Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arms... hurt...

Today was a reeally long day of riding. A bit like our first day, actually. We only managed to arrive at our hotel late at night, at around 9pm. Maybe we're setting too long distances for ourselves. Or maybe it's another reason... like... maybe... this place:

Hey! Let's stop and take a look!

Om nom nom...

Nom nom nom...

The jerky-looking object that the ostrich is holding is "indian candy," which is a kind of smoked salmon and a recipient of the "Best Thing I Have Ever Eaten" Award from Celine. Besides that, we have some bread and some nice goat cheese from a local farm.

<2 hours later> *burp* Should we start going now?

Our legs, surprisingly, are neither tired nor chafed. My arms, on the other hand, feel like they were pedaling the whole way. Apparently it takes a lot of energy to hold myself up on the bike for hours and hours. Meanwhile, Celine can sit in the back tossing snacks into her mouth and snapping pictures all day!!

Here's Celine's explanation: Ostwige's arms are too short!

Maybe we need to find a way to raise or bring the handlebar closer?

Back on Track!

Today, in a mad scramble that involved missed buses, frantic taxi rides, and catching the last ferry, we bid farewell to Victoria and said hello to our bicycle Perry again.

Bye Victoria!

We woke up bright and early (the ostrich's definition) with plenty of time to pack up and bid farewell to Max, Evie and the rest of the RALLC crew. We were planning to catch a morning bus back up to Sidney, where we would catch the ferry to bring us back to Anacortes, Washington, USA. Thanks to our excellent time management skills, we waddled out to the bus stop with all our stuff and still had 15 minutes to spare before the bus was scheduled to arrive.

So we waited for a bit and talked about some stuff. And waited some more. Several buses came and left. Cars drove by. But what were we worried about? The bus wasn't even supposed to come for another three minutes.

Two minutes. Nobody else was waiting at the bus stop. Hmm.

One minute. I started to have a feeling that I tend to get pretty often when dealing with complicated things like public transport. It's a bit of a talent I have, I guess. The feeling means: you're doing it wrong.

Zero minutes. This bus was the last bus for another hour. If we missed this bus, we would miss the ferry. If we missed the ferry, we would be delayed another four hours, meaning our day of bicycling would be pretty much over.

Panicking slightly, we ran back to the concierge, panniers flapping. Yup -- we'd been at the wrong bus stop. We ran out to the correct place, which was juust painfully around the corner from where we were standing -- the northbound stop, instead of southbound. But of course it was too late.


After a few seconds of gloomy fretting, we found ourselves facing the prospect of missing the day of cycling, complete with finding new accommodations, paying for them, etc.

We ran into Evie and her roommate Sheera, who was taking a charter bus up to a different port for a ferry back to Vancouver. After hearing about our problems, Evie very kindly volunteered to drive us up to Sidney to try and make our ferry. So our choices were: stay and give up the day of cycling, or take Evie's offer to drive us up.

We felt really bad about either option. But as we walked back to the hotel to look for Evie's car keys, we passed some idle taxis. Celine ran over and asked them how much for a ride to Sidney. They said around $60, which was about the same price as Sheera's charter bus to the other port.

On the spot, we decided to take the taxi. We dumped our stuff in, and off we went!

We ended up having a really interesting conversation with the taxi driver, Erfan, who used to be a doctor and was working as a taxi driver, trying to make ends meet while planning a return to university. We arrived in Sidney and made it on the ferry with literally minutes to spare.

The ferry ride was much nicer this time round. The sun was starting to come out, so we had a great view of the bay and the islands. And when we arrived back in the USA, right on schedule, Art was there at the dock to meet us.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Downtown Victoria

We got to Victoria and met up with Mr. Tiger, Evie, and Sheera. Of course, we immediately headed for a second lunch at "Don Mei", a dim sum restaurant in Victoria (supposedly the oldest Chinatown in Canada). Vitali joined us too.

After lunch, we went as a big group with all the Research Affiliates people to the Victoria Bug Zoo, which sounds like a funny thing to visit on holiday on Victoria Island, but...

It was really, REALLY cool! The zoo guide, Mike, went around the little room with us, taking out all kinds of weird and crazy-looking bugs for us to handle while bombarding us with interesting facts. We held scorpions, taratulas, giant stickbugs, beetles, humongous grubs... just look at the pictures!

Everyone left the museum really impressed.

Even these members of the Russia Mafiya:

We went back to the hotel to check out the indoor pool, which was pretty nice. It was small, but soon the 10 of us managed to drive away all the other people using the pool and converted it into one big swimming contest. I guess this side trip wasn't as much of a break from exercise as we thought...

The ostrich was exhausted after the swimming races. The UCLA/Anderson school graduates had a mini-reunion dinner at a Spanish Tapas restaurant downtown so we tagged along.

