Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 23, 5/31/10 - Couer D'Alene, ID

Just the Basics: Layover day at the Days Inn in Coeur D'Alene to avoid rain and Memorial Day traffic. Good call on the weather - it has rained steadily much of the day! Due to the weather, no photos today.

Tomorrow: The weather is supposed to improve tomorrow. Assuming it does, we'll be on our way to Kellogg or maybe Wallace, ID. A stretch on the ID Centennial Trail, a stretch on I90 over the 4th of July Pass, then onto the Trail of the Coeur D'Alenes. We rode this same route last fall on our vacation; it should be fine.

For Those Who Want More:

What We Did Today: We slept late and worked in the room most of the day - writing postcards and today's blog, dealing with emails, working on the next section of routing, preparing and eating lunch and dinner, and doing some research on political campaigns to plan some political donations. During a break in the showers we walked to the Riverstone Business Complex across the way (and along the river) and had some ice cream at a Coldstone Creamery.

Some Food Bank Notes: Due to Becky's strong involvement with the Tri-Cities Food Bank - and our long support for such activities - we are always on alert for food bank news. Here are a couple of items: (1) A couple of folks emailed Becky a very nice editorial in the Tri-Cities Herald about the leadership and activities of the Tri-Cities Food Bank. = )

(2) Yesterday we stopped at the 1st ID roadside rest on I90 (interestingly, it can also be accessed from the ID Centennial Bike Trail along its back edge). The charity manning the "free coffee" trailer was the Post Falls, ID Food Bank. We had some coffee and cookies and made a donation and had a good chat with the volunteer manning the coffee wagon - she said that donations are adequate, demand is high, and that the food bank is open 5 days a week.

Some Interesting Statistics: So far we have:

  • Used up about 3 lbs of peanut butter;
  • Sent 82 postcards;
  • Done 3 loads of laundry and some hand-washing;
  • Slept at 18 motels and two B & Bs;
  • Had 0 flat tires;
  • Had a chain pop off twice;
  • Used up 1 large tube of SPF 30 sunscreen; and
  • Come 679 miles - a Google routing for a car using major roads required 460 miles.

One More Thing: In the past several days we have had great phone conversations with several family members and several newsy emails from family and friends. These contacts really help us stay connected and give us joy!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day 22, 5/30/10 - Spokane, WA to Coeur d'Alene, ID

Just the Basics: 40 miles of biking and about 2 miles of walking. We have now passed the 650 mile mark which is the farthest Riley has ever gone on a single trip - and FAR farther than Becky has ever gone.

Today began on the Spokane Centennial Bike Trail and ended on the Idaho Centennial Bike Trail. In both cases, we did some riding on surface streets but the traffic was generally fine and the bulk of the day was spent on paved bike trails which did not allow motor vehicles. Because it is a weekend day there were lots of other bikers and walkers and dogs on the trail - nice and social!

On Monday we are taking a layover day in Coeur d'Alene, to avoid Memorial Day traffic.

Today's Photos: Welcome to Idaho: We rode this same Spokane - Coeur d'Alene route last year and photographed the same sign then. = ) 10% Grade: Between Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene there is a rather hilly spot with several rather steep (albeit short) hills - someone has gone to the trouble to post signs indicating the grade of each; we proudly looked back at this one, having just climbed the 10% grade, non-stop. = )

For Those Who Want More: Here are some of our adventures from today:

The Rocket Bakery, Spokane Valley: As we biked along a street in Spokane today a couple biked up along side. The man observed that we were carrying a lot for a ride to the bakery (where they were headed) - we said we were headed for a bakery in Bar Harbor, ME but asked for directions to the one where they were headed, as well. They went on ahead, riding light-weight road bikes with no gear and going much faster than we do.

When we came to the bakery's road it had heavy traffic and no shoulders - Becky was disappointed but Riley persevered - we went past the busy road and turned on the next street and worked our way safely back - it was worth the effort! We shared a 12 oz. coffee and an excellent whole-wheat caramel cinnamon roll - YUM!

The Guy from France: We had our first interaction with another cross-country biker on this trip - a much younger French guy headed for New York. He and Riley biked along for awhile, chatting, then he sped off - one of the rides he told Riley about was riding the route followed by La Tour de France!

Dudley: Dud came alongside at some point in the late morning. A little younger than we are, he was a serious runner for 20 years before taking up biking - with a vengeance - about 4 years ago. He was pretty interested in what we were doing and biked along with us for a while, biking by each of us in turn and plying us with questions - first politely asking if that was OK. We saw him again later in the day on his return trip. His enthusiasm for our trip was fun for us.

Popcorn & Beer: The motel has free popcorn and they had just made a fresh batch before we came in from our shopping trip (see below) - we opened our beers before starting dinner and had a nice beer-and-popcorn cocktail hour, sitting on our couch and looking out at the wooded hills on the other side of the river across from the motel.

Dinner: We are continuing to experiment with ways to eat well but not always by spending lots of money. Tonight we're in a Days Inn in Coeur d'Alene with a microwave and a fridge. Breakfast is part of the deal, so that's taken care of. For lunch we typically picnic in motels as well as on the road. Tonight, instead of going to an area restaurant we walked about a mile to an Albertson's and bought veggies and fruit for the next couple of days and a wonderful feast from the heat-and-eat foods: We had: balsamic rosemary pork roast and sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon, both heated in the microwave, wedges of purple cabbage (raw), rosemary-olive oil bread and Moose Drool beer. We'll have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. YUM!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 21, 5/29/10 - Layover Day in Spokane, WA

Just the Basics: No bike riding today, but we took 1 cab and 2 buses and did a fair amount of walking.

Tomorrow morning we head for Coeur d' Alene, ID along the Spokane Centennial Bike Trail as far as the ID border, and then the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes - in both cases, practically all on car-free, paved, dedicated bike trail - and a familiar route from our vacation ride in the fall of 2009. = ) We will take another layover day in Coeur d' Alene to avoid being on the road for Memorial Day weekend traffic.

For Those Who Want More:

The Boxcar Children: We had another one of those hoped-for-but-unexpected adventures today. Riley had been thinking we should attend a play or see a movie here and had noticed posters for a local production of Annie Get Your Gun. However, the local critics weren't too complimentary so he looked for more ideas - and came upon the PERFECT one: A Spokane Children's Theater production of The Boxcar Children, one of Becky's all-time favorite childhood reads. It took place at Spokane Falls Community College, which we had biked by on our way into town.

The Children's Theater company is celebrating its 65th season and is the oldest continuously-operating theater group in the city! The play was wonderful; the four young actors carried most of the weight of the play and were all excellent - a 1st grader, a 2nd grader, a 7th grader and a 10th grader! Amazing.

Trip to REI: We took 2 buses from the college to REI, where we got a bigger camping stove to work better with our pots, and various other items.

