Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting Antsy!

Almost time to hit the road again. This has been the longest I've been off the saddle in months. Probably going to leave here tomorrow or the day after and head up to Whitehorse in the Yukon. About a 250 mile trek from here. Then after that head down to Skagway and catch the ferry to Juneau. Have to catch that ferry by the 10Th of August so it screwed with my plans a little. If I went with the original 1100 mile route through AK I would not have been able to get back down to Bellingham til the end of August.

My friend is planning on meeting me there on the 14Th and we will bike to Vancouver and then down the Washington and Oregon coast together. I may still make it to Burning Man. We'll see how it goes.

The festival here in Haines has been a blast. Well it's actually the South East Alaska State Fair. there are actually quite a few state fairs here. So most of the vendors and acts travel from fair to fair throughout the "summer." I put summer in quotes because we are in AK. The weather up here is quite finicky. It's raining out right now. So I had to muster up to get on the bike and trek the 7 miles into town in the rain. Didn't want to miss the state fair. The first night I felt like I was intruding on a family reunion. It's really small and quaint. The musical acts and entertainment have been amazing. Glad I stayed to experience this.

The decision to do a smaller route through the Yukon and back into AK I think is a good one. At first I thought I wanted to see all of AK. Sure it would be nice to say I've been there and done that. But it is so much nicer to spend time in one place. You really get to see the charm. Have already met a ton of people here and feel right at home. I'm sure if I wanted to stay I could do it very easily. But I have a mission ahead of me. I really am looking forward to biking down the Pacific Coast. Also looking forward to sharing part of this journey with another friend.

Hope everyone that is following along is having a great summer!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My Beard is gone!

Sitting at the Haines public library here in AK. They close at 9pm and give you one hour on the Internet. That is a pretty sweet deal when your traveling. And the fact that they are open so late is cool as well. Tomorrow is the start of the state fair here in Haines. That's why I have extended my trip here. It has also been nice to be off the saddle for a bit. Still been biking, but not 70 miles a day average. To get to town it's 7 miles each way. I'm really staying out in the "boonies." But then again AK is the boonies.

The house I'm staying at is tuff to leave. So nice to be there and chilling out. Been chopping and stacking wood for the past four days. Literally all I've been doing. Great upper body workout after doing so much on the legs. First day about wore me out. Then the consecutive days just got more and more fun. I've never chopped so much wood in my hole life. I remember telling my GF last year that I could just chop wood for a living. Well I got to see first hand how that would feel. Not sure it would pay the bills, but it will definitely make for a warm winter.

Learning quite a bit on how to live off the land up here. Been out to eat only a few times in Ak and the food is edible and the service is worse. Learning to cook and make do for myself. At the house I'm staying at we have a chef actually. She is staying in the yurt on the property. So we've done some cooking and then she just cooks and leaves food around. Then another couple showed up with their two kids yesterday. The wife stayed with Stephanie 18 years ago and is now traveling with her family in there VW Eurovan. They have 2 fantastic kids that are running me ragged. They are 5 & 7. Gotta love the energy that kids bring. She is also a really good cook, after this heading home to eat some pesto.

Really has been a great learning experience coming here to AK. Also have had a blast doing all these fun activities I've been up to. Cooking, chopping wood, helping build some bookcases, demolition and who knows what's next. Did go for an afternoon swim yesterday too. In the cove that the property sits on. It was hot for AK. Robin, the father of the two children needed help to get the Sea Kayak up the beach so it was perfect timing. It was cold but refreshing. After chopping wood for hours it was needed.

I made a deal with myself back in St. Louis. Was not going to shave til I jumped into the Pacific Ocean, fully submerged. I think going swimming in AK counts. But now I really like my beard and it's fits up here really well. Last night I had a few nightmares. Dreamt that when I woke up somebody had shaved my beard. Guess I'm growing attached to it. Then I dreamt I was back in NYC going to school and working again. Dreamt that I flew home to NY from AK. Was really upset that I didn't get to bike down the coast. Glad it was just a nightmare.

Should meet up with my buddy Casey in a few weeks and we're going to bike down the coast of Washington and Oregon together. Maybe as far as San Fran. We'll have to see how the timing goes. He may actually meet me up in Vancouver.

The highlight of my day was getting to skype with Ryla. They are five hours ahead of us here in AK. She was a bit tired. Can't wait to see her soon.

Also looking forward to spending some time at the state fair this weekend. Looks like they have some funky bands coming from all over the place to play. This town is pretty eclectic as well. So it could just be a fun place to people watch and eat some good fair food. Thanks for reading along.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

"You can never step in the same river twice"

Here is a link to some photos from the trip so far.

Long Haul Ryan

Plenty more to come after this. Just don't have the capability to upload a bunch of pix quickly with my phone only.

Still in AK. Loving it! Bit cold or chilly the past few days. But it is gorgeous up here. Staying in this great house on a beautiful cove. It's a friend of Diane's that I met in Juneau. Stephanie is the new host. Turns out her son who is a photographer lives three blocks away from me in Manhattan. It's a small world getting smaller. No phone service back here in the woods. This is a community of a few families that bought 87 acres back here in 1973. They have all since built houses and raised families. It's been great listening to Steph talk about all the history here and challenges of living in AK.

I'm getting concerned about things that are out of my control. So I'm just going to try and turn that all over. Have to continue my journey and live one day at time. Just really in my head right now.

May stay here in Haines til next weekend. The South East Alaska State Fair will be in town. I hear It can't be missed. Stephanie studied philosophy. She told me that is one of the lines that she loved back in college. "You can never step into the same river twice." It's very true and for her it means that you never know what the new day is going to bring. Everyday is different, enjoy it!

