Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Once recovered from our hike, we headed for Canada, where soon to be friends, Michael and Teck, opened their Vancouver home up to us for a few days. We explored the city and felt the first drizzle of rain for at least a month. (We’ve been really lucky weather-wise in the Pacific Northwest). We decided to head up North towards the mountains again, but on our way, were treated to some magnificent views of the famous B.C. coastline. 

       We realized we’d be leaving the Pacific for a very long time, and decided that the ferry ride over to Vancouver Island would be worth the extra cost if we could soak in a little more of the beautifully rugged mountainous seascape before heading inland for several months. So, we turned around and headed to the nearest ferry terminal for a ride across the Straight of Georgia. Since then we’ve been camping, hiking and kayaking (a real highlight!) around the island. We met travelers from all over the world on the island, wandered through rainforest, listened to live music, and ate “buck-a-shuck” oysters in Victoria. 

One of the things that we were reminded of on the island, is that often the places most recommended are also the most touristy and expensive. Sometimes the most pleasurable experiences are happened upon randomly and cost nothing. Specifically, one of our most recent evenings we pulled into a cute little seaside village on the east side of the island, called Chemainus.  It was “off the map,” so to speak. We found a small art-murmur type local event on the Main street and then wandered through the town past beautiful murals depicting its history and culture. We ambled slowly down towards the water, enjoying the warm evening air, and discovered a small park on the water with four or five folks playing accordion together. The sun was setting behind moored fishing and sail boats as the silhouettes of kayakers slid silently by. We sat on the grass and enjoyed the romantic scene before the mosquitoes drove us to a local teashop up the road. The walls were covered with different teas from all over the world, and the friendly owner made us feel welcome. In the next room, musicians jammed together on guitars, fiddles, percussion and base. As the evening waned, we headed back to the bus, bellies full of warm tea, to get some sleep. The sense of community in this small town was palpable and heart-warming. It's these types of places that are the best to discover and enjoy.

        Next up, after taking the ferry back to Vancouver, we're excited to pick up Nellie at the airport in the morning and head to Whistler and the Canadian Rockies! woohoo!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

On to Washington:
                We made bus tracks quickly through much of Washington in order to spend a few days exploring Olympic National Park and its temperate rain forests before flying to New Hampshire.  We camped at the edge of Lake Quinnalt and took a few day hikes to explore the temperate rain forest.  We can never resist a dip in a river or lake when the chance presents itself, which has been often on this trip, and we took a few very pleasant swims in the lake after our day hikes.  From Olympic we headed to Seattle and our flights back to New Hampshire for a brief mid-summer visit. 

A Brief Intermission from the Bus Trip:
                A brief visit to NH let Jori attend his cousin’s wedding and me be around to help host the annual Cottage Extravaganza.  We swam and ate and swam and ate and sat around the campfire to the sounds of some great guitar, bass, and voices.  We fit in a few games of badminton, which has become quite the summer tradition, had a great meal with the Leland side of the family, and managed to get all of our parents together for a dinner out.  Not bad for a week visit! 

Seattle and The Cascades:
                Back in Seattle, we visited a couple of long-time friends of Jori’s family.  Denny and Mike took us to some great local restaurants, always greeting the staff by name and guiding us to the best items on the menu.  We did the typical tourist things in Seattle like wandering around downtown, taking a ferry ride on Puget Sound to see a nearby island, and gawking at the Space Needle and the giant ferris wheel. 

We wandered through the famous Pike’s Place Market and the fish flying through the air from the hands of one staff to the next on its journey to the waiting customer who almost always becomes part of the show.  
                After our stay in Seattle we visited with David and Diane, who have known the Edes family long enough to be considered family, on Camino Island.  They have us thinking (again) about designing and building a house after showing us around their amazing homemade home. 
After visiting with David and Diane we headed for the Cascade Mountains, where we had a 5 day loop hike planned.  We stopped at a small burger joint just off Camano Island to fill our tank up with veggie oil before heading into the woods. While we were filling up, we called the local ranger station to check in about our planned hike.  It was a good think we did.  The knowledgeable ranger informed us that there was no way we would find our way around our intended route as the trail had been completely covered by landslide a few years back.  Words like “epic” were used to describe navigating the slide.  The ranger helped us construct a new route that would take us up along some of the same ridge lines.  
Panorama view (one of many) from the PCT
Glacier Peak
 The hike started along the Sauk River, from which we ascended 4000+ feet to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  We walked over Red Pass and several patches of snow below Glacier Peak before making camp beneath the 10,000+ foot summit.  After traversing the snow stretches, we spent several days walking through alpine meadows. 
Whitechuck Glacier viewed from Red Pass
 Our eyes were drawn from the blue sky and snow capped peaks to the green carpet bursting with bright blushes of pink heather, patches of purple lupine, and yellow and orange lilies bowing below fluffy white clouds.  At night we sat around the warmth of campfires not far from the trickling streams and rivers whose waters we used for cooking drinking. We hiked a total of 34 miles over 5 days with a total elevation gain of 12,680 feet.  Subsequently, we took a much needed break and spent a couple of mellow nights at a beautiful campground next to a creek, surrounded by moss covered hemlocks and green ferns.

