Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 26 Friday 7/31/09 Malta to Glasgow, MT

Day 26 Friday 7/31/09

Malta to Glasgow, MT

70 Miles

1126 total miles
Day 25 Thursday 7/30/09
Havre to Malta, MT
90 Miles
1056 total miles

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 23 Tuesday 7/28/09

Day 23 Tuesday 7/28/09
Chester to Havre, MT
64 Miles
959 Total Miles

Rode from Chester, MT with Gary Evans through some storms to Havre, which is about halfway across the state, now. The wind is very challenging-- either your best friend or your worst enemy. The winds have been switching direction frequently and yesterday we rode about 20 miles with a 20-25 cross wind coming at us from the northeast. Found lodging at Northern Montana State University dorms for $10 a night, and am very tired, so will take an extra day's rest before heading out towards Malta, 85 miles away, tomorrow. Check with Bill at the Student Union Building for availability. They prefer a call ahead and can't always guarantee that a room will be available, based on summer enrollment, sports camps, etc. (406) 265-3732

Got a great massage and some good road food Havre Health Foods and Earthlight Wellness Center with therapist Kevin Campbell, NCTMB. He used some trigger point therapy to get some of those tight knots out of the gastrocenimius and other parts of my cycling engine! Thanks Kevin! 406-265-5301.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 22 Monday 7/27/09 Cut Bank to Chester, MT

Day 22 Monday 7/27/09 Cut Bank to Chester, MT 70 Miles 895 total miles After some free mocha Monday samples at the local McDonalds and some fresh fruit for breakfast, Gary and I rode out of town towards Chester, the next stop for us on the Hi-Line. The day went quite well, this being the second farthest in absolute distance that I have traveled during this trip. Gray was anxious to go ahead and thought that he might even push on to a town farther down the line. There hwere some pretty significant headwinds in the last third of the day and by the time I reached Chester, there was Gary, in the shade of a roadside rest-stop awning. We considered camping in this spot, right next to the tracks, but after the previous night's cacophony near the tracks thought better of it. Using a local map, I scouted out the city park and much to my pleasant surprise found a lush, green park where tenters are welcome to stay for free. Simple accommodations next to a picnic pavilion in a city park, but with running water and toilets , so all was good. We even had a watering schedule and location to set up the tents so we knew where to situate so as to stay dry-- a quick trip to the local grocery for a six pack and we were established for the night. Just before dusk another cyclist rolled, in-, "JP" from Deerfield, NH, who has been on the road since June 11 and is making the brave westward-ho trip to the coast pushing his Trek 520 into the wind. Oh to be 22 again! JP was able to share all kinds of road wisdom our way and we learned of a particularly beneficial stop-off in upcoming town of Havre, the next day's journey, as well as general information about crossing Ontario, a route fraught with challenges, as well as scenic beauty.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 21 Sunday 7/26/09 St. Mary to Cut Bank,MT

Day 21 Sunday 7/26/09 St. Mary to Cut Bank, MT 63 Miles 825 total miles The plan to leave St. Mary campground at 8 was delayed by neither my new riding partner, Gary Evans , nor I being ready dto leave at the agreed upon time. We took a little longer, getting over to the St. Mary Lodge and grabbing a cup of coffee, getting connected with wireless and then finally got underway around 9:45 ... Making the initial ascent on US 87 out of the St. Mary area in a light drizzle, up St. Mary Ridge, which is a massive moraine through burned out lodgepole pine forests, the aftermath of pine bark beetle infestations. At the top of that first ridge, there was a great overlook back towards the park and out towards the plains that were our inevitable destination that day. We climbed a second ridge and then descended it down towards the Cut Bank Creek drainage where we turned east, headed down the drainage into the Blackfeet Reservation. The first 10 miles or so of that gradual descent were euphoric, with the plains ahead beckoning us, the mountains getting smaller in our mirrors and our sapeed sometimes exceeding 25 mph, which is a pretty good clip. Then the reality of the reservation roads hit us-- lots more trash and especially broken glass on the roadsides. Unfortunate, but with a little bit of aware riding we managed to get through there without a flat. We arrived in Browning around lunchtime where we stopped for a drink, some WIFI and a visit to the local IGA where we spit the ingredients for a veritable sidewalk banquet and answered questions of curious passers-by. "How far you going? " "Where you coming from?" "How many miles can you do in a day?" After lunch, we set our sights on Cut Bank, another 30 or so miles away where we would spend the night. The Montana camping guide I obtained from he chamber of commerce Libby showed that Cut Bank had public camping, and when we got to town we commenced to look for it to no avail, so we stopped at a local casino to ask directions. We discovered that the said campground had been closed for several years and the lady at the bar, Liz, offered for us to camp in her yard, after clearing it, of course, with her husband, Pat, with a quick phone call. She let us know that her 4 year old, Vladimir, would be there to greet us and be full of questions and directions, it being his back yard and all... It was a very welcome place to stay and after clearing some of young Vladimir's toys out of the way to make room for our tents, we set up for the night, did some laundry, went out to a big dinner at the Cut Bank Café and returned for showers and a solid night's sleep-- except for the 6 or so trains that thundered through town all night long, whistles blaring, as we are on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Hi-Line, one of the most frequented tracks in the country with 35 to 40 trains a day rolling through every little town out here.

