I have to start by thanking our friend, Joel, for driving all the way up to Arcata to rescue us.  We know it was a long, miserable day in the car and we appreciate your help more than you know.  Once again, we'll get by with a little help from our friends!

The entire drive home was an internal battle for me.  I sat in the back of the van, watched all of the cyclists happily riding down the road and listened as Mike pointed out major landmarks from our ride; this was where we hitchhiked from, where we stayed at an RV Park, where we swam in the river, where we camped, where we crossed the mountains from the coast, and on and on and on.  Although I sat contently staring out the window, my insides were screaming, wanting to be let out of the van.  It felt like I was falling down a spiraling black tunnel watching all of the memories we've made fly by in reverse order, undoing all that we had spent the last 3 weeks doing, feeling defeated.  Why is it that when we hope so badly for something, karma has a way of throwing all sorts of obstacles at you trying to stop you?  And then splat.  We found ourselves right back at the place we started - one of the last places we wanted to be.  It sucked.

I can't say it was bad seeing the few family and friends we did see during our brief stint back in the Bay Area, but the timing was all wrong.  We had just said good-bye and were prepared to not see them for another year.  It's hard to describe, but it messes with your mind and emotions get a bit twisted.  Fortunately we escaped quickly before we bummed ourselves out too badly.

After a very long day of driving we are now in Idaho, feeling much happier than we were a couple of days ago.  We no longer feel trapped and without purpose.  Although we're not traveling by our desired method, we're at least mobile and are enjoying exploring deep into the Sawtooth Mountain area.  Today we went in search of a swimming hole.  The paved road turned to gravel, which turned to substantial rocks, which turned to 2 extremely rough tire tracks, which eventually disappeared altogether.  We kept driving until we hit snow and could go no further.  We never found the swimming hole we set out for, but we did find a beautiful place tucked away in the mountains where the air was clear and fresh, there were no people, the silence was deafening and our souls were once again happy and content.
The end of the road.

A meadow of yellow flowers and dead tree stumps.



Our bicycling dreams are sitting atop a fragile glass plate, teetering on the edge of a tall shelf over a stony floor. We've stayed in a crummy hotel in a crummy town eating crummy food for a week and we've had enough. Mike's knee has been rested, iced and given heavy doses of anti-inflammatories and although he's starting to feel better, his short trial ride yesterday wasn't as successful as we had hoped. His knee started aching after only 9 miles on an unloaded bike and it still hurt this morning. Could he have rode today on a loaded bike? Yes, probably, but it only would have taken us back to ground zero and we would likely have found ourselves in a similar situation, only in a different crummy little town a few miles up the road.

Our dreams have not yet shattered though. The plate has not fallen (and we're praying it doesn't), but morale is low and this morning our white flag of surrender was officially raised. Our bikes have been sitting in the corner of our hotel room for a week wondering why on earth they're not out exploring the world as we had promised. Quite frankly, we're wondering the same thing; this is not the adventure we had hoped for. After a tearful admittance to ourselves this morning that we are only wasting our time and money by sitting here pretending not to be bored, gloomy and miserable, we made the inevitable call to a friend that we've been avoiding for several days. Tomorrow we will be rescued from the prison walls of this Motel 6 and taken back home.

But we set out on an adventure, defined as an exciting or very unusual experience of uncertain outcome. We can't let this little glitch in plans stop us, so we're stealthily dropping by, trading in our bikes for a car and picking up a few more supplies since we won't have to worry about the weight of our loads for a while. (Funny thing is we just sent home and ditched about 10 pounds of stuff in an effort to lighten our bikes and take some of the strain off of our joints.) As much as we would like to stay in town for a couple of days to see friends and family, we can't let ourselves do that...we're not supposed to be back home yet and I'm not ready to have to say good-bye again.

“Life On A Bike” is going to become “Life On A Road Trip With Our Bikes Strapped To The Back Of The Car” for a little while, but hopefully not long. Our plan is to go up to Idaho and base ourselves at a friend's house, travel by car to wherever we feel like going, rest Mike's knee for a bit longer and then slowly start building up the miles and the load until we're ready to get back on our bikes.  I will keep up the blog as I'm sure we'll continue to encounter interesting people, places and experiences as this adventure continues!



