In 2 months, I took the train from Ottawa, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia. I stopped in Ottawa, Montreal, and Moncton between. After I crossed the border into the US on a bus from Montreal, I arrived back in New York City's Penn Station at 04:00 AM. I assembled my bike, and I rode through Manhattan to Brooklyn--crossing the East River over the Manhattan Bridge.
I stayed in Brooklyn for a week, then caught the Greyhound to Miami--stopping for a week each in Asheville, Atlanta, and Orlando to visit friends & family.
Next week, I board a plane back to Chile. This winter holiday, I take my long-awaited journey to the south of Chile in Patagonia!
After a month in Vancouver, I rode the train to Edmonton, bussed to Calgary, hitch-hiked to BANFF, and then hit the rails again to Toronto & Ottawa. I'll be here in Ottawa for a week, then I take the rails up to Montreal, Qubec, and Halifax.
Vancouver & BANFF have been the highlight of my Canadian journey so-far.
If you can manage to find free rent in Vancouver (it's legal to erect an overnight tent on public property in all of British Colombia, per BC Supreme Court), you will find it to be a very cheap place to travel. The city's cycling, beaches, people, discount fruit, free events, and near-by hiking are great. For a $30 bus, you can take touring bike & all your gear up to Whistler, and ride the 120km Sea-to-Summit highway in reverse, descending the 600m from mountains to the sea, which is a beautiful & easy 2-day ride--but don't forget the bear spray.
I've been in Seattle for nearly 3 weeks. On Saturday, I'll pack my bicycle in a box and fly the furthest north I've ever been--to Alaska.
After I left Dexter, I took a 4 hour train north to it's big sister city: Portland. From San Francisco to Eugene, Portland to Seattle, and--soon--Vancouver, there's pretty much one dominating theme: homelessness & gentrification.
In Portland there's a joke that you don't meet anyone actually from Portland anymore. And it's true. I met folks born in Portland only in Eugene & Seattle, and they had a wealth of knowledge to share.
From the half-dozen cranes stacking gross luxury apartment complexes in Portland's Pearl District to a new-age/city-integrated sprawl of Amazon's office towers that blight Capitol Hill in Seattle, big tech companies have drastically changed these cities. And if you pack a bowl at the ever-growing tent cities that form in clusters under nearly every bridge in these Pacific Northwest cities, you'll learn how these "developments" aren't helping its people.
I never saw someone sitting in a public space tied-off, needle-in-arm, searching for their vein on the metro in Santiago (as I did in San Franciso's Civic Center BART station).
I just spent 2 weeks living in an intentional community in the forest ~20 miles outside Eugene, OR. This is my first time in Oregon. My-oh-my, is it beautiful! Just a bit cold & wet for my tastes (welcome to the Pacific Northwest!). I give massive cred to the crusties living on the streets here. How do they ever dry their clothes?
I spent a wonderful week with a new friend in Sacramento. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Sacramento. The weather was great, the dumpsters were full of gifts (two unopened 4-packs of Pilsner Urquell?!?), and the streets were easy to navigate by bicycle. Coworking offices were pretty ridiculous ($192/day are you mad?!?), but fortunately I was able to work from home.
I was just finishing dinner, planning to see a friend play a folk punk show in Sac when my friend in Eugene asked what time I'd arrive tomorrow. Looks like my calendar was off-by-one day; my train leaves in a few hours. Whoops! I made a call to a friend, packed my stuff, rode-off to amtrak, and quickly boxed my bicycle. When I awoke on the train the next morning, I was crossing a gorgeous lake via causeway with snow-capped mountains in the distance. Everything was green, and--as we climbed in elevation through the cascades--there was snow on the ground.
My 46-hour train ride from New Orleans (through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, & California) finally arrives at Union Station LAX at 06:00.
I paid my respects to Mahatma Gandhi whoose ashes...are located in a sarcophagus in Santa Monica.
After spending an hour wandering through the massive station, I finally find my bicycle behind an Amtrak employees-only locked door. I present my luggage claim ticket, slide my bicycle out of the box, reassemble it, and load my panniers on. By 07:00, the February sun is high & warm in LA, and I'm happily rolling through the streets. I don't bother to check a map. I'm headed to Santa Monica; a compass indicating "west" is all I need.
After passing through chinatown, I wheel into the first grocery store I find for breakfast, which turns out to be in Echo Park. This is home to PETA's headquarters, where one of my college friends lives & works. We meet for tea, catch up, hit up a couple thrift stores, and I head back down hill.
