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Messages - adventurepdx

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General Discussion / Re: Favorite Eating Spots
« on: January 26, 2012, 02:07:51 am »
On the NT in Washington, the food co-op in Tonakset (in the Okanogan Valley) was definitely an oasis.
And it's right on route!

General Discussion / Re: Must have iPhone apps
« on: January 26, 2012, 02:02:21 am »
I have an iPod Touch, but the apps are the same.
I second track my tour. And warmshowers! And the HI app.

My favorite app was the sunrise/sunset one. It is really useful to know exactly when the sun is going to set! Mine was different than the one shown by Joe B, but any that you find should work. At least find one with GPS ability, because there can be areas without cell reception and/or wifi.

Other useful to semi-useful ones:

Amtrak: If you're going to use the train in the US.

USPS: Locates nearby post offices, provides hours, even tells you where blue mailboxes are! Can also calculate postage.

Bike shops USA: locates bike shops within a certain radius.

Oh, Ranger! Park Finder: finds state/national parks in the area. Can be filtered to find which ones offer camping.

Free Wifi: maps out where free wifi hotspots are. Because using an app to find wifi isn't useful if you don't have wifi, it saves information.

REI: because you know you'll end up there at some point!

Allstays Camp/Tent: This one you have to pay for (it's $5 I believe) but will show where tent camping is available. I found it was so-so. The good: it saves info so you can use it while off-line. The bad: not as extensive as I hoped it would be. I found it was more useful to pick up a free lodging/camping publication from the state/provincial welcome center. Yeah, it weighs more. But there were times I found things listed there that weren't on the app. And when you leave the state/province you can recycle it.

Moon: Moonrise/set, what phase it's in, etc. Not essential, but I found cool.

Connecting ACA Routes / Re: Seattle to Northern Tier
« on: January 24, 2012, 01:35:29 am »
Glad to hear that it all turned out well, Matt!
That route from Seattle to the NT looks interesting, esp. since it uses the east side of the Metro area. Have to try it out sometime.

General Discussion / Re: TRANSPORTING A BIKE ON A BUS
« on: January 18, 2012, 02:34:55 am »
For those folks suggesting train: as far as I know, the only (only) Amtrak train that crosses the US/Canada border that allows trains is the Cascades train that runs from Vancouver BC to Seattle/Portland/Eugene. That's it. (VIA Rail does not cross the border.) No train that departs from Toronto or Montreal will get you across the border with a bike. That includes the Adirondack (Montreal-NYC), Maple Leaf (Toronto-NYC), or the Vermonter (bus from Montreal to St Albans, VT, train rest of way south Springfield-New Haven-NYC-DC). The Vermonter used to have a baggage car that allowed unboxed bicycles along with skis, but it got dropped many years ago.

If you got to either Albany or Buffalo, you can take the Lake Shore Limited, which has baggage service for a boxed bike. But you'd still have to get to Albany or Buffalo first.

More on bikes and Amtrak here:

General Discussion / Re: Crossing Canadian Border
« on: January 16, 2012, 02:58:51 pm »
I've crossed the border many times and have had the gamut of experiences from good to bad, nice border guard to surly. And that's for both US and Canadian officials. Sometimes border guards at rural less-trafficked crossings tend to be real nice, and sometimes they're real jerks. There doesn't seem to be any "rule" that if you go with a "smaller" crossing you'll get better service, or vise versa. And this goes for crossing on bike, in a car, or on a train/bus.

My bit of advice (other than seconding mdxix re: green food) is have your itinerary through Canada formulated in your head before you get to the border crossing. From what I gathered through travelling 'cross the border is that Canadian Customs/Immigration is most worried about you coming into the country, staying indefinitely, and mooching off of their social services. They want to hear that you'll be in Canada for x days, and only x days. So be ready to answer how long you'll be in the country and where you plan to exit back into the US. I know things can change a little, but having an itinerary you can rattle off makes them feel more confident about you being in their country. If you are flying or taking the train out of the country, it's good to have a printed itinerary or ticket to show them (if they ask.)

Also: don't make them suspicious that you'll be looking for work in Canada. If you say that you are unemployed or "freelance" anything you may face resistance.

You will definitely need a passport or passport card to enter into Canada and to return into the US. The passport card is a drivers license sized card that can serve as passport while travelling by land or water to other North American countries. And it's a lot cheaper than a regular passport. But it is only good for surface transport to a country like Canada, so if you had plans to fly out of Canada at the end, you'll need a regular passport.

Routes / Re: Pacific Coast Route
« on: December 18, 2011, 12:20:00 am »
S'pose I'll toss in my experience as well...The one thing you are guaranteed of, following the WA coast, is the likelihood of rain...IMO, the WA coast, such as it is, can be an amazing place. There are stretches of clear cut that will bore you and ancient rain forest that will amaze you. How much of this you get to see will depend on your time frame and willingness to explore.

I agree with cgargh. Going the "long way" around the Olympic Peninsula can be great, but the key thing is to plan on exploring off the route. My girlfriend and I did an Olympic Peninsula tour in July of 2010. It was awesome! We planned on exploring as much of the area as possible. There are not that many things in Olympic National Park easily accessible from US 101 (the main route). Lake Crescent, Lake Quinault, and the beaches around Kalaloch come to mind. Everything else is a 10 to 20 mile (15 to 30 km) one-way side trip off the route. If you don't take the time to take side trips to places like Olympic Hot Springs, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Ruby Beach, or the Hoh Rain Forest, you'll mostly see various stages of forest, a couple small towns, and not much else. (101 stays inland except for the section around Kalaloch.)

And we managed to hit it off with weather--we had no rain on the trip. That was late July, though. September should have some rain.

