Sunday, December 28, 2014

Istanbul, Not Constantinople

Before our Turkey trip came to a close, Ferit and I spent eight days in Istanbul. I tell you, it was difficult exploring Istanbul without having this little ditty running through my head:
Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night...
I had always assumed this song was the brilliant brainchild of "They Might Be Giants," an alternative rock band from my childhood. Thanks to my friend, Chad, for enlightening me, as this swing-style song was originally recorded in 1953, by a Canadian group called "The Four Lads." Who would have thought it!

A scenic view of the Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn,
the primary inlet of the Bosphorus Straits.
The upper deck of the bridge was lined with fisherman, night and day.

Did you know that Turkey spans two continents? Yup, Turkey is in both Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus Straits, which divide the city of Istanbul, also divide the continents. Although Turks generally consider their country to lie within Europe, the truth is that most of the country (97%) lies within Asia (technically "Asia Minor").

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Three-Day Trek Along the Lycian Way

Shortly after Mom left Turkey, Ferit and I headed out on a three-day trek along the Lycian Way.

The Lycian Way, which stretches 509 km along the southwest coast of Turkey, is commonly referred to as one of the best trekking routes in the world.

I don't know about you, but I had never heard of the Lycian Way before traveling to Turkey. I had, however, heard of the Camino de Santiago, made famous by the movie, "The Way" (a great movie starring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez). In essence, the Lycian Way is Turkey's version of The Camino.

Me and Ferit, at the official start of the Lycian Way.

As our trek was only three days in length, and as we aren't superhumans, we experienced just a taste of the route -- approximately 35 km, from Fethiye to the Butterfly Valley, in Faralya.

The Ruins at Aspendos & Olympos

The final days of the road trip with Mom took us to the ruins at Aspendos and Olympos.

If you were to ask me, "Sarah, which food most closely resembles this segment of your road trip?" then I would reply, "This segment of the trip most closely resembles a sandwich; two ancient theatre ruins served as the bread, and a whole bunch of other ruins served as the sammich's yummy fixin's."

The first ruin we visited was the theatre at Aspendos. Built in 155 BC, the theatre is well known as the "best-preserved theatre of antiquity."

Mom and I look out over one end of the sandwich --
the wonderfully-preserved ancient theatre at Aspendos.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Side, Kitties, Goats, & Thunderstorms

After leaving the Cappadocia region, we headed south to explore some ruins along the Mediterranean coast.

After a brief stop in Konya (where Ferit and I enjoyed a wonderful cafe near Alaaddin Hill while Mom toured the Mevlana Museum), we headed for the town of Side (pronounced "See-Day").

Side is well-known as a resort town. Fortunately, the height of the tourist season had come and gone. Unfortunately, Side was nonetheless quite touristy, with its many souvenir shops and foreigner-focused restaurants still in full-swing.

Side is also well-known for its Roman ruins. Probably the most well known of its ruins is the Temple of Apollo. Though not much of the temple remains standing, it offers a magnificent view, with the Mediterranean in the distance.

The Temple of Apollo.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Around Cappadocia

We spent one of our road trip days exploring a few areas within the immediate vicinity of Cappadocia.

One of these areas was the Ihlara Valley. The valley, which lies at the bottom of a 100 meter-deep, stream-lined gorge, contains thousands of ancient cave dwellings and hundreds of ancient churches along its ten mile length. Constructed in the Byzantine era (330-1453 A.D.), the cave structures were used by the early Christians who sought escape from Roman soldiers.

Me and Ferit, in one of the cave churches.
Notice the ancient paintings on the wall behind us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Magical Cappadocia

During our road trip, we stopped for a few days in Cappadocia. Wow, what a magical place!

Cappadocia is heavily salt'n'peppered with these interesting "fairy chimney" rock formations. All sorts of cave homes and churches, some hundreds of years old, have been carved into the rocks.

A view from a cave window.

Izmir, A Hamam, Ankara, & The Salt Lake

Ferit had arrived at a good pausing point in designing his family's home, so we were ready to embark on our road trip.

As Ferit and his mom needed to tend to some matters in Acipayam, Alaattin, and Izmir, our road trip began with a visit to these three locations.

On our drive from Alaattin to Izmir, we stopped for a picnic at a roadside playground.
Left to right: My mom, Ferit's mom, and Ferit.

