Big Thanks to Wonderful People & Post-Tour Thoughts

Although our trip has ended, I would be terribly remiss to not mention some very wonderful people that helped make our 4 month adventure possible: My wonderful mom, Wanda Barron, and my fantastic brother, Bobby Barron. This support team back home took care of our mail, sent us gear when we needed it, and took care of our house, amongst other things. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are 2 of the reasons that make life great on this earth!

Also, a big thanks to Brandon Begley for helping with our broken sprinkler situation. Our neighbor mentioned the other day that although our yard didn’t get watered during the hottest part of the summer, his didn’t fair much worse and he watered every day!

Thanks to Sonny Collins for letting us stay at his beautiful Canmore, AB condo for a week & taking us to beautiful places to hike in Canada!

Although we still haven’t gotten everything back in order at home yet (been home a week), we decided to join our bicycling club friends this weekend at Lake Eufaula for the annual Tour de Trees campout ride. How great it was to get back together with our old friends! Here are some answers to questions that we got this weekend:

* Did we get homesick? – Yes, I did and I think Kurt did too. I remember after about a month or so on the road thinking that I couldn’t do this all the time like some of people that Kurt has read about in touring journals. It would be particularly hard after staying with friends or family for a few days – really got homesick then, until got back into the road routine after a few days of riding again.

* What did I miss back home? – Yes, just like you my #1 thing that I missed was my bed & 4 pillows 😉 As previously mentioned, I missed washing clothes at home. Missed my family & friends big time. Missed my home, yard & cooking in my own kitchen. You do get into a regular routine while on the road, but I still missed the routine of home life.

* What was the hardest part of being on the road for 4 months? – For me it was definitely sleeping on the ground on that small blow up mattress. Very hard on my achy joints & back! I could sleep for about 4 hours straight, then toss & turn for the rest of the night. I also got really tired of being cold all the time & missed Oklahoma temperatures believe it or not!

* What was my favorite part of the tour? – Although there were many smaller favorites, here are a few of the big highlights:

o Riding the Icefields Parkway in Canada – beautiful views of glaciers & tourquoise blue lakes!
o Riding the off-road Columbia Western & Kettle Valley Rail to Trails routes – challenging but cool train tunnels and views from high up in the mountains over lakes and towns & of course the old trestles.
o Riding Hwy 3A near East Kootenay Lake, BC & riding through the Washington Cascade Mountains – absolutely beautiful scenery!
o Riding/camping in the Redwoods
o Meeting so many great people! Here are a few that stand out in my mind: Ingrid & Dave (Kootenay Natl Park), Val & Dave (great times with these 2 on the KVR), Trish & Chad (Pacific Coast), and of course Sung Gyoo (our “adopted” Korean son on the TransAmerica route).

* Favorite city to cycle in: Seattle!

Again, thank you so much for your encouragement & comments during our adventure & for following along with us. Can’t wait to get back together with all of you back home in the coming weeks! More adventures ahead!

Venice Beach

It was getting late in the afternoon when we drove into Venice Beach yesterday (10-10-12). We decided to park & walk the well known sidewalk and see what all the hubbub is about there. Being so late in the season, I think lots of the people that were walking like us were also tourists.

There were a few rollerbladers (albeit not in bathing suits as you would suspect – likely since it’s October), a lot of skateboarders, and a few casual bicyclists. Along the edge of the sidewalk were lots of seemingly homeless looking people with wares of various sorts that they were selling. Many posted signs that pictures of them or their “booth” was not free. We saw the coolest sand-sculpted octopus on the sidewalk, but didn’t take a picture because it had a “no free pictures” sign next to it.

Then there were shops of all kinds lining the other side of the sidewalk. You’ll notice in the pictures Kurt posted of Venice, one of the “Green Doctor – Medical Marijuana Evaluation” signs. There were several of these along the walk, of varying prices. You would see lots of the homeless-looking people on the grass outside of these shops sitting under large umbrellas with pot smoke emanating out to the passersby. I find it funny that out here on the west coast everything having to do with marijuana is termed “green”. Has a different meaning for us back home. I made the mistake of wearing my green shirt yesterday. Got a few shouts that I think meant they thought I was a kindred spirit or something.

The photos Kurt posted of the townhouses are kind of interesting – all different sizes & shapes overlooking the sidewalk & beach. Don’t think I’d ever want to live in Venice.

The End Of An Adventure or Pops Has Finally Lost His Marbles.