Meals: The Travelodge provides breakfast and it was more than adequate. Last night we ate at Luigi's Restaurant, a great Italian place in what was formerly a great Salvation Army Building. There was way too much food, of course, so we brought leftovers back to our motel room - which has a microwave and mini-fridge. We ended up being in a rush to get to the theater for the matinee (hence the cab ride), so just gobbled up the last of Riley's prime rib for lunch. For dinner we had leftover pasta and great additions from a very neat little downtown market next to the hotel - sort of a small Whole Foods.

Something of Note: The small grocery store we went to has a bank of frozen food lockers of various sizes which patrons can lease. Why, you ask? So that folks interested in supporting local agriculture have a place to store locally-grown meats (you can often buy a single locally grown chicken, but you may have to buy half a beef to get local, sustainably grown beef, for example), as well as freezing quantities of home-grown or locally-grown produce, your own pesto and spaghetti sauce, et cetera. They were getting ready to close and we didn't have a chance to chat with staff about this project, but it looked like most of the lockers were in use.

Eating on the Road: Riley suggests we describe our typical picnic lunches: We usually try to find an inviting little spot away from the road - some tall grass or a shady tree or something. We brought the sit-upons and plastic tablecloth we always carry on our bikes, so we have a clean pleasant place to sit and spread out our stuff. After lunch we clean up and then the sit-upons become pillows and we take a little nap. On the Menu: (1) Peanut butter sandwiches on some sort of fruit bread (raisin, apple-cinnamon, etc.); (2) raw veggies - almost always carrots and something else - cherry tomatoes, sugar-snap peas, cucumber; (3) water; and (4) sometimes fruit and/or cookies - we typically buy packages of a dozen molasses, peanut butter or oatmeal-raisin cookies. Snacks are usually chosen from fruit, cookies, and Luna or Power Bars.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 20, 5/28/20 - Davenport to Spokane, WA

Just the VERY Basics: 51 miles and who knows how many feet of climbing (LOTS) on back-country roads from Davenport to Spokane. Thanks to: WA State Dept of Transportation, Riley's memory of the lay-out of the Spokane Centennial Bike Trail and a conversation with a farm couple at Dean's hamburger stand in Reardan, WA, we made it to Spokane with less than 5 miles of travel on the very busy US 2 route.

The 1st 2/3 of the trip or so were through wheat-growing highlands, then a sudden shift to pine forest. Due to the many hills, we arrived in Spokane after 7 p.m., despite having left Davenport around 8 a.m.

Wonderful Friday night date at Luigi's restaurant in Spokane - we are now settled into the downtown Travelodge in Spokane and will do a layover day here on Saturday to avoid Memorial Day weekend traffic.

Today's Pictures: (1) Spokane Falls from the Post Street Bridge; and (2) View from the Meenach Street Bridge across the Spokane River which we crossed as we entered Spokane following the Spokane Centennial Bike Trail.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 19, 5/27/10 - Davenport, WA

Basics Plus: As forecast, it was quite rainy today - we are expecting 1 3/4 inches by morning; we're so glad we planned a layover day in anticipation of the rain!

It's been a busy day and we have a change in plans. Last night Riley finally got the mapping software he's using to give us a detailed look at the route we had planned to Fruitland and on to Kettle Falls, WA and the news was NOT good:
  • From here to Fruitland would be about 35 miles and more than 2000 feet of climbing.

  • We already knew we would then be stuck there through the Memorial Day weekend in a motel with a fridge and a microwave, but with no restaurants or grocery stores within 5 miles and no safe biking due to the holiday. (We had a work-around for food - we had arranged to pay the motel manager here in Davenport to ferry groceries and some of the weight we were carrying up to the motel Friday morning, where the manager there would refrigerate things like milk for us.) However, the climb was worse than anticipated.

  • The NEXT biking day, to Kettle Falls, however, (to have been on 6/1/10) would have been pretty impossible; more than 3200 feet of climbing over about 50 miles and no place to eat or stay along the way. On a map it looks like the road hugs a lake so we had thought it was flat but when Riley was able to get the elevations mapped - not so!
So - we started looking for Plan B. Riley figured out that we could, instead, hook up with the Spokane Centennial Bike Trail (mostly dedicated paved bike trail) and then the Idaho Centennial Trail on to Coeur d' Alene, ID (ditto) - almost all of which we had ridden on our vacation last fall! From Coeur d' Alene we can connect to Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier Bike Route at Sandpoint in a simpler and more direct way than going through Kettle Falls; it will save us 3 biking days!

We got maps of Spokane and ID and visited a local office of the Washington State Department of Transportation for discussion of some possible back-road alternates to busier roads and we're on our way. Having our netbook computer (named Nettie) along makes all this possible!

We will bike to Spokane early tomorrow, using some back roads and the early start to get us into Spokane as early as possible in the day to avoid holiday traffic. We will do a layover day in Spokane due to the holiday and on Sunday bike on bike trails to Coeur d' Alene - no holiday traffic issues. Whew!

For Those Who Want More: Here are some other things we did today when not working on routing and reservations and such:
  • Breakfasted at the town's one B & B - they have a breakfast and lunch cafe. Great oatmeal.

  • Replenished bread, peanut butter and fruit at Safeway.

  • Lunch in the room - PB sandwiches and about half of the cherry tomatoes and baby carrots we have on hand; the rest will be part of tomorrow's roadside picnic lunch.

  • Mailed postcards.

  • Did some reading - more to come.

  • Played Scrabble - see today's picture. Before we left, Riley copied our Scrabble board and carefully trimmed and taped it. We brought the tiles in their bag, which also holds the folded "board." We have a couple of small rolls of multi-use vinyl tape & can tape down the corners when needed; actually, as you can see, on a flat table inside it wasn't necessary but we wanted to see how well it would work.

  • We will probably go out for an early dinner at the nearby Mexican Restaurant and be back in time to watch the News Hour.

  • We're happy with our day!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 18, 5/26/10 - Wilbur to Davenport, WA

Just the Basics: Today we only rode 29 miles and climbed about 700 feet; it was our first day of riding mostly in rain - albeit, a light rain. Our rain gear was adequate, so the rain was no problem. We also had a head wind much of the time - it was supposed to average about 10 mph; we guess that was true. Quite a bit of traffic on US 2 but shoulders and visibility adequate and we are very conservative riders, stopping and pulling off anytime the traffic so dictates.

No photos today - it was raining!

Most of our ride today was through agricultural land which looked much like the Palouse or the Horse Heaven Hills near Richland - vast fields of wheat, some cattle, some sagebrush. We have begun seeing pine trees, too! The motel manager told us that Lincoln County, where Davenport is located, ranks 2nd in wheat production in the state.

For some time to come our riding distances will pretty much be dictated by where there are places to stay and eat! If you read our blog yesterday you will know that we will layover in Davenport tomorrow due to anticipated rain all day. Early Friday we head to the White Willow Motel outside Fruitland where we layover until Tuesday morning, 6/1/10 - we don't want to be on the road over the Memorial Day weekend.

