Posted by: Bryce | January 21, 2013

Cycling New Zealand Video

What did we do in New Zealand? Apparently we biked, a lot. After almost a year I finally compiled a video out of the nearly eleven hours of footage we shot.  Most scenes were done using a GoPro 2 mounted to a variety places on the bike, or to things like sticks or bags.  The music is composed by Dexter Britain and was found on the Free Music Archive.


Posted by: Bryce | January 20, 2013

A Quick Timeline to Get Caught Up

Bernie and the Barn

It’s been cold.  Real cold.  The highs have been below freezing for fifteen days straight now.  The ground is frozen and most projects have come to a standstill.  Thus, there is time to finally write a blog post catching everybody up on a year full of craziness.  Perhaps this is best approached as a timeline.

April, 2012IMG_4005

After returning from New Zealand and spending a little time unwinding we packed up a moving truck and hauled ourselves to Boise, Idaho where we purchased the three acres that Bryce grew up on.  With the new property came a new house, two cats,  two pastures, a barn, a saw shed, lots of trees and grass, a large carport,  chicken coop, a garden, and Abdi, a Somali farmer who grows produce on an acre of the property for farmers markets.  Basically, we purchased ourselves lots of additional responsibility.

IMG_4007May, 2012

We moved out of the new house into Bryce’s Dad’s place and remodeled.  This included putting in new carpets, taking out a bedroom upstairs, switching some floors to hardwood and tile, installing some new windows, and painting.  Lots of painting.  During this time we were madly searching for jobs, apparently something you need in order to make it in the world.

We also obtained our first chickens.  They’re awesome.  Eight Golden Sex Link hens that have grown to be quite personable and lay more eggs than we know what to do with.  They were a wonderful additional to the farm, though we’ve had to keep them in their coop and penned outdoor area due to foxes and an occasional stray dog.

June, 2012

Moved back in to the newly remodeled new house.  Since we had been living in a one-bedroom condo in Seattle this house seemed quite empty.  Thus, we purchased some new furniture and used our moving boxes to fill up the rest of the space.  Amy managed to score a job working as an out-patient oncology dietitian at the Mountain States Tumor Institute which is located in St. Lukes hospital.  It’s a great location in downtown Boise and the five mile bike commute to work is nearly all bike path along the Boise River.

July, 2012IMG_4098

With Abdi growing tons of produce on our farm by this point we had little incentive to actually have a garden of our own.  However, it’s something we had to try.  Amy planted watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, carrots, beets, corn, cucumbers, squash, kale, and lettuce.  It was at this point that we learned a valuable lesson, seed packets contain considerably more seed than needs to be planted.  We ended up with a lot of produce.  Some of it went to the farmer’s market with Abdi and some of it ended up at the local food warehouse.

DCIM100GOPROAugust, 2012

July and August was an age of weddings with the locations being Denver, Seattle, Denver, Seattle.  Amy did all four, Bryce just managed the final three.  Thus, it was time away from the farm but also a realization that we missed all the projects, management, and reward that goes along with owning property.  That’s why it was a real bummer when Bryce finally received a job offer, he would have additional responsibilities.  Oh well, a paycheck could pay for bigger and better projects, right?  Bryce was hired on at two local high schools to teach horticulture and environmental science.  Seemed like complementary subjects to this new life.  The commute wasn’t so great however, but Bryce figured out how to make biking work and now averages twenty-three miles a day.  Not a bad workout.

September, 2012

Lots of work.  Lots of harvesting.  This month was a blur.  There was one wedding in Oregon and, at some point, an alpaca moved onto the property.  Well, actually he was brought on to be boarded by an old friend of the family.  Bernie has become a mascot and a constant reminder of how different life has become.

October, 2012IMG_0075

More harvesting.  More blurriness.  Jobs do that to you.

IMG_0247November, 2012

Ahhh, here we go.  Now I remember something.  With the cold setting in a greenhouse would be necessary.  Using old, double-paned windows from the original house on the property a decent sized facility was erected against the barn.  It gets quite warm in there during the days, but still haven’t perfected a heat retaining mechanism for the nights.  It’s pretty nice to walk into a ninety degree room on a sub-freezing day.  We’ll be putting starts in there for spring crops soon.

December, 2012

As the year wound down a few snowflakes fell as the temperature continued to drop.  Bike commuting became a little more arduous in the cold, but not having to deal with rain was a real blessing.  Christmas was spent in Boise and New Years in Seattle.

January, 2013IMG_0435

With the New Year came some of the coldest temperatures Boise has seen in quite a few years.  It wouldn’t be so bad, but snow fell right before the drop and has stuck around.  This makes bike commuting even more difficult with ice and snowpack hindering the availability of road.  Bryce attempted to make it easier by studding some tires.  They work great on the ice, but the roads are still too narrow for safe riding due to all the plowed snow on the sides.  Thus, we have hit a lull in our physical activities, but are trying to revel in laziness the best we can.  We’ll be back at it soon.

