North Western USA (Blaine-San Francisco)

Trip Start Jul 10, 2004
Trip End Jul 09, 2005

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Flag of United States  , California
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

16th October 2004
Vacouver to Blaine
Got up, cleaned the boat, fetched bikes from the shop, picked up new contact lenses. Met up with Dale back at the boat, rode all our stuff ashore and somehow packed it all with the bikes in the back of his car. Dale then kindly drove us through the uncyclable tunnel and as a surprise all the way to the boarder! (Thanks Dale) Said our tearful farewells (to Dale and Canada) and then cycled into the USA. Usual rigmarole at customs before cycling into Blaine and around the bay to Patti and Lincolns house. We met them on the road like meeting old long lost friends. Took us to their beautiful home and showed us our room, it was like being back at the Venitian but better! Patti made a great dinner after Lincoln took us for a ride to see the Sandspit with all its seabirds. Relaxing night, great company and down pillows!

17th October 2004
Lie in, completely relaxing day filled with great conversation. Went to see Zajal (Lincoln and Patti's yacht) also went shopping so Rach could cook traditional Sunday lunch. Got some videos, Mick and Lincoln watched Fahrenheit 9/11 whilst Rach and Patti cooked and talked. Beautiful meal and then relaxed Touching the Void, great film especially as we had all just read the book, perfect day!

18th October 2004
Sort out day on the internet, both of us rang home to speak to our mums which is a real treat (thanks Patti and Lincoln). When either of us were not tied the PC the other was having great conversation with Patti or Lincoln. We all went out for dinner down at an Inn on the bay, then back to the house were we learned to play poker (buckwheat!).

19th October 2004
Blaine to The Olympic Peninsular
Early rise to finish internet tasks, packed up, sad to leave the house, can't bear the thought to be back in the tent again. Lincoln and Patti drove us down the coast passed Deception Pass to the ferry across to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsular. Sad farewells as they waved us off, hope we can stay life long friends. Met a nice guy on the ferry called Ron who gave us bin liners for ponchos. Cycled to Leland where we pitched up for the night by the lake, all alone in the wilds again!

20th October 2004
Leland to Potlatch
Long hard day cycling over Mount Walker Pass. Stopped for lunch at the Hungry Bear Cafe for seafood and chips. Stopped at a nice shop to pick up supplies and got talking to an MG fanatic and an ex-Boeing/BAe employee. Got to the state park at Potlatch, met Larry and Wendy the park hosts who got a fire going and gave us beer and pie.

21st October 2004
Potlatch to Montesano
Met an interesting English couple who had taken 18 months of work to travel North America, unlike us they had an RV and good bikes!!! Said goodbye to Larry and Wendy who gave us plenty of bin liners to help keep rain out of our paniers. Long hard day, stopped at McCleary for tea and egg muffins, lovely photos of the owners baby on the fridge before we left mum and baby popped in to meet us. Made good speed in the afternoon on highway 12 passed Elma. Got to Montesano and climbed a two mile hill to get to Lake Sylvia state park which was picturesque. Lots of Canadian geese. Rach surprised Mick with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a chicken caesar salad dinner!

22nd October 2004
Montesano to Bay Center
Woke to rain, tent almost submerged in puddles of muddy water! Tough time packing up in the ladies toilets. Rach stuck arms onto the bin liners to make ponchos (we looked like a couple of tramps!). Got going and had a hard tough morning over Grays Harbour Hills, made it to Raymond exhausted so had a big breakfast for lunch, didn't live up to the Blue Bonnet but the pumpkin pie and cream was nice. Harder afternoon (if possible, still raining) but just kept on going even though it didn't seem to get us anywhere. Mick's wheel started to warp and Rach's squeaky pedals were worsening all the way. Took a right turn off the main road (Rach at this point lost faith in Mick's navigational skills!) but made it to Bay Centre KOA campsite after what seemed an eternity. Had a hot shower then down to the Blue Heron Inn for chess, beer in jars and clam chowder with the inbred locally locals! Cycled back in the dark not looking forward to a 6.00am rise to catch the bus to Astoria to get Mick's bike fixed.

