Day 16 ~ Portland, OR > Ainsworth State Park, OR (Historic Columbia River Highway)

Garmin Data can be found here.  (Map, distance, graphs…)


After a good sleep in a bed again, we were on the road early.  I didn’t know how far we would get today, but the helpful staff at the hostel said that we should aim for Ainsworth State Park.  I thought the distance was shy of what we wanted to get behind us at the end of the day, but he just nodded and smiled knowingly.  Getting out of Portland to Troutdale (which is basically the outskirts of the city) was kind of boring urban sprawl.  It was distance we had to cover before getting on the start of the Historic Columbia River Highway.  Nobody could confuse Portland as a beautiful city, but that changed once we got to Troutdale.


We stopped in Troutdale for a snack and got information about the rest of today’s ride ahead of us.  We had a steady climb ahead of us for about 10 kms before reaching the first lookout.  After we grunted up that hill in the blazing hot sun, it would mostly be downhill for the rest of the day.  We stopped that the Women’s Forum Viewpoint and had our pictures taken before starting the downhill section of today’s ride.


The rest of the day we would be stopping along the road at different lookouts and waterfalls before making it to Ainsworth State Park.  This is a really beautiful part of the country and the old historic Columbia River Highway takes in all the viewpoints that you miss on the I-84 that skirts the Columbia River below.  The road was in excellent condition and had fresh pavement making it a cyclist’s dream.  It was narrow and windy, so that meant we could keep up with traffic and nobody was behind us.  It was by far the most scenic day of the trip so far and both Tai and I really enjoyed the afternoon.


Next we stopped at the Vista House Lookout and had a peak about before pushing off and heading down to Bridal Vail and Multnomah Falls.  Yes, these were breathtaking views of nature at some of its finest.  Another nice thing about this highway (other than it being all downhill) was that it was shaded for the most part on this very hot day.  At one of the waterfalls that we stopped at we met 4 cyclists that had been riding across the country and were heading to finish up in Portland.  They were impressed with Tai’s riding and were blown away when he started playing mandolin.  Tai had impressed/surprised/shocked quite a few people on this trip so far so we had a little talk about that after they left.  To us it just felt natural and no big deal riding everyday with loaded touring bikes, but a lot of people thought otherwise.  Tai was a magnet for people and I heard more than a few times that I was “raising him right”.  In all truth, it really isn’t that big of a deal to ride this route we have chosen, but it does happen at a much slower pace than in a car.  Tai and I have been able to spend a lot of time together on this trip and I must say that he is a pretty cool kid.  We felt that it came down to luck and opportunity, and this being important to us, we made it happen.  The world is such a fast place now, and it feels good to slow down and simplify.  All the things you need are on your bike and things like food, drink, lodging and riding become central to everything else.  With that said, I’m convinced that a lot more people (including kids) could easily do this (with some training), but it comes down to personal priorities and what you want out of life.


Multnomah Falls was probably the highlight for me today.  It could easily be the backdrop for Rivendell from Lord of the Rings.  Beautiful waterfall with a bridge before it.  With that said, there were a lot of people this on this mid week afternoon.  It was late in the afternoon when we got there and the sun had that magical quality to it.  It was also near the end of the day and we didn’t have that much further to go to Ainsworth State Park, where we would camp for the evening.  At one of the waterfalls Tai decided he wanted to go swimming, so he did.


Multnomah Falls ~ Historic Columbia River Highway

When we got to Ainsworth State Park and set up our tent in the hiker/biker area, it felt good to have a fairly short day (distance wise).  I was thinking that we would make it across the Columbia and be in Washington State, but I am glad that we took the time today to explore all the Historic Columbia River Highway had to offer.  It was built about a hundred years ago for the 1st cars that started appearing on the roads way back when.  We would sleep below the stars this evening and tomorrow morning we would hopefully be crossing the Columbia River and back into Washington State.  I’ll stop writing here and let the pictures do the talking…


Swimming time!


