Monday, September 23, 2013

Post Ride Day 8 - September 5, 2013

We decided to make today a touristy day, since Mel's parents haven't ever been to Seattle.  I ran to the grocery store early before everyone was ready, so we had some staples for breakfast.

We took off for downtown Seattle, and did the most touristy thing we could think of right off the bat - a Duck tour!  In case you don't know what these are, they take these amphibious vehicles from WW2, and created land and water tours around that concept.  They are cheesy, of course, but it's a great way to get a good overview of the city without having to drive or walk yourself, and you get a little boat ride on Lake Union.

After that, we grabbed a bite to eat at MOD Pizza at the City Center, then headed up to the top of the Space Needle.  We had a great time taking in the sweeping views of the city!

After stopping by Target for a few essentials, we enjoyed a lazy evening back at the condo.  We had such a good day showing John and Jane one of our favorite cities, and are so glad they could come out and spend time with us here!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Post Ride Day 7 - September 4, 2013

We were pretty lazy again today!  We packed our stuff up - Mel's parents are flying in to Seattle tonight, so we are (reluctantly) moving out of Susan and Cathy's guest room and into a rental condo for the next week.

I took one photo today, of this frog I spotted on the deck:

We enjoyed an delicious dinner at a Chinese place with Susan and Cathy, then they were awesome enough to give us a ride to the airport to pick up our rental car and Mel's parents.  We will see them a ton of other times while we are out here, but we were still sad to go!

We selected only the most awesome of minivans (leather seats and a DVD player, though we don't have any DVDs with us - a formality), then awaited Mel's parents arrival in the cell phone lot.  We picked them up, and headed about 15 min north of Seattle to the condo.  It's tough to find a rental place to sleep 6 people!

Everyone was tired, so we hit the hay.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Post Ride Day 6 - September 3, 2013

This will be a short one - we didn't leave the company of the couch and tv all day, except to pick up lunch.  Susan made some delicious tacos for dinner, and we spoiled this guy a little more:

Poor guy had to have his toenail removed  all the way to the knuckle.  So naturally, he milked it for all it was worth!  We were so in need of a rest day, and this one was perfect!

Post Ride Day 5 - September 2, 2013

Another lovely morning complete with sleeping in and enjoying coffee!  We could get used to this!

Since its Labor Day, Susan and Cathy both had the day off.  We ran more errands with them, and then had conveyor belt sushi for dinner!  We love conveyor belt sushi, and have only found it in Chicago so far.  Wish Indy had one!

Other than that, all we did was hang out with these guys:

It's so nice to be around dogs again - we are missing our boys so much!!!  Susan and Cathy's French Bulldog had a toenail injury, so we babied him to the extreme, and he loved it!  

Post Ride Day 4 - September 1, 2013

After an awesome sleep in a comfy bed, we woke up and had coffee here:

Beautiful view huh?  After a very laid back morning and early afternoon, we headed out with Susan and Cathy to run some errands.  We had dinner out, and that was pretty much the extent of our day.  It was nice to do some normal things again!

Ahh, life off of our bikes :)  This may be the most uninteresting blog post ever!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Post Ride Day 3 - August 31, 2013 - Portland, OR to Seattle, WA

We still hadn't found some of the important articles of clothing we needed - specifically shoes - so we spent our day browsing through Nordstrom Rack, Ross, and Target.  I'm a sucker for cheap stuff!  We wanted to pick up everything we needed in Oregon to avoid paying sales tax in Washington.  My score of the day - $14.90 shoes!

We hit up Chipotle for lunch, which you all know by now is Mel's favorite restaurant in all of creation.  There is a running theme on our trip - we get to wherever we are going just in time to miss a huge crowd of people getting in line behind us.  This is usually the opposite case in our real lives, as we usually get to the checkout at the grocery store just as everyone else has already jumped in front of us!  Just as we were ordering our food at Chipotle, an entire high school girl's soccer team got in line behind us!  Madness...

The biggest excitement of our day was that we were going to take Amtrak for the first time ever!  I know this doesn't sound fun to a lot of you, but we were stoked :)  We ended up having to walk forever (probably 2 miles, so not really forever) with our bikes, a duffel bag, and rolling carry-on luggage (not an easy task!) from our hotel to the train station.  On the way, we passed what we think was a deceased homeless guy sprawled out in the gravel courtyard of an apartment complex.  The police were on their way over to go check out the situation...yikes.

Getting on the train was an experience...we had to get tags for our bikes, but keep them with us.  Then, everyone jumps in one long line and gets a seat assignment randomly on the way to board.  You just walk right out onto the tracks to get on the train - no security screening or anything!  So different from hopping on an airplane!  We had to walk our bikes back to the baggage car at the end of the train, lift them up to the attendant on the train, and then they hang them for you in the car.  We found our seats, and settled in for a 3.5 hour ride to Seattle.  There were actually several other touring cyclists boarding the train with us.  A couple of them asked where we had come from, and were impressed when we told them Virginia.

The scenery on the way up was beautiful - lakes, mountains, and forests the whole way.  We dined in the bistro car on the best of expensive microwaveable fare (cheeseburger and cheese pizza).  Mel watched Friends on her iPad while I watched Paranormal Activity 3 via Netflix on my phone (she doesn't enjoy scary movies, so I decided to work that one in while I was watching alone!).  After several short stops - they barely come to a complete stop in some of the smaller towns along the way - we were unloading in Seattle!

