North to south
Anthony gave us a taste of his life with his festival diaries and now he's back, giving us an insight into his adventures around the world as he heads off for 18 months of travelling.
Anthony's time in Whistler comes to an end and he starts thinking about his return to the 'real world', although his trip is far from over. A rubber dingy and an emotional reunion with his girlfriend await him in the Land of Oz.
The Hot Springs are accessible via a 90-minute boat ride from the small surf town of Tofino on Vancouver Island, which is a one-hour boat ride from mainland Canada. During the boat ride our guide pointed out the local wildlife while we were taunted by the ocean spray of a feeding Pacific Grey Whale. Starting as a hole in the earth, the springs gathered into a series of natural layered rock pools that tumbled down playfully from its stream, revitalising us as we sat half-submerged amongst some of the rarest and biologically dense rainforest in the world.
I left Whistler on May 1 and since then I feel like I've been around the world twice, sailed the oceans a few times and visited the moon. Despite this I haven't actually been outside an English speaking country. Before leaving Whistler I was a little nervous, or perhaps excited, depending on whether you see the glass half full or half empty, and I wasn't alone. Mentioning the outside world to others brought a stony silence. We'd been indoctrinated by the Whistler lifestyle for six months; work, eat, ski and sleep. Just thinking about our impending release into the 'real world' sent shivers down my spine. Freedom; it's a scary business.
I spent the next three weeks in Western Canada expelling any concerns about freedom by covering over 2,000 miles of weather-beaten tarmac with my friends in their new wooden-panelled station wagon. It was a spur of the moment decision, but as soon as I squashed into the front seat to become the sixth and final member I knew it had been a wise one. In addition to the time spent on Vancouver Island, the Canadian Rockies demonstrated what a stunning country Canada is.
As we rolled through the 150-mile Icefields Parkway dodging Grizzly Bear cubs, I looked around and inhaled. The fresh snow-covered peaks towered in every direction puncturing down through piercing everglades into emerald green lakes. The sight is enough to make anyone stare in wonder.
"The smile was quickly torn from my face when my buns were sucked into the bucket that I was sitting in and we were launched down the slide backwards."
Our Aussie adventure
It was finally time to see my girlfriend who's been living in Australia. Leaving from Calgary, Alberta and bound for Brisbane I left the two-tonne wagon with the intention of reuniting with my mates in New York three weeks later.
Within a few hours of landing in Australia you can see why the Aussies are so amazing at sport; with its flat open spaces and glorious weather it's definitely designed for 'outdoorsy' people. Before I knew it my birthday had arrived and we were at the Wet n' Wild water park, an hour's drive from Brisbane and near the Gold Coast. Sitting a million storey's high in a rubber dingy I was waiting to be hurtled down a ludicrously steep slide into a giant sideways funnel. I forced an excited smile as I faced my gleeful girlfriend.
It was the end of May and winter in Australia, although the sky remained clear and the temperature sat happily around 25°C. This made the park's emptiness even more surprising, except for a group of tip-toeing, sunbed lounging jocks that kept prancing around in their Speedos. I laughed confidently, but the smile was quickly torn from my face when my buns were sucked into the bucket that I was sitting in and we were launched down the slide backwards. I don't know how many times we careered up and down the funnel or why we didn't capsize, but according to the pictures that were taken, we had an amazing time.
It's a small world
Sitting in a glitzy 'do up your sleeves up' type of restaurant I reminisced about how great Australia had been, even though I hadn't really seen any of the country. Thinking back over the past seven months I realised nearly all of the great times had been shared with friends, new and old; the adventures in the mountains, the scenery of Canada and the fun in Australia.
"How ya doing mate?" laughed a familiar voice. I turned around and was faced by my old chef extraordinaire housemate from London. It turned out he'd been running the restaurant while he was waiting for his French Visa. So there I sat on the other side of the world having my birthday with two of my favourite people in the whole world, both travelers who I'd met in London. People always bang on about how travelling is about the people you meet rather than the places you see and I'm inclined to agree.