Saturday, August 2, 2008



At long last (but earlier than we anticipated - yesterday evening around 8pm), we have arrived in Seattle, WA! It has been an amazing journey and we have learned so much about ourselves, each other, the trusting and kindness of strangers, where we are and where we are going.
A big THANK YOU again to all the amazing folks who helped us along the way. We will pass on or return the favors everywhere we can!

With love and gratitude,
Maya & Lara

Like horses to the barn!

The last days have been a mad dash across the state of Washington. We left Missoula 
the morning of the 26th and headed up to Sandpoint, ID. There we decided (as a result of much arm twisting from the family) that we would hurry as fast as we could to make it to Seattle in time for a family vacation. On the night of the 28th we stayed outside Priest River. 

The next morning we crossed the state line into
 Washington and got onto HWY 2 and in four very full days of riding WE MADE IT!

On that first day riding out of Missoula we were aiming to camp out at Quinns Hot Springs, but we rode 76 miles in over 100 degree heat, with a few stops to swim and run in sprinklers and just couldn't bring oursleves to go further than St. Regis. 
The next morning we went by Quinns Hot Springs, took a soak and then rode along the Clark Fork River all the way to Trout Creek, where we were side tracked by a fishing competition. There we made a new friend, Seth (Send us an email, so we can come bug you in Joshua Tree!), and were treated to some huckleberry margaritas.  We also made some enemy's. Ha! 
Well, not exactly, but Buck probably doesn't like us too much after we ran away from him (thanks to Lara's sound judgement), when he suggested, in his very inebriated state, that we go waterskiing and booze it up on his boat.  Crazy kid.  We stayed there, just past Trout Creek that night. 
The next day we rode through Noxon( along rivers and mountains, so beautiful, and crossed the state line into Idaho) and wanted to stay just outside of Sandpoint, but we missed a turn off and ended up on the wrong side of the river and went all the way to Priest River instead.  
Sandpoint is a really funny, cute little hippy town.
We took a longish break there and had more huckleberry treats and pizza.  

The next day was probably one of my least favorite days of the whole trip.  We rode so long
the landscape was boring, there was headwind and we didn't even really take anything resembling a real break.  There were a few redeeming  moments, like the free coffee that Lonni gave us and towards the end of the misery we stopped in Reardon ( pronounced Rear-done, and yes this town is about as great as getting done in the rear - which, I suppose, depending on your preferences, might not be all bad), and had a pretty awesome bacon-cheeseburger.  Oh yes, and there were camels (?). For the grand finale of this sucky day we rode the last 10 miles to Davenport in the rain and against serious headwinds.  At least at that point we were so delirious that we had turned silly and just sang and joked the whole way about what a waste of space eastern Washington is.  
Then came the Christmas miracle!  Some guy pulled off the road onto the shoulder and he was like, hey guys, I'm on, do you need a place to stay in Davenport?  And we were like Hallelujah!  Saved! So we biked to Jeremiah's (the bullfrog) house and stayed in his little guest house built into part of the garage.  It 
was the most amazing thing to have a shower, a beer and some good stories at the end of that awful day.   Hopefully we can get Jeremiah to send us some of his tales, so we can share them with y'all. 

The next day wasn't much better than the last.  The scenery was
 better and, for me at least, so was the moral, but we biked uphill all day (so it seemed) and it was super hot and we had no shower to ease the pain that night.  Dry Falls Dam, which we passed around noon was pretty nice and we also had all-you-can-eat tacos for lunch (which might have been a mistake - I ate so much I felt sick for the next two hours).  We took a short break in Douglas before pitching our tent in the city park in Waterville.  A beer and a pizza, put us right to sleep.  In the morning we slept a bit longer, but were also assaulted by sprinklers again =( boo.  We had an amazing breakfast at Coyote Pass Cafe and made friends with the owners.  
That day we started off with some small hills that lead to insanely wonderful downhills.   We sailed into Cashmere and on through apple orchards into Peshastin, where 
we were lured in by the barrel cow train at Smallwoods Harvest.  Yes, we did ride the cow train and sample every kind of
 honey known to man.  Then we were surprised by a visit to Disneyland (a.k.a Leavenworth) and drank a beer, tried on hats, and enjoyed schlager music in this bavarian wonderland until we couldn't take it anymore and biked on to the Tumwater campsite.  This was to be our last night duking it out with the mosquitos.  

