Donnerstag, 31. Mai 2012

English Summary No. 12

To our surprise entering the US from Mexico wasn't complicted at all. The hard part was finding the Mexican migration office to get officially stamped out of the country. After we got that done we had to wait in a very long line but it took less time than expected to get to the other side of the border. No strange questions were asked and we just had to have our luggage scanned, that was it. In Chula Vista we met our Warmshower host who took us to his house in San Diego. We then spent several days getting set up for the US, meaning finding mechanics who weren't booked out for over a week, buying small and light computers (as there wouldn't be many internet cafés available anymore) and replacing all the broken or otherwise worn-out parts of our equipment. We soon found out that many things we expected to be relatively easy here were quite complicated, like finding the mechanics, getting a decent computer or buy a US chip for our cellphones.

Once we had everything together we set out one sunny day, found our way through the center and suburbs of San Diego and cycled North along the coast, crossing pretty towns and passing many surfing beaches. We reached our first campground at Carlsbad SP some time in the afternoon and were content with our first cycling day in the new country. Our second day took us through more busy towns, a huge military base and several nice beach parks. The route was usually well marked and we had no trouble finding our way. It was shortly after noon when we arrived at Dana Point where we met Vreni, my cousin from Switzerland, who lives in Aliso Viejo. We were going to spend a few days with her and her husband Luis and their children Lauren and Mathew. We managed to pack all our luggage and the two bikes in her van and saved us the last few miles through LA suburb to her house.

LA to San Francisco

After spending a few relaxing and amusing days in Aliso Viejo, we were confronted with the problem that we had to cross the LA area and we knew we couldn’t do that in one day. We didn’t want to pay an expensive hotel in the big city so we looked for and found a WS host in Long Beach. This way we first had a short and easy day and a long and hard second day that included finding our way through a maze of highways, streets and bike paths. A flat was the deciding factor that made clear that we wouldn’t reach Leo Carillo State Park, our goal of the day. The Malibu RV Resort that we chose instead was quite expensive but had an awesome hot shower. The next day was much more comfortable in terms of traffic and confusing streets but it was sometimes still not very obvious which way we were supposed to take. The book we had, “Cycling the Pacific Coast”, included a very detailed description for those travelling from North to South, reading it backwards didn’t always work very well. We still made it to Carpinteria SP where they had hiker/biker sites right next to the train track. And for some reason, the trains here make always a lot of noise. Getting through Santa Barbara the next day was a bit of a challenge too and cycling on a busy freeway was, if legal there, no fun at all. The landscape wasn’t exactly boring but neither very interesting, but the campground where we camped that night, at Refugio SP, was pretty with a scenic hiker/biker site.

The route to Lompoc took us through a tunnel that rather felt like a vacuum cleaner hose because of the fierce headwind we encountered there. Then, on the first “serious” hill in California, we finally warmed up and the rest of the day it was just green hills that looked almost like home. Again not boring but neither very exciting. In the town of Lompoc we did shopping and begun searching for Warmshowers in San Francisco which turned out to be more complicated then we imagined with no internet and sometimes even without cell phone service at the State Parks. It rained that evening and night and still the next morning. There was another hill to climb and the sun came out when we reached the top which we took as a positive sign. The most exciting thing that happened that day were the strawberry fields and the farmers’ shops right at the street where we could buy the truly tasty fruit. We stayed at Oceano SP, a nice place without hiker/biker sites. But the small deer that grazed right next to our site when we had dinner were cute.

The stretch to San Simeon SP was green and hilly. That was about it. Although sunny, the day was cool and when we came down a little hill we saw the humidity of the air at the campground located near the beach with only the highway between us campers and sea. Meaning our sleeping bags and the tent, everything humid from the last night, weren’t going to dry that evening. At least the next day had more excitement in store for us. Well, first of all we had headwind like so many days before. And it was so freezing cold in the morning that my toes hurt after only a few minutes on the bike. But there was also a beach where there were thousands of elephant seals hanging out. Uncountable mothers with their babies, babies already left by their mothers, youngsters and huge male adults. And two naughty and hungry ground squirrels. We had a lot of fun watching the seals and reading the information about them. For example, that the mothers leave their young after just one month. They crowd together with other kids their age and stay on this beach for another three months, learn to swim, dive etc. They have no more food once their moms leave. At the age of only four months they set out heading north to Alaska, alone with only their instinct to tell them where to go. One must assume that other guys, like Orcas, are only waiting for them to come. Good luck little elephant seals! The road remained flat for several more kilometers after that beach, and then it began to climb. That had the advantage that the mountain blocked out the wind, the disadvantage was the narrow and winding road. It was still fun, the view was great and it was much warmer than the flat stretches. After the first long climb there was a lot of down and up and down again until we reached Kirk Creed Campground, set just above sheer cliffs.

