It took 2 different buses and over two and a half hours to go about 25 miles (we could have biked it faster), but we saw and met some real characters. A man walking down the street with a hospital gown flapping open, complete with a shower cap on his head...
Ville and I feel as if we are on the Whirlwind Tour, trying to see everyone and celebrate a return after such a crazy adventure. And although Ville likes to say that we are "between jobs right now," with no set time that we need to be back in Bend, we do need to get back somewhat soon. When we left Bend, on a plane with our tour bikes boxed up, heading for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in June 2016, we were giddy with excitement over the adventure ahead of us. With no experience whatsoever, and only about 10 miles up the road put on the bikes to make sure nothing fell off, we were as Newbie as it gets. I had changed a bike tire back in the day, but had no idea even about basic bicycle maintenance. With well built bikes, a compact travel tool in hand and over 18,200 miles to go, we would have a lot of time to learn. And learn we sure did! We kissed family and friends goodbye, and knew we would see them in a few months time (riding south through Oregon), so not goodbye for too long.
After about two and a half months ride south, we were back in Portland and Bend for a brief stop to enjoy time with everyone. But then riding away from my Sister's House in the south of Portland, Oregon, we knew it would be the last time we would see her, her husband, and my little nephew until we were finished with the ride, over a year away. Knowing the time apart would be long, was always the hardest part of our adventuring. As we continued south through Los Angeles and Orange Country, California, we packed in visits with as much family as they could tolerate of us. My Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve took us straight down to my Uncle's favorite bicycle shop, and had them completely overhaul the bikes. We got new cables, rotors, brake pads, chains, cassettes, chainrings and even a new pair of bike shoes. We could never have afforded more than only replacing chains and know that the bikes only made the entire journey thanks to their kindness. We are forever grateful to them and so many others like them who have helped us on our journey!
And so the return to Los Angeles and Orange County after finishing our ride in Ushuaia (but really Lapataia Bay), was not only long awaited visits with family and friends, it was to celebrate the completion of our ride with all those who helped us south along the way. With my Mom, Dad and Brother, Jordan, we went straight from the Princess Cruise Ship to Laguna Beach to stay with my Aunt Terri, Uncle Tom and cousin Sara where they had a giant get-together for Easter with all my cousins and their kids. Our family being as close as the mafia, almost all of them had followed our journey and many contributed in donations, meals and places to stay on our ride south. It was a giant hug fest and great time to catch up.
After Jordan and my parents flew home, we got a ride up to Whittier and stayed a night getting to hang out with my cousin Shannon, husband Kurt, and their kids. I'm not sure even all the riding has gotten us in enough shape to chase around three young kids :) But we had a great time just spending the time together. We got a ride to Long Beach and took a bus, that's right folks, a bus, to my cousin GK's house. Now the bus system isn't great, it actually isn't even good in these parts, but boy was it entertaining! It took 2 different buses and over two and a half hours to go about 25 miles (we could have biked it faster), but we saw and met some real characters. A man walking down the street with a hospital gown flapping open, complete with a shower cap on his head. A woman got on the bus and sat in front of us yelling and babbling something about skateboarding sitting with a woman with her face completely bandaged up. A man got on with a giant boombox and was nice enough to share his tunes with the whole bus. Oh boy! It was almost more of an adventure than our bike ride.
We had dinner with cousin GK, Manon, Parker and Alexis. They were far more upset at us taking a bus than we were. We made it to Dave and Buster's, a giant adult arcade with my cousin Sara and her boyfriend, Scott and had a killer time being big children. We had lunch with cousins, Mike, Chip and wife Nicole in Newport Beach and enjoyed catching up on lost time. From there, we made our way by train up to Montrose in LA to spend a night with a great buddy and old roommate of mine from the days I lived in San Francisco, Dani. Even after all the years and time apart, we still take over right where we left off. Thanks Dani again for the ride all the way to Tustin, life in LA on the freeways is way more crazy than our lives on the road :) We made our way back to Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve's place and went for a ride (our first since the end of our long Ride) in Irvine. Uncle Steve is recently recovering from his second bought with cancer, having parts of his lungs removed, and still insisted we head out for a ride. Now that guy is OUR hero! My Aunt Lori took a day off work to take us to lunch and replace our shoes that were completely falling apart on our feet. Big thank you to all our loving family, oh we missed you all so!