Saturday we found ourselves at the 20th Annual Arcata Main Street Oyster Festival. It turns out that Arcata Bay produces 70% of California's oysters so you might imagine the abundance at this festival! While Mike partook in the consumption of those nasty, slimy creatures (he claimed they were delicious but I nearly gagged as I watched him eat them), I was happy to be a vegetarian with a really good excuse for not even trying them! I probably would have ended up like the young child I watched beg his mom to let him try one and when she did, no sooner had he popped it in his mouth did it come flying back out followed by gut-wrenching gags and vomit. Really, kid? Why would you want to eat that???

We staked out our plot on the plaza lawn early in the day and watched as thousands of people filled in around us, the smells of barbeques and beer intensifying and live music growing louder as the afternoon wore on. It was a beautiful day, sunny and actually warm during the rare breaks when the wind wasn't howling. In spite of the unappealing main focus of this event, we were longing for something to do and this festival proved to be an adequate source of free entertainment. We easily could have been spun around and dropped in the middle of a circus or an Alice In Wonderland set and not have known the difference between here and there. I sat there on the grass all day long, contently staring in amusement at all that was happening around me, occasionally wandering off to find a bite to eat or to snap a few pictures. Hoola-hoopers, jugglers, dread locks on 8-year olds to 80-year olds, wild costumes, hippie dancers and psychedelically painted faces, they were everywhere and I was in the middle of it wondering if this was for real or merely a dream that I was absolutely loving.  This is certainly an interesting place, Humboldt County!



We are frustrated, antsy and wanting so badly to get back on our bikes that we're driving ourselves crazy! Last week we found ourselves stranded at an RV park in the middle of nowhere so we could give Mike's knee a rest. After 3 days we exhausted our entertainment options of blogging, playing cards, reading, whittling and mini golfing. I'm not positive if we left because we simply couldn't stand it there anymore or if Mike's knee really was feeling better like he claimed. Regardless, we gave cycling another shot and unfortunately it didn't go well. We made it 15 miles before the knee pain kicked in again, and 20 miles before he simply couldn't go on. We could not have been in a more beautiful place; along the Eel river surrounded by towering old growth redwoods – usually I would describe this as my paradise, but not this time.
  So there we were, stranded again, in an even more remote location than we were before, our camp stove was out of fuel, there was no grocery store around and not much to do other hike, which was out of the question, and check out the park's visitor center, in which we studied every exhibit like we were cramming for an exam. Fortunately, I was able to ride to the nearest town and find a market (maybe the most pathetic market I've ever been in) and pick up some food items to last us for a few days. Now for the fuel. Well, the market was out of white gas and the town didn't have a gas station (which are the two types of fuel our stove uses). The next nearest town was another 8 miles down the road, but they were out of gas the day before and no one knew if they had any today. After visiting several businesses in town looking for gas, I finally ended up at a garden supply store where a few polite “pleases” and friendly smiles won the heart of some nice fella who was willing to give us a liter of gasoline.
Lots of stretching!

Back at camp we found ourselves trying desperately to be patient, stretching a ton, reading books, playing games, making friends with other campers and I even whipped up an experimental desert dish resembling apple crisp which, aside from the crunchy, slightly burnt outer edges, was surprisingly delicious. We had a great evening with our new friends, Brittany and Jordan, and we somewhat forgot that we were stuck here for an undetermined amount of time...but then morning arrived. We slept in as late as we could trying to pass some time and when we couldn't lay around anymore, I rolled over and jokingly asked, “so what should we do today?” Mike, not so jokingly replied, “I guess we keep waiting.”
The sign from Brittany & Jordan to remind
Mike to keep smiling even though he's frustrated.

We shouldn't start out a day as miserably as we did, so we came up with a different plan. Waiting around was getting us no where but irritated and maybe it would do some good to have someone look at Mike's bike fit to see if there was something that could be adjusted that's perhaps causing his pain. The couple we met last night was planning on heading north and maybe they'd have room in their car to give us a lift to Arcata. Unfortunately, there was room for a passenger or two, but definitely not for our bikes and gear as well. This is an adventure, right? Looks like we're hitchhiking!

