Vulnerability, Warts and Whiskers

Vulnerability isn’t a topic I thought I’d be exploring on this trip; though it’s an issue on every trip I’ve ever taken. Anytime we step out of our comfort zones we push against our personal boundaries; whether they be physical, intellectual, or emotional.

The physical vulnerability I anticipated. Living with epilepsy and brain injury I knew they would offer their unique challenges. Sharing the roads, often shoulder-less, with semis, logging trucks, people texting and driving, and holiday traffic, can be jarring and wear on your nerves. Most drivers give me space, every so often someone will crowd me to make a point. Tourist traffic on Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula was so prolific that the sound of cars steadily passing became numbing and energy sapping. One of the perks of towing your canine companions in a trailer is it is much more visible than a bicycle, and you can decorate it with reflective decals, flags, and flashers. It’s also three times as wide as the bicycle and motorists will give me a wider birth, most of the time.

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Crossing the Astoria-Megler bridge connecting Washington and Oregon.

Intellectual vulnerability: challenging your preconceived conceptions, expectations, route planning, and the soundness of your intellect. I thought I planned well; this trip has been bouncing around in my head for years. Despite being familiar with the route, I couldn’t control the weather or prevent several heat waves from hitting B.C. and the Olympic Peninsula. I was happily anticipating the cool misty weather of the northwest. It laid waste my expectations on how many miles I could cover. The heat zapped me, and I ended up taking quite a few extra rest days and covering fewer miles. Then, there’s Houston, my effervescent and unpredictable brain. He’s most mischievous when I’m tired or in a stimulating environment, which includes: bright or fluorescent lights, noise, and people. When Houston is tired, he’s a trickster. More on Houston and his shenanigans later.

Emotional vulnerability has ended up being by far the most challenging and unsettling. I know I have health limitations, and I work hard at compensating and managing them, really hard. It often feels like a full-time job. Sharing or admitting I’m struggling isn’t easy for me, and I often wait until it’s too late, I’m drained, confused, completely inside my head, and shut down emotionally. I become a befuddled old grandpa, chasing kids off my lawn. Intellectually I understand it’s better to fess up before it goes too far, but, even if I’m willing to let my guard down I often don’t realize it even if I’m not consciously trying to push through something. I’m not a lot of fun do be around when I’m in my catatonic state. When I get like that while on the road, I pull over, break out napping paraphernalia, and the girls and I will take a siesta. When I arrive in camp: pitch the tent, walk the girls, feed the girls, feed me, walk the girls, and crawl into the tent. I’m in bed sometimes by 7:30 pm, up at 5:30 or 6:30 am.

When I’m not touring I usually plan carefully: monitoring and managing my energy levels before I’m out and about in public. I’ve lived alone most of my adult life; I’m used to just being me, warts and whiskers when I’m home. At the end of the day, I have enough energy to do the basics and crawl into the tent.

Receiving help and support isn’t something I’m comfortable with either. I receive it awkwardly. I take it as a sign of weakness; people might find me needy, annoying, and pitiful. I also didn’t want to be a burden. I’ve lost a lot to the brain injury; my fierce independence and shredded dignity are all I feel I have left.

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Cape Lookout State Park was magical. I stayed on for four days to recharge my mental and physical batteries.

This trip so far, 625 miles, has had so many layers to it. Intense joy, so overwhelming I feel like I’ll burst, to such intense emotional turmoil that it opens the floodgates. I’ve cried out of joy and sorrow more on this trip than I have in years. I’m not a crier, though I might have to reconsider that belief. I find cycling hypnotic and meditative, soothing and restorative emotionally and physically. I wonder if that’s what’s causing my hardened shell to crack?

Week II

Another heat wave came through during the second week. I struggle in heat over 85, and I don’t think the pups are thrilled with it either. Rather than sap my limited physical resources I took extra rest days when the temperatures peaked. I am still waiting and looking for the cooler misty weather that the Olympic Peninsula is famous. Several fires started in Olympic NP; by the end of the day, my face was smudgy from the smoke. Olympic is beautiful, even when it’s toasty warm.

Outside of the park was another story. I was blown away by how much of the surrounding land had been clear cut and was in the various stages of regrowth. Areas with regrowth didn’t have the diversity of plant life; there was an absence of undergrowth, mosses, and ferns. As I cycled through I could feel when I was in old growth versus clearcut and regrowth areas. The temperature would drop significantly in the old growth forests as if someone had opened the door to a walk-in freezer. Regrowth clear cuts, even if the trees had grown significantly, the temperatures would soar, as if someone opened up a giant industrial dryer door.

Day 8,  August 20:

Rest day, took a second rest day to wait out heat wave, forecasted to break tomorrow, dip into 60’s.

Weather:   High 90’s

Highlight:  Sol Duc Hot Springs in Olympic National Park, followed by swimming in a beautiful crystal clear glacier-fed stream.  Magical.

Campground: Klahowya USFS Campground.

