Monday, October 17, 2011

Avoiding the Finish Line

Wait a second... Aren't we supposed to be riding towards our last of the Lower 48 States? I guess we've gotten a little sidetracked. Oregon is a dream and we've so been enjoying our time here... But I think the real reason we've been lolly-gagging is simply that.... we don't want this to end. Here are a few reasons why:

The People!

We still manage to camp out every once in a while and lucky us, we met Suzanne and Mike who are just beginning a 7 month multi-continent bike tour!  We are a little jealous of this... but it was great to see their excitement! 

On a side note, you'll see us roasting our shoes by the fire.  The drizzly days here have soaked us through and we needed to dry our shoes.  Unfortunately, they got a little too close to the fire.  Mine are a little crispy and Adam spent one day riding with his warped shoes before throwing them in the trash and splurging on another pair.  We're always learning!

All we have of Sarah is a lousy iPhone picture, but she's an old friend from home who has moved out here and has the cutest little Fair Trade shop in Manzanita called, Moxie.  We got to stop by and see her shop, catch up on life in the past 15 years, and buy a couple little trinkets.  While there, we fell in love with the area... this cannot be our last visit here!

Sadly, we left Sarah all too soon but not before she gave us a present of some of the yummiest muffins ever!!  As we rode towards Cannon Beach that night, we got a text from Sarah saying she had a surprise for us in Cannon Beach.

That surprise was a hotel room right on the water!! The room, the view, and the people at Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach made this one of the coziest nights of our trip! Thank you, Sarah!!!!

The Places!

As a photographer, Adam has wanted to visit Cannon Beach for years and you can see why below.  

We rolled into Stephanie Inn as the sun started to glow.  I practically yelled at Adam to grab his camera and get out on the beach to take pics!  This was why we were here!!!  He left me with all the bags and grabbed some sweet shots!


As Adam was photographing, he managed to catch these two cyclists riding on the beach. 

I'm sure you can guess what happened next!

 But riding on the beach wasn't the only place around Cannon Beach that we rode.  Yesterday, we took a ride up, and up, and up to Ecola State Park! Another treasure!

And last night, we made it to Fort Stevens on the OR/WA boarder... we're almost there!  Here's Adam posing with a ship wreck!

The Bikes!

And last but not least..... our bikes!  Jenny and Ontwa have been our trusty companions for 280 days. We've pushed them beyond even what they thought they were capable of. We're ridden them through weather bad enough to turn a car around. We've hauled them into places a bike is not meant to go. But not once did they complain.  Maybe a little squeak from time to time, but they have been incredible. They've been to more places than many people we know. They've been the stars in our photo shoots and they'll always be able to look back on the good times.

But once we get to Seattle... What is the fate of Jenny and Ontwa as we travel to Alaska and Hawaii? We're still not so sure. Will they make it to the last of the 50 states with us? We'll keep you posted!

Today, we complete one of our goals.  The most physically demanding goal.  Riding through all 48 states, self-supported!  For the whole trip, we've been telling people we meet, that we are attempting to ride all of the lower 48 states.  We never quite felt comfortable saying we were definitely going to do this.  It's quite a big task.  I guess we can finally start saying that we will ride them all!  Just a few miles to go....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Anniversary on Two Wheels

Whew! The time is just flying by. I hope we are taking enough time to enjoy these last few weeks on the road... secretly, I think we're enjoying it a little too much!!! 

To keep you in the loop, we wanted to share what's up with Give a Bike:

1. As the miles to Seattle keep shrinking, our fundraising donations keep growing! We've got only 3 more states and have over $22,500 raised for our charities.
2. Check out our last challenge of the year: 11/11/11 Challenge!
3. Two final events in the lower 48!! One of them just happens to be on my birthday!
4. Our timeline:  We'll be riding into Seattle right around Oct 20th and we'll be there for about a week before we head on up to Bellingham to catch a ferry to Juneau, AK. We'll get to hang in Juneau and Anchorage for a few days before we take the flight to state #50!  We waited as long as we could for them to build the bridge so we could ride there, but alas, it has not been built and a plane is our only option to Hawaii.

Some of you have asked, and yes, we did manage to find our groove again, even in the dark, gloomy days that plague the Northwest Coast. After we left The Peace Artist, we were put at ease and have been back in the mode of bike tourist, complete with riding through the rain, and camping with raccoons!

That is, until October 9th! Our anniversary! We had to do something special. Months ago Adam exclaimed that for our anniversary, he wanted to stay in a Yurt. Lucky us, we just happened to find a campground with a Yurt available and booked it for two nights.

We grabbed some shrimp, some yummy bisque, and made a fancy pasta dish for our anniversary meal. Of course, to top it all off we had some Coppola wine and a deck of cards. Can it get any better than that?

Usually our days off include some sort of work needing to be done. But we took the next day literally off! We had no wifi and very limited cell service so we were almost forced to just relax. How nice! It was a true day off.

Yesterday, we said a sad goodbye to our Yurt and were off again, hoping to make it to a state park campground just south of Newport, OR. But to our surprise, we had an email from Rogue Brewery. You may remember Julie, from Pubquest, who we met at the very start of our tour at Blind Lady Ale House in San Diego, she has been following us ever since and helping to get us hooked up with local craft breweries. This is the website to visit if you enjoy a good local beer while traveling!

Pubquest hooked us up with Stacy at Rogue who offered us a free room at the Bed and Beer above the restaurant. What?!? And the anniversary celebrations continue!! We were totally blown away and couldn't wait to get there. We pushed through our last 20 miles in less than an hour and 1/2... we were that excited!  That night we enjoyed a burger and a Rogue beer downstairs before we walked around Bay Market in Newport, OR. 

