Category Archives: Bicycling

Warm Showers 2017 (part 1)

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 & Michelle

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 & Ashleigh

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.

Tim and Ashleigh stayed over two days, so they cooked dinner the second night.

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.

Lexi and Mary

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.

Ingrid

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.

Zoe et Hortense

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

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 Noemie

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.

Lindy, professional weaver from New Zealand and long-time Warm Showers host, on her first tour as a guest.

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.

Warm Showers 2016, Part 2

This summer, the 40th Anniversary of the Adventure Cycling Association (nee BikeCentennial), has brought a surge of bicycle tourists.  No sooner had we clicked “Publish” on Part 1 of our guest gallery post that we got another round of requests.

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Conor and Erin, former Peace Corps volunteers using a bike tour to settle into life back in the U.S. after 2-1/2 years in Tanzania.
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Daniela and Christian, from Karlsruhe, Germany.

We had made plans to have our 14-year-old grandson visit us from Wisconsin in mid-August, after which we would drive him home and spend some time bicycling trails and back roads around Wisconsin and Michigan, for a second, gentler tour this year.

So, as of August 1, we put ourselves on the “not available for hosting” list with Warm Showers, having already accepted an advance request for the first week in August.  Another family from Germany, this time with two small adventurers in tow, 15 and 18 months old.  We’ve hosted babies and toddlers every couple of years or so, and the occasional dog who would rather ride bicycles than chase them.  The youngsters readily take to the traveling life, with the bicycle just another piece of furniture in their open-air home.

Stefanie and Ingitha, with their two toddlers in tow (behind Ingitha); Stefanie tows the supply trailer.
Stefanie and Ingitha, with their two toddlers in tow (behind Ingitha); Stefanie tows the supply trailer.
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We keep a supply of toys left over from when our grandsons lived with us, to entertain our younger bicycle tourist guests.

Even though we were on the “not available” list, we got one more request, via a referral by an earlier guest. In the age of the Internet, the best way to plan a bicycle tour is to search for the stories of others who have gone before, in blogs, the “Crazy Guy on a Bike” journal, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Angela, corresponding with Nico, whom she had never met, got our name and contact information and called, having arrived in Shelton late in the day with no plans. Angela had met Mira, a Czech cyclist, earlier in the day. Of course, we took them in. Mira had a meeting set up in San Francisco, so forged on ahead after they reached Astoria, but we continue to track Angela on her journey as she overcomes hardships and meets new friends on the road, as we have many other guests over the past five years, now numbering over 150. And, now and then, we succumb to that urge for the open road and adventure at 10-15km/hr and set off on our own quest.

Angela, from Canada and Mira, from the Czech Republic, riding together for a few days on their separate tours.
Angela, from Canada and Mira, from the Czech Republic, riding together for a few days on their separate tours.  Angela was three days into her first long-distance tour, and Mira was finishing the last stage of a tour of the Americas that took him from Argentina to Los Angeles and Alaska to Washington, headed for San Francisco.

As I write this, we are in Wisconsin, having dropped off our grandson near Madison and circled Lake Michigan by car, taking time to ride when we can: a return to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron, riding a shoreline trail on the west shore of Lake Michigan, and riding around Washington Island, at the northern tip of Door County, Wisconsin, covering a bit less than 100km on the bike and over 5000km in the car.  The weather has been variable, with late summer thunderstorms dictating when and where we ride, making us glad we have the car to transport us between scenic trails, and to check out road and terrain conditions before we commit to a ride.

Warm Showers 2016, Part 1

Despite our absence on our own shortened “Beyond 70” tour mid-March through mid-May, 2016 brought a steady stream of Warm Showers guests. We had to turn down a few while we participated in the NorthWest Tandem Rally in Klamath Falls, Oregon over the July 4th week, and plan to take a short break at the end of July to get in some more cycling and camping before heading east at the end of August for an early September tour of Door County, Wisconsin. This entry covers the 39 guests we have had through 22 July (including Toph, the dog).

