The First Stretch aka A Piece of Carrot Cake

We arrived in Portland four ( or was it three?) days ago and my body has finally caught up with with rest and is no longer in a state of complete fatigue. I don’t even notice how utterly spent every cell of my body is until I have had some time to re-energize it. Some very restful nights,a variety of Portland’s tasty selection of mirco brew beer and amazing food truck scene (!!!!!!) has been a very cozy treat after being in a completely different, rawer world only a few days ago. I always find myself caught somewhere between these two worlds; the culture, art, diversity, progressiveness and ability to find a like-minded community within a city are elements from my experience can be limited in spaces where human populations are in smaller numbers. On the other hand my  connection to nature and the land, my spirituality and what I would almost call an addiction to being in the elements has sprung forth from not having been in a city for the better part of my life. I guess it is finding that balance of the two and taking from them what I want and how to go forth with that in my life; to carry what I cherish and to leave behind what is not helping be to grow or allowing for my heart to be open.

Being on a bicycle for 5-8hours a day (anywhere between 40-85miles) leaves a lot of space for thought and allows for complete freedom from everything in life. I will not have to barter my life away for the next few months in order to pay bills. I guess I just haven’t found that “dream job” that doesn’t feel like exploitation or completely ridiculous or like entrapment ( the 9-5, two weeks vacation, . There are no distractions out here and thus there is  no escaping ones thoughts or emotions, testing the waters of one’s positive and negative.  It is helping recognize and see in myself parts that have not been apparent before and hopefully becoming a better human being in the process.

Cycling through a variety of landscapes in such an manner leaves one  in a complete state of awe almost always; the sweet smells of the various trees, the wind cooling you, the sun warming you, the descent down a mountainside highway that puts you in state of ecstasy because it feels as though you are soaring. The turn of a corner that unfolds an unending horizon of ocean and it’s power or the understory of a rainforest covered in immense growth and life. Wow. Even multiple days of rain have their silver lining as they give a greater appreciation for fair , sunny weather. We are all one in the same; the water in the ocean, the minerals in the rocks, the rings of life in a tree. It is beautiful and humbling.

I often have  thoughts of what this land could have possibly felt and looked like before colonialism dug in it’s talons a few hundred years ago; before capitalism , before the real beauty of this landscape was ripped away for industry, before the genocide of the people here. The knowledge that the “New World” under my feet was founded this way and is leaving ditches full of trash and broken beer bottles for it’s legacy is unsettling to say the least.

This is the first time, ever-ever, that I have traveled with someone so extensively and so far. I went alone in a vehicle across the landscape to Halifax about five years ago and traveled to Spain and Morocco as a lone backpacker three years after that. It has been nothing short of extraordinary to share this adventure with someone so compassionate, understanding, patient and caring. To find someone, let alone a partner, to see me through all ( and I mean all) the emotions and landscapes . To know that we will always have these shared memories and experiences, whether we are together for a while or not (” as long as it feels good for both of us”. No vows of lies, legal property of each other or speaking for our future selves.) is something pretty special and lovely.

So far we have traveled through the rainiest part of the states and well as the most remote ( until we make the final decision to hit the desert), we wore dish washing gloves ( my trick!) to keep the heat in out hands when regular cycling gloves just had our hands turning into icicles, drank water we sourced from a glacial lake, sneaky camped in campgrounds along our route and  in random areas in the treeline, climbed mountain side roads with heavy, heavy loads saddled to out bikes and made it into the city of Portland after two tires going flat that day. This is only the beginning of it.

I just wanted to thank Otis and Timmi for their rad help! Otis helped  us connect with  a place to stay while in Portland ( the cheapest stay otherwise is a motel that feels isolating, smells of something funky and has excessive cigarette burns on all the furniture and sheets). Timmi helped to connect us with Tryon Life Community Farm and people there! You two are gems!

Oh, I also wanted to openly ask my friends Mike Erwood and Tom Stoops  why you would ever cross the Astoria-Megler bridge from Washington into Oregon at night? You crazy bastards. Atleast you didn’t tell me it was one of the greatest parts of the trip ( Aaron!) when in fact it was a stressapoloza of constant wind gusts, sandwiching between vehicles ( plenty of logging trucks and a guard rail and a body intense focus to not weave at all because it would mean your utter doom.

Take care everyone! We are alive and well and plan on staying that way.

Apologies for my grammar and spelling if it was horrid, I had no time to edit with limited computer access time.

– Kinilynn

A bite-sized update

Just the shortest of updates– I don’t have enough computer time to transcribe the back-logged entries in my journal (we are both keeping these, though, and will post them when time allows). These ones won’t be the most interesting to read, but will hopefully reassure our friends and families that we’re doing fine.

