its more cute than anything.  I usually follow those interations with a grabbing of his horns, and a scratch of his belly. The sheep on the other hand, is much more readily affectionate.  EVERY time I have come close to this sheep, she has tried to do one thing, and one thing only.  Lick.  She will lick the salt off your hands until your hands are so incredibly clean, that they wrinkle from the moisture of her tongue.  I have not come close to this stage of being licked yet, but Im still sure that it would happen.

Below:  The fastest, most agile cows I have ever met in my entire life.  I have never, never seen something so big move so fast.  These things are like giant freakin’ antelopes, 1000ibs of horned, lighting-fast, steel-muscled beef.  They are a special Hungarian breed with MASSIVE horns (the picture doesn’t really do them justice), and Peter has about 30 of them.  Once upon a time, I was walking through one of their feilds (which I regularly do as part of my farm work here), and one of the females (who ALSO have massive horns) started staring at me.  The other hefers who were with her ran away, but she started leaping side-to-side (yes, leaping), staring at me, and was obviously getting really excited about something.  And then, she started running.  Towards me.  I kept my casual walking pace towards the edge of the feild (knowing full-well I had NO chance of outrunning this animal), and waved my arms at her.  The split second I changed my body shape by waving my arms, her confidence in her speedy approach to me wavered, and she leaped quickly in the opposite direction, now running away from me.  She turned back towards me and considered a second approach, but a second waving of my arms convinced her that I was far too unpredictable to be run over (or run through).  When Peter caught up to me with the farm tractor (I was walking to meet him), he told me it was probably my yellow touque.  Hrm.  Go figure.  The picture below actually has Peter’s only bull in the background.  Considering the interactions I’ve had with the cows on the farm, I dare not go near the giant, tempermental bull.  He is quite a bit larger than the females, and has brass caps on the ends of his horns, which you can also see in the picture.

Above:  Dear Younger Siblings (specifically Angie, Stewart, Darien, and Andy,) this picture is for you.  These kittens are the ‘Farm Cats,’ or at least Peter wants them to be.  They live outdoors, and are a constant presence whenever you’re walking around the farm.  They chase eachother, they chase the dog, they chase frogs, they chase people.  And, when they catch people, its usually because they want to be cuddled.  Shortly after taking this picture, I put my face into that box, and was greeted by a chorus of purrs and nuzzling.  Heaven.

Below:  My friend and fellow farmer Peter Ware and I on horseback.  I work with these two horses every day, as well, walking them, brushing them, and cleaning their feet.  One thing that I’ve also learned by being on this farm is that I really, really like animals, especially horses.  Horses are very intelligent, and I’ve developed a pretty good feeling bond with these two.  When Nathaniel (a woofer from the US) and I go to get the horses in the morning, they run over two us, and its awesome.  Feels awesome.  The’yre super happy to see us, and to get brushed.  Besides the feeling of nervousness of having two massive horses galloping towards you first thing in the morning, it feels great to receive their affection as they nuzzle us and greet us while we’re putting on their halters.

And in one week, I am heading to … Im not really sure where.  But, I know that it will be to another farm.  I really, really like the opportunities that have  been made available to me just by becomming a WWOOFer, and I love the exchange of working to help run the farm for delicious meals and a place to sleep.

But for now, I must leave the computer, and start another day of farm work.  Thank you to all who continue to read my posts, its nice to know I have people who care about me on the other side of the planet.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEWART WALKER!!!!!!!!!!  I love ya man, and I hope you had a really great Birthday.

Tyler

Szervusz bicikli, hogy van?

I’ve been here one week.

I’ve had supper with great new friends, I’ve begun speaking a new language, I’ve almost gotten hit by a taxi, a train, cyclists, and pedestrians.  I’ve been drenched in days of continuous rain, and I’ve basked in the sun of the warmest days  I’ve seen in the last month.

I’ve been here one week.

