Some oddities as well. Seth’s roommate Tyson had a friend come visit from Vermont (where they are both from). Bill from Vermont ended up really being Bill from PA who I know from back in the day. So we all hung out. Had some dumpstered delights, read every bmx magazine issue published in the last year, did critical mass, went to the anarchist bookstore (left bank books at 95 pike), and I ate the largest chocolate chip cookie I have ever seen (I had two). Not much rain, but fuck it was cold. Like 38 during the day! What’s up with that? Mad chillin was in effect, friends were so so hospitable, I can’t wait to get back when its warm and I have my bmx. But then, since they have regular summer guests, I probably won’t have my own room with a bed.
Category Archives: tour
Yes, I will admit that sometimes I am ridiculous about saving a couple of dollars. You don’t have to tell me. But, what many people don’t understand is that the challenge of saving those couple of dollars in fun in itself.
So there I am in Seattle, in the rain, carrying two sketchy cardboard boxes I built and taped together, walking to my bus transfer. I could barely get the boxes onto the bus and once I did I took up more than my fair share of space. Some might say I was abusing public transportation. At the airport I was dropped off pretty far from my terminal and my boxes had already begun to fall apart from dragging them ( only occasionally!). I decided to get a push cart, but they were two dollars! Insane. I tried to talk a worker into just letting me have one when he was putting them back, but he wasn’t havin it. I searched for one as best I could without wondering too far from my boxes. Finally someone let me talk them into giving theirs to me when they were done. So many people wouldn’t let me have theirs! Why is that? I got to my terminal, gave the usual lie about what was in my boxes, then proceeded to the security gates. I had put on extra layers and filled my pockets with stuff in order to lighten up my boxes and the workers at the metal detectors insisted, to the dismay of everyone behind me, that I take off layers down to my t-shirt. Finally on the plane off to PA.
Pennsylvania ruled as usual, good friends, good eats; if I only had better weather and more time…..
If I type too much about non-bike trip stuff I will feel like I am some regular online diary kid and get made fun of more than I already do. At least I am not on friendster.
Leaving Vancouver was hard. It was Canadian thanksgiving. Punk and pro-Indigenous kids can still make a festive atmosphere on a day that celebrates less than praise worthy events. It took me an hour to say good-bye to all 12 or so kids that were in the kitchen cooking. I made some good friends in the 10 days I was there; friends I hope to return the hospitality to if they can ever get over hating LA so much.
From Vancouver to the us border is a string of smaller towns/cities that make navigating especially time consuming. One town, whose name escapes me, was predominantly Sikh and Muslim populated. Indian/Middle East grocers lined the road and the smell of curry was fresh in the air. When I eventually return to Vancouver I will be sure to spend some time here. Some steep hills, in combination with not leaving till 2pm or so, put me at the border just before dark. I was not tired at all, probably due to my new sleep schedule, and road for a couple of hours in the dark! The small amounts of traffic made me feel comfortable doing this and I was able to hammer out the 65 or so miles I needed to do in order to get to Seattle in 3 days.
The route included a lot of time in beautiful forests early on, and then also some coastal roads/paths and some back roads through farm communities. I am following a lonely planet book that gives directions/maps for the coastal ride from Vancouver to San Diego and they have picked the scenic over the direct route. Before I got to Seattle I had taken two quick ferry rides and had ridden across numerous islands in the pungent sound. When I got to Seattle I called a bmx friend of friend, Seth Holten, who hooked me up. Ride from the ferry (it had poured on me all 60 miles I had pedaled), own room in his house, ride to his work in the morning to build boxes to get my bike on the plane. love it. BMX has produced some amazing kids. Approx 200 miles ridden from Vancouver, pulling about 70 pounds of gear in my trailer. nice.
Flew into Vancouver Friday. Since I had the BOB trailer I had no choice but to put my bike in a full size bike box-way oversized-and prepare to pay the $50. I get to the ticket counter and the people in front have bikes and shell out their cash. The women says to me when it’s my turn, ‘That’s a bike, right?’ Just to give it a go I say ‘No, camping equipment’. She should of charged for an oversized box but she didn’t. Love it! Batting a 1000 for not paying for my bike on airlines. So I land in Vancouver and get grilled by immigration and customs-apparently coming to BC just to mountain bike did not seem like a valid reason. I get through and set-up outside building my bike and packing my trailer. I set off to ride the 13 kilometers to east Vancouver and the unknown house I have directions for.
I make my way to ‘The house formerly known as the ALF-house’ and it is the way all punk houses should be- crowded with friendly kids. My connection was weak; I had a number of a friend of a friend of a friend, but it didn’t matter. I was offered food and a place to put my stuff. Love it. The house is pretty big, but I counted last night and 16 people were sleeping there. I swear not a scrap of food goes wasted from any produce store or health food store in this city. It all ends up in the kitchen. Meals for a dozen people are cooked regularly of solely free food. Canadian Chocolate soymilk is killer as are Nanaimo bars-these vegan treats found at a little gem called sweet cherubum. I ran into a friend from Portland on the street and it turns out his friends know my new friends. Today I have already run into 2 people (free coffee!) whom I have just met yesterday. It’s unbelievable.
