Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Wild Finish

Well folks, the Zoo has done it! 75 days of biking has brought us from Harrisonburg, VA all the way to Astoria, OR.
But now I am getting ahead of myself, we last left off just one day away from our final destination.
After "touring" the Tillamook Cheese Factory (which gets a whopping 800,000 visitors each year). We left with a slightly better understanding of the cheese process and continued down the road (with 2 flat tire changes for Pick, this might become a theme during this post) to the little coastal town of Manzanita. We ate an awesome pizza dinner and then headed down to the beach with two bundles of firewood and a pack of Coors. It was the perfect way to relax and reflect on what we had done this summer, with a roaring fire and the waves breaking on the beach. Eventually we passed out around 1:30 and got a slow start the next day. We ate a great breakfast and enjoyed a brief visit from our friend Caitlin's dad who drove down from Seattle to congratulate us and check out our sweet bikes. By 12:30, we were finally ready to get on the road for the last time... but, Pick got another flat tire. I kid you not this must have been flat tire #30. SO FINALLY, the Zoo was ready to go.

We made it 15 miles before we stopped in Cannon Beach for lunch, (PB+J on the beach) and I don't think that anyone really wanted it to end because we were taking our grand old time. As we got ready to get back on the road, Pick hit a new low as he got another flat tire, any tube we threw on his bike immediately went flat, and the tire was kind of falling apart, so we waited as Jeff biked 5 miles to the nearest bike shop and returned with a tire called the Flak Jacket. Once we had the Flak Jacket the Zoo was cruising. We caught our last glimpse of the Pacific as we biked down the boardwalk in Seaside and we took a perfect and nearly no-traffic road all the way to Astoria. Our hearts were full of the memories we had created, and the Zoo really soaked it in the last 15 miles and we were whooping it up as we stopped to take pictures with the Astoria sign. We climbed the curvy streets of Astoria amidst breathtaking views of the Columbia River and couldn't have imagined a more picturesque setting to end our adventure. As we rode down Main Street with our bright yellow jerseys blazing, Jim Joyce (father of our very own Jeff Joyce) was there to greet us and take pictures.

Now, lucky for us, the adventure didn't end there. We loaded our bikes and gear onto Jim's rented minivan, three bikes on a bike rack, and two strapped to the gear on the roof! We rolled out of Astoria around 9:30 pm and drove for 3 hours to meet up with Jeff's older brother Curt in White Salmon, Washington. Curt works out there as a whitewater rafting guide for a company called Wet Planet. The Zoo was tired when they rolled in at 1 in the morning. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep as soon as I laid down that night. We all woke up to a day of hiking around the area and seeing the different mountain ranges. And the next day we had the opportunity to take an 8-mile whitewater rafting trip with Curt as our guide. It was an awesome time as we rafted Class III and IV rapids. Our trip ended with us successfully rafting the infamous 12 foot Husum Falls - the largest commercially rafted waterfall in North America!

The Zoo then packed everything up and made the short drive to Portland from where we are all departing back to the East Coast, everyone except for

Jeff - who will be staying out here in the Portland area and is trying to work with Americorps in some capacity out here.

Doug - will be spending the next 3 weeks with his family in Charlottesville before he heads out on another traveling adventure. Doug will be working as a photo-journalist for a missions agency and will be traveling to 15 different countries in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Pick - will be coming back out to work at the Sanborn Western Camp that he worked at last summer and that we had the pleasure to visit for 2 days this summer in Florissant, Colorado. His awesome girlfriend Maureen will join him out there at the camp.

Dave - will be interviewing with grad schools as he seeks to study to become a Physician Assistant. Before then he will be working in some capacity somewhere.

Ross - will be returning home to Maryland to look for work and the next step in his life. He already misses life on a bike.

And that's it. We met amazing people, saw the beauty of this country and created memories that will last a lifetime. And I know that if we can get through something like this together, we really did find the right best friends back there at JMU.

We Really Did It.

The Zoo

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Coastal Collage

A few photos to go along with the recent post...

Atop of "Mackenzie Pass". Elevation 5,100. Highest point of remaining trip.

Down the backside of Mackenzie.

The covered, not so covered, bridge (reference to following post).

Jeff and Pick capturing our first Pacific sunset.

