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...A Most Excellent Bikepacking Extravaganza With So Many Fun People!

A week ago, Derik held an Intro to Bikepacking Clinic at Joy Ride. This weekend 11 of us went out to the forest for a little overnight field trip. For some of us, this was a new experience riding fully loaded gravel bikes. The rest of us had varying degrees of experience. On the first day, a few went the long route, four went the shorter route, and four of us inadvertently went the medium route (more on that in a moment). All of us had fun.

Day One—The Magnetic Pull of the C-Line

We met at the Skep at 10:00. I got a 9.5 mile warmup by riding there from home, as did the majority of the group. We ended up rolling out about 10:30. Weather was looking pretty good (rain was forecasted for the evening). Tim had developed the route (this way, we couldn’t blame Derik if we didn’t like it). There were two route options, a shorter one at about 32 miles, and a longer one at around 45-50. I knew from the start I would do the shorter route. I didn’t even download the longer route to my phone. Derik planned to go longer, and Jason would stay with those of us wanting to go the shorter option.

Sly waiting to get rolling.

Riders and bikes at the ready.

Our destination for Day 1 was Porter Creek Campground on the South side of Capitol Forest. This was cool because I had never been there. There would be some new roads for me! There would also be a wee bit more than 3000ft of elevation gain, but that’s the Forest. To get to our planned entrance into the forest, we had a little bit of road riding to do first. Those of us with narrower gravel tires rolled a little easier on the pavement (but we sure wanted some fatter tires on the gravel!). Soon enough, we all convened at the one and only bit of singletrack for the two days. I’ve been on this singletrack several times. I was fully prepared to have to walk most of it with the bike being loaded, and much heavier. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself able to ride as much of the section as I do without the load. One of the new riders questioned the awesomeness of the singletrack. Derik convinced her that was it, there would be no more.  

Jana completing the singletrack.

Singletrack is never a problem for the D-man!
The first climb on the gravel began right after the singletrack. I was certainly utilizing my easiest gear (ever so grateful for changing to a smaller chainring), but I managed it. A good down section, some more up, then more down, spit us out onto Sherman Valley Rd. We headed up the road to the C-Line. A couple of weeks ago we had started up the C-Line, but cut off at D4000. This time we continued the long long climb up the C-Line. Because this was touring, and not just your normal weekend gravel ride, we stopped midway up the climb, and pulled out a variety of lunch items. I had some little mini flour tortillas with peanut butter and honey. Jason had a squeeze pack of chocolate hazelnut spread that I added to one of the tortillas. It was a very enjoyable lunch break.

Back on the bikes, we continued up the C-Line.

A nice view

Derik photo bombing on his Bombtrack!

The last time I was all the way to the top of the C-Line was on a Team gravel ride. There was snow then. This time, instead of snow, there were motorcycles, and the intersection has been clear cut (we suspect there is going to be some logging starting soon). We headed on down. At the turn for D1000, Stephanie, Ken, and Derik turned for the long route. That last time when there was snow? Karen and I, moving much slower than the rest of the group rode right past the D1000 turn. Unfortunately, no one had waited for us at the turn (it is an expected practice that someone waits until everyone makes the turn). This time, on purpose, the rest of us continued down C-Line. Not far beyond the turn, the C-Line became a very scary experience with really heavy gravel. It was also quite steep. Even though my every instinct was to brake and go really slow, I found that to be harder. Keeping a bit more speed, and letting the bike move underneath me seemed to work better. Still, at the end, we all gave a definite hallelujah when the road returned to a normal surface (well, Seaweed, who was riding a fat bike, might have actually enjoyed it). 

Down down down we went. At one point, Rosemary was in the lead, followed by Seaweed and I. Lily had stopped when she thought something had fallen off her bike. As Seaweed and I were riding along, I asked if he knew how to get to the campground. He said he could get there. About that time, Lily came flying down the hill telling us we needed to turn around. We had missed the turn for C-1000. Seaweed and her took off after Rosemary to catch her, and tell her to turn around. I turned around and headed back up. As I was riding the couple of miles back up the hill, I was reminded of the last time I had missed a turn off C-Line (that time, Karen and I ended up all the way down to US 12). I realized that the C-Line must have some strong magnetic pull. It really doesn’t want me to depart from it!

Anyway, Seaweed, Lily, and Rosemary caught up to me, and we rode back to the turn for C-1000. Along the way, Jason met us, and we all rode the rest of the way to the campground on the B-Line. We arrived at our selected campsite at close to 4:30. It was a good day’s ride. 

