22 December 2019 | Christchurch, New Zealand
16 December 2019 | Christchurch, Canterbury, NZ
28 November 2019 | Christchurch, SI, New Zealand
19 November 2019 | Picton, Marlborough, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
04 November 2019 | Collingwood, Tasman, South Island, NZ
29 October 2019 | Nelson, South Island, NZ
22 October 2019 | Christchurch, Te Waka o Māui, New Zealand
15 October 2019 | Scarborough, Queensland
05 October 2019 | Scarborough marina, near Brisbane, Australia
16 August 2019 | Southport Spit, Gold Coast, Australia
06 August 2019 | South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast, Queensland
15 July 2019 | Boatworks, Coomera River, Gold Coast
25 May 2019 | Biggera Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
12 April 2019 | Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
02 April 2019 | Southport, The Gold Coast, Australia
16 March 2019 | Southport, Gold Coast, Australia
09 March 2019 | Currigee, South Stradbroke Island, Gold Coast
21 February 2019 | Santa Barbara, Coomera River, Gold Coast, Australia
04 February 2019 | The Broadwater, Gold Coast, Australia
Golden Gate Bridge crossed
15 September 2014 | San Francisco
Geoff and Alison
Half way across the Golden Gate without a wisp of fog to be seen.
Many bridges emerged through the early morning haze as we pedalled around from our last camp site : the San Rafael / Richmond bridge, the Oakland bridge and the Golden Gate bridge far in the distance. We were headed for the Golden Gate which would take us into the heart of San Francisco. In fact, the other bridges also prohibit cyclists so the only way is via the GG or take a ferry.
It wasn't easy to find the best route as the main highway, US 101, banned cyclists so close to SF so we had to negotiate a number of steep hills to get to our destination. San Francisco has a fantastic cycle way system - far superior to anything we have seen elsewhere but its still pretty confusing for outsiders to work out how to get from A to B.
When we eventually arrived at the Northern end of the bridge there were hundreds of cyclists doing the same thing. Rushing to and fro on their $2000 bikes while we merged in with them on our $90 department store specials! The fog had cleared and with a lovely sunny sky the views were Ah-Sum!
We are now sheltering in a hotel in an eclectic (i.e. grotty) part of SF not with a harbour view but in the heart of San Francisco.
Bikejam on the Golden Gate bridge
30 miles to the Golden Gate Bridge
12 September 2014 | Olema, Marin County, California
Alison in the sunshine at last down the North California Coast
It's been quite a tough cycle down the Californian coast with many steep ups and downs. We left US Highway 101 at a place called Leggett and slowly pedalled our way over another 500 metre hill, then dropped down to the coast near a village called Westport on old Route 1, now US Highway 1, a narrow, winding road.
At this time of year the Pacific is calm and foggy while just inland a few miles it's hot and sunny. The theory is that its the cold Humboldt current sweeping down from the Arctic just off the coast that interacts with the warm summer air that causes the fog. It's good for cycling but not for sitting around or gazing at the scenery! Californians can't really win, because the winters are very wet! Perhaps not the best place to put on one's list for a perfect sunny summer holiday!
There are few services along the coast in between the small towns of Crescent City, Eureka and Fort Bragg, although every little village grocery store has freshly brewed coffee of varying quality and soft drinks on tap.
There are a number of state and county recreation parks that welcome cyclists to camp at a nominal cost so we and many other cyclists took advantage. The last one was at Bodega Bay which had a nice collection of harbour seals and seabirds. Seemingly, albatrosses from Hawaii make there way over to this area to feed and it's particularly rich in marine resources.
Apart from the sea life there are a few critters that have made their presence known at night - for the first time we were awakened by skunks in the Redwood forest. We've seen plenty of dead ones on the road, but these were very much alive and after our rubbish bag. Pretty, black and white animals with raised tails - just in case!
In a very dark copse on the banks of the Gualala River we had another entertaining night being kept awake by a few racoons - there were another 6 or 7 bikers camped together and we were all sleepless in the morning as the racoons alternately used a campervan as a trampoline, acted out a turf war in between the tents and cursed madly as they attempted a break and enter on an almost derelict bear bin to get at a biker's apples.
Larger animals are rarely seen away from the coast although locals have their "cougar" stories: the people who we stayed with near the village of Elk lost a couple of sheep to a cougar recently and used the state trapper and his Jack Russell terrier to corner it up a tree. A store owner at Fort Ross (where Russians in the nineteenth century built an outpost for their sea otter trapping venture) showed us an amazing photo taken of two full grown lions strolling up a road just off Highway 1 taken with an automatic camera.
