Sunday, May 19, 2013

3900 Miles, 10 States, Countless Cities and Towns, Hundreds of People, Etc. Etc. Amazing. Etc.

Meg’s bike is lookin’ HOT stripped down and pinked out. My bike looks sad and broken as it makes it’s way back across the country, this time via fed ex rather than ATP.

After a week+ of leisure on the California coast, this adventure is quickly, and sadly, coming to a close. Fun times in Cali though with so so so many wonderful friends, as we try very hard to reverse the good habits, good shape and healthy lifestyle this bike trip brought about. And also eating all the delicious food Northern California has to offer (THAI FOOD WE MISSED YOU) and wearing scarves (our favorite favorite favorite thing…above margaritas and pedicures).

Meg and I finally parted (SAD) for the more permanent time being Wednesday after a lovely day in Berkeley, before I flew out to St. Louis, where I’m chillin’ for the weekend. On Tuesday, Meg heads to Minnesota, and I head back to DC (after a quick stop in Chicago Monday night). All of this by way of more traditional means of transportation…

Over the past three months on the road, we rode 3900 miles together on fully loaded bikes, saw 10 different states and countless cities/small towns, met hundreds of people, and saw dozens of friends and family members. With a very few exceptions, we’ve slept no more than two nights in a row in the same place. THIS is the life. All we had on our agenda each day was some combination of the following: wake up/pedal/stay as active as possible; see something new; meet as many people as possible/learn about their lives and perspectives; learn something new about ourselves/self reflect/make a positive changes; catch up with loved ones; and be constantly surprised/shocked/delighted. Now back to real(ish) life. Except after all that, both of us said HECK NO to 9-5 jobs…at least for now. Happy summer times ahead.

Thanks to everyone who followed us throughout the trip. We’ll certainly keep the bike amazing street blog updated, but on a much more sporadic basis (until the next trip, of course!). Definitely look forward to a map of the route we actually took, and maybe some other funsies in the near future. Also, now’s the time to donate if you’d still like to. 



Kara and Meg

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Stunning California Coast Photos, Round 2

^CA coast south of Big Sur.^ 11 Hours in the car yesterday, slowly and leisurely winding up route 1 with my best friend from college. Incredible. For the brief time being, Meg and I have split onto slightly different paths so that we can see all of our different friends and family members along the West Coast. I headed to L.A. via amtrak Friday morning to meet up with a few friends from college. She took the train all the way up to San Francisco, where I’ll meet her Monday. Amtrak and bikes are a match made in heaven. I didn’t even have to unload my packs.

Road trip started in Santa Monica/L.A. yesterday:

It was amazing to be in a car (HERESY!) for these vistas. To be able to take them in without having to worry (as much) about falling off the side of a hundreds of feet tall cliff, or getting nailed by another car, or hitting a headwind (SO much wind from the North yesterday). 

Just the perfect reward for two and a half months pedaling. Of course, the drive made me want to bike it a million times more. One day…and DEFINITELY North to South. 

Stunning views, whatever. These elephant seals were the highlight of the day by far.

At times the fog was so thick it completely blocked the sun and any road visibility. Then like magic! It disappeared. Or we rode up above it:

Have you ever thought you had had the perfect day?

And then the sun sets, and you’re like, what word is stronger than perfect?

Oh and, Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Taste of the Coast

Ocean Beach, San Diego obligatory bike/ocean pic at end of cross country tour. After a lovely 24 hours in OB, yesterday we checked out of our hostel and got suited up one more time for a final ride together up to Pacific Beach, about 5 miles away. Major major major points to San Diego for having bike lanes and bike paths everywhere. + bike directions and signs at every turn + awesome weather + beach = amazing biking. 

^CA coast in front of the Scripps Institute north of Pacific Beach and La Jolla.^ INCREDIBLE. Barefoot, on the rocks, as the sun sets. Enough said.

Plus so much wildlife! And (nerd alert), super cool, incredibly diverse geology.

