Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wherever I Lay My Head Is Home...And Home is State Parks!

The updates continue! We stayed in Washington state parks for 4 days straight and they were awesome each time.

8/8/09- 3 hours, 20 min on the bike- Bellingham, WA to Deception Pass State Park, WA

We enjoyed some awesome sleep in Larrabee thanks to the shower and the surroundings. Got up around 9:30, ate some oatmeal, and got on the road around 11. The route took us out for some really nice rural riding. We rode by farms and fields of fragrant sweet peas. We went through nice little towns and stopped at a homemade bread shop for delicious multigrain bread and directions. We came to the huge Deception Pass Bridge- it was beautiful but we had to walk the bikes down a really narrow sidewalk that was packed w/people so we had to stop every few steps to let them squeeze by. We didn't take this pic, but here's the bridge so you can get the idea:

After the bridge we went up and down some serious hills- the downhills were so steep our eyes would tear up as we flew down. On the way to the state park we took an alternate bike route that took us around a highway that had lots of construction on it. It was scenic and pleasant most of the way until we got to a huge hill through a residential section. After a few feet we had to get off the bikes and push. An elderly couple sat on the porch of their house midway up the hill and chuckled- "Everything was great until this hill, eh!" they called. We smiled grimly. "Well it only gets worse from here! MUAHAHAHHA!" We were hoping they were exaggerating but as we rounded a corner we realized they were right on the money. We had to take breaks every few feet to get up the steep incline.

We finally got into Deception Pass State Park and got a hiker/biker site. We passed by a gray-haired and bearded solo tourer who had set up camp at one of the sites. Arik recognized him as a guy we'd given directions to the day before. As we walked past he called out to us and asked where we were headed. We told him and he invited us back for wine later that evening. We set up camp and another solo biker rolled in and chatted with us. The wild-eyed, quickly topless dude gave us some tips and told us what we had to look forward to in Oregon- 4 dollar campsites and a coast that would likely be the highlight of our trip.

We had pb&js with blackberry jam on our multigrain bread, a nice hot shower, and chili for dinner. Then we headed over for wine with our new pal Rudy. He is a retired Vancouver schoolteacher with a really peaceful, wise aura about him. He told us about some of his past adventures- including camping on a small bit of land in the middle of some water without realizing that the water level rose through the night- he and his friend were stranded and just had to watch the water rise closer and closer to their tent door. Miraculously it stopped right before it got into the tent. He bemoaned what passes for camping for a lot of people- at Deception Pass we saw one family with 2 full size electronic dart boards. He uses the sun to tell directions and doesn't own a cellphone. When we asked where he stayed the night before he said he'd found a little spot on the side of the road and said it was empowering to try to live outside of the system and to realize how much we humans are really capable of doing for ourselves. It reminded him of a time when he was younger. He and a friend were road tripping in their car and found a spot on the side of the road to sleep. They were woken up in the morning by a horrible loud screeching and jumped out of the car to see a big train roaring past. They'd set up for the night just feet from the tracks. Overall it was a really nice evening spent with a really interesting guy.

It started to sprinkle as the sun went down so we turned in for an early night.

8/9/09- 4.5 hours on the bike- Deception Pass State Park, WA to Port Townsend, WA

Had some oatmeal then got moving. Rolled though pretty, rural terrain with huge clouds that looked like mountains and low clouds that looked like the sea. We went by a field filled with portly sheep all bent over eating- they reminded us of Guido. Rode onto Whidbey Island- a pretty popular tourist spot. Climbed up some big hills just as the sun came out. The sun was glorious! We forgot how much we missed it. Rode down a beautiful street called Madrona Way- trees on our right and Crescent Harbor on our left. We stopped in Coupeville to make a pb&j (yup we're eatin' a lot of these). While we were eating, an older gent in an orange reflective vest came pedaling up. His name was Ken and he gave us some tips for the upcoming Oregon and California coasts. Apparently we have the 7 devils to look forward to: 7 killer hills in Oregon that'll have us begging for mercy by the end. Hooray! He also said we should make sure we get wraparound eye protection because woodchip trucks spray woodchips and sawdust all over the road. He also told us a better way to get to the Port Townsend ferry and helped us avoid the hills our route would've taken us over. His alternate route also had the added benefit of taking us by some blackberry bushes. It's blackberry season in Washington and they were supa plump and ripe and sweet!

We got to the Port Townsend ferry station an hour early so we plopped down inside on a bench to wait. Not longer after, a teary eyed older woman sat down and started muttering to herself. We thought she was just a crazy old lady but as we started to talk to her we realized she was actually just having a really hard time with her mom's death in April. We had a nice long chat with Carollee. She is a really proud mama and managed to mention a number of times that her son is a cardiologist in Dallas. Soon two preteen boys sat down next to us and joined in on the conversation. They were impressed with our ride ("That's awesome!") and were just really cute sweet kiddos. One offered me a sour gummy worm (which I gladly accepted!) and his pal said "dude give her some more!" And he did! When one of the boys said his aunt and uncle were from Dallas, Carollee chimed in, "you know who else lives in Dallas? My son! He's a heart doctor!" When the ferry arrived we left the office just as Carollee's 80 year old dad came in. We heard him greet her, saying, "So do all the people know about your son who's a doctor?" :)

We rode onto the ferry and chatted with one of the preteen's dads. He was really supportive and interested in our ride. Arik and I headed up top and found a seat in the sun. We thought it would get too hot but with the cool breeze off the water we actually ended up pretty cold and had to huddle together. Halfway through, Carollee and her dad came and sat with us and chatted. Her dad reflected on the aging process, saying he was happy he hadn't crossed over the line into having to rely on someone else to take care of him.