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Cara came through in early March, headed south. With El Nino, the bicycle touring season in the Pacific Northwest is nearly year-around.
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Carina and Mat, from the U.K., arrived in mid-May, traveling from south to north on the Pacific Coast.
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Nico, from Iowa, traveling down the Pacific Coast at a more leisurely pace than most. As of this writing, he was in Los Angeles.
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Mark and Seth also traveled down the Pacific Coast.
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Simon, from Switzerland, was a “drop-in,” guided to our house from downtown by our neighbor after finding there were no campgrounds nearby. He was already a Warm Showers member, but hadn’t made firm plans for daily distance, counting on finding campgrounds near the end of the day. Simon was touring south on the Pacific Coast route.
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Justin was riding north to British Columbia and points east, to the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, having cycled from his home in mid-Texas to California and up the Sierra Crest route.
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Betty and Robert, AirBnB hosts and new Warm Showers members from Vancouver, BC, were touring to San Francisco.
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Lisa, headed north from Portland to tour the Canadian Rockies, crossing paths with Tony and his dog Toph, below.

During the busy part of the summer, we often get multiple requests for the same night. Sometimes the travelers are headed the same direction and may meet on the road, but sometimes they are headed in opposite directions, as were Lisa and Tony. Tony had rescheduled because of the medical emergency with Toph. We have plenty of room, with three guest rooms, large open porch, and large format leather furniture in the living room, having hosted seven once.

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Tony, from southern California, was traveling the Pacific Coast route with his small dog, Toph. Our cat insists that dogs camp outside, so Tony and Toph pitched their tent on the porch.
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Toph cut her feet on shells on a beach a few days before and the cuts got infected, so she got the dreaded cone the day before she and Tony arrived.
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Brian and Heather, finishing a loop around the Olympic Peninsula.

Shelton is a nexus for several popular routes: The most used is the Pacific Coast Route, with riders chosing the ACA route between Bremerton and Elma, or riding down U.S. 101 from either Port Townsend or Port Angeles. Some choose to take a short cut to Centralia via Olympia (or around Olympia on Delphi Road, skirting the Capitol Forest), and some head west from Elma for a more direct route via U.S. 101 and the 6800-meter-long Megler-Astoria Bridge across the Columbia River. Some extend to the Washington coast at Westport. The Olympic Peninsula Loop is also popular, but most riders continue south along the coast from Aberdeen, so bypass us entirely. Some riders starting or ending in Seattle also choose to follow the route of the Seattle-To-Portland ride, east of Puget Sound, and also bypass Shelton. This year, we’ve gotten riders who have ridden the Sierra Crest Trail through California and Oregon and continue on the Pacific Coast Route to Vancouver. We also have gotten, from time to time, Trans-Am riders who head up the coast from Newport, Oregon to Seattle to fly home.

And, there are some riders who are in the middle of a Grand Tour, either from Alaska or the Yukon Territory to South America or a loop tour of the U.S., via the Southern Tier, Pacific Coast or Sierra Crest, and Northern Tier. And, of course, riders to and from Portland, Oregon, the undisputed bicycle capital of the West Coast. Not everyone stops in Shelton: we see a lot of riders throughout the day, passing through, and some who stop at motels, the other Warm Showers host on the north side of town, or Couch Surfing hosts.

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Glenn and Bobbie had ridden across the Southern Tier from Florida to California and up the Sierra Crest Route, headed for the San Juan islands.

Another night with two groups: Veteran tourists Glenn and Bobbie, finishing their tour at Anacortes, while Jason and Amy, below, first-time tourists, were just starting a cross-country tour. Conversation is interesting when comparing notes. From our own experience touring the Canadian Rockies 28 years ago, much of the fun is meeting and sharing stories with other tourists on the road.