General Discussion / Re: 100 dollar bills too large?
« on: December 10, 2011, 10:06:07 pm »
A real problem with $100 bills is that they are the most widely counterfeited US currency.

I've heard the opposite. $20s are the most counterfeited.
I'm guessing the 20 dollar bill is the most counterfeited because pretty much everyone takes them, as anything over it elicits suspicion.

But back to $100 bills. One reason not pointed out why small businesses don't like $100s (or $50s) is because many don't have a lot of smaller change on hand (often to discourage hold-ups.) If someone walks in to a country store and only buys $4 of goods, then pays with a $100 bill, then the store would have to give out $96 in change. Then they'd have a $100 bill on hand and little change. The store could be a distance from the bank, or it's a weekend when banks are closed, or there's change in the safe that only the manager/owner has access to and she/he is not there that day, etc. That's why some stores don't accept large bills.

Routes / Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 20, 2011, 01:08:56 am »
Yeah it's weird.  The website says Providence definitely has checked baggage and I even called and they said bike boxes and checked baggage is available, yet when I go to the booking page for train trips...none of the trains offer checked baggage.  Couldn't get to the bottom of it either.

Train 67, a Northeast Regional, departs Providence at 10:22pm, arrives at New York-Penn Stn. at 2:20 am. Has checked baggage service. So you could get on that train and lay over for hours in New York, or ship the bike ahead of you, like a day in advance.

Routes / Re: Best way (cheapest) to get bike and gear to the route start
« on: November 18, 2011, 07:50:44 pm »
I have looked into Amtrak but for some reason the station in Providence, RI doesn't have baggage so I would need a ride to Penn Station in NY.

Are you sure about that? The Amtrak website shows Providence as having checked baggage service AND bike boxes for sale:

And if for some reason the site is lying, I can think of a closer station than New York Penn that has baggage service: Boston South Station.

One thing to note, however, the last time I used checked baggage on the Northeast Corridor north/east of NYC, they only have one train a day that offers checked baggage, and it's an overnight train. So you might have to go down to the station a day early to pack and ship your bike, so your bike will be ready and waiting for you in New York where you'd transfer to a Florida-bound train. Don't know if that would be better or worse than getting a ride all the way to NYC.

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 18, 2011, 11:07:59 pm »
syndrome, as for the camping, will you be staying in regular campgrounds or stealth camping? I'm figuring that a lot of the campgrounds in the high country will be closed in April. And have you done winter (snow) camping/tenting before?

General Discussion / Re: Banff to San Francisco
« on: October 16, 2011, 09:20:15 pm »
Banff to SF would be a lot of fun. I've done portions of what you describe.

However, how committed are you to starting in April? And how prepared are you for dealing with winter riding?
Banff and the Rockies are still going to be snowy and cool. Heading west from there you will will probably hit more snowy passes that early that early in the season (like Lolo). Not to mention that Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier Park (Montana) will most likely be still closed for the season. (This year it didn't even open until Mid-July!)

Once you get to the lower elevations on the Lewis and Clark heading towards towards the coast, things will be warmer. But spring comes late to the high country.

General Discussion / Re: Whitefish, MT lodging
« on: October 13, 2011, 11:14:03 pm »
Too bad the Bunk House Inn and Hostel didn't make it. Stayed there in '99 and '00. The owners were very nice.

Yeah, Whitefish could definitely use a hostel! The closest are the two hostels in East Glacier, sixty miles to the east and over the Divide. Seems like Whitefish/West Glacier would be a good spot.

When we passed through Whitefish in June on our tour, our Warmshowers host was overwhelmed by the amount of requests he was getting.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Pacific Northwest suggestions
« on: August 04, 2011, 02:34:49 am »
A week would give you enough time to leave the car in Astoria, Oregon and ride south down the coast. Depending on how you wanted to do it, you can make a complete biking loop, crossing the Coast Range east of Newport, head north up the Willamette Valley towards Portland, then back out to the coast. Or you could head further south to say Florence, bike east to Eugene, then take Amtrak to Portland and the bus to Astoria.

That's just one suggestion.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Skip WA portion of the PNW route?
« on: August 04, 2011, 02:25:02 am »
Anyone have any experience with the Amtrak "Coast Starlight" train that runs from LA thru SLO thru San Francisco all the way up to Seattle? Tips for taking your bike on that train?


Amtrak's official bikes on trains policy here:\\

The short version: Coast Starlight has checked baggage service. SLO and Seattle are checked baggage stations. You'll need to box the bike for the train. Service fee for boxed bikes is $5. You can find a box at a bike shop, or purchase one from the station for $15. (You might be able to snag a used box from the station for free, though. Never hurts to ask. Or check around the station, especially by the dumpster or laying against an outside wall.)

If you get the box from Amtrak, you'll just simply need to (a) turn handlebar sideways and (b) remove pedals. You should have appropriate tools (cone wrenches and/or allen wrenches) to do this, as the station usually doesn't. Get there at least an hour before train departure to box the bike and check the bike at the baggage counter.

The Starlight is a beautiful route. It frequently ran late in years past, but supposedly has improved. All bets are off if Union Pacific is doing track work.

Pacific Northwest / Re: Skip WA portion of the PNW route?
« on: August 01, 2011, 01:02:27 am »
Hmmm...I'd say start in Astoria. The Washington coast is in your backyard, so you can realistically do a Washington Coast tour anytime. If you have limited time to get to San Luis Obispo it'll shave off a few days. If you keep an average of 50-60 miles a day with a few rest days thrown in you should be able to make it to SLO and can take a train back to Seattle.

I haven't biked the Washington Coast south of Lake Quinault so I can't say how good it is. I have biked the entire coast between Astoria and SLO and know it is overall great.

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