On the ferry

After 30 minutes on the ferry, we got to Port Townsend and bid farewell to the boys. We headed straight to Old Port Townsend State Park. It was a tiny speck on our map so our expectations weren't too high, but it ended up being the sweetest park yet in terms of our campsite. The hiker/biker sites were set back under tall trees that swayed and creaked in the breeze. We were the only ones there (it was a Sunday night) so we had the whole spot to ourselves. We had ramen and curry for dinner, took a hot shower (I had to wait for a teenage couple and two 8 year olds to get done before I could take mine...good times), then turned in for the night.

Our sweet spot in the trees

The solitude that was so awesome and calming during the daytime was a little scary at night. Arik woke up with a start in the middle of the night and turned on our lantern, sure he had heard someone unzip our tent fly and put something down. I didn't hear anything but shortly afterward we did see what looked like a flashlight shining toward us. Just a lil weird. He had a lot of trouble sleeping but finally nodded off.

We're chillin' with Kelly for one more day- more updates to come!

Until then, be well,

Arik and Mia

Hell and Heaven

We're back! After 4 days of camping we had a roof back over our heads for the first time last night. Our pal Kelly lives just outside Seattle and is letting us crash with her for a few days at what she's calling "Hotel Rula." We're sharing the house with her roomie, one of her pals, 2 pups- and no furniture! But the roof, carpeted floor, TV and internet are all welcome improvements. So time to catch up:

8/6/09- 9 hours on the bike- Vancouver, BC to Birch Bay, WA aka the HELL/demoralizing/confidence destroying route

Our first day on the bikes was not a happy one. It started off well enough. We stopped by Everybody Loves Veggies to eat some soup and got 2 sandwiches for the road. Then it got crappy. The route took us down an industrial road that smelled like rotten fish. We promptly got lost 3 times and spent an hour trying to find our way back to the route. It was pretty miserable. Then we went over the huge Alex Fraser Bridge to get out of Richmond, BC. We had a skinny separated sidewalk to ride on but it was really windy and dusty and high up. We were happy to get off. Things were looking up for a bit when we stopped at a little produce stand and had an apple.

The bikes, blissfully unaware of the hell awaiting them

That is, until Arik almost got ridden off the road by an 18 wheeler. He survived that encounter only to meet his next nemesis: the HELL HILL. We'd already been riding about 4 hours and then had to go straight up. And up. And up. We had to get off the bikes 10 feet in and push. We finally made it and headed through customs shortly afterward. The customs guy asked us what we were doing in the US and when we told him we were biking the coast he said, "why would you want to do that?" After our day, we were starting to ask ourselves the same thing. 9 hours after we began, we finally rolled into Birch Bay State Park. We got there too late to get change from the office so we couldn't take a shower (a quarter buys you a 3 minute hot shower). We had pb&js, oreos, and a coke and conked out, hoping the tour wouldn't end up being one big mistake.

Birch Bay State Park

8/7/09- 3.5 hours on the bike- Birch Bay, WA to Bellingham, WA aka the HEAVEN/confidence-building/this tour WASN'T a total loss after all route

Let's be honest, we were pretty bummed when we headed out of Birch Bay. The day before had totally sucked and all the picturesque, idyllic images of touring we'd had in our heads had been replaced with visions of skinny lanes, 18 wheelers, and hills from hell. We left around 10:30 and our spirits lifted almost immediately. The route was beautiful with great, low traffic roads that took us through awesome tiny towns.

A cool tree in one of the tiny towns

We stopped for some tater tots at Sonic in one of the towns and saw awesome trees all along the way. One biker passed us and asked where we were heading. When we said San Diego he said "well you're almost there!"

One of the views along the way

We got into Larrabee State Park in Bellingham around 2:30 and we were stoked...until we saw the sign that said the park was full. We were freaking out and about to call the park office but then a park worker came up and said "oh we never turn away hikers or bikers- we have sites for you guys." Hooray! She told us the site number and we headed over to an overgrown parking lot. We were a bit bummed but the park was otherwise awesome- huge tall trees and just great scenery. So we settled into our parking lot campsite- got the tent up, unpacked, and plotted out where we'd eat (we decided it'd be on the concrete slab that stops the car tires) and just were happy to be done riding for the day and in a sweet state park.

Me on the phone with my mama

Our original "campsite"

I went to the restroom and when I got back Arik was finishing up chatting with a guy and laughing. I asked what was up and he said uhh that guy said our site is actually just up the hill- this is just the parking for it. Incredulous, we headed up the hill and saw a line of the sweetest sites ever- with a fire pit and picnic bench and great trees. We started cracking up and headed back down to pack up again. We sheepishly picked up our tent and brought it up to the actual campsite.

Our actual site

We got re-situated, wondering at our great luck, then headed to the beach inside the park. WHOA. Awesome water, awesome beaches- basically the prettiest view either of us have seen. We stuck our feet in the cold water until we spotted some jellyfish.

The beach

We took a hot shower (got quarters this time!), had pad thai for dinner, and then went back down to the beach to watch the sunset. We got a fire started after a little trouble, then went to sleep, reassured that our trip really could be something special.

New Video!


Gotta take a shower and go to bed for now- more tomorrow!