Sep 27 2007

come on ‘n ride it (the train)

finally the crew was back together

We where ready to ride the train to Chicago and head south. We said our final good byes

Then spent the next 50 hours ridin’ the train. I don’t think that I’ll ever take an airplane again. trains are so much more comfortable, not to mention you get to see so much more.

Chicago is a beautiful town

I got to see a 30 piece punk rock marching band, twice!

not to mention morrocan music, a grammy award winning Indian slide-guitar player, and the play soiree dada.

camping at Indiana Dunes with our new friend Leslie

I’m happy Kayla is doing what makes her happy. I’m going to miss her.

Goodbye from little rock.


Sep 17 2007

chicago

I find myself in Chicago now. The amtrack ride was great, save for a nasty fight/ stupid understanding with Kayla and losing my knife. The entire trip across the high plains I was thinking how much I love that part of the continent, and how much I wished that I could be riding my bike across those same plains. No matter.

From here cdt and I will head roughly south until we hit shreveport. Finally I can see what damage nature (and perhaps vandals) have wreaked on my stuff. Not that I’m really attached to most of it anymore, but it’ll be a lot of fun to go through stuff that I haven’t seen in 5 years. There are a lot of letters from high school and a whole box of pictures I wanna’ see.

Chicago has been a blast. Chrisser has spent most of his time replacing all the small bits and pieces that go along with a touring bike. Kayla and I have hung out and generally had a great time. anyway….pictures soon.


Sep 10 2007

no more long blog

So, being to computer savvy person that I am I deleted my last blog post. No matter, this one will be shorter though.

After Ash and Davids wedding Kayla and I travelled to Portland with Krista and Jeremy. For the next couple of weeks we went back and forth between Mcminnville, and Portland. Enjoying ourselves the whole time. We spent a super-hot Wednesday at the beach. That oregon water is super cold, but has awesome waves. I would highly recommend checking it out.

A few days later I was able to attend Gogol Bordello at the crystal ballroom – an awesome show. If you have the chance I would highly recommend checking it out. Unfortunately we where only able to acquire one ticket, and I got the luck I guess. Somehow, during the show, my camera worked its way out of its case and made love with the sand and sweat in the bottom of my backpack. Now it has a bad case of “my lens won’t extend and it’ll cost more to fix than replace”. Argghhh. It was a good camera while it lasted.

From Portland, the next day, krista drove me out of Portland and sent me on my way to mount st helens. Since I had just driven down the alcan I wasn’t to awestruck by the scenery; it was nice, just not the Haines highway. The few days of aloneness in the woods did me a lot of good though. I don’t often get a chance to be quiet and ponder. A few days of that and I was off to Seattle to meet Chrisser.

As an aside, I love a good public trans system. It just makes life so much easier.

cdt was in good spirits and we had an enjoyable time walking the streets of Seattle. I discovered I like Ethiopian food and mediocre comedy is ok at $5.

We caught a ride on Craigslist down to Oly to catch kt and aemmon. I like that town and I love those people. I wish we could have stayed longer. I called Krista up and begged for a ride to portland so that we could take an extra day to hang out. She graciously sent Jeremy and we got to spend the day working on a farm for the gleaners coalition in Olympia. Good times, and a good organization. I already miss those two.

Back in portand I picked up Kayla and we kissed in the middle of a grocery store parking lot for some time. I think we where blocking traffic. It is good to see her; I missed her much more than expected.

Next: off to Chicago via Amtrak special.


Aug 24 2007

mostly pictures

I’m in a lonely mood at the moment and don’t feel like writing so I’ll fill most of the details in with pictures. Tonight there is a house show in NE pdx that Kayla and I are going to go to, that should be fun.

I don’t think we had a rest day until rolling into Van. We where super tired, mostly due to the back roads that we’d been taking:

That was only the beginning of three more days of similiar roads. For the first time in my life I seriously considered backtracking 50 miles…then I saw the cows

Somehow they made everything alright.

The Clinton-Pavillion road, and the sea to sky highway in BC are both incredible roads.

We made new friends in Lilloet that taught us a bit about robery

The natives north of Whistler seem to be unhappy.

What a contrast civilization is; Oklahoma! in Vancouver was great.

