4 September - Hope
My journal entries have been a bit sparse of late, haven't they? Ooops, sorry.
In 100-Mile House, where I stayed 3 nights instead of 1 and where I was treated to breakfast being cooked for me one morning and then being taken for breakfast another!, I finally overcame the state of inertia and moved on, following a quiet road across east towards Little Fort.
Whilst travelling this route I can now add a fox to my list of wildlife. He came along to my tentsite when I was eating breakfast, as bold as brass, and would have come right up to me if I had not shooed him away each time. Obviously he was used to being fed. Tut tut, not to be encouraged, you know.
Twenty miles before Little Fort was a steep, at times exhilarating (= euphemism for scary) downhill during which I thought I must have recorded my fastest speed of the trip (41.6 mph), but, on checking my records, this came second to the 42.9 mph in Petra, Jordan! Coo, not bad, eh, for such a cautious cyclist?
I did a hefty 76 miles one day and surprised a couple, Mark and Sue, I'd met the day before who had invited me to stay with them when I passed through Kamloops. They thought it would have taken me two days to have reached them.
From Kamloops I had to follow the Trans-Canada Highway 1 for 26 kms - horribly busy and fast - then swung off along the 97, long slow uphill, then down to a peaceful lake, finding a wild camping spot along with a motorcyclist.
The next day I cycled through the Okanagan valley, renowned for its abundance of fresh fruit - oh yum, delicious. Here I stayed with cousin June and her family, none of whom I'd ever met before. What a warm and generous welcome. And what a glorious location they live: views over a lake and access to it by walking across the road and down a short bank, stepping into cool, clear sparkling water.
On the way to my cousins, I had a flat! I think it's about the 5th/6th one of my trip! Once again I see how I am being looked after, cos a couple of minutes before, a cyclist had paused, on his way home from work, to see if I was OK, cos I'd stopped at the roadside, and offered a refreshment stop at his home 4 kms away. When I discovered my flat, I duly turned up at his home, was given a beer and then a lift to my cousin's, 25 kms away!
I stayed at cousin June's 5 days! I took the opportunity of a much-needed haircut (7 months since my last one), just along the road from June's at a new salon run by Roger and his wife. He gave me a lovely haircut, including changing my parting to the opposite side, which is much better!
Onwards towards cousin Jonathan's (brother of aforementioned cousin). It took me 6 days, during which I was still passing through fruit country, stayed overnight with a woman I met in the Visitor Centre, slept by the riverbank along a cycle route (no tent, just on my mattress and sleeping bag under my mosquito net hanging from a tree to protect me from the hoards of the biting blighters); was given a free pitch at the Eagle RV Park in Karemeos (not only that, but accommodated in a huge 20 foot high permanent tent with picnic tables in, specially for tenters when the weather was bad!). As it happened, there had been a severe weather warning that day of torrential rain, hailstones, strong winds, thunder and lightening (yeah right! it was hot and sunny and dry) which, actually, turned out to be pretty accurate! I was a little more than glad that I had stopped here with such a thoughtful facility - cos my tent would have been blown away anywhere else.
The Hope-Princeton Highway goes from an elevation of 2100 feet at Princeton, up to 4400 at Allison Pass (50 miles), down to 157 feet at Hope (35 miles). I started late in the morning from Princeton because it was pouring with rain first thing and I didn't fancy my chances with the big, fast trucks speeding by spraying up water and so I waited until the rain abated. Therefore, I didn't manage this section in one day. The campsite at Manning Park was on a really uncomfortably hard, gravel ground; the very hot and sunny day was followed by an extremely cold and damp night (despite my thermals) and my comfort was not helped by my having a painful cracked rib! Oh yes, I forgot to say: whilst pumping air into my back tyre at cousin June's, I was pressing down on the stirrup pump with my chest when I heard and felt a crack - and some discomfort! Over the subsequent 6 days of cycling it had become increasingly painful on movement, laughter and breathing and it is rather tender. I am now happy to give it a bit of a rest.
Oh, amazing surprise! On entering Hope, I was overtaken by a car, being frantically waved at by the peculiar driver, only then to realise, when he pulled over and called out my name, that is was Elliot!! my erstwhile fellow passenger from the freighter ship!!! I could hardly believe it! We had lunch to catch up before he continuing onto Vancouver. He had gone all the way to Prudhoe Bay, stopped off for a few days somewhere and went on some hiking and jam-making experiences! And now was ongoing to Vancouver for a week's R&R.
Hope exhibits many wood carvings around the town, which are impressive to see when you realise they have been created by a chainsaw. I'd love to see them being carved, but I shall miss the annual chiansaw competition here in Hope next weekend.
I am duly ensconced for a couple of days with cousin Jonathan and his wife, Carolyn. I've been given a wonderfully warm and friendly welcome and home comforts, as well as the opportunity to write this, exceedingly long, journal update.
God bless you all for your continued interest in my trip. What am I going to do when it's all over?
18 September - Shelton, USA
The weather and my rib made me accept the offer of a lift by my cousin to Horseshoe Bay in northern Vancouver for me to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. It poured cats and dogs on the way to Vancouver, ceased and out came the sun for the ferry trip to Vancouver Island, but heavy rain again at Nanaimo. I started cycling about 5pm, covered 25 miles and ended up camping in someone's back garden next to a church in Chemainus (well-known for its many murals on the town buildings). At 11.30 that night, a neighbour of the person who had given me permission to put up my tent came out demanding why I was camped in his backyard?!