Sol Duc River, Olympic National Park
Sol Duc River, further upstream

Day 9, August 21:

DAY 9 PCBR 21 August copy

Klahowya to Hoh Rainforest Campground, Olympic NP

Miles:  35.5   Elevation: 3,031′

Weather:  50’s-60’s with misting and light rain.

Highlight:  the cool weather and the Hall of Mosses walk at Hoh Rainforest in Olympic NP.

Campground:  The Taj Mahal of campgrounds.  Our site was beautiful with a little meadow, little drop down to the picnic table in mossy ferny woods, then another drop down to area to pitch the tent.  A trail lead to the river, a milky glacier fed stream, and continued on along the bank.  In the morning two does and a fawn walked by our site.  One doe jumped up onto a downed tree to get a better look at the dogs.

Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park
Hall of Mosses trail, Olympic NP

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Hoh River with its milky glacier water.
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Walking the girls along the Hoh River.
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I’m taken by the lush, mossy, ferny-ness of Olympic NP.

Day 10, August 22:

DAY 10 PCBR 22 AUGUST copy

Hoh Rainforest to South Beach Campground, Olympic NP

Miles:  25

Elevation:  2,363′

Weather:  cool 60’s

Highlight:  moody weather and dinner on the deck at the Lodge overlooking the beach.  Half a mile north of the campground.

Campground:  open area, reminded me a little bit of the California beach campgrounds.  The Swiss couple Tess and Ben pitched their tent next to mine.  Huge trees washed up onto the beach, round pebble beach, rugged rough surf.  A treat for my canine companions.

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Swiss Ben and Tess, cycling from Anchorage to Ushuaia.
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South Beach campground, Olympic National Park. Here’s a close up of Tess and Ben’s setup.
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Bodhi tasting the weather, she opted to continue napping. My Georgia peach prefers warmer temps.
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South Beach, Olympic National Park.

 

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Dory enjoying a little off-leash time.
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Moody day on South Beach, Olympic National Park. View from the park concessioner’s lodge.

Day 11, August 23:

DAY 11 PCBR 23 August copy

South Beach to Willaby Creek USFS Campground,  Quinault Lake.

Miles:  30

Elevation:  2,846′

Weather:  50’s-60’s

Highlights:   Taking the dogs swimming in Quinault Lake, meeting Hellen & Norman from Montreal cycling to Ushuaia, Argentina, and waking up to Loon’s calling.

Campground:  Site 1 the first night.  Pretty little campground, but this site had the tent pad right next to the neighbor’s picnic table.  LOUD incessantly chatty types who didn’t go to bed until 1:30am.  Hellen and Norman from Montreal pitched their tent with us, the campground was full when they arrived at dusk.  Hellen introduced me to the idea of earplugs.

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Hellen and Norman from Montreal, they’re traveling from Calgary to Ushuaia. They shared the site with us last night.
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Impressive how compact all their gear ends up being once packed up. I’ll post a video clip later.

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Taking off!  You can follow Hellen and Norman’s tour to Ushuaia Argentina: Norman’s http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/rikimiki  and  Hellen’s http://www.tandemetcie.com
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Sisterly sunset affection.

Day 12, August 24:

Rest day

Highlight:  Swimming in Quinault, Loons calling, and breakfasting with Hellen & Norman.

Campground:  moved to site 12.  On the lake, great swimming, much quieter.

Smoke from the Olympic National Park fires make colorful sunsets.
The little beach off of our campsite.

Day 13, August 25:

DAY 13 PCBR 25 August copy

Lake Quinault to Hoquiam River RV Park.

Miles:  47  Elevation:  4,300  **Forgot to resume app and added miles and elevation missed via Google maps.

Weather:  high 90’s

Highlight:   Humptulip US F&W fish hatchery.

Campground:  A necessity, not a destination CG by any means.  Meh

Rainbow Trout at the fishery.
Rest stop. Bodhi showing why, even when her harness is hooked in to the trailer, we can’t ride with the door open. Madam likes to surf, balancing one leg on the trailer hitch.
One of the many, many, clearcuts I cycled past. It feels like you’re cycling through an oven where there aren’t any trees. You can feel the heat radiating from the exposed earth.
Siesta. Taking a break in a spot of shade. Bodhi showing off her napping super powers.
The cool breeze coming of the water was deliciously refreshing.

Day 14, August 26:

DAY 14 PCBR 26 AUGUST copy

Hoquiam to Kenanna RV Park

Miles:  33

Elevation:  1762’

Weather:  high 90’s

Highlight:  cool bridge, drawbridge, with wooden planks for cyclist/pedastrian walkway.

Campground:  Long but beautiful walk to the beach in tall grasses.  Waking to coyotes!

This girl can nap. She fell into a deep sleep within seconds of getting into the tent.

Cool old bridge with a wooden pedestrian/cyclist path. I don’t know what it is about bridges, but I love cycling over them.

Day 14, August  27:

Rest Day from heat.

Highlight:  wifi access,  House of Donuts in Westport.

