Home » Bicycle Touring » Bicycle Field Notes 1: Welican-the-Pelican Hitches a Ride

Bicycle Field Notes 1: Welican-the-Pelican Hitches a Ride

posted in: Bicycle Touring

This post is dedicated to all of my young friends who are busy growing up while Lothar and I are busy riding our bikes. I know that you know who you are.

I have a friend who is hitching a ride with me on my bike. His name is Welican-the-Pelican, or just plain Weli for short. He just volunteered for the job of reporting our progress on our big bike adventure. So I’m going to introduce him to you. Soon you will be able to check-in with him to find out where we have been and where we are at now, just watch for my next post.

First, I have a little news for you about our travels.

We left home in Smithers, British Columbia, on June 8, 2015. We have been riding our bikes for just over six months. Time is whizzing by really fast. I can’t believe that we have already pedalled somewhere around 9,000 kilometres, probably much closer to 10,000. But I care more about the journey than how many kilometres we have ridden. When I say ‘journey’, I mean our experiences: what we have seen, heard, smelled, tasted and felt; who we have met and now know better; and what we have learned. Knowing exactly how many kilometres we’ve ridden isn’t the important part. But it is fun to have a rough idea of just how far we have travelled simply by pedalling our bikes.


Lothar and I rode from Smithers (yellow star). We picked Welican-the-Pelican up hitch-biking in Prince George (red exclamation mark) and now we are in Charleston (blue dot).
Lothar and I rode from Smithers (yellow star). We picked Welican-the-Pelican up hitch-biking in Prince George (red exclamation mark) and now we are in Charleston (blue dot).


What is really amazing to me is that we’ve travelled from our house in Smithers all the way to where we are now in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the best lessons that I have learned on this trip is that if I just keep pedalling a comfortable distance on most days, a few kilometers add up to lots and lots of kilometers, crazy fast!


So who is Welican-the-Pelican, anyway? And where did he come from?


Welican-the-Pelican hitched a ride across Canada with Lothar and me. When we got to the Atlantic Ocean we loved bicycle touring so much that we turned right and headed south.


When I left Smithers I had one bright orange flag on my bike. It stuck straight up in the air so that the wind played with it as I rode. A bright, waving flag on a bike makes it easier for people that are driving to see people that are riding their bikes, like us. That one broke so now I have a yellow one that does the same job. Lothar has the same kind of flag.


Here we are in Smithers with the first flags that we had that stuck straight up into the air. Both of those broke so now we have new ones.


When we got closer to Prince George the paved shoulder on the side of the road that we were riding on got narrow. There wasn’t much room for us to ride so cars and trucks were moving much closer to us than they were before. So we thought having flags that stick out sideways to go with our flags that stick straight up would make it easier for drivers to see us and give them a heads up to drive around us. We went shopping for more flags but we could not find any. Then we started asking people if they could find anything that we could use as flags. My cousin found a red plastic bag and short flag pole for Lothar and a beautiful orange flag that was on Christopher’s kayak for me. They’re both brightly coloured flags so now we are much easier for drivers to see.


I picked up Welican-the-Pelican in Prince George, British Columbia, not long after we left home. Here he is in Mount Robson Provincial Park, just a few days before the first day of summer.
I picked up Welican-the-Pelican in Prince George, British Columbia, not long after we left home. Here he is all bright and shiny in Mount Robson Provincial Park, just a few days before the first day of summer.


So that is how I picked up my hitch-biker. He is the little white pelican that flies on Christopher’s flag. Each morning, I tuck Weli’s flag pole under the big black bag on the back of my bike so it sticks out sideways pointing at the road. Then Weli waves around wildly in the wind all day long. His job is to remind people to give me lots of room when they pass me.



Weli has been insisting on stopping at all border crossings so that he can have is photo taken. So far he’s been to 9 provinces and 12 states!