"Aunt Peggy's" cabin.

Two Rogues (Ross and Jeff) at Rogue Brewery.

A veiw down the jagged and wooded Oregon coast.

The Zoo catches another sunset. It is great having beautiful sunsets everynight over the water, and much more convenient for viewing than sunrises over the Atlantic.

The Coast with the Most!

Hello faithful blog followers. As the rest of the Zoo are stuffing their faces with cheese samples at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, I, Davo and Doug Strong Arms McGee have shouldered the responsibility of updating you all about our triumphant arrival to the West Coast. That's right folks we made it to the Pacific Ocean! We arrived at the seaside town of Waldport Oregon on August 12th as we frantically biked 100 miles for the days total to make it before the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. But I am getting a bit carried away. We will get to our oceanic successes in a second, but first let me catch everyone up to where we last left off. The last news the world heard from the Zoo we were woken up wet with dew all over our sleeping bags atop Ochoco Pass. As you all waited anxiously to hear if we survived the stomach curtling descent down the Pass the Zoo was merrily on its way toward the town of Sisters Oregon. On August 10th we arrived in Sisters in search of sustenance from a long days ride. While waiting for our pizzas to cook we encountered yet another strange wanderer. As he nearly crashed into the curb with his bike and bob trailer equipped with what must have been over 150 pounds worth of weight (yes more than even our furry friend Pick is currently towing) we were introduced to the 5' 3" Cuss slinging, beer drinking, pot smoking, Canuck Ian. Ian was larger than life in many ways. For starters he told us that we had met him as he is currently on a 15 (not a typo) month bike tour that started in Canada and has taken him all the way down to the Panama Canal and back up to Oregon. Pretty impressive and crazy right? Well what was more impressive was despite traveling across over three different countries and an entire continent and a half, Ian still proudly maintained the biggest beer gut I have ever seen.

From Sisters we made our way West over the last pass of the trip and the final time that we would be over 5000 ft. above sea level. The pass was amazing! The climb up provided us with sights of Mt. Washington and Jefferson and a rare view of the effects of a lava flow that happened millions of years ago (if you believe in that sort of thing). From the coal black bare rocks of the east side of the pass, the west side was a stark contrast with lush green forests that seemed to glow when the sunlight hit each leaf. After another thrilling descent down the other side of the pass we arrived at the small town of Mckenzies Bridge for some lunch. As we ate, we talked with a local named Tim. From the moment I saw Tim he reminded me of famed wrestling entertainer Shawn Michaels (yes I know I am a total nerd) with his bleached blond hair pulled back into a tight pony tail. Tim looked very different from the farmers and ranchers we had been accustomed to seeing for the last 2000 miles and I knew we were getting close to the coast. We intended to only stay at the rest stop until we had finished our burritos, but after two helpings and an hour and a half it didn't seem like we could ever make it back on the road. What stood in the way was our celebrity status. We were getting questions fired at us from all directions-how long you been on the road?- where you from in Virginia?- are Pick and Dave related?-Is there a skunk around here or is that just you? We answered all these questions with patience but enough is enough and when we saw our chance we mounted our steel steeds and continued on our journey. Four of us made it out safely, but Doug was too tall to escape and continued suffering for another five minutes as the volley of questions continued to fire.

[Breath] Exhausted and smelly we decided to go for a swim under a covered bridge along the road. The water was freezing but enjoyable and provided us the extra boost to push on. As we were changing out of our swimming trunks and back into our bike shorts a car pulled up right as Doug was in mid change. With butt turned towards the vehicle Doug took it in stride and continued to dry himself at his own pace. What was perplexing and entertaining was that the car slowed to a near stop to watch Doug at his most primal of moments. We all thought it was great and then had a bigger laugh when we learned a minute later that we were standing next to a stop sign. Through with holding up traffic and giving old women heart attacks we continued on to Waltersville.