The food was goooood. Highlights included bacon-wrapped dates, pesto-pecan-apple pizza, a variety of salads, and the first and best "chocolate creme brulee" we've ever had.

Delicious!!!! Thank you Jason! Come to Westwood soon so we can finish our tennis match!

Back to B.C

Today we're going back to Canada to meet our support Tiger (need MOAR underwear!).

The morning started early when we got up at 6:00 to get ready for the ferry from Anacortes to Sindey. Art and Lexi kindly volunteered their garage so we could store Perry somewhere while we went to Victoria. They're even picking us up tomorrow from the ferry when we come back! They're really kind!

The ferry ride was fun and scenic but not super special: it took about two hours and we ended up napping, playing psp/ds and messing with the computer for most of the time. They had a small cafe with clam chowder, hot dogs, etc, and even a few arcade machines on board.

We were getting pretty hungry when we reached Sidney, and since our snack supply was running low, we headed straight for the first grocery store we saw. There were a lot of snacks not found in the US, so we bought as many as we dared: one box of "sweet chili" triscuit, one box of berry/green tea cookies, maltesers, gummy candies, five dragonfruit-melon juice boxes, five starfruit-orange juice boxes, a kitkat hazelnut cream bar, a cadbury "wunderbar", and a steak-vegetable pie and salmon roll for lunch.

(the bus was ... a bit bumpy)

What should we have for dinner?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 2 Part 2 - Anacortes

When we neared Anacortes, we had our first freeway riding experience on highway 20.

(Crossroads before the freeway)

(On the freeway! Looks like I-5 but greener)

We even went up a pedestrian walkway on the side of the needlessly high freeway bridge into Anacortes. While Celine will claim that it was not scary at all, you can obviously see from the pictures that the height was very scary indeed.

(See? not high! not scary!)

(wait... who's taking the picture? huH? there's only 1 person on the bike? where's the ostrich?)

(boo hoo hoo, hoo hoo /panic)

After we finally got off the bridge, we rode around on Figuero island for a while, looking for the second bridge that would allow us to skip the rest of the freeway into Anacortes. We ended up going straight through a huge Shell oil refinery, which was an interesting experience.

The footbridge into Anacortes is supposedly a rebuilt railroad trestle from many years back. It's now used just for cyclists and foot traffic. Here's a picture of it:

(Trestle is ahead going across the water)

(On the trestle)

Sooooo beautiful

And climbing a few more hills into downtown Anacortes, we arrived at our second host's house.

Thank you Art and Lexi for the great pizza dinner, dessert, bed, and of course the warm shower!

Day 2 - Bellingham to Anacortes

After a yummy breakfast of potatoes, eggs, cheese and fresh leeks from the Elliots' garden, we reluctantly set out from Bellingham at the "early" hour of 12 noon (ahem, I wonder who was snoring for so long).

(Cloudy sends us off)

After a little bit more uphill riding, the road suddenly leveled out and opened up -- we got off the main road and started zooming downhill. While trying to break our speed record of 32mph (set near the Canada/US border), we zipped towards Lake Samish and got some nice views of the water.

We zipped past several intersections before I started thinking that maybe we wanted to turn at one of them to stay on the route. But we were going so fast that by the time Perry stopped completely, we were at the bottom of a very big hill.

Unfortunately, we *had* missed a turn. And getting back to that intersection meant climbing back up the steep hill that we had just flown down. So we decided to just continue and see where the road went. We ended up going around the lake on the other side, which was a very nice ride as well.

The rest of the day was spent winding through the woods and eventually through flat farmlands. It was foggy and slightly drizzly, very nice for bike riding.

We saw llamas!

What are those white round things?_?

We also stopped at a little bakery in the middle of nowhere, called Rosabella's Garden Bakery. We had an $8 slice of vegetarian quiche there that was made solely from ingredients that the owners grew themselves: really from scratch! It was an expensive slice of quiche, but it tasted good.

Warm quiche in belly, we set out to one of the steepest hills we've encountered:

Luckily it wasn't too long =)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 1 Part 2 - Border to Bellingham

The ride from the Border to Bellingham was pretty uneventful -- there was not much scenery and lots of hills. We were pretty bored most of the way and couldn't go very fast.

(Tee thinks our shadows look cool)

We look like weirdos, but Bellingham is very beautiful. We passed by a Creek:

Some weird slugs

And Deer!

Not to mention a lot of allergy causing materials =P

When we finally made it to Ray and Deborah's house we had been traveling at only 4-6mph (6-10kph) for the last 2 hours, due to a huge hill! But what goes up must come down, so we are looking forward to all the downhills tomorrow!

(Group picture!)

Thank you Ray, Deborah, Chris and Tim for everything! We had a great time! Let us take you on a eating tour next time you are in LA =)