Although very scenic at times and chalked full of other cool adventure cyclists touring the coast, it has been the hardest stretch since the Dalton Highway simply in part by the amount of ice cold constant rain we had the entire way. It is currently even pelting the windows as we sit inside our friend Kari and Jeremy's place in Mendocino, while warm and dry inside and dreading the time we need to saddle up and ride on out of here again in it.
Upon heading up the steep hill leaving George and Karen's place in Depot Bay (very sweet and generous Warmshowers hosts), Ville jammed his chain between his frame and cassette. While standing a while in the pouring rain trying everything to yank it free, George and Karen rescued us and took us to the local bike shop to break it free. Thanks you both, you are truly what helps us to keep going in this complete depressing torrential downpour! Back on the road, we headed to a yurt we rented with another cyclist, Joseph, and our buddy Mark (who made it all the way over from Bend to hang with us for a few days). The next couple days we were pampered by Mark shuttling our panniers while we rode 30 mile stretches per day and then splurged on cheap motel rooms to get out of the pouring rain at night. We drove out to the dunes with Mark and explored some of the coastal areas, even took in some dancing lessons at Jitterbug and Java in Reedsport. It was a tearful goodbye when Mark left us to continue our trek south, Mark thanks so much for making it out to see us and share in some good belly laughs! We miss you :)
There was a whopping 16,000 ft of elevation gain on the Oregon coast, and a handful of very scenic days where for moments the sun peeked out and the views that stretched before us of jagged cliffs plunging down into the angry ocean were magical. Thanks so much also to Alden and the crew of cyclists who took us in when we were soaked through in Port Orford, having even a dry garage floor to sleep on was 5-star luxury. Because of the horrible weather, poor Alden had 11 dripping wet cyclists in his little trailer to try and put up with (everyone came together and made a big feast and spirits were high inside while a thunderstorm raged outside). South of there was a fantastic scenic stretch and into California we rode and pushed 85 miles to get to Crescent City where another Warmshowers church hosted over 20 cyclists trying to get out of the storm. Thanks St. Paul's Church for helping us again when we needed it most! What a great stop.
Almost at the border, the winding 2 lane scenic road became a multiple lane freeway with cars flying by at minimum 65 miles and hour and throwing spray in your face. It was pretty brutal. We caught up to two Canadian girls, Alex and Marie-Eve, whom we met earlier on and are on their way to San Diego. We camped together at Patricks Point where we woke up to a pond at the bottom of our tent. Luckily we were able to make it to Arcata by lunch and stretch all our crap, even tent, out across a bunch of shopping carts under their front entryway (the security guard kept eyeballing us, but never quite kicked us out) and dry them enough to keep going. We pushed on to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and camped out under the giant trees. If you haven't made a trip through the Avenue of the Giants, it is a serious MUST! A little over 30 miles of the old 101 Highway meandering through the largest towering redwood trees that brings with it a calming stillness to your heart and a feeling of what living in the time of dinosaurs must have felt like.
Heading out of the Redwoods, back on the 101 Freeway, the skies that had held off raining for us to enjoy the forest, opened up and down-poured on us for the next 30 miles to Leggett. From there Highway 1 begins and took us climbing up into the rainy skies where we pitched a tent and tarp we picked up in Arcata to try and help keep us dry, off in the trees. The morning was still a downpour and knowing we would finish our day at Kari and Jeremy's place in Mendocino was our inspiration to get packed up and push on. Down the steep hills we flew being pelted in the face by rain and once we hit the coast, we could barely make out the waves it was so dreary. At our lunch break in Fort Bragg, the sun finally broke through and I was nearly in tears I was so happy to finally see some sun and dry out. After pounding burgers and milkshakes, we jumped back on our steeds and coasted the last 15ish miles to Mendocino. And boy how happy we were to get to their warm and dry beautiful house on the cliffs overlooking the ocean!!
The last couple days have been spent walking around the streets and down by the beach in the rain, but so happy knowing we could make it back to the house for hot showers and a dry warm place to sleep. Kari and Jeremy, thank you SO much for saving us from the rain and spoiling us rotten. You both are awesome and need to come visit us for some good times of travel :) Heading out into the rain to the Halloween Street Fair here in Mendocino and will hit the road again heading south tomorrow. Next stop, San Francisco in about 3 days ride. Happy Halloween everyone!!
We were jonesing so much to get back on the road after being in the biking groove, but man was it hard to get back on the bikes and hit the road again. It's been a solid month off (Kristen had neck injections and Ville went deer hunting) while visiting with as many friends as we could in the time spent in Bend and Portland and we now have lost all our cycling fitness, are use to hot showers and being a month later, it is now colder and a LOT more rain. As if we hadn't had enough in Alaska and Canada, but now on the Oregon coast, well, it is very lush, green, and beautiful because it's not a desert. It rains.
