Tag Archives: pacificcoasttour

down the coast: horses, cows, and woolly beasts!

In my entire life of countless road trips on prairie pasture-lined highways, driving by cows and horses has never gotten old. They’ve always been a break in the monotonous wheat field blankets patched with yellow canola. Animated creatures to wonder about once you tire of imagining that carebears will reveal themselves in the clouds.

While from a car we’d yell “cows!” to brown and black lumps video framed in the window and seemingly static on the field, on a bike details emerged: eyes, ears, bigger and smaller and chewing.

Animals that don’t bat an eyelash to traffic astonishingly paid attention to us. They stared and as we biked away their heads and gaze followed. Occasionally they took a few steps in our direction and once two young cows had seen us and they galloped alongside the road. How often do you see cows gallop?

I loved how bike touring could bring you so close to your surroundings. But honestly it can expose you to some bad stuff too: pollution from vehicles, their noise and the dirt they stir up (and the occasional rabid dog). This would never make me give it up but at least I have a choice. It was honestly the first time that I thought about cattle, horses, sheep, etc. living alongside roads and always exposed to traffic.

Maybe they learn to ignore. Are they bothered? How do they perceive the difference between periods of high and low traffic or between a hot, dusty day and a rainy-fresh one? The picture above was taken North of Jenner, CA in an area where cows can roam freely. These ones chose to sit between the road and a 500-ft drop to the ocean.

What is traffic to them and how does it affect the occasional hamburger I eat? It’s kind of sad that an animal will spend its life by a road as people who use it drive by and by again.

Hmm….

down the coast: the redwoods

I could wrap my head around the redwoods just as much as I could wrap my arms around them. Not very much at all. Then I read the following in John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America and thought, “oh yeah, that’s it…”:

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time. They have the mystery of ferns that disappeared a million years ago into the coal of the carboniferous era. They carry their own light and shade. The vainest, most slap-happy and irreverent of men, in the presence of redwoods, goes under a spell of wonder and respect. Respect – that’s the word. One feels the need to bow to unquestioned sovereigns. I have known these great ones since my earliest childhood, have lived among them, camped and slept against their warm monster bodies, and no amount of association has bred contempt in me. And the feeling is not limited to me.”

After pitching our tents up in Elk Prairie Campground we went for a short hike in the Prairie Creek Redwoods. Being near the end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, close to Crescent City and having a sizable parking lot and visitor centre, it’s a popular destination to see the trees. But unlike other places swarmed by tourists the forest is eerily quiet. It swallows voices and turns us into silent observers.

I approached the redwoods part of this trip holding my breath slightly. It hadn’t been a year since my first visit and the beginnings of an end to a relationship. Superstitiously, a part of me feared that I could lose something again, that maybe this forest had a spirit that didn’t jibe with my own and bad things would happen to me there…I don’t know. Silly fears.

But it was all okay (of course). Just sunlight, majestic trees and their quiet. It felt so quiet that I realized how much I had been scream-full of expectations last time around; of what I’d make of myself, life and love. These expectations wore away my confidence and made a specific context within which I could be happy. Coming back to this place without them, I felt peaceful and free and when I looked up up up I held my breath not out of fear but in admiration.

Next time my worries bring me down, I’ll try to remember the redwoods and that no problem of mine could ever be 300ft tall.

down the coast: food fuel food

Now for one of the most important topics: what did they eat? Answer: a lot. Touring fires up the appetite and it’s important to eat well not just to replace all the calories burned cycling but also to keep your mind and moods functioning well and to stay warm to sleep well in the chilly outdoors.

While you could cycle the entire coast eating in restaurants and carrying only snacks for in between, we chose to cook our own food to save on money and for the plain ol’ joy of cooking. Our kitchen included:

- the MSR WhisperLite Internationale Stove with a 650mL fuel bottle
- two pots with lids
- a wooden spoon
- olive oil, salt & pepper, sugar, cinnamon, curry powder
- a flexible cutting board and knife
- a few tupperware containers for eating out of and storing food
- eating utensils
- scrubbies and Dr. Bronner’s soap for cleaning

With simply the above we were able to concoct delicious meals from the quick-and-easy stew:

to a more elegant plate of food:

The stove cooked quite hot and leaving the pot on the burner would quickly burn food inside so quesadillas and pancakes ended up delicious modge but “eggie bread” (Anna’s term for french toast that I happily adopted) worked wonderfully.

We typically bought a bit of fresh food every day so that we didn’t have to carry much and would eat a cold meal for lunch and a hot meal for dinner. Breakfasts varied between hot and cold depending on how quickly we wanted to get going in the morning.

On the road we would try to plan for food stops at scenic places but to be honest, often we couldn’t wait the extra kilometres to the next beach or viewpoint. A number of our snacks and meals were eaten at highway pull-outs staring at the road. A delicious one was a Waldorf salad variation (spinach, pear, blue cheese, walnuts) served between spinach naan.

Of course we didn’t cook every meal. There were many delicious restaurants along the way including the standard small town Asian-cuisine offering in Washington and Oregon, Thai:

and rich and hearty American diner fare:

We also had a mini-tradition of a bigger Sunday restaurant breakfast:

and in Tillamook I landed in breakfast heaven at the Blue Moon Cafe with a toast AND oatmeal set. A carb double-up that I had yet to experience. With raisins and walnuts! Heaven.

Between meals we snacked on the standards: trail mix, bananas, apples for me, oranges for anna, cheese and crackers, a lot of chocolate and so many Clif Bars. All flavours of the rainbow and so many that when we decided it was time to move on, other energy bars felt strange and wrong in my mouth. The best: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut followed by Cool Mint Chocolate. The worst: Carrot Cake (an energy bar trying to be something it’s not.)

I feel like there is so much more to write about concerning food. Like the delicious meals prepared by great hosts, touring the cheese factory and tangerine beer. But I’ve been back in Vancouver since Thursday and bike trip memories are slipping from clear to “well just make something up” mode as I’m occupied with re-organizing my life and Velopalooza fun. So I’ll throw my napkin on this plate and move along.

(Yes, I’m aware that I used this photo two posts ago. But the beer is that good.)