Posted by: Bryce | July 17, 2013

Weekend on the Farm

Our Three Ring Circus:

We had a great trip to the Mercer Farm last weekend. The kids enjoyed roaming free, chasing chickens, walking Bernie the alpaca, collecting eggs, and churning ice cream (to name a few activities). It was a long drive but the kids did well. Elsa’s already asking when we can go back.








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Posted by: Bryce | October 14, 2012

Cucumber Cam

Cucumber Cam

Yesterday was one of those days where I had a million items to cross off my list, so naturally I tried to distract myself as much as possible.  This is the fruit of my labor, sticking a GoPro into a cucumber and setting it into the chicken run.  The video starts off a little slow, but hang in there, a few gem moments pop up now and then.  Enjoy.

Posted by: Bryce | April 22, 2012

A Synopsis

Today I changed out my touring tires back to my mountain tires. As I released the air from the tubes I realized that the air inside was imported from New Zealand. I quickly inhaled as much as I could, but only found a smell of tire rubber. Not the memory conjuring effect I had hoped for.

But alas, there are memories. After being back for over a week I’ve finally had time to put it all in perspective. I have to say, I’m quite proud of us. We’ve compiled a few stats for the curious:

  • Total distance: 3703 kilometers (2300 miles)
  • Number of days continuously cycling: 59
  • Average distance per day: 62.7 km (39.0 miles)
  • Shortest day: 20 km (12 miles)
  • Longest day: 112 km (69 miles)
  • Number of nights in the tent: 49
  • Location of friends made: Switzerland, Australia, Germany, England, New Zealand, and Boise, ID!
  • Favorite Tim-Tam: Dark chocolate mint
  • Standard breakfast: Museli with rehydrated powdered milk, hard-boiled egg, yogurt, banana and tea/coffee

Not that this is the complete synopsis of the trip, but rather just a few facts. Thank you all who have supported us during this adventure, we look forward to updating you on our next endeavor: The Mercer Farm!

Posted by: Bryce | April 9, 2012

Alpine Pacific Triangle

The tent fly was frozen solid this morning, I think it’s time to come home. New Zealand has been giving us a spectacular sendoff as we’ve spent the last couple of days exploring the Alpine Pacific Triangle.

We initially rode from Hanmer Springs to the very quiet town of Waiau. There we found a quaint motor camp where we had nothing better to do than read, drink tea, and relax. Perfect!

From Waiau we had one of the most spectacular rides to the seaside town of Kaikora. It had everything we love, rolling hills, scenery, seemingly abandoned roads, and a destination that’s lower than the starting point.




In Kaikora we enjoyed a nice seaside ride followed by a long stroll on the banks high above the Pacific. The weather was incredible!



From there we headed down to Goose Bay. Along the ride seals barked at us as we passed mere feet from where they were lounging on the rocks as the waves crashed incredibly close to the highway.


Goose Bay was a bit of a party since it was Easter Eve. Nothing was too out of control, but we did awake to find a hunting arrow sitting a little too close to our tent. Had it traveled a bit further I think our ride would have been done. Remember, don’t mix alcohol and hunting equipment.

Finally we headed back to Waiau for another afternoon of relaxation. Though the road was quite quiet and pleasant, probably due to it being Easter morning, we felt gravity doing its work on us as we once again returned to the higher elevation. Our ice cream that day was well deserved.



Posted by: Bryce | April 4, 2012

The Rainbow Road

One way to make bike touring enjoyable is learning how to avoid the roads that aren’t so pleasant, namely Highway One. This is the main vehicular vein running north-south and our short excursions on it have been filled with speeding cars, wide trucks, and occasionally a lack of shoulder on the side of the road. It’s best to just avoid if at all possible.

As we returned to the East Coast Highway One seemed unavoidable. That’s why, several weeks ago, we got excited when we noticed a 4WD track on the map titled the Rainbow Road that would provide an alternative to the busy thoroughfare.


After a bit of research we found that it was not unheard of for cyclists to use the Rainbow Road and that was all we needed to hear. As we told our plan to a variety of people reactions seemed mixed. Most indicated it was a beautiful road and with our mountain bikes it wouldn’t be a problem. A few others looked at us as if we were crazy. Never one to shy away from a challenge I was giddy with excitement.

We had previously done a long section of gravel road on our way past Mavora Lakes and the distance, 85 km, was comparable to what we would find going over the Rainbow Road. The biggest difference appeared to be a much larger change in elevation as we made our way over Island Saddle. It’s getting to be fall here and it has already snowed in the high country. The forecast looked fine, but who really knows around here.


