Subscribe to Harry's bike blog, from Alaska to UshuaiaNews FeedSubscribe to Harry's bike blog, from Alaska to UshuaiaComments

1000 Americans: Bill Korn, Santa Maria

February 12, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Friendly people

Bill Korn

Bill is a great guy. He cooked us a wonderful meal (made Ivana feel at home immediately).
His wife and kids are very friendly though one of the Dachshunds is a bit psychotic, the other makes up for it 🙂

He cycles a lot, first out of necessity (as he did not have a car), then out of pleasure (because it is so great).

He helped us with our bikes and cycled a few hours with us, showing us a much better route through the Foxen canyon Road, which we would have missed otherwise.
Thanks Bill, hope to see you on our trip again, else in Argentina or Amsterdam!

1000 Americans: Joe & Carol, Buellton

February 12, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans

Joe and Carol

Joe & Carol are wonderful people and great hosts. Carol is an artists and has made countless paintings, including the one behind them.

They have cycled everywhere themselves and showed us Californian hospitality by welcoming us with a good glass of wine and a huge tasty dinner, giving us the chance to meet some of their friends, which was a pleasure as well.

Thanks for taking care of us, hopefully we will see you sometime during our trip south, else in Argentina or The Netherlands!

1000 Americans: Eric Meulman, musician

February 12, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans

Eric Meulman

Eric had been travelling in 3 days from the East coast all the way to California, where he noticed the most beautiful landscapes he had seen in the US. He gave us a ride and sang a few songs for us while we prepared some pasta.

He is a great musician, see and hear more about him on

1000 Americans: Victor Antonio, peacemaker

February 12, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Go green

Victor Antonio on the road for world peace

Victor, originally from Puerto Rico, though he grew up in San Antonia, Texas, has been on the road for a while, walking to promote peace through Marijuana.

This is how he describes his mission, taken from his website

I am a self employed long-distance walker/journalist.

With the Internet I have discovered a way to fight the world’s greatest problem. What would you say that is? Of all time. Where it all starts. Well, more like humanity’s greatest problem.   The world can shake us off.

I say it’s ignorance. Ignorance is the root of all problems, if you ask me. Nobody listens. We’re not learning. We are stuck. The technology is here, the facts have been staring us in the face for decades . . . but we still insist on killing the world and ourselves because death makes money.

Why doesn’t anybody care?

Well, here is my idea.

With the Internet(and you’re going to think I’m crazy, just like I want you to) I plan to eliminate money, make everything free, prove that it’s human-nature to be generous and bring world peace.

I’m going to get rid of cars in big cities and make everybody healthy(and height/weight proportionate).

AND, not only will I get marijuana totally legalized and chill everybody out…I will get it recommended.  It will be growing everywhere.

That’s the key.

I’ve got it all figured out.

I will tell you exactly how I plan to do all this . . . if you are willing to listen, and only then.  I wouldn’t want to waste your time.  I’ve got a website if you would rather read it.  There is a lot to be said for the presentation, though.

Click on ASK ME HOW, on the left column at the top on (if you want to).

“There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

Day 204-211, 31Jan-7feb 09. Sea life around the Monterey Bay

February 9, 2009 by ,  
Filed under Trip reports, North America, USA, California

Is this the end?

The sign on the left brought some reality into vision.

Could we continue with the current state of my knees or was this really the end?

There was only one way to find out.

31st Jan 2008: SF – Half Moon Bay, about 50km

I kept the Rohloff in low gear all the time and promised Ivana that I would get off the bike and push when it was getting steep. Ivana also had taken more weight than before, so my load would be lighter.

There were only two real hills but they were steep. First we slowly climbed 200 meters (650ft) from the sunny shores into the windy and cold rolling fog on the top of Daly City. Pushing the bike actually hurt my knee more, so I tried to cycle with just one leg doing all the work and that worked out quite well.

The next hill was steep but also so narrow that pushing would be too dangerous. We had arrived at the infamous ‘Devil’s Slide’, notorious for cyclists for the shoulder-less road with its blind corners leading from a dark forest to a scorching hot pass, 150m (500ft) higher.

The good thing was of course the downhill. As there was still not much shoulder, there was no choice but to full speed in the middle of the road…

We reached the state park campsite just before dark and could see the sunset from Half Moon Bay. The regular campsite was full at $25 per spot, but fortunately, almost every Californian State Park has a small ‘Hiker-Biker’ area, which has no hook-ups, but generally costs only $3-5 per person. This was completely empty and for $6 we had more space and were more secluded than all the RV’s. It was nice to be in our tent and in the open air again after a month of CouchSurfing in the city.