We knew we could do it. We set our sights on the prize. Today was the day and we didn't care if 100 miles stood in our path. We were dipping our feet into those salty waters! Equipped with a Gazateer we got off the Trans America Trail and headed down a series of back roads to the town of Monroe. In Monroe our luck took a turn and we ran into the kind Librarian "Aunt" Peggy. Peggy not only opened the library up for us outside of regular hours so that we could use the bathroom and computers, but also shockingly gave us the lock box combo to her families cabin on the coast. So of course we are all pumped now. We have to get to the coast, we just got to. Over gravel roads, winding highways and clouds of rain and fog we pedaled toward the town of Waldport. As we got twenty miles from the coast (we knew because the mile markers counted down, very cool for us as it added to the moment and anticipation) the strangest feeling came over me and the other Zoo mates. We were really going to make it. We were going to cross an entire continent on our own muscle and will. I began thinking back to all the other states we had seen and the people who helped us along the way. As we hit mile three, we began to see a break in the clouds and the sun shining through. By mile one we were in sight of the beach and as we crossed famous Highway 101 (extends the whole coast with Hwy 1) we finally saw sand. Thrilled to be there we enjoyed the sunset ( a first for many of us) over an ocean.

Aunt Peggy's Family Cabin was an amazing treat for all of us to spend our first night on the coast. We learned through Peggy and also the photo albums that lined the walls of the cabin that this place had been built by her Grandparents and had been a place where memories were made for family and friends for years. If you are reading this Peggy thank you for making our memories of our first night and morning on the Pacific truly amazing. Love, The Zoo.

Now that we were on the coast it was time to CHILL and what better way than to visit a microbrewery. In Newport we visited the Rogue brewery and got a tour of the plant. While we will all agree that the beer is delicious I still don't think any of us could confidently tell you how a good brew is made. Nonetheless we enjoyed all the taste testing and even got to meet the master brewer himself, John Maier. Feeling VERY good we left Rogue and headed up north and that is where you find us now. We are still alive, we still smell and we have had the trip of a lifetime. Tonight we spend our last night together as just the Zoo and tomorrow we will ride into Astoria Oregon as we complete the Trans America Trail.

Thanks to all of you who followed the blog and gave us constant encouragement, love, and especially those delicious packages! Love,


Monday, August 10, 2009

A Visual Medley

Since our last post from Dayville, all has gone swimmingly. Its odd to be able to count the number of days left on our fingures as we near the Oregon coast. Last night we camped atop of Ocohco Pass with an elevation around 5,000 ft and woke up to a bit of frost (the coldest night we've had). But after dropping a couple g's down to Prineville the temp was back into the 80's by mid day.

We'll, it has been a while since I was able to upload photos, so I thought I'd throw a some up now that I've got the chance...

A horn blast and a blessing as we departed from church in Kooskia, ID

"Enough joking around, let's get down to business."

"Jolly Green" on a rainy morning in Baker City, OR

The final state...WOW!

Jeff as he takes the turn on a switch-back.

As always, thanks for reading. We are looking forward to seeing you soon and getting to share stories with you personally!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eastern Oregon: Where It Rains 10 Inches a Year... All On The Same Day

Howdy folks, Ross the Boss here. I understand that we've had some new blog readers recently. Thus, I will sum up what is going on here real quick.

We are 5 dudes who graduated from James Madison University (JMU) in May '09. The past 2 years we spent together living in a rented house on Main Street in Harrisonburg, VA. Since we thought we were so cool, we named our house The Zoo, and we will continue to refer to ourselves as The Zoo until we die (maybe...). It turned out that we all had open summers following graduation (and we all graduated... barely) so we decided that we needed to do something super sweet together to commemorate our time together and do it in style. Therein spawned the idea to ride across the country. I'm pretty sure that Jeff thought about doing it about 10 years ago, but for the rest of us we all were finally onboard as of Winter Break of this past year. On June 2nd, after countless trips to the bike shop (thanks Shenandoah Bicycle Company!) and months of training (for some of us) we departed from the Zoo.

I wanted this to happen months ago but here are some rider bios:

Name: Doug Arms
Nicknames: Dougiee, Arms, Arms Doctor, Dooglas, Lone Ranger, Strong Arms
Bike model: Gunnar (aka the tallest bike you've ever seen) all black
Height: 6'5''
Falls: 2
Flat tires: 6
Notable: Biked 200 miles in 1 day to collect mail!