Day 20 Saturday 7/25/09 Sprague Creek via Logan Pass to St. Mary, MT

Day 20 Saturday 7/25/09 Sprague Creek via Logan Pass to St. Mary, MT 40 Miles762 total miles Rose early and hit the road at 6:15 to make the ascent over Logan Pass via the Going to the Sun Road, 18 miles to the pass and about a 3400 foot climb. Park rules require that all bike traffic past Logan Creek must complete the last 12 mile journey before 11 a.m. Not a problem if you aren't too loaded down, or if you get an early start. Today, though, we had Matthew and Eleanor's 6 month old Olive in tow in the chariot behind Eleanor's bike. Matthew, for his part , has decided to give himself a bit of a workout and carry some of his camping gear, extra food, and some other rocks, bricks and lead bars in his pack, just for the sake of being a mountain man. I, for my part, have deferred to the gracious Manita and her Subaru to carry all but the essential food, water and foul weather gear. The pass ride was beautiful-- we made it with a little time to spare as we stopped frequently for nursing stops, diaper changes and Olive activities! Spent lunchtime at Logan Pass talking with a Dutch couple, Stella and Joris, who are on an extended tour of the US after spending the past 9 months touring Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. If that's not enough, they completed a 14 month trip from Holland to China on those very same bikes-- truly a testament to their perseverance as well as interpersonal compatibility. The ride down from the pass was thrilling with incredible views of the (receding) glaciers , followed by a chilling dip in St. Mary Lake at the bottom. Matthew and I found our way to St. Mary Lodge on a hot afternoon, for a couple of cold beers and relaxation in the leather lounge chairs while we waited for the rest of the gang to join us for a great dinner-- then off to the campsite for some end of day relaxation and a good night's rest before heading south and east out onto the great plains.

Day 19 Friday 7/24/09 Whitefish to Sprague Creek, MT

Day 19 Friday 7/24/09

Whitefish to Sprague Creek, MT

40 Miles

722 total miles

Rode with Matthew Smeltzer via backroads from Whitefish 2 West Glacier Park.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 15 Tuesday-Friday 7/21-24/09

Day 15 Tuesday-Friday 7/21-24/09
Logan State Park to Whitefish, MT
60 Miles
682 total miles

Tuesday was the day that I made it to sanctuary to my sister-in-law, Manita's, home in Whitefish and a great extended visit with the family where i will stay off the bike for 3 days to rest and recover, visit with family and enjoy summer a bit in Whitefish. The ride from Logan State Park along Rt 2 is very challenging at times, much the same as the passage from Libby to Logan-- disappearing shoulders, big trucks, etc. Once you reach Marion, there's a huge 7 % grade downhill for 3 miles which is thrilling and takes you to a lower, warmer elevation for the remaining ride to Kila. Just outside of Kila, headed to Kalispell, there is a gravel surfaced bike path that eventually turns to pavement-- I don't recommend the gravel part with full touring gear-- too loose and soft in places and I almost lost control, but once he pavement starts, it's a welcome sanctuary from the hwy 2 traffic all the way into Kalispell. My friend and nephew, Matthew gave me a great tip to take the turn off of Rt. 2 onto West Valley Road-- which I followed up to Farm to Market Road (Mt. 424) and rode it all the way to the reconnect above Whitefish. It was slightly longer than going into Kalispell and then up US 93 north out of Kalispell, but so much prettier and far more relaxing, with low traffic and wonderful vistas of the Flathead Valley and surrounding farmlands. The last 3-4 miles of HWY 93 into Whitefish was treacherous! Slow down people!!!

Have spent the past 3 days chilling at Manita's house, spending time with her, Eleanor, Matthew, their baby Olive. Visited the farmer's market, did some errands, got my new contact lenses taken care of and recharged the batteries! Alfred, Audrey and their 3 boys Chase, Sully, and Hans came for dinner last night and we sat down to a big pad Thai feast. Finally niece Nathalie came rolling in late last night, returning from a trip to Phoenix/Tempe area where she was looking at a naturopathic school there. It was great to see everyone out here and enjoy the summer in Whitefish a little with the gang. Thanks for the wonderful hospitality!!!