We all set up our tents on Sites 9 and 11. It was very nice; right on the creek. It was also in good proximity to the potty shacks. Shortly, Derik, Ken, and Stephanie arrived, as did Amy, who had ridden the road because she hadn’t been able to leave town at 10:00 with the rest of us. Once camp was set up, we all took a break and enjoyed some beverages from a cooler that had been waiting for us (Derik had dropped it off the day before, and it was actually still there).

The view from Jana’s tent Taj Mahal.

More tents!

Jana relaxing and reading her book with her bike looking over her shoulder.

Once a number of beverages were consumed, everyone began to cook their dinners. At least half of us had done our grocery shopping at REI. I don’t think any of us had the same dinner. I had the Turkey Dinner Casserole. It was pretty decent. 

Amy and Derik started a campfire, and we all enjoyed the remainder of the evening sitting around it, laughing and telling stories. Around 9:30 it began to sprinkle (remember that forecast?). Before long we all retired to our humble abodes. The rain became heavier, and continued off and on throughout the night. As tired as I was, it took me awhile to fall asleep, but eventually I did.

Day 2–Back Up and Over With a Bit of Walking

The rain had stopped by the time we all rolled out of our tents. Breakfasts were fixed, tents were packed up, and everything was packed back on the bikes. Jana’s husband, Bill, had joined us the night before (he reaffirmed his dislike for camping, but it was nice of him to come). He graciously took the cooler and all of our trash. Jana herself had to return to town faster, so Bill took her bags while she took the road back. Our numbers were still at 11 as Amy would be riding the gravel back with us.

We departed the campground at almost 9:30 (personally, I think that’s pretty good for 11 people!). Right out of the campground we were climbing up the B-Line. The climb was long...very long. Layers came off. Eventually, we got to the top, and started some nice downhill.

Here comes Ken Z!

Followed by Amy and Derik

Group shot at B4000 (the speedies, Stephanie and Ken were ahead of us). Left to right: Lily, Seaweed, Derik, Ken Z, Rosemary, Jason, and Amy (that’s Sly laying down).

We made the turn onto B4000. This was very familiar territory for me, but I hadn’t ridden it in this direction. There is a really good reason for that. The next turn is on to the KC-Line. It goes sharply up, and the rocks are pretty loose. I gave it a valiant effort, but ended up having to walk. Those of us not on mountain bikes (or fat bike) all had to walk. I told Rosemary there is no shame in walking! 

At one point when we were back to riding, but still climbing, it decided to rain. Of course, as soon as I got my jacket on, it stopped (but, you know, if I hadn’t put my jacket on, it would have continued to rain...that’s weather karma for ya). 

The remainder of the ride on B6000 back to the B-Line was a glorious 7 miles of screamin’ downhill. It was the reward for all the climbing! 

At the Rock Candy Parking Lot, we saw the cars of the Gravelpalooza ride. We had missed them on the road though. We all had a snack, then proceeded across the hwy to head to the Green Diamond property for the last section of gravel. We climbed toward the quarry with a little break to allow Seaweed to do a little yoga.

Maybe we all should have done some yoga!

We returned to the pavement at the Kennedy Creek gate on Old Olympic Hwy. All that was left was to ride 101 to the Steamboat Island exit, then Madrona Beach to Mud Bay, and back to the Skep. We arrived close to 2:00. As is the usual finish for the gravel rides, we enjoyed some food from Wally’s and beverages at the Skep.

Back where we started.

After some food, drink, and chatting with the Gravelpalooza riders who came in, I headed for home. I think this “Intro to Bikepacking” overnight was a wild success. Everyone had a great time. With all the different setups, it was proven that you can be successful riding what you’ve got. Of course, Bikepacking bags work, but so do panniers, and generous use of straps. There were no major mechanicals, and no crashes. Most of all, everyone had a great time. I really hope we do it again!

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Yay! We are back to Gravel Season! Today was the first Joy Ride Bikes Shop Gravel Ride known as Gravelpalooza. It was almost like a bride at a wedding...something new, something borrowed (if you consider a borrowed rain jacket), and something blue. 

Let’s start with the something blue. That would be the sky. The weather forecast throughout the week had not looked good for today. It was looking like thunderstorms would accompany us along the gravel roads of Capitol Forest. As I was riding from my house to meet up with Bethany for the drive up to the “Y”, I did indeed get rained on pretty good. I had my rain jacket and my awesome Vaude bike gaiters, but the space between the bottom of my jacket, and the tops of my gaiters got pretty wet just riding the 6 miles to Bethany. At least it stopped raining by the time we got to the “Y” (Waddell and Sherman Valley Rds). Twenty one of us started up C-Line. By the time we got to D-4000, the jackets had come off (it’s a bit of a climb). There was actually a few pockets of blue sky!

