Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Stop Thief!

I stopped a bike theft today.

I was driving along Broadway when I saw a guy struggling with a bike lock...more so than one should be if the lock was giving you a problem. Yet no one seemed to be paying any attention. I've seen videos of this before - people stealing bikes in broad daylight and no one noticing/caring - I just never thought I'd witness it.

So I pulled into a gas station and walked back and asked him if it was his bike. He said it was his bike, that it had been stolen and that he was going to put a new lock on it. I then found myself in a difficult situation. How do I prove it's not his bike? He word against mine.  It was a shitty bike and he even pointed it out..."Would I steal this shitty bike?" He finally called my bluff and told me I could call the cops and we could sort it out. So I called it right back. I said, "Sure. Ok. Brb." and went to get my cell phone from Walden.

Luckily the real owner of the bike returned just as I was walking back and confronted the guy also. So buddy skulked off across the street. I went up to him and reported what I had seen (he was on the phone with the 5-0).

The cops helped cut the new lock off the bike and the owner phoned and thanked me profusely.

If you see something like this happening - imagine it was your bike - please do something about it. Call the police. If they are truly the owner of the bike....they will gladly talk to the police about it and explain why they are cutting the lock off.

The thing I don't get. Why put the new lock on the bike? Why not just take it?

Roadtrip Recap

I'm back.

After spending the night at a rest stop in Trinidad CA, I drove north along the 101. What should have been a lovely drive along the coast turned into a bit of a nightmare. The skies opened and let loose a biblical flood in the form of precipitation. If I were a automotive journalist, I'd describe the handling of a 98 Windstar as loose and wallowing. Driving up the coast in the dark of night during the torrential downpour took all my undivided attention and was quite exhausting. I had initially aimed for Lincoln City but made poor time due to the inclement conditions. I deemed it was safer to wait out the storm in Newport and determine whether I should head inland in the morning.

I did just that. The weather didn't look like it was lifting and I didn't want a repeat of the night before. Frankly, I wanted to get back to I hit the I-5 and drove the 700 odd clicks home. At best, the weather was spotty and caused me to pull off the interstate a couple of times due to dangerous conditions (0/0 visibility). As much as I wanted to make time - it wasn't worth the risk of being involved in a giant pile up.*

So what did I learn?...

In retrospect the last week was an interesting experiment in the open ended road trip concept. It was the first time I had properly been on the road for a while so I was re-learning some vandwelling lessons but also some new ones.

On the planning front. I planned too little and too much at the same time. Initially, I had two potential loops. Vancouver - Reno - Boise - Vancouver or Vancouver - Eureka....then back some how. I ended up changing my a couple of times and did sort of a hybrid of the two. Here is the loop I completed. Point to point, it's around 2800 km...which is a fuck ton of driving for 7 days - even for the 10 I initially planned on.

So, in the future, I think no route should be planned. Just a direction and a time frame. South for 10 days. This leaves it flexible. Throughout the trip I had Reno and driving through Nevada on my mind - so despite enjoying Oregon - I pushed onwards when there wasn't really any need to.

The part I didn't plan enough of was WHAT I wanted to see and do. This could be done the night before. I would research the parks / sites of interest on the next leg of the journey (this would leave planning flexible and spontaneous). In addition  I need to be prepared to go out of my way to check out the attractions. I wish I had checked out Smiths Rock State Park north of Bend - but it was north and I was heading south. Everyone has their own focal point for adventures. I'm particularly interested in the bioms that the states has (particularly those that differ from Canada). As the site can be quite vast and remote - I feel this sort of site seeing requires more research in advance than, say, exploring the downtown core of a city.

Staying away from big chains to eat is also tricky...especially in the States where chains reign supreme. They are safe and reliable and I am not an adventurous soul when it comes to food. Even with reviews online, it's hard to tell what places will be good and frankly - every time I've branched out in the States - I haven't been overly impressed. I ate at a pub in Newport and despite solid reviews, it would not have past muster in Victoria or Vancouver.  It was ok...but I've been spoiled. I expect things like house made patties in a burger I'm paying $15 for. I guess that is the gamble one should be prepared to take.

American's love their highways. One feature I've overlooked up until living in a van is rest stops. I feel there are more of them south of the border. They allow for 8hr stays and have decent bathrooms (a lot of Canadian stop don't allow long stays, which is counter intuitive). I would rank them in the slot above Walmart parking spots. Safe and reliable. I enjoy that I'm in a position to rate Walmart parking lots and rest stops...

Gas was cheap. That was a nice change.

One thing about this trip that I found particularly hard, was the lack of social interaction. I could only chat with friends and family when online (don't have international texting). Being in the middle of nowhere and driving so much, I didn't interact much with the locals either. In the past, I generally had orienteering events and social reasons for my wanderings (visiting friends etc)...I'm not sure how to over come this, or if I should just embrace it.

* On a side note, American readers, if it's raining - PUT ON YOUR HEADLIGHTS (I seriously can't believe the US doesn't have day time running lights as they seem like a no brainer).

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


Surprise, surprise - I'm at Starbucks - this time in Crescent City. I overheard the brainless barista beaking about how Canada hasn't done anything important (he was referring to the fact that we're testing the Ebola vaccine). I took that opportunity to get a refill and flash my maple leaf Starbucks card (as good as my passport). I didn't rebut his statement - I just let him serve me my coffee. The maple syrup in my veins has cooled down so I can get on with today's post...

