The images people share on social media always look so grand. These people are always having fun; their lives are a non-stop celebration in the outdoors on motorcycles or while traveling. What usually isn’t shown are the trials and tribulations that go into transitioning those activities from ideas into realities. Many might suggest those things aren’t posted on social media sites because no one cares about this side of people’s lives. However, YouTube videos showing “behind the scenes” footage are extremely popular. Perhaps people really do have an interest in what goes into creating images, stories and videos, or even how to prepare for a cross-Canada motorcycle expedition.
If the summer of ’69 was the summer of love, then the summer of 2022 was the summer of local travel. Pandemic restrictions that had prevented travel in much of the world finally began to ease, and many people decided to travel in their own countries in 2022. That led to busy roads, restaurants and, most annoyingly, overbooked hotels. With that in mind, we started planning and booking our trip last March. With Janel researching interesting, off-the-beaten-path places to stay and visit, I planned our route with the goal of staying under 400 kilometers (250 miles) each day. Many might think this isn’t much riding, but when you are creating photographs and video footage along the road each day, it is more than enough.
We didn’t want a typical tourist trip across Canada’s Trans-Canada Highway for this trip. Instead, we wanted to ride back roads into remote communities to get to know our fellow Canadians. Beginning in Alberta, we planned to head into northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, then race across northern Ontario and northern Quebec up into Labrador, finally reaching our halfway point in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. We would then return through the Maritime provinces, along the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, then visit Canada’s capitol of Ottawa before working our way home to BC.
We love riding, but the point of this trip wasn’t just to ride. It was important to us to experience Canada’s different cultures, people and scenery. We decided to stay at least two nights in each place other than our race across northern Ontario and Quebec.
As a couple used to outdoor adventures, often traveling by canoe during our summers, we know the importance of having quality gear and that we’d experience both sweltering and frigid days—it’s Canada! With that in mind, we packed a lot of merino wool clothing to keep us dry and cool in the heat, and warm in the cold and rain.
When I was in my early 20s, I was lucky enough to backpack throughout the world, spending a lot of time in South and Central America. On my first long trip, I crammed my backpack full of stuff I never ended up using during my travels. This experience taught me to pack less; I learned only to take things I needed—and that ample underwear is really the only thing I needed. When Janel and I started packing for our cross-Canada trip, I realized Janel had not quite grasped the minimalist travel mindset. She called me into our bedroom where she had all the clothes she wanted to take laid out on the bed. Examining the large pile, my first thought was, “Where is she going to put all this?” This was even after we had crammed so much stuff on one motorcycle during our U.S. trip during the Fontana Getaway in 2022 that one of our bags caught fire. Janel’s logic on this trip was we had two bikes, so we could take more stuff. I said, “But, why? How much of this do you really need?”
We sat down and slowly began to whittle away her clothing, shoes and accessories, including her hair dryer. Finally, Janel decided on what she would need riding and the extras she wanted to look nice on our exploration days. Next, finding a balance between looking good and fitting everything on the bikes was the tricky part! We decided one of my panniers would be for our tool kit, water, and snacks, with the other pannier holding my clothes. Janel’s panniers were split between clothing and toiletries. Once we packed our gear, we realized we still had ample room in one pannier. I looked over at Janel and said: “I bet you can fit your hair dryer in there.” With little hesitation, Janel grabbed it and stuffed it in the bag.
With the panniers packed, we packed our two waterproof Pelican cases with our camera equipment, GoPros, hard drives and laptops and strapped those to the top racks of each motorcycle. We then added an empty backpack on top of each case for when we wanted to do some hiking. Lastly, we packed our cameras and extra batteries in our tank bags to allow easy and quick access while on the road.
All packed with our clothing, video and camera gear, and of course our hair dyer, we were at last ready to set off for a four-month expedition. After my parents came and helped us move the rest of our personal belongings to a storage locker, we left to catch the early morning ferry out of Powell River, British Columbia. While sitting on the ferry with Janel and my parents, I finally began to feel the excitement building and realized our four-month trip from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic was really going to happen. I was nervous, as Janel had not been riding long, but as with all experiences into the unknown, I was also thrilled. Once the ferry got the signal to sail off, I looked over at Janel.
“Ready?” I asked. She nodded, and our adventure across Canada finally began.
Follow Dustin and Janel on their Lost in Gear channel on YouTube.