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!

“Blows Continularly”

Another great day in the books! Woke up at camp and made some gourmet breakfast burritos, then headed east towards hood river aided by a killer tailwind. Hood river unfortunately had no replacement violin bows (Alice’s became unstrung, so we are currently musical saw-less), but we did pick up some camp fuel, and, more important, ice cream!

There was a good climb out of town and then we were back on the amazing Columbia gorge bike trail. I think this is the fourth time I’ve done this route, and it gets better every time. There’s now only a 4 mile section where you need to get on the freeway, which is quite a change from when Megan Books and I rode it back in…2005?

The tailwind got stronger and stronger as we headed eastward, and then we were at the famous Rowena Curves, a set of really fun curvy switchbacks that led us of the plateau and into the town of The Dalles.

We picked up some supplies and then headed across the Columbia into Washington. Unfortunately, we then had to ride west, back into the wind that had been aiding us all day. But it was still a nice ride on a quiet highway. We saw some bison, took a swim in the river, and had some nice chats with some windsurfers.

Now we’ve pulled away from the Columbia as we ride up Klickitat canyon and back up into the plateau – gonna be some good hills today, but nothing a few bums can’t handle!

The heart of the Cascades

  • Monday, July 5th
    • Daredevil slack liners from Ohio, illicitly camped at the county park
    • Firework-borne brush fire in Lyle, “we think we know who it was”
    • Rogue county sheriff threatens to arrest public employees for violating his interpretation of the constitution
    • Traffic-free road along the Klickitat river, perfect for cycling
    • Silty swim in river – hat was lost
    • Glenwood: ample camping opportunities
      • Gladys’ park: all are welcome, except dogs
      • Bill the dog runs the town, to the chagrin of the elderly wizard hound
      • Zach met ranchers: they were slightly aghast at his short shorts, but he learned that ranching is about horses
  • Tuesday, July 6th
    • We’ve made it to the huckleberry belt: huckleberry-buckwheat pancakes in trout lake
    • Amazing views of Mount hood to the left, adams to the rightLong, slow climb up mount Adams
    • Hot hot hot, but plenty of streams/waterfalls to dunk/soak/drink
    • Takhlakh lake: perfect for swimming/camping, but mosquitos run the joint
    • Bosnians will foist their trout upon you, despite your protestations
    • Tortellini dinner for days
  • Wednesday, July 7th
    • More gravel than expected, but downhill was still glorious
    • Chicken-wire water cage experienced critical structural compromise, after 10 mile stress test. Industrial engineer Liu has rectified the design flaw
    • Record-breaking pace in tailwind up the cowlitz valley
    • Early end at Packwood rv park: there’s only one employee, others are charlatans
    • Growlers from brewery across street + pizza + musical jam = bike touring nirvana

Over the river and through the mountains

Woke up in the RV park with fresh laundry and clean bodies. We started the day at the coffee shop/bakery. Today we committed to spending our flex day exploring the Mount Rainier National Forest.

A quick 12 mile ride got us to the Ohanapecosh campground. We spent the day hiking amongst old growth cedars, crystal-blue streams, and baby skunks. We would discover later in the afternoon that our campsite was nestled amongst an enormous group of nosey church-goers on an annual summer retreat. One particular octagenarian would not leave us alone. Cue Cat Stevens. We ended the day with a frosty dip in the river, a gourmet dinner of cheesey broccoli rice, and some tunes next to the campfire before retiring to a delightfully chilly evening.


  • Took a wrong turn leaving campsite and rode two miles downhill
  • Witnessed a baby elk very nearly meet a violent end, saved only by its skittering hooves
  • Ascended mount rainier on a beautiful road with a very steady grade
  • Wildflower game was on point
  • Alice opened a roadside sno-cone confectionary
  • Views, views, and more views
  • Construction traffic director was boisterous and loving life – made questionable comments about my thighs
  • Lunch and a delightful dip at Tipsoo lake
  • Crossed Chinook Pass and began epic downhill cruise along the American river
  • Ended evening at lovely campsite next to river at tourist trap resort – more tunes and disco lights ensued

