Klaus Luttgen of Germany is riding his bicycle from Vancouver, B.C., to San Francisco this month, giving away carnival medals from his hometown to interesting folks along the way. (Chris McDaniel/Peninsula Daily News)

German traveler biking 1,000 miles on West Coast

In honor of his father’s memory, Klaus Luttgen of Germany is riding his bike from Vancouver, B.C., to San Francisco this month, handing out medals to interesting people.

PORT ANGELES — A German man is bicycling from Vancouver, B.C., to San Francisco — via U.S. Highway 101 — in remembrance of his late father and to share goodwill with the Americans he meets along the way.

Klaus Lüttgen, 57, of Cologne, Germany, said he started in Vancouver on Aug. 26 and arrived in Port Angeles on Monday via ferry from Victoria. He expects to arrive in Forks today and to reach San Francisco on Oct. 6.

He said he will sleep in a tent towed behind him throughout the entirety of the 1,000-mile journey.

While in Port Angeles, he stopped by the Peninsula Daily News to share his story via a news release to overcome the language barrier. (His English is limited.)

“I will visit people in the cities and stop at fire stations and lighthouses along the coast,” he said in the release.

“In the luggage I will carry presents from home — carnival medals from my hometown Cologne, on the Rhine.”

The medals were collected by his late father, Karl Lüttgen, at the Cologne Carnival, held annually in February, he said.

“I will tell my story, and when the people are friendly, I will give them [medals],” Klaus said while displaying a bag of medals in front of the PDN offices.

“It is for the memories, for my good feeling and for my father’s good feeling. I am so lucky and will give back this goodness for the people.”

Karl was a well-known collector in Cologne, according to the release.

When Karl died, he left his son more than 20,000 carnival medals.

The two had become estranged over the years, Klaus said, adding that his father died before the two were able to reconcile.

“In August 2008, it was too late,” Klaus said in the release, adding that his father died in a small apartment in Cologne.

Looking for closure, Klaus said he looked to America.

Because of the difficult relationship with his father, Klaus said, he had always dreamed of the big wide world, and especially the United States.

In 2011, Klaus decided to embark on a bicycle trip from Vancouver up to Alaska — funding the journey by selling a vintage motorcycle he had restored.

During the 4,300-mile-long journey, Klaus said he had four months to think about his father in the wide-open spaces.

“On the way I repeatedly met friendly people which were very thankful for my small presents,” he said in the release.

“My father’s carnival medals thus become a symbol of reconciliation and I have eventually found peace with him.”

This latest journey is a continuation of that tradition, he said.

Klaus said he will film his current journey and compile the footage on returning to be aired on German television.

For more, visit www.rocktheroads.de.

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Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

Klaus Luttgen of Germany is riding his bicycle from Vancouver, B.C., to San Francisco this month, stopping in Port Angeles along the way. (Chris McDaniel/Peninsula Daily News)

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