Great $3.50 breakfast in a diner that hasn’t changed since the 60’s

It was all worth it though; congratulations Ashley and David!


Aug 9 2007

on my way to the sea to sky

So, I’m now at the public library in Williams Lake, British Columbia.

After getting back to the cabin in Haines, and spending the night, Kayla and I set off for Haines – again. Chrisser was going to hitch there.The first night we enjoyed ourselves. Despite the 15 mph headwinds we still managed to make it about 100 km. On the second day just after I finished repairing a flat tire ( actually my tire had worn out, probably due to me skidding to a halt at some point, but that’s irrelevant) Kayla and I where laying down on the side of the road, in the grass, when a large truck pulled up and none other than Chrisser pops his head out and asks if we want a ride to the cabin, about 50 km away.

The cabin is located at kilometer post 107.7 on the haines highway. It is a free cabin that is kept up by bikers in the summer and snowboarders in the winter. Inside there is a guest book with notes from people, some quite charming, that date back to the late 90’s. Anyway we stayed the night and where quite warm.

The next day Kayla and I headed into Haines on, by far, the most beautiful ride I’ve ever been on. Seriously, if you haven’t ridden on the Haines highway do it. It’s well worth it. Not to mention that about 20 km past the cabin is a 14 km downhill. Passing through customs was a breeze; for a change US Customs treated us more kindly than the Canadian officials.

Chrisser ended up riding into Haines on his bum ankles. We stayed the night at the free campground (the one that we didn’t think to check on our last trip) and caught the ferry in the morning. Skipping forward to Juneau we decided to jump off and see a little bit of town during our 2 hour layover. While hitching into town a very kind young man picked us up and drove us around the valley for the next hour. The glacier, Safeway, UAS, Spawning salmon, and some great conversation where included in the trip. Definitely post card worthy. We also managed to stop, for varying amounts of time in Sitka, Kake, and Ketchikan. Sitka was the only town that we got to explore much of – it looked quite nice though.

When we arrived in Prince George we met a couple, Colt and Liz, while asking for information about where to camp, who offered us a night in their basement. We had a wonderful time with them that included an awesome Fresh Salmon dinner, crepes and fruit in the morning and several cans salmon for the road. Thanks Liz and Colt!!! That day cdt realized that his ankles still wheren’t okay for riding, so he decided to fly home to New York for a few weeks to get R&R and see family.

So, Kayla and I have been riding 80 mile days, 4 in a row, in order to make it to Silverdale for Ashley’s wedding. We followed the Yellowhead from Prince Rupert to Prince George, then headed south on the 97. Rest days have been in Smithers and in Cinema II, outside Quesnel (say it with a silent ‘s’). There have been a ton of good times, but once again internet time is short. Most of of all I’ve been enjoying getting to know Kayla better and checking out the beautiful scenery that bc has to offer. I’ll try to fill in details of this part of the journey when I next write. See you soon!


Aug 2 2007

Finally back to travelling

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, so here goes a quick review of what’s happened over the last couple of weeks.

From Haines Junction (where we stayed for a rest day) the three of us decided to leave our bikes and hitch into Haines Junction for the night.  After only a few minutes on the side of the highway, we where picked up by Doug, who was driveing a semi.  While we where putting our stuff in his rig he told us to hurry so the folks at the weigh station didn’t catch on.  The inside of his truck was littered with typical, at least in my mind, trucker stuff.  He had Fleetwood Mac on the radio.  Three hours later, a couple of big grizzleys, a border crossing, and an emergency pee stof, we found ourselves in Haines.  Thanks Doug – you made what I’ve found out is a hard road to hitch on a breeze.

After finding our camping spot we split up to explore the town.  When we met up again Kayla had met people who invited her to a ‘storytelling workshop’…I had visions of reading fairy tales aloud.  We showed up at the workshop and found out that by storytelling they mean acting.  Anyhow, we practiced different improv techniques with some of these people http://www.truestorytheater.org/troupe.html for the next three nights.  I’m not quite sure how I got involved, but they had the sales techniqies of a telemarketer – very good.  On the last night we put on a show for the good people of Haines.  AFterward we went to a show at the Pioneer bar and met our ride back to Haines Junction.

