Saturday, May 15, 2010

A long-overdue post on our trip home: California to Montreal

Our apologies for not writing for so long - it's been a busy and we've gotten lazy, now that we've got more to do than bike and eat and sleep. Anyway, here goes.

After the last post at Morro Bay in CA, we continued up the coast for some more amazing cycling and camping.

Some typical views from the saddle.... coastline all the way.








Lots of quirky towns along the way, though this one probably had the quirkiest claim to fame...



Though the scenery was beautiful, it was starting to get a bit chilly as we made our way further north...


And just one last pitch for the hiker/biker campsites that dot the coast - they rock! No reservations required, comparatively cheap, well spaced (we usually had the choice of a couple over the course of 1 day biking,) and very well organized. Definitely makes the trip much simpler logistically and easy on the budget.



As we headed into San Fransisco we saw our first clues of the bike culture that's so predominant throughout the city.



The hills were tough (you might notice by the angle of my tire that I'm actually weaving diagonally up the road, trying to reduce the grade a little.)



Eventually though, we made it!





We didn't bike around much, as we were actually headed to the other side of the bridge for the night, where we stayed with a fellow cyclist we'd met about a week before who invited us to stay at his amazing home in Tiburon, just a short ferry-ride away from downtown San Fransisco.



The next morning we hopped the ferry to check out the sights.

The ferry ride gave us some great views of the downtown skyline and seafront.




Passing by Alcatraz on the way in...


After a day of wandering about the city, just before we were about to hop on the ferry to go back to Tiburon for the night, we stumbled across a huge bike rally, complete with three dudes who decided to join the rally in the nude. (We didn't know why, exactly, but it definitely did attract even more attention to the rally!)





Heading "home" to Tiburon for the night.


After hitting San Fran, we realized that it was going to be too cold and we were going to run out of time to do the whole pacific coast, so unfortunately Oregon and the rest of Northern California got the boot. Instead, we did a loop thru the wine country north of San Fransisco and the coast back down before hopping in a rental car to Seattle.

First we had to say bye to Carl and Candy. Thanks guys, we had an awesome stay and really appreciated the hospitality!


The quick loop thru the nearby wine & farm country and the coast north of SF was beautiful, with some particularly awesome camping in the huge redwood forests.


The view from the floor of our campsite.




And then we were off! After some time in SF laundromats and vietnamese restaurants, we hopped into a rental car in an attempt to drive the 1350km to Seattle in one day. Unfortunately, since I had somehow lost Mike's driver's licence on the highway about a week ago (don't ask!) my punishment was having to drive the whole way myself! It turned out to be an extremely easy drive between the huge quiet highway and our still strong backlog of good audiobooks to listen to, and we made it safe and sound that night to Seattle.

Seattle turned out to be kind of dead the next morning in terms of sightseeing, so we checked out the Museum of Flight which was pretty great, helped out alot by alot of cool history and artifacts from Boeing, its neighbour just down the road.

Mike disembarking from the Concorde...




We also caught a glimpse of the 787 taxiing around after it had just landed nearby. (It is huge!)



From Seattle, our plan was to bike through some of the San Juan islands, make our way back inland a little farther north and then bike up to visit Janelle and Geoff (my sister & her boyfriend) in Abbotsford, BC.

The islands were great, made even more so by the very cool CouchSurfing experiences we had along the way. It was our first time using the site and we didn't know what to expect - we stayed at four CouchSurfers' homes at four different spots on the islands and were super excited about them all. Everyone was super hospitable and it made for a great way to get some socializing in between the long stretches of lonely highway. (Though the scenery is great, we are finding the highways in North America to be comparatively quite lonely - we do miss the crowds of kids and farmers drying their produce and fruit stands and shops that lined the highways of Asia!)

Us with Jon, owner of the first Couch we surfed and Mike's new beer-brewing mentor.



You can't tell here, but the wind was actually so strong that it did at one point topple me right over into the ditch! First real fall since Mongolia, I've just finally now (about a month later) lost the last of the bruises!



A bridge on Anacortes island that gets 14,000 - 16,000 cars passing over it per year!



The trip around the islands involved alot of ferries, which were often fun breaks from the chilly weather.



At one point it actually snowed, further confusing our bewildered sense of season, which to this day is still convinced that winter's right around the corner.



The rest of our island tour was a mix of great scenery, alpacas and roadside junk piles. (We don't know why the last one was quite so common as it was !?!?)

We're convinced these guys used to work as understudies in Star Wars.


One of the many island "freepiles"...


Finally, on Easter morning, we headed for the Canadian border, hoping to get to Janelle & Geoff's in time for Easter supper!







Crossing the border that night, we were pretty pumped to be back on Canadian soil!


Not quite as heavily guarded as some of the borders we've crossed this year!! (In both these photos the road on the left is in Canada with a limit of 50Km/h, and the road on the right is in the U.S. with a limit of 35MPH!!)




The rest of our time in BC was spent relaxing and having a blast catching up with friends and family. It was great after so long being away from home to have so much time to visit. Thanks to Janelle & Geoff, Heidi, and Rose & Mo & the gang for letting us crash as we bummed around BC!

Mike and I hanging out with our niece Julia and getting to know our new nephew, Oliver.




While in Comox, we did take a trip up the mountain for our first and only visit of Winter that we'll have all year!





And lots and lots of visiting - thanks again to everyone!







Back in Saskatoon, we got to work resurrecting ourselves from oblivion. Turns out there's alot of paperwork to do to get back on the grid after so long, but it was a small price to pay for the luxury of getting OFF the grid, I suppose!

We also had lots of time to visit friends and fam at home, though unfortunately without taking any photos! There is something about being home that does make the camera come out alot less, but we hope to get over that hurdle now that we're back home and appreciating all the pics we've got of the past year! So on that note, here's a bit of us getting our new place in Montreal set up.

Mike setting up our new desk.


Unpacking - oh, so much unpacking to do!


Sitting down in all the clutter for our first meal in front of our new TV. (Yes, we finally bought one and will not continue watching on our 10-inch computer monitor all year!)



We're very happy to be home, to HAVE a home and all the nicities that come with (not packing and unpacking every day, cooking for ourselves, grocery shopping for SEVERAL days at a time, etc.) Mike's already back at school and getting into the swing of things, and I'm back at work on Monday!

We'll sit down and write more on our thoughts about this past year a little later - for now, this post is long enough and I've got the very last bits of unpacking to do. We're not sure what we'll do about this blog now that we're home - so you'll have to stay tuned to find out!

2 comments:

pennifer said...

I wanted to thank you for letting me vicariously enjoy your trip all this way. I "joined" you when you passed through Altai, Russia thanks to a Google Alert on "Altai" (my area of expertise), and it has been so much fun to travel with you, even we don't know each other. Best of luck settling in your latest adventure!

Mike & Jen said...

Wow - thanks for tuning in! It's been a great trip and we've loved writing about it, so it's always great to realize that this hasn't all just been floating out into the void, that we've got friends new and old following along. Thanks for joining the ride!