Opposites

Most of my side of the family came down from Canada during the holidays, so we got the biggest family photo taken in years! My neighbour did the honour of clicking a bunch of shots, and my little sister Maret did the photo editing.

Back Row: Seth, Everette (Dad), Anders, Mitchell, Toveli, Gaelyn, Maret, Karen (Mom), Laars Front Row: Rauchelle (Me) with Trista on back. Elita and Marin in stroller
Back Row: Seth, Everette (Dad), Anders, Mitchell, Toveli, Gaelyn, Maret, Karen (Mom), Laars.
Front Row: Rauchelle (Me) with Trista on back. Elita and Marin in stroller.

As you can see, there is a REALLY BIG van behind us. That is the 15 passenger van my folks drive around from Canada to Mexico and back, as need and/or whim dictates. My mom has a really good blog about their adventures that you should check out if large family travel interests you.

The thing I think is a little funny about this photo (besides the goofy faces) is the stroller, which is our main mode of transporting, in comparison to the van. These are two totally different, opposite, yet equally awesome family lifestyles represented here. Seth and I have a stationary family, living in one place, raising our girls with alternative means of transportation. My parents have the family of movement (which I would love to mimic when the time is right), raising their kids in alternative locations. So far, my younger siblings have an almost equal grasp on Canadian, USA and Mexican cultures. They have participated in community activities in all three countries, and they can get by in more languages than me!

Keep doing the great adventurous things you do, Mom and Dad!

P.S. I’m still car-free.

30 Day Count Down

It has been 335 days since I took a ride in a personal motorized vehicle.

WHAT?!?!!!!

Yes, it’s true, and in another 30 days I will have hit the one year mark.

I’m sure there are a lot of other people out there who have gone for just as long or longer still, and I would love to hear their stories!

Here’s how my year has gone so far…..

December 13th, 2015; Four months pregnant, ran a couple errands with my dad’s truck before he headed north to Canada.

The rest of the winter was spent walking with the girls in the stroller, or riding my bike with them. Once spring hit, we did a lot more cycling, going farther and spending more time outside around the neighbourhood. We started clowning around a lot too, becoming a regular at one of Olive and Dingo’s weekly Story Times.

Off to get a whack of balloons.
Off to get a whack of balloons.

My dad flew through a couple times, but he has started taking transit from the airport. When my mom and little sister came up for end of my pregnancy to help out, us girls took the bus and train out to meet them. See? No cars needed.

Trista’s birth went perfectly well, and three weeks later we were back on the bike for short rides. Our first one was Peddalpalooza’s Monster Ride, which just happened to start three blocks from our house.

Through the summer I did have a hard time trying to get the girls out to have fun, but not overly exert myself, which is kind of hard to do when hauling 200 lbs of bike, kids and gear. But we did it!

Last month Seth took the Blondies (Marin and Elita) out to Maine to visit his relatives. During that time, I had multiple vehicle offers, both to borrow a spare, and hitch rides to far off places. But with only two months left to hit my one year goal, I painfully had to decline. Oh the places I could have gone with a vehicle in those two weeks!

Now there is only one month left.

For the most part these last 11 months have been easy. I started from a lifestyle that made it so. We do not own a vehicle, so there is never one easily at my disposal. For most people, a year car free would be a huge challenge. For some it would be logistically impossible. For me, I was already four months in before I decided to stretch it to a year. I guess with that said, it really isn’t that much of an accomplishment. Oh well, I’m still glad to be able to say I did it!

Now the question is, how shall I end the year? Shall it be with a car ride? Or just throw myself a little party and see how much longer life takes me without a vehicle?

Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Anybody in a peanut gallery?

Getting Ready

Life is always in a bit of turmoil. Surfing the waves and getting the most out of the ride is what makes the journey fun.

The camping trip we did as a family in June was absolutely wonderful, so we went ahead and pursued planning for another, much longer bike trip to be done in September. We had wanted to do this particular trail last year, but then we were expecting Elita, so we put it on the back burner, to come out again this year!

Seth has been working on logistics, bikes, and keeping an eye on any news pertaining to the area we will be cycling through, mostly keeping an eye on forest fires here in the north wet . I have been dehydrating food. My sister Danaka (who will be joining us for the trip) has been diligently training for the two week bike trip with us “crazy car-less bike people”(not that we’re training or anything!).