So pumped to have been able to squeeze in some friends and family on our stops in Bend and Portland! We were able to make it out for my little Brandon's 21st Birthday! (I use to babysit for his family in Bend since Brandon was 6 months old). Thanks so much to Mom and Dad for letting us stay for a few weeks in your house and spoiling us crazy while we were there. It was really nice to get to spend the time together and we really hope to see you and the fan in Costa Roca!! And a huge thanks to Joey for getting us over the pass back to Portland to say Goodbyes to family and hit the road. And thanks to Tony for lending the truck to get us over. Hope to see you both in Baja! Goodbyes were not hard on the flight to Alaska because we would be back to Portland and Bend in a few months, but to say Goodbyes for the next year and a half is a bit more rough. We wanted to make sure to see everyone, but it's just hard when your trying to get moving as the winter creeps in on our heels.
When we arrived in Portland we said our goodbyes just in time for the biggest storm and tornadoes to slam into the Oregon coast as we were trying to head over to the coast. We were able to spend a bit more time with Kristen's family and decided to just go for it on Monday once there was a break in the weather. We rode our from Kristen's sisters place in Tualatin and over the hills on Nestucca River Road. It was gorgeous and very little traffic once we started into the big climb into the mountains. By evening the rains were coming down in a complete downpour and we found a closed campground and shelter to camp under to get out of the rain and try and dry off. By morning it was just drizzling and some sun and we had a spectacular slow ride descending down along the river through fireworks of fall colors. A few miles down we came to a large road closure where some construction workers were working to remove a large slide (a boulder the size of a pool table and huge tree had fallen over the road). At first they said we needed to head back up the hill and take a long detour, but after seeing our bikes let us hang out and chat while they cleared the debris enough to let us through. Thanks guys for the fun conversation and helping us to get back down the road!
Once we hit Hwy 101, we headed north to get to Netarts to visit friends for the night. Google bike route took us on a very wild road through the woods and a very tough climb up over the mountains with views of the ocean at the top. We realized as well that it's hunting season here on the coast now and was also a bit unnerving while up in the woods on bikes. At least we wear bright jackets. We had a great visit with Happy Meal and Erica (we also hiked on and off with Happy Meal on the PCT in 2011). Thanks so much for spoiling us with hot meals and a warm bed! Hope to see you south of here or at least plan a visit at the end of the trip guys!
Since it wasn't completely down pouring rain we decided to get on the road the next day and head south in hopes of not being soaked all day. Well, it was beautiful views, but very wet for our 58 miles and we were welcomed into George and Tricia's place (Warmshowers hosts) that welcomed us even last minute because we were soaked. They also opened their home to 3 other cyclists cycling the US coast and needing to get a bit dry. You both are amazing people that have very kind and generous hearts. You are what make the world a happy and beautiful place!
Today it is still pouring, but we are planning to head south only 30 miles to Beachside State Park where we are planning to meet our friend Mark from Bend and get a yurt (with heat and a cover to get out of the rain) and hang for a couple days. Thanks all for following and until next time, keep on keepin' on!
We limped into Portland on fumes, but Jordan (Kristen's brother) picked us up and we soaked in a long and much needed stretch of rest, relaxation and catching up with friends and family. We spent time with Jordan, Lisa, Sean and little Braydon (Kristen's sister, husband and little one), and met up with JBro! We had great times hiking parts of the PCT with JBro back in 2011 and he had just completed the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) a few days prior. After a few days in Portland, Oregon, JBro, Ville, and I got a ride from Suzanne (Kristen's Mom) to Bend, Oregon and our hometown where we finally put our stuff down and took some time off.
Once in Bend, I, Kristen, had to undergo PRP injections in my neck to try and heal an old bicycle injury I had when I was, of all things, doored by a car. The recommended time-off for healing is 2 weeks, and although really stubborn and wanting to get back on our bikes and hit the road, we decided to be good and actually take the time off. Here is some pics from fun times spent in Portland and Bend enjoying our friends and family while here. Thanks all for making the time to see us and for all the love and support you have given us!
Hello all our friends, family and supporters!
To celebrate our, Ville and Kristen's, arrival in our hometown of Bend, Oregon, we are kicking off a fundraiser for Carly's Kids. For those of you that don't know about Carly's Kids yet, Carly's Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to provide underprivileged children access to outdoor education school. Your charitable contribution is tax deductible and directly impacts, enriches, and inspires kids.