Halfway through our dinner and beer, we noticed an enormous amount of people in the bar wearing Hawaiian shirts. They didn't seem to know each other, but rather walked in, in individual groups. We thought...this must be a good sign of our future! But instead, we were told that it's Wear a Hawaiian Shirt and Get Free Beer Tuesday! Well, we had no Hawaiian shirts but Adam had a clean pair of Hawaiian boxers upstairs that he quickly ran to get and wear as a shirt.  The things a touring cyclist will do for a yummy beer at the end of a soggy day!

The next morning we were invited to take a tour of the Rogue Brewery with the Brewmaster himself, John Maier..... let me try to explain this brewery in terms of a bike shop (ahhh... our whole lives revolve around bikes now).  Sometimes, you walk into a bike shop and you feel small.  Everything is too clean, too expensive, and too new.  But then, there are the bike shops that you walk into and are immediately put at ease.  It's more or less a garage-type feel, people willing to let you borrow tools in exchange for some good conversation.  Things are used... the way they're supposed to be. Rogue was the garage-style bike shop of breweries. It was exactly what you'd expect from a brewery called Rogue!   And John made us feel right at home.





We left the brewery fairly late in the day, and were looking forward to a short day to Devil's Lake Campground in Lincoln Bay.  But at the top of our only hill of the day awaited yet another surprise for us.  Dave was out taking his Bike Friday for a ride and we stopped to ask him about his folding bike... good for taking on trains and planes...hmmmmm.  Within a few minutes, he offered us a place to spend the night and we followed him another 10 miles north for a  grand total of 20 miles.  Riding with Dave was not only great conversation, but he showed us a few beautiful lookout spots!

After we settled in, Dave invited us out to his favorite seafood restaurant!   We are really living it up!

All of this sleeping indoors craziness is really having a positive effect on me.  I told Adam I'm not sure if I'll be able to camp again! Getting too spoiled!  But with only a week before Seattle, I think a little spoiling is OK.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Roller Coaster Time

Just over 600 miles to go. Seattle has always been so very far away and for nine months we've been striving to get there. Now, it lies 625 miles away.  Just about two weeks of riding. Only 5% of our trip left. And I'm scared.

To be fair, scared is just one of the many different feelings we've had these past few days. Until now, we always had other destinations. At first it was Phoenix, AZ. After that, Albuquerque, NM. Then Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock... And so on and so forth until our latest stop, Eureka, CA. But Seattle is really it. sure, we're going to ride in Alaska and Hawaii, but we get to take other means of transportation to get there. Seattle is the end of waking up, riding 65 miles, finding a spot to camp, falling asleep, then doing it all over again. Scary.

As we rode away from my Mom and Scott the other day, tears staining my cheeks, 625 miles seems very far away. Saying goodbye to family has always been hardest part of this trip and it proved once again to weigh heavily on us. What were we doing? In just a few hours, my Mom would back home in the comfort of her own house. We were riding through the cold California rain towards an unknown.

That was a difficult day. 101 was not an easy road. Sections of no shoulder kept us constantly looking back in our rearview mirrors. Sharp twists and turns kept us uneasy as we did everything we could to be seen. The constant rain didn't help our spirits as we rode further and further away from my Mom. What were we doing?

A campsite was just not happening that night. Maybe we were a little too spoiled from staying at The Carter House for three nights in a row, maybe we just needed a pick-me-up. Whatever it was, a dry, warm room kept us sane and we slept peacefully.

The next morning greeted us with more rain. Harder rain. Instead of riding towards Crescent City, we rode to the cafe next door and waited out what we thought would be the worst of it. Here, we met a few folks interested in our story and they smiled in amazement as we retold the same story we've been telling for months. The rain ceased a bit, and we left the Palm Cafe with our spirits lifting a little higher.

Just ten miles up the road and we found ourselves in a fantasy land of beauty. Prairie Creek State Park was a wonderland for Adam and his camera. Instead of spending an hour there, we wished we had a week.

But the clear skies didn't last long and within a few minutes of photographing the sun shooting through the foggy mist, we were caught in a downpour with nowhere to hide. What were we doing?

We looked at each other, not sure how to take this. Amazingly, we smiled at each other. The rain came down a little harder. We smiled more. Our tires found their way through the small flood in the road and we laughed. And that was that. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, and the sun came out in time for us to enjoy lunch on the steps of a small church with a few friends.

Feeling much better, we continued on towards Crescent City, climbed a 1,200 foot hill (yes, there are still hills to climb on the coast), then froze as we flew down the 1,200 feet on the other side, right into Crescent City, and into Gerry's home. He invited us in just before another rainstorm came through and we dried ourselves and our things that night.

Fall set in the next day and we found our groove again in the crisp salty air. Pacific Coast is the perfect setting to keep our spirits lifted during these next few weeks.


Moment of Zen:
Last night we met The Peace Artist as we were climbing the last hill before Gold Beach. He was pushing a Chariot baby stroller and our first thought was, "Who would be walking their child on a road like this?" Turns out, Peace, as he introduced himself, was running 10,000 for Peace, Love, and Art. He gave away all of his worldly belongings.... gave away... and he is running around the U.S. for peace. Sounds a little crazy, I know, but he is a normal guy! As we were talking on the side of the road, a truck flew by us, a little too close for comfort. We debated giving him a one fingered salute, but Peace shot him a smile and a peace sign instead.

 I guess we always have more to learn.