The Parkins Report: Events of 2016

Travel was the watchword for 2016: planes, cars, and bicycles.
January saw us off to Ocean Shores for a couple days with friends.  The rest of the winter was spent planning Expedition 2016, an ambitious adventure in which we planned to bicycle from Florida to Maine and possibly across eastern Canada to Michigan and Wisconsin.
In late March, we shipped our bicycle to niece Rhonda’s house in Orlando, then flew to Albuquerque and toured New Mexico and west Texas by rental car, visiting children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and El Paso, flying to Florida from El Paso.

On April 1, after a week of guided tours of the Disney empire, we set off, pedaling ourselves and over 50 kg of gear north, intending to start out with “short” days of 60 km or less. But, with no training over the winter, even 60 km was a bit far. Our tour evolved to cover much less than that per day, with a flexible route to find suitable lodging within pedaling distance.

By the time we reached Georgia, we were constantly revising our route to keep the daily distance within reach, and to avoid road construction and shoulderless highways. The latter proved to be elusive, and, with thunderstorms predicted along our route, we elected to bypass most of Georgia in a U-Haul truck, proceeding by bicycle once more into South Carolina from the outskirts of Savannah.

Bad roads and no shoulders got us within a couple days of Charleston before we packed the bike and continued our tour in a rental car. By this time, we needed a few days rest off the bicycle to heal up, anyway.
We quickly moved northward, stopping at places we had marked to see: Cape Hatteras and Kitty Hawk, Jamestown and Mount Vernon, Gettysburg and Valley Forge, and exploring the Delaware Water Gap before departing from our planned bicycle route to head west, leaving New England and southern Canada for another expedition. We added Corning Glass Works, Niagara Falls, and the Air Force Museum to our now motorized tour, swinging through Iowa and southern Minnesota before ending at Madison, Wisconsin to visit our son, Matt, before flying home.
Arriving home much earlier than expected, we continued taking local bike rides, then headed south to participate in the 30th Anniversary Northwest Tandem Rally in Klamath Falls, with 700 other participants, spending several nights exploring other parts of Oregon by car and bicycle on the way to and from the event. We visited with Larye’s cousin in Rogue River, cycled trails around Eugene, camped and hiked in the Silver Falls State Park, and spent a day driving the Oregon coast. Later, we camped on the Washington shore and bicycled the peninsula at Ocean Shores. While at home, we took in more than 50 bicycle tourists this summer, with the usual mix of travelers from many countries and of all ages: fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, a young man with a dog, and two toddlers traveling together with their mothers.
In August, our grandson,”CJ,” arrived from Wisconsin with his mother for a visit, back to the beach and a tour of Seattle before sending mom home by air and driving back to Wisconsin with CJ in back and the bicycle again atop the car. We stopped at the Craters of the Moon in Idaho, the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, the Museum of the Rockies (Dinosaurs!) in Bozeman, and Custer Battlefield in Montana, then on to the Crazy Horse Monument, Mount Rushmore, and the Corn Palace in South Dakota. We stopped at daughter Sheri’s small farm in Iowa once again to check on her goat herd, on the way to Wisconsin.
Dropping CJ off at home, we headed for Milwaukee and anti-clockwise around Lake Michigan, bicycling around Mackinac Island, driving the Painted Cliffs south shore of Lake Superior, a brief stop at the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, the museum at Whitefish Point, then continued around Lake Michigan to near Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for a week of exploring Door County, including cycling around Washington Island, a visit to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, and a tour of the Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, before returning to Madison for a longer visit.
On the way home, we stopped in southern Minnesota to see Larye’s aunt Jo, then north to Devils Lake, ND to visit with Judy’s cousin, Fred. We took U.S. 2 through the oil country and across eastern Montana, then detoured through Glacier National Park before heading south to visit our nephew Rick in Polson and friends in the Bitterroot. Highway 12 took us across Idaho, then we took the central route across Washington home, to complete the “slow but scenic” tour of the Rockies and Great Plains.
Finally home in mid-September, we had one more trip: a week at our time-share on Lake Chelan, in early October. We had one good bicycling day, but the rest of the week was rainy, so it was an actual vacation, and our friends Gary and Char dropped in for a couple of days.
Between trips this summer, we purchased a 20-year-old cargo van, as an alternative to exposing our bicycle to the elements on our now-standard auto-bike tours. Over the last several years, the bicycle has traveled tens of thousands of miles in the weather and bugs, on top of the car. Riding involves some assembly. The new arrangement allows us to anchor the bicycle inside, fully assembled, and still leave room for our sleeping bags. We’ve made minor modifications to the van to add curtain rods and hangers for our bicycle panniers.
Our health continues to be as expected for folks over 70. We sit too much between bike rides and don’t get out to walk often, either, but we continue to practice yoga with the local senior center. We’re still active in our weaving guilds, but have missed many events due to travel, and haven’t worked on projects. Delia, our cat, turned 20 years of age the end of the year and is slowing down. She had a bacterial infection early this fall and was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. After recovering from infection and being medicated for her other condition, she is gaining weight, but was solitary and inactive for a month or so, spending her days on top of the sofa, where she could see us most of the time, finally getting well enough to demand lap time again.
So it goes. We realize we’re not as young as we used to be, so long-distance self-supported bicycle touring is probably not practical. We do enjoy the many bicycle trails and low-traffic islands to be found across the country and will continue to seek those out. We’d like to tour eastern Canada in the coming year. Having been traveling much of the year, we find less time to ride when at home, but managed to ride nearly 700 miles (1137 km) this year, half of it touring in the southeast over a three-week period. By the end of the season, we had cycled more than 1000 miles (1610 km) in the two years since Larye’s cardiac bypass surgery, and walked nearly as far. Our longest ride in the last two years has been less than 40 miles (65 km), but we regularly ride 10-15 miles (20-25 km).

Retirement has generated yet another hobby–videography. Over the past several years, we’ve documented our bicycle rides and tours with over 100 short videos, posted on We’ve also included hikes and walks on scenic trails during Larye’s recovery from surgery. Taking clips from these videos, Larye has compiled a full-length film, in three 30-minute “reels” posted on YouTube, documenting our 2013 and 2016 tours as well as the cardiac issues and rehabilitation, 2014 and 2015.
Additionally, we entered a short (three-minute) film of our 2014 hike in the Newberry Volcanic Monument in Oregon in a contest sponsored by Discover Your Forest, via our YouTube channel. The contest concluded this summer: we didn’t win anything, but got a nice poster. There are a few videos also of our weaving hobby. Some of the early bicycling videos are a bit shaky, due to the camera mounting method and camera settings, but the ones in the last two years are better, with a more stable camera mount and shooting in full 1080p HD, and, of course, more practice at editing film.
We had thought after the health issues of 2014 to downsize and move into Olympia. But, after coming home from long trips away, we have decided we enjoy our big old bungalow, with room for our hobbies and the many bicyclists that stop overnight in the summer. We’ve found an affordable yard maintenance company that keeps the grounds looking good. Besides, Shelton is still lagging behind the real estate recovery, while the cities have quickly become unaffordable. Travel and maintenance costs have eaten away at the proceeds of our Montana property, and which weren’t enough for a down payment and closing costs on a city house, so we’re at the point where we can’t afford to move, anyway.

Happy Holidays, Best Wishes for 2017

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