Ok! I’m on my way. Got the bike to Portland ok and assembled in baggage claim with minimum swearing, which is pretty good considering I left for the airport at 5am after getting three hours of sleep. It should be noted that southwest changed their bike policy to charging $75 instead of 50 to fly with a bike, leaving frontier as the lone airline that doesn’t rip you off when traveling with bikes. Also of note is that Portland airport has a bike assembly station (a bike stand) next to the baggage claim! Unfortunately, I didn’t know until I already had my stuff scattered all over the carpet.
Ways to know you’re in Portland:
1. When you give your bike box to the guy collecting the garbage, he says that’s he’s been “picking these up all week”
2. There’s a bike path leading directly from the airport terminal
3. On said bike path, you encounter a squadron of four people rollerblading while pushing baby carriages.
Right now I’m getting brunch and pie! Next I’m gonna make my way to the Columbia River gorge scenic highway, where hopefully I’ll find a place to take a nap!
Hey folks.. Still here… Still ridin’. Yesterday was beautiful, but hard. Lots of ups and downs and pretty hot. If you ever get a chance to ride between hood river and the Dalles, do it. It’s spectacular. Ended the day with a tough ride against a brutal crosswind.
Today was hot. Like upper nineties hot. (actually, the thermometer on my cycle computer said it was 113 at one point, but I don’t believe that.) I ended up skipping back over the Columbia into Oregon (I camped at a really nice state park in Washington outside the Dalles last night) because it’s over a hundred miles between services on the Washington side. Instead, I opted to ride along I-84, where it’s only like 30 miles between services. It wasn’t too bad… I’ve learned to adjust my headphones to work as earplugs to deaden the noise of semis.
A highlight of today is that I found someone’s cell phone on the side of the road. I’ll have to wait until I can charge it to see if I can get it back to them. On the first day, I found the contentious someone’s wallet… Everything from ids to coffee club cards to some sort of military org chart and their Geneva convention ID (they were in the military). I was actually able to contact then and they got it all back. It’s actually like the third or fourth find I’ve found someone’s wallet stuff, without the wallet, on the side of the road, but the first time I’ve been able to contact the person.
OK… Sleep time. Enjoy these pics.
Not much new to report. It’s still hot, but not as hot as it had been. Definitely on the dry side of the mountains… Not much but grasses, sagebrush, and rocks, with the occasional vineyard. Right now I’m beating the heat by sipping a pint here in walla walla, which seems to be a pretty nice little city. The folks at artisan bikes were certainly friendly. This is the last decent sized town I’ll see until I get to Kalispell in a week. Here’s some photos a real nice guy I met in the Columbia gorge, Scott McMullen, took of me.
After leaving walla walla, the landscape quickly changed from desert to endless rolling hills of golden wheatfields. The folks at the bike shop in walla walla put me on a great quiet road with almost no traffic. I had been getting a little bummed by the endless desert and relentless heat, but I think things turned around for me yesterday. Not sure if it’s the slightly cooler weather, the less foreboding landscape, or maybe I’m just finally getting into the swing of things.
I’ve been going through some really cute little farm towns. In the first one, I ran into a group of eleven boy scouts and two leaders who were riding from Maryland to Astoria! They have a blog at lucky13biketrip.com. Shortly after that, I started passing an organized bike tour group of about 300 people heading in the opposite direction! I was passing them for about 12 miles when I stopped at one of their rest stops to talk to some of them. They let me partake in their amazing spread of snacks, including deviled eggs, watermelon, bananas stuffed with peanut butter and Nutella, and homemade paydays!
Ok. Quick update before I go off the grid again. I made it into Lewiston – Clarkston, where I replaced my balding tire. Next I had a pretty tough 2000 foot climb up the “old spiral highway”, a welcome no-traffic alternative to the side-cut ramp of the main highway. Then the rolling grain fields slowly gave way to tree-lined hills, and then I suddenly found myself in the lumber town of potlatch (where the sign happily expounds how it was a lumber company planned town, where workers were housed right next to the mill, while “managers houses were built away from the noise and smoke”). From there, I snaked my way through old growth pine stands and into wide open valleys. Now I’m in Saint Maries, where I’ll head up the st. Joe river until I pick up the “route of the Hiawatha”, a much-touted rail trail that will take me over the border into Montana via a tunnel! I should be in big sky country tomorrow night!
