Missoula

Well, it has been a long time since this blog has been updated and there are some important changes I should announce.

After much thought and discussion our little nomadic tribe has decided to winter in Missoula. Our plan is to spend the next 8 months here and start on the bike trail again next May. After a wonderful Burning Man experience we have been rushed to find a place to live and jobs in our new home. Things are settling in now and we are excited about this change. The bike ride was never on a very strict deadline and the idea of exploring a city for a while is something we are all looking forward to, particularly a city as cool as Missoula.

There are some real logistical benefits to stopping for a bit and spacing out our travel over a longer period of time. This break will allow us to save up some more money for the rest of the trip. It is also good for our mental health. We get to regain some autonomy and not be so intertwined with each other. As I am sure you can imagine, living in a tent with two other people a puppy for months can start to wear on you. Instead of allowing the stress of an intertwined life to harm our relationships with each other it makes sense to take a break. So, here we are to stay, our new hometown. There will be challenges and adjustments but we are excited to call Montana our home for a little bit.

Advertisements

Big Sky!!!!

After leaving Kellogg we continued our eastward journey on some amazing bike trails through nature. We had a tough, but beautiful climb, into Montana. On the Idaho/Montana border we got to our highest point yet, approximately 4,800ft. It was one of our toughest days and we only made about 15 miles in the first five hours or so because of all the climbing on gravel roads, but once we hit the top we entered Montana and had 35 miles of beautiful downhill.

The beauty of Montana is difficult to describe. The contrast between high reaching mountains, swift clear rivers, tree dotted landscapes, and vast swaths of flat farmland is dizzying in it’s beauty. We made it about 40 miles outside of Missoula before being picked up by my old friend, Blayne. We are staying with her for a few days before hitting the road for Burning Man.

Missoula is a crazy fun little town with some great people. In fact, we are even considering this as a place to settle in for a while after the ride. We took the opportunity of our days off to travel up to Glacier national park and see a little bit more of the state. There will be many pictures on our Facebook page of these adventures, we had such a great time out in nature and it was relaxing not to worry about biking, route planning, etc. 

We probably won’t be able to update things for the next couple of weeks. We are driving tomorrow to Sacramento to meet our Burning Man camp and then heading to the Playa where we won’t have cell service or internet for the festival. Then we will drive back up to Missoula (with a couple day stop in Alberta to see my brother) and hit the road again.

Into the Gem State

We had a wonderful time resting, restocking, and exploring Spokane. It was really a surprise how cool that little city was. A big thank you to our wonderful Couchsurfing hosts Jaimie and Sasha for providing us with shelter and information. They were so warm and kind and wonderful to us as we took over their living room.

Our first day out of Spokane took us a bit to the south before heading east again. The weather was a tad cooler and the tree-filled environment helped keep us comfortable. We camped on a friendly farmer’s land right near the Idaho border. Entering Idaho was a little rough because the roads didn’t have a broad shoulder like we were used to but by mid-afternoon of the second day we were on the amazing Coeur d’Alene trail.

The CDA trail is a “rail to trail” that winds along the river and into so incredible natural habitats. We saw birds, moose, deer, and all sorts of wildlife along the ride. We were even able to camp right on the river at a nice little campground to recover from a long (55ish mile day). After plenty of sleep we hit the road again and are currently in Kellogg where we are getting some work done. It looks unlikely that we will have reliable internet for the next few days until we get to Missoula but if we have a chance we will keep things updated.

At the Feet of the Rockies

Three days travelling through the desert was definitely physically tough. We did a lot of planning ahead though to prevent us being stuck in any dangerous situations. We stocked up on water, woke up really early (like 4:30am), and made sure we stopped whenever necessary to cool down and keep hydrated.

The first day out of Moses Lake was the worst of the three. We had to knock out almost 60 miles to get to the next available city. We would have loved to ride less than that but the geography just didn’t make it possible. Luckily, we continue to encounter wonderful and encouraging strangers as we go. I don’t think many cyclists come through this area so we are a bit of a novelty, which produces some benefits. We ended that long day in the city of Odessa, which is frankly one of the most adorable and friendly places ever. They provide free camping (that included water, electricity, and a bathroom) for travelers, it is the type of thing we would love to see more often. Providing resources like that means we were much more willing and able to spend money at the local grocery stores, pubs, and restaurants.

After Odessa we traveled to Davenport. Even though we were still in the desert we noticed a few changes. The farmland became less and less irrigated as we went east and apparently the farmers out here are called “dry farmers” to differentiate themselves from the “wet farmers” to the west. I noticed almost a bit of a rivalry between these two groups. Davenport was a small little town that had a fairground with cheap camping ($10) that included showers, electricity, water, etc. We were pretty tired after two days of heavy riding and slept pretty soundly.

