Saturday, June 5, 2010

Home Stretch

Upon returning home Clanc and I just weren’t able to keep off two wheels. This time it was on mountain bikes around a frosty Applegate lake. Rolling on single-track felt great - off road riding was something we’d craved all trip. Here Clanc stands next to a frozen trail marker.

Holidays at home with friends and family flew by in a fantastic blur. Clancy arrived home just in time for Thanksgiving with his folks. I crashed my Dad’s house for turkey day and ate so much I slipped into a food coma. Christmas came and went and we caught up with friends leading up to New Year’s. Everywhere we went people remarked, “Tell us about your trip!”: a logical inquiry that we’ve grown used to by now. Thing is, you can’t sum up the last six months of your life in one conversation, let alone convey the feelings associated with all the experiences we shared. I considered putting together a presentation for this reason but I doubt anyone has time for a 3,600 picture slideshow. Do we feel fulfilled, enlightened, complete? Hardly, but we are more rounded and much better for the experience. People say, “That must have been a once in a lifetime type of deal!” Nah - I’m sure it will happen again. Wouldn’t you want to replay the time of your life?

We miss the road. The life of a vagabond is uncomplicated - as long as your wheels are rolling you haven’t a care in the world. Here we sit in our homes surrounded by a plethora of things. Stuff, stuff and more stuff. These things should enrich your life I suppose but if you let it, this stuff can own you and not the other way round.

Moments of memory from the trip are incredible and abundant. Still frames, sounds, smells, tastes. I can remember lunch on the side of the road one day in Washington clearer than anything that happened yesterday. It’s almost like time travel. When you actually want to remember every moment of every day time seems to move much slower (in a delightful way). Who wants to remember exactly what they did at work last week?

When you pause to think about it, life can be a balance between living up to other peoples’ expectations and mindless self indulgence. Neither extreme is healthy. Still, I find that most folks are confronted with this issue on a frequent basis. A more concrete example: when I tell people what I want to do next they often reply with “You have a degree in blah-blah-blah, why would you want to go off and do something else like that?” I want to sail a ship, go to culinary school, make music, fly a plane, hop a train, visit Europe and New Zealand. I tire of complacent lifestyles, having the same routine day in and day out. Not to say it’s a bad thing - just not my cup of tea. An excerpt from a Jack Kerouac novel comes to mind:

“…because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are made to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn…”

This last month has gotten us stir crazy. Don’t get me wrong - it’s positively wonderful being close to friends and family. I just can’t sit still here when there are so many things out there. I don’t expect everyone to understand, but perhaps respect the decision. You only live once, right? Still, so many go on living in a way that prompts me to wonder - is this what you are to seeking to extract from existence? But alas, I am not here to tell you how to think and this is not a philosophy forum. I digress. It’s time get back on the road…

Monday, April 5, 2010

Contact Info

Update: we are no longer in the habit of checking the shared email account so you would have the best luck reaching me at Chase.Duran at (Clancy's info is below). My photos website for my current adventure can be seen here.

At the moment Clancy is about to jump offshore on the way to the Mediterranean on his own boat adventure. Thanks again to all the kind souls that made our trip worthwhile!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hello Friends Scattered Near and Far!!!

Well time has slipped by and things have changed from our pedaling passed, but it’s still great to be alive and well. My belated last post for the bike adventure is soon to be up - I have been delaying it, trying to prolong the memories but the time has come. If there is anyone out there that wants to contact me while I’m on the boat just e-mail me or check out my facebook account. My email is and my facebook is under my full name. Thanks again to all the wonderful people that made this trip so great for us, it was truly magnificent.

~Clanc and Chase

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Update is Here! (Scroll Down)

The really short version: We arrived home just in time for Thanksgiving with our families! Having taken the Amtrak from Denver to San Fransisco (thus avoiding a Donner Pass scenario) we had a safe ride back up the coast to southern Oregon. "Normal" life is definitely an adjustment - more on that to come. For right now we are home through the holidays (New Year's) at the very least. Who knows what the next chapter might hold...

In the mean time, your patience is appreciated while we work on finishing the blog. There is more of the adventure to retell and you will no doubt find some interesting reflections on here in the not so distant future.

Lastly, to all those that we've met and that have followed our travels, thank you kindly - we'll talk soon =D

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winding Down or Wrapping up?