I’ve felt sadness from leaving my friends, family and home behind.  I’ve felt happiness for finding new friends, and finding my own two legs to stand on in times of transition and difficulty.  I’ve felt frusturation with the lack of compassion and patience from some Hungarians, when I’ve tried to ask for help.  And I’ve felt the compassion and genuity from others living here, when they’ve come to my aid despite the language barrier.

I’ve been here one week.  And in one week more, I’ll be leaving the city of Budapest.  On bike.

Above:  A typical sign.  In a language I’m only beginning to understand.  This sign happens to be a street sign, not far from where I’m staying.  Yup, its been a doozy of a trip here in Hungary.  Starting on Thursday of last week, it started to rain.  It didn’t stop till this Sunday.  Even though it was only a few days, it really, really sucked.  I was commuting on bike the entire time, supporting my mom in her triathlon.  And several times a day, I had to retreat to my mom’s hotel room, where I’d spend an hour or two drying out my raingear with a blowdryer.  Holy energy consumption batman.  Holy feeling-like-Im-going-insane-from-endless-rain batman.  I wish batman was here.

Above:  Some of my new family members.  From left to right, Oshi (I don’t know the actual spelling of her name), another fella I’ve only met once (but I really like him), yours truely, and Noemi, my host.  These folks (especially Noemi) have proved to be a great gaggle of friends, its been great to have people to talk to, in English, about bikes (and other things too).  This photo was actually taken during a surprise 11pm supper that I was invited to.

Some key differences about Budapest and Canada:

1) The drivers.  They’re insane.  My first impression was that they were actually more considerate than drivers in Canada.. and, in general, I think they are.  But then, I went biking downtown today.  And as I was looking for an internet cafe (to update this blog!), I stopped half-way across an empty side-street.  And a taxi, pedal to the metal, leaned on its horn, as it continued to accellerate towards me from 100 metres back.  As it quickly got closer (and I manouvered to get off the street) it veered slightly to the side, missing me by less than a metre, going well, well over the posted speed limit.  I hope the passenger had the courtesy to slap the driver for me.  I will be looking at taxis under a different light from now on.

2) The buildings.  There are a lot of very beautiful, very old buildings here in Budapest.  There’s also a lot of history here, as this place is linked quite directly to the World Wars that tore through the area.  There are castles, huge tunnels, buldings falling apart, massive bronxe status (that you DON’T get in trouble when you climb them), many beautiful bridges, and the occasional bomb-shelter.   All in all, it makes for a very, very pretty city to cycle through.

3)  The lack of nearly any infrastructure at all for cyclists.  The bike paths that do exist are indirect, are often packed full of pedestrians/parked cars/fences/holes/you name it, and in general, suck.  I end up biking on the city streets most of the time, where there’s no shoulder, and typically lots, and lots of traffic.  But, so far so good.

4) Motorcyclists.  Occasionally, I get the fancy idea that cyclists can be some of the most unruley members of the public road-goers, with our stop sign-running, side-walk-speeding, curb jumping good times. But, here in Budapest, we are not the top of the pyramid.  Motorcycles are.  They regularly cut through lines of traffic, obey no speed limits what so ever, drive on sidewalks, on bike paths,  and pretty much everywhere else where there’s room for one to get by.  An example:  two motorcycle delivery guys pull up beside me at a stoplight, in heavy traffic conditions. One arrives normally beside me, the other arrives balancing on his front wheel (despite the large wooden delivery box bolted to the back of his bike). They both speak in Hungarian, laughing.  Traffic light goes green, motorcyclist one takes off in a hap-hazzard catwalk, swerving from side to side as he accellerates on his back wheel.  He comes down after a short time, almost hitting his friend, who immidately goes up into his own catwalk, and stays up for several hundred metres, passing other traffic, mtorcyclists, and streetlights as he accellerates.  This took place with lines full of traffic on either side of them.  Did I mention they also run red lights?