While Ferit and his mom took care of some business in Izmir, my mom and I had some time to explore the third largest city in Turkey.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ghost Town & The Blue Lagoon

One afternoon we drove to see the ghost town at Kayaköy. The town, located on a mountainside, has a very interesting history.

Kayaköy -- the ghost town.

You may recall from my Hanging Out in Thessaloniki post that we visited the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk when we passed through Greece. At Atatürk's birthplace, I learned about the compulsory population exchange that occurred shortly after the Republic of Turkey was established. As part of the exchange, the Muslim population living in Greece was exchanged with the Greek Orthodox population leaving in Turkey. The purpose of the exchange was to achieve ethnic-national homogeneity.

Hanging Around Fethiye

My mom came to visit Turkey for two and a half weeks in October and November. Prior to her visit, my mom thought Turkey was all about scarved people riding camels across deserts. I think it's safe to say that my mom's visit provided her initial thoughts to be rather inaccurate.

The original plan was to take a road trip with my mom around Eastern Turkey, a place that neither Ferit nor I had yet visited. Alas, about a week before my mom's arrival, we started receiving emails from the US Embassy advising US citizens to use extreme caution when traveling to the east; there had been demonstrations related to the fighting in Syria, and some of the demonstrations had resulted in casualties.

Given that we'd be traveling in an automobile with German plates, it'd be quite obvious that we were foreigners. And given that the automobile was a BMW, it'd look as though we were rich foreigners. We decided it best to take our road trip in central Turkey instead.

But before we could leave for our trip, Ferit had some work to do. He had been designing a new family home to be built in the village of Alaattin, and he needed to get to a certain point in the design process before he could slip away for the road trip.

For about a week, Ferit plugged away on his home designs while my mom and I kept ourselves busy in Fethiye, the coastal town where Ferit's mom lives. Fortunately, Ferit was able to peel himself away from his work in the evenings to serve as our tour guide.

Ferit, hard at work designing his family's home in the village.

My Bayram Mission: Save the Goat

[NOTE: This post contains graphic photos of an animal sacrifice. Sensitive readers should exercise caution.]

As mentioned in a previous post, in early October we travelled to the village of Alaattin to celebrate the Kurban Bayram ("Sacrifice Holiday"). This is a four-day Muslim holiday during which the sacrifice feast is celebrated.

There are some stories that I vaguely remember from my vacation bible school days. The story of Abraham is one of them. As described in the Old Testament, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his first-born son, Isaac, as an act of faith and submission. Abraham brought Isaac to the alter. But before Abraham brought the knife to his son, God replaced Abraham's son with a lamb. An animal was sacrificed in lieu of Abraham's son.

The story of Abraham is the same in the Koran, though Abraham is called "Ibrahim" and Isacc's son is named "Ishmael." During the Kurban Bayram, Muslims sacrifice animals to commemorate the Prophet Abraham and his devotion to God.

We acted out the upcoming animal sacrifice.
I am the unlucky animal. 

The Kurban Bayram is about community, visiting family and friends. It's also about charity, giving clothing and food (including a portion of the sacrificed animal) to the less fortunate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Circumcision Hat

If you recall from my last post, A Trip to the Village, Ferit and I travelled to the village of Alaattin, where Ferit's family is from. While at the village, we came across this cute little blue hat. We couldn't resist taking turns rockin' the hat.

Ferit rocks the hat.

A Trip to the Village

My mom left Turkey a week ago, and I have many, many posts to write to get you up-to-speed on the latest happenings. But, before I write about my mom's visit, I'm going to take you back to the first weekend in October, when we traveled to the village of Alaatin.

Alaattin is the village where Ferit's family is from. We went to Alaattin to celebrate the Muslim Kurban bayram. Yes, my friends, this is the much anticipated holiday during which animals are sacrificed. Woohoo!

This was one of the homes in Alaatin, not too far from the center of the village.
Of course there were fancier homes, too.

Traveling to Alaattin was a bit of a culture shock for me. Most of the traveling we had done thus far within Turkey was to urban places. But this was the first time that we traveled to a part of Turkey that had hardly been influenced by money, tourism, or the western world. Visiting Alaatin was the first time that I understood why Turkey is considered to be a "developing nation."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy 2nd Re-Birthday to Me!

