Thursday, June 30, 2011

Portland to McMinnville

Today is the start of the 550 mile tour out to the Oregon Coast and back to Mount Shasta. McMinnville is about 45 miles away which is perfect but there is no camping around there that was listed on-line. Chris suggests checking our where people list rooms like a B&B. I find one that looks nice for $60 and book it.

There were surely better ways to get to McMinnville but with my GPS not having a complete map set and me not being prepared with more detailed maps I decided to stick with the main road which is 99W. It is pretty busy and with the July 4th weekend coming up it was a non-stop parade of pickups with trailers, RV's, cars, and tractor-trailers.

Getting close to McMinnville now

Downtown McMinnville

I meet up with Marty and Paula my airbnb hosts. The "room" turned out to be the whole upstairs including a den/sitting room, a "Sun" room, bath and bedroom. Everything was very clean and tastefully decorated. There is no TV in your room if that is something important to you. The bathroom has a shower with no bath. I loved my stay here and felt very welcomed and quite at home. Paula and Marty also accommodated my touring bicycle. On top of this, the location makes it a ten minute walk to downtown McMinnville which has to be one of the top small city downtowns in the US. My only regret is not getting to sample local wines which appear to be in abundant supply with many wineries close by.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Train from Bellingham to Portland

The plan all along was to take the train and it was completely sold out, so lucky I already had tickets pre-paid for me and my bike. This train has a special baggage car with bike racks. You have to take your panniers off but do not have to box the bike and it is only $5 for the bike. So, with my AAA discount my bike and I travel to Portland for $46.

I get into Portland around 3:15 pm within 10 minutes of the schedule and decide to find the Stumptown Coffee House downtown which is famous in coffee snob circles. Downtown Portland is pretty edgy with lots of homeless looking people and many folks with that rasta/hippy/tatto-pierced up rough urban hipster look. It makes me feel a little on edge but man does that Stumptown macchiato hit the spot.

A month or so before a couple from Portland started and ended their bike tour at my house, so they had invited my to stay at their place. Joanie gave me a great route out to their house.

Good bike lanes on most bridges in Portland

Willamette River in downtown Portland

I hear someone calling my name and see Chris. We hang out at their neighborhood coffee shop which sells Stumptown coffee. The local discussion is whether locals are going to continue supporting Stumptown because it has been bought by a bigger company. People love the coffee but are not sure about giving the company their money now. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Orcas Island to Bellingham

On the 28th I bid farewell to my Tai Chi family and head off to Bellingham. Rode about 45 miles today and was craving fried oysters the whole way. There was an oyster farm along the way but they did not shuck or prepare oysters there so that did not work out.

I had tried to find a host but it did not work out so I pricelined the 3 star Best Western for $60. Very nice hotel and room and it is next door to a Fred Meyers superstore where I can get food and beer.

Orcas Island

The next five days are off the bike and it is nice to have this time to focus on something else besides riding. The Tai Chi camp at Moran State Park is very good and there is plenty of information and ideas for me to explore in my set for a long time.

One day a group of us drove up to Mount Constitution and then walked up the tower. Incredible views! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

San Juan Island to Orcas Island

Wednesday night the wind starts howling and it is loud. Luckily, there is no rain but the buffeting of the windows and screens wake me up several times. Even though it is only 5 am I decide to get going and make the early ferry to Orcas Island where I will spend from Thursday June 23rd until Tuesday June 28th at the Bob Fong Tai Chi camp lead by Bob with guest appearances by Master TY Pang who taught Bob and the two teachers in Mount Shasta that I have studied with the last 10 years.

The early morning light made this old dilapidated house look like something from a Lord of Rings movie. I get a very good cappuccino downtown at Cafe Demeter. Then I got on the ferry.

On the ferry I meet up with one of the locals, Kelly, I met up on Cady Mountain. We talk about how magical it is up on that mountain and he tells me that though the wind last night was pretty big, it is another whole experience in a storm.

The views off the ferry are spectacular.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

San Juan Island

I wake up in the Cliff House and am just blown away by the views from here. It is a spartan little place with the shower in an outbuilding about 100' away and the bathroom in the main house, but, this is like being on the top of the world.
Difficult to show how it looks up here.