So, briefly: We’re in Hoquiam, WA; it’s a beautiful, sunny day and we’re getting a late start. After three nights of hobo camping and two days of biking in cold, heavy rain, all of our clothes and gear were wet and we were chilled to the bone. Kini is a 6-year treeplanting veteran and was totally down for more of this; I am not, and talked her into a motel room for the night. Our laundry is done, everything is dry, warm showers and good nights’ sleeps have been had, and we’re officially through the Olympic Peninsula, i.e. the most rained-on spot in North America. We’re in good spirits and still stoked on the trip; we’ve seen a lot of beautiful places in the last four days, talked to a lot of very kind people, and eaten twice our weight in food. We should be in Oregon the day after tomorrow, and from Astoria we’re planning to head inland to Portland to stay in a hostel and explore the city for a few days, before returning to the 101.

Also, to ease any worries, specifically those of my parents: we’ve had no near misses on the roads so far. Drivers have been incredibly gentle and generous with us; I’m pretty sure every day that I bike around Victoria is more dangerous than highway riding here.

More at some point in the future, but that’s all for now. To anyone reading this, I hope you’re well, too.

-Sara

Beginning

It’s 5:45AM and I can’t remember the exact time, but I’m turning 28 right around now. This was more or less my last night in a bed for the next three months– I’d planned to savour it, but I’m wide awake before dawn, like I usually am on my birthday, or before my entire life changes.

The bikes are almost packed with what we need, all the rest is in storage bins in the basement, and the subletter moves in today, so I guess it’s really happening; as of today, our home is these bicycles/the gear on them/the open road/each other.

Kini and I started talking about this trip about a month into dating each other, more than a year ago; some treeplanter friends of hers had just returned from doing a similar route, and their stories resonated with something that each of us had wanted to do for years. The Bicycle Trip has been this fantastical shared imagining between us for most of the time that we’ve known each other, and especially at the beginning we always prefaced talk of it with “If we still like each other in six months…”

A year later, the bicycles are packed and leaning on the walls of our shared home; we do still like each other, and I’m incredibly grateful at this time in my life to have a partner who’s drawn to this too– to leaving home, making our lives a lot more compact and a lot less comfortable, and travelling in a way that’s going to be arduous and challenging and sometimes scary.

A lot of people aren’t; that’s been clear from talking to friends and strangers about our plans. We wanted a silly bicycle pun for the title of this blog; the derailleur is the mechanism that shifts the gears of a bike, and leaving home to cycle every day and sleep in a tent is very definitely a major gear shift. I think, though, that the idea of derailment also resonates somewhat with both of our lives. There is a set route that you’re supposed to take through your twenties, and if you ride it successfully you’ll pass the milestones of starting a career, getting married, buying a home, having babies.

At 28, I’ve taken a winding, looping, searching road between cities and towns; I have been a curatorial intern, housekeeper, baker, chocolatemaker, and salad farmer, and I’ve just applied for illustration school in the fall. This trip feels timely for me; I’ve been in three wedding parties in the past two years, and they’ve been the reason for most of my recent travels. And I love and support my friends who are getting married– I’ve been happy to travel across most of Canada to be with them and wear pretty dresses and cry happy tears on them.

I also think it’s a crazy thing to do– to throw an expensive one-day party that takes a year of planning. I’m queer and I’m cynical around these institutions that seek to validate or invalidate the way people are living. And after a wedding-saturated couple of years I’m thrilled to so emphatically not be doing that. Our year of planning and saved money and last-minute stresses have been for a three-month experience that is going to strengthen and change the insides of both of us. It’s not for everyone, but it is for us.

Our starting point is our home of Victoria, BC; in a few hours we’ll be on the ferry to Port Angeles, WA. I can’t give enough love out to this city, its cherry blossom Februaries and the community I’m part of here. Looking at my loaded up bicycle, so much of what’s in front of me was gifted to me by other people who have been on long cycling trips (whose stories and advice have also been essential to making this actually feel like a possible thing to do); I like to think their gear carries the good luck of having seen all of this before, even if I haven’t. In the past few days we’ve been given tiny owl and horseshoe charms for our handlebars for protection and luck, a little packet of sage to burn before we leave, a cycling-specific yoga lesson in our living room, and many, many kind wishes and blessings; things to help feel protected and loved and healthy and safe.

The sun is up and it’s time to have a last hot shower and finish packing. To anyone reading this, I hope you’re doing well. Kini and I will both be writing in this space wherever and whenever we can; do check in on us, but don’t worry if we’re out of range for a while. We’re probably okay.

-Sara