After a long train ride out West, we spent some great times traveling around Washington, British Columbia and Oregon by train, bike, bus, krr, boat, foot and dogsled. Ok, not the last one. We met lots of friends, old and new, and spent time in stunning natural beauty.
Idaho (Aug 29) Transit only
We passed through Idaho on the train to Seattle.
Washington (15 nights: Aug 29-Sep 3; Sep 8-18)
|Distance cycled:||326 mi / 524 km / 2,117,849 RJP|
|Elevation gained:||15,147 ft / 4,617 m|
|Elevation lost:||15,129 ft / 4,611 m|
Our route took us from Seattle up to Vancouver Island, British Columbia via the San Juan Islands, back to Seattle and then around the Olympic Peninsula. We cycled through incredible beauty in Washington and met really great people there. We also had some of the more challenging days of our trip so far in that state, both physically and mentally. We added the Olympic Mountains to our growing “must revisit with more time” list, but do not really recommend cycling the Olympic Peninsula. I had been looking forward to that ride for quite a while, but in the end it did not deliver. It was a nice ride, but the scenic views were too few and far between to be worth putting up with the absolutely horrible log truck drivers. These guys to date constitute the very worst group of people we have encountered on our trip, by a very wide margin. We felt in danger the entire time we were there and it is only a matter of time before someone is killed by their willful negligence.
We chose the perfect time to visit western Washington because the rains had not yet started and there was an unbelievable amount of apples, pears and especially blackberries available for picking on the side of the road.
The ferries throughout the San Juan Islands were a nice treat, although we didn’t see any whales. Orcas Island claimed both of our brake failures. On a steep downhill, Brandy lost a screw, which dropped the pad it was supposed to hold in place. This is a serious design failure in some otherwise excellent brakes. Luckily she was able to find the pad and poached a screw from another, less crucial spot. I had a brake cable snap while coming down a very large hill. Luckily I had been on the road previously and knew I could coast it out without worrying about some busy junction or crazy potholes. I would find out in a couple months that I had made a serious rookie mistake of not investigating why it snapped (hint: that should never happen).
British Columbia (5 nights: Sep 3-8)
|Distance cycled:||85 mi / 136 km / 549,770 RJP|
|Elevation gained:||2,155 ft / 657 m|
|Elevation lost:||2,178 ft / 664 m|
We had a short, but sweet visit to Vancouver Island. The cycling was fantastic and almost entirely on trails. Our host in Sooke, Justin had been a Couchsurfing guest of ours in NYC back in 2013 right after we first decided to take this trip. We stayed at his parent’s beautiful B & B / blacksmith shop and had a good time catching up.
Victoria is a cute, but pricey town where we had the best sushi of our lives and our first intro to bike polo! I think this town has some good soul, but we just weren’t there long enough to get too far into it. My cousin came down to meet us and we took a krr trip out to the isolated tourist town of Port Renfrew. Everyone says this part of the island is incredibly beautiful. It is definitely pretty, but I was a bit underwhelmed, perhaps because the coast here is so much like Lake Superior so the scenery was not much of anything new for me. We got some more time with BIG trees, which is always magical.
Vancouver Island is HUGE. We only got to see a tiny part of it. Hopefully we’ll get a chance for further exploration in the future.
Oregon (23 nights: Sep 18-Oct 9; Oct 16-18)
|Distance cycled:||215 mi / 346 km / 1,398,469 RJP|
|Elevation gained:||4,340 ft / 1,323 m|
|Elevation lost:||7,926 ft / 2,416 m|
I had not been back to Oregon since I lived there in 2008, so I was excited to come back to this place I loved, but I was also nervous that it might have changed, or I might have changed or my expectations would prove ruinous in one way or another. I am happy to report that Oregon withstood the scrutiny. Portland was as comfortable and welcoming as ever. I was a bit disappointed to find that the city seemed to have stagnated a bit in terms of cycling infrastructure and ridership. Portland was still high on its early cycling successes when I lived there and there was so much optimism about capturing an even greater share of travel. They hadn’t backshifted, thankfully, but there did not seem to be much new, aside from a sweet car-free bridge they were about to open. People I spoke with in the industry seemed a bit disheartened about some negative governmental changes and lack of energy. The low-hanging fruit has been picked and the momentum doesn’t seem to have been enough to take it to the next level. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome city for cycling. I was not at all surprised after six years living in New York to find Portland much smaller and quieter than I remember.
