I cannot believe it! Wow, how time flies when you’re genuinely and truly excited to embark on a new journey. In just over 2 weeks, Sheena and I will be starting our tour down the Pacific Coast. As the previous blog post highlighted, we will be starting the trip in Vancouver, BC and will be hugging the coast all the way down to San Diego, CA. Starting on the whole other side of the country — scratch that — in a whole entirely different country has definitely presented some issues with planning the logistics of getting the bikes and ourselves to the starting line in one piece.
Well actually, the bikes will not arrive in one piece… GASP! Ol’ Bessie (my beloved and loyal Surly Long Haul Disk Trucker) is presently being disassembled to be boxed so she can easily be shipped to a bike shop in Seattle, WA. Seattle? I can hear the doubt rising in your brains now, but, yes. Seattle. Apparently, if you ship your bike to another country, you are liable to be charged with brokerage, duties, and other completely asinine custom fees weeks later. These can cost up to $200 and are entirely dependent on the customs agent who receives and processes the bike. If that particular agent has a thing against bikes with purple handlebars (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), I will be on the receiving end of a hefty bill that I’ll be forced to pay. Not privy to gambling OR bills from government agencies, I was not willing to take that chance. So it was either shipping the bikes to Seattle, or checking the bikes on the plane. After much debate and running the numbers, shipping the bikes to Seattle ended up being the economically best choice. Also, schlepping an awkward and heavy bike box around a crowded airport was not my idea of a fun old time.
Here is the manual labor I put in myself to get the bike ready: changing the tires. After going over 5,000 miles on the same pair of tires with ONLY ONE FLAT TIRE (Guinness World record, anyone?), I decided it might not be wise to test my luck any further. I bought the same brand of tire and after what felt like an eternity (okay it was only an hour) of wrestling and sharing some unkind words with Bessie, I managed to successfully get those puppies on. Mind you, I have had practically zero practice changing tires “in a field setting”, so I’m gonna go ahead and give myself a pat on the back for not breaking anything on the bike OR myself. The engineering gene skipped me and I do not have a mechanically inclined brain… just ask my father.
So anyways, here’s the break down of our plans:
April 16th: After getting a thorough and pricey tune up at REI (she literally needed every moving piece replaced… I apparently have an abusive relationship with my bike) I dropped off ol’ Bessie at what I hope to be the capable hands of Danzeisen & Quigley. These folks are going to break her down and box it. On April 23rd, Bike Flights will pick up the bike and ship it to Seattle by April 27th, giving the shop there plentyyyy of quality time with Lil Bess to fix her up like new.
May 6th: I leave Philadelphia and arrive at Denver, where I will meet Sheena later that night. Any Denver friends want to show me around the city for a few hours?? Sheena and I will be staying in a hotel right next to the airport because….
May 7th: EXTREMELY early flight from Denver to Seattle. From there, we will be reunited with our fully assembled and fitted bikes at Velo Bike Shop. Depending on time, maybe we’ll stop for a second to see the world famous Space Needle. After getting a taste of the Seattle culture, we are catching a 7pm train (bikes will be checked in with cargo) to Vancouver BC, arriving at 11pm.
May 8-9th: We both wanted to spend some time in Vancouver to explore. Sheena found a really cool hostel for us to stay while we journey abroad. A few of my patients have spent time in the city and gave me recommendations of places to see. Will definitely have to check out a few of those sights (Buchart Gardens is at the top of the list).
May 10th: Ah, the date that will soon live in infamy! Alas, the day we will start our journey down the Pacific coast. We will be back in America this very day, so much for an exotic experience.
After starting, we’re going to wing a lot of the planning. Sheena got a great book highlighting the beautiful parts of the trail and places of interest to stop and see. We will likely plan 2-3 days in advance to keep us on a relatively strict 5 week schedule because we both have to be back by mid June. We plan on camping the majority of the time out there. However, there are lots of hostels (or so I’m told) we can stay at to get a little more of the culture of the area. There is also an app called Warm Showers in which people along the route offer a room or couch for you to stay in their house. Sheena and I used it once in Portland in 2016 and it ended up being a really positive experience. Along the way we’ll keep our eyes on the lookout for ones that don’t look toooo shady.
Another piece of the puzzle I had to figure out was how I was going to break news to work that I will be needing the entire summer off to pursue both this trip and the John Muir Trail. I had a very eloquent letter of resignation ready to go, signed and everything. It would be crazy for me to expect my boss and company to grant me the time off I required, so I was fully prepared to quit. I met with my boss and explained to him the situation… boy did I catch him off guard! Apparently threatening to whip out my letter of resignation letter (in the least threatening of ways) was a great bartering strategy. After speaking with the HR department, I was granted a leave of absence until the fall when I am ready to come back. My last day is April 27th, giving me just over a week to tie any loose ends I may encounter. Talk about lucky! I couldn’t be more grateful to have such a considerate boss as well as work for such an understanding company 🙂 I also have extremely supportive patients and patient families that are cheering me on back home!
Finally, here’s a picture of the gear I’m planning to take! Really, nothing fancy. I don’t know what weather to expect in the PNW (okay, yes I do. Cold and rainy. But I’m ignoring that for now… ignorance is bliss right?) so I’m packing a lot of warm clothes. Cold is my worst enemy. Anything I don’t need I’ll ship back home. We’re going to be doing a lot of our own cooking (always mindful of the all mighty dollar), so Sheena is getting a camp stove, most likely the same one we used on the TransAm. We can restock on fuel at any Walmart in the area, sure to be tons. So mostly camp stuff, clothes, bike gear that I don’t know how to use so hopefully I’ll never have to use it, and food that we’ll pick up in Vancouver. Although Addie is stealing the spotlight in the picture, she sadly will be staying behind back home. My heart breaks when I think about it, but it’ll make the return home all the more perfect. And where is the star of the show, Old Bessie? Well as I mentioned, she is in a million little pieces in a dark box somewhere. Poor girl.
So there it is! Fingers crossed the next two weeks goes smoothly and we all (bikes included) arrive safely in Vancouver in one piece!