Before we started our roadtrip, Kiernan was already a Couchsurfing veteran – he hosted people as early as his university days in Portland, then in Taiwan as well. I had heard about it before, but never got what it was really about. People talk about it like it’s a free place to stay, and while that works for some surfers and some hosts, in our travels in the US it was so much more than that! Continue reading “Couchsurfing and camping across the USA”
It’s the end of the road; Seattle, the rainy city, capital of the NW, we have reached the end of our motorcycle road trip, sadly. Initially I imagined heading all the way up through Yukon area but that would have required at least another month to hopefully hit Fairbanks, Denali National Park or some of the spectacular sights in southern Alaska.
Since we wanted a few buffer-days to sell the motorcycle we had no choice but to head out in the rain. It took most of the afternoon to get there from Portland, and by nightfall we were drenched – no suprise. But we got there just in time to see Ryan get home, it was quite a loving reunion, I couldn’t help but get weak at the knees. We were also really lucky to meet his new roommate, Matt who is a most excellent dude. Continue reading “Cascadia City is the end of the road”
The majority of our days spent in Portland was rainy or drizzly (not a surprise), so on the only day that clouds were the only things overhead we jumped on the motorcycle out towards Mount Hood. On the west side of the peak there is a loop that takes you through the forest, across a glacial river and on to Ramona Falls. We went there having just seen the pictures and didn’t actually know anything about the hike until we were at the trailhead, straining to read the information board that was so sun bleached and almost rotted away with rain we could barely make out the direction of the trail. It turned out to be a 7 mile loop and apparently there is a seasonal bridge put up sometime in May, and taken down in October. The bridge wasn’t up yet, but the river was low enough to hop from tree stump to rock to the opposite bank. I guess they only require hikers to pay permit fees when the bridge is up, since the fee box was locked up when we got there. We also saw only one other person on the trail, so it was obviously not yet prime hiking season.
To preface, other than a semester abroad and travelling during summer and winter breaks, I spent about 4 years going to the University of Portland so obviously I have a bit of history with the city. Despite the doom and gloom of the rainy season it’s a great city to live in, especially for the younger crowd and I was really excited to spend a few days there, show Marelise around, and visit a few friends. (*He was a really good guide)
Actually, before we got to Smith Rock, we made a substantial detour to Crater Lake National Park, but felt it warrants a post all to itself. I never got a chance to go while living in Portland, my own fault of course. We were really lucky when our couchsurfer host told us that despite the snow the roads were totally paved and he’d just been up a few days ago. It’s a magnificently deep lake and one of the treasures of Oregon I was always told. (Kiernan)
Somewhere halfway between Medford and Smith Rock we saw signs for the park, but had also been warned that the North Rim would be closed until mid-May. We took a chance on the south rim and was surprised to see little pockets of snow next to the road… then absolutely shocked to find ploughed walls of snow about 2 meters high by the time we got to the rim. Well, we could not go all the way down to Crater Lake, but there is a visitor center and rim walkway from which you can see the lake and the valley it rests in!
From McKinleyville we stayed on the US-199 heading north and got to Medford before too long. The road side scenery was still gorgeous and vibrant! At least a third of the way ran alongside the Smith River – every other intersection with the river we saw people lounging on the riverbank or along the rocks in the sun. 🙂 Around one bend the water was irresistibly clear at a little river access road they label Myrtle Beach, right off the highway… so we parked, quickly grabbed swimsuits and hurried down to the sunny riverbank about 40 feet below. The river isn’t too wide, but it’s deep & swift enough to be almost aggressively cold! The sun was pleasantly warm, but it took considerable effort to get that first icy dunk down 🙂 Wow! Super refreshing! We didn’t stay in the water for too long and only lingered long enough to jump in a second time and let the sun dry us off. Truthfully, we also couldn’t leave our gear & backpacks in the parking lot for long, but it was a lot of fun. And as a general rule if there’s a bunch of locals parked around a cool looking spot, it’s quite likely it’s a worthwhile stop.
I’ve seen many old large trees in my time, but none have ever excited me as much as when people mention the Redwoods. I’ve been dying to go for years, and have been obsessing over videos and photos I kept noticing online. So it’s not an exaggeration at all when I say this was my most looked forward to destination during our road rip.
Since our couchsurf host used to do trail maintenance in the redwoods, we asked him about what spots he would recommended. We trusted his advice and headed to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park rather than the national park to the north. Continue reading “The Mighty Redwoods”
The California coastal highway 1 and the Redwood Highway 101 both run between San Francisco and Arcata, so from Sacramento we headed due west to take highway 1 as far as possible. Since it mostly hugs the coast, and occassionally cuts to the hills and forests, the road winds a lot and going is very slow. The drive between Sacramento and Arcata was without a doubt the drive that took the longest – we left around noon and arrived in McKinleyville (bordering Arcata) at approximately 11pm… However, it was absolutely worth the ride! Word to the wise though even on a motorcycle, the 10 hours of windy roads, steep uphills and downhills really left me drained and I probably underestimated the ride a little, but it was a good stretch of road to conquer in the end.
On our last full day in Sacramento, we decided to make a day trip into San Francisco, via Point Reyes and the surrounding forest. We woke up to a wonderful, sunny day and set out just after the morning traffic had died down a bit. As soon as we got off the I-5 onto the smaller highways we were surrounded by peaceful pastureland, green hills where the grass looked soft as velvet and plenty of livestock. As idyllic and restful as it looks, we saw mostly houses standing alone in these fields, with tiny one-gas station towns miles away as the closest infrastructure… so having grown up in relatively big cities, neither of us were quite sure how much human interaction people get living out there, or how far they’d have to go for basic things like groceries or getting gas (which we almost ran out of! 🙂