5)  Pretty much everything else.  From the food here (lots, and lots of meat) to the currency (175HUF = 1 CAD) to the language (the title of this entry means “Hello bicycle, how are you?”), this place is new and forign territory for Mr. Tyler Walker.

Now, on to the REAL reason I came to Europe.  Fern Esau.  My mother huckin’ (no pun harshly intended) Mom.  She was here, was just here, and left last Monday.  And, she competed, as part of team MOTHER HUCKIN’ CANADA, IN A WORLD CLASS EVENT, and it was really, really awesome to watch.  I loved it.

Can you spot her?  She’s wearing red.  She’s got a Maple Leaf on her jacket.  See her?  .. No?  Oh well, she’s in there.  And, she’s lookin’ good.  Thanks to her, I got to spend a lot of time with the Team Canada crew, which lead to some great opportunties.  Below, is almostWORLD CHAMPION FERN ESAU RUNNING TOWARDS THE FINISH.. look at those quad muscles bursting out of her Team Canada shorts!  Booya!  Due to me being on bicycle, I was able to follow my mom through a fair chuck of her race, shouting encouragement and taking pictures all the way.  It was splendid.

One such opportunity that was brought by my Mom’s visit was a new friendship, with this man.  His name is Grant Darby, he has competed in 10 Triathlon World Championships (including this one), and currently he is ranked 5th in the world in his catagory, thanks a little bit to.. me.  I had the opportunity to volunteer helping him with the transitions in his race, such as helping carry his crutches when needed, helping him change legs, and helping him with his wetsuit.  I was basically his pitcrew.  And, it was fantastic.  It was so great to be able to support such a tremendous athlete, and individual, such as him.  Back in Canada,he is regarded by some as a hero.  To me, he’s now a great friend, and an inspiration for life indeed.  He is one of the most postive individuals I have ever met, and has a deep underlying satisfaction and happiness with life that can’t help but be infectious.  Thanks Grant for the opportunity to have my own eyes opened as to what life can mean.

And these last few photos are of bikes.  The top two, of two multi-thousand-dollar racing bikes (the top being a hand-cycle), and the bottem, of the strongest bike I’ve ever built.  Scott-John and I, we’ve had some bonding moments, here in Budapest.  He’s carried me through countless ditches, railroad tracks, potholes filled with water,  and quickly escalating doorways.  He’s carried me down flights of stairs, up flights of stairs, into harm’s way, and then swiftly back out again.  He is the most beautiful bike I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning.  And, he’s the closest thing to home that I have right now, and will have, for the next 4 months.  This post is for you, Scott-John.  And Mom, and Grant, and everyone else, you too.

In the below picture, Scott-John is sporting his shiney new Gold Pedals, flashy new powerful V-Brakes, and some hella-cool stickers stuck in his front wheel.

Thanks for reading everyone.  I love you, each and every one of you.  Thanks for reminding me I have a family back home.

Tyler

Mother Huckin’ Europe.

Above:  Free camping on Sproat Lake, on one of the most beautiful lake-side mornings I’ve seen in a while.

Finally, I’ve found the time and the space to fill this entry full of text.  Feast your eyes on this!  The above and below photos were taken on my way back from Ucluelet, where I visited my sister.  I found a ‘free’ camp site at the day-use area of a provincial camp ground.  Since the day-use area was about a kilometre from the actual camp ground, and since for some reason no-one actually seemed to use it, it seemed perfectly fine to me to plop my tent down, cook supper, and enjoy the spectacular sunset shown below.  I didn’t find out until later that there WAS at least one user of the area.. a bear.  He came and said hi in the middle of the night, and when I honked my bike horn at him from inside my tent, he took off.

Above:  Oyster-catching in Ucluelet, BC with Natalie.

While in Ucluelet, I visited someone very dear to me indeed.  Her name is Natalie Walker, she’s a person I haven’t seen in over a year, and she’s my sister.  We did all kinds of fun things when I was visiting her, such as eating food from her garden, drinking beer she made, and playing near tree forts.

