Mexico bound

United States

My odometer says I’ve gone about 1500 miles. Tomorrow I will head down from San Diego into Mexico, closing the US chapter. Looking back, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. It has been almost nothing like I thought it would be. It’s been so much better. I loved riding before I left Seattle, but now I love it almost compulsively. The parts of the journey that I thought would be difficult: sore muscles, inclement weather, and solitude, became amusing or ended up being a non-issue. I feel more sane than ever before. Isn’t that what the crazies always say? ;) I observed some of the most beautiful landscapes of my life and indulged in some amazing sunsets. I rode the best terrain of my life. I’ve seen hawks, skunks, deer, dogs, falcons, possums, rats, a fox, turkey vultures, obese ground squirrels, cats, and that was just the roadkill. Unfortunately, both and were taken so I didn’t set up a carcass rating website. I met some amazing people and have been the recipient of generosity that I would never have expected from strangers. Most important of all, I’ve had epic fun.

I want to take a moment to thank all the people who helped me along the way. You added emotional support, convenience, gear, philosophy, and flavor. I truly appreciate all you have done.

Tim, Jana, Julie, Ty, An, Jesse, Tamara, Alan, Mom, and Dad – Thank you so much for the gear, the support and the hospitality. It has really made things simple for me.

Ryan, Lindy, Beau, Barb, Sylvia, Jade, the couple I met who bought me lunch near Big Sur, Galen, the fellow who gave me a beer/Christmas ham/a little captain south of Big Sur, the heavy-handed bartender on the wharf in Monterrey, and the cycling group who shared their knowledge, beer, and snacks with me north of Lompoc – Thank you so much for your hospitality and kindness. I hope you enjoyed my stories; I certainly enjoyed meeting you all and spending time with you.

And thank you to all the many, many, many people back home and on the road who shared their philosophy with me and gave me words of encouragement. I’m sorry I don’t remember everyone, but I do remember Dan, George, the camp hosts in Carlsbad, Duncan in San Elijo, Otto and Marie in Newport CA, and many others that I’m sorry I can’t remember. Thank you so very much.

Some of you may have noticed that I put up some photos from this leg. There are some more coming in the next weeks (some were lost and I need to get them from my backup). You can see them here.

Tomorrow I’m southward bound.

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Los Angeles

United States

The road south soon turned from cactus covered hills to sprawling concrete. The right side of the road still sported beach views and the route sometimes took me along beach paths and boardwalks. To any cyclist riding this section after a storm I would recommend not riding any path next to the beach as the wind blows copious amounts of sand onto the pathways. For the first time, I was forced to get off the bike and walk.

I was fortunate to be able to stay with and get to know a family friend and her roommate in Long Beach. It’s always nice to stay indoors, especially when you don’t have to pay the typical $70.00/night for an “affordable” SoCal hotel. Thanks again Sylvia and Jade for the hospitality and the scenic Long Beach tour!

A day or so into the LA area I stayed at a hotel in Santa Monica which was touted as the cheapest hotel in the area. At $60.00 / night I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was wrong. Upon checking in I was told that I could have a five dollar discount off the typical rate because my room didn’t have heat; fine with me. As I whipped out my credit card to pay for the room a grimace formed on the proprietor’s face.

“Oh, we really need to have you pay cash.”

“Um, OK, that’s fine I guess.”

I later learned that this hotel had been busted about 6 months back for drug trafficking and had racked up some public health and safety violations. I’m not sure if they were renting out rooms under the table to avoid taxes or to keep out of view of the public health department.

The room was laughable: mold in the shower and bathroom, a gaping hole where the heater used to be, large stains on the sheets and the bedspread, a few cockroaches attempting to steal my bike, some dried blood on the door jam, and the crowning amenity of this chateau du ordures? A used crack pipe under the mattress. I didn’t ask if rock included in the continental breakfast. Instead I went to dinner with a friend, thanks again Chico!, slept inside my sleeping bag liner, and left first thing in the morning. All in all, a very amusing experience since I didn’t contract scabies. I’m almost sure this won’t be the worst hotel I will stay in on this trip I hope it’s the worst for the price.

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Email Issues

United States

I had an issue with a filter on my email which caused all my inbound mail to be deleted since the 27th of December.  So if you sent me something and I haven’t responded that is why.  Ahhh, techmology.  Anyway, feel free to resend if you feel your message may have been deleted.

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Big Sur and SoCal

United States

Another highlight so far was the riding around Big Sur. This area provided spectacular views, hair-raising descents, some of the strongest winds so far (hard to believe, I know), and some great sunny days.  The terrain on this stretch is up and down, more guardrails than Oregon but the same precipitous drops, and many many more RV’s than I’ve encountered so far.