For Those Who Want More: Nice memories from today include:
  • A breakfast of cold pizza and apples in our motel in Wilbur with coffee from the office in ceramic mugs and a nice chat with the male half of the managerial couple, both of whom grew up near-by;
  • Stopping for BIG bowls of hot oatmeal with lots of raisins and brown sugar in Creston, at about Mile 10;
  • Stopping for a peanut butter cookie break by the roadside - 3 very curious horses came thundering up to the fence on the other side of the road to check us out - Riley was tempted to go offer them cookies but we didn't think we could get close enough to the fence;
  • Stopping for a banana break and pit stop at the only roadside rest between Creston and Davenport, at Telford - it's on the map, although we saw no sign of a settlement;
  • Enjoying a very tasty Mexican dinner at Davenport's only regular restaurant that serves dinner - there's a Subway and a burger place and a little cafe which offers breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. Nice chatting in Spanish with our waiter, who hails from Veracruz.
  • Watching the News Hour in our cozy room, sitting on a comfy couch and looking forward to tomorrow's layover day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 17, 5/25/10 - Coulee City to Wilbur, WA

Just the Basics: Almost 32 miles today, with about 1100 feet of climbing. We are coming into a period with increasing possibility of rain and, indeed, the clouds threatened all day and we were sprinkled on a couple of times - most notably the last couple of miles into Wilbur. However, riding conditions were good on US 2 - mostly wide shoulders and good visibility and not much traffic most of the time; it was also cool. = )

We are making our way north between Adventure Cycling's Lewis and Clark Bike Route and their Northern Tier Cross Country Route; we're about 80% of the way across the State of WA from west to east. We have climbed nearly a mile since Pasco.

Plan for the Next Few Days: Wed: Ride 29 miles to Davenport and spend Wednesday and Thursday nights there (80% chance of rain on Thursday); we have a motel booked in Davenport. Friday we get on the road as early as possible, planning to arrive at the White Willow Motel in Fruitland, WA (about 35 miles) by 1 p.m., where we will hole up over the Memorial Day weekend to avoid the holiday traffic, leaving for Kettle Falls, WA on Tuesday morning, 6/1.

For Those Who Want More: Today's picture was taken because we have again encountered a bunch of the Railroad Motor Cars (Speeders) we enjoyed so much in Othello. This time it is a group of the Speeder enthusiasts on a weekend excursion out of Wilbur - it's an annual affair and they had almost all the rooms in town booked; we got the last one at The Willows, one of the 3 motels in town!

Nice Stories of the Day: (1) We stopped at a Conoco station as we arrived in town, mainly to use the restrooms. As is our practice when we do that, we bought something - in this case a couple of crackers and cheese packets. The clerk (Indian or Pakistani?), insisted on giving us something to drink for free - he offered soda, coffee, cappuccinos! We finally took a shared cup of coffee. We said it was very welcome after a long day of riding and he said he thought it would be and again urged us to have more!

(2) We desperately needed to do laundry today and there is a small laundromat across from the motel - small town, small laundromat, no soap dispenser. The live-in motel manager insisted on giving us some of her own laundry detergent. There's a little local brochure in our room touting the charms of this area; the pages about Wilbur detail a number of ambitious projects undertaken by citizen volunteers - building and equipping athletic fields for school and town use, replacing an aging pool and bandstand, purchasing and installing playground equipment in a park and at the school, etc. Our own experience here certainly speaks to what fine folks live here!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 16, 5/24/10 - Moses Lake to Coulee City, WA

Just the Basics: 41 miles, about 1600 feet of climbing. Tomorrow we plan to stay in the little town of Wilbur; we expect to bike along U.S. 2 and possibly some side roads.

Most of the day we were in high shrub-steppe landscapes - either vast irrigated farmlands or sagebrush with basalt outcroppings, both beautiful. The sky was a lovely clear blue with tons of gorgeous white clouds, from tiny snippets to huge banks of alto-cumulus.

We saw: red-wing blackbirds and curlews; balsam root and phlox and sage and daisies and lupine and yarrow and more; cows, horses, and a donkey; wheat and oats and some sort of legumes.

Today's Neat Story: Last night we stayed at the El Rancho Motel in Moses Lake. The manager (owner?) was very nice and had lots of model trains and related paraphernalia in the lobby. A couple we assume were the custodian/landscaper/housekeeping service also lived on site. They were Asian - perhaps Filipino. The man seemed to speak no English but the wife was pretty easy to talk to and we chatted quite a bit in the morning.

They had a big vegetable garden in the back of the motel and were growing garlic and Asian green beans and grapes and other crops - the quantities and the presence of packing boxes suggested they would be for sale, perhaps to local restaurants (Moses Lake has Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese restaurants) or in the Farmers' Market.

Just before we left the wife presented us with a bag of dried Fuji apples, telling us they would be better snacks than potato chips! She told us she had spent 12 hours cutting up apples and had a food dehydrator which she used to dry them. They are both beautiful and tasty - see the photo!

For Those Who Want More:

We celebrated our 500th mile this morning, about 13 miles past Moses Lake. We stopped and shared an Almond Joy and had some water and felt very happy! Somewhat to our surprise, our bodies are doing well - no significant complaints and we have been doing some challenging riding for 16 days now.

Tonight we are in a motel with kitchenette, and fixed ourselves a great celebratory dinner: Steak, spinach, boiled red potatoes, fresh cantaloupe and ice cream - and we're splitting a bottle of Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon. YUM!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 15, 5/23/10 - Othello to Moses Lake, WA

Just the Basics: Not quite 35 miles, with about 1100 feet of climbing, much of it in one REALLY big hill.

We rode through gorgeous country today - the Channeled Scablands, created by centuries of basalt flows followed by repeated massive floods of Glacial Lake Missoula breaking periodically through ice dams on the Clark Fork River some 14000 years ago.

Tomorrow we plan to ride from Moses Lake to Coulee City along country roads: Stratford Road to Stratford and then Pinto Ridge Road to Coulee City, a distance of about 40 miles with about 1600 feet of climbing - we plan on an early start!

For Those Who Want More:

Our ride today took us through a back road through vast National Wildlife preserve areas, in the Potholes region - many many small lakes surrounded by basalt walls, often with connecting narrow waterways and areas of green grass in the otherwise sage brush desert. Didn't see much unusual wildlife, but did see many flowers of many types: mustard, balsam root, Yarrow, phlox, daisies, dandelions and others.

As we climbed up out of the Potholes region we came to the same sort of agricultural highlands that surround the Tri-Cities and so many other parts of this region, such as the areas around Connell and Othello and the vast Palouse region. We saw grapes, cherries, apples, wheat, rape-seed (canola oil) - we think, corn, a crop we thought was mint but wasn't - and probably other things we didn't recognize. We heard meadowlarks and saw red-winged black birds and gold-crowned blackbirds and egrets and geese, and swallows and what was probably a great blue heron. We saw some horses and cows - but not many, a couple of squirrels and a marmot.

