Days 33-39: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA & Seattle, WA - Four Legs on the Slow Road - CycleBlaze

September 27, 2014

Days 33-39: Rancho Palos Verdes, CA & Seattle, WA

Sunday September 28, 2014 to Saturday October 4, 2014

I sleep for eleven hours on the first night and ten hours on each of the two nights that follow. It takes each of us four days for the stiffness in our leg muscles to fade away. As wonderful as it is to travel by bicycle, it's also wonderful to take a break from traveling by bicycle when you know that you need one.

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But the term break is a relative one for us, because we still have a lot to take care of before we leave the country. In the week that we're off the road we catch up on work and the journal; spend a lot of time with Kristen's mom Jill and her stepdad Dan; celebrate Jill's birthday; watch movies set in New Zealand; figure out visa requirements for New Zealand; meet up with my aunt Michelle and uncle Gary, who live in the Northwest but pass through Los Angeles on a cruise of the West Coast; buy still more gear; get massages; take Maggie for walks around the neighborhood; and more than once eat cake for breakfast and have milkshakes for dinner.

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We also start the process of taking apart and then boxing up our bicycles. We spend a serious amount of time cleaning them with both rags and toothbrushes, from the top tube all the way down to the crevices of the rear derailleur, because it turns out that you can't just throw your bikes in a box and take them with you to New Zealand. From what we've read, if we were to show up with dirt-covered bicycles we'd be greeted by someone with a charming accent and a stern facial expression who would hand us a pile of old rags and tell us to start scrubbing. The same is true of our tent, tent poles, the tent's ground pad, and our cycling shoes. Because New Zealand is heavily reliant on agriculture, and also because it has a unique ecosystem due to its geographical isolation, the risk of allowing invasive bugs and seeds into the country is very high. That means they take the possibility of bio-contamination seriously. It also means that we end up with faces and shirts and legs streaked with grease and speckled with American dirt.

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On Thursday I fly from Los Angeles to Seattle, which is beautiful, with sun and seventy degrees during the day and the chill of October creeping in during the night. I attend my last in-person meeting related to work for the next five months, spend time with my dad and a few friends, and also carve out some time for my dog Walter, who is happy to see me return but a little sad and confused when I leave again only two days later. As with just about everything during our break from the road, it feels like I have only half as much time in Seattle as I need.

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On the return flight to L.A. I look out the airplane window and once again see the Three Sisters Mountains of Central Oregon that were our companions for the better part of a week back in September, only this time I look down on snow and the smooth contours of the creek lines from the comfort of a leather-covered seat 30,000 feet above. This is also about the time when it really starts to hit me how long we're about to be away from the country. Neither of us has gone more than a couple of months without seeing our friends and families, either in the U.S. or abroad, and we have no idea how that's going to feel.

Mt. St. Helens from above.
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A constant throughout the week, both in California and Washington, is food and drink. An extensive but not exhaustive list of what we jam into our faces includes a veggie burger, a cheeseburger, french fries, onion rings, short ribs, mashed potatoes, eggplant parmesan, garlic bread, cheese, hummus, artisan bread with pesto, multiple roast beef sandwiches, a pulled pork sandwich, a sandwich made with french toast bread, cheap beer, expensive beer, cheap wine, expensive wine, and also a touch of champagne. I gain three-and-a-half pounds in seven days.

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I head to sleep on Saturday night bloated from another massive dinner, but also anxious about the roughly eighty-four things that have to get done without any screw-ups in order for us to board our thirteen-hour flight to New Zealand the following evening.

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