Time to make some pancakes with real maple syrup. Made banana bread yesterday with Theresa who is another of Stephanie's guest who is living in the Yurt on the property. That wasn't so successful, but fun. We tried to double the recipe and it didn't translate well. This has been like a big home ec class for me so far here in AK. Been cooking, building bookshelves and a little demolition. Also trying to conserve as much power as possible. Stephanie is also the head of energy conservation up here. So I'm learning quite a bit. If your not using it, unplug it. Turn it off and so much more. Surrounded by outhouses and compost. You really live a different lifestyle up here in AK. My life has been changed forever.

I should tell you a little about this home I'm staying in. It is three stories tall and I am staying on the third floor. They got all the wood from an old state building in town. The state was trying to figure out what to do with it. These good ole' boys offered to demolish it for $10,000. The folks that live here in the cove offered $11 to dismantle it, they won. Then they all built there houses from the wood they recovered. Just a real charming home set back in the woods surrounded by gardens and nature. There is a path through the yard that the moose like to take. Haven't seen any yet. Then right across the cove is a glacier. That is the view, a glacier with a beautiful waterfall flowing from it. The exterior of the house has windows that go up the three floors at a 60 degree angle. They used to have solar panels on them. She just got electricity here not to long ago. Living off the grid.

She's got a few addictions though. Reading and gardening! Not bad addictions. Thanks for following along. Time to make pancakes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good bye Juneau, hello Haines

It's been five days and four exciting nights in Juneau. Having no plans turned out just fine. Juneau has been another great city. Great folks with plenty of things to do.

The king salmon dinner with Jim in his friends was great. We had salmon, halibut and a bunch of other great food. Jim is a good cook. His place is great. We ate on his porch that overlooks downtown Juneau. He lives on Douglas island just across the channel.

That evening ended up going for a flight with my other new friend Jason in his cessna. It was a bit rainy and overcast so we just flew over downtown Juneau and the Mendenhall glacier. Very cool to see the glacier from above. You can really see the size and shape much better. The crevasses are really amazing to see. The blues on the glaciers are dope. You really have to see them in person. Also hearing a hearing a glacier calving is something else. Explosive thunderous sounds when the ice falls into the water.

Met one great person after another in Juneau. Hanging out with Diane all week was a joy. We built some book cases together. Tore the remainder of the roof off of her house. She put me to work and it was fun. All of her friends are great people too.

Today got one last hike in too. Went up to the glory hole on the perseverance trail. It was wet and I got soaked. But a great hike none the less. Ate some wild berries and saw some great views. Back in those mountains is rich with gold mining history and a lot of remnants. You can see the old mills back there.

Wednesday was a super long day on the Tracy Arm tour. A ten hour tour out to the glacier. The glacier was amazing and got to see a ton of wild life. Bear, whales, seals, mountain goat and eagles of course. Supposedly there are even more in Haines. Most of the people on that tour boat were from ny. Out of 27 peeps it was over 10 NY'ers. The captain was really good too. Great at spotting wild life and getting into all the nooks and crannys. He glided through the icebergs and got the boat right under some waterfalls so we could stick our heads under. "it was the beast" as my friend from new Zealand on the boat would say.

That's it's for now. Let's see how the rest of Alaska is. Have a great weekend! Look forward to hearing from you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm in LOVE!

Have the opportunity to type this blog on computer and going to take it. Typing blogs on Iphone is great cause I can add pix but is a chore and a half. I'll do a photo only upload after. I'm sitting in a beautiful home at the top of the hill that leads to the hiking trail, Persaverance. It's at the top of town here in Juneau. Most likely the steepest hill of my trip so far. My friend is house sitting for a good friend of hers and invited me to join. Then tomorrow she is going to house sit across the bridge on Douglas Island and invited me to stay there as well. So I may leave Juneau on Thursday or Friday.

Yesterday I fell in love. Got in on the ferry just before 5 in the morning. Packed up my stuff and took the 12 mile bike ride to town. There was a bald eagle in every tree. They are like pigeons here. Then I got about 4 miles out of town to Salmon Creek and was astounded. Hundreds of salmon spawning. With eagles of all types and seagulls praying upon them. It was truly a sight for me in person. I've never seen that or anything like it. Huge fish swimming in shallow water up stream. Only on TV.

Then I got to town and grabbed some breakfast. After that went and met a friend of a friend and she told me she had some contacts in Haines, which is my next stop. Then she invited me to stay with her for the next couple of days. She lives on a remote part of Douglas Island. We went to her house today by boat. She is house sitting for a friend and building a book case here in town. At her place she was tearing off an old big wood awning/roof type thing. She was having trouble getting this last support out to get it to drop. So I told her I would be of assistance. We were able to get the job done. It was super cool to hang out over there and experience that type of living. Outhouses, outdoor showers and the like. Cabins in the remote wilderness. Was also able to help her get all the wood cut for her bookcase and carry it up to where it is being built. "More hands the lighter the work."

Diane is her name and she is great. Moved up here when she was 21 and never left. She has a son and daughter a little younger than me. Full of useful info about Alaska.

My energy feels really good here. I've just met so many great people so far. Took a bike ride yesterday morning out the south road of Juneau. Got to this creek call Sheep Creek. Same thing, salmon spawning upstream. Hundreds of them. It was still real early in the morning. Also quite a few bald eagles hanging about and eating some salmon. So I got off my bike and went walking around the beach. Cruise ships were rolling in and so were a few fisherman. There were fisherman just off the coast fishing and then some guys with rods startied showing up. There was a guy fly fishing for some trout. Then there was a kid there trying to get some Pinks. Pink Salmon. The majority of the salmon there were called dogs. They call em that because they feed that kind to the dogs. Found a little fly fishing lure and took it for a momento of that occasion and went back to my bike.