Our final day in the desert brought us into Spokane and the feet of the Rocky Mountains. The environment became much more green, the terrain had less rolling hills, and the roads gained better shoulders. Obviously we were coming into a major city. In Spokane we are staying with some wonderful Couchsurfers in the heart of the city. The two young women who live here have been incredibly hospitable and have shown us around the city a bit. We are looking forward to a couple days of rest, work, and maintenance before our journey through Idaho into Montana where we will be taking an extended break to go to Burning Man.

Getting Warmer…

Ellensburg turned out to be a cute little college town with a lot of amenities for us, but after a day of rest it was time to go. We hit the road Monday morning with a 30ish mile day ahead of us to Vantage, a small town overlooking the Columbia River. The terrain is definitely becoming desert and towns are further and further apart. We are taking all the necessary precautions though, including carrying extra water, stopping more often to rest in the shade, and leaving early in the morning.

I had forgotten how gorgeous the desert can be. The red and brown terrain contrasts so beautifully with the clear blue skies and occasional greens of plant life. The roads have been fairly steady and clear with wide shoulders and lots of room to ride. We made good time getting into Vantage and set up camp at a small (and cheap!) campground right off the river. After all the normal prep and repair work we got to bed early, our alarm was set for 5am.

It is pretty tough getting up early sometimes… the alarm clock is not a favorite sound. The temperature in the area was due to hit triple digits so we did what was safe and started biking shortly after sunrise. It is hard to describe how breath-taking it was to watch the sun rise and reflect on the mountains and river. It is inspirational and incredibly awesome.

The ride Tuesday was long but our bodies are getting really strong and the 50 miles or so flew by pretty uneventfully. The roads here are very bike friendly in between towns and we are now sitting in the city of Moses Lake. With amenities like bike shops, bike paths, Grocery Outlet, Starbucks, and Walmart this is the perfect place to give ourselves a day of rest. We are set up at the fairgrounds in the shade to keep cool when not running errands. We will hit the road again on Thursday with three days to get to Spokane where we will be couchsurfing and resting again before getting into state #4, Idaho.

 

Iron Horse Trail

Despite the dreary and misty weather we hit the road fairly early to tackle the Iron Horse Trail. This former railway has an imposing 2500ft climb into the Cascade mountains and peaks with a 2.5 mile tunnel. After the climb and tunnel the trail takes you steadily downhill out of the greenery Washington is known for and into the desert, plains, and farmlands that actually make up most of the state.

20140724_172557

To say we enjoyed this ride would be an understatement. It was absolutely amazing! The weather wasn’t ideal but the mist covering the mountains and literally riding in a cloud gave us some of the most amazing sites we have encountered so far. Peter (who has ridden several “rail to trail” routes in the US) says this is his favorite ride now. It is difficult to explain how beautiful the mountains were and how stark the difference was between east and west. We took many pictures but it is unlikely they will do them justice.

IMG_20140724_144026

IMG_20140725_122946

In total we spent three days and two nights riding the trail from North Bend to Ellensburg. There was campsites all along the trail for riders providing shelter from the sun and rain. Now we sit in Ellensburg until Monday to rest a bit, stock up on food for the long ride to Spokane, and see one of Peter’s friends who lives nearby. The last few days have really been inspirational for us and reinforced how much we love to travel by bicycle. The changes in scenery and environment is purely visual when you sit in the shelter of a car, it takes a more intimate form of travel to feel the sun and rain, smell the earth and trees, and notice the subtleties of changing flora and fauna. We love it and are really looking forward to the ride to Spokane and then to Missoula in the Rocky Mountains. IMG_20140726_190158  

Go East!!

Seattle turned out to be a really fun city. One of Peter’s high school friends lives there and she was awesome and showed us around. We hit up brewery #27 and #28, went to a beach front park, and wandered around Fremont (the self-proclaimed “center of the universe”). We also got our bikes worked on, nothing in particular was wrong but with us  venturing east where cities are going to be a bit more sparse.

Leaving Seattle feels special to us, we are no longer heading north and have started heading east to Missoula. The ride out was really nice because most of the trip was on paved bike paths and we got some great scenery along the lakes, parks, and forests of the region. We found a camping spot about 30 miles out of town near Preston, Washington where we were able to enjoy dinner and rest.

We hit the road early and quickly made it to our first pit stop of North Bend, WA, a cute little town in the shadow of Mount Si. Our original plan was to only spend a few hours here but Anna’s work had some urgent stuff come up so we spent the day at the local Starbucks working. As we started out of town Peter’s wheel started tearing through tubes so we decided to camp locally and get his bike checked out at the bike shop in North Bend. The last thing we want is to have serious mechanical issues out in the wilderness.

