Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Avenue of the Giants

7/29 Day 18 - Woohoo! We have reached the half way point! Wellll kind of... We planned on this trip being 36 days of riding. So as long as we stay on schedule we're half way done :].

This morning we took our sweet time getting ready. We thought that we might sleep in really late because we were in a bed, but we actually woke up pretty early. We got dressed and headed down to the continental breakfast and ate as much as we could. We both had a couple bowls of cereal, an English muffin and Ethan had some donuts.

When we got back from breakfast we decided to go for another dip in the hot tub to loosen up our muscles. We had to ask the lady at the front desk to open the pool area for us. Can't imagine she gets too many people wanting to use the hot tub at 9am.

We didn't stay in the hot tub very long and after we left we showered and started packing. We took our time packing and checked out at the last minute. We were headed for the Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood National Forest and we were really excited.

We made pretty good time from Eureka to where we stopped for lunch in Rio Dell. It was a tiny town just off 101. We found a picnic table and made couscous. When we headed out we passed a local barbecue/cookout that looked like free food. We were kinda mad we didn't see it before :-/. Anyway, we stayed off of 101 for a little bit and that road took us through a town called Scotia. It was a really cute little town that was obviously really old, but it was well kept. The only reason the town exists, apparently, is because of this huge lumber mill there. When the mill set up there they built company housing as well so all the houses looked the same. It was weird, but cool at the same time.

A little ways after Scotia, and after being on 101 for a while, we got off the highway at the Avenue of the Giants. At this point we had about 20 more miles to go until our campground. At first the riding was great. It was relatively flat and we were going through some really awesome old growth forest. We stopped at a tree that had fallen and took a few pictures. It was one of the biggest trees we'd ever seen. It was a bummer that it was lying on the ground, but it was still cool.

After that stretch it started to get hilly and the riding got very tiring. Not to mention it had been gloomy and gray for the last two days. It's hard to be motivated when there's no sunshine. But we finally got a break and the sun came out when we had about 5 miles left to go. It seemed like that was all we needed to get us the rest of the way. But we were wrong.

As we were riding a silver mustang drive by and Ethan looked and recognized the girl in the passenger seat. The car pulled over and it was a girl that we had been riding through Oregon with. Her mom had picked her up from just across the Cal/Oregon border and they were driving down to Santa Rosa and decided to take the scenic route. Craziest thing right?! Not quite. We asked her about her last day of riding and such and she asked how we were liking Cali. After that she asked if we had heard about Frank ( of Frank and Josh). We both had no idea what she was talking about. She went on to explain that on the big hill we had to go over after Gold Beach (where we ate lunch on day 15) Frank had a heart attack and sadly he passed away. We both were in complete shock. Suddenly the sunshine wasn't so bright and we really just didn't know what to do or how to feel. It was horrible.

We sat there on the road side for a few minutes after she left trying to process what she just told us. We felt so bad that we didn't know until then and that there was nothing we could do really. We both decided we would keep Josh and his family in our thoughts and be thankful that we got to know Frank, even if it was for a very short time. He was a really great guy and we feel so lucky to have met him.

We rode the last 5 miles almost in silence. It was weird. We got to our camp, did our usual routine and ate dinner. We went for a walk down to the river with a couple guys we met the other day. We ran into another guy, Shawn, that we met at Humbug Mountain and told him he could share our campsite if he wanted.

The river was kinda boring, but the trees were really big and cool. On the way back the guys decided to walk up this tree that had fallen over and created a bridge to the top of the trail. They all went up and I watched thinking it looked too scary. But they all said it was fun so I decided I'd go too. I got half way up and started freaking out because it was a lot higher than I thought. I sat down on the tree and tried to scoot up but that was scary too. Fortunately Ethan was there and he coached me the rest of the way up. In hindsight I should have just taken the trail, but it makes for a good story.

When we got back Shawn had set up camp and was making dinner. The other guys and the girl they were with came over and we all hung out for a while. It was a good way to end a rough day.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Target, Super 8 & Applebee's Oh My

7/28 Day 17 - Today we got off to an early start so we could get to Eureka with plenty of day left. We got up at 8 and left by 9.

We made it to Trinidad by lunch time which was a little over half way to Eureka. We stopped at a market for food. We got chicken fingers and potato wedges (Ethan had a corn dog too) because we hadn't learned our lesson yesterday. We also called and made a reservation at the Super 8 in Eureka because a lady told us that she had tried to get a last minute room in Eureka last night with no luck. But, they had a king room left so we took it. Anyway, it was only 20 more miles to Eureka so we figured we'd be ok, but we came up to a big hill pretty quickly and both struggled up it. Again, we regretted our lunch decision.

After riding for a little while on 101 (which had pretty much turned into a freeway at this point) these bikers passed us and told us about this bike trail that takes you into the next town. Hooray! We're saved from 101... For a while anyway.