As I was leaving started talking to a guy walking his dog. Just a great conversation and tonight I'm headed to his house for dinner. He's a local painting contractor that BBQ's a few nights a week at his house and he invited me over. We're going to have King Salmon. Yeah buddy, I'm excited about that! We just hit off. Another one, left his hometown in Minnesota when he was 18 and made it to the ferry with the $16 he needed to board the ferry and has been here ever since.

He told me about a great trail at the end of the road that went down to Dupont Ruin. An old dock where they used to unload the TNT used to get the gold out here in town. They unloaded it down there so there was no accidents took it up to town a little at a time. He told me it was about a 1/2 mile hike. My ankle still isn't a 100% so I thought 1/2 mile isn't too bad. Turned out to be almost 2 miles in. That's a pretty long distance and I don't really like hiking. Especially by myself in unknown territory with a handicap. kept getting further and further with no sign of a dock. I was a couple of hundred yards off the shoreline. So I could see the water through the trees along with the fishing boats and cruise ships.

This really turned out to be a magical walk. The coolest part was the bald eagle feather that I found. It was all white and I put up in my pulled back hair and had it standing straight up above my head. I was so proud to have found that, it was a special gift for my efforts. That trail was a bit technical. Very wet and rugged terrain. Especially for my crappy Keen biking sandals that offer no ankle support. My feet were getting muddy and banged up. The cold mud did feel good on my wounds though. Like a special forest medicinal effect.

Didn't see any bears fortunately. Did see a few bald eagles fly out of trees when I got to close. I did end up getting to the old dock eventually. Wasn't going to give up that easily. I had left my pannier on my bike which I locked up back at the trail head. It was filled with some of my stuff, like my passport and my checkbook. It bothered me that I didn't carry it along, but I didn't realize it was going to be such a long hike. On the way back I took a little diversion off the trail and that is where I found the feather. When I got back to my bike I put my helmet on and grabbed some pop tarts and started riding. OH NO I thought! My feather was gone. Forgot to put it away carefully and it was gone. Checked down the back of my shirt and couldn't find it. I didn't even take a picture of it I thought to myself. Not to worry, today while walking on the beach by Diane's house I found another all white bald eagle feather.

This place is spectacular. The people here are super cool so far. The mountains look like you are in Hawaii. There is so much run off from the snow that there are little waterfalls coming off these beautiful lush green mountains. The only difference is the snow and the big trees. Other than that you could really think you were in Hawaii. The hike was really special. The foliage is super green, large and then broken up by some really colorful plants and berries. Made me want to hike some more. Need to get some better shoes though.

Also met somebody else in town today who lives on a houseboat here. So we got to talking and he was out in Tracy Arm yesterday. Which is the glacier I'm going to go to tomorrow morning by boat for a 10 hour day. He told me he flew out there. He has his own plane which he invited me out on tonight. It can fit four but since him and I are pretty big it may just be us two and his girlfriend. He wants to get some more time in before the weather changes. That's just the way my trip is going so far. If I get stuck here in Juneau or anywhere in AK, you can understand why.

I'll let you know how the evening goes. Also going to do a second post with just pix from the past two days. Have a great week! Keep yourself open to all the great possibilities that are in store for you.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sea sick!

I'm getting sick of the Alaskan Marine Highway. Ready to get off this boat and get on a few more. Tomorrow, well in a few hours actually I'll be taking a boat to Tracy's Arm Glacier. A suggestion from the captain of this ferry/ship.(the Columbia)

Met him on the back of the boat today after arriving in Ketchikan He was dressed in civilian clothes and had the new coveted holy grail, Iphone G4. The first I've had the privilege to touch and hold. That was our first stop here in AK. Got off the boat for almost two hours with my bike. The ferry docks about two miles out of town. Felt good to ride into town and grab some breakfast. Saw some hills off to the left that I just had to go and climb. Crazy, I actually felt the need to get some hills in.

Below, these used to be brothels where all the fisherman would spend their coin.

Sat with a nice local business owner at breakfast whose laugh I wanted to film. It was so Cheech and Chong. I could laugh at any time just hearing it. He told me his life story and how much of a miracle he is. He's died several times and was allowed back to this side of the light because it wasn't his time. He died in a car wreck wrapped around a pole. They revived him and he died on the life flight and was revived yet again. Then another time he had a house blown on top of him like the wicked witch of the east. He broke his neck and back that time. He made a deal with God. If he let him live he would work on peoples homes for the lowest cost possible. That's what he does. No advertising, all word of mouth and always busy. He gave me his biz card, going to include him in my postcard sending.

Today was the day I was going to figure out my Alaskan leg. My ticket is only to Juneau which is land locked. So either I need to take a plane or a boat out of there. The plane could suck because I have to dismantle my bike. My racks are a bitch to install and take off. The ferry I can leave as is. Richard, the captain and I sat down and mapped out a great route. He gave me the tip about Tracy's Arm. Said it was much better than Glacier Bay.

Secondly I was worried about getting out of Juneau by ferry. Found out there is a boat that leaves there every day. Thought I had to catch one the following day and was worried I would only be able to spend one day there. Contacted everyone on warm showers with no luck. The last guy told me about the $10 youth hostel.

