Archive for November, 2006

White Sand and Snow…

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

We escaped the snow in Seattle, but it caught up with us in New Mexico!

Sarah and I are in Carlsbad, NM today. We were hoping to visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park today, but it is closed for the day because it SNOWED here last night! Yesterday, we drove through White Sands National Monument and commented that the white gypsum sand looked just like snow. Little did we know we would be seeing the real stuff later on! The weather turned bad right as we were driving into Carlsbad. The winds were so strong going through the desert, that it looked like our car was being attacked by tumbleweeds. All the crevices on our car and bikes are now filled with the seeds and stalks of various desert plants. After sampling some authentic New Mexican food in Carlsbad, we made it to Brantley Lake State Park and set up our tent for the night. We could barely get our tent up and staked down in the horrific winds, but we finally did and except for the fact that the winds made it sound like the tent was going to be ripped apart, we made it through the night safe and sound. We were actually pretty cozy in our mummy bags, so we were surprised to see snow all over the ground when we woke up! We decided to pack up our tent and were greeted by a temperature of 22 degrees with a windchill of 9. We definitely weren’t planning on experiencing weather like this on our southern road trip! We packed up the tent as quickly as we could. Sarah was leaping around like a startled feline the whole time and said it was “so cold that her stomach hurt.” We hopped back in the car and drove back to Carlsbad, listening to the local weathermen discuss how to drive on snow and telling everyone to stay safe and warm at home. I guess that means stay in the car for us, since that is where we live now. It feels like a snow day in Minnesota here since the schools, government offices, and the parks are all closed, but we decided to stick it out for one more day here so we can see the park tomorrow. After that, we are going to head for Big Bend National Park on the Texas/Mexico border where we may do our first bike tour. Then Austin, TX is the last stop on our road trip and after that we will be spending some time with our families before we leave for New Zealand.

Here is our current plan.

December 11-12: Drive to Fargo, ND
December 13- 17: Fargo, ND
December 18-20: Minneapolis, MN
December 21-22: Drive to Wilmington, NC
December 23 – 27: Wilmington, NC
December 28: Fly to New Zealand!

California & Arizona

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Hello from Yuma Arizona! We left our campsite in Quartzsite at 6:30am this morning and came here in search of an internet cafe to check email, update the site, etc. I have a few things from the past week to write about that Jamie didn’t mention:

  • We’ve realized that because it is winter & we are in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun sets right around 5:10pm every night. We thought that Southern California & Arizona would stay lighter longer than Seattle but they really don’t. This means we have to find & set up a campsite before 5pm which is a pain. We are then left with a lot of time hanging out at a campsite picnic bench in the pitch dark after we’ve set up camp. Boring! Here’s a picture of me learning how to use our stove in the dark. We are so happy we brought headlamps – they make everything much easier in the dark.stove in dark
  • Last night’s campsite – the one in the gravel RV parking lot in Quartzsite – was kind of creepy. Even better, as we were setting up camp Jamie suddenly remembered stories his friend Chris Kopperud had told him in junior high about packs of Javelinas that roam the ditches of Arizona. Javelinas are small little warthogs that travel in packs and are really mean. I don’t think we were in any danger but it was hilarious to see the look on Jamie’s face when the possibility of a gory Javelina attack occured to him. Here’s me working on our Budweiser & Sun Chips dinner.SunChips
  • Joshua Tree was beautiful and our campsite was only $5 per night! This made me very happy after the other $25 sites we found in California. It was pretty hot there; we ate a delicious watermelon for lunch. watermelon
  • The day after Thanksgiving we went to a country bar called Pappy and Harriet’s near Joshua Tree. It had really good live country music – Jenny even got to dance with an old local guy. We spotted a couple we named the Rockabilly couple. They had obviously driven to the bar from LA and were dressed to the nines in their tight Wranglers, sleeveless T’s, and cowboy hats. They looked like they were wearing costumes…but we saw them the next morning at a breakfast place and they were all dressed up at 9am! Do they go to work like that too? I am really sorry we didn’t get a picture of them.