On one particularly blustery day I found myself at the top of a short hill in a deep roadcut a few hundred feet above the ocean.  As I crested the hill I looked down to see I was going 4mph and took a second to coast slowly on a flat spot before the decent.  I recieved a wobbly push from behind and then another; the wind funneled through this gap in the landscape.  I looked down to see I was now going 11mph.  These gust kept coming all day, mostly head-on, many dangerously from the side, and sometimes a gift of a tailwind.  On one descent I found that the turns seemed to be coming up quicker and quicker but I didn’t seem to be screaming along.  I realized I was being pushed down the hill by a massive tailwind causing silence rather than the usual roaring in my ears.  I glanced at my cycling computer to see I was going 40mph: meaning the wind was at or stronger than that speed.  I resisted the very strong urge to pass the motorist in front of me and held on for dear life as a negotiated the turns. Several times that day I was forced to lock my arms as I was buffeted by slipstream gusts from RV’s on one side and onshore winds on the other.  I would suggest caution for anyone riding this section this time of year.

At one point the coastline goes from sheer cliffs to rolling hills and farmlands marking the beginning of Southern California.  The greenery immediately becomes brownery, the skies are filled with Turkey Vulchers and Falcons, Sea Lions fill the beaches, and someone decided this area was a great place to have a herd of Zebra’s in their pasture.

One night I shared a campsite with a very kind homeless gentleman heading south with 125lbs of gear on a trailer behind his bike.  He mentioned he had a bit of an issue throwing things away.  We discussed cycling, mileage, notable landmarks, and laundry.  The topic of our laundry schedules came up and he was shocked at the infrequency of my schedule.  He apparently does laundry three times as often as me.  I tend to dry clothing out very often but wash infrequently.  After talking with him I decided that I should probably hit the laundromat the next time one made itself apparent.

I continued south through San Luis Obispo, a very nice town, towards Santa Barbara.  Along the way I ran into a group of cyclists on tour with a sag wagon.  They lost their dedicated driver and now use a leap-frog method of advancing the vehicle from San Francisco to San Diego.  One cyclist will drive and park the vehicle at the next landmark while the group rides toward it with little to no baggage.  The driver then rides back towards the group, eventually meeting them and heading back to the vehicle.  The driver position is rotated throughout the group.  I was lucky enough to meet them briefly in a valley and then again at the top of a large climb.  As I crested the hill one of them beckoned me closer and handed me a cold beer.  Hell yeah.  I managed to cross paths with this group again the next day.  It’s always nice to meet other cyclists.

I am currently in Santa Barbara, CA resting for the day.  I will head on down towards Long Beach starting tomorrow.  At this point I’m only five days or so from the Mexican border.  I am planning on meeting my Sister and her family in San Diego in a week and a half so I’ll find a way so stretch five days into ten; shouldn’t be hard.  This extra time will hopefully allow me to finish and jettison Kitchen Confidential, a very funny read for those not offended by foul language, and maybe even get my equipment list uploaded.  :)

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Christmas Calamari

United States

From San Francisco I cruised down to Monterey.  I had been planning on taking it easy but managed to kick out a couple short days and a 65mile leg.  This section marked the first time I wore shorts and a short sleeve shirt all day when riding.

I took a day off for Christmas in Monterey, found some Christmas Calamari and made friends with the heaviest-handed bartender in town.

Over the last few years I usually spent Christmas doing one of two things: cooking for days or refinishing hardwood floors (don’t ask).  Although I was alone, had no stocking, and far from home; I enjoyed the day.

The next day I headed south.

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San Francisco

United States

I enjoy riding in rural areas so much that when I do come to a large city I find it a little unsettling.  I am experienced riding in traffic defensively but the whole race and bustle of the city seems so pointless to me at this point.  I find this interesting since I used to be part of that.  It seems so far away from where I am now.

I rode across the Golden Gate Bridge on my way into San Francisco.  This may seems strange but until I was standing on this massive structure looking down at the water far below, this whole trip didn’t quite seem real.  This major landmark informed me that I am not anywhere near home; this is awesome.

I found some friendly people, not hard to do in San Francisco, who gave me directions to my friend Beau’s office.  Unfortunately they didn’t take into account that I was on the bike when they handed out their advice.  To any other cyclists touring in San Francisco I would NOT recommend cycling up Steiner and then up California.  There must be a better way around this hill.  On one 4 block stretch I had to stop seven times to rest.  That steep hill coming out of Elk ain’t got nothin on these hills.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days visiting with Beau and getting some errands taken care of.  I was also able to meet with my friend Barb who just returned from many of the places I’ll be going in South America and got the lowdown.  SF is a great city.