23rd October 2004
Bay Center to Nehalem Bay
Woke to our alarm call bleary eyed and got moving as not to miss the bus. Tim from the KOA campsite arrived at 7.45am, as we were walking to the bus stop and told us he had been mistaken about the bus as it didn't run on Sundays. We looked so down and he felt so guilty that he offered to drive us to Astoria which was a god send. Crossed a huge bridge over the Columbia River to get to Astoria. Great bike shop, treated ourselves to some proper rain coats, wonderful breakfast at the Columbia cafe (crepes, hot jellies, fresh peppers!) Mick got his hair cut whilst Rach looked around the shops. Cycled from Astoria and kept going for miles, stopped for a walk on the sands at Cannon Beach which had wonderful views of a rock formation just out to see. Carried on and did two horrible mountains before reaching Nehalem state park. On the way whilst descending down a steep mountain side road we had a very close call when a car that was overtaking us hit a deer. We were appalled at the lack of care that the drivers showed the deer. Great state park Rach was particularly taken by the Yurts and we decided that we would try one before we left Oregon. (A yurt is a Mongolian wig wam with heating and a bed). Met a nice family a nice family Joyce, (Nascar) Bob, Jonathan and Stephanie who invited us to warm by their fire, they ended up feeding us and giving us a beer.

24th October 2004
Nehalem to Tillamook
Woke to rain so stayed in the tent and read, had a lazy morning. Sun finally came up, had tea with Joyce and played with her chocolate Spaniel. Walked over the dune behind our campsite on to the beach which had fantastic surf. Broke camp and cycled towards Tillamook. Took forever, bumped into numerous people who were either the image of Forest Gump or Homer Simpson! Disaster finding a camp site, ended up doubling back to an RV park on the edge of town across from the famous Tillamook cheese factory. Less said the better!

October 2004
Tillamook to Lincoln City
Got going early after finally putting a daily plan together the night before with set objectives for each day. Long day ahead getting to Lincoln city but felt good getting an early start with an objective in mind, good morning. Ate slop for lunch in Cloverdale (it was supposed to be turkey sandwich with mash and gravy) after arriving just as the rain started. Got absolutely soaked after lunch but were determined to reach Lincoln City. Hit Cascade Head Hill which was horrendous, two inches of water streamed down the thirty degree hill rolling through the wheels of the bike. After two hours of hell with the mist closing in around us we were finally reaching the top. A really nice guy called Bob seeing our plight stopped to give us a lift for the last few miles to Lincoln City. Dropped us at the Budget Inn where we got dry, clean and got our stuff aired off. Took the whole afternoon to get sorted and to relax. Went for a romantic meal in the evening before snuggling up in bed.

26th October 2004
Lincoln City to Waldport
Lady at the hotel took a shine to Mick and gave him access to the internet as well as a bag of muffins to take with us. Rach fell off her bike grazing her knee due to Mick's irresponsible cycling! Stopped at a cafe called Stephenies for lunch in Newport, great soup and a sandwich. Great afternoon cycling made lots of progress, finally reached Beachside state park. Long deserted flat golden beaches, went for a great walk down the beach and found a massive old washed up tree. Tough time getting to sleep as the ocean rollers crashed onto the beach behind the campsite, felt nice being snuggled in the tent.

27th October 2004
Waldport to Florence
Allowed ourselves a lie in as the weather promised to be good. Weather turned out even better but was still cold. Got all the way to Florence before stopping with the exception of one point after a dangerous tunnel and road works where there was a vantage point to watch sea lions surfing below us in the waves. Had a great game of mini golf which helped take our minds of the cycling for a little while before heading for Honeyman state park which was extremely pretty.

28th October 2004
Florence to Cape Arago
Massive day, weather terrible, stopped at Reedsport for lunch. Got to North Bend and thought we had done the hard work. Oh no! With shopping bags hanging of the handle bars we cycled via Charlston to Cape Arago (only eight miles but took forever!). Mick got extremely exasperated but held it together and finally we reached Sunset Bay state park which was spectacular. Got a Yurt, say no more!