Happy 2nd Re-Birthday to Me!

It has now been two years since I took the plunge and quit my job. As this event was pivotal in achieving my new lifestyle, I like to celebrate this re-birthday! Happy 2nd re-birthday to me!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Turkey in 213 Seconds

As you know, my dear readers, I'm currently overseas, spending a few months in Turkey. In recognition of my travels, my friend, Jason, recently brought a short film called "Watchower of Turkey" to my attention.

For 20 days, Leonardo Dalessandri traveled more than 3500 km in Turkey, all the while capturing Turkey's gorgeous landscapes and people on film. "Watchtower of Turkey," edited and directed by Leonardo, is an amazing video, rich in color and sound, that summarizes Leonardo's travels.


Like Leonardo, I've been fortunate to witness some of the sites in this video, such as Pamukkale and Ephesus, first-hand. I look forward to seeing more sites during the remainder of my stay in Turkey.

My mom just flew out to Turkey to join us for the next few weeks. During her visit, I'll be blog-silent. I hope you'll enjoy this video in my absence, watching it over and over again, as I have.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ruins at Ephesus

Ephesus is an ancient Greek city, located in present day Turkey.

Beginning in AD 50, Ephesus was an important center for Christianity. It is estimated that as many as 56,000 people lived within the city during the height of the Roman Empire, 180 years earlier.  As you can imagine, there is an abundance of history in the ruins at Ephesus.

We spent an afternoon visiting the ruins. Though my knowledge of and interest in the specifics of the history of the ruins is scant, I very much enjoyed seeing the ruins.

Me, at Ephesus.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Boat Ride to Turtle Beach

A little while back, Ferit and I took a boat ride from the town of Dalyan (in Turkey) to İztuzu Beach.

Affectionately known as "Turtle Beach," the 4.5 km-long sandy spit is the breeding grounds for the endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Due to conservation efforts, the beach is only accessible to the public during certain times of the year. During these times, beachgoers must abide by strict rules as they enjoy the beach and the seawater.

The beach was absolutely pristine. We walked the entire length of the beach and back, talking, holding hands, and enjoying each other's company the entire way. Before re-boarding the boat for our return trip, we swam in the Aegean Sea.

While we neglected to take any photos of our time enjoying the beach, we did capture some photos of the boat ride to and from the beach.

The boat, winding through the river passageways of the Dalyan Delta.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Gallipoli: A Movie Takes on Meaning

How good is your knowledge of World War I history? Do you remember the Battle of Gallipoli?

If not, then perhaps this map rings a bell for you.

The Battle of Gallipoli.

If neither the battle name nor the map tickles your history memory neurons, then maybe you recall watching the 1981 film entitled "Gallipoli."

I remember watching that "Gallipoli" movie my senior year in high school, as part of my AP European History class. For the record, AP European History was my absolute least favorite class. Thank god Mel Gibson starred in the film, or I very well may have napped through the movie, thereby forever filing "Gallipoli" and its battle into my memory's trash receptacle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Akyaka Sunsets

Akyaka is a coastal town in the southwest corner of Turkey. It is tucked into the far end of the Gulf of Gökova.

Ferit loves Akyaka, primarily because of its primo conditions for kite surfing. But I've fallen in love with Akyaka, too -- partially because of its neighbor, the sea, and partially because of the beautiful mountains that surround the valley. But mostly because of Akyaka's amazing sunsets.

My first Akyaka sunset, overlooking the Gökova valley.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Cotton Castles of Pamukkale

Judging by the photo below, one might think we've moved on from our travels in Turkey and are now visiting the Antarctic.

This looks an awful lot like snow and ice cold water, eh?

Such thoughts, however, would be wrong. We are still in Turkey, turkey. And I'm standing aside a hot spring-fed travertine pool in the temperate-climated town of Pamukkale.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tandem Riding: Doggie Style

During one of our stays in Akyaka, Turkey, we decided to rent bicycles and explore the beautiful seaside valley on two wheels. We chose a pleasant 30 km loop around the valley, and after some deliberation, we settled on renting a single bicycle for the both of us.

As Ferit and I were both tandem virgins, we weren't quite sure how tandem riding worked. But, with Ferit as the bicycle's fearless captain and with me as the ever-ready stoker, we were confident that we could figure out how a couple goes about losing their tandem virginity.

