Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Plan is Forming For My Next Trike Tour

Over last winter, I did something different than the usual trike tour. I went walking. A number of years ago, I did a trike tour in Spain and cycled many of the Caminos de Santiago. The Caminos de Santiago are pilgrimage walking paths from various points in Europe. They all end at a church in Santiago de Compostela where the bones of St. James are interred. Meeting so many interesting people who were walking hundreds of miles, sometimes thousands of miles, gave me the inspiration to do the same. I am very happy to have walked both the Camino del Norte and Camino Frances. I highly recommend walking these Caminos for anyone thinking about it. The Camino del Norte is very challenging and stunningly beautiful every day while the Camino Frances offers a different kind of beauty along with the quintessential pilgrim experience.  The Camino Frances offers more places to stay, eat and services for pilgrims, like carrying your bag to wherever you want to end the day. 

I was amazed at how little material things I required. It was thrilling to walk with only 10.4 lbs of gear and never need anything more. On both walking tours I knew I would always have a place to stay at night and food was readily available everyday. There wasn't any reason to carry camping or cooking gear and this made packing simple. Both Caminos are fabulous and, I have to say, after walking 1300 miles, I got the walking but out of my system. I discovered that walking is far more difficult than cycling. With the trike, I now realize how much more freedom of movement I have to go further if I want and I can carry more creature comforts. Trying to keep my packweight down, I only used my Samsung phone for photos, which took surprisingly good pictures, but I learned that I like having a real camera. After these many months of walking, I am really looking forward to my next trike tour.

Camino scene

Once again, I've returned to Portland for the summer. Every summer for the last 8 years I've stayed in a friend's house while she spends the summer in France. This arrangement has worked out as well for my friend as it has for me. She has someone to make sure everything is taken care of and I have a very comfortable place to relax, recover and regroup after many months of touring. This time, I came back to Portland with very sore achilles tendons and lots of ankle inflammation. I've been limping around especially in the morning until my ankle muscles warm up. Apparently, my ankles have a lot to say about all the walking I did on the Camino. I had the injury looked at by a doctor and, luckily, this appears to be something only time can take care of. Soaking in epsom salt baths feels good and seems to be helping with the inflammation. I'm still walking and triking but not as far as I'm used to. It's now been a couple of months and my physical ailments are slowly healing.  I've still got a few months before my next tour and expect to be 100% by then.

Iconic Portland sign

Earlier in the summer I visited friends in Missoula for a week. They took me fly fishing on Rock Creek which was super fun. Adventure Cycling Association is also in Missoula and I stopped in to say hello. They gave me a tour and showed me a very professional operation with 40 full-time employees. I also reconnected with Ethel McDonald, another tourer, who I hadn't seen since we first met in Florida at a WarmShower's hosts farm over a year ago.

Visiting Ethel in Missoula

Then I went on a fun trip with tennis buddies to explore Smith Rock in central Oregon. What a beautiful area. We hiked Lava Lands, the demanding Misery Ridge Trail and enjoyed a day in Bend. We rented a very nice house with an impressive view of Smith Rock State Park. This was my first time to the area and can highly recommend visiting.

View from the top of the Misery Ridge hike

A short video I put together of the trip.

A big item on my list of things to accomplish over the summer is upgrading from iMovie to Final Cut Pro video editing software. On my next tour, I want to incorporate more video with the intention of making my blog a richer experience. iMovie has felt limiting and I figured the summer would give me a good start on learning the more complicated Final Cut Pro. I also set up a new YouTube channel called Travels By Trike where I've started doing short videos of trike rides, travel tips and gear reviews. I plan to continue putting together more videos throughout my tours. Be sure to subscribe in order to follow the continuing adventures of Myrtle the Turtle. I've also upgraded my cameras. I bought a Panasonic LX10 p&s and a new Sony FDR-X3000 action camera. I've been messing with video cameras for many years and feel like this action camera is finally giving me results I've been wanting. There are 2 important improvements these cameras achieve. One, image stabilization and two, wind reduction. Shaking and noisy video is difficult to watch and I think these cameras will be much better than ones I've used in the past.  I've also purchased a hand held gimbal to create smooth videos while I'm walking or hiking. 

Testing my new Sony Action Cam

I'm also making a big effort to continue studying Spanish. I've been attending classes twice a week, 2 hours a day at Portlandia Language School and also doing a conversational Meetup at a local cafe to practice speaking. As I walk around town, I often listen to an app called News in Slow Spanish. The app offers a new podcast every week with a transcript I can read to follow along. The stories are mostly current news headlines related to Latin America. Much of what I hear is above my level but I still think it helps to try and understand. Even though learning is slow going, I'm determined to have a better understanding of this language.


I had such a good time studying Spanish in Guanajuato, Mexico last winter, I've already got a plane ticket to return in October to study at the same school, Escuela Falcon. This time I'll stay for 4 months and expect to be much more conversant and have a better understanding of the language by the time I leave. After 4 months of study I want to be able hold simple conversations with less hesitation. I don't need to be fluent in Spanish but think being able to speak easier will make my travels richer, safer and more enjoyable. For me, it's always about the people I meet and being able to talk to locals should make that more fun too.

After studying Spanish for 4 months it will be time to take my language and video skills on the road. I've come up with a tentative route riding from CancĂșn, Mexico though Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and ending in Panama. This trip will be for 3 months and cover about 2,000 miles. Central America is so hot and humid, I'm considering not taking a tent or cooking gear. The idea of camping solo in this type of heat sounds awful. I have a feeling the weather will be similar to SE Asia and I didn't take a tent or cooking gear on that tour either. I'll know better after doing more research.

Tentative route for my next trike tour

View from the house in Portland. Not too shabby.
Otherwise, so far, I've had a splendid summer spent mostly recovering, visiting with friends and riding my trike. As the summer comes to a close, I've got 2 more group trike rides planned. The first is an annual memorial ride on the wonderful Banks/Vernonia trail with lots of recumbent buddies. Then I'll be riding to the Oregon Coast to attend the Recumbent Retreat. This will be my 12th year attending and I have always ridden there. It looks like I'll be joined by 2 other trikers this year, Anni and Brandon. The ride to the coast takes 2 days. We will camp, as usual, at Big Eddy County park before tackling the ride over the coastal range and 63 miles the next day. I love the recumbent retreat. Please be sure to check out the links for more information. OHPV (Oregon Human Power Vehicle Association) has been putting on this event for 19 years. They book 2 loops at Ft. Stevens State Park for everyone to camp in over 4 days. I always arrive on Thursday and stay until Monday typically getting a ride back to Portland with a friend. Ft. Stevens is a gorgeous park in Warrenton, OR with lots of fabulous bike trails. There are many bike rides every day for everyone to participate in. The lighted bike parade is legendary with everyone lighting up their bikes and trikes and riding through all the loops in the campground to the delight of campers young and old. The Recumbent Retreat is truly the highlight of my summer.

Well, that's about all I've got for today. As another fantastic summer in Portland comes to an end, my attention will turn to my upcoming studies in Mexico and my next trike tour through Central America. Thanks for following along!