We found the trail and felt so happy to be away from all the traffic. We try to get off 101 as much as possible because having people fly by you at 65 mph for hours on end gets old really fast. This was a welcome change of pace. We rode that for a while then noticed we had to go up a big hill a ways ahead. We dreaded it, but would rather do it on a bike bath than 101. Buttttt when we got there the bike path went from paved to gravel. Crap! So annoying, but we didn't have a choice. We walked up it and fortunately it was paved at the top. We continued on the path until we got to Arcata. The path ended on some country road, but at least it wasn't the highway. We stayed off 101 until about 5 miles before Eureka.

We had to get back on 101 to get into town and it totally sucked. The wind was in our face and it was flat. It was a tough 5 miles, but we made it and as soon as we reached town there was a Target. That 5 miles was suddenly worth it. We haven't seen a Target on the whole trip. We pulled up and went in. It felt so good to be a in a place so familiar. We got some groceries and essentials and then headed to the hotel.

We checked in and found out our room was on the 2nd floor. Ethan had to carry both bikes up. At least we're not sleeping outside today! There was a laundromat across the street so we decided to wash all our stuff. It smelled terrible. We put on some clothes that we don't really wear and washed everything else. Clean clothes!!

After that we found the hot tub that we took full advantage of. Our muscles really haven't had any time to loosen up and the hot tub did just that. It was awesome.

After the hot tub, we relaxed for a while, showered and watched TV until 8:30. Half off appetizers started at 9 at Applebee's and it was 2.5 miles away so we left then. We found out there was an Applebee's here a while ago and had been super excited about it for a few days. Hooray!

Anyway, we got our usual appetizer feast of Wonton Tacos, chicken quesadilla and Mozzarella sticks. It was delicious! The only thing that stunk about going there was that it was heavily misting when we left. Good thing we took our rain jackets! We watched more TV when we got back and went through some of our pictures. After that it was time for the best night of sleep we'd have in while. :]

The air up there.

7/27 Day 16 - Today started out gloomy and wet. It wasn't raining though so we didn't have to pack inside the tent. We did our usual routine and tried to dry the rain fly out as much as possible. Once we got it as dry as we could we got out of there. ASAP. That place gave me the heebeejeebees.

We knew we had two really big hills to go over today and we were both dreading them big time. Our legs are in need of a break. We rode 16 miles into Crescent City, but decided it was too early for lunch. We went to the visitor center to get a map and then headed to a nearby park. We sat on the pier and had a snack. The sun was just starting to come out which felt great, but did not make us feel any better about the huge mountain we had to bike over.

We had been warned two days ago that there was a hill over 1000 ft in elevation just outside of Crescent City. When we checked the elevation chart we found out it was about 1200 ft. The biggest one we climbed in Oregon was 752ft and we had to walk most of the way. We were super nervous.

We left the park and headed south. We came to the hill pretty quickly and pulled over to take our long sleeves off and prepare for the journey. We never found anywhere to fill our water bottles so we took a few sips of what we had (fully aware that not having water for this hill is not a good idea) and started up the monster.

We took several breaks and it took us about an hour to get to the top. It was 4 miles of uphill biking. It was terrible, but coming down the other side felt great. What didn't feel great was knowing that we had another 1000ft climb ahead of us.

Anyway, our first priority after the mountain was water. We stopped at a tourist attraction that takes you up into the trees in a gondola type thing. No water though. There was a giant Paul Bunyan though and his giant ox Blue (which had giant ox parts). Some guy on a speaker was animating Paul and making really awkward jokes. Ethan thought it was hilarious. I thought it was dumb. We took a picture with him anyway.

After that it was a few more miles to a teeny tiny town, but there was a pretty nice gas station there (it had slot machines in it) so we stopped for food and water. We filled up our bottles then got some tacos from the "cafe." They were no Taco Bell tacos but we were hungry so it didn't matter.

After our late lunch we only had 14ish miles to go to the campground. But we still had that 2nd hill.... And we got to it a lot sooner than we thought we would. After only going a little bit up the hill we regretted the tacos. We ended up having to walk the second half. After we got to the top we had a little downhill and then we turned off 101. And the hill kept going. It was another 600ft up and we walked most of it. I tried to ride, but Ethan was walking faster uphill than I was biking. He ended up pushing me on my
bike for a while. It was fun and a little embarrassing. But the scenery on the way down was cool. It was through an old growth coastal redwoods forest. The downhill actually took us right to the campground which was awesome. We stopped a little before it though to check out what they call "big tree" (creative name huh?). It was pretty big though so it earned its name.

When we got to camp there was only one other person, a hiker, which hasn't happened in a long time. It felt weird not having the people there that we're used to seeing. Anyway, we set up and I started making dinner. A group of bikers rolled in that we hadn't met so we chatted with them for a minute. While I was still cooking three elk (all male) strolled very close to the camp. I could only look for a minute because I was cooking, but Ethan watched them for a while. He has been wanting to see some for a long time.

We ended up eating dinner with the new group and the hiker. It was nice, but I like the other group better. After that Ethan wanted to hike a really short trail nearby and, after some convincing, I went too. It took us to the amphitheater where they were showing a slideshow about elk. We sat and listened for a while and even answered a quiz question correctly. The ranger asked what animal was on the national park logo. We had seen the sign going up hill #1.... It was a buffalo. We won a postcard!