29th October 2004
Cape Arago
Really great day, woke at 8.00 and stayed in bed until 11.00! Sun shining cycled (no bags hurray) to the end of Cape Arago to watch the seals and sea lions on Simpson Reef, we could hear them before we saw them, there were literally hundreds and several varieties. Then went down to the botanical gardens taking in views of the rugged coast all the way. Had a great lunch, wine and seafood our favourite at Charlston then headed back to the Yurt. Walked down to Sunset Bay where we strolled the beach and explored the rock pools as the sun set on the horizon. Rach went crab hunting knee deep in the rock pools and we found a shy raccoon. Relaxing night in the Yurt, good to be warm, have a seat and some light. Back on the road again tomorrow but feeling good after our short rest knowing that 70% of the 1800 miles are now done. Should take 12 more days of cycling to reach San Fran!

30th October 2004
Cape Arago to Port Orford
Back on the road again (funnily enough Mick's favourite song whilst cycling is now 'Back in the saddle again') and it took its revenge. Day started with the Seven Devils road, named for its seven hills which cars struggle on. Then it rained, hard! Made it to Bandon soaking wet and had lunch. Sun came out, we had an extremely long afternoon getting to Port Orford with stops along the way for internet and laundry. Beautiful scenery, legs were all but busted. Camped up in Humbug Mountain state park and shared a beer whilst suffering.

31st October 2004
Port Orford to Brookings
Fantastic sunshine, makes all the difference. Day started with a tough ascent and thrilling descent back down to the coast. Stunning beaches, whitened washed up logs which like dinosaur bones or an elephant graveyard. Very long day, legs drained from yesterday so suffered. Huge hill over Cape Sebastian after lunch at Gold Beach. Started to crack up in the late afternoon singing Halloween songs to keep our motivation up. Stayed on the beach at Brookings, went for beers and food in the Seafood Cove Inn. Watched American football, drank Guiness and Alaskan Amber, excited about reaching California tomorrow. Hit the sack only for Mick to realise he had a small lump where it shouldn't be. We are going to need to find a hospital tomorrow.

1st November 2004
Failed attempt to leave Brookings
We left the campsite in low spirits hoping to make it twenty plus miles to the hospital at Crescent City. The first thing we hit was a 30% hill, and if things couldn't get any worse, Mick's back tire blew!!! We stopped and whilst Mick took the wheel Rach went to ask for a bowl of water at a nearby house. Out came Ron with his now infamous spray. Before long we were invited in and persuaded to rest up overnight with Ron promising to take us to the hospital the next day. The hot tub was all the persuasion needed!! Ron and Heidi went out for the day, so we relaxed, watched tv and soaked in the tub!

2nd November 2004
Election Day!!!
Ron and Mick went to Crescent City, and beat a hasty retreat after being threatened with a 1000 dollar bill to see a doctor for 5 minutes!!! More hot tubbing and ibuprofen seemed a better option whilst we contacted our medical insurance company back home. The rest of the day was spent in heated discussion from politics to religion, lots of laughs, and another thank you meal made by Rach. Then we had a night of election fever with intermittent games of chess and cards. We were healing after so long in the saddle!

3rd November 2004
Brookings to the Redwoods! Welcome to California!
Bush won - unmitigated disaster, particularly for Americans and their civil rights, but also for the world - watch out Iran! For people back home in England, I can't tell you what an eye opener this trip has been for us, the USA is in perilous danger of becoming a fascist state (and we are not exaggerating!!! It had been a really close race, just Ohio making the difference, Kerry and Edwards' concession speeches were very eloquent. Ron and Heidi were great and we had a wonderful drive down the coast, stopping in Eureka for lunch in a brewery, then down the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway and the Avenue of the Giants where we saw the beautiful giant Redwoods! They dropped us at Richardson Grove state park and we tented, nestled at the feet of several majestic skyscraper trees!

4th November 2004
Richardson Grove to Westport Beach
Got up amidst the trees, quite a spiritual experience with the early morning rays of sunshine spilling between the trunks. Its hard not to walk up to them and press yourself against the bark! Struck camp and cycled via Piercy down to the Chandelier Drive Through Tree at Leggett. Nightmare morning constantly climbing. Things couldn't get any worse then did!!! We started to climb and didn't stop for 4 miles and one and a half hours, it was hideous! Once we summited we flew down the other side for 16 miles - what a rush! We thought we'd made it, then we started to climb again! Rach nearly threw the towel in, but thankfully we peaked this time after 2 miles of hard slog, then flew down the other side to the ocean, arriving to watch the last 15 minutes before the sun dipped down under the horizon. The Pacific truly is the king of oceans, it's majestic. We camped on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the beaches. Wonderfully clear night sky full of stars, but harshly cold after a day of brilliant sunshine.

