The quiet camping life

On the road for Day 5 in Oregon and spectacular scenery to be had for most of the riding (weather permitting…). Yesterday and Monday we had a warm Oregon oast welcome with high winds and plenty of rain. Perfect reminder of winter in Vancouver.

Still, after drying out at the laundrette yesterday morning, we got lucky by afternoon when the famous local fog cleared up and the sun did it’s summer goodness by coating everything in numerous of shades of blue. The green hills sparkled.

Back in camp for what seemed like a quiet dreamy evening’s sleep only to see we had our favourite friends arrive at 10.30pm. A whole bunch of them and armed with enough booze to see them into the early hours. They duly obliged and gave evryone else in the site a nice reminder of why cheap camping can also be severely lacking in privacy. And the main problem with such a well-established route like the Oregon coast is that most people hit the same campsites on their way south. After two nights of this I really can’t wait to see what tonight brings…

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Franz Breadmaker Mafia has many tentacles

After my traumatic experiences with Franz bread in Washington, I thought I might be free from it’s shackles in Oregon. Not so lucky. Seems like their mafiosi are well-established in northern Oregon. I did manage to find some ‘french-style’ sourdough which at least meant I didn’t need to buy their bagels again. Let’s hope for some bread freedom further south…

Oregon’s coast

A third day now travelling south down the coast. And it’s spectacular. I’ve never been this way before but miles and miles of ocean is ahead and now behind us. Cliffs, steep hills, dense green trees, sand and the faint (occasionally loud) echoes of rolling surf makes for some amazing scenery.

A big boat stuck in the sand (for the last 105 years). Shipwreck of the Peter Iredale
Careful now...Astoria's danger ride for cyclists
On the road to Nahelem Bay

Finding Fair Trade in Astoria

Having seen a little bit more of Astoria it’s clear that there are more “fair trade” options that I saw in southern Washington (which actually isn’t saying much). However it seems the coffee shops don’t have Certified Fair Trade coffee but do claim to be “fair trade”. That’s one of the ongoing problems with trying to establish the claims of some places and products. Around here there are a lot of local coffee roasters and they often claim to be ‘direct trade’ or ‘fair trade’. Sometimes you have to go on trust when you’re passing through a place but I hope it’s genuine and that they are doing their best for the producers they purport to help.

On the grocery side, there’s lots of Certified Fair Trade products available for tea, coffee and chocolate, so I’ve been stocking up on Fair Trade chocolate whilst in town. Delicious!

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Two’s company

Another stop in Fort Stevens and the rain is trying it’s hardest to stick around. But now I have my friend Nicholas from Vancouver to commiserate with, moan about the weather and dream of the epic vistas along the coast. He arrived last night and I found him in a mall car park trying to put his bike together after coming from Portland on the bus. Luckily no mishaps and a quick tune-up at the bike shop today should see us on the road again tomorrow

The Washington ‘Franz’ Breadmaker Mafia

Travelling as a vegan presents its own unique challenges. I’ve had many people wonder (as well as myself) how I will cope with the non-vegan Latin American world. We shall see.

I didn’t quite expect to have problems as I meandered through Washington. Less choice, certainly, but real difficulty? Surely not…and being mostly rural, each town typically had little choice of grocery store and it seems even less choice for the company who makes your bread. I encountered ‘Franz’ for the first time.

Quick ingredient check…oh, milk products. I see. Next. Ah, same. Right, next one then…ok this is getting silly. And lo and behold pretty much every single loaf contained milk products or eggs. I often wonder why particular ingredients are in certain products and this was no exception. In every loaf?? Not one without…? Well, after a lot of hunting and not a few stares from the shelf stacker waiting patiently while I scrutinised his wares I did find some Franz bagels that did not contain milk products. Yay! They’re vegan friendly! But check out what else they contain.. Any chemists out there who can explain the need for all those ‘tasty’ extras..???

You’d think that just a little more choice would be available in these parts, but perhaps they’re in cahoots with the Washington dairy association or some other such friendly corporate lobby group..

Franz Plain Bagels. Warning: Does not contain dairy
Franz Plain Bagels. But here's what they do contain...

Things didn’t quite get to the point where it was a matter of loaf and death:

Further thoughts from Washington

Southern and southwest Washington was pretty rural and not much along my route for attractions once I got past the San Juan Islands and Hood Canal. The spectacular Olympic mountains did their best to hide and so I never really got to see them properly, other than from a distance. So I occupied myself with sitings of coffee shacks, rainclouds, trees and the occasional dose of sunshine.

When I made it to the coast it was quite spectacular though and tries to rival the Oregon coast. I heard Westport is a surfing mecca but I never got the chance to see it in anything but a foggy drizzle.

The other curious siting I made several times was when passing through Indian reserves and the fantastical attempts to entice people into buying fireworks. I don’t know if this is year-round or because 4th July is coming up, but various shacks, roadstands and other claptrap-looking buildings twirled their signs and let you know they had the best fireworks anywhere. Lucky I didn’t need to stop for any live demonstrations.

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The first few days in Washington

Blogging is not easy when there’s no wifi or power connections along the way. With ferry times to make in the early days and then getting through the lone (and lonely) rural Washington towns it’s been a struggle to find any connection to the outside world.

However I’ve made it south through Washington and now have made it over the Columbia River at Astoria (negotiating the 4-mile bridge) into Oregon. The next stretch will the Oregon Coast, a rightly famous route for bike touring.

Unfortunately I won’t make it to Portland. I had some Fair Trade related plans that didn’t work out and despite the many many attractions of this vegan-and bike-friendly city it was not worth the near 150 km ride each way. So I’m taking a couple of days to rest in a lovely campsite, despite its size (“the biggest this side of the Mississippi”) that is a short walk from the miles of ocean and Oregon sands.

I’ll post some pictures and more details on the last week shortly.

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Day 2 Victoria, Vancouver Island

Today is a bit of a rest day, although biking into Victoria and back is a little more distance than yesterday. Still, nice to have some time to explore and catch up with some Fair Trade goings-on in the Victoria area.

I’d arranged to meet Andrew from Level Ground Trading ( to give me a little insight to what they do in the world of Fair Trade. In many respects they go ‘one better’ and have established a number of ‘Direct Trade’ relationships with their various producers. The connection to where our food comes from is a key element of fair trade principles and it was great to see where Level Ground have set these up.

Andrew (right) and Kieran with the Level Ground (Scooby-doo lookalike) van

In the afternoon I headed into Victoria and a surprise find in Market Square was The Global Village store, an entirely volunteer-run Fair Trade craft and tasty food shop. I knew nothing about it before now but it’s a long-established business so if you are in the downtown Victoria area drop by to find some quality artisan products.

Lotti and Sarah from The Global Village, Victoria

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