Tour 2012

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Journey to the East – index

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Tour 2012 Day 20 - Heading down Washington Pass

Heading down Washington Pass

Current Status (06.14.14):  I’ve completed sorting and uploading photos through day 100, Bar Harbor, Maine. This completes the cross country tour. However I do still have photos from the days I spent in Bar Harbor and the return trip to post. Those however will have to wait until after this summers tour!

Before the Tour

Journey to the East
Packing List
Charging Systems

Journey to the East: Seattle to Bar Harbor

Tour 2012 day 1 - Riding past the Sculpture Garden

Riding past the Sculpture Garden, Seattle WA

Stage 1: Seattle to Olympia 2 days; April 30th  to May 1st; 88.5 miles;
Washington

Washington
day 1:  Seattle, WA to Twanoh State Park: log, photos
day 2:  Twanoh State Park to Olympia: log, photos

Tour 2012 day 2 - Olympia, the state capitol

The Capitol Building in Olympia, WA

Interstitial Break I: Olympia WA 3 days; May 2nd to May 5th;
Washington

Day 3-5: Olympia: log

Tour 2012 Day 11 - Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery, the most Northwesterly point in the US

Stage 2: Olympia to Anacortes
10 days; May 5th to May 15th;  429.2 miles (517.7 total);
Washington

day 6:  Olympia to Lake Sylvia State Park: logphotos
day 7:   Lake Sylvia State Park to Lake Quinault: logphotos
day 8:   Lake Quinault to Kalaloch Campground: logphotos
day 9:   Kalaloch Campground to Bear Creek Campground: logphotos
day 10:  Bear Creek Campground to Snow Creek Resort: logphotos
day 11:  Snow Creek Resort to Cape Flattery and back: logphotos
day 12:  Snow Creek Resort to Harrison Beach Campground: logphotos
day 13:  Harrison Beach Campground to Sequim Bay State Park: logphotos
day 14:  Sequim Bay State Park to Fort Warden State Park: logphotos
day 15:  Rest day in Port Townsend: logphotos
day 16:  Port Townsend to Anacortes: logphotos

Tour 2012 Day 25 - reflected clouds

Reflected Clouds in the Colville National Forest

Stage 3: Anacortes to Glacier National Park
19 days; May 15th  to June 3rd );  780.7 miles (1298.4 miles total);
Washington, Idaho, Montana

day 17: Anacortes to Rasar State Park: logphotos
day 18:  Rasar State Park to Goodell Creek Campground: logphotos
day 19: Goodell Creek Campground to Colonial Creek Campground: logphotos
day 20:  Colonial Creek Campground to Winthrop: logphotos
day 21:  Winthrop to Okanoganlogphotos
day 22:  Okanogan to Omak: logphotos
day 23:  Omak  to Wauconda: logphotos
day 24: Wauconda to Kettle Falls Campground: logphotos
day 25: Kettle Falls Campground to Lake Leo Campground: logphotos
day 26: Lake Leo Campground to Skookum Creek Campground: logphotos
Idaho
day 27:  Skookum Creek Campground, WA to Sandpoint: logphotos
day 28:  Rest Day Sandpoint: logphotos
Montana
day 29: Sandpoint Idaho to Bull River Campground: logphotos
day 30:  Bull River Campground to Libby: logphotos
day 31:  Libby to Rocky Gorge Campground: logphotos
day 32:  Rocky Gorge Campground to Lake Dickey: logphotos
day 33: Lake Dickey to Columbia Falls: logphotos
day 34:  Columbia Falls to Glacier National Park: logphotos

 

Tour 2012 Day 36 - Crown Jewels and Lake McDonald

Glacier's Crown Jewels and Lake McDonald


Interstitial Break II: Glacier National Park

1 day; June 5th; Montana
day 35: Rest Day in Glacier: logphotos

 

Tour 2012 day 38 - textured plain, with train

Train on the textured plain

Stage 4: Glacier National Park to Minneapolis/St. Paul
46 days; June 3rd  to July 1st; 1626.8 miles (2925.2 miles total);
Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota

day 36: Glacier National Park to East Glacier: logphotos
day 37: East Glacier to Cut Bank: logphotos
day 38: Cut Bank to Chester: log, photos
day 39: Chester to Havre: logphotos
day 40: Havre to Harlem: logphotos
day 41: Harlem to Nelson Reservoir Recreation Area: logphotos
day 42: Nelson Reservoir Recreation Area to Glasgow: logphotos
day 37-42: photos (unsorted for these 5 days)
day 43: Glasgow to Wolf Point: logphotos
day 44: Wolf Point to Circle: logphotos
day 45: Circle to Makoshika State Park: logphotos
North Dakota
day 46: Makoshika State Park, MT to Sully State Park: logphotos
day 47: Sully State Park to Dickinson: logphotos
day 48: Dickinson to Glen Ullin Memorial Campground: logphotos
day 49: Glen Ullin Memorial Campground to Bismarck: logphotos
day 50: Rest Day in Bismarck: logphotos
day 51: Bismarck to Hazelton City Park: logphotos
day 52: Hazelton City Park to Gackle: logphotos
day 53: Gackle to Yellowstone: logphotos
day 54: Yellowstone to Fargo: logphotos
Minnesota
day 55: Fargo, ND to Hitterdal: logphotos
day 56: Hitterdal to Hungryman State Park: logphotos
day 57: Hungryman State Park to Itasca State Park: logphotos
day 58: Itasca State Park to Big Winnie Campground: logphotos
day 59: Big Winnie Campground to Mississippi River Campground: logphotos
day 60: Mississippi River Campground to Castaway’s Campground: logphotos
day 61: Castaway’s Campground to Springvale Campground: logphotos
Wisconsin
day 62: Springvale Campground, MN to Float Rite Park: logphotos
Minnesota
day 63: Float Rite Park, WI to Minneapolis/St. Paul: logphotos

 

Tour 2012 day 66 - Sun sets in the smoky sky

Sun setting in the smoky sky in Minneapolis

Interstitial Break III: Minneapolis/St. Paul
3 days; July 1st to July 4th; Minnesota

day 64: Maple Grove, Minneapolis: log, (no photos this day)
day 65: Walker Art Center, Minneapolis: logphotos
day 66: 4th of July in the Mill District, Minneapolis: logphotos

 