55+ Only

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

Sarah and I have entered Arizona, land of the RV and senior citizen. We had a great time in Joshua Tree with Jenny and Brandon. We camped at Jumbo Rocks and were lucky to get a site there as the park was very busy over Thanksgiving weekend. The lovely campers who used the site before us let their dog poop all over the site, so we cleaned it up for them. Poop was a common theme in the park – we think a lot of campers had too much beer and turkey on Thanksgiving because afterwards all the toilets in the park had poop all over the seats. Very nice indeed. Sarah and I both really liked Joshua Tree. We went cycling through the park and did some hiking and bouldering with Jenny and Brandon. Last night we camped at the Desert Gardens RV Park right off I-10 outside Quartzsite, AZ. The park was restricted to those 55 or older like most of the RV parks around here, but we snuck in and no one bothered us. We set up our tent in a gravel parking lot, did our laundry, and tried to mingle with the locals but all the snowbirds were asleep. So, we walked over to the truck stop and got two 24oz cans of Budweiser served in two paper sacks which we drank with some SunChips for dinner. We left before the 9am exercise classes started. Today we are heading to Tucson, AZ and the beautiful national parks of the Southwest. Sorry, no laptop yet, so you will have to wait for our pictures.


Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Hello from the Ventura Public Library! Today we are staying in the campground at McGrath State Beach for the exorbitant price of $25 per night. The camping prices in California are not cheap. Yesterday we camped at Pismo State Beach for $20. At Pismo, Sarah saw one Monarch butterfly in the nesting area and she also spotted the famous Pismo clam. We were too slow to catch any though! We also got some good pictures of the sunset, but we don’t have any way of posting them to the site yet, so that will have to wait as will the Route page. Sorry guys, we should have a laptop soon. Today we spent most of the day in Santa Barbara which was really beautiful. While there, we even got to go on a bike ride to Julia Child’s favorite taqueria! The line was out the door but the food was great. Tonight we are staying in Ventura and then tomorrow we are going to make a bee-line for Joshua Tree National Park since we heard from some Los Angeles locals that the traffic will be pretty crazy this weekend. We both really like California. Every time we go through a city, Sarah asks, “should we add this to the list of places we want to live?”

Confidential to Emily: We saw a Mountain Lion at Mt. Tam right outside of San Francisco! Sarah wet her pants a little bit for you.

Day One

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

It doesn’t quite seem like we’re on our trip yet, but our first full day of travel is complete! It wasn’t that exciting, though. We had a very fun going away party at the Pike Pub & Brewery on Thursday night, then left Seattle at 7:30am on Friday morning. It took us 14 hours to drive to San Francisco. We did this same trip two years ago and it only took us 12.5 hours then…we think this trip’s extra time was due to the fact that our Civic was completely loaded down with everything we own & was too heavy to handle any of the hills on I-5. Our trunk was full of boxes of stuff we plan to store in my mom’s garage for the next year, the back seat was crammed with our camping/biking gear, and then our two bikes were hanging off the back of the car. The result of all this was that we were trucking along in the far right lane with all the 18 wheelers during any uphill parts of the highway. We were literally down to 45 miles an hour at some points – poor Civic!

We stayed with Jenny & Brandon last night in Mill Valley, CA – just outside of San Francisco in Marin County. They made a fire for us in the fireplace which was fun because it was a little bit cold, then I wrapped myself up in my down sleeping bag (which is ranked to keep me warm in temps as low as 15 degrees) & fell asleep. I woke up at 7am completely drenched with sweat – I literally haven’t sweat that much since the marathon. Ew. I had to get out of bed, take a shower, and then go back to sleep.

Today we’re hanging out with Brian in San Fran. We might cook dinner tonight at his house. Tomorrow we might go on a bike ride with Jenny and Brandon. So far we’re having lots of fun but it just seems like we’re here for a weekend trip.

Two More Resources

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

In telling people about this trip, we’ve found some more great touring resources. Rob Thomson is a New Zealander riding a recumbent bicycle from Japan to London and he is chronicling his trip at His site is beautifully laid out and contains some great information too. This is definitely one of our new favorite sites.