This afternoon, Matthew and I will ride into the park from Whitefish (no baggage!) where we will meet with Manita, Eleanor and Olive for a night of camping and an early morning rise to ride the Going to the Sun road over Logan Pass and to St. Mary campground for Saturday night. On Sunday morning I get fully loaded again fro my chug across the plains of Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. I figure it will take me about 10 more days to cross Montana and another 5 for North Dakota, putting me into Minnesota about the end of the first week of August. Time will tell-- it's Big Sky country out here!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 14 Monday 7/20/09
Libby, MT to Logan State Park
45 Miles
622 total miles

My body did not cooperate after yesterday's push in the heat. To make matters worse, today was even hotter. I told myself going into this experience that I would pay attention to my body's needs and respond appropriately. The first sign of that came at 7 a.m. When my alarm rang and I turned it off to get some more sleep. I awoke surprised to find it was past 9 a.m.-- too late to avail myself of the 7 to 9 am $2.99 breakfast special, but more importantly, a sure sign that I wasn't going to even try to make it all the way to Kalispell today. Today was even hotter than yesterday, so I decided to take my time this morning, have a leisurely breakfast, and spent some time at the local internet/networking company's office posting my blog before setting out onto the road eastward. Did I already say it was HOT?! IO don't know how hot, but the forecast when I left Libby was for 95 + and the bank signboard read 87 as I rolled out of town at 2 p.m. Not an auspicious start!

Crosses across Montana: as one journeys across this state one finds roadside crosses placed by the American Legion in memory of the departed travellers along Montana's highways. A sobering reminder of the tenuous hold we have on this life as we thunder along at unnatural speeds-- certainly unnatural to what the body can sustain in sudden deceleration. Although I haven't kept count, I can pretty much count on seeing at least on every couple of miles and some are multiples. True to the immortal Lenny Bruce, I still haven't seen any Stars of David (or any other faiths) represented! One of these markers I passed around US 2 mile marker #65 showed 17 crosses for one site. Just a few miles east of Libby the shoulder all but disappeared. I was left with a 6 inch or less margin of pavement from the white line and there were some mighty big trucks rolling through here , loaded with lumber and you name it. On coming traffic too? ! Do you think that the narrowness of the road or speed limit for that matter would slow any of them down? You already know the answer. 15 miles of that treachery, all the while climbing in heat for the most part, took away the fascination (or the ability) to gaze at the picturesque Cabinet mountains to the south of me. Finally, the shoulder returned and I was able to relax a little and enjoy the ride-- although the new hazard was rumble strips which eliminated 1/2 of the usable space on the shoulder and pushed me closer to the guard rails. Rumble strips, while a good idea for the dozing trucker, are a bad idea for the touring cyclist, especially on downhill, where one might encounter an itinerant hazard and need to swerve to avoid it.

I stopped to cooldown in the chilling Fisher River and then rode through an area called Houghton Creek, where there had been a big forest fire in 1984, and even 25 years later, the mountainsides show the recovery still taking place very slowly. What does Smokey Bear say kids?

By the time I reached Happy Inn (yes, it's on the map!) I was out of water and getting very thirsty and a COLD beer, in this case 2, was in order. Talked a bit with the local barflies, bought some more beverages, and left the station (it's the halfway point between Libby and Kalispell) and headed down the road 5 more miles to the Logan State Park Campground , which turns out is a very convenient, modern and recommended facility: complete with hot a cold running water, showers and cleanup sinks for dishes. Monday night made selection of a lakeside campsite no problem at all. A great swim in the clean water and the song of loons on the lake cap this day off quite nicely.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 13 Sunday 7/19/09

Day 13 Sunday 7/19/09
Clark Fork, ID to Libby, MT
69 Miles
587 total miles

Got an early start today in the pacific time zone at 6:45 a.m.-- trying to beat the heat. Rode into Montana and the Mt. Time zone at about 516 trip miles and climbed to Bull River Junction about 20 miles east of Clark Fork where I stopped for coffee and stoked up on carbs for the ride northward on Montana Route 56 through the Cabinet Mountains. It was a truly amazing road and the scenery was picture postcard. The Cabinet Wilderness to the east of the highway has a grouping of 8k mountains which are all very rugged. The terrain supports a grizzly population and the Bull river meanders crystal clear, cold and lazy through the lush green valley. I talked with one angler who said the daily bag limit on brook trout is 20, as they are trying to reduce their numbers in favor of the endangered Bull Trout which is native to the stream. The brookies average 12-14 and the fishing appears to be pretty productive. Stopped at Halfway House, a bar at Bull Lake, where I enjoyed the cooling effects of a couple of Kokannee's in the frostiest glasses I had in a while. Very refreshing. Met some interesting people, including Karol, who cares for elderly patients in the area and owns a pet bobcat. The new bike is really an improvement on both the uphills and downhills. I am able to get better climbing response and motion as the frame is stiffer, shorter and more responsive. The downhills feel SO MUCH safer as the tires are a wider 32c profile vs. The previous 28c, and the wheels and brakes are solid-- giving me the confidence to cruise down some of the hills a little faster and carry more momentum onto the flats and up the next thills. After taking a mid-afternoon rest and read at the junction of US 2 and Rt. 56, I rode a few more miles until I reached the dramatic Kootenai Falls and the "Swinging bridge" a plank pedestrian suspension bridge over the rapid river below. The wind was blowing and the bridge was, well, swinging high and unsteady over the river below-- who needs to pay for a carnival ride at the amusement park! I received some advice that there was a municipal park where I could camp in Libby, and found it-- $5 a night, but no showers-- at this point, I will make do-- the price is certainly right! I will apply the savings towards a good meal tonight! 96 miles between here and Whitefish-- I can't really decide whether I want to try and do the whole thing in one day or 2-- I feel it might be better to split it up- or perhaps my nephew Matthew Smeltzer will come and join me for the ride back into Whitefish late in the day. His wife, my niece, Eleanor, might carry my bags back in her car. Would that be considered cheating?

