Category Archives: Bigger Adventures

Bigger adventures needing more than a weekend away from Portland

Summertime Adventuring

I’m sure I say this every year, but summer is a busy, busy time for me. What with getting kiddos acquainted with the outdoors via overnight and sometimes 2-night camping trips, I’m often away from home. And often working many, many, (did I say many?) hours.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s awesome. Mostly. I love it and I’m often overwhelmed by how crazy cool it is that I get to spend my time teaching teens and kiddos to love (or appreciate–or at least notice?:) nature. But among other things it does mean that when everyone’s out and about and planning fun summer trips and staying out late on patios drinking beer and having barbeques, when everyone takes impromptu forays to a Mt Tabor sunset or a hike in the Gorge–heck, when people invite me to dinner and we have to plan it for 6 weeks out–that sometimes starts to make me feel like I’m missing out on the most glorious part of the year.

Sometimes, though, if the stars align and if I play my cards right, I can get a week free in there somewhere. And so it is that tomorrow, James and I plus bicycles leave for the San Juan Islands. Seven days of bike adventure, right before my birthday: a double treat :)

All that to say, have fun in Portland, y’all! Catch you in a week or so:)

When transit is part of the adventure

Leucanthemum vulgare

What does an oxeye daisy–Leucanthemum vulgare, which (by the way) is edible–have to do with biking or car-free transportation? In this case, everything!

Last weekend, I took part in a super awesome 3-day workshop called the Ginger Root Rendezvous. It’s a few days of camping at the Silverton Grange under the direction of John Kallas, botanist/nutritionist extraordinaire who teaches a shit-ton about wild, edible plants–that is, plants that most people consider weeds, or plants that you just never knew you could actually eat. Even though I went last year too, I still came home this time chock full of new knowledge about plants and their variable edibilities, which always makes me happy: a learning stasia is a happy stasia.

Anyway, this workshop is held in Silverton, OR, about 50 miles away. Last year, I caught a ride with a woman coming down from the Seattle area; this year I opted to pack up all my gear and bike.

It was so much nicer to have biked.

First of all, as people trickled in to the rendezvous on Friday evening grumpy about the heinous Friday traffic, I was secretly pretty smug (I hope I didn’t actually come off as too smug;) about having wholeheartedly enjoyed my four hours of active transit down to Silverton on lovely (and, for me, not-impacted-by-traffic) country roads.

Also, once we were there, I was so happy to have my bike and be in control of my own transit. I know, people who were there with their cars were also in control their own transit, but since I would have carpooled, I would not have been. And my bike had the added benefit that after a day without too much physical activity (other than picking plants, of course;), it was really nice to be able to stretch my legs out as I ran an errand or two. Not to mention be able to explore Silverton at a human pace.

And lastly, for the whole weekend I had another super lovely ride back up to Portland to look forward to.

wild food dinner(fueled by an amazing weekend’s worth of wild food cuisine:)

It all reminded me how lovely it is when the journey to and from my destination is a whole other wonderful part of the adventure. In a strictly time sense, I probably spent about 6 more hours traveling for the weekend than I would have had I carpooled with someone. But those were hours spent doing exactly what I always want to do: ride my bike through the world. It’s so nice when transit is an adventure, not something to be endured.

Women’s Touring Workshop! Tomorrow!

Are you curious about bike touring? Are you a woman or someone who identifies as a woman? Are you free tomorrow evening? Come join me and Erinne Goodell at VeloCult for a women’s specific bike touring workshop!

We’ll be there to talk about our experiences, show off our loaded bikes, and answer (or at least give our best shot to:) all of your questions. You’ll learn about gear options, how to carry things, tips for the road, thoughts about safety, ideas of nearby places to travel, and so much more!

Last year it was a super rockin’ good time with some super rockin’ ladies, and this year is sure to be even better:) Come join us! And bring all your awesome lady friends!

  • 6:30 pm tomorrow, Tuesday (the 10th)
  • Basement of VeloCult (1969 NE 42nd Ave)
  • We’ll for realz start the chatting around 6:45, so feel free to grab a beer or some water if you want before you head downstairs.

I realize this doesn’t give you much notice. My fault. Ironically enough, I didn’t really think about the fact that I could mention anything here.

BUT! See you then, right??  :)

When all else fails, camp in a vault toilet!
(Or, bike travel’s more ridiculous moments)

When I travel by bike, one of my favorite things is being able to find amazing places to camp. Without a car, I’m pretty darn maneuverable and can finagle myself into some fairly remote and beautiful places, without anyone ever knowing I’m there.

Colorado River camping(on the Colorado River in Utah)

Swift Reservoir camping(overlooking Swift Reservoir in Washington)

Emigrant Lake camping(Emigrant Lake, near Ashland, OR)

McKenzie River camping(sequestered on the McKenzie River, Oregon)

California Coast camping(somewhere on the California coast)

Fremont River camping(tentless on the Fremont River, Utah) (for bonus points, see if you can find my bike in that picture:)

Lake Tahoe camping(Lake Tahoe, California)

Aside from the progression of tents represented in those pictures, my favorite thing about them is that none of those pictures is taken in an established campground (though at Emigrant Lake I was close to one). In none of those places did I overhear RV generators kicking in at night or unruly pets barking away at nothing. Not that I’m a total recluse, but stealth camping–feeling like I’m the only person in a super beautiful place, being able to strip down and skinny dip in the river without worrying I’ll be arrested, waking up to the sound of running water or birds and absolutely nothing mechanical–is one of my favorite things, ever.

And then sometimes, it all falls apart and I end up sleeping somewhere a little less glorious. Somewhere like this:

sleeping in a vault toilet

That’s right. That is my bike and my sleeping bag tucked away all cozy-like next to a vault toilet, the only place I could think to sleep one night near Canyonlands National Park.

Sure, I had my tent with me, but the wind was so batshit crazy and the landscape so exposed that even if I could have set it up I didn’t think it would survive the night without getting ripped to shreds in the gusts. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem–I’d just sleep out tentless, cinched tight into my sleeping bag, but aside from the wind, the sky was crazy ominous dark, threatening torrents of who knows what. When I saw it, a vault toilet, with its four wind-stopping walls and rain-stopping roof, sounded pretty darn good.

Monitor and Merrimac buttes(those skies did not bode well for me)

So in the vault toilet I slept. I locked myself in, put down my ground cover, blew up my sleeping pad, bungeed the locked door tightly so it would stop its violent banging in the wind, and snuggled tight against the cold that still found its way through the vents. It was a shitty (ha!) night’s sleep, but not because of the toilet. It’s just that even in a building, it was so darn cold I could never get comfortable, even in my puffy down jacket in my puffy down bag. The next morning when I’d had enough and finally decided to get out of bed, crazy early before the sun rose, I saw the snow all around me and was very glad to have been in a bathroom all night. At least there I stayed dry. And I’m sure I was way warmer than I would have been.

And, yknow, when I woke up in the middle of the night and had to pee, well, there you go.

Glorious? No. But a good reminder that bike camping is not always breathtaking scenery and astounding vistas and peaceful, riverside campsites. Despite all the gushing I do on this blog, it’s not always sunny skies and postcard experiences. Sometimes, when it comes right down to it, a toilet is the best option. It’s certainly not the most photogenic one, and definitely not the one you’d later brag to your coworkers about when they ask you about your vacation–but it all adds to the adventure.

I’m sure it’s not the last time I’ll sleep somewhere ridiculous, though I do hope it’s the last time I sleep in a toilet.