I was not at all let down in the brewery department. There are tons of good ones and we even took a brewery bike crawl one day. On the west coast I discovered that it’s not that I don’t like IPAs, I just don’t like crappy, stale East Coast IPAs. The difference is night and day. On the flipside, IPAs are great on the West Coast, but the diversity seems to be a bit limited. Everyone makes great IPAs, but not much else. It could be worse though, it could be 1976 and everyone could be making light American lagers only.
We also made it down to Bend, and so did our bikes despite being strapped to the top of a Ford Focus. The town was a little more car-oriented than I expected, but we had a nice time, and again, the breweries did not disappoint. The ride over the mountains to Corvallis was spectacular and we got some hot springs action.
We had been looking forward to cycling the coast down to visit my family in Humboldt County, CA, but when we compared the timeframe with the distance, it was looking like we’d have to do some heavy pedaling and I was starting to have some pain that couldn’t be ignored. When my friend Araby offered us the use of her krr AND said she’d go with us to the Phish show in Eugene, it was a done deal. I realized that I probably would not have enjoyed cycling the coast too much anyway. There is too much tourist traffic, not enough shoulders and not enough views. I think the way to see it would be to hike the Oregon Coast Trail and I intend to do that someday. The sea has captured my affection on this trip in a way it never has in the past. Although I consider Humboldt County to be part of the Pacific Northwest in spirit, it’s still in California, so I will lump it in with my Southwest summary.
My conviction that Oregon is a very special place has been reinforced. We had an incredible time checking out some new parts, drinking delicious beer and best of all, reconnecting with some great friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I have also had my conviction reinforced that krr travel is for the birds. It could be great for certain things (like Phish tour!) and some of my greatest childhood memories are of grand road trips out west. These are the trips that started it all for me! But man, sitting in a krr driving around just sucks the life out of me these days. It puts me into a state of hypnosis where I just float unconsciously from one place to another. The air is stale, even with the windows rolled down, there is no connection to the places we pass through and I become insanely tired for no reason at all. After all the cycling touring I have come to realize just how much of the experience of a place is missed when boxed in.
Well, we’re back in the USA for the summer. What better time than now to finally post the summary of our travels in the USA last year?
What follows contains excessive quantification of our activities from my last day at work, May 2nd, 2014 until we crossed the border to Mexico at Douglas, Arizona / Agua Prieta, Sonora on Christmas Eve, 2014. I kept track of a bunch of random useless information with respect to our cycling, sleeping, breweries visited, transit used and other stuff so put on your nerdiest glasses and get ready for the good times. I have broken it into the following posts:
This post contains our overall numbers for USA/Canada for a bunch of different categories. The regional posts contain brief-ish reviews of what we did in each state and some photos.
We entered 24 US states and 1 Canadian province, but 3 of those were drive-thru and 5 were train-thru:
– New York (May 2-7; May 16-19; Jun 24-27; Jul 1-14)
– New Jersey (May 7; May 16; May 19-20; Jun 24)
– Pennsylvania (May 7; May 16; Jul 14) Transit only
– Maryland (May 7; May 16) Transit only
– West Virginia (May 7; May 16) Transit only
– Virginia (May 7-16)
– North Carolina – Lewis only (May 13-14)
– Georgia (May 20-21)
– Hawaii (Jun 21-23)
– Vermont (Jun 27-Jul 1)
– Ohio (Jul 15)
– Michigan (Jul 15-17)
– Indiana (Jul 17) Transit only
– Illinois (Jul 17-22)
– Wisconsin (Jul 22-Aug 27)
– Minnesota (Aug 27-28) Transit only
– North Dakota (Aug 28) Transit only
– Montana (Aug 28-29) Transit only
– Idaho (Aug 29) Transit only
– Washington (Aug 29-Sep 3; Sep 8-18)
– British Columbia (Sep 3-8)
– Oregon (Sep 18-Oct 9; Oct 16-18)
– California (Oct 9-16; Oct 18-31)
– Nevada (Oct 31-Nov 4)
– Arizona (Nov 4-Dec 24)
We cycle toured in 12 states: New York, Hawaii, Vermont, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona; and 1 province: British Columbia. This brings our state cycle touring total up to 17, with the inclusion of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Maine and one duplicate, Wisconsin from previous tours.
|Total USA & Canada Cycling|
|Distance cycled||2,080 mi / 3,347 km / 13,516,150 Ron Jeremy Penises (RJP)|
|Elevation gained||62,106 ft / 18,930 m|
|Elevation lost||64,608 ft / 19,693 m|
|Paid (inc. camping)||43|
|Drove All Night||1|
We were in a bed almost half of the nights of our trip, which seems crazy when I look at it, but it makes sense considering how much we visited friends and family. The hammock nights were woefully few because we kept chasing autumn down the west coast and nights were a bit too chilly. Luckily we were able to dust them off once we got to the coast of Mexico.
