Friday, June 29, 2007

Depoe Bay, OR

Argh! After a few days of absolutely beautiful weather and scenery, Thursday was another day of constant rain---and this time, we had to deal with a headwind, also. On the bright side, it was warmer than the other day of constant rain that we had, but it still wasn't much fun.

Anyway, Michael Forte's parents have a place in Depoe Bay, so we're spending two nights here recuperating and drying off. It also means that I finally have real internet access, so I can post some pictures...

First of all, here's the current Ben Mathews look. Ryan and I both shaved our heads before starting the trip, which turned out to be a great decision, since we don't have to bother with our hair at all. (Of course, it does mean that we have to be sure to apply sunscreen to our heads, but that's not too bad.)

Some people want to know what our bikes look like with all of the gear loaded onto them, so here are some examples:

Some random images from the pirate festival that we went to last weekend:

Here's a small sampling of the beautiful scenery around Cape Disappointment, at the mouth of the Columbia River. (Despite it's name, it was very beautiful. Our campsite had some incredibly ravenous mosquitoes, though...)

And here's Ryan trying to imitate one of the Oregon Coast Bike Route signs. (We're roughly following this route, but occasionally we do stray from it if our book or maps tell us to.)

That's just some of the pictures; if you want to see more, check out Ryan's gallery.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Twin Harbors State Park (near Westport, WA)

After riding for 9 days, we have finally reached the Pacific Ocean! We've been following bodies of water for most of our ride so far---mainly the Strait of Georgia and the Hood Canal---but from this point on, we pretty much follow the coast all the way to Mexico.

Over the past few days, we biked around the east side of the Olympic Mountains, since it's supposed to be drier than the west side. We cycled past Anacortes, down through Port Townsend and Hoodsport, and then over to the ocean.

Nature has certainly thrown a few impediments in our way: On Thursday and Friday, we had pretty significant headwinds all day, and we've had to deal with rain every day, but the rain has been intermittent, much better than what we had to deal with on our second day.

Now that we're back to camping, we've started to run into other people who are also biking down the coast. On Friday we camped right next to a middle-aged couple who are on their way down to Monterey; today, we ran into two cyclists our age and a whole group of high school students who are heading down the coast.

The coolest event of the past few days has to be the pirate festival, though. We took a rest day today and biked a few miles to the nearby town of Westport, where there was a pirate festival this weekend. Apparently there are these pirate clubs up here, which seem to do a mix of social and community-service activities. Anyway, the local pirate club was having a festival this weekend, so there were lots of people dressed up as pirates, there were pirate ships in the harbor having mock battles, and there was even a dress-your-dog-like-a-pirate contest. I wish I had the ability to post pictures now, but that will have to wait until we stop at an internet cafe some day.

Total distance so far: 528.1 miles

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday Harbor, Washington

On Tuesday, after Ryan ordered his replacement gear, we left the awful city of Nanaimo. It was amazing how many stories of theft we heard about in Nanaimo: For instance, while Ryan was in the library using the internet and I was waiting outside with the bikes, this guy came up to me and told me that I needed to be careful with our bikes; apparently he had had his rear wheel stolen while his bike was parked outside the library!

Anyway, we finally got out of there. Unfortunately, we were stuck on the shoulder of a busy 4-lane highway for the first 10 miles or so, but once we got off of it, the ride was quite nice. We took a ferry to Salt Spring Island, which was great because there weren't too many cars, and then we took a ferry down to Sidney. Like many other towns on our route, Sidney was pretty dead after 6pm, but we found a hotel and then went out for Greek food.

The next day, we caught the ferry from Sidney to San Juan Island, back in the US. Ryan was able to get through customs with his driver license and a copy of his passport, which was good. We spent the whole day cycling around the island, where we saw alpacas (Ryan tried to confuse them by making chicken sounds at them) and bald eagles! Apparently the San Juans are one of the best places to see bald eagles in the US.

We got a room at the Wayfarer's Rest hostel in Friday Harbor, then went out looking for food. Ryan asked a random girl at a real estate office where we should eat---apparently the best pizza place on the island was in the bowling alley.

We went there, ordered our pizza, sat down, and started talking to the three old men at the next table. Apparently one of the guys has way too much money (apparently it's from a trust fund), so he decided to pay for our pizza!

After the men left, we learned that one of them was gay, so Ryan thinks that we got a free pizza because they thought we were a gay couple. My favored hypothesis is that it was just because the rich guy was drunk. Oh well, it doesn't really matter why; we got a free pizza!