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Jason and Amy were headed north from Portland to Anacortes to join friends on the Northern Tier route to the East Coast.
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Ana, a graduate student at UBC in Vancouver, BC, was taking a summer break from her studies to ride the northern half of the Pacific Coast route.
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Mark finished the Trans-Am route from Virginia to Oregon and intended to take a break from cycling to hike in Colorado before heading back east on the Northern Tier route. He stayed a couple of days to recover from a bout of food poisoning, a risk when food stops are sometimes limited to convenience stores.

After Mark headed north toward Seattle, we clamped our Bike Friday tandem on top of the car and headed down the Oregon Coast, following the route of many of our guests. We spent the night at an AirB&B near Seal Rock, a nice couple who recommended a gastrobpub nearby and fed us a nice breakfast. We then drove to Eugene to augment our Bike Friday accessories and ride the wonderful trails, staying at an AirB&B downtown across from a brewery and pub. After another stop in Rogue River to visit relatives, we spent several days at Klamath Falls, along with 650 other tandem riders, for the 30th Anniversary Northwest Tandem Rally. Then, we headed north, following the Sierra Crest Route to Bend, then over the Cascades to camp at the beautiful Silver Falls State Park, hiking to several of the breathtaking waterfalls.

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Judy with Julia, Christina, and Dana, friends from Ottawa, Canada cycling from Vancouver to San Francisco.

While camping in Oregon, we got several Warm Showers requests, which we regretfully had to decline. But we would be home in time to receive Christina and her friends. Knowing we were arriving from our own trip at about the same time, they graciously offered to bring and cook dinner. What a fun evening, and it gave us time to unpack before they arrived.

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Hugh (right) and Liam, a father-son team cycling the Pacific Coast route from their home in North Vancouver, BC.
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Chris, from southern California, cycling back home from Vancouver, BC. Chris’ arrival got delayed a day to ship his front rack and panniers home to lighten the load on the hills ahead, on his first self-supported tour.
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Jamine, Taylor, Mia, and Nicole, housemates from Portland on a tour to Bellingham.
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Jacy and Tom, on the last day of their tour from New York to Virginia to Oregon to Seattle.
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Ryan, from Philadelphia, on tour on the Pacific Coast, starting from Vancouver.

Jacy, Tom, and Ryan arrived about the same time, from different directions, and at different ends of their tours. It was interesting to see the contrast between seasoned tourists about to finish a long tour and someone just starting out. Many of our travelers start in Vancouver or Seattle, on their first long tour, and are just finding their limits, so they arrive in that period of doubt about the feasibility of continuing on, whether the destination is 200, 2,000 or 20,000 kilometers away. This year, the 40th anniversary of the Trans-Am tour and founding of the Adventure Cycling Association, has seen more riders finishing that tour with a final week-long dash from Newport, Oregon to Seattle, as well as riders following the warm weather north on the relatively new Sierra Crest route.

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Ludo, Pierre, and Phillip, friends from Montreal, cycling from the Pacific Coast. They intended to start in Seattle, but had to switch plans to start in Vancouver, so rescheduled to arrive three days later than planned.

Seasoned tourists Pierre and Ludo, knowing how hard it is to fill up hungry cyclists, supplemented our pizza and salad offering with a pound of spaghetti, with pesto sauce, and also broke out packets of oatmeal in the morning to supplement our bagel/cold cereal/fruit. buffet

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Genie and Lydia, a mother-daughter team on the last day of their tour. Lydia started her tour in Paraguay 19 months ago, and Genie joined her in Los Angeles for the trip north, riding the Sierra Crest to Yosemite, and the Pacific Coast the rest of the way, ending in Seattle.

Genie and Lydia had arranged to meet Brad, a cycle tourist they met in the Sierras, who lives in Puyallup, for dinner, so invited us along as well. A fun evening, at a local BBQ restaurant we hadn’t been to before, being vegetarian. However, we found lots of good items on the menu with meat optional.

