Pacific Northwest Adventures

When we left the United States in 2012, we left our bicycles in our parents’ garages. But when we moved back to Portland, OR in late fall of 2014, we instantly took advantage of the bike-friendly town and got back to using our bicycles for errands and commuting to work. It felt phenomenal to be back in the saddle, so naturally it took us only a few weeks to devise a plan to cycle 70 miles south to Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, OR. We spent the next day hiking on the most popular 7-mile loop in the park, to see 10 waterfalls. After looking for any photographic documentation of this trip, we semi-recall deciding that we didn’t need to bring a camera because it was a trip just for us. But, brace yourselves for a huge entry of almost every other regional tour and backpacking trip we have taken since we arrived in the Pacific Northwest.

Cycling from Portland to Astoria for our 4th anniversary.

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Next, we toured 170-miles from Portland to the Oregon coastal range, still on the trusty bicycles that we took on our tour from Ventura, CA to Missoula, MT,.

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Vegetable curry is one of our staple meals on the road.

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It is very easy and quick to make. If you happen to be stopped near a store, there is no reason you couldn’t get a bit of chicken for the soup, but it might attract more animals, it’ll definitely take longer to cook, and the cleaning process is all that much more important. Salmonella is no joke!

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Throwing in a box of tofu provides a ton of usable protein and it is easier to clean and digest than meat.

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It took us 2 days to cycle from Portland to Astoria.

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We spent a couple of days doing typical tourist activities in the town where the Goonies was filmed.

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Kelly watched that movie on repeat as a child and was extremely thrilled to get to Astoria in a very adventurous, i.e. Goonies-esque, fashion.

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4-wheel drive. Bullet holes. Bullet Holes!

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We toured the local film museums bursting with excitement and childish glee. Everyone we met in Astoria was happy to brag about their town’s claim to fame.

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We also toured the city and oceanside boardwalk.

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To top off a wonderful visit to Astoria, we enjoyed a seriously delicious meal and bottle of wine for our anniversary dinner.

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After a couple days of sight-seeing in Astoria, we cycled south along the Oregon coast.

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We made it to Seaside and took another rest on the beach.

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A soothing day spent jumping in and out of the ocean ended with us cycling a few blocks to a Couchsurfer’s home for the evening.

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The next day we cycled to Cannon Beach.

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We got amazing views of Haystack Rock.

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We love cycling near water, but the water is so enticing, we end up doing as much swimming as cycling!

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Our tarp has a lot of uses. We use it as a footprint for our tent at campgrounds and as a makeshift tent for shade during the day.

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That day, a friend came to the coast and picked us up. Regional tours can be very fun because instead of making enough time to make a loop and get home, a good and dependable friend can just pick you up from wherever you are and taxi you back home!

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For Kelly’s 30th birthday a few years ago, we took a 10-day camping trip alongside the Deschutes River in Bullrun Canyon.

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This time, we didn’t cycle. Instead we drove and brought everything we could think of to create a camping experience more luxurious than we had ever known.

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Every meal was incredible and filling.

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We brought a small barbecue and a cast iron pan to make an oven for biscuits and cinnamon rolls.

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The entire 10 days we camped, we only saw two people floating down the river on a raft. We had the entire valley to ourselves.

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Without electricity or cellphone reception.

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We hiked in the mountains for hours.

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We did a little naked dancing on mountain tops too.

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We cycled next to the rushing Deschutes river on desolate dirt roads for miles during the days.

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And sat fireside with for tea and s’mores at night.

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We read aloud to each other until we finished our book.

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It was certainly a birthday camping trip to remember!

Cycling from Portland to Snohomish, WA via the Colombia River Gorge and Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

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Finally, on our new bicycles, we took a 270-mile journey to Snohomish, WA to visit Kelly’s stepdad, Craig.

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We cycled east on the scenic Columbia River Gorge route which is a combination of bike paths and wide shoulders.

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At the Bridge of the Gods, we headed North and entered Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

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This is the tour that Kelly confirmed that she much prefers straight handle bars as opposed to drop handlebars.

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There are several primitive pack-out sites in national parks so finding a place to comfortably camp for free is easy. When on bicycle, there are camping options that people whizzing by in a car wouldn’t even see, let alone consider.

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As usual, we try and make dinner as healthy and enticing as possible. When food is fueling your trek, it’s important to eat a lot. Making it tasty ensures we eat until we are full to the brim.

