Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I need to update this more often. Here's a picture of Connor's ass in the meantime...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Sur

Amazing. No other words can describe it.

(Click the picture for more)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Santa Cruzing

A short update before bed.. well, more like a history lesson, as I'm weeks behind on updating this blog.

The drive down Route 9 was just like any other hilly, windy road.. except you overlooked San Jose. It was pretty at night (when I left). Next stop: Santa Cruz.

The beaches were kinda boring (i.e. no crazy cliffs/rocks) near downtown SC, but it was still a beautiful day to be out. I met up with the seemingly lone moped rider in the area by the name of Kyle. Kyle was riding a blue stock Motobecane Mobylette 50v (I think it was a 50), which later contributed to my growing love for Mobys. We talked about some random things, then decided on a little ride around the area before he had to head off. I rolled my bike up, and he was pretty shocked when he realized I wasn't lying about "Hauling all my shit everywhere I go". Little did he know, Ogre had just been brought back to life and was faster than ever!

Our ride took us through some coastal roads, spanning Twin Lakes, Opal Cliffs, Capitola and I think a bit of Rio Del Mar. It was sunny, blasty at times and basically a rad way to spend the day. We parted ways afterwards, and I headed south towards the Monterey Peninsula.

I'll cliffnote the next part (except the first rant), since I'm lazy and tired.

CSU:MB/Marina/Fort Ord: What. The. Fuck? I have been in some pretty shady areas of cities, with run down buildings galore, but I've never really felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic situation until I entered this area. Marina didn't set a good tone, with the craptastic housing and shitty roads. Ford Ord (well, where it WAS) and the University though? Total devistation. The roads were falling apart. There were no street signs. The grass was either burned out or completely dead. Trash was EVERYWHERE. There were countless buildings with dilapidated walls/ceilings and broken windows. It seriously looked like a bomb went off and killed every human in the area, then sat for 50 years. I really thought I was in the Twilight Zone... until I saw the University. The grass was back, the buildings weren't falling down or missing windows and the roads were solid. Talk about out of place! It's as if the campus had been air-dropped into the middle of a war zone. Fucked up. Anyway..

Monterey downtown: The Wharf had too many people, but zipping through the tunnel was awesome

Lover's Point Park: SQUIRREL

Ashley: So adventurous and brave, yet stuck in school. Quite the combo. You're young, you'll find your way

Pebble Beach/17mi Drive: $10 to get in, and no motorcycles? Pretentious fucks.

Carmel-by-the-Sea: Beautiful. Amazing little houses, surprisingly non-pretentious people, despite working in the movie industry and having a TON more money than I will ever have.

I'd like to say thank you to the landscapers that were in charge of the foliage on the hill side, just south of Carmel. The way you positioned the trees at both the top of the hill, along the roadside, and at the bottom, provided me a perfect sleeping area. The trees had protected me from view of both the residents on the street, and those passing by on Highway 1. The straw also provided a fantastic mattress. Thanks again!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I < 3 Bullies

Here's a shameless image-robbery, but also a preview at upcoming adventures. Stay tuned for details.

Pretentious Cats and Kamikazes Galore

Food was had, then I grabbed my stuff and zipped down towards Los Gatos. It was a straight shot of 35mph roads, and the sun was shining. Hooray! After about 10 minutes, I run into the first traffic light, and it was red...I was sad.

*Clunk* *whirrrr*

What the fuck? Ogre just shut off. No big deal, probably out of gas. Nope, gas is nearly full. Did the plug get knocked loose? Nope. Ignition switch get bumped? Nope. Piston seized? Nope. Fouled plug? (I did kinda eye-ball my premix earlier the previous day.. oops) Time to investigate!

I pull off into the parking lot right next to me and start tearing at parts. The plug looked fine, and I figured I'd give it a test to see if it was getting spark. Nope! There's the problem. I roll the hog over to the mechanic shop that was conveniently across the street, and the little Asian man whipped out a fancy tool and jammed it in Ogre's electrical system.

"Okay go. No spark. Here. No spark. Go. No spark. Something in here *taps crankcase and walks away*"

Well fuck-a-duck. I'm dumb when it comes to electrical stuff, and now it was something more deep rooted than just reconnecting some wires or grounds. I just finished fixing the bike not 2 hours ago, and it's dead again. The Tomos gods were angry at me.

To sum everything up, I was in Los Gatos with a moped that had blown up 2 times in a day with nothing to do but make a post on the forums seeking help, and walking around a pretentious, expensive town. No bueno.

I had to find somewhere to sleep that night within walking distance. The search was a total bust. Nowhere in the area was there a plot of land that was a bit hidden, and within walking distance.. a hotel was the only (legal) choice. Remember how I said the town was pretentious? So were the hotel prices. I make a few calls to the local places, inquiring about prices.. $150, $175, $250...for 1 night, 1 bed. Seriously? Fuck off, your town isn't that hoppin'. Google saved me though, via a mobile coupon for a room in the Los Gatos Lodge for $59. I was all about that (except for actually having to pay $60..ugh). I walked the 'ped over at around 10:30pm and booked my room...then hopped in the heated pool. Oh it was nice.

The next morning, I ravage the free breakfast and coffee, then go to check out. While I'm checking out, the girl at the front desk asks me about my bag/helmet, and I give her a clifnotes version of what was going on. She replies, "Oh! I know a bunch of people in San Jose that ride those things! Here, let me get you their phone number!". Well, that was random. Next thing I know, I have a few phone numbers to the Mopedheads in San Jose! I make a few calls, leave some messages, then await a reply. Robbie calls me back, and informs me that his pick-up is being loaned to a friend, or else he'd have come save me from Los Gatos.

In short, nothing came out of the contacts that night, so I had to stay another night in Los Gatos. I had plenty of time to write up a plea for help on the moped forums, which will later turn out to be more advantageous than I thought.

The next morning I did my normal routine of waking up slowly, finding coffee and charging my phone. A little later in the day, I notice a reply to my thread with a phone number and request to call. I quickly dial the number, and it's answered by someone a bit confused about the whole situation. I explain the post, the number, and the forum member's name (Droidy) who posted it, and all the details came together. Before long, two of the Mopedheads, Andrew and Andy, were headed down to Los Gatos with a bag full of tools and the determination to get me back on the road.

I patiently waited for them in the sports bar, hoping to catch some of the Raven's game, but they weren't showing it. Boo. Oh well, the beer and burger were excellent. I head back out and sit down near my bike when I hear the distinct sound of two highly tuned mopeds ripping by. I run out to the street and flag them down, where we introduce ourselves then start tearing apart Ogre.

A few whacks of the hammer, and the kickstart/crank case come off...and vomit pieces of plastic and magnets. Crap. Once again, no bueno. Andy and Andrew both figured the flywheel needed to come off to see where all this junk had come from, but didn't have the adequate tools. They headed back up to San Jose to aquire Swarth, their hand-made moped trailer.. it's wicked cool. Once again, I patiently waited for their return, when I get a phone call from Andrew saying they found a truck, and would be there in 10 minutes.

Ogre was loaded up, and taken to their workshop, where they found the tools to pry off the flywheel. This is what we saw.

That is supposed to be completely smooth...not missing massive chunks of the magnet.

That bottom coil isn't supposed to be shredded open.

I was looking at an entirely new ignition system. Ugh. treats only had a pricey performance CDI ignition, which was out of stock, or a totally different ignition system for a za50 that could have been retrofitted. Curses. A few phone calls went out, and some searching done for parts, with little to no replies.

The rest of the night entailed beer and good conversations. All good, except for the wrecked moped that taunted me.

The next day, the search continued for the parts I needed to get back on the road. We just hung out at the shop, having beer, eating amazing Vietnamese food, and talking about random things. It was pretty cool actually... until Eric arrived and revealed a bigger problem with my moped. (It wasn't bad that Eric showed up. He's a cool dude.)

