Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Portland to Eugene (by way of the coast)

We've reached Eugene Oregon and are enjoying our first rest day.  If I've come to terms with one thing during the 8-10 hours per day that I've spend on a bike since leaving Portland on Saturday it is my inability to recapitulate the never ceasing stream of random events and new experiences and my more or less insightful thoughts about them in a concise weekly blog update.  There is really no way to convey what we have seen and how we feel, but I will try my best anyway.

In Portland, we stayed with Joe's cousin Katie and her boyfriend Nick.  They showed us around the city and took us up to the top fo the building that they work in.  From their we enjoyed a great view of the city and the surrounding lanscape.  We could see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens in the distance.  They are beautiful and unlike any mountain that I have ever seen.  I had finished one of my books during our day and half layover, so we stopeed at Powell's City of Books (supposedly the world's largest book store) to restock.  On Friday night, Katie helped us carbo-load by cooking us some pasta.  After that, Joe beat the four of us in Settlers of Catan and then we went to bed.

We awoke on Saturday morning wishing that we could enjoy Katie and Nick's hospitality a little longer while getting to know the city a little better, but we rode out of town with a giddy sort of excitment.  To Joe's suprise Nate lead most of the day (Joe and Nate have never ridden together and his more of a rock&ice climber/backpaker/extreme swimmer than a cyclist).  We easily rode 30 miles past our planned 60 and spent the night in the parking lot of "Faith Baptist Church", just outside of Lincoln City, OR.

Night time is the hardest time psycologically.  When your body is beat from a long day on the bike, one glance at a map can send you spiraling into a feeling of selfdout.  This feeling can be prevented by only looking at one fold of the map at a time and remedied by going to sleep.

We awoke early on Sunday morning in an effort to get on the road before we were stumbled upon by an early church goer.  It was nice to get a few miles in before stopping for breakfast.  Food has been a challenge for us, mainly because it is a lot more espensive than we imagined.  We tried to assemble a meal from items bought at the grocery store.  This turns out to be more expensive and less nutritious (though less processed) than buying a $5 footlong from Subway.  After discovering this we have been eating out and buying cheap, high-calorie processed foods.  This was working ok (though still too costly) until our bodies started to rebel against the simple-carbs.  We arrived in Eugene yesterday desperetly craving vegetables.

We are spending two nights in Eugene with an intentional Christian community called "The Church of the Servent King"  They people here are pretty cool and unbelievably hospitible.  I cannot even begin to convey their generosity and am speechless when it comes to thanking them. 

I am running out of time on the computer.  Nate wants me to share the list below to fill in the holes.

So far we've:
-stayed with Joe's cousin Katie and her boyfriend Nick in Portland
-dragged our boxed bikes across downtown Portland
-shopped at the world's largest book store
-surveyed Portland from the top of one of it's taller buildings
-rode 90 miles to Lincoln City, OR
-Learned that our stove doesn't burn Diesel
-eaten luke warm rice and beans
-realized that eating at subway is cheaper than buying groceries from a store
-slept in the parking lot of a church
-biked 80 miles to Florence, OR
-dragged our bikes across nearly a quarter miles of beach for a single photo
-dragged them back to the road
-wept over the state of our drive-trains
-tried, unsucessfully, to clean them
-seen some sealions
-asked to sleep in a man's yard
-been informed that he his grass had and impending engagment with his lawnmower and that we might try the park down the street
-hung out at the pavillion next to the suprisingly skate park, while reading Wendell Berry and waiting for the sun to go down
-layed out or sleeping bags under a tress
-seen park rangers coming to kick us out
-discovered that they were actually homless people dumpster diving
-been assurred that the park is a great place to spend the night
-been visited by two 50lb. racoons
-awoke to sprinklers in the middle of the night
-drank lots of coffee
-biked 60 miles
-enjoyed the most delicious salad I've ever tasted
-been treated to dinner
-met too many people to remember
-watched the movie "youth in revolt"
-slept in a real bed
-sat in front of a computer

Tomorrow will be our first day of climbing.  We hope to be in Bend in two days.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Up In The Air (Down on The Ground)

Riding your bike everywhere awards you a whole list of benefits; and unfortunatly frequent flyer miles are not on that list.  We therefore did not have the clout of George Clooney's character in his recent movie "Up In The Air" and were not able convince United Airlines customer service to pull some super-heroics to get us to Portland today (despite that fact that after missing 2 flights and then being rescheduled for a flight that had departed two hours earlier, I had called upon a bag of Miss Vickie's Jalapeno Chips to have a Hulk-esque effect on my typically slow-to-anger demenor).

