Saturday, November 5, 2011

What's in an Ending?

  Everyone knows that a good story should have a good ending.

Well, the end of our bike-only portion of our journey was fairly anti-climactic. Sorry about that. After almost 10 months and 12,000 miles, we rode into Washington state on Oct 17th. We made it. We did bike through all of those states carrying all of our own gear. Did we see any fireworks? Nope. A hearty crowd of Give a Bike Followers? Nope. Some confetti thrown in the streets? Nada. We did string some toilet paper across the Welcome to Washington sigh and run through it, though. As the excitement of crossing into the last of the lower 48 states dwindled down, we wondered... Was that supposed to be the end?

It didn't feel like it. We still had 150 miles to go to Seattle for our final presentations. There was a fleeting moment that we contemplated hitching a ride the last 150 miles. We pushed that thought aside immediately, though, and pedaled on through more cloudy, cold days, staying with old friends and new, until we made it to Seattle in time for our presentations.

The crew at Thurston County Fire Station who let us spend the night inside AND made us Root Beer floats!!

On the morning of Oct 22, Mike and Jane Prime, the winner of a Coppola Photography canvas from our tour, rode with us to the edge of Seattle before we continued on to where Papa Coppola was waiting at a beautiful B&B, The Shafer Baillie Mansion.

The mansion was a perfect place to spend time with Papa Coppola and relax after our 48 state journey. Now that we made it to Seattle, wasn't that supposed to be the end of our journey?

With two presentations to go, it still didn't feel like we were done. We convinced Papa Coppola to rent a bike and ride with us the 12 miles from the Bainbridge Island Ferry to the presentation at Eleven Winery in Poulsbo. After 12,000 miles you'd think we'd be in shape enough to keep up with our dad who sported a hybrid bike, but he just keep flying by us on those hills. I think a little of our pride was restored when we had to huff it up those Seattle hills all the way back to the top of Capitol Hill but Papa C just got a ride.

On October 25th, after saying goodbye to Papa Coppola, we prepared for our final presentation at Gregg's Cycles. This was a special presentation indeed as we felt like our whole journey was wrapped up nicely through meeting friends and family of those we had previously met along the way. And at the end of the presentation, lucky me, I was surprised with not one, but three b-day cakes!

Finally got to meet the last two World Bicycle Relief staff who have been helping us out all along the way,  Rebecca and Mike.

So, at 8:00PM on October 25th, with cake-filled bellies, we finished our final presentation.

Surely this had to be the end. We had ridden through the lower 48 states, had given presentations throughout the journey, and completed our last one in Seattle. But something was still off.... This was still only 48 states.

The next morning we got up, not sure how to think about needing to ride 100 more miles to Bellingham to catch our ferry to Alaska. And what a day it was! Let's just say that bicycle travel isn't too fast, but when you ride 65 miles and you're only 45 miles closer to your destination, it feels a lot slower. What got us through, though, wasn't the steep Seattle hills, the harsh Seattle breeze, or the cold Seattle rain. Nope, it was Rick's invitation to stay at his home. A Warm Showers host, Rick had a trailer set up for us to spend the night and cooked us dinner and a yummy pancake breakfast the next morning.


He also had one of the coolest dogs ever (you can see Bindi in the back of the photo), and we got some much needed doggy time! (Don't worry Juneau--- you're still our baby).

Our puppy dog, Juneau, waiting patiently for our return.
So the real last day of the bike-only portion of the tour was a beautifully crisp, sunny day.  Figures it would be beautiful, making it that much harder to succumb to the idea of not riding our bikes daily anymore. We stuck to the back roads along the shore and rode through the fall-colored leaves as the wind carried them from tree to ground.  We finished with a bittersweet feeling. Were we really putting the bikes down for a while? The next day, they would be set aside. We wouldn't need them to get to Alaska. That was a sad thought.

Equally as sad, is the thought of having to cut down on our fantastic meals.... No more breakfasts like this if we're not riding 65 miles a day anymore.

We made it to Linda and Kurt's home that night, but little did we know that we were headed into a Halloween fest! When Linda greeted us by the door, Adam wasn't sure if her Pippy Longstocking look was a costume or not. We spent the night with a bunch of adults dressed up as Tellatubbies, Disco Queens, and Jokers. I don't know if I'd even recognize any of them if we ever passed them on a street again.

On the day of our ferry, Linda and Kurt's 7-year-old son, Kirby, joined us for the rainy, windy ride to our final final destination in Washington.

We boarded the ferry, locked Jenny and Ontwa(our bikes) together on the lower deck, then made our way to the top deck to claim our two lounge chairs that would be our home for the next three nights.

As an English major, I know that a good story should have a good, solid ending. Unfortunately, our story does not end this way. In all honesty, I'm still not sure if it has ended or not. We are, after all, going to all 50 states. I never was one for a quick and easy ending, I guess.

Whether or not this was the end, it cannot be complete without a few moments to reflect on the journey. We got our time to daydream about the past year by literally running into old friends we've met along the way.

Camping out with The Food Cyclists in Castle Rock, WA gave us a chance to think back to New York City when we met the excited couple, preparing to embark on their own bike tour, who reminded us a lot of ourselves right before we started our journey.

Jon driving out to meet us and make breakfast for us one morning let us reminisce about the beauty of Jackson, WY and it's people.

Lunch with The Pedal Powered Family brought back memories of Marshmallow-stealing Racoons.

Meeting Chelsea at our Gregg's Cycles presentation stirred up thoughts of Viola, WI where we randomly met and stayed with her mom, Helen and step-dad, Grant.

And celebrating my birthday with Bobby and Jessy, who flew out from Arizona to see our last presentation, allowed us to reminisce on the beginning of our journey, feeling so naive about what lay ahead.

So... the end?  Not just yet... we've still got some adventure left in us...  

(Those of you following along on Facebook know we've made it to Alaska... the blog hasn't yet made it that far... it's trailing behind.)

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