Oregon

Over the bridge in to Oregon we went and headed inland to Portland. The weather became hotter and hotter until we reached the sweaty heights of 37C. Really far too hot to cycle in. We entered the city and looked for a pay phone to call the warm shower hosts we were staying with, for some directions. I asked a group of people wandering along the street and they laughed about how archaic a pay phone is these days and offered me the use of their iPhone. My call was not answered so we then got into a chat with the three Portlanders and they offered us their floor for the night. Our warm shower host then returned the call and I jotted down the directions. The phone lenders checked out the address and deemed it to be a suitable area for us to venture in to and set us on our way with safe bike friendly advice on how to get there.

Our warm shower hosts were excellent (thank you Dave and Lauren – best wishes for your wedding); drove us to get some oil for our Rohloff hubs, introduced us to Voodoo doughnuts and fed us pizza. Within 20 minutes of leaving their house, Badge had a puncture. His rim tape had blown and he pedaled my bike, with his wheel, back to a bike shop he had seen. During the 20 or so minutes he was gone, no less than 5 people stopped to see if I needed any help and the woman living opposite gave us some cold beers. Thank you Portland; you are bike friendly, people friendly and wonderfully weird!

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Bicycle art was evident everywhere.

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We then trended southwards, via the Willamette River Valley trail, to Corvallis where we stayed with Vicky and Kevin. It was great to reminisce about Bear Valley days and to hear about all their adventures. Through that part of Oregon there was a lot of agriculture and we enjoyed cycling through vineyards, hops, green beans and blueberries. Special to Oregon are the marionberries which are a mix of a blackberry and raspberry ish. Very tasty in the slice of pie we had. The plants look like this.

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Looking towards the east.

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The weather remained hot so we decided to scuttle back down to the coast where the temperatures are much cooler. We took a lovely quiet road and stayed at a great campsite. It was a basic one so there were no showers but there was the Alsea Falls nearby to wash off in.

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On our way to the coast we stopped and got chatting with a motorcyclist. We both got back on the road and then about 20 or so minutes later he rode back towards us and beckoned us over. He had noticed that in the shade of the trees we were not visible to the other traffic so he had bought us some back lights to make sure we could be seen. Thank you so much, Daniel. It was so kind and thoughtful. We have encountered many lovely people so far on our travels who have been friendly and helpful. We have been humbled by the kindness of strangers. The coastal road was very pretty, with plenty of good viewpoints and birdlife. Campsites are well spaced and cater for the biking type.

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We had some sunny days and then the mist rolled in from the Pacific.

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Many islands to be spotted, but sadly no whales (although there were plenty of rocks pretending to be whales).

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Oregon treated us cyclists well but we must keep pedaling southwards. So it’s onwards – California bound.

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Washington State: Port Angeles to Astoria

We waved goodbye to Victoria and Canada as we headed across the water to Port Angeles in Washington State. The crossing was smooth and the entry in to the States was easier than anticipated. They asked us some questions, nothing too tricky, and did not seem to be perturbed by the state of Badge’s hairiness.

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We had arrived on the 4th July so there was a parade and fireworks. Patriotism was evident everywhere.

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We followed the Olympic Discovery Trail eastwards to Discovery Bay. It is a well signposted bike trail, mainly off road, with plenty of rest areas and information. It made a nice change from the highway. Once back on the highway we spotted a cut through on a gravel road and could not resist.

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The Olympic peninsula is beautiful, with some stunning mountains. We travelled alongside the Hood Canal and it was great to smell the sea again. We had a great stopover with warmshower hosts, Bob and Noreen, who live in a very special spot on a hidden cove in the Puget Sound. From there we headed west for although we had seen sea, we had yet to see the Ocean. The sandy beaches on this stretch of the Pacific coast are vast and people drive along them. Sea mist and fog are regular features which we have been thankful for to keep us cooler as the temperatures are rising.

