Our Seattle adventure couldn’t have started more fortuitously.
We began our day with the City Farmer interview which was absolutely splendid. We had enjoyed a wonderful spout of weather in Vancouver but it was really, really cold, so we took our cue to leave. We took a bus in the afternoon to Seattle and made our way across the border.
Haylee’s side-story: While in Vancouver, Hayden and I were at her friend’s place discussing the issue of safety on the bike trip. Hayden ever-so-casually brings up that she brought a freaking TASER that her uncle had lent her, completely oblivious that this particular self defense device is really, really illegal in Canada. Even though she was hassled at the border, they didn’t check her bags, and then I was worried that we would have trouble getting back into the states. Thankfully, US Border Patrol is pretty lax about letting American citizens back into their home country, so after a quick Q&A and throwing our bags through the x-ray machine, we were on our way.
We originally had arranged a number of places to stay in Seattle, but while on our way we found that all of these fell through. We immediately jumped on warmshowers.org (basically, couchsurfing for cyclists) and began calling anybody in the downtown Seattle area with a listed phone number. We were denied a few times, left a few messages, but eventually a man named Reynaldo got back to us and after checking with his roommate, offered us a place for the next two nights. We read his profile and checked out his blog to soon discover we were dealing with a really cool guy.
I brought my bike with me on the bus and had shipped Haylee’s bike before she left to the station in Seattle, so we had to go pick it up. When you ship a bike through Amtrak you have to remove the pedals and turn the handlebars to fit it into a bike box, so we had to sorta reassemble our bikes outside the station and get all of our equipment on the bikes ready to go. We were having a little bit of trouble, and as if the universe responded to our plea, we got a call from Reynaldo to find that he worked at a bike store for a number of years and had recently started his own bike repair business with a friend! He showed up shortly after, made a few adjustments and we set off for his apartment.
But something was amiss. I took up the rear but started falling behind. First of all, my rack had come loose and was bumping into the chain. We gave that a temporary fix but that wasn’t all. We began with a relatively steep climb before our first turn and I was not prepared. I had practiced in the relatively flat land of Palm Springs without shifting gears and was in far too high of one to take a climb which sapped my energy really fast. Plus, if you hadn’t noticed, I am extraordinarily skinny (regardless of what I eat) and all we had been able to eat that day was some yogurt and a bag of chips. Reynaldo gave me a boost when I started fading but I still wasn’t in good shape and a third of the way up the next steep incline we stopped and walked the rest of the way. Haylee immediately took personal responsibility to make sure this girl eats a TON of food, so I rested and ate a protein bar while they went to Trader Joe’s to gather ingredients for a massive feast… which I utterly devoured. Ice cream and chocolate cake followed shortly after and I still couldn’t be stopped!
We had a wonderful time chatting into the night with Reynaldo and his roommate Leonard. Leonard is hearing impaired and Haylee was able to brush up on some ASL she had learned in college, although he was proficient at reading lips. The next morning after they got back, Reynaldo took a look at our bikes and gave them some tender loving care. The racks I ordered for Haylee’s bike didn’t quite fit, but he was able to jerry-rig a solution, fine tune the derailleur and also precisely adjusting the brakes while giving me a crash course in bike tune ups. I bought my bike on Craigslist and it had been out of action for awhile, so besides the normal tune up, he also found some resistance in the back tire. He disassembled the wheel assembly and found that the ball bearings were completely dry (I didn’t even realize nine little ball bearings were hiding in there), so after a plentiful appliance of bike grease it spun mighty fine. My brakes were also rubbing against the rims and he fixed that so I was excited to try my basically brand new bicycle and we are both eternally grateful to Reynaldo for graciously offering to help us bike touring newbies.
We had an interview scheduled later that day in Ballard so Leonard offered to take us there. We were going to visit Pike Place Market but our time was running short and we had to hop on the bus as soon as possible. We met up with our interviewee and had another insightful view into the evolving face of sustainability in America. After we got back, Reynaldo gave us a nice route to take to our next destination of Astoria, Oregon, where we will dip our bikes into the Pacific Ocean to ceremoniously begin our transamerican bike tour. We also arranged to meet with a couple from Warm Showers that a previous guest of Leonard & Reynaldo’s had stayed a few months back.
So, in the morning we leave on a ferry for Bremerton and the first serious leg of our bicycle journey begins. We’ve got about forty miles to go after we land, so wish us luck.