Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve gone from Portland to Port Townsend and am half way through the complete protest ride. So far, people are asking these questions in person and so I am writing them up here in case you have the same questions.

How long did it take?

It took five days to get from Portland to Port Townsend.

How much stuff did you bring?

I didn’t bring much and even that was too much. You can see my backpack in this post.

Was the ride fun?

It was an adventure but I wouldn’t say it was fun. Parts of it could be seen as fun but it’s a lot of hard work and at times it’s outright grueling.

What kind of bike did you ride?

A Gary Fisher Cronus.

Did you buy special bike gear?

I got a few things but not too much.

How do you know where you’re going? Did you use a map?

Every night I study a google map to see where I’ll be riding the next day. While on the road I use a Garmin Nuvi 225 GPS. It has really helped.

How far do you go each day?

I rode about 50 miles per day. Some days I rode less, some days more.

How many hours is that?

5-8 hours per day.

Did you ride alone or is someone following you in a car?

I rode alone but stay in touch with a support system.

Have you ridden on trips like this before?

No. I have ridden a bicycle all my life, but not long distances.

Did you wear special clothes?

No, but I did wear a bicycle raincoat.

Where did you sleep? Did you camp?

To camp I’d have needed to buy camping gear. By the time I arrive at a hotel/motel I’m usually drenched in sweat, tired and sometimes hungry.

Why did you do this?

I’m bicycling instead of riding in a car to protest the BP Oil Disaster.

Day 5: Belfair to Port Townsend

Bike lane

Belfair to Port Townsend

It’s Friday.

Bike lane

Bike lane!

It rained on and off yesterday so my camera was out only intermittently.

Candidates

Thought pollution.

Signs, signs, everywhere are signs. (I wonder if someone cleans up the candidate’s signs after the election.)

Eyepatch

Pirate candidate. Wait, someone drew on that eye patch.

Nobody yelled at me or mistook me for a criminal yeterday.

Flowers

Flowers.

In fact, despite a small road with no shoulder and a lot of pot holes, the ride was problem free for the most part.

Route 3 became a full highway and I was on it. It was actually quite nice because the land was flat and the wind was behind me. However, when the exits came up it was pretty nerve racking. I didn’t stay on there too long.

When Route 3 curved to the left I opted to exit only to find myself on another highway with large walls on either side. I now understand roadkill from a different perspective. Cars and trucks do not stop for anything. It’s their highway, get off!

From where I was, it seemed possible to go back to Route 3. After running across the east bound lanes to the west bound side, it became apparent that I was standing at the very end of the shoulder before it became the onramp to Route 3. I’d certainly be hit if I tried to go that way. My sense of security disappeared and it was time to bail.

I climbed a 4.5 ft high concrete wall to find myself on the cul de sac in a very blue collar neighborhood. The people there really looked at me as I rode through town. Still, no police interaction.

Modern home

Modernist home on the waterfront.

Houses all start to look the same but once in a while something unique catches my eye. I like modern homes so I photographed the one above. It was on the waterfront in a nice area. What a show place. A large house on a fairly small lot.

One residence (which I did not photograph) had a boat, a large SUV and several cars out front. A small house had two Hummers parked in the driveway. I also passed a very modest (actually, small and dirty) roadside trailer with a very nice, new Ford Mustang parked outside. What does it say about people when their car is nicer or better kept than their home? Perhaps I should ask myself. My bicycle is a real head turner, after all.

Bike

Imagine this parked outside while a stranger photographs your home.

For every hill you glide down, there’s another one to climb up. No, wait, other way around.

Shopping road

Road in anywhere.

My motto for the past two days has been, “I kill hills.”

Construction

Construction passed.

In fact, I got to the top of one hill to find a line of cars, with their engines shut off, backed up due to road construction (they were installing bike lanes). I rode all the way to the front and they let me through! After passing the construction, I paused to take a picture. 

Dandelions

Dandelions.

Why do people spray weed killer on Dandelions? What’s wrong with lots of yellow flowers?

PT Sign

First sign for Port Townsend.

The first Port Townsend sign was a happy moment. Then came the Hood Canal Bridge. What a mile marker!

HCB

Hood Canal Bridge.

Thank goodness they added bike lanes in 2009.

HCB view

View from the Hood Canal Bridge.