Day 12 Saturday 7/18/09

Day 12 Saturday 7/18/09
Sandpoint, ID to Clark Fork, ID
36 Miles
508 total miles

It promises to be another hot one. I am still in the Motel 6, getting my courage up for the upcoming 3 days ride to Whitefish. It's 193 miles-- but will probably end up being more, as the Noxon campgraound today is another 5+ miles up the road past the Montana Rt. 56 turn-off at Heron. Yesterday was really hot and took a lot out of me. While the road grade wasn't bad, the traffic planning for bikes wasn't the best. There really is no great way from Hayden up to here other than US 95, a really busy highway which although has a speed limit of 65 is frequented by big trucks and cars speeding in excess of 80. The shoulder almost disappears for sections and the rumble strip cutouts sometimes take half of what's left of a 2 foot margin. In places there were construction zones and the orange barrels took over what was left of the shoulder-- I was fortunate to have about 5 miles of uninterrupted brand new pavement all to myself that hadn't yet been open to cars- it was a good solution to an otherwise dangerous section. I will be glad to get off that highway today! On the other hand there were some great sections as well, including the dedicaed pedestrian lanes across the long bridge across Pend Oreille into Sandpoint. I arrived late in the afternoon/early evening with the sun flashing on the lake out of the west-- very scenic place. Decided to splurge and tatke a motel for the night vs. Looking for a campground and riding in the dusk. It was a good choice, as I got cleaned up, and went across the street to a bar and grill that served up a great ahi steak. I met some nice people, including Tammy, a truck driver who is repurposing her career from running a canvas and awning business for 20+ years to a life on the road. She lives here in Ponderay, but enjoys the change of scenery and activity of the road after raising 3 children-- and she always has a beautiful place to return to when she is finished hauling a load. She also takes some marvelous photos which she showed me a few of-- images of nature, elk and mountains in Banff, and the Oregon coast, and of course, one of her Peterbilt truck! The ride from Sandpoint to Clark Fork along the north shore of Pend Oreille was breathtaking. The lake was formed during the ice age and a glacial ice dam formed, with a sheet almost a half a mile thick in places. The mountains to the east literally fall into the lake nearly 2000 feet. When the ice dam from the glaciers broke Glacial Missoula Lake fomred in the valleys to south and east covering thousands of square miles and causing massive torrents which carved out some of the dramatic canyon passages in the surrounding areas. Stopped for while along the way to watch an osprey fishing over the shallows of the eastern part of the lake. The remarkable bird patiently stalked his prey, hovering over the spot where a fish was near to the surface, then swooping and diving into the water in a big splash-- all talons and wings flapping. 3 attempts before finally success! Made it to Clark Fork and stumbled onto a restaurant called the Squeeze Inn which is run by a wonderfully colorful lady named Janet and her daughters. Made friends and had dinner with a couple of motorcycle tourists from Missoula who originally were friends who met at a bike shop they used to work at a few years back. Micah is a carpenter, and Garth is a math teacher at Loyola High School and Marine reservist. Both enjoy their bicycling as well as motorcycle touring so they were interested in my trip. One thing led to another and we learned that Janet also takes tent campers at her home just up the street, so we ended up having a delicious meal, (tonight's special was a Basque prix fixe menu with snapper, squid, tomato garlic soup, salad , crusty bread-- and if you had any room left, huckleberry ice cream) great conversation, all at an affordable price and a comfy place to pitch our tents and grab a hot shower. Our waitress was Janet's daughter, Tia, who is a very talentted young woman and who is headed to study opera at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the fall. As it turns out, she was also an applicant to the Leni Fe Bland Foundation annual music contest in Santa Barbara for young and promising talent-- which has a family connection for me, as Leni is the wife of my late grandfather Lee Fe Bland. Tia will apply again next year and we wish her great success.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 11 Friday 7/17/09
Hayden Lake to Sandpoint, ID
47 Miles
482 trip miles
Met Mike Sheffield for lunch in HL Pretty easy grade to Sandpoint but HOT 95F +

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 10 Thursday 7/16/09

Day 10 Thursday 7/16/09
Spokane, WA to Hayden Lake, ID
47 Miles
435 total miles

After visiting with the Bradley's this morning I received a 4 person bicycle escort and tour of the South Hill section of Spokane, a meandering route through cool, shady, tree lined boulevards past hundreds of beautiful 1910-20 construction craftsman style, American 4-square and other assorted classic homes. We stopped in a couple of parks and visited the Japanese gardens before we said our goodbyes. I like Spokane! Spent just a little more time downtown where I enjoyed a sidewalk café across from Riverwalk Park, had some refreshments and was approached by Lance, who is paraplegic but very interested in doing a cross country seated cycle trip-- I encouraged him to start soon, meanwhile thinking to myself that it will require some effort, but when I looked at Lance's arms I am pretty sure he will have little difficulty, probably far less than I-- the man is built like a rock! It is interesting how I project my limited understanding onto others very reflexively, only to catch myself in the act. One more thing to work on. I plotted my journey out of town, and headed to the Centennial trail.

