Thursday, December 22, 2011

Travel Plans

For those of you who are interested, this is the way it's all going down.  Emerson and I went to Los Angeles separately; he rode to the Stone Brewery in Escondido, then took a bus to LA; I just rode and prayed it wouldn't rain while I camped under a bush.  We met up in LA at my buddy Douglas' sweet house in Venice Beach (hip area of town two blocks from Muscle Beach yeahhhh).  We did some staging, rearranging, and chilled out.  Then Tuesday Big Cat (Emerson) headed up the coast on busses and trains to Petaluma, where he is meeting with a frame builder for his custom mountain bike. Ughhh! 

I'm in Venice for Christmas; Emerson is in San Francisco.  He is taking a train to Chicago for New Year's, them driving down to Knoxville with friends.  And he might head back down to Baton Rouge soon after that too... hmm.

As for me, I'm still here in Venice Beach, hard-core chilling, keeping an eye on the waves, and checking out some art museums... I am leaving LA the day after Christmas, with hopefully enough time and good weather to ride to San Francisco before New Year's.   Once I get there, the bike tour is actually over, and I'll start a new chapter of Tour de Fun in the city.  The best I could hope for is honestly more of the same.

A couple random pictures from the last few days of riding...

California sun yeah yeah

California roadside

wind mills!

Sharon and her family took us in our last night on the road. It was cold and we were
Consulting the map outside of a grocery store when Sharon asks us, "Do you need a warm place to stay tonight?
And maybe a warm meal?"  Ummm.... YES.   What wonderful people and a lovely family.

Sharon's dog.

Riding towards Ocean Beach

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ocean Beach San Diego!!

Sunset at Ocean Beach

Well, we finally made it.  After 74 days, 8 states, 3,700 miles, 9 flat tires, lots of prayers, encouraging words, and a few six packs of beer... we finally got to the Pacific Ocean.  It was expected and suprising all at the same time.  It was as if all that pedalling actually got us somewhere.  I thought, "Did we really bike here from our houses in Knoxville? no.. yeah.. wait, no... yeah.. nooo....yeahhh!  we did."  We have a lot of other friends who've made the trip, and I'm sure they were proud of themselves when they got to the ocean too.  But it was like it didnt hit me that our trip would actually end one day, and there we were at one of the most beautiful sites in the world- the Pacific Ocean.    We made phone calls to our folks, high-fived, and started looking for a place to stay for the night.
Pacific Ocean, we are excited to see you...

The Big Man made it.  Ughhhhh!
Our night in San Diego Bay

San Diego Maritime Museum

Navigating a big city... Where's the campground?

Day off in San Diego. Lots of laughing.

Emerson's true love- coffee.

San Diego Art Museum

Balboa Park, San Diego

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

California, here we la la la la


We crossed the state line Sunday... and oh! what a feeling.  More mountains, more palm trees, more saguaro cacti, and more yucca plants.   A change in time zone and a full moon all helped us celebrate with a beer at a Bait shop and hanging out by a fire.  Since then we've done two 90-mile days in a row, in a final push to get to the coast.  We should be in San Diego Wednesday, if the weather doesn't get too nasty!  Yesterday we had about 30 miles of rain, some decent hills, and the temperatures dropped.  I got a flat in this bad weather which made me cuss a healthy amount, then I wrote a song called, "California sun, where are you?"  It's a pretty good one, so I'm sure it'll make the top-40 list soon enough.

The road into Ocotillo, CA

Ocotillo, CA

Full moon

We camped underneath a weeping willow tree in the full moon. It was Beautiful.

California cottonfields? I guess so.

Glamis, CA

San Dune Recreation Area. Glamis, CA

Road into Ocotillo

Camping in Ocotillo...

The bar next to our camp spot

The road out of Ocotillo... I took this sign to say that going West was the only option.

There's nothing like looking at snow-dusted mountains in the morning and thinking, "I'm going up there..... damn."

In-Ko-Pah Pass.  Gaining 3,500 ft elevation in 17 miles, The steepest and longer pass yet.  The final pass into San Diego.

