Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gualala to Bodega Dunes

date = 2010-10-29
distance = 73.9

- by Karen

Gualala is pronounced <<Wa-la-la>>. We ate waffles in wa-la-la, part of our complimentary breakfast at the Surf Inn. And yogurt, and eggs and muffins and orange juice. Food, as with any physically demanding voyage, particularly those with lots of think time, becomes of utmost importance. And I already find it so important in the regular day-to-day. Fueled up we set out for Bodega.

It was still raining when we left the inn but definitely less than the day before and it had lightened up from earlier in the morning. We rode through Sea Ranch which is a community of summer homes strung along the beach for San Franciscans. The houses are grey, made of Redwood but the colour resins drained by the sun and rain.

We stopped in at Fort Ross, an historic site of a Russian outpost and the only place that we could find to nosh at a table under shelter along the day's route. Dan, a cyclist that we've been leapfrogging since Oregon showed up at the fort in time to share a slice or two of our fig loaf bread.

After lunch the light rain stopped. We climbed and wended our way around, up and down the cliff sides. Riding the edge of the earth. We watched the sunset atop a dune amidst the succulents and other bushy low-growth. Typing this up in the tent, I can hear sea lions barking in Bodega Bay. Raindrops too, but it's supposed to clear up by 10am tomorrow morning.

There are three other cyclists camped here tonight, all new to us, one of them a 71 year old first time cycle tourist riding Seattle to L.A. The first time he set up his tent was the first night of his trip. We've also heard rumours of a woman in her 70's cycle touring solo. I hope to meet her soon.

Manchester to Gualala

date = 2010-10-27
distance = 34.3

- by Karen.

Poor Rob fell under the weather so we decided on a shorter day. We slept in till 9am. After a walk around the campsite and a brief chat with the camp host we only got going by 11am. He warned us about the rains a comin'.

We ducked in to a coffee shop, the Point Arena food co-op, just five miles down the road where Helen was enjoying a cup of coffee. Lunchtime for us, we took advantage of the salad bar and a carrot ginger soup made with coconut milk. Yummmm. Sure enough, the forecast said rain, that afternoon and the southerly winds seemed to confirm it.

We got back on our trusty steeds and made it to Gualala. The rains kicked in and Rob decided he was finished riding against the wind in the rain with a cold for the day. Fair enough. We pitched tent in the State park under a thick brush of trees. Rob napped while I zipped out for a quick walk to the beach. I had seen the pathway from the highway and wanted to walk through the little hobbit holes carved through matted wind shaped trees. Beaches here are not peaceful places. The waves really pound the shore and there's without fail warning signs about rip tides and sneaker waves. We're so sheltered in Vancouver.

It poured buckets all night. I'm amazed these tents of nylon are able to keep us dry through an entire night of hard rain, but they do! We packed up quickly in the morning and dashed back to Trinks Cafe in Gualala.

A hot breakfast in a dry place, we decided best to take the day off given a combination of rain and Rob not feeling 100%. We checked into a lovely room with a cushy bed at the Surf Inn. There we watched news about the Nov. 4th mid-term election and the Giants in the World Series.

Westport Union Landing to Manchester

date = 2010-10-26
distance = 92.7

We woke up to a chilly foggy morning at Union Landing State Park. Tenting so close to the ocean makes for a wet start to the day. We ate our granola, packed up quickly and got on our way. The sun came out and made for a beautiful ride. A day of riding that probably tops my favorites so far this trip.

California so far has been all about the Redwoods. They've got trees here that are over 2,000 years old. The Avenue of Giants is fun to ride with some of the trees an arm's length from the road. Trees close enough to touch without getting off the bike.

Since coming to California we've also been graced with a lesser celebrated appearance of Eucalyptus trees and ground cover succulents. Anise or fennel lines the side of the highway, sweet and aromatic.

Well, these latter things I'm totally into, if anything because they're such a marked change from our Pacific Northwest landscape. Dry grassy slopes, home to masticating cows with a view of the open ocean. Then into thick groves of Eucalyptus with peeling bark revealing trunks of rusty red, green and white.

This day also took us through Fort Bragg and Mendocino, nice seaside towns. At our lunch spot in Fort Bragg we met another cyclist who had done a tour across America and is finishing off with a leg down the coast.

We rolled into Manchester State Beach and who did we see but Helen already cooking up her dinner. For us a mix of quick-cooking pasta and taco fillings for dinner, finishing off what we'd bought back in the bulk section of the food Co-op in Eureka.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leggett Hill

distance = 76 km

After two days of rest we were anxious to hit the road.  The forecast for rain proved incorrect and we had a beautiful partly cloudy day.