There is a big rubber-maid box under our kitchen table, slowly being filled with jars of dried food, whole meals dehydrated and crushed to make reconstituting easier. Seth did the math, 3 adults and 2 little children = 4 servings per meal. For dinner alone, that means 56 servings. If you add breakfast and lunch in there, that’s 168 servings to be prepared before setting out.

it takes a while to get a days food made while juggling 2 little kiddos, so now add 167 more meals but the meal means making and then dehydrating, packaging and remembering just how many meals it is equal to.  since our family has figured out the foods that we are happy with and those that our bodies do not wish to have inside,  we have decided that the time consuming effort of making our own meals for this trip is a trial on our end., an experiment, in nutrition and logistics.  we try to avoid gluten, sugar, oats, dairy, and all those malto sucroglucoxanthanem  whatevers that are in so much food.  and the sodium………  all just for some lighter packs and artificial food.  why go to nature to relax if the food you eat is fake.  how nature is that..

so all this in prep for a family ride on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail crossing the middle of Washington state.  this is an old rail road track that has been taken back by washington state and transitioned to a rail to trails .  yeah…..  bike tripping on the road is great.  bike tripping days on end in the woods, awesome.  and no traffic whizzing by.  our trip is going to be a fun challenge.  the biking will be the easy part.  just getting us all to and from the trailhead is the hard part.  how do you transport 2 infants, 3 big cargo bikes, a few trailers and 3 adults and not rely on a car.

amtrack, uhaul.  that is our only option and we think it will/should work.  so here is what we got so far.  2 kids and one adult travel up on a train at so many mph over a distance while changing diapers, napping and enjoying story time.  and 2 adults rent a uhaul truck, load a ton of stuff, (only the lightest in high tech light gear, still = a ton.  ) travel slower but with no stops up to the corresponding train stop .  once there one adult gets kicked out with all the stuff to sit curbside surrounded by a pile of gear and 2 big bikes.  (probably looking bored and unapproachable, we are on vacation..)  the other drives on to drop off uhaul and rides a bike to the pile of stuff on the curb.  and both wait for the arrival of the train with the rest of the team.

once the team is together and our reality sinks in,  off we start peddling towards the land of the rising sun,  EAST.  a few miles from the train spot is an urban bike trail that travels straight along a river to our next trail.  all connecting to each other in a long more rough trail.  and after just a few days.  gravel, dirt, woods,  nothing.  or as close to nothing as we can get.

this, even is not great, even thru the un-fun,  this is our happy place.  almost like going home.  i know that once into the trip it would be so easy to just keep biking… really.  life would not end if we never came back.  if we just fucked it all and kept traveling. sure, work, rent, stuff, bills.  all that crap would smack us upside the face. but what is all that stuff.  a leash to hold you in place and feed the machine.  it does not care about you.  it would not notice if you left, it would not notice if you stayed put and behaved like you are too.  the machine does not care about you.  this is only something you see once you have spent enough time out of the system.

ah, that was fun..

Marin Campfood

 

Side Note: Thank you Seth for “finishing” my post while I put the girls to bed!    I’m sure you readers can figure out what we each wrote?

Snow Day

Today is Seth’s regularly scheduled day to go help out his friend Tom building cargo bikes. Usually I drive him there and enjoy some conversation with the two men, learning what I can about the bikes they build, then drive home for the day and then pick Seth up in the evening. But today has not turned out to be your typical day.

Only a minute out in the snow, but now she wants to play longer out there!
Only a minute out in the snow, but now she wants to play longer out there!

It is snowing here in Portland and by the wonderfully slow moving traffic on the roads, everybody is heading home and it’s just after lunch! Honestly I wish I could have stayed home all day after dropping Seth off, but schools got out early today due to the weather, so after a short break at home I headed back out into the weather to pick up my niece. Truly the roads are not very friendly right now compared to yesterday! The snow had gone from drifting across the pavement, to sticking and getting packed down hard. The van was having trouble starting up from stops, but thankfully braked perfectly every time.

One thing I am exceptionally grateful for, is the caution that other road users were employing. It’s the scariest thing to be driving through less than prime conditions and see other drivers going along as though it were the middle of summer! But today there was none of that. Caution was the name of the game and for that I thank all the drivers here in Portland!

As for Seth over at Tom’s bike building garage, we already agreed that he would take transit. Safest, keeps one more vehicle off the roads.

Life Or Death In Portland

Everybody says that cycling in Portland is easy and safe for the most part.

I agree.

But sometimes you get reminded that you are still just riding two wheels with no bodily protection while the other road users are rushing around surrounded by a metal roll-cage and sometimes they don’t give a damn about you.