So that's where I'll be tomorrow night and maybe the next. We'll see how I'm vibing with Juneau. From there going to take a ferry to Haines. Then bike up to Fairbanks. After that back down to Whittier where I will catch a ferry back to Bellingham. Thats about a 1000 miles in total. Then up to Vancouver for a stint. Then back down the Pacific Coast as planned. Gonna try and fit burning man into the equation. So I'm going to have some big days ahead of me for the next 6 weeks or so.

It's been fun camping out on the boat. Everyone up here is on some sort of adventure and has been on some wild excursions. There's a couple with black long haul truckers and yellow ortlieb bags just like me. They are going to the top of Alaska and biking all the way to Argentina. They are doing it as a fund raiser for clean water in Zambia.

Other than the handful of young people it's all middle aged educators and old white people. On the trip of their lifetimes. Your allowed to take your car or rv on the ferry. A lot of people have their dogs. They have to keep them in their cars and can only walk them a few times a day unless we are at port.

It's a bit pricey in AK period. Prices so far seem to be at least 30% higher. This ferry cost me $326 one way and then $53 for my bike. That's just for this leg. So it may end up costing me a G just to get up, around and back to Bellingham. It's only money and I may never get another chance to get back up here.

Seen a bunch of whales today. Both Orca's and Humpbacks. Several bald eagles and some other birds. Looking forward to some more wild life and glaciers. The boat gets to Juneau at 4:45am. It's 4 hours behind east coast time here in AK. So a few hours of sleep and another action packed day. Starts with a 12 mile ride into downtown Juneau from where the ferry ports. Have a great week, thanks for trudging along with me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A to the K homeboy!

What up! Laying on the back of the ferry to Alaska in my tent. What a horrific day in beautiful Bellingham. Got up early, went for breakfast and was gonna get all my errands done before departure at 4pm.

Well that's what time they wanted us to board. The ship was due to set sail at 6. I'm just going to Alaska. Don't have a place to stay yet in Juneau Whomever Inkspot is from blogger, text me please. Couldn't figure out who you were.

Let's back up to my nightmare of a day. Started after a great breakfast at the Old Town Cafe in downtown Bellingham. Met a couple from NY/Austin. He just moved to NY for biz. Lives two blox from me. So I got the skinny on the ferry. Little tid bits, like I could do my laundry. One of my chores for the day that I could put off til first thing on board. Which I did.

The nightmare started sometime around 10:30. Went to a bike shop that a girl in Missoula recommended. Her aunt and uncle own it. Broke my chain the other day and wanted to replace it. They measure it and say it needs to be replaced along with my rear cog and front chain rings. Luke is like bullshit. I call Velo in NYC where I bought the bike to run it by them. The mechanic is like with that many miles it could be. Over 4000 miles so far.

They tell me they can't do the work but I can use there outdoor stand and tools. I've never changed a rear cog or front chain rings. The first time I repaired a chain was two days ago. Luke disappears to the PO to pick up a package. So I'm there downloading a YouTube video on how to change a rear Shimano locking cassette. None of these assholes had the time of day. Success, I'm feeling good got that accomplished. Next it was time to loosen the crank bolts. Which way does it turn? I asked one of the guys and he tells me. STRIPPED IT!

Yup I'm the idiot who took them up in the offer to do all the work I've never done before just a few hours before the ferry I'm supposed to catch. As well as relax go food shopping and enjoy Bellingham for a few. Dude comes out with a drill and two bits the diameter of a dime and says, "drill slow and apply pressure.". Luckily Luke shows back up to see me crouched down hidden crank style. Over an hour of grinding away at this little bolt. Every once in a while a gear dick would come out and say, keep going or slow that drill down.

I took the bolt off the other side envision what the result was supposed to look like. Pieces of small Aluminum dust everywhere. Outside in the hot son with every other gearhead there to browse coming up to gander at the sweaty circus freak outside making all the racket trying to get his bike in shape for Alaska.

Prognosis not good! Why couldn't they take 15 mins to help a cross country cyclists who dropped the name of the niece of the owners that used to work there. Oh well, now one of them tries to use the crank arm removal tool. Of course he puts it in at an angle and strips the shit out of it and walks away. He blames me, says I hit the threads while drilling. So I get in there with a flat head and get the screw out by prying. Then another one of the goons comes over and tries the crank removal tool again. He's like that's too tight. Turns out we didn't have the little nub on there that pushes against the bottom bracket. I'm learning as I go. Sure enough I get the tool in there somewhat straight. Finally. 12:30 and I get it off.

We realize that "I" stripped the crank arm and need a new set of cranks. Works out to be cheaper then the front chain rings. Great, just get the F$&@ing thing so I can get out of here. Success, get the cranks on and try shifting. Doesn't work, this set sits out to far for the front derailer to shift properly. The bottom bracket is too wide.

Gearhead says take the cranks off so we can measure that bottom bracket. We tried to put at a narrower bb on. That didn't work either. In the meantime I called surly to see if they could ship something to me in Juneau. No, I'm not a dealer. Called another bike shop in town to see what they could do. Luke also called one.

Fuck these guys, I'm done here. I'd already put the rear cog on. The chain I'd already put on. They hadn't charged me for the other crank arms since that happened mid shit storm. I told the guy give me a refund for the chain rings. $75.

There was two dudes standing in the parking lot by a puck up. Asked one if he would take me too this other shop. He said sure, jump in. So Luke and I were out of the insanity vortex that is Bike Fanatix. Ben the driver of the pick up led us to the better of the two bike shops and escorted us in. Now just before two o'clock. He iterates to the guy I have to catch a ferry.