Tour 2012 Day 99 - Atlantis in Bar Harbor: love that four master

Atlantis arrives in Bar Harbor

Stage 5: Minneapolis/St. Paul to Bar Harbor Maine
38 days; July 5th “” August 3rd ;2352.7 miles (5277.9 miles total);
Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine

day 67: Minneapolis/St. Paul to Afton State Park: logphotos
day 68: Afton State Park to Frontenac State Park: logphotos
day 69: Frontenac State Park to Prairie Island Campground: logphotos
Iowa
day 70: Prairie Island Campground to Red Barn Resort: logphotos
day 71: Red Barn Resort to Elkadar City Park: logphotos
day 72: Elkadar to Cascade: logphotos
Illinois
day 73: Cascade to Blanchard Island Recreation Area: logphotos
day 74: Blanchard Island Recreation Area to Timbers Campground: logphotos
day 75: Timbers Campground to Waterworks Park, Henry IL: logphotos
day 76: Waterworks Park, Henry IL to Odell City Park: logphotos
day 77: Odell City Park to Iroquois City Park: logphotos
Indiana
day 78: Iroquois City Park, IL to Fletcher Lake Campground, IN: logphotos
day 79: Fletcher Lake Campground to Kil-So-Quah State Campground: logphotos
day 80: Kil-So-Quah State Campground to Fort Wayne: logphotos
day 81: Fort Wayne to Monroeville: logphotos
Ohio
day 82: Monroeville, IN to Mary Jane Thurston State Park, OH: logphotos
day 83: Mary Jane Thurston State Park to Milan Mobile Park: logphotos
day 84: Milan Mobile Park to Perry City Park: logphotos
Pennsylvania
day 85: Perry City Park, OH to Presque Isle, PA: logphotos
New York
day 86: Presque Isle, PA to Evangola State Park, NY: logphotos
Ontario, Canada
day 87: Evangola State Park, NY to Niagara Falls, Ont: logphotos
day 88: Rest Day in Niagara Falls, Ont : logphotos
New York
day 89: Niagara Falls, Ont to Holley, NY: logphotos
day 90: Holley to Hughes Marina and Campground: logphotos
day 91: Hughes Marina and Campground to Selkirk Shores State Park: logphotos
day 92: Selkirk Shores State Park to Brown Barn Campground: logphotos
day 93: Brown Barn Campground to Lake Eaton State Park: logphotos
day 94: Lake Eaton State Park to Rogers Rock State Park: logphotos
Vermont
day 95: Rogers Rock State Park, NY to Hendersons Hideaway, VT: logphotos
New Hampshire
day 96: Hendersons Hideaway, VT to Wildwood Campground, NH: logphotos
Maine
day 97: Wildwood Campground, NH to Lakeside Pines Campground, ME: logphotos
day 98: Lakeside Pines Campground to Thomas Beach Campground: logphotos
day 99: Thomas Beach Campground to Mooring’s Oceanside RV Park and Campground: logphotos
day 100: Mooring’s Oceanside RV Park and Campground to Bar Harbor: logphotos

Interstitial Break IV: Bar Harbor
3 days; August 9th — August 11th; Maine
day 101: day 102: day 103:

Stage 6: Bar Harbor to Olympia
1 day; August 12th Maine, Massachusetts, Washington day 104:

denouement

Initial Stages
Latter Days
About Photos
Kit Considerations
Charging Systems Revisited
Tour 2012 Photo Album on Flickr

Journey to the East – Packing List

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

This packing list was at the bottom of my epically long Kit Considerations post. I was doing some editing and decided that this information would be better served as it’s own post. The two posts are linked to each other so nothing should be lost to the reader.  This allows the packing list to be in a nice short post for those who like to see what others have used. I’ve also updated and added a few items to the list.

Packing List

Bicycle
• Rivendell Atlantis
•  Racks: Rivendell/Nitto Big Front and Rear
•  Rear Panniers: Arkel GT-54
•  Front Panniers: Arkel GT-18
•  Berthoud Micro Seat Bag
•  Baggins Hobo Bag

Bicycle Sundries
•  4 Tubes
•  Spare Brake Cable
•  Spare Shifter cable
•  Chain Lube
•  Patch kit
•  Spare Brake Pads [I replaced the front pads in Fort Wayne]
•  Spare E6 lightbulbs
•  Replacement Brake/Shifter cable

Tools
•  Multitools:  Topeak Alien IILeatherman
•  Topeak Mini Morph Pump
•  Tire Levers
•  Fibre Fix Spoke x2,
•  ABUS Lock
•  Brooks saddle tool

Camping
• Tent: Eureka Spitfire
• Sleeping Bag: Kelty Light Year CD 25 [this seems to not be made anymore]
•  Pad: Therm-A-Rest® Backpacker ¾ Length [updated link; but not exactly the same pad]
•  Inflatable pillow [can’t recommend this enough]
•  Katadyn Mini Water Filter
•  Collapsible Sea-to-Summit Kitchen Sink
•  Nalgene water bladder
•  Backpackers towel

Cooking
•  Trangia Cookset
•  Trangia Kettle
•  Cooking miscellany: Spice jars, bottles, etc
•  Utensils: Titanium Spork,  Victorinox Knifesheath
•  Backpackers cutting board
•  Kitchen Towel x2
•  Spatula [bought this at an outfitters in Forks; lost it ~a month later]

Clothing
•  Bottoms:  Convertible Pants, MUSA Riding Shorts x2, laundry shorts, wool tights
•  Feet:  Ecco Yucatan Sandals, 3 pairs Wool Socks (different weights)
•  Undies:  MUSA Wool Undies x3, Wool Tights
•  Torso:  Railroad Shirt, Seersucker (x2), wool undershirt, long sleeve shirt, Flannel shirt
•  Head:  Cycling Cap, Helmet, Wool Hat, bandanas x2
• Extremities: Ibex Wool Leg Warmers, Ibex Arm Warmers [sent these back]
• Raingear: Showers Pass Touring JacketJ&G Rain Paint, MUSA Splats, MUSA Windshield.
• Hands: Summer Gloves, long fingered wool gloves, fingerless wool gloves

Toiletries
•  Teeth: Floss/holder, tooth brush/paste
• Skin: Deodorant, Dr. Bronners All-In-One Soap, Tiger Balm
•  Pills: Multivitamins, Advil
•  Protection: Lip balm, Sunblock, Insect repellent

Emergency
•  Emergency kit [not sure how necessary this is]
• First Aid Kit with Moleskin

Electronics
•  Apple iPad (third generation), Griffin Survivor Case, charger, cable and headphones
•  iPad Camera Connection Kit
•  Canon PowerShot A580 and two 2GB memory cards
•  Samsung T245G cell phone and charger
•  Sanyo USB Battery Charger
•  Spare AA/AAA batteries
•  New Trent Portable Battery
•  Eton Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio [bought mid-tour]

Other
•  Maps: Northern TierWashington Parks
•  Books & Journals [had three journals by the end – couldn’t risk mailing them]
•  John’s Irish Straps (2 large, 2 short)
•  Zip ties
•  Length of cord
•  Ziploc bags (quart and 2 quart) [can’t stress how useful these are]
•  Waterproof stuff sacks
• Bungee Cords x2 [these I sent back]
• Duct Tape [and later a small roll of electrical tape]
•  Nail file
•  Small sewing kit [got more use than you might think]
Konus Field Glasses [These seem to be the closest to the ones I bought these on my very first tour.]

 

Journey to the East – initial Stages

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

When I lost my job at the end of July 2011 I was thinking I’d set right off on a cross country bicycle tour. However all of the business involved in the lay off necessitated that I be in the area for at least a month and ideally three months. So I took my shorter 2011 tour and began planning for the cross country tour in 2012.  I have always found it the case that for the last, say 10% of the tour one finds ones thoughts turning primarily toward the post-tour. That is to say at that point you are ready for it to be done. I use the percentage because this time scales depending on the length of the tour. That is to say it may only be the last couple of days on an 2 week tour but perhaps the last week on a 10 week tour. This has held true for me on all my (self supported) tours which have ranged from 9 days to 103 days.  But for the cross country trip I wasn’t sure how touring in the months range would go – my longest tour at that point was just under four weeks (2009). So taking this into account I planned the tour in stages.