10/09/2012

Yesterday I got an email from my sister concerning my dad. After arguing with us for months that he’s not ready or willing to move to an assisted living center our dad decided to move himself into the nursing home. The nursing home administrator called my sister to inform her of the situation. The problem seems to be that he hasn’t been officially checked in, doesn’t have a doctors order, and isn’t paying. Yet he eats there, sleeps there, showers there, and his clothes are there!  My sister and I will go there and work with dad toward a solution that’s best for him. Though I don’t think it will be difficult for a doctor to see that he really needs to be there. I mean how off your rocker do you have to be to just go start living in a nursing home without first checking in?

My dad taught me at a young age that when everything goes south you have a choice. You can cry or you can laugh but it’s always better to laugh. So if it sounds like I’m making light of the situation, well I’m just following dad’s advice. Of course, for the sake of brevity I’ve spared you the other details.

My sister is due to arrive in Oklahoma later this week. Mary and I will be there shortly after. The bottom-line is that after four months and 5600 miles our bicycle trip officially ended in San Francisco yesterday. We are headed home to help my parents. Today we rented a mini-van and packed our bikes and gear in the back. We are taking a few days to finish driving down the coast and then we’ll head back to Oklahoma.

More Adventures Ahead!

Journey into San Francisco

We’ve found that the AT&T service on the Pacific coast in California so far has been surprisingly sparse. We’ve also been camping in the state & county parks so of course no wifi. Not as many pictures either in the past several days because our route on Hwy 1 took us a bit inland through some pretty dry, hilly pasturelands – not very scenic. In fact, if I had to use 1 word to describe the northern California coastal route it would be “hilly”.

We noticed in several of the small towns we rode through there appeared to be many transient looking young people sitting around the town with their bags. We finally asked one of the state park rangers about it and she stated that the marijuana crop, although illegal in California, is about ready for harvesting, so lots of young people migrate here to help with that effort – or to partake of the reaping, I suppose.

As we neared San Francisco over the past weekend we began noticing something different. The traffic increased significantly (not a surprise), but every car that passed us was a BMW, Mercedes, Lexus or some other luxury vehicle. I seriously began to wonder how much $ these people out here really make! A word came to my mind. I’ll let you guess what word that is (begins with G & rhymes with freed).

As we camped more in the hiker/biker campsites, we met more young southbound coastal cyclists that we would see frequently:

· Trish from Vancouver would be meeting up with her husband in SF to finish off the tour to San Diego together.

· Chad from Austin

· Terrance Phillips – 19yo has become known to just about everyone going south. Really nice guy, just wish he would stay away from the marinara (see previous post). We saw him the other day with his BOB trailer bag on his back as he rode through town. After talking with him he mentioned that while stopped on the side of the road a car had hit his trailer & demolished it & his rear wheel. He escaped without injury & the driver gave him $ to replace the damaged gear – thank goodness! He had thought about WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – working as labor on an organic farm for food & a place to stay) in Arcata, CA, for a few months but changed his mind & was going to try & catch up with some friends in SF to finish the coast.

· Cory & chilly Will from Key West, FL.

· Ira & James from Vancouver

· Dave from Scotland

As we seesawed back & forth with these younger riders over the past several weeks I began feeling really discouraged about my performance until I remembered how much younger they are than us. Another of the middle-age dilemmas.

We stayed in our favorite place of the whole tour the other night in Elk, CA – the Greenwood Pier Inn B&B. The owner gave us the mid-week low budget bicycling tourist rate or we wouldn’t have been able to stay in such a luxurious place. It overlooked the ocean with a private Jacuzzi, fireplace and a king-sized super comfy bed with a down duvet. I slept so great that night!

We arrived in San Francisco yesterday (10-7-12) after riding our bikes across the chilly/windy Golden Gate Bridge. Kurt stopped in the visitor’s center just after the bridge to inquire about where we might be able to find some available lodging. The assistant advised us to go back across the bridge the way we had come & see if we could find something there because SF was too busy with activities this week & we wouldn’t be able to find any lodging. She stated that if we did find something it would be well over $300/night! Well, going back wasn’t an option so we rode our bikes on in to an area with several motels and stopped at the first one we came to that looked reasonable – the Travelodge. It had “Vacancy” on the sign, so I went in & got the extremely reasonable rate of $109, which included breakfast & cookies in the afternoon! Moral of that story: Don’t believe everything you hear from some of the locals..

Interesting conversation with the hotel concierge at check-in. He is also a cyclist, so was telling us a lot about the city. He stated that they had just had their “Critical Mass” cycling event the previous week and that many of the cyclists rode their bikes in the nude! He stated that public nudity isn’t against the law in SF – hum, interesting!

We enjoyed a fun day off today in SF by venturing down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We toured a really cool WWII submarine (the USS Pampanito) and had some tasty seafood. Missed the nap, but it was worth it!