The Rainbow Road turns off of a main road right outside of the mountain town of St. Arnaud. The first 12 kilometers are paved and quite pleasant as you descend towards the Waiua River. The gravel starts at a turnoff to a ski area; this was also where the hard work began (and we turned 2000 miles!).


Though the road was quite rough we immediately felt lucky that we were there during a dry spell in the weather. The road forded numerous creeks, but they were often no more than a trickle.


Sections were nearly (or were) unrideable with panniers and slick tires. The road was rocky and quite steep in areas. More than once we were relegated to pushing our bikes uphill. No easy feat given their additional mass.


However, with perseverance the road gradually improved, most noticeably when we left the Rainbow Station and entered the Molesworth Station. Even with the better road washboard plagued us the entire way.


We spent the night right before the high point of the road in a quaint four-bunk hut. It was quite the find and we felt lucky to find ourselves alone in such a picturesque setting. It’s when we have feelings of joy, such as this, that circumstances always take a turn. After an hour of enjoying the hut two hunters showed up. They were quite nice and really great guys, but we were a little disappointed that the other two bunks would be occupied. And then two more hunters appeared, a father and son. We weren’t quite as keen on them, but they were still very reasonable people to be around. The wood stove was lit, cots were rolled out and what had appeared at first to be a nice quiet night in a remote hut was now a bunkhouse filled with smelly, snoring, rustling men… and Amy.


We got an early start the next morning and quickly summited Island Saddle. Showers threatened and the air was quite chilly. The washboard and loose gravel kept the downhill slow but we trudged on and eventually found ourselves heading over Jacks Pass and descending a much improved road into Hanmer Springs.


About two kilometers from our destination the gravel ended, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see paved road.


Hanmer Springs ended up being the perfect destination at the end of the rough road. Hot springs abound here and we whiled away the afternoon soaking our rattled bones in their healing waters thankful that we’d found a way to avoid Highway One.


Posted by: Bryce | April 3, 2012

Two-Thousand Miles Down

The odometer once again turned over a huge milestone, 2000 miles. An interesting note is that this took place during our traverse of the Rainbow Road, a long stretch of gravel road. It is uncanny how similar this event was to or original 1000 mile celebration, which took place on the rough road to Mavora Lakes. I believe New Zealand is showing a little angst towards our use of the Imperial Measurement System.



Posted by: amymercer | April 2, 2012

Sunshine and Wine

Since our last post we’ve only had one day of rain. That one day of rain, however, allowed us to meet Bill and Gill. We were camped at a Department of Conservation campground (similar to our National Forest campgrounds – no facilities except a pit toilet). It was raining and we were hanging out in the small picnic shelter when another cycling couple arrived. They were from Lyttelton (Christchurch) but after the earthquakes had decided to move to Nelson (north part of the south island) and were renting out their house in Lyttelton. Turns out their renters are the people we know (Brian Wetzler’s cousins Kris and Alex), who had lost their home in the earthquake. We know it’s a small country, but not that small! We really enjoyed chatting with them and they invited us to stay when we passed through Nelson — such a lovely family and a real treat for us to stay in their home.

We had glorious sunshine for our entire tour of the northern part of the south island. We rode along the shores of Golden Bay to the end of the road at the most northern tip of the island.



We had one successful brewery visit at the Mussel Inn Brewery, followed by our first denial of the trip, Monkey Wizard.



We had yet another beautiful day for our multi-sport adventure in Abel Tasman National Park. We cycled to the park, kayaked along the golden shores, walked along the coastline with views out over the sea, and cycled back to our hostel.



The ride from Nelson to Picton (after getting past the busy highway with logging trucks) offered gorgeous views of Queen Charlotte Sound.



We then had a short day of cycling, allowing plenty of time to visit the wineries of Malborough. We now have a greater appreciation for a variety of white wines. We finished our wine tour with dinner at the local pub in Renwick.




We finished our tour of the sunny north by heading west through the Waiau river valley to Nelson Lakes National Park, only 25 km from where we had been 10 days ago.



Posted by: amymercer | March 21, 2012

Farewell Westland

We’ve spent the past week cycling through what’s called “Westland,” from dense rainforest to glacier country to sunny beaches with crazy rock formations. The road was narrow and winding with some challenging hills, but with few cars and rewarding scenery it was a very enjoyable ride!




We are now in Westport, home of the Buller Gorge marathon, where we were nearly 6 weeks ago. We have now traveled through Buller Gorge by car, on foot, and on our bicycles! Bryce is considering running again next year…


And what did we do in Westport this time? Visited the West Coast Brewery, of course! (our 7th brewery so far).

Yesterday we said farewell to summer as we watched the sun set over the Tasman sea. The first day of autumn turned out to be our warmest day yet, over 80 degrees!


We now leave the coast and turn inland as we continue the slow roll further north.


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