However, as we were descending down, it started to rain, no, make that, hail. Jackets were back on in a flash! This trend of rain then sunshine would continue for most of the ride. At least there was some blue sky! I think I took off/put on my rain jacket 3 times.

For the “something new”, it was short to longish sections of SINGLETRACK! There were a number of us who were rather apprehensive about the idea of taking our drop bar gravel steeds on singletrack trails. I, for one, have steadfastly proclaimed I am NOT a mountain biker! To me, singletrack is mountain bike territory. Those with mountain bike backgrounds seemed to think it was no big deal (and, of course, there were some who were actually on mountain bikes). Well...we managed just fine. Maybe not the speediest, but we made it without any mishaps. Dare I say, it was even a little bit fun??? It helped that there was more flat and downhill, than uphill. Also, the trails are pretty well maintained (even though there was a fair amount of mud and puddles from the rain). It was also interesting to me because, while I have been on many of the gravel roads, I have zero experience with the trails...where they start, distance, and finish. I want to learn the trails so I can do some hiking training for my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2020.

It felt like the gravel road to singletrack ratio was about 1:1, but it was really probably more gravel road...but not by much! It was a good experience. As conditions become worse on the trails, some knobbier tires would be helpful, or maybe I should just bite the bullet, and get some 650b wheels so I can run a wider tire...which would be awesome on the gravel too...

Even with the rain, it was a successful first Gravelpalooza of the season. I’m looking forward to the next one!

A couple of new women...Lia and Machiko!
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Day 1: What a Nice Trail, Except for the Pokies!

I’ve been wanting to try bikepacking with Sly, my gravel adventure bike. I wanted to do the Willapa Hills Trail (the whole thing, not just the parts I’ve done on my road bike, and my Bike Friday touring bike...aka, the easy parts). My friend, Bethany, did the WHT last April (a day ride, unloaded). She has also wanted to do a bikepacking trip with her gravel bike. The planets aligned, and we were able to schedule a short trip this weekend. 

Bethany and our driver (aka her husband) picked me up Saturday morning at 7:00. We arrived at the WHT Trailhead in Chehalis (take the Hwy 6 exit from I-5 South, turn right, then turn left, following the signs to the Willapa Hills Trailhead), and loaded the bags onto the bikes. Here’s Sly, ready to go.

Here we are, two bikepackers ready to go! 

We had to stop a few times to make some adjustments (mostly just tightening straps), but then we were on the trail!

The first part of the trail is paved. It gave us time to get used to the weighted bikes, and warm up a bit. I continued to have problems with my handlebar pack straps loosening to where the bag would start to rub on the front wheel. I would have to stop and tighten them. It was frustrating until I tied the straps from the pocket to the straps of the Sweetroll. That seemed to do the trick. 

Back in 2007, there was a major flood of the Chehalis River. This flood washed out several of the old railroad (now Willapa Hills Trail) bridges. Up until a year or so ago, those bridges had not been replaced. Now, there are new bridges for all of the river crossings between Adna and Rainbow Falls State Park.

Such a nice bridge!

Upon crossing the bridge just after the Adna Trailhead Parking, the trail turns to gravel. It’s pretty well hard packed, and easy to ride. Before we knew it, we were passing the turn to Rainbow Falls State Park (15 miles). From here, the trail continued to be easy, and well maintained. 

We arrived in Pe El, where there is another Trailhead Parking lot with restrooms, and the Pe El Country Store just across the street. 

The Country Store is the beige building behind the blue building (which is for sale...if you are interested).

I took the opportunity to get a bottle of root beer to go with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I had packed. Although it was only about 10: 30, we were ready for a break and some food. I can’t decide if it was late breakfast, or early lunch (it was kind of lunch food...). A guy rolled up on a Dahon folding bike. He had come from the road. His son was coming on the trail. I’m not sure where they started (it wasn’t Raymond, because the son didn’t know where Raymond was). The dad had diverted out to the road. The son was riding an All-City drop bar bike with maybe 32mm tires. He was also wearing long black pants and put on a velour long sleeve black shirt when he reached Pe El. Interesting clothing choice, but the dude was doing it. Father and son continued on the path together toward Chehalis.

Bye guys!

Rested and fed, Bethany and I continued toward Raymond. The next section of the trail had a few trestles that were in various stages of decay. There was also a nice new bridge. 

Nice view of the river.