As has been our custom, we publish two lists of Warm Showers guests, divided at mid-summer or before and after our own tour, typically in late summer. This year, we changed tour plans in mid-tour, breaking up what was to be a four-month expedition into a series of short tours and weekend cycle/camping outings. We’re probably going to be unavailable most of the rest of the summer now, with our own travel schedules, but will, no doubt, take in tourists when we are home for more than a few days.

Expedition 2016: Afterword and Video Record

Even though we had planned to be on tour well into the summer, it was good to be home in the Puget Sound in mid-spring.  Our trip north on the East Coast had been accelerated by the switch to automobile speeds, rolling the seasonal clock back to tree buds.  At the same time, Facebook’s Memories algorithm enticed us with photos of our yard in springs past, in full bloom.

We missed the apple blossoms, dogwood, and the giant Rhody that gets full sun early, but most of the rest of the yard was just starting to bloom.  The cat quickly adjusted to having her “regular” people at home, once more demanding a fire on chilly mornings and a warm lap until the room got cozy.  And, we, too, settled into a routine that didn’t involve packing up and moving on, attending our fiber guild meetings and resuming our yoga practice, neglected while on our own, but easier to arrive at the Senior Center at the appointed time, mat in hand.

As usual, video documentation of our trip was sketchy and random, an afterthought rather than a deliberate production.  The footage we hastily published while “on the road” got a post-tour review, with minor edits uploaded, and the “rest of the tour” documented with slide shows of still photos shot on walking tours of the old cities and historical sites, from the back of the tandem, and out the windscreen of the car.

Meanwhile at homewe reassembled the bicycle, encountering some adjustment difficulties that were best resolved by partial disassembly and a more careful reassembly.  After five years, I have finally realized that the adjustments that affect the timing chain tension also affect the shift cable tension, and that a lot of futile adjustment of the shifters can be avoided by rechecking the fit of the frame tubes.  And, finally, I got the new rack system installed on the car, ready for a summer of trail riding and distant events.  One of the first things we did on arrival home was to sign up for the 30th anniversary NorthWest Tandem Rally, being held this year in Klamath Falls, Oregon in early July.  We’ve ridden the roads around Klamath Falls before, in 2007, and are looking forward to socializing with the 900-1000 other tandem riders that show up for the event.  We last attended (and for the first time) in 2012 at Salem, Oregon, with little training before the rally, so we hope  to keep up with the slower groups this year.

The Bicycle

Our route via the bicycle took us from Orlando to Folkston, Georgia, then from Savannah, Georgia to Walterboro, South Carolina, for a total riding distance of 597 km (370 miles). We rented a U-Haul truck to bypass bad weather and dangerous roads between Folkston and Savannah, about 170 km (110 miles).

Week 1 took us to from Orlando to St. Augustine.
Week 1 took us to from Orlando to St. Augustine.

Expedition 2016 – Week 1 from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We spent a day with a walking tour of St. Augustine…

Expedition 2016 – St. Augustine from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Week 2 took us to Folkston, Georgia, where we trucked to Savannah  in the rain for a trolley and walking tour of the city.

We didn't have a firm plan for Georgia, making the route up as we went along, using the ACA route and GA Bike Route 95 as guides, driven by road construction and weather.
We didn’t have a firm plan for Georgia, making the route up as we went along, using the ACA route and GA Bike Route 95 as guides, driven by road construction and weather.

The Florida segment of this week’s route was the most pleasant of the trip, with actual off-road bike trails and a bike lane.

Expedition 2016 – Week 2 from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We stayed in Garden City just outside Savannah, which happened to be the rail, truck, and port area, and were glad to have shuttle service to the historic district from our hotel, since the 4-lane road outside was bumper-to-bumper and curb-to-curb with large, fast trucks. Choosing routes that minimized (but did not eliminate) truck traffic, we crossed into South Carolina through Alligator Alley and picked a route parallel to Interstate 95 for access to motels, but access to food was a problem. Weather and bad roads meant stopping at every town along the freeway. With our experience with urban roadways near Savannah and the prospect of long, arduous stages ahead through the rest of South Carolina, we decided to abandon our plan to cycle the entire East Coast, renting a car in Walterboro for the rest of the journey.