The next morning early, we got a ride from Aunt Lori to the Tustin Train Station and caught a train, with the help of two guys heading for the train to help us carry our boxed bikes. When we arrived in Union Station, we had to haul our boxes and gear down the tracks to the next Amtrak Train heading for Portland, Oregon. A journey that would take 30 hours! And after it took over a month and a half to bike, 30 hours was nothing. Unfortunately, for me, I had yet another horrible migraine and a series of bloody noses for the entire journey and it wasn't quite as fun as I had hoped. I've struggled a lot with these; before, during and now even more so after the ride and will be following up with my doctor to "work out the kinks" that arise after nearly two years on a bike.
For anyone considering taking the Amtrak Coast Starlight, heading between LA and Seattle, WA, it is a very scenic and pleasant ride. It winds right along the coastline from LA to just south of Big Sur, before jogging inland and winding through lush pastureland littered with farms and cows. When we were chugging through a tunnel, all of a sudden they hit the brakes and screeched to a halt just outside the tunnel. As we watched a cop car come flying up through a field near the train, then followed by an ambulance, fire truck and multiple other cop cars, they announced that they thought that they had hit someone in the tunnel and were trying to get help. After feeling terrible for such a horrible thing to happen to someone, the entire train sighed with relief when they announced that they didn't find anything and we were cleared to leave. Very thankful it ended well.
We opted for the cheapest seats and so sleeping was a bit of a challenge (along with a migraine), but by morning, as the sun broke through the windows, we saw Mt. Shasta, in Northern California towering above us dusted with snow. It brought a big smile to our faces to be back near the mountains and on our way back to Oregon. As we watched the "Welcome to Oregon" sign pass, we were hugging each other with excitement. We passed into a high desert landscape covered in ponderosa pine trees and sagebrush as we stopped just south of Bend on Highway 97 at Chemult. Originally we planned to get off here and have my parents pick us up, but since we had not seen my sister, her husband and our nephew in so long, we wanted to go first all the way up to Portland to see them. The remainder of the ride turned very green and wet as we climbed back over the Cascade Mountains into the valley stopping in Eugene, Salem, and finally pulling into Union Station in Portland.
We had met a very nice man, Gary, on the train who lived right near my sister's house in Tualatin and was kind enough to have his partner, Pat, bring their truck to give us, along with our giant bike boxes and gear, a ride to my sister's house. Thanks again so much for the ride! We made it to my sister's house just as she (Lisa) , her husband (Sean) , my little nephew (Braydon) and my brother, Jordan, pulled into the driveway. And after all this time, we were finally all reunited! Leaving little Braydon as a baby was difficult knowing we would miss a lot of time with him as we headed south on our ride, but getting to see him after all this time as a big two and a half year old was really special. He was so excited showing us all his toys, talking a mile a minute, and then all of sudden hugged Ville's hand and said, "I'm really happy your here Uncle Ville." It made me cry it was so precious. Missed time is hard, but knowing how precious time is, is a blessing.
We are very happy now to be reunited with family. We are planning to stay until Monday, the 16th, here in Portland. We have a lot of time to catch up on. My parents just arrived from Bend this evening and we all get to be together. Life is good. Monday, we will be getting a ride back to Bend from my parents and, well, complete the circle. The entire journey, from start to end. What an adventure. Thanks again all for following along. Thanks for those who have written us, signed up for the Newsletter, helped us and continue to stay connected. For those who have requested, We Lost The Map T-Shirts are on the way and will be right here on our website, very soon!
For Bend Friends and those who will travel, we are planning a big Welcome Home Cinco De Mayo Party, right at our house in Bend! Mark your calendars, May 5th, details to follow. As for our Bend Presentation, the planning is in the works, stay tuned for date/time/place. Bend-LaPine Schools, get ready, we will be making the rounds for presentations when we arrive home and the final video is complete (Ville is working on it as we speak). Alright, that's all for now, until next time, keep on keepin' on...
K.G. & Ville
In Helsinki, Finland still writing the Book
“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