July 31, 2009

hundred degree days, flat tires (not the beer), oregon arrival

So, this bridge is the Lewis and Clark Bridge going from Longview, WA to Rainier, OR. The day we crossed it was a too-sunny day, so the pic is nothing like it looked in real life for us, but I liked the photo nonetheless.

Anyhow, this bridge and its disastrous messy shoulder caused Nate's 4th flat of the trip in about 4 days. On the Oregon side, we sat under an overpass while he changed the tube, and I actually napped for about 10 minutes. Yet, despite the temp being 106 degrees and getting a flat, we managed to pull out 85 miles to arrive in Beaverton that evening (about 15 miles west of portland downtown).

Looking backwards... the rest of our Washington journey was pleasant. I'm discovering that I tend to prefer riding through middle-of-nowhereness which tends to be more inland, as opposed to the coastal overlooks that are often surrounded by mansions. We head to the coast from here, so I'm hoping there will be a lot of park land and such, because I sure do grow tired of biking through the playgrounds of the wealthy.

Oregon is apparently the only west coast state that has declared the whole coast public. No one can "own" their own coastal beaches. So, I'm excited to camp next to the ocean one or two of these upcoming nights and enjoy the public's access.

Our route maps have been really great so far... Adventure Cycling gets you off the main road as much as possible. And even when you have to ride on one of the busier highways, they always have humongous shoulders so you still feel safe. I'm nervous about riding the Pacific overlooks, though... am hoping there is a lot of space and that drivers are used to seeing bikers there.

July 22, 2009

west coast beginnings

We arrived in Bellingham a week ago tomorrow, I do believe. On our Amtrak ride from Williston, within the first 5 or 10 minutes we spotted 3 coyotes, some muledeer (we think), and a herd (pack?) of antelopes hanging near a herd of cattle (would have been an amazing photo). So, we were happy with our decision to take a train to Washington! Not to mention the endless length of Montana... Plus we'd heard a few nightmare stories about small shoulders and crazy drivers. And, luckily, we went through Glacier in the evening (not night) so we did get to see some spectacular mountain views there.

The train arrived in Everett, WA, so we set north for Bellingham to visit Nate's friend Matthew. On our way up, we spent a night with two amazing new friends, Garrett and Mark, near Mt. Vernon (just north of Big Lake). They live on the beginnings of an organic farm they call "Flora and Fauna". I'll put a few photos from our night with them at the end of this post. They sent us on our way the next day with a loaf of bread, dried peppermint leaves, vitamin water, and many good memories.

We took route 9 partway up to Bellingham then got on Chuckanut (sp?) Hwy along the coast to witness some beautiful scenery on a bike-friendly twisty roadway. Bellingham seems to be an awesome town with such gorgeous surrounding areas. Matt works at a food co-op here, so while he's been at work, we have explored some local parks/lakes, done laundry, and eaten yummy food (not much of a thai selection in north dakota!). One of the lakes we went to was a popular weekend spot but even though it was crowded it seemed so peaceful, and it was easy to hike off with no one on the trails with you. Amazing. The land here is simply amazing... Matthew is homeless by choice (during the warm season), so he camps around, and we got to see 3 of his spots. The first one was on a river where you could hike up just a short ways to some steep waterfalls... Unfortunately my camera battery was dead.

We had a fun time tubing two days ago but it was a definite sacrifice-- Nate got horribly burned, and my thighs got fried, even though we absolutely LOADED up with sunscreen. Soooo, we decided a couple nights in a motel were needed for quick recovery, and we've been holed up in the Econolodge.

After a fun week with Matthew and a lot of unhealthy food and drinks, it will be interesting to see how our bodies respond to riding again... I already feel like my belly has increased in size! :) But thank goodness we have places to go and people to see; otherwise Bellingham would be a tempting place to hang out for a long long while.

So, here is one photo from Flora and Fauna... this internet connection is awful so will have to add more later; if you have read this, feel free to add a comment at the bottom-- I love hearing from people!

