Back to Reality

Lake Louise

Last Friday we officially made it back home from our wonderful trip. Although it’s only been a week it feels so long ago that we were cycling the west and snuggling into our sleeping bags at night.

The last time I gave an update we were in Nanaimo. From there we continued westward on Vancouver Island to check out Tofino and then spent a few days in Victoria, where we reached 2000 miles. We took a ferry back to the US to Port Angeles, took a hike on Sunset Ridge in the Olympic National Park, camped for the last time at our very first campsite (Manchester State Park) in Port Orchard, and finally went back to Seattle to catch our flight home.

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

my dad skipping stones on the ocean in Tofino

taken at the Butchart Gardens

taken at the Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

more Butchart Gardens

over 2000 miles!

over 2000 miles!

beautiful Victoria!

beautiful Victoria!

Sunset Ridge

Sunset Ridge

This really was a trip of a lifetime and I’m so incredibly grateful that my parents and I were able to make it happen. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for bringing me along on this trip. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as happy as I was during those six weeks. It was like we were in our own little bubble of unreality where we didn’t have to think about real world problems. I’ll definitely miss the adventure of it all, that satisfying feeling at the top of a mountain pass, not knowing exactly what the next day will bring, and cracking up with my mom while secretly taking pictures of my dad sleeping … no, Dad, I won’t post the pictures. 😉 Heck, I’ll even miss getting lost from time to time.

I’m naturally a very practical person. I do the things that are expected of me in life and rarely spend my money on things outside my necessities. However, I don’t want to live my life being boring and not experiencing the things I dream of. This trip really made me realize that we only have so much time on this earth. We’re not guaranteed the next day in life so CARPE DIEM!

What’s next for me? I’m starting my senior year of college (I know, crazy!). In terms of athletics, I’m getting back into my normal running routine. I was able to keep up some mileage when I was biking and got a lot of practice running on tired biking legs. I know I’m fit right now, but biking fitness isn’t the same as running fitness. The sports use different muscles, so I’m planning on gradually building up this fall and possibly doing a couple of shorter races in October or November. My long-term focus will be on the Boston Marathon. Registration opens up in mid-September, so hopefully I’ll get a spot with my qualifying time.

at the beginning of our journey

at the beginning of our journey

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Not in Kansas Anymore

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We’ve officially made it into Eastern Oregon. Since Eugene we’ve been traveling East to Prineville, Sisters, Ochoco National Forest, Dayville, Bates, and finally Baker City. The scenery has changed so much and we’re amazed that all these different landscapes are in just one state. The coast had huge cliffs into the ocean with long stretches of beach, then lots of rolling hills and greenery, which actually reminded me a bit of Vermont, and the Eastern part is more desert-like with huge mountains, buttes, and sage. It’s called a high desert and my parents and I agreed that we’ve never seen anything like it. The painted hills were incredible and we felt as if we should be riding horses instead of bikes and wearing cowboy hats, not helmets.

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We passed our first 1000 miles today! Woot! We had our first big climbs, which put any hill I’ve biked up before look like a piece of cake. The Cascades are no joke. We’ve climbed up the Ochoco Divide, Keys Crest, Dixie Pass at the tallest 5277 ft, Tipton Pass, and Sumpter Pass. We’re biking mountains! As long as we take it slow and take breaks when we need to we can make it to the top. The Road to the Sun might be a different story, but we’re going to give it our best shot!

There have been a variety of other bikers that we’ve met along the way. Yesterday we passed by Mike from Junea, Alaska who was traveling in the opposite direction. It’s interesting to exchange stories with people and give/get tips for what’s to come on our adventures.

