Having had the most incredible time coming up through Oregon and helping to raise awareness to Shelter Box was just the best. I had met the most amazing people all of which are busy people and yet give so much of their time into helping others. I felt proud to have met them and humbled to be in their company. They were all positive in their approach and saw the good in everyone which is an incredible gift we should all possess. Now my journey took me north to Seattle and to the end of the US. Having more people to meet I couldn’t wait and to be getting closer to the end of the US was exciting.
Thursday 19th May
Hearing Neil starting up the coffee grinder was my que to get up. I felt tired and hoped I would shake it off before I got going. I packed away my things and took my bags downstairs and sat to eat the amazing omelette that Neil had made for me. His place was so lovely and quiet which was probably why I felt so sleepy.
With my things all packed and ready to go we made our way down to the boat and pulled out of the little boat house. It was so cool pottering through the narrow inlet and out to the lake. Once out though the channel we headed then to the mainland where we unloaded my things and put them into his car.
Take me back to the mainland please Captain
We made our way into town back to where Neil had picked me up and prepared Dolly for the off. By this point it was now raining and judging by the colour of the sky it wasn’t going to stop any time soon.
Thanking Neil I headed out of town and joined the country road to the north but being a little lumpy and feeling tired I knew I wasn’t going to cover the days distance very fast.
Here comes the rain
As the rain got heavier I got my head down and rode through the trees slowly heading north. After a couple of hours I stopped at a garage to grab some snacks and when I came out to load my bike two guys called Tony and Josh started to ask what I was doing.
Josh and Tony were great to chat to and very kind to support Shelter Box
They were so great to chat to and when I mentioned I was raising money they gave me a donation to Shelter Box. I could have chatted to them for hours but needing to get on and with the rain starting again I continued north following the smaller roads. Trying to follow a route Bill had showed me I kept finding road closures and diversions. This slowed me down and so I followed different roads that went further out of the way. Now getting later then I had hoped I stopped for another quick snack and pushed on to Yelm where I was due to meet Marsha and Howard. As I got within 10 miles of the town I spotted a cycle track and started to follow it.
It was great to get off the highway and follow the cycle path
Taking me all then way to town was great and soon I was on the right road to their house. As I got within a few hundred metres of their house I saw a guy waving at me. On arrival it turned out to be Howard who was waiting. He showed me to his home where I got to meet Marsha and their dogs and was instantly made to feel at home.
Howard and Marsha were such an amazing couple
Once I’d had a shower we then headed out to meet their rotary group who were meeting in a local restaurant. They were all very lovely and so kind to have come along. We talked all evening enjoying the good food and for me it was great to meet even more lovely people.
Great evening out with Yelm Rotary club
Once we had all finished it was time to head home and try and get some rest for another ride north. This time I was going to be in Seattle another big landmark and all the time getting closer to Canada but closer to the end of the US and having met so many amazing people I was going to to really miss it here.
Friday 20th May
Waking up and feeling well rested was great and so hearing Marsha in the kitchen I got up and packed my things before joining her in the kitchen for breakfast. I offered to help but was told to sit down while she bought me everything I could ever want for breakfast. It was so amazing being there with such a wonderful couple and in such a lovely home.
Sandi and Marsha
Sandi arrived shortly after 9am to say goodbye and see me off. It was great she had come down over and once again it was a shame I didn’t have the time to get to know them all properly.
Me and Marsha
Waving goodbye I headed off to the north where the road remained flat and quiet as it cut through the trees. Although it was cloudy it looked like it was clearing and turning into a nice day.
Being 45miles to where I would meet my next host Gary we kept in contact so we could time our arrival. Stopping briefly to have a snack I slowly made my way through the southern most suburbs of Seattle when I reached a cycle trail that lead me into the city.
It was great to be back on a cycle trail and getting closer to our meeting point. As I pulled up outside the cafe I got a text to say he had arrived so I sent one back and went in. I couldn’t believe our timing was so perfect and how we pretty much arrived at the same time. We sat and had coffee and a bit to eat while we got to know each other. Gary was so easy to talk to and I knew I would enjoy my stay in the city.