We were able to get across the decaying/yet to be replaced trestles, even though we probably weren’t supposed to go across them.

This was the most decayed trestle of the bunch. It was prudent to watch where one stepped.

I almost rode one, but thought better of it.

Okay, I’ll walk...

Watch your step there, Bethany!

Many parts of the trail were tunnels of green. It was really pleasant. 

This was fairly comfy to ride on.

At one point we spotted some wild bison! Okay...they weren’t wild, but they were bison!

Mama and calf

We knew there was a section where there is no bridge or trestle, so we would have to divert out to the road running parallel (not Hwy 6). Bethany had done this back in April, so she knew where to go. As we were riding to where she had turned to return to the trail (down a gravel road), we saw a pickup pull out. When we got up to the turn, and there was a closed gate. Bethany said there hadn’t been a gate before. Strangely, the pickup had turned around and was coming toward us (we had ridden further beyond the gated road). I said, “ Oh, there coming back.” Except, they weren’t coming back to talk to us. They started to drive by, but we had stopped, and they then stopped and asked us if we needed something. We asked about the road back to the trail. The woman said it did go to the trail, but it was private property (she was kind of snotty about it). She told us where we could get back on the trail, then they drove off. Bethany thought it was weird, since she had previously gone that way. The pickup had Oregon plates, so we thought maybe they were new owners, or something like that. Anyway, we didn’t try to see if the gate was unlocked. We came out to Hwy 6, rode for about a mile to Doyle Rd, turned there, and immediately turned back onto the trail. 

As we continued on, we were hot, and parched (for me, anyway, water wasn’t cutting it). The trail was paralleling Hwy 6. We came to the burg of Menlo. There, sitting along the Hwy, was a beautiful sight...the Menlo Market. We exited the trail immediately! I had a delicious bottle of Gatorade, and a Snickers. Bethany even broke down and had a Henry Weinhard’s Orange Cream Soda (and thought it was quite good)! 

So refreshing!

Chillaxin for a moment!

An older gentleman came and bought a large supply of Busch NA (near beer). He asked where we were headed. When we told him Raymond, he said we only had about 6 miles to go. 

Back on the trail, things started to get a bit...well...less maintained. We had been navigating around the pokie Blackberry vines pretty successfully. However, the trail was getting narrower and narrower. When we came to a cross street, and saw the condition of the trail on the other side, we opted to divert to the road.

Looks awfully pokie to me!

As soon as the trail widened again, we got back on. Then it was overgrown again. Back out to the road we went, only it wasn’t Hwy 6. Bethany looked on her phone, and we could see that this road paralleled the trail. We had ridden for just a short bit when I saw an access back to the trail. I said I would just go have a look. The trail was fine again, so we got back on. 

Before too long, we hit the bit of paved section into Raymond. We arrived at the end of the trail at about 3:30. Since we were just going to be setting up our tents at the Riverfront Park, and wouldn’t be doing so until the sun went down, we decided to go have second lunch/early dinner at Dairy Queen. Besides, we were both really hungry. After both of us consumed too much food, we made our way over to the park. Bethany opted for a bit of a lay down.

Because it was after 4:00, and the Carriage Museum and Visitor Center we’re closed, we didn’t have access to the restrooms to was the dirt off our legs. 

Dirt tan.
Bethany utilized some wipes. I went down to the river and washed off my legs. It also felt good to dip my legs into the cool water.

One of the numerous metal sculptures that Raymond is known for. This one is on the dock for the river.

We finally decided the sun had set enough that we could put up our tents. Bethany noted that the grass was pretty green, and therefore wondered if there might be sprinklers. I said I hadn’t seen any sprinkler heads...

Sunset on the Willapa (photo by Bethany)

Day 2: A Lot Harder Than Day 1!

Where was I...oh yes...sprinkler heads. We had a night of semi-sleeplessness, but no issues with anyone telling us we could camp at the park. However, at about 5:00, I was rudely awakened by an attack from...the sprinklers! Ah CRAP!!! Turns out there WERE sprinklers, and there was a sprinkler head about two feet from my tent!

See the little black round devil?

OH MY GOD! The water absolutely pummeled my tent, spraying directly up under the vent, and onto my head! As I was howling, I somehow managed to get the vent closed from inside my tent (it’s part of the rainfly). While it seemed an eternity of regular jets of water continuing to pressure wash my tent (it’s a brand new tent...it didn’t need washing!), I think it really only lasted about 5 minutes before it mercifully shut off. Both Bethany and I were wondering if the bikes had also got a washing. Fortunately, Bethany had suggested, the night before, that we park the bikes up against a small tree near our tents (instead of leaning them against the picnic table). The tree was just behind the sprinkler, so the bikes stayed dry. I retrieved my towel, and dried everything as best as I could. At least I wouldn’t have to sleep in my, now wet, sleeping bag tonight.