I biked through Hollywood. This reminds me of Times Square, but it was interesting to see. Then I rode through Beverly Hills. And finally, Santa Monica.
LA is a massive city. Even though it was down-hill, it took me far longer than expected. It was a fun ride, and my friends were relieved when I showed up (mostly) unscathed. I took a long-needed shower, and enjoyed a bowl of their delicious vegan curry 😀
The following weekend I paid my respects to Mahatma Gandhi whoose ashes--little known fact--are located in a sarcophagus in Santa Monic
I'm on a train pulling into New Orleans on Mardi Gras, and the conductor informs us that the streets will be so grid-lock with traffic from the Endymion parade that we won't be able to leave the Amtrak station.
3 hours later, I manage to traverse the 10 miles down-river to the lower 9th ward, where I'm pitching my tent for $15 a day, less than a football field away from the levy that broke in 2005. When I unlatch the front gate and enter, I find a maze of a few dozen tents and a mix of mostly dirty, white travelers in their late 20s. In the middle is an unfinished, 3-story structure. Many long-timers here are doing a work-exchange building it. Much of the wood was dumpstered, needing nails removed.
After settling into my new tent city, I roll my fully-loaded bicycle into the grocery store and start hunting for nuts & bread. I fill my water bottle & go to checkout. The cashier is wearing a white fetish in the shape of a penis around her neck; I suppose it's a whistle.
a hand pops up from the ground...and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
Around 9, I roll out of my tent to the community around the wood fire. Someone asked about my bike, and I claim ownership, but inform him (S) that I came in via Amtrak. He tells me of his journey bikepacking through SE Asia & China, and---after preparing some food and a visit to the compost toilet, we bike together towards the French Quarter.
The route we took was different than how I came the night before, and probably safer too. After crossing the draw-bridge over the industrial canal, we dash down a grassy hill. A man sleeping by the tracks at the bottom of the hill asks if we have a lighter; we don't.
We meet the street at its dead end, and my new friend from Montreal goes to investigate a bicycle unattended by the road. Alarmingly, a hand pops up from the ground, and I can see the matted hair of someone hiding in shallow drainage ditch. It's broad-daylight, and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
When we get to Canal St, I part ways with my riding partners. I want to go checkout my cowork office at Lafayette Square; they want to sneak onto a cruise ship.
Mardi Gras itself was crazy. Indeed, I'd never been to carnival before. I had come ill-prepared without a costume, but there was so much waste cluttering the streets that I was able to decorate myself sufficiently before the sun set.
I've crossed the US by bicycle. I've crossed by plane. And now--I'm taking a train from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
I’ve crossed the US by bicycle. I’ve crossed by plane. And now–I’m taking a train
I just bought an Amtrak ticket from Atlanta -> New Orleans (for Mardi Gras!) -> Los Angles. It's ironic to realize that I've never done the good-ol cross-US road trip; I've never driven across the US (or taken a bus), but I suppose I shall one day (update: I did !). For now, I look forward to seeing the South via rail.
In any case, an update is due: After 4 magical months in in India, I came back to NYC just before the winter cold set in. After visiting friends & family, I traveled down the US East Coast.
I left a big duffel bag of possessions with a friend in NYC, and--due to price gouged bus fares ($700 flight from NYC to Atlanta? I don't think so) over Christmas--I tried my luck at hitching from DC to Asheville with a backpack and 2 oversized duffel bags. I could hardly walk 0.1 km without needing to rest my back hauling that much shit.
Within 10 minutes of holding up my cardboard sign indicating highway 81, a couple of southern boys (welcome back to Virginia) in an unmarked van stopped, started clearing junk out of the way in the back behind a full-size US flag strewn between the back and the cab, and told they could take me as far as highway 81, but wouldn't be able to drive me South. I declined their offer. In the next 6 hours, another 4 people offered to take me part-way.
Having too many bags to be able to walk my way out of a bad spot, I left for the DC greyhound, slept the night in Union Station on Christmas Eve, and took the next Greyhound to Atlanta.
After a week exploring downtown Atlanta (read: where Martin Luther King Jr was born), I took a bus down to Florida--where I currently sit, a true NY snow bird.
After I hit LA, I'll head north to Vancouver for Spring--traveling by train & bicycle along the majestic US-Pacific coastline. I've never spent much time in Canada; I'm sure looking forward to Vancouver!