Would you like to help support Carly's Kids mission to help kids AND get a cool postcard from us from somewhere cool that we travel through while on our crazy Alaska to Argentina bike tour? Well, here is how you can help:
1. Click on the Carly's Kids link below or on the Carlys' Kids box on the right side of our page.
2. Click on the button DONATE
3. Donate a minimum of $20 to help kids in need get to outdoor school and before you checkout, fill out the following information in the comments:
We Lost The Map
Name (of who will receive the postcard)
Mailing Address (where to send the postcard)
Thanks all for the continued love and support along our journey! Cheers to Bend, Oregon, Carly's Kids, and 3400 miles. Keep on keepin' on!
Ville and Kristen Jokinen
We Lost The Map
This stretch was, um, depressing, stressful, and took a LOT of patience and compassion on our part. That is a wide array of emotions so I'll explain. We had heard great things about the Olympic Peninsula before heading there. Enough to decide that if there was some extra miles involved to go north again, west, then south before having to head back east to get into Portland, it would likely be worth it. And let me say this first, if you are driving a car around the Peninsula and make your way into the Olympic National Park to hike, camp, or check out the handful of rainforests there and then get back in your cozy car out of the rain and turn on your windshield wipers and drive yourself back to a warm shower somewhere, it was probably epic! If your on a bike, in our personal opinion (and keep in mind folks this is our opinion based off our experiences that may be different for everyone), SKIP IT.
First of all, the scenery was not very memorable other than beautiful forests hacked into a patchwork of clearcuts and fairly recently replanted forests. The whole whopping' 15 mile stretch along the coast had only peekaboo views of the water and then we were back inland until we were nearly to Astoria. However, the brief road winding the shoreline of Crescent Lake was pretty and the very southern Bone River Natural Area Preserve was georgous. The road itself, Highway 101 along this stretch was terrible for a cyclist! Chipseal pavement, mostly little to no shoulder, and a constant stream of traffic and logging trucks flying by you at excessive speeds. Every town we passed or stopped and spent time in; from Port Angeles to Forks to Humptulips (no, I'm serious this is a real name of a town, Google it) seem to exist in sheer part thanks to logging. And the occasional tourists, but mainly logging.
Also along this stretch was more garbage (diapers, whole bags of trash, bottles, car parts, tires, and even an entire back seat of a car) scattered all along the road. There was a handful of houses along the road, but mainly trailers, (one had a cool Playboy Bunny towel covering a window and the other a Duck Dynasty towel), the characters in Safeway where we stopped in Port Angeles to eat and hang out tent to dry were just that, characters. We stopped in Forks to eat breakfast in a park under a shelter and watched 6 different drug transactions go down in the 20 minutes we were there and even met a few nice junkies with soars on their faces and everything!
What we very quickly realized, was all the locals and loggers HATE bicycles and the cyclists. There was broken bottles and glass everywhere, and I really mean everywhere in the bike lane. We had more glass just on the Olympic Peninsula in about 200 miles than we had on the entire rest of the 3,200 miles! It became really obvious quite quickly that it was not coincidental. We even had quite a few cool people in trucks gun it right next to us mere inches from us on purpose to let us know we were not wanted. So after our 3rd flat tire (on the Olympic Peninsula alone) our blood was nearly boiling and now we are left trying to change a tire on a busy road with no shoulder and no where to pull off. Sweet, thanks.
What we had to keep reminding ourselves as our stress and anxiety level rose, was that most of these people are poor, uneducated, unhappy, underpaid, under appreciated, and they are taking their anger out on cyclists. I feel really sorry for them. They must feel stuck in their situation with no way out and when their stress and anxiety levels rise, they look for someone to blame. We also saw more TRUMP posters, stickers, banners and such on this stretch than anywhere else. If you are asking yourself why, reread this paragraph. There is a correlation. Needless to say, we HATED this stretch and it was a good lesson in patience and understanding for those less fortunate than ourselves and really unhappy in their lives.
After kicking our asses and riding over 90 miles a day for 3 days (we were soaking wet and really ready to be done with this stretch), we camped just north of Astoria on the coast in a campground where we finally met a super nice couple, Deano and his gal pal, who welcomed us to their fire and invited us over for breakfast and coffee in the morning before we hit the road. Keep rockin' it in your birthday suites you two!! And with a 4.1 mile ride over the Astoria-Megler Bridge first thing (we had to see over 100 dead birds smashed on the bridge), we jumped right on Highway 30 and made a beeline for Portland. Having never driven the highway, I made the assumption it was flat following the Columbia River. Wrong. It had at least 3 giant passes full of fast cars, completely blind curves and no shoulder to climb. By the time we limped into Portland for the 4th consecutive over 90 mile day, Ville's knee was hugely swollen and back locked up from being blown over the handlebars by a passing truck!