The sun finally started to peek out.

Barn

Barn on the way to Port Townsend.

12 more miles. About an hour to go.

Barn

Barn on the way to Port Townsend.

Finally!

PT Sign

Welcome to Port Townsend.

I arrived in Port Townsend yesterday at about 6 PM. I left Belfair at 11 AM. 

PT

Downtown Port Townsend.

The other day I complained about being old. Today I felt… not young, but strong.

By the time I reached town I was drenched in sweat, needed to do laundry and was hungry for dinner.

Killer hill

I kill hills.

There was one last hill to climb. It had three and a half parts. To demonstrate how I kill hills, I took its picture while peddling up the first part ‘cuz that’s how I roll now. 

Hostel

Olympic Hostel.

After finally reaching the hostel, I did my laundry and went to bed. One of the guys in the room was snoring. Hopefully tonight will be a better night for sleep.

For Worden Tree

Tree at Fort Worden.

School starts tonight and Fort Worden will be my home for the next week. This is my last college residency so I’m going to do my best to soak up all the discussions about art, social justice, appropriation and all that jazz.

The BP Protest Ride home begins next Saturday!

I’ll do my best to update this blog during the week. There’s a bunch of things I’d like to show and tell you. If you have anything you want to know about, please comment. I’m not checking email while away. Thanks for reading.

BP Oil Spill News for Friday, August 20, 2010

Most BP Oil Still Pollutes the Gulf, Scientists Conclude

BP Oil Spill Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants

BP accused of withholding ‘critical’ spill data

BP oil spill: Final Gulf of Mexico well seal delayed

New Orleans mayor tells media group BP is ‘poised to cut and run’

BP Oil Spill: Dealing with Uncertainty, Human Health and a Manhattan-Sized Toxic Soup

Day 4: Olympia to Belfair

Route

Day 4 Route

Rolled out of Olympia at 8:10 AM. I took a photo of the eco-friendly phone book before I left. It made me think about designers.

Eco Phone Book

Eco Phone Book (it’s smaller).

In Portland, there’s a lot of talk in the design community about sustainability. Years ago I used to think that designers were elitists who thought they held some kind of magic power over society. These days I can see how influential and important it is to be a designer.

Cutting the phone book in half and calling it “eco” might be a way to use less materials. Perhaps newspapers and magazines should feature smaller “eco” versions of their publications.

Free stuff

Don’t you just want it?

It was cloudy and cold and it stayed that way almost all day. Today’s challenge was figuring out where to stay and which route to take. Because I’m traveling into a more woodsy and less populated area, I wanted to make certain that a bed would be available.

Roadside Memorial

Ryan & Sara Dahl Roadside Memorial

I could have continued up Highway 101 into Hoodsport or up Route 3 towards Bremerton. Either route had a hotel at the half way point. By 10 AM only one hotel was answering the telephone and so I paid the $20 rate difference to know I wouldn’t be camping in the woods without a tent.

Lunchbreak

Lunchbreak location: Allyn, WA.

On my way up I stopped in Allyn and ate lunch. Gwenn has been telling me I don’t have to ride straight through but I lose momentum from stopping. Don’t you want to nap after you eat?

It rained on and off throughout the ride so my camera mostly stayed hidden in the bag behind me. The hotel I’m in is the nicest one I’ve stayed at throughout my trip.

I put the TV on to relax. However, it didn’t work. Some country music star with a house as big as a high school was showing off his party crib and rambling about being a red white and blue collar American.

Cribs

Country Music Cribs, photo taken off the TV

Whenever I watch cable television it makes me want to be a motorcycle building, ghost hunting, best selling, great dancing, mansion owning, top model award winning chef million dollar American Idol.

I called my mother. My grandfather has been placed under hospice care in New Jersey. She asked if I was alone and then asked why I always have to do these crazy things. I wanted my mom to get it. I wish my grandfather could get it. But they don’t and they won’t. Or maybe this whole protest is just not clear enough.

Good ideas are simple solutions. They just make sense and they SOLVE a problem, like this seat handle from the hotel toilet.

Toilet Seat Handle

Simple. It just works.

When we hung up the telephone, the sun was out so I took a walk to get something to eat. It was rush hour. Cars were lined up as far as the eye could see.

