It was in Portland that we decided it was time for a little decoration on our bikes. Instead of hanging a heavy terracotta pot from her handlebar, as we had seen on another cyclist's bike before, Christina opted for the slightly lighter version of an „air plant“ on the frame, while Laura found a plastic pet panda to replace the beautiful green horn that was stolen in Vietnam. We're travelling in style!
The stretch from Portland to Seattle marked the last section through the Cascade mountains for us. We enjoyed a few last passes and beautiful wild camping spots in the national forest, before we made our way into Seattle and towards the coast. Again, we had to battle a lot of smoke in the air, this time coming from the direction of Canada, where there are several hundreds of wildfires burning at the moment. The outlines of Mount St. Helen's & Mount Rainier could only be imagined in the distance, that's how bad it was. Seattle is quite hilly, and a great city to spend a few days. We explored the different districts, many cafés, did some sightseeing and went shopping for the first time in more than a year. Now that we're only strolling along the coast, we might as well carry some extra kilograms...
Only a short ride north along the coast and it was ferry time again – we were off to the San Juan Islands. We saw two pods of Orcas gracefully gliding through the waters, the youngest members of the respective families being as young as three years old. Along our way we picked tons of wild blackberries and enjoyed some beautiful coastline scenery once the winds changed and the smoke finally lifted. We even found a Kölsch to enjoy on the beach on Christina's birthday, with a harbor seal curiously examining us from the distance.
Our plan was to take another ferry over to Vancouver Island, but due to an engine problem there were no ferries going to Canada for another five days. „Just go back to the mainland, ride up to Vancouver and take a ferry to Vancouver Island from there“, we were told on inquiring about an alternative route. Easy. But things took a interesting turn, when our Warmshowers host's friend offered to take us back to the mainland on his sailboat – what a great alternative to being on a huge ferry. It took 4 people to get the bikes and all our gear on board, but it was a great day and we had a wonderful time.
Another two days of cycling and we reached Canada. At the border we took some pictures in front of the Canadian flag with our bikes, other tourists took some pictures with us in front of the Canadian flag („LA? You mean Los Angeles?? By bicycle???“) and a few half-hearted questions from the border patrol later we were in Canada. And everything was measured in kilometres, metres and celsius again, no more feet, miles and fahrenheit, finally! From there it was only about 50 km to Vancouver, our final destination for this part of the journey. It's a beautifully located city, surrounded by water and mountains, with many cool districts, green parks and beaches along the shoreline. No wonder it's repeatedly being ranked as one of the most livable cities worldwide.
Where are we going from here? We still haven't made up our minds. We had to abandon the plan of cycling through Jasper and Banff National Parks for the last few weeks due to the enormous wildfires burning in British Columbia at the moment. We met cyclists who'd just left the Rocky Mountains, because they had trouble breathing and the normally stunning scenery was covered in gray. Next we dreamt of heading up to Alaska by ferry – but the prices for just pitching your tent on deck without even having a cabin resembled those of a cruise ship. No Alaska for us this time, maybe some other time!
Vancouver has been the final common destination for us, Christina is returning back home to Germany in a few weeks the latest to start working again. Laura has many ideas but no final decision for the upcoming months has yet been made. Patagonia has long been high up on the bucket list – but the season is not quite right yet. So it might turn out to be Europe again, Southern Europe in autumn seems like a great place for cycling...