But boy were we glad to see J-Lo (this is Jordan my brother who lives in Portland)!! He drove to pick us up just outside the city (thanks so much to the guys at Barlow Bikes & Boards who got Ville's bike back riding straight after his fall) and after putting bikes in his apartment in North Portland, we headed out for some damn fine Thai food and stiff drinks. The next day we were able to connect with JBro (our good friend Jonas from Germany who we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on and off with in 2011) who made it to Portland after completing the Continental Divide Trail a few days prior and waited for us in Portland to show up. We went out for beers to celebrate and share travel stories at a walking street fair before all heading to Tualatin where Lismeister and Alejandro (my sister and brother-in-law) live with our nephew Braydon. Mr. Braydon was a crawler and only being gone for 2 in a half months, he is now a full-on runner. Spent a day being tourists in downtown Portland, eating and drinking everything in sight, and then Mrs. Magoo (my Mom) drove up from Bend to pick up this motley crew and take us to Bend!!
The ride from Victoria back to the ferry terminal up in Sydney was meandering through the heart of the vibrant downtown Victoria which turned into a great biking trail through tall canopied trees, rolling pasture land, along country roads, along ocean vista bluffs and straight to the ferry. The only ferry that stopped on San Juan Island left at 5:55 pm and while standing on the top deck watching the thickly forested islands glide by, we got chatting with a girl, Kate, from Montana. Kate was on a week long random vacation with no plans and ended up on the ferry through the San Juan Islands with the plan to get off at Anacortes. We very quickly talked her into getting off the ferry with us on San Juan (her car was parked just in the right spot to get off), and we agreed to meet at San Juan County Park. Ville and I had to haul butt to get to the park right at dark and Kate had got a great camp site with the camp fire roaring and even a full spread of Thai food she picked up in Friday Harbor! Ya Kate!
The next whole day we spent at Lime Kiln Park and the parking lot on the bluffs just south of, waiting to see if we would be lucky enough to catch the orcas swimming by. On the west side of the San Juan Island, there is a very steep shelf that drops steeply off right at the shore that makes for an excellent place to sometimes view the local pods of orca whales right from shore. We had heard they hadn't been spotted in over a week and so after sitting for a couple hours, were pumped to see a large pod of them swim right in front of us feeding on salmon. It was pretty awesome! Sadly, these beautiful whales only eat King Salmon (an endangered species) and therefore are now an endangered species themselves. Of course because we all love to eat the salmon, they are still overfished, but the whales are not able to adapt and eat other fish and are therefore slowly dying off. If you want to do something to help, get educated on the issues, and get involved, don't eat King Salmon or donate to foundations working to help the salmon and whales.
We made the loop around the Island, all the way out to the lighthouse on the south side of the island and finished with delicious fish and chips at the Bait Shop in Friday Harbor. While standing in line, Ville turned around and recognized Chris Pratt standing in line behind us and asked, "Excuse me, are you Chris Pratt?" at which he said, "Yes I am" and Ville told him how much we enjoyed watching him in Parks and Rec and Jurassic World. After telling him about our ride, he seemed super excited about it and I am sure he was thinking what complete lunatics we were for riding bikes for so long . Since it was only us in the tiny shop we were able to chat for a while with him and his son and when he left, we watched the teens start freaking out and chasing him down a street. Ville deals with that all the time being so dang sexy, so he knows how annoying that is. Chris, you ever need a break from being a big movie star, you can join us for a little bike ride. If Jack wants to come, he can peddle my bike and I can sit in a kid seat on the back. :)
Kate left to catch the ferry (we really miss you Kate!!) and Ville and I stayed another night at our new favorite campground, and cycled in the morning to Roache Harbor for donuts. We are pretty pathetic these days, someone mentions good food anywhere and we will climb hills for it. On the way we passed a random suit clad dude with a beret walking along the side of the road shoeless. I wasn't sure if I should have stopped and offered him my extra running shoes, but he looked like he was a shoeless man on a mission and we rode on. Then in town we had to mail Kate her axe she left from the post office (thank you nice Mr. Postman for not thinking us nuts for mailing an axe) and then passed a girl who had driven her car off the cliff down into the water and the paramedics there trying to talk her down from hyperventilating. On the road back to Friday Harbor, we passed a camel in a pasture and then agreed that this island has been quite the experience!
We grabbed the ferry over to Orcas Island next and had a great ride around the island to camp at Moran State Park. In the morning we decided we needed a good ass-kicker and rode up to the top of Mt. Constitution with all our gear. It was a super fun ride up, even better on the way down, and some great views from the top. Back through town and then we caught the next ferry over to Lopez Island. Each island in the San Juan Islands has very different personality as well as terrain. Lopez all the locals waived as they passed by, littered with farms, was pretty laid back with a tiny downtown and the flattest of all the islands making it great for easy riding. Orcas was the hilliest, very lush, had a huge State Park to adventure in and is full of characters. We met a guy in the library who showed us on his Orcas map ring places to see, where to get killer weed, and left with his Looney Tunes DVDs. True story, I can't make that up.
