Hello again, it has been a while!
Rio has now returned to the UK and is studying towards her dream of a Masters in Marine Mammal science at St Andrews. I am still on the road in Southern California. Our last few weeks together were pretty hectic, hence the break in communication. I am now going to try and update the blog with some quick posts (& lots of pictures), to where I am now. I will start with mine and Rio’s final month together. We had a fantastic time and cycled some beautiful roads.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Cycling over the the border to California where we stopped at a sign welcoming us to the state, and danced to the song ‘California’ by Phantom Planet. The Northern California coast provided us with plenty of beautiful views.
- We cycled through the avenue of Giants where we felt like mere ants. John Steinbeck described the enormity of these trees so well- ” the redwoods, once seen, create a vision that stays with you always… they are not like any other trees we know, they are the ambassadors of another time.”
- We then overcome the longest climb of our trip to 1800 feet cycling over the Leggett mountains. The fact that we had started at 04:30am meant we were probably half asleep when we did it, so it didn’t seem nearly as hard as we had expected.
- Cycling over the Golden Gate bridge to San Francisco a grand finale to our journey together.
- We had just over two weeks to explore prior to Rios departure. We rode the steep streets of San Francisco and fell in love with the city, hitch-hiked around Lake Tahoe and discovered the majestic area of Yosemite National park.
It was very difficult to say goodbye to Rio, we are just as weird as one another and would often be the only one finding the others awful jokes hilarious. The consolation was that we had so many shared memories of a wonderful time together, a better travelling companion could not have been found. She is now studying a subject that she is passionate about and I am continuing on a solo adventure which is very exciting. Another post will be uploaded soon to update you on what I have been doing since Rio left in August.
We’re back on the road again after 2 weeks wwoofing on an organic blueberry & cranberry farm.
The farm was just South of a town called Bandon, right by the Pacific Coast in Southern Oregon. The owner, Nick, had bought the farm less than a year previously and we were the first wwoofers there to help out. A majority of our time was spent picking and sorting blueberries, as well as weeding around the bushes. This was the first harvest of the season so we were also able to help at its debut at the Farmer’s Market at Coos Bay. It was good fun and we learnt a lot about working on a small-scale commercial fruit farm.
Some of the highlights were:
- Travelling around the farm on a quad bike – checking out the 70 acre property full of lakes, sheep, llamas and searching for lobster mushrooms.
- Being invited to a local wedding reception in the old cheese factory in Langlois – which involved a lot of country dancing to the upbeat band playing. This was coincidentally on Hattie’s birthday so we had a double reason to dance!
- Celebrating 4th July on a beach and seeing the fireworks over Bandon.
- Attending an annual dog show, where all the owners were grooming and pampering the plethora of pups.
- Spontaneous road trip to Eugene, where we had a tour around the University of Oregon, and back to Portland where we spent many hours back in Powell’s bookstore and were able to try the famous VooDoo doughnuts (we both had the ‘Dirty Old Bastard’ which was covered in peanut butter & oreos – yum).
It was wonderful having Nick as our host as he joined us in all these activities and provided a lot of laughs when comparing the American vs. English language. It was inspiring to see someone who was just 3 years our elder owning and working on a fully productive farm. We’re excited to keep in touch and see how the farm takes off and prospers with his ownership and lead. After leaving the farm, we’ve seriously missed the enless supply of blueberries on the doorstep!
Since being back on the road cycling, we realised that we lapsed quite behind on the blog – as most nights we put up a tent and are asleep before it’s dark! Therefore there’ll be another update soon as we will keep on it more diligently.
Hattie & Rio
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
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