We have been blessed with some great friends in Seattle, and two of them, Susan and Cathy, were waiting at the station to pick us up!  We loaded our bikes and bags into their cars, and headed to a late dinner at Denny's, since it was about the only thing still open at 11pm!  Susan and Cathy also graciously let us stay in their guest room for a few days - we couldn't be more thankful!

We had finally arrived in the city where we would spend our last couple of weeks of this journey.  The Seattle area really feels like home to us, so it was comforting to be there after living as nomads for 3 months!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Post Ride Day 2 - August 30, 2013 - Portland, OR to Astoria, OR and back

Never being one to sit still somewhere for too long, I decided we needed to rent a car today and drive out to the coast to check out the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park in Astoria, OR.  We got up early, hopped the Portland Light Rail to the airport, picked up our car and took off!  The light rail in Portland is awesome, just in case you've never been on it.  Clean, and efficient, and only $2.50 to anywhere you want to go!

We stopped briefly for lunch at the ever-fancy Taco Bell on the way out of town, and quickly could see the forests and mountains we loved on our journey laid out ahead of us...but with the added bonus that we didn't have to manually get ourselves up those hills today!  We both were groaning watching other people struggle up hills on loaded bikes, and commiserated about how bad some of them would be on ours.  A sure sign we were in need of a break :)

After another quick stop at a roadside fruit stand for banana chips and fresh local blueberries, we arrived in Seaside, OR.  It was a pea soup fog kinda day there.  I hear they have a lovely beach, but we didn't (couldn't) see it through the fog!  They have a really lame outlet mall there too - we were hoping for much better since we are in dire need of real clothes - you know, things like pants that extend below the knee, shirts that aren't jerseys, and shoes that aren't sandals.  The kind of stuff normal human beings wear...

The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park was neat - they have a replica fort representing the one that L&C wintered in when they were in the area, and some good information about their journey.  Lewis and Clark are like superheroes in these parts - there are tons of things named after them!

After that, we checked out a bit of Astoria.  In case you didn't know, parts of The Goonies were filmed in the town, so we also went to the Oregon Film Museum.  It's tiny, and not that impressive, but we love The Goonies, so it was cool to see the jail cell where one of the Fratelli brothers pretended to hang himself to get out of jail, the museum where Mikey's dad worked, and the restaurant where Chunk smashes the milkshake up against the window during the opening car chase scene.

There was mad traffic going toward the coast on our way back - we then remembered it was the beginning of Labor Day weekend.  Looked like all of Portland was headed to the beach for the long weekend - good thing we were headed the other way!

We hit up a mall in Portland, and bought nearly one of everything that H&M there had.  Finally, some normal clothes again!  We won't know what to do with ourselves :)  After some lovely food court fare, it was getting late and we were getting dirty looks from the food court janitorial staff since it was nearly closing time and we were dirtying up their clean tables, so we headed for the airport to return the car, then hopped back on the light rail for the ride back downtown.  Taylor Swift had a concert near the convention center, and at nearly 11pm, tons of teenage girls were hopping on the light rail with their mothers, their new TS shirts, and some with lighted posters they made to try to get Taylor's attention from the stage.  Those mothers are saints!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Post Ride Day 1 - August 29, 2013 - Florence, OR to Portland, OR

No riding at all today - it still hasn't sunk in that this journey that we planned and dreamed of for nearly 5 years is complete.

Jodi and Milly graciously offered to give us and our bikes a ride to Portland today.  They really are the best!  It was about a three hour drive, so they really sacrificed a lot of time for us.  People just keep renewing our faith in humanity...

They dropped us off at our hotel in downtown Portland, and we headed out to wander around downtown.

We ended up having Thai food for dinner, then made the requisite stop at VooDoo Doughnuts for a few delicious treats on our way back to the hotel.  We held back this time and only picked out two doughnuts a piece instead of going for the Voodoo Dozen like last time we were here.  2 people cannot (or at least SHOULD not) eat that many doughnuts over the course of a few short days!

We're still feeling the effects of spending nearly 3 months on bikes...our bodies definitely want some R&R!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Day 86 - August 28, 2013 - Florence, OR

Miles - 12
Total mileage - 2,322

We had a glorious night of much needed rest in Jodi's cabin, and didn't even set an alarm!  After some cereal, we picked Jodi's brain for a good location to dip our wheels in the ocean without having to haul our bikes over miles of sand.  She gave us directions, and we took off down Highway 101.

We reached the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area after riding across a narrow bridge (yikes), and sailed down to the dunes.  There were fine buggies racing around on the sand, they were pretty cool to watch.  And we saw the ocean for the first time!

We searched for a decent place to cross the dunes to dip our wheels in the ocean, and eventually I got sick of riding and we decided to just shove our bikes over the giant dunes.  These things were massive, and extremely steep!!

We finally made it to the other side!  And to the ocean!

Shep, Badtz, and Ozzy made it too!

We spent a few hours walking around on the beach, and just enjoying the symbolic end of this summer of adventures.

We really wanted to be able to personally thank everyone who supported and encouraged us during Looking Out Across America, so we recorded this short video.  (To be added - you can find it on our Facebook page now if you'd like!)

Stay tuned - I know we will update everyone on what we have been up to since the end of our trip, and definitely will post a recap of the Raise the Roof annual fundraiser for the Looking Out Foundation, where we present the total funds raised for LOF and the Fight the Fear campaign!!!