The morning was home to a bittersweet donut breakfast. Clancy’s folks were coming to visit us on the road the following day and Thanksgiving was a mere four days away. Unfortunately, the weather outlook was pretty grim with rain forecasted for the next several days. If we kept pedaling it was going to be cutting it fairly close for the holiday. Clancy didn’t want to rush the last few days of the trip and wanted to keep riding - completely understandable. I on the other hand wasn’t so fond of riding in inclement weather and wanted to be positively home for Thanksgiving. So it was decided; when we met up with his folks I would hitch a ride and he would complete the last leg by himself. It was a tough call - I sure didn’t want to leave Clanc but I equally wanted to meet back up with parents and friends. Maybe the cold rain had made me soft. Speaking of wet weather, it was raining on this fine morning and I pulled out my laptop to kill some time. Clanc got tired of waiting for the weather to change and hit the road.

The rain that day in Leggett never did let up (at least not for long), so I ended up hanging out in the small town all day while Clanc made it up to Garberville. I hit the only two points of interests in Leggett: the “Drive Through Tree” (upper left in collage below) and the K-12 school. The massive redwood was quite the sight - almost as fascinating as the people that failed to drive their cars straight through the tree and removed some extra paint from their mirrors *ouch*. I made my way down to the school when I overheard some ladies at the post office talking about chicken pot pie. When I enquired they extended an invite - you know me when it comes to food! It was quite the spectacle in the cafeteria; there I was eating at the table with the third graders. Took me back to a simpler time at Sam’s Valley Elementary. After we all sang happy birthday to a boy at the table I gave my regards to the chef and ducked out.

The following morning I awoke both bummed out and excited. This was the last day of the trip for me. I intended to ride as far north as possible, tying to catch Clancy before his parents met us on the road. The redwood attractions along the way were pretty amusing. In addition to the drive through tree I had witnessed the previous day, I spotted a couple unique tree houses/homes (also shown in collage) before I entered the “Avenue of the Giants” north of Garberville. The Avenue is a scenic stretch of road just off the main highway that features a high concentration of large redwoods. It was on this section that I spotted Dale and Tresa in their maroon GMC. They hopped out of the truck along with Clanc (they had recently picked him up as well) and I gave them each a big hug. It was an awesome moment - especially since Tresa was the last one from home to see us, having shuttled us up to Seattle more than six months ago to start the journey . A fitting way to bring the trip full circle. I tossed my bike in the back and we headed north towards Eureka where we were to spend the night. Little did I know Tresa had prepared an all out feast for lunch. We stopped at a picnic area and out came the food. Here you can see the impressive spread and an over-indulged Clancy. The best was yet to come though - Tresa had made a shoofly pie for us! This was the confection that we wanted so badly to sample back in Amish country. It was worth the wait…mmmmm.

We reached Eureka in no time and Tresa landed us a plush hotel room at a bargain with her superb negotiation skills. She should be closing deals on Wall Street I tell you! Anyhoo, we settled in, showered up and got to thinking about evening activities. Clancy, Dale and myself decided to head down to the Lost Coast Brewery downtown for some guy talk and Tresa turned in early. The brew was good, the food tasty, and the conversation juicy - you know, all the crazy masculine stuff that went on during the trip that we couldn’t share with Tresa. I kid! It was good to visit in a place that was already starting to feel like home though.

The next morning Tresa outdid herself again and prepared us a red-white-and-blue breakfast. Here she is modeling her creation featuring yogurt, almonds, pomegranate, and blueberries. Delicious and nutritious! With full bellies we loaded our stuff into the truck minus Clancy and his gear. This photo was snapped right before we departed company. Clanc was to ride his bike the rest of the way home (another 190 miles) and we would finish the drive home that day. Another bittersweet moment. We had a safe drive home, where I was dropped off at my Dad’s place to start catching back up. Not to worry - Clancy made it home safe too, and in time for Thanksgiving! He has an entry that will follow about his final leg. Until next time…

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cali Coastline

After departing Joe’s company Clanc and I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge and snapped the photo you see here. Traveling once again as two was an odd sensation - it served to remind us that our trip was drawing to a close. Only two more weeks up the California coast (tops) until we arrived back home in Oregon. A bit of a sobering realization for a couple fellas that had grown accustom to life on the road over the last six months. That night we rode late into the darkness, trying to distance ourselves from the suburbs and find a suitable spot to tuck away for the night. At a grocery store we bought and fixed some dinner and met a very interesting fellow. He said that he ran a window washing business and indicated that he lived on a bike as well. He mentioned several times that he was happy to be able to meet his obligations and have a little spare change in his pocket. We couldn’t tell if he was really homeless - he seemed fairly well put together and dressed pretty normal. There was a take away though: if you can swing a simple existence who‘s to tell you how better to live your life? In a way this reinforced our entire trip experience. That night we found a freight/storage container and made ourselves at home - simple, no?

