The first leg – Arcata to Bellingham

Hello viewers, fans, family, and friends.

We’ve finished what we’ve been calling the first leg of our trip, Arcata, CA to Bellingham, WA. This distance took us four weeks. Some say that’s quick and others say we must have been poking around and taking our time. It’s about right for a bunch of average kids wanting to travel for 14 months on bikes and keep our cool.

In that time we’ve settled into our daily routine. One month into the trip and I’m not sure at what point the magnitude of what we’re going to do has sunken in. For me it really hasn’t. Maybe we’ve prepared for it so much by expecting to be on the road for over a year. But perhaps it’s the familiarity of the northwest that has kept the tour civilized, something you’d book with a tour guide.

As a part of our presentations we now give a summary of our trip so far. The pictures are all posted but the details need some filling in.

Our first week takes us through the familiar redwoods and into Oregon. The weather tends to be moist, in the 50s, but with a tailwind.

We experience high winds that stop us in our tracks at Humbug Mountain.

The ride though Oregon on 101 is known for its amazing coasts. It’s incredibly scenic, but somehow the beginning of the trip lacks adventure. We’re familiar with the northwest. There are towns every few miles. We’ve toured this way before. The grand adventure through has started.

Without planning each day of riding, we camp in unique spots. The night before our first classroom presentation in Myrtle Point, OR, we camp next to a beautiful forest just a few feet from an ATV trail. We find a burned cow or horse not far from where we camp. One evening we’re staring at a carcass and the next morning sharing our trip with 3rd graders. The juxtaposing scenes are characteristic of a tour with a heavy dose of pirate camping.

We wrap up the week with a stay at Margret and Daniel’s place, playing music.

On our second week the road felt more heavily traveled and we were pushed away from the coast by dunes unsuitable for building on. It was turned into an ATV playground.

Somewhere around Dunes City, OR there was the first and really the only close call with a behemoth land barge of sorts, really our biggest danger of being on the road. Don’t worry mom. Wake up old timer behind the wheel!

We took the scenic way to Tillamook, biking on the three capes. There is more rain but more scenery. We decide to add on the miles in favor of the views. Each small hill makes us second guess our decision.

We bike to Seaside, OR, and in typical fashion make some last minute changes to our presentation. We speak to an art class for 20 minutes and spend the rest of the period drawing our dream commutes. We feel we make a connection with these 5th-8th graders, a group that’s not always easy to excite.  As a side note, many states across the country are experiencing budget cuts and unfortunately educational programs usually get axed. But art! How do you cut the art program?

By the end of the second week we arrive in Portland and tour the city with our friend, Aaron Antrim. Two days off from riding, but no real rest as we view the best the city has to offer, including Voodoo doughnuts.

By the end of the third week we’re in Seattle and the days are blending together. If you don’t journal sometimes the memories seem lost.

One night is spent on the Columbia River, watching barges go by.

The next is under a railroad bridge, but the romantic fantasy soon becomes annoyingly loud. The heavy rain soaks through the bridge and grease drips into our food and on the banjo and ukulele. The experience is worth it. There were few other options.

We travel to north to Tacoma and luck out finding a spot to camp as they are getting scarce closer to the city. It’s an old gravel mine, now overtaken with scotch broom. You can either hate invasives or enjoy them as worthy plants. As a group we’re split.

Our Washington presentation takes place on Vashon Island to groups of well behaved 5th though 8th graders. In fact, every 5th grader on the island, attending private or public school, got to hear us speak.

In Seattle, the “Miss Jackson” house was our next home away from home.

The fourth week takes us to Bellingham where we catch a ferry to Haines, AK. Cheating!? I think not. We’ll ride 1800 miles through Canada to claim Alaska, the expected scenic leg of the trip.

On Whidbey Island I’m bored of cycling. Not in the way that makes me want to quit, but more of a feeling that I’d rather sleep for a few hours in the grass instead of push the pedals.

It must be the lack of adventure. We have it too easy with towns every day and a million choices for food. We live like kings and queens. We need to have the wind howl once again.

We pack like rats in Bellingham for the 3 day ferry, buying and cooking as much food as possible for the long journey.

We reach the 1000 mile mark and celebrate with the hordes of college students finishing the semester the same day.

Wow! We’re on the ferry, heading to Alaska, the last frontier. It’s a well explored frontier by now, but fewer people, fewer stops, more picture time, more daylight, cheated or slighted from nothing, the real deal.

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