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
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
2nd to 6th May
After a 10 hour flight we arrived in Vancouver Airport & collected our boxed up bikes. Hattie’s bike had been taken apart & boxed piece by piece meticulously, whilst Rio’s had the cardboard thrown over & hugged by duct tape to keep it safe – as can be seen in the picture below.
Thus we had the task to reconstruct Hattie’s bike in the Arrival Terminal at the airport, after never having put a bike together before. Thankfully her dad had provided step-by-step instructions to help – including a lovely reminder to “make sure the bike saddle is facing forward”.
3 hours, 2 decked out bikes & a large Tim Horton’s coffee later we were finally ready to leave the airport!
Our first destination was a couchsurfer’s house off Kingsway, just out of the city centre. We had the directions & maps on our phone so set off for out first ride of the trip! We soon realised that what looks close on a map in Canada is still pretty far – especially when factoring in extra time to stop for photos of the pretty city, getting lost & a long steep cycle up Inverness Street.
Thankfully at around 18:30 we arrived at the house & had enough time to sleepily say hello to everyone then head to bed!
Over the next couple of days we explored Vancouver city; strolling around Gastown, Stanley Park, English Bay, Granville Market & Yaletown. We were super excited about everything, especially how many cyclists we saw around, aided by the bike friendly lanes.
Next step is Vancouver Island to work on a farm there.
Hattie & Rio
Our adventure begins tomorrow! I’ve been back in England for less than a week & Hattie just finished her job on Wednesday so this trip is feeling a bit surreal. However, tomorrow we’re flying from London to Vancouver and will spend our first few days in Canada couch surfing and exploring the city. In preparation for leaving, I created a kit list in the hopes that I won’t forget anything too important! The list is as follows: Bike:
- Bike – I’ve taken the bike pedals off and turned the handlebar sideways to prepare it for travelling & will wrap it in a snug layer of cardboard and duct tape at the airport tomorrow morning
- Bike lock
- Bike gloves
- 2x Back Panniers
- 2 man Tent
- 1 Sleeping bag
- 1 Inflatable pillow
- 1 Sleeping matt
- Dry bags
- Repair kit –
- including pump, multi-tool, puncture patches, super glue, tyre levers & spare tyres
- Cooking kit
- Small camping stove
- Compact cooking pan + plate
- Cutlery, penknife + cups
- Hygiene & first aid kit
- Toothbrush + toothpaste
- Shampoo, conditioner + eco-friendly soap
- Sun cream
- Plasters, vitamin C, lemsip, panadol & ibuprofen
- Microfibre towel
- GoPro (Hero 4 Silver + a spare battery)
- Kindle paperwhite
- Bike computer
- Solar panel charger (Levin Sol-Wing 13W) – I did a test run of this and it charged my iphone 30% in 30minutes of sunshine so I’m hoping it continues to charge this well
- UK-US adaptor
- Waterproof bag for kindle + iphone
- 4 shirts
- 2 Jumpers
- Padded bike shorts
- 2 Tracksuit bottoms
- Long sleeve top
- Black jeans
- Underwear & socks
- Rain jacket
- Luminous jacket
- Flip flops
- Pack of playing cards
- Notebook & pens
- Small backpack