Centennial Trail was very enjoyable, following the river course, moderate grades and past swimming holes on the Spokane River, mostly protected from traffic and noise and passing through ponderosa pine shady spots which was greatly appreciated due to the afternoon heat-- the thermometer read 98 F upon my arrival at Prairie and 95 in Hayden Lake at 6:30 p.m. I was approached on the trail by a couple of people today-- Joe, who is a Cross-country bike veteran- having done Boston to San Francisco and who offered me a place to camp in Post Falls, and by Patricia who is living in her camper at the state line rest stop with her 14 year old dog Sassy. Patricia is working for the State of Idaho as a highway flagger and waiting for payday and the next job. Things are kind of tough for Patricia right now, as her kids help her with her mortgage on her home in Deer Park and she tries to keep her stuff together with her intermittent work. Hang in there, Patricia-- better days are coming soon!
If you are headed east through Idaho from Spokane-- there's really only one way to do it enjoyably and safely, and that's the Centennial Trail.

Arrived at the home of Jeff Meagher and Tawny Lackaye in Hayden Lake, upon referral and enjoyed a great (late!) night out-- first to Jeff's excellent restaurant, "The Porch Public House" The Sweet Sesame Spinach Salad and Moon Burger come highly recommended by this gourmand! We returned to their place for some more wine and conversation-- once more, I'm blown away by hospitality and generosity-- thanks guys!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 9 Wednesday 7/15/09

Day 9 Wednesday 7/15/09

Medicine Lake to Spokane, WA

31 Miles

388 total miles

Today was reconfigure day! My old ride, Trek 720 needed some serious help: wobbly wheels, problems with handlebars, brakes and headset were contributing factors to my physical discomfort and unease over safety concerns on the bike. Coming down from Washington pass had been a serious endeavor... so I went into Spokane with the intention of fixing/repairing the bike and after doing the tallies as to what it would require to pull that off (not to mention the time in getting the necessary work done) I opted for a new bike. I spent the day at Spokane REI with the very helpful Carol and Dan who took great care of me and also managed to assist with some of the fit problems for gear that inevitably ensue with changing stuff out.. My big feet needed to clear the rear panniers, and the new bike, a Novara Randonnee, has shorter chain stays than the old Trek, thereby making clearances quite close. We are all set to go, and I took the bike on its cross-town maiden voyage, climbing up the hill along "High Drive" where I experienced a wonderful sunset and learned of the local sunset worship culture as many people were parked along the conyon rim overlook to enjoy the last rays of the day. I arrived at dusk to the home of Chris and Julianne Bradley and their children Easton and Isabelle, in the South Hill neighborhood. Great folks and another relaxing evening with good conversation. Easton (8) has his mind set on accompanying me out of town (at least for part of the distance) and I am looking forward to riding the Centennial Trail from Spokane to Couer d'Alene (say "coredalane") and then onto the next stop at Hayden Lake, ID.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 8 Tuesday 7/14/09

Day 8 Tuesday 7/14/09

Gramd Coulee to Medicine Lake, WA

77 Miles

357 total miles

?? (many) calories (Heart Rate Monitor still not working!)

Today's ride was a long one-- the weather forecast had me worried that it would be a hot ride-- it turned out to be a perfect day for riding. I climbed up out of Grand Coulee-- at least 10-12 miles until I reached the rim of the plateau and looked straight , I mean straight, 10 miles down into Wilbur. After joining up with US Route 2 and lunch in Wilbur at the Rendezvous Cafe. I rode another 30 miles on to Davenport, then finally another 27 miles onto Medicine Lake. The shoulder on US 2 is wide and safe, and with the exception of some pave mt cracks was a bike superhighway-- The terrain changed significantly from rolling wheat fields, through high plains pine scattered sparse forests to a rolling range land. I witnessed 3 juvenile red tail hawks learning how to hunt, chasing prey in a field, each one rolling up in the air above the other two and then diving back down onto the hapless rabbit or groundhog or whatever it was they were chasing.

As I rolled into Medicine Lake, I was chased by a big dog at mile #72 and was able to gear down and outrun him, as fortunately I heard him before I got to him! I also watched deer, heron and osprey as I came into town.

I have made a new friend, Sandy Pfeiffer, who is a member in Medical Lake and works at Eastern State Washington hospital here-- she has been a fantastic host-- had a cold beer and a delicious meal prepared for my arrival... I can't thank her enough for her hospitality and wish her well with her upcoming tour plans. Tomorrow will be something of a recovery day-- a visit to REI, the One World Cafe and maybe some bike stores to reconsider my handlebars and stem configuration which need a bit of an adjustment.