Here’s Weli on a beautiful fall day in Maine. Weli has seen lots of frost on this trip this fall but he has not seen snow yet. Weli is getting a bit faded and dirty but he’s still doing a great job.



Weli has been dragged off of my bike a bunch of times when he got hung up on gates and fences. He even got lost once. I back tracked a long ways down the highway until I found him laying on the road. We were so happy to be together again. Here’s Weli, resting safely on the high side. I fell off my bike riding at low speed. I was looking at fresh skunk tracks on the trail when I should have been looking at where I was going!


Weli was happy to be on the high side this time too. He gets nervous when I do a poor parking job.

I am doing my best to bring Weli safely back to his home in Prince George, British Columbia.

I think Christopher probably misses Weli. So I want to get him back home safely. For now, Welican-the-Pelican is on duty with the busy job of reporting on our progress for our big bike adventure.

We all have Christopher to thank for letting Weli hitch-bike a ride with us. Thank-you, Christopher!


Weli is a white pelican. Did you know that real American White Pelicans migrate?

The word migrate has a few meanings but here I am talking about the meaning in #2:

1 : to move from one country, place, or locality to another
2 : to pass from one region or climate to another usually on a regular schedule for feeding or breeding
3 : to change position or location in a living thing or substance <parasitic worms migrating from the lungs to the liver> (Merriam Webster, Word Central)



In fall, white pelicans fly south to places where the weather is warmer and there is lots of food for them. In spring, they fly north to places where there are safe places to for males and females to breed. Weli was excited to see these White Pelcans flying overhead in Govan, Saskatchewan.


I feel like Lothar, Weli, and I are migrating too! Only we’re doing it differently than real pelicans. We don’t fly. We don’t go fast. We don’t travel in a straight line or even a sort of straight line. We’re on a slow wandering kind of migration.

Now that we’ve pedalled as far as we have, I can say, oh Canada, you are a big country!


Weli was very excited to meet this Brown Pelican in Huntington Beach Park, South Carolina. The little gaffer is a distant relative of White Pelicans.
Weli was thrilled to meet this Brown Pelican that was busy cleaning its feathers in Huntington Beach State Park. Brown Pelicans and White Pelicans are different species but they are close relatives.



Watch for my next post with Welican-the-Pelican reporting: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Now?

18 Responses

  1. Doug hughes

    Hey guys …sounds like you are still having a great time …love the posts …keep them coming

  2. Richard

    Hi Deb and Lothar! We met as you set out on your journey, I was pedaling east and heading to Houston as my next stop in the Bulkley Valley. I spent another hour on the side of the road where we met, repairing a tire with multiple punctures from a piece of wire and a sharp rock! My worst flat ever! I have often wondered how your tour is unfolding! You are doing well! My ride was also fantastic, Haida Gwaii most beautiful! My ride was about 3000 kilometers overall in 35 days. I will be following you! Happy trails and keep smiling!

  3. Rob Kernachan

    Deb & Lothar ,
    Always Good to hear of your exploits ! Hey ! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year … you know … if we don’t see you before then… “)
    Rob & Nancy Kernachan

  4. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Rob, I just had some great rest/writing days so I think I’m back on track. Happy Holidays to you and Nancy! We’re starting to get used to the Christmas light and wreaths
    on palm trees.

  5. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Richard, I am glad you found us again. You are the first among relatively few cyclists that we have crossed paths with in this trip. Go figure…we must be traveling off-route…and slow too, particularly relative to you. Great to hear your Haida Gwaii trip was a success. Those islands are indeed magical and to think I left all that behind me. Knock on wood: so far we have had 3 flat tires between us…amazing luck considering that left home with tires that were well worn already. Best wishes for happy and safe riding out there…although if I remember correctly you’re from the interior…so I hope you’re getting some skiing in too!

  6. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Doug, yes indeed we are having quite the adventure. And you are a big part of the story. My ever growing list of thank yous for our travels is growing. You’re in there for giving me the best (and frostiest) surprise birthday present of all time. Best wishes for warm and peaceful holidays to you and you family.

