. You are here:
> Alaska Canada USA >
Daily Journal: Washington, Oregon, and California.
Port Angeles, Washington to Oxnard,
California (July - November, 2008)
It has been a long time since I sat down to write in my journal, I have
had a difficult time getting back into a rhythm of writing again. I
attribute this to burnout from finishing our second book, my recent bout
with shingles, and most importantly, it has been hard to find a place to sit
and write. Traveling from on camp site to another is not conducive to
writing. In addition, we have met so many cyclists on the road and
getting back in touch with other Americans has become a priority of mine as
we all go through this economic crisis together.
Some notes on Canada, it
is a stunning place, the scenery certainly kept my mind off the pain of
shingles. Boy am I glad that is over. Canadians are a cheerful and
helpful bunch and in central B.C. we were caught in yet another rainstorm.
The night before we were invited to a mushroom pickers (the legal kind) camp
and thought we would end up passing them by. Instead, we turned into
their camp and were greeted by a couple of friendly guys who invited us into
their makeshift house with a wood burning stove. Oh paradise, out of
the rain and a place to dry our clothes. The mushroom pickers were
setting up for the season, they came to this area in the forest to pick
pine, chantrel, lobster, and chicken foot mushrooms, all sold legally to
mushroom buyers. The main mushroom sent to Japan is the pine mushroom. It is
a cash only occupation and quite nomadic as well. Funny I have never
considered where the mushrooms I buy in the store come from, now I know.
We took the ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island was a
bit wet for us but it is a rain forest. Then we began our ride back
into civilization for what seemed to be the first time in a long time and
looking back the last large city we spent any time in was Auckland, New
Zealand almost a year ago. The first grocery store I went to in
Campbell River was so overwhelming I had to get out of there quickly.
The choices I had were to numerous for me to make a decision, I honestly
wondered if this difficulty in making a decision was related to having
While on Vancouver Island we stayed with Jim and Cory and their two kids on
their farm near Cedar. We also stayed with a couple we met in the Subway
sandwich shop in Port Hardy, Marion and Noel and by the time we arrived at
their house we were soaked to the bone. It was into the washer with all our
wet clothes and I have to say we were a pretty smelly pair. We took a
day off with them and enjoyed the town of Parksville where we later did an
interview with a local journalist. Refreshed, we cruised down the coast
through Salt Spring Island and over to Victoria where we stayed with Madison
and Thomas. What a lovely couple and a great city.
We took the ferry from
Victoria to Port Angeles on September 3 and rode the Olympic Discovery Trail
to Sequim. Heidi our warmshowers host met us along the trail, now that was a
nice reception home after being gone for the better part of 6 years.
Funny I felt like a guest in my own country, it would take a couple of weeks
before this feeling would go away.
We covered Washington State in 7 days
by taking the dry side of the Olympic Peninsula through the Hood Canal, we
were running from winter and getting to Oregon to meet my friend Patti who I
knew while I lived in Albuquerque. We did stay at Cape Disappointment and it
was a disappointment when we wanted to stay in the hiker/biker site and we
were told it was full, she put us in our own site for the same price.
This was indicative of what laid ahead for us. The hiker/biker sites
were mostly full all the way down the Oregon Coast.
Rather than write day
to day info on the west coast I decided that I will add some tips that are
not in the books or maps we are using. We are using Bicycling The
Pacific Coast, A Route Guide, Canada to Mexico, it details the day to day
ride from Canada to Mexico so I don't feel I need to give that information
over again. We also picked up a map called Oregon Bicycle Touring Map
and it has more information on shoulder width, terrain profiles, and lists
all the hiker/biker campgrounds.
Tips for the US West Coast
Fall 2008 -
The hiker/biker sites in Washington are $14/ tent, Oregon sites are $4 per
person and California sites are $3 per person. I am pretty sure that
Washington, Oregon, and California law that if you arrive at a state park by
bicycle or on foot then they can not turn you away. It makes it really
easy to tour the west coast where camp grounds can be fully booked.
bridge from Washington to Astoria, Oregon is long and has a very narrow
shoulder littered with glass and wood bark. I was white knuckled most
of the 2.5 miles across. I later learned that you can take a bus
across the bridge for 50 cents. You need to be in a place that the bus
can pull over and pick you up. Buses have room for 2 bikes up front
and your gear will have to be removed. If I knew we could have done
this I would have.
