After 4 days of traveling, I’m finally back in Portland for the next week or so. Lots of gear sorting, laundry, planning, and friends, frankly I’m excited to slow down a bit, but I’m also in the process of changing things up. As I mentioned in my previous post, I found a renewed dedication to living simply while in Alaska. I realized the best way to combine international travel with the simplicity I love might just be to ride a bike instead of a bus or a train while traveling abroad. So I’m changing things up.
I left Alaska at 1am on Monday morning, and arrived in Portland at 730am. After breakfast with one of my favorite people and collecting some stuff, I test-rode a Trek 520 touring bike at noon, and a Surly Long Haul Trucker at 300pm. I sorted through a few more things, ate dinner with another good friend who has (perhaps unwisely) opened her house to me as a landing pad, and fell asleep hard.
At 630am Tuesday morning I picked up a stranger I met on Craigslist and drove to Seattle. At noon I test rode a Ti-Cycles Steliacoom Cyclocross Touring bike, and then headed north to Anacortes, WA. The guy in Anacortes was originally planning to meet me in Seattle, but had to back out with the promise that he’d make it worth my while to drive to Anacortes. I got to Anacortes at 2pm and bought the bike he was offering, with an unbelievable pile of extra gear along with it. He made good on his promise, and I made off like a bandit. Looking around my now very messy car, I realized I had exactly the right gear to make an important trip.
I went to San Juan Island for the first time in May last year, and it seemed that I had stumbled upon a mecca for bike touring. Taking your car on the ferry is not cheap, and the islands are wonderfully small- so getting around by bike makes quite a lot of sense. Alas, on that trip, we were not set up for bike touring, and could not participate in the random fun. The feeling in my gut told me this was an opportunity not to be missed. The ferry to San Juan leaves from Anacortes, and at 3pm Tuesday afternoon I realized I had just enough food in the car, just enough gear, and just enough time to pack up and make the 445pm ferry. Spontaneous adventure ensued. I didn’t have a tent. I didn’t have stove fuel. I didn’t have a sleeping pad. I didn’t have a campsite reservation. And then I realized I could do without all of those things.
I had a gorgeous touring to the north and then west sides of the island, and a perfect night sleeping under the stars. I felt like a kid on Christmas with nothing on my back rolling quickly around the beautiful scenery. I got up at 520am on Wednesday morning, biked back to the ferry terminal, got a coffee, and got on the 8am ferry. Was back at my car at 10am, ran a few errands in Seattle at noon, and was back in Portland at 4. Not a bad few days, and a good reminder that “You Must Buy the Latest Outdoor Gear or You Will Die.”