Great to finally meet Gary
Still having 25 miles to cover we set off on the highway until could drop down on to the cycle trail that would take us away from the traffic. From here we were pretty much on cycle trails all the way to the city meaning we could ride together and chat. We stopped to have a snack then I asked Gary if he wanted to have a go on Dolly.
Gary getting to grips with cycle touring
Keen to try it out I jumped on his amazing road bike which made me miss my road bikes at home. With 10 miles left to reach the city we followed the trail back and reached Gary’s office in west Seattle via a very long hill and the YMCA building which Gary was involved with.
Gary doing his bit for the YMCA
On our arrival to his office we were met by Disaster Dave who is an SRT member for Shelter Box and a writer for the Oracle Paper. It was really great being here and being amongst really nice people.
Me, Dave and Gary showing off his giant pencil
Wanting to grab a shower and drop off my bike before we headed out we arranged a time to meet a little later and then rode on to Garry’s house where I got to meet his lovely wife Trisha. It was great to have finally made it here and feel so at home. Once showered and changed we headed out to the local bar to have dinner and meet Dave. They were all such great company and I felt so lucky to be invited into their home. We stayed for a while chatting and trying the beer when we were joined by their friends Rico and Jolene and who were great company.
Awesome night out with friends
As the night went on I was handed a coin that was from the rotary and had been given to Rico for his services. It was a coin that said on it ‘Service above self’ and had four criteria.
- Is the truth
- Is it Fair to all concerned
- Will it build Good will and Better Friendships.
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned
Receiving this coin was such an honour and I felt proud to be doing this to help others. It was also great meeting these people and enjoying their company making me feel lucky just to be here. With a day of site seeing tomorrow we headed back to get some sleep. It felt great to be in Seattle and I was looking forward to seeing what the city had to offer tomorrow and that was helped along by a shot of nice scots whiskey to help me sleep. What a great day
Saturday 21st May
Having a day off I got up and joined Garry for coffee in the kitchen. Dave arrived shortly after and had arranged to take me around town. With the cloudy sky and the rain falling we weren’t sure of what we would get to see but we headed out anyway. We headed into town and along the water front so we could look across at the island.
Although it was now raining I could get an idea of what it was like but knew it would look so much better if the sky was blue. Spotting an eagle on a lamppost looking for food was so cool but as the rain fell he was in no mood to have his picture taken.
A Bald eagle looking out across the water for his next meal
From here we headed on along the waterfront to the flagship REI store which an outdoor shop which sold everything and anything you would or wouldn’t need for the outdoors.
The impressive climbing wall inside the REI store
No one likes a ticket but this did make me laugh. The interceptor 3 ready to wipe the smile off anyones face
Knowing how dangerous these places are for spending money I looked around with caution and both Dave and I ended up with the essentials. Being so big big we spent a couple hours in the shop before we headed on to see more of the city which would involve the famous space needle.
Dave and I at the space needle
Being built in the 1961 for the world fair and taking one year to build was an impressive structure in itself. Standing at 605 feet with as much concrete below ground as there was above, also being the largest single pour of concrete in the west was just incredible. To see it still standing as impressive and majestic as the day it was created was amazing. We parked up and headed into town to take in the sights. Walking around near the base was amazing as it looked so impressive from the ground and couldn’t imagine how impressive it would look flying into the city.
This Sculpture of whales was just amazing
This city was so cool I could have spent days looking around
Being lunch time we then headed to a pub to get some dinner and then on to the pikes place market which is overlooking Elliott Bay.
A street performer using the end of a guitar and a bucket
Built in 1907 Pikes place market it the oldest market that operates in the USA and with the help of the people of Seattle it has avoided being knocked down. We walked the lines of Fish, Flowers and hand crafted goods before it was time to head home. Although it had been a whistle tour of the city Dave had done an amazing job of showing me some of the highlights.
Pikes market and one of many florists
We arrived back where Dave dropped me off which gave me chance to do a little work. Gary and Trish had organised a dinner party which I knew was going to be fun. Having a couple hours was great but I so far behind on my work I asked if I could stay another day.