Below:  Nat and I chill out in her boyfriend’s parents’ garden, eating delicious food.

Below:  A tree fort made entirely of drift-wood.  Natalie and I were too chicken to crawl into this monster of a fort.  It was built by a man nicknamed “Hitch-Hike Mike” in the area, and had been around for a while.  The nails in this structure were very old and corroded.  The height of the tree fort was also around 50 feet.. not a height I was willing to fall from.  Especially not willing to fall from, while inside a falling treefort.  Although, it did look very sturdy.  In addition, the treefort was suspended by planks between two different trees.. another thought that made me a little nervous.  Natalie is pictured below going as far as either of us got, across a 15-foot driftwood bridge spanning two stands of cedar trees.  Other sweet features of this area included a massive fishing net suspended also at the height of 50 feet, a ‘hobbit hole’ fort built into the ground, a wicked rope swing (that natalie and I DID try out!) and about a dozen other tree platforms at lesser heights.

Above: A waterfall, below a massive boulder suspended by other boulders.  This was inside a large beautiful canyon, on route to Ucluelet.  This canyon was said to have been ‘only’ accessible by a fairly expensive zip-line ride, which took you on a scenic route above the canyon floor.  Lucky me, I found a way down into it.

Below:  A family photo with Grandma.  After all my fun on the west coast, I finally made it up to Campbell River and Quadra Island to see my Dad’s side of the family.  They picked me up in Courtenay, and took me to see our grandmother on route to the island.  From left to right: Grandma Walker, Stewart Walker, Andrew (Andy) Walker, Al Walker (my pa), Darien Walker, and my stepMom Sue.  I had a really amazing time with these folks, I really really look forwards to seeing them again.  Thanks for everything!

Some of the fantastic things we got up to while I visited Quadra included sailing, hiking, biking, sleeping in tree forts, having slow-motion sword fights, not-so-slow-motion boxing fights, and drinking tea.  My dad, the 3 little boys and I all went sailing for 4 days.  It was meant to be 3, but a storm forced us to stay an extra night tucked into a cove off of Cortes Island.  We saw dolphins, porpoises, seals, boids, jelly fishes, bioluminescence, and Darien’s bum.  It was a great time.  Fortunately, our sailboat had plenty of ventilation, as the little boys (and older boys for that matter) all demonstrated their abilities of producing volatile gasses from the many bean dishes we ate.  Good thing we weren’t using any candles on board, or we might have caused an explosion.

Below:  Stewart proves to all of us how tricky he is by pretending to ride up a hill, when there’s not actually a hill.  Sweet catwalk, Stew.

But my trip to BC was not quite over.  My time with Pa, Sue and the Boys was followed by time with my brother Harry and his partner Angie.  I stayed with them once on my way north, and once again on my way south (because I couldn’t get enough of them with just one visit).  We had a wicked time, so wicked in fact that they drove me to Nanaimo! where we took up the opportunity to go high-roping at Wild Play.  We were all successful at not urinating ourselves, despite climbing to heights of 60 feet being strapped in by only a seat harness and a pair of lanyards.  It cost each of us $40, which is a stellar price to pay for 2.5 hours of fun and a huge rush of adrenaline.

And now.. now, Im in Budapest.  I MADE IT, WITH MY BIKE AND EVERYTHING ELSE I BROUGHT, those evil airlines took nothing from me.  I am STILL recovering from jet-lag.  Last night was the first semi-normal night of sleep I’ve gotten, thanks to a healthy serving of cheap Hungarian beer before bed.  I’m staying with my mom in her hotel, and in a few days from now she competes with the rest of Team Canada in the INTERNATIONAL TRIATHLON UNION’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OLYMPIC LENGTH TRIATHLON.  I’ll have pictures of the event to share shortly.  Needless to say, Im pretty stoked to see her compete.  Go mom.

Love you all, thanks for reading 😀

Something on my Horizon

Hello everyone.