Day 7 Monday 7/13/09

Day 7 Monday 7/13/09

Bridgeport to Gramd Coulee Dam, WA

42 Miles

280 total miles

?? calories (Heart Rate Monitor not working!)

Was glad to have waited the extra day to make the trek from Chief Joseph Dam to Grand Coulee Dam, as this morning was a steady cool sprinkle which turned into a steady cool drizzle and which by the end of the ride was a soaking rain. This was good, as much of the ride was uphill, climbing up out of the Columbia valley onto a high volcanic basalt plateau. There were several dead rattlers squashed on the roadside-- no live ones to be seen-- this is usually dry and hot country, but remarkably there are significant stands of dry farmed wheat cultivated here. As I descended back into the Columbia valley I rode under the snapping, popping, sizzling high tension lines coming out of the dam. So BIG! So much power coming out of these facilities! Decided to spend the night here in Grand Coulee and dry my gear out in a motel room. A good choice, as I learned the next day about the climb out of the Columbia valley that lay in store for me!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 6 Sunday 7/12/09

Pateros to Bridgeport, WA

26 Miles, lazy day!

238 total miles

1800 calories

Rode through orchards & migrant camps to Chief Joseph Dam

After a relaxing breakfast in Pateros, rode to Brewster and visited the nice people at the local hospital to check out my hand (it's fine!) and stopped by the hardware store for some superglue to close the skin up since they couldn't stich anything 3 days later. The valley here opens up as you cross the Columbia at Brewster and weave your way along to Bridgeport through some cherry orchards and tent settlements. The town of Bridgeport is now pretty much a migrant settlement area, with several tiendas and mexican cafe's lining the main streets. The campsite just 2 miles above the 25 penstock Chief Joseph Dam is a quiet refuge, with shady trees, boat docks, a swimming beach and a nearby public golf course if you like that sort of thing! All in all a low-key, lazy Sunday afternoon. The promised rains of Sunday night never came until the early hours on Monday. I awoke to the sounds of shotguns on Monday morning and all I can figure is that it's dove hunting season in Washington.

Day 5 Saturday 7/11/09

Day 5 Saturday 7/11/09
Happy Birthday Finn!
Winthrop to Pateros, WA down Methow River Valley
58 Miles
212 total miles
3100 calories
HOT- 95-100 F

Wended my way down the Methow River Valley from above Winthrop through the very touristic rustic mastic plastic village of Winthrop. It was full of leather clad bikers up from Seattle (the ones who thundered past me on the pass!) for the weekend and the typical restaurants, boutiques, galleries and t-shirt shops. Visited the grocery store and the post office on my out of town and took the local Wintrhop-Twisp road on the "other" side of the river. Very enjoyable scenery, nice view of the valley and easy riding without the traffic of WA Rt. 20. Made it to Twisp where I visited the local pharmacy, picked up some stuff for my hand and while standing in the shade on the sidewalk met a couple of very interesting people, the first being Steve Lee Love Life Fugate who is probably one of the longest walking men on the planet:
Steve's story is one of sadness and recovery as he has criss-crossed this great country of ours for almost 10 years and logged over 21,000 miles on foot. He is a modern man, carries a cell phone a laptop, keeps a blog and talks to people as he goes. He was interviewed by CPB's Hearing Voices program not long ago and inspires many in his journey of healing. He is originally from Vero Beach, FL where my Mom and Dad spend their winters and lost a son to suicide and later a daughter to a drug overdose. Through these incredible trials, he has sought meaning in life through spreading the message of loving life every day, and carries his message everywhere he walks and to anyone who will listen.

The other traveler I met was Andrew Aranyosi (that's "Goldsmith" in Hungarian, I think) from Steamboat Springs who was headed towards Washington pass on his bike after doing a northwrd sweep up through Yellowstone, Glacier and then west across Montana, Idaho and Washington. Keep riding Andrew!

Took a cool-down break in the chill river Methow in Carlton next to the bridge where the locals go to the swimmin' hole. Met a group of naturopathy students from Seattle who were doing field research in the Methow valley-- interesting group who understand the value of preserving the species we may all depend on for yet to be discovered cures someday as well as those tried-and-true. Talked to some drift boaters who told me about the cut-throat and rainbow stocks along this beautiful river. They are hitting stone flies and also small hook (#24) patterns right now. Mostly roll casting to pockets along the edges of this clean, fast flowing current.

Pushed through many fruit orchards (pear, cherry, apple) on the way down through Methow on the way to Pateros. Crossed many bridges, each more breathtaking and challenging than the one before. The road always narrows at bridges, and one has to keep an eye out for hazards, while at the same time wanting to look up and down stream! Such difficult choices! I passed the turn-off for Alta Lake State Park Campground 3 miles outside of Pateros, based on some advice I had recieved that I could camp in the municipal park at lake's edge in Pateros-- which I found out was a gravel pad next to the street for $25! So after a big meal, I put my sorry ass back on the bike for a steep 4 mile climb back up to Alta Lake, where I arrived absolutely exhausted at the park at 9:30. The sounds around me ( until way past curfew!) were those of the United Nations-- the families camping there were speaking Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Russian and the children were almost all speaking English to one another! Some big groups-- lots of laughter, souting, games being played and all kinds of carrying on. Were it not for my exhaustion and my earplugs I would not have gotten much rest, but I soon conked out and woke this Sunday morning at 7 to ride back down into Pateros to coffee, eat and connect at the highly recommended Sweet River Bakery. Today I expect to head in the direction of Grand Coulee. Not sure how far I will get, but the weather is overcast and much cooler than yesterday-- showers, maybe? I am looking forward to a good ride!