Whilst having breakfast the next morning I met a friendly family who invited me to stay with them, but, as I was on my way to my cousin's, I declined. I just managed to catch the 1.50 ferry from Mill Bay to the peninsula and then it was an easy ride over to Sidney, where I was on the receiving end of a wonderfully warm welcome from my-first-cousin-once-removed, Ruth. :-) It turns out I'd last met her 48 years ago (when I was 4)!! Ah yes, I remember it well.
It was a great few days with Ruth, relaxing and homely and a chance for my rib to heal. I reluctantly left last Sunday, after an outdoor service and lunch at her church. I cycled the pretty, flat cycle route all the way to Victoria, met up with Dennis, a contact as a result of a chance encounter at a ferry terminal in northern Japan, who kindly gave me bed and breakfast prior to catching my ferry to the States the following morning.
The US Customs in Victoria repeated the encounter I had in Prince Rupert re: extending my white card 6-months' permission to stay in the country! In other words, they were pretty unhelpful about doing so; ie. they refused. However, the Customs people on arrival in Port Angeles were quite different, not only giving me an extension until 25 April 2010, but not charging me for it either. Always great to enter a new country with a good impression. :-)
I met a cyclist, Doug, also going to Port Angeles. He's left his wife behind for a few weeks whilst he goes down to California or so. He set off before me,whilst I sorted my white card, but neither of us got as far as we thought we would and found ourselves at the same campsite that night. A young family came along quite loaded down with baggage. The family included 3 young children, one of them on her own cycle, the other two in children trailers. They normally live on a sailing boat in the Caribbean and were now cycling for a few weeks, at the same time home-schooling their 6-year old daughter. They were accompanied by an Aussie woman, who had been cycling in North America for 3 months, with the intention of going all the way down South America, for however long it would take her (which generally seems to be about 2 years). So, as you see, some pretty intrepid people about.
I have since stayed with Meredith and Peter in their beautiful home in Port Ludlow (arranged through someone I met in Cairo!) and am now with Kip and Marya in Shelton (first met at Deadman's Lake campsite in Alaska. :-). Their company is a joy and a blessing to me. Their peaceful garden has the soothing sound of a stream running through it. Under Kip's instruction I managed to do the oil change on my bike; after which she received a thorough clean.
To reach here I followed a cycle route from Port Angeles for about 26 miles, during which I met a couple riding recumbents, accompanied by their daughter on a normal bike ('too young for a recumbent'), who spontaneously offered me accommodation when I passed through their home town between San Francisco and Los Angeles!
[I keep starting to describe my cycle route and end up talking about people I've met! It's such big aspect of my trip :-) ].
The cycle route was very pretty and, mostly, well away from the main road. From Port Townsend I followed the 101, which was undulating or fairly flat and went along the side of the Hood Canal - extremely pretty, with mountains all around, including the Olympic Mountains somewhere off to the right.
The weather is hot and sunny. I passed my 500th day of my trip 2 days ago. I've just seen and spoken to my children via Skype.
Isn't life great!?
25 September - Cannon Beach, Oregon
How can anyone not see a divine hand at work when gazing at the beauty of creation all around us?! I am currently in Cannon Beach and spent the afternoon walking for miles along the soft white sand to Haystack Rock, wondering, as I wandered, at the wonder of God's wonderful world! (hmm ... one wonders too much, perchance?). It was marvellous to gaze at the glorious sunshine on the glittering waves and to see the pelicans and seagulls flying and floating, twisting and turning, soaring and swooping. Oh, beauteous nature! How we can take it for granted if we don't take time to stand and stare.
Whilst in Shelton, Kip, Marya and I took the ferry across to Seattle for the day, to visit her son and daughter, for what turned out to be her birthday celebration! Seattle turned out to be quite a cool city: it plays host to the famous Pike Place Fish Market; the first Starbucks is there.
From Shelton I took a pretty, quiet road for the day, on the way meeting a young graduate, Wes, just on his second day out on his west coast trip. We both ended up at the beautiful Lake Sylvia State Park campsite, having a refreshing dip in the cool water; always welcome at the end of a sweaty cycling day. Later on in the evening came a couple more bikers going the same route; one slept in hammock; t'other just under the stars in his sleeping bag on a mattress.
The following day I rejoined the busy 101, met another young cyclist, Paul, who stopped by whilst I was taking a rest and with whom I cycled the last mile to Cannon Beach. He continued on, whilst I stopped to stay overnight (or two) with a pastor and his wife, David and Trina (arranged courtesy of Gordon, who I met in Cairo and who has now arranged 2 overnights for me: this was at the parents of an ex-student of his!). I still go ga-ga at how people go out of their way to help me.
So, having arrived yesterday, at pretty short notice (4 hours), I was duly welcomed and immediately invited to go out for the evening to the cinema (we saw Julie and Julia - have you seen it? REALLY funny and enjoyable) with my hosts plus friends, from whom I might even have additional contacts down the road. And who said the Americans were reticent about welcoming strangers! :-)
Crossing over from Washington State to Oregon meant cycling along a windy 4-mile bridge with no hard shoulder, all the time having the sight of an incredibly steep-looking incline at the end of the bridge, with plenty of time to convince myself that there is no way I am physically going to be able to push my bike up it, let alone cycle it and so, with no chance of flagging down a vehicle, how on earth am I going to make it to the other side?! ...... But .... I did. Hooray.
And now, full of excited expectation, I have started along the beautiful Oregon coast cycle route (trying to ignore the busy road with the heavy loggers and huge RVs and the iffy hard shoulder), staying at State Park campsites with incredibly cheap hiker-biker rates ($4!!!), which, at the fantastic Fort Stevens campsite, also included under-floor heated shower roooms. Oh , boy, can it get any better? :-)