Gear, Routes, and Rings: Honeymooning in New Zealand 

“Let the dream devour your life so that the life does not devour your dream.”

  
Kevin and I are currently sitting at the airport in Sydney waiting for our final flight of the day which will bring us to Auckland, New Zealand, where we will begin our three month cycle touring honeymoon. We left straight from our two-day wedding campout – which took place around a huge campfire in a ranch at Silver Falls State Park – and can’t wait to begin life as a married couple on our bikes enjoying the absolute freedom that cycle touring brings.

I got the snow I had been dreaming of, and though the recent ice storm made it impossible for some of our guests to arrive, for those who made it it was absolutely beautiful! There will be more photos in the coming weeks once our photographer has a chance to go through them all.

  
Our plan these next three months is to cycle through the mountains partially using New Zealand’s new  bikepacking “Great Divide” route – Aotearoa – and partially following whatever mountains and rivers seem most appealing as we make our way south. We are setting out with our typical overarching goals as well; to find beautiful small rivers to fish, peaceful and breathtaking places to camp, and small rough mountains roads to climb. 

  
Though I still have a comprehensive gear post from our last big trip, I figured I would give an update for this one-season summer trip as we have been able to reduce our gear to just our back panniers. For information about packing for a multi-season world tour or for more about our bikes feel free to check out our previous post about gear

Clothes (for one person)

 

1 light down jacket

1 rainpants + rainjacket 

1 warm hat

1 sunglasses

1 buff

1 cycling gloves

1 neoprene gloves (going downhill in the rain = very unhappy frozen hands)

1 neoprene socks (so that I can wear Keens when it’s raining)

3 small bags (to sort and hold clothes)

1 thin fleece jacket 

1 pair track-pants 

1 Icebreaker 200 merino wool base layer

1 thin (silk/merino wool) leggings base layer

1 pair keens (I wear these in all seasons with different layers of socks)

1 running shoes

2 cycling shirts (not cotton)

1 spandex shorts

1 knee length shorts (cycling or around town)

2 thin socks/ 1 longer thing sock/ 1 big socks

2 sports bras/ 8 underwear

1 dress (for around town and rest days)

1 running shorts (swimming/sleeping/hanging out)

1 tanktop (swimming/sleeping/hanging out) 
Electronics (for both of us)

  

1 Garmin GPS etrek 30 – open source maps of New Zealand

2 back lights (small rechargable)

2 headlamps

1 solar powered lantern (if you haven’t seen these, check them out they are under 20$ and awesome!)

1 Go pro (thanks to Kevin’s brother for letting us borrow his)

1 camera (both my old cameras broke so now I have a canon G5X)

1 Gorilla pod

1 Ipad

1 Kindle

1 power bank

Bike stuff (for both of us)

1 Pump

1 knipex (extra small) channel locks 

1 leatherman

1 hub wrench

1 bicycle multi-tool

1 cassette remover

1 break cable

1 shifting cable

1 Patch kit

10+ zip ties

Assortment of bolts/ miscellaneous small parts

4 BB7 brake pads

1 roll electrical tape

Chain oil

Cooking/Water stuff (for both of us)

1 Katadyn water filter

2 Fuel bottles

4 water bottles on the bike

2 nalgene water bottles (1L)

1 Primus stove

1 flint lighter (no more running out of lighter fluid)

1 six liter MSR bladder

1 pot/ handle

2 bowls

2 long spoon

1 Victorinox knife (we love these, they are very sharp)

1 can opener (p38)

1 small cheese grater 

Other (for both of us)

50 feet p-core

1 first aid kid (plus waterproof matches)

1 sewing kit (needle, dental floss, patch kit for Thermarest/tent/waders)

soap

toothbrushes

Contact solution/mirror

1 quick-dry towel 

 

Down sleeping bags, sleeping pads (Therm-a-Rest Neoair), and our three person Big Agnes tent.

 
 

We are trying out a waterproof backpack this time around which will sit on our back rack and be used for day trips without our bikes.

 
  
  
One additional thing I’ve brought with me this time around is a small handheld running water bottle, my running shoes, and my running watch in the hopes that I will find some time (and energy) to run semi-regularly along this trip. 

 

Photo taken just before my first 50km trail race a few weeks ago!

 
Feel free to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@awanderingphoto) for photos and stories throughout our journey!

Finding, and Then Making Home: Bend, OR

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
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It’s been a while since I’ve check in, partially because I’ve hardly been on my bike except for my daily commute, and being a bike touring blog, I haven’t had much to say, and partially because I have been waiting with anticipation these last few months to move back to Bend. Now that I am here, I am ready to share. Though it was great to be near family in Astoria, Kevin and I both realized that we had left a part of ourselves in Bend, a part of ourselves that we weren’t going to be able to proceed without, so a few months ago Kevin applied for repel jobs with the forest service, and I applied to OSU-Cascades in order to move in time for spring semester.
 