Eric was checking out the half-torn apart motor, and grabbed the crank shaft... it wiggled, maybe a few millimeters. It shouldn't. That warranted a total engine deconstruction. It was a good lesson in how an a35 is set up, but it just sounded like more money as we took a look at the damage.

The crank bearings had spun and were thus loose. New crank bearings/seals added to the shopping list.

The crank shaft itself was showing heavy signs of heat damage. New crank shaft added to the shopping list.

The sprag spring had snapped. New Sprag spring added to the list.

My piston looked like the grand canyon. New piston + rings added to the list

The combination of the shot bearings + heat damage could have easily lead to a crankshaft exploding on me sometime between San Jose and Mexico...and that would have been a complete disaster. The combined price of new gaskets/seals/bearings/crank shaft/spring/CDI/Piston was somewhere in the ball park of $250-$300 and a few hours of work. Ouch. Things were looking gloomy.. 'til Zack called.

Zack is a friend of Andrew and Andy, and lived a few miles west in Cupertino. He just so happened to have a nearly new a35 bottom end that only needed a CDI box to run. Holy crap. I was figuring, a $200 price tag for the motor wasn't that bad, considering the total for the separate parts. Andy gets off the phone with Zack and says "Can you do $75?". I was shocked, and very happy. Right after lunch, I hopped on Xerxes (a rad tomos) and blasted over to Cupertino with $80 in hand and an empty backpack. Before long, I had a new motor in my bag, and was headed back to install Ogre's new organs.

Fast forward through some basic cleaning and inspection, bolting on some parts, wiring up all the lights and refilling the transmission fluid, I was ready to start it up.

I pause, nervously resting my foot in the kickstart..

"Kick it!"

*kick it, doesn't start*


3 kicks later, nothing.. at this point, I'm starting to get concerned... until I look down and notice the boot isn't attached to the spark plug. DOH!

I reattach the wiring, pull the plug out and ground it to see if it's getting spark and confirm that it is due to the nice jolt I got down my arm. I slap the plug back in, flick the switch and kick it again...

I nearly cried when I heard it start right up, and roar like the little Ogre it is. A beautiful sound to end a few agonizing days of knowing my moped was just a hunk of motionless steel.

We hauled it downstairs, and took turns ripping down the street, trying not to disturb the photoshoot that was taking place on the opposite corner. (I'm not really sure why, but some kids were taking group shots of eachother with some fancy camera equipment up along a wall.) Let's just say I slept well that night.

I'm tired of typing right now, so the rest of the story will have to wait.

In the mean time, I have to say thank you to Andrew and Andy from the Mopedheads in San Jose, and Zack from the Cuperteens for saving my trip and moped. I owe you guys big time.

"Om nom" said the engine

Hooray! Updates!

After a drunken night in San Jose ($1 pints/well drinks.. oh yea) I headed south towards route 9 in hopes of making it to Santa Cruz that evening. The hangover decided that I should instead sleep in the park for a few hours, and I happily obliged. I sought out the nearest coffee shop after I was well enough to get up, and attempted to muster any energy that I could. Philz "Greater Alarm" saved my day, and I was off... not before I noticed a weird gritty sound in my engine. I didn't think much of it, and zipped down through San Jose. Mistake #1

Cruising through Saratoga was pleasant, as it's just a small town turned restaurant clusterfuck. The next bit of road really taxed Ogre (my moped!). It was basically straight up into the hills, which I really didn't know were there. How it's possible to not notice massive hills surrounding a city? I don't know. The slow climb wore me out, as well as the moped, so I turned off on the first road which just so happened to lead to Sanborn State Park. Camping! Finally! ...if I could make it up the hills. I had to hop off and push Ogre up the hills for about a mile. It was craptastic. The thought of a hard, flat piece of ground under some trees sounded very appealing at that point.

Eventually, I rolled the beast up into the park, locked it to a tree, and headed into the walk-in campsite. There were a few spots open, but I chose a nice clearing near some rocks, and drifted off to sleep while the mosquitoes pondered a method to penetrate my bug net. Sucks for them.

The next morning I slowly awake, pack my gear and head back out to the parking lot before the rangers can swoop by and ask me for the parking/camping fee. I almost made it..

Unlock Ogre, hop on, turn on the gas, go to kick start it..



One more try, and the kickstart won't budge. The whole drive train wouldn't turn over. I check everything that I can, just to realize I've lost my adapter to my ratchet set. No head is coming off with what I have. I'm fucked, or so I thought.

A frantic lap around the entire park, and the first person I run into is the park mechanic, hooray! Well, not so much.. he doesn't have the right tool. Strike 1. About 100 yards away, there was one other man in the park. He was sitting on the bench, shirtless, watching his dog run around in circles...oi

"I hate to bother you, but do you happen to have a metric wrench set, or...well, any tools with you?"

".....mm, nope"

Strike 2.

I meander my way back to the parking lot, when the last person I want to see shows up. The park ranger! She asks me if I'm doing any sort of oil work then immediately questions where I stayed last night... then said she's here to collect. Ugh. I tell her I attempted to pay last night, but no one was there. She asked if I had cash, and luckily I was out. "That's okay, it's our fault for not fixing the machine. Maybe next time! Bye!" Another unintentional slick move on my part by not having cash.

So, I'm sitting there, in the San Jose heat, pondering what the hell I'm going to do, (Note: No cellphone reception for 3 miles in any direction) when Mr. Shirtless comes rolling up in his pick-up. Turns out he found a set of tools! ...but they weren't right.

"Well... I live about 3 miles from here, and have about every tool under the sun in my shed. I've never worked on a moped, but I've worked on every other kind of motorcycle there is"


Five minutes later, I'm heading up the hills, riding shotgun while my moped is strapped down in the back of this guy's truck. When I mean up the hills, I mean UP. His 4wd truck had a bit of trouble getting up his own driveway... it was steep. He then tells me he lives in an old Caboose on the hillside. A caboose? Yes, a caboose. My hand hovered closer to my knife as the ride continued.. but sure enough, we end up overlooking the whole valley, right next to a caboose-turned-house. Pretty epic.

I pull the moped down off the truck, ask for a few tools then start ripping apart my engine. Head comes off, piston gets a gentle tap, and it's turning over again. I wrench everything back together, kick it and voila, it runs! ...but that gritty noise is still there. At this point, I was just looking to get back to somewhere with cellphone reception and somewhere with food, as I hadn't eaten in about 36hrs at this point. He drove me back down to Saratoga, said good luck and was on his way.

I was happy that everything was running, and I wasn't tied up to a caboose in the hills... so I left towards Los Gatos, with the aspirations of Santa Cruz the next day. Life was good! ..for now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Secret Streets and Sunshine

Most of my photos were subpar.. so only a handful made it to facebook. Not too happy about that, but oh well.

After a good delay, I left San Francisco and the Creature house. Once again I found myself getting really comfortable in a situation, but knew I couldn't allow myself to dig my feet in. I wanted to keep going, and stay at the same time. I was feeling the wanderlust (great word, thanks Paul!) fading away which was scary. The solution? Keep going.

...but not yet. One more night in San Francisco to cause some shenanigans, even though they ended up just being beneficial. I headed out to a bar, had a few good conversations with locals as I usually do..nothing too crazy, 'til I went to Uptown again. I sat down next to a lady at the bar, and after she asked about my bag, she said "Well... I was about to leave, but I think I'll have another beer. You're interesting." So, I'm interesting I suppose. Turns out this lady was a writer, who just published a book about Bike Messengers in San Francisco who ride around and kill corporate people...freakin' awesome. She also hosts a few radio shows, which I didn't have to option to listen to..but they seemed cool.

Pam Benjamin is her name, and she can be seen here, being humped by a person in a bear suit, while laughing.

