Almost everyone can ride a bike but few people choose to do it for 22 days straight. The summer I turned 16, I did just that. The trip was called Voyageur and it was through my camp in New Hampshire. I had been going to camp for 6 years and it had been what I look forward to every summer. The Voyageurs were the cool kids at camp; they were the oldest and did the most amazing trip. Over the years as a camper at Merrowvista, the Voyageurs were the kids I looked up to. I wanted to be them, and that summer, it was my time to shine.
Three days after arriving at camp I had already had heat exhaustion and wanted to go home but I didn?t. I wasn?t going to pass up the trip I had been waiting for for 6 years. Despite my fear and anxiety, I boarded the Cat ferry from Bar Harbor with 8 of my friends and headed off Nova Scotia. The second I was on my bike, I thought to myself, ?Oh my god, 22 days is a long time, what am I doing here?? But that night I sat down and thought about why I really wanted to be there. I wanted to accomplish one of my biggest goals and be an example to the younger campers like the past Voyageurs were an example to me. It completely changed my attitude for the better for the rest of the trip.
Our first two days biking were relatively easy but unfortunately for us, we were on the edge of a tropical storm and the rain seemed endless. The town of Shag Harbor took us in with open arms. They let us sleep in their church as shelter from the rain and invited us to their potluck dinner at the firehouse. They showed me the most kindness I had ever seen. For the next 5 days, it rained and rained and rained but that didn't stop me, I was there to show Nova Scotia and myself what I was made of.
By our seventh day, we had completed something that not all Voyageurs can say they experienced, a century day - biking one hundred miles in a day! The day started off easy since the land was flat, but by 3:00 we are all a little down. We had biked 70 miles already but had not eaten since 7:00 that morning. We were in the middle of nowhere with no convenience stores for miles and no food to be had. Despite our Hangry attitudes (hungry and angry), we pushed a little further and finally made it to a little corner store for some lunch. By 7:30 pm we reached our destination, Caribou, the town where we boarded the ferry to Prince Edward Island the following day. Completing the century day was the first taste of accomplishment that I had felt.
After about a week, I stopped counting how many days we had been biking and how many days we had left. I no longer cared. I wanted to take in every moment of the trip without knowing the short number of moments I had left. Day after day, I experienced the extreme kindness of others. People showed us respect and opened the doors of their churches and firehouses and even one hammock store as shelter for our group.
Throughout our trip, we had long biking days and short biking days but every day, no matter how hot or cold, was filled with its own challenges and rewards. We biked two mountains and were in three Canadian provinces in three days, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.
On our last night in Nova Scotia, we sat on the beach and each picked out two rocks. The first rock symbolized something negative that we learned about our self and/or something we wanted to leave behind. Those rocks were thrown into the ocean and left behind. The second rock symbolized something positive we learned about ourselves and wanted to take home with us. I threw away my ?I can?t do it attitude? and took with me my appreciation of the people and places around me.
I will never forget the expressions on peoples faces when we told them that nine campers and two leaders we were biking for 22 days and had everything