Hawkes Bay NZ Water trail

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mission Santa Inez

To check that I've reassembled the bike correctly I've ridden back into Solvang to eat my lunch at this historical landmark. It's a breezy and sunny day, the vineyards are starting to leaf out and the fields and mountains are spring green.
This is the miracle of California.

Plus, added bonus, I appear to have attached my pedals to the correct side of the crank arms.
That's also miraculous in my book.

Breakfast in Danish Disneyland

A nice place for pastry and coffee in Solvang. Now back to camp to reassemble the bike. I needed to let the dew dry out on the grass before I pull the cardboard box out of my rental car.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Buellton's landmark

I've just made camp at an RV Park here in Buellton, and gone out for dinner. Pea soup at Andersen's, which I realize I visited in the early 1980s.
It's going to be cool and clear tonight so this is just the ticket after negotiating LAX with my boxed bike and driving a rental car in stop and go traffic up HWY 101.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Galloping Gertie from Amtrak approaching Tacoma

The bridge with the green tower is the famous engineering failure from the 1940s. You get some lovely views of Puget Sound from the Cascadia train from Portland to Seattle. My bike is tagged and riding up front in the baggage car. I'm using my titanium road bike this trip, so it's so easy to hand it up to the baggage car staff. It costs $5 extra to reserve one of the 20 spots on this train, so I don't have to box the bike and this round trip cost only $58.
I like trains. Since 2011 I've been on the Ghan to Darwin and back, the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney and the Overlander from Adelaide to Melbourne in Australia. 2 Christmases ago I did the Cairns to Kuranda day trip. Last year it was various Deutschebahn trains in Germany, the SNCF in France, and the Eurostar through the Chunnel from Paris to London.

Tomorrow I fly to California to train as a bike tour leader. I packed my touring bike for air travel before I left for this conference. I hope I can fit it easily into a rental car as I have to get to Buellton for the course, then back by Friday to attend a faculty meeting before spring quarter starts the following Monday. The logistics are definitely a puzzle.

A nice thought from Portlandia

The weather has been challenging, sun breaks interspersed with downpours. I spent Saturday morning revisiting the waterfront, buying a catnip toy at the Saturday market and marveling at the crowd outside Voodoo Doughnuts. I'll have to leave my bacon and caramel frosted sample for another time.
Portland would be worth a return bike trip when it's a little drier.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Much better: Tasty n Alder

>>>> After dodging Portland streetcar tracks in the killer wet and road construction forcing into non bike lane streets, I'm cold wet and ravenous. Hmm. Look at that, a restaurant packed with people eating brunch type food. There's no menu in the window, so I trust my instincts. I sit at the window with a young couple from New York. The man is dressed in an interesting manner, checkered shirt the color of a bluebird, bow true and a twenty dollar bill pined to his lapel. They proceed to tell me this place is famous and they always eat here whenever they come. Not sure if that means much, but I order the right thing a chorizo omelette with poblanos and quest fresco. My instincts for food are uncanny. Plus this will cost the same as the stuff from the good truck.
Let it rain.

Almost Somewhere in SE Asia

A "pod" of food trucks near Portland State University. The air smells of grease so somehow I think today this type of dining is more fun in fantasy than reality. Also, unlike Asia nothing's particularly cheap. Hmm. Grease and expensive street food. It's starting to rain hard so the idea of al fresco dining is not appealing.

I heart my bike

My new best non furry friend. From this morning's meander out of downtown along the Willamette Greenway towards Sellwood Bridge. Rain showers sun breaks and the occasional pelting.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Getting oriented in Portland

Here's an elaborate fold out bike map I got from my hostel.
Rode the train for a 3 hour run through cloud, rain, blue sky and sunbreaks (typical spring in the pacific NW) alongside a stretch of Puget Sound you can't see from a car and got to PDX too late for happy hour. So walked the bike through the Pearl District to the HI hostel. It's a scruffy late C19th rooming house. I have a lower bunk in a poorly lit warren of rooms with 7 other budget travelers. I'll be perfectly fine. By now I'm a veteran of hostels in several countries so I select US ones primarily for location and pack ear plugs and an eyemask. If any of my roomies choose to be inconsiderate like some of the jackasses I met during last year's tour of Germany, well I have a repertoire of responses to choose from. If I have to deal with a repeat of the noisy sex of my roommates from Baden Baden, this timeout will show no mercy and I will toss their sorry behinds out of the room, irrespective of time. Baden Baden really was a nadir of budget traveling for sure. On the recommendation of the reception folks I had an inexpensive meal (bowl of brown rice, black eyed peas, collards and pulled pork at Laughing Planet, a noisy veggie, vegan and locavore place decorated with plastic dinosaurs. Sadly, my days of dining on an expense account are long gone, and in my bike knicker pants and riding rain jacket I fit right into Portland's alternative world. All I lack is an unusual hair color and piercings. I had thought of packing my joke tattoo arm warmers for the full fashion statement but decided I was plenty weird enough just choosing to visit Portland like this. The next 4 days are 60% rain so I'm just gonna deal with it. I need to study the map as I don't want to wipe out on the MAX tracks.

Waiting for the Amtrak Cascades to Portland

Off to try out Portland's famous bike infrastructure and attend a teaching conference.