Campground:  KenAnna RV Park no coyotes this morning 🙁

The walk to the beach was through tall grasses and wild flowers.
The walk to the beach was through tall grasses and wild flowers.

First Week

August 13-19th

The first week in maps and photos.  The few times I’ve had access to wifi I was too tired to write or post.  It’s unrealistic to try and catch up.  I’ll leave that for when the trip is over and I can post more details and essays from the journal I’m keeping.

Day 1, August 13: 

Day One 13 August 2016 copy

Capitano RV Park, Vancouver, BC, Canada to

Living Forest Campground, Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, BC.

Miles:  16 miles

Elevation: 1,500′  

Weather:  90’s

Highlight:  Ferry ride from Vancouver to Nanaimo.

Campground:  On the bay, lovely setting.  Cafe that served breakfast, espresso drinks, and other light fare, outdoor seating on the deck overlooking the bay.

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Sea dogs
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Waking up from their naps as we approach, the sounds of the engines slowing down woke them.
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View from the little outdoor cafe’s deck.

Day 2, August 14:

DAY 2 PCBR 14 August copy

Nanaimo, BC to Osborne Bay RV Resort, BC

Miles: 27

Elevation gain: 2,000  

Weather 90’s

Highlight:  Riding a small section of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Campground:  Resort is a stretch.  Be sure to ask for a site on the bay, below.  Walkway along the bay, beach across the stream over a boardwalk bridge.  Avert your eyes from looking left at the factory.  Water is super warm and it was a huge plus to swim after a long hot 90’s ride.

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Pit stop for caffeine and dog stretch.
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The Trans-Canada Trail. Easy bit for cyclists and trailers. Soon the trail became narrow, hilly, and a bit sketchy for towing a trailer. I needed to dismount and ski/slide down to keep the bike and trailer from fish tailing. Glad for the taste of the trail though.
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Where the Trans-Canada Trail became a bit trailer-challenging.

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Osborne Bay, I think…
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Osborne Bay RV Resort. Low tide. View from the boardwalk that lead to the beach.
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Camp site view of the sunset.

 

Day 3, August 15:

DAY 3 PCBR 15 August copy

Osborn Bay to Goldstream Provincial Park, Crofton, BC.

Miles: 39

Elevation:  3,600  

Weather:  90’s

Highlight:  Changing  my first flat on the bike, the rear wheel.  Lucky unlucky, flat happened in front of the Dwight School on Shawinigan Lake.  Hotter than Hades so it was a welcome break.

Campground:  Lovely, lush green.  Well spaced sites.  Huge gorgeous old Maples with enormous leaves.  Trail to a crystal clear swimming hole framed by ferns.  Stayed two nights.

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The offending nail
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Bodhi hanging while I wrestled with changing the tire. Her favorite perch is at the end of picnic tables. She’s guarding my solar charger.
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Temps reached the high 90’s. Asked the families at this little beach if they’d mind if I took the girls for a quick cooling-off dip off to the side.
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Swimming hole at Goldstream Provincial Park.

 

Day 4:  August 16:

Off Day

Bike repairs:  back tire issue and gears tweaked.  Joined MEC, the Canadian cousin to REI.  Bought tubes, CO2 canisters, and whatnot.

Highlight:  Dim Sum in China Town, Victoria.

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First sign of autumn. These giant maple leaves were lovely and impressive as they slowly floated down from the giant 100 year old plus maple trees.
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Fabulous treat to have dim sum.

 

Day 5, 17 August:

Day 5 PCBR Part 1 copyDay 5 PCBR Overview 15 August copy Day 5 PCBR Part 3 copy

Goldstream Provincial Park to Victoria ferry terminal.

Ferry to Port Angeles, Washington, USA.

Miles:  21  Elevation:  2,000 

Weather:  80’s

Highlight:  Ferry and hanging out and riding around Victoria.

Campground:  Elwha Damn RV Park.  Tent sites are nice, some quite private.  Owner gave me quarters for the shower.

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Victoria!
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Dory having a good roll and stretch.
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Hanging with Janet as we wait our turn to board the ferry.
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Impressive how many bicycles were on the ferry.
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The Sisters in-between admirers. They received quite a bit of attention for the dog-lovers onboard.
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The Sisters took turns being out and about, hobnobbing with fellow travelers.
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Lovely little covered bridge on the bike path leading out from Port Angeles.

 

Day 6, August 18: 

Day 6 PCBR Take II copy
Oops. Made a wrong turn out of the campground. It took me four miles and some steep hills before I caught my navigational error. Janet came to the rescue and redeposited at the junction.

DAY 6 PCBR Take I copy

Elwha RV Park to Klahowya USFS Campground

Miles:  33

Elevation:  7,000

Weather:  High 90’s

Highlight:  Swimming in Crescent Lake.  Intense sapphire blue and turquoise water.

Campground:  Lush with giant mossy bearded trees and lots of ferns, along a shallow river.

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Day 7,  August 19:

Rest day

Weather:  high 90’s

Highlight:  Swimming at Crescent Lake