We discuss the situation. I've got a bottom bracket, an old chain and my stripped cranks in my black greezy hands. He realizes with the play in the bottom bracket I'll need a new one. Says he can rethread my cranks and get them working. Also replaced the back rear tire I just replaced less than a month ago because it was worn already.

Luke and I go grab lunch and tell him to call with the prognosis. If he couldn't rethread my cranks I would have had to but this Diore set for a $130. He doesn't call so I eat fast and head back over. He's pulling the bike off the stand and ready to go.

Oops, one more thing. Are my gears shifting properly. Nope, gearface at the previous shithole totally screwed my front derailer up trying to get it to shift on the other crank arms. So now I had to pay another $15 to for this place to readjust it. $150 bux for a new bottom bracket, Schwalbe tire and all the labor and it was fixed and I could make it to the ferry. Overpriced labor, but they had me bent over.

Dude, two hours earlier I was on bended knee with hurt achilles and aluminum shards trying to stab me in my cornea. Now I'm on the road again. Ok, back to the house for a jammin pack up session and then the food store. Didn't make for a very relaxing day in Bellingham. But I'm really grateful to have gotten it all done and be on this boat.

It really sucked standing outside that shop like an asshole drilling my stripped bolt off my bike. Should have never started that adventure. Got to say I learned quite a bit though.

Other than that life is peachy. Getting ready to clean up my pix and videos from the trip so far. So much fun looking at where I was just a month ago. Seems like no time at all but also an eternity. I love hearing from all you guys. Thanks for cranking through some of my mad ramblings. It's amazing up here. Saw a great sunset and look forward to many more and even some whales tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 67

Made it to Bellingham, WA. today! That's right, made it clear across the country. It was a day of so many feelings. First of all felt crazy to be arriving at the end of phase 1 so to speak. I'm only calling them phases cause it's one long journey that I'm breaking down into parts. Granted, getting to Colorado and hitting the Rockies was awesome. But the last 15 miles of the ride today was the prettiest of the trip.

Coming across the country we heard something about every state. The only state not mentioned was WA. The past two weeks have by far been the toughest. The past 5 days going through the northern part of WA. have been challenging. The Cascades are no joke. Multiple 100 mile days with tons of climbing. We just had 7 days of riding from Missoula to Bellingham. 660 miles to knock out in 7 days to catch the ferry.

Thought that was going to be cut short with the cuts and bruises to my knee and achilles. Fortunately on the road you can't lay around watch TV and feel bad for yourself. Having to get back on my bike and hit the pavement was probably the best thing that could have been. That wound worked itself out. Have a little limp still, but feeling much better and should be running and gunning soon. Thanks for all the prayers and positive thoughts.

This computer I'm using doesn't allow you to uppercase the s. Everytime I've tried to start a sentence with an s it's says, NO...try again...switch it up!

The blog has been pretty sun shiny so far. The road has not been all it's cracked up to be. I can literally say first hand that biking across the country is not easy. It's been 67 days since the morning of May, 9th that I left NYC. That was a 47 degree morning that turned into an 80 something mile day. My life has been changed forever from that morning. Never did I imagine I would be sitting in somebodies house in Bellingham that we met in Warm springs, MT.

We are staying at this girl Inga's house that we met at the sulphur hot springs last Friday night. she lives here with her boyfriend. Lee was trying to get in touch with her the past few days. I was like, yo she lives with her boyfriend. He wasn't in Montana with her. My thoughts were, her boyfriends going to be like..."What, you met three dudes and they are going to stay with us." Never thought we would hear from her. Whola, today we heard from her and she was still cool with it. We have a great place to stay here in Bellingham and are able to kick it with some locals. Her boyfriend Kyle did say that to himself I found out. Once he met us he felt more comfortable with the deal.

Back to the road. It's hard enough navigating with an Iphone, gps and some maps. Mad props to the pioneers of our country. Well besides slaughtering, raping and pillaging all the native americans. Couldn't imagine trying to get across this country on horseback with a family. Trying to get over mountain passes, rivers and dealing with all the wild critters in between.

Last night we camped in the prettiest campground I've ever camped at. It was on Diablo lake here in WA. An opalesque lake that you have to see to believe. The water is so pretty. Tried to get in last night to wash my dirty body and it was too cold. Didn't feel like shivering just before I got into my tent. No warm showers at that campground. Also no services. We past a sign yesterday that said no services for the next 76 miles. That's always fun while biking through mountains. That was after already biking 40 something miles.

Of course it was the day where we all ran into bike troubles. First I broke my chain. Yup, biking up hill and my chain snapped. Just like every other problem thus far with my bike. There was the distinct battle cry calling out that I ignored. It happened with my first blow out of the tire. I heard a strange rubbing noise and didn't stop to check it out. Yesterday I felt something before the chain broke. It felt like I was skipping a beet while pedaling. Think one of the links was stiff and finally gave out. I'm glad I didn't fall or jolt forward when it happened.

This was the most major problem thus far. Sure the two blow outs were bad. The broken spoke wasn't good. But we were in the middle of nothing for many miles. The thought of having to take a ride to the nearest bike shop wasn't appealing.

Had all the means to get going again. Luke was behind me and had his chain break tool handy so I didn't have to dig for mine. Brian who I met back in Rockport told me that is one of the two tools he always carries. So I bought one in Kansas. S works again because I'm back to my iPhone. Which I hope to get the new one tomorrow. Anyways, so we took the bad link off and used a master link and was rolling again.

The battle cry came a calling again. Something wasn't right. After biking about ten miles I stopped to inspect this time. Of course I didn't put it in the derailed correctly. So it was time to undo it and string it properly. Then Luke broke a spoke and knocked his rim out if true. Then Lee got a flat to top it off.