Savannah to Walterboro, SC.
Savannah to Walterboro, SC.

South Carolina didn’t offer much in way of scenery: Judy took lots of swamp pictures, and pictures of modest homes in poor communities, festooned with Trump signs. But, although the Deep South is deep crimson in their political leanings, we found drivers courteous for the most part: even though we had to “take the lane” on shoulder-less roads, overtaking traffic waited patiently behind us until it was safe to pass, unlike most of Florida, where we seemed to be invisible to motorists, who seemed to always be late and in a hurry. However, it may have had something to do with us mounting a small American flag on our trailer in Savannah, something suggested to us by one of our hosts in Florida. The reasoning was that, while “Bubba” (our stereotypical name for aggressive drivers of large pickup trucks) may hate bicyclists, as a Patriot, he won’t run over the Stars and Stripes, even if he wears the Stars and Bars on his truck.  We actually didn’t see any of this type in the South at all.

Expedition 2016 – Week 3 from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

The Automobile

The flexibility of the automobile allowed us to use our time to explore Charleston in depth, with a ferry to Ft. Sumter, a horse carriage tour of the University district, and a walking tour of the historic Market and Battery districts.

Expedition 2016 – Charleston from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our gasoline-powered tour took us quickly through the rest of South Carolina and into North Carolina, where we elected to drive the bridges across Roanoke Island instead of the ferries up the Outer Banks as we had planned. We did make a brief excursion to Hatteras Island before spending the afternoon at the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kill Devil Hill, where they tested their gliders before making the historic powered flights in December 1903,  on level ground at the base of the hill.

Expedition 2016: North Carolina from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Entering Virginia, we missed the James River Bridge somehow, and a coffee stop in a construction zone got us on the wrong road in Norfolk, so we wandered through back streets before finding our way back to the Interstate, through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, and on to Williamsburg and Jamestown, visiting both the recreated 1908 Settlement and museum, run by the state, and the Jamestowne historical site, a national archeological site. The next day, we were back on the I-95 for a quick trip up the Potomac to Mount Vernon, where we spent the day touring George Washington’s estate.

Expedition 2016 – Virginia from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We elected to bypass Washington, DC this trip–the traffic on the Beltway was overwhelming even on a Sunday afternoon, so we pressed on north into Maryland, where we took time to ship our bicycle and camping gear home before crossing into Pennsylvania for a tour of the Gettysburg civil war battlefield and cemetery. A leisurely drive through the Amish and Mennonite country dumped us into the expressway rat race of suburban Philadelphia, arriving at Valley Forge too late in the day to tour the Visitor’s Center or the only historical building of interest, Washington’s headquarters. However, driving through the park brought us back out into the countryside for a relatively quiet drive to Allentown, with lots of pictures of stately old homes and well-preserved 19th-century city architecture in towns along the way.

Expedition 2016 – Pennsylvania from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

After a tour though the Delaware Water Gap, and a hike to a waterfall, we finally headed west, a portion of the trip well-documented with photos in earlier posts.  We’ve decided that our elder years will be best spent exploring bike trails: our days of jousting with trucks on narrow roads on long-distance treks should be well behind us.  And, we can pick the distances we’re comfortable riding, with a minimum of baggage on the bike.

Expedition 2016, Week 3 (conclusion): the Auto Tour Begins, Walterboro, SC to Washington, NC

We picked up our rental car in Walterboro, SC, selecting a 3-door Hyundai with a hatchback and fold-down rear seats, ideal for transporting our bike and gear.  The rest of the morning was spent dismantling and packing the bicycle and transferring the camping gear and whatever bike gear wouldn’t fit in the cases to the big duffel.  One of the 30-year-old front panniers had been breached by a loading problem that allowed a portion to drag on the pavement in left turns, so it was left in the trash.  The other we kept, for now, with a few extra items.

