The few days of rest in Vancouver further entrenched that Canadian stereotype about people being so damn nice. Michelle and Gary were a dual Indian pair, as Michelle put it, one Canadian the other from India – one a cop and the other a lawyer. The combo might be enough to scare you off a bridge, but they more or less gave us the keys to their house and RV and let us have the run of the place.
Beyond our hosts, the pair that helped us navigate into North Vancouver the first day, Brian and Hillary, ended up taking us all out for a night of food trucks and dancing for Augustine at the Quay. Brian introduced us to his wife Margaret who Augustine took to like lint on velcro and refused not to buy us dinner. Upon first meeting, Margaret already had a gift ready including Tigger and a token of protection.
It wasn’t all Canadians being ridiculously nice, we took some time to tour North Vancouver and trekked to Granville Island to sample the brewery’s wares while chatting with a father/son pair in Vancouver for a VW car show.
Three days in Vancouver of rest and city bike lanes was a treat – we’ll definitely have to go back someday, maybe buy a crappy trailer somewhere and repeat the Juneau squat we’ve perfected.
North Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay – Nanaimo to North Cowichan, Vancouver Island (August 17th)
Woke early to cleanup the vagrant family’s tornado disaster and prep for trek to Vancouver Island. We took Marine Drive back to Horseshoe Bay through West Vancouver – a land of BMWs, Land Rovers and gated houses apparently to lock in Porches and stacks of money. The hills seemed steeper and longer on the way back.
Caught a ferry 10 mins after hitting the ferry docks and soon found ourselves cruising down Vancouver Island coast. The section out of Nanaimo to N. Cowichan (and I think all the way into Victoria on the east side of the island) is a mess of cars full of people to busy driving back and forth for reasons completely foreign to us right now.
We were thoroughly relived to turn off onto a secondary road that pops you up to Lake Cowichan and down to the West side of the Island. We ended up stopping at a deserted Somano Community Center to crash the over grown and seemingly forgotten gathering place.
N. Cowichan to Harris Creek Big Spruce (August 18th)
Slow and steady ups paired with gentle drops of 10km at a time. Tons of felled trees on this back road. Looks like a shaved and beaten landscape stretching for 10-15km at a time and then just magically drifts back into verdant wet rain forest – bringing us back to Juneau.
Ended up pulling off and camping by one of the largest conifers I’ve ever seen tucked away on an almost completely dry river bed – everyone’s been commenting on how dry the summer’s been. Drank creek chilled Canadian beer and played stone age Janga with Augustine until deep into the dark night.
Harris Creek Big Spruce to River Jordan (August 19th)
Great drops and big glides almost all the way into Port Renfrew, housed at times in an overhead of thick green old growth and moss. Rolled into the local general store where the clerk told us about the road ahead.
She somehow left out of the conversation entirely a 40-50min climb out of town – must look flat in a car. After a 2 hour and 30 min slog hit a steep road/trail all the way down to Juan de Fuca China Beach (everything in this area includes Jun de Fuca’s name). Beautiful sandy beach for lunch and hot espresso in the wind.
After pushing our bikes out, we took a short 4km jaunt downhill to River Jordan. Not much of an actual town, just a couple of houses, an RV campground, some dilapidated houses and a sign indicating that at one period of time River Jordan boasted a orchestra, school house and a bustling community. Now the most happening spot is the $15.00 a night campsite and huge patches of black berries..
River Jordan to Peabody RV Park Port Angeles (August 20th)
Some rollies early on (couple big heifers) that then slipped into Sooke. A chilly breeze seems to have taken hold ever since we hit the island. Stopped at a playground in town where Augustine got to chase around wild hellions and we gathered some local information about the route into Victoria. We were reminded about the Galloping Goose trail that runs for about 45km from Sooke all the way into essentially downtown Victoria.
The Galloping Goose is by far and away the most gentle (aside from a few stops to push up hill) route we’ve taken that goes on for such a long distance. It was a joy to ride in the trees far, far, far away from traffic. Made great time all the way.
Rolled into downtown Victoria and made a pit stop at the visitor center to see when the last ferry to America ran. Turned out to be 7:30PM which gave us exactly 30 mins to explore Victoria, buy tickets and jump on the ferry. We essentially skipped touring around one of the oldest and historic cities on the west coast and opted to jump ship to Port Angeles.