The five stages of the tour were:

Stage 1: Seattle  to Olympia
Stage 2: Olympia to Anacortes
Stage 3: Anacortes to Glacier National Park
Stage 4: Glacier to Minneapolis/St. Paul
Stage 5: Minneapolis to Bar Harbor

Now I should say that the “planning” for this was pretty loose. I basically have reached a point now where I can just pick up and tour and if I use the Adventure Cycling maps I don’t really even need to think much about the route (beyond getting on to their route that is – usually the first few days).  In all honesty I really planned out the first three stages and was rather coy about touring beyond that (see my initial Journey to the East post). The latter two stages, while really always expected, were defined in situ.   To give a good overview of the entire tour I’ll describe each of these stages both as planned and as they turned out in two posts. In this one I’ll cover the initial three stages – which is only about a quarter of the total tour – and in the next the last two.

Stage 1: Seattle to Olympia; 2 days (April 30th — May 1st);  88.5 miles

I’d been living in Seattle since returning from my 2011 tour and the first stage involved all the preparation for the tour. I had a storage place while I lived in Seattle and I spent much of the months I was living there selling stuff out of it. I was in a massive downsizing mode. My goal was to get to having all my stuff fit into a 5′ x 10′ storage unit. I also went car free during this time, for the first time since college. Two days before move out day I put everything into a van and put it into a storage unit in Olympia. I returned the truck in Oly and took the bus back. I was then in my apartment with only my touring gear and some cleaning supplies. I cleaned the apartment, checked out and by noon on April 30th I was bicycling away. My Journey to the East had begun.

I had the full load on my bicycle plus an extra dry bag of stuff (mostly clothes) from leaving the apartment.  I knew I’d get out of Seattle fairly late due to the check out appointment so I had a pretty short days ride planned. I rode to the downtown Seattle Ferry terminals mostly via trails and took the ferry to Bremerton. From there I took back roads to Twanoh State Park where I camped right on the water. The day was a relatively easy 42 miles but it was definitely tough with that heavy load. This is also the earliest in the year I have camped and it was pretty cold that night. The next day was just a bit more miles to Olympia via the reverse of the route I’d done on several occasions (including the year before). A blustery rainy day it was a good test of my new rain gear.

In Olympia I spent the next 3 days getting ready. I decided to get ride of some of the stuff I was carrying based on the last couple of days ride. I bought an initial supply of alcohol for my stove at REI as well as other needed supplies. My maps from Adventure Cycling arrived (I had waited until the last moment to get these to get the updated maps). The whole packing up my apartment and moving had been pretty strenuous so this break was welcome.

Stage 2: Olympia to Anacortes; 10 days (May 5th — May 15th);  429.2 miles (517.7 total)

The next stage of the tour was getting to Anacortes the start of the Northern Tier. Now I had just the year before ridden from Olympia to Anacortes over three days along the inside of the Puget Sound.  However I had several considerations beyond a quick route to the Norther Tier in mind so I decided to do a loop around the Olympic Peninsula. First and foremost all the passes (Rainy/Washington) on the North Cascades Highway had had not yet opened up and it wasn’t looking like they would for at least a week. Secondly while a loop around the Olympic Peninsula is nearly 500 miles it never is that far from cities where I could get any needed repairs, missing supplies and the like. Basically I spent an extra ten days doing extensive shakedown on the gear. With new wheels on the bicycle and a bunch of new camping gear I felt this was a good idea.  The final consideration was that I really wanted to go the most NW corner of the United States. Bar Harbor isn’t quite the most North Easterly corner but it is pretty close. Anacortes, though the town I grew up in which I dearly love, is not even on the Pacific Ocean: tt is on the Puget Sound (which I also love). For me a cross country trip should at the very least go from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

I had ridden counter-clockwise around the Olympic Peninsula a number of years before (tour 2007) this so I knew the basic route. But I picked up Adventure Cycling’s Washington Parks route as it differed from my previous route in that it bypassed hwy 101 around Lake Crescent which I felt was the most dangerous section of that road and looked to be even worse east bound. Plus it connected with the route I’d need to take up to  Cape Flattery (the most North Western corner of the US).  The ACA route had a few deviations from the route I’d taken before which was welcome.  I also worked out my first day of riding out to Lake Sylvia where I connected with the ACA Washington Parks route.

This first part of the tour was interesting; cold, especially at night and the parks mostly empty. I also found a number of the places I intended to camp either not open or permanently closed. The addenda that ACA provides for the route was of course not updated for this year so it was always a crap shoot on whether I’d find a place to camp. My second night at Lake Quinault I found none of the four campsites open and ended up staying at a hotel.  The night after that I was in the large Kalaloch campground which had only a few other people there besides myself. That night a raccoon unzipped my front pannier and stole my food bag. Luckily I was able to have breakfast the next day at the Kalaloch Lodge and resupply that afternoon in Forks. From that point on I either used a little padlock on my pannier or hung up my food. That same night the campsite I was heading for was closed and ended up going off route a bit to stay at a DNR campground (which doesn’t charge anything for cyclists which is pretty nice. No services though).

Campgrounds were either empty or packed with fisherman. As I headed out toward Cape Flattery I stayed at a campground that catered to fisherman and due to the start of halibut season it was just crazy packed. I stayed there two nights as I rode out to the Cape. The fishermen were generally good people and though the fishing didn’t seem so good this season (nobody I talked to caught their limited of one (1) halibut) they were having a good time. The next day the campground I stayed at was empty again. After two days on hwy 112 – which was a new route for me – I arrived in Port Angeles and the route was now very familiar – The Olympic Discovery Trail (third time riding this) then various roads to Fort Townsend State Park (only person in the hiker/biker area) then a rest day in Port Townsend staying at Fort Flagler for the first time (again the only occupant in the H/B area). After the day off I took the ferry to Whidbey Island and rode very familiar roads (I grew up on these islands) to Anacortes and the end of stage 2.

As I said most of this was familiar routes but with enough variety to mix it up.  This is one of the most beautiful areas in the states and I never tire of riding out here. Doing so in the spring and taking some different routes just added to the experience. Everything worked out with the bicycle and gear so by the time I left Anacortes (the biggest town I’d stay in for quite a while) I was in good shape.

Stage 3: Anacortes to Glacier National Park; 19 days (May 15th — June 3rd );  780.7 miles (1298.4 total)

I was now on the official Northern Tier route which begins in Anacortes. I more or less took the same route from Anacortes to Sedro Wooley that I used in 2011. This route is partly my own devising with overlapping segments with various published routes. I also chose to use the Cascade Trail from Sedro Wooley to Rasar State Park as opposed to the ACA route. This is basically because the route while on very nice back roads is on the other side of the Skagit river. To get to Rasar State Park you have to cross at Concrete and backtrack (which I did last year). Now there are other parks but Rasar has a great hiker/biker site, is on the river and I for one prefer City/State/National/DNR campgrounds over private. Plus it made for a better days ride distance ride at this juncture. I was again alone in the H/B site.  The next few days were a repeat of the previous years crossing of Rainey/Washington Pass. The North Cascades National Park campgrounds had yet to have opened up but luckily one of the parks had winter camping which was free, though there was no services.  The hwy had only been open for a week or so at this point and there was huge snow walls as I rode over the passes. There was a lot of people engaged in x-country skiing, snow shoeing and other snow based activities at the top of Washington Pass. Once again I wondered why there was nobody handing me a beer as I summitted. Clearly life does not mirror our advertisements.

