Volume 1: An Unexpected Meeting
“US Secret Service.”
‘Well, that explains the earpiece, stone cold expression, sunglasses, and poorly-fitting suit’ I thought to myself as I pressed shoulder to shoulder with the crowd, staring into the unflinching face of the United States’ finest. Without intending to do so, myself and my cycling companions had found ourselves mere feet from Zoran Milanovic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia. My fellow cyclist Tyler, clearly unnerved by the presence of secret service, tried to determine if his hands belonged in or out of his pockets by moving them in and out in furtive succession, prompting some cold stares from the watchful men with guns and little sense of humour.
We had woken up in tents nearby and cycled into downtown Gig Harbour, Washington on a cloudy late September morning to find the quintessential American chicken-fried steak breakfast experience. Instead, we had unwittingly plunged ourselves into a throng of police, US Secret Service, the entire population of Gig Harbour Croatian enclave (all senior citizens), the political cabinet of Croatia, and ol’ Roarin’ Zoran himself. Suddenly, we were unsure of how to proceed. Seek out our greasy breakfast, or attempt to pull off the greatest unplanned group photo of all time?! It’s not every day you come face to face with a head of state, after all.
The decision was quickly made for us, as Zoran was whisked through the crowd and into a waiting motorcade. Apparently the mid-morning mingle was over, and Mr. Milanovic was off to continue his tech tour across the U.S. Our window of opportunity over, we made our way to Kelly’s Cafe, the Gig Harbour breakfast spot, which was teeming with the Sunday morning breakfast crowd.
Our excellent XL-sized breakfast aside, our journey to the far reaches of Washington’s Puget Sound region had a purpose aside from an impromptu political meet-and-greet. We had travelled 200 km by car, and 65 km by bicycle across land and sea, to attend The Greater Peninsula Cider Swig the previous afternoon, a family-friendly celebration of ‘hard apple cider’, as our American friends put it. The reason for this trip deserves an diary entry all to itself, but in short, myself and my friends were, are, and will continue to be, working professionals moonlighting as cider makers, and striving to develop a commercial product to meet BC’s growing thirst for cider. Our trip to Gig Harbor, and other forays into Washington and Oregon States, have served as reconnaissance, competitive intelligence gathering, learning, and heck, some cider-fueled good times.
In The Cider Diaries, I will share some stories relating to the trials and tribulations of making cider, regional cycle tourism in BC and Washington State, and other tales associated with learning the craft. Hopefully, you the reader can learn a thing or two about the Pacific Northwest’s burgeoning craft cider industry, and have a few laughs at the expense of me and my companions along the way. In the words of ye olde cyder lovers: Wassail! And welcome to The Cider Diaries.
Yours in fermentation and long-haul rides,