Everyone on the ferry super interested in our journey and cheerful. Ferry officer, also a tour cyclist himself, gave us the low down on Washington and Oregon coast riding. Since we were rolling into Port Angeles late, with little time before dark, he gave us a flier for a hostel in Port Angeles. After stopping at a store for celebratory American beer at half the price, continued on for a 20 min ride to the hostel.
Had a bit of trouble finding the right address and ended up standing in front of a house with no sign but the right address. Knocked on the door and heard a concerned female voice on the other side of the door, “what are you doing here?”
“Sorry it is so late, but we were hoping to stay here tonight?”
“This is a private residence.”
“Isn’t this 4778 Race street?”
“It used to be a hostel about three years ago.”
Welcome back to America! After a bit of crest fallen feelings, we rolled back into town where we say an RV park sign. The park host opened up her own backyard for us to camp in (as there were no tent sites and the RV park sign was a misnomer for mobile home park). There was already a tent setup in the back yard, so it was almost as easy as a hostel.
Augustine crashed and Ance and I chatted about how strange it feels to have come this far with our feet.
Port Angeles to Crescent Lake (August 21st)
Lazy meandering day began with an excellent American breakfast of sausage and eggs (Ance’s still a vegetarian, Augustine and I partook). Asked Sherri, the part manager, if there was a Laundromat nearby, she ended up bringing us into her house to wash clothes and pulled out a bunch of toys she kept around for her grandkids. Aimlessly walked around town to pick up some small items and restock food bag.
Set sail for 20 mile ride to Crescent Lake around 6pm – great slow climbing in sunset lighting. Found a little nook on the east side of the lake to stealth camp for the night. Extremely pitch black night with stars shimmering more brightly than I can recently recall.
Crescent Lake to Hoh Oxbow (August 22nd)
Narrow flat busy road around Crescent Lake leading to steady climb out of the valley of the lake – got a happy honk from a logging truck driver, which I believe is the first time a commercial truck driver hasn’t passed with a look of annoyance.
After climb out from Crescent Lake, great huge enormous wonderful gentle easy riding all the way into Forks and down into Hoh Oxbow. Forks turned out to be a strip of a town with one grocery store and some feeble attempts to sell their Twilight fame. A retiring man in the grocery store parking lot gave us a tip on DNR campsite just down the road that is was a first-come first-serve site and was free.
The campsite at Hoh Oxbow was full but bicycles can trek down trails pretty well, even loaded. Found a great epic spot right on the Hoh River. At dinner and fell asleep to the sound of the rushing water at the best illegal campsite in the area.
Hoh Oxbow to Clearwater Pioneer Park (August 23rd)
Bit of a short day. Plunged ahead on a small side road with a sign indicating that it was closed for some reason – Ance and I asked each other how bad a road could actually be to make it impassible for bikes.
Our little byway turned out to have a correctional facility tucked away in the woods with signs 12 miles around indicating that motorists should not pick up hitch hikers. Met a correctional officer that indicated that the road was closed due to bridge construction but that it was probably still crossable anyway.
After another 10 miles found a whole section of road cut out with a good sized gully as a visible marker on why the road was closed. Unpacked the bags and huffed all the gear and bikes across. Had a strange and happy lunch sitting among traffic cones and silent construction equipment – good thing it was Saturday!
Continued down into a small town called Clearwater. While rolling down the country road, small green pickup truck with a curious older bearded man hailed us down for a chat. He jumped out of his running truck, leaving the door wide open to ask us all the usual questions about where the hell we were from and what the hell we were doing. While talking I glanced in the truck as saw a six pack of Pabst and a shotgun laying on the passenger seat.
He rambled for a bit and eventually told us of nearby spot where we could camp for free “you get any problems there on the DNR bar, you come back here and I’ll get those bad boy’s outta there with my shot gun,” he laughed and jumped back into his pickup, driving past the clearly marked sheriff’s office nearby with a beer in one hand and a gun in the other. Country roads.
Great spot right on the river out of the wind with tons of rocks for Augustine to throw around. Slept like ancient bricks without any run-ins with any bad boys requiring shot guns.