 

 

Coming down Washington Pass I found the campground where I stayed the previous year full and once again skipping the published route I rode into Winthrop. My main motivation in this was going to the Old Schoolhouse Brewery though that necessitated staying at a KOA which I’m generally not in favor of. The next day after a couple hours of riding I turned onto the road up Loup Loup Pass concluding the section of this route which overlapped with the previous year and I was from now on always riding new territory. There were three more passes to do which I did in pretty quick succession: Loup Loup followed with a day off in Omak then Wauconda Pass where I camped a few miles shy of the summit and finally Sherman where it snowed on me as a sumitted. The campground I stayed at near the summit of Wauconda I was again the only occupant. In fact they weren’t technically open for the season so the proprietor let me stay there for free. I ended up having dinner at the gas station/general store/restaurant in Wauconda with said proprietor and his son. I signed the book at the restaurant which was filled with previous Northern Tier riders. This was the first place I’d been to where people knew exactly what the route was all about and were quite familiar with tourons from years past. I received many stories from these guys from various years as well as more info about the area.  I also heard about for the first the people that were “ahead” of me – this was a trend that would continue. There was apparently a Scottish fellow who was about a week ahead (and thus crossed Washington Pass the day it opened) and who was determined to be “the first person to complete the Northern Tier in 2012” – he would write such in the books that I’d see as I rode across. There was also a couple that had stayed here a couple of days prior.

After Sherman Pass there is a long descent and you arrive at the Columbia River. I’ve been all over Washington State – first camping as a kid with my parents and such and later on my own and then of course the last decade of bicycle touring but there are still many places I haven’t been. This northeast corner of the state is one of them. Even after the long descent you are still at a pretty high altitude. This would persist all across the “high plains”. The terrain is pretty interesting too – its all scrub and juniper and the like in between the Cascades and Sherman Pass but then you descend to cross the Columbia and enter the Colville National Forest. There is is much more like the Pacific NW with denser undergrowth and evidence of a lot more water. This persists until East Montana. The Colville National Forest is more or less the end of Washington State and at Newport I crossed into Idaho – the second state of the tour.

 

The weather had been pretty rainy, though in the typical spring on and off style for the last week or so. I was rained on less on the Olympic Peninsula in the rain forest than I was during my couple weeks of negotiating mountains. Of course as clouds cross mountains they do tend to lose water so not a huge surprise.  It was cold, especially at night during this period, dropping below freezing the night I camped at Wauconda. This would more or less persist until I was out of the mountains and into East Montana. I took another rest day in Sand Point Idaho where I was able to stock up on locally roasted coffee and drink beers in the local brewpub. The motel I stayed at was the best deal of the tour and was quite nice. It even had a little kitchen which let me continue to make my own breakfasts as is my wont. Soon enough I was back on the road and also quite soon I was in Montana – the panhandle of Idaho could be easily crossed in a typical touring day.

I would be in Montana for a long time – it is the widest state on this route. There were a lot of alternative routes on the ACA maps and I would take them or not as the mood struck. Mainly as long as I could get to services and campgrounds I needed I would take the more out of the way and deserted routes. I was on one of these alt routes, riding on a dirt road as matter of fact, when I unceremoniously crossed into Montana.  The first campground I stayed at in Montana was empty except for the campground host as was the next. These were both on lakes and just fantastic. The campground host at the second of these camps regaled me with stories of wildlife and other bicycle tourons he had encountered.  I had thought I’d seen a wolf with cubs the day before and he did confirm that that was an area he had seen wolves so seems likely. I’d seen a bear cub the day before (the third bear of the tour) so it really was fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities here.

 

 

While most every day on tour is a great day you’ll still have better days than others. For some reason the day I rode into Libby was one of these. I was in this city campground that was just really beat and exposed and wasn’t feeling it too much. So I hung out at the library and then went to a hardware store where I got my windup radio. There being a super market right next to the campground I was able to get get some heavy items I normally wouldn’t want to carry and had a good solid dinner listening to NPR. So was back in good spirits by the next day. It was only a few more days of riding until I reached Glacier and these were some of the wettest days of the tour. Particularly the day I rode into Glacier it had poured rain and I lingered in Whitefish for as long as I could trying to wait it out.  It was still drizzling when I finally set out and would continue to do so – with bursts of real rain – all the way to Glacier. This was also the only period where I couldn’t find any HEET for my alcohol stove but it worked out as I ate most of my meals at the restaurant at Glacier.

It rained most of the time I was at Glacier and thunderstoms  predicted the day I ended up leaving. So while I had intended to stay at least three days there I only stayed two. The inter park shuttle system had started up yet and barring riding all over the park I had no way to see much beyond where I was. So I ended up taking on of the Red Bus tours which drove to several points around the park. It was again a rainy day and while I got to see much a lot was pretty fogged in. The Going to the Sun road had yet to open so I was not going to be able to ride out of the park on the main route. A pity but I know I’ll be back some day.

So that is the initial stages of the tour.  All in all it went pretty smoothly and there hadn’t been anything I could handle. The early days when campgrounds were not certain to be open was the most problematic but it all worked out. There was of course some down days, but surprisingly few. Most importantly by the time I’d reached Glacier I was at thirty-five days of riding and I wasn’t burned out on touring at all.  I knew I could continue on from and make it to the east coast of which I’ll recount in the next post.

Journey to the East – Kit Considerations

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Tour 2012 day 96 - Atlantis in front of the White MountainsFully Loaded Atlantis in front of the White Mountains in Vermont

My touring kit had been pretty static the last few years, with often just one or two bits changed as I’d set out on tour.  This year, for my cross country tour, I changed quite a few things and thus set out with a decent amount of previously untested kit.  I went over in meticulous detail my experiences with the charging system that I used in the previous post and in this one I’d like to cover the rest of my equipment.

The Bicycle

Once again I set out on my only bicycle, my trusty 2005 Rivendell Atlantis. I kept the same configuration of racks, handlebars, gearing, pedals and the like as I’ve done for the last few years. As has been the case the bicycle performed flawlessly with few problems and certainly none with the major components.  So here is a rundown of the entiriety of the mechanical issues I had with the bicycle:

Tires
On the second day of the tour I awoke to find my rear tire flat.  As I’d only ever had two (2) flats total with the Schawlbe Marathon Plus in over 5000 miles of riding (including two loaded tours) I was a little disappointed.  However on pulling the tube I found that Free Range Cycles had replaced my old tube with a Kenda tube when they had rebuilt my rear wheel. Long time readers of this blog will recall my problem with Kenda tubes on my 2009 West Coast tour – the valves seems to not hold under a full load.  After I replaced this tube with one from my stash I never had another flat. 5000+ miles on a wide variety of terrain, including the worst roads I’ve ever been on, with my rear tire becoming increasingly bald (I replaced it in Fort Wayne) not a single flat.  The Marathon Pluses are the best.