Mike from Juneau

Mike from Juneau

There also hasn’t been much cell phone service on this leg of our journey. It’s been a little unnerving seeing “no service” on my screen all day, but I’m glad we’re traveling together. My mom has been sticking more closely to us because we just can’t contact each other by phone otherwise. It’s been a huge help having her as our support person for this trip. Yes, people bike tour without a support vehicle, but we wouldn’t be able to go as far because we’d be carrying so much more stuff and we wouldn’t have a dry car to hop into when it starts pouring rain. Most importantly, is that she watches out for our safety. We used other touring maps to help plan our route, but some of our route isn’t on those maps and there’s no way of knowing what the roads will be like. Sometimes there are huge shoulders with smooth pavement, but once in a while it’ll be winding roads with no shoulder and huge logging trucks going by. When things get too hairy we can load our bikes onto the car and be driven until it is safer. Other cyclists don’t have that luxury, and for that we are extremely thankful. Thanks, mom! Plus, it’s been fun having a running buddy with me at the end of the day.

We made the decision to skip ahead by car for a few days of our trip in Idaho. That way we can really explore Vancouver Island and maybe see a little bit more of Seattle. We’re more interested in those parts of our trip versus what we would see in Idaho (no offense, Idaho, I’m sure you’re great, but we only have 6 weeks). This way we’ll feel less stressed about getting to the end and will really have the time to explore what we want.

Also, a very important announcement is that my dad and I finally came up with names for our bikes. His is Silver and mine is Brawn. That way he can say “High Ho Silver!” and I can say, “Come on, Brawn!” Your mind goes to some weird places when you’re on your bike for hours on end each day.

A Funny Story: In case you wanted to get your laugh in for the day, I’ll let you in on a stupid story that happened to us the other morning. In the Eastern part of Oregon apparently it’s popular to water your lawns, which is foreign to us in Vermont because our grass is almost always green. I don’t really understand it as green lawns look so out of place in a desert, but whatever floats your boat I guess. The other morning my mom and I were awoken to something hitting the side of our tent. Suddenly, she yelled, “the sprinklers!!!” My mom turned to panic mode and I of course just started laughing. Our tent wasn’t even on the grass, but on the dirt part of our tent site. We hadn’t been warned about the sprinklers and they got our fire pit, picnic table, and tent a sopping wet mess. It was a great morning.

That’s all for now. Happy Trails!

The Olympic Peninsula

The first four days of touring have been a success! We landed in Seattle on Tuesday, drove to Manchester State Park, then biked to Sequim Bay State Park, Lake Pleasant RV Park in Beaver, Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, and now we’re in Hoquiam, Washington. We’re making our way around the Olympic Peninsula on highway 101.

We’ve seen plenty of other touring cyclists in the past few days. I guess this is a pretty popular route and I can see why. The views have just been spectacular! I’ve never been out west and I thought the Green and White Mountains were pretty cool, but they just don’t compare to the views out here.

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We also saw a bald eagle today on Lake Crescent, which is the first one I’ve ever seen! My mom spotted it as it quickly swooped by us. I didn’t have time to take a picture, but I’ll definitely remember it. After all, the bald eagle is a symbol for our country.
The people we’ve met along the way have been very nice. People have gone out of their way to help us with directions, answer questions, or just be friendly. We had some very nice neighbors at our campground last night.

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

Jim, Jo, and their dog Bella

They trained sled dogs in Alaska and Jim even did the Iditarod! It was pretty amazing hearing about their stories, including one about encountering an angry moose during the race. Jo is also a blogger who writes stories of what happens just off the road. You can check it out at justofftheroad.us. Jim also does some beautiful photography, which you can visit at jimwoodphotos.com.

Also, did I mention the drivers here? I can understand why drivers in Massachusetts are called massholes. The drivers here will wait until it’s clear to go around us when we’re biking. At one point today when my dad and I took a break, two drivers stopped to ask if we were okay because they thought we were hurt or something. We assured them we were fine and just taking a break.

The weather has been pretty good as well. Although it’s been in the 80’s, it’s much drier heat than Vermont or Massachusetts. Although I know I’m sweating, it just evaporates and doesn’t stay on my skin. My clothes aren’t soaked at the end of the day with sweat. If I were biking in the 80’s in Vermont or Massachusetts it would be MUCH MUCH harder because of the humidity.

That’s all for now. Happy trails!