After lunch we tackled Leggett Hill which at 1,950 feet is the highest point on the Pacific Coast bike route.  However, the ascent of the hill begins at almost 1,000 feet so it didn't seem any worse than many of the other hills we have done along the way.  And the descent along a road with little traffic was sheer joy.

This area also marks the transition from the rainy Pacific Northwest coast to the drier central California coast.  It seems like we have been rushing to get to this point and avoid the rainy weather of the autumn season.  So far we have been quite lucky and have had to use sunscreen more than rain-gear.  But it still feels good to be heading into areas where rain is less likely.


Monday, October 25, 2010


distance = 36.9 km

It was about time for another day off and we decided either Redway or
Garberville looked like the best bet for an interesting place to stay
locally. So on Friday we did a shorter ride and after looking at Redway
decided to stay at a hotel in Garberville.

Friday night we watched a cheesy movie at an old theatre in town and
Saturday morning had a delicious, mostly organic brunch at the Woodrose
Cafe. Sunday was to be another day of riding. But it was raining
heavily in the morning and the next portion of our route involved
narrow, busy highways; steep hills and few places to stop and stay. So,
after much deliberation we decided to spend another day in Garberville.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


We have seen a couple of herds of Elk, deer, a coyote, seals, sea lions, pelicans, herons, eagles, vultures and myriad shore birds.

At one point an eagle rose up from the ditch right beside us with a freshly caught mouse.

We probably would have missed at least some of these sightings (and sounds - we often hear the sea lions before we see them) had we been in a car.  Another advantage of bike touring.

[Elk at Elk Prairie Campground]



2 new gear cables, 1 new tube, and a chain link.  Those are the bike parts we have gone through so far.

Each of us snapped a gear cable.  We haven't had any new flats but I had a flat just before we left Vancouver.  I tried patching it twice but it continued to leak slowly so we finally put in a new tube.

My chain broke just as we were rolling into Honey Bear RV park to stay for the evening.  I tried repairing the broken link but it was bent badly.  Luckily Helen had also stopped at the same campground and she had a spare quick link that she let me use.

My 12 year old camp stove was also having issues.  But we found a store selling a repair kit and after replacing a few parts it seems to back to normal.

The good news is that we have been able to make all these repairs ourselves.


Camping in the Redwoods

distance = 85.3

Rode from north of Eureka to Burlington Campground along the "Avenue of the Giants" today.  The "Avenue" is the old two lane highway 101 and winds it way through the big trees just off the newer four lane highway.  With the lower traffic volume it is a great place to cycle.  Spent the night camped in the Redwoods.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Eureka, California that is. We're almost there for our night's stay. We'll do a tour of the Victorian era homes in the morning. Right now it's nachos at the brew pub in Arcata. Me with an Imperial Golden Ale brewed in Redwood Curtain and Rob with a Kona Moon Porter from Six River. We've been traveling the Redwood Highway the last two days. Two 1000 foot ascents yesterday then a breezy downhill past some tall trees to our Elk Prairie campsite. And elk there were.

Our last two days in Oregon were stunning. The weather has been sunny and warm. I'm having serious concerns over my panda eyes sunglass tan. As the miles fly by I'm contemplating the tradeoff between panda eyes and crow's feet (from squinting in the sun), zinc sunscreen versus total face coverage via bandana. Whaddya think ladies?

But yes, Oregon - fantastic. Harris Beach, our last night's stay we were privy to dinner atop a sea stack, sun setting over the many sea stacks of the day cycled by. Other highlights were the stretch of highway leaving Newport, catching an open mic with a 12 year old supastar in Coos Bay, my first ever experience of sand dunes (that I can remember, Mom?), lunch in Pacific City, Cannon Beach and Seaside.

Looks like the weather is turning for the worse and our next big city is San Fran! (Still a few days off, camping and coast lands in between.)

Humboldt Brews, Arcata, CA

Lovebugs in bike shorts, Southern Oregon Coast, south of Rogue River

Hello California!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Port Orford

Today we rode from Sunset Bay to south of Port Orford.

[Sunset Bay Beach]

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Oregon Coast Isn't Flat

I expected that a coastal route would mean that much of the cycling would be flat.  In fact, it is a lot of  up and down with some flat sections.  However, uphill sections usually reward us with a spectacular views of the coast and an exciting downhill ride.

We have seen sea lions and lots of shore birds.  At Pacific City we also spotted surfers out enjoying the waves.  I expect we will encounter more of this species as we head south.