Name: Jeff Joyce
Nicknames: Chief, Jorts, JJ, Jeff O'saurus Rex,
Bike model: 1985 Specialized Rock Hopper, neon green
Height: 5' 9''
Falls: 1
Flat tires: 5
Notable: The baddest bully on two wheels

Name: Dave Peyser
Nicknames: Davo, Davey, Peysey Weysey, DPR, Active Ingredient, Velvetine Rabbit
Bike model: Trek 520. mocha brown
Height: 5'8''
Falls: 1
Flat tires: 1
Notable: Very slow downhill... no matter what

Name: Little Bear
Nicknames: Saucy Taffy, Boss, Big Engine, Ross Chilcoat, Passenger Train, The Sauce, One Speed, Gravy Train, Puppy Chow, Clyde the Glide, Bossy Taffy
Bike model: Surly Long Haul Trucker, army green
Height: 5'10 3/4
Falls: 1
Flat tires: 10 (6 in 1 day)
Notable: Very fast downhill... no matter what

Name: Brian Michael Picknally Esq.
Nicknames: Pick, Bri, Tony, Gerbil, Hank, Tiny Pete
Bike model: 1987 Specialized Street Stomper
Height: 5'5'' (listed at 5'8'' in Springfield Township High School football program)
Falls: +20
Flat tires: +20
Notable: Managed to pee on the side of the road in every county in the United States

Now that you know us better, the Zoo has now entered OREGON!!

Jeff here for a cameo post updating the blog since entering Oregon:

Aug5 [Council, ID to HELLS CANYON, OR]:
We began the day in beautiful Council, Idaho. Had an excellent breakfast at the local cafe which will be remebered most for our quest to name all of the country music artists on a poster across the room. We got Garth B., Allen J., and Dolly P. easily enough, but who really knows what Waylon Jennings looks like? But like Ross always says, "Quitters never win, and winners never quit" Thus, through perseverence and with the help of the friendly waitstaff [including cooks] we got all 40+ of the twangy greats. It's the little victories that taste most sweet.
So a few miles and sodas later we dropped down into HELL'S CANYON and soon there after into Oregon. We have a bit of a tradition of racing for state lines and this final victory went to Davey "it's all gravy" Peyser. He took it from an unheard of 24 miles out. We didn't see it coming, he was there one minute and then gone the next. Once us other Zoomates saw that we had been had we gave up and went swimming in a nearby lake. This left poor Davo hungry and alone at the state line awaiting our arrival, but he promises that the taste of a blowout victory was enough to satisfy his physical hunger.
The rest of the night, went about as you'd expect and we slept happily along the side of the road after much food, drink and merry-making.

Aug. 6 [HELL'S CANYON to Baker city]:

An odd thing happened this day. The men were stricken with a keen sense of indifference towards trekking west even an inch. At last they mustered their courage, and steadied their hands to mount once more the steel beasts which had faithfully borne them thus far. But the going was slow. Breaks stretched on for much longer than any reasonable person really needs to break.
They broke fast with blinding slothfulness and the mid-day meal took twice what it needed.
[we have read many tales of mountain men from pioneer days, I have tried to mirror their style in the above]
But we loved it. And reasoned that sometimes when you ride a bike all the time for 3 months you just need to spend a morning chilling and making terrible time. Unfortunately, our laziness caught up to us and we had to slog it out through cold rain and whipping wind for the final 30 miles of our day. But at Baker City we drank a great deal of coffee, and agreed that the day was a stunning sucess.

Aug. 7 [Baker City to Sumpter]:

This day brought a new year to the life of Big Ern Picknally, which is great! But it also brought heaps more rain, which was not as great from our perspective. And it was cold rain, round'about 48 degrees, with 4 inches coming down during the 4 hours we spent on bikes. But we made 30 big miles to Sumpter [Named and misspelled after the infamous Fort Sumter- This area was a Confederate strong hold, Jeff Davis creek ran by the road we followed into town] and checked into a Motel that looked like a Fort; compliments of the ever graceful and generous Mother Chilcoat whose gift we recieved with bountiful joy and overflowing gratitude.
So we ran from the rain, but made a lovely day of it and made the miles up today.

Aug. 8 [Sumpter to Dayville]
Luckily the rain passed and in its leaving the weather was much cooler. We had three big climbs today [which really make for a much better day of riding than flats] and pulled into the bustling metropolis of Dayville just at sunset.
As many times before, we are enjoying the hospitality of a local Presbyterian church and are delighted by the uncommon luxury of bathing on consecutive days. Which already puts our number of showers in Oregon ahead of other entire states... you really are lucky that the pictures we post aren't scratch and sniff...

