Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category
The trip was a success! I completed over 4,263 miles from Yorktown, VA to Portland, OR and then down the coast to San Francisco, CA between May 26, 2009 and August 19, 2009 (86 days). I met many amazing people along the way, pedaled through 13 states, and saw a lot of spectacular scenery. I feel like I’ve now seen some of the United States, but there is still a lot remaining to explore.
The first few states were rather ‘familiar’ as far as scenery goes – I hadn’t been to Kentucky before, but western Kentucky was quite similar to Virginia with a lot of horse farms and open fields. Eastern Kentucky was a little more poverty-stricken and was cluttered with trash on the sides of the roads. The roads were in poor condition with potholes (we had to be very careful to pay attention and not hit one)! I picked up a staple from the road in eastern Kentucky and got my first flat tire. We only briefly saw Illinois (I think we spent 2 days biking through southern Illinois), but we met some really fun people, namely two motorcyclists who invited us to their home to camp outside, grill, and play in the lake. Also, we saw Superman in Metropolis, Illinois, which was off-route and not planned. As it happened, we had bike problems that day and had to hitch-hike 70 miles to a bike shop to get a new chain for George’s bike. Missouri was very humid and the Ozarks were filled with hills.
About 40 miles outside of Springfield, Missouri, my shifter cable broke and I wound up hitching a ride with to a bike shop. For the first time since we left on May 26th, I was in civilization again. Springfield was a large city (from what I could tell), and they had a Chipotle and Starbucks. That was exciting! We pedaled through Missouri in six days and then when we reached Kansas, we switched our sleeping and biking habits. Instead of riding during the day, we rode at night and slept indoors at fire stations, libraries, and churches during the day to avoid the 115-degree heat and humidity. It worked fairly well, except that I biked the entire state of Kansas carrying a viral infection, only to realize it when I entered Colorado.
Just 70 miles east of Pueblo, Colorado in the hamlet of Arlington, I found myself extremely sick and unable to continue pedaling. I stopped and told the guys I couldn’t go any further. This was my last opportunity to find someone who could help me – there were approximately three houses and a few shady trees. I stopped, rested, and when I wasn’t feeling any better, I walked to a house to see if anyone was home who could drive me to a doctor. A nice man, by the name of C.D. Anderson said he’d give me a ride to Ordway, CO (25 miles west). We rode there and the clinic said I needed to get to a hospital, but the next closest one was in Pueblo. He gave me a ride all the way to Pueblo, another 45 miles down the road. There, I admitted myself to the Emergency Room and spent the next five and a half hours receiving saline and anti-nausea medicine. I slept on and off until 6:30 that evening when I was released. Lucky to have distant relatives in the area, they came and picked me up and they took me to their home in Westcliffe, Colorado.
A few days later, thanks to the generosity of a complete stranger, Cindi from Westcliffe, I had a car to borrow and was on my way to visit a friend from college. Unfortunately, I got sick again and at this point was very frustrated, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me. This was the only point in my trip where I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to continue if the virus didn’t get out of my system. I slept and rested for another day or two and then went whitewater rafting (already had reservations made) and then drove to Estes Park to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains and take photos.
I finally got on my bike again almost two weeks after getting sick and was now solo pedaling to meet Chase, my new riding companion, who was a few days ahead of me now. Unexpectedly, I spent a few nights in Salida, Colorado when I met Mike. He showed me around town and then guided me up my first 14er, Mt. Elbert. It was an incredible experience to be on the highest mountain in Colorado and one of the highest in the lower 48 states! After a day of recuperation, I climbed 26 miles up and over the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet! There, at the top of the pass, Chase found me and I rode down the other side of the mountain and then hitched a ride back to Pitkin where he and his family had rented a cabin for a few days. We spent a couple days in Pitkin and Ohio City with Chase’s family before we hit the road again on July 14th.
