WarmShowers at its best with Darren and Cyndi

Darren and Cyndi live in an amazing house that used to be a Police Station, Fire Station, Law Courts, Council Offices and they bought it cheap and turned it into a cafe and their home. The judges seat is where they serve from and the witness box holds the coffee machine. They were super friendly and we had a great time there camped on their lawn, barbecued in the old police station, Leo got to pretend to drive an old council vehicle, and we got brilliant sandwiches and coffee for breakfast. Good to talk to, nice people with an interesting plan.

The Sherwood forest gathering

Leo wandering in the shallow tidal channel
While camping on the shore of Lake Quillan we met Dagmar and Scott who invited us to a gathering of friends in the quirkily named Sherwood Forest on the Long Beach peninsula. It involved a detour but was SO worth it. Communal cooking, campfires, music, fireworks for July 4th and lots of child friendly activities.. sandpit, swings, pirate ship.....and a brilliant tidal beach sheltered from the customary winds of this area.

Food was announced with the ring of a bell and the pizza oven was put to good use. There were rope swings in the forest and the chickens and dogs proved a real hit with Leo, as did all the friendly people.


Jelly fish collecting

We love Leo's desire to collect stuff he finds, but old washed up Jelly Fish weren't exactly our favourite thing. He kept asking us to hold them!



Big trees and big foot

Everywhere we go there are big trees.

And big foot

The coast

 Wild, windswept beaches with huge numbers of driftwood logs. Amazingly beautiful and atmospheric.

Leo loved it

The Spruce Railroad Trail

This was fun. A railroad trail at each end with a single track path for 4 miles in the middle. Great swimming, lots of pushing and 'a really great path papa' according to Leo who sat in the back helping by doing his 'push' face.

A return WarmShowers

In summer 2014 we hosted Eric, an American guy who stayed with us for a few days and entertained Leo quite successfully. When we knew we were flying to Seattle we realised that Eric might know stuff about getting to the ferry from the airport so we got in touch. Amazingly he offered to pick us up from the airport and host us for a couple of nights so that we could get over our jetlag.

When we arrived, his wife Loretta and his daughters Sophie, Lucy and Maria made us feel very welcome despite us throwing the girls out of their she-shed in the basement. We recovered, had a trip to REI and then rather wonderfully Eric rode us into Settle down the amazing network of trails that linked Bellevue with the city centre. We had a great day especially because most of the journey was downhill although I suspect Eric had a harder time getting home.


Have we left Norway yet?

Poulsbo is a small town on a peninsula on a peninsula. It was on our way and had a nice park in the forest and easy access to a good beach for Leo to forage for crabs, so we spent the afternoon there. It was settled by Norwegian fisherman and the people of the town are still really proud of their Norwegian heritage. Leo was quite excited at all the flags and we nearly got him to sing his Barnehage song: 'Sundelia Barnehage hey, hey, hey!!!' but he got all shy when we got the camera out.

Friendly locals

What makes people like this? TV?


Book - Chile and Argentina (Carretera Austral)

Read through our book to get any information you need. The book should be viewable full screen and it's all available to see online.

Carretera Austral slideshow

Photos taken along the route of the Carretera Austral between Ralun and Villa O'Higgins


Tablets and free digital maps for cycle touring

Nowadays we use the Garmin Edge 800 (Review)
for routing while we are on the bicycle and charge it with the dynamo hub on my front wheel. This is great for finding our way to accommodation or addresses or along a choice of roads to the next town. Cities become a pleasure to cycle through.

The Edge 810 is newer and has a better battery life but the 800 is fine. We tend to use the simpler but excellent free routeable maps from http://www.velomap.org/ on the Garmin.

For seeing a view of the whole route it is useless as the screen resolution /size is too small, so we end up buying physical maps or using the completely free Open Street Maps or Open Cycle Maps on a computer/tablet to work out our route.

Bike Route Toaster

The free Bike Route Toaster website allows you to work out all your routes before your trip using Open Street Maps, save them online or export them as Google Earth files. You can save in many other formats and can add the routes to your GPS and also view great height profiles too. It doesn't work well on a tablet but on a computer it is fantastic and the saved online routes mean you can get the routes wherever you can find internet. In theory someone at home could plan your route on the site and you could download it to your gps wherever you are.


We used an employer provided iPAD throughout our Eastern Europe trip but it was a bit restrictive about what we could do with it and it was difficult or expensive to get all the free Open Street Maps on it. It felt like anything new we wanted to do with it cost us more money. It was also big and heavy.

Nexus 7 (Android)

For South America we used a little Nexus 7 and were able to add all the free maps from Open Cycle Maps including contours and hill shading. We used the excellent app - OsmAnd which is free but has a low-cost paid-for option which gives routing. You can also add a contour lines plugin for incredibly detailed information about the route. The maps all work offline and even the routing works really well offline. The main reason for using the routing function is to find the distances to places as there is often only one suitable road.

This app was really useful and it is possible to add maps of anywhere in the world through the internal menus. We had the whole of Chile and Argentina on it and could check out the heights of passes or plan our overall route at night or on rest days, using the high resolution screen.

With OsmAnd it was possible to add gpx tracks from the computer and see them on the screen, so in theory you could plan your whole route before the trip and see it on your tablet.

The Nexus 7 is a really useful size and weight for travelling:
Compared to a laptop it saves a lot of weight and using a USB thumbdrive and an OTG cable we could put loads of TV programmes for Leo on it as well. Unlike the iPad we could charge it with our dynamo and it fitted nicely in the handlebar bag.