Let’s Take A Trip.
Here are some important things I learned while on an 8-day, 300 mile loop in the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec:
1. Break from tradition/make your own memories.
Shaun, my husband, and I decided to use our passion for hiking, camping and biking to create a honeymoon special to us. So we planned a bike-packing trip in the Gaspe Peninsula. We also invited our friend Thorin along. WAIT, WHAT, you invited someone else on your honeymoon?! We invited him for safety reasons (in case one of us got hurt, one person could stay and one could go get help), to keep each other sane, and also a trip with more people is always much more fun! It is one of the greatest memories I have today, which I’m not sure I would feel the same about if we had gone with the typical beach style honeymoon.
2. You’re never too old to make new friends.
We would start and end our trip at the Auberge Festive Sea Shack (The Beach Party Hostel) where we could leave our car and camp out/party before heading out on our trip. We were the only US citizens there and stuck out like two sore thumbs. A German kid named Benedikt Glitz came up to us and we started chatting. As it turned out, he was traveling by bike to a town along the same route as our trip. The next day, Benedikt joined us for all but 1 day of our trip. He cooked us “Stockbrot” (stick bread) and ended up taking a lot of photos to capture memories that we wouldn’t have been able to capture on our own. We still keep in touch, and he came and stayed with us for 2 weeks a few months after the trip. We look forward to visiting him in Germany as well.
3. Planning will only get you so far.
At the beginning of the trip there were lots of campgrounds to stay at along the coast of the St. Lawrence. But as we headed back inland, they became few and far between. This made me nervous; I like plans and I like to follow them. In most situations I would have freaked out, closed myself off and been miserable. But somehow on this trip, I decided to try and go with the flow. I knew that I couldn’t be in control of every situation and I needed to trust that things would work out. And of course they did. When we didn’t have a “campground” to stay in, we made do. Finding an abandoned hunting shack on the side of the road. Creating a great camp at a beautiful lake when we were on class four roads in the middle of nowhere. And you know what, those nights were some of the best nights we had. No people, no noise, just us and the wilderness.
4. Sometimes you’ve got to ride the Struggle-Bus.
In anything that you do, there are times that are just downright hard to maneuver and you don’t know how you’re going to get through. For me, this trip had many hills (literally and figuratively). The only way to get through it was to jump on the “Struggle-Bus”. You’re in pain, you have self-doubt and you are just struggling to keep going. In biking, it usually happens on hills, and in Gaspe, there were plenty. But you just have to think about the after, how you feel when you make it up that STEEP hill without walking. You thought you were going to die, but you didn’t. You just kept peddling. Then you make it and you can take a breath and realize what you’ve just accomplished. You are that much stronger than you were twenty minutes ago, a day ago, a year ago and the “Struggle-Bus” is how you got there.
5. Just Go For it.
I was never the one who liked to take risks and then would often think about why I didn’t do something and regret not taking that chance. This trip took a lot for me to get through, both mentally and physically. Physically, I didn’t think I would be able to keep up with both Shaun and Thorin (and eventually Benedikt), but you know what, I did. I went for it and pushed through, and I also spoke up if I needed a rest instead of resenting them for not knowing I needed to stop. Mentally, I needed to battle my fears of the unknown, and the uncontrollable. We went off road a few times and didn’t know exactly where we were on the 3 maps that we had. But with common sense, and just being confident in what decisions we made, we ended up where we wanted to be. This trip changed me more than I could have imagined and in the best ways possible. Just take that chance, because you just never know what you’ll find out there and in yourself.
Still riding together after 3 years, Erika, Terry Graphic Designer, and husband Shaun live in rural Vermont with their 2 cats. In another completely unique adventure, they’ve just begun clearing their own land, milling their own lumber and building their own house. The trip to Germany will have to wait a bit…