July 14, 2009

fab day, time wasting, destination washington

fab day-
104 miles two days ago, ending at Lewis and Clark State Park... Knew we had 3 days to make it to Williston but figured we'd knock out most of the journey leaving time to waste (hence my longest library visit yet). So, we started out on 2 heading west, then jogged south on a paved road that met up with hwy 1804... 1804 was quite possibly the hilliest road yet (plus there was a crazy moment on 2 when the landscape seemed to change from ND-like to Montana-like with an insane hill); one of the hills was longer than one mile according to my bike computer. And, while the scenery started out interesting (somewhat disturbing-- the oil industry is taking off here, and there was one sign that said, "poisonous gas may be present"), on 1804 the views changed to mosquitoes zooming around our heads dodging our sweaty swats. BUT, on this day, we not only kicked butt on hills and did over 100 miles, but we also reached the 1000 mark for total miles traveled!

time wasting-
Williston, ND has been a pleasant place to spend a couple of days... We checked our bikes and the trailer at the Amtrak station (see next section for more info), set up our tent in the city park, and so have been roaming freely, looking a bit odd in our only non-biking clothes (think Star Trek character and James Bond villainess). We saw Public Enemies last night and tonight might hit up the late-night showing of the new Harry Potter flick. We are planning on Chinese for dinner. Oh, and for the second time on this journey, our city park campsite was attacked by the sprinkler monsters! We must not be very observant when setting up the tent... luckily the sprinkler heads were *outside* the fly. :)

destination washington-
Tomorrow morning we hop on the Amtrak to head to Everett WA... Then we're thinking we'll head north to Vancouver, then come back down to stay with one of Nate's friends in Bellingham. From there we'll hit up spots along the coast. I will even get to see one of my oldest and dearest friends, Alena, who has been my "pen-pal" since first grade! VERY exciting. Ultimately, we'd like to get down to Santa Barbara and perhaps do some wine-tasting and see the sights along the way. Since we managed over 1000 miles on this first leg of the trip, we're not feeling guilty about Amtrakkin' it. More time to enjoy friends and scenery along the Pacific route!

July 11, 2009


So, just for laughs, I thought it would be fun to list the reasons why occasionally Nate and I have slacker mileage days...

*late nights at the local bars
*tick infestations
*we are extremely slow packers and sunscreen applicators
*sleeping in is quite lovely in a tent
*hellish headwinds
*we like to eat (apparently now this includes eating turkey and gelatinous gummy bears too)

And, with regards to deliberation, we have been loosely calculating time/miles, realizing that it might be wishful thinking to think we could get all the way to San Francisco by the end of August. So, originally, we thought we could take the Amtrak down some of the coast, but are now considering another option... taking the Amtrak TO the coast so that we can enjoy the Pacific Coast Trail as well as take time to have quality visits with friends along the way.

And so, there may be a great leap in locations for the next posting... and it's not because we are super-speedy bikers!

July 2, 2009

on day 7, a day of rest :)

We are visiting my cousin Scott, his wife Bernette, and their son Sam right now in Minneapolis MN... one day to wash clothes and not be on the go! Plus they are awesome company, so it will be hard to say goodbye! Here are a few little highlights/notes about the trip so far.

*longest mileage day- 87 miles

*fave camping spot--Jim and Chrissy's yard... James is the soon-to-be-owner of the best bar in Wittenberg, WI, and they also own a trucking business.

*ended up staying in the yard of the head townsman, Harland, in Colby, WI (he didn't really have a title other than "everything")... they actually let us shower!

*on one of our short mileage days (only 40) we spent the first half waiting for Nate's bike to get fixed up at the Rib Mountain Ciclery... where a very cool guy Brett totally hooked us up! He rode to California two years ago so was geeked that we were there. He only charged for parts (nate had him put a 3 ring dealio in the front instead of the 2) and threw in shot-bloks, a tube, dog spray, spoke repair kit, a light recharger, two pairs of good biking gloves, and some other "goodies". :)

*Nate jammed under the bridge in Stillwater, MN with Tommy while Jeremy and I watched and chatted.

*local bars rock!

*cows and horses are fascinated by riders

*4 of our 6 riding days were pretty much sunless

*It takes only a day to absolutely stink.