Just when it looked like we were destined to spend the night in O'Hare (and my scoville induced rage had worn off),  George came to the rescue.

No, not George Harrison (the decidedely overdeveloped beatle's theme is through).
No, not George Clooney  (he's in a tight spot of his own)
but, George Carr

We were introduced to George and his wife Joanne a couple of days ago by their son (and our mentor) Dan over Skype and made tentative arrangments to stop by their house near Chicago when we ride through in August.  This introduction came with perfect timing and was either a sign of divine providence or the immense generosity and hospitality human beings.  They saved us from a long night on the floor of the terminal and have blessed us with couches, beds, internet, delicious food, and friendship. 

I was really anxious as our trip approached about all the things that will go wrong that are out of our control.  Today has washed all my anxiety away.  Things went really wrong and we are more confortable than we could ever be and have two new friends. I am now ready to enjoy the next two months confident that everything will turn out all right.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Magical Mystery Tour!!!

I have never been a Beatles super-fan.  I respect their music, but I have never been tempted to see Sgt. Lefferts' Phony Hearts Club Band at the local fair ground and I have been know to change the channel when "Let It Be" comes on the radio.  I was, at one point, quite the Eric Clapton fan, so "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" does hold a special place in my heart.

Anyway, Beatles songs have always confused me and left me with many questions.  Was Jude a guy or a girl?  Are Bono and John Lennon really temporary incarnations of the same entity, a psychedelic, philanthropic, funny-spectacle wearing shape-shifter called "The Egg Man"?  And what makes a tour a "Magical Mystery Tour"?

I have managed to find an answer to one of these questions.  I have recently been overcome with a sense of magic and mystery as our transcontinental bike trip approaches and have now found evidence that the Fab Four were actually singing about bicycle touring!

When I think about our impending tour, I realize how magical travel by bicycle is.   The bicycle is truly a magical invention in the way it allows people to ride infinitely far under their own power.   The  hard work of engineers, designers, fabricators, and mechanics  has created a unique contraption that magically (some would say mechanically) multiplies the human energy put into it.  Ever since it was first invented, the bicycle has given people a sense of unlimited freedom by allowing them to travel nearly anywhere under their own power.  It is a simple machine with miraculous power and unlimited potential.

The sense of mystery that has made day dreaming about the next two months nearly impossible is inspired not only by my awe of the mechanical magic of the bicycle, but also by sheer lack of knowledge or foresight into the events that will unfold.  There are so many unknowns.  What roads are we going to ride on?  In what way will my bicycle break?  At what point will I break mentally (or physically?  How will Joe and Nate put me back together?  Where are we going to find 6,000 calories every day?  Who are we going to meet?  What will we learn from them?  How long will it take for me to get on Nate and Joe nerves?  In what ways will our friendship grow?  What memories will be with me for the rest of my life?  What will I learn about myself?  How will I change?  Will we even make it to the east coast?  So many mysteries!

Our bikes have arrived in Portland.  Nate has graduated and is saying good by to his high school friends.  I'm piecing together the final logistics.  Mom and Dad have begun the "empty nest" grieving process.  Tomorrow we set off on a magical and mysterious journey!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The weblog

Welcome to the blog.

We will try to blog at least once a week.  The entries could include any number of the following:

-Where we are
-Where we are going
-Anything particularly interesting that has happened
-A piece music  that is fun, interesting, or helps conveys an emotion or theme
-Thoughts about transportation issues

We will try to do this all without sounding too self-centered.  This may be an impossible feat given that it is a blog about us, so please forgive us.

Please respond to what we have to say.  You can post responses to our blog or email us.  We want this to a conversation.

Thanks for riding along with us!