Excited to start the ride.

It took a mile or so for us to figure out how to ride together. Once Ferit learned how to use the gears, and once I learned to begin pedaling only after Ferit's feet were firmly planted on the pedals, we were golden.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hiking the Saklıkent Canyon

We spent an afternoon hiking the Saklıkent Canyon. Saklıkent, in Turkish, means "the hidden city."

Located in the Muğla province in Turkey, the Saklıkent Canyon is 11 miles long, though only 2.5 miles of the canyon are open to hikers. With vertical walls of nearly 1,000 feet, it is one of the deepest canyons in the world.

As is always the case with hiking in a canyon, flash floods are a concern. Two months ago, a flash flood swept through this very canyon, injuring eight people and killing two. Fortunately, the forecast showed no rain for the day of our hike.

Signs suggested that we wear helmets on the hike.
As helmets lacking proper adjustment mechanisms and chin straps
are nearly useless, we opted not to wear the helmets.
At least the helmets provided for a good photo op.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hanging Out in Thessaloniki

As we drove from Germany to Turkey, we passed through Greece and spent two nights in Thessaloniki. This city, located on the Aegean Sea, is the second largest in Greece.

It was quite comical using the GPS to navigate through the streets, as Ferit's GPS application apparently isn't able to speak Greek. The app constructed us to continue along the course of the road for 3 kilometers and then to turn right onto "Epsilon tau eta nu iota kappa iota sigma Alpha mu iota nu iota sigma." Ha!

The White Tower, which is the symbol of Thessaloniki.
The tower served as both a place of executions and a prison during the Ottomon Empire.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Running in Serbia & Skopje Fusion-Confusion

In Serbia, we stayed in a city called Novi Sad. Given the places we had already visited, there wasn't much to impress us in this city. It didn't help that the skies were a dreary gray and pouring rain down upon us during our stay. We joked that Novi Sad was indeed "sad."

The previous night, I was up most of the night with a major case of runner's leg syndrome, and so I desperately needed to move my legs when we got into town. Sitting in a car for hours on end, day-after-day is pretty hard for someone whose vacation days typically involve pedaling for hours on end, day-after-day. So, after checking into the hotel, Ferit and I laced up our running shoes to explore the city. At least we can say: "We went for a run in Serbia." Call me silly, but I think that's pretty cool.

When we got back from our run, we enjoyed a cup of tea, courtesy of the kitchenette in our room. I really enjoyed my cup of tea, not only because of the message written on the teacup, but also because of the cup's educational artwork.

We got a good laugh at the teacup in our hotel room.
(You may need to zoom-in to also appreciate the artwork.)

Visiting Buda & Pest

On our drive from Germany to Turkey, we stopped for two days in Budapest, Hungary. Did you know that Budapest used to be two cities -- Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east side?

We walked out of our apartment in the morning to find
a muralist painting a building across the street.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Look Up

A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook today. The message of the video, which is written, directed, and spoken in true Dr. Seuss-style by Gary Turk, is that social media is anything but social.

I may be a hypocrite for sharing this video, as I sure do like relaxing with my iPad, writing my blog, and keeping up with my friends on Facebook. But I even moreso like the simple pleasures of living a good old fashioned life -- one filled with real social interactions and real off-line activities.

This is precisely the reason why I don't own a Smartphone; I don't want to be constantly barraged with technology. When I'm lost, I prefer asking for directions rather than relying on a GPS. And when I'm wanting a way to relax, rather than browsing through the latest Facebook posts, I prefer reading a book, or people watching, or going for a walk, or doing some yoga, or a million other more productive things.

Please take five minutes to watch this video. It has a very important lesson for all of us.

Monday, September 1, 2014

An Afternoon in Bratislava

We spent an afternoon in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals in Europe and the only capital that borders two other countries -- Austria and Hungary.

For those of you who are behind in your geography, you may recall the country called Czechoslovakia. Due to the end of communism and the growth of nationalist tensions, in 1993, the country split into two -- the Czech Republic (which we visited yesterday) and Slovakia (which we visited today).

Smiles all around -- me, Ferit, and Dilek.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Day in Prague

We left the Frankfurt Airport late yesterday afternoon and drove directly to Prague, in the Czech Republic. We arrived at our pension shortly after midnight, having had some good laughs about how we had to pay for both drinking water as well as for use of the restroom to expel such water.