1-2 Feb 2008: Half Moon Bay – Santa Cruz via Ano Nuevo

The knee was not too bad, so we decided to do two more days of about 40-50km each. The first was a nice sunny day and we cycled relaxed. I had seen the recommendation to visit the Ano Nuevo State reserve in our guidebook (“Bicycling The Pacific Coast: A Complete Route Guide, Canada To Mexico“.

We had been using this book from Vancouver and though we varied a our route many times, the times we were on the ‘official route’, it was worth every cent. We used up one page at a time (in our see-through map cover of the Ortlieb handlebar-bag), so the book got lighter every day 🙂 Next time we need a Kindle version to save paper:

There was no official place to stay, so we went to ask the farmers; for the first time in our trip, we were sent away from not 1 but 2 farms, each with loads of space. The caretakers were not the owners and everybody seems to be terrified of getting sued for anything…

It is a shame, as all we needed was a few square meters of grass; we could even have shared some great stories with them… Anyway, we ended up camping secretly on some grass near the farms behind some old buildings and made sure we were ready to go in the early morning.

Ano Nuevo ParkOnly a mile down the road was the Ano Nuevo park, home of the biggest colony of Elephant Seals. As it was breeding season, we could not go to the seals without a guide, and as all tours were reserved, we had some time for a relaxed breakfast in the sun, next to some deer.

The friendly people in the Visitor Centre not only found us a spot in a group, but they also waived the fee for us, after hearing about our trip and low daily budget! We ended up watching the Seals and their young with a very nice group of elderly people from San Jose (see their ‘leader’ Don here). They were on their weekly hiking trip (!) and enjoyed the seals and the entertaining stories of the docent/guide.

After the tour we had lunch with them (thanks for the salmon sandwich!) and when saying goodbye several members of the group surprised us by giving us some cash donations! We were not quite sure what to say, but it was appreciated, as we had to replace our mattresses and their generosity covered that exactly.

Fanny and DidierWe also met two other biketravellers, originally from Switzerland, living in Vancouver. Fanny & Didier were on their way from Vancouver to Phoenix, from where they would return home. They nearly had an accident on the Devil’s Slide when Fanny hit a stick with her pannier. We gave them some Ortlieb repair kit and continued our way, while they went to see the seals, but they caught up with us a few hours later.

We had not had much internet the past days, so we only found out in Santa Cruz that we had offers from several ‘WarmShowers’. Ivana went out to find the cyclists again, so they could ‘use’ one of the address that had reacted later.

We stayed with Deb & Tom, a very friendly couple with a nice house and enthusiastic young dog! We had joked before that after 2 nights of camping, we were ready for a soft bed again and our wish was granted 😉

3-4 Feb 2008: Santa Cruz – Monterey, via Sunset Beach, 35 + 60km

The next morning we first went to visit the gallery of one of my nature and landscape favourite photographers who lives near Santa Cruz: Frans Lanting, scroll the books below for some of his classics:

Unfortunately Frans was not there himself, but it was great to see the full-size prints of his classic shots, that are for sale in his gallery..

Ivana and cactustree in Monterey BayWe continued our way through the maze of Santa Cruz, guided by the book until we suddenly left the city for a more rural surrounding. Fields and fields of strawberries were being planted by dozens of Mexican labourers. We had had more small hills than expected; my knee was hurting and we decided to call it a day at the Hiker-Biker site of Sunset Beach eating around a campfire of pinecones…

Seal parkingThe next morning we started out ok, meandering through the fields, seeing more strawberry fields and a huge parking garage for seals. But just when the strawberries gave way to the artichokes a super strong wind blew in our face and we had to fight our way into it.

Artichokes in Monterey bay (2)There are some nice bike lanes closer to Monterey, though our positive feelings were overshadowed by a posted warning sign that mentioned that a jogger was attacked and that we should not cycle or run alone on this trail…

Artichokes grow hereMonterey is quite a nice town, with beaches, a pier and a touristy centre. We had time to cycle and look around the famous Canary Wharf before heading back to the pier for nearly unlimited samples of clam chowder 🙂

We checked the famous aquarium, but the $30 per person entrance fee was outside our budget, so we went to look for the free sea wildlife instead.