Sir Francis Drake supposedly frequented this area but we are not sure how he got here. It could be a bit galling to discover that the Golden Hind managed to navigate its away round Cape Horn and make its way up to California without any of the electronic claptrap and weather forecasts we have - we couldn't even make it past Curacao!
We are now closing in on San Francisco with only about 30 miles to go but we don't really feel we are close to a large urban area, despite the charges for everything going up and up. We are now camped at a private campground to slow down our arrival in the Big Smoke, but paying $49 for a rectangle of grubby, sandy ground for our little tent. Yikes!
Rugged coast scene
Friendly motor bikers
Coyote by the Russian River
Home Run on Highway 1
04 September 2014 | Westport, Mendocino County, California
Geoff and Alison, cold and grey
Brown pelican and cormorants along the North California coast
Back on the California Coast after a dogleg on the main Highway 101 to avoid the so called "Lost Coast" - a part of the coast that has never been developed as it was considered too rugged. The diversion took us along the Avenue of the Giants which was a pleasant alternative to the main highway through the redwood forest and then over the coast road's biggest hill after the junction with Highway 1 - most cyclists heading south towards San Francisco had been dreading it, but it wasn't so bad (!)
The coast was not quite as we predicted, foggy and cold but there were plenty of seabirds and harbour seals and sea lions around to keep us amused and views along the coast with its offshore sea stacks. This route takes us 20 miles further to San Francisco, so we are now 190 miles off rather than 170! Never mind, Highway 1 is mercifully quiet compared to the 101, although even narrower.
Elk Country Camping
27 August 2014 | Humboldt Lagoons, North California
Geoff and Alison, cold and foggy
Male elk inspects the telly programmes in a caravan while keeping an eye on his wayward harem and the actions of the young bucks in the group.
That's the name of this rather dilapidated RV park (read caravan park) on the coast South of Klamath. These RV parks are quite varied in character, but surprisingly can be better value for us internet hungry biking freaks than the state and federally owned national forest or national park campgrounds which seem to charge more than they are worth and often have a dark, hard ground under the trees with just a vault toilet (read long drop) and a tap and plenty of bear warnings! The privately run RV parks often have a space for tenters which is better than that available for the RVers and always have a hot shower and internet - yay!
This campground lives up to its name as it is the home of a herd of 40 odd elk, now shepherded by a magnificently adorned male. In fact they just popped out of the forest at around 3 this afternoon and strolled around the grounds, even poking their noses through some of the RV windows to see what was on the telly. They then made their way across Highway 101 - the busy highway we have been following, causing an "elk-jam" as the traffic had to stop to allow them to cross over, Yellowstone style. It seems that here on the California coast the males are now teemed up with a harem - presumably those with the biggest antlers anyway!. Up in Yellowstone, the males seemed to be happy just mooching around together before the serious business of the rutting season takes place.
Apparently, the numbers of elk along the Western Pacific Coast was at an all time low of around 200 by 1920 but have since recovered due to a more enlightened age. Not so lucky were the California Grizzlies - they are a significant part of the California State flag but were exterminated in the early 20s and their reintroduction has not been encouraged like it was in Wyoming and Idaho. Mountain lions, perhaps because of their secretive nature, have done better despite being also persecuted. They have grown in numbers - enough for cougar scare / aware messages posted wherever there is a forest pullout or stop along the highway.
Of course, the chance of actually spotting a mountain lion in California is probably about the same as seeing a blue moon, let alone being attacked by one. For us and the other bicyclists along this busy highway the chance of being clipped by a short sighted, centegenarian RV driver or exhausted, irate, logging truck driver is much higher - the road is often narrow, with scarce protection for cyclists.We now have 40 miles to Eureka and 300 to SF.
The last time one of us came down this road was over 40 years ago with sister Sue in a Greyhound bus on the way to Fiji. It rained from Portland in Oregon almost all the way to San Francisco including a soggy night's break in Eureka! The fog at this time of the year is a bit of a bummer. It rolls in during the night or early evening but only seems to stretch for a mile or two inland - as the road deviates from the coast now and again, you can be in lovely sunshine one minute, hen cold, clammy fog the next. The fog seems to usually burn off by aroiund 11 am so there is little point in getting up or leaving the campsite too early!