The next day we broke some records for ourselves and rode over a 120 miles, including Steven's Pass, all the way to Ben's front door in Seattle! WoopWoop! 
Even though it was a longer day than any other, it didn't seem as bad. We were flying! like horses to the barn =) After climbing Steven's Pass and blasting down the other side, the 

generous shoulder soon dwindled away to nothing and we feared for our lives.  No joke. In tight corners we prayed that all the semi's would see us and pull around or slowdown.  A construction zone later we finally entered Skykomish and ate some much-needed brunch in this funny little town.  
Getting closer to Seattle we also stopped in Startup at this really awesome chocolate shop/ cafe and had, what Lara appropriately dubbed "thank God I'm sill alive/incase I die" ice cream.  This place was really off-the-wall delicious and I can't recommend it enough.  Just go, if you can. I'm definitely going by there when we go back to Leavenworth for October Fest!  
We finally met up with the Burk Miller Trail in Woodinville and rode this fantastic (if a little bumpy) path all the way down to Ben's house.  And that was it!  Over! Done!  Just like that. 

Monday, July 28, 2008

Missoula : Mecca of touring cyclists and home of the Biomimicry Institute!

One of the most awful stretches of highway takes you past
one of the most beautiful lakes in Montana. Riding down from Whitefish to Missoula we stopped on the shore of the magnificent Flathead Lake! The water was crystal clear and perfectly refreshing. We swam off of Jake Jackobson's dock and he was kind enough to bring us filtered lake water with ice and to tell us all about his amazing vegetable garden =)
Thanks Jake!

We stayed at Big Arm state park that night, not too far from Jake's place.
The next day we set out for Missoula bright and early and it was a day full of terrifying riding down HWY 93, logging trucks whizzing by within inches of my life!

I have had zero flats on this trip and I got two brutal ones on this stretch. The first one, a massive screw went through my tire and the second one just straight up exploded!
So having used my spare tire for the screw incident, I didn't have another one when the tire exploded and so we stuck out our thumb and caught a ride the last five miles into town. These college kids gave us a ride and while our bikes were loaded in the back of their truck we went to the DQ and payed our first visit to the folks at Adventure Cycling! They finally dropped us off at Big Sky Cyclery. We got new spares and tubes and one of the guys working there, John, recommended a place to have a beer.
Ha, well, we were just a little underdressed for this lovely establishment, but Missoula is no New York and they don't have a dress code so we hung out at the bar and enjoyed the view of the river and watched the rain come down. We also enjoyed free drinks! This guy, who was a traveling pharmaceutical salesman bought a round for the bar, so we started chatting with him and he ended up picking up our whole tab!! Thanks David!

After heading off to the Albertsons for some groceries and making sandwiches in the parking lot, it was starting to get dark, so we wandered over to the dog park along the river (on the recommendation of some kids working at the gas station). We didn't find a good camping spot there, but we found someone who sent us over to the other side of the river and that is where we pitched our tent. It was nice and quiet in the grasses below the hills and just across the water from the city.

The next day we went back to the Adventure Cycling office and got the full tour of the office thanks to one of the founders, Greg Siple. He also took our pictures as part of his collection of over 3,000 black and white portraits of touring cyclists that come through Missoula (The Open Road Gallery). Awesome.

We made friends with Brian and Elliot and left our bikes there in the courtyard for most of the day while we went over to 'Out to Lunch', this little music and food festival, and we visited Bryony at the Biomimicry Institute office, we went to the book store, etc. and finally we picked up our bikes from AC and headed out towards Bryony's house, up the hill. Up the hill, up the dirt road, and then, up the gravel road!! AHHH! This was no easy task on our fully loaded bikes, but we made it and were warmly greeted by Scott in the driveway.
Over the next few days Scott was our generous tour guide. He told us all about building their straw bale house, talked to us about his cars and biodiesel, took us out for a drink at Charlie's and at the Kettle House, drove us out to the banks of the Blackfoot river for a swim, and now we have only good things to report about Missoula!