Right as I left, and started to get on my moped, a guy by the name of Paul came out and struck up a conversation. He was riding the beautiful red, white and blue vintage Vespa parked right behind me. We had a chat about mopeds, scooters and the gangs associated with each, then he brought up "secret Lombard St." Apparently, a street just as crazy as the infamous Lombard, only very well hidden (it's in Potrero, shhh.)Considering how steep the hills were to get up to the top, I can understand why a lot of people avoid it. It's like the climb to Lombard, but a few blocks more... my poor moped. Eventually we make it to the top and we stop. He flips his visor, turns to me with a hand out saying, "On behalf of the Secret Society (the vintage scooter gang in SF), welcome to secret Lombard Street!" shakes my hand, then we ride through the intersection, into what initially looked like a dead end with some trees... I was wrong. The ground instantly dropped out, and we were carving our way through these insanely tight turns, flying down the hill... at 3am. Awesome.

At the bottom of the hill was his apartment. We went in for a moment, had a chat about traveling, then I was on my way home but not without a gift of an inflatable 3/4 sleeping pad. Rad, again. The next morning, after another fantastic cup of Philz coffee, I was off.

The cruise down El Camino Real was great as usual. It's a straight shot out of San Francisco and down towards San Jose. 80F, not a cloud in the sky, 35-40mph zones... I was happy. Cruising through San Mateo, Palo Alto, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and San Jose were really fun.. but had I known my future predicaments and the difficulty of getting from San Jose to Santa Cruz, I probably should have taken Route 1. Live and learn.

My attention is being pulled in a mess of directions right now, and time is ticking away, so I'll leave this post as is.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

...back to the City

The reason I skipped out of San Francisco (besides the whole losing-my-stuff thing) was to kill time before the Moped Monday being hosted by the Creatures of the Loin, the San Francisco brand of the Moped Army. I had 3 days before the rally and just wanted to sleep in the wild, instead of GGP.

8pm @ Shotwells, drinks 'til 10pm then it's riding time. I show up right at 8, looking around for any other mopeds. Nothing. Okay, maybe I'm just early. I walk in, sit down at a completely crowded bar and order a delicious IPA: Big Daddy. Still no sign of a moped rider.. hmm. Suddenly, it's trivia hour. Teams are forming, a raspy voice over a crackling microphone starts asking questions about the Ninja Turtles; it's 8:40 at this point. My initial reaction is to check my phone, and look at the forum post. Doh, I didn't scroll down enough. "Last minute location change due to trivia night. Uptown @ 17th and Capp" Frick. Time to hop back on and ride a few blocks up. When I arrive, I see about 4 amazing old mopeds. Some modified heavily, capable of 50mph, others restored to running order, and a bit more. Either way, these things were beautiful. I had to wipe up the drool a few times.

Inside, I sit down and have a PBR (at a SF dive bar? NO WAY!) when I notice a girl come in with riding gear on. She stands next to me to order a drink, and I ask her "So, which is yours?". She comments about her bike, and of course I'm jealous. She reciprocates, and I point to the only stock/post 1990 moped on the street. Dork status +1. I tell her about my trip, and before I know it all the moped guys are asking me about it. My silly trip preceeds me. Everyone I talked to was really cool, giving lots of good advice, and even invitations to camp/sleep over. Wicked. I dig these cats already.

10:30 rolls around, and people are slowly hopping on their bikes. At this point, there are at least 25 mopeds crowding the sidewalk to the point where you'd have to walk into the road to get around them. One turns on and zips around, then two, then 4. Next thing I knew, everyone was on their bikes and leaving, while I was still strapping on my helmet. Shit! I scramble to start the bike, run a red and try to catch up.

Let me put this into perspective real fast:
Me + 35lbs of gear on a heavily restricted stock moped that was dying.
25 people that mod mopeds as a hobby/career.
Streets of San Francisco at night + fog

It'd be an understatement to say they lost me. When that traffic light turned green, it was just a flood of mopeds through the intersection, accompanied by the defined BRAAAP of some tuned pipes and kitted motors. Fucking amazing. It was a scene most people will never encounter. Everyone was there for the same reason, with the same interests in mopeds. It was beautiful... until they lost me. 27mph on flats can't keep up with guys doing 35 up hills. Somehow I found them at the gas station, when everyone took off again. I managed to follow the whole group for a total of about 7 miles, before I really got lost. Ole Tomozela decided to stop running while chugging up a hill, which lead to me having to kick start it after a few attempts. Everyone was long gone at this point. Crap.. GPS comes out, and I head back to the bar.

Arriving at the bar, I saw one guy taking off his helmet. We had met earlier in the night, and had exchanged numbers. Mike hadn't gone on the ride, I found out. His moped was broken, so he had simply rode his scooter to meet up with everyone before and after. I explained my situation, and right as I was finishing, one of the other riders shows up with a smile on his face, and a broken mirror. "Dude, I totally went down. It was perfect". Apparently he had laid the bike down going around a corner, slid on the ground for a little then just stood up and picked up the moped. Scary, but he was fine. His mirror... not so much. He reported back that a few people had broken down, and the group got split. Apparently some cops had stopped the faster group, but I don't know what happened with that. It could have been because we ripped past two squad cars that were pulling someone over.. they must not have enjoyed that.

That night, I slept in the warehouse where Mike and some other's stayed. Yea, a warehouse, but I'll explain how amazing it is shortly. I rolled my moped into a dark room, where I could only tell it just had a ton of stuff in a large room. A nervous shuffle over some things and up some stairs, and I was putting my stuff down in the "Rape Room"...which is simply a futon bed at the end of the loft, that has two walls built around it. Hardly rape-like, and obviously a joke. Granted.. that is pretty awesome to call your guest room a "Rape Room" just to see how the guests react. I laughed, as did Mike.

Now, I can't really describe this place as well as I wish, but I'll try.

It's a warehouse. It's a house. It's a garage. It's a storage facility. It's an art studio. It's a practice room. It has enough books, instruments, stickers, posters, bikes, mopeds and tools to last anyone a lifetime. Translation: Perfect. There is one exception, every Tuesday at noon.. the insanely loud warning sirens followed by the loud ominous voice barking "THIS IS ONLY A TEST" coming from a speaker 20 feet away. You can hear it throughout the city of San Francisco, and we're 20 feet away. Jesus. A good way to wake up though.

Little did I know when coming to San Francisco, that Treatland is based out of this town. It's one of the coolest moped parts online stores ever. Click here for moped awesomeness. It was exactly what I needed to make my moped run better.. so Mike and I headed over the next morning to pick up some parts. After a few questions were exchanged, I was walking out with $110 less, but a bunch of parts to get my moped cruising. I spent much of the afternoon working on swapping parts and trying to tune the moped, under the watchful eye of Mike. Eventually I got most of my junk bolted on, jets swapped, and I was ready for a test ride. It was LOUD and FAST.. I was happy. Little did I know, that volume was cause for concern.

Earlier that day, Celeste (who I accidentally woke up this morning) had informed me, over a cup of insanely good coffee and a chocolate chip croissant, about her friend coming to paint a mural on her bedroom wall that night, and she was to photograph the whole thing. Rad. 8pm rolls around, and he shows up. The camera is set up, the paint is out. 12 hours later, I'm falling asleep to the sound of a few people leaving for work. I witnessed a blank wall become a cavalcade of color and shapes, which turned into a portrait of what would best be described as Cruela Deville, which was then cast upon with paint. A beautiful thing now calls Celeste's wall home. There will be pictures on Facebook.