Julie, our new friend, was driving back home to Whitehorse so she offered to give us a ride.  We arrived at the Canadian Customs station, about 60 km outside Haines, and where asked for our passports and how much money we had.  Assuming that we would only be in Canada for a couple of days we only had about $50 in cash.  The customs officer didn’t like this and refused our request for entry stating that we needed ‘at least $200 per day we would be in Canada.  Chris got mad, Kayla started Crying, I got frustrated, and Julie’s face got red!  This was bullshit to put it kindly.  The officer also informed us that we would need about $1500, in cash, to enter canada at Prince Rupert (we decided to take the ferry to help heal tendons, save time, and see southeast; no regrets).  Julie kindly gave us a ride Back to Haines so we could get money.  I think she saved us at least a couple days of hitchhiking.

….arghhh, internet time is short so I will write more later.  quick summary:  the Haines Highway is the most beautiful road I’ve been on, Pr. Rupert is nice, as is the Yellowhead; bittersweet feelings at the end of the Cassiar; missing Chrisser; missing the north.  Missing you.  Loving travel!


Jul 28 2007

note the short amount of time.

Hello,
I’m now in an internet cafe in Pr. Rupert BC.  This town is nice.  The campground costs $37 per night for 3 so we skipped it.  On our way into town we asked a couple if they knew where a good place to camp was – they said sleep on our floor.
I spent the last week hitchin’ into Haines, then being refused entry to Canada, then getting in.  Then picking up the bikes and going back to Haines…..Somewhere in there we all ended up performing in an impov-acting show for the people of Haines: Awesome!

Will write more when the time is right. Right!

-Ben


Jul 17 2007

random musings from Tok to HJ

I have a little more time to write now. I am happy to be in Haines Junction. Last night, in fact, I was happy to be here. I will back up for a moment and notate the activites of the last few days.

Upon leaving Tok, sans cdt, Kayla and I decided that we needed to up our mileage a bit. We had been going only about 40 miles per day, far to slow to make progress toward the states. I am realizing that I will not be able to ride my bike all the way to Washington in time for Ashley’s wedding, I’m a little sad about this, but Greyhound starts regular service about 180 km from here. I figure we’ll get at least past the Cassiar by mid August. However it works out, my pace of life has been slowing substantially, so I really can’t make myself even worry about it. Currently my cell phone does not work due to heavy rains, and no service, so I don’t regularly have a timepiece with me. At first this was a little odd, but I think I like it now; it’s pretty cool to eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, etc.

Kayla and I travelled the first night to the northern of two free campgrounds run by the US Forest Service. The day started late and included a strong headwind for most of the trip so I was glad to sleep. I was super lethargic for most of the day. Kayla got several flats and I got one flat.

The next day we traveled to Beaver Creek, Yukon. Hooray for Canada. Kayla bought me breakfast at Bucktooth Betty’s. In Tok we had a disagreement about weather it was ok to bargain in western society for everyday items. I don’t know how I feel on this anymore, and I certainly feel like I spend to much money on ‘stuff’ that I don’t need. I spent $3.50 on a bowl a generic puffed rice cereal when we arrived in Beaver Creek. I am starting to notice a stong negative reaction to simple, or cheap, living past a certain threshold. I’m a stong proponent of simple living, at least I think I am, but maybe I subconciously am not comfortable with it; or worse, I’m trying to keep up with the Jones’. I suspect it may just be laziness. Anyway, I think the breakfast was a nod toward compromise…plus I love french toast, thanks Kayla.

After breakfast we left Beaver Creek and immediately hit dust and gravel, 35 km of it. We travelled a little [lot] past the gravel and ate pb&j’s on the side of the highway. My knee was starting to hurt so we decided to camp early. 20 km down the road there was no campspot in sight, and Kayla and I found ourselves at facing a Grizzly on the side of the road. Kayla had rode up to it, almost on top of it, before realizing that that large ‘rock’ was in fact a bear. I didn’t realize what was going on until I saw her turn around and ride back toward me. We hung out, bear spray in hand, a few hundred feet down the road until we pulled someone over who could escort us past smokey. Pictures should be up soon. Just after encountering the bear black clouds where building in front of us. Since we couldn’t camp where we where we pressed on – the campground we where going for was still 15 km ahead. I think the rain and hail only lasted about 10 minutes, but it was ridiculously intense. This was the first time I’ve been truly grateful for my helmet (thanks Bridgette). We rolled into camp as the rain was subsiding and ate a great dinner of Tomatoe soup, with lots of pasta, rice, and tvp cooked over a warm campfire.

