Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Lori!

Ever wonder where your TP comes from?

Probably here in Washington! This is what we've been riding through for the last week.

Cause for Celebration

We passed the 600 mile mark, crossed into Oregon by way of a 4 1/2 mile bridge over the Columbia River, survived some serious survival cycling along the 101 near Aberdeen and it's my birthday!

We are currently celebrating in Astoria Oregon (they have a brewery here). Christian is spoiling me with a hotel room that has a view of the Columbia River including the amazing bridge we came over. To add to the festivities, the sun came out for the first time in over a week. I was skeptical when we woke once again to heavy fog and rain but by lunch time we were slathering on the sun cream. We lunched in a small picnic area that was appropriately littered with birthday confetti. We played a little frisbee and then psyched ourselves up for the "crossing". The bridge is narrow and has a minimal shoulder but the fun part is the last half mile with adrenlin stores running low, the bridge climbs up! Half way across the bridge is the "Welcome to Oregon" sign. It was magnificent! Off to the brewery and tomorrow off to Portland for a fun side trip.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

500 miles pedaled in Washington, 100 more to go! Our guidebook route clocks Washington at 344 miles...hmmm, I guess we got a little carried away with side trips. In any case we are finally traveling south. We hit the west coast at Rialto Beach and it's been a frisbee playin', kite flyin' party ever since. The beaches here are rugged, cold and tumultuous. Signs warn of strong riptides and beach logs that kill. What is an intrepid beachcomber to do? Fly a kite! We picked ours up in Ocean Shores, home of the kite flying world champions "Team Cutting Edge."

Our trip to the coast traveled in an around Olympic National Park. Thanks to an alternate route suggested by Arlo and Troy we got off the 101 and took a singletrack mountain bike trail around Lake Crescent. Half way around the lake is a bridge perfect for diving, an opportunity too perfect to pass up. While the Pacific Ocean has proven univiting so far, we have found swimming opportunities in the Hoh River and Quinault Lake.

Tasting Note: If you ever find yourself in Ocean Shores Washington (I don't know, maybe you'll participate in a kite flying championship), stop by La Chica Taqueria for some autentica Comida Mexicana. I know, we were skeptical too but we were craving burritos something fierce. The 3 pound beauties did not disappoint. Choices of five different homemade salsas, fresh veggies, sour cream and guacamole made us check the map to make sure we were still in Washington!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Renegade kitchen

Renegade Times

We finally let the San Juan Islands release their hold on us as we made our way back to the mainland. I must say that we are in love with the Washington State Ferry system. We were able to hop from island to island using this incredibly efficient transportation, plus it was fun to ride bikes across the car loading deck. Back in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula we did some grocery shopping again in their beautiful co-op. While we were packing up our treasures, Christian recognized a kid we met on the Pacific Crest Trail last summer. Chase is currently living in Port Townsend. While we were chatting with him about camping options he suggested we come back with him. He is living on 13 acres owned by a friend and they wouldn't mind if we camped there. Oh, and they were having a "Renegade Indian Dinner" for $6 donation that they do every Tuesday.... lucky us, being Tuesday and all. I was imagining a family style dinner somewhere in the 20 people range. We got to the property and the amazement began. We smelled the curry enticing us into the property as we passed and exuberant garden running amuck as if someone tends it only every once in a while. Further down the path we came to a big field with a bamboo pole and canvas structure. Tables and straw bale benches, rugs and tapestries furnish the inside. There were more tables around the field and a stage set against the evergreens. We followed our noses to a gigantic outdoor kitchen. Except for the open wooden structure that housed it, the kitchen looked professional in every way including the yummy production going on inside. Chase and his brothers were warming up on a stage as they were the musical entertainment for the evening. We chatted with Ray who recognized Christian from Ray's days of busking at the Tucson co-op. Our job was to take a huge basket of flowers, herbs, grasses and weed and put together vases for the tables. I got the sense that the clippings were more of a way to keep things at bay rather than their importance as table decorations but they were lovely. Those vases were a fun way to be amazed at the bounty of a lush environment. Dinner was unbelievable. Eight different Indian specialties with a Pacific Northwest seasonal twist. Think Strawberry, rasberry and apricot chutney and rutabaga kofta. It was delicious and I lost count at around 100 people. There were kids, dogs, belly dancers and drum circles. A zip line and rope swing kept the little ones entertained for hours. We set up our tent long before the zip line was retired. And to think we almost camped at the state park with our macaroni and cheese dinner!