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Northern California

United States

As I entered California the weather kept getting better and better.

Almost immediately I entered the Redwood National and State Parks. I had wanted to see this area for quite a while and it did not disappoint. Although the climb into the first section of the park from sea level to 1400′ was long, it was worth it. As I rode down through the narrow winding roads in the late afternoon I had to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes on the road. The redwood trees so immense and tall I wanted to stare into their canopy as I careened down hills. The feeling of insignificance; a flash; from the anthropomorphic perspective of these trees, some thousands of years old, was amazing. I have never seen forests like these. Mt. Rainier I love, North Cascades I love, Jungles of India; Costa Rica I love, but this place blows them all away. It’s the feeling you get when you first visit Paris or New York and you step out of the subway. Like you are on the sea floor of a Metropolitan ocean; only this is twice and deep, magnitudes more beautiful, and no Redmond in sight. It’s that little spark of magic you remembered at Christmas time as a child.

If you haven’t seen the redwoods; I would recommend doing so. Especially Humboldt State Park to the south. I do wonder, however, if I would have had the same mind-blowing experience if I had been in a car. So if you go, get out and walk some or bring a bike with you and coast carefully down the hills.

I camped in the redwoods for a few nights over a week. I met a lot of friendly people, including one who can be seen at the bottom of this page in a tomato suit. I was fortunate enough to meet my first southbound cyclist on tour. For some reason this time of year isn’t a popular time to tour the coast. Did the sarcasm convey? I rode with Galen for a day from Eureka down to Burlington Campground in Humboldt State Park. Thanks again for the eggs dude! This stretch was some excellent riding. The redwoods in the State Park seemed to have less underbrush which somehow made them even more striking.

From there on down the coast to San Francisco I followed highway 101 until highway 1 split off at Leggett. This also marked the start of Leggett hill, the highest point on of the US leg of my route at 2000 feet. The winding road climbed ever further up, traffic very light, a nice bit of sun, and an excellent view. All in all, certainly easier than climbing into the Redwood National Park. The descent from Leggett hill was the best of my life. Around seven miles of 10mph hairpins with, sometimes, several hundred foot drops just feet from the fog line. I love riding down hills on my bike. Riding on a light race style bicycle is one thing but a fully loaded touring bike is quite another. With 70lbs of gear on my 28lbs bicycle it takes off like a locomotive and stopping can be a hopeful event. I am typically one to cast fear aside and go big or go home. Riding a touring bike down hills such as this one is truly a terrifying experience. I can’t overstate how insanely fun it is.

I do keep reminding myself that I need to be conservative when riding since I am alone and I have no residence from which to recover from catastrophe. I remind myself, but I don’t always listen. Life is too much fun when lived; I gotta do it.

Shortly after highway 1 splits from 101 it parallels the coast; rolling up and down hills. Some great riding. I managed to catch yet another storm on my way down, soaking me for a few days.

One notable town was Westport CA. If you ever pass through and need a place to stay, Otto at the Westport Inn has some great stories and if you are nice he will make you coffee and toast in the morning.

The coastline brought lighter traffic, glorious sunsets, numerous falcons; hawks; and turkey vultures, and a few more sets of hills. I also passed the steepest hill on the west coast route, a very short hill climbing out of town of Elk. I managed to find some steeper hills in San Francisco to ascend.

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The rest of Oregon

United States

After waiting out the storm in Coos Bay, Oregon, I continued down the coast.  The next few days proved treacherous: road debris, downed power lines, 20mph headwinds, and the thickest fog I’ve ever seen.  Occasionally I was able to steal a glimpse of the coast when the fog would yield.

After three days the rain stopped and I was graced with a welcomed 20mph tailwind.  The riding was easy and the vista’s beautiful.  Great cycling weather.

The route was fairly easy; I followed highway 101 all the way down.  Each morning I checked the map for a location around 45 miles away and started riding toward it.  Around 3pm I would start asking around about campgrounds and somehow I always found something.  There’s something very entertaining about not knowing where you are going to sleep each night.  On the days when I couldn’t find a campground I would check into the cheapest hotel I could find.  If I found a hotel to be too expensive I would ask which hotel in the area was the cheapest, sometimes using the phrase “scabies-special” to much success.  I found that you can almost always get a discount just by asking.  I usually ask for the “[soggy|tired|cold] cyclist discount”.  One time I negotiated two discounts totaling $50.00 off.

Cycling the Oregon coast was really quite fun.  With so many opportunities to get water, food, lodging, and camping, it made things very easy.