Litter

Roadside Trash

I took a photo of a discarded toy and wondered how it got there. Did a kid throw it out the window? Did the parent? Are those two squad cars that passed coming back for me? They immediately turned around. One of the cars pulled into the parking lot to my right but I didn’t look. I just kept on walking.

The officer got out of the car and said, “Excuse me, can I speak to you a moment?”

I said, “sure” and turned back to walk toward her.

“You don’t have any weapons,” she said as she tilted her head and stopped in her tracks. I removed my hands from my pockets to show her my palms.

“You were over at the bank weren’t you.”

“Huh?” I asked.

“I’ve seen the video. You’re the guy who has been taking pictures of the plates,” she said.

I said that I had just arrived.

She asked if I was staying at the motel and asked how long I’d been in town.

“Um, since like one o’clock,” I told her.

She asked for my ID and I gave it to her. It’s so routine. The police copy down your name, address and possibly your DL license number. I’ve had this happen to me many times before. I have that look. Allowing the officer to gather your personal information is a good way to cooperate and avoid confrontation. Then I thought about you reading this blog.

“After that, can I get a photo of us?” I asked. Her backup had just arrived and I thought maybe he’d snap a picture.

“No,” she said.

I took my camera lens cap off. She was writing my name down.

I don’t remember the exact words, but she pretty much ordered me not to take her photo.

“I won’t take you, I’m just going to show your hands,” I told her. (It’s possible I said “shoot your hands,” which would certainly be a bad choice of words.) She held her notebook up as if to pull it away from a sibling.

“Don’t—”

I snapped the photo. It all happened very quickly.

“You’re about to get jacked up here!” she scolded. Her backup was about ten feet behind her. I put the lens cap back on and said, “We’re in public, I know it’s okay for me to take photos.”

She finished copying my information and handed back my ID. Her backup (he had a separate car) came closer and kind of smiled. I asked what was happening. She said that someone was taking pictures of bank employee license plates and that they’ve had several bank robberies recently.

“And I look like the guy,” I said.

The other officer said they were just doing their job, which they were. I asked where the pizzeria is located. They gave me directions but it was about a mile down the road. She shook my hand and we all went on our way. Lucky for them! It was almost looking like I was gonna have to pull some Rambo sh*t!

Oh, and in case you don’t believe, here’s the photo:

Officer

I look like a criminal.

I ended up walking to the QFC (not KFC) and getting some very expensive groceries.

Dinner

Reusing my plastic fork.

I reused my plastic fork from Safeway in Centralia. Too bad the pasta salad came in a plastic container.

Day 3: Centralia to Olympia

I’m in Olympia, Washington. Today has been wonderful. I’m taking it easy. Yesterday I rode for seven hours and was hurting. Today I rode 2.5 hours and am allowing my body to catch up.

Go green.

It’s your responsibility to be green.

The card in the photo above was on last night’s hotel night table. Somehow it reads like the company wants to save money and so they tell you to “go green” in order to accomplish their own selfish desires. All of the suggestions appear to be ways that the hotel could save money on expenses.

I’m not sure what the hotel management was thinking when they put this ashtray in a non-smoking room. I guess the previous guest drank the bottle of Jack Daniels labeled with a no drinking sticker.

No Smoking!

No smoking ashtray.

Ever notice how companies put ecological and health-related responsibilities on the customer? We should know better than to smoke drink, eat or use what they’re selling us. Everything is a gimmick.

Route Motel 6 gave me a good rate on a room but I had to pay extra for Internet access, which basically made the room the same price as the other local economy hotels that were offering “free” Internet access. Anyhow, today was a new day.

I woke up at 7:30 AM. The hotel had a console shower that looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. I hoped I’d step in and be transported to my destination. It didn’t work but I tell you, there’s nothing like a warm shower with strong water pressure to transform your spirits!

The goal for day 3 was to change my rhythm and slow down enough to take photos and smell the roses. Yesterday was grueling and there was no way I could repeat it again. Luckily I didn’t have to.

Flag

Big flag by the Firehouse.

Today I rode through God’s country.

Holding hands

Couple holding hands.

It really was God’s country.

Keeping America, AMERICA

Keeping America, AMERICA!

It was God’s country In many different ways.

Jesus Saves

Be saved.

The roads were flat and open with wide shoulders—the complete opposite of yesterday.

Open Road.

