On the first day of my solo bike tour last summer, I lost my wallet. On the second day of my solo bike tour last summer, I realized that I lost my wallet. Somehow, in a thirsty delirium while climbing West through the Kootenays on my way out of Banff, I had managed to drop it somewhere in a roadside hotel where I had stopped to ask for a water refill. I didn’t know that at the time, or even for another 6 months, when my wallet miraculously showed up in the mail.
My journal entries from days 2 and 3 relayed some choice words to myself for being so careless with something so important, questioning my sanity and capability of completing another 1300 miles of solo touring, and intense gratitude that I still had my passport, an old driver’s license, and a credit card (albeit one that was not accepted anywhere in Canada).
It’s pretty tiring to ride 80+ miles a day on a loaded touring bike in the middle of the summer. It’s downright exhausting to do that while also trying to keep panic at bay, mentally sprinting through every possible course of action to make some sort of plan, and tacking on an extra 25 miles of detour to get to a Western Union.
In the late afternoon of day 3, I pulled over to stretch and rummage for a snack at a small roadside pullout overlooking a river. A sweet older gentleman approached me to say hello, and said that he had passed me earlier in the day so it seemed I was going on ‘quite a journey’. I laughed weakly and told him that it had already been quite the adventure. Although I was starting to mentally accept my situation, my voice broke when I said the words out loud that I had lost my wallet the first day and was still figuring out how to resolve my situation. The man immediately expressed concern and without seeming to even think twice, pressed some bills into my hand as I tried to regain my composure, mortified that I had started to tear up when really, as I assured him, I was totally ok.
Joseph, as he introduced himself, insisted that I accept it. With tears in his own eyes, he explained to me that he and his wife had been married for over 40 years of marriage and had wonderful adventures together all over the world before she passed away. He told me, ‘those were the happiest years of my life. Now it’s your turn to go and see the world’.
Thankfully, my luck turned around after meeting this ‘trail angel’, as they are called. I was able to get my money order the next day, and kept Joseph’s cash tucked in my passport, where it remains, a sacred relic of a roadside miracle. It will come with me back to Canada when it’s safe to travel internationally again, and I will find some way to use it that pays it forward to another adventurer.
This post was written as a submission to Adventure Cycling Association‘s call for Trail Angel stories. Stay tuned to their social media sites for more stories!