After breakfast at the pension the next morning, we were off for a full day of exploring Prague.

Looking down onto Prague from the Petrin gardens.

Me and Dilek pose for a selfie.

Flying to Europe

Özgür, Ferit's cousin and Seattle's most eligible bachelor, drove us to the airport early Thursday morning.

Özgür, Ferit, and me.

Two hours later, Ferit and I flew from Seattle to Minneapolis on Sun Country, an airline none of us had heard of. After seven hours of layover in Minneapolis, we then flew to Frankfurt on Condor.

Apparently the huge bag carrying all of the kite gear didn't board the plane in Seattle. That was totally fine by us, as the bag would be put on a flight the next day and delivered directly to the doorstop of Ferit's mom, in Turkey. Sweet! As we wouldn't need the kiting gear until we arrived in Turkey, we were pleased that we wouldn't have to lug this ginormous bag around with us for the next two weeks.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Adventure Begins -- A Day Early

Ferit and I leave tomorrow morning to spend the next five months in Europe. As such, our adventure technically begins tomorrow. But with some theft and police report excitement today, we can’t help but consider that our adventure has begun one day early.

Before I left for my Sierra-Cascades bike trip in early May, I left all my belongings at a friend’s house for safe-keeping. My belongings will remain at my friend’s house while we travel in Europe. Ferit’s belongings, on the other hand, needed to be stored while we travel.

Ferit found a unit at a storage facility where he could store his belongings. Ferit signed the contract two days ago, and we had already moved two carloads of stuff over to the storage unit.

Around 4:30pm this afternoon, Ferit received a call from the storage facility informing him that the lock for the unit had been “tampered with” and that he should come to the unit to see if anything had been taken. Really? It has only been two days and already the unit has been burglarized?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Exploring Vancouver Island: A Photo Journal

For twenty-two days in July and August, Ferit and I explored Vancouver Island. Located in the southwest corner of British Columbia, Vancouver Island is the largest island in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand. This is a photo journal of our trip.

Some days we camped in campgrounds.
Other days we claimed our own "Private Idahos" in the forest.
This is our bush camping site at the end of a logging road near Port Alberni.
We spent two days/nights here, in our own little heaven.

As one who has always slept in tents mounted on the ground,
getting used to climbing in and out of a car-top tent took a little getting used to...
especially for mid-night tea-pees.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Shadow Memory

I'm a firm believer that we have an obligation to ourselves (and to the world) to give life to our artistic creations. If we fail to do so, those creations will never exist, and the world won't be nearly as rich for it.

While sitting aside Muchalat Lake, on Vancouver Island, a poem came to me. While I certainly don't consider myself to be a poet, I felt the need to commit the poem to written form. And so I ran back to the campsite to grab a pen and paper. I returned to the lake and quickly scribbled the words from my mind.

While I don't foresee that anything "outwardly monumental" will come of the poem, I do know that the act of bringing the pen to paper enhanced my focus on the present moment. With that focus came a flood of joy and gratitude. For these reasons, this poem is deeply meaningful to me.

Watching the sunset at Muchalat Lake. (August 4, 2014)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's Next?

"So, what's next?" you ask.

My plan was to spend a week or so chilling in Seattle after I returned from the Sierra-Cascades ride. During this time, I would relax, swap out my tires, throw some additional gear into the panniers (bear spray and the such), and then head out for the next adventure -- a few months riding the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide.

My route for the Icefields Parkway and The Great Divide.

For those of you not familiar with these rides, the Icefields Parkway runs from Jasper to Banff, in Alberta, Canada. The ride is 140 miles of flippin' gorgeousness, with picture perfect lakes and icefields as far as one's laser-vision-corrected eyes can see.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Video Montage: Sierra-Cascades

I finally found some free time in my busy, R'n'R-packed schedule to create a video montage for this summer's Sierra-Cascades bike ride.

For those of you who have loyally followed all of my posts from the trip, you'll recognize a majority of the photos in the video. However, I added a few never-before-seen-by-the-public photos to encourage you to watch the video...

...and maximize my views count! Clever, eh?