As we approached Moses Lake we stopped along the road by the mailbox of a modest house to share a candy bar. As we unwrapped the bar two men approached us from the house and invited us to come relax on their lawn - we accepted, but two Killdeer were extremely unhappy about the idea, and were agitatedly doing their broken wing performance to draw us away from what we found were four neatly laid eggs clustered in gravel at the side of the house's driveway! Our hosts knew about the eggs, and assured us that the birds would be OK with this. We skirted the eggs as widely as we could, and enjoyed a pleasant break on the grass.

Our "El Rancho" motel is very nice, and the least expensive yet ($45 + tax). Dinner was cheeseburgers at a Dairy Queen - not very tasty, but a shared banana split afterwards made up for this.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 14, 5/22/10 - Othello, WA

Just the Basics: No miles of riding today, but lots of walking! As we noted yesterday, Othello is celebrating its centennial this weekend! Part of our dream for this trip has been happening upon community dinners, pancake breakfasts, and fairs and festivals in the little towns we'd be passing through - here are some impressions from the first such delight!

Tomorrow we head for Moses Lake. We had planned to take Highway 17 but learned of a better route today in a couple of conversations with local folks - we'll be taking less-travelled roads through the Potholes Wildlife Area!

For Those Who Want More: We emerged from breakfast at a Mexican restaurant to find ourselves at the staging area for the event's parade: fire trucks - new and old; a covered wagon, a stagecoach, and a surrey; horseback riders; a family of clowns; the high school marching band and the intermediate school marching band (HUGE); a float carrying many past Miss Othellos; vintage cars; et cetera.

Spent an hour in a fascinating museum, learning about local railroad history and irrigation history, and pioneer families. The museum included a large collection of stuffed birds and birds' eggs - the hobby of an early farmer.

Spent an hour listening to a group from Moses Lake called The Old Time Fiddlers - actually, 2 fiddles, 2 banjos, an accordion and lots of guitars - good fun, lots of familiar songs.

Visited a 1946 Milwaukee Railroad caboose that had become a museum about cabooses. Until 1980, Othello was a major railroad town for the Milwaukee Railroad and many families have a long history of working for the railroads. One thing we were surprised to learn is that beginning in WW I, women were often hired to clean and lubricate the engines - it turned out they were more meticulous about it than men!

Had a wonderful ride on a Railroad Motor Car or "Speeder" - these little cars which ride the rails replaced handcars but were, in turn replaced by pick-up trucks fitted with iron guide wheels so that they can ride the rails. Speeders are no longer used by railroads but a network of hobbyists has kept them alive and bring them to events like this centennial. We had a GREAT time - see photo!

Last fall we biked from Spokane to MT. Much of the trip was along abandoned right-of-ways of that same Milwaukee Railroad which was the core of Othello's existence for so many years - it was a neat connection for us, and there were other connections to that trip, as well. One of the books we read on last fall's bike trip was by Henry Wallace and told the history of the irrigation projects that made agriculture possible in the West - and here we were today getting an intimate picture of how that looked at the local level.

Enjoyed Mexican street food - ensalada de frutas con limon & chile; corn-on-the-cob with mayonnaise, cheese and chili; churros, and horchata (like a rice pudding drink) - YUM!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 13, 5/21/10 - Pasco to Othello, WA

Just the VERY Basics for Now: 52 miles, LOTS of hills, including a killer one with a mile and a half 7% grade descent. We climbed over 1700 feet. WHEW!

We've averaged over 50 miles a day in the last 4 days of riding, with the last two days perhaps the toughest of the trip, and we're beat! After dinner or in the morning we should have more to say.

We are taking a layover day in Othello so will be here for 2 nights. Unbeknown to us, our visit coincides with Othello's celebration of its centennial, so we should have lots to say about that.

No pictures today - it's hard to take pictures of vast fields, although they are wonderful to ride past.

And a Little Bit More:
Our ride began from the Sleep Inn Motel in Pasco which we have passed on many rides in the Tri-Cities area - almost every Saturday we biked by it on a trail to Road 68 in Pasco and breakfast at IHOP.

The entire day we cycled through agricultural areas. We saw: Potatoes, hay, wheat (we think), alfalfa, vetch (green manure), corn, cherries, grapes, peas, beans - and probably other things we didn't notice or recognize; mint is grown in the Othello area and we might have gone by some. The wildflowers were mainly wild vetch, yellow salsify and mustard.

The first hay had been cut and the wonderful smell of new-mown hay suffused the ride. It was beautiful - but (this is where we came in), the over-riding impression of the day was the effort of getting up all those hills! I think we were surprised to find it so tough - we've been riding up and down hills since we started this trip, but this day was kind of exceptional - perhaps because the day before was also grueling.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day 12, 5/20/10 - Umatilla, OR to Pasco, WA

Just the VERY Basics: 56 miles today, with over 30 HORRENDOUSLY windy - in some ways our most physically challenging day. It was also an incredibly beautiful ride and we look forward to telling you about it tomorrow! We are back in home territory - Pasco is one of the Tri-Cities (Richland & Kennewick are the other two), so part of our ride was through very familiar spaces.

We have had a wonderful evening - we met our friends Ash and Nick; Paul; Barb, Rick and Bethany; and Eric for dinner and had a great evening together - see photo.

We have passed the 400 mile mark!


For Those Who Want More:

Breakfast at Hat Rock Park: Started out with coffee from our motel in Umatilla and a shared mocha muffin from a restaurant across the street. A 10 mike ride took us to Hat Rock State Park, where we finally tested our new camp stove and enjoyed a breakfast of Nalley's Beef stew and canned peaches. Climbed up to Hat Rock - named by Lewis and Clark, it looks very much like a tall, broad-brimmed man's hat (see photo).

Ride to Wallula Gap: We then followed US 730 along the Columbia for another 10 miles or so - stark basalt cliffs rising on much of the inland side and the river on the other. We came through the Wallula Gap and stopped for a roadside picnic in VERY TALL grass before turning onto US 12 for what we hoped would be a relatively fast 34 miles or so to Pasco.

On the way to the Gap we paused after a truck weigh-station to let some trucks pass before we started over a bridge. A guy in a big pick-up with a trailer pulled up behind us and stopped, too. Turns out he was an avid biker and wondered what we were up to. He showed us a business card he'd made for his most recent bike trip in Europe - a very cool card which included his contact info, a picture of a recumbent (that's what he rides) and a map of the US with a star showing where he's from - very neat! Hats off to Dave Beach, who turns out to also be from the Tri-Cities!

Back to the Ride - Wallula Gap to Pasco: The sidewinds on the 12 were awful. The road has great shoulders and we expected to charge ahead, but the combination of the side wind and the wind created by trucks rapidly led us to conclude we needed to be off our bikes whenever a big truck or bus or RV passed - and so we were.

This is a good time to note that we are REALLY glad we got rear-view mirrors for this trip. We had tried them years ago and found they were hard to use, requiring constant adjustment. The new ones are much better and really contribute to safety. We simply watched for trucks and got off the bikes before each one passed.