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Holed up

United States

After a week and a half in Philomath, Oregon, eating performance enhancing Thanksgiving pie, I was back on the road. While in Philomath I took care of some more dental work that I needed done and with a lot of help from my brother-in-law Alan and my sister Tamara, gathered remaining gear that I neglected to purchase before leaving. I also found time to have some fun with my nieces, Juliette and Fiona, and my nephew Logan.

I also visited the school which Logan and Juliette attend. It’s the King’s Valley Charter School’s first and third grade classes. I talked with them about the trip and answered the many questions they had. The first grade class didn’t have many questions but was excited to hear I would take Flat Stanley along and get some pictures with him. I explained the details of my trip to Logan’s class, the third grade, and answered any questions they had. Here’s a rough account of a portion of the Q&A exchange:

Student: “What if you see a rattlesnake?”

Dave: “I will probably try to avoid it as it probably won’t mess with me if I don’t disturb it. There are actually quite a few different varieties of snakes to worry about on the trip other than rattlesnakes. Central America has the Bushmaster, Horned Pit Vipers, and the Fleur de Lance to name a few.”

Another Student: “What if there’s a snake in the road?”

Dave: “I will wait for it to pass or encourage it to move from a safe distance.”

Another Student: “Ok, if the snake is here and you are going this way and you go around it like this, what would you do?”. The student pantomimed the snake’s location and my bicycle barely skirting the edge of it with his fingers.

Dave: “I would try to avoid disturbing the snake if possible or get help as soon as possibile if somehow bitten.”

Teacher: “Let’s ask some questions about something other than snakes while we have Dave here.”

Student: “What if you are in the desert with no food and no water and your friend dies and freezes in the cold. There’s no town nearby and no way to get food, would you eat your friend; because he’s dead already you know.”

Dave: “I hope it will never come to that but if I was in the desert with no food or water and starving, I would try to find a way to get a ride or communicate that I needed help.”

Teacher: “Let’s ask only appropriate questions please.”

Student: “What if you ran over a snake with your bike and it bit you?”

I spoke with them for about 30 minutes. They had many other questions as well but I found this portion of the exchange the most entertaining. I must have had 10 questions about snakes; a popular topic. I’m glad I had the chance to talk with them, it was a lot of fun. They will be following my trip as I go and might study some of the sights along the way.

After a week and a half, I headed down the Oregon coast. These three days were the best riding of the trip so far: gorgeous views of the cliffs, massive rainstorms rolling in off the sea, sun breaks, one small amusing snow flurry, and mostly dead calm.

On the third day the wind picked up and I learned that a large storm system would be rolling through bringing 60mph winds. My Grandfather used to say: descretion is the better part of valor. Riding with a headwind isn’t too much fun but 60mph can be dangerous. Honestly I was more worried about a driver avoiding me in those conditions than myself being blown over. I looked for a campground near my current position but didn’t find one. So, I’m in cheap motel with a warm shower until the winds become reasonable. It’s been reported that gusts have reached 100mph in the area, the strength of a category 2 hurricane. I think I made the right choice regardless of what my wallet is telling me.

With this extra time I will dry out my gear, work on my Spanish, and catch up on communications. I hope you are enjoying the snow in Seattle, sled down something waaay too fast.

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And it’s hard to hold a candle

United States

Ahh, November in the northwest. How I will not miss thee. I am in Vancouver Washington at my cousin Ryan’s house. He’s been kind enough to give me a couple days of R&R before I head down to my sister’s place in Corvalis for Turkey Day.

The first few days of my trip have been comically wet. At times I wondered if a firetruck with a malfunctioning hose was following me around. Storm drains overflowed, culverts geysered by the roadside, and me with a huge smile on my face; laughing at the absurdity of it all. When the temperature did drop enough to make me uncomfortable I reminded myself that I was not sitting at a desk and all was well again. The irony is that some of you back in Seattle may have been saying “I’m sure glad I’m not where Dave is right now” as the rain beat down. Good times.


The route I chose took me from West Seattle, through Auburn; Puyallup; Spanaway; Roy; Yelm; Tenino; Centralia; Vader; Kelso; and Woodland. With the low clouds and decaying vegetation there wasn’t too much to see. I did at three distinct occasions have, what I assume must have been kids, come up behind me in a truck, honk, then speed off. I remember kids who used to do this on Whidbey Island where I grew up. Apparently they think it will scare the rider and cause them to crash. It does not. I saw roadside sign for a video store that read: “If John Wayne saw Brokeback Mountain he would put a patch over the other eye”. I had identified what the honking really was. Rednecks. Their standard to bear is that of ignorance and intolerance. How disgusting.


I have received quite a few questions about my trip. Check out the FAQ

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