After resting for 2 days in Tacoma with great hosts Tim and Nancy and their lovely cats, Panther, Spot and Suzie, we left for Portland via the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic route. So starting day 8 (April 25th) we biked to Lake Offut, North of Centralia, then to Castle Rock the next day, into Oregon and to Scappoose the day after and finally, on day 11 (April 28th) we had a short ride into Portland.
We’re now in Portland on a day off and I’m realizing how difficult it is to try writing about days prior when there are so many things to catch up on while in a city (haircuts, laundry, beer, etc.) So this may be breezy but I hope I can highlight some of the interesting experiences and sights along the way.
The first interesting experience, one that happened before we could even get on our way, was me realizing that my rear wheel was untrued and rubbing against the brakes in a nasty way because the rim was torn at the base of one spoke. There were signs of stress (and future tearing) around other spokes too. This was not something I could fix and I would need to get to a bike shop fast. I felt a little foolish for not giving my bike a once-over as soon as we arrived in Tacoma. The problem would have been spotted easily and I could have had my bike fixed while we had days off.
Being stubborn and not wanting to delay getting on the road more, we found a bike shop that would be more-or-less on our way in Puyallup, 20km away. Halfway there my back spoke popped out completely and I fixed it back to the rim with duct tape hoping the bike would hold out…and it did. It may not have been smart to ride like that. I don’t know…but it was a good lesson to listen to my bike more. To chill out and take care of things before they become bigger problems. And that could be applied to other things, gear, my body, relationships (can’t duct tape those)…
Anyway, I walked into Bike Tech completely stressed out and worried that they would not have a replacement rim for my bike. And they didn’t – but they did build an entirely new wheel for me, one with more spokes so stronger for the weight I’m carrying. They were also the nicest bike shop folk that I have ever met. We hung around for a few hours (me pacing like my bike was in surgery) and in that time they gave us great tips for cycling out to Centralia and I witnessed remarkable customer service. Everyone who walked in there was given friendly attention within a few minutes. If you are ever around Tacoma / Puyallup…
By mid-afternoon my new wheel was finished and we were off to Lake Offut where we would camp for the night. Much of the way took us along the beautiful Yelm-Tenino and Chehalis Western bike trails. Off the Chehalis Western trail we found the Monarch Contemporary Art Centre and Sculpture Park. It was out of this world. An acreage full of sculptures. No admission fee just throw your bike down on the ground and wander among the strange and beautiful structures set among green hills and horses of the Washington valley. My favourite sculpture was pick-up-sticks (below) and I have posted photos of others to flickr.
The day after the rain came. We were expecting it but I still was hoping the forecast would be wrong but it wasn’t. It was pouring. We were in an area scarce in places to stay for the night so forged ahead to the one campground we knew of. Rain gear helps but only so far. Eight miles from the campground there was a motel and I was wet and cold so suggested pulling the motel card. Anna agreed and we enjoyed hot showers and glorious heat but still prepared the meal planned for a camp stove.
Day 10 was still a bit rainy but less so and it was coupled with the excitement of entering Oregon. Excitement = holy crap we have to bike over a scary bridge. The Lewis and Clark (or Longview) Bridge crosses the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon. It’s really long, single-laned, narrow-shouldered and full of logging trucks. The logging trucks spew wood chips all over the shoulder. Tense. But we made it across and stopped for a few minutes to bask in the glory of entering Oregon alive and to breath.
We biked to a town with the best name, Scappoose, and camped at a park next to an airfield. I thought that would be really annoying (airplanes in the middle of the night!) but it was not too bad. It was nice watching them take off and land. And there was a farm nearby with Llamas. Incredible and beautiful creatures that are built to walk around with their noses in the air.
The sky was finally clearing a little and the Scappoose campground host, Donna, also gave us free (I think) firewood and we had our first fire. Perfect for drying out clothes and there was only one pair socks victim to the flames.
On day 11 we had just a short 40k or so to Portland. We have been staying at the Hawthorne Hostel but will continue on to the coast tomorrow to take advantage of good weather forecasted. I was hoping to relax and explore the city a little more but honestly, most of my time has been spent running errands that can’t be done out of the city. Though we did get in a trip to Voodoo Doughnut. I figured all the bike riding justified getting The Memphis Mafia: banana fritter with peanut butter/chocolate glaze and chocolate chips. It was bigger than my hand and took a few sittings to finish but I did it.
We leave early tomorrow. I don’t know that there will be much computer access on the coast and maybe it’s for the better because I can’t possibly write about everything experienced. I want to but I can’t. Even now…3 minutes left on this computer…and I think it’s time to Publish…