For Mother's Day, I wanted to do something different this year. Yes, taking your mom out to eat at a restaurant or buying jewelery is very popular, but I thought of a way to combine both visiting my mom and stepfather, and getting out for a nice weekend of bicycling.
For about $140 a night I rented a three bedroom townhouse on Orcas Island in the San Juans. The building seemed built as an family vacation home or apartment complex, which made it good for us all. I also invited Ryan and Emi to stay. I figured I might as well use all the rooms up. Orcas Island was selected primarily since: Lopez was not interesting for those not on bicycle or kayak, Hitomi and I had been to San Juan a few times recently, and I had not been on Orcas since back in 1999 when Hitomi came to visit.
Hitomi's visit in 1999 I can still clearly remember: We came on a ferry late at night. I could just barely find a car camp site in Moran State Park for us that night. In the dark, with the headlights on, I set up Tim's orange REI dome tent and several egg-crate mattresses and blankets and things for our nest. Unlike our typical backpack experience, we could roll around together naked. I brought a cooler of food, including cheese and cookies, and had to go without dinner that night, since all places were closed around 11PM, and sat in the car in Eastsound eating by the water. Perhaps we listened to music or talked. The following morning, it was cold but sunny and we ate a bit by the shore of a lake. I had my MD player (bought in Japan), along with a copy of the Brain Powerd soundtrack and we drove and listened to the same music many times that weekend. It was warm and early in the year: The low orange light of spring, as the day turned to night at the ferry terminal, lit up the madrona trees. Hitomi slept in the car, as she always does.
Hitomi must have had a good time, since later she wrote a travel essay about the experience and won a free plane ticket from a Japanese travel agency. She also put in my story about how my friends and I tried to get revenge on the racoons on Orcas island, by peeing on some food packages they had ripped open.
At the time, I borrowed (reappropriated) my stepfather (or perhaps mother's?) frame and modified it by adding climbing bars, a rack, and panniers. I put a handlebar bag on the bicycle which could hold our road map and various bicycle stuff. I borrowed (reappropriated) a sleeping bag, tent, and ground pad. Kevin, Mike, and later Ian, went on the trip. It was my idea (from having been on Lopez many times in High School) to tour the various other islands, including Orcas. I tried to promote a minimalist approach by eating many meals in town so we didn't have to haul food or cook very much. (This was also because we had no decent cookwear or stove. Cooking over a fire didn't work so well on cheap pans we had.) Salsa, cheese, tortillas and cans of fruit were staples.
"Battlelords" — our group's signature game — served as our trip's entertainment. (Besides the aforementioned taunting of the racoons which happened because we had no way to secure our food from assult at the Orcas camp.) We probably spent more time playing that game than bicycling.
The experience of touring by bicycle was a bit different than staying in a hotel and taking trips by day. There's more romance in bicycle touring than car touring. There's more romance in first loves than in second loves. However, I still found the experience of being on the road on a much better bicycle enjoyable.
Hitomi has the pictures on her site of me in my bike clothes and a cinnamon roll.