Into The U.S.A.

September 10 – September 16, 2011

We rode to the U.S. border and with it being the day before 09/11, crossing into the states went easier than expected. Although, we did get lectured by the customs officer about having a helmet camera. Our first stop in the USA, was Lake Stevens. My friend, Joey, had just moved there with his lovely lady, Ashley, and their sweet two year old boy, London. I haven’t seen Joey in many years, it was great to hang out with him and meet his new family. Did I mention that he is a phenomenal cook? If he weren’t an engineer for Boeing, I imagine him being a famous chef.

We stayed long enough to share a few laughs and bottles of wine but, after a couple of days we had to hurry out to beat the weather. It feels like we are constantly trying to run from the cold rain. We went to Seattle, where a ferry took us to Bainbridge Island and then we rode towards… a rain forest of course.

Just outside of Olympic National Park, we found a place to camp and fell asleep immediately. Early the next morning, we entered the park and it was like nothing I have ever seen. The trees were enormous and the forest was coated in mosses that blanket trees and drape over their branches. I think it looks eerily beautiful, it would definitely be the perfect scene for a horror movie. We spent the day exploring and left the creepy forest way before it got dark out.

As we rode into Oregon, we headed towards Astoria (if you are old like Rocky, you will recognize the town from the movie Goonies). It is a really cool town with streets so steep, I felt as if I were on a roller coaster. We rode approximately twenty minutes away to pitch our tent at Canon Beach with hopes of watching an incredible sunset, but unfortunately, we missed it.

Excited to see this gorgeous coast, we eagerly waited for morning to arrive. Waking up to fog was very disappointing. We decided that we wanted to spend more time there and contacted a man by the name of Dale, on . He invited us to his home and introduced us to his Canadian wife, Wendy, and her mother, Janice.

Later that night, they had taken us for a walk to the beach. It was the first time I had ever walked on a shore with the tides gone out. We stayed up late getting to know each other sharing stories, philosophies and laughter.
The next morning, the sun peeked through clouds and after a nice long walk through town with Janice, we arrived at the house to a delicious warm bowl of soup that Wendy had prepared for us.

Before the clouds could take over the entire sky, we took the opportunity to ride back to Canon beach. Wow! It is definitely impressive. I wish that the ocean had been warm enough to swim in, it was one of the most gorgeous coasts I have been to.
Not ready to leave Dale and his family, we returned to their home and stayed one more night before saying our good-byes.

Thoughts of cheap gas entered my mind as we headed towards our first border crossing. Gas prices is Canada are slightly below the world average, but, in a few remote areas, we paid up to $1.77 per liter ($6.69 per gallon) for premium 91 octane gasoline. Heading into the U.S., I was confident that we wouldn’t be seeing prices in that range.

We pulled up the the border late in the afternoon, and, waiting in line, we watched the border guard perform a visual inspection of the car ahead of us. After waving the vehicle on, he looked back at us with a scowl as we approached the booth. Pointing to my helmet cam, we were told that it was a federal offence to photograph any federal buildings, bridges, or borer crossing. We explained that we weren’t aware of that, and we showed him that the camera was off and not recording. If I wanted to make things more difficult for myself, I would have told him that, if the intent was to thwart terrorism, I’d suggest worrying less about helmet cams and more about foreign policy. I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut. We showed our passports, and were waved on into the United Sates.

One of Paula’s old friends, Joey, was living just outside of Seattle. Paula had arranged for us to stay at his place for a night or two. As the sun was going down, we pulled up to Joey’s house and were greeted by his girlfriend, Ashley. Joey cooked an amazing dinner for us that night. We spend the following day with Joey, Ashley and their son, London, and had another great dinner with more wine and beer.

Having not thought much about it the night before, we awoke in the morning and decided that we should be on our way. We were falling behind our schedule, and there was a lot of distance to make up. We tried to get a hold of Joey, who gone to work early in the morning, so that we could stop by and say good-bye to him since we didn’t get the chance. We weren’t able to get a hold of him, and were disappointed that we had to leave without saying good-bye.

