It’s been a couple of months since I finished my tour.
I wrote my last substantial post when I was on San Juan Island. The following day I caught another ferry to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I spent the morning riding from the ferry terminal to the city of Victoria (about 20 miles). I’ve been to Vancouver Island a few times and have only experienced it from a vehicle. I must say that I enjoy cycling around the town much more than driving a car. There are tons of bike lanes and a pretty developed greenway system. I meet a few guys at a bicycle collective that I happened to stumble on; they were really helpful and gave me really good directions through town.
When I got to downtown Victoria, I went to a little restaurant on the harbor and got fish and chips – definitely one of my favorite meals to get on the island! I had a WarmShowers host arranged for the evening, but I wasn’t too keen on staying with a strange guy that I didn’t know. By this point in tour I was pretty comfortable with strangers, but I was still very nervous and cautious about staying with single men alone. At the last minute, Poppy arranged for me to stay in a hotel in the downtown area! I had a nice view of the town and an awesome nights rest. It definitely beat staying with a strange guy. I only planned on spending one day in Victoria so that I could remain on schedule, so the following day I milled about town, mostly window shopping and enjoying the nice weather.
In the late afternoon I had to make my way to the ferry terminal back to Washington. I caught a ferry to Port Angeles and ended up meeting a Canadian guy who was just beginning a two week tour down the pacific coast. We chatted for a bit and I was able to give him a bunch of general touring tips. I think he appreciated them, but he also had an attitude that he knew better than me – even though he had never been on a tour before. When I got to Port Angeles, I rode an additional 5 miles to find my host’s house for the evening. I stayed with a really cool couple who used to do a lot of touring in their younger years. They built their house and it was super cozy and interesting. I didn’t sleep too well that evening because I was starting to get pretty excited about finishing. I only had one night of camping and two days of riding after Port Angeles.
From Port Angeles, I took highway 101 towards Forks WA. I know, I know – the Twilight town. I didn’t realize it was the Twilight town until I got closer. Anyway, the ride had some really scenic sections, but for the most part consisted of a lot of logging trucks pulling in and out of forests. I was pretty happy to find my campsite for the evening and to be off the road. Before I left cell phone service I touched base with Durley. She arrived in Seattle that evening and was planning on meeting me the next day. I didn’t sleep well at all that night. I was too excited about the next day. I was also really nervous that something bad was going to happen! I figured that I had made it all the way ACROSS the US and managed to not have any bad experiences, so they were bound to happen that night. Well, needless to say, nothing bad happened!
The next day I packed up camp for the last time and tried to have a leisurely morning so the Durley would have a chance to catch up to me. I stopped a few miles down the road to have my last second breakfast at a roadside diner. I got the logger’s breakfast. It was HUGE. It came with bacon, eggs, and a GIANT pancake. I was only able to eat about 1/3 of the pancake. When I got closer to Forks, I turned off the 101 and headed towards La Push. I was only about 5 miles from the coast when Durley found me. She wanted to escort me the rest of the way, but we started to hold up traffic. She met me at a couple of turn offs and was teary eyed and taking a bunch of photos and trying to call my mom all at the same time. We decided to meet up on Rialto Beach within the Olympic National Park boundaries. Durley parked the car and I started pushing my bike through the rocks and sand to get to the water’s edge.
It was beautiful! The weather was perfect and the waves were giant; there was also a lot of sea foam. Some of the beach goers noticed me pushing my bike through the sand. Durley explained to them what I had been doing for the last four months. Pretty soon I had an entire greeting party! They were all taking photos, asking me questions, wanting to hear stories, and congratulating me. I had a very warm reception and I couldn’t have been happier.
After the excitement died down, Durley and I started driving south in search of a place to stay for the night. We had an awesome road trip from northern Washington to the Bay Area. We saw the coast, visited Crater Lake, and visited wine country. We ate a bunch of delicious meals and drank a lot of delicious wine. I got to see my dear friend Hollie and visit with some family in Santa Rosa. It was a nice way to draw my expedition to a close. I flew back to Knoxville on October 7th and since then I have been working on submitting applications for graduate school. After traveling through primarily farmland for four months I realized that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Agroecology (sustainable agriculture). I’m pretty excited about my next chapter in life and can’t wait to figure out where I’ll be headed next.
In a way, the conclusion of the tour was bitter sweet. While I was ready to end my nomadic lifestyle, I really wish I could have kept going. There’s something about touring that is just so incredibly fulfilling. Its a combination of the lessons you learn every day and the people you meet and the feeling that you are mentally and physically strong. I can’t wait to do it again.
Until then, pedal strong and confidently!