Gary and Trish being the perfect hosts and an amazing couple
Being happy with that it helped me relax and enjoy an awesome evening. Gary and Trish had some amazing friends and I felt lucky I was part of that. I know I had a great time with them all and seeing everyone else I knew they did to. What a great day.
Sunday 22nd May
Having the day to catch up on some work I started before I got up so I could at least post a blog. Hearing movement upstairs once I had done what I had needed to for now I headed up to join Gary for coffee. Needing to plan my route through Canada I worked some more with the map out and started to work out the distances. This was great job to get done as it gave me a rough idea how long it would take me to ride through Canada.
By the time I was done sorting this out it was almost time for lunch so Gary and I headed to the supermarket to get supplies. It was great to get out and stretch the legs as it was a nice warm dry day. Planning on cooking an omelette we returned home and set to work. Gary, Trish, Jennifer and I sat down for lunch which was so nice and with the day getting on I needed to do some more work. Wanting to do a little more I worked for around half an hour before we headed out to the pub to join Dave, Rob and Lisa. It was so great to hang out with these guys as they were such great company. We arrived at the pub and knowing that you need to be on a special list to have a special mug thats larger then a standard mug I asked nicely if they had one I could use for the afternoon and so using my best smile I was very kindly brought one. This meant the only person on our table that didn’t have one was Dave and I felt so bad for him.
Everyone with their big glasses and Dave still waiting for his, had to make do with a little one. All done in jest
It didn’t stop us winding him up but I did feel sorry for him. The manager Sunny was a very lovely lady and I just hoped by talking to her about what a great guy Dave is that it moved him up the list. Having a few beers the time soon went and before long it was time to head home for dinner. Trish once again put on a feast and fed a load more of us which was just incredible. These two were such a great couple and to have the friends they have was just amazing and they were all so kind.
With the plan to leave tomorrow and being a school night the party came to an end and it was time for bed. I had really enjoyed my stay and knew I would miss these guys but I needed to keep pushing north and on to the finish.
Monday 23rd May
Hearing noises upstairs I got up packed my things and went up to join Gary and Trish but when I got there all was quiet and I had missed them both. I put the coffee on and had some breakfast to start my day. Having a bit of time to spare I called my parents to see if they were home. Catching them at the right time it was so good to chat and hear about news from home. Knowing that Gary was coming back for around 9.30 I made sure I was ready and prepared my bike. He arrived back shortly after 9.30am where he checked I had everything. I’d had so much fun here and it was hard to ay goodbye I set off in to town. Setting my route in google maps on the bike setting I was told where to go and helped by Gary’s instructions. It took a while to reach town but once there I found the Starbucks cafe where Dave was waiting along with his friend Ryan.
Ryan, Me and Dave
It was so great to see him and so kind of them to come and see me off. We all chatting for a while and with Dave and Ryan needing to get back to work I said my goodbyes and set off.
Heading of through the city
The vibrant colours of Seattle
My route took me right through the centre and almost up to the space needle before I had to turn away to the north. Eventually I was directed on to the interurban cycle route which covered a great distance. Leaving my headphones in I listened to the Google lady direct me north and saying the interurban trail a lot but it was a much better route then being on a busy highway.
An amazing cycle path that lead me out of the city
This lead me to Everett where I had to rejoin the main road for a few miles until I was past it then turned onto the centennial way. This continued for mile after mile until it to ended. Before rejoining a smaller road I stopped to have a break when I was met by a few cyclists who were on a short ride. They were great to chat to before they had to head back to Everett.
Once I was rested enough I joined the road that continued on past a lake and on into mount Vernon. As I got closer to the town I started to look for a place to stay but couldn’t seem to find anything. I crossed a river and stopped at a garage to get some water and ask for a campsite.
This should do just right
Being told there wasn’t a campsite I asked for water and was shown to a machine where to fill up. She pointed to the water tap and so I filled my bag with 5 litres of water and headed on to find a place to pitch my tent. I was then told about a park and set off to find a spot that was out the way. Within 10 minutes I had found a perfect place and so pitched my tent and got my things ready. By this point it was now almost dark and so wanted to get cooking, wash and get to bed. I lit my stove and poured out the water only to see it had bubbles on top. Not looking normal I took a tiny taste only to find it was blackcurrant drink. I couldn’t believe it but felt lucky I hadn’t decided to wash with it first.