The adventures really picked up once Chase and I met and started riding together – we found ourselves first taking a short-cut from Telluride, CO to Moab, UT in two days and meeting a really nice woman by the name of Lauren. As it turns out, she invited us to have dinner with her (grilled steak and peppers along with pickled asparagus) and sleep in her camper van just outside of Paradox, CO. Then we met Wayne, who gave us a lift from La Sal Junction to Moab and then into Arches National Park, where we toured the park in the afternoon together. It was a great time and nice since Wayne hadn’t had an opportunity to see the park before! After Moab, we rode down to Monticello (I had to pick up mail) and then onward to Hite, UT (Lake Powell). This was one of the worst days (from Blanding to Hite) as the heat was cranked up and the 88-mile stretch without services was brutal. We each carried 1.5 gallons of water and pedaled all day to get to Hite campground.
What would have been a long journey across the deserts of Utah and Nevada turned into a spontaneous adventure where we found ourselves 700 miles north getting dropped off in Yellowstone National Park. We caught a ride with Jack and his 7-year old who were on their family vacation. We were like family for 3 days and it was amazing. We had such a great time! Once we parted from Jack and David, we left to go to West Yellowstone where we ran into five cyclists that Chase last saw and rode with in Missouri! Who knew we’d end up back on the Transamerican Route in Montana weeks later and run into them!
A few more mile of pedaling as we rode through Montana to Missoula where I bumped into my best friend’s ex-husband in a bike shop, saw my last chiropractor of the trip (6th one), got my second (and last) flat tire, and did my last long uphill climb (before reaching the coast) of 46 miles over Lolo Pass into Idaho! Just into Idaho, we met a great family from Frederick, Maryland who invited us to eat dinner and camp with them. Thanks again to nice people, we camped with a couple from British Columbia at a campground in Washington, camped on someone’s front porch in Walla Walla, Washington, and found ourselves chased out of a campground after we spotted three large snakes within five minutes. Needless to say, we camped on the side of the road that night only six miles from the campground, as we were exhausted from riding 106 miles in the blazing heat with headwinds!
Finally into Oregon, we were excited to reach Portland. However, it wasn’t over yet! We hit horrible headwinds in Columbia River Gorge (apparently the windsurfing capital of the world), yet no one gave us a heads up about this! We battled the headwinds for about 100 miles or so (on and off with the intensity), but once we were within 150 miles of Portland, the winds picked up even more! Chase wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I. We agreed to hitch a ride the last 90 miles into Portland so we wouldn’t pedal away for two more days to get there. Instead, we wanted to enjoy seeing Portland before having to continue down the coast (or in Chase’s case, before he had to fly home).
On August 9th, we reached the Pacific Coast at Cannon Beach, Oregon. I had 3,570 miles at this point. Our last evening of the ride (coast to coast), we camped in a city park as all the campgrounds were full and the motels/hotels were all booked. To make our story more fun, we camped illegally (in a city park, as there was nowhere else to go) and the next morning the police came at 5:55am asking us to leave.
The last leg of the trip, I rode solo down the coast from Nescowin, OR to San Francisco, CA. I met a lot of really nice people along the way and rode with several groups of riders as well. I met four motorcyclists from Victoria, British Columbia in Bandon, OR and then we reunited again in Brookings, OR the next day, 100 miles later. It was fun to see the same faces again on several occasions and we really had a great time exchanging stories and hanging out at the campsites together.
At last, I reached San Francisco on August 19th at six o’clock in the evening after riding my final 72 miles. From August 19th until August 25th, I spent the time in San Francisco sampling some of the most delicious ethnic food while hanging out with one of my best friends — Iman, who flew from the east coast to meet me! On August 25th, we departed on a train back across the country. Again we met many interesting people, including Thane and Brenda of Sioux Falls and the friendly Amtrak staff. My arrival into DC was mixed – the trip was officially over and I would have to re-acclimate to life back home and return to my full-time desk job.