  7. Autumn Ducharme

    Hello Deb!! It hasn’t really been that long since i met you and seeing how far you’ve travelled is absolutely amazing! I can hardly believe it, I am very inspired. It is so interesting to read these posts. I can not wait to hear more about your adventures and I’ll shoot you an email soon! Happy cycling 🙂

  8. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Autumn, Great to hear from you. I think I am back on track for writing more regularly. Riding has been the easy part for me. It’s the all the wonderful people that we are meeting and all that I am experiencing and learning that is giving my mind a major workout. I’m finding that I need time to figure out how I can share such an incredible experience. I’ve been journaling like crazy and taking lots of photos. Happy Holidays! Best wishes for a great school year. I’m looking forward to hearing how it is going.

  9. Laura

    I loved reading this! So glad your trip is going well. Miss seeing you guys around but can’t wait to read more about your amazing adventure.

  10. Deb Wellwood

    Oh, yay. Thanks Laura. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures with all things snowy and caribou. Which reminds me, I still have your Mount Edziza recipes adventure to post. Merry Christmas! And best wishes for a stellar New Year.

  11. mags Wellwood

    Hi Deb and Lothar, good to hear you are still having a great time. Merry Christmas to you both and happy cycling. You have certainly covered more kilometres than us. We are in El Salvador and hopefully one day our trips will intersect again. Love Mags and Gord

  12. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Mags, I sure hope our adventures cross paths again. Double the positive energy. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Stellar 2016!

  13. Navi Macknak

    Hi Deb i’v been following your tracks. And i’m happy too hear that you have a new friend too keep you safe AAAAAAAnd i wish you a vvvvvery merry happy solstices!!!!!

  14. Deb Wellwood

    And I’m sending you a big fat happy merry solstices back. I can’t wait for solstice because that means the days will start getting longer again so we don’t spend so much time sleeping. On these cool evenings, it is pretty inviting to hop in the tent right after dinner. Good thing Lo is out hunting for firewood right now. It’ll be dark here by 5:45. So I shouldn’t complain if I was at home we’d be riding in snow and the days would be even shorter. Big bear hugs for you.

  15. Regina Saimoto

    Hi Debbie and Lothar! Glad to read you are having fun on your adventure. Can’t believe how far you have travelled! Love the post and the photos. Hope you and Weli have a great Christmas and lots more days of adventuring in the New Year. Lots of love from the 4 Saimotos.

  16. Deb Wellwood

    Great to hear. Many thanks to all. And here’s sending best wishes for Merry Christmas and Stellar New Year back to you!

  17. Michael Norris

    Hi Deb and Lothar
    Good to hear from you. Every time over the past few months that a big storm has hit the news in the south I thought about the two of you. Glad to hear all is well. Did you bike it all the way south or use Amtrak?

    Karen and I are off to Cuba in two weeks. We plan on cycling the eastern end of the island. In April we are tentatively going to Italy with friends, Karen for two weeks, me I’m not sure yet.

    Three years ago I cycled across from Louisiana to Jacksonville Florida and had Good shoulders almost the entire way. Enjoy the big bridge entering Mobile Al.


    Mike Norris and Karen Brown

  18. Deb Wellwood

    Hi Mike, Its great to hook up again. We’ve had some heavy frosts occasionally nipping at our heels all the way down the east coast, until Virginia (just south of the James River). But we haven’t been too bad off for rain, although we have hunkered down for a few days. Riding through Georgia was great (or at least nowhere as stressful as the route we took through South Carolina!

    Great to hear there is a decent route to Lousiana…is there a way we can get info from you on the route you took?

    …and is that Mobile bridge…even…enjoyable…We’ve heard otherwise…with a recommendation to get a shuttle around…but maybe we misunderstood.

    Happy travels out there.