We left halfway through because it was getting dark and we still had stuff to put away. We did all of that and made some hot chocolate. T'was delicious. Now it's time for bed! Tomorrow we're headed for Eureka where we will hopefully be getting a motel room :].

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Going going back back to Cali Cali!

7/26 Day 15 - Well.... We did it! We made it to California! We are only a few miles past the border, but we're on California soil and that's all that matters.

This morning Ethan decided he couldn't leave Humbug Mountain State Park without hiking the actual mountain. I opted out of the 6 mile round trip - didn't get much sleep and it would take me forever to hike 6 miles. So he left around 7:45 and I got up to start getting our stuff packed. Everyone else had been up for a while (one reason I didn't get much sleep) talking about where they were planning on staying that night etc. Only a few of us were venturing farther than a few miles into Cali so it was the last time we would see those who were ending their trip today or tomorrow. It was kinda sad. But I had to get a lot of stuff done on my own so we could leave as soon as Ethan got back, so I said my goodbye's and got to work. I was just finishing packing the tent when Ethan finally got back at about 9:45. He grabbed the rest of his stuff, took a quick shower and by 10:10 we were outta there.

It was a pretty hilly day, which sucked extra bad for both of us since I didn't get much sleep and Ethan hiked 6 miles. But we made decent time to the next city for lunch. We stopped for pizza for a long time to charge our phones and catch up the blog. It was a much needed rest. After that we had 37 miles to go. Our next big stop would be Brookings (a few miles from the border) for food.

We stopped several times before Brookings because of all the hills (one of them was so steep that we got up to 42mph going down) and a few times at scenic overlooks. We had to get our last looks at the Oregon coast. Who knows when we'll be back?!

It took us a few hours, but we made it to Brookings finally. We could have stayed at the state park there where most everyone else stayed, but we really need a day off soon so we went the extra 10 miles over the border.

A few miles over the border there was a state park (not a real campground, but a grassy area with picnic tables) that you could camp at. It looked sketchy and there were no showers so we pressed on to our planned campground. Unfortunately, when we got here we realized it was almost as sketchy (not unsafe, but just kinda dirty and not well kept) as the random park. It did have showers though (although I didn't end up showering, but Ethan did)!

Anyway, we made dinner and are trying to get some extra zzz's tonight. Another long day tomorrow!

Sun and Sand

7/24 Day 13 - We woke up to blue sky's again, which was awesome. We took our time getting ready because we had such a late night. We didn't have much planned for the day other than we wanted to see the sand dunes. They stretch for miles and miles down the coast, but 101 takes you away from them for a while so we wanted to make sure to check it out before we did that.

We rode for about 7 or so miles before we got to a park in the dunes. We pulled in to take a look. There were two park service employees there giving out info and telling people about the dunes. It was interesting and the dunes were cool, but not as cool as Sleeping Bear Dunes :].

After we left there we biked for a few more hours before stopping for lunch. At first we stopped at a gas station that had picnic tables, but left after we remembered we needed to use our stove for lunch. Stove = fire. Fire + gas station = not good. So we went down the road to a very nice trailhead area and made lunch. I called Deena to wish her a happy birthday and catch her up on our progress. We stayed there for a while enjoying the sunshine then headed out.

We needed to stop for dinner food so we stopped in the next "big" city, which was North Bend/Coos Bay. We got food and also went to Goodwill to find sweatpants for me. It ended up being down a pretty steep hill which Ethan wasn't too happy about, but having sweats has made me complain a lot less so hopefully that makes up for it :]. I also got some socks to wear with my Keen sandals (so that I look even more dorky), but they came in handy today because it was freeeeezing! Last night was probably the coldest night we've had yet, so the sweats were a good investment too if you ask me.

After we left there we headed to the campground. We usually show up to the campgrounds after everyone else, which kinda stinks because all the good spots are taken, but there is usually at least one decent spot open. That was not the case at this particular campground. The hiker/biker area was tiny. And unfortunately we had caught up to two families that were biking as well as another couple and a lone guy. So we got a horrible spot very close to the couple's tent. It was cool to be able to sit around and talk about biking, but once it was time to sleep things got interesting. I was woken once by the guy next to us snoring like a freight train and then again soon after that by one of the family's children. And then sometime very early in the morning the other family's baby woke up and started crying. I commend these people for having the patience to take their small children on these trips, but I would never do it.

Overall it was a good day, although I didn't get much sleep. :-/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

California Dreamin'

7/25 Day 14 - We woke up in the cold and wet today. It really sucked. Not to mention we were surrounded by babies and other people. We ate breakfast in the tent to stay dry for as long as possible. Again, we packed everything quickly and then took our loaded bikes to the bathroom to brush our teeth. We got out of there ASAP.