We spotted an otter far away, but later we saw him again, close to the shore, eating away his seafood dinner, while the seals were sleeping on the rocks and the birds were waiting for leftovers. It is great that the shores of Monterey bay are a protected reserve, else these scenes would only be visible inside the aquarium…

Seaotter with seafood Seagull in Monterey

Monterey birdsSleeping Seal

We stayed two nights with Nathan, a young outdoor sports lover. We were his first CouchSurfing guests, but I think he enjoyed it!

He was very nice, helped us with some errands (we bought new mattresses from our donation money) and let us stay during the day, so we could catch up with some work.

Ivana lost herself in a new miniseries we had not seen before: Weeds, which was quite an interesting way to look at some aspects of US culture.. It was fun to see as well, we had not been watching any TV for several months.

In the evening we went to a bar in town and met up with our next hosts: biketraveller Diego and his friends. We moved to their house in Pacific Grove the next day through a terrible rain shower and arrived soaked.

We stayed a few days with them, and went for a 40km circular ride to the monarch butterfly gardens, the coast and along the famous ‘17 Mile Drive’. The latter was a bit overrated in our view as it is just a collection of too big houses, (of which half were for sale) and the rest of the area are endless golf courses filled with old, unhappy looking guys with funny pants, and some deer… Still some of the views were nice and it was relexed to cycle without luggage:

Goose on the beach, Monterey View from 17 Mile drive

View from 17 Mile drive (2) Deer on the 17 Mile Drive

An afternoon in the aquarium

When he heard that we did not visit is because of the high entrance fee, Diego contacted a friend of his that works at the Aquarium. He arranged that we could come in for a brief visit close to closing time, for free!

Monterey Aquarium fishies Montery Seahorse

Though we do not enjoy captive animals, the aquarium was quite impressive. The otters (both river- as sea otters) were our favourites again, but we were completely mesmerized by the hypnotic display of bright orange jellyfish in blue water:

Jellyfish Jellyfish (3)

Jellyfish (5) Jellyfish (6)

Kowalski! Status Report!

Seaotter in aquarium

My knee was not getting better, but also not much worse. It was very painful after resting and sitting, but not too bad during actual cycling…

It was time to say goodbye to Diego, Rose and Ximena and continue our way South to the famous names like Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica and of course: Los Angeles!

1000 Americans: Rose, Diego & Ximena, Pacific Grove

February 8, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans, Go green

Rose, Diego & Ximena

Rose, Diego & Ximena are housemates in Pacific Grove, adjacent to Monterey, California. All are active environmentalists, preferring the bike over a car and helping clean the beautiful coast of Monterey bay.

Diego has cycled across Europe and Asia, see his website & Ximena has just succeeded in getting styrofoam containers banned in Monterey. It is small initiatives like these that slowly make the world greener, from the bottom up…

1000 Americans: Deborah & Tom, Santa Cruz

February 8, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans

Deborah and Tom

Deb & Tom show that you can combine a very busy business life with an active life as they love to run and bike outside office hours. Their new dog Maisy will definitely help 🙂

1000 Americans: Don Austin, San Jose

February 6, 2009 by ,  
Filed under 1000 Americans

Don Austin

Don Austin

Don is the leader of a large walking group. The interesting part is that all members of the group are retired or at least have the age to do so. But they do not sit ‘behind the Geraniums’ as we say in the Netherlands 🙂

Every week they carpool together to hike for several hours, visiting the many great places close to the Bay Area in California, we met them at the Ano Nuevo State Reserve, where we had a great time together.

(Note that the original image posted here was incorrect, Don sent the correct image above, thanks Don!)

Day 160-204, 18Dec08 – 31Jan09: San Francisco. Part 4: Critical mass, Ivana’s B-day party and friends

February 4, 2009 by ,  
Filed under Trip reports, North America, USA, California

Critical Mass

Though my knee was still painful, I could cycle slowly again. It was time to move on, and leave our new home for new adventures down the road. We invited our new friends for a dinner in a cosy Lebanese bar to celebrate our departure and Ivana’s b-day the next day. But first we had some other cycling to do!

San Francisco is the birthplace of the Critical Mass. It is a monthly event where hundreds, maybe thousands of cyclists group together and ride through the city, reclaiming the streets from the cars that have no other choice that to wait until all the cyclists have passed 🙂

Critical Mass, SF Critical Mass, SF

It is a great event and I urge everybody to join the Critical Masses, in SF or elsewhere. It is not just to make a firm statement, but also a great way to see the city, without being bothered by cars and red lights.

