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I cycled against the morning traffic of Vancouver. It felt as the start of something exciting, visualising a long-lasting journey ahead. I lost that lovely vision when realising that I had arrived in the same Central park I had left half an hour ago. The uphill slopes made me doubt this cycling project of mine and as I approached the border to USA I worried whether they would let me through at all. After standing in a queue and assuring checkboxes that I was not a terrorist, I was politely interrogated by a man in uniform. Eventually he pressed that stamp against a page of my passport and approved the bike tour I had longed for. Next to him a more amusing man in an identical uniform said, “You go girl. So I did.

Happy and high on adrenaline, I continued to cycle on the territory of the United States. The tailwind increased my speed and made all the American house-flags sway in red, blue and white. Those flags swayed all through the state of Washington. Somehow they made me feel excluded, especially combined with the signs that repeatedly informed me that the land I passed was private property, where I was supposed to keep out or I would be prosecuted. For me, the bike and the tent it was a rather sharp change from the Swedish freedom to camp anywhere on the countryside and our customary doormats with the word welcome in print.

Still I managed to sneak into the wild and the woods for a couple of nights. Nobody saw me, except for a dear that walked by during one night and a cougar who lingered around in the area one morning. The people I met also showed curiosity. They where continuously friendly, whether approaching me as I was refilling my water bottles at petrol stations or opening the door as I knocked and asked if I could pitch my tent at their property. Behind all the rejecting signs and nationalistic flags I found sweet homes that welcomed me in. In Anacordes a room of instruments turned into an international music session for three. In Port Townsend I was treated with home-grown organic food, followed by a yoga class and tour of an eco-village. And in Little Rock I was invited for an American evening with interesting conversations while president Obama visited the Letterman show on television.

The tailwinds has carried me through the wonderful and welcoming Washington state, blowing across the Colombia river and into Oregon. I have arrived in the city of Portland where I am visiting a Swedish friend. Outside her door is a sign with the word Welcome printed in blue and yellow letters.




  1. Ed and Bobbie Gross Sunday, September 27, 2009, at 12:08 AM

    Hi Hanna,
    We loved reading your first impressions of the USA…We hope to give you only good impressions of the U.S. As a cross-country tourer (Ed) I have experienced the cycling conditions in many states….some good, some better, some great. We certainly look forward to sharing some of Oregon with you. Ride Safe but do stop and sniff the flowers, Ed and Bobbie Gross

  2. Feyzullah Yilmaz Monday, September 28, 2009, at 2:29 PM

    The photo is very nice. :)

  3. Regina Wednesday, October 7, 2009, at 5:28 PM

    Hi Hanna
    remember me, we met between Coos Bay and Denmark, just yesterday. It was so nice and refreshing to have a chat with you and very reassuring to have your tent next to mine on the lonely campground :-)
    I really like the report on your start in Vancouver and experienced the same on my tour so far – friendly people wherever you go.
    I am sure you will make lots of friends on your journey as I did already.
    Enjoy your time, freedom and independence .
    Have a save and happy trip!

    Regina and Krümel

  4. Hanna Thursday, July 28, 2011, at 6:55 AM

    Ed and Bobbie, I remember my stay with you being such a cozy time. It really felt like a home, with delicious soup and family stories by dinner time. It was my last night in Oregon, and it was a lovely one.

    Yes Regina, I made many new friends and one of them were you. I hope that you are still cycling away somewhere in the world with that precious dog of yours.

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