The first song is called "You're the Only Thing in Your Way," by Cloud Cult. You may recall from my Day #21: The Soundtracks of My Mind post that this song cycled through my mind every time my I-am-loving-this-bike-touring-thing smile crossed my face. It thus seemed appropriate that this song serve as the opening tune for the video montage.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Pleasant Surprise, When Least Expected

I had been single for about a year. Knowing that I'd be away most of the summer on bike trips, dating wasn't high on my priority list. For one, it's difficult to find a potential suitor who is near my age and who has the desire and the means to be able to break free from the work world and explore all that life has to offer. For two, I wasn't terribly interested in entering a relationship that would distract me from my upcoming bike trips.

With the encouragement of my friend, Cedar, I reenabled my online dating profile a month or so before I left for the Sierrra-Cascades ride. She had convinced me that if I didn't put myself out there, I'd never find anyone.

There were quite a few email exchanges with various potential suitors as well as a few first "dates" (oh, how I hate that word). Alas, none of the gentlemen excited me. I came to the conclusion that I was neither mentally nor emotionally interested in dating.

Nine days before I left for my summer of biking, I logged into the online dating website to disable my profile. In the upper left-hand corner of the webpage was this photo:

The photo that caught my eye.

This was a fresh face -- one I had not yet seen. I thought to myself: "Self, you might as well enjoy some calorie-free eye candy before you voluntarily remove yourself from the online dating world." And so, to appease my taste for sweets, I clicked through to the guy's other photos:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reflections on My Recent Trip

I've ridden three "big" bike tours thus far -- a 21-day trip down the Pacific Coast, a 52-day cross-country trip from Portland, OR to Portland ME, and a 50-day ride through the Sierra-Cascades from the Mexican border to the Canadian border.

After all three tours, I've reflected on the lessons learned from the trips. Doing so has not only provided closure for the trips, but it has also enabled me to continually improve my touring experiences by recognizing those things that did and did not go well.

With each subsequent trip, the number of lessons learned has decreased. I interpret this to imply that the more touring experience I acquire, the closer my experience asymptotes to the ideal touring experience.

Unlike my first two trips, however, some of the lessons learned from my recent Sierra-Cascades trip have been more profound. A mere statement, abbreviated within the confines of a bullet point, fails to fully capture the importance of these lessons.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lessons Learned: Sierra-Cascades

My recent Sierra-Cascades tour was neither the longest in terms of miles nor the longest in terms of days. The trip, nonetheless, offered opportunities for learning.

Just as I have done for my previous bike trips, I have composed a list of the lessons learned from my Sierra-Cascades ride:

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bike Trip Stats: Sierra-Cascades

Below are the stats for my recent Sierra-Cascades bike trip.

Total Miles Travelled by Bicycle: 2,384

Total Time in Saddle: 228 hours, 48 minutes
(equal to 9 days, 12 hours, 48 minutes)

# of Trip Days: 50
# of Riding Days: 45
# of Rest Days: 5
Max # of Consecutive Riding Days: 13

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day #50: Riding Forever on the Last Day

Today's Route: Arlington, WA to Bellingham, WA (96 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,384

We performed our morning rituals for the final time this morning, as today was the last day of our trip. Our route was straight-forward; we would follow Highway 9 from Arlington to Sumas.

Highway 9 was a gorgeous road. Though mostly flat, the road offered tantalizing views of the snow-covered Cascades off to the east.

A peek at the North Cascade peaks.

The first 25 miles or so of the highway followed the western border of The Rectangle Ride (see Bloated Fish & Butt Raisins). I've ridden The Rectangle Ride four times before, and so one would assume that all the sites along this road would be familiar to me. However, every time I've biked The Rectangle Ride, I've biked counterclockwise around the rectangle, meaning that I've biked along Highway 9 from north to south. Today we road from south to north, and so I was able to experience the route from a different angle. Doing so enabled me to see new things, such as this funny sign:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Day #49: Urban Trails

Today's Route: Seattle, WA to Arlington, WA (67 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,288

Having celebrated the solstice in Seattle yesterday, we are back on the road today to finish our final two days of pedaling.

Though today's route passed through a number of towns near to home, the route included sections of urban trails on which I have not yet ridden.

For the first 36 miles of our route, Alex and I had the pleasure of having Ferit join us for the ride.

The first part of the route was along the Lake Washington Loop. I've ridden this route a million times before, though this was the first time I ever stopped to pose for a photo with the awesome cyclist suspended from a tree:

The suspended cyclist, along the Lake Washington loop.