Great balls of fire

  • Blew through 25 miles, downhill with tailwind, averaging 17.5mph along American river of WA
  • Rode through fruit orchards: apples, pears, cherries, grapes, etc
  • Deliciously second breakfast in trump cafe
  • Broastingly warm in Yakima; dealt with heat in traditional bums way, going to movie theater to see stripper movie
  • Many beers at brewery, then stumbled into grocery store
  • Ice cream cones beneath mushroom clouds of nearby wildfire
  • White knuckle ride through Yakima canyon routing closed freeway traffic: semis, boat trailers, rvs, etc
  • Campsite entertainment provided by helicopters filling water buckets from river
  • Band practice ended early by mosquitoes


  • Awoke to rv overnighter being evicted by BLM agent
  • Flipped coin outside of twee fly shop/cafe to decide second breakfast. Breakfast won. Sandwiches were great, but muzak channel was depressing
  • Smooth ride up Yakima canyon, now with normal traffic volume (aka not much)
  • Ellensburg!
    • Met overzealous artist/man-about-town/street king of E’s-burg. Got boba tip
    • Spent hours in great boba cafe whilst Alice rerouted her plans due to cancelled Amtrak (tracks burnt in Cali wildfire)
    • Next stop: brewery! Saw-themed in honor of our serrated serenader. Great brews, good food, great way to avoid the heat
    • Quick stop at Safeway for food + trail beers
  • Palouse-to-Cascade rail trail!
    • 80 miles of car-free bliss
    • Camped at nice campground along trail – skinny dipping in Yakima river

The road provides

  • More smooth riding along trail
  • Second breakfast at Cle Ellum bakery: mix of delicious authentic baked goods and generic branded kitsch
  • More tressles, tunnels, streams on trail
  • 2 mile long tunnel at Snoqualmie pass – pitch black jam session in middle of tunnel
  • 20 mile descent off pass with amazing views
  • Tacos in twin peaks town (north bend)
  • Coordinating lodging with Nick and Jim as they completed 12 hour drive from Oakland
  • Searched for nearby camping, but we were on the populated side of the Cascades now – scoped a nice, sketchy spot next to river for plan B
  • Hey look a brewery!
  • Asked around at brewery for camping options. Just when all hope was lost, Alice rolled a natty on her charisma check, and we were invited to sleep in the backyard of John, Helen, and summit the dog
  • Bought beer for our hosts only to find that they had bought beer for us – recipe for a great, late night of drinking, conversation, and caterwauling
  • Zach vs his tent yielded minor contusions to face. Both contestants survived for future rematch
  • Nick and Jim were relegated to seedy downtown motel

And then there were five

  • Started day with fresh lemon water and coffee provided by our gracious hosts
  • Said goodbyes and headed into town to meet our newly arrived comrades
  • Quick breakfast at bakery, then onto another rail trail
  • Rolled 5 deep for a few miles until we had to say goodbye to Alice. Many tears were shed
  • Jim got first flat of tour within first 10 miles
  • Lunch in Duvall twee-town, then back onto roads after our long streak of trails
  • WA country roads are pleasant, but some drivers are great big babies – witnessed at least 2 impatience-driven near-collisions
  • Snohomish! Hey look a pub! The beer prices were time-shifted from the early 90s, and the help-yourself popcorn reminded us of pre-covid times
  • Got on the centennial rail trail – 30+ miles of butter-smooth pavement
  • Camping options once again limited – met various characters at pavilion while considering options
  • Found cozy little creekside hide-away just of trail – perfect for camping as long as you avoid the human waste

Jim patiently waited

  • Jim was packed with helmet on at daybreak while he waited 4 hours for the rest of us to emerge (this would become a theme)
  • Went back to the hottest venue in Machias – the park pavilion. Met a few more local characters, including the friendly park superintendent, and a man who lived nearby for 6 months and had never ridden the trail
  • Trail was great
  • Stopped in Arlington to resupply at Gross-out
  • Continued north to end of trail
  • Good tacos next to I-5
  • La Conner! Hey look a brewery!
  • Crossed bridge onto Swinomish lands
  • Camping options remained scarce – ending up staying at an RV resort so expensive, the manager felt bad for us and have us a discount
  • We did laundry and all took 20 minute showers
  • Jim bent all of his tent stakes due to unforgiving RV parking spot
  • “Are you guys European? Oh, I see lots of Europeans on bikes”
  • Puget sound attained!