We quickly packed up camp, I put on my cycling gear fully prepared to ride the 50 miles to Arcata, rent a car and come back to get Mike if the hitchhiking fell through, and we made our way out to the road to test our luck. The Avenue of the Giants is a tourist road and not many tourists are willing to pick up a couple of hikers. Fortunately there was an on ramp to the freeway a few miles up the road. Mike gimpily rode in his street clothes, pedaling mostly with his good leg and with his bad leg hanging off the side of his bike, up to the freeway. We laughed as we passed the “pedestrians prohibited” sign and parked our bikes on the side of the freeway. I wasn't sure if I should have a look of misery on my face or be smiling as we waved our thumbs at passersby. It turns out I had no choice but to smile – we were laughing too hard at the comedy of our situation to wear a false frown.

No more than 10 minutes passed before a big, white panel van (you know, the kind of van we all picture kidnappers to drive) came rolling to a stop just in front of us. A hefty, gray-haired man wearing baggy pants and a black t-shirt with a sequined Ernie on the front hopped out of the driver's seat, asked us where we were going and happily offered to take us to Arcata, since he and his Old Man were on their way there anyway. He opened the back doors of his van, Mike jumped in and spent several minutes rearranging the disaster of stuff he had strewn about (blankets, moving dollies, a jug of milk, a carton of orange juice, a piece of plywood, foam padding, and a grocery bag full of empty Bud Light cans) to make room for our bikes, our panniers and us. It would be a tight ride, but it was only an hour, so we crammed ourselves in, trying to hold back our giggles.
Our ride to Arcata.

Ben was his name, and although he was a bit of a scatterbrain and an inattentive and easily distracted driver, was very friendly. He talked our ears off about many of the roads around here and up through Oregon that we'll be riding, about how we shouldn't push through the pain because it'll only come back to haunt us and about his cabin on the Smith River (which he claims is the most beautiful place in the world). Our favorite line from Ben was, “People come up here, fall in love with this place and unless they're addicted to food, coffee, friends or a job...they stay.” I'd have to agree. We watched some of the most heavenly countryside pass by from the back windows of a dirty old van.
About 45 minutes into the drive, he held up his iPhone, asked if we knew how to use it (yes, I somewhat lied), threw it back to us and asked us to look up bakeries in Eureka. Yesterday was his daughter's birthday and he wanted to stop by her workplace to say hello and drop off a card. I looked them up and found one that sounded remotely like the name he was saying. We wrote down the address and soon thereafter our hour-long tour of Eureka in search for “Velluchi's” began. That wasn't the actual name of the bakery, but Ben was convinced that was how it was pronounced regardless of how many times we corrected him, so we let him run with it. Numerous times, he pulled up to someone and hollered out the window asking if they knew where Velluchi's was or where 502 Henderson was. Of course no one had a clue, so he eventually gave up and decided he'd try again on his way back through town on Sunday.

After a couple of hours of being tossed around in the back of the van, Ben safely and cheerily dropped us off at a bike shop in Arcata. He left us with his phone numbers, both his cell and the number for his cabin, just in case we got stuck up here for a while and needed a place to stay. He also offered us a ride back to the Bay area on Tuesday because he'll be dropping some stuff off down there. Honestly, I'm not sure I could handle 7 hours of his driving even if we did want to go back home, but that's not even an option so we just shook his hand and thanked him for the offer and for the lift.
Mike, Ben & Cari

We now find ourselves stuck in a city waiting for a knee to heal. I never would have imagined we'd say we'd rather be stuck in a city instead of the forest, but after a week of major boredom, we sadly came to that conclusion. I guess if we can't be biking or hiking or doing something active that we like, we can at least be entertained for a few days with shops and movies and such until we're ready to go again.   



We've had a couple of days of hanging out at an RV Park near Redway while Mike rests his knee.  Although we'd rather be biking, we were able to entertain ourselves fairly well and it's all part of the adventure!
The keychain Mike whittled for me!
Mini Golf!



10.  Occasionally our bodies are going to tell us that they need a rest and we have no choice but to listen.

9.  It's not as difficult as you'd think to push a 100-pound bike to the top of a mountain.  Thank god for granny gears!

8.  Although I thought I would, I still don't get to sleep in....we quickly learned it's best to be on the road by 6 a.m. to avoid wind, traffic and heat.

7.  The miles go by slowly, but time flies.  I occasionally look down at my computer to find 2 hours have passed but we've only gone 20 miles.

6.  Non-cyclists are curious of our travels, amazed that we've gone so far (though we've hardly just begun) and never hesitate to tell us of all the local bike mishaps that have happened in the last three decades.

5.  Despite all of the years I fought with my Mom about going to bed early, I've realized that 7:30 is the perfect bed time after a long day of play.