San Juan was medium sized hills, mix of thick greenery and grassland and a very mixed bag of people. Lots of summer homes for those pretty well off, eccentric places with trailers and buildings made to look like fruit, a very hoity-toity Roache Harbor, and the easiest place to view the orcas. On Lopez Island we camped out at Spencer Spit State Park where we met a huge group of friends and their kids on Labor Day holiday from Seattle areas. They invited us for dinner, breakfast and to share in their company. Was really nice to feel so welcomed. The next morning we ferried over to Anacortes and cycled south the entire Whidbey Island, through Deception Pass and caught the ferry over to Mukilteo.
Right outside the ferry we had a couple beers to celebrate hitting our 3,000 mile mark on the bikes at the Diamond Knot Brewery. There Dan the Man (my Dad's friend from childhood) drove up from Burien to get us and we got showers and a warm bed to sleep in. It was really nice to get to start seeing friends on this trip and hugs and love has been so special after so long in the wilds of Alaska and Canada without. Dan took us to Mexican food, ice cream and we then connected with Jeff and Kristen (friends we met at the winery in Myanmar) and stayed at their place a night north of the city getting to catch up on travels. They peaced-out of their big jobs, rented their house as well, and traveled the world for the last 7 months so we had a lot to talk about. Only crazies like us can understand crazies like them :) Thanks Dan, Jeff and Kristen for all the time and attention you gave us on this ride.
From their house north of the city, we cycled along the waterfront down into the city and stopped to check out the space needle. There was some big music festival going on and the chaos was a bit maddening after the Islands. Ville's friend Jussi and Paula (from Finland) picked us up from downtown and we spent a night getting spoiled with great food, serious Pokemon card games with their kids and updating blog time. We even were cooked a tasty Finnish dish for lunch before heading back to the city to get back on the road. And now we are off, planning to take the ferry back to the Olympic Peninsula to cycle around it, down the coast of Washington and will be in Portland, Oregon in about 5 days. If anyone is enroute and wants to connect, give us a shout. Otherwise, see you all in Portland and Bend in about a week!!! YAY!
Sorry friends for the delay in an update, traded the bikes straight up for a yacht, Ville changed his name to One Eyed Willy and we are now sailing the open seas headed for Hawai'i. Alright, we have actually been busy biking, relaxing, and sightseeing, but I wouldn't put it past us to trade the bikes for a boat in Argentina and sail back. Hmmmmmmmmmmm......
After the ferry from Bella Coola to Port Hardy, we stealth camped late night when the ferry got in and started out early from Port Hardy heading south on Vancouver Island. The weather was overcast and a bit misty, but thickly forested and beautiful. We were passed throughout the day by a bunch of different people we had just met on the ferry that were heading south at a slightly faster pace than us, but who slowed down, waved, honked and made us feel like the most popular kids in town. So much fun meeting all these new people to add to our circles of great people we know!
Since we now had the time to slow down, the island was fairly flat and we were flying through miles. So we decided to end our days early, stop a lot to rest and relax, and meet more people along the way. We had only used www.warmshowers.org once before in Haines, but decided to connect with some more hosts to get to know some more people. And we were greatly rewarded with some of the nicest people, best food, hot showers, ability to do laundry, and shared great conversation and travel stories along the way. Warm showers is full of mainly other touring cyclists or fans of and who are happy to help other touring cyclists on their journey. Anything from a yard to camp, a hot shower, laundry, and usually lots of food! If you are looking to meet some great people on all kinds of bike tours and help them out, get signed up at www.warmshowers.org. (you don't have to be a cyclist!)
After spending a night camping with a cool motorcyclist, Rob, from Vancouver, at Woss Lake, we spent the next night camping in Tim's yard from Warmshowers. Tim welcomed us right into his swanky pad, shared some rockin' tunes, and made us pizza, handmade spaghetti dinner complete with homemade banana ice cream over heated pineapple. We could never afford a dinner like that in a 5 star restaurant, so we were pretty dang spoiled! Tim, you the man. Now open a food cart and we will make a trip back to eat your food.
Next stop, Campbell River, where after 2 days of cycling through thick green forests littered with bald patches from all the logging, we hit full on city and cars. Campbell River is a really neat town perched right on the coast of the Salish Sea with a vibrant downtown and we stayed a night with another host, Jacob and Jannie. Really generous couple originally from the Netherlands who are super involved in local charity rides and knew how to spoil a cyclist. Thanks for your kindness!
