The Cyclist

 

For this interview I had the pleasure of sitting down with my father as he spoke of his love for cycling culture. I just wrapped up finals week at the University of California, Santa Barbara and needless to say the past two weeks were riddled with studying and not much cultural investigation.

A man of 54 years and on hiatus from the motion picture industry, he put together a last minute trip to Canada with one goal in mind: to cycle down the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon, and California into Los Angeles. My father can best be described as a free-spirit, obviously. His desire for seeking adventure and being surrounded in nature is something I crave as well. During his trip over the past three weeks he kept me updated at every turn, letting me know he had safely made it to his next stop. As a temporary vagabond, he experienced quite a thrilling couple of weeks filled with flat tires, delicious meals, luscious greenery and ocean views, and wonderful company.

Arriving in Vancouver – Downtown

After exploring Canada for the heck of it, he began his cycling journey upon landing in Port Angeles by ferry. His routine consisted of waking up at 5:17am to get ready to head out by 5:30am and his goal was to cycle 60-70 miles each day. First stop – Forks, WA. It’s worth mentioning that my father is one of the few people I know who enjoyed the Twilight series and much to his delight he was stranded in Forks for two days due to heavy rainfall. Rather than bore the readers of this blog with each of his stops, I would like to share with you what a traveling cyclist will encounter during their journey if they are as whacky and friendly as my father.

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Olympic National Park, WA

Kalaloch Lodge, WA

My father boarded a bus on November 22nd around noon after the rain had finally defeated him and he thought it better to make it to his next stop sans cold/flu. A few minutes later a young man also boarded this empty bus and my father struck up a conversation with him. John was 27 and also traveling by bike cross-country except John had a mission, and a divine one at that. He was spreading a message to save the bee’s. They decided to share a room and go out to dinner later that day. My father spoke of riding with John the next day but shortly into their trek they were separated due to my  fathers advanced age, which John pointed out was double his own and it warmed my heart to know that a twenty-something was hanging out with my father and getting on fabulously. My father deeply cared for John in the short amount of time he had come to know him. During John’s travels his computer was stolen and he had to go about updating his blog on what I could only assume were publicly accessible computers. My dad was concerned about his safety while out in Aberdeen, WA since they were told by some locals that drug-addicts roamed the streets at night and were rather confrontational.  While my father spoke of John and what a great young man he was, I noticed that one of the pictures he had me looking through had a helmet that read “BeeTheChange.Info” I had found John’s blog and within seconds had found a post in which a snippet spoke of my dad. I stopped my father from sharing any further to read aloud what I had found. When I was done, I saw a single tear roll down each one of his cheeks.

The night of the 22nd mercifully brought a happy-go-lucky stranger into my life: A Salvadoran middle-aged man from Los Angeles, cycling through the same country as I. I loved his words and open-hearted nature so familiar to me as a part-time Californian. “I saw you put your bicycle on the rack and thought, ‘oh wow, there’s someone doing this who is as crazy as me!”. We shared a hotel and a meal, dried off our clothes and worked on our bicycles and talked. We didn’t ride together long, as our paces and tolerance for the cold were quite different, but we still keep in touch. As for me, my destination was Astoria, just across the Columbia River in Oregon. We parted in Raymond, and I pressed on, determined to make the border. 

On November 24th my father phoned me for the first time during his travels to wish me a Happy Birthday and to let me know he was in Oregon. It was also Thanksgiving and he had not a clue what he was going to do about food since everything appeared to be closed. He found a chalet, knocked on their back door and asked if they were serving coffee. A minute later a women came back and handed him a cup of joe free of charge wishing him a Happy Thanksgiving. Luckily by the end of the day he had found himself a place serving Thanksgiving turkey dinners by his hotel.

South Bend, WA                                        Astoria, OR

On November 25th my dad had encountered his second flat tire, the first was ironically four miles into the start of his trip in Washington. While trying to fix his tire, a police officer pulled over to ask him if he needed help. Officer David from Warrenton, OR graciously aided my father in his bike-fixing needs and was already planning ahead as he offered to go home and pick up some spare bike tubes for him. My father was tickled pink that day and texted to tell me how grateful he was for that encounter that made his otherwise hard day a better one.

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Officer David

On November 27th he had arrived in Yachats, OR and much to his dismay there was an error in his room reservation. After it was all sorted he did what anyone would do in that ordeal and went down to what he described as a mermaid bar to have himself a drink! There he met a couple who caught sight of his Teamster work beanie and offered to buy him a drink. He learned that they had a family member who was also a Teamster and naturally, they spoke of his cycling journey. They connected him with their son who is an artist and lives in San Francisco.

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At the “mermaid” restaurant, my father wrote out his itinerary on a paper plate

During his travels to my beloved SF he stopped at a veterans memorial in Oregon where he was deeply touched and took the most photos during his trip.

 

THERE SHALL NOT BE PEACE UNTIL THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER.

-Latrine Wall

 

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“I saw the sign, got very emotional, and then I was over it.”

Seven days from the 27th he had arrived in San Francisco. He spent two days there and had the best meals of his entire trip cooked entirely by the son of the couple from the restaurant. He explored the city and went to Twin Peaks, the Castro and something he described as a tank on a hill. He made his way to Paso Robles where he then boarded a train because he got word that he was needed for a job. I asked him what it was like to come all that way and have it end just a few hundred miles from his destination. He wasn’t bothered by it in the least bit; he experienced more than what he bargained for. He shared precious stories and moments with strangers, he traveled in harsh conditions but the beauty of nature all around made up for every speck of mud picked up by his tires that added weight to his belongings. He cranked his neck in awe to admire the Redwoods, he occasionally closed his eyes for a moment while zooming through the forest on his bike to relax his face as the wind and speckles of water hit him. He experienced a beautiful sense of freedom mixed with thrill that one could find on a bike if they seek this type of thrill, while taking natures beauty and diversity all in.

What if my father hadn’t decided to board that bus and decided to push through the rain? He probably would have never met John. And what if the hotel booking in Yachats went smoothly? He would have never needed that drink and he would not of made that connection in San Francisco. When traveling the way he did, every bump in the road was an opportunity knocking, putting a friendly stranger in his path. Aside from getting to talk to my dad about his trip, I’d also like to acknowledge his mastering of iPhone photography, now I know where I get my eye for photography from!

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Officer David says:

    Great blog! I enjoyed reading about the adventure and enjoyed meeting your Dad!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. john kotab says:

    This post is a cherished keepsake of mine, forever on the human mega-organism’s brain known as the internet.
    I’m passing thru LA soon and would love to get a hold of Mario, though I somehow lost his number (argh!). Contact me please!
    Bless,
    John

    Like

    1. Hi John! My dad is going to text you, is that still an option of communication for you?

      Like

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