4.  "People in vehicles get to see it, but don't really experience it."  A quote from Ollie who briefly rode with us en route to Portland.  This is so true.  In a car you are sheltered and everything flies by so quickly, while on a bike we feel the strength of the wind, the steepness of the hills, the sudden changes in temperature.  We smell the scents of the ocean, grasslands, forest and cities, and we see everything from the little bugs scuttling across the pavement to the wildlife and wildflowers along the side of the road.

3.  It should be a life requirement for everyone to ditch the hectic, scheduled, stressful lives they live and do whatever makes them happiest (even if only for a short time).  Absolute freedom is the best feeling in the world!

2.  Only the crazy folks ride north along the Pacific Coast.  The smart people go south with mostly downhill terrain and the wind at their backs.

1.  I didn't think it was possible to be happier than I was - but I am.



Just outside of Mendocino.

Having lunch on a bridge outside of Leggett after 30 miles of mostly climbing.  
We scarfed a box of crackers down in just a few minutes!

Huge motorcycle rally in Piercy this weekend.
Notice the 2 hot choppers in front!

Mike doing laundry in the Eel River.


My aunt Sheri just wrote the following line to me, "I think the hardest part of your journey will be to learn to slow down, abandon expectations and learn how not to be goal oriented."  She couldn't be more correct!

We've been on the road for a week and I'm slowly but surly learning, and coming to accept these facts.  I love to race, I love to be in constant motion and I love to always have something going on.  That's not possible on a trip like this.  Though I've tried, I can't hang with the guys on the road bikes as they speed up the mountains.  Instead I get to sit back, enjoy the scenery and dodge the little bugs I see cruising across the road in front of me.  (Yes I can actually maneuver around them I am going so slow)!  I am learning I don't have to be biking all day.  This is a tour, meaning stop frequently and check out the scenes, relax in a park, sit and do nothing.  This is a hard one for me, but fortunately I gave myself a project of keeping a blog and editing pictures as we go.  I can only handle so much idle time before I go crazy.

I began this trip with a million expectations and goals about how far we'd travel each day, when we'd get to certain destinations to meet up with family and friends, to show people that we actually could carry out this ambitious plan, how I'd feel, what I'd see and ultimately what this trip would be.  I have always set challenges for myself and enjoyed striving to meet them and it's extremely difficult to abandon this innate part of my being.  But I have no choice.  This tour is what it is and I can't force it to be anything it isn't destined to be. 

We are a week into cycling and Mike's knee is killing him.  We made it a whopping 14 miles today before he couldn't pedal any further.  We pulled into a new campground before some people were even awake for the day.  Mike is frustrated, and I completely understand; I have had my fill of injuries over the years but it was bound to happen to one of us at some point.  When we pulled over for the day, Mike looked at me with droppy eyes and a bummed expression on his face, apologized for holding us up saying, "we should be in the heart of the redwoods right now, riding through the Avenue of the Giants."  I could choose to be frustrated and antsy, but it's worthless.  This could just as easily have been my knee and Mike would patiently wait it out with me, but we're in this together.  Abandon expectations and goals.  No Mike, we're not supposed to be there right now.  We're supposed to be right here, doing exactly what we're doing because this is our vacation.  We can relax for a day by the river, let our bodies rest, read a book or do nothing and it's all okay.  We can stay here for 5 days if we need to and I bet we'll still say in the end that this was the best adventure of our lives!
Aches & pains please go away!



Mike nearing the top of a gnarly hill just outside of Jenner.

This may be one heck of a challenge, but the scenery is spectacular!


Sometimes you bite off a bit more than you can chew! We had an ambitious goal of riding 75 miles on day 2 to meet some friends at a campground on Bodega Bay. It seemed doable on paper, but soon reality set in. We got off to a slow start as we meandered our way across the Golden Gate Bridge and through Marin county's back roads out to the coast. The biggest challenge was finding a detailed map of the area (which we never succeeded in doing), but people were very willing to offer directions when they came across us stopped and looking lost. This was a frequent occurrence and probably the reason it took us 3 hours to go 20 miles as we listened countless times to directions stating, “go up the hill, take a left ¾ of the way down the hill, go behind the big building, then right at the bridge, over 2 more hills, yadda, yadda, yadda". We pretty much smiled and nodded, followed as many directions as we could remember and then the whole process repeated itself until we finally made it to the coast.
Leaving familiar territory.

