Well our last weekday came and went and now our first week on the road basically flew by and we are just barely half way there.
The Bici Bucerias blog will follow us as we make our way from Calgary to our home in Bucerias Mexico. While we could have flown, we have decided to pack our stuff into our RV and take a three week vacation getting to our new life.
I have always wanted to do a long road trip down the west coast and now it becomes a reality.
In three weeks we will arrive in La Paz in the Baja where we will connect with the ferry that will take us to Mazatlan which is a days drive from Bucerias. Once in Bucerias we settle in to our new life away from Calgary.
Like any new adventure, there will; be challenges. The kids are excited but nervous at the same time. A new school, new friends and a NEW LANGUAGE! I do speak fluent spanish so that has been helpful for them and will make the transition a little easier for the entire family.
Another challenge is how do we remain in contact with our work back in Calgary. As some of you know, Jillian and I own Niklas Group and we are also partners in a company called NikHaus Inc. We have been building homes in the inner-city of Calgary for the past 12 years and that has been how we have earned our money and how we are able to sustain ourselves. Moving to Mexico presents a challenge for entrepreneurs like us. We are the face of our company and play an integral part in keeping the machine going. Luckily for us, we have a good General Manager, awesome staff and amazing partners. While we still plan on being involved using technology, our roles are going to be somewhat diminished and we are super dependent on the team to keep things rolling.
Well the first week was a whirlwind. We left Calgary on Sunday July 21st and arrived in California on the edge or the Redwood Forrest yesterday late afternoon. It has been a great trip so far, but like any family, we have had our moments in our close quarters. While there has been some yelling, screaming, and crying, there have been a lot more moments of enjoying our time together as a family. Now, we have two more weeks left driving in this RV, so time will tell whether or not we can keep it up!
Day One - We started off in Calgary of course and drove to a nice little campground called Mount Baker RV Park in Cranbrook BC. Very conveniently located in the centre of town which was basically close to everything. They did not have much left for campsites but set us up in a funky little spot and also loaned us a long extension cord so that we could tie in to power. We had our first little accident there when I tried to back the little cargo trailer up and it ended up jackknifing. IT caused a little dent and busted a light on the RV. No bike ride for me on this day! However, I took some time an re-arranged our little travel trailer and I have to say it was a thing of beauty. I was able to get six of our bikes securely placed (forks locked in place), all of our luggage, bike parts, emergency equipment, bike tires and a whole lot of space to spare. The way I had originally set it up made it difficult to get the bikes in and out and boxes were not staying in place.
Day Two, Monday July 22nd, we left for Spokane Washington. We had a little delay at the border crossing due to some of the food we were carrying. My advice, leave all fruit at home. Everything else seems to be ok. Once in Spokane we rolled up and stayed at The Alderwood RV Resort which was close to everything.This was a concrete RV park, meaning everything was paved and pristine. It was actually one of my favourite as it had a lot of nice shrubs and trees in and around the site that made it kind of homey.
I did my first ride in Spokane. Really nice ride up past Nine Mile Falls. As a part of this blog I am also going to rate the DRIVERS and their courtesy towards cyclists. I have to say that Spokane was one of the most bike friendly places I have ridden outside of Europe. They get a 4.5/5.0 for driver courtesy towards cyclists! Here is my route
Day Three - Well this started off very frustrating. After breakfast I started packing up the bikes in the cargo trailer and they were not all fitting in. I could not get the 6th bike in its place! The problem was that when I re-arranged the trailer, I did so as I was packing the bikes and locking the forks in place. After I set one bike, I would set another that would require me to drill in the little apparatus that locks the forks. So essentially, this was a puzzle that required the exact placement of each bike when they are getting repacked. Well, I totally forgot the order and spent two hours in 100+ degree heat in a metal box, trying to figure it out when Jillian finally found a photo she took of me installing the locking mechanisms and low and behold it was the clue that solved the puzzle. 10 minutes later we were packed and on our way towards Mount Rainier.
We ended up finding an adequate campground just off the main highway 7 miles outside of Packwood Washington called the Cascade Peaks Resort and Campground . Truth be told it was far from a "resort" and the campground itself was a little beat up. The pool was kind of sketchy and dirty looking so we avoided that. It did, however, have this cool tire zip line that the kids just loved and they have a riot playing on that.
The next morning I went out for an amazing ride towards Mount Rainier. This was one of the best places that I have ever cycled. The climbing, while constant, was not too steep. The beauty was in the nature around me and the lack of traffic. I give the Washington drivers a 4/5 for courtesy. CLICK HERE FOR MY RID
DAY FOUR - After I got back from the big ride, we had a hearty breakfast of bacon and egg, packed up the bikes and we were off to Portland. In Portland we stayed at the Jantzen Beach RV Park which was conveniently located just outside the city centre. We were also walking distance to a Toys R Us which my daughter thought was amazing! The campground was well appointed with everything one needs as well as a great little pool for the kids.
That night we went to see the Portland Timbers play against Coventry City which is an England Premiere League team. Before the game we grabbed a couple pizzas and beers at Eat Pizza, a local pizzeria right beside the Jen Weld Stadium. The Pizza was fresh, the staff friendly, and the beer cheap ($2.50 a bottle). We gave the overall experience around 3.5/5. The soccer game was an exhibition with nothing really on the line. It made it a bit of a snoozer, but the fans were amazing. We were sitting just to the left of the section that had the Portland Timbers Army which kept the chants going non-stop from start to finish.