We knew we had to deal with some hills right away on 7 Devil's Road. I didn't realize that the name actually meant there were 7 hills. The first one was terrible and I prayed that the next 6 wouldn't be as bad. Well, the next 5 weren't too bad, but the last one we ended up walking half way up. It was rough. After what seemed like forever we finally made it off of that road and headed back toward 101. It was smooth sailing from there to Bandon where there was a Subway.

We got to Subway at 12:30 so it was pretty busy, but we found the one and only plug in the store and charged up our phones. We stayed for a while. Then sun came out while we were there so I sat outside to warm up for a few minutes. After our phones were mostly charged we headed out for Humbug Mountain State Park. It was another 33 miles, but we broke it up into 8 mile chunks which seems to work best for me. On one of our breaks we stopped out front of a KOA and met a nice couple who wanted to know everything about what we were doing and had some advice on what to do in San Francisco. They also told us about a book written by a guy who did the entire west coast (from Alaska to Argentina) on a tandem bike. He would pick up people along the way and he got some good stories out of it. Sounds like a good read :]. Take A Seat.

On our next break we ran into a guy whose wife was driving all his stuff for him while he biked the coast. I'm always jealous of those people. He seemed like a cool guy so we talked to
him for a while. Our next stop was Port Orford for breakfast food and dessert. After that it was only another 6 miles to the state park. We had to go over a few big hills which I hate doing at the end of the day, but we made it.

When we got there our old friends Josh and Frank were there and some other people that we've come to know along the way. Ethan wanted to hike Humbug Mountain, but a ranger told us that it was 3 miles up and very steep. I was not up for the challenge, but there was an easier hike that gave you better views of the ocean so we decided to go for it. Josh and a couple other people came too. It was really cool once you got up there. There was also cell phone service up there so I made a few phone calls.

After that we made dinner and both took showers (it had been a couple days since our last shower... It was needed). The showers were great too, which makes it that much better. After that Frank had made a fire and someone brought s'mores stuff so we sat around making s'mores and talking about bilking and other random things. We stayed up a little too late, but the company was worth it.

We were planning on getting to Cali on the 27th but Ethan thinks we can do it tomorrow (the 26th). Fingers are crossed that we make it! :]

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tailwinds and Thor's Well

7/23 Day 12 - There was a lot we wanted to see on this particular day so when we got up we got out of there quickly. We packed up everything and ate breakfast while packing. The bathrooms were on our way out so we brought our bikes down with all our gear. We left the campground around 9:30.

The terrain was relatively flat and for the first time we had a strong tailwind. We made it 30 miles by lunchtime so we stopped in Yachats for lunch. We ate at a place called the Drift Inn that had a cool history. It was a bar that opened in 1929 that got shut down due to prohibition. But the guy turned it into an ice cream parlor downstairs and a bar with boxing upstairs. After prohibition it turned into a bar and grill where people of all sorts hung out. Eventually the guy died and the place got new owners. But they tried to keep it looking like it did originally. It was cool.

After that we went to Cape Perpetua. It was only a few miles down the road and we had heard that the coast was really cool there. Over the years the ocean has carved out caves and inlets of rock that create really awesome waves and spouting horns (these are holes that get carved out of the rock that shoot water out of them like a geyser). We stopped at the park there and watched the waves crash against the rocks for a long time. Then we headed over to a spout called Thor's Well. It is a small hole that occasionally shoots water out, but when it does it's really cool. There was also another hole there that was about 10ft in diameter. It didn't shoot water as spectacularly as Thor's, but it did look like a toilet, which was entertaining.

After that we wanted to visit these sea lion caves that we'd heard a lot about. We biked up there and went in, but I overheard someone saying that the elevator down to the cave was broken. So all you could do was go out to this deck where you may or may not see some sea lions. We decided it wasn't worth $12. They did have a "cave cam" that showed a live feed of the sea lions. It was good enough for us.

We left there and headed to the campground. We stopped for groceries first though. Somewhere along our ride (I think it was right before the spouts) we were passed by Frank (Of the Frank and Josh duo). We assumed that they were far ahead of us by that point but they obviously weren't. We bet that we would see them at the campground.

When we pulled up to the hiker/biker site the first bikes we see are Frank and Josh's. Weird. We set up and ate dinner. As soon as they got back from whatever they were doing we made them tell us why they were still where we were. Josh apparently had a flat tire and busted a spoke. They had to take a few days off for repairs etc. it was nice to see them again. Frank made an awesome fire that we hung out by until pretty late. We didn't have s'mores which was a bummer but it was good catching up with them and hearing other people's stories too.

The end of another great day! :]

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Three Capes

7/22 Day 11 - Today started out a little slow. We woke up around 8, but didn't leave the campground until 10. Right off the bat we had a very large hill to climb - Cape Lookout. It took us an hour to go 3.4 miles up, but only 10 minutes to go 3.4 miles down. Getting to the top was rough. After that the terrain was mostly flat with a few hills. We knew we had two more hills (capes) to go up later though, so we didn't get too excited about the flatness.