On Thursday night we went to the big show; The Missoula Coyote Choir opening with their 'Ask The Planet', biomimicry inspired songs (by Amy Martin). And then Ani Difranco played. It was a great show and being in Missoula while all the folks from the Biomimicry Guild were in town (and Duke, who is amazing) as well as people from the Institute was such a unique opportunity for us to get to meet everyone, it was definitely worth the train ride from Willeston.
We can't thank you enough, Scott and Bryony, for letting us stay at your beautiful home!!
After visiting AC one last time we finally got back on the road after an amazing four day hold up in the vivacious, spirited, panoramic city of Missoula

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Empire Builder

We finally got out of Balta, off of the road to adventure, back onto the road of biking and ‘sanity’. The ride out to Rugby was so beautiful, it was like having Halloween in the summer! There were ribbons and pillows of really thick fog corner of houses and spilling out of the fields, between telephone poles and onto the road. We got to enjoy this surreal landscape all the way to the geographical center of North America (Rugby, but Tom claims Balta is closer to the actual point). We didn’t stopthat were just hanging on the much for the rest of the day. We took a short lunch break in Granville and hung out with a funny little ground squirrel and cool old farm equipment. In fine form, we rolled into Minot at around 2:30.

Unfortunately Minot is a quite unattractive town that was goodfor a shower and library time, but not much else. If we'd hung around for the North Dakota State Fair that was starting the next day, I guess we may have changed our minds, but somehow I doubt it.

The next day we had another speedy ride. We did the 73 miles to
Newtown by 1:30. I guess this section of riding was through the ND version of the badlands. The constant up and down, eroded canyons and deserty dryness were a nice change of scenery. On this stretch I also inhaled a fly. I coughed for twenty minutes to get that jerk out of my wind pipe. I highly recommend keeping your mouth closed while you ride!
After a lunch break we went to hang out at the local Newtown pool were we killed time until the library opened. Outside the library this lanky guy with a news capy on approached us and told us he was in charge of the pool and that since there was a storm blowing in we were welcome to camp out in there. =) Sweet. That’s exactly what we did. He also brought us burgers! How awesome is Jim?!
The next morning the sky still looked dark and stormy, and there were distant rumbles of thunder, but as soon as we got on the road, the sun streaming through holes in the clouds, the weather took a turn for the better and we had a spectacular ride (with a tailwind, finally!!) with some intense downhills (and uphills too!) all the way to Williston. There were some crazy bug issues on this road though. If you so much as slowed to under 12mph, and don’t even think about stopping, the mosquitoes would swarm (and I mean SWARM – not an exaggeration) all around you. I made that mistake to get this picture to all of you – hope it’s not too blurry:

That was another 73 mile day done by 12:30 – Hot Damn!! We are getting speedy =)

Williston was another unremarkable town made memorable by the wonderful company we were keeping =) On the ride into town we met Sophia and Yoni who let us know where they were camping in town and we met them there later in the day. Sophia and her husband, Bruce, are traveling with third friend (who we did not get to meet) and they all take turns driving the sag vehicle, full of all the wonderful things you wish you could take with you on your bike. Yoni is riding with Mike, whose recumbant bike was experiencing some serious difficulties. Thank goodness that Williston happens to be the welding capital of the US, because he found someone who did a very creative fix-it job on his derailleur hanger. All of us braved the mosquitoes together in the city park and had a wonderful time, eating, going to see Batman, and just talkin’ talkin talkin’. They were all going East to West too, which is the first time we’ve met other people going the ‘wrong’ way, like us. We really enjoyed having a bike gang and are sad that we had to rush off to Missoula. Such is life – hopefully we can catch up sometime on the west side!

And when I say ‘rush off”, I mean that we were seriously in a bind, because the Biomimicry collaboration with the Missoula Coyote Choir and Ani Difranco had resulted in an event happening on July 24th, which we could not have made on our bikes ( no matter how speedy we have become). So we decided that we wanted to jump on this wonderful opportunity to hang out with all these great people in Missoula this week and after an unsuccessful attempt at hitchhiking on HWY 2 we took the Empire Builder train line from Williston to Whitefish, Montana, and then biked down to Missoula from there. Amtrak made us box our bikes, which was distressing, but once on the train everything went smoothly and we at least got to see the whole stretch that we would have been biking. 7 days of biking flying by in 10 hours, that was interesting and kind of a trip – but I have to say that most of eastern Montana is a very flat, dry, and hot expanse of land. And then, after seeing them off in the distance for ages, you are suddenly in the mountains. Everything changes in a moment. The smell of the air, the vegetation, and in a moment we felt like we were close to home =)
When we finally got to Whitefish it was getting dark already and we rushed to get our bikes all back together and try to make it out to the state park to camp. Mmm, and then we got discouraged by riding in the dark on a narrow road and just pitched our tent behind some commercial building on a suspiciously lush patch of grass. I even went so far as to look for the sprinkler heads, but to no avail. The next morning brought a very localized upside-down rain storm. We wheeled ourselves over, out of the range of the sprinklers domain, and got ready for our journey down to Missoula.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Balta and Your Road to Adventure!

