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Friday, September 24, 2010

A Coastal Experience

by Katie

Well, we made it through Washington without too much rain and arrived in Hood River where our good friends Ben and Jenn Ketler welcomed us in despite the fact that we were dripping wet. We spent the weekend exploring Hood River and Ben and Jenn took very good care of us by taking us to local breweries, ice cream shops, hiking, and letting us explode all over their living room. It's always a good respite for us to spend a couple days in the company of such good friends.

Hiking Eagle Creek.

We left Hood River in hopes of reaching the coast that same day.The weather, not wanting us to miss out on a true Pacific Northwest experience, rained on us the entire day, until we finally reached Lincoln City. We splurged on a hotel room in Lincoln City to dry out and warm up. This is where our true coastal experience began. We went for a run on the beach that morning, saw a gray whale in the bay directly below us, watched some surfers brave the cold waters of the Oregon coast, and played in the costal sand dunes.

Playing in the sand dunes.

Yaquina Head lighthouse.

And then we hit California. Sunny California. And it lived up to its reputation. We hit California and sun came out. Driving through Redwoods National Park and Humboldt State Park we got to experience the beauty of the Redwoods. Trinidad beach state park called to us from Highway 101 and we spent an hour with our feet in the sand and the sun on our faces.

Doing the tourist thing in the Redwoods.

Mike giving us the local road beta.

Many blessings to Mike and Michelle who answered our plea for help on Adventure Rider for a backyard to camp in and a battery charger for my depleted motorcycle battery. Mike, being a California local gave us invaluable map and road beta so that we don't inadvertently end up in 80 mph bumper-to-bumper traffic in the Bay area. We are headed for Santa Cruz--to soak up more sun and meet up with BJ and Lacy again.
Until next time...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's Raining

by Katie

Mark and I have now ridden across the state of Washington east to west and are about to start heading south to Hood River, Oregon. So far we have been lucky with the weather but I think we are about to head into a few days of that inevitable Pacific Northwest rain. Riding into Oregon will mark state number seven for us on our "western US tour."

Yesterday we rode the ferry from Orcas Island to Anacortes after spending two days on the island. Coming from the somewhat arid climate of Utah we are still in awe of the lush green-ness that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We spent the first week of this month in the northwest mecca--Bellingham, with amazing friends (Beej and Lacy) where we way over-stayed our welcome.

Our Bellingham crew. We love you guys!

Our bikes on the ferry to Orcas Island.

Enjoying the Pac Northwest!

Mark gave Claire a coolant change in the parking lot of our hotel. The amount of mechanic-ing that this man has picked up on the fly is amazing to me. I can't count the hundreds of dollars that he has saved us.

After Hood River we will make our way to the coast and head down into California. We are not looking forward to the traffic but are excited for the Redwoods, meeting friends in Yosemite, and some sunshine!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top 10 Things We Will Miss About Sandpoint

By Katie

Mark and I were lucky enough on this trip to schedule in a full month in Sandpoint, Idaho, the small town in north Idaho where I grew up. I realized that this was the first time I had spent more than a couple weeks in the idyllic lake town since graduating from high school and moving to Boise for college. Spending a month there in the middle of a beautiful summer reminded me of all the things I love about the place.
So, here is a list, complete with pictures of the top 10 things we will miss about Sandpoint:

10. Kokanee. Okay, so it's not Mark's favorite beer, but I have lots of fond memories of drinking this fine Canadian beer.

Mark enjoying a cold one.

9. The Lake. Pend Oreille that is. I tell Mark often that I believe Pend Oreille to be the greatest lake on earth. I'll settle for the greatest lake in Idaho. Kayaking, boating, swimming, the City Beach - you just can't beat it in the summer.

Pirates on the beach. Yar!

Kayaking near Whiskey Jack.

Boating out to the Bakers' lake house.

8. Blue skies. Embarking on the Pacific Northwest means dealing with a certain amount of inclement weather. Sandpoint is just far enough east that the number of rainy days is significantly diminished.

7. Local bars and restaurants. I know, lots of small towns brag about their amazing selection of local eateries. But for being such a small town, in North Idaho no less, Sandpoint has quite the selection of bars, breweries, Italian restaurants, gelatto stands, and even two great Thai restaurants.

Enjoying local beers at McDuffs.