We used the car to find a good Mexican Restaurant in town and espresso, at Dunkin Donuts, of all places.  I can’t recall having been in one since leaving Newport over 35 years ago, so ordered a French Cruller, those light, eggy “tractor wheel” donuts I used to get, “back in the day.”  They didn’t have espresso, then.  We also stopped at Walmart to add to our only set of street clothes and replace the small, worn duffel bag we had thrown away in Orlando after loading the bike panniers.  Unlike the fictional wandering scourge of bad guys, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character, we did not throw out our old clothes, though at the cost of laundromats, it might be cheaper.  The laundry in Walterboro took a debit card, which cost $2 plus whatever value needed to wash clothes: another patron had an extra one, empty, so we gratefully accepted hers, reloaded it with enough to wash and dry a load ($5), and passed it on to yet another customer, with enough value left for 10 minutes dryer time.

DSCF1740The next morning, we set out toward Charleston, stopping by the Walterboro airport to visit the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial: this is where the famous group of African-American fighter pilots had their final training before entering combat in Europe.  With only the bicycle GPS, we got lost several times on the way to Charleston, and have since switched to using Judy’s iPhone mapping app.  We did set out on the road we would have ridden, US 17-A, and found it even more heavily trafficked and just as badly repaired as the many miles we had already ridden.  In the days since, we have daily reaffirmed our decision to abandon the bicycle tour: many of the roads we have traveled have been uncomfortable and dangerous even  in a car, due to poor repair, poor construction, and heavy traffic.

DSCF1810Arriving finally in Charleston, we headed across the Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant, where we took a tour boat to Fort Sumter, the island fortress at the mouth of the harbor where the first shots were fired in the War Between the States (aka, the War of Northern Aggression [Confederacy] or the Civil War [Union].  The fort had been reduced to mostly rubble by both sides during the war 1861-1865 war, with a blocky “new” section added during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

DSCF1782With the advantage (or liability) of a car, we stayed 30 km outside the city, at Goose Creek, where low motel costs offset the cost of fuel to get there.  We found an excellent Mexican restaurant within walking distance (on a rough trail along the highway — no shoulder,  no walkway) and had black bean and portabello tacos.   The next day, we drove downtown and parked near the corner of Queen and King streets and took a horse-drawn carriage tour of part of the historical district, near the University of Charleston, one of three routes randomly chosen for the carriages.  Afterward, we had a vegetarian lunch at a middle-eastern restaurant near the market, where we learned this was their last week after 10 years, due to loss of lease.  In the afternoon, we took a walking tour to parts of the historic district we didn’t cover by carriage, then back to Goose Creek.

DSCF1868The next morning, wrapping up our third week on tour, we took the I-526 bypass to Mount Pleasant, then up US 17, covering in a day what would have taken a week of long rides on bad roads on the bicycle, something we would not have been capable of, due to our slow speed and the effects of too many days in the saddle fighting headwinds and rough roads.  We enjoyed a quick tour through the historic district of Georgetown, and were astonished at the 60-km commercial strip that is Myrtle Beach and its suburbs.  In the 43 years or so since I last visited what used to be a championship golf mecca (in my case, the venue for a business conference–selected by our golfing bosses), the Beach has been transformed.  The US 17 strip was filled with Disneyesque theme-park miniature golf courses in multiple versions of pirate, jungle, dinosaur, volcano, and other exotic themes, alternating with huge storefronts selling beachwear or surfing equipment, with a dozen or more pancake houses and scores of other restaurants, resorts, and hotels.

DSCF1889We soon crossed into North Carolina, stopping for lunch at a bistro in downtown Wilmington and coffee in Jacksonville before crossing the spectacular bridge at New Bern and turning north away from the coast to overnight at Chocowinity, just outside Washington, NC, deviating from our planned bicycle tour path to avoid the expensive auto ferry to the Outer Banks.