The final product:

Remember Mike from San Francisco that rode the motorcycle, that I met in the Redwood forest? He returned to the bay area today, and we met up and had some bangin' burgers at this little place called Barney's Gourmet Burgers. My lunch should have been on weight watchers menu: A burger with pepper jack cheese, hickory bbq sauce, enough bacon to last a week and it was all chased by an oreo milkshake. Perfection. Shortly after, I headed back to the house where I had to fix my moped. The cause of the insane volume was the fact that my exhaust pipe wasn't flush against the engine. The tell-tale sign was the oil and gas mixture leaking from the mount. It took Mike and I the majority of the night to get the exhaust properly mounted (cursed thick ratchet heads!), but it didn't come with out some brute force, hacksaws, drill presses and some strategically placed four letter words. I have the most beautifully ghetto exhaust mounting bracket this side of the Mississippi. So, that's one problem solved. A few smashes with a hammer later, and the air filter problem was solved. Some random pulling of cables and oil hands, and my oil injection is gone. Sweet. The bike is really ready to rip now. Oh wait, 2 threads on the Carb mounting bracket bolt are jacked, and the clamp won't tighten. No tight clamp and my carb goes flying off the bike. No bueno. The hardware store closed 5 minutes before we discovered this problem..and none of the millions of bolts here would work. Argh! Tomorrow it is..

I sit here, listening to some music under a little lamp and typing away.. knowing I forgot something in my story. It's all good though since I did a lot of writing tonight and finally caught up with where I am. Every day is such an amazing adventure, and I'm surrounded by such fantastic people. Real people, living real lives.

Pictures tomorrow, I promise. I have 860 on my camera from all over. Be patient.

I'm off to go bug Celeste. Goodnight, moon.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Half Moon Bay, and back to the City

After my ridiculous experience in San Francisco, I decided to head south to Half Moon Bay; A quiet little coastal town about 30 miles south of San Francisco. The drive down was beautiful, since I was inland. 80 degrees and sunny, until I headed west. The big hills had once again caught all the clouds and kept 'em hanging. It was cold and wet, as I had expected. Crap. My plans of laying on the beach were toast... wet, soggy toast that had been sitting out for quite some time. Oh well, this isn't new for the pacific coast.

Arriving in town with a dead phone and a craving for caffeine, I ended up in Starbucks. Gross, I know.. but it's easy to take advantage of the stores power outlets. Little did I know, but the blonde girl that asked me about my bag would be my tour-guide/entertainment for the entire next day.

She had suggested this little pub that her family was having a party at the next day, so I decided to go there, but not before stopping at the local brewery, listening to some crazy good sax player in a bad band, and having a beer. I show up to this pub, and hear this crazy strong beat coming from the back room. Venturing closer revealed a little tiny bar, lit up with blacklights, and 2 people at the bar. Ugh..another bland night, I thought. The bartender looked to be maybe 18 years old and was oddly bubbly for no one being at the bar (the two people were actually her friends she had invited in to keep her company). She gets me a beer, and I slowly drink it to kill the time. 30 minutes pass, two people show up.. another 5 people roll in within a 30 minute time frame after that. Before long, it's like every young person in the town just fell into Cameron's Pub...and they all knew the bartender. Here I was, the stranger with a backpack amongst a bunch of locals. They loved it. Let's just say, I left that bar nicely drunk without paying for a single thing... as did everyone else. Score. A night's sleep in some tall grass was welcoming.

The next day I perform my normal morning routine, and wonder if Ashley (the blonde girl at starbucks) was going to actually invite me to this family gathering she had mentioned semi-awkwardly the day before. It wasn't long 'til I got the text, and headed over. My first impression: Lots of older folk with balloon hats and children running around. Ugh. What did I get myself into? Instead of being rude and leaving, I decided to stick around for a bit. The churchy band played a few bad covers, with amazing instruments and gear, and I quickly found and destroyed a bunch of food. Delicious hotdogs and beans! Next thing I know, I'm playing horseshoes and baseball with Ashley's nieces and nephews. I was actually having fun. After the little ones scampered off, Ashley and I just wandered around Cameron's Pub, finding games to play and beers to drink. She rocked me with a perfect 32 throw to win a game of darts... I'll admit defeat when it was that amazing. 20-9-3. Ugh. We had a few more drinks throughout the afternoon while buming around the london double decker-turned cigar lounge, and talking to an irish nerdy guy drinking wine. All in all it was a pleasant day. Once again, a night in the tall grass.

The next day wasn't too eventful, but the day after that I had a great conversation with yet another girl in Starbucks (Do all the interesting girls in Half Moon Bay live in Starbucks?!). Her name was Jackie, and at first I had thought she was a total business professional, due to her nice conservative outfit and the stack of papers being scrambled between punching numbers into her netbook. I was wrong, thankfully. (Yes, it was a total superficial first impression, but in a way to contrast my appearance to hers) She turned out to be really interested in what I was doing, since it was something she had thought about many times before. I hope she left that coffee shop understanding that it IS possible to do things some will deem "crazy", as long as you have the willpower.

Further down the coast

Bodega Bay was next on my stops.. and I didn't even stop. Just a dinky little town as usual, but more scenic and more surfers. The signs for San Francisco just kept decreasing in mileage, so I was highly motivated to just hit the city I'd been waiting to go to for a few years now. Closer and closer the moped brought me, and the excitement (and traffic) just kept growing. Finally I see it: signs for the Golden Gate Bridge! Almost there! Wait.. traffic was gridlocked. Good thing I was on a moped, and could (later found out, legally) split lanes. Goodbye 2 hour wait, hello GGB! The large hill right next to the bridge entrance provided for an excellent first view of the bridge.. and an epic one it was. The fog had just cleared enough to see both towers. It was probably due to the extremely intense wind I had to fight with in order to stand up. What is it with this coast and wind? Sheesh.

View from the top of the hill

Same view, other direction.

My ride along the bridge was slow, but fun. A few near accidents were thanks to me staring at the huge towers and lines of red that were above and around me. Sorry folks, it happens. At least I didn't actually hit anyone.

Getting off the bridge was a mad scramble of cars, right into downtown San Francisco. Now, I had no intention of actually figuring out where I was at this point, because I was too concerned with observing everything (a surprising amount of adult entertainment right on Lombard) and just taking the city in. I really just putted my way through traffic, and up the hills for an hour or two before I decided I needed a place to stay that night. A hostel by the name of Backpacker's Inn Hostel was my choice. And here's what happened.

I was lucky enough to get 1 of the last 2 beds available that night.. not a room, just a bed. I hadn't really thought about why a hostel is much cheaper than a hotel, but I figured this is why. No big deal, I was tired and ready to just sit down.. even if it were around a mess of people. I put my stuff in my room, threw the sheets on the bed, then 'ventured to the upstairs social room that I overheard someone speaking about. The room was simple, but accessible. 2 couches, a breakfast table and some chairs, 2 computers, and a little kitchen with lots of cooking supplies. I sat down and hopped on blogger to keep you kids updated on where I was, and started to upload some photos. Not a few minutes later, a kid by the name of Dan, from London, England came in and had a seat on the couch. We exchanged hellos, and basic traveler's questions. The conversation kept going as a few more people slowly trickled into the room. A few German kids, some Italians and a few Dutch scattered here and there. Before long, we were all involved in a whole room/group conversation and shenanigans about who knows what. It was a lot of fun... then the German kids proposed we all go out drinking. Go figure! There were about 9 of us wandering the streets of San Francisco without any sense of direction except to find beer. 25 minutes later we FINALLY found a bar. It was a little, yuppie bar, but whatever, they sold beer so everyone was happy.

Dan tried his hand at photography, but Freddie wasn't having it. This is in the communal room

The night concluded with a handful of us sitting on the porch, discussing random things... and eventually just myself and a girl from France named Julie were on the porch, talking about life. A good night in all.

The following day was my day to explore, and that I did. From the Embarcadero, Coit Tower and Pier 39 to Golden Gate Park and Alamo Square (my favorite place of all times). I probably lost 5lbs hauling all my gear up the steps to Coit Tower, only to find out there is a ROAD that takes you to the top. Doh. C'est la vie.