There were so many pretty wild flowers along the side of the road.

Flowers

Flowers!

You might not notice them as you drive by at 50 mph, but they’re there.

Flowers

More flowers!

There’s one in this picture but it’s hard to see. Look near the train tracks.

Flower

Flower near the train tracks.

Here’s one up close.

Flower

Another flower.

Flowers, flowers everywhere.

Flowers

Flower, flowers, flowers.

Can you get over how many flowers are on the roadside?

Flower are survivors.

It’s almost weird because there was often a dead zone between the plants and the asphalt where nothing grew. In some cases there was dirt in the zone and in some spots there was grass that had for some reason dried up and died. Still, those flowers just came right up!

Flowers

Flowers are survivors.

Okay, okay. Enough flower pictures. I don’t want to hit you over the head with them. Not everyone is interested in flowers.

Open road

Flat, open road.

Today’s ride was great. The sun was out but there was plenty of shade. The roads were quiet and flat. It was so nice to be able to notice the little things.

Flowers

More flowers!

Gosh, I just coudn’t get over the amount of flowers that were EVERYWHERE.

Even more flowers

Yes, even still more flowers!

It’s like they’re taking over.

Horse

A horse and flowers.

It’s hard to see, but does anyone know why this horse is wearing a blindfold? I couldn’t tell if the mask is a pair of horse sun glasses or if it makes the horse blind. It would be terrible if the latter was the case. Imagine wearing blinders all day that made you unable to see things. There would be so many things you would miss and so many signs you wouldn’t be able to read.

Keep out

Keep Out.

Maybe not being able to read could be a good thing. Signs can be a form of thought pollution. They’re designed to take your attention and influence your actions.

This is not a bus stop.

Some signs aren’t so overt. It’s hard to tell what they’re saying because there’s no words on them. Not having big, bright fonts makes it hard to see the signs.

Sign

Little sign.

You’d have to slow down and get up close to understand.

Bike lane

My favorite sign.

Of all the signs I saw today, the Bike Lane sign was my favorite. It meant I was arriving in Olympia.

The Capitol

The Capitol Building ahead.

Olympia is a really nice place. There’s so much more I want to show and tell you but I don’t yet have the time.

Olympia

Downtown Olympia.

I’m going to stay here and rest. Tomorrow and the next day are going to be long, trying rides. I’m half way to Port Townsend.

Hotel

It really is that yellow in the hotel room.

It may look like I’m getting my ass kicked.

Cut

When did that happen?

But it feels like I’m kicking ass.

Day 2: Longview to Centralia

New Tube Woke up at 5:30 AM, changed the flat tube and was surprised to find that it was punctured on the inside, close to the hub. Perhaps it was just a freak accident.

When you wake up early and ride all day in the heat, your mind goes all over the place. Being alone does that to a person. You think a mile a minute.

My MAcGyver-style handlebar camera mount also works well for the Garmin Nuvi 225 GPS. After a long detour, the GPS earned its value today.

Garmin Nuvi 225

MAcGyver handlebar GPS mount.

My trusty travel backpack is doing well, however it’s too heavy. I might visit the post office and send something home so to lighten my load.

Backpack

Packed and ready to go!

The little American flag was picked up off the shoulder of the road yesterday. It waves in the wind and I pretend it helps me get seen by drivers, which for the most part steer clear of me.

Continental Breakfast?

Continental Breakfast?

After a hit of OJ, an English Muffin and two frozen hardboiled eggs (they were in the mini fridge overnight), I was off and riding. It was actually cold outside in the morning—and very humid. I fantasized that it would stay cool all day. However, I knew better. My early start was designed to avoid the sun.

Horses

Horses once roamed free. Then they became transportation. Cars made them into pets.

It was so cold, in fact, that I put on three layers near the gate by these horses. They seemed disappointed that I wasn’t there to feed them.

By far the most common trash item on the road side is single-use beer and soft drink containers. They were everywhere.  I was going to photograph them, but you know what litter looks like.

As I passed by a high school I noticed a tiny BP with a circle and line through it painted on their graduation rock. It reminded me why I’m doing this ride.

No BP Rock

Painted rock outside of a high school.

Bicycling for a long distance is interesting. If I’m singing songs in my head it means things are good. If I’m thinking about my body it means things are grueling. I welcomed getting lost today because it distracted me from the pain.