We were just over 70 miles when we called it. Glad we ended up where we did. The trees were covered in moss like fur. So was the ground. They were also super tall, maybe 70-100'. Chipmunks and ferns with a creek that flowed right to the river. Shear perfection!

Today couldn't have been an easier 93 mile day. We were so excited to have reached our goal. A little bit of climbing then basically all downhill. So many crazy feelings going on inside. This would be my last day of riding with Luke&Lee on this journey. The past two weeks have been the most challenging but also the most fun. Really feel Luke I made two life long friends. Their a little bit younger than myself, but I can hang with those guys all day. We've had nothing but fun days and a lot of laughs.

Really learned a lit about riding in a group. Rich and I rarely road together. We maybe road for about 7 days together if that. Riding in a group of three was ideal. We could all take turns in any position of the pack. After a couple of hours and days you learn somebodies style of riding. You have to be very alert. Your on the guys wheel in front of you and you have a guy riding your wheel right behind. The guy in front has to avoid obstacles while maintaining pace. Then that has to works it's way to the back cause they can't see. It can become very fluid like a well oiled machine. Super grateful to have met these guys and have had the privilege to hang and ride with them for over a 1000 miles of my journey.

So today was a real fun day of riding. We made it to the town of Burlington and took the 11 north to Bellingham. Same beautiful forest but now with the Puget sound bordering it. These folks up here got it right. This is living! That last 15 miles of road just may be the most picturesque of this journey. A two lane hilly and windy coastal road up to Bellingham.

It was a little sad to have gotten this far already. I'm not upset about any part of the trip thus far. But it kind of feels like it went by so fast. Tomorrow I'll be taking a there day cruise to Alaska. That scares me a bit. Don't know anybody up there or even where I'm going to stay. But that hasn't stopped me yet and I'm not going to stop now.

The road is a bit harsh though. Not knowing where your going to sleep or what your going to be able to find to eat. Having no phone service. No showers. Dealing with the elements. Whether it's the blaring sun or you wake up in Montana and it's freezing. Assholes that drive by and harass you. Going and going even when you don't want to. There's plenty more to add to the list. Like my throbbing knees and heat rash. But I will say writing this blog and hearing from you guys and your support has been truly motivating. So thanks for the text, comments and phone calls. If you want a postcard text me your address, 917-701-9860. Thanks for following along, I'm off to Alaska.

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Location:Jersey St,Bellingham,United States

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Last night was my first night of stealth camping. After over another 100 mile day with over 6000 feet of climbing it was time to sleep. Super long day that ended around 11. We pulled into Twisp after descending loup loup peak. 8 miles of descending in the dark. There was a campground on the peak but it was too cold.

Met a couple of tourers doing the ACA northern tier tour yesterday.

I pulled ahead of Luke and Lee down the mountain. They were being a little more cautious. Stopped at this church where I saw three tweens coming out of the gym. Asked them about camping behind the church and they showed me a good spot. Went back out front and yelled to L&L as they were going by.

We decided to head inti town to see if anything is open. As we were biking in the same three kids threw a water balloon at me as they passed. The kid even told me his name back at the church. So I told the local cop we met in town. Hopefully he'll bust Jonathon McMillan's balls.

It's funny, the north of Montana, Idaho and Washington have not been friendly on the road. We've had more people honking as they drive by. Then a few days ago somebody beamed me with either a peach pit or a cherry. Right in the back. Three punks in a white pick up. So of course I wave to them inciting them back to have a face to face. It's so annoying, assholes on the road. So for the next two hours going down the road I'm looking for the pick up. No luck!

Fortunately my tent is made well. Last night the sprinkler system came on while we were sleeping. The cop told us about this park we could sleep in. But also said he didn't tell us it was ok. Didn't sleep well last night. Heard a few gunshots and some screaming. Don't think stealthing is for me.

My Achilles is doing much better. Still very tender and a bit swollen. Have a limp like a pimp when I walk. But on the bike it's rolling along just fine. Looks like I'm going to catch that ferry after all. L&L changed their minds about going to Alaska. They are going to Bellingham and then south to Portland and San Fran.

I'm excited about my three day cruise to Juneau. Phase one will be complete. Coast to coast. Then phase two is alaska. Down the coast to san Diego is phase 3. Need to start doing some research on Alaska.

Right now were chilling in this little coffee shop bakery in Winthrop, WA. Charging our stuff and ourselves. L&L are playing some form of dominoes. Thanks for reading along.

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Location:Washington 20,Winthrop,United States

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh deer!

95 miles and over 6000 feet of climbing. Let's just say it was a long day. You have to click or copy and paste the link to this great video I shot tonight.

We are in Republic, WA. Super day of biking, especially with my injury. But so far it's working. We had some really wild weather today as well. Started out with some pancakes a few miles down the road from where we camped. At this place called The Cabin Grill. They had a bunch of huge tables with pictures of Alaska polyurethaned on them. It's great you can eat breakfast and stare at pictures of glaciers, bear, beautiful scenery and then see pictures of clubbed seals and whaling. Bloody photos of clubbed seals and whale carcasses and blubber while you chow down.

The pancakes and servers was great but we had a full day. Right away we got under way with almost a 2000 foot climb. Back up into the 3000' elevation range. Then back down to 1500 before our 5500 ascent of Mt. Sherman. It was the toughest climb in a lot of weeks. Very reminiscent of the east coast climbing. Felt really good to reach the summit finally.

It was getting really cold out tonight. We're staying at a hotel we got a good deal on here first hotel in a while. They had a hottub which felt great after a long day. Also didn't feel like biking out finding a site and then setting up camp at 10pm.

