“This one is on me, and Welcome to America!’
Said the waiter at Billy’s diner in Burlington. What a lovely surprise! I’d just stopped in for a cup of soup as I was getting a little chilly.
I’d already been in the country for four days and came across some glorious converted rail tracks from Port Angeles.
After saying goodbye, good luck and see you later to a whole bunch of friends in Canada I really needed to move on.
I jumped on a ferry at Victoria and before I knew it I was in the United States of America!
Customs was much easier and more relaxed than I had anticipated and I was happy to start off on the Olympic discovery trail, as everything felt terribly heavy.
It could be the ridiculous amount of stuff I’ve collected, it could well (and more likely) be the amount of time I spent in a bar in Port Clements…
Either way it’s great to be outside and autumn is well underway here in the far NorthWest corner of Washington State.
The tracks took me through fields and forest, over old railway trestles,and down towards the Agnew grocery store. where Joanna enthusiastically welcomed me and offered me a space to camp. Since it was only lunchtime I decided to move along, but I had lunch with the store’s cat who reminded me of Halloween coming up and Joanna gave me a nice cap that I’ve been wearing ever since.
I found a nice little camp spot later that day,
The ride took me past native towns,
and even the sun came out to say hello!
I knew the mountains were right there, but I didn’t see them until after I got to Port Townsend, where Dan and Lys have a lovely house on a hill and are part of the wonderful web of warmshower hosts. Not only that…
They also happen to be bicycle touring legends!
As together with June & Greg Siple they were the FIRST people to ride down the Stewart Cassiar highway before they even finished building it! On their 1972 trip from North to south America.
If you happen to have a copy of National Geographic Magazine 1973 you can read the whole story of their adventures.
After a good rest they pointed me in the right direction with a bit of a plan
a good amount of food,And a next port of call just up the way.
Bill and Ann have a severely impressive adventuring resume! Not only have they done extensive bicycle touring,
They’ve lived in Peru and Bolivia, hiked the Appalachian trail and the Camino the Santiago.
If it hadn’t been to cloudy I would’ve gone rowing with Ann and her friends, but as it was we had coffee’s and that was pretty awesome too!
I started to figure out about the many bicycle trails and routes all along everywhere in this part of the world.
By now I was getting ready for some serious action but not before one more relaxed ride over flat easy roads,past waterways that reminded me of the Netherlands a bit.
After one more comfortable home stay with Don & Pat
I headed towards the hills.
I still had a trail I could follow that kept me away from traffic so that was really good.
Up the North Cascade road I went, slowly but steadily I stated climbing. Still wondering why things seemed so heavy. The weight..? My weight…? The incline…?
Probably all of the above.
It was beautiful!
I had hoped to get over the pass, but now the days are getting shorter and when it was getting dark and I saw a sandpit that would do perfectly as a campsite I pulled over.
At the same time a vehicle pulled up.
It is hunting season.
I would move if I was this deer… A father and son from Seattle were doing some target practise.
The noise would scare any animal away wich was helpful as I somehow lost my rope to hang food in trees.
Lucky I found a brand new old piece of rope on the road the next morning, but for now I just hauled my front panniers up some branches. I wasn’t too worried about them getting eaten by mice. As they already have. The man with the gun told me to be careful because last time he camped here he was sure there was not one, but three Sasquatch in his camp! (“yeah dad, but that was 15 years ago”)
So I went to sleep peacefully and only woke up from something running up my tent. Larger than a mouse, smaller than a Sasquatch. I saw the prints on the tents the next morning. Together with a thin layer of frost. Ah yes, if I am not careful winter will surely catch up with me this time. (yay!)
So I headed on up and over the hill.
It was a great ride down, but it did cool me down fast.
I just wished the sun would come out a little more often, so it promptly did the next morning.
I stopped at a store in Twisp and found the decorations a little odd.
But this is hunters territory. And even Parker, who is mostly vegetarian, stopped on his way home to Omak and shot a grouse. It tasted good!
I was happy to have another clear sunny day going downhill, at least part of the way, with a tailwind!
I had entered the Colville Reservation.
Here I found quiet roadsAlong the mighty Colombia river. Just a bit upstream is the Grand Coulee Dam that makes a lake of more than 200km’s! All the way into Canada.
But that isn’t where I’m going. I’d seen a road going over a hill and decided to check it out.
One small issue I came across is that there seem to be a lot of fences everywhere along the roads. It can make finding a suitable campsite a little tricky.
But Buck had seen me cycling up the road and told me I could camp on his land.
It was a perfect spot to see the moon rise.Buck lives here with his mum.They gave me a beautifully beaded purse when I set off in the morning.
My goal for the moment has been Spokane. So after crossing the Colombia river I had little choice but to cycle to the highway. To get there I had to climb a hill.
The landscape changed drastically just on the other side.I got to Spokane in time to catch up with Jim.
Who hasn’t really changed a lot since we first met when he travelled around Ireland a year-and-a-half ago.
He had a few days spare and so did I.
So we decided do something fun.
Like ride bicycles!
What can be more fun right?
Jim rented a bike and we rode the Couer d’Arlene rail trails. That was easy.We saw some nice sights,
a moose that didn’t do a very good job at hiding,
and a conveniently placed couch that made for a good little break.
We rode to Wallace and were surprised to discover we’ve made it to the centre of the universe!
It’s true! The signs all said so.
After getting of the trails we realised they weren’t all that bad, at least you didn’t need to deal with traffic.Another way not to have to deal with traffic is just to pick your roads right.
Like the aptly named ‘going-to-the-sun’ Road in Glacier National Park. At this time of year it’s closed to all traffic except cyclist and hikers. Perfect!We got some fat bikes for this one, it’s a bit of a hill getting to Logan’s Pass,
but what a road!
What a ride!
And man, what a view!
absolutely spectacularly stunning.
We kept stopping to take pictures and the snow got thicker as we got higher.
We were the only ones up there and the first ones to ride in the snow, there were no tracks except some from animals and we enjoyed every minute of it!
Even the bit when the snow got so thick we had to start pushing the bikes through.At about 4.30pm we got within a km from the pass, but it was starting to get dark.
So we decided to start heading back and by the time we got off the snow it was pitch black, and of course, prepared as usual, we didn’t have any lights.
So just being able to notice the yellow line on the road and singing really loudly in the hope not to crash into any animals on the middle of the road we made it back to the gate and to town to drink a celebratory whiskey.
Next day we did it all again! Just with a different type of bike.
And that was totally different but awesome fun as well.
This time we celebrated our ride with beer,
as Montana has a crazy amount of breweries scattered all across the place. It’s almost like heaven!
Montana is also home to the Adventure Cycling Organisation
Who have their office in Missoula.
The very people who started the organisation where these hero’s who cycled down the America’s in 1972. And by now I have met all of them! And some more.
The organisation started when, while on tour, Dan & Lys (top of page) and June & Greg (on the left) decided to organise a bike ride across the united states for the bicentennial in 1976.
4000 people cycled across the country that year of which 200 Dutch man and woman! I had no idea! (also I was not yet born)
That is how the organisation started. And now I had the honour to meet these wonderful folk, including Shawn and Arlen who graciously hosted me here in Missoula until I am ready to move along.
Am I lucky or what?
(bounce bounce bounce)