Here we go again!

Wow folks! What a great first day!

Alice and I caught the Amtrak Thursday night, after a brief waterfront music sesh with Darles where I got to test drive my new fake plastic clarinet (it’s called a clarineo and sounds surprisingly good for being a lightweight, waterproof, nearly indestructible reed instrument).

After grabbing some Soley Vegan for the ride, we handed off our bikes to the baggage attendant (Amtrak finally nixed its dumb bike-box policy), and were off on our train ride to … Sacramento. Turns out wildfire season (predictably) began early this year, and the rail tracks were first on the menu. We had to take a seven hour bus ride from Sac to kiss Klamath Falls, where we re-boarded another train. Other than that, our trip went find, and the train ride through Oregon to Portland was gorgeous.

Upon arriving in Portland, we were graciously hosted by Alice’s friends Rebecca and Matt, who took us out to some of the most delicious tacos I’ve had, and took us on a tour of Rebecca’s amazing print studio, complete with 1600 pound press!

Unfortunately, Zach’s train ride from Seattle took nearly as long as ours did, and also resulted in a bus transfer. Nonetheless, we all met up for breakfast this morning, hungry for the open road.

You know it’s gonna be a great tour when a stranger asks about your bikes, gets excited about your trip and treats you to your first meal – at a vegetarian Jewish deli, no less! Once we were full of bagels, cabbage roll, and vegan lox, we hit a store for supplies and headed east out of Portland, taking the Max to Gresham to get a jump start out of the city. Traffic and strip malls slowly tapered off until we found ourselves rolling through the countryside on the Columbia plateau.

Riding the Columbia River Gorge is bike touring at its finest: beautiful scenery, low traffic, several excellent bike paths, and a fair smattering of small towns, fruit stands, and campgrounds. We are lunch at Crowne point overlook, did a short hike at Multnomah falls, and had some beers in Cascade Locks. While we drank at the brewery, Alice gave a curious fellow an impromptu musical saw lesson. Overall, it was a great first day of riding: not too hot, not too hard, and we even had a tailwind. Also, more bike paths have been completed since I was here last, so there’s now only one brief section of the gorge route where you need to venture on to I-84 (which we will tackle tomorrow).

We ended the day here at Viento state park, where we made some delicious veggie cheese burgers with grilled onions and jalepeno on ciabatta rolls. We ended the night with beers, music, and free hot showers! Doesn’t get much better than this!

Posted from Underwood, Washington, 98651, US.