Here's where things turned a little sour in my mind.. where was the real San Francisco? All I saw were crowds of tourists and others scrambling around with their DSLRs that they didn't really know how to use. Where are the artists? The musicians? The hippies? I was really let down by what I had seen (in a social aspect, not landscape.. the area is just amazing). I had gone out to a bar, and ended up just sitting there without one person who seemed interested in a conversation. Awkward. No where else on the west coast have I felt that alone just hanging out somewhere. C'mon San Francisco, why aren't you living up to the hype? The next 36 hours really drove the nail home... I'll just provide a clifnotes version, since anyone reading this has probably already heard the details from me.

Bar 'til 2am, talking with some people
Leave bar, hop on moped with all my gear
Come to my senses at 7am while walking around, 6 miles from the bar and missing everything but my phone, debit card and license.
Police/walking/homeless shelters/panic ensued, followed by a horribly stressed stay at a hotel.

At this point, I had lost everything. My life had just been put on pause, and I had no recollection of where it could have gone. Fuck. How did this happen? What do I do now? Do I go home or attempt to make it to San Diego? Many thoughts went through my head in such a short amount of time, and I couldn't comprehend any of it. Eventually I had come to terms with losing everything I had, cutting my losses and heading back to Baltimore. It hurt, pretty bad. Finally I contact my mother to let her know what had happened, since I had my feet on the ground at this point, and anything sooner would have caused her to panic. Not 15 minutes into the call, I hear a beep.

Katey: "Dude, they found your stuff. Call the Daly City Police."

Holy. Shit.

I was saved. I was redeemed. My trip was redeemed. I've never felt such a rush of pure relief and joy. I frantically called the police station, attempting to locate my stuff. It took about 30 minutes of phone tag between 3 police stations, and an hour of standing around before I received a phone call informing me of the location of my stuff. I punched the address the officer had given me into my phone, and saw that it was 3 blocks away from where I was, on the OTHER side of the street that I had been looking.

There it was. The little, slow, Slovenian noise trap that is more of a social nuisance than a mode of transportation.. but I couldn't have been more excited. I ran 3 blocks, keys in hand, ready to just hug the damn thing. Right as I arrived and caught my breath, this little Japanese lady comes out of her garage, right where the moped was parked. "Is this your bike? I see it here for many hour so I call police! They talk to you?" Broken english or not, this old lady's concern for a moped being parked on the sidewalk saved my life. I asked her how I could repay her, only to hear "I'm just glad you're not hurt. Be careful!" Just amazing. Not long after, I drove happily to the police station, where my bag was waiting for me. Everything was there except my Ukulele.. but I'd much rather have lost a $30 uke than the other valuable things in my bag. I was back on my feet. It was amazing. I can't thank that old lady, Katey, Susie's Mopeds, and the officers involved enough.

Whew.. time to get out of San Francisco for a few days.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Since my previous blog entry had the entire Eureka/Arcata part taken out, I'll attempt to recreate it.

Eureka was pretty snazzy. I met up with Rachel, August's friend Caroline's sister, some time around 5pm, after I scurried over to a motorcycle shop to buy a new helmet (woot!). We had a quick little conversation then headed back to her house, where she kindly cooked a dinner of burgers and sweet potatos.. some pretty epic sweet potatos, might I add. That night we went to a little Irish pub, Shanty, and had a few dollar pints of PBR. Can't complain. Afterwards I got a guided tour of old town Eureka. It was probably 1 or 2am when we were walking around, so the only noises you could hear were the faint ramblings of smokers at the two bars that were open. Everything else was completely silent, and pretty awesome. The town itself (at least, the old part) has a very rustic appeal. Ornate little buildings, street lamps and some brick roads. The fact that it was extremely foggy really added to the mystic nature of the walk. We wound are way through the streets, up some trees and through the alley way before coming across this old, spooky mansion. Apparently it was some old white guys club house.. but still terrifying. The mansion was overly decorated on every square inch. Not with pictures or paintings, but just the wood carving. The combination of the blue and white paint, the extreme detail to construction, and the ominous upward lighting from the front yard was something straight out of a Disney movie (Beauty and the Beast?). Freakin' awesome.

The statue, during the day

So, during my trip thus far I've run into many cool people, including travelers. At a coffee shop up in Crescent City, I ran into this guy who had the same exact bike I was going to buy (tan Surly LHT) decked out in touring gear. I asked him about his trip, and he had traveled from North Carolina to Seattle, and was now working his way to San Francisco. Pretty snazzy. Fast forward a day or two, and I make my way to this little awesome coffee shop in Eureka, Has Beans, as suggested by Rachel. I notice a Surly LHT sitting outside and don't think too much of it, 'til I get inside and hear "Not you again!". Sure enough, Luke (the guy I saw in Crescent City) was sitting in the corner, having a cup of coffee. Crazy. I get my muffin and coffee, and we start chatting about random stuff and our trips. We were both due in San Francisco the same day, but I've yet to meet up with him again. Either way, it's really crazy the people that you run into, and how small of a world it really is.

Since I'm being booted off the Library computer again, I'll continue later. I need a Netbook, ugh.

p.s. Rachel is awesome. :P

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blogger messed up

Erased a big chunk of that post.. CRAP! I shall fix it soon

A continuation

Next Episode: Avenue of the Giants, Beautiful 101 driving, Arcata/Eureka + Rachel, Highway 1 shenanigans + saving old people from the side of the road, Bluff camping at sundown, and arriving in San Francisco.

Leaving Crescent City, I couldn't avoid the Avenue of the Giants. Talk about a pretty ride! I really didn't take many photos, because I was having way too much fun bombing through the little windy roads amongst the humbling Redwoods. It was just a good time in and out. Hardly any cars were on the road, and the sun was shining brightly through the trees. Quality mopeding. After a few round trips I finally located the "GIANT TREE" area, where I did take people were driving past and one of the guys headed into town to call for a tow truck. It was a surreal experience, considering I had just pondered what would happen if I went off the road. Right after that, I decided it was safest to pull off the road and sleep. A few big trees and tall grass orchestrated my sleep that night... a knock-on-wood experience.

The following day was more highway 1 driving, and my god was it pretty. The sun was out, the roads were winding, the shoulders were large! ..and by large, I mean there was absolutely no shoulder, unless you consider a 300ft sheer rocky cliff that drops off about 2 ft from the edge of the road, a shoulder.

Time limits slaying me again.. much more is to be said..and I haven't even discussed San Francisco! Oi!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Golden Gate or Windy City?

So, this post is long overdue, and I may forget some stuff. Sue me.

My next stop was Coos Bay, a little port town.. just like the others. Nothing really struck me as awesome, with the exception of the cheesy name. I found a little dive bar with about 3 people aged 50 and up..hooray. New bar. Got a suggestion for this place named Bar Wench, so I went looking. After passing it about 6 times, I realized the dark little door next to the antique shop is it. Finally! Oh.. it's closed. Strike 2. I'm getting pretty tired of riding around this windy, cold city so I make one more walk to see if I hear anyone having fun. Sure enough I run into this bar full of sorta older people (but full none the less) with a bunch of goofy stuff on the wall and a Jerry Garcia look-alike serving drinks. A few cheap beers later and a conversation that evolved from bud light to existentialism, I'm smoking pot in an old previous whore house that was ripped apart and turned into an apartment right above the bar. Score! Another good night.

Gold Beach and Brookings were fairly bland.. the usual cold, windy and misty pacific coast towns. I found nothing really interesting in Brookings, so I decided to head to Crescent City and finally cross the California border. It finally took 23 years for me to make it to California.. and the first thing I run into? Produce checkpoint. Yes, a produce checkpoint. I had to wait in line so guys in orange vests could check cars to ensure no one was bringing out-of-state produce into California. Luckily the guy didn't catch the large crop of pumpkins I was hiding in my backpack.