Wheels
My rear wheel became increasingly wobbly as I rode through Minnesota and Wisconsin. On taking it to REI to get it trued I was informed that it was severely cracked. At this point it had nearly 3000 miles on it but I’d say it’d been wobbling for the last 500 or so. Thus this new wheel that I’d gotten built up right before the tour cracked in many, many places in less then 2500 miles (and who knows when the first cracks appeared).  This was the second Velocity Synergy wheel I’ve had crack prematurely – this new one replaced the same wheel that was less then two years old.  No spokes broken in this time. I wonder if the double butted spokes don’t brake when maybe they should leading to more stress on the rim? This wheel was replaced in Minnesota with a x rim which lasted without issue for the rest of the tour and until this point. It was a bit wider which required adjustment of my brakes and also painted black instead of the chrome of my other wheel. This latter point doesn’t bug me too much as the inside of my wheels are usually pretty dirty anyway and lets face I’ve never been much of a bag matcher.

While I had no further issues with my rear rim I did have two broken spokes over the next few thousand miles.  The first of these occurred July 19th – almost two weeks to the day of my wheel replacement. I had it fixed the next day in Defiance Ohio at the excellent “R” Bike Shop. The second spoke (presumably a different one) broke on my last day (August 1st) in New York State  as I was descending out of the Adirondack Mountains.  This one I had fixed the next day in Middlebury VT at The Bike Center – yet another great shop with really great staff. There I was informed that while the wheel had been expertly built, the wrench had used single butted spokes which explains their propensity to break. However as I wondered above, did this help keep the rim from cracking? Or is it just a better rim in that regard? It ended up with about as many fully loaded miles on it as when the previous rim began cracking. Anyway this was my last broken spoke of the tour (which admittedly only had another week or so at this point).

Cables
Both of my shifter cables broke in the course of the tour, but I had anticipated this and packed along a spare. I replace my shifter cables every year (around 3-4000 miles typically)  and at 5000+ miles for the tour I’d figured that they wouldn’t last the whole way.  They both failed the same way – they became increasingly hard to shift, frayed at the shifter and then eventually broke.  I’d only bought one spare cable (assuming they both wouldn’t fail at the same time) and when I had my spoke fixed in Defiance Ohio I picked up another one. The rear cable, which lets face it gets a lot more use snapped on July 17th; the front cable almost made the entire tour snapping on August 6th – the day before I arrived in Bar Harbor. I had also carried a spare brake cable, but there wasn’t any issues there.

So that was it for mechanicals: one cracked rim, two broken spokes, to broken cables and a bad tube. Not bad for 3+ months of riding in crazy amount of road and weather conditions with a plenty loaded down bicycle.

 


Good view of my Arkel Panniers, Hobo Bag and Berthoud saddlebag

Bags

I had no problem with my bags, but I think a few words are in order.  I was running the classic six bag setup: Arkel GT-54‘s on the rear rack, Arkel GT-18‘s on the front rack, a Berthoud Micro Seat bag (which doesn’t seem to be available any more) and a Baggins Hobo bag on the front (which alas definitely isn’t available any more). Back when I first started buying touring gear the big players in touring bags were Arkel and Ortlieb. Yes there were other manufactures but they were generally either of lesser quality (say Jandd) or didn’t really seem to be their primary focus (say Berthoud and Carradice; both of which I’d say are more saddlebags than panniers).  Now of course there is a seemingly endless list of boutique bag makers plus a few more larger players that take the segment a bit more seriously.  I chose Arkel over Ortlieb as I I prefer the organizational aspect over the focus on waterproofness.  Now of course you can get Orliebs with more pockets and Arkel’s with the same kind of waterproofing so I wonder if the holy wars have died down now.  I’d probably go boutique myself if I was buying new bags now.

I’d only done one tour before this one with the six bag setup (my first) preferring a lighter setup with a saddlebag in the rear and the two GT-18s on the front. And of course the Hobo bag – that never comes off.  In the main I still prefer that setup – the bicycle really handles amazing in that configuration.  Also with a lot less weight on the rear wheel I think one is less prone to the rim and spoke issues I had on this tour. However for this tour I was starting early and would be spending a lot of time at high elevations in the spring requiring warmer, bulkier clothing. Plus I wanted to be able to carry more food with me which was always an issue with the more minimal setup.

The Arkel bags are pretty heavy on their own, but comparing them with the closest Ortlieb they seem pretty close (6.6 vs. 5.9  pounds but with nearly 900cc more space on the Arkels). The tube for the tent poles and my sleeping pad I think is one of the truly great innovations. I used the rain covers on these and I rode in a lot of rain and some serious thunderstorms (not to mention riding in some flooded bits of road that was well above the bottom of the panniers) without issue. These pannier use the older Arkel mounting system which while very secure is rather a pain to remove. So I never much liked taking them off. Many of my fellow tourons would take off their panniers on entering camp but I only reluctantly removed them.  Arkel’s “new” (its been standard for maybe 6 years now) mounting system is much easier from what I understand.

The other bas performed as required – the Berthoud which just had tools, tubes and parts in it, I have no complaints. The front Baggins Bag, which is the best handlebar bag I’ve ever used (especially for my preferred mustache bars) continued to serve me well. It’s one downside is that while the waxed cotton is water resistant, the zipper is not. After the original plastic zipper had broken I’d had it replaced with a metal one, which let even more water in. There was a number of occasions when I would unload the damp items in it to find water sloshing in the bottom. I took to keeping a plastic bag in it to cover things. I should try some beeswax on the zipper to see if that helps, but next tour I’m going to keep a small drybag in it.

Touring Kit - Brand V Grabsack

Rivendell Brand V Grabsack

I’ve found that carrying a bag that one can use off bicycle is of great value. In the past I’ve used a small light musette bag that I can stuff anywhere but for this tour I wanted something a bit more substantial. A Rivendell Brand V Grabsack seemed like just the ticket. I could easily keep my iPad, Camera, journal and book in it, with space for a bit of food or water or random items. I began buying pins first for national parks and than state parks as well on my 2009 tour. By the end of the tour it was pretty loaded down with them (I’ve also added the pins from Mount Rainier and the Redwoods that I acquired on other tours since returning).

Tour 2012 day 66 - Campsitein Afton State Park, MN

Eureka Spitfire at my Campsite in Afton State Park, MN

Camping

Sleeping
I used the same tent (Eureka Spitfire), sleeping Bag (Kelty Light Year CD 25), and pad (Therm-A-Rest Backpacker ¾ Length) that I’ve used since my very first tour. No complaints with any of these, though it seemed that the zipper to the tent was beginning to wear (and my sleeping bag desperately need to be washed which I did when I got home). I did my research when I bought this gear and I have to say it’s served me well. One amusing anecdote related to the tent was when I was staying at Hughes Marina and Campground in upstate NY a lady came by and was quite friendly and talkative. She it turned out worked for Eureka and when she realized my tent was made by them, completely freaked out. She talked about how much they appreciate user testimonials and when I indicated that the tent had served me incredibly well I was certain she was going to interview me then and there for marketing.