We spent the most nights with friends (thanks guys!), including a handful of nights with friends of friends. We had no specific host on 82 nights, but this category is varied because it includes wild camping, park camping, hotels and hostels. Family put us up for 39 nights, which is actually a bit less than I thought it would be.
Other Miscellaneous Crap
Here is some more miscellaneous crap we kept track of.
|River / Stream||12|
Yes, I know camping in arroyos is foolish, but it’s also the best place to camp for every other point aside from being washed away in the night.
We would have loved to have way more fires than that, but I’m pretty conservative about the conditions in which I’ll build one, especially in the desert. The backpacking nights come from four hikes: Na Pali Coast; Pololu Valley (I barely count this because it was a 45-minute hike in and out); Lost Coast Wilderness; and Superstition Wilderness. All four of these places demolish anywhere else I have backpacked in amazingness factor. Most of the 23 concerts are Phish, but we did also see Primus on the Primus and the Chocolate Factory tour, which was one of the best concerts I’ve seen. Two weekend music festivals make four nights and very good times. Mosquitoville nights are nights where the mosquitoes are “out of control” and are not good times until you’re in your hammock laughing maniacally watching the bastards bouncing off the net.
We spent 38 nights on public land (5 in official Wilderness Areas). Below is the breakdown by agency or type.
|Public Land Management Entity||Nights|
|Other state land||1|
Ethan Allen Express: Saratoga Springs, NY-NYC
Lakeshore Limited: NYC-Toledo, OH
Wolverine: Jackson, MI-Chicago, IL
Empire Builder: Columbus, WI-Seattle, WA
Coast Starlight: Eugene, OR-Oakland, CA
California Zephyr: Richmond, CA-Truckee, CA
Metra Union Pacific North: Clybourn Station Chicago, IL-Kenosha, WI
Sounder: Seattle, WA-Everett, WA
BART: Oakland, CA<->Berkeley, CA
BART: San Francisco, CA-Richmond, CA
Caltrain: Bayshore Station San Francisco, CA-Palo Alto, CA
Caltrain: San Jose, CA-22nd Street Station San Francisco, CA
East River Ferry: Wall St-Greenpoint (home from my last day of work)
East River Ferry: Randall’s Island Special
Washington State Ferries: Anacortes, WA-Orcas, WA
Washington State Ferries: Orcas, WA-Friday Harbor, WA
Washington State Ferries: Friday Harbor, WA-Sydney, BC
Washington State Ferries: Sydney, BC-Anacortes, WA
Washington State Ferries: Clinton, WA-Mukilteo, WA
Washington State Ferries: Edmonds, WA-Kingston, WA (on a bus)
San Francisco Bay Ferry: Alameda, CA-San Francisco, CA
Kauai County Bus: Lihue, HI-Hanalei, HI
Kauai County Bus: Hanalei, HI-Kapaa, HI
Kauai County Bus: Kapaa, HI-Lihue, HI
Hawaii Island Hele-On Bus: Kona, HI-Hilo, HI-Pahoa, HI
TheBus: Pupukea, HI-Honolulu, HI
Olympic Bus Lines Dungeness Line: Seattle, WA-Port Angeles, WA
The Wave (Tillamook County): Tillamook, OR-Portland, OR
*I believe that all of these but the Dungeness Line are operated as local, fixed-route bus services, but I am categorizing them as intercity because of the distances.
We had our bicycles with us for the most part, so generally did not use local public transit, despite my professional interest. However, we did use local transit in the following cities:
Atlanta, GA (rail)
Chicago, IL (bus & rail)
Milwaukee, WI (bus)
Phoenix, AZ (rail, we tried to use the bus, but after three passed us with full bike racks, we just rode the 25 miles)
These are all trails we rode on for more than some short, half-assed amount. What that cutoff means is chosen arbitrarily of course.
