Loose ends & Longboards- Part 1

There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.
— Frodo

Dearest Push for Burundi supporters and encouragers,
Happy New Year to you all!

We would like to begin this post with an important message: The team made it!
Now, I would like to acknowledge the fact this post is 5 months late in coming with an ENORMOUS apology. Our communication became disrupted, unfortunately leaving this story with the critical issue of zero conclusion. An unacceptable way to close a tale of such importance. 
I can only hope that those of you faithfully following from the beginning found a way to discover that Caleb, Jordan and Andrew completed their mission, raising approximately $13,000 in aid of the beautiful country of Burundi!
For those of you unaware, may the torment and anticipation of the last 4 months finally dissipate as I share the final chapter of PFB’s 2015 Edmonton-Portland adventure...

Recap: We last left our adventurers just beyond the border. 

Finally entering into the much anticipated USA and on their way to the end goal of Portland, Oregon, the guys made it through Burlington onto Everett, pushing through Deception's Pass as opposed to Bellingham to save 30 kms. Once again they found themselves on a road with no shoulders, but even then the gracious and relaxed nature of the drivers was a welcome surprise. Eventually a 30 mile long bike path appeared and gave them a route to Snohomish that they pushed, averaging 25 km/h and reaching the fastest speed they have ever done.

They passed through Arlington, and found themselves in need of water. They had acquired some via 7/11 before with no troubles at all so, as they entered the gas station requesting to fill up their bottles, they were expecting a positive response. This time they faced hesitation, and an unwillingness to offer any precious H2O. Note: Readers should be aware this water was neither sparkling nor freshly bottled glacier. Just your standard water. From a tap. 
Laughing about it, and entirely confused, they found other means of hydration, leading to a late hour before they finally reached Snohomish. They strayed from the original path deciding to go directly west towards Everett to make up for their previous eastern trajectory.

Milestone:  First night they slept in the van. Location: Wal-Mart Parking lot
Everyone slept well that night except Jordan, who was up every 5 minutes and curled up in a ball. He made it through but realized after an entire night crammed in a corner, he could have stretched out & put his legs under the seat.

Eventually they reached Seattle-- bittersweet, as hectic cities usually offer the worst pushing conditions. Continuing on to Tacoma, they stopped at Walmart again for the night (where Jordan had a slightly better sleep, even though Caleb and Andrew took the benches and Jordan got to cuddle the longboards). While far from ideal, sleeping conditions weren't so bad until 2:30 in the morning when Andrew and Caleb woke Jordan up with the first of many late night conversations. This time he awoke to Andrew and Caleb chatting about a cop car outside, both unsettled and panicked by it's presence. Unable to see at first (his head is buried between the bags), he finally looked up to observe the supposed scene the others had been describing. Although sketchy, everything seemed fine and the police eventually left, but the tense anticipation of potentially expulsion from their sleep spot lingered until morning.

From Tacoma they pushed to Olympia. Olympia was one of the team's favourite American cities and also the capital of Washington, so they had the opportunity to push past beautiful government buildings and experience some fresh scenery.
Note: Shout out to Olympia Coffee Roasters for having the best tasting cappuccino on the trip! 
Finding Wal-Mart number three ended the day and led to another early morning conversation type of night.

Important take-away: Caleb does not know how to whisper at 2:30 in the morning.

In contrast to the previous day's enjoyment, Olympia to Elma was "the worst".  It involved the longest pushing day, after the original stopping point was supposed to be 30 km. A rest day was scheduled for the day after Elma and, being that Elma was such a small town, the group decided to push through to South Bend. This led to a a whopping 105 km push day, with no idea where the team's day 20-something energy was originating from. The sheer length of the trip was intimidating enough, but then things became progressively more complicated.
On the highway, Jordan was slightly behind Caleb and, like something out of a movie that Jordan claims to be the funniest thing he has ever seen, watched a cop pass by, slow down and come into the shoulder.  Turning on his lights the car crept up behind Caleb, who doesn’t notice him and keeps pushing. Envision a really low-budget car chase. But with a long board. 
Caleb still doesn’t see him, so finally the siren does a woop woop and Caleb comes to a halt. As they’re talking, Jordan slowly catches up and the police inform the guys that this is the end of the line and they can’t be pushing here.

Moment in history: The first time they've been kicked off the road.
The rationale? They were not bikes. Therefore they were ill-equipped and without proper reflective equipment.

The policemen knew the roads well and were able to send them back a quarter-mile to a permissible road parallel to the highway that went through the town.

Naturally, the redirected route had brutal pavement and gave them difficulty for around the next 13 kms. The guys were also internally panicked because the cops had mentioned that Highway 101 (their goal after Elma) had tiny shoulders and tough conditions. Thankfully it turned out to be beautiful with sizeable shoulders and although they had to navigate some uphill, their experience pushing through the rockies made for effective preparation. 
They stopped on the side of road to make Mr. Noodle and a guy came by on his quad to inquire after their well being. It was around 6 o’clock, so they informed him it was just a dinner stop, to which the gentleman replied: "You should've told me, Mama could have put on the stove". The generosity went farther and he offered them water, pop, or beer before they continued, to which they regrettably declined.
Beautiful terrain followed, and the team passed wonderful forests and old logging places as the sun went down and they saw streetlights coming on. They pushed into Southbend and a made camp for the night at nice campground next to a mama and baby racoons.***

Southbend to Astoria was their last day over 60 km thanks to the many days of pushed further than anticipated. This was also the day Caleb almost died after running off his board full speed down a hill. The board went off the road, but somehow he didn’t fall. Caleb responded with a shout out to God for his miraculous ability to see another day.

Fun Facts:

  • After a long dairy shortage, Caleb ate 4 Tillamook yogurts—honey greek yogurt, to be specific. You gotta try it. I understand that lives were changed.
  • ***  Turns out the guys do not possess any Disney magic, as the racoons displayed a less than welcoming attitude to their presence.