Wednesday, August 5th – 14 mi. east of Roosevelt (mile marker 148), WA to Portland, OR
We woke up at 5:30am when the sun was beginning to rise and it was getting light out – we were starving but thought we could make it to Roosevelt to the store and get something to eat there. Turns out just a few miles down the road and we had to stop because I was starving and had no energy – we hadn’t had real dinner last night and had done 106 miles practically when we went to sleep, so I was pretty hungry. We stopped on the side of the road and got out the bagels and peanut butter and endulged for a few minutes and tried to re-energize ourselves. On the road again and finally about 1 hour and 53 minutes later, I had reached Roosevelt (only 14 miles from our campsite on the side of the road). It took forever because the wind was howling and so strong – it was frustrating to say the least.
Once in Roosevelt, I waited up for Chase and watched some guys working on manuevering containers to take off tractor trailers and put them on train cars to be hauled somewhere. It was kind of neat watching how they did it and they were really efficient and fast. It took around 2 minutes and 30 seconds for them to unload/load a train car with two containers (double-decker style).
We met up with three other cyclists, Katie, Adam, and Scott, whom we’d met in Missoula at the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA). They were from North Carolina and were doing the full transamerican ride to Astoria. They’d had a rough morning, getting 5 flats from thorns as they were leaving the campground. They’d also had a cell phone and ipod stolen from the bathroom (they were plugged up and charging), and they were running out of cash and none of the places had working ATMs or would accept Credit or Debit cards… so they were having a rough time and just hoping they’d make it to Portland okay.
They went on ahead of us and we left about 30 minutes later after grabbing a bite to eat – mind you, a very-overpriced bite to eat. This was one of the only places for miles where you could buy anything – milk, gatorade, etc. I bought a quart of chocolate milk (Darigold!!!), a 32 oz. gatorade, and 2 apple danishes for $7.50. Plus I was having to be careful of my cash supply since we knew we may have more places that were cash-only.
Back on the road, Chase was lagging by a good bit and started a little while after me – I just wanted to push through the winds and get to Portland … the winds were excruitiating and not at all pleasant. We were blown left and right and had the headwinds coming right at us… strong, for hours, the entire day! It didn’t seem to let up at all. Finally, I stopped to eat a danish and wait for Chase and he and I had been thinking the same thing – why waste 3 good days trying to pedal our butts off into the late evening/night to try and make up for miles we can’t do as easily or as fast because of the wind. Why not, just hitch-hike and get to Portland so we can see the city before we don’t have any time and it’s time for him to fly home and me to continue my journey along the coast. So we decided we’d try to hitch and we were tired of the wind. It wasn’t like we had to prove anything to anyone that we can bike X number of miles, because we’ve already proven ourselves by getting as far as we did and we could keep going just as easily, but we weren’t willing to waste our precious time. We wanted to see Portland more than to spend ourlast three days biking in the wind of the Columbia River Gorge!
I flagged a pickup truck down at mile marker 123 or so and he gave us a lift about 17 miles up the road and dropped us off at the top of a big hill. From there, we had an additional 9 miles to Biggs where there was an intersection and bridge across the river to the Oregon side. We knew there’d have to be someplace to eat and gas stations there and we’d most likely find another ride from there. We got there and Chase was looking more and more frustrated and pooped from the winds. He was almost as sad looking as the day we hitched from southern Utah (Lake Powell) up to Yellowstone. So we got some food at the gas station and then I asked a guy who had an empty truck bed if he was going to Portland – he was going through and said he’d give us a ride, so we loaded up the truck with our bikes and then rode all the way to Portland just about – he dropped us off in a suburb, Troutdale, and we rode from there to 122nd Avenue where Josh met up with us and showed us the way back to his place.
We got in about 6pm to Josh and Alina’s and then cleaned up, did laundry, and had a yummy dinner that Alina made. She made paella with shrimp and it was pretty yummy:) We then just hung around and then conked out pretty early.
05:41 moving time
78.5 max speed
23.5 avg speed
05:31:32 moving time
9.2 avg speed
31.0 max speed
Tues, August 4th – Walla Walla, WA to 14 mi. east of Roosevelt (mile marker 148), WA
We woke up early, at 4:30am and rolled out about 5:30 from Michael’s house to run to Walmart and buy a few things - snacks and gatorade and the sort. We left there about 6:30 and headed towards Oregon along the Columbia River. Just as we were leaving College Station (next to Walla Walla), another cyclist (older man on a road bike) passed us and then Chase was going pokey, so I made it my goal to catch the other cyclist ahead and try and pace myself behind him. I was cruising – the pavement was awesome (super smooth and all), and I was doing around 17-23mph or so. Just a short bit later and I caught up to the other cyclist ahead and paced with him for a short while and then slowed up to see if chase would catch up. But then I just waited for him in the next little town.