6. Riding bicycles everywhere. Literally. There are very few places in Sandpoint that are not accessible by bicycle in 10 minutes or less.

Riding bicycles at the beach--combining two favorites.

5. The winos. My mom has this amazing group of friends who are mostly retired, hilarious, and can out drink most of the people I know--with $50 bottles of wine no less.

Painting toenails in preparation for the surgery.

Thinking of Rob and Wendy.

4. The Sonny Bunny. He is a yellow lab, but he might as well be a bunny. He likes to have his ears ironed and he spent hours out in the front yard with Mark, keeping him company as he hammered away at that bike rebuild.

The sunny bunny lounging.

3. Cooking and eating dinner with my mom every night.

This is one of the more fancy dinners we had--paella with the winos.

2. The Festival at Sandpoint. This was my dad's pride and joy. A little local music festival that brings the whole town together every summer. This year the Michael Franti and Spearhead concert was dedicated to my dad. He loved it.

Even Tracy came to brave the rain with us.

A toast to mi papa.

Luau night and a photo with Franti. We look hot eh?

These people are committed. This thing is rain or shine!

Hmmm..I think this is Natalie McMaster, but you know all stage photos look the same.

1. My dad. He will always be my strongest memory in Sandpoint. All the way back in 1995 when we all moved to Sandpoint against our will he saw something that none of us saw--and he was right.

Rob with the tribute wine.

Enjoying Festival with him.

I built him a cairn.

His view.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Leaving Sandpoint

By Mark

Well, a month has gone by pretty quickly here in N. Idaho, and we've had a great time. For being unemployed and having "nothing to do", we sure stayed busy! We had a great garage sale, reclaimed the garage, did a few projects around the house, and spent a lot of time visiting and spending quality time with family.

In a kind of ridiculous move, I sold my bike and bought a new one for phase II of our trip (which may be changing anyway, stay tuned). Thought that the night before we depart again, (for BJ, Lacy, and friends in Bellingham), I'd post some before and after pics of my "new" Honda XR 650L. I'm fairly proud of having taken a simple, stock motorcycle, and transformed it into a long-legged touring machine (in about 6 days). Enjoy.

First, the happy owners of a new BMW 1200 GS:

Now, stock XR: (notice all the smog apparatus on the left side of the motor)

And now...

Those of you who are detail-oriented probably noticed some other changes-- a bigger gas tank, cases, windshield, handguards, etc. I completely removed the rear taillight assembly and streamlined it too, for the weight-conscious alpinist in me.

I hope cops approve of the license plate display...

Stock sump "guard":

This makes me feel a little better.

Somewhere in between the transformation, I had some electrical issues to clarify. I do hate to see a bike like this...

Once again, bone stock.

Gone through, cleaned up, sorted out, hardened, and put back together, pleases me.

As far as what we do next, well, we aren't really sure. The drug cartels in Mexico are doing a fair job of shooting each other, and if you've been watching the news, it looks grim. We have discussed shipping the bikes by boat in order to avoid Mexico, taking the Gulf coast route (entering near Brownsville, TX) to avoid central Mexico, and just ditching the idea of going on bikes altogether. This is obviously a difficult decision, and we're thankful to have so many family and friends concerned for our well-being. For now, we're not going to make any decisions, as we have a little time to decide. Our own research seems to be revealing a divide. Folks who have traveled lately and/or regularly in Mexico, still believe if a person were to choose their route carefully and travel with their wits about them, that they would enjoy and experience the warm, relaxed, and ancient Mexican culture that draws thousands of travelers every year. This includes Mike and Terry Church, who wrote a RV'ers guide to Mexico (who have personally emailed us), Helge Pederson, (who operates a company taking motorcyclists on guided trips throughout the world), and Roger Pattison, who has been going to Mexico on a motorcycle for the past 20 years. He now guides trips and plans to travel through some of the areas the U.S. State department says are the most dangerous. He offered us sound travelling advice and encouraged us to go and have a great time! All of the above folks were in Mexico this past winter--most as recently as January or February. As I stated before, the evening news stations generally seem to disagree with these reports. Our families are afraid for us because they love us. We want to respect their wishes, and there's no reason to create a dangerous situation for ourselves unneccesarily. Yet we are not sure that we're getting accurate information. The question of "what to do" has created great stress for Katie and I, as we know that this opportunity will not come again. We have yet to make up our minds. Stay tuned....