Once again, our Warm Showers hosting season will be in multiple parts, due to our own touring plans. Despite the cold and rainy spring, we had a surprising number of early tourists headed for warmer climes.
Madhuri, from Vancouver, and Michelle, from southern California, arrived in mid-March, traveling light and staying at Warm Showers and motels, as most campgrounds were not open yet. They made the trip from Vancouver to San Ysidro (Mexican border) in 36 days, very impressive, considering the wet and cold weather.
Tim and Ashleigh, from Australia, had trekked all around the world over the past two years, but were on their first bicycle tour, starting in late March in Vancouver and arriving via Vancouver Island and U.S. 101. The unfamiliar bike, wet weather, and heavy traffic on narrow shoulders didn’t suit Ashleigh very well, prompting her to bus from Quilcene to Shelton, while Tim rode from Brinnon.
Sunday dawned with heavy cold rain, so we convinced them to stay over, which they did, taking the bus to Olympia on Monday and taking trails to the Amtrak station to travel to Portland to reconsider their schedule and itinerary.
We had gone on travel in April, so didn’t get any more guests until May, when the weather improved a little. Lexi, from Montana and now Utah, and Mary, from Boston, had met a few years ago on a Bike & Build crew and decided to ride the Pacific Coast Route this year. Perusing our book of past guests, they discovered that we had hosted two other members of their Bike ‘n Build crew shortly after their session ended in Seattle in 2013.
Shortly after Lexi and Mary left, Ingrid arrived from Vancouver on a tour of the Pacific Coast before moving back to her native Switzerland. We had to leave early the next morning, so left Ingrid to pack up in a more leisurely manner. We like to photograph guests in full touring kit (bike, panniers, other equipment), but when we leave before they do, we get indoor photos.
Sisters Zoë and Hortense, originally from France, but having studied and worked in Canada and Belgium, traveling together down the Pacific Coast. The second week in May was one of our busiest, with five guests successive nights. With such a pipeline of riders extending down the coast, it was inevitable they should meet. Zoë and Hortense met up with Mary and Lexi the last few days of their tour, ending up at the same host the same night in southern California.
Chris arrived the next weekend, after we passed up a few travelers to recover from colds. Chris has been on a series of 2000-mile tour segments covering all 50 states, interviewing people he meets for a book, titled “Conversations with US.” Unlike most travelers, he came from the south, having ridden as far east as Crater Lake, Portland and Astoria. He was finishing this stage of his continental tour in Seattle and taking a short break before finishing his research in Alaska and Hawaii. Unfortunately, he didn’t make his Kickstarter goal for the book project, but we hope he gets a second chance.
Robin and Noëmie, also from France, arrived mid-week. They were interested in an expanded Pacific Coast experience, and wanted to travel through the mountains to the Columbia Gorge and Portland. Their schedule seemed to allow enough time to do that, so we helped them plot a route between Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens and sent them off to REI in Olympia for paper maps and a better water purifying system.
“Ryan” (Byungchul) and “Kelly,” from South Korea, are riding the Pacific Coast route both ends to the middle: they started in San Diego, but found the prevailing winds against them, so took the train from San Francisco to Seattle to head back to San Francisco. Their first day got a bit long, with riding from Ballard to Coleman Dock and then Bremerton to Shelton via WA Highway 3, a stressful ordeal. As they approached Oakland Bay and the most dangerous section of Hwy 3, a couple from Hartstine Island gave them a lift into town so they arrived before dark.
We helped them plan out a more bicycle-friendly route south, with choices of inland or coastal routes. In the end, they decided to head for Portland, with Eugene as a probable destination via the Willamette Valley, rather than the sometimes intimidating and hilly coast route. Ryan has ridden Los Angeles to New York, some years ago, but Kelly is a novice rider, and is still struggling with hills and traffic, despite having completed over 1000 km of their tour. As I sometimes do, I broke out my old Specialized Hard Rock (“Rocky”) to lead them out to Arcadia and WA 3 to get them started toward Olympia and Millersylvania State Park.
We’d expected a fellow weaver and bicycle tourist in early June, but otherwise, we’ve temporarily disconnected from Warm Showers to give us time to train for this summer’s planned bicycling activities, now that good weather is here and most of the tourists would rather camp anyway. When Lindy finally arrived, having extended her tour up British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, down Vancouver Island, and through the Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands, we had a good visit talking “shop” about weaving and comparing Warm Showers hosting notes.
I rode out with her to the edge of town to send her on her way to the Pacific Coast route, where she intends to use the Pacific County transit to get across the 6.7 km Megler-Astoria bridge and to bypass the Big Sur detour by train. More and more, our avocation is evolving as touring with bicycle rather than touring by bicycle as it becomes easier to incorporate public transit into our bicycle travel plans. So it goes. We’re planning another summer like 2015, when we traveled by auto to family events and rode our bicycle on trails along the way.