We kept on after a quick break to refuel and a pit stop and about 10 miles or so until we he started going south along the Columbia River and hit lots of wind. The wind was fierce – I just laughed because it was ridiculous how strong it was. I was being blown all over the shoulder and going about 5mph and thought, this is insane and ridiculous. We’re not going to make any decent progress at this rate. Luckily, after about an hour or so, the wind died down a bit and we were able to ride a little faster. We passed another cyclist going eastbound – Walter, from North Carolina (but originally from Holland).
Our last 20 or so miles before lunch and we were cruising pretty well – excited to be making progress better than earlier in the morning with the wind and we were ready for lunch! Plus, we saw signs that read “Portland 215″ so we liked seeing that and we were getting excited that in a couple of days we’d be in Portland.
We had lunch at Umatilla – where we’d cross the river into Washington to ride for the remainder of the trip into Portland. We just grabbed some food from Subway and then we filled up water bottles and were on our way. We ran into a group of women cyclists that warned us that there was nothing for 50 or so miles, so we made sure all of our water bottles were full and topped off! Just as we were turning onto Route 14 to head west towards Portland, we saw a sign that said “83 miles, no services” – so it felt like Utah or Kansas where there were such long distances of nothing. From Umatilla to Biggs, there was nothing really – just 1 little store in Paterson that did some sandwiches and had a few things you could buy like chips, drinks, and other snacks. Then in Roosevelt, another 40 miles or so from Paterson, there was a little store near the campground. Overpriced of course, but they had a few things, but no hot meals.
We had stopped at the store in Paterson to get a bite to eat and rest for a while. It was pretty hot out so we were loving the AC inside We rolled back out around 4:30pm and rode until about 6:30pm and had just passed Crow Butte Park when we were both losing energy. We had done 92 miles at this point and the heat wasn’t helping, the wind had picked up, and we were exhausted. Decidely, we thought it’d be good to turn around and backtrack 8 miles (4 back and then 4 to get back to where we were when the wind/exhaustion hit us) to Crow Butte Park to nap on the grass for a bit. We were hoping to continue riding into the night some and get some more miles done, something like 120 or so. We got to the park and both fell asleep on park benches within just a couple minutes. I conked out for about 20 minutes and then woke up and decided to roll my sleeping mat out on the ground and rest there. Chase did the same and then about 8:30 the sprinklers popped up so we got up really fast and put everything away and thought we’d go over to the campground area and see if any sites were available. On our way there, we saw 2 long snakes in the grass (like the grass where we’d been resting/sleeping), and then decided we didn’t want to go to the campground knowing there must be plenty more snakes and we weren’t looking forward to seeing any more. So we rolled back to the bathroom area to fill up on water bottles, change back into our biking clothes, and then continue biking up the road to see if we could make it to Roosevelt in decent time. At to our luck, there was another snake waiting for us outside of the bathroom – slitthering alongside the wall next to the men’s bathroom. That was it – we didn’t want to see anymore snakes…3 snakes in the span of 5 minutes was enough.
Off we went by bike again, leaving Crow Butte Park around 9:30pm and biking ever so slowly (wind and exhausted still) west on Route 14. We made it only 10 miles from Crow Butte Park before we were extremely exhausted and decided to look for the next best place to camp safely on the side of the road. We found a spot at mile marker 148 where there was some gravel on a slope, so we pulled in there and set up a tent and crawled in and conked out about 11:30pm. We’d hoped to have gotten up after a few hours of sleep, but we were so exhausted that we slept until 5:30am when the sun was starting to rise.