Today began with a bikebums milestone. I was just riding along, trying to jump start my pre-breakfast morning brain, when suddenly to my right, Splash-Thwomp Thwomp Thwomp! A giant moose emerged from the stream next to the road an took off across the field, waddle swaying to and fro as it trotted away from me. Turns out the trick to seeing moose is being on the road by 6:30 am.
I had beautiful ride up the st. Joe river Valley, with barely any traffic at all. Absolutely gorgeous scenery. I then turned up the dirt road leading to the real trail, and in nine miles maybe saw three cars. Then, suddenly, after barely seeing anyone for hours, there’s like forty people with bikes lining up to get in a shuttle bus. Guess I made it to the trail. The trail is managed by a nearby ski resort, and they really do it up :they set up a shuttle to take people back to their cars, they rent bikes, and they have a while bunch of people riding up and down the trail making sure everyone is ok. The trail itself was awesome. It leads through like thirteen tunnels and over several railroad trestles, some of which are over two hundred feet tall. They have a whole bunch of informative kiosks explaining the history of the area and the rail line that used to run there – the “Milwaukee road”. I took four hours to go the fourteen miles of the trail because I stopped so often to read the signs or enjoy the scenery. The culmination was the final tunnel : 1.7 miles long, cold, damp, and dark as a mile long hole dug out of the earth. I got probably my best state line crossing picture ever in the middle as I burrowed beneath the idaho/Montana state line.
Long time no post. No fear – the bums roll on. Here’s a really quick update on the last week. I had a great ride through Montana. I even met up with my housemate Annessa’s parents – who are awesome – at the yak ranch that she grew up on in lovely Ronan. A quick ride up along flathead lake and I was in whitefish, where I picked up a rental car and picked megan up from the airport pretty much in schedule. We headed to glacier, did some hiking, and then grabbed max from his midnight arrival, and took him and his bike back to our campsite in glacier. We spent the next few days hiking and checking out the park. We saw a grizzly bear (from afar), more moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, a marmot, and a thousand hungry ground squirrels. We did an amazing hike up to a glacier – gotta see them before they’re gone – and max and I had a lovely dip in the lake at its base. Then megan took off on the train, and max and I returned the car and began our trek towards Spokane. It’s been a couple of days of beautiful riding, quirky towns, friendly people, and great conversation. The only real complaint I could have is that we had a nasty headwind all day today, but you can’t win them all. Tomorrow should find us back in Idaho after we ascend tompson pass, we many people have told us should be a great ride.
We’re still trucking along! We’ve successfully picked up Sarah from Spokane, and are mere miles from the Canadian border. Some brief highlights from the last few days :
* max and I woke up one morning to find ourselves being bombarded by pine cones being dropped on us by a very angry chipmunk – this continued for an hour until we removed our tent from his territory
* the couer d’Alene bike path was awesome. We saw five moose while riding along it!
* we had some great chit chat with the locals at Fredneck’s bar in Rockford, and even were presented with t – shirts before retiring to sleep on the stage in the town park. Breakfast at the harvest moon, however, involved the usual hash browns, toast, and casual racism.
* we had an amazing warm showers host in Spokane, who took us out for a great night out on the town. When Friday night rolls around, the city of Spokane shows up!
* when we stopped at This Bike Life bike shop in North Spokane to get some bar tape for max, they went above and beyond, saving Sarah from certain day by fixing her handle bars, giving us beer while we waited, and sending us on our way with the world’s largest zucchini cudgel.
* the tiny town we are in now, metaline falls (currently being pummeled by a thunderstorm) is super cute, and it has a movie theater! Con: The Wolverine is terrible
See ya in Canada (if this storm doesn’t take us to Kansas)
Okay… We’re still rolling through. Canada has been beautiful. Lots of lakes and mountains. There’s many highlights to tell, but too much to type into phone right now. Suffice it to say that we are having a great time, and are nearly to Kamloops to meet sasha in Saturday