The elevation profile in the book threatened us with two bigger hills for the next day but we never really found the first one. The second one was there all right and it was all forest and actually quite a nice climb. The next stop after this short day was Pfeiffer Big Sur SP, located in a dense Red Wood forest with beautiful, high trees. What in summer probably is a nice and cool place to camp turned out to be very cold in winter. The rare beams of sunlight that reached the ground were by far not enough to warm the place. As we had the whole afternoon to spend we jumped on our bikes again and cycled into the little town of Big Sur. We tried to call some potential Warmshowers in San Francisco but without success. But we talked to a local guy about our trip and got an invitation for breakfast the next morning. The guy owned a restaurant. So, obviously, in spite of the cool morning and annoyingly wet tent, we looked forward to that particular breakfast. We weren’t sure whether he really expected us to come as we knew that in this country not all invitation are always meant seriously and might just mean something like “you are nice people”. But, anyway, we weren’t going to ponder that question much and just showed up. He hadn’t told his employees as he had promised but he stood by his word and let us order anything we wanted and didn’t have to pay. Thank you, Carl! The rest of the day was one to forget. As long as we were in the hills and forest, it was sort of ok-ish but when reached the flat coast again, it was strong headwind almost all day. The landscape wasn’t all that special anymore and the closer we got to Monterey the more traffic there was. An unexpected hill just before the city annoyed us and the expected steep climb to the Veterans Memorial SP wasn’t much more fun. But the place had awesome free showers which reconciled us with the day.

We had more fun leaving Monterey. First on a bike path and later through artichoke fields, we never encountered much headwind that day. We found wifi in a café and could get some organization and e-mailing done and checked in the pretty New Brighton SP where we found a comfy hiker/biker site. The next stretch was supposedly very nice. Or so we had been told. We hardly saw anything all day because of dense fog. And it was so cold that we shivered during our breaks. It only cleared up in the afternoon when we arrived in the town of Half Moon Bay. It had been a long day and we knew that the state park was a few kilometers off the road. So when we saw the “camping” sign next to a pub we figured we could at least ask how much they charged. $ 30 per tent! We started to turn and leave when the guy asked how much we wanted to pay. At the state park we would have paid $ 5 each, so that’s what we answered. He offered us $ 15 which we accepted. Steve, the friendly caretaker of the Cameron’s Pub, even gave us each a hot chocolate that evening as well as in the morning, so it was finally a very good deal for us.

We had one day to go to San Francisco which included some hill climbing on a narrow and winding road. To cross the second hill we stayed on HWY 101 instead following the book’s description of the bike paths. There was a lot of traffic now but at least there was a wide shoulder. But still, the closer we came to SF the less comfortable it was on that highway that actually turned into a freeway. But we had the route description to our WS-house starting from 101 so this is why we stayed although it was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to cross to the other side and take the indicated exit. We knew we weren’t supposed to be on the freeway and, apparently, a cop on a motorbike figured the same. He indicated us to take the next exit and kindly stayed behind us to protect us from evil car drivers. He finally told us to stop, asked us how we ended up on that road which was, yes indeed, illegal for cyclists. Of course, we were very sorry and had gotten sort of lost trying to follow the instructions we had been given etc. etc. The police man wasn’t really angry put pointed out how dangerous that was and that we shouldn’t do it again, or we would be in trouble. Then he explained us a legal and safe way to get where we wanted to get and left. We went to look for our host's house and found it easily enough. The problem was that they were only going to come home at around 6 pm so we had all afternoon to hang around. That’s what we did and we wondered whether it was really worth staying with Warmshowers if it meant waiting half a day for someone to come home. Yes, it was. Laura and her daughter Sofia were such nice hosts, we got such a big and comfortable room and spent such a good time there that the question didn’t come up again.