Tour 2012 Day 6- Kettle

Trangia cookset and kettle

Cooking
This was my second tour utilizing a Trangia Cookset to which I added a Trangia Kettle for this tour. I really think the Trangia is a fantastic set and while I loved my previous alcohol stove (a Brasslight) it’s integration with the cook set and its windscreen is really top drawer. The kettle was new for this tour and I have to say absolutely worth it. It fit inside the cookset and thus took up no more space. But it was so much more efficient at boiling water that I definitely used a lot less fuel.   I was much more ambitious on this tour with my cooking and I have to say this cookset really rose to the occasion.

I also brought a Titanium Spork, a Victorinox Knife and Backpackers cutting board. The spork as been around since tour one, but the knife and cutting board were new. Previously I just used my Leatherman for a knife and I have to say having a dedicated knife was worth it. The Victorinox is very good for cutting and not bad for spreading so a very good choice. I kept it in s sheath so as not to cut other things or damage the blade.

Touring Kit - An Efficient use of space

Tea infuser, coffee filter, measuring cup and titanium cup

Additionally I carried my usual titanium mug and coffee filter to which I added a measuring cup and tea infuser. These all nicely fit inside of each other, so again an efficient use of space. To facilitate cooking on this tour I had a small backpackers spice rack, and little bottles which I’d fill with olive oil, hot oil and soy sauce at co-ops. This all really helped for a more diverse and better cooking experience than I have done on other tours, which I felt was vital for 3+ months on the road. The extra weight and bulk was well worth it: I ate better and the food tasted better.

Misc
I carried two other bits of camping gear that I haven’t used before: a Katadyn Mini water filter and a collapsible Sea-to-Summit Kitchen Sink.  The water filter was absolutely worth it – there was I think about 6 times I was in campgrounds without a potable water source but which had streams or lakes. It was definitely worth it to not be trying to boil the water (which isn’t entirely effective) or use purification tablets (likewise). The mini Katadyn works well but it is pretty slow and tedious.  But most days I wasn’t pressed for time and could just embrace the activity.  The collapsible kitchen sink was not as necessary. I had thought that perhaps I’d use it to do laundry in (and that certainly is possible) but I never did do that. I did use it a couple of times when filtering water, as it was easy to scoop up a large amount in. But it was just as easy to fill up my collapsable bladder and filter into my water bottles which I did almost every time. I may take it along (it’s pretty small and light) on future tours that are more in the woods and away from places to wash clothes but it is definitely not essential.

Clothing

My thoughts on clothing date back to my earliest tours: I prefer to dress so that if I enter say a coffee shop I don’t look like an alien.  This pretty much discounts the typical cycling jerseys and lycra shorts.  Which is okay as I don’t care much for those clothes anyway. All of this doesn’t mean I don’t buy cycling specific clothes – there is a lot to be said for having shorts without seams in uncomfortable places. But isn’t always necessary. Apart from the aforementioned shorts, much of my riding clothes aren’t cycling specific though they may be made or sold by Rivendell.

 

Tour 2012 day 24 - Yrs Trly at the summit of Wauconda Pass

Typical clothing for the ride up Wauconda Pass
(Wool cap, MUSA Seersucker & shorts, Smartwool socks, Summer Gloves)

Daily Wear
I kept to my typical clothing that I’ve settled into on this tours: MUSA Shorts and seersucker shirts for riding, convertible pants and flannel shirts when not and of course a Cycling Cap. I also had a tweed cardigan, wool undershirt, wool tights, hats and wool Leg Warmers that I used in the initial cold stages of the tour (as low as the upper 20s (F) the night I spent near Wauconda Pass). I had a very light weight pair of cotton shorts and a long sleeve cotton shirt that I’d use to sleep in/do laundry in.  The two MUSA seersucker shirts disintegrated on the tour (I’d had them for years though) and I replaced them with a cowboy shirt I bought at an outfitters in Minneapolis and a Land’s End seersuck my parents got for me and brought me in Fort Wayne. I also had several pairs of wool socks. I started off with three pairs of gloves: long fingered wool gloves, fingerless wool gloves and a pair of  Summer Gloves. The second of these pair of gloves came along by accident, but they proved useful. I pretty much wore these two gloves until it became hot and then it was just the summer gloves. Those gloves had completely deteriorated by Fort Wayne where I got a new pair as part of the package I bought from Rivendell that my parents delivered.

Tour 2012 day 35 - In which I take a Red Bus Tour

Off bicycle clothes plus my rain jacket
(Wool cap, Showers Pass Touring Jacket, Convertible Pants, Smartwool socks, Ecco Sandals)

Foul Weather Gear
I had completely new rain gear for this tour: Showers Pass Touring Jacket and J&G Rain Paint. My old REI rain jacket had lost all pretense at waterproofness at this point as had my Rainlegs. I had meant to get another pair of Rainlegs but never did.I have to say that Rainlegs are the best for riding in drizzle and any point where you wouldn’t bother to put on rain pants but would like something. I will probably get them for the next tour. The Shower’s Pass jacket lived up to its reputation but was (also as per its reputation) way too big. I’d bought the large figuring that even with the rumored size discreptancy I’d want that for all the layers underneath but it still turned out to be huge with especially long arms. And yet the neck was pretty much right on. So I don’t know if I should try to swap it for a medium sometime. With velcro at the wrists I tend to just put it on and not worry much about it. The J&G rain pants also worked fine but I’m not much of a fan of wearing rainpants. I put them on in all day rain and on the cold descents from mountain passes. Otherwise I’d tend to just weather it – would rather have rain legs for these moments.

I also used two odd Rivendell products that I’ve come to be a huge fan of: the MUSA Splats and Windshield. The Spats are “rain hats for your feet” and I’d long since been converted to their use. I’d found that I could year my preferred sandals and wool socks all winter long if I added these on cold days. They block the wind and with fenders your feet will stay dry in the rain. Impressed by these I bought the windshield but found that it didn’t stay on me nice and tight (it has a plastic barrel adjustor). So I ignored it for a while. But when I moved into the U-District in Seattle I was riding a lot more and found that I with the hills in the city that my cardigan was ideal clothing. But its buttons let in the air on descents and I thought I’d try the windshield again. Foregoing the adjustable straps I just tied them and it work fine and I became completely converted. With Rainlegs, Splats and the Windshield you can ride in typical Seattle drizzle without overheating and without getting more than damp.

Tour Tech: iPad in Case, New TrentTour Tech: iPad in Griffin Survior Case being charged by New Trent

Tech Stuff

I took a third generation Apple iPad which I had gotten only a couple of months before the tour. I kept it safe in an Griffin Survivor Case. The iPad made it all the way across country through storms, drought, snow and damp without a scratch. The case wasn’t without it’s downsides though. First and foremost for my needs was that the slot for the power connector on the bottom of the case wasn’t wide enough to accommodate the Camera Connection Kit which I used to transfer photos from my camera. I had originally intended to take all my pics with my P&S camera, transfer them to the iPad and upload from there. But since I had to take the iPad out of the case to transfer the photos I’d only do this when I was in doors – so every few weeks.  So I began taking pics with the iPad which its small lens and lack of zoom aside is pretty good. Plus on the huge screen you can really see how the pics will look. This revealed another shortcoming to the Griffin Survivor: it has rubber flaps to cover things like the ports and the camera lens. These would never stay affixed in the open position and would flap close at the most inopportune time. After months of constant use these flaps began to deteriorate. It also had a little plastic “kickstand” which allowed me to prop it up without holding it. This too didn’t last, the henge holding the leg in place breaking after a couple of months on the road. But in it’s primary purpose – keeping the iPad dry and protected it performed flawlessly.