Day Five - We decided to make this a short day and drive in to Willamette Valley which is part of the Oregon wine country. We stayed a nice RV park, appropriately called the Willamette Wine Country RV Park. Again, this park had everything we needed including a pool for the kids. Jillian and I took a 90 minute ride in the afternoon with the hope of doing a few tastings. However, there was a series of wine maker dinners going on so every winery we hit was either closed or open only for the dinner event! Nonetheless, we had a nice easy ride in the 100 degree heat! I was actually quite happy as my legs were still burning from the effort in Rainier!
Day Six - This day took us to the West Coast Highway (101) where we made our way through Oregon towards California. We decided to spend the night in Bandon and by virtue of the name we chose the Bandon RV Park. It did not have a lot of extras, but full hook ups and friendly owners was all that we could ask for.
It was COLD in Bandon. The temperature was hovering around 13 degrees Celsius and there was a wicked wind. Nonetheless, we were not going to let that stop us from exploring. For our evening in Bandon, we decided to go out for dinner. We had a half mile walk down a hill from our RV site to the old town centre. It was cute and there was a boardwalk that we could explore and look out to the ocean. We were all bundled up in hoodies and sweaters so it was tolerable. Our first choice for dinner was between a few small restaurants on the boardwalk that specialized in seafood. However, when we got there all of them were closing. Seems like things start to shut down at 5:00 in the booming metropolis of Bandon! Well we were inevitably saved by the Wheel House. The kids had fish and chips which was great. I had the deep fried oysters and a bowl of chowder. Jillian and the linguine and clams which was too watery. All in all it got a 3.5/5 for food and a 5/5 for service. Overall value was great. We had a bottle of wine and with four meals we were under $100.
I did not let the weather get me down so I was up at 6:00 AM the next day to go for a ride. The wind had died down and the temperature was around 12 degrees. I almost pulled the pin as I kept telling myself that it was too dam cold. I did not thing for bringing things like arm warmers or extra layers on this trip! However, the other inner-voice reminded me that I was born in Winnipeg and I normally cycle in Calgary, so suck it up butter cup and get your ass out there and ride! It was a short but steady ride on a beautiful country road from Bandon to just past Coquille. Nice pavement, rolling to flat ride with a couple of short climbs. I think maybe 7 cars passed me on that wonderful Saturday morning. The drivers were very courteous and got at 4.5 / 5.0I through in several 3 minute intervals holding 380 - 400 watts. Not sure why I put myself through that? I am on vacation. CLICK HERE FOR THE RIDE . When I got back I commented to Jillian how good I actually felt that morning and that I was surprised ho strong I was riding. She thought it must have been the deep fried oysters and wine. Hmmm... maybe I am on to something?
Day Seven - After I got back from the ride we went for Breakfast to a local join in Bandon. It took around 30 minutes for us to get the food and it was not very good. No sense talking about it!
After our poor choice in breakfast was complete, we took NJs mountain bike and my road bike in to the bike shop that was conveniently located next door to our RV park. NJ needed a new break and mine needed some serious tuning up. The shop was called South Coast Bicycles The owner was on hand and took super good care of us. We dropped the bikes off at 10:45 and then checked out of the RV park and went in to Bandon to do some further exploration. It was very chilly again so we had to bundle up. We walked along the boardwalk and checked out a local farmers market. We met a really nice lady who was selling toffee. We had a few samples and bought some of the delicious bars. It was also nice to have a chat with someone who was so warm and welcoming to us. After that we just killed time in the RV, had a couple of snacks and then we got a call around 3:00 that the bikes were ready. What service! The Venge was running like a smooth machine and NJs breaks were fixed!
We then headed south on the 101 and ended up at the Redwoods RV Resort . Now this feels like camping! We got a great spot nestled in the trees. We had a nice BBQ last night where I cooked a big ass ribeye for Jillian and me. The Ribeye, while not organic, was from a local producer. No steroids, antibiotics, free range, grass fead. It was delicious! The kids had organic hot dogs which was fine by me!
Day Eight - We decided to chill and stay another night at the same campground. We slept in, had breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee and then went on a nice family ride. We started off on a highway that looked like it would be quite. It was anything but. The drivers reminded me of the local rednecks in some of the outlying Alberta areas that have a hate on for cyclists. So while it is beautiful country out here and the cycling is picturesque, be warry of the secondary roads that have a lot of holiday traffic. Anway, we ended up turning around and went a different route. We found a nice little loop that was perfect for our family ride. We stopped several times to look at horses, little pigs and piglets, and a farm that had true free range chickens running around. We were simply amazed when we came across this 10 acre or so chicken farm that was only for the chickens. They had a big hen house in the middle and all this land to run around. They looked pretty dam happy to me.
One of the things that I was reminded about on this family ride is that cycling is and should be fun. My kids and wife were happy just doing a nice easy ride together. We had no traffic to deal with and an amazing countryside to look at. We spent the hour chatting, laughing, reminiscing and planning. We plan on doing more of these little rides on our journey and will make them a part of our life while we live in Mexico. CLICK HERE FOR OUR RIDE
Well.... tomorrow we depart for Napa! We plan or driving to Calistoga and will spend a few days there. The plan is to get up early and I will ride part of the way and the family will pick me up enroute!
I hope to update this blog in another week!