Besides, it is a big party with all types of cyclists, music and general fun. It was Ivana’s best B-day present and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

Saying goodbye on Ivana’s B-day

We had to hurry back though as we had a party appointment! Adriana had picked the nice place with relaxed people and Lebanese snacks as well as fruity hookahs and even a belly dancer!

We had a great time and though many people could not make it to the the last minute invite, we were happy to spend some of our last hours in SF with our new friends.

Ivana and AdrianaLiving life on the edge in SF

Ivanas B-day party in SFHarry enjoying the tipping (2)

BrianMitch and Kourtney

New and old friends, thank you for making San Francisco our home

Ivana, Mitch and Harry as with most places, it is not the Golden Gate or any other famous landmark that makes SF special. It is the never-ending stream of friendly, helpful and generous people.

We met many new friends, some of them (Mitch, Adriana, Gerard, Kourtney & Brian, Fiona & Jeremy, Kim & Nate & Jessica & Mikelanjelo) are listed on the “1000 Americans” category, others whom we did not capture with our cameras we owe just as much.

We could write full page stories about each of them, but for now here are some simple thank you’s

  • Couchsurfing in Oakland (2)Thanks to Kristan& Rhasaan for opening their house in Oakland and showing us Berkeley as well.
  • Thanks to Jan and Wandralee for opening their house and giving us time to relax and re-organize. Jan is off to to the ride from SF to LA for Aids, she is a brave and strong woman!
  • Muchas Gracias to Barbara & Ramiro, who invited us for a wonderful dinner in their new home twice! Ramiro never forgets his roots and makes great empanadas.
  • Thanks to Yaffa and her roommate, who shared their house with us for a few nights.

We even met some old friends again, some we had met earlier on the trip, others we had met many years ago.

  • Colie is the coolest chick we know, she is just great, and it was wonderful to spend New Years Eve with her in snowy Truckee!
  • Alison was busy as ever, still it was great to see her briefly, the 4th continent we met on! Thanks for letting us borrow your car, we would have missed Colie & Yosemite otherwise!
  • Many thanks to Bradley & Saskia, it was great to see you again after nearly 10 years! Thanks for letting us guard your great house, twice!
  • We saw Louise again and this time she brought her husband Brian as well as her kids, it was great to see them; thanks for the great Thai lunch!
  • Barry dropped by for some lunch, just before he started his bike trip across the US, heading for Florida. Meanwhile he has returned, read his reports here.

Thank you all, more than words can express, for making San Francisco a special place for us.

Ivana in Yosemite with friend Gerard and Brian

Mitch and Kourtnet Well, this fur not rubz itself!

Next report: on the road again, off to LA! how will the knees hold out with the Devils’ Slide, Big Sur and many more challenges ahead? Tune in next time, same channel, unreliable time 😉

Downtown San Francisco

Day 160-204, 18Dec08 – 31Jan09: San Francisco. Part 3: Outside SF, Yosemite, Berkeley & Wine!

February 4, 2009 by ,  
Filed under Trip reports, North America, USA, California

We did not only spend time in the city, but managed to get out. As my knee needed more rest, we were lucky that Alison had borrowed us her car, so we could head out of town for New Years. She had warned us that the tires were old and bald, so it would be better to avoid rain.

Right after we pulled the car out of the garage in Filbert St, we continued the road East, leading up and down a huge and steep hill. I think we found the steepest road in SF, and we both felt we were in a rollercoaster when we crossed the top..

Snow and champagne in Truckee, saying goodbye to 2008…

Truckee in winterAfter my new camera had arrived (yes!) we packed our camping gear in the car and drove to Truckee, a few hours east. We arrived in the dark and noticed that most of the town was covered in knee deep snow and the car slid back and forth over the slippery roads.

It was so great to see Colie again. I had been climbing in Uganda 4 years ago together with Romke, Ali & Andy and now we had seen the entire team again, spread out over Amsterdam, Seattle, SF, Truckee and a bike! Colie took us on a tour of Lake Tahoe, which looked wonderful in the winter snow.

Finally after avoiding the snow since Northern Alaska, it was great to be surrounded by the cold white stuff!  We went for a nice winter hike with some of her friends and got ready for a new years Eve party with more friends and lots of great food and drinks.