On the last day of the festival the sound system crashed.  We had to wait 30-40 minutes, but I get to play hacky sack with some people.  It was sooper fun!!!  We went to Portland and cruised around on our bikes.  I got a free hat at River City Bicycles.  I got a map case for my handlebar bag.  We slept in a bed for the first time in 13 days!.  We did not have to pay for the showers at the hostel.  It was amazing.  Cool place and we got to meet some amazing travellers.  We slept in bunk beds and one guy snored LOUD!!!

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Rest day

When you are on a long bike tour, you need rest days to recuperate, eat, and have fun.  We’ll this blogger is having a rest day and will be back tomorrow with a great ride to share with you.

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Day 15 ~ Portland, OR

Garmin Data can be found here for today (Map, distance etc…)



We woke just after 7am and met Rodney shortly afterwards in the kitchen.  We cooked breakfast together and he told us about his motorcycle trip starting in NYC.  Really nice guy that is working his way towards the Burning Man festival.  A few others came in and we had a nice breakfast before heading out to explore Portland.  We wanted to hit a few bike shops and also stop by REI to pick up some supplies.  We went to Clever Cycles first, but they weren’t open yet, so we went to River City Bicycles next.


I had heard a lot about River City Bicycles and this would be my first time checking it out.  I was truly impressed!  They had a huge selection and the staff were great.  I got my headset tightened and they installed a new connector for my front light while we were looking around.  We bought a few shop t~shirts, a couple of caps and a jersey for me.  As we were leaving they gave Tai a free shop hat.  Being a bicycle tourist has its perks sometimes when you tell a few stories 😉

After leaving River City Bicycles, we wanted to head towards REI on the other side of the Willamette River.  We crossed on the Burnside bridge which dropped us right in the neighbourhood of Voodoo Donuts, so we had to stop and sample their wares.  Their maple bar donuts with a strip of bacon on top got my nod and Tai got a chocolate oreo donut.  You had to buy your coffee on the other side of the alley ~ what’s up with that???  Not having a good coffee and donut together since leaving, it hit the spot.  Good donuts but not worth the 20~25 minute wait in line.  They were also a bit pricy.  In Canada you see donut shops everywhere, but they have been scarce so far on this trip. Maybe if we were in civilization more often we would see them … and is it donut or doughnut?


After eating we rode up Burnside to 14th and took a right to REI.  They let us bring our bikes in and we wandered around in 2 stories of outdoor accessory heaven.  We bought some dried food, a new cup as mine broke at NWSS, and a rain jacket.  Everywhere I looked, Shower Pass jackets have all been the same price, but Oregon doesn’t have sales tax … easy decision as I have been running on luck so far this trip.  Before I left on this trip, it was the one item I wanted to find while down here in Portland.  Goal met, we turned around and headed back towards Clever Cycles while checking out the downtown area.


We crossed out of downtown on the Hawthorne Bridge and stopped at Clever Cycles.  I have been here a few times before and really like this shop.  Big selection of Brooks saddles and cargo bikes.  We were looking for a map case for Tai’s Ortlieb handlebar bag, and nobody has had the newest version that fits hit bag.  Clever also didn’t have any, but they found a shop nearby that had them in stock and sent us off with directions.  We found Universal Cycle and they indeed did have them in stock.  Goals of the day met, we headed back to the hostel and hung out a bit before going out for dinner and stopping by Safeway to get a few more supplies that we would need for the next few days.

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We had breakfast with Rodney. We went to River City Bicycle, Dad had to fix something  on is bike and I got a free hat and dad got a Rapha hat. Then we went to Voodoo Donuts and the line up was huge it toke like 15 mints I got a Oreo cooky donut and dad got a maple baking bar. Then we went over the bridge to go REI and dad got a slick new rain coat and some food and a new cup. After that we went to Universal Cycle and I got a map kace for my front bag and it works grate and some T-shorts then we went back to the hostel. We had diner at a restaurant and we had eggs benedict and we went around and we went back to the hostel and we video chat with mom it was a  fun day!!! 