So now we are here. Like many people moving to this booming town, we moved here for the lifestyle; for the hundreds of miles of running and mountain bike trails in and around town, for the six months of skiing just twenty miles down the road, for the river (Deschutes) that runs right through town, and for the hiking, rock-climbing, mountaineering, backpacking and snowshoeing all within a half hour drive. We moved here for the thousands of outdoor possibilities and for a community of people who love all of these things at least as much as we do.

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2015 In Pictures: A Year of Highs and Lows From Patgonia to Oregon

A bike packed full of food, some mountains, and a boy equals one happy girl! Torres del Paines, 2015.

A bike packed full of food, some mountains, and a boy equals one happy girl! Torres del Paines, 2015.

This last year will be remembered by Kevin and I as a year of high highs – from cycling through Patagonia with friends to pushing our bikes up and down rough roads in the Andes – but also, one of incredibly low lows – like when ending our trip early became a reality and I cried for nights on end. 2015 was the year of South America, and all of the wonderful adventures it held, but also, 2015 was the year we began to adjust our thinking from what’s most fun in the moment, to how to accomplish long term goals. It’s been a divided year; a year in which we spent the first six months living in a tent, and the latter half living in an apartment. A year where we had complete freedom for part, and jobs, appointements, and commitments for the rest. A year where we lived in nature, and then a year where we were stuck indoors. This last year has also been the year we lived near family, the year Kevin and I solidified our relationship both on and off the bike, and the year we began to figure out where we want to be in the future. It’s been a year of transitions, and it hasn’t always been pretty, but looking back, it’s also been a hell of a lot of fun.

We began 2015 in Turkey, before quickly making our way down to Ushuaia where we began the South American part of our trip. We spent six months cycling from Ushuaia to Peru, before taking a last minute flight back home where we surprised our families, and started a (temporary) life for ourselves in Astoria, OR. So here it is, our year of adventures from cycling the Andes to canoeing in our own backyard.

2016 will also be a year of adjustment for us; we will be moving again (and are both very excited about this), and with that, we will both be changing jobs as well (plus, I will be going back to school). We are both excited by what this near year will bring, and anxious to start planning our next adventure (spoiler alert, we are in the beginning phases of planning our next three month bike trip). But until then, we are both commited to making more microadventures happen in our attempt to explore our beautiful state. Here is to what 2015 gave us, and to the new year to come.

Commuting By Choice

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Grocery shopping at its finest! The check out lady asked me if I was homeless after she found out I was cycling home with my groceries. It amused me in the moment, but in reality, its a pretty darn sad fact that so few people cycle here in the States, so incredibly few that everyone else assumes that you do it simply because you have no other options. I am proud to commute by bike; not because I’m desperate, but because I can.

I do not currently live in a bike friendly town like where I grew up in Eugene, or Oregon’s most famous cycling city, Portland. Here in Astoria, there are no bike racks outside of stores, and it rains pretty much everyday for eight months of the year. Never the less, I choose everyday to ride instead of drive for economic, health, and environmental reasons, never mind the fact that it simply makes me happier. There are many benefits to commuting by bike, and I hope that someday our country starts to catch on, but until then, I’ll proudly be the “homeless” person at the grocery store buying a weeks worth of groceries and a whole bag of toilet paper.

Pursuing What Feels Right: Checking-in and Changing Plans

‘You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.’

Near Bend Oregon.

Near Bend Oregon.

Within two months of living here in Astoria, OR, Kevin and I decided that despite all of our best intentions of making this place home, it just wasn’t going to work out for us. Though part of our unease with the lifestyle we have been creating for ourselves here simply has to do with coming back from such a long trip – from transitioning from a life of freedom to one of western confinement – the other part has to do with things we have control over, like our location and our jobs. Though Astoria is a cute perfectly sized (10,000 population) town right on the water, it lacks mountains – and all of the wonderful activities that come from having mountains in your backyard – and the outdoorsy and active community we seek. And though I do enjoy my job working in the leaning center with children with behavioral needs at the K-2 elementary school, it is most certainly not what I plan to do for the rest of my life.

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When A Beautiful Night Just Isn’t Enough

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

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Just seventy-five kilometers from my front door, I found one of the best camping spots I have ever had. It was a much need reminder that I don’t have to go half-way around the world to pitch my tent, and that there is still plenty to explore in my own backyard.

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Ironically enough though, after such an amazing night, I decided that I was done. For perhaps the first time ever, I decided that I would rather be home than cycle touring, and so I turned around and cut my five day weekend cycling trip short. It wasn’t because I don’t enjoy the camping or the cycling anymore, because I do, it was because I realized that escaping on weekend trips every now and again isn’t changing our daily reality. One of the best parts about our long tour was that it was our reality. We weren’t counting down the days until the next weekend, because we enjoyed (not always in the moment, but at least in retrospect) what we were doing every minute of the day, and there was never anywhere else I felt that I would have rather been. Now though, there always seems to be somewhere else I would rather be. While I am at work I would rather be cycling, yet while I am cycling I would rather be back home.