San Francisco to Oregon Border

We spent three days in SF, enjoyed having a warm house to live in and did some more shopping at REI. On a sunny Sunday morning we said goodbye to the two ladies and set out again. Laura and Sofia, thank you very much for letting us stay with you these four nights, we had a good time and really enjoyed San Francisco! Thanks to Laura’s directions we found the way to the Golden Gate Bridge without any problems. There it got a bit tricky. The locals on their racing bikes meant serious training while the tourists, like us for example, stood in their way taking pictures. We cycled through the cute town of Sausalito and on over some hills, still sharing the road with hundreds of local cyclists. It was warm as long as we either kept moving or sat in the sun. As soon as we reached our campground, the Samuel P. Taylor SP, we were in the dark forest again and therefore, we were cold. As we found a recently vacated site with still very hot coal, we spent the afternoon (illegally) collecting wood and making small fires. The night was ok but the morning freezing cold. So cold that my toes und fingers got numb and hurt a lot when we took a break in the sun to warm up. That day we missed a turn and added several very steep miles to the official route. But the landscape was all green and pretty so we didn’t mind too much. The hiker/biker site at Bodega Dunes SP turned out to be quite sandy and we just hoped the strong wind wouldn’t break any limbs from the trees and throw them on our tent. It didn’t and another day began cool but sunny. We had a bigger hill to climb in the morning and enjoyed remarkable tailwind in the afternoon. Obviously, that was suspicious and the dark grey clouds added to the threat of rain. We made it to Gualala Point Regional Park without getting wet. The hiker/biker site was located in a dense forest very different from the usual redwoods.

It rained hard that evening and night and as it still did when we should have gotten up, we were annoyed and just stayed put. We made a little shopping expedition later that day and spent the afternoon in a warm and cozy café in Gualala. It rained on an off that day and in the night a gang of raccoons robbed our wooden food box and stole everything within their reach (there was a hole that was fixed with wire mesh and the bastards just bent the mesh away). We had a late start the next morning because of more rain but we finally made it. The only thing worth mentioning that day is that we found out that the park where we planned to camp was closed. The friendly lady working at the post office in Manchester happened to be with Warmshowers and invited us to camp at her house. That was a very friendly gesture, thanks Judy.

It was sunny again and, what a surprise, our loyal friend, the North wind, was back. The land was still green and hilly and the sea had a bright blue-green color. Very nice. Although we only did a short stretch, for some reason we didn’t manage to arrive early. And the hiker/biker site at McKerricher Beach Park was rather shabby. But we met some interesting people there, a lady who used to run 80 and 100 m hurdles, had set American records and who had taken part in the Olympics ’68 in Mexico City and ’72 in Munich. We spent the evening with Patty and her husband Bob and, contrary to our plan, also the whole morning of the next day. Talking to them was just way too interesting and sitting in their little campervan too comfortable to just take off and get gone. Around noon they had to vacate their site and we figured we really should get a move on, too. Patty and Bob, thank you so much for the hot drinks, the warm fire and, above all, the two nights in a motel. You’re awesome people! We just cycled for some two hours to Westport Beach SP where we enjoyed the sunny afternoon until I heard a crack from my bike. A flat, ok, but why so much noise? A closer look revealed a torn tire and a huge hole in the inner tube. What the f…?!? A look at the watch and a talk with the camp host made clear that the problem couldn’t be solved the same day. And it was Saturday so it wasn’t even sure I could get a new tire the next day as the bike shop in Fort Bragg would be closed. So on Sunday morning we placed ourselves besides the highway, held out a thumb and hoped for a ride to Mendocino. The camp host had called and made sure there was a bike shop open. The problem was, of course, that an ordinary bike shop didn’t have the tire I was looking for but I found one that would serve for the time being. The people in “Catch a Canoe” (that also has bikes) in Mendocino were very friendly and interested in our trip and we even got a ride back to the campground. Thanks a lot.

In the meantime our friendly, sunny campground had turned into an abandoned, foggy-grey place that didn’t look inviting at all. The fog hadn’t exactly lifted next morning but it had moved up a little bit. We had to climb a first hill and then a second, higher one. This second climb was Legget Hill, with its 2’000 feet the highest point on the West Coast, and, according to our book, a tough one. Yeah, well, in reality 2’000 feet are not even 600 meters and to be honest, that hill wasn’t all that bad. The grade was ok, the forest nice and the fact that we climbed out of the fog into the sunlight made it even better. It was sunny also on the other side. Standish-Hickey SP had a nice hiker/biker site hat even got some direct sunshine. The next day the road followed the beautiful South Fork Eel River and later led us through one of the most awesome and awe-inspiring places. The Avenue of the Giants brought us right in the middle of several old growth Redwood Groves with trees so big and majestic I felt I lacked the words to describe my feelings. The biggest ones must be around four meters in diameter and up to 2'000 years old!. That was just incredible. Equally incredible is the fact that there are some of these huge trees left while most of them have been cut down by loggers. The Burlington Campground in the Humbolt Redwood SP was, obviously, also located in the forest, not in an old part, but it was still quite cool for the lack of sunlight. The following morning was still cold but we had another stretch of the same old mammoth trees, so that was ok with me.

