Friday, June 25, 2010

For Dad


Now, Imagine a bigass trailer full of bikes, gear, tools, and food in tow and you'll get the idea of what we get to navigate around the country.

Update time (part the first)!

Well it would seem that my best intentions of updating this blog as frequently as possible have fallen by the wayside… or perhaps it’s that I am doing it as frequently as possible and I’m running precisely on schedule. Knowing myself, I’m going to go with the former option (you probably will too if you know me very well). It’s not that I haven’t wanted to update, it’s just that work takes up a massive amount of my time, and in the pockets of free time that I do get I’m generally more inclined to jump on my (read: Trek’s) bike and go for a spin or to crack a beer and just veg out. If for whatever reason you have been waiting for me to update and have been a bit disappointed, at least take solace in knowing that in lieu of letting everyone know what I’m doing, I’m probably sneaking in some much-needed R and R. ☺

Where to start?

I already posted about how I felt that (despite a few hiccups) the Oregon Coast trip was a success. Email me at and I’ll shoot you some cool pictures from the trip, beyond what I’ve already posted.

Moving on from that, Rebecca (our “training guide” if you haven’t been paying attention), left us last Saturday afternoon to head home for some well-deserved vacation time before she heads to France. Elizabeth and I are officially “flying solo” (duo?) from now on, and we’re ready to make our marks on the Trek Travel circuit.

Our first major task was to FTP the San Juan Islands. Now, the notice that I’d be running a trip in this area was met with a bit of trepidation. First, I had no idea where the heck these islands were (off the coast of Washington, just north of Puget Sound, if you were curious). Second, why was I not being sent to an exotic locale like Provence or Bora Bora (because clearly my expertise on Pacific Northwestern life and culture was much, much needed, and because we don’t run any trips in Bora Bora… yet)? Finally, what the heck were Spaniards doing so far from home when they named these islands (upon much research, I’ve discovered that they were “exploring,” apparently… whatever that means).

Trepidation aside, Liz and I attacked these islands with a fury they have rarely seen, and we loved it. They’re absolutely beautiful As one former guest put it, every direction you look has a scene that looks like it’s straight out of a postcard. There are quaint farmhouses with small sheep, cattle, and alpaca (seriously, alpaca!) herds. There are picturesque beaches. There are small towns that somehow manage to be frozen at a time far in the past while still maintaining a hip, community-oriented, stylish, liberal lifestyle. There’s even a pretty impressive mountain (which I will describe in my next post).

If I ever end up wealthy enough, or I somehow marry into vast riches, I could definitely see myself having a summer house here…

Saturday, June 19, 2010

That's one down.

First trip is in the bag!

Liz, Rebecca, and I just put a bow on the Oregon Coast trip, and it feels great. When we dropped the guests off in Portland yesterday they were all in super-high spirits. Many of them asked about the next time they'd get to do a trip with us. All in all, things went very well. We definitely had some hiccups along the way, though.

I tried to post a few nights ago from the clifftop inn in Oceanside. That hotel was definitely the low point of the trip. The rooms were sub-par. The exterior looked like something from The Shining. The beds were spectacularly uncomfortable. Bleh. We did everything we could to boost guest (and guide) morale through this shoddy hotel experience, but there's only so much we could do. As the old saying goes, "you can't polish a turd."

The other downer that we experienced along the way was the horrendous traffic on highway 101. The Oregon coast has some phenomenal sights to see, but if you're going to see them by bike you just can't avoid a good amount of riding on the 101. Logging trucks, mud, dirt, and bad shoulders all combined to make more than a few of the guests a bit uncomfortable. The fantastic skyskapes, beaches, mountains, capes, and lighthouses definitely helped to make the guests forget the harrowing traffic.

Overall, though, the trip was a success. We had a great group of guests. I had a great pair of co-guides. The weather cooperated (for the most part). I'm very happy with how everything went. Once I get to my camera cord I'll upload some shots from the week. For now, Liz and I are going to explore Portland for a few hours and then drive up to Anacortes to start prepping for yet another trip.

A TT guide's work is never done...


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Prep Day Craziness

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few days. As you can probably guess, we've been quite busy in our final run-up to the Oregon Coast trip (which starts tomorrow, by the way). I've also had a bit of a throat bug, so the coughing, fatigue, and general crappiness that goes along with that haven't been helping my spirits much either. Oh well, no choice but to press on...

So today is prep day. We're back in Portland and it's our last chance to get everything in working order before the guests arrive. We have a TON of stuff to do (which is pretty standard for a prep day). Bikes need to get built. The van and trailer need to get washed. Groceries need to get bought. Gift bags need to get stuffed. My face needs to get shaved. You get the idea.

So that's my plan for today. Things should get slightly less stressful once we're on the road to Astoria.