We went through a lot more resort towns today and got some really great views of the ocean. The sun was shining most of the day too, which is always great for morale. We went through Pacific City (home to a large fleet of Dory boats... Idk?) around 12 and watched people drive their little Dory boats right up on the beach. It was weird. But all the people there seemed to think it was pretty cool. There was also a huge (maybe bigger than Sleeping Bear) sand dune that people were climbing that looked like torture. It was really pretty though.

We were going to stop for lunch eventually but never really found a good spot. We thought we were going to stop in a town right before the biggest hill of the day, but we never found a park or anything. So we pressed on without lunch. There was a route that takes you up this 750ft hill at much less steep grades, but we just wanted to get it over with so we stayed on 101. Surprisingly, it didn't take us that long to get to the top. It was definitely a walking hill, but we made it all the way pretty quickly. Once we reached the top it was only a few more miles to the next town, Lincoln City.

We passed the 45th parallel in Lincoln City, but somehow missed the sign for it. We were both pretty bummed about that because we crossed the 45th parallel on our Lake MI tour. Anyway, we found a place to make lunch finally at a park. We made couscous for the first time and it was delicious. :] after that we were on our way to Beverly Beach state park. We had one more big hill to tackle that we weren't looking forward to.

On our way to this hill we stopped a few times along 101 to check out the views of the ocean. We got to see some seals sun bathing at one place we stopped. They were cute. When we finally got to this hill we were happy to see that the route takes you on a much less traveled road at a much less steep grade. It also takes you closer to the ocean, which provided spectacular views of the cliffs and rocks in the bay below. The road is also one-way and has a designated "lane" for bikers. When we got to the top we spent some time taking pictures and ran into some Midwesterners for the first time. They thought that the hill we were on was soooo high. It was funny.

After that it was only a few miles to the campground. We did our usual routine when we got here, except neither of us showered. We were too tired. But we made dinner, then went and charged our phones for a while. After that we made hot chocolate and checked out the beach. Now it's time for bed! 60 miles tomorrow.

A day in the life....

So we've decided that in addition to our blogs about our days we'd like to explain how our days usually go. Basically, how we get from one place to the next starting from the time we wake until the time we go to sleep.

Morning: Ethan is usually the first one up. He deflates his sleeping pad and packs it away, stuffs his sleeping bag in it's bag, and gets our electronics plugged in (usually in the bathroom). I usually sit there until he is done packing his stuff up because our tent is a little crowded. After he's done and out of the tent, I pack my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, blankie and my inflatable pillow. Then I get all my stuff around to go to the bathroom. This includes my contacts, clothes I'm going to wear that day, toothbrush, and sunscreen.

Once I get all that together, I get all of my stuff out of the tent and onto the picnic table so Ethan can pack the tent up (but first take a picture of our campsite.)0 If we're having oatmeal I start getting that ready, while Ethan packs the tent or hangs it up to dry. If we're just having pop tarts then I go to the bathroom, while Ethan puts the tent away.

After breakfast, I take our bowls, pot and sporks to the bathroom with me to clean them. I re-braid my hair, brush my teeth, put riding clothes on and put sunscreen on. Once I'm done with that I go back and Ethan usually has the tent put away.

We put everything back in it's proper bag, clean up any trash around, fill up our water bottles, check the map (to make sure we know where we're going and where the big hills are and maybe a good place to stop for lunch) and head out.

That's a typical morning. Not every morning is exactly the same because not all the campgrounds are the same and sometimes we go slower or faster depending on how many miles we have to go or if there is anything we want to see.

Day time: During the day we usually stop every 7-10 miles for a break or snacks (I like eating granola bars at these stops). If we have a big hill we stop several times going up for a breather. If we get to a town around lunch time (12-2pm) we'll either find a cheap place to eat or find a park to sit and make food. This normally depends on how well we planned the day before. If we didn't get lunch food to make then we'll stop at a restaurant. Sometimes we don't have a lot of time so we'll grab something really quick from a gas station or grocery store.

We try to stop at scenic places and take our time, but the amount that we do this pretty much depends on how tired I am and how much farther we have to go. So far we didn't stop a lot in Washington due to the weather and being tired, but we've stopped quite a bit in Oregon.

Evening: When we get close to the campground we're going to stay at we stop at a grocery store for dinner food if we don't already have it. We have been trying to vary our diet, but we usually go with Mac n cheese, chili, soup, pasta or rice. We always get a can of fruit or fresh veggies (Ethan is really into green peppers right now) so we don't get scurvy. That would suck. And we always get something for dessert (usually cookies) and hot chocolate (even though it's nice out it gets reallllly cold at night).

Once we get to the campground, Ethan sets up the tent while I start dinner. He also puts our sleeping bags and pads in the tent and inflates them. Once we have eaten we go wash out our bowls and stuff in the bathroom and get ready for bed. Lately we have been making hot chocolate when we get back, which is awesome but I always have to pee in the middle of night.

Once we're all ready for bed (meaning I have taken all my meds and taken out my contacts and all the other stuff I have to do) we add photos and upload the blog from the day before and I write one for that day. We usually go to sleep around 10:30 or 11.

And that's what our days are like! Like I said, they're not all the same because that would be boring, but we do have a "general routine" that helps us be efficient and ready for anything. :]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Say Cheese!!