5th November 2004
Westport Beach to Little River
Woke to lovely clear skies, bright sunshine and an over zealous state park official wanting his six dollars!!! Sat and watched the eagles soaring along the edge of the cliffs on the thermals, and played with the hungry seagulls. Packed up and got moving. Sharp ups and downs as we hogged the coastline. Bloody hard work, Mick's groin struggling now. Got to MacRicher state park and found an old disused coast road all the way to Fort Bragg, felt good to be adventuring like in a famous five novel again! Really enjoyed the privacy and being alongside the crashing waves. Big lunch at Denny's then cracked on. Nice afternoon finally reaching Van Damme state park early at 3pm, so set up and chilled out after a hot shower. 146 miles to go, we want to do it in 3 days, but know deep down that it will take longer, just can't admit it openly as our motivation is gone now. Walked up to the shop on the cliff, and found the Little River Inn, really great bar filled with folks up from San Fran for the weekend. Had a bottle of Pinot Grigio and brie. It was like being at home, doing the kind of thing we would do on a friday after a long week at work, not having seen much of one-another, in the kind of place and company we enjoy!! The fantasy faded when we got back to the tent!!!

6th November 2004
Little River to Gualala
Early start, we have to do this in 3 days or not at all!!! Hard but enjoyable morning, saw lots of eagles, bambies and a bob-cat lynx!! Unfortunately we also saw lots of hills and Mick's groin was starting to be a constant concern. Rach also was struggling as her hand wouldn't warm up after the descent down to Westport Beach. It was clear our bodies were starting to get to point were they were too tired to heal. However, we made it to our goal of Gualala which had been 47.6 miles of hill hugging coastline. One particular stretch had Mick pushing his bike up for the first time on the whole trip! We camped in a lovely state park next to another tent whose owners were clearly out for the day. This was unusual for us, as we usually liked our privacy, but it was the first spot and we didn't have the motivation to find another one! Sean-Paul and Joyce returned and we got chatting, what a lovely young couple. Sean-Paul lit a fire, we shared stories and played cards, eating banana and chocolate butties toasted on the fire...yummy! The funniest thing happened when a raccoon snook into our tent and stole a mars bar!!

7th November 2004
Gualala to Sebastapol
We were saved!!! The wonderful Sean-Paul and Joyce suggested we catch a bus down the coast to their home in Sebastapol as there was no way we could have got everything in the jeep. They arranged to meet us at 5pm in an irish bar next to the bus stop that served guinness (all the encouragement Mick needed!) so they could put us up for the night. They then suggested that they could run us the rest of the way down Highway 1 the next day to the Golden Gate Bridge!! Angels indeed!! The bus was great and we were so thankful not to be cycling as the terrain and state of the road was just downright unsafe. We arrived at the pub at 1pm, unfortunately giving us 4 hours drinking time (heaven!!!). Several pints of guinness and bloody mary later they picked us up and we had a great night back at the house, eating pizza and sharing stories.

8th November 2004
Sebastopol to San Francisco!!! We made it!!!
A very relaxing morning watching Lord of the Rings movies, listening to Joyce play her harps, and great conversation. In the afternoon after contacting Roxanne and John (our next foster parents and relatives of Ron and Heidi who had looked after us in Oregon), we set off down the last leg of the highway. It was a great drive, the highlight was sighting a couple of peculiar deer that are native to that specific region. We made it to the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, the timing was perfect. Being in the car made so much difference as we were able to climb up the hill to the best viewing spots, getting some great photos. Sean-Paul then drove us around the city, seeing the main sights, before heading over the Bay Bridge to Berkeley to Roxanne and John's home. We all had a delightful evening together chatting and drinking wine before a tearful fair well to Sean-Paul and Joyce. Roxanne and John have a lovely home, and we got a bed, heaven!!!

9th November 2004
Pleasant Hill Recuperation!
To say we did nothing this day is no exaggeration, we slept, we ate, we drank, we watched tv and conversed, then slept again! Blissful.