Crescent City was interesting, in the sense of a tourist town that sort of fell on top of an old town. Lots of bikers, lots of hotels. I opted for a hotel that night 'cause it was too sketchy and uncomfortable to camp outside town. The people running the hotel were really nice, and even tried to call my room to see if I wanted to have a smoke..but instead called the room next to me.

The next day was one of the highlights of my trip: The redwood forests. After talking to some locals, I headed down this little road out of town towards the Jedediah State Redwood forest. This road went from normal, to hellacious in about 50 feet. Pavement? Gone. Huge pot holes? Check. Did I care? No. These trees were awe-inspiring. Despite the fact that my bones (and moped) were being slowly jarred out of my body, I couldn't stop oogling over the trees. They're big. Epicly big. It's really not something a photograph can portray (despite my attempts). I have a few shots with other people in the background to provide scale but that's about as close as anyone will come without standing around them.

That night, despite the no-camping signs, I found a nice little trail to hike up and camp out near. The end of the trail had a fallen young redwood, and it just so happened to fall on a hill, creating a huge and narrow bridge through the woods. It was a sketchy balance up the log, but right at the top was a perfect clearing in the ferns. Hello campsite. I fell asleep with the waterfall in the background, and the redwoods surrounding.

I'm getting a smidge hungry and tired, so I'll continue the rest of my story tomorrow.

Next Episode: Avenue of the Giants, Beautiful 101 driving, Arcata/Eureka + Rachel, Highway 1 shenanigans + saving old people from the side of the road, Bluff camping at sundown, and arriving in San Francisco.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Last night I arrived in Newport around 5:00pm. The town was interesting enough to keep my attention for the night. It had a normal modern town feel to it (typical corporate b.s.) until you got to the state park and bay front shops. The park was a dinky little area right before the large bridge..really nothing interesting except a good view of the water... and lots of wind.

Now, the bay area shops were pretty touristy, but interesting. I got a handful of photos of some of the odd things I saw. It was mostly a bunch of restaurants and gift shops placed around the existing fish factories(?). It smelled wonderful, especially around the loud ARFing sea lions. Like a beautiful spring day in a field of rotten fish corpses. Mmmmm.

The night progressed, I had some beer and peanuts then ended up in a diner at 4am, just to wake up by 6 and try to sleep at the state park. Clouds mess up traveling. Nothing else was really that interesting..except listening to some old hippies jam at a hippy restaurant, and them letting me play a soprano sax afterwards. Goofy little horn.

The drive from Newport to Florence was nothing short of fuckin' rad. 101 the whole way, winding up and down mountains, while remaining on the cliff edge the majority of the time. It was the 101 I've heard about, and couldn't wait to be on. Totally glorious (after the sun came out). I only really made one photographic expedition while carving through the cliff-side, and that was at Strawberry Hill. Not very hilly, or strawberry-y..just kind of rocky and windy. I felt like my face was going to freeze off within standing there for 10 seconds. Since I'm going to get cut off via the library timer soon, I'll just give the clifnotes version of the trip:

Wind, sand, rocks, awesome waves, sea lions, rocks and a little snake.

Time for Coos Bay...?

The past few days

So, I somehow managed to leave Portland. It was tough saying goodbye
to such a great city, and some great friends, but the journey must
continue. I made my way to Cannon Beach just after sunset (Thank you,
35 minute wait for a Voodoo Donut, delaying my Portland departure) and
found the only place that seemed to have people: a bar. A beer or so
later and a conversation about camping and baseball, and I was headed
back to a little house right on the beach. Brian housed me for the
night, and I'm very lucky for that.

The next morning, I woke up and departed. I probably made it 30 feet
before I was staring at the beauty that is Haystack rock. Dropped the
moped on the ground basically, grabbed my camera and went to work. 150
photos later, and I feel I did a good job photographing the area. The
beach was cold and windy, but really amazing. This whole shoreline is
just littered (bad word, I know) with rock formations either on the
beach, or right off the shore. If a wetsuit were in my posession, I'd
have climbed a mess of them.. but the water is freeeeezing. Maybe

Fast forward a bit, and I arrived in Smuggler's Cove at Oswalt State
Park. To get to the beach, you have to hike about 2 miles through a
neat little jungle on a very maintained trail. The beach was huge and
amazing. The cove seemed to hug the water, with big cliff arms. There
were lots of people, not to my surprise. Tons of children ran around
the little feeder river, while the others stepped into wetsuits and
surfed the small yet consistant waves all along the cove. It was a
secluded water park.

I found a trail that lead to Cape Falcon, which according to the crude
line map, peaked at the top of one of the cove cliffs. Of course I had
to hike it. The trail winded slowly up the hill side, hinting at views
from time to time. Reaching the top required a scraping shuffle
through very dense, low bush. It was worth it though. Despite the
violent wind, the whole cove was visible and awe-inspiring. Photos
wouldn't have done my fear justice when stepping nearer to the edge.
The trail just sort of stopped, and with good cause: a 100ft free fall
into a jagged shore below. It was really awesome, 'til the wind
decided to use my backpack as a battering ram and almost push me over
the edge. It quickly got me in a safer place.

Tillamook was the next stop, and a longer than desired one. It
basically is an old-mentality town based around a cheese factory and
logging company. It was bad, and I got tied into hanging out with some
crazy people. All I know is, the random stick-filled field I ended up
in that night was the best sleeping arrangement.

I'm in a little coffee shop in Pacific City, OR right now, speedily
updating this before I head off again and continue to ride the coast.
Not a single beach has disappointed me (well, Ocean City, WA sucked.
Sorry!) thus far. It's wicked.

Pictures will find their way up some time soonish.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Just uploaded about 104 photos to facebook of my La Push adventure, and a few from my first full day in Portland. Tomorrow will be more exciting in terms of exploration-based photography. Today was just a sight-seeing tour.

This city really has a different feel to it. Despite the hundreds of bicycles on every block, the stores just seem different. It's like the coporate chain world has been mostly filtered out, and small shops reign supreme. This is far from a complaint, just an observation. Too many cool things to see in such a small(ish) area.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The City That Works

This may be a bit scatter-brained, but I'll do my best to organize the past few days, based on region and essentially my path.

Port Angeles/Olympic National Park
So, for my initial southerly route start I decided to head a bit northwest to Port Angeles. That's where it happened..right on US 101: I got pulled over. Well, I should say I just stopped, considering I had been driving on the shoulder already and thus "pulled over". The cop stepped out, asked me where I was going (I sorta lied..I didn't say San Diego. Forks sounded better since it was closer) then told me it's illegal to ride on the shoulder...what? In the state of Washington, mopeds and other small engined vehicles are completely able to ride on ANY road: Interstate, highway ect, but we can't drive on the shoulder. Ever go 30 mph in a car on the interstate and feel like you're going to die? Try it on a moped...not fun. I'll stick to the shoulder. The cop was nice about it though 'cause he knew that I was versed in moped laws (apparently not complete) for the state. A quick exchange of words and some advice later, and he let me on my way. Whew.

Fast forward a bit later, and I arrive in Port Angeles around 7:30pm. The sun was on it's way to bed, and Forks was 57 miles away. I needed a place to stay. Knowing as Port Angeles and, basically every NW Washington town is circling the Olympic National Forest, a place to sleep wasn't far away. A quick google maps search pointed me to a small campground a few miles south of the city. The night passed, pretty uneventful yet peaceful, and I was back on the road the next morning, heading to Forks and La Push. The drive past Lake Crescent rocked my world. 35mph, windy roads, mostly flat or downhill, and it followed the curves of the royal blue glacier-fed lake. Wicked.

Forks/La Push
I'll sort of split this part up, so I can divide my initial disgust of Forks and the unbelievable beauty of La Push.