|East River Trail||New York||Manhattan|
|University Parks Trail||Ohio||Toledo|
|Centennial Trail||Ohio||Toledo area|
|Pike Bike Trail||Wisconsin||Kenosha|
|County Bike Trail||Wisconsin||Kenosha & Racine Counties|
|Root River Pathway||Wisconsin||Racine|
|MRK Trail||Wisconsin||Racine County|
|WE Energies Trail||Wisconsin||Racine County|
|Oak Leaf Trail||Wisconsin||Milwaukee County|
|Ozaukee Interurban Trail||Wisconsin||Ozaukee County|
|Eisenbahn State Trail||Wisconsin||Washington County|
|Sheboygan Interurban Trail||Wisconsin||Sheboygan County|
|Friendship Trail||Wisconsin||Calumet County|
|Fox River Trail||Wisconsin||Calumet & Brown Counties|
|Wiouwash Trail||Wisconsin||Shawano County|
|Mountain Bay Trail||Wisconsin||Shawano County|
|51/29 Trail||Wisconsin||Marathon County|
|Green Circle Trail||Wisconsin||Portage County|
|Wisconsin River Trail||Wisconsin||Wood County|
|Southwest Commuter Path||Wisconsin||Dane County|
|Badger State Trail||Wisconsin||Dane County|
|Capital City Trail||Wisconsin||Madison|
|Highway 2 Bike Path||Washington||Snohomish County|
|Centennial Trail||Washington||Snohomish & Skagit Counties|
|Tommy Thompson Trail||Washington||Skagit County|
|Lochside Regional Trail||British Columbia||Vancouver Island|
|Galloping Goose Trail||British Columbia||Vancouver Island|
|Interurban Trail||Washington||Snohomish & King Counties|
|Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop||Washington||Seattle|
|Olympic Discovery Trail||Washington||Clallam County|
|Waterfront Park Trail||Oregon||Portland|
|(San Francisco) Bay Trail||California||San Mateo County|
|Guadalupe River Trail||California||Santa Clara County|
|The Wiggle*||California||San Francisco|
|Pioneer Trail||California||Nevada County|
|I-225 East Beltway Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|St. Rose Parkway Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|Amargosa Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|UPRR Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|Arrowhead Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|River Mountains Loop Trail||Nevada||Vegas Area|
|Arizona Canal Trail||Arizona||Phoenix|
|Sun Circle Trail||Arizona||Phoenix Area|
|Other unnamed canal trails||Arizona||Phoenix Area|
*Note that the Wiggle isn’t really a trail, but it’s cool enough to mention here. It is a signed route that “wiggles” through many blocks to follow the best grade east/west to reach the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park.
Breweries & Other Alcoholeries
We also visited the following breweries and makers of other fine alcoholic substances. I’ve noted where we filled a growler, just because.
|Dirk the Norseman||New York||Brooklyn|
|Brooklyn Brewery||New York||Brooklyn|
|Crank Arm Brewing Company||North Carolina||Raleigh|
|Kona Brewing Company||Hawaii||Kona|
|Grand River Marketplace||Michigan||Jackson (growler)|
|Haymarket Pub & Brewery||Illinois||Chicago|
|Saint Francis Brewing Co.||Wisconsin||St. Francis|
|Sprecher Brewing Co.||Wisconsin||Milwaukee|
|Red Eye Brewing Co.||Wisconsin||Wausau|
|Bull Falls Brewery||Wisconsin||Wausau (growler)|
|Hydro Street Brewing Co.||Wisconsin||Columbus (growler)|
|Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub||British Columbia||Victoria|
|Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery||British Columbia||Sooke|
|Astoria Brewing Company||Oregon||Astoria|
|Nehalem Bay Winery||Oregon||Nehalem|
|Hopworks Bike Bar||Oregon||Portland|
|Hair of the Dog Brewing Co.||Oregon||Portland|
|Base Camp Brewing Company||Oregon||Portland|
|Crux Fermentation Project||Oregon||Bend|
|Deschuttes Brewing Company||Oregon||Bend|
|Block 15 Brewing Co.||Oregon||Corvallis|
|Flat Tail Brewing||Oregon||Corvallis|
|Lost Coast Brewery & Café||California||Eureka|
|Redwood Curtain Brewing Company||California||Arcata|
|Rock Wall Wine Co.||California||Alameda|
|Magnolia Brewing Co.||California||San Francisco|
|Southern Pacific Brewing||California||San Francisco|
|Mother Bunch Brewing||Arizona||Phoenix|
|Prescott Brewing Co.||Arizona||Prescott|
|Beaver Street Brewery||Arizona||Flagstaff|
|Hops and Vines Winery||Arizona||Sonoita|
|Hannah’s Hill Winery||Arizona||Sonoita|
I could go into all sorts of additional detail with crazy maps and reviews and plenty of other crap, but I’m going to leave what remains of my eyeballs in my skull and leave it at that. The next post will begin the less detailed state summaries. The first will be the East Coast & Hawaii (Hawaii included because it was sandwiched in time by the East Coast).