The second urban trail we followed today was the Interurban Trail. Though I have ridden the Interurban many times close to the Seattle area, I had never followed the trail as far north as Everett. It is a so-so trail -- one that would definitely benefit from better signage and fewer stop signs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day #48: Celebrating the Solstice

Today's Route: Rest Day in Seattle (6 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,221

As fate would have it, our rest day in Seattle happened to coincide with the annual Fremont Solstice Parade. Fate was clearly telling me that this was the year to ride my bicycle in the parade.

Are you ready for a little game? Here we go! Look at the two photos below. Can you spot the differences?

A photo of me and Alex, from my A Commercial Break post.
(Photo by Ferit.)

Alex and me, riding in today's Fremont Solstice Parade.
(Photo by Ferit.)

Yup, you're right on! In the second photo, Alex is in front, Alex is wearing a helmet, and we're riding on gravel instead of a paved road. Can you spot any other differences?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Day #47: Sweet Home Seattle

Today's Route: Parkland, WA to Seattle, WA (51 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,215

Today was all about pedaling, because tonight we knew we'd have warm showers and comfy beds in our hometown of Seattle.

Somewhere along the route, I stopped long enough to pick some flowers and to arrange them in my handlebar vase.

A bouquet of flowers, to welcome me back to Seattle.

Somewhere along the route, we also came across this crazy guy, who was standing on the side of the road, lifting his lightweight bicycle with one finger. Oh wait, that crazy guy is Ferit!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day #46: Cartwheeling for Joy

Today's Route: Castle Rock, WA to Parkland, WA (89 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,164

Ever since we entered Washington state yesterday, I've had a hard time remembering that we've crossed into a new state.

As you may recall, when we've crossed other state boundaries, we've jumped for joy at the "Welcome to [State]" signs. This joyous burst of energy has helped my brain to remember the crossing.

Since there was no "Welcome to Washington" sign along our route, I thought that perhaps cartwheeling for the pure joy of being in Washington might help to make me feel as though we were now in our home state. At a grocery stop in Napavine, I cartwheeled for joy on the green Washington grass.

Cartwheeling for joy (part one).

Day #45: The STP -- In Reverse

Today's Route: Portland, OR to Castle Rock, WA (69 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,075

Alex had the directions for our new route on his phone. For the first ten miles of our ride this morning, we'd memorize two or three of the turns, ride one or two of the turns (because we'd forget the third), and then pull over on the side of road to look at the phone for the next few turns. Ah ya ya! This form of navigation was going to take forever!

I proposed that we write down the turns.

Alas, we didn't have any paper. We pulled over at a gas station, and I went to the bathroom to get some paper towels. The paper towels served perfectly for capturing our directions in an easily accessible manner.

Our route, handwritten with a quill pen on fancy brown paper.

In a nutshell, our ride north will follow the Seattle-to-Portland ride (aka "The STP") -- in reverse.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day #44: P-Town & The S-Word

Today's Route: Sublimity, OR to Portland, OR (69 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 2,006

We passed 2,000 on the odometer today. Woohoo!

We also passed through more gorgeous scenery on our ride though Oregon this morning.

A lone tree proudly stands by itself.

A colorful pasture.

As you likely recall, yesterday we decided that we would take a different route to the Candian border; we would parallel the I-5 corridor. As we traced our fingers along the corridor, northward from Sublimity, the word "Portland" was like a flashing neon sign. It was the perfect distance away for our next day's riding goal.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Commercial Break

And now...for a break from our regularly scheduled programming.

I would like share the below photos, which were taken by Ferit.

Riding along a snowdrift at Crater Lake.

Day #43: Soggy with Sublimity Salvation

Today's Route: Blue Bay Campground (14 miles N of Sisters, OR) to Sublimity, OR (87 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,937

We woke up to more rain, which meant packing away soggy tents. While packing away a soggy tent is fine and dandy, putting up a soggy tent the next night is not a good thing. We would need to find a way to dry our tents.

We began our morning with a climb up and over Santiam Pass. Near the top of the summit, the rain turned to snow. Goody, more snow!

Snowflakes at the top of Santiam Pass.