Having just enough water to cook pasta I cooked what I needed but I had to leave washing for tonight which I hated but it was a case of having to and not wanting to. It had been another good day on the miles of cycle trails and I was pleased I had made it this far. Having covered 82 miles felt good and it left me with an easy day tomorrow to get to Bellingham to meet my next host from Warm Showers.
Tuesday 24th May
Waking after a great nights sleep I got up and started to pack away my things and head into town. Seeing as I only had black current squash on me and wanting a coffee I loaded my bike and searched for a cafe. Finding one while I was still half asleep I went in and grabbed some breakfast seeing as I was there. This seemed to perk me up and give me the energy needed to hit the road. Looking at the map the road I wanted took me back over the bridge I had come into town on and out away from the highway.
Spotted this farm with a pristine garden set in a field
Being farm land with a quiet road was just perfect and left me to meander on slowly heading north. Being a nice day and much warmer I followed the highway and stopped at a viewpoint down to an oyster farm. Using ropes the oysters would hang to the underside where they would grow and then be harvested. It was the first time I had ever seen this and interesting to see where and how they were farmed.
Dolly looking out over the oyster farm
It was amazing to see how this tree had wrapped itself around the rock
I loved riding through these green corridors
Once I’d had a break I rode on and started to arrive in a built up area called Fair haven. Spotting a restaurant and it being lunch time I pulled over placed an order and sat outside to do some work on my blog. Not needed to be anywhere until 5pm was great as it gave me a few hours to work in peace and just enjoy stopping. I was approached by several people all wanting to know what I was doing along with a lovely lady riding a folding bike. Lia was great to chat to but sad to hear she had just had two of her bikes stolen from her garage. I admired her for sticking at it and in fact I admire anyone who gets out on their bike.
Sticking with it even after her bikes were stolen
Yet another great cycle path
Amazed at how fast the time had gone but pleased at getting some done I dropped down the hill to the trail that lead in to Bellingham. It was a great route that Barry my host had recommended and soon I arrived and met up to have a coffee.
It was really great to meet him and ride back to his house to settle in. His wife Sunny arrived home shortly after us which was great to meet her and so while I sorted through my things Barry kindly cooked dinner for the three of us.
Sunny and Barry
Once we had finished tea we headed out to one of the breweries for a quick pint then headed back to sort through some jobs I needed to do. Tomorrow was going to be the end of the States until Alaska and I would then be in Canada which would be my 40th country and the penultimate. I was excited but also sad as I had met such great people.
Wednesday 25th May
Needing to get up early due to Barry and Sunny needing to leave by 7.30am was great because today I was going to be crossing into my 40th country Canada. Although I’m not great in the mornings but with the nights now drawing out and the sun shining through the window from around 5am I was awake early so I got up and packed my things then joined Barry and Sunny for breakfast. It was great being here and so kind of them to let me stay. Being out the door by 7.30am I set the maps on my phone for Vancouver on bicycle mode and set off. I was then guided on small trails and quiet roads out of town.
It was so great following a route which I may have missed and pleased I had an English female voice guiding me closer to the border. Being only 25 miles away I soon reached the border and grabbed some lunch before I crossed.
Not knowing when and where I could get Canadian dollars it proved to be a good choice and then went to stamp into to Canada.
I could always tell when I was getting close to a border by the number of trucks that were cued up
After several questions I was stamped in and so made my way into my next country. It felt great to be here and I was really feeling like I was almost there.
So great entering a new country and being on a cycle track that felt like home
I followed cycle track along a sewer pipe embankment through the trees and away from the highway. Once I was back on the road I noticed my front spokes were a little lose so I stopped to tighten them up. I continued on staying away from the busy roads and reached the BC park way cycle route that followed the metro rail pretty much all the way into town.
Crossing the bridge and following the cycle track under the tramway
It was not only keeping me away from the traffic but it was also a pretty route. I took it easy stopping for a short break and as I reached town I missed a turning and then ended up onto freeway. My lovely lady navigator calmly directed me off and redirected me in the right direction as I rode into the city of Vancouver.