Between Natural Giants on the North California Coast
26 August 2014 | Klamath, California
Alison and Geoff, cold and foggy
Amongst the redwoods on the coast near Klamath
For once, the road from Grants Pass in Oregon down to the foggy coast of Northern California was mostly downhill, apart from one long uphill stretch that took us over the state border and into the Smith River Valley. This was a beautiful valley with the first of California's giant redwoods appearing. The coast redwoods are the world's tallest trees - just about. The tallest tree is a tree called Hyperion, the location of which is a secret to stop vandalism. Hyperion is 379 feet tall - (115 m) - 10 times the length of Saraoni. Only 5% of the original redwood forest is left standing, but there seemed to be plenty along the Smith Valley and further along the Redwood Coast towards Klamath where we are now.
The small town of Crescent City was the first place we came across on the coast - it seemed to be pretty depressed, or maybe it was the coastal fog that made it appear rather dour!California sea lions were hanging around on a specially constructed platform in the fishing harbour which took up some of our time.
The road between Crescent City and Klamath was hilly and very busy. Quite a lot of whales use the coastline - grey whales migrate North and South between Alaska and Mexico and humpback whales feed off the coast in summer. We saw three whales close to the Klamath River mouth - not sure which species, but guess they must have been humpbacks because of the month.
Not everything is a giant along this coast. Tiny hummingbirds buzz around anything coloured. They look like bumblebees at first but hover near a flower like tiny helicopters. We have seen them in small numbers everywhere we have been in the States.
We are now 340 miles (500 km) from San Francisco but don't have to be there until 18th September so are not in any hurry!
Rolling on to San Francisco..tapping for our tucker as we go
21 August 2014 | Grants Pass, Southern Oregon
Alison, Sunny, NW wind
Photo shows the Smith River - an innocuous name for California's loveliest and least developed river that follows the road from Grants Pass amidst magnificent redwoods.
Arrived in Southern Oregon this afternoon after a 24 hour journey from Idaho by bus. Travelling across the States by Greyhound is more challenging than crossing the Atlantic by small boat but we survived better than last year's 3 to 4 day marathon. The two WalMart / Target bikes, valued at around $90 each (!) have survived the first 400 miles OK apart from a few punctures and a couple of broken spokes - mostly from the intrusion of the Spider Man panniers (!) that kept on trying to bust their way through the back wheel until tamed properly.
The bikes had to be dismantled and packed into tarp bags we sewed up ourselves so that they would be let onto the buses, but all went well and they arrived at this Southern Oregon town without damage despite the three bus changes and an extended tiring route via Portland, where we visited last year.
The bus route mostly followed the Snake River until it eventually emptied into the Columbia, America's second largest watercourse, which itself empties into the Pacific downstream from Portland. The Snake is a beautiful river, especially in its upper reaches. It rises on the Continental Divide in the Yellowstone area. Just on the other side of the Divide, the streams flow into the Yellowstone, then the Missouri, further into Montana and finally into the Mississippi, not far from the troubled Missouri city of Ferguson, so much in the news at the moment.
From here we ride down to the California Coast at Crescent City and follow as close to the coast as the highway allows all the way to San Francisco - journey's end. We've been keeping an eye on the weather action in the Atlantic. Everything has been unusually quiet this hurricane season and the North East Pacific has had a lot more lows developing so far. One low seems to be developing over the Windwards in a few days and may reach hurricane force later just East of Florida. As the low is projected to pass North of the ABCs it causes the wind to drop right out - an interesting phenomenon!
The trip has so far been very different from our US trip last year. Cycling means more exposure to a "town and country" experience. Last year we walked for weeks at a time through America's wilderness, and hardly saw anybody. This year we have been mostly riding along highways and have passed through small towns and cities and seen far more people and traffic than we normally care to - but its still a more rewarding experience than just driving around in a rental car. Americans are easy to talk to - or at least the ones we've met - and doing something a little odd is a stimulus for plenty of conversation and through that we've learned much more about the places we've been than being cocooned inside a vehicle.
The anonymous people we write for have no idea where we are and have bombarded us for more work - unfortunately we brought our laptop with us and have not quite worked out whether we are on holiday or not. That means that as long as we have the whiff of an internet signal we have been able to sing for our supper - or maybe that should be more accurately described as "tapping for our tucker"!
Meanwhile we head down the Redwood Highway tomorrow with 80 odd miles to the Pacific Coast.
On the Road...Again
15 August 2014 | Alpine, Wyoming, USA
Alison, sunny and cool
Have left the Yellowstone / Teton area and are back on the bikes on the way to Idaho Falls where we transfer onto a bus to take us over to the Pacific Coast. We have a problem with the camera so cannot upload photos at the moment and our internet access is still seriously limited. No doubt most people in the U.S. have good broadband access, but as a visitor, the wifi opportunities are few and far between and mostly very slow.