Pick up a copy of the Oregon Coast Bike Route Map at
the visitor center in Astoria, it is free and shows all the hiker/biker
sites along the coast and in addition it shows the land profile too.
What more could you ask for.
We stayed in hiker/biker sites all the way
down the coast and our favorites were the following:
Stevens near Astoria, the bathroom was close by and the sites were pleasant.
When we arrived there, there were a total of 12 cyclists camping. Wow,
bike touring has gotten popular.
Cape Lookout near Tillamook has some nice
quiet camping spots near the ocean.
Newport has a great bike shop, so if you need some work done stop in and see
Elliot at the Newport Bike Shop on 6th street, he also has an upstairs
lounge to take a break where you can connect your laptop and do your laundry
too. Stop in say hello and sign his guest book.
South Beach State
Park is located 2 miles from Newport, the hiker/biker is a bit noisy but it
does have a hospitality house where they offer free coffee and tea, and a
warm place to read a book, do a puzzle, connect to the internet, and watch a
Jessie M Honeyman may be the prettiest hiker biker site
although the bathroom seems to be far far away. The campsite is within
Redwoods and surrounded by sand dunes. Just a pleasant setting.
State Beach near the Oregon/California state line also has a laundry at the
California does things it own way, it took a
while to get use to the mileage marker signs, rather than show the mileage
through the state, each county must be responsible for the signs so the
miles count down through each county, how convenient.
Northern California is the home of the giant redwoods and it is certainly
a special place, especially when we realized that the groves of redwoods we
rode through were preserved for future generations not by our park system
but a group of people who pooled their money and bought large tracks of the
redwoods in the 1920s, true visionaries. When you tour the redwoods you will
see what inspired them. We took a rest day at Elk Prairie campground
and did a day hike through the redwood forest, just magical. After Elk
Prairie we stayed the night in Arcata, home of Humboldt State University.
I stopped in the grocery store and was at awe at the bulk food, organic food
that was reasonably priced and shear variety of food. I came away from
the store with lots of granola. Tim still teases me about leaving Arcata
with 2 pounds of granola. OK Arcata is a hippy town. The Avenue of the
Giants located south of Arcata is a beautiful cruise through trees so tall
your neck hurts looking at them.
We left the coast at Jenner and headed up
highway 116 towards Guerneville. We spent the night in Guerneville and
the next day we rode to Napa Valley and stayed at Napa Booth State Park.
A nice place, we toured Napa Valley during crushing season and it smelled
great. Napa is an interesting mix of wine connoisseurs and the workers
that work the fields. We felt like we were visiting a part of Latin America
at the same time. Needless to say we found some great Mexican food to eat.
We then rode over to Sonoma Valley via the Oakdale Grade and Trinity
road. The Oakdale Grade may be the longest steep grade we have ridden
in a very very long time. We arrived in Glen Allen to visit Melanie,
Brian and their daughter Rosie. We met Melanie 6 years ago in
Guatemala and have kept in touch ever since. We toured wineries they worked
at and learned a lot about wine, I even got the hang of the difference
between Zinfandel and Chardonnay. Cool. Little 5 month old Rosie was a
bundle of sunshine too.
We then rode back to the coast via 116 and
Petaluma. California has lots of traffic and it was a bit congested on
narrow roads. We camped at Samuel Taylor State Park in the Redwoods
again and it felt like it got below freezing that night. Again, there were
lots of touring cyclists.