We packed up, and ate some breakfast. Bethany popped over to the Chevron to get a couple bottles of water to refill our bottles and Bethany’s Camelback. 

Gotta get all this back into the bags!

Shortly after 8:00, we were ready to hit the road. Instead of just going back on the WHT, I had mapped a route to Rochester via Brooklyn. Before rolling out of town, we went over to this cool bike sculpture.

Me and Larry.

We had to climb for a short section on 101 before we could turn off onto Butte Creek Rd. Unable to tell from the map, I didn’t know if Butte Creek would be paved. It was. After about 6 miles, we veered right onto Smith Creek Rd. It was also paved...for awhile.

Yay, back to gravel!

This was a pleasant surprise! The road was pretty good, perhaps a little bumpy. I figured we would be doing some climbing. Oh yeah, there was climbing! A lot of climbing! I think in one climb, we had more elevation gain than all of yesterday (although, that’s not saying much as the WHT is pretty darn flat). 

And this was the easy part!

We made it to the top at last.


The descent was long, and seemed steeper than the climb...at least sometimes. At the bottom, we popped out onto North River Rd, which took us to Brooklyn. The section to (and a bit further) the Brooklyn Tavern was paved. We enjoyed the smoothness.

Sadly, we arrived 1 1/2 hours before the Brooklyn Tavern would be open. 

Why don’t people like to start drinking before noon on a Sunday???

Still, we took a break, and had a snack. 

Who needs the Weather Channel?

The parking lot is covered in bottle caps.

After our break, we headed on along Brooklyn Rd to where it becomes gravel.

End of the pavement, back to the gravel!

Coming from Brooklyn, it’s a long climb, but fairly gradual. Neither of us required our easiest gears...yet. Soon enough the road got steeper. There were some nice views though. 

This was a nice view looking back.

Sly, looking good!

I think we had been over in those hills back there somewhere.

We finally reached the top.

You’ve got this Bethany!

The ride down back to pavement was definitely steeper than most of the up. Back on the pavement, we were both getting pretty tired, but we still had one big-ass hill to go up on Gerrard Creek Rd. We took a little break just before. I was down to my downtube bottle of water. We had about 10 miles to go. The ride down Gerrard Creek after the climb was great, of course. Onto Independence Valley, there were still a few rollers, but no more big climbs. We slogged our way the last few miles, pulling into Swede Hall (where our chauffeur was waiting) exhausted, hungry, and thirsty around 2:15. 

Today was shorter in miles (47 vs 53.6), but the elevation gain was far more (3228ft vs 669). Plus, there was no place to get something to drink or eat (we had enough food and water, but a Gatorade or something would have been nice). However, the trip, though short, was a resounding success! We both had a great time, and I really enjoyed doing this tour with Bethany. Now I should go dry my tent...blasted sprinklers!!!

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28 hours. That’s how long it took me to get from Perth to Seattle. Cathie and Marlene took me to the airport the night of July 10th. Jared had joined us for dinner and dessert, but wasn’t feeling so great afterward, so we dropped him back at home first. In Australia, people can go to the gate even without a ticket, so Cathie and Marlene sat with me at the gate until it was almost time for me to board. We said our goodbyes with hugs all around. I boarded shortly after they left.

Bag packed

Dessert at San Churros

Goodbye Perth 

I tried to watch a movie, but I kept nodding off. In the whole trip (Perth to Sydney and Sydney to LA—there were no movies for LA to Seattle), I think I slept through parts of about 5 movies. 

The good part about the flight from Sydney was that the plane was not very full. 

Those seats were empty. People later moved into the aisle ones, but the seat next to me remained empty.

Sydney in the distance

Because I learned my lesson about layover times when you have to go through Customs, I allowed plenty of time in LA to get through Customs, drop my bags at the bag drop, and get to the Domestic Terminal. 

The last flight was the hardest because I was so tired. Fortunately, the pilot flew extra fast, and we arrived in Seattle 27 minutes early! Dillon picked me up. We were home by early afternoon. 

My Sweet Baboo came over just after I got home. He was as excited to see me as I was to see him. He drew me this picture.

That’s me on my bike in Australia (pretty amazing for a not quite 4 year old!)

So, now I’m home. All told, my tour was 6222.3 kilometers. That’s 3866.4 miles. Because I didn’t do all of the Munda Biddi, it ended up not being my longest tour, distance-wise. However, time-wise, it was my longest tour. 