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Day 14 ~ Horning’s Hideout, OR > Portland, OR

Garmin Data can be found here.  (Map, distance, graphs and other fun stuff)


Since we only had a 50km ride into Portland from Horning’s, we took our time breaking camp and packing up.  Tai went and said goodbye to Nathan while I did all the final preparations and we started rolling at 11:50am.  The hardest hill of the trip so far was the one getting out of Horning’s and back up to the road.  It was a loose gravel road that zig zagged up a big hill and it just wasn’t safe to ride, so we walked it.  I saw quite a few cars pass us on the way up, but it would be all downhill into North Plains and the highway we needed to take (26 East).  Just before we got into North Plains there was construction and a big traffic line up had formed.  We breezed by all the cars that had passed us and were in North Plains before them.  We met an old hippie while waiting at the front of the line and chatted with him for a while.  Interesting guy.

After refueling in North Plains, we took highway 26 East for a while before turning off and getting on calmer roads.  A cyclist from Portland that I had met at String Summit gave me some route recommendations that we took up and followed.  We rode through some nice areas and passed through Beaverton (home of Nike and Intel) and continued into Portland.  Think urban sprawl.  Getting into the downtown area of Portland was fun riding and traffic was fairly busy as it was the beginning of rush hour when we arrived.  I love riding in downtown traffic!

We found our way to the Portland Hostel in the Hawthorne district just before 5pm and immediately hit the showers.  We smelt and looked like a couple of dirty hippies and needed sprucing up.  Awesome shower!!!  After showers, Tai and I did some much needed laundry and went out for dinner.  This was the first sit down in chairs dinner we had in quite some time and we devoured our eggs benedict.  Living on a small island in the country, we really enjoyed walking the city streets and checking things out.  The Hawthone District of Portland is a pretty cool area with shops, restaurants and bars that make it vibrant and unique.  A lot of hipsters and funky people roaming about tonight.

When we got back to the hostel we got things organized for tomorrow and video chatted with Norie and Ekou.  It was good to see them and hear their voices.  We told them all about String Summit and what we have been up to since we left.  It was getting late when we finished and my camera battery was recharged, so I took a picture of the first beds we would sleep in on the trip.  Another night I would sleep well (I hope).


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Day 13 ~ Last day of Northwest String Summit (Sunday)

P1060408 Dad/John The first coffee of the morning when you are camping is always the best.  Maybe it’s the act of making it outdoor and using a camp stove that pushes it into the next realm … it was quiet this morning and I knew we had a relaxing day ahead of us.  A lot of people would be breaking down camp today, but we are going to leave tomorrow morning.  After coffee we headed down to the Cascade Stage and saw quite a few peacocks cross our path. We caught Big E’s Sunday morning outlaw show and Tai got him to sign his mandolin case afterwards.


Tai & Big E

Since Tai had his mandolin with him, he wanted to do some busking and set up near the coffee line up.  A good spot to be on a Sunday morning and he did really well.  The highlight was when a girl came by and gave Tai a $2 bill and held up a mirror to Tai and told him to look at how cool he was.  That’s the kind of place Northwest String Summit is!!!  We’ve met so many amazing people on this trip.  The coffee stand gave him $5 and a free donut so you know who was gloating all day 😉


Tai getting the Strummit treatment

We went back to the campsite and hung out for a few hours watching people slowly break down camp and goofing around.  We had some amazing neighbours and was sad saying good-byes.  I just feel fortunate to have been able to meet them and have had shared this experience with us.  E-mails were exchanged and pictures were taken. P1060426 Around 2:30 we went down to the concert area and saw Drew Emmit of Leftover Salmon, and a few others play before Yonder Mountain came on stage.  I went to the washroom and as I was opening the door to leave the honey bucket, I opened it to see Cory standing in front of me saying “I met you in South Beach”.  Sure enough I had!  She was the school teacher from Texas that we had met just over a week ago.  We had told her that we were coming here and she decided to check it out for a couple of days.  She didn’t know what to expect, but she said that if 2 people from Canada are riding their bikes there, it must be pretty good.  She was having a great time and was so excited to see the Furthur Bus.  Unfortunately at this time our camera battery died and we didn’t get a picture of her, although we did get to spend a good part of the evening together. P1060436 Yonder Mountain came on around 4:30pm and were going to close the main stage again this year.  They ended up blowing a big generator halfway through the show and losing power sending stage hands into a frenzy.  They worked on it for a good 45 minutes without much success, so they came out and did an “acoustic encore”.  I liked how these guys rolled with things.


tornado …

Afterward we went down to see the Deadly Gentlemen that were playing on the Cascade Stage.  Tai really likes the mandolin player, Dominic Leslie, and got to meet him earlier in the festival.  They were a young band with a lot of energy!  All top notch players!  After their first set we went back to camp to find a lot of cars and people missing.  Going to sleep would be no problem this night.