Day 4 Friday July 10, 2009

Day 4 Friday July 10, 2009
Granite Creek to Winthrop, WA
42 miles
153 Trip miles
4300 calories

Today was a big push-- after camping off the road on very rocky terrain, I got up and faced the climb ahead-- two mountain passes -- Rainy Pass at about 4800 feet and Washington Pass at about 5400 feet. It was climbing almost all the way to the top. I had to stop and take frequent breaks as the morning sun heated things up quite a bit. All the while passing through spectacular scenery-- high peaks all around me in the 8's and 9's with snowfilled cirques and glaciers. Quite breathtaking. I have also come to the conclusion that everyone is simply trying to get places too fast. And in such vehicles-- full rolling houses, towing SUV's, towing boats, jetskis, ATV's, ...anything with a V, it's on that highway. And the brain splitting concussion of a pack of Harley's passing by is enough to hemmorhage on the spot! I'm not sure that 2 gulf wars have taught us anything about carbon footprint. People are simply tearing through these parks on their way (presumably) to some place better. And throwing their trash out the window. Washington could definitely use a bottle law to reinforce what many of these people never learned in kindergarten. I could have filled 100 bags with what I saw. Such a shame to litter our national parks and forest so... And yet, the Forest and Park services are somewhat at fault... With all the cutbacks in budgets, trash receptacles are few and far between. Even in fee areas where you pay for the use privilege, it is sometimes hard to find them... So... After about 4 hours and 20 miles I busted onto the top of Washington pass--it was my plan to lunch there- but the mosquitoes also thought they might do the same. I hadn't experienced such voraciousness since my last visit to Maine! A quickly devoured lunch and I was on my way to the descent. 20 or so miles of downhill and then some run out found me in Mazama, where the quaintest of western barn board country stores offered the coldest drinks. It was a tiny village, but the store offered mostly natural and organic fare for , well, tourist prices. But who wasn't hungry and thirsty after 2 days in the park with no fresh provisions and willing to pay Hector's ransom for some good stuff? I met Bill and Linda there and we enjoyed some beers and sandwiches together.
Tonight we pulled into the Bicycle Barn,
hosted by the kindest folks, Jim and Jan Gregg, who have a very casual setup on their farmette halfway between Mazama and Winthrop. Had a great solar hot water shower, good meal, relaxing conversation and now some blogging time. All in all a great day.

Day 3 Thurday July 9, 2009

Day 3 Thurday July 9, 2009
Happy Birthday Richard (78) and Elaine (75)!!! Star-matched Lovers!
Newhalem to Granite Creek, WA
26 miles
111 Trip miles
3000 calories

Today was a bit challenging wit several hill climbs in succession as I wound my way up into the park. Climbed up past the Gorge powerhouse to the Gorge Lake overlook, then continued up the Skagit Drainage to the Diablo Dam and Diablo overlook. I met three other cycle tourists-- a couple from Langley, BC, Bill and Linda Pound, who are veteran tourists and doing a 2 week out and back loop from their home, and a 28 year old named Gary who is headed to Boston. I was very tempted to spend the night on the shores of Diablo Lake at Colonial Creek Campground where Bill and Linda were putting up for the night, but thought better of it, knowing that I had some good miles left in me. That decision also meant that I would need to push beyond the National Park boundary and find a makeshift campsite in the adjacent Okanogan National forest. I continued to ride, up successive climbs and descents, past the Ross Lake dam and overlooks-- some spectacular scenery, which will need to be uploaded at a later time when I can find a PC to use. Stopped by the roadside to take advantage of a refreshing ice-cold cascade pouring off the rocks. Had the 10 second timer all set to go on the camera for posterity's sake and ran over to the shower, slipped on the rocks and landed palm down on a sharp rock, putting a good puncture in my hand! The picture above is of me, either falling down or getting up (see the yellow shirt and the black ass?)! A little iodine and 2x2 bandage and we're back on the bike-- so much for the theatrics!

