August 11th: Victoria, BC to Bay Center, WA – 450km
I had about an hour ride to the ferry in the morning. Arriving there an hour early, I was so glad I booked it in advance. Victoria had the same feel as Quebec City. That ferry was crossing to the USA, so custom agents were touring the parking lot to evaluate all passengers prior to boarding. On board, I started my last post while having lunch. We arrived in Port Angeles at noon and I started making my way to the coast. Road was scenic as we were taken around beautiful lakes. Coast was impressive as well. I kept going until 7pm when I pulled over in a KOA campground next to a beach for the night. I showered, did laundry and completed my last post before going to bed.
August 12th: – Bay Center, WA to Florence, OR- 350km
I took some time in the morning to plan the next few weeks. I ordered many parts and had them shipped to my next “big” stop; checked schools information session dates and registered to one of them; planned my route and caught up with e-mails. I then left at 11am towards Astoria. To get there, I had to ride over a bridge that cyclist travellers know very well as quite dangerous. It is many miles long, has almost no shoulder and last sections goes up to 100 feet above water before coming back down in town. I had lunch there and met a cool cycling couple who just crossed it. Wayne and Rozzie had been sailing around Australia for many years before selling everything and embarking on their trip down to Argentina. You can check out their blog at: http://spinningaroundtheglobe.blogspot.com/ . I kept riding all day until I reached the Sea Lions Cave north of Florence, OR. There, I stayed at the next campground to come back in the morning. Karen, who I met in California a few months ago, suggested that I stopped there as it was spectacular. I did not see much of the coast as it was very foggy all day…
August 13th: Florence, OR to Eureka, CA – 425km
I was at their door by 8.30am and I took 45 minutes to tour the complex. An elevator takes you many stories down into a cave where female sea lions spend most of their time during the year. Unfortunately for me, I was there during the very few weeks when you cannot see any. Nevertheless, there was a very educative video explaining the migration of males and their reproductive cycles. Coming out of that cave, I was getting ready when I heard a loud honking sound as some minivan was backing up into a brand new Corvette. That poor dad couldn’t help his desperate face. My point of view is that if the cool Corvette driver did not make 3 attempts to back up perfectly, it would not have happened. I guess he wanted everyone to hear his engine sound… Once again, it was a very foggy day and I felt bad about blasting through all that beautiful scenery without being able to enjoy it. I got an haircut and shaved the beard for my session the next day. Then, I went across Redwood National Park and saw so many giant cedars. They are beautiful. Many times, the road was twisting around them and it seemed to make the most sense considering how big they were. I stopped to grab something for dinner and there I met Justin. He had just completed his masters and was traveling with two of his friends for a couple weeks. He was taking picture of himself with people he met and a giraffe he was carrying. We took a picture for him and he signed the map for CA afterwards. We chatted about motorcycles for a bit and they had to go. I had been riding for most of the day and was toasted by 8pm. I pitched my tent in a campground in Eureka.
August 14th: Eureka to Palo Alto – 490km
I had about 500km to do that day and I wanted to get there early to visit a motorcycle shop there. I decided to take the freeway instead of seeing nothing due to the fog again. To my disappointment, I had to go through thick smoke coming out of a major wildfire. They had hundreds of people and a lot of gear to prevent further damage to the forest. I arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge around 2pm. I had been thinking about it for a while since I had seen it so many times before in movies. I then headed downtown to the KTM Twins building. I had ordered a rear disk that I badly needed to change as the floating buttons came very loose and noisy. They had e-mailed me saying it was back ordered, but I needed to make sure I would have it before crossing the Mexican border. I had wonderful service there by Simmons who took the time to check my order and found the rear disk that just came in that day. Then he advised me on my front disks and found a solution for the stickers that were backordered as well. Thanks man! I then headed towards the school that I am interested to attend next year. I found the campus and then had to get a hotel because there were no campground around.