It was so cool riding into this iconic city and all on cycle paths making my ride in so much more enjoyable. Having some time I stopped for coffee in the centre then rode through the beautiful Stanley park that lead to the lions gate bridge which was amazing.
Seeing a bridge of this size felt awesome but to watch sea planes fly over the top and cruise ships pass underneath with Vancouver as a backdrop was just awesome.
The bridge was just awesome
Once over the bridge I was then directed underneath and into a multi story carpark. After my lovely sat nav lady being so calm when I went wrong I stayed calm and made my way out and onto the right road. Once I was away from the bridge I climbed up the steep hill that looked back towards Vancouver. I soon found Chris and Veronica’s home and I was greeted by Chris who was soon joined by his wife. They were both so kind to have me stay and make me feel so welcome on my first night in Canada. With Chris needing to head out to a meeting Veronica and I were left to chat and have dinner. It had been another great day and I felt lucky to be with such lovely people who had been kind enough to have me stay.
When I arrived back to Mexico after Christmas and leaving the people I care about behind the thought of what lay ahead was frightening. I had struggled to start with but the journey became easier with the people I met and the places I had scene. These last two weeks had been awesome and the people I’d had the fortune to meet proved to me how good people are and made my journey through the states much more memorable and meaningful. I had made it through through the US but I had left seeing only a tiny tiny part of this massive country. There was so much more to see and explore so is somewhere I would want to come back to. Knowing I had Canada to get through which was huge and only having a short seasonal window to get to the north meant I couldn’t stop for long to explore. It would be so easy to get lost in the states and never make it up but I was excited about what lay ahead. The one thing I was a little nervous about was the grizzly bears and the moose who can be unpredictable. Having already ridden through Africa gave me confidence in mother nature and as long as I followed the rules I would stay safe. I had another reason to push on and that was having three friends and their kids coming out to meet me. Avril, Lucy and Amanda were all bringing their children out to see Alaska and all it has to offer. Wanting to time my arrival to meet them and join them was exciting and gave me a focus to push on into my next country CANADA!!
As I was getting closer to the finish I was now starting to think about going home and what that would mean for me. The thought of continuing with what I did, Do I want to do something else? How would it feel to look back at what had happened and what I had done to get over it? What I had achieved and yet all of this felt bigger then the journey I was on and how I was going to rebuild my life. Would I meet someone else? Do I want to meet someone else and if I do will that mean I will have to go through loss again in the future? Will I have to get up every morning to an alarm clock which I know I hate the sound of and would remind me of the freedom I have now. Many of us face similar questions in our lives and often get wrapped up in the weight of them but on reflection what have we got right now, are we happy and if not why? Can we change something in our lives to make us happy? Can we make a tiny difference to someone else’s life to make them happy? Losing Sharon in a second changed my life and who I am as a person forever. We made plans for our future, we were living the dream and we were happy so was it worth it to lose her? We could have stayed at home, not lived our dreams, Not changed our lives and worked long days and watched tv until we fell asleep. We could have both lost our lives just tripping on a door mat or doing something trivial.
I have met so many wonderful people who look after and treasure their family, who ring their mum, go out for family meals, Have alley parties with neighbours and friends. They stop and help a driver who has broken down, offer a lift, Call or message a friend who is struggling, getting involved in their community projects or get togethers. I learnt from Sharon that two people can be ten times more powerful then one and I have seen that in the rotary. I was blown away by the influence a group of people have over helping a community and be the first port of call in any disaster. Can you imagine if we were all that proactive what we could do!
Thanks for reading xxx
Currency: Approx £1= 1.5 US dollars
Number of days in country:
Totals from Ushuaia Southern tip of Argentina/ South America
17,310 miles/ 27,852 km, total alt gain 329,180 metres
Total distance cycled in country: 1,819miles / 2,927km
Running Distance total: 33,458mls /53,834 km
Total altitude gain in country: 24,678metres
Running Altitude total: 522,984metres
Altitude gain per mile: 13.567 metres/mile