So I headed back home and spent the weekend cooking (one of my new hobbies now that we have a kitchen) and then joined Kevin on a small kayaking-crabbing adventure just outside our town on his day off.

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Though there are moments of fun and happiness, both of us are frustrated with our lives here in Astoria for a few reasons. For starters, we are extremely busy (especially Kevin as he works a lot) so really all we do is work, eat, sleep. Every single day. That’s all we do. Everyday is so predictable, and the weeks fly by not because we are having so much fun, but because they are all the same. It’s not that every moment itself is miserable; I actually really enjoy my job in the special needs classroom (at the k-2 elementary school), but simply working, cooking, and sleeping isn’t enough to make me feel fulfilled anymore. I feel as if something is missing now that I have no outlet for my passions, now that I am no longer doing any of the things that I love on a daily basis, but rather on the occasional weekend. It is hard to go from so much freedom and free time to absolutely none of either of these things, and though we both realize that jumping back on the bikes for an endless tour isn’t the solution, we also know that we need to make some life changes in the near future in order to find a balance between all of the things we love and create the sort of life we actually want to live.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

The Power of Commuting by Bike

“Riding bicycles will not only benefit the individual doing it, but the world at large.” -Udo E. Simonis

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Cycling to work everyday is the best part of my day. It’s thirty minutes where I can’t be doing anything else; where I’m in my own head with the wind in my hair. It’s more than just a cheap way to get to work, it’s a way of life which connects you with amazing people who are interested in the outdoors, responsible living, and an active lifestyle. I commute by bike because I enjoy it. It’s refreshing to begin and end your day on the bicycle, alone on a river path, or zig-zagging through stopped cars. I commute by bike because it does not pollute the air. Because it does not clog up the streets. Because it does not harm our planet. I commute by bike because those thirty minutes twice a day act as an antidepressant. Or cheap therapy. Or just simply time to reflect on your day, year, or whole life. I bike to work everyday because it’s an inexpensive and effective form of transportation and because it encourages a healthier lifestyle. I cycle to work every single day because no matter what the weather looks like, there is no other way I would rather arrive.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: The Pacific West Coast USA

Camping on the Oregon Coast.

Camping on the Oregon Coast.

I started my tour in July 2013 by cycling down the Pacific West Coast as a warm up; a warm up which turned into an amazing five weeks as the cycling was easy, the hiker/biker campsites were a great way to meet other cyclists, and the scenery was beautiful. Though I had never toured, knew absolutely nothing about bikes and hadn’t trained at all for this trip, this didn’t seem to matter as I was able to start out slowly (doing fifty or so kilometers a day) before increasing my mileage when it felt right. Within a few weeks I was cycling 80-120km/day, and loving every minute of it. Along this route I stayed with various hospitable families who renewed my faith in humanity, was encouraged along by passing cars, swam in rivers amongst the gigantic redwoods, and fell asleep beside the beach listening to the crashing waves. I also met dozens of other cyclists, from students to retirees, doing this same route which made nights around the campfire a whole lot of fun.

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A Wet Weekend of Bikepacking: Oregon Microadventures

“This is what it means to be an adventurer in our day: to give up creature comforts of the mind, to realize possibilities of imagination. Because everything around us says no you cannot do this, you cannot live without that, nothing is useful unless it’s in service to money, to gain, to stability. The adventurer gives in to tides of chaos, trusts the world to support her – and in doing so turns her back on the fear and obedience she has been taught. She rejects the indoctrination of impossibility. My adventure is a struggle for freedom.”

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Last weekend Kevin and I set out on an impromptu “bikepacking” trip, which in short is cycle touring on unridable paths which involve a lot of pushing or carrying. In this case, after a beautifully sunny day riding on the beach and the highway, we camped at the top of a large hill (Tillamock Head for those of you in the region) overlooking the ocean (and the jumping wales down below) before pushing and carrying our bikes up and down an extremely muddy 7km path.

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Bringing Cycle Tourists Home

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We finally got to host our first cycle tourists this weekend! On Sunday around six pm I looked out my window and saw two fully loaded cycle tourists down a few blocks just off the main road. Though I felt like a bit of a creep, I kept checking back every few minutes to see if they were still there and after my tenth or so time sneaking a look I decided to grab my shoes and go meet them. After sprinting down a small path through someone’s backyard I ran across the street before calmly walking over to them with ever intention of politely introducing myself. Instead, all in one fast sentence, I said “hello I cycle tour too, do you need a meal and a place to stay cause I just cooked a lot of food and you should really come stay with me I live right up there I could see you from my window and you are our first cycle tourists to come over and we really want you to stay the night.” It turned out that they were indeed looking for a place to stay so we all started to make our way back to our house, as I was practically bouncing up and down with excitement that finally, after so many years of being invited into other people’s homes, we were the ones taking strangers home to ours.

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