Clouds, California, and Coastlines to you,

Hollie and Emerson

Arizona Re-Cap

Check the "snowday post," for the photos with 4 inches of snow on top of palm trees... wild. But let me tell you about our ride into this town of Globe, AZ... riding all day through an Apache Indian reservation in on-and-off rain, then ten miles uphill in heavy rain, then ten miles in snow.  When it starts snowing after you are already soaked, and the sun is setting, let me tell you it is very very cold.  We had met up with other cyclists going the same way (the Indiana boys) so the four of us bunched up, put on our neon vests, blinky lights, and went.  Pedalling down the main highway in Globe, the snow picks up, we are chilled to the bone, and we have 10 miles to go. I am thinking, "it can't get any worse, and this is not even so bad."  Then it starts sleeting and there is so much ice on my glasses that they are useless, except maybe to shield my eyes from the stinging sleet. I swore it was like needles from the sky into my left eye.  So here we are, descending down, virtually blind, and the traffic picks up- heavy 18-wheelers, because Globe is a mining town and copper is in demand. Okay, so it can't indeed get any worse now.  I try to maintain where the edge of the road is, where the street lights are red, and keep pedalling, hoping to make it to the house we are staying in for the night, while singing some songs to keep spirits up....  We finally make it, there is a sauna, and we take off all of our wet stuff. Ahhhh, a sauna!  THEN the power goes out. No sauna for us.  But we are pumped to have a roof over our heads... we play a cold game of pool, crawl into our sleeping bags and crash out.

Frozen, happy, and marvelling at the collected snow on our bikes

chilly sun

Mr. & Mrs. Larsen put up with us for two nghts...

Outside Safford, AZ

Arizona Amazing

The rest of our time in Arizona was filled more or less with snow, sun, and wonderful hospitality.  We stayed with families who stuffed us full of homemade dinners, and then in a posh and beautiful guesthouse.  We were holed up for 2 days in Globe when we finally made a break for it in the afternoon about an hour after the roads were officially opened.  We pedaled fast, pedaled hard, and then realized that the roads were totally fine, and this was one of the most beautiful and breathtaking rides of our lives.  Over a mountain, through a tunnel, and through a canyon, in the setting sun the red rocks literally glowed and encouraged us onward, the mesquite trees waving to us all the while.  It made you want to shout "yeahhhh!" Nothing like that in Tennessee. A chilly descent brought us to the guesthouse which was decorated by the artist-owners who are interior designers and generous hosts. so nice and luxurious! Glad to be enveloped in warmth, we settled in next to the fireplace while the wind howled outside. owwwwww  hhhooowww   hooooowwwwwllllll.    Beat that, Allen Ginsberg. :)

Road from Globe, AZ - Superior, AZ

Keeping an eye on the moon, always

Saguaro!  Cactus!

Road to the Grand Canyon...

We rolled into Phoenix on a Tuesday, via 30 miles of bike lanes and sunshine... I got lost getting into the city and as I was riding through the darkened streets, marvelling at the light rail system and the modern progressive city that is Phoenix, I hear someone call out, "Hollie!" and I look over to see a handsome fella wearing a blazer, brown leather shoes, atop a penny farthing. 

Blaise, a high-wheeler enthusiast

It's our host for the week, Blaise, a guy our age with a love for bike touring and beer... How swell.  The two of us ride to his house, meet up with Emerson, and the three of us become fast friends over delicious food and drinks.  At dinner Emerson and I are discussing the logistics of our plans to rent a car and head up to the Grand Canyon the next day.... when Blaise offers to drive us up there and go with us. How swell round II!  The next day the three of us make our way up through Flagstaff, stopping to refuel on gourmet coffee and check out a few local breweries too.  We finally get to the Grand Canyon Wednesday night, and Grand it is.  I've wanted to see this canyon since I was a little girl, and as the sun set and the almost-full moon came out, I could hardly believe I was finally getting to see it.  Its vastness and its beauty cannot be captured with words or even an image; a photo does this magnificent crevasse no justice.  With 5 inches of snow on the ground, a predicted low of 2 degrees, and an almost-full moon, hiking around the southern rim of the Grand Canyon was quite the surreal and amazing experience.  Thursday we hiked around some more in the day time and  it is strange hiking in a canyon because it is opposite of a mountain.  You go down toward the warmth and then up toward the cold.  It was hard to tear ourselves away from it.  You just want to keep your eyes glued to it, it is so big there is always something different to notice every second you stare at it- the other side, the cracks, the grass, the trail, the river, the rocks, the snow.

Grand Canyon

Bright sun and Grnd Canyon = squinty eyes

See that trail?  That's where wewere headed.... in theory

Hiking down into the Canyon a few miles 

Nature's Santa Claus beard



It was very cold in the areas that never got sunlight

down in the Canyon a mile or so

But we finally made it back to Phoenix, and in the next two days we made the richest, darkest hot chocolate, watched Christmas movies, had fancy coffee, fancy beer, and checked out the Phoenix Art Museum.  It was all lovely, and then we were on the road again....

Canyons, Chocolate, and Carols to you,

Hollie and Emerson