Blue Lake, after a steep and treacherous climb along a cliff.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Soaking Up Oregon

 It’s been a bit since our last blog post and we’ve covered a lot of ground, by bus, by plane and on foot.  We’ve been on the road for almost 8 weeks and 2000 miles.   The bus seems to have hit its traveling stride- which is about 45 miles an hour whenever it can get away with it.  The veggie oil is flowing, the wheels are rolling smoothly down windy mountain roads, and we made it across the border into Canada without a hitch (Though, it’s usually the reentry into the States that is problematic).  Since our last blog entry we have: checked out the hot springs and lakes in the national forests of Oregon, visited with friends and biked the streets in and around Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, explored lakes, forests, and mountains in Olympic National Park and the Cascades, and flown to New Hampshire for a wedding and to visit with family and friends.   Below is the start of the blogging of recent adventures.  More soon!
Prairie Crane Lake - our free camping spot for a few nights.

Hot Springs:
                Oregon made up for its first impressions by providing many beautiful hot springs to relax and soak in after the stressful Boose breakdown. In total, we hit three springs. The first was Umpqua Hot Springs in the south, which was amazingly gorgeous with its seven lime-encased bright blue pools and plenty of good conversation. Unfortunately, it seemed to be a bit of a party scene for a few folks, as people tossed there cigarette butts about and carelessly brought glass beer bottles into the pools.

                After Umpqua, we explored Crater Lake before being chased off the volcano by a storm. Fortunately, as it began raining we found a beautiful free campsite in the National Forest on Crane Prairie Lake. As we arrived here, we were greeted by four or five bald eagles of all ages swooping over our heads. Betsy got some great pics. There were also large white cranes, osprey, ducks, and geese. The following day, the sun broke through and we rode a 25-mile circuit around the lake on back-country forest roads. It ended with a warm dinner in the bus back at the campsite and nice sunset to boot.
                Up the road a bit, Deschutes Brewery happened to be celebrating their 25th Anniversary when we arrived for a tour in Bend, OR. We got to try a bunch of their brews and see their new facility. My favorite was their new 25th Anniversary Black Butte Porter, which was an amazing consortium of malty chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors, without being  too sickly sweet. Yum! They were nice enough to let us stay in their warehouse parking lot for the night before we headed up to hot springs number two, Breitenbush. Rather, the “old” Breitenbush. We couldn’t get reservations at this Harbin-like resort, so we followed a path down to the old site, where the ruins of the old buildings still lie, with hot water flowing into their foundations.
                From Breitenbush we took a slight detour south to swim in Detroit Lake before heading to Bagby, or final Oregon hot spring.  Recently updated, Bagby is an immaculately maintained group of wooden tubs about a mile and a half from the road.  It offers  both the more common large wooden barrel tubs and novel long soaking basins carved out of the trunks of large trees.  The spring’s water is piping hot, but you can cool your freshly poured tub off by hauling buckets of cold water from nearby barrel. 

Portland, City of Many Friends:               
After leaving the hot springs and forests behind we came to Portland for our first city stop of the trip. We pulled into Try On Life Community Farm, where we visited with some old friends of Jori’s, Isabelle and Giles.  We spent most of our nights in Portland on Sauvie Island, just north of the city, staying with our friend Anne, who we originally met in Oakland several years ago, and her husband Travis.   The island is covered with small farms, including a wonderful lavender farm we visited one afternoon, and was great for biking around.    
We spent a good deal of our time in Portland reuniting with wonderful old friends who live in or near the city or happened to be passing through.  It was great to visit with everyone and hear about all of their adventures and pursuits over the last few years (or decade )and it made me thankful to have crossed paths with so many people who are doing interesting and positive things in the world.  In between catching up with people from various phases of our lives, we had a few great bike rides around different parts of the city, visited the famous Powell’s Bookstore (we made it out with only 3 new additions to our bus library), and sampled tasty offerings from a few of the many, many food trucks.

Portland turned out to be the sort of city we could see ourselves getting stuck in for a few years, but don’t worry families....We are still en route home.

Friday, June 28, 2013

From the Redwood Forests to the Oregon Waters

After the Lost Coast we spent several days exploring the beautiful rugged coastline and beaches along Rte. 
101, and occasionally searching for veggie oil. 
Score! Finally.
Big biodiesel operations have definitely gained popularity since we did our first WVO (Waste Vegetable Oil) powered road trip more than five years ago. Due to this competition, we were met with limited success in our first several attempts at sucking up the greasy stuff. Fortunately, in Crescent City our fortunes changed and we got permission to fill up with 50 gallons of free WVO fuel from a local restaurant. 
On our way up North we wandered though many groves of redwood trees as well as completing some serious biking and hiking day trips. 

Not a bear.
The easy part.