Once we were finally on Hwy 1 we were met with other challenges – major hills and the gnarliest wind imaginable! All I have to say is that it's a damn good thing I love the challenge of climbing hills because if I hated it as much as I hate the wind, I would have turned back long ago and be back home by now sitting on the sofa with a glass of wine. I have to take back my comment about this being easier than anticipated. Our first day was a cake walk but it's been anything but a relaxing ride since then. I think most would call this pure torture! It's extremely discouraging when I look down at my speedometer as I'm climbing a hill and see that I'm only going 5mph – it's a wonder how we keep these bikes upright while moving so slowly. But what's even more disheartening is when I realize I'm pedaling as hard as I can on the downhills as well, but due to the wind, am only going 8mph! We're clearly learning the hard way that we chose to ride the west coast the wrong way!

Anyway, on day two's ride, we pushed our way (very slowly) for 40 more miles after reaching Hwy 1. It was getting late, we were exhausted and we still had 15 miles to go before meeting up with our friends. But sometimes friends are angels and as I crested the 800th hill of the day I noticed a Subaru in the oncoming lane honking its horn, slowing own and arms waving out the windows. It only took an instant to realize they were our friends, Dave and Brian offering a ride. Anyone who knows me knows I don't take shortcuts and if I say I'm going to finish something, you can bet money that I will. However, I didn't hesitate for a nanosecond on this offer. When Mike rolled up and pulled out the map, I was worried he'd pass up the lift and want to finish out our day, but we quickly agreed a cold beer and hanging out with friends sounded a million times better than battling the wind for another two hours!

Just a little help from our friends!

Are we cheaters? Maybe, depending on how you look at it, but once we got in that car and drove over many more ginormous hills, we were willing to be cheaters. HUGE thank yous to Brian and Dave for their sag wagon support – Mike and I were more than happy to get a little help from our friends that day! (And in fact, now after 4 days of this nonsense, we're praying for random friends to hunt us down on the road offering rides)!



All ready to go!

I still can't believe this is our new life!  It doesn't feel real quite yet, probably because yesterday's ride was short and relaxed, all along familiar roads and ended at our friends' house in San Francisco with a delicious meal and warm showers.  I'm sure the reality will hit soon as we continue to venture north.

Aside from our front derailers needing a little adjusting, day one was a huge success.  Once I stopped crying from all of the good-byes, a permanent smiled fixed itself to my face and every time Mike and I looked at each other we could do nothing but giggle.  This is so surreal!  Yesterday was the first time we rode with our bikes fully loaded, with Mike's weighing in at 102 lbs. and mine at 99.4, but it surprisingly only took a few miles before we were comfortable with their weight and how they handled.  I was mentally prepared for it to be much more difficult than it was but I'm sure once we hit some of today's grades I'll be thinking otherwise!
Mike cresting our first "climb".



We are officially homeless; our lives reduced to our bikes, everything we're taking with us and a duffel bag to get us through the next 5 days. I'm still in shock that we can count our remaining days on one hand! A couple of nights ago I was at the house while Mike was out. I sat on our vacant living room floor where the sofa used to be, looked out our big windows at the beautiful setting we've been so lucky to live in for the past year and listened to the squirrels I have come to dislike for their obnoxious screech and their persistent desire to mutilate my plants. As I enjoyed my picnic of what tidbits of food remained in our fridge, I thought about the bitter-sweetness of this whole situation. This is a big transition; a major chapter in my life is almost over and although I don't want it to end, at the same time I can't wait for the new chapter to begin.

I have been lucky enough to establish a network of friendships that will hold strong regardless of where this adventure takes us, find a job that I truly love, have coworkers who have come to be as close as family and clients who have become the very best of friends. I am sad to leave this life, these people, this location and miss out on all of the major events, birthdays, weddings and holidays that will happen in the next year, but there is an adventure counterbalancing all of this sadness. At the same time, I fantasize about not having to go to work everyday, waking up whenever we want (definitely not before 5 a.m.!), doing whatever we desire and going wherever we please. I imagine we will meet new people and make new friends along the way, expanding our network of friends all around the world. I think about all of the new places we will see and all of the things we will experience and learn that we might otherwise never know – about ourselves, about each other, about the world. This really is a fantasy life we about to live and I am so excited for this epic adventure, but oh, the bitter-sweetness!