Heading south we struggled to find another host and finally Peter in Nanoose Bay came to our rescue and we pushed through 75 epic coastal, scenic miles to get to him by the end of the day. We couldn't have hit better weather on the island, but going from rain and mist to high 90's rocked my world and I, K.G, struggled a bit with migraines. Hard to get out of the baking sun when you are riding all day and melting in it. But Peter and Madeleine welcomed us to a fish dinner on the porch of Peter's unreal home right on the coast while watching the sun set over the water. It was pretty unreal. We even watched a seal swimming right out in front of his house. We spent a day being tourists and rode bikes minus gear into Parksville where we ran into a fellow touring cyclist named Bart from the Netherlands. We spent the day together talking bike talk and went to a sandcastle competition right on the beach. And man these castle builders were a bit more serious than I was in my day!
After a couple of nights rest, we headed south on a nerve racking freeway about 20 miles into Nanaimo. We tried to stick to a bike path, but we were pretty sure the straight up and down of the path was made for walkers and not so much cyclists. We camped a night in a very, shall we say "unique" camp spot (we will not say where to keep from the crowds that are sure to take it over if they know about it) and tackled errands around town before connecting with hosts Cory and Jim, in Cedar right outside Nanaimo. They have cycle toured, lived and traveled all over the world and were great for info and stories. Thanks for sharing food, your spare room, and maps with us guys!
From there we caught the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, about 20ish miles from downtown Vancouver. The ride was unreal. The homes lining the windy road clinging to the cliff faces overlooking the ocean were some of the most stunning I have seen since Mill Valley and Malibu. We passed the Yacht Club littered with Ferraris and Lamborghinis. We cycled across the Lions Gate Bridge and onto an actual bicycles only bike lane! Vancouver rivals Portland on its cycling friendly streets it was amazing! We finally connected with Jim and Mary, friends from Bend who made it all the way up to see/support us on our ride. Ville was quite disappointed with the lack of attention he was now not getting because of being off his bike, so he somehow covered his shirt in blood and bird poop. twice. True story. Luckily it all washed out before getting back not the road. After a few days of sightseeing (with our own local tour guide), relaxing, feasting, bathing, we had to sadly drag our butts back to the bikes and continue on our ride south. It has been really tough going back to oatmeal and wraps after having a master chef at our beck and call. Thanks again both of you for all the love!
From here we have taken a ferry to Victoria, back on Vancouver Island and had a night here with fellow touring cyclists Chris and Karen. Thanks for showing us around a bit and the route advice guys. I really recommend setting up those walking tours on tape you are planning for your future Warmshowers guests. That would really be the finishing touch to making this the best sleeping place! :) Today we will tour Victoria and this evening we have another ferry to catch to camp the San Juan Islands before heading into Seattle. If your out there on our route, give us a shout. Until next time...peace, love, and bicycles.
Highway 20 was another big highlight of our tour! Getting off busy Highway 97 and heading straight west and sometimes even north west was far better than the traffic and the views and local folks were awesome! The climb out of Williams Lake was treacherous. We kicked ourselves down to the granny gear and just plugged away up and up and up until we dropped down into a gorgeous canyon with fields of green pasture surrounded by towering high desert canyon walls and a river cut right through it. Once dropping down to the river, we continued the longest climb out to the plateau that we have had yet on the ride. But once we got to the plateau, it was rolling pasturelands littered with small pines very similar to our home in Bend, Oregon. *sigh*
Right at the top of the hill, we pulled over to rest and happened to meet LeAnne and her mother, Susan. First Susan offered us a yard to camp in once we got to Tatla Lake and then said they had an extra house they keep for visiting family we could stay in. Sweet! We cycled to dark and camped at a recreation site on a lake and met the Johnson family camped in their RV. They shared beers, a fire and great company for the evening. In the morning they made us coffee with Baileys creamer and we felt way too spoiled! Plan a visit from us guys when the trip is over! Tell Kathleen we will be expecting some of her excellent cooking when we get there :) And thanks for the plums, great snack!
The next day we put in some miles enjoying the easy road and beautiful scenery until I, K.G., ran over something terrible that flattened my tire and put a mess of sharp metal needles all in my rear bike tire. We pulled over, pulled some out, patched a tube and it deflated in about 5 min. up the road, we tried again and no luck, tire deflated, but now it was getting dark and a nice local couple pulled over to help but we decided to camp and reassess in the morning. Since we were right next to Redstone, we hitched there from a nice farmer and Ville caught a ride back east all the way to Williams Lake with a super nice couple on their honeymoon from Boise, Idaho. Thank you both for taking my dirt ball husband all the way to town and a bike shop guys, I'm sure it really added to the romance of your honeymoon :)
I waited until a nice man came along and was able to give me a ride with both of our bikes to Tatla Lake to wait out Ville coming back with a new tire and tubes. Susan and her husband Dave were excited to see me and let me shower and relax at their spare house. Ville was able to get the nice guys at the bike shop to put on a new tire, and check for anything in the old one (they couldn't find anything, but our last patch had not held and was our last try before dark, so we kept the tire and put on a new cheapie to get us at least to Vancouver). It took poor Ville 4 different rides back to Tatla Lake (one being dropped off right next to a huge sign that said, "Hitchhiking prohibited. Pickup is illegal" was a bit of a deterrent for pick up), but he managed to make it back to Tatla Lake that evening and LeAnne made a huge dinner of bar-b-que chicken with fruit strudel and ice cream for dessert! They even packed us the leftovers for lunch and dinner. Thanks a million all of you for your hospitality and helping us when we needed it most!