Seth and I were out for a ride with our new baby seat attached to the back of my bike, and it was Marin’s first time riding in it. We had a nice enjoyable trip out, but on our way back we, no kidding, nearly died. With our road going straight through and the side road having a stop sign, fortunately we naturally slowed down a little bit, because a fellow in a black pickup truck flying high as a kite gunned his machine of terror through the stop sign and straight into our lane, missing us by mere inches. He swerved away into his proper lane without slowing, careening down the street to the next intersection where he ran another stop sign, narrowly missing getting broadsided by a thankfully more attentive driver who had the right of way but braked just in time to save himself. Even after the crazy dude was out of sight, while we were standing in shock trying to catch our breaths and calm down, we could still hear his tires squeal around corners as he drove like hell was on his tail, around an elementary school and it’s quiet neighbourhoods.

Is Portland good for cycling in? Yes. Just keep your eyes out for the crazies and use common sense, ’cause you’re the only one protecting yourself from the cold metal terrors of the road.

Us and the World Naked Bike Ride

Us and the World Naked Bike Ride!

I think I know what you’re thinking.

“WHAT???”

Every year during Portland’s Pedalpalooza, the WNBR (World Naked Bike Ride) throws an event that draws thousands of people. People line the streets cheering cyclist on and giving high-fives to the participants. Bikes and other means of human-powered transportation are lit up with regular lights and intricate, crazy, multicoloured, cool lights.

Cyclist wear shoes. That seemed to be the one and only thing that every participant agreed to wear. Police asked everyone to also wear helmets, but you know people…. some of them skipped that safety item. There were guys in top hats and vests, girls in princess and fairy costumes. Naked people in wheelchairs and on skate boards, riding on cargo bikes and just plain running.

The only down side to riding with no clothing is if on the off chance you have a spill, there is nothing to protect your skin. I saw a cyclist crash when he ran into the edge of a cement lane divider. I didn’t see the in-line skater crash, but I did watch him get back up with a purple/red bruise the size of a cantaloupe on his buttox.

Despite the risks, people were in high spirits. There is a thrill in being naked with thousands of other people, in front of thousands more fully clothed people. Exhilaration and freedom!

Seth and I stopped about 2/3 of the way through the course and just watched the other cyclist go by. Everyone so unique and different. An education to be sure!

Where was Marin during this family adventure? Bundled up cozy warm and fast asleep in the front of the trike. She fell asleep right after we left the house and didn’t wake up at all until we were back home and putting her to bed.

Unicycles, tall bikes, cargo and tandems. Hispanic people, Asian, male and female. It was a night for every make, model and size, both for bicycles and people!

Proof we were there and I wasn't just making all of this up!
Proof we were there and I wasn’t just making all of this up!

No Cares On A Sunday

Another day spent outside with my little girl. Nothing too important to do. People watching, slow peddaling.

This morning while taking down the tent in the wind, the fly got a small puncture and a couple good scrapes in it. Wasn’t the best way to start the morning, that is for sure! It is lightweight silnylon made by Nemo. Beautiful tent and well structured! But that silnylon along with being ultra light for camping, is also surprisingly easy to tear and not so easy to fix.

While Seth headed off to work for the day, I did an internet search on how to fix silnylon. You can’t just sew on a patch and throw some goop on to waterproof it and call it good. One of the beauties of the fabric is that almost nothing ever sticks to it……….including adhesives. So my searching was also one to find where I might pick up a patch kit. Easiest place was REI, so off we went. Well, sort of.

There were delays getting to the sports store, as Andrew volunteered to make lunch and I was not about to say no to that! And then there was the issue of it being a highly breezy day and me only having one pair of shorts (whose reach just covers my knees) so Marin and I stopped at Goodwill to find a cooler pair of shorts for me. Okay, so I didn’t really find shorts, but a nice running skirt with built in boyshorts seemed to do the trick for keeping me cool the rest of the day.

Finaly we made it to REI and Marin started telling me she was hungry, so I found a quiet little corner amongst the sleeping bags (like anybody is gonna go shopping for a bag on a sweltering hot day like today!) where I could nurse her without any distractions. It worked so well though, that she fell asleep and refused to wake up! So I carried her all sprawled out in one arm while searching out the repair kit and I had to ask the cashier lady to bear with me as I had to do everything one handed. In fact, Marin was so sleepy that only opened her eyes for one second, not even two, when I put her back in her carseat on the bike. Zonked OUT!

When Marin woke up from her nap we watched all the little kids playing in the water fountain down by the river. I did some drawing while she watched the kids and played with her little maraca, becoming the center of attention for a couple other little tots who thought she was awefully cute (as always!).

One of the fun things about these longer nice days, is that Marin and I can meet Seth downtown when he gets off the train from work, and we can cycle home together, often stopping somewhere for a bite to eat first.

I love seeing Seth at the end of his work days! We have such fun together and it doesn’t take big activities to keep us entertained! Small little things like walk, bike rides or simply watching other people go by, is enough to keep us amused and happy.

All and all, I think it was a fantabulous Sunday! Yay!!!!