Trip Start Jul 12, 2013
15Trip End Ongoing
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I'm as shocked as anyone by a) how much camping I've done on this trip, and b) how much I have (generally) enjoyed it.
There are of course caveats and the first week or so of the US had been particularly cold and wet so my dislike of camping had hit an all time low. When there is no opportunity to dry out day after day and the outside temperature hovers around freezing it is just not fun.
The photo above indicates the size of my tent, I can fit in and lie down, that is all. The mid point allows for a hunched sit up, but no more, which makes dressing/undressing an act of contortion
Camping in the state parks in America offer a cheap, if basic way to camp (basic being no laundry or WiFi). They also offer areas for hikers and bikers at a very reasonable $5 (Canada would benefit from these more affordable options for those travelling purely by muscle power, rather than the steep $40 fee for Provincial parks, payable by RVs and campers alike).
The parks are also equipped with stern notices warning campers to 'Keep food locked in your vehicle' overnight due to theft by raccoon's........um, not so easy on a bike.
After carefully wrapping my food pannier in a canvas sheet, I assumed all would be safe, not so, I was woken at midnight by a tearing, rustling sound and gnashing of teeth. Completely terrified I did what the do in all good horror movies and decided to investigate, so with bear spray in hand and whistle in mouth (goodness knows why) I crept out of my tent to find a large raccoon sat atop of my pannier, shreds of canvas everywhere. I bravely blew my whistle at him and waved my arms a bit whilst he just sat there, chewing on my bag and flipping 2 fingers up at me before picking up my bag of trail mix and sauntering off into the night
Lesson learned, food panniers are now hung from trees or left in the washroom of the campsite.
Campgrounds are also noisy places, especially at night. The protection of a thin piece of canvas has neither the ability to keep in heat or to block out sounds of the dark, including, snoring, rustling, maurading animals or the regular morning x-factor auditions undertaken by the bird life at 5am. Personally I'm voting for the owls, they're rather tuneful.
Over the weeks I have definitely developed campsite survival techniques which, when available, centre around taking possession of the laundry room. These invaluable places offer a wealth of possibilities to the weary camper. I have unashamedly turned these little nooks into a makeshift office/kitchen. The best ones are equipped with a plastic chair, electronic items can be plugged into charging points, a camping stove set up on top of a washer and food cooked in relative comfort. If the campsite has WiFi, I can also spend a happy evening sending emails huddled by the warmth and fabric scented fragrance of the tumble drier. I've also got to chat to some lovely, if slightly bemused people who've come in to use the laundry facilities and found me at home on top of the machines eating super noodles
My best purchase to date has been a small, very lightweight travel kettle from a Canadian thrift (charity) shop, pictured below. $4 has bought me the ability to have an almost instant cup of tea using any random electrical point I can find on the road. Heaven.
As for the weather, the sun has finally come out, nights and mornings are still cold, but in the day time it can be glorious. The 101 is also running right alongside the coast now, more so than in Washington and the views are breathtaking. Unfortunately Oregon's proudly proclaimed 'scenic corridor' has been shrouded in a thick, wet blanket of sea mist for the last two days making visibility beyond a couple of metres impossible. The signs denoting viewpoints have been a bit redundant, but it also masks some of the hair raising drops and barrier-free cliffs that I have been inching along around the coast.
Despite the above, I am now 584 miles in to my American adventure and have just crossed into the state of California. Highway 101 continues to be a rollercoaster road and a thrill to ride along. I just can't wait for the sunshine!
Thank you's go out to the many fellow cyclists I keep seeing along the route, often at the same campsites, great company, music and campfire tales, to Abbey, Theresa, Will, Vick, Rachel and Wish, the ladies from Austria and of course Ben.