With a new tire, we were back on the road, but had two days of big miles to power through to make the ferry on the 15th. Since there is only 7 ferries a month from Bella Coola, we HAD to make it. It was a long climb up to the top of the pass, but an epic downhill on "The Hill" or "Freedom Highway" that gets it's name from being built by the locals to connect those up on the plateau with those down by the sea. The road has been improved a bit over the years, but it was a 60 kilometer stretch of gravel and packed dirt with an 18% grade in spots. It was wild! And flying around a turn I scared a little black bear that shot up in the air and took off straight up the side of the cliff. Poor guy, I scared him as much as he did me.
The bottom of the hill opened into a canyon with a giant river fed by all the small rivers coming down off the surrounding mountains. It was mindblowingly beautiful! Huge ponderosa pines towering above our heads covered in moss from the sea winds and occasional farmlands. We made it to the market in Hagensborg to get groceries for the ferry and then to Bella Coola to grab some burgers before finding an area to camp near the water and close to the ferry. We had to check in 90 min. before our 7 am take off and met some really nice people on the boat. The first ferry was tiny, held about 7 cars and a handful of people, but they served coffee and some snacks and we had a whole day on the open ocean so we were pumped!
We sailed through a huge pod of dolphins and they were swimming in the wake of the boat and doing all kinds of acrobatics! It was SO cool! And then we saw whales and their tales as they surfaced and even a black bear swimming across the straight! The boat finally docked at Bella Bella 4 pm. There we got off and changed onto a giant boat that looked just like a cruise ship that I had taken to Mexico with my family. We stowed our bikes and headed upstairs to find a huge buffet complete with prime rib, salmon, Indian food and like 6 different kinds of desserts. Keep in mind we still look like bicycling dirt bags, but now we are fine dining on a cruise complete with table linens and people that are stoked to have 2 dirt ball hikers stuffing their faces with plate after plate of food. I wonder if they thought we were just picked up off a deserted island and hadn't eaten in days?
On the boat we met a couple from Canada who were on a road trip in their van and rocking an Oregon shirt and shared their bottle of wine and sat up on the top deck watching the sun set over the islands. It felt like a million dollar cruise. We felt pretty lucky. The ship finally docked at Port Hardy at 11:30 pm (16 and a half hours of travel) and we had to ride a couple miles until we found a safe spot to camp.
The plan is to head south from here on Vancouver Island at a much slower pace and enjoy the scenery and meet some of the Warmshowers hosts here before we make our way to Vancouver and then head south. For all of you friends and family in Seattle, we are almost there and would love to see you all! Connect with us if you are free to see us while we are riding through. And for all you Bendites, we will be there in about a week and a half so get ready!! Here we come!!
It was rough to leave Smithers. A very cool little town and a big need for lots of rest, we stayed a few days to recoup. Many thanks to Joe for letting us stay as long as we needed and making us feel at home. Our last day there we were able to connect with Gil and Mary-Ellen (whom we had met at the gas station the morning we left the Cassiar Highway and hit Highway 16) and went over to their house for pie and ice cream and were given some korvapuusti (a Finnish roll/pastry)! Gil's grandfather was Finnish and they knew just what a Finnish long distance bike tourist needs. And then, they even drove out to meet us the next morning on the road with a big ziplock bag of fresh korvapuusti for the long trip! Thanks so much Gil and Mary-Ellen, they greatly helped get us up Hungry Hill and 6 Mile Hill.
First stop was Decker Lake, a full day from Smithers, but we got to meet and stay with Gwen and Gordon, family friends of our new friends Robert and Jennifer from our day at Stewart and Hyder. They had passed on our info and we were welcomed right into their house, served a plate of smoked salmon and dinner, had showers and even a bed! What treatment. We are starting to feel a bit spoiled here. Not having to rough it for days as a sweaty mess while tenting it next to the road. After breakfast the next morning, we tore ourselves away from their place and headed back out on the open road going east. Thanks again Gwen and Gordon!