We also found out about a new touring book, Adventure Cycle-touring Handbook: Worldwide Cycling Route and Planning Guide, which looks interesting. The table of contents shows that it has route information for many countries, which is something we are definitely interested in. It only seems to be available at Amazon UK. We are going to order it and will review it.

T Minus 3 Days

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Our liquidation is officially complete.  Our garage sale was a huge success – we got rid of almost everything.  We only had to bring one carload of stuff to Goodwill.  As for the bigger stuff, we sold the TV last week, the piano on Monday, and sold the futon to a very nice family that’s letting us keep it until our last day here! 

Everything we’re saving fits in these boxes, which will fit in our trunk for the cross-country drive & then reside in my mom’s garage for the next year.  The things we’re saving are photos, old letters & cards, tax papers (do you really need to save all your tax documents for ever & ever? That’s what Jamie told me…). Oh, and we’re also saving Jamie’s nice bike clothes as those are really lightweight & would be expensive to replace.

We made a final run to REI yesterday. Jamie somehow ripped the crotch of his one & only pair of pants so we had to go buy new ones.  We also got stuff to re-waterproof a lot of our gear.  We feel pretty ready at this point – there is not much left to do! Jamie’s last day at Microsoft is today, our going away party is tomorrow night at the Pike Pub & Brewery, and then we leave Seattle! What will we miss most in Seattle?  Here are some of my favorite things (of course, this excludes the actual people I will miss):

  • Hilltop Alehouse
  • Roti Indian Cuisine
  • My running route along Highland St. in Queen Anne
  • Coffee at Uptown Espresso
  • Donuts at Top Pot
  • My newfound appreciation for boneless wings at Wingdome
  • Living within walking distance of Trader Joe’s
  • Our apartment, which is about to be turned into a generic condo
  • Watching Lost with Emily & Sam


Monday, November 13th, 2006

Bicycles – $5000
Airfare to New Zealand – $2500
Seeing Mordor for yourself – Priceless

It’s time to start taking bets on how much this trip is going to cost. Today Sarah and I did a little tallying and realized we have now spent over $10,000 on this trip and we haven’t left Seattle yet. That magic moment was followed by a couple “What are we doing?”s, “Are you really sure about this?”, and some gutteral moaning on my part. Since neither of us likes to spend money, its hard to swallow the lump sum of money required to prepare for a trip like this, but we both agree it will be well worth it. Check out my accounting skills on our newly updated Finances page.


Thursday, November 9th, 2006

The big focus of this week has been the liquidation of all our assets. We didn’t think we owned much stuff, but it is definitely taking a fair amount of time and effort to get rid of everything. We’ve successfully sold most of the big stuff on CraigsList & to friends.The two things we’re left with, and are getting a little nervous about selling, are the 34″ widescreen TV and the digital piano. We’ve been steadily lowering the prices on these two things and still haven’t been able to sell them. Lesson learned on big electronics: they are impossible to resell. We’re resigned to taking a big loss on these, now we just want someone to come carry them out of our apartment! When we list the TV on CraigsList we very slyly don’t mention that it is 200 lbs and the new owner must carry it down three flights of stairs… So far no one’s even come to look at it though, so it doesn’t really matter.

This weekend we will host our first ever estate sale. Because we’ve sold most of our substantial stuff we’ve realized we’re left with a lot of little stuff. Dishes, clothes, trinkets, sports gear, etc. We’re strongly leaning towards pricing 90% of our stuff at 25 cents to make sure we get rid of it all. This isn’t really a money making venture – we just want people to clear out our place so we don’t end up making 80 trips to Goodwill!

Also, James & I had lunch with a fellow Microsoftie, Alex Wetmore, who has done some traveling in New Zealand and gave us some first hand advice on the terrain & best places to start our tour. We want to avoid the nasty hills until we’re (actually, I) am a little stronger. Alex also generously gave us his copies of the Pedallers’ Paradise books, which I am thrilled about! These are renowned as the very best bicycle touring guides to the country and are hard to buy in the US. Thank you Alex!

Gear Page

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I added some content to the Gear page.