You might think that living on the west coast would make it easy to take the coastal scenery for granted. While we had both seen redwoods previously, we couldn’t help but be awestruck. These are the largest living things on earth after all. I tried to imagine what it might be like for someone that had never seen such terrain before - the rocky beaches and ginormous trees. The sights here are certainly unique to the US, to the world for that matter. That morning we spoke to another cyclists as he was breaking camp. Turns out he was a welder and had got burned out with not having a life. So he decided to quit and cycle cross country (I’m seeing a pattern here - the plight of the bicycle tourist). Speaking of cyclists, we began seeing more riders on the coast than anywhere else on the trip. It got to the point that we just waved, smiled, and kept riding. If you stopped and talked to all of these folks you wouldn’t make it five miles in a day. It was a little ironic to find such a high concentration of cyclists here. I say this mainly because Highway 1 was one of the most dangerous routes we had ridden yet (see sign). Also, “towns” on the coast tend to be very small and offered little in the way of services (esp. with regard to bicycles). In addition, many of the California parks/campsites were closed as a result of budget conditions. I suppose the year round weather coupled with the fabulous scenery is enough to make up for these shortcomings. Watching the extremely talented surfers is also a plus.

When we hit Fort Bragg we felt like we had rejoined civilization. A real town with a library and other services - hooray! We celebrated by using the library, drinking some wine and beer hobo style, catching some great live music at a coffee shop, and going to Denny’s. The last thing on this short list was the only thing we regretted. Even with a buzz Denny’s food did a good job of underwhelming us. That didn’t stop us from eating too much though. Here you can see an exhausted Clancy hitting the sack in the restaurant. Luckily we found a nice construction site in which to tuck away and grab some real sleep. The morning was a bit cold and dreary so we visited the coffee shop again to sample some brewed deliciousness. Yes it’s true: in addition to acquiring a taste for bourbon the trip also got me hooked on coffee. A life of vices I tell you! Anyhoo, we reluctantly started riding though the weather was less than enjoyable. We made it a whole 13 miles to the town of Westport before we got fed up with the cold rain and decided to have lunch at a nifty deli. After devouring some tasty sandwiches and homemade bagels we thought it better to loiter in the library to dry out a bit longer. Good fortune found us here. A gentleman by the name of Norm that we had met at the Deli had driven back to Westport; he had intended to do some hiking and camping in nearby Rockport but was discouraged by the foul weather. “Would you guys be interested in drying out in a cabin at the KOA down the road?” he asked, “My treat.” Why yes Norm, that sounds delightful. The lure of the warm, dry indoors made the remaining five mile ride in the rain much more bearable. The shower that night also felt incredible - we were overdue. In the morn we thanked Norm profusely for the luxurious accommodations and he bid us a safe remainder of the trip. What a great guy - we are indebted to you Norm!

The riding day shaped up to be something else - or should I say riding night. We seemed to be getting into the habit of riding without light lately. After soaking up the last of the coastline in the daylight, we began the trip inland and over the mountains as darkness fell. Our target was the town of Leggett but it was quite a ways off yet. Then the fun started. Clancy experienced our first flat tire of night riding all trip - not very terrific considering changing a tire without light is a royal pain. Shortly thereafter I successfully decapitated my front fender while backpedaling, trying to keep warm (don’t ask). The best was yet to come though. Still a good ten miles out from Leggett we ran into a roadblock, literally. A tree had fallen across the highway and cars began accumulating on both sides of the obstruction. Had there not been anyone else around we would have just shuttled our bikes over the fallen tangle of branches, but as it was we felt compelled to help. Luckily a gentleman and his buddy that lived just around the corner showed up and he had a chainsaw at his place. This didn’t stop the yahoo that had been tugging at the fallen tree with a makeshift arrangement of small ropes and tie-downs from continuing his futile mission though. His antics were getting more and more out of control. After nearly backing into the fellow's truck that had walked to retrieve the saw, he hit his buddy with a branch as he tried to throw it off the road. The tension was palpable - we thought a fistfight was sure to break out. Luckily the gentleman with the chainsaw showed back up seconds before an outbreak to save the day (night). I think this photo summarizes the situation pretty well (yahoo is on the right). When we finally got to Leggett at some ridiculous hour we were thrilled to crash out right next to a K-12 school.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Golden Gate Goodbye

