Cycling in a skirt

One life, some bicycles. A million possibilities, zero clue!

The Art of Un-Planning


I love starting the day with a plan, an idea of where we’re going, how far, where we might sleep? What would be even better, would be to finish the day with that same plan intact. I’m still waiting.

The last few weeks have been the perfect demonstration of this on almost every level, which is why we’re currently on a bus heading to Portland Oregon. Let me explain.

Since arriving in Vancouver in early September we’ve been enjoying an unprecedented run of autumn sunshine everywhere we go, even the locals can’t believe it. It’s  made cycling and camping a wonderful experience (or as wonderful as being in a small canvas dome can ever be). The weather gods continued to smile on us riding down Vancouver Island, crossing into Washington USA and even in Seattle, one of the most famously wet cities. Since leaving our friends in the city camping however has been becoming more problematic. Private campgrounds are closing for the year and more recently so are the State Parks.

In the US there’s a huge State Park network (similar to Canada’s Provincial Parks), a large proportion of which offer camping.
The best part of this are the hiker/biker sites in many of the locations. For $12 you get a place to camp, a picnic bench, showers and a flushing toilet (the height of luxury after Canada’s long-drops).
That these sites are always well away from the main camping area, and washroms, in thick stands of trees, is a bit of a mystery but maybe the park planners have smelled us cycle tourists first hand and banished us to the woods.

Great though these sites are, we’ve also found even they are now closing up for the season, at least in Washington.
After a particularly long day on the bike recently we rolled into Saltwater Bay park only to find the campsite closed. We briefly considered setting up for the night anyway but multiple signs warning of thefts/break ins scared us off.
A helpful notice did advise of another site….a mere 10 miles away…. but after a hard day and with the twilight closing in neither of us could face it.
Two things then happened which sealed the deal for the detour.
With limited accommodation options we splashed out $100 on a grim motel room, complete with burn marks in the single, sticky blanket and a delightful dead cockroach. At least it was dead. After a miserable night listening to various marital disagreements through the thin walls and 30 mins spent in the car park, when someone’s plastic bong melted and set off the fire alarm, we promised ourselves a relaxed day.

Cycling the 10 miles to the next state park we were greeted by a large sign. Campsite Full. Noooooooo.
With a large proportion the site now closed for winter and no hiker/biker area the remaining few spots were taken by RVs.
There was only one thing to do. Beg.
Being the best ‘pleader’ of our party I phoned the park ranger and proceeded to shamelessly do just that. He gave in eventually for a quiet life and we had a spot for the night but this camping uncertainty wasn’t ideal.
The usual route from Washington to California is of course the iconic Pacific Coast but, having ridden this myself previously,  I’d wanted to try something different this time. Unfortunately going off piste this time of year has it’s limitations it seems. Coupled with a distinct lack of scenic riding on some busy highways we decided the time had come to rethink, reroute and fast forward.
So, here we are on a bus heading into Portland, a city I’m really looking forward to exploring. We’ve some time off too to plan what we might do next, go inland perhaps or head to the coast.
After all, I do love a plan!

Distance travelled in N.America: 428 miles

Distance travelled whole trip: 1984 miles

Elevation climbed N.America: 22,938 feet

Elevation climbed whole trip: 81,060 feet


If you enjoy reading about adventure, travel, cycling or all 3 why not check out my book: How To Cycle Canada the Wrong Way.


It’s the story of a forty-something woman with no clue in life and no cycle touring experience. What she does have is a sense of adventure, a second hand bicycle and a skirt and the idea of riding across Canada….the wrong way.

Available on Amazon in e-reader and paperback formats.


Author: cycling in a skirt

A forty-something, journeying through life on two wheels. Possessor of limited common sense and practical ability, but full of a passion for adventure, life and bicycles. Writing about the highs and lows of cycling, cycle touring, skirts, silliness and the daily struggle not to grow up and be responsible.

4 thoughts on “The Art of Un-Planning

  1. Ah Portland. “Keep it Weird” is their motto….


  2. Looking forward to seeing what the new plan looks like. Glad there were no more bears. You are not doing wild camping this trip then? Really loving your stories and amazing photos. Sad to hear of the increasing number of homeless people. Very happy to hear of the many welcoming strangers and old friends who make life worth while. Love the amazing photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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