We will now head West along the peninsula to the coast and down through Olympic National Park. Our southbound trip will finally include some southward travel! Here is to more renegade opportunities!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Island Life

Bald Eagles and Banana Slugs

.... not just for breakfast anymore. Orcas Island is ridiculously beautiful. We are finding it easy to adjust to this so called Island Life. It was not so difficult to decide to take a rest day here. I followed the literal definition of "rest" while Christian awoke at 5:30 in the morning to pedal up 2400 ft. Mt. Constitution. Our friend Ignacio would be so proud of him. This little island is deceivingly hill blessed and we are getting quite a workout. We arrived at the ferry landing yesterday and had a nice conversation with the whale touring boat captain. He gave us lots of inside tips about back roads. We followed his advice and enjoyed every minute of it, especially the 4 bald eagles we saw en route. It is so green here that it is ridiculous. Green in the desert is subtle and only reveals itself to the patient voyuer. Some flowers only bloom one night a year. Here in the rain blessed northwest, green is rioutous, never subtle. It drips everwhere and is a moss covered carpet on which we walk. Flowers and berries are abundant. If you are into biosexuality this places oozes. With the sun making a grand appearance we eagerly jumped into Cascade Lake for a refreshing dip. In town we have enjoyed a gourmet lunch and visited the local bike shop. We keep stopping a bike shops hoping for a remedy for squeeky bike seat springs. We haven't been successful at solving the problem but we have met some cool folks with lots of insider tips. If the seat issue were not so annoying it would be a fun excuse to keep popping into these little shops. Does anyone have any advice for a squeeky Brooks springed saddle? Lauren, did you have this problem? After this quick internet stop we will take our freshly baked bread and local cheese and wind back up the big hill to the campground, stopping at the lake for another dip before continuing on. Tomorrow we will discover the joys of San Juan Island! Traveling further south may be problematic since we've discovered the Islands.

Bike touring the San Juan islands

Orcas Island:
Do NOT follow the guidebook! From the ferry, immediately turn right onto Killebrew Lake Rd. Turn left on Dolphin Bay Rd which is hard-pack dirt with very few cars and several beautiful lakes. We saw four bald eagles along here. Dolphin Bay Rd turns into Orcas/Main and heads into Eastsound (the largest town on the island). There is an excellent bike shop, Wildlife Cycles, here along with a grocery store and library with internet. To get to the campground, stay on Main St until it turns into Crescent Beach Rd, then turn right on Olga and climb to Moran State Park.

The side trip up Mt Constitution (the highest point in the San Juans) is highly recommended, although with its 2000' elevation gain in just 4.7 miles, you'd be forgiven for taking a pass. If you decide to go for it, start early as the road is closed to cars until 6:30am. This makes the spinning more peaceful and you can wander across both lanes to find the mildest grade. Even relieved of your panniers, the first three miles are a granny-gear grind. You will see plenty of blacktail deer browsing on the roadside. On a clear day, the views from the summit are stunning - all the way to Mt Ranier, the Olympics, and Canada. Of course the descent is a screamer with the hairpins keeping you honest. It took me just 11 minutes to ride the 5 miles back to the hiker/biker campground.

On the way back to the ferry from Eastsound, take Crow Valley Rd to Westsound.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our route so far...