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State and County campgrounds provide welcome stopovers and many offer hiker/biker sites for a reduced fee. We no longer need to hoist our food away from the bears, however, it still needs to be kept away from other critters such as racoons and chipmunks.

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Although the campgrounds don’t offer wifi, many of the fast food chains do. This can often be accessed from outside. My current office looks a bit like this.

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Before we knew it we were at the 4 mile long bridge that crosses the Columbia river, taking us into Oregon.

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As promised, here is a ‘hair’ update…….

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Quesnel to Vancouver Island

Well, it’s been the best of times and the worst of times. We have been tested and found wanting these past couple of weeks. However, the good news is that we are neither squashed nor crushed, the legs are getting stronger and we are still smiling.

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The best bits have included further back road exploration which has given us splendid views and more bear sightings. We have reached double figures with our furry friends and Badge was delighted that one of them was a Grizzly. The Black bears all disappeared away from us quite quickly but the Grizzly definitely gave us a stern stare before retreating. A lot of our travels have taken us alongside the Frazer river. As the river went further south it became more canyon-like and we even saw cacti, most unexpected in Canada.

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Badge now has a new tyre but the gravel roads did manage to shake one of the screws on his Ortlieb pannier out. Yet again there was very little traffic on the roads we chose to travel on.

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The not so good bits have included a thunderstorm, IT issues, batteries running out on the Spot tracker, some steep hills, the craziness of Whistler and a navigational error. Whilst on the backroads we had six hours of a steady up, then down, on a road that got progressively more overgrown and was strewn with evidence of bears, only to discover a locked gate and no way onwards. We then had to backtrack up and down, with possible bear encounters, to get back to the last crossroads. It was a 10 hour detour out into the wilderness that I am sure was good training for something (possibly later on in the trip?). I was amazed that we did not see a bear during that detour (yet saw one right next to Highway 16). I shall now be suspicious of any road with grass down the middle of it.

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As we have trended southwards we have entered summer and more birds have appeared, as well as, meadows full of flowers.

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We have also seen a lot of trees and wood.

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We were sad to leave the backroads and enter back into the real world. However, it had been too long without a shower, good food and interaction with other people so it was time, before we became too socially unaware and started to turn feral.

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Lilloet truly was the hottest and driest place we visited in BC. We headed off early from there to attack the road to Pemberton before it became too warm. That was a pretty tough day. We had a couple of 13% gradients to accompany the 10% and 11% ones during the 70k of climbing out of Lilloet past Duffy Lake to Joffre Lake. We pedalled uphill for nine hours that day.

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The hour whoosh downhill was a pleasant payback but didn’t quite seem enough (ungrateful wretch that I am).

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After Pemberton we were heading to Whistler and all the razzmatazz that goes with that. It was a bit of a shock after our backroads adventures. We certainly looked as dirty as the downhill mountain bikers but certainly weren’t  as cool as them. The rock around Squamish was so tempting to stop and climb on. We had to content ourselves with just chatting to the climbers in the campsite. Another place on the list of where we wish to return to.

We took a ferry from Horseshoe Bay across to Vancouver Island and have made our way down to Victoria. We are staying with Dugald and Heidi who we met in a campsite near Lilloet. This is the first rest day we have had since leaving the ferry so it is much needed and appreciated. We also appreciate D & H’s hospitality and generosity that has helped us sort out some niggles but most of all we are thankful for the excellent food we have been fed. We shall be remembering that lamb for some time.

We have met some great people in Canada who have been so friendly and helpful. Thanks to Sharon and Bob who guided us from the ferry into Victoria, forming our own mini peleton of cycle tourers. Thanks to Rory for helping us understand our computer. Thanks to the boys in Red Shreds for advice about the backroads. Thanks to Naomi for the free night of camping at Fraser Lake. Thanks to the man at Lilloet Lake for letting us camp in his garden. We shall be sad to leave BC tomorrow, however, I am sure there are further adventures to be had across the border. This is providing they let Badge in. I shall update you on his facial hair with a photo in my next post.

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