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The next day, we cycled to many viewpoints overlooking Mt. Saint Helens. Most people hop out of their car, look at the active volcano through the lens of their camera and within 2 minutes, they’re gone again.

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These are the moments and views that we live for. We took this scenic opportunity to lay out some washed clothes to dry and eat a snack.

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Thinking about it, we are never at a loss for great views.

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Stopping to enjoy the views is part of the reason we like to keep our daily mileage low, at about 50 miles a day.

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Every time there is a place to explore, we can’t help but stop and play.

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Eventually, we get back on our bicycles and cycle to our destination. In this case, we cycled to Snohomish, WA to visit Kelly’s stepdad and to catch a Portland Thorns game on their biggest rivals’ (the Seattle Reign) home turf.

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Kelly and her Stepdad, Craig, enjoying the game.

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On the road again, we headed to Seattle to take the bus home to Portland.

Soon after our short tour to Snohomish, WA, we adopted our dogs. The beauty about cycling gear is that most of it can be used for a backpacking trip.

Hiking Part of the PCT in Southern WA 

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For this trip, we ditched our bicycles, saddled up the pups, bought a couple of walking sticks, packed the backpacks (the same ones we had stuffed full for our travels through Southeast Asia), and hit the trail.

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We bought our dogs backpacks so they can carry their own food and water bowls. They both really love their backpacks and they know that when we get them out, it means they’re going out for an adventure.

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We decided to hike in WA on a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

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But we only stopped for the view and a snack. We brought peanut butter and apples specifically for the pups because we like to spoil them.

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The farther we hiked, the more we wore the pups out. Calamity tends to have less stamina than Chuño so she took full advantage of every rest opportunity.

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So by the time we got to camp for the evening, they were pooped. They did, however, make sure to taste-test all the choicest sticks in the area.

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We found a primitive camp and set up our tent.

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The next day, the clouds looked ominous but we trekked on.

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Soon, it started to sprinkle and, in true Pacific Northwest fashion, we all put on our rain jackets and trudged on.

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But then it started pouring! So we set up our tent as quickly as we could and a little damp, we all jumped inside.

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It was only about noon when we got rained into our tent so we had a lot of energy.

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But the dogs were still tired from the day before and had no trouble getting comfy for a nap.

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And eventually we slept too.

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The next day, the rain let up a little, so we headed back the way we came.

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We stopped by the lake again.

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And to rest while taking in the views.

Even though we added hiking at least once a week with the dogs to our regular activities, we still love cycling most, so we make time for short tours whenever we can.

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For our first bike trip after getting the dogs, we headed east towards Little Crater Lake in Mt. Hood National Park.

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And as always, we find stunning views to take a break for some food.

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Mt. Hood is one of the steepest mountains in our area so we broke the 70 mile trek to Little Crater Lake into two days. Some of the bike route we decided to take was a mountain bike trail that we decided to take to stay off of the main highway. We had to navigate some fallen trees but otherwise it was a welcome respite from the road.

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On the mountain bike path, we found an amazing campground halfway to Little Crater Lake. You may notice that we have a new tent.

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After our the backpacking trip on the PCT with our dogs, we realized how much more comfortable we would be if we had more than a 2-person, 3 season backpacking tent. So, we invested in a 5-person, 4-season tent. Having so much space makes it easier to relax and do things like stretch out and read ourselves to sleep.

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Bright and early the next morning, we packed up camp and got back on our bicycles to keep climbing the mountain. Every turn in the road revealed more natural beauty worth admiring.

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We finally made it to the summit which we knew was only a few miles from our destination.

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Most campgrounds we go to are primitive, meaning there is no water or electricity and the toilets in the bathrooms are not connected to a sewer system but open into a big smelly compost heap. We were really excited to find a water pump at the entrance of the campground.

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We quickly set up camp and had a snack before we took the short walk to Little Crater Lake.

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This lake has a small circumference but is deceptively deep – huge fallen trees look like splinters as they are dwarfed in the 45 feet of water to the bottom.

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The water is crystal clear and icy cold, and swimming is forbidden.

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We spent a couple of hours at the lake before we headed back camp to have dinner.

The next day we rested by the lake.