Roadside Cross

I passed more of these yesterday than today.

I’m not a young man anymore. My back is hurting. My ring fingers are experiencing numbness. I’ve got a bad back. Having a weak spine has prevented me from continuing with Mixed Martial Arts.

Vader Post Office

Vader Post Office.

There comes a point in your life when you realize that you just can’t do everything you used to do.

Route

Reaching that point of actualization also means that there are many things you didn’t yet do that you won’t be able to take on. It’s part of accepting and coping with reality… or growing old.

Train Crossing

Along the way…

A train passed by the Farmer’s Association moments after that photo was taken. It was fast and loud. Anything that got in its way would certainly be destroyed.

Colorful Memorial

There was another cross off the road, hidden in the grass.

I was blindly following the GPS today. Somehow it managed to take me up hill after hill after hill. I’d get to the top and then there’d be another one.

For every hill you climb you get to glide down the other side. Except today! I wrote a poem. It’s called Hills.

Think you’re done
Round the bend
There’s another one

Hills and Wires

Every road looked like this today.

Samantha told me to turn left (and up another steep hill). I had to walk the bike. It was 87 degrees at 11 AM and my knee was hurting. I followed the instructions all the way to the very end of a paved street. When the road turned to gravel I began to think about turning back. The GPS knew it was “off road” and I was only .6 miles from the hotel. It was ridiculous but I imagined she was somehow taking me through a back route since she knew I was on a bike.
 
At some point, the road became less gravel and more grassy trail. I was on a forest trail near a blackened fire pit littered with shotgun shells. It was one of those moments where you know, despite the fact that everything seems wrong, that you’re going to see it through to the end. I entertained myself by continuing.

The trail came to a dead end. “Navigate off road,” Samantha announced. That was it; I turned back. The address from the Internet for the hotel was completely off. I was miles west of my destination and attempting to locate a hotel in the forest. Honestly, I was too embarrassed to take a picture.

If you don’t know where you’re going it doesn’t matter how you get there.

Dead snake

Roadkill snake.

Back on the logging road, I took a standing break and my bike rolled out from under me and landed on its side next to a snake that had been in the wrong place at the wrong time the night before.

The way back down the mountain somehow seemed mostly uphill. I checked the GPS and looked up just in time to see a baby snake go directly under my front and back tire. Later in the day I noticed the American flag was missing. So far I’ve killed one snake, lost a banana, a flag and perhaps my mind.

Reality and fantasy are two different things. I live in a fantasy. When I came to a dead end at the top of a logging road and the GPS told me to continue into the woods, I believed in the fantasy that Samantha was going to deliver me to the destination instead of the reality that was my situation. But sometimes you don’t know if you don’t try, right? So I’m riding 450 miles to Protest the BP Oil Disaster. Does it make a difference? Maybe in a fantasy.

All of this got me thinking about extremism and people who do crazy things for stuff they can’t see but believe are there or might happen. 

Walking for CODA

Walking for CODA.

I passed a man walking down the road with a hiking stick. He had a vest on that said he’s walking 1200 miles for CODA. When I asked what CODA was he pointed to a red truck that was half a mile up the road and said to ask the person inside for a flyer. I did. The driver happily gave me a brochure containing the information you can find here.

Single use items are quite possibly the most destructive environmental product on the planet. Cars at least serve a very much needed and useful purpose. I suppose individually wrapped plastic forks serve a purpose as well. I got one today from the deli counter at the supermarket and will take it with me tomorrow.

Plastic Fork

Individually wrapped plastic fork.

It’s easy to point at beer and soda containers on the roadside and think stupid careless people threw them there. However, stupid careless people (myself included) use plastic forks and they end up as litter someplace.

I’m not sure that this ride makes sense. I’m not using automobile petroleum but I am using resources that wouldn’t have otherwise been used.

Once the GPS got the correct location of the hotel it delivered me safely. Only one person yelled at me today, “Get off da rowd!” He was in the rear passenger side seat of the car. Maybe it was the same person who yelled yesterday.

It’s time to sleep.

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About the Spill

The BP Oil Spill was the biggest oil spill in U.S. history with more than 200 million gallons of crude oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico over a total of 87 days.

About the Ride

The BP Protest Ride was an experiment in being green.