Thursday, 25 August 2011

Farewell North America

Well the day has finally come. This time tomorrow I will be back home in Harrogate working through the half a ton of mail that is apparently waiting for me, fighting the 8 hour jetlag. As I am sat in Starbucks at Vancouver Airport reflecting on  all the amazing people I have met,  tbings I have seen and new friendsbips that I have made over the past four months I know that I will just have to come back to North America again, maybe as part of a round the world cycling tour. . . who knows.

This has been an amazing experience. Challenging and difficult at times but personally very fulfilling. I do feel that I have achieved something to be proud of. The cycling never seemed to get easier. It was hills and headwinds all the way right down to the last half mile crossing the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

Many people have asked me which was the best day. And my answer is there was no best day, there were too many to single out. Riding the Colonial Parkway out of Yorktown on the first day,the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, the Ozarks, crossing the Mississippi and riding the Levees, seeing the Rockies looming in the distance from Kansas, crossing the Hoosier, Mckenzie and Teton passes, Yellowstone Park, chocolate cream pie, the plains of Montana, first sight of the Pacific Ocean, the Redwoods in Oregon. Helping the relief efforts at Joplin, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco.  The list is endless. I can count the bad days on one hand and they were usually cooking days :)

I've even enjoyed writing the blog despite the amount of Mcdonalds I have had to eat to get a decent wifi signal so I hope it entertained you all and didn't get too repetative towards the end when I started to flag a little. I guess when I get home I need to read it myself and correct all the typos :)

I'm quite flattered that it had over 15000 hits and of course that all your donations made it possible to raise over £6000 for Shelterbox. And the donations are still coming in so it may get even higher.

So that's it. I shall look forward to getting home, catching up with evetyone and planning my next trip.



Wednesday, 24 August 2011

4AM start for the Amtrak to Vancouver

Greg dropped me off at the station in Seattle on his way to work via the ferry across Puget Sound, a journey he has been making for the last 30 years!.

It was a relief to find that my two items of checked luggage were still at Seattle Amtrak. The procedure if you want to leave luggage is simply not to collect it from the airport style conveyor belt. It did occur to me that anybody just walking by in the station could have just picked it up and walked off. It would have been a tragedy to loose my treasured Transam cycling shirt!

Great views coming out of Seattle but was seated next to an odd Irish woman who was obviously a bit of a fruitcake. Conversation was bizarre so I retreatef to the restaurant carriage where I stayed for the duration.
Another spectacular train journey up the coast, finally arriving in Vancouver about midday. After a few suggestions from Ellen ( ex Vancouver resident now riding around Calgary on the back of motorbikes) I opted for the 10k hike around Stanley Park and the waterfront. And glad I did because it was a great way to say farewell to Canada and North America.

I  decided to venture out after dark in search of beer to find that this part of Vancouver has been invaded by hordes of Irish. Have they started playing baseball or has Canada started playing rugby or something. I already feel that I have one foot back home. And is it my imagination but does every othet person here appear to be of Oriental extraction.

And finally to publish this post I had to go seek out a Mcdonalds. What would I have done without them!

Seattle, Woodstock and I HAVE REACHED MY TARGET OF £5000

Today I  spent a day with Sally in her beautiful waterside home overlooking Puget Sound. The actual Pacific cycle route passes by her home so we spent some time driving along part of the route I would have cycled had I headed north instead of south at Florence. I don't think I would have been disappointed had I gone that way. We stopped for 'a spot of lunch' at a trendy little organic cafe in one of the coastal towns where after a healthy hummus and bean soup and vegetarian wrap niethet of us could resist a piece of Grandma's chocolate cake. It is of course essential now that I restore my body back to it's  'pre cycling 5300 miles across America' shape. On the way back we then called in at the local supermarket and picked up a couple of live crabs for dinner.

Normally Sally would just step into Puget sound and pick one out of her crab pot but alas it has been stolen.

I also met Barbara, a friend of Sally's snd the first person I have ever met that actually went to WOODSTOCK in 1969. At the time she was working as a chambetmaid in Connecticut and drove over there with some friends only because it was the thing to do at the time, and not especially because she had a burning desire to see Jimi Hendrix live.

They arrived a day late so couldn't get close enougjh to the stage to see the bands and her most abidiing memory was all the trash everywhere and everyone being high.

Like most of us at the time she wore the clothes and had the hair but confessed to only really being 'a  weekend hippie'

And leaving a day early meant she missed the legendary Hendrix rendition of tbe 'Star Spangled Banner' just as I missed all but the last ten minutes of his perfotmance at the Isle of Wight in 1970 because I fell asleep!

The day ended eating the delicious 'now passed away' crab and lively conversation with Sally's husband Greg who had strong opinions about the state of the American economy, nuclear powet, global warming, and indeed the world in general I think I could best describe Greg as a 'US' equivalent of my cycling buddy Ken back home. I must get them around the same dinner table sometime :)

And finally I have now raised over £5000 for Sheltetbox which including Gift Aid is well over £6000.. Thank you very much everybody for helping me reach my target. I will eventually be able to post on this blog which countries benefited from your donations.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Up the Pacific Coast

Managed to get an amazing amount of sleep despite being on a reclining seat. This is a classic raiil journey with great scenery and a commentary in the viewing coach where I have sat all day. Currently in Portland departing at 4 20PM which gives a bit of time to look around the old station. Finally arrived in Seattle at 8 15PM after 22 hours on the train.  Sally was duly waiting for me in het amazing technicolor jacket making it impossible for me to miss her. Tonight I get to sleep in a proper bed for the first time since July 25th.

Views of San Francisco Bay area from the top of Mount Diablo