7/21 Day 10 - Today we woke up to a soaking wet tent. This is annoying because you really shouldn't put your tent away wet so we always try to dry it out as much as possible. We weren't really in any hurry and I still felt like crap so it wasn't a big deal, but it's still annoying. On the bright side the weather report said it wasn't going to rain today and our route was taking us right by the Tillamook Cheese Factory! :] yay!

We left Nehalem Bay State Park and the sun was shining. It was a welcome break from the gloom of yesterday.
The going was good and pretty flat, which was awesome considering we had to bike up a mountain yesterday. We passed through a couple small towns that had lots of cool houses right on the ocean. We stopped in Rockaway Beach, bought a gatorade and ate some granola bars by the beach. There was a pretty cool sea stack off the coast to look at. After that we had our sights set on Tillamook.

On our way there we passed through more beach towns and got some pretty cool views of Tillamook Bay and the ocean. When we got there we were very surprised at the number of people visiting this cheese factory. It was so weird and it felt like an amusement park. Anyway, we got to the entrance and noticed they were giving out ice cream samples. Naturally we got in line. It was delicious! After that we went inside and it was a zoo of people trying to buy ice cream in every flavor and big chunks of cheese. We went to the cheese sampling area first. They let you try a bunch of different kinds and I liked them all. After that we went up to the factory viewing area. You got to watch workers separate blocks of cheese and push them down a conveyor belt to be packaged. It was interesting for about 1 minute. On the other side you could watch them boiling cheese, but they weren't doing anything at the time. We did watch very large chunks of cheese get packaged which was a little more entertaining. We went back down to get more samples pretty quickly. They had a new one this time too.... Garlic white cheddar. I'm in love. It's the best cheese. Ethan wouldn't let me buy any though. That's probably for the best.

After the cheese factory it was time to get groceries so we went to the Fred Meyer grocery store. I guess it's affiliated with Kroger, which I never knew. We both thought it was funny because Frederick Meijer founded Meijer. :] Anyway, it was the biggest grocery store we'd been to yet so we stocked up on granola bars and pop tarts. We also got food for dinner, some more "propane" (I'm not really sure what it is but that's what I call it), & electrical tape to fix my handle bar padding.

After that we needed lunch so we got Subway. Once we had eaten it was time to get going. Ethan wanted to take the scenic route (which added 9 extra miles to our trip) along the coast. I was worried I would be too tired to add that many miles, but we didn't know how hilly HWY 101 was so we decided on the scenic route. The first 1/2 was great. It was into the wind, but it was flat. The second 1/2 was terrible. It was uphill forever. I was not happy because I felt like crap and so tired from riding all day.

When we finally got to the top I took off down the other side. Ethan had wanted to stop and check out the view from the bluffs, but I didn't realize it. This turned into an argument that we both realized 10 minutes later was really dumb. :-/ But we apologized and kept going. We went through Oceanside (where rich people have cool houses) and up another stupid hill. Then it was only 7 miles til the campground.

We got in with plenty of time to make dinner, eat and for me to shower. We watched the sunset, while drinking hot chocolate and eating chips ahoy. It was a relaxing way to end a long day. Time for bed! 56 miles tomorrow.

Friday, July 20, 2012

rain, rain go away

7/20 Day 9 - Today started out like usual. We woke up and Ethan decided to shower so I stayed in bed for a while. He got breakfast started (oatmeal pretty much every day) then I finished it up, while he packed up the tent and all his stuff. We ate, brushed our teeth and cleaned out our bowls. After we finished packing we set out for Nehalem Bay... 45 miles away. .

We biked for about 6 miles before I needed a break. The wind was really in our face today, which goes against everything we were told about biking south along the coast and it sucks. Anyway, I spotted a place called Pirates Cove to pull in. Perfect! They didn't have any snacks, but they did have some silly pirate gear and eye patches. They also had a signed picture of Lee Arenburg ("Ello puppet" guy from Pirates) in a glass case. He signed it "Ello Puppet." It was awesome. They also had stickers that said "Born to be a pirate, forced to work" and "those who have to work don't know how to plunder." I thought they were funny.

At about lunch time we had made it to Cannon Beach. It was cloudy, cold and we just got rained on so we decided to get lunch at a restaurant. After we warmed up with chicken noodle soup and a cheeseburger, I decided I needed socks for tonight because last night my feet were freezing and I couldn't sleep. We stopped in a couple places (this town was similar to Charlevoix with all it's little souvenir shops and boutiques) and finally found one that sold socks. I bought the fuzziest ones I could find. Duh.

After we left there the going was slow, but we were doing ok until we got to the mountains. More mountains...ugggghh! I struggled up them and just had absolutely no energy at all. We had to walk most times, which really slowed us down. After lots of walking up hills and going through a tunnel (also uphill) we finally made it to the top of the last hill. At that point I felt like garbage. My legs were dead and my throat hurt really bad. We needed to get out of the cold and wet ASAP.

