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

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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And so it begins!

Day 1 – Gulf Islands National Park (McDonald Provincial Park), Vancouver Island. Distance today: ~50km

Finally the ride is underway. A few false starts, delays and anxieties about leaving, but now I have pedalled away from Vancouver. And it being Vancouver, it was raining when I left. Nice touch. However, by the time I got to Tswwassen for the Island ferry the sun was out, a breeze was up (which I had certainly noticed earlier when riding into it) and things seemed much brighter.

I found a few people eager to know where I was going, fellow bikers I met headed to or from the ferry. A bunch of guys embarking on a big ride of their own across Canada, and a very helpful lady heading home (on her Surly LHT no less) to Victoria.

However, now that it’s underway, the scale of the trip is beginning to hit home. A bike that somehow gets forever heavier; traipsing and backtracking for the campsite; unpacking; setting up the tent; remembering that this is a more simple existence, or should be if I wasn’t worrying about how I’m going to pack up again…it’s a day of very mixed feelings and although I’m glad that finally the trip has started, I have a heavy heart thinking of the complications and perhaps less glamourous parts of the journey. I think it’s just something to get used to. Shedding a few pounds from my bike will certainly help, if I can (eating all the food doesn’t count…)

Edna

Yesterday I posted a couple of pictures of my laden bike and alluded to her name, Edna. Wonder where I got the inspiration for that?

Well, Edna Ruth Byler pretty much started the Fair Trade movement in North America, way back in 1946. She pioneered what has grown into the modern day Ten Thousand Villages stores that are in major cities across the continent.

Here’s to you, Edna (the person) and the impact your actions have had in the world! For more info visit

http://www.tenthousandvillages.ca/cgi-bin/category.cgi?item=pageAboutUs1&type=store