The climb up Sherman was about 4 hours. The ride down was less than a hour of motoring downhill. We got a little snag climbing the other side. The wind was so severe it knocked a tree down with a power line. So the road was closed.

Decided to go up the hillside and find an alternate route. One ravine, two barbed wire fences and a ton of foliage inside our spokes cranks and sprockets and we were around it. Then we had the road to ourselves except for a few cars that made uturns.

It was a difficult bypass through some tough terrain. My Achilles didn't help much. But didn't feel like burning daylight with so much ground to cover. We were stoked to get around the mess and be pedaling again.

Almost to Bellingham. Looks like I might make that ferry. I'm kind of beat and need some rest. Hopefully that link works. It was a site to see that thing. Have a great week, thanks for reading along. The new software on the iPhone pinpoints where I have taken photos. Here is a shot of that. It shows the route I've taken so far. Oh yeah. Saw a bear today too. He was about ten feet from us before he ran off. Second one in three days. The other was brown. This one was awesome, grayish/blonde.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Achilles Heal

I actually want my Achilles to heal. Tore it up yesterday after about ninety miles of riding. The storm clouds were moving in from the northwest as we were approaching Sandpoint, ID. As I learned from my friend Kris in KS, turtles will go to higher ground when it starts to rain. Sure enough, heavy traffic and a turtle playing Frogger on the double yellow line in the middle.

A pretty big sucker too. So I wait til the traffic clears and get to saving. Go pick him up while I'm still on my bike. Start moving towards the guard rail. The whole time he's starting to pee. So I have him at an arms length. Make it to the rail and lose my balance while trying to avoid getting a turtle shower.

Ended up losing my balance and was locked into my pedals. Went right down on my right side. Landed on my knee and elbow. But the turtle was okay. Managed to not let him hit the ground.

Fell right into the road with an oncoming truck. Luckily he was a ways away. Took me a minute to get up. The turtle scurried off over the side mad quick. I picked myself up and surveyed the damage. Two lacerations on my right knee. One on my elbow. Then I peaked at my left Achilles heel. Don't what I did too that. Must have caught it on the guard rail or my pedal.

The bike was fine except for a bent water cage. My ego was in check except for the fact that I should have done the rescue mission off the bike. Fully loaded bike in the middle of the road after biking 90 miles with a peeing turtle who is trying to pry himself out of your hand is no good. Yeah, he was clawing aty fingers trying to get me to drop him. Rescue mission was a failure!

Last night we wanted to do about 20 more miles. But with the rain coming, the fall and talking to a local about camp spots we settled right where we were. It happened to be a beautiful campground right on a lake. So we set up camp. It was a chore for me. I was really sore.

Then we got on the bikes and went for a swim. After the nice liaison of that section informed us the spot we chose was spoken for. He was a real character about it. Comes up on his golf cart with his wife. "hello". Like the McFly hello. So I respond in kind. Wasn't feeling to pleasant at this point. Him and his wife talking to us from 30 feet away on their magic carpet ride.

So I asked if there is another site. He says yes, #62 over there. So after we have already set up our tents we have to move. Not such a big deal. I ask if their are showers and he just laughs. Says, "yeah one big one...the lake.". Then I ask if there is a restaurant. His wife says next door. Lady were in the woods. Which way is next door?

So I'm walking up this embankment with my tent in one hand and my bike in the other and he hands me an envelope. They have envelopes where u pay the camping fee at the kiosk. But he feels it necessary to give me that one. I put down the tent and take the envelope. His wife says, "say thank you!".

OMG. U got to be kidding me. I got blood running down my leg and I have to deal with these awesome folks. Why can't they do their job and stop us before we set up our tents or put a reserved sign?

So after a swim on the lake and getting cleaned up, I was limping. It really hurt. Unfortunately I have a high threshold for pain. This morning I packed up camp figuring I would try to make it to Sandpoint. If I couldn't make it there I was in real trouble. If I did make it and couldn't go on at least I could get a hotel and some proper rest. Then of it didn't feel better go to the ER. Thought this could be a game changer.

Made it there pretty well. The first few hills were rough. Couldn't apply weight to the left side at all. Even putting on pants this morning. Then trying to click out of my pedals hurt like hell. The other factor was there is an AT&T store there. Was hoping to get the new iPhone. They were closed, bummer.

Got some coffee, made some pb&j's and was feeling hopeful. Actually went 98 miles today. Have some ground to cover to get to that ferry by Friday. So had to man up and suck up the pain and get through it. Felt really good to. Would have been real easy to not even get out of my tent this morning. Or get to town and just give up. I'm really looking forward to getting to that ferry and having three days to relax.

Right now I'm sitting on hard ass gravel in the parking lit of the volunteer fire dept. We are camped out back. I'm charging phone and listening yo the insects and bats fly around the lights above my head. We stopped at a camp about 25 miles back to go for a swim. There were no kids today. It was an in between day, so just staff. They let us swim and gave us some food. We just weren't allowed to use the toys because of insurance purposes.

Thanks for following along. I need to go rest my wounds.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

West coast time

Tomorrow we will be on west coast time. That's as soon as we hit the Montana Idaho border. Just biked over a hundred miles today and am camped out at the Plains fairgrounds. Plains is a town here in MT. We had a late start on a long hot day.

It was tuff to leave Missoula. Such a fun town surrounded by beautiful mountains with some amazing people. But it was time to press on. Our plan was to make it a little further down the road to Thompson Falls. Thought it was going to be a 102 mile day. Turned out to be more with blazing sunshine and Lee got three flats. So that slowed us down a few times.