We rode down the other side into Manzanita where Nehalem State Park is located. I needed a sweatshirt really bad so we pulled into town and walked around until we found a little store that sold very boring tourist type crap. I found kids sweatshirts that I luckily still fit into and got one in purple. The campground was only 2 miles from there so we got there quick. We set up the tent and I got in and put dry clothes on along with my fuzzy socks and new sweatshirt. Ethan did all the work tonight thankfully so I could stay warm. We ate dinner in the tent, which he did a great job cooking and pretty much hung out in the tent the rest of the night. Now it's time for bed :] We're keeping our fingers crossed that I feel better in the morning!

Water under the bridge...

7/19 Day 8 - Well I got my wish for a short day today! We took our time getting ready this morning, which was really nice. We did a load of laundry, had breakfast and got our phones all charged up. Having clean clothes is awesome so we decided to take advantage of the campground's washer and dryer - you never know when you'll get to do laundry again.

We left the campground around 10:30 headed for the border of Washington and Oregon. We were excited but also nervous because the only way across the border (which is the Columbia River) is over a 4 mile bridge. We knew about this bridge going into the trip and dreaded it the whole time. Every time we would tell someone where we were going they would say something about that bridge. It didn't help us be any less nervous. When we got close to the bridge we stopped at a pull off to take a look at what we were up against. The first 3/4 wasn't too bad it was a slight incline, a decline and then it was flat for a while. The last part however is a long, somewhat steep incline over the shipping lane. That's the part we were worried about. It was really hard to tell how steep/long the hill was. I usually take several breaks on hills but I was worried about stopping with all that traffic and the wind coming across the bridge. We had been told that there was construction on the bridge that would help slow down traffic.

We got up to the start of the bridge and there was a construction guy with a stop/slow sign. He told us he would let us go before the cars to give us a few minutes head start. We thought that was really nice if him. He also informed us that there was a pretty decent shoulder the whole way. As soon as the cars coming from the other way passed he told us to go. We got over the first hill pretty quickly then it was flat. The next hill was a doozy but we made it up fine. I only had to stop for a breather once and there were no cars. Woohoo! Once we got to the to top another construction worker had us wait til traffic cleared then told us to go for it. We sailed down the other side onto Oregon territory. Hooray!

We hung out in Astoria for a while (it's the oldest American settlement west of the Mississippi... Or something like that) because we only had like 10 more miles to go until our campground for the night. Ethan googled "things to do in Astoria" and found a small winery that was really close to where we were. We decided we'd check it out but we needed lunch. We spotted a McDonalds and decided it would have to do. We got our food and ate it on the pier while we watched some rather big boats go by.

We had to wait until 1 for the winery to open so we biked down to the Columbia Maritime Museum, but it was $12 so we didn't go in. So we sat by the museum for a while watching the boats and people. When it was finally 1 we headed to the winery. We went in and a super old guy greeted us. He explained that his winery is a one man operation and the tour would be very brief. He showed us his wine making room and his lab and explained a bunch of stuff that we didn't really understand (i think we would have understood what he was saying if he hadn't been mumbling so much).

What we did understand him saying was pretty funny though. He was so old. Anyway, we finally got to try his wines. He had 6 for us to try including a Chocolate Orange wine, a Cranberry Whey wine and peach wine. They were all delicious! I like Chardonnay and that's about it & Ethan isn't a huge fan of wine, but we both liked all of them. The Chocolate Orange one he served in mini ice cream cones. It was like drinking Hershey's syrup mixed with orange juice and red wine. Sounds super gross, but we loved it.

After the wine tour/tasting we headed toward Fort Stevens State Park. We stopped at a grocery store for dinner food and got to the park with lots of time to kill. We set up camp then took our bikes on the bike path down to the beach. It was beautiful, but cold. There was a really cool shipwreck right on the beach too. After chillin at the beach for a while we biked back and had dinner. We decided to go on a walk after dinner and then bike back to the beach to watch the sunset, which we kinda missed. After that we took a different route on the bike path back which took us through most of the campground ( which was enormous by the way... Probably the biggest one we've stayed at). When we got back it was bed time.

Thoughts on Washington

Now that we are in Oregon we wanted to take some time and look back on our ride through Washington and how we liked it. The easiest way to do this, for us, is to list the things we liked/didn't like and explain. Here goes!

1. The Olympic Peninsula- we liked it because it is beautiful. The mountains were gorgeous and the scenery was awesome.
2. The rivers and lakes- there were some seriously awesome rivers we went over and the lakes were cool too. We especially like Crescent Lake and Lake Quinault.
3. Kalaloch State Park- it was right on the beach and the hosts gave us a sight even though the sign said they were booked. The beach was lovely and it was just a good campground.
4. The sunsets - we saw three amazing sunsets while in Washington. One in Port Angeles, one at Kalaloch and one at Lake Quinault.
5. The other bikers we met - everyone we met was really nice and helpful.
6. The small privately owned campgrounds we stayed in - these are always the best places to stay because the people that own them and stay at them are so genuine and always willing to help you out. Specifically they were Artic Park in Artic and River's End RV Park in Chinook. Both owners were so nice, thoughtful and welcoming.