Day 2 Wednesday 7/8/09

Rasar State Park to Newhalem Campground - North Cascades National Park
41 Miles
85 Trip miles
2600 Calories

Slept like Rip Van Winkle--woke up to the sound of an air raid siren @ 5:30 a.m.-- not what you would expect for such a rustic setting. It went on for about 30 seconds, then shut off, only to resume again for about 10 seconds more, then shut off again. Cause for alarm? After the second burst I pondered what could it mean? We're on too high ground for a tsunami. Perhaps one of the dams upriver had burst? Not a fire-- it rained all night. Maybe an impending earthquake? Impossible to know these things in advance. I settled back down, covered my head and waited for the surging water to wash me away, drifted back to sleep-- besides what could one man on a bicycle near the valley bottom do to escape? I had a pretty good idea of where I was relative to "high ground" -- at least 2 miles, so resigned myself to my fate. I fell back to sleep, fitfully I must say, and re woke about 8 a.m. with a the certainty that I had just been tattooed with a giant Tony the tiger, "They're Great!" across my chest. I had fought with the tattooist for some time, knowing for sure that it wasn't the tattoo of choice. He kept telling me I would learn to like it, and besides, Kellogg's might sponsor me.... You figure it out!

Stopped at a local grocery store in Concrete where people kept asking me where I was coming from and where I was gong to. Mostly folks coming out of the store on their breaks to smoke and shoot the shinola. I met one guy who is the support driver for a group of 3 cyclists who will surely be passing me sometime today. They are riding light and plan on crossing the country in 30 days-- that will amount to a lot of 150 mile days and few breaks-- I wish them luck! He offered to carry my bags over the pass ahead, but I told him that would be cheating, now wouldn't it?

Stopped for lunch at Howard Miller Steelhead Park on the banks of the mighty Skagit. I am sure that my fisherman brother Tom would revel in this place. Deep, fast running water and ichthyous cousins treading water against the current. I had planned to call my sister Sudi who turned 50 today. Out of cell coverage and probably will be through the park until Winthrop. Happy birthday Sudi!!! Miss you.

Met another group of cyclists-- 3 people traveling light, with a support vehicle which drives ahead and sets up camp for them and stays behind in the morning to break camp after they leave. Overall they will be riding 70-80 milers a day through the mountains and 100 to 150 mile days on the plains. They hope to do the whole route to Bar Harbor in 30 days, which I think even with the support they have is pretty ambitious, but they are finely tuned and well-trained, goal oriented athletes, so who knows? Their blog is

Spent a wonderful evening in the forest in Newhalem campground surrounded by old growth trees: western red cedar, western hemlock, douglas fir, pacific dogwood, broad leaf maples, vine maples, dagger ferns, braken ferns and all kinds of mossy undergrowth and the occasional wildflower popping up under the somber canopy. I pretty much had the place to myself and tented on a soft, plush carpet of moss. Comfy, yes!

Day 1 Tuesday 7/7/09

Day 1 Tuesday 7/7/09
Anacortes to Rasar State Park, WA--
44 miles
3600 calories

Enjoyed the cool overcast day with perfect temp for riding... Started the day at 61 degrees and finished somewhere in the high 50's. Set up camp just before the rains came and went into "town" of Birdsview, which consisted of a small convenience store and the Birdsview Brewery where I sampled some of the brewmaster's finest: a Sweet Brown Molly- a malty dark beer with overtones of molasses (which he adds to each batch) and a wonderfully refreshing Ditsy Blonde Ale, which is flavored with 2# of lime peel per 6 barrel (33 gallons/barrel) batch. Met some nice folks in the brewery including a couple who keep a local winery-- she is from Ogden and works as a PT in nearby Burlington. A late and dusky return to the campsite leaves me with a feast of hotdogs mixed into Zatarain's dirty rice! Salty but satisfying. My campsite is nestled amongst the old cedars and other majestic old growth and I am not far from the mighty Skagit River, which flows emerald green through this lush valley. A peaceful place to rest these bones as the rain taps on the tent.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Underway! Standing at pier 1 at the port of's a heavy bike!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Anacortes, WA

Began this morning in beautiful Olympia, state capital of Washington where I attended the weekly meeting of the Olympia Friends congregation and made some new friends. Afterwards, I dorve northward to Anacortes where I checked into the world famous San Juan Motel for the evening, meet with niece Leilani and her friend Mike (photo) , then to get a little rest, get organized and do some work before setting out tomorrow. There are more things to get rid of, put into boxes and lighten the load. The snowcapped peaks of the Cascades taunted and beckoned me from the distance as I entered the Skagit River valley today. I will ascend from sea level to about 5,600 feet in the next couple of days and expect to work pretty hard to get there.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mount Rainier

... a driveby shooting...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Alright folks, after sufficient noodling around I have figured out how to post via mobile device!

Driving to the coast

Spent a nice evening with friends Chandler and Amy and their two cute, too-cute, kids Finn and Camilla. Met another new friend, Don, who is in the process of setting up a new international bacchelaureate school in Boise public schools through the Idaho public schools charter program. A very exciting and ambitious project that will bring a new and attainable IB program to Boise, whose only existing program is Riverstone, a private academy.

Drove as far as Yakima last night, through beautiful wine country at sunset. The contrast of green lushness in the Yakima valley with the desert hills behind is remarkable. It is cherry season here and the crop is bountiful.

Today I drive through the cascades, past Rainier, out to Aberdeen and Ocean Shores. See you on the beach!