Today Big E signed my mandolin case. I was busking at the Cascade cafe shop. When I was busking  a lady came and brot a mirror  and shoed it to me and said look how cool you are and gave me a $2 bill. It was so cool!!! we said good bye but i wasn’t sad because I will see them next year. It was funny watching them pack up. When we where going to the main stage, we saw Duminc Leslie AND WE GOT TO MEET HIM!!!!!!! we went to the stage and when Yonder in the middle of the set they lost power and they blew the generator and after 45 minits they told the crowd they are going akoostik and it was fine. After we went to the Deadly Gentleman show at the Cascade stage and it was good  and we got to bed at 1:00 and i slept so good.     

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Day 12 ~ 3rd day of Northwest String Summit (Saturday)


Saturday morning we awoke to another beautiful day.  Being in bed before midnight the night before, we were some of the early risers this morning.  We made coffee and hung out for a while before strolling down to catch Big E’s show that started at 8:30am.  There were a lot of well behaved kids there with parents and I was happy that Big E and Allie had a good size crowd for such an early start.  Both of them are wonderful musicians and they sounded great.  They were engaging and entertaining which made them very accessible for the kids, while at the same time speak to the adults.  They did a great job and Tai went over and talked with them after the show.


Big E



When we were leaving and walking by the coffee area, Tai wanted to go get his mandolin and make some pocket money for the show.  He saw a toy bus that he wanted to buy for Ekou, so he set up and busked for about 20~25 minutes until he had enough money ($20).


Tai’s busking behind there


Afterwards we went back to camp and hung out in the shade until mid afternoon.  David Grisman’s Bluegrass Experience, Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band were playing today so there was going to be a lot of good music.  There was music going on everywhere at this festival and we saw some great picking in the parking lots and campsites.  In our little area, we had a guitar, banjo and mandolin so there was always some picking going on.


David Grisman’s Bluegrass Experience

We went for a hike through the Back 40 and then up to Land’s End before circling back to the venue area.  David Grisman sounded great if you were close, but up on the hill you could  hardly hear them.  Leftover Salmon came on around dinner time and were the highlight of the weekend.  Great festival music that had people dancing and singing up to the moon.  A really fun band to see live.


Leftover Salmon

When Leftover Salmon finished, Polecat started playing on the Further bus and were literally rocking it.  It was the first I had heard of them, but I really liked it and bought one of their CD’s.  We went and bought some food afterward and then roamed around before Yonder Mountain came on.

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Tai had some glow in the dark glasses that he brought from home and tonight was the night that he busted them out.  The light show was great on Saturday night and the fans brought a lot of cool toys to play with as well.  About halfway through the 2nd set of Yonder we decided to call it a night.  It was cooling off quickly and we had a big day.  Another night we’d be some of the early ones that went to bed.  This a great family friendly festival that has a quiet area, but still has plenty going on after the main stage shuts down for the night in other parts of the park.


Night vision

A few more pictures


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Day 11 ~ 2nd day at Northwest String Summit (Friday)

I’ve tried a couple of times to start today, but nothing comes close to conveying the feelings and memories.  Today was the highlight of our trip and I’ll let the video and pictures speak for themselves.  Thanks so much to Big E for making this happen and being such a wonderful human being!

Be assured that the day was filled with music, laughter and fun 😉


I was nervous when we were going to the Cascade stage. But when iI got there it was fine. I had to wake up early. It was the time I was wating for I GOT TO PLAY AT NWSS!!!! When I was playing Lonesome Fiddle Blues with Big E and Allie there was a good rush in me and all my camp neighbours were there and Nathan.

The pictures


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