The Tetons appearing on the way south from Yellowstone NP in the Rockies
Genial campground hosts, Dennis and Darlene, look after a Forest Service site by the Snake River and were great company and introduced us to their slice of Wyoming including the bald eagle family across the river.
Wildlife Aplenty in Wyoming's Yellowstone and Tetons
06 August 2014 | West Yellowstone, Montana, USA
Geoff and Alison; cold and cloudy
Bull moose sauntering through one of Teton's campgrounds.
No internet for the public anywhere in Yellowstone NP so are briefly out of the park in this little border town - in a McDonalds!. Enjoying the trip around the Yellowstone and Teton area together with plenty of wildlife and half a million visitors!
Nearly all of the two key national parks of Yellowstone and Great Teton are in the North West corner of Wyoming, but they are a part of a much wider area of protected wildlands that stretches into neighbouring Idaho and Montana. The large area of essentially wilderness allows the largest number of North American large mammals to live and move around South of the Canadian border. Wolves, cougars and coyotes were eradicated in the early 1900s (Yellowstone is reported to be the world's first national park created in the last half of the nineteenth century), but have returned naturally or have been introduced - grey wolves were introduced form packs in Canada in the 1970s, much to the consternation of neighbouring Montana ranchers.
We hired a car for 10 days so that we could get around the huge area more easily - especially as it was the height of the US holiday season and the campgrounds were full everywhere. To our amazement there were huge numbers of foreign tourists as well - especially Chinese with their two foot telephoto lenses!
Like many well protected parks, the wildlife in both Yellowstone and Teton was very relaxed. Two huge bull moose strolled right through Gros Ventre campsite on the border of the Tetons on our first day - totally oblivious to the campers who had to scatter out of their breakfast tables. Bison were seen in large herds in Jackson Hole, and the Hayden and Lamar Valleys. Again they just strolled across the park roads sometimes stopping to stare at the traffic chaos they caused.
We also saw elk here, there and everywhere amongst the upper forests, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain goats, coyotes, deer and two families of black bears: mum bears with their cubs. One mum and her three small cubs kept everybody's attention for over an hour as she munched on flowers at the side ofthe road, her cubs scampering up every tree they could like squirrels.
The Slough Creek pack of 12 wolves were also around but were hidden from sight while we watched with a bunch of wolf experts in the Lamar Valley.
We also missed a grizzly encounter while we were watching the black bears - a mother grizzly and her two cubs sent everyone jumping into their cars just up the Antelope Creek Road from where we were.
The Yellowstone Teton area is more than just wildlife of course. The craggy Tetons are spectacular walking country and Yellowstone sits on top of a huge volcanic hotspot so here are plenty of NZ style mudpots, geysers and hot springs to goggle at - at least here they are on public property and not sitting on private property like many in the North Island.
Rocky Mountain High
22 July 2014 | Garden City, Bear Lake, Utah
We've now been over a week in the US and we are 140 miles North East of Salt Lake City. We bought new bikes and related claptrap in SLC and loaded them down with the bare necessities of life. We are now nearly 6,000 feet or 1800 m up in the Rocky Mountains on the shores of Bear Lake, on the borders of Utah and Idaho. All going well so far even though a bit too much traffic on the highway.
We had a fairly gruelling cycle ride up the Logan canyon yesterday and today which took us up over 7,800 feet (2,400m) on the pass over to Bear Lake. The canyon was very pretty with plenty of camp sites and a cool, rushing river. Lots of holiday traffic as we are in the middle of the US summer season as well as a Mormon based state holiday coming up tomorrow so we are making for Idaho to avoid the lakeside crush. We should be in Jackson, Wyoming at the southern edge of the Greater Yellowstone wilderness area by next Monday as long as our Walmart bikes and our bodies hang out!
We have only met one other person crazy enough to be cycling long distances on this route so far - a young Englishman cycling from Calgary in Canada to San Diego. Of course, our madness is topic for impromptu conversations with many people we met - from female truckies to holidaying Utahans. Today, we met Kevin the ice man from Logan - or thats our nickname for him as he bought some ice specially for us which he donated at the summit after our long ascent from the canyon in over 100F (36C) heat! The temperatures seem pretty crazy as this morning we woke up to a 5C temp. at our boondocking campsite near the Logan river - it only heats up as the sun rises but its hot as hell by 10 am!