August 15th: Palo Alto to Los Banos – 210km
I had registered for an information session at 10.45am. I packed up my stuff and headed that way. I was very pleased with everything I heard there. They seemed to offer a program that is customizable to my needs, rich in students’ interactions and based on the values that I share. I was happy to listen to a student that just graduated. He solidified my idea that their program was right for me. It lasted for 1h30 and then I grabbed some lunch at their cafeteria. It was delicious, healthy and not that expensive. I had the opportunity to chat with 3 Ph.D students before meeting with Shely. She flew from Singapore and was also a prospective student. Then Yi joined us and we spent the next couple hours touring campus while chatting about various subjects. They were both very cool and signed the map after seeing the bike. I left campus around 3.30pm and headed to Santa Cruz through the back roads. It was very pretty as there were more giant cedars and the roads were narrow and twisty. I arrived in Santa Cruz for dinner and took a break by the beach before having dinner. I then rode for another few hours trying to find a campground with no luck. They were all full as it was Friday night. I had to set camp somewhere along the road in the dark.
August 16th: Los Banos, CA to Nevada Desert, NV – 400km
I was excited to get back on the road as I was visiting Yosemite National Park that day. It was already very hot getting up there. Then there was a traffic jam at the park’s gate and my thermometer indicated 38C in the sun. Both of my fan were on and they were barely keeping up. It took 45 minutes to get to the gate (I am starting to hate weekends now?). I then rode to Yosemite village to grab some groceries before eating lunch in a picnic area. Those rock walls were very tall and I understood why they were so famous for rock climbing. I then hit the road to get out of the park on the east side. Speed limits were low and I wanted to respect them. It took me a long time to get close to the other gate. There, I swam in Tenaya Lake as it was beautiful and I needed to cool down. I swam along the shore for a half hour before continuing towards Nevada. I felt like I was in another country when I hit the desert. I had a burger and fuelled up before entering Nevada. I rode past many wild horses and I pitched my tent in the middle of nowhere at sunset. It was very silent and awesome.
August 17th: Nevada Desert, NV to Zion National Park, UT – 640km
I woke up at 5am and rode across the desert in a cool 15C. Then it went up to 20C at 8am, 25C at 9am and it was a nice 35C by 10am. I was so hot… I had only 60km to do when I stopped at 11am. I was overheating and hungry. I had a sandwich while sitting in a air conditioned room for an hour. When feeling better, I went back to the bike, felt the heat as I came out of the door and saw 43C when a turned the switch. I’m not used to that much heat. I rode to Zion and found a campsite. I pitched my tent and stayed in the shade for the rest of the afternoon. I replaced my rear disk and installed my stickers. I then had dinner at a local cafe before going for a swim in the river. Then I went to watch a movie at the local theater before going to bed.
August 18th: Zion National Park
My plan was to get up at 6am to hit the strenuous hike early. Unfortunately, people were partying around late at night and kept me from sleeping. I woke up at 8am and boarded the shuttle to The Grotto station. Coming off the bus, there was a sign warning hikers that 6 people died since 2004 on that Angels Landing trail. It did not seem to be stressing anyone out. Official map suggested that it takes on average 4h to go up and down. Hike up was indeed steep and next to cliffs. It took me just over an hour to get up. I was not too proud of my morning sleep in as there was a lot of traffic on the trail. I sat for half an hour looking at the view before going back down. It was one of the most scenic views I have seen so far. Even though harder than any other hike I had done before, it was easier than I expected. At the bottom, I found myself a walk stick to go to my next hike: The Narrows. That hike is at the end of the canyon and is taking you up the river into a narrow passage sculpted by the river over thousands of years. It was very crowded the whole way with people of all ages. I hiked up to the point where the passage was widening and a couple I met who did the whole thing advised me to turn around at that point. Walls were very high and the river was shallow and refreshing. I got hot at some point and had to stop to cool down in the river. I came out of it around 4pm and boarded the shuttle to go back in town. I had dinner in the same cafe and it was still delicious food. I then went for a swim, washed my clothes and started editing my pictures for this post before going to bed in the rain.