ColieIce at Lake tahoeIvana at Lake Tahoe

Goodbye 2008, we will miss you..

We have no idea what 2009 will bring, but 2008 was again amazing. I had been on 6 continents (alas no Antarctica this year), hiked with friends in Australia, almost got scammed in Kuala Lumpur, proposed to Ivana on the summit of Kilimanjaro, witnessed by all 26 clients. We saw Machu Picchu with Ivana’s mum, watched a lion grab a gazelle in the Serengeti and cycled 7000km through wonderful North America. It was not always easy, but it felt that we had been more alive in one year than most in their lives…

ColieIvana and Harry, Lake TahoeIvana in Truckee

Off to Yosemite: big walls and black bear?!

El Capitan in winter, YosemiteWe had a great time in Truckee, but as bad weather was coming, and we wanted to see Yosemite park before it became impossible to get there, we headed out on New Years day.

The road to get to the valley was high and steep and there were several spots with snow and ice, but the views of famous walls like Half Dome & El Capitan made up for the nerves.

The final part into the village and campground was even completely covered in it, but I managed to reach the famous Camp 4, home of all Big Wall climbers. The camp was covered in deep snow, so we had to prepare a campspot by packing some snow.

Just when I was busy preparing the tent, I saw a big shape passing just behind it. It was almost dark, so I turned on my light and called Ivana. ‘Look at that, a bear!’

Just as we though we had definitely left ‘The Wild’, we had the closest encounter with a black bear so far, less than 10m away. The big animal did not pay attention to us and slowly walked into the foggy forest…

Ivana in Yosemite with Half DomeYosemite FallsIvana in Yosemite in winter

Ivana cooking in the snow, Yosemite (2)Winter in Yosemite

Half Dome, YosemiteIvana checking pix.

We made sure to leave no food in our tent or car (Yosemite bears are known for ‘opening’ cars) and put everything safely in the special bear-proof containers. We managed to cook a nice pasta meal and finally sacrificed our last Adventure Food meal, before heading over to the restaurant for a cup of hot chocolate.

Camp 4, YosemiteYosemite with Half Dome

Yosemite FallsCamp 4, Yosemite

The night was cold and uncomfortable, but we got no more bear visits and the next morning we took the free shuttle around the village and walked back past great views of the Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

Oakland and Berkeley

It was time to get out as more snow was expected. With much effort I managed to get the car back on the road and down to drier elevation before the rain hit hard. We contacted Mikelanjelo & Jessica, who had invited us already a long time ago and stayed a few days in their place in Oakland.

Street Musician in BerkeleyJessica and MikelanjeloFat Squirrel in Berkeley

Couchsurfing in Oakland

Together with their friend Kristan and her kids (including “I-love-you-Leif”) and boyfriend they made us feel at home.

They showed us around in Berkeley as well, a nice college town with a friendly atmosphere, unlike Oakland which had an air of aggression, which was confirmed after the shooting of an unarmed boy on the subway a few days later…

We visited a multicultural fleamarket and were chased by fat squirrels in the park on yet another sunny winterday..

Ivana had left a comment on an Argentinean newssite, where bicycle touring was criticized, and soon after we were contacted by Ramiro, an Argentinean living in the US. he asked us to come over to his girlfriend Barbara’s house for some great homemade empanadas! And he even invited us back the following week, so I guess we are not such bad guests after all 😉

The good life in wine country

Us in Napa ValleyMitch had introduced us to his good friends Adriana & Gerard. It as fun to speak some Dutch again with expat Gerard and after inviting us in their home for a great meal, they asked if we already had seen the vineyards. We explained that we had been on the coastal road all the time, and they immediately made plans for a tour in the weekend.

We had a great day, cruising in Gerard’s convertible in the warm winter sun. We visited many wineries, tasted some good wines and olive oils and thoroughly enjoyed the company and places we visited.

The good thing about a bicycle trip is that you sometimes get taken to places where you would never had gone yourself, but that are great anyway…

Winetasting at V.Sattui WineryVino Tinto

Winetasting with GerardGeorge, V.Sattui Winerywinetasting friends

Lunch with Gerard and AdrianaGroovin' and cruisin' with Adriana and Gerard

My knee was feeling a bit better and though I could not step down stairs properly, we decided that we would try and start cycling again. But first it was time to say goodbye to SF!

Next and final SF report coming very soon 🙂 : Critical mass, bellydancing B-day and many friends…

« Previous PageNext Page »