31 December, 2009

New Year's Theme

Ok, so I need some help.

It is now the eve of the New Year. 2010 will be here in 5 hours here in Somaliland and I haven't made any resolutions. In 2008, I decided to go with a theme, and I think I'd like to do the same, but I can't settle for one yet. Looking Great in 2008 was a smashing success as I was told I looked like Salvador Dali when I had a moustache that I could tuck behind my ears for 1/3 of the year and a smaller version for quite a few more months throughout the year. So, for this year I've narrowed it down (after months of contemplation) to four finalists. Please help me know which to pick:

Wear Deodorant now and then in Twenty Ten!

Go on lots of dates with Gwen (or Jenn) in 2010!

Bring the mullet back when it's two thousand and ten!

Looking great again, 2010!

As I sit on the roof and bring in the New Year with my champagne, caviar, and cigar (ok, so I'm not anywhere near so high class here, but I'll use my imagination) I'll try to reach some type of conclusion, but if you have any thoughts, I'll have to take them into consideration.

28 December, 2009

Canadian Pacific Northwest

From Seattle I headed up for the international portion of my journey. That’s right, I wanted to head into the Great White North as the permafrost was thawed and it was a month before things would be covered in snow again. In early September there were few dogsleds I’d have to worry about hitting on the motorcycle, so I figured I was safe. I just had to try to remember not to say anything bad about Bob and Doug Mackenzie or the Red Green Show. And, if I was lucky, maybe I’d meet a few famous Canadians like Mike Myers, Celine Dion, or the Queen of England (ok, maybe not Canadian, but at least I’d see her on the money since they haven’t managed to break free yet from the colonial power). God Save the Queen!

I had a little trouble convincing the border guard that I wasn’t just a freeloader with no job and no money trying to cross the border and take advantage of the system. I guess the beard, motorcycle with Pennsylvania tags crossing the Washington/British Columbia border 3,000 miles from where it was registered, and plastic trash bag rain cover over all my things didn’t give a convincing argument. After a short discussion in which I had to try to prove that I had enough money to make it all the way back to PA, and the border guard being convinced I wasn’t carrying any drugs, I was able to pass.

First stop I should’ve made in Canada: Tim Horton’s. But, I was on a diet of canned beans, saltines, and peanut butter, so I foolishly decided to just drive to Vancouver. Good enough, I found KD had made some great homemade cookies and hot tea waiting on me at my destination for the day. I’d arrived just after lunch time, so had the afternoon to explore the town. Of course, the first place Karen took me was Wreck beach. Sorry, no pictures, but it was pretty cool to be at the Pacific Ocean and see the mountains of Vancouver Island off in the distance. Thankfully it wasn’t too cold as I went swimming along with a few other Wreck beach participants. I guess the Canadian coast doesn’t have as many icebergs around as I’d expected.
Convention Center, think is supposed to be big deal for the Olympics
Vancouver skyline

From there, I got to experience a cross-cultural atmosphere through watching some cricket being played by a group of South Asians with some loud Hindi music blaring in the background at a local park. It wasn’t ice hockey season, so this worked as an international exposure that was overdue since I’d spent 5+ months consecutively in the U.S. (although selling fireworks in the thumb of Michigan for July 4 did feel at times like I was in another country).

Cricket experience! Who understands this game??

Following a good day of hanging out with Karen, I took off the next morning on the bike up the Sea to Sky highway towards Whistler. The site of the 2010 Winter Olympics was undergoing lots of construction. Everywhere there were signs of excitement in eager expectation for the beginning of the festivities. I’d really like to be able to go back during the games, but suppose it won’t be able to happen as it’s only a few months from now. The scenery was gorgeous with the ocean and mountains all so close together and many nice curves and twists along the road. Mountain bikers, runners, hikers, and various other adventure sporters were all around the roads and trails taking advantage of the beautiful creation that they found themselves in.
No snow?!?! In Canada!?!? Oh well, let's go biking!!!

Beautiful scenery on the Sea to the Sky highway
100 kilometres of great views
There's even some nice waterfalls right off the road

A quick stop in Vancouver after heading back south and then I was off to Abbotsford to stay the night with Chad and his parents. It was great to reconnect with them and spend the night a little closer to Western Montana where I hoped to make it the following day. The last little Canadian portion of the trip will have to wait until another day for telling.

07 December, 2009

Pacific Northwest (US)

Once I finally had the bike ready to go from Boise, I headed west to meet up with my friend Chad who I’d worked with in Sudan as he and some friends were camping on Oregon’s Cannon Beach. For those of you who are familiar with the movie Goonies, it was filmed there. For those of you who don’t know that movie, I highly recommend that you drop by the local video store or order it from Amazon and watch. In fact, I think I need to find it somehow over here and watch it again as it has been probably 2 years since I last watched.

Cannon Beach

Riding along through the Columbia River basin across Oregon was beautiful. If it wasn’t for the extremely strong wind, I would have enjoyed the day thoroughly. As it was, I still was glad to be able to make the drive, but my shoulders and back were extremely tired by the time I finished the 500+ mile trip from Boise to Cannon Beach. Arriving at the Pacific Ocean at about 5pm or so local time was a great way to stop for the day. With the sun setting in the West, the Pacific coast enjoys spectacular sunsets everyday. It was almost as good as the sunsets on the west coast of Zanzibar Island. Cooking a can of soup over the campfire, catching up with Chad and telling stories around the fire were a perfect end to the day.

Welcome to the West Coast
Another Beautiful Sunset
Camping here was awesome

The following day we looked into surfing, but it was a bit too expensive, and with the water being so cold and the temperature not so hot in early September, I think we had a much better day anyhow. Hiking around Ecola State Park, going to Haystack Rock, taking a nap on the beach was a great way to spend a beautiful, sunny day on the Pacific Coast. Another night camping right on the beach and cooking over an open campfire made another marvelous ending to a fun day on the journey. And finally reaching the Pacific Ocean after having been on the road for nearly two weeks, and especially after the four unexpected days in Boise with mechanical troubles, made this part of the trip all the better.

Handstand contest??

The next morning I headed up the Pacific Coast Highway and across the Astoria Bridge into Washington State. Unsurprisingly, it was a wet morning and the rain fell till noon. By mid-afternoon, I was able to stop by Black Lake Bible Camp and visit Phil’s (who I worked with in Sudan) parents as I was on my way up to Seattle. It was a beautiful camp with some nice facilities, and it seems like a great place. A nice dinner by the water in Tacoma, Washington with my friend Michelle from Taylor University provided a great view of Mt. Olympia and a couple of seals came up to the surface. From there I went to Seattle to stay with David and Callie, and the hills really made me think I was in San Francisco with how steep it was.

Seattle's Puget Sound

After a relaxing day going to the Pike market and seeing the space needle in Seattle, I went with David and Callie to her parent’s house in Yakima and attended one night of the Dave Mathews Concert at the Gorge. It was a majestic venue and full of people. While I’m not so much of a Dave fan, it was a great event. And spending a day in Yakima, drinking Seattle coffee, meeting Callie’s friends and beating them at Carcassonne was a lot of fun as well (not to mention I got to ride as a passenger in a car for quite a few hours instead of having to do all the work on the motorcycle). On top of it all, a Josh Garrels concert my last night in Seattle was a superb ending to the American side of my Pacific Northwest adventure. In spite of all the rain, it was a splendid time.
Columbia River Gorge in the Background
It rained during the first act, but before dave it cleared off and there was a double rainbow