1. Riding through mountains - from a purely physical standpoint riding your bike through mountains is really hard. It's even harder when you have 20+ lbs of stuff strapped to your bike. We loved the downhill rides but going up the hills was hard.
2. The weather - we got spoiled on our first day in Washington. It was 75 degrees and sunny (what summer should be like), but the next day was terrible. It rained allllll day and it was cold. We had two more days out of 7 that were decent and the rest were cold and cloudy. We're not huge fans of the cold. It's nice not getting all sweaty, but your muscles just feel stiff all the time and it's killer at night when you don't have lots of warm stuff.
3. The way the road followed the ups and downs of the land - this is separate from mountain riding because when your in a mountainous area you expect lots of hills. But when you're not you just want a flat road. However, the way HWY 101 was built it follows the valleys that streams and rivers create. It sucks. It slows us way down having to walk up a steep hill every mile or so.
4. Lack of free showers - at every campground we stayed in there were either no showers or you had to pay for them. Almost all of the state parks we stayed in didn't have them and the one that did it cost a dollar for a 6 minute shower. The privately owned camps made you pay 25cents/5 minutes. When you've been riding your bike for 8 hrs you want food and a shower at the end of day and that's pretty much it.

Overall, we enjoyed our ride through Washington. Despite all the things that frustrated us there really wasn't anything about it that would make us not want to come back. In fact we would love to visit again, except we'll be in a car with plenty of warm clothes. Most likely we would visit the Olympic Peninsula again because there's so much to do there. Before we get too excited about returning to the Evergreen State we have to get our minds set on getting to San Diego. :]

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

To the border!!

7/18 Day 7 - We went to bed last night thinking we would get an early start today since we knew it would be a long day. The weather, however, had different plans.

It rained pretty much all night and until about 8:30 this morning. I woke up at 7 but there wasn't much we could do in the rain. We had to wait it out. Once it kind of stopped we packed up our gear really quickly and headed to the "lodge" at the campground. It was basically a hangout area with a fireplace and a washer and dryer. We decided it would be easier to pack up and leave from there, but we still had to wait for the tent to dry before packing it away. So we brought the tent inside and hung each piece from the rafters and put our wet clothes in the dryer. Once we had that squared away I made breakfast while Ethan planned our route for the day.

We were joined by Josh and Frank who had the same idea. We all hung out in there for a while letting our stuff dry out and talking about our routes for the day. They planned on going all the way to Astoria, OR, while we planned to stay a few miles before Astoria. Since we thought we might not cross paths again we swapped info and Josh invited us to his place in Fresno, CA and on a day trip to Yosemite. It sounds like a great time, but it's pretty far off our route so we'll have to make that decision later. :] We told him if he ever made to the Mitten to give us a call (we also told him to check out Meijer if he's ever in the Midwest. We kept telling him how cool it was and how we go there pretty much everyday).

After our stuff was as dry as it was going to get we packed up said our goodbye's to the guys and headed out a few minutes after them. We were unprepared for what the day had in store for us.

The owner of the campground told us there were a few hills on our way to Raymond and that they weren't that bad. Im pretty sure this woman has never biked a day in her life because those hills were torture. There were 4 of them basically in a row and we thought they were never going to end. We finally made it to Raymond after what seemed like forever and it was time for lunch. We spotted a DQ that we knew would be quick since we were running way behind no thanks to those hills. Ethan went across the street to the gas station for Gatorade and I went to DQ, but when I pulled up a half-ass sign scribbled on cardboard said "closed for emergency." Annoying! And weird. So we grabbed some pre-made subs from the gas station instead and decided to eat them at the picnic table behind DQ. When we pulled up the lady working there told us there was a gas leak or something and the picnic table was no longer safe. We gladly moved behind the diner next to DQ and of course we see Josh and Frank's bikes there. Crazy.

We ate lunch and chatted with them for a minute about where they were going and then headed out. We had a lot farther to go so we put the pedal to the...uhhh pavement? ...and biked pretty hard for the next 7 hours taking breaks every 8ish miles and stopping a few times for granola bars. Along the way we got to ride on a nice bike path for a little bit, found a geocache, thought we saw a fishing boat sinking, went through the "oyster capital of the world", and saw some lovely scenery through the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

We'd panned on staying on Cape Disappointment tonight but it was 5 miles in the opposite direction and I just did not have it in me to bike an extra 5 miles going the wrong way. Luckily Ethan loves me and is understanding so he found us a campsite that was really close and on our route. We made it here at about 7:40... Plenty of time for dinner, a shower and blogging!

We got a tent site right on the Columbia River which divides Washington and Oregon. We're about 7 miles from the bridge that takes you to Astoria, OR. We're very excited to finally be getting to another state! Hopefully tomorrow can be a short day because we are tired and my butt needs a day off. We also need to get some warmer clothes. It's freezing here and the sun rarely makes an appearance. Never thought I would say it but I miss Michigan's heat. Luckily we have awesome sleeping bags to keep us warm at night. :]