The city of Edmonton is built on the North Saskatchewan River with a population of over a million. Although I’m not a fan of large metropolitan areas, I have to admit that Edmonton is a great place to spend some time in. With its wall to wall night clubs, restaurants, and never ending shows and festivals, it truly is a hub for tourists and city lovers.
I rolled into town around 5pm on Thursday and met Sabina, my Couch Surfing host shortly thereafter. Sabina is a 26 year old Croatian-Canadian whom I met on Couchsurfing.com, the website for travelers who offer up their couch as a free night’s rest to other travelers. The couch surfing concept was introduced to me not long ago and I figured I’d give it a try. My sweat wasn’t dry yet before we were off to a party. Her circle of friends are from many different walks of life and parts of the world. I met people from Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Iran, India, Croatia, Russia, Spain, Canada and the United States all in one night and one place. It was just as she likes to put it: the United Nations Council.
The next morning was rainy so I decided to spend a portion of it at home working on the computer. When the rain finally let up, I geared up for the sponsor hunt. Since it was Friday, I had a hard time catching the owners or general managers in stores, but managed to add two more sponsors to my list. The remote switch for my inverter was acting up, so I stopped at the Home Depot and bought a heavy duty switch and installed it in the parking lot. It’s amazing how many people ask me where I’m heading everywhere I stop. It must be the gunship look of the bike!
That night Sabina made a lovely dinner and we went to the “Edmonton Fringe Festival”. There were a lot of musicians and amusing plays from everywhere all in one place, lubricated by Canadian beers. One of the shows that I really liked was performed 5 feet off the ground by two American girls who called themselves Aerial Angels. These girls held the crowd together with their funny and masterful show for a good 45 minutes. (There’s a clip of the show under Video Journal page)
I was anxious to leave Edmonton but the weather didn’t co-operate so I stayed yet another night. Partying as usual with the international crowd capped off the night.
Throughout my stay, Sabina and her Russian friend Tatiana showed me much of the city and together we enjoyed some great food and treats. Our last excursion was to the University of Alberta Devonian Botanic gardens. This magnificent garden is 190 acres and is filled with exotic plants from much of the world. Rows and rows of vegetables, herbs, flowers, cactuses and trees, and includes an indoor tropical garden and butterfly house that made you feel like you were walking in the Amazon rainforest. It’s definitely worth seeing if you’re out and about.
I’ve been studying the weather and my maps and will start early tomorrow morning, heading for the top of the world. Weather forecast is still not favorable, but I’m pushing through based on my acceptable risk factors. If the conditions stay the same, the Dempster Highway will be impassable after all these rains and I’ll be forced to go with Plan B. Plan B is riding to Alaska and getting to the Arctic Circle via Dalton Highway. The Dalton Highway is just as bad as the Dempster, but it is shorter and more accessible.
Winter is closing in quickly at these latitudes and you can already feel the chill of the upcoming months. I have no time to waste if I want to get out of the north without getting snowed in. My cold weather gear is already out of my panniers. Next stop, Santa’s front yard…