I know I have thanked these people, but since there’s no way I could thank them enough, I must thank them at least one more time. In order of appearance...
Natalee and Ian in Melbourne—My intro to Australia was made fun and easy by these two! I am so grateful that they were willing to host me not once, but three times, as I arrived, went to Tasmania, returned, then went to Sydney, and returned before finally heading West. 

Patrick and Mikaela in Sydney—Without these two, I would not have been able to experience Sydney like I did. I feel so lucky to have met them. One of these days, Mikaela will be a movie star, and I will say, “Yeah, I know her!”

Cathie in Success (Perth suburb)—Here’s someone who really missed her calling. She definitely should have been a tour guide! I can’t believe all the things we did! She was willing to put up with me for 22 days. We had the most awesome time together. While Ian and Nat, and Patrick and Mikaela could have been my children, Cathie is nearly the same age as me. We have so much in common. I really enjoyed getting to see and do so much while I was with Cathie (and Jared, and Judy, and Marlene), but what I cherish the most is the friendship we developed. We will be forever friends, and I WILL go back to Australia (I will also make sure I see her when they come to the US next summer). 

Finally, I must thank again the two people who made it possible for me to meet my new friends, Kim Pearson and Katie Kolan. Natalee is Kim’s husband, Keven’s, cousin, and Cathie is Kim’s friend from their husbands’ Navy days. Katie is Patrick’s cousin. When they found out I was going to Australia, both Kim and Katie, right away, told me they had family/friends in Australia. 

Thank you all a million squillion times!!!

Now I must finish this up because I am falling asleep while I type.
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As always, all good things must come to an end so one can appreciate how good it was...and so is the case for our trip to the Margaret River Region of Western Australia. We had one last hurrah at the Goose Cafe in Busselton for coffee (hot chocolate) before getting on the road north.

Okay, I might have had a cherry ripe slice too...

Cathie’s friend, Lisa, who we had met up with briefly in Harvey, and lives in Australind, was available for us to drop in on our way back. To get to her place, we went on the same road I had ridden from Bunbury. We even went by where I camped in Bunbury. 

We had a nice visit and lunch with Lisa and her daughter, Billie. Billie’s twin sister, Poppy, came out and said hello to us. Afterward, we went to the Bunbury Farmers’ Market.

It’s kind of like the IKEA of farmer’s markets. You work your way through in one direction. It was very busy. There were some interesting items.

This looks like the squid face guy in Pirates of the Caribbean. Really, it is called...

Ah yes...not squid.

Any guesses???

Did you get it right?

This was amusing to me.

Get it?

And finally...

Well, I did see camels! Might be interesting to see a camel being milked...

Oh, and there was this humorous sign too.

From the market, we bee-lined it to Coolup to drop off Judy at her grandkids. We had a bit of a visit, then headed to Kiwanna to drop off Marlene. We rolled into Success as the sun was setting. It was a most awesome trip! It’s been great because I haven’t really been thinking about going home because we’ve been so busy seeing as much as possible.

So, now, I have just one more day, and that’s only because my flight is not until 11:55pm. Tomorrow, I will be packing up the panniers, then it’s the marathon flight home...
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Day 4 of our adventure in the Southwest began with a walk on the beach by our villa (Cathie and I). The washed up beach grass was nearly two feet high. 

That’s all beach grass.

Amongst the grass and sand was bits of coral, shells, and cuttlefish skeletons.



Interesting bit of coral or something wrapped around a small stick.

We got on the road around 10:00 or so. We were going to work our way to Augusta. Our first stop was Yallingup Beach. This is a famous surfing beach.

Yallingup Beach

An actual surfer!

From Yallingup, we moved down the Coast to Prevelly, Gnarabup, and the mouth of the Margaret River. We drove through Prevelly, stopping briefly at the dog beach before moving on down to Gnarabup. There was a nice little cafe where we had a little snack while looking at the beautiful beach.

We went back to Surfers Point and the mouth of the Margaret River. 

Surfers Point

The mouth of the river and the beach

As we were walking over to the mouth of the river, I saw a SHARK! I managed to get this photo.

There were quite a few people at the mouth. It’s shallow enough to wade across if you time it right. I had taken my shoes off and set them on the sand while I walked in the water. A big wave came in, and I realized my shoes were going to be swept away (or at least get soaking wet). As I’m running toward my shoes, this woman in front of me gets to my shoes first and scoops them up just in time! I was ever so grateful! 