However, when we were ON the bikes we were still fighting the wind. Riley remembered a way around the last section of the 12 so we got off the highway and went around through the little town of Burbank on a route we had cycled before. Much quieter and almost no traffic but we fought the wind all the time. We had to walk across the bridge over the Snake River - too windy to bike.

Biking along the familiar bike trail from Sacajawea State Park to Road 68 in Pasco we were lucky to go 5 mph - wind in our faces and really tough riding. We had planned to meet our friends at the Cousin's Restaurant on Road 68 in Pasco at 7 p.m. but called and shifted to 7:30, thinking we wouldn't make it - in the end, we were there at 7:10. WHEW!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 11, 5/19/10 - Arlington to Umatilla, OR

Just the Basics: 46 miles today. The first 28 or so were on Interstate 84 and we zipped along. Lots of hills but we still averaged 10 mph. At Boardman we left 84 and went onto US 730. It's a 2-lane road through agricultural areas that look a lot like the Tri-Cities area - big irrigation rigs, guys driving bright green and yellow John Deere tractors, not many buildings. We are definitely in a new climate zone - see today's photo.

The road has great shoulders, and traffic was fine BUT a good stiff headwind began blowing from the east and the last 18 miles we pretty much fought to go 6-8 mph.

We had planned to camp at Hat Rock State Park tonight but it looks like rain and we're a bit beat after fighting the wind for so many miles, so are in a motel. We plan to stop at Hat Rock in the morning and cook the canned beef stew we'd plan to have for tonight's "camp dinner" as a picnic breakfast instead!

Tomorrow we expect to pass through the Tri-Cities and have dinner with some of Riley's colleagues and a couple of other friends.

For Those Who Want More:
Becky observed today that, to her surprise, in some ways she prefers biking on Interstate 84 to driving on it - when you drive you always have to worry about passing trucks and getting back over quickly, etc. If you bike, you just stay well out of the way and they pass you - typically changing lanes themselves to give you a wide berth!

OR roadside rests often feature a "coffee trailer" manned by some non-profit or other. They aren't allowed to charge for the coffee, but they hope you'll donate to their cause. We stopped at one today and the coffee folks were a homeless-support organization - harvesting, gleaning, providing clothes and blankets, etc. We were happy to donate - and to talk food banking for a bit.

At the same rest spot we met a guy named Michael - someone who spends as much of his life fishing as possible. Turns out he graduated from a high school that was a rival of Becky's, 5 years after she graduated!

In the little town of Irragon, about half way between Boardman and Umatilla, we took a break from the wind and stopped at Bake's Bar & Restaurant. We planned on enjoying some pie and coffee but they had no desserts - just bar food. So we had grapefruit juice, tonic water, and fried onion rings with ranch dressing - not bad! Having learned our lesson yesterday about possibly short hours at small town grocery stores, we also shopped for dinner at a near-by gas station mini-mart.

And a Little Bit More: Boy, are we ever glad we decided to stay in a motel instead of camp. Not too long after we wrote the above there was a downpour and a huge wind storm - not a good night for camping. It's also gotten pretty cold - we were pretty chilly walking back into town for dinner.

We were the only customers in an Italian restaurant's "family" section - there were also a few folks in the bar. Dinner was very good - cold, crisp, generous salad, great garlic bread, good spaghetti and meatballs, and we also enjoyed the glass of house Merlot which we shared. The waitress said they are doing OK - that this is a farming community and right now folks are preparing fields and planting and they are working 12-14 hour days - no time for eating out. We chatted a bit about the weather and our bike trip and she told us about her nephew's family in Vancouver, WA - they are very "green," she says, and hike a lot, participate in a community garden, bike to the store, raise chickens - nice to hear!

On the way back, Riley took the sunset picture we are posting now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 10, 5/18/10 - The Dalles to Arlington, OR

Just the Basics: Another very good day! 56 miles with quite a bit of climbing and we rolled into Arlington just after 5 p.m. We had made motel reservations in Rufus (about 28 miles), thinking that might well be as far as we'd get, but got there at 12:30 and that was simply too early to quit so we went on. Today's picture shows our bikes with their rain covers on - they are so bright we are just leaving them on to make us even more visible when we're riding; we also both wear bright yellow vests.

The day began with stormy skies but developed into a beautifully clear day with deep blue sky and white clouds. The Columbia was also very blue with little, wind-generated white caps everywhere. We are leaving the lush green vegetation of the wet parts of OR and seeing more and more of the familiar shrub-steppe we know so well in the Tri-Cities: balsam root, fiddlenecks, lupine, phlox, and mustard. The interplay of sun and shadow on the basalt of the cliffs that line this part of the Gorge has entranced us throughout the day and the occasional meadows are a delight - in one short stretch we saw 4 deer!

We spent almost all of the day on Interstate 84 - noisy, but with very wide shoulders and the wind at our backs to help push us up the hills. It is amazing how many truck drivers kindly changed lanes to give us a very wide berth, even though the shoulders were more than adequate! We celebrated today's ride with Full Sail Amber (brewed in Hood River, OR!) and Salsa Verde Doritos, sitting by an open window in our motel room and feeling very happy. Tonight's dinner will be microwaved here in the room, too.

We plan to go about 50 miles again tomorrow, hopefully to Umatilla, and, more hopefully, to a campground on US 730, just past Umatilla for our first camping night with all our fancy new ultra-light gear!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 9, 5/17/10 - Hood River to The Dalles, OR

Just the Basics: Only 24 miles today - gloriously hilly however, (something like 1200 feet of climbing), but very manageable. The entire route today was on the Old Columbia River Highway - VERY lightly travelled and with about 5 miles on an OR State Trail with no access for motorized vehicles - paved, signed - wonderful.

Today we rode through springtime - meadows, poppies, lupine, Queen's Anne's Lace, pine trees, OR White Oak, columbine, buttercups, clover . . . and, everywhere, the Columbia River, the jagged hills, the huge basalt outcroppings - a world full of wonders. For the next several days we'll mostly be riding Interstate 84's wide shoulders; tomorrow we hope to get to Arlington but may only make it to Rufus - it's 54 miles to Arlington with over 1000 feet to climb; we'll see.

For Those Who Want More:

Breakfast at the Egg Harbor Cafe in Hood River, after some coffee and reading time in our room. Mid-morning snack at a coffee house in Mosier - we shared a freshly- made cup of organic fair-trade Sumatra and a just-baked pumpkin muffin and read a few pages of a Calvin & Hobbs book they had there. Lunch a picnic under a pine tree on a hillside not too far from Rowena Crest, the highest point on this ride - peanut butter sandwiches on raisin nut bread, sugar snap peas, a carrot, an orange and water.

Rain threatened on and off all day but never materialized. When we set out in the morning we decided it would be wise to cover the 4 panniers that have rain covers, just in case - 2 of the other panniers are themselves waterproof & in 2 we keep stuff that won't be wrecked if it gets wet; much of our stuff is also in waterproof bags. Within a couple of miles, the cord in one of Riley's pannier covers was broken and we had to stop for repairs - Becky coaxed the loose end back through its channel and Riley cut a slit in the channel through which we brought the cord; he then tied it off.

