Wednesday, 22 August 2012

From YVR to PDX: Our first family bike vacation...Day One

Coralie and I heading into the station in
YVR at the crack of dawn
It finally happened. After over a year of being in Vancouver nearly every day, the family and I were finally heading out of the city for a proper vacation. Don't get me wrong, I love Vancouver, but as anyone in any city they love can attest, sometimes, you just need to get out and experience something different. Being a budget conscious family, we decided to take our car-free selves to Portland, OR. This will be our third visit to the city, and each time gets less and less touristy and more just about getting away and experiencing something new. So on our bikes, bright and early (5:30am to be exact), we set off from our place in East Vancouver to Pacific Central Station to board the Amtrak Cascade line to Portland.

Our family of bikes being loaded onto the train
The last time we took this train line, we were only going so far as Seattle, and the trip was at night so we couldn't see any of the beautiful landscape along the Cascadian coastline. This time around, since we were leaving as the sun started to rise, we got to see everything. This coastline really is spectacular, with the gorgeous mix of blue sky, clear waters and luscious, green trees. Watching it all go by from my window was so peaceful, and for the first time in months, I felt relaxed and like I truly was on vacation.
My seat with a view
As the stations rolled by on our eight hour journey, the kids switched up between watching the world go by, colouring or doing some back-to-school math refreshers, and watching some retro cartoons, Ghostbusters to be exact. As we moved more inland, Etienne noticed all the farmland and the grazing animals, and was fascinated. It then dawned on me that he actually hasn't spent much time outside of a city environment, and so wasn't used to the sights. That is something we will have to remedy.
The kids having some downtime with Dr. Venkman
My bike, safe and sound in PDX
In the late afternoon sun we arrived at Union Station in Portland, and our bike adventures began. We rode from the station to our home for four nights in the Alberta Arts District, Etienne behind Chris on the trail-a-bike, me on my bike and Coralie pedalling along on her own. It is important to note that we did bring our bikes to Portland during our second visit, but Coralie was still on the trail-a-bike at that time, and Etienne in the trailer, and we drove down. This time, we are relying completely on public transit and our pedal power to get us around the city, something that was very exciting for all of us and a new adventure to add to the books.

Our first sight as we arrived in PDX
Coralie and I biking over Broadway Bridge 
Our home away from home...thanks to
Chris' bike will live to see another day...
and hopefully a new inner tube
That's when things went a little sour. Just after we had settled into our home away from home, we went to head out to grab some dinner when Chris realized he had a flat on his front tire. Ok, no problem...I managed to remember to bring a patch kit. However, I completely forgot to bring our pump. Thankfully, our host had one to lend us. Unfortunately, Chris' tube has a presta valve, and the pump wouldn't work, and we also managed to forget our adaptor for just such an occasion. With it being after closing time at all the bike shops, it looks like fixing our minor hiccup will have to wait till tomorrow. Not the best start to our bike vacation, but on the bright side, lessons have been learnt, and it can only get better from here!

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