All the best to you all & thank you for your patience with my writing. I sometimes take too liberal a license with it, but hope that you at least got that we're safe, dirty, and happy. Too few days left, but we promise to make them count.

We likely love you if you're reading this, so : Love, the Zoo

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I - Da - Hoe

We've got a few minutes in a library here in the middle of the day. Unfortunatly this computer is not allowing me to post photos, which leaves me feeling quite crippled. Also, the back space key is not working, so that makes editing this all the more difficult. But enough about that.

Today is our last full day in Idaho, which means we are one day away from crossing the line into our final state - OREGON! Idaho is a wonderful part of the country. All the roads we've been on since entering the state have followed beautiful rivers, which makes for great miday and evening swimming. We spent a couple hours yesterday at a "beach" along the Salmon River throwing the frisbee and swimming in the current. We've found the heat again after a cool couple weeks through Colorado and Montana, which makes the rivers all the more enjoyable.

Two nights ago we caught a double feature at a drive-in movie theatre ("Bruno" and "The Hangover" - neither very good movies, but we couldn't pass up the drive in experience). We were the only one who road our bikes there, but also the ones having the most fun! We pulled out our crazy creek chairs and enjoyed the open air theatre.

Well, there will be more to come soon. Hopefully we can get some photos up becuase it is really beautiful out here.The landscape had ranged from giant cedar forests to aired desert hills to lush wetlands. Thats all for now, but thanks for reading!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Christmas come early, The Taco Bus, and 2 Showers on Consecutive days

The Zoo with packages galore.

Group picture with Mrs. Tignor. With new friends Drew (bottom right) and Jacob (bottom left)

When we last left you we were in Twin Cities, Montana. All that day we heard stories about this Taco Bus in Dillon, MT. Upon arrival the Zoo descended upon the Bus and within seconds were enjoying the best Mexican food any of us had ever tasted... either that or we were really hungry.

After Dillon we rolled through gorgeous scenery all day (which basically sums up Montana) until we raced the storm of the century into Wisdom. 50 MPH headwinds had us literally sprinting at 5 miles an hour into the town before the storm hit. I'm pretty sure I saw a few cows fly across the road... The best part of making it into this town was that when we got to the American Legion camping ground, we found that we would not have to set up our tents in the rain because there was a shack just big enough for our bikes and sleeping bags! The Zoo was doing alright!

Since Dillon the Zoo has simply been spoiled. We met two awesome dudes named Steve and Shea when we were on the road back in Wyoming. As luck would have it they both live on the route in Hamilton and told us to give them a call when we arrived because Steve's parents love to provide meals and a place to sleep for cyclists. Needless to say the Zoo was stoked to have dinner, ice cream, showers (it had been awhile), and laundry! And in the morning we had delicious pancakes and coffee provided by the Tignors. Thanks for your kind hospitality.

From Hamilton the Zoo (with our new friend Drew) rode all 70 miles to Missoula where we proceeded to stop by the headquarters of Adventure Cycling Association (the people who make our maps) for a tour, and some complimentary ice cream and sodas. After that we headed on over to the post office to pick up our mail from our adoring fans. Jaws dropped when the mail clerk turned the corner with a rolling cart full of packages. We proceeded to find a picnic bench and we all opened our packages like it was Christmas morning. Amidst cheers and two Pick spills (for those of you who know Pick, you should know that he spills things... ALOT. Well, this whole trip he had spilled nothing. His streak was crazy! Then he spilled a Pepsi. Twice. Good thing for free refills) Anyways, the Zoo rejoiced at having snacks and sunflower seeds for the next 29348 years (or 2 weeks). So, as all this was going on Dougie got a phone call from his folks about a place we could stay in Missoula! So, with approximately 70 extra pounds on the bike the Zoo wobbled over to the Millers house. Where we enjoyed a few beers on the deck and great company for the night. We all showered! We all slept indoors on futons! And we all ate a delicous breakfast of fresh fruit and eggs! Thanks to the Millers for showing us some more awesome Montana hospitality.

This place is great.