Two photos, and just the tip of the iceberg of all the interesting geology we found. All of it was detailed and fascinating. Mesmerizing at times. But also really frustrating, because I don’t know the first thing about how all this was formed! I’ve said so many times on this trip: I need a miniature geologist to ride on my handlebars and talk to me constantly about what I’m seeing, and why, and where it came from. I wouldn’t have listened to music at all of this trip, if only I could have constantly heard stories about rocks.

In any case, it’s beautiful, as is the entirety of the very small portion of the coast that we’ve seen. Just a taste of what’s to come! We can hardly wait to bike the whole CA coast. Or better, the entire west coast, Canada to Mexico. Probably from North to South though, to avoid some nasty headwinds. We’ll save that for another time. :) As real life attempts to reel us back in, just another amazing street to look forward to.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Few of Our Favorite Things


Hello sun, and 70 degrees, and nothin but time in San Diego! There are just a few things Meg and I like as much as biking…and we’re doing them all. :)


Porches and margaritas are pretty high on that list. ^Us celebrating last night above. Pedicures might be number one, though!  


Awesome days in Ocean Beach today and yesterday. Heading to Pacific Beach this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We Made It!!


Shimmer on the road…clouds in the sky…can only mean one thing. Rain! Yes, water falling from the sky. For the first time since Louisiana, over a month ago. So refreshing! OK it actually wasn’t THAT refreshing. I think the better word would be “cold” or “miserable.” Apparently this area is in a weird weather pattern - every SWEARS this kind of weather never happens in May. As if the entire 3900 miles of America so far wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, the last three days have certainly made us pay some dues. As we approach what we’ve heard is weather perfection in San Diego, we’ve been reminded each of the last three days of the worst of what we’ve experienced over the course of the entire trip. Cold rain and fog today, 30 mph headwind yesterday, and desert heat the day before. But at this point, we don’t really care one way or the other, because right now we’re in Alpine, CA, 30 miles of all downhill to toes in the Pacific!! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not Quite Out of the Desert Yet

^California sand dunes…hard to tell, but they’re hundreds of feet tall.^

After 40 miles of completely desolate desert from Palo Verde, with 30 to go to get anywhere at all, the dunes were definitely the highlight of the day. I was hoping to see some dune vehicle craziness, but apparently most sane people do recreational activities in the desert from October-April. So we basically had the place to ourselves, which was equally awesome and eerie. We got into more farm territory on the way to Brawley, CA. Like, huge industrial farms, bigger than anything we had seen previously, where jam packed cows went on for miles.

Sad cows, happy solar panels and very very sad our nostrils. We smelled them for miles before we saw them because the headwind was so bad. Soooo exhausted…so dirty…so tired of wind…we sprung for a cheap motel instead of camping. And this bed feels amazing. As did showers. WOW and bathroom and outlets just a few feet away! Looking forward to cool temperatures and less desert tomorrow. GOODNIGHT. :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Oh, THAT’s What Running Water Looks Like

^Fishing dock off of our campsite (sandy spot in mobile home park) in Palo Verde, CA.^ It occurs to us that we haven’t seen running water, or a full body of water of any kind, basically since we left Austin, TX. For a couple of midwestern/east coast girls, what a difference the sight of water makes! Though most of it is in deep, wide, flowing canals along fields of crops (still counts, as far as morale goes). The air is more humid, the smells are fresh, and all the green seems to have a noticeable cooling effect. Thank you Hoover Dam and irrigation technology! (I think, right?)

Palo Verde (population 171), and the rest of the Palo Verde Valley, is all farming. That lettuce you eat in winter? There’s a good chance it comes from this region. But why? Why is there so much water on this side of things? Just a few miles east, on the other side of the Colorado river, is Arizona desert: RV parks, cacti, absolutely no water to speak of, and definitely no farming. We didn’t cross any mountains or hills after we crossed the river, and people moan about high temperatures and hot sun in exactly the same way in both states, so I assume we’re in the same climate zone. I don’t get why all the water from the Colorado River in this area is diverted west to California and not east to Arizona. So much of what we’ve seen and learned on this trip has had to do with the way this country handles water - arguably the MOST important issue facing our nation/world, and definitely an issue near and dear to our hearts. This particular scenario calls for more research. But for today…I think we’ll just shut up and enjoy it.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013



