Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Tandemonium Concludes

At 5:27 pm Tuesday August 26, 2008, we rolled through the finish line in my sister's San Diego driveway (literally, they had a finish line streamer to break through!) with balloons and streamers waving, a welcome banner, music playing, and sister Amy, brother-in-law Karl, & neice Alexi cheering. Noah and Dana were presented with gold medals for "long distance tandem bicycling," we were handed cups of cold water (which was wonderful, it had been a hot and hilly afternoon of riding), and looked at the cycle computer: 1485 miles pedaled. Yahoo!

After a day's bicycling adventure, with something new around every bend, we have our routines. The park ranger tells us whether we'll be paying $3 or $4 per person for the hiker/biker campsite (and whether Noah and Dana count as people, sometimes there's no charge for them), and the kids alternate setting up the tent or the stove. Showers are assessed for cleanliness and minutes of hot water per quarter (the range: no quarters needed to 2 quarters for 3 minutes). We roam to the beach to check out, as Dana says, "any special features." And we're in the tent at dark most nights, reading or looking at the maps of tomorrow's route or chatting about the day. It is a bit strange to stop all of that.

We have had an amazing adventure in family fun (Noah and Dana are impressive athletes and great people, Tom was patient that I can't charge up the hills as fast as he can), wildlife experiences (male elephant seals have a loud throaty sound, hundreds of pelicans close overhead, Tom and Dana's tandem nearly running over a sleeping rattlesnake), history appreciation (Point Reyes earthquake exhibits after a day riding the San Andreas fault, El Camino Real and the missions - we went to restorations in Lompoc, Santa Barbara and San Juan Capistrano), and lately, fruit smoothies everyday.

Oh wait, it is just the pedal journey that is finished. We'll enjoy a week of transition here at my sister's and get ready for our next adventure in Mexico. We taxed our bodies these last six weeks, and next we'll stretch our minds with studying Spanish in Guanajuato. The tandemonium concludes, but the adventures continue.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The People That You Meet

When people ask about our travels, we tend to answer about place. For example today, "We're headed to Lompoc to camp, but we've pedalled over 1000 miles down the coast, starting from Eugene, Oregon and we're going to San Diego." But really, a lot of this is about the people.

We met Brit on the train and a week later spent a day on the Oregon coast with him as our guide. A free spirit Buddhist ballroom dance instructor and balloon entertainer (we realized we'd seen him making balloon sculptures at the Co-op Party in Bellingham the day before we left on our trip), in Bandon we sampled candies at the candy shop with him, and wandered art exhibits where a harpist was playing.
We met Bigfoot trailer campers who invited us to share their site, a family from northern Wisconsin who gave us all their power bars and gels, Antonio from Italy who started his bicycle trip in Alaska and is headed to south America (he gave the kids M&Ms at the top of Leggett Hill, the biggest one on the trip), Ignacio and Daniella from Tucson (who the kids may have voted most fun adults met on the trip), and other cyclists in the hiker-biker sites and on the road. Then there are the brief interactions with local folks, like Woody, the security guard for a small set of stores, who walked up to Tom and said, "Did you lock up your unit, son? Want to do that." As you might imagine, we now repeat that line each time we leave the bikes to enter a grocery store.

Today though, we parted ways with our cycling pals Mark & Jade after two fun-filled weeks riding together from San Francisco to a little past San Luis Obispo. We will miss their humor and companionship, and the kids will especially miss having someone their age to give them a break from mostly hanging out with their parents. The finale day was spent in the campground pool for the morning, in the ocean boogie boarding for the afternoon, and with ice cream and pizza (the latter carried back to the campground by the stokers while we rode) for dinner.