At that same spot Becky trimmed Riley's beard - she had made it to the hairdresser before we left but Riley had not managed to get to a barber. Check it out in our lunch photo!

Oregon State Parks use volunteer Campground Hosts. There was one hosting the Old Columbia River Highway State Trail and we had a good chat with him. We have thought that someday we might like to volunteer as campground hosts and this guy was a good salesman - he is, in fact a recruiter for them and he and his wife have been volunteering for 8 years and really enjoy it.

The Old Columbia River Highway is really amazing. Built between 1913 and 1922, it was envisioned by Samuel Hill, an attorney, investor and entrepreneur, and designed by Samuel Lancaster, a pioneering civil engineer. The two men pioneered many road-building techniques and were absolutely devoted to using the highway to share the beauty of the Gorge as well as to promote commerce. The road is designed to never have a grade greater than 5% and all turns have at least a 100 foot radius. In order to get the best views and maintain these standards it is full of lovely curves and swoops and is a wonderful ride.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 8, 5/16/10 - Cascade Locks to Hood River OR

Just the Basics: A challenging day in every regard, despite being only about 20 miles. We made a reasonably early start - just before 9 - and were shortly on a very lightly travelled back country road through gorgeous forest - see the picture. However, we were shortly faced by a STEEP rise of just over 400' - we did a lot of walking today.

Just before we left the rural road we came to Wyeth Campground - a beautiful USDA/Forest Service camp with, unfortunately, no potable water although it boasts flush toilets! (We carry lots of water and had plenty!)

We decided to take a break and sat for a long time reading. Becky is reading Game Change - Obama and the Clintons, and Riley is really enjoying Ambrose's Undaunted Courage about the Lewis and Clark expediton (especailly Lewis) - so much so that we are going to buy the Kindle edition so that we can read it simultaneously and discuss it as we go along. We plan to mainly read American history along the ride.

We stayed on to enjoy our picnic lunch -last night's leftover pizza, a grapefruit, water and cookies. Lovely. Our picture was taken just before we got to the campground.

The last 13 miles or so were on Interstate 84, mostly fine with great shoulders; where shoulders narrowed, we walked.

We arrived in Hood River around 2 and felt it best to stop - 400 more pretty steep feet to climb before the next possible motel. Hood River is a charming place with lots of neat restaurants and a great bookstore which we have visited in the past, and we spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the town on foot and reading. We sat in a local coffee house we've stopped in before and enjoyed great fair-trade coffee and a delicious lemon scone and read for a long time.

More reading before, during and after dinner in a local cafe - great mac and cheese, a shared beer, and a wonderful spinach salad with fresh pears, candied walnuts and bleu cheese - pears are a major local crop.

We're in a modest motel up on a hill so we can sit by our window and read and blog, et cetera with a lovely view of the Columbia and Mt. Adams. There is a prospect of thunder storms tonight - we've had several sprinkles today - and it would be great to watch one from here!

More steep hills tomorrow so we will only go as far as The Dalles - about 26 miles, about 5 miles on bike trail, most of the rest on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 7, Saturday, 5/15/10 - Brickhaven B & B in Corbett to Cascade Locks, OR

Just the Basics: Today was more like a half-day - just 23 miles and about 500' of climbing. Due to Riley's cold, a late night on Friday and lots of chatting over breakfast with Ed and Phyllis Tiemann, our hosts at Brickhaven, we didn't even start riding until 11 a.m. Still - for the week we have 198 miles in what is probably something like 5+ "full" riding days.

Today was mostly wonderful. We rode about 14 miles on the Old Columbia River Hwy which winds through absolutely gorgeous country. The road is very curvy and the shoulders are poor but on the weekends there are hordes of bikes and traffic that absolutely accommodates them - countless cars simply slowed behind us until it was safe for them to pass with no signs of impatience or ill will.

We also did a few miles on US Interstate 84, but there, too, all other vehicles were courteous and mostly the shoulders were VERY wide. Then on to a bike path that ran from Exit 40 all the way into Cascade Locks - no motorized vehicles at all - although there was an interesting spot where we had to detach our panniers and carry first our bikes and then our panniers down a 60 step stone stairwell!

We stopped -as always - at Multnomah Falls, which are REALLY huge this year - Ed Tiemann told us there had been an historically wet year and, indeed, all the falls were big. We had lunch at the old Multnomah Lodge - something we have never taken the time to do, for all the times we've stopped and hiked there. It was wonderful and we felt very happy.

Tonight we're staying in Cascade Locks, right along the river and the railroad, surrounded by the Cascades and the lush vegetation so characteristic this area: Lodge Pole Pines, Incense Cedar, ferns, hundreds of flowering plants, bushes of all kinds, birds everywhere, many streams and waterfalls - amazing.

We have decided not to rush through this beautiful place as we always do, but rather to go only as far as Hood River, tomorrow, and then we'll see about the next few days. If it turns out to be a great riding day we could change our minds and go as far as Mosier or The Dalles, but probably it's Hood River.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 6 - Friday, 5/14/10; Portland to Just Past Corbett

In Brief: 31 miles today - a rather complicated trek! Started from the Viking Motel on old 99 in Portland; had to make an unexpected detour due to a bridge closure - ended up with a couple of miles of walking the bikes where riding was not advised.

Combination of GREAT bike trail riding along the Columbia on the Marina Road Bike Path and spurts of not-so-fun riding on US 30 to Troutdale - picnic lunch stop at a county park at Blue Lake. In Troutdale hooked up with Old Columbia Highway/US 30, the country's first scenic highway and on for about 9-10 miles, mostly OK shoulders and wonderful scenery. Over 700 feet of climbing in the gorge, most of it in the last 4 miles of the day.

As we headed to the Gorge along Marina Road Bike Path out of Portland we had many views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helen's. In the picture you can just make out Mt. Hood at a point just slightly to the right of where the path disappears over the horizon.

Evening at Brickhaven B & B about 1 1/2 miles beyond Corbett. Incredible views of the Columbia Gorge and a great room with kitchenette; we fixed freeze-dried beef stroganoff and had the rest of the carrots and cucumber that made a part of our lunch, along with wine provided by our hosts and toast from the last of our lunch bread.

Riley has caught the cold which Becky got about a week before we left so we are taking it slow until he's on the mend. Saturday we will start late and go only to Cascade Locks, about 25 miles - we'd originally hoped to do a 45-50 mile ride as far as Hood River, but discretion is the better part of valor in this case.

For Those Who Want More:

Before we ran into the bridge closure, we rode through several miles of more nice Portland neighborhoods with great old houses and yards and churches and public buildings. What a lovely city!