View BikeTour2009 in a larger map

The Pacific Northwest

Settle was amazing. Bicyclists everywhere. We finally left our gracious hostess Terra and spent the morning doing some sight seeing on the roads and paths around Lake Washington. From there we rode to Jodi and Dan's house through the arboretum and through UW. We rode 26 miles that day mostly on bike paths or on roads that give cyclists priority. Jodi and Dan's son Jack was excited to show us his bike and do some riding. He is just a set of training wheels away from his own bike tour. The next morning Dan took us up to Edmonds to catch our first ferry and officially start our bike tour. We are also starting our learning process. Lesson #1: Don't visit the local brewery before you've done your miles for the day! Port Townsend Brewery located in the boatyard and recommended by the local bike shop was our lunch destination on our 2nd day of riding. After consuming a pint of fine ale and getting rocked to sleep on the ferry to Whidbey Island we found our motivation lacking. Lesson #2: Don't hoard food. We are carrying way more food then we need. We still have backpacking mentality on this count. I get so excited by all the fresh fruit and veggies available that I want it all! We are also stocked up on exotic sauce mixes and spice packets from the fabulous Uwajimaya Asian grocery store. We are in Anacortes tonight and will catch another ferry to Orcas Island and continue our excursion around the San Juan Islands.

The bikes and bodies are holding up well.... but we are getting more compliments about the bikes!

Tasting Note:
Tucked in a corner of a gritty Vietnamese market complex in the International Districk of Seattle is "Tamarind Tree". Modern, fresh and delicious. Lemongrass is featured prominately even in the cocktails, a fact I will toast with the lingering memory of my lemongrass martini. Terra had the yummy guava martini and Christian had an amazing Zen Tonic. I'm ready to make my own green tea liquer for this one! Dinner included Pinapple prawn salad, vietnamese spring rolls, lemongrass tofu and garlic, dill kohlrabi. When have you ever seen kohlrabi on a menu?! For dessert it was a quartet of amazing ice creams. We picked Vietnamese coffee, ginger, red chili and black sesame seed. All of which I will attempt to duplicate when we return home. Fried banana cake and a super rich iced vietnamese coffee finished the evening on a delicious note. Thanks Terra for turning us on to the Tamarind Tree.... sure beats dried rice and beans! I think I'm getting used to the hardships of cycle touring.

More Photos


Saturday, July 4, 2009


We arrived at the airport with our bike boxes and typical low expectations. The Alaska Airlines website said that each box would cost $75 extra in baggage charges. And when I reserved our seats, only separate middle seats were left. So it was quite a surprise when the agent asked if we would like to sit together in an emergency exit aisle. Then, after conferring with another agent, he said that he would only charge us for one box and that it would be $50! The flight was on time, my 6'3" frame had plenty of room, and the bikes arrived in one piece! When was the last time you had a positive airport experience? Thank you Alaska!

Our friend Terra picked us up at the airport and gave us a quick tour of Seattle, including Kurt Cobain's house (yeah, that one). Seattle has a lot going for it (at least when the weather is nice which it is right now). We've been eating at great little restaurants, everything is green, there is water everywhere, a crazy music scene... Tucson, you've slipped in the opinion polls. We went by BikeWorks to see Donald, who taught my Build-A-Bike class at BICAS in Tucson, and who now lives in Seattle. Unfortunately, BikeWorks was closed for the 4th of July holiday. Later in the day, after rebuilding our bikes, I took mine for a quick spin around Lake Washington and who should I run into? Donald! He said that we should have gone to the Bikery co-op instead (too much hierarchy at BikeWorks!). Gotta love anarchists!

Tomorrow we will stay with another friend for the night and actually plan on pedaling on Monday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

And they're off...

Bikes are boxed up and the last minute details are taken care of. In a couple of hours we fly to Seattle. We will spend a few days there with friends while we build the bikes back up, pick up some groceries and consult the maps. Then we pedal into the distance...

Because a surprising number of people expressed interest in this blog, we will do our best to keep it up to date. My intention is to make it more of a photoblog - documenting what we experience in pixels. In the words of Lewis Hine, "If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug a camera."