We just went to a hot springs before camping out for the night. Just on the other side of Paradise is Quinns hot springs. Good times on Friday night after pedaling all day. Paradise is another town here in MT. We made a connection with somebody from Bellingham there and found a place to stay. Always a plus.

Met some guys that work for the forrest service there. They are contracted to protect the white something something. Some pinenut that grizzlies eat. They cover them in mesh so the birds and squirrels won't eat all of them. Basically thirty something year old men that get paid to climb trees for a living.

I'm really tired and have six more long days ahead. Just wanted to drop a line while I could. It was another gorgeous day of riding. We rode interstate 90 for over 60 miles today. You can do that here in MT. A bunch of drunk dudes are here in the park we are and are going rafting right now. It's almost 1am. They invited us to come through the rapids with them. Montana folks are nice! Thanks anyways boys, gotta get some rest for tomorrow.

Time for sleep. Thanks for reading along.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heading wester

It's been a fantastic couple of rest days in Missoula. Tonight we hiked up to a peak and had a great view of the whole town. It was our host Rachel, Luke, Lee and the two dogs. Tucker and Rupert.

The day started at the offices of Adventure Cycling Association. Had to map out our next seven days to Bellingham to be on their by next Friday to catch the ferry. It only leaves on Fridays. From what I hear it's going to continue to be a gorgeous ride to Bellingham.

We invited Greg Siple out to eat with us and he said yes. He's one of the four founders of the organization. It was awesome to hear about how it all started from one of the founders. He gave us a great history and a plethora of other info. After lunch we went back to the office and he helped us plan tomorrows route. Also ate some more ice cream. That's all I heard from riders on our way west. "make sure to stop by the ACA offices and get some free ice cream."

Free Ice Cream: I want that to be the title of the documentary I'm going to make about the organization. Well in the back of my mind I would love to make a documentary about the ACA. Can't believe one hasn't been done yet. Footage of people that walk into the offices that are out touring. Send a crew out to film some of the tours they run. To showing some film clips from the bikecentennial trip. The first ride they did back in 1976. It would be a wonderful web to weave and put together on screen to share with the masses. I never even heard of the ACA til just before this trip.

We had some great host the past couple of days. The first night we rolled in they cooked us a delicious dinner. Last night we made pizzas. Tonight we spent the evening downtown at an event called "out to dinner.". Live music and food venders right in the middle of downtown along the river.

The river, we went tubing down it today. The water was a bit cold and it was still a blast. We also jumped off a bridge along the river. Such a fun day off the bike seat. Planned on going to see Sublime featuring Rome tonight. They were playing at a local theater here. Was upset I missed the Sublime coverband in St. Louis. It was just to nice out to be indoors. Oh well, down the road.

One more

epic day to add to the many. Hopefully I'll have service as we push west. Thanks for following along. Who wants to come up to Alaska?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010


That's short for Montana. Sitting in Cara's park right now in picturesque Missoula at an outdoor film festival.

The trip is still smashing. Having a better and better time every mile further down the road. Rich and I went separate ways out of Yellowstone. So we're no longer riding together. Instead I met two cyclists from the university of North Carolina. Met them the night I rolled into Ennis, MT.

Saw there bikes outside of a supermarket earlier that day in West Yellowstone. That morning I felt like staying in that town after being in the park for a few days and it was freezing. Pressed on to Ennis and I'm glad I did. W.Y. is a tourist shithole. The people there sucked and so did the energy.

Ennis on the other hand is a place I could've stayed. Luke, Lee and myself joke we should have stayed in Ennis. That night we ended up at the rodeo. The next morning, fourth of July we went to an all you can eat pancake breakfast at the volunteer fire house. Then it was back to town for an all American 4th of July small town celebration.

It was as American as apple pie. We met this great family at the fire house and they invited us to sit in the back of their pick up that they parked two days before. To get a great spot right in the center of town. We enjoyed the parade and headed for the hills right after. Lee is 19 years old and is a rocket. It is great to be riding with some new guys. We've been drifting each other and fast. Sometimes averaging between 20 and 30 mph. Which is sick on a touring bike.

While camping in Ennis we met a couple of cool chicks that live in Missoula. Rachel and Jenny were cool enough to let us stay with them for a few days. This is just another of the awesome cities I've visited. Went and got a great massage today at the local massage school. The girl was amazing. Felt like I was being massaged for five hours.

So anyways, I'm alive and well. The itinerary has changed just a little bit. After leaving yellowstone I made a decision to go to Alaska. Yup, gonna take a ferry from Bellingham, WA. It will take us to Juneau. The guys I'm traveling with are likely going to join in. It's a there day cruise up there. Once there and on the way up figure out what's going on and spend at least a week there. I'll probably end up on a king crab boat and be on deadliest catch.

Always nice to take a rest day. We stopped by the Adventute Cycling Association offices last night when we rolled into town. We got there a little after they closed but they still let us in to hang out and eat some ice cream. Then we stopped by there again today. They take your photo and post it on the wall. They have ice cream, soda and internet use for cyclers. Another group from Toronto rolled in while we were there. It was great to meet the co founder Greg Siple. He had a lot of fun stories and jokes. Looks like a fun place to work.

It's been almost two weeks since my previous blog entry. No coverage! So much has happened between then and now. Would take me forever to try and play catch up. Yellowstone is insane. One of my favorite places on earth, GO! The past couple of days in MT have been hellish. Trying to keep up with a 19 and a 25 year old is hard enough. Then it's been cold as hell. Really looking forward to the ray of the trip and going to Alaska. Thanks for following along.

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