We'll look forward to seeing who we get to meet next, after all we met Mark & Jade while cycling in Canada six years ago, when Dana was 4 and Noah was 6. Sometimes the people that you meet not only enrich your life, they become great friends.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Road Giveth and the Ocean Taketh Away

One game we play while bicycling is noting the items on the roadside and imagining them, found materials art-style, to be building a scarecrow. We saw a shirt and a hat to begin with, many gloves (an octopus-armed scarecrow?) and socks, and the winner for multiples - towels. Dana decided that the scarecrow would be a girl with a full skirt made of towels. We've seen shoes (including a set of hiking boots and a single orange leopard print knee-high boot) and now we picture our scarecrow to have a similarly outfitted family and be in a living room (due to all the furniture seen, including a wooden chair next to a No Dumping sign) crocheting (red yarn, looked like a potholder).

Of course some found items, like shells at the seashore, catch our fancy in that we can use them on our venture, so we decide whether their owners could possibly return for them or we should clean up the roadside a little. We stopped for a pair of cycling leg warmers and another day for a set of long-fingered gloves (usually you just see singles), and are thinking a bun
gy cord will come our way (you see lots of them, so we're picky and are waiting for one that wouldn't interrupt a screaming downhill).

The ocean, on the other hand, grabbed Noah's glasses when a big wave surprised him. The adults on the beach ran into the water to effect a search of the area, both Tom and our friend Glen (who had come over from Palo Alto with his family) forgetting they had cell phones in their pockets. The ocean then claimed both. Well, we have the phones but ours has an interesting design of water droplets and salt crystals in the display.

So today we thank Migahm/Anne, Denny, and Midori for their hospitality, and pedal on with Mark and Jade (who joined us in San Francisco) to Monteray to find the Lenscrafters that can help Noah see better. We'll be back on the road, and cycling beside the ocean, appreciating both.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just Add Water

While the Eel River may sound not so yummy, we found that it had several choice swimming holes. Dana spent a couple hours in the river-rock smooth bottomed Eel at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area - where we were charged $6 to camp.

After another hilly day, we were still along the Eel and found an amazing sandy beach swimming hole, with the requisite quarry-like rock wall for cliff jumping. Tom got in on that (but not from as high as the local teens) and both kids jumped in from maybe 10 feet up. Laural just swam until the sun went down behind the cliffs and then we treked back up to the hiker-biker camp (where there was lots of company, 5 other folks also traveling the coast).

The kids have also swum at the Eureka KOA (handy to have them in their swimsuits while we laundered everything else), and gotten completely soaked in the Pacific waves. Those crashers are loud and taller than they are, so it has deterred them actually swimming.

We're applying lots of sunscreen, have passed the 700 miles cycled mark, and make sure we add water to the itinerary almost every day. Noah says he updated his audio blogs, and next computer time will figure out how to organize them!

Living Local

"Beep-boop-bop-beep," sings Noah from the back of the tandem, calling Dana on his imaginary cell phone.

"Ema's All-Natural Metropolis Market," answers Dana from the back of her tandem bike.

"What's your definition of natural?" questions Noah.

"Local and organic," she responds.
So maybe our living local while traveling is getting noticed. We got Misty Meadows Wild Blackberry Jam outside Bandon (the huge sign on the road said JAM in three-foot-tall letters) to put on our Bandon Bakery sunflower bread. Found Point Arena lemon cuccumbers at an organic market and truly French pastries down the street (at Frankie's Bakery and Ephemera). In Mendecino we ate homemade ice cream (Noah got root beer float and it really did fizz a little in your mouth).

We notice the regional changes. We were getting chocolate milk made by the Humboldt creamery (which we actually rode by, up and over almost, as it was next to a big bridge) and now it is Clover creamery on the milk and yogurt. Some farms even have signs out front stating which creamery their milk goes to. We visited the Loleta cheese factory (unlimited samples, we bought a garden pepper jack), and have stopped at farm stands (one we could smell the strawberries even before we stopped).

Cycling 4 hours a day makes us hungry, so we're sampling local fare and enjoying that northern California has been more cows than cars. (Outside of the Redwoods, I mean.) Besides, we're stretching our bodies to the smell of licorice - wild fennel seems to grow everywhere along the roadside here - so that reminds us to eat well too.