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
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