10th November 2004
Pleasant Hill Recuperation 2! The Recuperation Strikes Back!
Ditto yesterday with just slightly more activity. Mick cleaned the tent and bikes up, Rachael did laundry, went shopping and made a nice curry. We had great conversation, Roxanne and John are very stimulating, intellectually, politically and spiritually. Its been very good for the mind as well as the body being here!!!

11th November 2004
Napa Valley
John took the day off work and we took a day trip up to the Napa Valley. This was great as it was one of the things on our very first to-do list which we drew up in Italy 12 months ago, long before the chance of doing this trip became a real possibility. We took a great wine tour at the Robert Mondavi Winery, in the heart of the Napa Valley. We learnt so much about the process, in particular about Cabernet Sauvignon. We obviously had the obligatory tasting too! We learnt what a difference aging can make, its astonishing. We also had a lot of fun discussing who the best seven people (that lived during the last century) would be if we had to chose a group of people to run the planet going forward. Sounds heavy, but we had a lot of fun as well as learning a lot from Roxanne and John. John pushed very hard to get Bridgette Bardot in the list, Roxanne wasn't having any of that!!!

12th November 2004
Pleasant Hill Recuperation 3! The Return of Recuperation!
Another wonderful relaxing day, Mick heard that his house has finally been rented, which was a real lift! However it was at 2am, never mind, unfortunately Mick couldn't then sleep so stayed up all night reading a great book called Seven Tomorrows that John had suggested he should read. A real eye-opening read. John got tickets for us to see a concert in the evening in Berkeley by one of his favourite artists, Laurie Anderson. We are writing this just before leaving for the concert and can't wait!! Had a wonderful evening wandering the streets of Berkeley around the university, very lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere. The concert was an experience, first time we had been exposed to this kind of art, very thought provoking performance. Went for pancakes and coffee on the way home.

13th November 2004
Pleasant Hill Recuperation 4! Run out of titles now!
Relaxed, helped rake the lawns and collect leafs. Rach went shopping with Roxanne whilst Mick chilled in the back yard. John lit a fire in the back garden along with the barbeque and cooked some great steaks. We all sat around the fire under the stars, Mick and John playing chess, Rach and Roxanne chatting. Went in and watched a film called the Luzhin Defence about an excentric chess player back in the 1920's, got excited when we realised it had been filmed in our favourite place in all the world...Bergamo in Italy! Mick and John had to leave their chess game at a crucial moment with the end in the balance.....

14th November 2004
Pleasant Hill
John and Roxanne drove us into San Francisco, showed us the sights and took us for brunch at their favourite place, Perry's. Joyce and Sean-Paul drove down from Sebastopol and joined us for brunch, so nice having the six of us together. In the afternoon John and Roxanne went home and the four of us strolled around the streets of San Francisco taking in the main sights. Highlight of the day was seeing the sea lion colonly down at fishermans wharf followed by several pints of guiness in an irish pub. Bought a bottle of Glen Morangie for John as he had never had the pleasure of whiskey. Caught the bart (like our tube) back and met an excentric Jewish father christmas type figure who springled gold dust on our heads to Rachael's delight. Got back and watched God Father Two curled up on the big sofas. Mick stayed up and finished the game of chess with John and won which was a bit of a surprise. John went to bed promising to get his revenge the next night!

15th November 2004
Pleasant Hill
Early rise, caught the bart and then took a cable car ride up and down the hilly streets to the ferries to Alcatraz, did the audio tour which was really good. Got back to Pleasant Hill so we could get our final jobs and packing done for tomorrow. Made an advert for the bikes which Roxanne posted around the neighbourhood, can't believe they have agreed to take on the job of selling them for us, we don't know where the week has gone. When John got home another chess game ensued and John won back the San Fran title! Roxanne made a great shrimp dinner and we decided to have an early night as we were all going to get up at 5.00am so they could drop us at the airport. We finalised our group of seven pending Roxanne's agreement (Kennedy, Churchill, Einstein, Ghandi, Mandela, Dalai Lama, Schumacher - not the race car driver!). Looking forward to hitting the sunshine and surf in Hawaii tomorrow.
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