The next day we rolled to burwash landing, the first ‘civilization’ that we’d stopped at in 2 days. My knee was killing me, so I called for a rest day; we would travel the 40 km to a highly recommended campground that had a hot tub. As Kayla and I where rolling our weary selves into the free camping spot cdt appeared. Smiles, hugs, and happiness followed.

The following day (Monday) we arrived at the campground. Much to our chagrin, tent sites where $26, and the hot tub was an additional $4 per person – ouch! to much for my budget. we decided to press on to the next place, a hostel that advertised tenting sites. The hostel was about a mile down a lonely dirt road, literally in the middle of nowhere. The proprietor wanted $40 to put our tent down. It was tempting to accept, mostly due to the pouring rain, but we decided to move onto Haines Junction. The next 65 km where fairly rough, we didn’t stop save for a brief food break, and a flat tire. By the time we arrived I was fairly out of it – cold, soaked, tired, sore, etc., but our spirits where high. All I had to concentrate on was pulling one pedal then the other up in order to keep my knees from getting sore. I developed a rythm that was mesmerizing and made the time fly by. That sounds funny, but I guess you could say that last night the trip got pushed up another level; my mind cleared, I quit worrying about a lot of stuff, and was able to just enjoy a rainy day.

All told we went about 130 km on our ‘day off’. On the plus side we have a warm cabin to stay at, courtesy of one on cdt’s co-workers, and we went 75.6 km/h down the hill into Haines Junction.


Jul 16 2007

quik

I find myself in Destruction Bay, Yukon right now.  It seems like there are about 50 people waiting for this terminal so I must be brief.  The trip is great, the knees are week.

We should be in Haines Junction Tomorrow.  Plan on hitching into Haines for a couple of days.

Rad sized hailstones hurt like hell.

Free camping behind catholic quonset huts is great (thanks Beaver Creek).

Chrisser still has [now bigger] ankles.

Kayla is driving us like oxen. (into love)


Jul 11 2007

Out of Glennallen, into…..

After spending two days in Glennallen, and three nights at the Northern Nights RV park in Glennallen ( free internet access ), Kayla and I headed for Tok. Unfortunately we where not able to bring Chrisser along due to his continuing tendonitis. See amapfromlife.blogspot.com for more details on that. The short summary is: due to shoes that he had to purchase sight unseen, tendonitis was thrust upon him after pedalling for 100 or so miles.

The three nights on the road where quite wonderful. We left Glennallen with our new friend Sage, another Anchorage local, who was travelling to Haines. She is a very kind woman who kept us entertained with stories of her bike trekking through East Asia. The most remarkable part of the last two days was our luck in finding a place to sleep on the second night. After having a wonderful meal of rice and thai food we travelled on looking for a good place to sleep. Of the side of the road, hidden from view was a beautiful lake. This lake was out of a sporting goods catalog, complete with slapping beaver, dam, and drinking bull moose. Anyway, check the gallery for a more complete picture.

Last night, in Tok, we slept at the Sourdough campground on my mother’s recommendation. They have a comedy show, live music, and a ‘pancake toss’ contest every night. In the moring we enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffet of pancakes and fruit….a bikers delight. All this, and free showers, came at the rather stiff price of $19. Mehhhh, me where able to split the cost with Sage, and another biker name Martine – who is travelling the same route we are as far as Seattle. Additionally, we met another fellow who has travelled from Deadhorse. He’ll be travelling with us as well….at least we’ll all be on the same road, somewhat near each other. It’s comforting to know that there are others nearby, who are having the same experience I am.

Time is up on the pay internet. More from Haines Junction in a week. This time travelling with cdt, hopefully!

P.S. Thanks to AP&T for the killer salmon bake lunch.