Being wet, in and of itself, is not a big deal. Likewise, being cold, in and of itself, is not a big deal. But when you combine wet and cold, the combination is not pretty. Particularly when you're descending at fast speeds, such that wind also becomes a factor.

Day #42: A Few Steps Forwards & 20 Miles Backwards

Today's Route: Bend, OR to Blue Bay Campground (14 miles N of Sisters, OR) (50 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,850

This morning as we cycled, we enjoyed a fantastic view of The Sisters in the distance.


The Sisters in the distance.

Here's another view of The Sisters, with a neat horse sculpture in the foreground:

Horses riding in front of The Sisters.

Riding through Oregon today made me think of this wonderful ad promoting bike tourism in Oregon.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day #41: A Bittersweet Reunion

Today's Route: Chemult, OR to Bend, OR (73 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,800

Randy rode the ten miles to Chemult and pulled into our motel parking lot at 9:30am on-the-dot. It was so great to see his smiling face.

Randy and me.

Randy was riding off the Sierra-Cascades route today. He was going to follow Route 97 straight north to meet up with a friend of his for a few days.

After looking at an Oregon map, Alex and I realized that if we also took Route 97 straight north, we could shave a number of miles off of our ride.

Option A: Stick with the original Sierra-Cascades route. This means more miles and no riding with Randy.

Option B: Ride north on Route 97. This means shaving miles off the route and being able to ride with Randy.

Day #40: Snowpocalypse!

Today's Route: Crater National Park (along the west rim) to Chemult, OR (48 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,727

Last night we checked the forecast and learned that there was a chance of precipitation overnight. At the higher elevations, the precipitation would likely be in the form of snow.

We awoke this morning to hear precipitation gently falling on the tent; this was snow. At times, the precipitation was a bit louder; this was sleet. Lovely!

Alex and I decided to delay our typical 7am-leave-from-camp departure time. We hoped that the precipitation would die off by 11am, as the forecast had predicted.

We parted ways with Ferit and Dilek, who are heading west to enjoy the Oregon coast through the remainder of the weekend. Thanks, you two, for spending a few days of your trip with us. It was great spending time with you, and our stomachs are forever grateful for the many meals you prepared for us.

At 11am, rain droplets and snowflakes were still falling from the sky. Alex and I decided to start our ride anyway, very well knowing that we still had 1,500 ft to climb before we reached the highest point along Crater Lake.

Riding through a light, wet snowfall.

There's a first time for everything, and this was my first time I encountered snow on a bike tour. Alex and I were laughing about how we've experienced a whole range of temperatures and weather conditions on this trip.

Day #39: The Bestest Day Ride Ever

Today's Route: The East Rim of Crater Lake (28 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,679

One of the most popular day rides in the Pacific Northwest is the 33-mile long ride along the rim of Crater Lake. I've wanted to do this ride for a long time. Since we were passing through Crater Lake, now was the perfect time to make that ride happen.

Snow-side graffiti.

The Crater Lake area is one of the snowiest places in the Pacific Northwest. On average, it receives 44 ft of snowfall each year. Because of the heavy snowfall, the road around the rim of the lake is only accessible for a few short months each year -- typically in July, August, and September.

Day #38: Crater Lake

Today's Route: River Bridge Campground (6 miles N of Prospect, OR) to Crater Lake National Park (27 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,651

Today we entered Crater Lake National Park!

At the entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake was created 7,700 years ago, when 12,000 ft high Mount Mazama collapsed in a massive volcanic eruption. The explosion created a 4,000 ft deep caldera. The caldera later filled with water to create Crater Lake.

Day #37: An Uneventful Ride

Today's Route: Ashland, OR to River Bridge Campground (6 miles N of Prospect, OR) (81 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 1,624

It was a long, but uneventful, ride today. Below is a photo that Randy took of Alex and me as we rode through California a number of days ago. Given that we wear the same clothes day-in and day-out, this is also what Alex and I looked like riding today. Though, of course, you'll need to swap out the California scenery with Oregon scenery.

Me and Alex riding. (Photo by Randy.)

As Alex spent the rest day yesterday at a hotel in Ashland, and as I camped with Ferit and Dilek just outside of Ashland, the first order of business was to meet up with Alex so that we could begin our ride together. Alex and I met up at the corner of Dead Indian Memorial Road, where we would begin the morning with a 15-mile climb.