Luckily we had made contact with a couple kind people in San Fran that were willing to have us. One of these folks was Tilak, Joe’s friend in medicine. After unloading from the train, then the bus, we reassembled our bikes we headed straight for Tilak’s place. When we arrived he invited us into his stunning apartment with a view of the city. “You guys need anything? A shower? Something to eat?” he asked as he grabbed us some beer from the fridge. We filled him in on our trip and explained how we had met Joe along the way, thanking him all the while. Tilak was a super nice guy. “Here are some towels,” he said as he set the linen on the back of the couch. One of us commented, “I bet we smell pretty bad having been on the train that long.” “You guys all smell like #*$%,” he confirmed. We appreciated his honesty. After we all cleaned up we ordered some authentic Italian style pizza and walked down the block to pick it up. The flavor did not disappoint. We were thankful to have real food and a place to sleep that didn’t involve a train car. After watching some Planet Earth (amazing series) on blue ray we all passed out.

The next morning we awoke, excited to explore the Bay Area. Joe and I had some much needed bicycle maintenance to catch up on but Clancy was ready to go, so he bid us adieu and left us to our work. After getting our steeds in order Joe and I cruised over to Golden Gate Park. I had been to San Fran once before but I had never checked out the west side of the city - it was incredible. Our ride through the park took us alongside the botanical gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the de Young Museum. The shot you see here is of Stow Lake, also inside the park. What marvelous green spaces - the most impressive we had seen since Central Park in NYC. The view of Twin Peaks (the highest point in the city) from this same spot was other-worldly. The silhouette of the hill and the homes built on it’s steep grade looked more like France than something you’d expect to find on the West Coast. This glimpse of the hill cemented our decision to pedal to the top of Twin Peaks to catch the sunset.

The steep climb to the top of the city was worth every once of energy expelled. To the west rested the sprawling Pacific Ocean and to the east the urban backdrop of Northwest San Fran. Watching the sunset on the west coast was as fabulous as viewing the sun rise on the east coast. Nothing was in the way so it appeared as if the sun just fell into the drink, slowly being extinguished and swallowed up by the vast body of water. By this time it was downright chilly so we descended the hill, hit up the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, and hooked back up with Clancy. Clanc had done an impressive amount of sight seeing as well. He had also checked out Golden Gate Park and had ridden from Fisherman’s Wharf to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge all along the coast. Moving once again as a group of three, we jumped on the BART transit system and headed for Neil’s house, Bradley’s brother whom we met in Philadelphia.

Neil lived across the bay in Berkeley with his wife Helise and their two delightful children, Sam and Noah. Upon our arrival they welcomed us warmly and encouraged us to eat, do laundry, and make ourselves at home. Five star treatment I tell ya! After dinner the kids got ready for bed and the rest of us weren’t far behind. The next morning we had a family breakfast and visited some more before Sam got ready for his soccer game. Sam and Noah had time to play some basketball against Clancy - here you can see the players in action. The teams were pretty equally matched, I’m not sure who won in the end. We said our goodbyes and the Berkeley family jumped into their minivan and headed off the to game. What fantastic people.

Next we cycled through town and the magnificent UC Berkeley Campus. Filled with wooded areas and picturesque buildings, the campus was a real treat. From here it was onto the BART and back over to San Fran. We hit up Fisherman’s Wharf for a sourdough bread bowl lunch (filled with clam chowder of course), a San Francisco must. Overstuffed, we continued our ride along the coast towards the Golden Gate, the same route Clancy had taken the day before. Along the way we stopped to check out the Palace of Fine Arts (pictured), a building constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. Though I’d been here before I couldn’t help but be wowed by the architectural masterpiece. More was in store on the coastline, including a fascinating wave organ and eventually the red suspension bridge that captivates all that marvel at it. Here, at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge we said farewell to Joe. He planned to visit his brother in Nevada City and it was time for us to make our way up the coast. It was a sad, sad moment indeed. It felt like losing part of yourself - that’s the kind of bond you form with someone when you spend nearly three months biking cross country with them. Sigh… Adios Joe, Godspeed.