When we approached Eureka that afternoon a local cyclist offered us to stay at his home for the night. We were completely taken by surprise but it wouldn’t even occur to us to refuse. Who wouldn’t swap a humid tent for the cozy room we got and a dryer to completely dry und fluff our sleeping bags. Not to mention the good food and friendly atmosphere with the young family. We also enjoyed an outstanding breakfast before taking off in the morning. We had only a short day ahead of us and the next day was going to be a rest day with a Warmshowers Lady in Trinidad. We cycled several miles through agricultural land and along an old section of highway 1 that snaked its way on a high cliff above the sea. It was easy to find the address and, following our hosts instructions, got into the house. Carol was working and would only come home in the evening.

Two days later we set out again. Thanks a lot for your hospitality, Carol. That day was more often than not wet, Martina even had the “luck” of having to fix a flat in the pouring rain. The afternoon was sort of dryish but there was no SP along our route. At the Mystic Forest RV Resort we got permission to pitch our tent in the misty forest. They said they have all kinds of wildlife sneaking around, even bears. Why they don’t provide save boxes for campers’ food is a mystery to me. It rained cats and dogs all night and in the morning we even got a short hail shower. We started out wet but the rain soon stopped. We had to climb another hill and when we reached Crescent City the sun was shining. What a deceitful weather. We were just having a coffee and were drying some stuff at a gas station when the next hail storm moved in. Luckily we had a roof to escape under. Although it hailed hard it didn’t last very long and the sun got back out soon. It was all flat now and we even had tailwind which was a quite fun experience. Later that afternoon we crossed the border into Oregon.


We found Harris Beach SP only a few miles after Brookings and were impressed. The hiker/biker area was neat, there were many food-boxes available and the toilet and shower facilities were of a high standard. Wow, was Oregon always going to be like this? It hardly rained that night and the morning was bright enough. But it was windy, or rather stormy. It blew from the South which would have been a good thing if it wasn’t a bad sign. And it was a gusty wind, also blowing from either left, almost driving us off the road, or from the right, pushing us into the road. Both options weren’t all that appealing. Sometimes we saw the sun for a while, or it drizzled for a few minutes. It would have been a nice stretch with many Vista Points but why bother if all you can see is grey fog? We arrived in Gold Beach shortly after noon and decided to find a safe place as none of us felt very comfortable on the road with this storm. So we picked a nice and not too expensive motel and, later that afternoon, enjoyed watching the heavy rain trying to drown the world while we were warm and comfortably sitting in our room. We also called Steve, a guy from North Bend who we had met in Matzatlan and who had invited us to stay a few days in his house should the weather be bad. And the forecast made clear it was going to be bad, real bad. So, the next morning, as soon as the snow that had fallen during the night was cleared off the streets, he came to pick us up. It wasn’t far, maybe another day and a half on the bikes but we didn’t feel like cycling that if we had a choice. And we were happy we hadn’t spent the night in a campground and so didn’t have to dig our tent out of the six inches of snow. Steve had a nice little house in North Bend and, apparently, another one someplace else. So, the next day he took off, leaving his house to us. We spent several days there, always checking the weather forecast which was continually horrible. But we found out that, although it rained hard every day, it didn’t rain non-stop. Usually there were a few sunny hours so we figured we might as well get on the road again. Steve, thank you very much for letting us stay in your house, we were so happy to have a warm and dry place while the weather was so bad!