My first full day I had to check out the ‘North Shore’ mountain biking. It is internationally known for its style of trails. I made my way to a few bike shops for some maps and new tires then started climbing up the local mountain to hit some trails. I picked an ‘intro to north shore’ trail. It was getting dark and I had a big pack on, but regardless I think I would of walked down most of the trail. I way overestimated my riding ability! The stuff here is sick-tons of ladders(old trees of various length that are placed horizontly as part of the trail-they have boards of various widths nailed to them to make sort of a bridge). These vary from two ft wide and 6 inches off the ground to half a foot wide and 3 feet off the ground. The trail was filled with berms, drops and obstacles all the way down. Maybe it was extra intimidating because no one was around, but it was so hard for me to do. This week I am going to hit up some ‘regular’ trails and then get back to the north shore stuff. Hopefully find some locals to ride with. Most of them have full suspension bikes with 7 inches of travel and full body armor. I would love to spend a summer and learn a completely new style of riding.
Plans from here? I have to be in Seattle next Wednesday the 15th to fly to PA on the 16th. I will probably spend most of that time in Vancouver, hopefully with a weekend trip to the mountain bike park in Whistler, 175 kilometers north. My cell phone is roaming, so I am not using it. Plus I would lose tons of punk points for using it here. I told everyone that most punks in LA have cell phones and they laughed at me! Ha. I should be able to check messages, so call if you need. Lastly, I have to say that I love my friends-new and old-so much when I travel. I receive so many love filled emails and have so many wonderful interactions with people who barely know me, but offer what they can to help me in my trip. If I could only offer back half as much it would take me years! This is one of my favorite things about traveling, something everyone should experience. Peace!
Well, well, 2 seasons later and 1 year older (on paper!) and I am back in the Anchorage public library typing away the details of my previous week. I left on Wednesday the 17th and was away for 10 days with my mountain bike, bob trailer and plenty of warm clothing. I spent two days riding in some light snow showers and a day (my birthday!) riding in pouring rain, and two days pedaling at 6 miles an hour into strong head winds. When I left it was officially still summer, but I have to say that I experienced summer, fall and winter within a week.
I came here with the idea that I wanted to see the state and test out doing some cold weather riding/camping. I got what I was looking for. I was only at 2000-2300 ft, but I was also within 300 or so miles of the Arctic Circle. As I rode north each night got colder. First there was ice in my water bottle, then ice in my nalgene in my tent. At my furthest point north I had my nalgene freeze SOLID inside my tent. My sleeping bag kept me warm despite the layer of ice that formed on the top where the moisture in my breath had frozen. I paid to camp twice; despite every night sleeping at an established campground. Most were state run and completely empty. One nights I woke up in time to look out of my tent and see the northern lights. Another night I had a view of Mt. Denali (the LARGEST mountain in the world, it stands at only 20,000 ft, but is 18,000 ft above the range level. Everest, for example, is 29,000 ft high, but only 11,000 ft higher than the range it is in.) from my tent door. I didn’t do any long hikes, but had ample opportunity to hike around the trails at the campsites, if I wasn’t too cold. My morning off in the national park I was eating cereal with water and powdered soymilk and the liquid was freezing as I ate it-I realized it when I was chewing on ice crystals. I decided to hang out in my tent for awhile until it warmed up a little. Vegan food was difficult to find outside of Anchorage, but I was able to make due because of all the food I had brought with me (mostly dehydrated refried beans, hummous, and curry lentil soup; chocolate; almonds; ramen noodles; and tvp).
I met some interesting locals, chatted with some rangers, and hung out with some other travelers. In the national park one night a French guy in his early 30’s invited me for tea in his family’s RV. Him, his wife and two kids (2.5 and 4 yrs old) had rented an RV in Montréal months ago and have just ended up in Alaska. Amazing. This is after them spending a couple months in southern Africa. They shared many travel stories from Africa and together we knocked Americans for their ignorance of US foreign policy. That night I thought a lot about where I might be when I am 33; will I be traveling in an RV with a wife and kids? Will I have been to Africa and lived all over the world as they have?
The next day I left to complete my round trip to Anchorage; I layered my miles so that I could stay at different campsites then on my way North. Why the same route? I had intended on taking the Denali Hwy East for its 135 gravel miles with no towns, and then looping back to Anchorage on different hwys. But after crossing a pass on my way North (in snow) I talked to a state trooper who made me decide otherwise. “All the hunters are getting out of there because of the weather. If it snows hard no one goes back there. Bring a lot of food and do not expect to see any other people. Prepare to be snowed in for a week, plus however long it will take to ride.” A bit more than I was looking for this trip.
I have other stories, but I have to keep this at a readable length. Back in Anchorage we went hiking up to Exit Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula the day after I got back. Amazing. Today (Monday the 29th) it is raining and unfortunately it is suppose to rain all week. This gives me time to prepare for my trip to the Vancouver area. Apparently it is really a hot spot for Mnt biking. Anyone know anyone there? I still haven’t worked out a place to stay or an itinerary. I’ll keep this posted. Thanks to everyone who sent me a b-day message.
