Polarizing tides of Solo Travel
I woke up yesterday morning with this memory from my solo cycling trip in the summer of 2016. Going from Calgary to Vancouver. I was outside of a gas station on the outskirts of Kamloops BC. It was hot. That muggy kind of hot you can’t shake even in the shade of a tree. I was frustrated because I had to get off the main highway and re route onto the 5A and I had not bothered to take down the information to do this efficiently. Also it seemed pretty sketchy where I was and there were some less desirable folks hanging out next to the gas station that seemed eager to assist in taking my bike off my hands for me.
The memory was so vivid. As though I was there again. I remember the shitty grin one of the guys gave me as I debated going into the gas station to get directions. I did not.
I felt distracted that day. But nothing bad happened in the end. So why this memory. Why this seemingly insignificant portion of that trip. I thought through how the rest of that day went. I got to my destination, albeit with some questionable re routing by Google maps and a sizable hill climb. But I remember that day being one of the harder one’s.
I had spent the previous day with my Aunt and Uncle on Shuswap Lake at their cabin (which I’m pretty sure they went up to just so I had a place to stay). They had picked me up in the early afternoon from the highway and brought me to to their place. We spent the afternoon on the boat, and had a bbq for dinner. We watched an evening storm roll in over beer and wine. I had a fantastic time with them that night and had shared with them the news that my wife and I were expecting our first child. It was a celebration of a evening and the next day none of us wanted me to go.
But I did go. They drive me back to the highway where they had picked me up. I loaded my panniers onto my bike and slowly started pedalling down the highway towards Kamloops and eventually home.
I believe what made that day hard, what seemed to distract me, was the complete shifting of gears. Going from sharing special time with family, back to the solitude of my trip. Such a shift of emotion. That afternoon riding up the hill out of Kamloops (and the grasps of those gas station pirates) my mood could not be further from the feeling I had, had 24 hours earlier. I rolled into my campground and set up my tent. Then I just kind of wandered the campsite for a bit. Feeling low.
Strange. Nothing bad had happened to me and yet here I was feeling as though I had been hit by a ton of bricks. Void of energy and drive. A testament to the struggle I had with traveling solo.
I knew when I set out on that trip that I would struggle with time spent alone, and I did, and I endured and came out the other end. And I know that this is not everyone’s experience with solo travel. Some thrive on it I’m sure.
But looking back on my trip as a whole I had a few experiences like this. Highs and lows. It was an emotional roller coaster of a trip. I am so glad i did it, but would i do a trip of that length again by myself? I often have said to people “No.” A trip of that length is a trip to be shared. The experience to be shared. At least that’s been my feeling on it.
I suppose this memory came up as I am slowly putting together the details of the next adventure.. A group project this time. 4 days mountaineering through the Garibaldi Neve Traverse.