I never thought I’d see the day–my big bike, down in Portland!
Previous trips have been on Amtrak with the small bike, but now that BoltBus is in the Pacific Northwest, anything that fits in the luggage bay is welcome. The experience is quite different than taking Amtrak Cascades, but it’s cheap and it worked!
The bus picked us up on the east side of Union Station, right where S King St runs into 5th Ave S. A northbound BoltBus was at the curb so it was apparent where to go, but otherwise there was no signage or attendant. My ticket confirmation suggested I show up 15 minutes early and I think that’s because there’s not much one can do before that time. We all milled around until our bus arrived and then awkwardly milled around more, not knowing what to do. Eventually, we all rushed at the luggage bays to shove our stuff in. I heard someone describe the experience as “You get what you pay for” and it is indeed cheap, but the driver was very nice and when he noticed my bike, he cleared out one of the luggage bays (the whole bay! I felt a guilty I was given so much room!) and then helped me lift in the bike.
Here’s a picture of the bike in the luggage compartment before I put my small wheelie bag on top of it. I removed the Yepp seat and shoved it alongside to make the bike lighter and smaller, but it looks like it would have fit even with the seat in place. I also removed the WideLoader and stowed that inside a FreeLoader bag, but that may have fit on the upper side of the bike as well. Either way, it’s easier to manipulate with fewer poking-out appendages.
As for on board the BoltBus, my main takeaway was: it’s much smaller than the train. Duh. It looks so big from outside, but once we were confined to our seats and surrounded by extremely quiet people, it felt very very small. A four-hour train trip with little kids is long, but it’s helpful to fill the time by walking repeatedly to the dining car for a change of scenery. And the train seats have that useful table. I thought the bus would have seat-back tray tables like an airplane, but we only had a drink holder by our feet. So we didn’t bother with coloring and made do looking out the windows. Everyone else seemed to be traveling solo so all the chatter was from us: “Mama! Mama! Cement mixer truck!” and “Ooh! Train tracks!”
But we survived. The women behind me declared the children excellent travelers. She must like construction equipment, too, I guess. And we arrived 20 minutes early.
I neglected to plan our first afternoon in town, so out of habit we headed directly to Clever Cycles. I figured I could wheel my luggage-laden bike inside and the kids could play on the Lego table while I checked out the pretty bikes. We were in town for the Disaster Relief Trials and I discovered one of the bike mechanics was building himself a Stokemonkeyed Xtracycle EdgeRunner to compete in the e-assist class. He did his best to scare me. Or maybe he didn’t mean to scare me with his “Oh yeah, last year I was like you and thought civilian class was just going to be a fun ride with friends. It wasn’t. Not at all. So hard.” Nice guy.
Fortunately, Clever Cycles didn’t have a Nihola cargo trike on the floor so we didn’t have to do any test riding. The kids just love the window on the front of that bike–specifically to test ride with the big stuffed doggie in the shop because it is SO FUNNY to have that stuffed dog looking out the window. And between the potty breaks and pep-talking mechanic I made playground plans.
We found Kath and her bakfiets at Grant Park and check out her snazzy new Radio Flyer wagon canopy:
I wish I’d taken a picture without my bike in front, but here’s the whole thing, sort of:
And just to throw one only-in-Portland thing at you: Slappy Cakes for brunch the following day, which even on Friday had an hour-long wait. Yes, that’s a hot griddle right in the middle of the the table. Amazingly, only one finger was burned in the brunch-making process when the three-year old tried to reposition a strawberry, poor little guy. They had fun; I was a nervous wreck the entire meal.