This post is totally backwards. I keep trying to fix it and make it more coherent, but just is this way. I will continue editing, so, to be continued...

July 15th. We rode from Devils Lake area to Balta, ND - a total change in scenery. The land appeared flat, but in reality (which you can tell if you are biking) it is not flat at all. Biking into Balta, their town sign read:


MMMhhhmmm, right. We rolled into town, not expecting too much. But low and behold, despite Adventure Cycling maps neglecting to mention, there is a BAR in Balta. the Balta Bar owned by Tom. I stopped and said "Maya, we're going in."
Soon enough we had made plenty of new friends. I even got to decorate my own dollar bill that now hangs on the wall in Balta, North Dakota, advertising our trip, of course.
Here we are all hanging out at the bar together, after Maya lost a round of the game we were playing and had to pay for everyones beers. However, later that evening, feeling guilty, they guys donated to our funds - Thanks Everyone!! It was getting to be a roudy evening of drinking and it kept getting later. Maya and I were supposed to bike down the recreation area and set up camp, but beers seemed to refill themselves right before our eyeballs.

July 14: Maya and I on the road through the water! Water on both sides of this long stretch of rode, whoooaaaa. The wind was picking up here...careful not to get pushed in.It was on this day that Maya and I rode all the way to the Casino just south of Devils Lake! It was a long day, indeed. It was hot and I was sweaty and extremely salty. This photo of my shirt is to show you just how salty. You see those white lines? My shirt was crusty and stiff...kind of nuts. Side note: Cars R Coffins, a bicycle advocacy group based out of Minneappolis, check it out. On the far right, we have Maya feeling strong after our 100 miles. In the middle, we have me...

Devils Lake Casino Camp Ground: The casino where the camp ground was - was a trip. We only wandered in briefly to buy ice cream. Totally exhausted we ran back to the tent and went to sleep. We were awoken during the night by the campers next to us threatening each other (swearing and saying mean things). That was awkward. Didn't stop us from getting up a half hour later though, packing up our things and heading out on the dark road. It was just after 4 am. The sunrise was incredible (July 15th). Maya and I kept stopping on the side of the road to take photos. It is one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen before. Clear and calm lakes reflected the sky perfectly and the colors changed every second.

July 13th:
Only after eating the Howard Johnson breakfast (eggs, french toast, real toast, orange juice, coffee, etc) did we cycle away from the hotel, into flat lands and wind. On and on we rode till we finally saw Hope. Hope, North Dakota. In this small town we stopped for the evening. Due to strong headwinds we vowed to stick to an early morning routine as to get in as many miles as possible before the winds picked up. We had already done around 30 miles when we biked into Cooperstown, ND. We settled into a gas station cafe for some coffee when three guys showed up for their breakfast. Some of the first cyclists our age we had encountered, we were eager to exchange stories. They were tall and skinny and carried close to nothing on their speedy bikes. They told us they were doing anywhere between 70 to 140 miles a day. Good thing they were riding east...cause we didn't want to try and keep up that mileage just to ride with them! I believe it was Brian, Dan, and Pete. Very funny and we were happy to hang out with them- Hey Guys, hope you are doing well!!

Below, there is a picture of hope.
After Papa left, Maya and I were lucky enough to get a "free" rest day, right there in the Howard Johnson motel, pool and all. We slept in and generally spent as much time as possible in bed, reading, writing, watching TV, whatever mindless activity could be done reclining.

Later in the evening, we finally roused ourselves and went for a swim, which resulted in cramping leg muscles! I blame Maya. Hers started first and then were passed on to me. It hurt a lot. I suppose it was due to the lack of movement throughout the day. We spent some time doing physical therapy in the hot tub. Afterwards we put on some clothes and went to check out the bar connected to the motel. Turns out there was a Tattoo competition that had just ended, so there were a ton of people around. There was also some live music that was just starting, gambling, pool, and a lot of good beer on tap. Wow. We kind of missed out on all the festivities. Who knew Fargo was so lively? And all attached to this Howard Johnson?

Papa and I have wonderful peach martini's at the Mexican restrauraunt in Fargo, ND. It was delicious. Our last hurrah during our two week biker gang parade.
Before biking into Fargo, we looked at Maps. Aren't we happy?
Swimming in Pelican Lake was great because it was so insanely hot. Over here, we have the bike shop in Fargo, an amazing old train station!!! Huge space inside, all dedicated to bikes, accessories, and beautiful bike mechanics.