The next couple days of riding were beautiful rolling hills of farmland scattered with giant rolls of hay bails while thunderheads threatened rain, but the weather remained unbelievably hot. Poor Ville had chipped a tooth when we were riding the Dalton Highway due to the excessive dirt and gravel that got into everything (including his mouth) and by Prince George, we made it into a dentist to get it fixed before it became a major issue. Better Canadian health care than in the U.S. we figured. My rear back tire had some issues and Kyle at Evolve Bike Shop was a saint and helped me get the Blue Bullet back in tip top working order. Thanks Kyle!
We had wanted to stay a night, but decided to hit the road after loading up at a Mongolian Buffet, and headed south out of Prince George on Highway 97. This road proved to be our least favorite, by far. It was heavily trafficked, shoulder disappeared when we were climbing or around blind corners, and I can honestly say only about 20% of the passing traffic cared enough to move over. Since there are multiple large lumber mills on this stretch, most of the traffic is giant log-loaded semi trucks. If you have been in a car when one of these passes you and the vortex of air nearly blows you off the road, imagine what it feels like to be skin and bones and on a itty-bitty bicycle and one blows by you at 60 mph/ 100 kmh about a foot from you. IT SUCKS! SO, we have decided to get off this road and take a giant detour (which will add an extra 300 miles/500 kilometers), but lots more scenic and lots less traffic. Win/win.
(Thanks June at Stone Creek Campground for the box of bars to keep us truckin' You know what cyclists need :)
So, today we are finishing our ride into Williams Lake and Highway 97 and have a huge climb out on Highway 20 heading back straight west towards the coast. It should take around 4 days to get to Bella Coola on the coast. From there we are taking a ferry all day down to Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island. We decided that even though the cost of the ferry ride will ruin our food budget for the month, we really wanted to see Vancouver Island and never say later, do it while we are here, right? So off and up we climb!
Being such a flashy couple on bikes, we seem to attract a lot of attention where we go and people have lots of questions. And I don't blame them! What are two nut jobs doing riding bikes from Alaska to Canada? Ville says you don't have to be crazy to do it, but it sure helps! Well, we compiled some questions that inquiring minds seem to want to know about our tour, so here is a couple questions answered:
How many miles/kilometers we ride a day? Totally depends on the day, terrain, wind, how we feel but typically 65-85 miles/ 100-140kilometers a day.
What is a typical day like for us? Ville wakes up first, takes a dump, and goes to get our food bag where it's hung or hidden from bears to cook our oatmeal. I slowly wake up but usually by 8am and pack up our stuff in the tent. We eat our deliciously tasty oatmeal, pack up and start riding. We break about every hour to stop and stretch so we don't end in Argentina completely hunched over with lots of health problems. Well, we hope to have minimal health problems. We eat a couple bars throughout the day and a lunch about halfway through the day. Lunch is tortillas, pepperoni, cheese, onion and sometimes mustard packets. Dinner has been dehydrated food bags (this is why I had to buy good probiotic pills in Smithers because my body has been very not happy with all the processed foods). We eat dinner usually an hour or more before we camp because of bears (don't eat where you sleep) and around 7-8pm we start to look for a good stealth camping site to pitch our little tent and hang food. We usually play a couple very intense card games of Rummy before one of us looses and pouts and we finish up with reading some of our books (Ville has a Kindle from my mom and dad and loves it mom and dad!) before popping in the ear plugs, putting on the eye mask because its still pretty bright out early up here, and hitting the hay. We leave our bikes right next to the tent, cover our saddles, and our tent fits us both very cosy so we can pretty much camp anywhere. Oh and we take some pictures throughout the day. When we get to a town, we spend a lot of time on this blog and eating. A ton! We should look like bean bag chairs except for the fact that we ride bikes all day and burn a bazillion calories so instead we look like sticks.
What has been the hardest part? Read the post about the Dalton Highway from the Arctic to Fairbanks. That was rough. Really rough. And the beginning when we were not at all in shape yet. I am pretty sure we were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when we reached Fairbanks and my legs hurt so bad I could't make it up the stairs. But, after that stretch it has all been a bit easier since. That and we are in better shape now.
How can I help? Go to the Carlys Kids link on the right side of the page and donate! We are doing this ride to keep Carly's dream of helping underprivileged kids go to outdoor school alive. Help if you can. Even little bits help. And if you know anyone or are in our path of travel, reach out! We would love to see all our family, friends and followers on this journey and connect in person. We need any of the following: safe places to pitch our tent, showers, laundry, a bed, and food. All of it helps keep us moving south. Thanks SO much to all of you that have helped us out in any way. You all have special places in our hearts :)
If you think of any questions you have been dying to ask us, email us, click on the contact tab above, or add it in the comments below. Really, do it.
K.G. & Ville
Ville and Kristen are heading south from Toluca to Oaxaca, Mexico.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
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Together, let's send this girl to Argentina!