Next, we headed inland the tiniest bit and drove through the beautiful forest of Jarrah and Karra trees. 

We stopped for lunch at the Boranup Cafe and gallery. The gallery had some really nice art, and lunch was delicious.

There were also quite a few birds (real and metal)

Real Kookaburra to go with the metal one

Honey eater 

My lunch of smashed avo on sourdough with feta, grilled tomatoes, pumpkin, and pesto.

Continuing down the Coast, we pulled into Hamelin Bay. This Bay is known for its manta rays. However, at this time of year it is unusual to see any. Still, the beach was pretty speckie (as they say here).

Limestone of Hamelin Bay

More limestone 

It was time to hustle on down the rest of the way to Augusta. When we arrived in Augusta, we stopped at the mouth of the Blackwood River. I camped along the Blackwood in Bridgetown.

The river is a little wider here.

Looking toward the mouth

On our way to Cape Leeuwin, we stopped at the Waterwheel. 

The Waterwheel was built to provide water for the workers who were building the lighthouse.

I climbed up the rocks, and could see that I could walk all the way to the lighthouse along the Cape to Cape Trail. The rest of the gals drove, and I met them at the lighthouse.

Walking across the rocks

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Unfortunately, we arrived too late to go out to the Lighthouse, but it was okay. The view was still good.

Heading back

We drove back to Busselton, and had dinner at the resort restaurant. Our last full day here was as awesome as all the other days! I feel incredibly fortunate to have gotten to come to this part of Australia with three fabulous women. A squillion thanks to Cathie for arranging everything, and being our tour guide extraordinaire! 

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While yesterday was all about the scenery, today was all about chocolate and wine (and a bit of soap). 

Cathie and I took advantage of the pool and jacuzzi this morning. Other than wearing my swimsuit while I was doing laundry, this was the first time I’ve actually gone swimming in Australia. For awhile, it was just Cathie and I, and...a couple of ducks. Yes, the ducks decided a morning swim in the INDOOR pool was a good idea! It was a great way to start the day...for us and the ducks!

After breakie at the resort restaurant, we hit the road for Day 3. Today’s ultimate goal was Margaret River. Of course, there were many stops to be made along the way. The Margaret River region is known for its wineries. There are 215 wineries in the region. But, first we stopped at a soap place. It smelled quite good in the shop.

The first winery we stopped at was Aravina. 

Vines on the hillside


The surf/car museum at Aravina

Remember...it’s winter here, yet these camellias are in bloom

From Aravina, we stopped at Wills Domain winery so Cathie could get some special German wine that Dennis, her husband, requested. 

Yellow Bird of Prey

Cool artwork in the winery

The vineyard at Wills Domain

While I’m not a wine drinker, I enjoyed the buildings and the grounds. But, next up was Gabriel Chocolate.

The chocolate map.

I purchased a few bars of single-source chocolate. It’s very good chocolate! 

Back in the car, we were ready for a bit of a snack, so we stopped at Black Brewing Co. 

Black Brewing Co.

The fountain at Black Brewing

Interesting gazebo with glass panels depicting various wine making histories of the world (like Roman, Egyptian, etc)

Next up was another chocolate factory. This one was the Margaret River Chocolate Factory. This was quite the place. It reminded me a bit of the chocolate factory I went to when I was on the Great Ocean Road.

A whole lotta chocolate!

Pretty flowers outside the chocolate factory

The Margaret River Chocolate Factory had a cycling jersey. I was going to get one, but they didn’t have anymore of the women’s jerseys, so no jersey for me...otherwise, I only got some Rocky Road.

Just down the road was a place called Providore. They have more savory things like sauces, chutneys, soup mixes, and whatnot. They also had jams, and the most delicious passion fruit curd (I had two sample spoonfuls). I managed to resist buying any as I really don’t have the space.

Our final shop visit was at the Bettenay’s and Margaret River Nougat Company. I picked up a cherry coconut nougat bar, and a wild berry and macadamia bar. If you bought 4 bars, you got one free. We went in together and got a limoncello bar for free.

Oh yeah, they also had wine...of course.

Nice grounds here too.

We finally rolled into Margaret River. It was a bit too early for dinner, so we drove around a bit. As we were coming up on the Catholic Church, Marlene thought she could probably go to church. Sure enough, so we dropped her off, and went back to the Settlers Tavern (that doesn’t sound so good does it?).
Actually, we did park at the tavern, but we didn’t go in. When it was time to get Marlene, Cathie went off, and Judy and I went in to get a table (see, we’re not that bad). 

Dinner was had, and since we were ready to head back to Busselton, we didn’t stay for the music, but drove back. It was another fun filled day in the Southwest.