Mount Si

Today (Tuesday, July 22) Peter went to the bike shop and had his wheel fixed up. Anna took the opportunity to get some work done and Hans got our food restocked. Hans checked the weather and it looks like we have some rain on the horizon so we are going to stay here in North Bend where we have good camping to ride out the bad weather. We should be hitting the road again Thursday morning and will tackle the Iron Horse trail out of the mountains into eastern Washington.

IMG_20140722_093521

Olympia to Seattle

Pre-Post: Last week a dear friend of Peter’s passed away in an auto accident. This has made it very difficult for him to focus on writing. Time has helped heal, as it often does, but the last week or so of the ride didn’t get much written attention. As things go forward we should return to our regular updates. 

We left Longview and had a pretty easy couple of days into Olympia where a good friend of ours lives. We spent two days in this wonderful little city exploring the abundance of nature around Evergreen college and the quirky coffee shops and community. It was a cool little city that we all would love to spend more time in. Unfortunately we only had two days before heading out again.

10561752_1441664609452118_849147432361440986_n

10418533_1441662062785706_5201772929246025878_n

Our first day out of Olympia was a beautiful ride up the western fingers of the Puget Sound. Greenery and wilderness surrounded the rolling hills that we had to navigate as went northward to our camping spot near Shelton, WA. We got into the spot fairly early and was able to relax for the evening. We hit the road fairly early but didn’t make it far before we had some mechanical problems.

10527556_1441947142757198_1372282826440769280_n

   

Right outside Allyn, WA Peter’s rear hub broke and we couldn’t go any further as a group. Peter and Anna rode into Bremerton to get a replacement wheel, it took most of the day but we were back on the road soon. We didn’t gain many miles but we met some friendly fire-fighters who let us camp at their station. This little stop wasn’t in the original plans but we are definitely getting better at being flexible.

We pressed on after Allyn knowing we had quite a bit of mileage to cover to get into Seattle. Things went smoothly (except for a few blown tubes) and we got on the early afternoon ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. The ferry ride was actually a lot of fun, it was a rare chance in the middle of the day to just relax and enjoy ourselves. We got a little goofy with pictures and our spirits were high as we landed into Seattle, a city with way more hills than we expected.

10308063_1441946579423921_6486860786521711462_n

Our ride through Seattle was a little rough, as urban environments tend to be, but we got to our hotel safely and took a much needed break. Our bodies and minds had been going full steam for a week and it was nice to tune out a bit and watch some Netflix before spending a couple days exploring the city. 

 

Back on the Road

Well, after a nine day break in the Portland area we are back on the road again.

Our time in Portland was busy but kind of uneventful for blogging purposes. We were able to go to a lot of beautiful nature places like Multnomah Falls and Rooster Rock, as well as some fun activities like the Saturday Market. We hit a couple great vegan places and a brewery or three. Most of the time was spent with Peter’s family, catching up for him and getting to know them for Anna and Hans. We are blessed to have such support from family. Peter’s family provided us with room and food and just a place to relax, watch Netflix, and not worry about where we will be sleeping or find a shower. It was a great time in a wonderful city but we were pretty excited to be back on the road.

Currently we are in Longview, Washington on our way north to Olympia, and then Seattle. This is a part of the country that we are not very familiar with and are excited to see what unique things Washington has to offer.

Along the Columbia River

We left Astoria with a cool breeze at our back. We only had 15 miles or so to Gnat Creek Campground where we were planning on spending the night. There were a couple of hills but for the most part it was an easy and beautiful ride. We arrived with a couple of hours left of daylight but unfortunately the campground was already full.

It worked out perfectly though. As we were standing in the parking lot we were approached by a young woman and she offered to share a campground with us. She was there with her partner and they were sleeping in their van instead of on the ground, and they offered to share their firewood with us. The couple (Jen and Dave) ended up being really freaking cool! We stayed up late into the night talking, telling stories, and bonding. They are currently on an adventure around Oregon and we had a lot in common with them. Their lives have been so adventurous and exciting, definitely an inspirational couple.

We woke up at our usual late time of 10am and spent the next couple hours chatting with Jen and Dave as we packed up. Eventually we hit the road again towards Portland. We actually ended up taking a ferry across the Columbia River into Washington state for the day. The hills were easier to manage on the Washington side of the border so it was worth it to lose an hour or so waiting for the ferry and add 5 miles than tackle the hilly Oregon side. Once we reached Longview we crossed back into Oregon as the sun was getting ready to set.

After a few more miles we got to our camping spot and set up for the night. We crashed fairly quickly because of all the miles we put in that day. The sleep wasn’t that great, we were near the Columbia and all the industrial stuff going on actually made the region smell kind of like poop… not ideal. Despite the imperfect sleep we hit the road early into St. Helens (where we now sit) to get some work done. We should be in Portland tomorrow evening and we are looking forward to a week off of riding to see the city and hang out with Peter’s family.