The iPad, which has 64GBs of storage was really a useful item to have along. Being able to transfer the photos to it was a huge bonus – I didn’t have to carry a lot of SD cards or risk them getting lost or damaged. I also had bought the iPhoto app which let me edit photos and upload them easily to Flickr (my preferred photo sharing site). With it’s screen resolution of 2048-by-1536 you could really see what your photos were going to look like on the web. It was also much, much easier to blog with then my old iPhone. The on screen keyboard isn’t ideal but at that size it really isn’t that bad. I used this as my only computing device for the three+ months and had no issues. It is a bit large and that big bright screen sucks down the battery life (see the previous post for more on that). The new iPad Mini might be just the device for touring in that it should have most of these advantages but be smaller, lighter and (perhaps) less power hungary. I used Verizon for my wireless connectivity and I have to say I’d often have internet access when my phone (which was using AT&T) would have no signal.

I took pictures with the iPad for ease of my daily blog posts (plus I was only transferring photos when I was indoors due to having to take the iPad out of the case to do so) Canon PowerShot A580 with two 2GB memory cards. I’d gotten this used as is my wont – I find my on bicycle point & shoot cameras have about a two year lifespan. No complaint with this camera – the photos are nice and sharp, it has reasonable optical zoom and it is powered by AA batteries so I could easily charge and replace them.

In Libby Montana I bought a windup radio: an Etón American Red Cross ARCFR160R Microlink Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger to be precise. I really liked having this, so I could listen to NPR (when I could) and get weather reports. It also worked as flashlight (which I never needed but it did work) and it claimed you could charge your cell phone with it (at something like 3 minutes of talk time for 45 minutes of cranking). This really worked well until my last few days in Bar Harbor when the crank broke off at the base. It had a plastic connector to the base which is clearly a planned obsolescence move – if it was metal I’d be using it today. I’ll definitely take another one of these with me, though I’d like to find a tougher one. I probably could just get a small battery operated one and keep it charged with my charging system, but I like the independence of the hand crank.

Any other tech I had beyond lights and such is well covered in the charging systems article.

Conclusions

That was my basic experience with my gear and I have to say that in the main I didn’t really have any issues. As I said at the outset I was primarily using gear that I was familiar with and had used for tour after tour. Researching the new gear especially in the contexts of others tours meant that I had little problems with the new gear.  I didn’t mail home much of anything due to lack of use – just sent back warm clothes after it warmed up and books I’d finished reading. I’ve pretty much almost never had gear issues on tour; my initial research paid off well for me in the long run. There was of course plenty of other things I’m not noting here so for completeness sake I’ll include the packing list that I developed prior to the tour. It’s not complete either but it’s pretty close. I also put a few notes inside square brackets like so: [note].

Also worth noting is I’ve added a Tour Gear set on Flickr for which I’ll continue to add relevant pictures as I find/take them.

[note: I moved the packing list to it’s own post]

 

Journey to the East: Photos

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012
Atlantis in East MontanaAtlantis in East Montana

Since returning from the terminus of my 2012 cross country bicycle touring I’ve been slowly (quite slowly alas) sorting through the thousands of photographs that I took. Now I was uploading photos as I went but these stopped around East Montana.  Why is that you ask? Well let me explain the setup I was using for this tour.  I had a Canon Powershop a580 Point and Shoot camera as my primary picture taking tool but also my 3rd generation iPad.  For the later I acquired a Camera Connection kit which allowed me to plug the SD cards that my Canon used for storage and transfer the photos over to it.  This I thought was an ideal system in that I didn’t need to carry lots of SD cards as the iPad with its 64GBs of storage could contain all of that. Plus I was then able to upload pictures taken from my “good” camera and didn’t need to take pictures with the iPad. The iPad itself I had protected in the toughest and best reviewed case I could find out there.  This nearly doubled it’s weight but my iPad returned from tour looking as new. However it turned out that this case had too narrow a slot for the Camera Connection adapter to fit in. I had gotten the case right before I left and hadn’t tested this (a big mistake) discovering it at camp the night after I left Olympia.  So what I ended up doing was taking a couple of pictures a day with the iPad to be used for the blog (and let me tell you there is nothing more awkward then taking pictures with a tablet) and then taking the iPad out of the case to transfer the pictures whenever I was not camping.

Looking back at GlacierLooking back at Glacier

While my iPad has a 4G connection I really didn’t want to devote time and battery to uploading photos every day (I did this on the last couple of tours and found it rather onerious). So I was uploading photos only when I had WiFi and was plugged in.  Thus I was uploading every week or so and while I’d try to do a few days worth each session, again I rarely wanted to devote tons of time to it. This worked out well enough until East Montana when the internal battery in my Canon died. It took me maybe three days to find a replacement for it as decent sized towns are pretty few and far between in East Montana.  During that time I had no time and date stamp on those photos and they all defaulted to December 31st, 1979.  While the iPhoto app on the iPad is pretty great (some aspects even better then the OS X version) it was not easy to look at things like the file number and compare it to other pictures and try to work out when it was taken. So basically I stopped uploading pictures at this point. These remain unsorted as of this post and looking at that album I can figure out where a bunch of them are taken but many shots of the endless East Montana plains all look about the same. Hopefully the file numbers will help though of course the pictures did go over two memory cards. Note that all of the pics in this post are from this set.

PelicansPelicans!

Back at home with all my photos transferred to the computer I began the process of sorting through all of my pictures. First off I wanted to get pictures from the first stage of the tour uploaded which I did pretty fast (also added blog posts for those days).  The next step was to create photosets in iPhoto for each day that would have a nice selection of photos.  These usually matched those I uploaded but might have a few extra pictures or some different ones of the same scene.  This is the process I’m in now and it is rather slow going.  I’ve made it through the first couple of stages of the tour but still have the bulk of it to go.  One thing I like to do for my tours is put up an “index” page with the days of the tour listed with links to the corresponding blog post and photos.  Well this requires the photos to be uploaded in order for this to useful. In the past it has often taken me a year or longer to do this. I’m trying to get it done faster for this tour but of course it is the longest tour I’ve done and thus requires the most work. So in a few weeks I’m going to put up the index page with however much is done and just update it as I go.  This will be a good activity to work on over the holidays and such when I’m visiting my parents but not doing blog worthy activities. Of course I do have some wrap-up posts w/r/t the tour that I want to do as well; hopefully I will get to those sooner rather then later.

All of the photos I’ve uploaded so far and all the ones to come can be found here: Tour 2012 Flickr Set

Journey to the East: Some closure

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Boxed Atlantis

My Atlantis disassembled just out of the box

Three weeks to the day that I dropped my Atlantis off at Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop it has finally returned to me. But damn did they overzealously break it down for boxing. I can understand much of the disassembly they did but was it necessary to take the bell off the stem? Or the waterbottle cages off the frame? Once the wiring for the lighting system had been removed why was it necessary to take the light off the (also removed) front rack? Oh well whatever their reasons it was all well protected and boxed up. There was one bit of damage – the pointy seat post lug point had gotten bent from them pounding a seat post cap into it. I was able to bend it back but can’t say that made me happy.