Forks sucks. It really does. I bet it was a decent little town a few years ago, but this little thing happened involving clumsy hollow-souled girls and scintillating mystical blood-drinking bat men, and Forks went to shit. Let's just say, I saw at least 4 cars pull up to the town sign, only to see a bunch of overweight and/or very young girls hop out of these cars, with their parents following behind with a camera. Yes, we get it.. the city was in a movie. Hooray. Now, here's the disgusting part. The town has Twilight TOURS. It has a shopped based on the movie. The clothing section of the local all-in-one shop is 50% twilight based. The grocery store has a 10x20 section in the front allocated primarily for random Twilight plastic shit. The native american store (quick side note: Forks is located right off an Indian Reservation, so the majority of the locals are Native American) changed it's name to "Native by Twilight". The pharmacy has a large sign outside that says "Bella's First Aid Station". Forks is completely consumed by this stupid movie, and the stupid people who traveled there for the soul reason of seeing the actual town in the movie. Dumb, very dumb. I was glad to head out.

Now, onto La Push. Holy crap. I've never seen a beach so amazing. Now, I've spent my fare share of time on the beach, but nothing anything like this. The most notible difference between an east coast beach and La Push would have to be the huge rock structures about 1/8th of a mile off the sand. They're just massive chunks of earth, some a couple hundred feet tall, with trees and other vegitation growing on (most of) them. This isn't my picture, but decent.

The beach itself was incredibly diverse as well. Near the water was a very fine, dark grey sand..not the yellowy sand I'm used to. Walk about 10 feet, and the sand turns to billions upon billions of perfectly smooth rocks that vary in size from a pencil eraser to an ostrich egg. They form the majority of the beach. Now, at one point in the past, mother nature must have chose La Push beach as a graveyard for trees, because they littered the beach. It was very tricky to navigate some of the ~100 year old trees that had turned white from the countless years of sun and salt water. They must have been on the beach for many, many years (not even going to guess) considering some of the huge trees just sort of disappeared into the sand. It was, to say the least, a breathtaking view. Pictures will be uploaded later, sorry.

That night, I headed to the Mora campground, not too far from the shore. My intention was to simply set up my hammock, and fall asleep as soon as possible. I was beat. Little did I know, but a few short hours later I would be back on the beach. Right as I went to locate the bathroom before my early slumber, a kid intercepted me with a simply but almost unwanted inquiry. "Yo, wanna hang out?". Ugh, At this point I had no intentions of making conversation with a random 17 year old drinking a Rainier beer. Since I'm not a total ass, I obliged and we started talking about random stuff. He offered a beer and well, I drank it. Sue me. His uncle showed up at the camp site a few minutes later after running so errands, and we started talking. Turns out they were trying to do a west coast tour but bouncing from river to river to kayak, but plans changed. Skip ahead to a 12 pack of beer being gone, and we're headed to La Push again with another 12 pack and the intentions of setting things ablaze. At this point the sun had already gone down but the beach was still bright due to the moonlight. Somehow we made it over the piles of dead trees and onto a small clearing where we proceeded to create a huge bonfire and enjoy some beer. I slept well that night, and awoke smelling of bonfires. Never could have seen that coming, but it was truly a good time.

Heading south from Forks was really great. The landscape changes so smoothly here, from small farm to dense woods, to meadows of small wildflowers and lavender. The only thing that ruined the drive, besides the frigid air, were the clear cut forests and mountain sides. Yes, they're replanting the trees, but it ruins the beauty of the area when you suddenly come across the remenants of a forest.

Ocean Shores
Many hours later, I arrived in Ocean City, WA (basically part of Ocean Shores, WA). At first, it was oddly similar: a 2 lane highway right down the middle with a bunch of dinky motels on the side of the road..and a few car shells in yards. Upon reaching the center of the town, I was blown away. It was like somebody had picked OCMD up, got rid of the huge hotels and duplicate shops, smashed it, and threw it across the country. OC WA is a miniature OCMD. Scary. The beaches were cold and the cloud coverage was solid, so there aren't any pictures. Quite frankly, they'd have been extremely boring photos without the assistance of photoshop.

Camping here sucks. All the sites in the state park were consumed by RVs and families with loud smelly children. The hotels in town were asking $100+ a night, and the ones outside town (that basically were sheds with lights) wouldn't go below $60. I'm cold, I'm sore from the 110+ miles I just rode, and I really needed sleep.

The lady at the Best Western saved me though. She pointed me towards this older hotel called the Sands Hotel not more than 3 blocks away, claiming they'll have cheaper rates. I show up and manage to chatter my inquiry on price and room availability to the lady at the front desk, and she said "$58". Sold. I needed the sleep bad. Then she proceeds to point me in the direction of the heated pool, hot tubs, and inform me of the breakfast that'll be waiting for me in the morning. I nearly jumped for joy, considering I'd been sleeping outside for a while and hadn't slept too well. Despite not having a bathing suit, my sorry ass was in that hot tub in no time flat, and what a relief it was. The breakfast wasn't that bad either..nothing fancy, but good. Finally, a nice warm place to sleep without working for it (I cranked the thermo up to 85. Oooh yea). Up early to start a long day.


There isn't too much to say about the first three towns, except I'm mad that Aberdeen changed their sign and removed the Nirvana quote. (It said, "Welcome to Aberdeen - Come as you are") For those of you confused, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were both born here and formed Nirvana here. Oh well. Nothing else was too note-worthy, except how lame Tokeland was (minus the llamas!) and the sun drenched field + sausage sandwiches of Raymond. The story gets interesting in Astoria, OR.

After not finding a camp site near Long Beach, I figured I'd keep heading south and hop over into Oregon. Very glad I did. Right as I was coming up to the bridge, I noticed the clouds and how it was odd they just stopped. I pulled over to get a better look, when I saw a great scene: The sun was shining bright to the west, and the clouds were completely covering the sky to the east of me. It was like a great wall of clouds with a very defined edge. The sun was beautifuly reflected off the water, while the moon began to appear while it was still light out. It was like a cheesy painting.

Upon crossing the amazing bridge and arriving in downtown Astoria, my search began. #1 Find a suitable camping area, which I found a few (one on this hill with about 2 occupied houses, and 15 destroyed ones..creepy) and #2 Find a brewery. Good beer was needed. I hunted down Fort George brewery, only a few blocks from where I had stopped, and headed that way. I got some strange looks from the Oregon hip kids as I wheeled my moped onto the sidewalk, but at this point I'm used to it. One excellent IPA later, and the topic of my journey came up while talking to the bartenders. Next thing I know, a regular comes in (well, he new everyone's name so I figured he's either there all the time or really creepy) and comments about live music at the little granola (thanks Mary Lackey) coffee shop next door. Obviously I went over, and glad I did. There were three people backed into the corner of this shop with just 1 microphone, an upright bass, guitar, and an accordian. They played a few originals, and were amazing. They had this beautiful harmonious sound to all of their songs..kinda hard to explain, but in short, they were really good. I began talking to the bass player about music and such, and eventually my journey came up as a topic. Before I knew it, I was getting directions to a local camping area on the beach deemed "stinky beach". Add that to my list of places to stay.

Before I headed off to sleep on redneck ridge, I stopped in to use the restroom at the bar. At this point, one of the bartenders had clocked out and was drinking a beer. He inquired, "So you're really taking that thing down to San Diego?". An obvious answer and a complimentary beer later, and I've been invited to bar hop then go to a party...not to mention two more places to stay that night. I have to admit, it was extremely generous of Caz to allow me to crash at his place that night. Maybe they were just scared for me sleeping in that rundown redneck village!