On one trip in particular in Redwood National Park, we started out biking a gravel road next to the ocean which soon turned into a serious mountain biking trail over roots, rocks and mud. We don’t have mountain bikes but we kept going anyways, carrying our bikes at times. The trail then smoothed out but gained 800 feet of altitude as we huffed and puffed over a steep mountain path. Part way up, we were greeted by a 200 pound bear lumbering ahead of us rather quickly. Quite a sight to see, especially since he was only about 20 feet away. She looked over at us, but fortunately wasn’t interested and kept heading over the mountain ahead of us. This was the second bear we've seen on our trip. We've also seen elk, deer, mink, seals, bunnies, banana slugs, bald eagles, osprey, and cute little gophers. It's a regular National Geographic special out here. 

Once we made it over the summit we were rewarded by a fun winding bike ride through redwoods down to the paved road. We then got to cool off as we soared downhill through these majestic trees in the dappled sunlight. It was one of those moments where it was hard to not feel overjoyed being alive.  (Check out the video of it below). We finished the day off by locking up our bikes and hiking back to our bus and campsite through a secluded and quiet old growth redwood forest. Many of the trees we hiked past were at least 1000 years old, some several centuries more. These massive beauties always fill me with awe and inner silence. I think the cathedrals we build intend to mimic the feeling you get in forests like these. The day ended  with a sunset over the ocean, a cold shower and some warm dinner cooked in the bus.

A few redwood groves, dirt roads and some chilly river swims later, we found ourselves crossing the border into Oregon. We didn’t make it much more than 35 miles into the state before the Boose decided it needed some TLC. It started squeeling, whining and clunking suddenly at a stop light. This happened at the perfect time though, because we were about to embark down a windy two lane road through the mountains with little to no cell coverage. But we were still on 101 and were able to call a diesel mechanic who highly advised us not to drive the bus, since our alternator had seized up (the clunking) and the serpentine belt was rubbing against it (the whining). Fourtunately, our AAA - RV had just kicked in a couple days prior (thanks Dad!) and we were able to get the Boose towed 85 miles to a mechanic in Coos Bay for free! 
Poor Boose.
We spent a night on the street in front on the mechanic, Kenny’s, shop, and all in all, the new alternator and repair was pretty cheap as far as bus fixes go. There were several honest and friendly people who helped us out in this ordeal, so we’ve come to really like Oregonians.

The bus is running smoothly now, and we're heading inland to explore the Oregon wilderness. Our first stop is Umpqua Hot Springs in the national forest to soak away the stress of a broken boose. Wish us luck!

Friday, June 21, 2013

We start out again.....by getting Lost

Jori driving across the Golden Gate Bridge

We finally managed to escape the gravitational pull of the Bay Area (Watch out, you go to visit a few months and somehow find that you are still there half a decade later!) and began our bus trip home to New Hampshire on the afternoon of June 11th. After packing and boxing and many sad farewells, we shed a few nostalgic tears as we made our way through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge to route 101 N and the start of our cross country adventure (Part II).
Our first destination: The Lost Coast for a few days of hiking with a couple of good friends.

We've had a few outdoor adventures with Pete and Mary in the past (most notably the infamous misadventure to Snow Creek Cabin a few winters ago, which is a story for another blog) and we quickly settled into that easy rhythm that you find with great exploring companions. We were off to tackle the several hours of rutted and bumpy dirt road driving required to deposit their car at one end of the trail and our bus at the other in preparation for our thru hike. You might not guess from looking at it, but the bus makes a decent off road vehicle as long as there are not low hanging branches and you take it slow.
The Lost Coast is a section of the California shore deemed too rugged to build the ocean-skirting Route 1 along, which has left it beautifully undeveloped and crowd free. We hiked a section of roughly 20 miles between Needle Point and Usal Campground, spending 3 nights on the trail with a “rest day” left for relaxation and exploration in the middle of a couple of longer day hikes. The trail took us up over the sides of tree covered mountains, through brushy meadows, into deep valleys, across bubbling streams, and onto sunny sandy beaches. The crashing of the blue Pacific was rarely far off.

When not hiking, we explored beach caves, sat in the warm sand, took some chilly dips in the rivers and ocean, sat around the campfire, and enjoyed the finest in campsite gastronomy (no prepackaged hiking food for this crew!). We managed to avoid the itchy unpleasantness of poison oak with some post-hike Technu and cold river plunges. Plus, we didn’t get lost when the trail occasionally disappeared into the bushes, but all of us had a few thorn bush scratches and nettle stings at the end of the trip as testaments to our wilderness adventures and overall badass-ness.

We ended our backpacking venture with beer and burgers on the drive back to our starting point and the little blue boose, where we said goodbye to Pete and Mary and the reality of the long adventure in front of us began to sink in!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Testing to see if we can still access our old blog. If you're subscribed, we'll start posting about our journey back home in the next few weeks. -B&J

Track Our Journey

Track Our Journey
The journey continues. . . 5 years later