A few highlights from the last few days along the coast:
-Amazing coastal view after amazing coastal view
-Rain, rain, and more rain
-Robert, the hotel manager who knows WAY too much about Blade Runner
-Finally getting to eat some Mexican food
-Ne-tards (don't ask)
-Touring the Rogue Brewery and getting to try some good microbrews

More to come!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A few snapshots.

I'll update a bit more about the past two days once we're done with tonight's work (and assuming that we still have internet access after we leave the hotel's lobby), but here are a couple images to tide the blog over:

This is my office:

...and this is my desk:

...and this is my climbing face (mouth-only, sideways-oriented version):

...and this a book about a famous tugboat (flanked by an obsolete cookbook):


Sunday, June 6, 2010


So today we woke up early to get a quick workout in. I opted for a short run, and ended up slogging about 3 or 4 miles in a pretty stout rain shower through unknown streets. Apparently it rains pretty frequently in Oregon. Who knew?!

Today was the first day of our final trip preparation (FTP for short) for the Oregon Coast trip, and I won't get into the minutia of what doing an FTP entails, but there's a lot of driving and looking at stuff involved. Our destination for the day was Astoria, Oregon... a beautiful coastal town along the Columbia River (or "the mighty Columbia" as our hotel's literature would have you call it). You've probably seen a lot of Astoria and don't even realize it. It's the town where they filmed the 80s classic The Goonies (hence this post's title).

Speaking of The Goonies... Astoria is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the movie's release this weekend. There are people all over the town in Goonies t-shirts, and the local theatre is having 3 showings of the movie per day. To commemorate the occasion, some of the stars of the film are even in town. At least one of them is staying at our hotel: Sean Astin (from such other films as Rudy and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy). We even saw him in the lobby yelling platitudes at a guy who I can only assume is his assistant. How cool is that?

First day at work and I've already seen a celebrity. He doesn't ride bikes, but I heard he plays some mean football.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Let's get the ball rolling.

Author's note: This entry will be mostly boring, run-of-the-mill, "this is how I got here" stuff. If you already know who I am, what I'm doing with TT, or you just plain think I'm a bore, I suggest you stop reading now and save yourself the next 5 minutes of your life. Skip to the next post. Or, if there isn't one yet, take a few minutes to create a fun new game involving objects you find around your room. It could be the next big thing. Hell, Pogs actually got popular for a hot minute there. I'm sure you can come up with SOMETHING better than that.

Kudos to you if you are still reading. I appreciate your resolve.

A bit about what I'm doing: I just started a new career as a guide with Trek Travel. I get to guide luxury cycling tours around the country (and the World if I’m lucky). I made this blog to document my journey in this new, exciting vocation. I'm hoping that the amazing, fun, and interesting things I get to do and see in the coming months will translate well to text, and you (the reader... duh) might catch a quick glimpse into how much friggin' fun we have at Trek Travel. I'll do my best to post pictures, stories, anecdotes, soapbox rants, trip details, and anything else that I can possibly get down on paper.

I'm currently in the Houston airport waiting for my flight to Portland, Oregon. I'll be doing my first trip on the Oregon coast with super-pro veteran guide Rebecca and all-star new guide Elizabeth. I am excited, nervous, and terrified all at the same time. Even though we spent a week in Wisconsin training for this, I still feel like there are a million and one things that I don't know yet (and that I NEED to master within the coming two weeks). It's cool, though. Rebecca's training Liz and me and I take great comfort knowing that she'll be there to guide the way. We're spending the next week getting ready for the trip, and then next Sunday the fun begins.

Oh crap my flight's boarding. More later...

Okay, Im on the plane now. After a lengthy and frustrating struggle to locate and utilize the power outlet, I’ve decided I should at least turn the computer back on so I can wrap up this introductory post. In case you were wondering (you WERE wondering, weren’t you?) about whether my power outlet ordeal turned out well… it didn’t. I’ve come to the conclusion that I won’t be able to plug in my laptop without making the young lady sitting next to me more than a little bit uncomfortable.

So yeah, I get to spend the next few weeks in a part of the country that I really, really like. I’ve actually only been out there once, for my brother Scott’s wedding, but what I saw I really liked. The weather, scenery, topography, beer,.. all fantastic. Hopefully this visit helps to reinforce my ideas of what the Pacific Northwest is like and doesn’t leave me (and our guests) disappointed. We shall see.

After Oregon I’m heading to San Francisco for a week an a half to do a short Cali wine country tour. I’ve never been to SF, and I get a few days out there to kick around and explore. Exciting! Then I head to Montana and Canada to do a tour in Glacier National Park. Then I head to the San Juan Islands (the ones off the coast of Washington State, not Puerto Rico. Yeah, I was confused for a sec there too…) for a tour. That will end my scheduled tours (so far), and everything culminates with me driving the van and bikes from WA to Yellowstone. Pretty cool, eh?

So stay tuned for updates. I hope they’ll be more interesting than this one, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. Onward to the West Coast!!!