One last thing: Everyone should check out this webpage for amazing pictures of an amazing bicycle journey from Alaska to the tip of South America: The Road South
Four weeks after flying back to the states is not the best time to write this, but I kept putting it off because I did not want summer to end. Sitting at a computer at my house, where school and work have already consumed me, I look back on our trip with such amazement. Did we really camp 40 feet from the highway numerous times? Ride in the rain for hours on end? Eat over 600 tortillas? I almost cannot believe it myself. When I talk to people about it, they think about it, ask a couple questions and then its back to the usual conversations. How can I explain something so fascinating in such a short period of time? I no longer think it is possible for someone to relate to this type of trip. It is so different from backpacking, yet so different from just riding a bike.
I miss the Mexican way of life. Much more laid back, lots of people were always chillin late into the night…everyone always said hello. Simplicity satisfies such a large percentage of the world’s population, but not in the USA. Especially not in California. I see people working so hard at so many things and I always ask why. Why work so hard? What are the end benefits of stressing so often? It is one thing to work hard towards something you have thought long about, but unfortunately I think most people work hard because they think they are suppose to. That success is dependent on it. I have to disagree. I have stated in my journal over and over that this trip was about the process, not the end goal. It is a metaphor for life. And I now look at everything I do from this prospective.
Off of my soapbox. I have to give props to all the people who have made this trip more enjoyable. I am not going to try to name everyone, because too many people have sent me encouraging emails, gave me advice, gave me a place to stay, drove me around before and after the trip and put up with me in general. Though, I do have to especially thank Justin for making this trip such a great experience. It probably would not of been possible without him.
For everyone else reading this I hope this glimpse into my trip has motivated you in someway. Maybe not to go on a bike trip, but to change your world for the better in some way. Quit your job. Sell your car. Explore your environment. Talk to people you usually wouldn’t. Spend hours sitting in the travel section of a bookstore. You know that thing you have wanted to do since you were a kid? Why not start now?
The English started in Tikal actually. We held a conversation with a Belizean who was currently working in Guatemala. You never want to admit that you miss speaking English, but after almost 7 weeks you understand, and appreciate, the importance of vocal communication. The road was supposed to be paved all the way to the Belizean border. You know how that goes. So after waking up at 430am, pedaling 75 miles, some on unpaved roads, and crossing another international border we ended up San Ignacio, Belize.
For me, this was it. This was the city I pictured myself riding into and ‘being there’. It was it. Despite our hunger, I had to take a minute and pause at one particular intersection that held some personal importance. It was the defining moment of the trip. That point of emotion right in between laughing and crying. I rode on towards the city center and I looked down at my gloved hands on my handlebars, as I had been doing for the last 7 weeks, and it felt so dramatic. All I had done was ride my bike, but it was two worlds coming together for me. I had spent a couple of months in Belize almost two years ago, and it was then that I dreamed up this trip. This was a time for recollection. I had learned an immense amount about myself and about life in the last two years. Here I was looking at the same place, but through different eyes. I wasn’t expecting this, but I felt as though something that had been nagging me was now gone. Long-term goals are not a regular part of my life so the excitement of completing one was unexpected.
The night in San Ignacio was full of emotions. Justin was ecstatic to eat a curry dish. Both of us enjoyed the English dialogue and the props we were given by all the Belizeans hanging out. We spent hours just chillin in front of a restaurant on the main street talking with all sorts of people about all sorts of things…but not all of the emotions that Belize brought back were positive, enough so that I ended up not eating dinner…..anyway we ended up not camping at the SDA hospital like we had planned, partly cause of the weather and partly cause of the US$7 room we scored. We had to fight off people trying to get us to smoke pot, but it was worth it.
The end of the trip wouldn’t be without its complications; none of the ATMs in town would take our bankcards. We spent the last of our money on peanut butter and white bread (actually bread! not tortillas!) and headed towards the capital city of Belmopan where rumor had it a bank existed that could give us money. Along the way we stopped to soak our heads from a faucet of a local farmer who had a business proposition for us: Apparently it is lucrative to buy pick-up trucks in the USA and drive them to Belize and sell them for much more. A possible new source of income? Email me if you want in.
We spent the night 33 miles outside of Belize City at the Monkey Bay environmental reserve. In the morning we talked with a young Brit who was full of stories of her travels in Cuba, Turkey, and the Middle East. The wheels are spinning for another trip before this one is even complete. The last 30 miles went by fast as could be. We got a fist and a ‘welcome to Belize’ from a government worker just outside of the city that brought it into perspective. ‘Welcome to Belize’. The end is here. Pictures in front of the Atlantic Ocean confirm it. The details of our last day in Belize are trivial. I went to visit some old friends, we packed our bikes up, shopped around a bit, and just plain ole chilled.
The next day, September 12th, we hitchhiked to the airport with our bikes and then skirted the $80 fee for bikes by telling them it was camping equipment. We bought our last cokes and fried plantains and boarded the plane. This time when I left Belize there was no one to wave good-bye to, which made the finality of my trip all the more extreme. We kicked back our seats, put on our headphones, and took the easy way back to the states.