Brickhaven B & B is in a really neat house built by a cartoonist for the Oregonian and his family of artistic offspring - artists, architects and the like, over a period of perhaps 20 years, starting in the 1950s. It is largely made of recycled materials - brick discards from a brickworks in Gresham, wooden floors from a 200 year old cannery in British Columbia, other floors from chimney flues, a blue bathtub with a spout which is a tile dragon worthy of Gaudi, the famous Barcelona artist, lots of windows and overhangs reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright, built-ins of the sort one sees in Craftsman Homes - truly wonderful. Our hosts Ed and Phyllis Tiemann have had guests from all over the world and are very active in community affairs, business and the arts - amazing people.

Good Night!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 5 - St. Helen's to Portland

Just the Basics: (Some info added Friday a.m.!) Only 28 miles today along US 30, decent shoulders and rolling terrain, only 1 big hill, then mostly residential streets in Portland. We were in Portland by 12:30, making and eating our picnic lunch on a bench outside an old-fashioned police station in Portland's utterly charming St. John's area.
Friday we head for a B & B in Corbett on the old Historic Columbia River Highway. A good chunk of the route through Portland will be on a bike path. Friday will be another short day due to the locations of accommodations on the route.

Highlights included:
A lovely, clear sunny day with comfortable temperatures in the 60s most of the day - really perfect for riding;

At various times seeing Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helen's and Mt. Adams;

Crossing the lovely, graceful St. John's Bridge over the Willamette (see photo);

Meeting a great young man on the Metro who's in grad school at Portland State studying education and developing science/service learning curricula - he oriented us to the city and showed us how to get to REI;

Visiting REI for some last-minute stuff, and

A FABULOUS formal dinner, complete with cocktails, at Andino's, a wonderful Peruvian restaurant in Portland's Pearl District, where REI is also located. We had potato tapas to start with (3 different Peruvian potatoes with 3 different lovely sauces) and bread with 3 dipping sauces. Becky had a classic Peruvian favorite of hers - lamb shank so tender it slipped off the bone, with a mole-like sauce, a lovely stewed bean cassoulet and steamed rice; Riley had roasted quail with mashed sweet potatoes and some delicious greens - maybe baby beet greens? YUM!!

For Those Who Want More: We really loved Portland's St. John's neighborhood - we cycled through it for several miles. Lots of graceful old frame houses of various sizes, primarily looking extremely well kept up, with many wonderful yards and gardens - traditional manicured lawns with flowering bushes and flowerbeds and others with front yards given over to vegetables - lots of variety. It's the kind of place that makes you say "Why don't we buy a house and retire here!"
And a few more notes from yesterday:
We made a pit stop at a county park and saw a pair of nesting bald eagles.

In the morning we saw a bicycle built for 5 with a male and female adult and 3 kids, none of whom could have been over 10, loaded with camping gear, pulling a trailer and headed west. Later a clerk at Safeway in Clatskanie told us that they were a family biking to FAIRBANKS, AK!!

We passed one of those pick-up trucks fitted out to run on rails headed west on the tracks. Just ahead of it a CAT was racing along, for all the world like a dog chasing cars - we nearly fell off our bikes laughing.

Forgot to mention that our hostess at Redfern Farm on Puget Island also is a landscape painter - really nice pictures. Turns out she's only been painting for 2 years; she says she learned how to paint by watching a Monday night art class on PBS for 9 years!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 4, 5/12/10: Puget Island to St. Helen's, OR

Brief Report: 51 miles today - we are only 5 miles below our goal to average 40 per riding day and we didn't expect to do that initially - especially in these hills. One big climb today and some ups and downs but a pretty manageable day over-all. Better shoulders than yesterday - = ).

We should be in Portland tomorrow! Riley talked to the Portland Dept of Transportation today and got 2 pieces of good news:

(1) There is a sidewalk on the St. John's Bridge across the Willamette River which we need to cross, so we can walk the bikes across - there's no bike lane and lots of traffic so we're relieved. The Willamette is a major river which flows through Portland and joins the Columbia.

(2) Some of our time in the Columbia Gorge we'll be riding on The Old Columbia Gorge Highway, and we had wondered if it would be extra-busy on weekends. Per the cyclist with whom Riley spoke at Portland DOT, not a problem. = )

For Those Who Want More:
After a nice breakfast at Redfern Farm we headed for the ferry to get back to US 30 on the OR side. Took a different route around Puget Island and saw many more homes and farms - it is truly a beautiful place.
Notes on the Food at Redfern Farm: Winnie makes her own juice from the berries and fruits she grows - the fruit compote she serves each morning has a little berry juice added. The juice keeps the fruit from darkening and adds a nice light flavor. This morning she made a sort of light fruit crisp - homemade blueberry pie filling topped with spices and oatmeal and baked about 20 minutes and served with milk - yum!

The next-to-the-last car (actually a truck) onto the ferry followed us; the driver came very slowly behind us. Becky went to thank her for her caution and they got to chatting. Turns out her husband works for a dredging company - on a dredge - and they recently bought land on Puget Island. He often works on that part of the Columbia but elsewhere, as well - they once spent 2 consecutive winters near Lodi where he worked on keeping the San Joaquin Valley Delta dredged out. Lodi is near Stockton and that whole section of the valley is known for it's produce - she said she loved all the fresh food you could get.

We had lunch in Rainier, which is where we started our original OR coast bike ride 15 years ago; today's picture is of the Columbia as you come into Rainier from the west, dropping down 1 1/2 miles of 7% grade - we well remember climbing that grade 15 years ago!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

first day - Google Maps

first day - Google Maps

DAY 3 - Staying put on Redfern Farm Cathlamet,WA

Day 2, 5/10/10 In Brief: Biked almost 40 miles from Astoria, WA along US 30 -hilly, logging trucks - but beautiful. Quick lunch in Svensen, pie and ice cream at the Berry Patch in Westport where we stopped for pie on our OR Coast bike ride in 1995, then onto the Wahkiakum County Ferry (the only remaining ferry on the lower Columbia) across to Puget Island and Redfern Farm B & B. Turned out there are no restaurants on the Island so our biking mileage for the day includes an unexpected 10 mile round trip into Cathlamet on the other side of the river for grocery shopping for Tuesday lunch and dinner and our Monday dinner at the Riverview restaurant. A P.S. FROM RILEY: Over 2500' of climbing total for the day!!

Day 3, 5/11/10 In Brief: We are spending a layover day at Redfern Farm, learning more about using our netbook and adding photos and links to the blog - Riley has also created his first Google map of Day 1 of the ride; he hopes to map much of the route as we go along. Highlights of the day have included a lovely breakfast with broccoli omelet and homemade cranberry scones and a wonderful tour around the farm. Winifred Lowsma, our hostess, has 20 acres here - she bought the house (built in the 1940s) and its 20 acres about 20 years ago and has a wonderful place: 3 angora goats (she spins their wool), a dog, several cats and LOADS of fruit trees - many varieties of apple, plum and pear, even kiwis - and many other fruits and vegetables, a little koi pond, bees - et cetera!

MORE - FOR THE DEDICATED READER ONLY: Here are some additional highlights.