Due to a CPU handi-capped by the infamous Windows Vista, I can only include a small handful of photos.   Alas, these will have to suffice, in my quest to have pretty pictures help tell my stories. 

The above photo is taken from inside a massive storm drain, near Tofino, BC.  Due to the amount of rain this place gets, no wonder they need drains this size.  This one was actually also for a stream, not just for rain.  But, its cool to imagine it full of water.  No wonder this place is so jungly.

Im currently in Ucluelet, a neighboring town to Tofino.  I’ve ridden my bike here in order to visit my sister, Natalie.  She is awesome, and I haven’t seen her for an entire year!  Like the rest of the family.  Her and her partner Josh live in a beauiful house surrounded by the wildest Cedar and Douglas Fir trees imaginable.  They live a 10 minute walk from the ocean, where they keep their sailboat.  They grow a lot of their own food, brew their own beer, make their own vodka, and live below Josh’s parents in a wonderful suite.  Its pretty great to be spending time with all 3 of my sisters within a 2 week period.

Above:  Cliff-jumping in the Kennedy River.  I met a crew of people here from Kamloops, with whom I drank beer, ate lunch, and relaxed on rocks with for several hours.  It was a really strenuous day.

My ride into Ucluelet was one of the most relaxing bike journeys hat I’vec ever experienc ed.  I left my beach-side camping spot at Sproat Lake (near Port Alberni) at 7:30am, and started riding.  It wasn’t long before I found a huge rock bluff to stop and climb.  Under direction from my sister, I proceeded to stop at every interesting trail, nook, and cranny along the road.  I spent two hours along-side Kennedy River, an hour relaxing and swimming at Mountain-Top Lake (I dont the actual name), an hour eating supper and napping on the shore of the huge Kennedy Lake, plus count-less other stops, whenever I felt like it.  I didn’t arrive at Natalie’s (80km away) until 7:30pm.  This was the only day of touring where I arrived feeling far more rejuvinated and relaxed then when I left that morning.  Not bad, considering the Pacific Rim Highway is one of the hilliest in the region (18% grades! Up and down!), super-freaking narrow, and I was towing the quivalent of a hide-a-bed behind my bike.

Preceeding Ucluelet, some weeks ago, I spent some time in Duncan.   I MET FOR THE FIRST TIE IN MY LIFE!!!!!!  my second-eldest sister (above).  Her name is EMILY AND IT WAS MY FIRST TIME MEETING HER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, AND SHE’S FREAKIN’ 18.  I DIDN;T EVEN REALLY KNOW SHE EXISTED A YEAR AGO!!!! Anyways, I find that just a little bit exciting.  Whats also exciting is that Emily is an incredible musician, who composes very beautiful songs.  I had the pleasure of playing guitar with her while she performed a few, which I greatly enjoyed.

The Back-Story:  Emily is from my father’s side, and was had by my father and a woman after he divorced my mother.  Before either of them knew she was pregnant, they split up.  Emily was raised without any contact with my Dad’s side of the family, including us.  This last year, simultaneously Emily and one of my younger brothers tried to contact each other, and the result was that we have a new sister to play with.  Its a truely crazy feeling to meet someone for the first time, who is 18 years old, who shares a parent AND BLOOD (or chromozones?  Im not sure) with you.

 

Last, and.. shortest, but not least, is my youngest sister.  Her name is Angelena.  She, like all the rest of my siblings, had not seen me in the last year.  To celebrate my coming back to BC, I took Angie bike-camping at the Sooke Potholes.  Over a 24 hour period, Angie rode about 50km, which was more than she had ever done in her life at one time.  Not only that, she did it fast!  We were both super-excited about her epic speed, which is why we look so happy in this photo.

But, the title of this blog is not “Tyler Hangs Out With All His Sisters At Once”.  It makes a vague reference to something horizon-ish, like perhaps me crossing several horizons on route to EUROPE.  Because in little over 2 weeks, I’m flying there.  Oh boy.

Until next time,

Tyler