That weather pattern didn’t change. On our first day after North Bend, the rain and the sun took turns. We had a slight tailwind and it wasn’t too hilly so we made good way, only to find out that the campground where we had planned to stay was closed. The storm had downed trees who, in turn, had taken power lines down which meant there was no water in the SP. We considered wild camping but where? The dense forests weren’t suitable for tents nor were the swampy meadows. Although the weather wasn’t too bad we had to stay in a motel in Florence. We expected the same problem the next day. It was cold, several hail showers attacked us and after a long day, indeed, Bevely Beach SP was closed. But this time there was no town nearby. So we went in to check anyway and found a very nice guy who understood our problem and even opened the girls’ toilet for us. This is where we camped out. It was Oregon standard again, clean, roomy and even a little heated. This was the second and last SP we got to know in Oregon. We had hoped to be able to stay with some Warmshowers along the way, but they were all either not there or already taken. The next day we had no hail, but neither any sun. It was just grey in grey all day long. We climbed a hill of some 750 feet, which is not very high but on the top there was still quite a lot of snow, about a week old, but still there. We found another motel in Pacific City and at least it rained a lot that afternoon, so it was worth the money. The next day brought more grey, more hills and, to our surprise, two touring cyclists. We chatted for a while and exchanged stories. In Tillamook, Martina had to fix yet another flat but had a decent roof this time which was lucky because it was pouring down again. We made it to the small town of Garibaldi where we checked in a pretty (but expensive) motel. We had one day left to Seaside where we would leave our bikes, take a bus to Seattle from where we would fly home as a surprise birthday present for our mothers who both turned 60 that spring. And it didn’t even rain on that last day. Not as long as we were on the road anyway. We found the house without getting lost and met Neil, a very cool, energetic guy who lives alone but is busy as an athletics coach and who has an interesting guestbook from filled by the many Warmshowers and Couchsurfing guests who had stayed at his place.

As Neil went to visit his daughter who lives in Portland he gave us a ride there and dropped us at the Greyhound terminal. Travelling by bus in the US was a bit more complicated than in most Latin American countries. We had to be there an hour prior to departure to get our tickets. So far so good. The gate number didn’t show either on the ticket nor anywhere in the terminal so we just hoped we understood the mumbling ticket guy correctly. Then we had to wait and wait and wait. Unlike most Latino buses the Greyhound was over an hour late. As soon as people saw some movement at the gate, a line started to build and we had to race there as having a ticket doesn’t mean having a seat in the bus. It’s first come first serve, if there are no more free seats you don’t get on the bus. So we made sure we got our seats. Apart from three snowy mountains, the Mounts Hood, St. Helens and Rainier, there weren’t many exciting things to see on our way to Seattle. There our WS hosts, Vince and Cathy, picked us up at the terminal. We spent several days in Seattle, doing more shopping at REI, Martina brought the tent to Hilleberg to have the zippers replaced etc.

On March 28 we took a plane to San Francisco from where we flew home to Zurich. The surprise worked out well in both cases and we spent some ten days, including Easter (mmm, chocolate eggs and bunnies!), with our families, both of us catching a nasty cold. But it was good to see everybody, in particular the youngsters who had changed quite a bit in over two years, or the newest family member who was hardly two months old. On April 11 we flew back to Seattle and the next day we took a bus to Portland and Seaside. Cathy and Vince, thank you so much for the nice time we spent with you, for the good food and for the most comfortable bed in the world! After two more days in Seaside we packed our bikes again. Also many thanks to Neil, a very welcoming and interesting host, good luck with your track racers.

This first day after a longer break was easy. The weather was good, the land flat and no head wind. The most exciting thing probably was the border to the state Washington which consisted of a veeery long bridge crossing the huge Columbia River. Unlike many other bridges this one was actually fun to cycle because it had a little shoulder.


In Washington nothing changed. It was still sunny and flat. To our surprise we met Steve, sitting in his white van at the other side of the road. He’d been moving stuff around, and, as he knew we would be on the road again, figured he’d watch out for us. We didn’t have a very long stretch that day and in the early afternoon we arrived at Cape Disappointment SP. The hiker/biker site was ok but the facilities were nothing near as neat as in Oregon. And, being in Washington, it rained in the evening and all night. It stopped in the morning and mostly stayed that way. The countryside was hillier than the day before but nothing hard. We had planned to stay at the Bruceport Country Park but it was closed and as there was no running water we had to keep going. In Raymond we found a none-pensive RV Resort that allowed tents. And we got some sun and could dry out humid stuff. The next day didn’t work out as planned. The idea was to cycle to Westport and take the ferry to Ocean Shores and stay at the Ocean Beach SP. Problem was, there was no ferry, it hasn’t run for about four years. Anyway, we had to keep going, enjoying the rain and cold until we reached Aberdeen. There were no campgrounds in that desolate city which was a good excuse to stay in a motel. The nice guy there even gave us a $ 15 discount! It was still sort of shabby but warm and dry.

