We set off from Portland for the coast, both looking forward to the cool sea breeze after being inland for a couple of warm weeks. We continued opting for backroad routes towards the coast, then joined up with the Highway 101 and the ocean in Tillamook. The bike ride out was through charming countryside towns with plenty of rolling hills and even a few mountains.
We also faced our first flat tyre of the trip, on the back of Rio’s bike, but were pleased that we could fix it without too much worry and were cycling again within the hour.
Our first glimpse of the Pacific in Oregon was on Sunday morning when we cycled down to see a mist covered bay with playful seals swimming around.
Since then, we have been able to follow the coast along the 101 and every corner has felt like it should feature in a picture postcard. The area is well-known for its lighthouses, so we made sure to stop and check out two of them this week; Yaquina Bay Lighthouse near Newport and Heceta Head Light near Florence (which can be seen in the background of the photo below). We’ve also been keeping our eyes on the sea at every stop, after meeting 3 marine mammal observers who told us that Grey Whales were still in the area and could be seen milling off the coast.
During this stretch we’ve been saving money by spending a majority of our nights wild camping. Finding a decently hidden location has added to the excitement of the trip, with some locations being easier than others. Most of our ‘campsites’ have been in forested areas within 10m of the main road, allowing easy access and quick departure in the morning. As of yet we haven’t run into too much trouble, the only downside is having no access to a refreshing shower at the end of the day – but we find the dirt and mud has made us look more tanned than we really are. Our lemon & eucalyptus mosquito spray works wonders as a perfume, if we’re without a shower for a few days.
We’re able to cook and enjoy a warm meal at the end of each day using a small Trangia camp stove, meaning we don’t have to rely on being close to restaurants or towns for our food.
We’re currently having a day off in the beautiful hilly countryside near Coos Bay whilst staying with a friend’s family. They have a wonderfully copious supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from their well looked after garden, which is definitely recharging our batteries in between cycling.
Hattie & Rio
Last week we set off for the journey down to Portland, expecting to do it very casually at about 30 miles per day. However, due to the hot temperature we found ourselves waking at 5am to start cycling in order to avoid the heat – which also allowed us to do 50-60miles per day.
We had been forewarned of the long ardous ride on the 101 Highway from Seattle down to Portland. However, we cycled on the opposite side of the Puget Sound and opted for back roads whenever possible and thus the ride was a really enjoyable, scenic and relatively quiet road – the only small downside with it being longer than the more direct highway route.
During our ride, we had an amazing time staying with Warm Showers hosts, wild camping and meeting fellow bike tourers.
Warm Showers is a website designed to provide a literal warm shower and bed for cyclists. We’ve stayed with three in the past week and all were wonderfully accommodating.
Our first was at a picturesque house on an inlet of the Puget Sound, near Shelton. We stayed there for two nights as we were introduced to the wacky but fun game of Disk Golf and were able to hike & explore a Southern area of the Olympic National Park.
Our second WS host actually came around by invitation, after meeting a fellow tourer on the road and hearing his plans were akin with ours. He had a house lined up in Longview, on the Washington border, and called the couple to check we could come too. They were two keen trikers who enthusiastically opened their home to cyclists after their kids had flown the nest. We had a lovely evening of wine, food and conversation. The following morning, they cycled with us to the Lewis & Clark bridge to send us on our way to Oregon.
Finally, we arrived in Portland after a long hot day of cycling and went straight to an ice-cream shop to refresh & check our internet in the hopes we’d have a reply from our last minute requests. Despite only messaging hosts the night before, we had a few offers and chose to stay with a cheery couple who had two cuddly cats. They made us feel very welcome by cooking us a big dinner and taking us out for pancakes.
We stayed with them for 3 nights and even had a bike tour of the city from our host Ted. He took us to his favourite coffee shop (where we had an incredible affogato), ate at iconic and yummy food carts and cycled along the Esplanade for scenic views of the area. The city also claims to be the ‘bike capital of America’ and we can see why, as it was really bike-friendly and enjoyable to cycle around.
The place itself definitely lived up to its weird and whacky reputation and there were a lot of people that looked like they stepped out of an episode of Portlandia.
Hattie & Rio
Our first week in America has been wonderful.