Atlantis reassembled 

I spent hours putting the bicycle back together and as the sun set had it ridable. I did a short ride around the block but much adjustment needs to be made. And then I need to remount my lights and bags and get her ready for some real riding. Great to have her back though – I was beginning to seriously question my ‘one bicycle’ policy after three weeks sans.

Journey to the East: 11 August 2012

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

20120811-192353.jpg

Between layers of clouds

 

How cool it is!
The clouds have great peaks
and small peaks
 
-Issa

 

Water running down
Yestersay it had had been overcast and by evening rather cool (which I have to admit was nice). It started to rain when I went to bed and would continue to so until I got up before sunrise to catch my taxi to the airport. I packed up my went tent and other items in the rain and walked to the campground entrance to catch my taxi.The taxi service was overly conservative on the time needed to get me there that I arrived before the tiny Bar Harbor Airport had opened. They eventually showed up and let me in and after checking in, security and all the usual we were off n a tiny 8-10 seat twin engine prop plane. I can’t recall the last time I was on a plane this small. We went through layers of fog and cloud before ascending to where we could see the rising sun. Absolutely stunning views of mounds of clouds below and streaks of clouds above in the blue sky.

dwindling light —
clouds
above and below

Once in Boston I found myself with most of a day to kill as there had been no morning flights when I booked. So I took the bus and subway to Harvard Square which I hadn’t made it to last time I was in Bean Town. I mostly just looked through the many bookstores and every so often would hang out at coffee shop trying to keep myself awake and my iPad charged. I was happy to have a chance to see this part of town but i defimitely wish it had been a shorter layover. When the time came I retraced my steps to the airport and the journey home reconvened. First a short hop to Philly with yet another layover and then finally the flight to Seattle. Evening now, this would mostly be a night flight bringing me to the Emerald City near midnight. This last flight was long, packed and being completely exhausted now not much fun. Turbulent as well, from thunderstorms in Philly that led to a slight delay but for much of the rest of the flight as well. But I was just sitting there and eventually it came to an end. Thankfully a friend picked me up and drove me to Olympia and I was done.

This concludes The Journey to the East.

always traveling alone —
whether by myself
or with others

Journey to the East: 10 August 2012

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

20120810-154505.jpg

The naked Atlantis at the Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop

 

As I grow old
even the length of the day
brings tears.
 
-Issa

 
All things must pass
This is my final day in Bar Harbor and I spent the bulk of it preparing for departure. I took the final ride of the tour: the 5 miles into Bar Harbor (plus a bit more as I ran errands) along the never fun 3 West. As has been the ritual the last couple of days once I hit town I went to The Independent Cafe, which easily has the best coffee I’ve had in Bar Harbor. Then it was errands with laundry being first, followed by shipping my panniers and gear home and concluding with shipping my Atlantis home. The Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop was taking care of the packing and shipping and once again the wrenches were super helpful and easy to deal with. Now all I have is a small duffel bag and the camping gear I need to sleep tonight. I spent one last afternoon wandering around Bar Harbor a bit and had one last meal of local seafood and then went back to camp. I’m leaving at the crack of dawn (literally) tomorrow so gonna try to make it an early night.

For those curious the total miles ridden since riding away from my U-District apartment in Seattle, WA has been: 5278. Look for more stats in a subsequent post.

almost nothing left now;
I bide my time
thinking of turning leaves

Journey to the East: 9 August 2012

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

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The Atlantic from Cadillac Mountain

The spring sea —
all day long it rises and falls,
rises and falls
 
-Yosa Buson

Vanishing Point
If a tourist town can wear one down I always can find solace in the woods. So this day I spent at Acadia National Park riding the Carriage Paths and up Cadillac Mountain. These carriage paths are pretty fun – hard packed gravel paths, lined with stone the wend through this large park. Not entirely flat but overall easy riding – especially as I’d removed all but one pannier. Always weird that first ride without the full load. These carriage paths go by lakes, around hills and to the old historic buildings. Really beautiful park and while there was a stiff wind on this day being in the trees really made it a non-issue. Tons of people here but there are enough paths and the park is large enough that this was never an issue.

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On the carriage paths

I ended up at Jordan House which has a restaurant and historic buildings around it. I ate a picnic lunch under a tree and walked around a bit. Then I hit the loop road through the park which was a bit hilly but had excellent views of the forests and lakes and off in the distance the mainland. When the turn off for Cadillac Mountain came up I decided to ride up. This was about 3.5 miles of steady climbing but the grades we mild and overall with the unloaded bicycle I found it pretty easy. The traffic was more of an issue but I think I lucked out there and while there was plenty it wasn’t continuous. The summit was 1535′ and from this height there we stunning views all around island: the woods stretching to the mainland, Bar Harbor, the Cranberry Islands and to the east the Atlantic Ocean merging into a painterly line at the horizon. This for me is the true end of the tour – the Atlantic endlessly in the distance just as the Pacific was the real beginning of the Journey to the East.

forgetting too much —
the wind in the trees
brings much back

vanishing point —
a smear of silvery white
merging with the blues

Journey to the East: 8 August 2012

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

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Baa-Haa-Baa

Hollyhocks fall to the ground
trampled underfoot
at the festival
 
-Masaoka Shiki

100 days of solitude
Today was the hundredth day since I handed over the keys to my apartment in Seattle and set off: homeless and filled with wanderlust. While I, of course, always intended to cross country at that point it was a journey without much of a goal. That is to say I figured I’d ride where the whims took me and if I stuck to the route great, but if something else came up, so be it. That wasn’t really how it played out, though the first month or so was more aimless and wandering. But by Montana I was petty locked into the Northern Tier. I also was feeling a bit overly disconnected from things – something I was seeking but I had limits. Frankly I missed NPR. So thinking back to a conversation I had with Shawn of the Urban Adventure League I bought a wind up radio. I wasn’t always able to tune in NPR but I was grateful when I could. Today the handle on that radio broke – just two days before the end. So it goes.

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Bar Harbor Brewing's Tasting room

I spent the day today in Bar Harbor using the excellent free Island Explorer shuttle to get around. BH rather reminds me of Friday Harbor in the San Jaun Islands – if you could get to it via a bridge. That is to say its much larger but with just thet many more pubs, coffee shops, outfitters, bookstores, ice cream shops and those that specialize in tat. Everything is just packed with tourists too (yes including myself) – the shuttle was packed, the coffee shops had lines out the door and so on. I just wanted to sit with coffee and relax with the morning news. Instead I did some errands – found the bicycle shop where I’ll ship my bicycle home from and checked out the co-op. Finally things cleared out a bit and I spent the late morning at a bakery over coffee. The rest of the day I checked out the shops, the waterfront, the Village Green and drank beer. BH brewing has a free tasting room where you get tiny samples of the beer, the stout was the hands down winner IMO. The bartender gave me a tip on what bar had the most microbrews on tap, so for lunch I went to Blaze where I had a local cask conditioned IPA and wood fired pizza. So pretty much just took it easy and enjoyed a day off the bicycle. Though by the end of the day I have to admit I began to feel a real distance between myself and all of this. Just doesn’t really seem real. Perhaps if I was riding away from it all tomorrow…

seemingly out of step
gazing out at the fog –
this