Last night I popped down to a beach called "College Cove" - I was promised by the internet that it was clothing optional. Being a tid bit hippy and in need of a proper bath I figured it was a good spot for me. It was a stunning location - secluded and pretty empty (a few surfers and a group of young adults drinking). I approached the group and inquired about the clothing optional bit (I hadn't seen any signs). They said they didn't think it was but didn't care - and as they represented the majority - in I went!

It was a brief dip....just enough to rinse away the days of stink. I figured there are sharks in the area, and anyone who knows me - they are my kryptonite. I am convinced I am going to die by shark attack, so I didn't dally in the water (I felt they were probably there watching the seal-like surfers). After drying off, the group was suitably impressed and called me 'gangster' - which I can only assume is a colloquial compliment (or they knew exactly how many sharks were in the cove).

After cooking up some soup - I spent some time on some bluffs and at another beach taking photos. I then spent the night at the rest stop north of the town.

In the morning, I got up early and drove north along the 101. The redwood forests lay ahead and I wanted ample time to enjoy them. Enjoy them I did. I spent the morning wandering amongst them and driving the scenic route. Unfortunately - it started to rain which put a bit of a damper on things. Just a reminder that it IS October and what it'll be like in Vancouver.

College Cove

Walden being his usual studly self.

My side of the mountain.

Wandering amongst the giants

Walden next to a redwood
A mighty redwood

Monday, 13 October 2014

Lava Beds

I spent Sunday morning exploring the Lava Beds National Monument. I didn't see more than 3 people all morning - it was fantastic.

I think pictures along can tell the story:

Left the highway.

My spot for the night.

Morning fog burning off.


Love the names. 60 natives fought hundreds of yankees - pretty amazing!

Path to the top.

Great view!

Selfie at the ranger station.

Where's Walden?

Skull Cave. Used by the natives to store animals - named for the skeletons removed by the Conservation Corp.
Looking back at the entrance.

Descending into the depths. The ice had been barred off - a little disappointing but it was cool to be in the cave regardless.

Coastal Air

When giving directions in Dutch 'rechts' means 'right' and 'rechtdoor' means 'straight'. I thought about how confusing this is as I turned right instead of left at an intersection just outside Alden California today. Left lead to Reno, Right to Redding. Yes - this means I've changed my plan once again.

Feeling like a mountaineer who's not going to summit - I made the command decision to head back to the coast to take the 101 for a couple of reasons:
  1. Time. The main factor here - I want to be back in Vancouver on Wednesday or Thursday. The original plan was doable but would mean a lot more driving / less site seeing.
  2. I'm not feeling 100%.
After Klamath falls I kept rolling south - and split off the highway at a place called Tulelake. Klamath Falls was a bustling metropolis compared to the rest of the places between there and Redding. I ended up boondocking outside the Lava Bed National Monument. It was a pleasant discovery and I spent the morning exploring the various sites around the park. I'll do a separate post for that sub-adventure.

So. after a long drive through some beautiful parks - I have relocated to the coast and am currently in Eureka Ca. The according to Wiki, entire city of Eureka is a state historical monument - so there is lots of old and interesting architecture here (I love it). That said, it does excite the armchair city planner in me; some parts of it needs a coat of paint - perhaps some residential buildings in the core and along the water front (empty parking lots at the moment) - it could be so amazing.

For a brief moment I though I had stumbled upon a pannenkoekenhuis in Klamath Falls. I think my Dutch fan will appreciate this.

A diner in Alden taunting me.

They do seem to be working at revitalizing the old town.

A cool old theatre.

I love bagels. I bought half a dozen for the road.

The Great Waldini at a American diner.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Walden and I just rolled into the bustling metropolis of Klamath. The drive here was pretty uneventful, the weather 'meh' and a little lacking in the scenery department (flat pine forest). I need to start researching my routes _before_ embarking on them - I drove by Crater Lake which in retrospect I probably should've swung by.

Leaving Bend was hard but I was starting to get into a routine so it was time to move on. On the way out grabbed cash. It cost $5 to process (I'm unsure of what my bank will charge) - but now I can live a little in terms of small expenses without always having to charge the old plastic. VISA then locked my card - so when I filled up at the Town Pump - I couldn't pay and had to wait 30 minutes on hold to unlock it. Luckily the dude at the station was really nice and I was on my way south soon after.

I probably could've warned VISA of my intentions - but I did that before going to Europe and they stilled locked my whatever. VISA if you are listening, make an easy and secure way to unlock the card (or the ability to have it unlocked for a certain period)...instead of waiting on the phone listening to horrible music causing a massive jam at a gas station.


My first impression is that Klamath Falls once was a fairly important center - now not so much. Not to say it's not nice, just quiet and a little vacant feeling. I'm expecting more of this as I explore into Nevada (juxtaposed with Reno) - I think it's what I've been looking for - something different.

Google Maps LIED to me...sort of at promised me a Starbucks in Klamath Falls but it turns out it is just a kiosk in a Safeway!

On a Bender

Bend is really pleasant!

So far I have been pretty impressed with Oregon - gives me hope for the States (generally the media paints a pretty bleak picture). Maybe it's all the beer and cycling here.

I could see myself enjoying living here.

Alas - I'm going to head further south today...I hope to be back some day.

DT bordering the river

Bend has a beautiful river side park.

I think fall is my favorite season.