We stopped at the Bike Newport shop.  This bike retail outlet is magnet for touring cyclists like ourselves.  In addition to the usual bikes and accessories they have a lounge, showers and laundry facilities.  When we signed their touring cyclist registry the staff member mentioned that they have seen 3 or 4  couples pass through cycling all the way to Argentina.  That makes our adventure seem a bit less hardcore.

Another touring cyclist we met at Devil's Lake campground recommended we stop at a brew pub in Newport.  It turned out to be Rogue Brewing - one of my favorite brands.  They had a dizzying array of beers to choose from and this turned out to be a major distraction for that day.

We are now taking a day off at the Sunset Bay Campground near Coos Bay, Oregon.

[Karen on a truck weigh scale]

[Oregon Dunes]

[The Coast at Heceta Head Lighthouse]

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Washington to Oregon

Washington was nice. It reminded me of the Sunshine Coast, BC. It proved a nice way to ease into our adventure. A place to work out a good riding posture and cadence - I'm over a small bout of self-diagnosed IT band strain. Into our second week I am able to appreciate passing logging trucks for their smell of freshly cut tree and for the part they play in delivering fire logs to our next campsite. Drivers have been good about sharing the road.

It's a nice transiti0n from Washington to Oregon. The Oregon coast was designed to be enjoyed. Beaches here are designated state highways but we haven't seen any vehicles on them yet. The designation precludes the 400 mile Oregon Coast from private ownership. Which means some beautiful views yesterday and the days to come.


Today was a global work party to stop climate change organized by  Residents of our home town participated in an action to deconstruct a proposed freeway project.  None of the towns were were passing through today were hosting work parties, so we decided that our trip itself would be our contribution to the global day of action.   After all, part of our reason for doing the trip the way we are is to experiment with low CO2 travel.

[Lunch at the mouth of the Columbia River]

[The Bridge to Astoria, OR - 4.1 miles, narrow sholder, no stopping]

[At the Astoria Public Market]

[Beach at Seaside, OR]

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Day Off

The weather on Saturday was predicted to be the worst of the next few days so we opted to take the day off from cycling and stay at the campground in Bay Center.  We had spent the previous night in our tent but decided to move to a cabin to give things a chance to dry off.

We walked down the road to the small fishing village and had lunch at the Dock of the Bay.  We expected to see some of the local characters but the only other customer was another touring cyclist.  She is from England, has just biked across Canada and is now headed down the coast to LA. 

[Dried out and ready to continue.  Helen, the British cyclist on the right]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Up and Down

The last few days have felt like we were either going up or down a lot of the time - only a few flat sections.

Tonight we (well actually mostly Karen) built a campfire (hey, I was putting up the tent) here at the KOA campsite in Bay Centre, WA.  We had s'mores after dinner. 

As cyclists we got a 10% discount here.  We have also gotten discounts at the Sate Parks.    At one the ranger gave us almost a 90% discount because he didn't have change and cyclists have "less impact."  Do cyclists get those same types of discounts in Canada?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Elma. WA

On Day 3 we left our tenting site at Fort Casey State Park , took the Ferry to the Olympic peninsula and rode south in sunny clear weather fueled by Katherine and JP's crackers.  We spent that night at Dosewallips campground.

Day 4 was our first cloudy day.  We battled strong headwinds along the Hood Canal and then rain as we headed west.  We spent the night at a hostel in Elma, grateful for hot showers.

Karen climbing up Walker Mountain

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 2 - Whidbey Island, 105 km.

A beautiful sunny day afforded us clear views of the ocean along Chuckanut Drive and the eastern farmlands of Skagit valley.  Whidbey Island proved to be less tranquil with its busy highways and military aircraft.  However, we spent the last couple of hours on quieter roads allowing us to enjoy the stunning sunset.

We met another cyclist, who had switched from motorbike touring, doing the same route  as us. 

Mural on route out of Bellingham

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 1 - Bellingham

We did try to leave on Saturday and got as far as Inverness and 57th in Vancouver.  A little incident with a motor vehicle required some repairs to my bike.  The good folks at Bike Doctor had it fixed and ready to go by Sunday afternoon.  Our wonderful roommate Steph and subletters Matt and Alex let us stay an extra two days at the house so we departed again Monday morning.

We cycled the 100 km to Bellingham through both rain and sun.  I was more sore and tired than I expected.  We  stayed with my friend Chris Dillard who served us a tasty egg breakfast. While walking down an obscure side street we ran into my friend Prema (Gillian) which was unusual since she doesn't even live in Bellingham.