After a great time in South America, I continued in North America. The infrastructure was definitely better but one or the other adventure was also waiting there. And for all this, we had around half a year.
Pacific Coast Highway and Yosemite
After my bicycle made it to LA as well, I continued with Ines, my travel companion on this part of the journey, towards north along the coast on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1). On the way we could count on very helpful and caring people (thanks again!) when Ines had some troubles with her knee. We reached Monterey finally and continued across the Central Valley towards Yosemite, one of the most famous national parks of the US.
It got very hot around lunch time in the valley but we got really in trouble because of food poisoning. We were forced to stay on a camp ground near the park for quite some time to get healthy again. However, we made it to the Yosemite Valley, snatched a spot in camp 4, gazed at the big walls (and the climbers on it) and hiked a bit. A good change to cycling. Finally, we had to continue.
San Francisco till Seattle
The plan was to continue cycling from Yosemite across the Tioga Pass to the Mono Lake for watching a partial solar eclipse there. Unfortunately, all camp grounds on the way were still closed (too early in the season) and wild camping wasn’t allowed. And because nobody wanted to give us a ride across the pass, we had to go back to the Central Valley and continue to San Francisco. However, we got lucky and could still see a glimpse of the partial eclipse there. After visiting the different tourist sites, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and continued toward north.
First again along the coast, later through impressive Redwood forests. Finally, we left California and with this, the nice weather also left us a bit. Oregon and also later Washington were much wetter but also greener. We didn’t let us get discouraged and continued. Just before Seattle, we got the sun back. Seattle was the final destination for our bikes, for now. They got their wellness program and changed to four wheels for two weeks.
Visit to Canada, Yellowstone and Mt. St. Helens
First we made a side trip to British Columbia to visit relatives of Ines. We continued through torrential rain toward south east and made it finally to Yellowstone. I would have loved to cycle there but it was just too far from the coast. Nevertheless, it was worth a visit and also the weather was great. Only with navigation in the park, we had some issues. Luckily there is only a circle road. However, if you take it in the wrong direction, it’s a pretty long ride…
We continued to Mount Rainier, which can be seen quite well from Seattle, and further to Mount St. Helens, which erupted heavily in 1980. At the moment, there was nothing really going on there but it was still very impressive for me to stand within this completely changed landscape. What a force.
We run a bit out of time and therefor had to get back to Seattle. Our bicycles were already get nervous and couldn’t wait to get back on the road. It was the same for us.
By bike and boat: Vancouver Island, Prince Rupert and Juneau
We took the train to Vancouver and visited there the Grizzlies on Grouse Mountains. We were both hoping that none of them would get to close to us in Alaska… We crossed over to Vancouver Island by ferry and continued cycling towards north the next few days (this island is really long!). We spend the night at a lake, enjoyed the beautiful night sky and went whale watching before we took another ferry. This time to Prince Rupert.
And because we loved it so much, we continued by taking the multi day ferry (Alaska Marine Highway) through the Inside Passage to Juneau. Special was, that you could put up your tent on the top deck. You can’t find a camp site with a better view; especially with great weather. In Juneau, our tires touched for the first time Alaskan ground. Juneau is the capital of Alaska. However, it doesn’t have road connection to the main road and we therefor took another ferry to Haines.
Bear country: Haines and Alaska Highway, Denali
Only a cycling day later, we were in Yukon and therefor back in Canada. Almost a bit confusing. We definitively reached bear country by now. On the beautiful Haines Highway, several Black Bears crossed our path. However, they were at least as scared of us as we were of them… Which was fine with us. We continued on the Alaska Highway towards north. The forest got denser and therefore we didn’t see that much of the landscape. And also no bears anymore.
We crossed the border the last time and finally arrived in Alaska. However, before we had to eat some Canadian apples because they were not allowed to cross the border… “You know, they get them for everywhere!”, we were told. Alaska spoiled us with some wonderful sun sets, like the one at the Birch Lake. And some great smoked salmon we got as a gift on the road. We finally reached with Fairbanks the end of the Alaska Highway and also the most northern point of our journey.
Denali, Anchorage and Kenai
We were very lucky to enjoy our first northern lights at the camp ground in Fairbanks. This only thanks to a very friendly neighbor, which waked us up at 1 a.m. :-). From now on, it went towards south again. And this against the wind. We made it to Denali national park finally and discovered it with a bus. I would have loved to cycle through it by bicycle. However, when a huge grizzly showed up just next to the road, I was happy to be in a bus…
We got back on our bikes and continued to the south. And therefor also out of the northern lights circle. We took the chance to get up during the night, as a clear night was forecasted again after some time. And what we saw was just gorgeous and worth to be a bit tired the next morning. Till Anchorage, rain was our companion for the next few days. However, we were very lucky with the weather so far. So no reason to complain.
Kenai and Alaska Marine Highway
After a short break in Anchorage (almost a culture shock after all this wilderness), we continued with the bus to the end of the Kenai Peninsula in Homer. From there we cycled back again. First in some heavy rain before the sun got out again. We spend some days in Seward to let a storm pass and enjoyed beautiful weather on a boat trip (after a first trip got canceled because of an accident on board).
Finally it was time for Ines and myself to say good bye. She flew back home; I didn’t yet. I decided to continue a bit longer. However, I didn’t want to fly and therefor took the ferry almost down to Seattle. But first I spend a wonderful day with two Alaskan fishermen before having some stormy days on the sea. The Alaska Marine Highway is definitively worth a recommendation. If you are as lucky as I was, you maybe even see a jumping humpback whale :-).
I finally made it to Seattle and after a break of a few days, I continued. This time towards the west: Japan. My home country had to wait for a bit longer. More about this later or already now in the stories from this time.