Portland: My current residence
Another long drive through the woods spit me out in the heart of Portland. I didn't waste much time before zipping around corners and down streets just to see different parts of the city, right around the highway exit. It had been 5 minutes and I was loving it. I finally called August and Emily to let them know of my arrival, then somehow made my way across town to their house. They invited me in, took my bags for me then handed me a nalgene-shaken gin martini. Rad. We ended up discussing nature, religion and existentialism on the porch for an hour or so, before hunger took over and we headed to Whole Foods. (Side-note: The whole foods here are amazing. There are bike themed images strewn through the store, and even a bike hanging from the ceiling). Chicken, BBQ sauce, corn, Kale, local beer and a mini grill consumed the next chunk of time, deliciously so. After hanging out and talking a bit more, August had a great idea to get on the bikes and go catch the sunset on top of this old volcano about two miles away. They let me ride a Kona cyclocross singlespeed, which was awesome. Turns out it's the same bike I WAS going to buy, then decided on the Specialized. The climb up the mountain was quite a work out, but a good one. I'm out of shape already! The scenes from the top were kinda crowded with trees, but still really cool. Seeing the sun set over the whole city, and having Mt Hood in the background is really beautiful. I did have a deep moment while sitting on the grass above the resevoir. I realized I'd LOVE to live in Portland, but the idea of settling in somewhere seems really unattractive to me at this point. Maybe that'll fade, but it really was a powerful dislike at the idea of establishing a permanent resident. But, after bombing down the hills and grabbing a slice of pizza, we made it back home.

Tomorrow will bring a day and night of exploration, but for now it's time to explore my dreams. Goodnight.

p.s. Tunnels are wicked fun

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Seafoam green is in fashion.

There never seems to be enough time in the day. Before I know it, the sun is setting, and I still have a list of things I want to do. Today was no different.

Leaving the house later than I aspired probably didn't help with the whole time thing, but I just felt like sleeping in a bit. My goal was to visit either Cougar Mountain, or West Tiger Mountain. West Tiger won, since I found a trail that lead right to the summit. The only trouble was the method of getting there..

Option #1: Ferry to Seattle, then hop on I-90 east, and take that for 17 miles to the small road with the trailhead.

Option #2: Ferry to Seattle, then take backroads to the aforementioned road..all 41 miles required to get to the little road.

The easier route won. Option #1 it was.. oh my. Let's just say, in the state of Washington, it's perfectly legal for mopeds to travel on highways. Is it a good idea though? NO! Maybe the state didn't find it necessary to outlaw mopeds on the interstate, because they knew only crazy people would attempt it. Just picture driving on 695 at 30mph. You'd get swallowed alive as a car. Now, picture that on a wee moped. Terrifying..yet, time efficient. I made the trip in 35 minutes, vs the hour 15min return trip via backroads.

The tiger mountain hike was more a work-out than a peaceful hike. The trail was around 3.5miles one way, and a brutal climb. I thought I was in decent enough shape, 'til I strapped on my bag and hiked up this mountain. There's a good chance I sweated out about 3 gallons on the way up..but everyone headed up was in about the same condition, without having a 35lb bag on their back.

Highlight of the trip: (quick note: the trail winds through dense forest the entire way) Emerging from the woods onto a cleared landing at the summit. At the very moment I walked out of the tree line, the climax of Sigur Ros' song, Glosoli was playing. The timing was impeccable and completely unintentional. It's like Jonsi was watching me from Iceland and manipulating my zune. There is something truly amazing about looking out over 3 mountains on a beautiful sunny day while a few Icelanders erupt into a musical joygasm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Elwha Valley Adventure

A few days ago I decided to 'venture to the Olympic National Forest and check out some of the trails. After reading a few warnings about mandatory bear canisters (and the fact that I don't have one) I chose the Elwha Valley trails. Quite a good decision.

85 miles later through the hills of Washington, along highway 101, I arrived 1,850ft up the mountain side... poor moped.

A quick shuffle of gear later, and I was headed up the trail to the Hot Springs, but not before talking to (at the time) kind strangers who were inquiring about the moped.

The first hike was pretty great. 2.4 miles up an old abandoned road, and a few deer sightings.

Eventually I ran into the Hot Springs.. which are just as it sounds. Hot water that smells like eggs. They were pretty cool, but occupied by a few younger kids, so a hot bath wasn't in my morning agenda. (sorry for the lack of organized pictures, Flickr only allows 100mb per month unless I give them money. Curses!)

A quick hike back, and I come across the camp sites that were established in a slight clearing. Already set up for the night were the two people I had talked to at the parking lot, August and Emily, as I learned. We started talking about random stuff, and within what seemed to be 1 hour, we had discussed everything from hiking adventures to philosophy and everything in between. The sun went down at 10pm (!) and a quiet night sleep was overdue for all of us.

The forest was shockingly quiet. I was expecting lots of bugs, maybe some wolves.. but it was nothing (except for the small mammal that thought my hammock rope was a good bridge between the trees). Ear plugs served no purpose.

Morning came, and August & Emily had suggested I go with them on the Appleton Pass trail that started right near the campsite. That was my plan from the other day, and now I realize it was a great idea to go with some experienced hikers. We started off up the mountain side, weaving back and forth around the rivers and waterfalls, crossing streams and eventually resting in a meadow for some salami and cheese sandwiches.

Before I knew it, we were about 100 yards from the summit of Mount Appleton. We started off on a maintained trail, and ended up following a nearly invisible creek up a sloping, snowed over mountain side. Our hiking adventure started to lean on mountain climbing. Someone could have told me I'd be doing this a few hours before, and I'd have called them a liar.

Here is where I'm glad I was with experienced hikers. My initial intention, after seeing how close we were to the summit was "Let's do it!". After a bit of discussion, and analyzing our equipment (mind you, at this point I was wearing t-shirt/shorts and had trail running shoes on, sockless) we decided the risk we faced while attempting to scale the slope was too great. Ice axes and crampons would have changed the decision, but they were many miles away. Though.. leaping down the hill was a heck of a lot of fun.

A quick hike back and some more salami sandwiches ended the day. I've never had a better sleep, despite the cold wind and the annoying early morning turkey-sized crows screaming at everyone. 10 miles up and down a mountain will do that to ya.

Morning comes, and we began packing up all of our gear. After a few conversations, I parted ways with August and Emily, but not before they left me a "survival kit" which was, quite frankly, awesome.

Essentially, the past few days have been amazing, and I have my new portland friends to thank for it. The fact that I didn't have my phone was also very relaxing (though the polar opposite for a few people.. sorry!) Pictures will be askew, 'cause that's how Blogger's uploader works.

Actually, pictures later. blogger failed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Seattle/Friday Harbor

I visited Seattle for the first time two days ago, and I can say I was only partially impressed (at least of what I saw.. Pike Place Market). The ferry ride over was fun, yet cold.

The Pike Place Market was the only semi-disappointing thing. Everyone hypes it up as this aammaazing market, with incredible things everywhere. This may be true, but the excessive swarms of people (even on a Monday at 1pm) make it nearly impossible to enjoy anything the market may have. Though.. the honey sticks were pretty rad. I plan on making another trip into the city today, but exploring a bit further in.

Friday Harbor was yesterday, and was fantastic. It was the first perfect day Seattle has seen in... a while. Temperatures in the 80s, hardly any clouds in the sky. Our journey from Silverdale to San Juan took about 3.5 hours, but flew by since the scenery changed so much. Jake wasn't a big fan of the first ferry. Eventually we end up in Friday Harbor on San Juan island; a tiny, 9 square block town located right at the ferry drop off. A pretty and very hilly town, but once again swarmed with tourists..oh well. We found Susie's Mopeds a little up the hill, and I found my new mode of transportation. A few conversations later, a scramble to get tags, and a shop visit later, I had my wheels.

The ride back was really long, yet relaxing. Flying through the backroads at a solid 33mph (top speed, 50! Thank you pacific NW hills) is zen-like.. 'til the bugs start hitting you in the face, but that may just be part of the fun.

Pictures can be found on facebook, or http://www.flicker.com/photos/patrickgeary

Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 1: Sleep deprivation. Jesus. Bears, and Fireworks. (Much needed) sleep time now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Running in the rain

How can you appreciate it while sitting in a box?

The superficial must triumph...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away."

- Antoine de Saint Exupery