Clearwater Pioneer Park to Copalias River Bridge (August 24th)
Had a river bath in the morning, greased bikes and hit a slow road owing to the slight incline and rough road making everything seem twice as hard all the way into Amanda Park. Stopped into the local store there on Quinault Lake where Keith Olson (R) running for Gray Harbor Commissioner was selling baked goods for his campaign. Olson himself gave us a hefty stack of left over baked goods and wished us well even though we clearly weren’t his constituents – super tasty though!
Stopped in at a state park on Quinault Lake for a swim and lunch. Augustine’s gotten pretty brave with here little pink terminator life vest on, diving into the water like she’s an olympic swimmer.
Continued on to side road leading back to the coast – Copalias Crossing Rd. Found a great quite spot near a bridge for the night.
Copalias River Bridge to Hobbit Hole outside Westport (August 25th)
About three hills the enter day, mostly cruising flats the whole day through. Stopped into Aberdeen to re-stuff the food bag with an outrageous amount of stuff. While standing outside the grocery store met a guy – Art. He bummed a smoke and instantly jumped into pulling out his purple bound notebook full of abstract colorful drawings, talked about opening up his own tattoo shop and hitting the road to Humboldt to go pick fruit with his dog Ginger. For some reason, the conversation and him showing me pictures of his dog stick in my mind.
As far as Aberdeen, its days of appeal, if there were any, have been buried under a mess of asphalt strewn about in a listless fashion among a tangle of narrow rusting twisting bridge ways. Its a place of thriving liquor and gas stores with little else, a place you’ll unfortunately want to instantly leave upon entering to avoid feelings of an unknown loss.
I might also have a bias against the place being a cycle tourist. Go visit yourself, maybe you’ll have a great setting for a mystery/murder novel. Sorry Aberdeen.
Getting out of Aberdeen brought back a feeling of freedom. Ended up pulling off onto a gated and overgrown archery road that opened up into a little green Hobbit hole. Drank wine and talked into the wet night.
Hobbit Hole to Mosquito Hell outside South Bend (August 26th)
Rolled a couple of miles out of the way to check out Westport after finally changing both of my tubes that have had a slow leak for the past several days. Westport is a beach town filled with brightly colored low laying cottages.
Augustine bought a candy necklace and roasted peanuts for her parents with her very own money that she’s been collecting – rather the change that her parents have been giving her. Its her first candy necklace and I think the combination of jewelry and candy simultaneously is pretty ridiculously exciting for her.
Road continues to be super flat and fast – that’s about 11-12 mph for Ance and I, which is pretty much street racing for us. Great little oyster/fishing towns through Raymond and South Bend. Getting a bit late out of South Bend we took another closed over grown road in the flats just outside of town.
Great big beautiful vista of the bay and surrounding area but turned out to be the perfect habitat for an army of white socks who drove us into our tent pretty early on in the evening. Nothing’s free!
Mosquito Hell to Warrington Dike Spruce, Oregon (August 27th)
Bit of an insane start with giant vampire killer hungry mosquitoes hovering around to drink our blood and steal our second born child – ate breakfast in the tent to save out 7 pounds of flesh. Flat ride until Bruceport and then after the climb Ance and I got into a mini bike collision.
While sorting everything out another tour cyclist, Allen, showed up along with another cyclist who actually turned around to make sure we were okay – apparently a car stopped and told him about the crash. We ended up riding with Allen on a small side road into Neselle, where we ate lunch in Renny’s beautiful backyard. Augustine got to play with Owen and Dede, first time she has legitimately been part of playing tag.
Rolled out a bit late and got a few flats while crossing the bridges in and out of the Astoria area. Asked a pair sitting on a bench, obviously trying to hide the fact they were sipping some whisky and smoking pot, where we might be able to throw up a tent for the night in the Warrenton Area. The man already a few deep and several toks in give us great directions in an animated fashion to a group of spruce trees down the dike road.
Slept like tar at the bottom of the sea.
Warrington Dike Spruce to Fort Stephen’s State Park (August 28th)
Started the day with pancakes and took a short 3 mile ride to Fort Stephen’s State Park where we took showers and enjoyed a real table. Went into town and got some treats for Augustine’s name’s day – even went so far as to put on a movie for her, the first in about two months. Needless to say, she’s ready for her next name’s day.