Monday, 5/10/10:
We chatted with the manager at the Crest Motel where we stayed in Astoria and noticed a wood stove behind the desk. She told us they had some very stormy weather and would lose power and she could even cook on the stove. Once the wind blew 120 mph for 20 hours straight. They had no power for 7 days and no cell phones or Internet (?) for 9 - the stove came in very handy! YIKES!

As we left the motel we heard a maid tell some other guests "They're going to bike all the way across the country!"

This was a very hilly day. Our Adventure Cycling Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail map includes route profiles with elevations - somehow we misinterpreted it and thought we were on the next-to-the last climb, with the biggest yet to come - and then saw a sign for Clatsop Summit, 650' - YEA! (The 650' is deceptive - there are lots of ups and downs which add to the total climb.)

Waiting for the Wahkiakum County Ferry from Westport, OR to Puget Island on the WA side, we got to chatting with John Eilertson, also in line for the ferry. He had a bike in the back of the pick-up. Turns out he owns a tugboat company based in Alaska - Southeast Marine Transportation, Inc. Years of working on boats, using gasoline as a solvent for cleaning machinery, has left him with a severe case of lead poisoning but he is battling it relentlessly and is biking on his good leg, hoping to build up the other most affected by the lead poisoning. His grandfather was a sailor who established the first sea turtle cannery in the Galapagos; his father fished off AK.

Tuesday, 5/11/10: We're about to make some lunch and hope to spend the rest of the day reading, with a break or two to re-organize our panniers so that we know where things are. We are reading a couple of books from Redfern Farm's library: Riley is reading In Full View, about Lewis & Clark's approach to the Pacific, and Becky is reading Sky Time in Gray's River by Robert Michael Pyle, a naturalist living in Gray's River, a small town in southwestern WA.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day 2 - Astoria, OR to Cathlamet, WA (Puget Island)

THE BASICS: Yesterday: Seaside, OR to Astoria, OR; 25 miles of biking and 4 of walking in beautiful weather; climbed about 1600 feet. About 20 miles of the ride were in a beautiful rural area between Seaside and Miles Crossing. Scotch Broom everywhere, also lupine, Queen Anne's Lace (?), phlox, bluebells, blackberry blossoms, clover, buttercups, and many other flowers. In the yards, rhododendrons, azaleas, lobelia, violets and still some tulips and lilacs.

In Astoria we climbed up 600 feet on Coxcomb Hill to the Astoria Column, a wonderful tower built in 1926 and funded by Vincent Astor (a great grandson of John Jacob Astor), and Ralph Budd, president of the Great Northern Railroad. It is the last of 12 such historical markers built between St. Paul, MN & Astoria, OR. The tower is covered with a spiral of pictures commemorating the history of the region, from before Europeans arrived to the arrival of the railroad in the 1880s. We were here in 1995 on a bike ride down the OR coast and made the same climb but the tower was being renovated and the murals were covered. We climbed the 164 steps up the 125 foot tower for an amazing view of the area - you can see the Columbia, Lewis & Clark and Young Rivers joining the Pacific Ocean.

Stayed at the Crest Motel on a hill on US 30 outside Astoria with a gorgeous view of the Columbia - same place we stayed on our 1st big bike trip 15 years ago. Walked back into town for a great dinner at the Rogue Brew Pub.

We will add pictures and a bit more text later today or tomorrow.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 1, 5/9/10 - We Are Off!

DAY 1 - We can't believe it's arrived at last!

We left Richland yesterday (5/8/10) at about noon - we'd intended to get off by 10 but figured it could well be 12! We said good-bye to our friends Ash and Nick, who will be getting our mail and such, and headed our old '87 Toyota pick-up towards Seaside, OR.

The last few days were just CRAZY, but we pretty well finished everything we felt we had to do. Becky finished out her work for the Benton City Food Bank, Riley did what he thought he had to to leave his colleagues well fixed for running the experiment without him while we're gone, we've sent out Mother's Day and Father's Day and birthday presents to family members whose birthdays fall while we expect to be away - ETC.

We had a windy but gorgeous trip through the Columbia Gorge, and SLOW traffic around Portland. Ate PB sandwiches and oranges in the car and finally headed out to the coast on US 26. There was an unexpected road closure on 26 and we had to turn around and go back to OR 6 and through the lovely canyon through which the Wilson River flows out to Tillamook - home of that wonderful cheese.

The detour meant we could not reach Gearhart, the little town where we will be storing the truck while we're gone, in time to check the truck in at the storage lot Saturday night, as planned - but in fact, the detour was a gift. 15 years ago we had biked part way down the coast of OR in this very area so the drive north to Seaside was a happy trip along memory lane as we drove through places we'd visited and stayed so many years ago - Tillamook, Garabaldi, Rockaway Beach, Nehalem, the Arch Cape Tunnel with its light for cyclists to push before entering to warn cars that there are bikes in the tunnel, then Cannon Beach and, finally, Seaside and Gearhart.

We checked into the Hilltop Motel, headed down to look at the statue of Lewis and Clark on "The Mall" along the beach and then walked into town for a nice meal at Dooger's Restaurant - lots of nice touches: They are happy to spilt a glass of wine, they offer a "light" size option on all meals (it was PLENTY), they serve huge salads topped with shrimp along with your dinner - et cetera. We shared salmon fish and chips w/sweet potato fries and spaghetti and meatballs. YUM.

Then back to the motel for 2 hours of intense work loading up our panniers -and deciding what not to take after all - we filled an old suitcase we had brought for just this purpose; our discards will wait for us in the truck! Ideally we would have done all this in advance, but with less than 2 weeks between the decision to go this year after all and our actual departure, we did the best we could!

Note Re Day 1: Riley is delivering the truck to the storage place while Becky writes this, and cycling back to the motel. Then we load the panniers on the bikes, get some breakfast, and pedal off on our great adventure!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We're rushing forward! Got the bikes in for pre-trip overhauls today at a bike shop recommended by George & Jane, another biking pair whom we met recently - they're about our age and have crossed the country twice! Riley was really impressed by Tony, the mechanic they recommended. Becky has just about finished organizing all our finances to run smoothly while we're gone. We both made a quick trip to the Benton City Food Bank today so Becky could put together a report on April Commodities - while we were there Riley mended a warehouse table. Somehow our to-do lists are simultaneously growing and shrinking - go figure!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Here's a flavor of getting ready: Today we did our usual Saturday morning 22 mile round-trip ride to IHOP for breakfast - but threw in an extra mile to bring the week's total to 100 miles. This got Riley to thinking, and he announced that in the past year we had ridden about 3500 miles along with leading our regular lives - it's encouraging to think about that as we take off on this BIG ride, which will be on the order of 4600 miles! Our satellite phone will arrive on Tuesday. Becky is scrambling to finish work for the Benton City Food Bank and Riley to leave things in order at the lab for his colleagues. We're eating the last of the meatballs I froze in March for dinner tonight. Our tenant who'll be staying in our apartment here in Richland will come by tomorrow night to arrange for keys & such. Et cetera!