This introduction was written in May 2004 before we left:

Vancouver city centre

Well we are off again, leaving Weymouth this time by hire car to Gatwick and from there to Vancouver. This trip is a bit different from the others and therefore a short introduction is provided.

Some while ago the management did his usual strategic planning. This started with the concept of going just about everywhere from the 49th parallel to the North Pole. Even he had to agree that this would be impossible. Following much negotiation between management and the Stoker's Union a more practical plan was devised. This involved considerable compromises on both sides of the labour divide. We both hope however that the result will not resemble the camel (a horse designed by a committee).

Rather than get stuck into proper cycling from the start the management conceded that seeing family and friends would be nice. He also realised that a few days acclimatisation in civilisation made sense. He also wanted to go sailing so a deal was done.

Unfortunately the stoker had read reports from other cyclists. In a nutshell these indicated that accommodation could only be had by booking in advance. Supplies would only be available once every three days and if we were not eaten by bears the midges would worry us to death. The management was inclined to ignore the reports as being the unfounded ramblings of a bunch of wimps who had never been further from home than Watford.

 A tug pushing logs taken from Eileen's window

The stoker was adamant. Booking was essential and camping would only take place where it could not be avoided. The management agreed, mainly because he hates midges. He was also able to convince the stoker that ten days sailing in the Strait of Georgia would be fun.

So that's how it is planned. A few days with relatives, then ten days sailing on a chartered yacht. After that we will be cycling north on Vancouver Island before getting the ferry and train to Jasper in the Rockies. We will then cycle south almost to the US border before returning from Calgary to Vancouver on the flash tourist train.

But the devil is in the detail. The best laid plans of mice and men and stokers can always go wrong. Watch this space and see whether the management's habits formed on several very long cycle journeys can be changed. Will the stoker be preserved for or from the bears? Only time will tell.