So, after eating some apple and yogurt I brought yesterday it is time to explore the island a bit. There is a nice 20 - 25 mile loop around the island. Over at the state park I meet Eugene who is the campground manager. We talk for awhile and he tells me there is a hiker/biker site there that has never filled up. We talk of travel and then discover we are both of Polish ancestry and that Poland is his favorite travel destination due to good food, beer, people, and reasonable costs - that got added to the bucket list and maybe someday will happen.

Touring through downtown to get some food stores this wonderful view of the bay presented itself. The flowers were in bloom and it was lots of fun to just ride along and enjoy the views.

Alpacas recently shored.

These alpaca were at the Krystal Acres farm. After completing the tour round the island this time I made it up the hill to the Cliff House without walking since the bike was not weighted down with all my gear - yea!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sidney, BC back to the US San Juan Island

The ferry to San Juan Island does not leave until mid-afternoon so I decide to check out Butchart Gardens. It was only about an 8 mile ride from John and Kumiko's so I decided to pack everything up and be ready to go and then ride over.

Butchart Gardens is an estate originally owned by Jennie and Robert Pim Butchart and is 55 acres in size. The gardens and estate are very beautiful and seemingly well cared for since everywhere I went there were usually 3 workmen doing something like trimming bushes, fixing a structure, painting, etc. Though I enjoyed touring the grounds the $30 price seemed a bit steep.On the other hand, how do you put a price on enjoying such beauty?

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Downtown Friday Harbor
I caught the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. I had no idea what to expect but immediately liked the downtown area that is right next to the docks.

The local grocery store has a great wine selection and I stock up on various food items and a couple bottles of wine. I have been told the road to where I am staying tonight is very steep.

I am figuring, no way will my bike get pushed up the hill. But, about half-way up Cady Mountain I give up and push the rest of the way. I am rewarded with an unbelievable view and find out my lodging will be a little cabin called the Cliff House.

Monday, June 20, 2011


John tells me of his favorite ride that leaves their house and heads into hills, swings through downtown, and then loops out the east side and then back to their house. It is about 50 miles and sounds great.

The ride into the hills through Growlland Tod Provincial Park takes me through an area undiscovered last summer. The landscape is lush and there are few houses. There is little traffic in this area and on the downhills it is fun to let the bike rip a bit without the panniers.

I get to the downtown area and decide to head back to the Swan Pub for a beer and lunch. The Pub is associated with the university in some way. All I know is they make very good beer and the food is better than average.

While sitting at the bar having a beer I talk with a couple other cycle tourists who have just concluded their trip up the Sunshine Coast of BC and then took a ferry over to Hariot Bay and Campbell River and then cycled back to Victoria. They lived in Vancouver but felt their trip was really over since after a ferry ride to Horseshoe Bay they would be home. I filed that away for a possible future trip since I heard about it from a couple other folks as well.

Then I recognize a patron that was in the bar last summer when Rick and I visited. Unbelievable, but, the same guy having his mid-day beer.
This is the guy though he had turned around

After finishing up the ride, I had dinner again with John and Kumiko who were just spoiling me as it were. I really enjoyed talking with them about our children and bike touring and life in general.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Anacortes to Sidney

Ken, Ann, Bill and the berries
Ken and I want to be at the ferry by 7:30 for the 8:25 am departure. According to Bill it takes about 20 minutes to get there, but, we think it is a good idea to allow for getting lost. So, we plan for a 7 am departure. That means getting up at about 5:45 to pack, eat, clean up and go. Ann made some great pancakes that we heaped fresh strawberries that Wendy and Ken brought along with blueberries and raspberries I had purchased. What a great start to the day!

We say our good-byes to our wonderful hosts, Bill and Ann, and then Ken, Wendy and I head to the ferry. We have an uneventful sailing and when we get to Sidney decide to hit the Safeway for Starbucks coffee and food. In my case that was a pannini sandwich of ham and swiss.

Ken and Wendy are going to Victoria and stay with Ken's mom for a few days and recuperate from their trip where Ken hauled a trailer with over 60 lbs of gear including climbing ropes and hardware for a little expedition they did. I am going to meet my next hosts, John and Kumiko who live about 10 miles from the ferry.


John and Kumiko have a beautiful home in the hills with unbelievable views. John and I go for about 4 mile hike where he "takes it easy" since he is recovering from shoulder surgery. For someone 13 years older than me I could not believe how good a shape he was in and I was breathing hard to keep up. He said he and his wife cycle or run every day and it sure did show.

View from the park above John and Kumiko's home
After a wonderful dinner at their house I get a great nights sleep.