We’ve spent a majority of the time with a fellow couchsurfer called Alec. He’s originally from Florida but spending the summer in Washington working as a Park Ranger in Olympic National Park. He’s been a great guide and enabled us to visit ‘secret’ natural hot springs in in the middle of the lush rainforest. We also hiked the stunning Hurricane Ridge (seen in the photo above), saw our first Pacific NorthWest sunset over LaPush Beach & drove through Forks (a small town made famous from the Twilight Saga). We also saw our first ever baseball game – where the Seattle Mariners were playing the Florida Rays in Safeco Fields.
We had planned on heading to Seattle for the weekend and had a list of local buses we could take. However we arrived at the bus stop with 20 mins to spare & decided to stick out our thumbs to test our luck. Within 5 minutes, a car picked us up & said he could drop us 10 miles down the road on the border of Sequim.
Less than 2 minutes after the first ride, a friendly man stopped and said he was heading North of Seattle & would happily give us a ride. He ended up giving us a mini tour of the city, showing us things like the Ballard Locks, the Space Needle and dropping us off right in the centre of downtown next to Pike Place Market.
We found the hitchhiking to be super easy and fun – also it got us into the heart of Seattle within about 2 hours, after a relaxed and informative ride, rather than the 5 and a half the buses would’ve taken.
We’ve stayed with two great couchsurfing hosts this week in two contrasting environments. The first was with a lovely man named Lonnie who lives outside of Port Angeles and specifically builds small cabins for couchsurfers, making his land into a communal and welcoming home for travelers.
The second was with a great guy called Mohamed, who lived in a beautiful apartment overlooking over downtown Seattle, and took us out for tea with his friends and also to a couchsurfing BBQ.
The event was on the rooftop of a building in Belltown and was a cool place to meet local Seattleites as well as fellow travelers to swap stories.
We’re hoping to go to more of these events along the way as it was an interesting and surprising mix of likeminded people.
We’ve found everyone in Washington to be warmly welcoming so far and enjoyed experiencing the extremes; from the natural, quiet rainforest to the hustle & bustle of Seattle.
Hattie & Rio
We’ve just finished our first WWOOFing (world wide oppurtunites on organic farms) in North America and it met all of our hopes and more. We spent 3 weeks on a small farm situated south of Chemainus on Vancouver Island. Our lovely host, Jan, greeted us with open arms into her home & we immediately felt like part of the family. We spent our time working between Jan’s garden and the Halalt Community Centre – where the food was being grown to supply and support the people within the local area. Jan also had chickens, turkeys, geese & 5 goats which then expanded to 12 – as 7 kids were born during our stay. This provided quite a bit of excitement as one of the does gave birth down a ditch full of mud with rising water, thus the three poor kids were crying, wet and chest deep in mud when we found them. The runt was too weak to find its mother’s teat and we resorted to bottlefeeding it and supplying copious amount of TLC. The kid was named Zomer (meaning summer in Dutch) by a lovely young girl from the Netherlands who was also staying at the farm. We were further delighted when Jan suggested two of the other kids should be named Hattie & Rio. One thing that we hadn’t realised prior to arriving, was that the house was on a First Nation Reserve. We were fortunuate enough to be invited to lessons on Hul’qumi’num (the local First Nation language), taught by the Elder Florence James. She is one of about 27 people still fluently speaking her language and has both a captivating and inspiring presence. The langauge is closely connected to the land and its people, and Florence told us that as wwoofers we are called ‘shthuyunup’ which means ‘preparers of the Earth’. One of our great friends we met at the farm was MaryDawn, who has been working with Florence to transcribe the Hul’qumi’num language so that the words are not lost. MaryDawn is an Inuit lady from the NorthWest Territories but moved to the Island many years ago. She taught us so much about the local people, history & land. For example, whilst hiking on a nearby Mountain, she would pick up plants for us to try and explain their medicinal and cultural value. We ended up staying an extra week at the farm as we enjoyed it so much and didn’t want to leave the incredibly eclectic family that was formed. Some of our time wwoofing at Jan’s were:
- Learning about sustainable living, the local culture and sharing wonderful cooking made with fresh produce.
- Eating deer, elk and smoked sockeye salmon – all caught on the Reserve.
- Sitting around the fire at the end of each day, often making smores and hearing the Australian WWOOFers tell awful jokes.
- Road-tripping Tofino with MaryDawn, 2 German WWOOFers and fortunately seeing two bears chilling by road.
- Watching the procession through Chemainus for the local High School Prom – it totally felt like it was a scene from a movie.
We’ve left with so many amazing memories and one of the most exciting things so far has been the brilliance of unpredictability. We’re currently in Victoria and heading to Port Angeles tomorrow to start the American leg of our trip. Hattie & Rio