It kept raining on and off all next day. It didn’t come as a surprise, we knew that this side of the Olympic Peninsula is a very wet spot. And there is a reason why there is a rainforest growing. At least that’s what’s happening in the protected areas where the loggers can’t shave bare the landscape. These logging trucks were a continuous nuisance, going fast, splashing water and not always keeping their distance. We run into the problem of closed campgrounds again but this time we found a place to get water, so nothings prevented us from staying at the Wallaby Campground on the shore of Quinault Lake. The rain even stopped in the afternoon. Later two more cyclists showed up, two young guys from Olympia on a three day trip. The next day they passed us during our first break, we passed them when they took a break and so on. It was very wet again as we approached the rainiest areas of the peninsula. In Kalaloch a ranger suggested us a B&B and even called for us to find out the price. For $ 40 per room, breakfast included, we were more than willing to pedal some 14 miles more through the downpour. Ho Humm Ranch really was a friendly place and watching a meadow slowly be drowned by more and more puddles was much more fun from the window of a warm room than it would have been on a lousy campground. It still rained a little in the morning but soon stopped and there was the sun, all yellow, shiny and warm. We had to climb a hill that was so gradual that we hardly noticed it. We did notice the descent, though, which ended at Fairholm Campground in the Olympic National Park close to Crescent Lake. Apparently, there’s bears living there and people are clearly instructed to not only store food in the metal boxes but also toiletries like soap, toothpaste and any other “smelly item”. Smelly items, hmm, and what about us? Whether or not we take a shower, we’re smelly. Either of sweat or soap, so what exactly are we to do with ourselves? Well, obviously, we slept in the tent and no bear or cougar or even raccoon came to take a bite.

The day we arrived in Port Angeles was bright and sunny. It hadn't been far and we only stayed there because we had managed to organize a WS place. But we appreciated the short pedaling day, the time to stock up on food and just hang out in the sun and walk around town. Ian came home in the afternoon after a day of volunteer work cleaning beaches. He was an interesting person to talk to and we enjoyed the evening at his house. Thanks Ian, it was a pleasure meeting you. We also had a WS place in Port Townsend. And it was sunny again! Hard to believe. It also was a little hilly, just to avoid boredom. We made it to Port Townsend by mid-afternoon, spent an hour looking for the indicated address and then two hours waiting for somebody to come home. Around 6 o’clock a young woman showed up, one of the four people living there. She let us in, explained how things worked and, as she gave us her room that night, disappeared again. We never met the rest of the folks, not in the evening and not in the morning. We took the ferry at 8 o’clock and were a bit worried by all the fog. It certainly looked as it was going to rain on the island. It didn’t. We crossed Coupeville and chose not the main highway but a side road that turned out to be much hillier. What a surprise. Anyway, we made it to Deception Pass SP until noon, so we decided to keep going. Deception Pass itself was worth a stop. It’s a narrow sea straight, named by George Vancouver who was disappointed by it but I don’t remember what the disappointing part was. It had a cool bridge and was a pretty sight. Just after that bridge we should have turned off the highway going to Anacortes but we missed that road. We only became aware of that when we saw the sign pointing to the center of Anacortes. Like it or not, we now had to take the busy highway but were surprised when the turn-off to Bay View came faster than we expected. Yes, we found that one! Now it was only a few miles to Bay View SP where we pitched our tent for the last time before another long break. It wasn’t far to Bellingham anymore and I figure it would have been pretty had it not rained cats and dogs all day. We got there early and as Shana and Rowan, tow cyclists we had met in La Paz on the Baja California, only came home later in the afternoon, we spent the remaining time in a nice and warm café.

We stayed several days in Bellingham and brought our bikes to a bike shop to have them “tuned up” for the trip to Alaska and Northern Canada. Then we went to Vancouver where Martina visited a friend and I stayed with my host family from back in 2002 when I did my six-month language stay there. It was very nice to meet them again and I truly enjoyed doing almost nothing but just be there and talk to them. The weather wasn’t that great so not all attempts to do something were successful. On a two-day trip to Vancouver Island I was luckier and could actually do a hike tor two without getting drenched to the skin. All too soon we had to go back to Bellingham. Billie, Nizam and Sahar, thank you so much for the wonderful time I had at your home, for the good food, your care and, of course, for the magic raisins!

Back in Bellingham we got our bikes back, bought microwavable food and got our luggage ready. On May 12 we said goodbye to our friends and boarded the ferry to Alaska. Shana, Rowan and everybody at the Oasis, thanks to you too, we had a good time and met many interesting people there. Now, the last big part of our journey in the Americas had begun. After Alaska, our big project is cycling the Dempster Highway, some 750 kilometers of gravel road leading to Inuvik, Canada’s northernmost city above the Arctic Circle.

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