Fort Stephen’s State Park to Elsie (August 29th)
German couple gave us small tripod camping chairs! I gave them $7 dollars for ice cream. Mostly an insane ride today owing to Labor Day weekend and the fact that the Route 26 into Portland pretty much has no shoulder at all. Also turned out to be a day with the first legitimate hill for quite some time – 2-3 mile steady climb.
Elsie turned out not really to be a town at all and we missed our turn down a small side road with potential river camping. Ended up turning down a dead end road 2 miles outside Elsie, where we met a couple (Ryan and Shar) who let us throw up a tent for the night in their yard and use their fire pit – first campfire of the trip!
Elsie to Banks Cafe Parking Lot (August 30th)
Ryan made us breakfast (three perfectly cooked over-easy eggs with potatoes), gave us great directions and an atlas into Portland while Shar played with a giant wooden doll house along with Augustine – she even scored a couple of little dolls that she’s totally obsessed with now.
Early on in the morning clouds opened up for a torrential down pour for a couple of hours. Tent held up well except that the bags leaning against the side pushed the rain fly up a bit so we had a bit of a lake at our feet. By the time we actually set sail the rain began to pick up and drench us anyway, so it didn’t really matter anyway. Foggy rainy wet climb for about 5 miles up and over the coastal range. When dropping down clouds broke up and we were dry by the time we reached the bottom of the hill.
Great little side road through Timber – crazy little down on this road that seems to wind through mini steep mountains. Stopped in at Glenwood to inquire about stealth camping opportunities. The store clerk indicated the best places were where we’d just biked from and so we opted not to listen to his sound advice and continue into a little town called Banks.
Stopped in at Banks Cafe where Ruth (the Owner) and the waitress tried to help us out with figuring out where we might camp. As it turned out, Ruth just said that we could camp out behind the Cafe. A flat quite spot right next to a cafe? Awesome.
Also got to put in a phone call with access to the internet to find out where we’d be staying in Portland.
Banks Cafe Parking Lot to Portland (August 31st)
Great rural ride all the way into Portland. Took side agricultural roads that seem to be all around the Portland area. Nice little climb onto the ridge just to the Northwest side of town and twisting ride down. The pair we’d met on the road, Zack and Chuck, lived in Portland and told us the directions to our Portland haven the night before.
After skirting the country roads and riding sorta on the outskirts of town to our destination, we weren’t able to find the house. Older gentleman from Eugene let us borrow his phone to call up Chuck. Apparently, something drastically wrong had happened the night before and he’d lost a place to live and we’d lost a place to stay.
After getting of the phone, a bit crestfallen, Ance and I stared at each other for a bit contemplating where exactly to go. Luckily, while we were biking out of the area, the couple that knew Chuck and had been told about us, stopped “are you the Alaskan family cyclist?”
Josh and Alina took us in, fed us and introduced us to their good family friends Louis and Rosa and their two children Matias (hope I am spelling that right!) and Tomas. Augustine and Matias instantly started holding hands and cuddling with each other on the doggy bed while Tomas followed at attempted to hurdled himself off anything dangerous.
We enjoyed a night of good beer and story swapping and the lowdown on Portland. Augustine went down hard after a few hours of chasing, hand holding and giggles. Zack and Chuck showed up and filled us in on their crazy lives and adventures since we last met them on the road in British Columbia.
Josh and Alina’s to Mt. Tabor Park (September 1st)
Got a day to tool around Portland while looking for some replacement gear at the local cycling and outdoor shops.A bit of a cluster and hectic day as most gear didn’t work out and the replacement trailer we intended to by has a hitch that needs and adapter that apparently nobody carries. Great riding all throughout town though.
We ended up crashing into bad timing for everyone to be able to stay in Portland for a few days (in a house) so we send a fond farewell to Josh, Alina and full company (They are celebrating their wedding anniversary today!). We headed to Mt. Tabor park for some stealth urban camping. Turned out to be a great spot overlooking the Portland city lights.
Mt. Tabor Park, Again (September 2nd)
Been hanging around Hawthorne street for the day, uploading pictures and typing out all this chatter. Parts for our new trailer are supposed to be in tomorrow and then we are back on the road again! Our journey is reaching the 2000+ mile marker and its been wondrous, sweaty, breathtaking, lovely and filled to the seams with freedom. We hope everyone is well!
The Latvian Alaskan Family