Clouds in Margaret River

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Today’s blog post title is courtesy of Cathie.

Day 2, we headed first to the Busselton Jetty. It’s a nearly 2 kilometer jetty. We took the little train out to the end. 

Busselton Jetty

At the end of the jetty there’s an underwater observatory. We didn’t go in as we didn’t want to spend that much time. We had a busy day ahead.

The end of the jetty

Heading back

This is the swimming area. It is really a beach, but in the winter, storms bring all the sea grass up on the beach. There were piles and piles of it.

“But Mommy, I want to go swimming!”

From Busselton, we headed down the Coast to Dunsborough, then out to Bunker Bay. 

Well, that’s a nice beach isn’t it?

We returned to Dunsborough to meet up with Cathie’s friends, Leonie and Peter (we did the painting class with Leonie), for lunch at Clancy’s Fish Pub. We had a nice leisurely lunch, then headed back toward Cape Naturaliste to go to Eagle Bay. We weren’t overly impressed with Eagle Bay, so we left and went on to Sugarloaf Rocks.

Sugarloaf Rocks

Cathie and I walked down the path and climbed over the rocks for more photos.

From the water’s edge

After Sugarloaf, we went out to Injidup Natural Spa. This is a place where, in the summer when it’s warmer, people can get into a pool that gets regular waves from the ocean.

Water spilling into the natural spa pool.

Judy and Marlene waiting patiently for Cathie and I 

Another wave on its way to the spa!

The fabulous Southwest Coast of Western Australia...and me.

Our plan was to watch the sunset from Canal Rocks, so we headed there next. 

Water rushing through the canal of rock.

Wave of water coming through

We went up on top of the rocks for the sunset (we spent a lot of time today being mountain goats).

Queen of the rock!

Well, that’s kind of pretty!

Some big water!

Ah yes...worth the wait!

After the sun set, we climbed back down, and back to the car. We marveled at how all the roads lead to the most fabulous scenery! It really is so beautiful in this part of the country.

We went to Yallingup for dinner at the Caves House. I had tiger prawns and goat cheese tortellini. It was very good. There was supposed to be a Jazz Duo, but that is next weekend (even though they advertised it as tonight). Instead there was a guy singing and playing guitar. He was pretty fun. There was the cutest little girl (looked about 18 months) just dancing away! 

It was a beautiful day today. We are all exhausted, but can’t wait until tomorrow’s adventures!

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Day 1 of our Chick’s Road Trip, and what do we spot from the Kwinana Freeway? Two camels! Whew! I didn’t think I would be checking Camel off the list. Afterall, time is running short! But, wait, there’s more! We stopped at a cheese place just outside of Harvey, and there was another camel. This one happened to be named Poppy.

Gimme a kiss!

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Judy knew of a garden place that was very nice. There was also a cafe. It was the Stirling House. Captain James Stirling was the first Governor of Western Australia. Here’s some photos...

See the butterflies (okay, they’re not real)

But, this one is!

Harvey River

And yes, this is WINTER in Western Australia!

I had an interesting combo tart. It was called Banoffee. It is a combination of banana and toffee. 

It’s the labradoodle of pie.

Harvey is also the home of one of Australia’s favorite children’s author, May Gibbs. 

May Gibbs art at the Visitor Center

 Back at the cheese place, there were also emus. Of course, I have seen a number of emus, but not too close. Usually, in the wild, they run away. This one was not shy.

Check out that orange eye!

We made another stop in Boyanup at the Gingerbread House. It’s a candy store of awesomeness! Sadly, I didn’t take any photos.

We arrived in Busselton around 4:00ish. We are staying in Marlene and Cathy’s brother’s unit (think condo). It has two bedrooms and a loft (with two beds), and a full kitchen. It’s very close to the beach. This will be our base for our travels around the Southwest. The weather is looking pretty good too!
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Even though July 4th is not a holiday in Australia, we are going to a 4th of July dinner tonight. And...it’s not even 4th of July in the US yet!

Cathie gave this to me

Tomorrow we head to Busselton and other points south. We won’t return until the day before I leave, so I decided to pack up Tilmann now. It’s never my favorite job, but by merely cutting two more zip ties, I made packing him into the case much easier. I think I do something different every time I pack him up. 

By cutting the remaining two zip ties on the downtube of the front section, I was able to separate the handlebar/fork unit from the front triangle section. It made it so much easier to arrange in the case.

Finished! I’ll pack up the rest of the gear when we get back. 

I wish everyone back home a Happy 4th of July!

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