The next day we headed into San Francisco and
rode across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a difficult route to follow from
the campground but it being Sunday plenty of cyclists pointed us in the
right direction. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge just in time to see
the Blue Angels roar over the bridge. The Embarcadero was packed with people
and it was a lot of fun to ride through Crissy field. We took the Bart
(subway) out to Lafayette and stayed with Linda and Don. We are not
sure when we met Linda on line but we know we have been writing each other
since the beginning of our trip so it was a no brainer for me to stop in for
We were really tired when we arrived at Linda and Don's and we
stayed for 4 days, watched the debate, did a presentation about our trip to
a group of friends, did an interview with Roger Wendell and just relaxed.
Boy did we need it. It was a bit strange to be so comfortable with someone I
had never met before but then I realized that wasn't true, emailing through
the ups and downs of our trip really did develop a relationship so meeting
Linda was easy and added another dimension to our friendship.
We went back
to San Francisco and stayed with a bike nut named LX who shared his house,
his lifestyle, and his city. Tim kept confusing his name and called him XT,
(LX and XT are shimano bike components) he didn't seem to mind. I have
been to San Francisco many times and I thought it would just be impossible
to ride a bicycle around the city. Well my perspective is changed, it
is not as bad as my expectations led me to believe. Riding around with
LX and Jon Winston of Bikescape, showed us the bike culture of San Fran and
if you can ride a fixed gear track bike with no brakes through town well
than I can ride my multigeared touring bike there too. It seems that San
Francisco cyclists have a fascination with the fixy, one gear no brakes (ok
a few had hand brakes) track bike. It is interesting that we saw this
same fascination with fixys in Auckland, New Zealand as well.
We left our host on Sunday and headed down to San Jose via Cal Train. Cal
Train has a special car for bikes where we could bungy cord them in so they
didn't move around. A nice alternative to riding in traffic.
Along the way we met Rick who plans to embark on his world tour in a year.
Well Rick you have good timing, it seems the Dollar is getting stronger
against most currencies again. We watched a 40% decline of the dollar and it
chased us home.
Now we are in San Jose getting an overhaul on our Phil
Wood hubs at the Phil Wood factory, plan a couple of days to do this, it is
taking longer than I thought it would. We are staying with an old college
room mate of mine, we haven't seen each other in 18 years, whoa, that is a
long time. Boy is it good to be back in the USA.
October 24 San Jose
to Canyon Rock State Park 13 miles. We left Amy and Owens house after
we had cast our early vote ballot and sent it back to Arizona. It was
good to visit with Amy and Owen and I am just so amazed at how fast the
years have gone by. It is good to see that they have done well. Their
daughters Kerry and Rachel will be in University for the next couple of
years, the time that I met them, boy it seemed like yesterday Amy and I were
room mates, hiking in the Grand Canyon, and hitch hiking to Sedona.
took us over two hours to ride up route 9 towards Castle Rock state park.
Up at 2,600 feet the air was warm and the night clear. It is a strange
phenomena in this area, the higher in elevation the warmer the air
temperature, and the lower in elevation the lower the temperature, the fog
can be so cold to ride in.
October 25 Castle Rock State Park to Santa
Cruz 28 miles. I was glad we had all morning to descend through the
redwoods down to Santa Cruz, as soon as we entered town we picked up the
bike path down to the waters edge. It was Saturday and a surfing
competition was in full swing. The surf and surfers were amazing, not
since Australia have we seen such a surfer culture. the waves that
broke right in town were amazing, even more amazing were the surfers, In the
end, a local boy called Nat won the competition, the first since the 1980s.
We made our way over to Joel's house, one of the bike to surf crew and we
pitched our tent in his back yard. We had a great barbeque that
Oct 26 Santa Cruz. I love Santa Cruz and I'm not even a
surfer. What I didn't realize is Santa Cruz has great mountain biking too.
Tim and I took a bike tour of UC Santa Cruz with our friend Aj.
October 27 Santa Cruz to Monterey 50
October 28 Monterey to Andrew Morelo State Park 31 miles
29 Andrew Morelo State Park to Kirk Creek 32 miles
October 30 Kirk Creek
to San Simeon State Park 40 miles
October 31 San Simeon State Park to
Morro Bay State Park 26 miles