Today, we're taking the ferry over to Anacortes, WA, and then we're going to bike down to Port Townsend, where we should be able to pick up the replacement gear.

Total distance so far: 337.5 miles

Monday, June 18, 2007


Sunday was an extremely long day---if we were to follow the plan laid out in our book, then it would be the longest day of the whole trip.

We started out heading north for about 20 miles, then caught a ferry across to Vancouver Island. We were hoping to find a bike shop in one of the towns at the ends of the ferry, but apparently the bike shops in these parts aren't open on Sundays... We did a little bit of bike cleanup ourselves, then started heading towards Mexico, in the correct direction for the first time!

The combination of flat roads and good weather allowed us to go much faster than before, so we decided to stick to the 74 mile day that the book prescribes. We stopped for a great dinner of beer, burgers, and a huge plate of nachos, then dragged ourselves the last few miles to the campground. We pulled in around 10pm, which made it a little hard to choose a campsite, but it was fine. Also, the park had showers, which was excellent!

Monday was not nearly as good. Since we reached our camp so late on Friday night, we got a late start, so we only made it 20 miles to Nanaimo by lunchtime. (And they weren't a fun 20 miles---we had to cycle on the shoulder of a busy 4-lane freeway for most of the ride.)

We stopped at a great Mexican cafe for lunch, but when we came out, we found that one of Ryan's panniers had been stolen, and some of his other panniers had been rifled through. Ironically, this was right across the street from the local courthouse, too!

The most important things in the pannier were Ryan's sleeping bag and passport. Fortunately, we don't need the passport to get back to the US, but the sleeping bag and the pannier are pretty necessary for the rest of our journey.

Anyway, we got a hotel room in Nanaimo for the night, and we're going to try to sort things out tomorrow. We'll probably stay in hotels or hostels for a couple of nights, but we'll try to keep making forward progress---we think we're going to cross back into the US tomorrow.

Total distance so far: 248.9 miles

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saltery Bay Provincial Park

Well, we've managed to survive for two days so far!

Friday was our first day of the bike trip proper. It started out raining, but it wasn't very hard, and it cleared up around noon. We had to take a ferry for part of our trip, which was pretty nice, since it gave us the chance to pay more attention to the scenery and to meet some people on the boat. (We met a nice German guy who was touring Canada on his bike---he has apparently done lots of bike touring all over the world. He had about twice as much stuff on his bike as Ryan and I do, though!)

Anyway, the area that we've been biking in is called the Sunshine Coast. You might think that this means that there isn't much rain here, but on Saturday we learned that the name is kind of a local joke. It rained on us pretty much the entire day, right up until we arrived at our new campsite! It was definitely pretty cold---but we basically took it in chunks, cycling 10-15 miles before stopping some place to warm up. Oh well, now I know that we can deal with it! We're supposed to have some more rain tomorrow, but then it should clear up.

Total distance cycled so far: 146.8 miles

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Quickly: I just finished reading "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" today, and I definitely recommend it. It's a combination mystery and coming-of-age story, filled with cultural and pseudo-cultural allusions; I found it extremely engrossing.


Success! I'm now in Vancouver, with my bike and all of my stuff intact. For some reason, the ticket agent only charged me $25 to check my bike, instead of the $50 that it was supposed to cost. Oh well, I certainly didn't complain.

When I got to Vancouver, it took me about an hour to reassemble my bike and get everything ready. (Note to anyone planning to ship a bike on an airplane: make sure that you know where you packed your bike tools! I had a couple of minutes of panic because my bike tool wasn't where I thought it was.)

The ride to the hostel was quite nice; the area around the university is particularly pretty. I quickly got two firsts out of the way: First, it rained on me during this ride. It wasn't bad at all, especially since it stopped raining within 15 minutes or so. If all of our rain was going to be like this, it would be no problem at all!

Second, I ran into my first friendly locals. While biking through a residential section of Kitsilano, I started to pass a couple on their mountain bikes, and they started talking to me, asking about where I was headed, etc. It felt really good to be able to say, "San Diego," and they seemed quite impressed. (I felt a little bit bad passing them, though. Here I was with 40 pounds of gear on my bike, and I was still able to pass them while going uphill?)

Anyway, looks like we're going to be leaving Vancouver on Friday now instead of Thursday; that's actually kind of nice since it gives me more time to explore the city.

Total distance so far: 17.6 miles