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We packed a day pack and spent the whole day relaxing by the water, eating, reading, wandering around the lake and the surrounding marshy meadow, and snoozing.

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Fed by an underground spring, the water is so cold that there are several signs advising against swimming in the lake. As we sat beneath a tree for most of the day, however, we watched plenty of people jump in. They would judge the best angle to leap into the blue depths, laugh nervously to their friends, and launch as far as they could toward the center of the lake. Immediately following the plunge, they would shoot out of the water, shocked expressions on their faces, and breathlessly complain that their balls were sinking back into their bodies and that their chests hurt, while paddling frantically back to the shore.

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After hours of lounging lakeside, we walked a little ways down the grass-lined path to check out the surrounding meadow and then headed back to camp.

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The next day, we left camp relatively early for the 72-mile trek back home. We spent most of the day zooming down the mountain at around 30mph. By the time we got back to civilization, we were sooo hungry. We stopped at a place called Calamity Jane’s because it reminded us of our dogs.

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Although we spent the early part of our relationship as vegans, ever since our time in Peru, we have been allowing ourselves dairy. This has proven to be the most delicious dietary decision we have made because after cycling 50 miles on a hot day, with 20 miles more to go before home, a strawberry milkshake really hit the spot.

We got home in the late afternoon exhausted from a 70+ mile day but we didn’t rest long. With a few days left in our vacation from work to take advantage of, we turned around and hit the road again.

The very next day we packed our car, loaded up the pups and drove up to                  Gifford Pinchot National Park.

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After driving through the forest for a little while, we found a turnout on the side of an old logging road and set up camp.

One of our favorite parts of “glamping” is how much good food we can eat while we are in the wilderness.

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Even though we can bring all kinds of food and equipment while glamping, we still like to get back to nature and heat up our food with sticks.

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When we do not have to carry all of our own gear, we bring really bulky and heavy items like the grill from a barbecue and a cast iron pan to make a wider variety of food.

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With an ice chest in tow, we can bring a lot of ingredients otherwise left at home.

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Every time we go glamping, we eat a big breakfast to fuel ourselves for the day ahead.

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Hiking alongside the Lewis River was a very bright highlight of last summer.

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Hard to resist that crystal clear water, despite the freezing temperature.

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Calamity’s two favorite activities while hiking are checking out the wildlife and posing dramatically on fallen logs.

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Milo’s two favorite activities are reading and eating. Those qualities will never change, and they go well together!

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Camping meals don’t have to be dehydrated rations or cans of beans when we have a car to haul things around. We keep it gourmet!

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Manners, though, are for the birds.

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Our huge new tent can accommodate both of our sleeping bags and the dog bed comfortably, with plenty of room for everyone.

Next stop, Mount Saint Helens!

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We hiked across the lava field as far as we could, sticking to the small amounts of shade and patches of sandy ground to keep the dogs off of the hot rocks as much as possible.

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After hours of hiking out on the lava, the icy cold mountain stream felt great on our paws.

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The water is a welcome relief from the heat, if you can stand the initial shock after jumping in.

Back at camp, we got a fire going and enjoyed a veggie dog dinner. Closely supervised by the dog dog.

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The dogs had a great time hanging around camp while we cooked and read and hung out. Chuño is a very trustworthy dog who comes when he is called and can reliably be off leash, but Calamity is still learning.

She hated being tied up while Chuño got to wander loose. Not fair! So, we came up with a compromise and tethered them together. They could sniff around the campsite and never wander too far. Every time Calamity tried to steer them off into the bushes, Chuño dug his heels in and pulled her back.

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It was during the middle of summer, so we specifically chose hikes that snaked along the Lewis River. There are so many beaches to stop and jump in.

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Paths shaded from the direct sunlight provide much-needed relief from the heat.

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Adventures close to home and farther afield are greatly enhanced by wonderful company. Thankfully, we can spend night after night in a tiny tent, wearing ourselves out in the elements, and still want to do it again the next day. And even though the dogs are a rambunctious handful, they allow us to go on different kinds of adventures than before. By prioritizing the dogs’ health and need to maintain a high level of activity, we make our own lives more enjoyable as well.

Although we love the new things we are able to discover and feel that our experiences are all the richer with our canine companions, we are also grateful when we can leave them in caring and capable hands to venture out on our own again. That said, we have a big announcement to make. Check out our next blog entry for our big news!!

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