Despite the 100 degrees outside, feeling pretty awesome right now. No big deal…just out riding our bikes…


We’ll be celebrating this very special Cinco de Mayo Eve with very large Margaritas. Just 200ish miles to the coast. San Diego, here we come!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hope and Racism and Life Lessons


Back to small town on repeat now that we’re west of Phoenix. Hope, AZ extends about the length of a football field, and if it’s smallness isn’t immediately apparent by the fact that you can see both the welcome and leaving sign at once, a big giant can thing explicitly states everything the town contains: an RV park, a gas station, and food. Actually, it only has food if you count Doritos, peanut butter, ice cream sandwiches and other gas station fare (let’s just say it was one of our weirdest…eh…creative dinners…). Nothing terribly interesting happened today, because this is in no way an interesting part of the country, nor does it have anything interesting going on. Which then begs the question, why was there an RV park just about every mile today on our trek down 60? 

So many people have asked us why we’re taking this route through Arizona, the not great part compared to the beautiful parts up North. Well, it’s partly because we are doing an established route, and I have no idea who thought this particular route was a good idea. It’s also because we really just want to get to California ASAP at this point. But more importantly, we want to see the country: the good, the bad, the national parks, the oil fields, the cities, the small towns, the awesome parts and the boring parts, and especially the parts we might never want to have another chance to see. I have no doubt that one day I’ll make a special trip to see Arizona’s big, beautiful canyon and Sedona and such. Everyone does. It’s not as likely that I’ll make a special trip to see this part of Arizona. Speaking of southern Arizona and “the bad” America, we DID get to witness (prepare for rant) some stunningly overt, completely offensive, go-to-hell-you-ignorant-asshole, racism of the southern Arizona variety.


While standing at a gas station, Meg and I received cold powerades from a no-English/Spanish-speaking guy. We were thrilled, obviously. File this moment in our thickest folder by far: random nice things strangers do for us out of the blue. I was delighted when it turned out my Spanish was good enough to have a five or so minute conversation with the man - enough to convey thanks, exchange niceties, explain what we were doing, talk about where we were each from…you know…like a conversation…. between two human beings… after one human being helps out another human being. I conveyed to Meg my delight that high school Spanish has stuck with me all these years, which was met with unsolicited comments from some asshole standing nearby wondering why I would want to know Spanish and telling me that he would never want to know it…why would he want to talk to THOSE people…and that we better get far down the road or else we were in some undefined danger. Excuse me? I get that I don’t live here, and that I don’t have all the facts, and that there are strong opinions on both sides of various fences that I don’t understand. But geez loueez, guy! Let me tell you about all the fantastic people Meg and I have met on this trip! Do you have a minute? Or many many many hours?

Almost all of the folks we’ve met, stayed with, or encountered come from very different backgrounds than us. Some of these people we might never seek out in our normal routines. That’s the beauty of a cross country trip where money absolutely does not flow from our finger tips and where a central tenant is relying on the kindness of strangers. And yeah, we might have had a preconceived notion or two about various groups of people in this country. In fact, if we really tried, we’d probably have quite a bit to fight about with a lot of the people we’ve encountered. But of course we DON’T do that, because A. we are decent human beings, B. these people are often supporting us, even when it’s as simple as a “good luck!” and (more importantly) C. why in the world would be put up walls when we can talk to them, and get to know them, and learn from them, and find common ground to get excited and happy about together? And trust me, there are more topics that we can all get really excited about than topics that we can fight about.

(Rant over…begin fourth grade level life lesson reinforced by bike trip): Most of the time, other people have way more to offer and teach us than we can ever imagine. If we break down our walls, and make an effort to get to know one another, we’ll gain new perspectives and discover so much about other people, ourselves, and the world. SIMPLE. Here’s a bike amazing street challenge: go get to know someone you hadn’t previously given a chance…or go chat with a perfect stranger…or just go try to learn something new about someone.

Oh yeah, and we’ll be in California tomorrow. (!!!)