It was a short ride from Lake Stevens into Seattle where we were catching the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Not being too interested in city driving, we headed straight for the port, purchased our ferry ticket, and were soon on board the ferry to Bainbridge Island. The crossing took roughly 45 minutes. After disembarking, we fuelled up and rode around the perimeter of Olympic National Park, in northern Washington. With the sun heading for the horizon, we made a quick stop at Walmart to purchase some soap, beef jerky, trail mix and a cheap bottle of red wine. We had some dinner at Subway, taking in our usual inexpensive, but tasty, $5 footlong. It was starting to get dark, so we thought about finding a place to camp for the night. With not too many options, we decided to keep driving until something turned up. We pulled into the small town of Forks, Washington. It was almost dark and my fuel light had been on for quite a while. We filled up at the nearest gas station, and found a secluded place about 15 km outside of town at the side of the road. After quickly setting up the tent, we settled in for the night and both fell asleep almost as soon as our heads hit our air pillows.

We awoke early the next morning, packed up camp, and headed for the rain forest of Olympic Park. Having camped not too far from the national park, we arrived at the rain forest early, beating many of the tourists that would later arrive. The rain forest was awesome!

Just after noon, we decided to head out towards Oregon. The weather was cloudy and a bit cool. Running low on gas for the bike and juice for our gadgets, we stopped in Hoquiam, Washington to fuel up, charge our electronics and to use the internet.

After a three-hour break, we decided to push on towards Oregon (pronounced, Oh-ri-gun, not Oh-ri-gon). As we drew near to the state border, the clouds began to break and the sun shone at about thirty degrees from the horizon. We raced towards Oregon and crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge into Astoria. Our first stop in Astoria was set into the GPS. Much of the 80s movie, The Goonies, was filmed in Astoria. We rode through the steep streets of Astoria to the Goonies house to take some photos.

After a quick bite to eat at Subway, we hopped on the bike and headed towards Cannon beach. The sun was almost at the horizon, so we rushed to get to the beach for sunset, but didn’t quite make it there on time to see it. It was almost dark when we arrived, so, after getting a quick view of the beach, we headed off to find a place to camp. Driving in the dark, we found a rest stop next to the beach that looked suitable. We used our headlamps to set up the tent in the dark. As we were setting up the tent, a police officer pulled into the lot for his night check. We quickly shut our headlamps off, and, luckily, it was dark enough that we were not seen.

Waking up the next day, clouds were overhead. We packed up our gear and went for breakfast, then over to McDonald’s to use WiFi so that we could try to find a place to stay for the next few days. The area around Cannon Beach and Astoria was interesting, and we really wanted to have some time to see more of it. While at McDonald’s, we met a few other motorcycle riders who were passing through. One, whose name was Patrick, was an American originally from Argentina. He was riding an Italian bike that caught my eye. We spoke for quite a while and he offered a lot of good advice.

After leaving McDonald’s, we decided to drive around a bit and do some sightseeing while we waited for a response from Couchsurfing. We visited a few more film locations in Astoria, and finally Astoria Column – a 125-foot tall tower atop of Coxcomb Hill that provides a 360-degree view of Astoria and the surrounding area.

Nearing dinnertime, we decided to check our Couchsurfing messages and found that we had a response, and a place to stay for at least a night, in Seaside, Oregon. Paula phoned the number provided in the message and spoke with a man named Dale. He gave us an address, and we were soon at his front door in Seaside. Dale met us at the roadside, we parked Almeida in the back, and were given a tour of the house. We also met Janice, Dale’s mother-in-law, and, later, Wendy, Dale’s wife. We all sat down to a dinner that Wendy prepared for us, and, later that night, Dale, Wendy, Paula and I went for a walk on the beach. Dale, in his mid-fifties, has a thick southern accent. This immediately brought a certain stereotype to mind that was quickly dispelled. Dale is one of the smartest guy’s I have ever met, southern accent or not. Sitting around a camp fire, we drank beer and wine and talked into the night until we were all ready for bed.

Paula and I spent the next day visiting the area around Seaside and Cannon Beach. Janice, who is in her 80s, came with us on a long, 2-hour walk around Seaside. We were impressed. Later that day, Paula and I decided to ride out to Cannon beach for some photos and to take a walk on the beach. After returning, we all sat down and enjoyed another tasty dinner, and turned in for the night.

The following morning, we were on our way. We said good-bye to Dale, Wendy and Janice, and we headed eastward.

The rain forest of Olympic National Park in northern Washington

Inside the rain forest

More of the rain forest

The ferns and mosses of the rain forest

The view of Astoria and surrounding areas from atop Astoria Column

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Paula at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Paula in front of Haystack Rock – Cannon Beach, Oregon

Dale & Paula in Seaside, Oregon

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