09:06 moving time
11.3 avg speed
33.0 max speed
09:07:26 moving time
11.6 avg speed
34.0 max speed
Snake count: 3 live snakes
Posted by Kiki | Washington | Posted on August 3rd, 2009
Monday, August 3rd – Chief Timothy Campground, WA to Walla Walla, WA
We woke up fairly early, 6:30am and then I started to pack everything away. I even had breakfast before Chase appeared from his tent (that slow poke!)…hehe. Anyway, once he was up, he started working on repairing his tube since his tire wasn’t holding air and he had a flat yesterday. He managed to find the whole and patch it up and then Patrick and Theresa came out of their RV and offered us pancakes for breakfast, so we couldn’t turn that down! Even Morris (the cat) had pancakes for breakfast, although he didn’t really eat them, instead just stared and pawwed at them a little.
Shortly before 8am, we got a warning from the ranger that the sprinkler system would turn on at 9am. However, just as we were finishing breakfast and putting things away, the sprinkler system pops up and starts spraying everywhere. It got Chase’s tent (since had woke up and went straight to repairing his tube, he hadn’t yet packed up his tent and the rest of his gear). We all frantically tried to rescue his tent and stuff and move it away from the sprinklers onto the road through the campground to keep it dry. His tent got a bit wet, but it wasn’t horribly wet.
We rolled out of the campground around 9:30am after packing up and climbed a hill that was completely unexpected – approxiately 1,500-2,000 feet of gain and about 7-8 miles in length. At the top, we ran into another cyclist, Michael, who’s riding from Portland to New York and then down to DC as part of a climate/environment awareness event. We continued on down to the next town, about 9 miles down the other side. We stopped there for free chocolate milk at a gas station and got a bite to eat there (chicken strips, tater tots, and a 20 oz. drink for $2.49). Off we went after lunch back into the strong headwinds and we made it another 10-12 miles or so and stopped at an intersection (Dodge) where there were public bathrooms (pit toilets on the side of the road). Just as we were about to roll out and bike again (we still had 55 miles to go until Walla walla), an older man and his young grandson pulled in and asked us where we were going. We told them Walla Walla and he offered to give us a lift as he saw how windy it was and how hot it was outside. So we figured, why not – I wasn’t feeling very confident that the horrible winds were going to let us get to Walla Walla at a decent hour – if we hadn’t taken the ride, I think it would have been 10-11pm before we got to Walla Walla. So we took the ride and it turns out we would have had a really nice and long climb which wouldn’t have been fun!
We were dropped off in Walla Walla and a few minutes later a man pulls up and asks us if we need directions. We didn’t, but he offered some advice on a place to crash for the night – he told us to contact his friend Michael Austin from one of the bike shops in town. So we went on down there and met Michael and he was really cool and said we could camp in his backyard at his house. So when 6pm rolled around and the shop closed, we followed Michael to his house and showered and cleaned up and then walked to the Iceburg for a bite to eat. We had cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes (raspberry for me, vanilla for Chase). Tasty place. Afterwards, I worked on updating my site a bit and then we called it a night around 12am or so and set the alarm for 4am.
Originally, we had planned to just roll our sleeping pads/bags out on the grass since it was so nice and soft, but then we spotted several large slugs and decided we didn’t feel like sleeping with them. So we slept on the front porch and sometime during the night I woke up to something crawling over me – I thought it was the dog, but when I woke up the next morning, I saw the dog was sleeping inside and had no way of getting outside (no dog door). So who knows what crawled over me in the night. I only know it was 4-legged and similar to a dog… raccoon? cat?
04:41 moving time
17.1 avg speed
64.5 max speed
03:36:01 moving time
10.1 avg speed
29.0 max speed
Sunday, August 2nd – Kooskia, ID to Chief Timothy Campground, WA (10 miles into Washington State)
It was a good thing we didn’t camp on the grass at the city park last night since I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of sprinklers going off everywhere in the park. They must have been all hidden in the grass and automatically come up at a certain time. It was amusing nonetheless, because the cop had driven by earlier in the evening and didn’t stop to talk to us, so maybe he thought we’d learn we weren’t supposed to camp there once we got soaked by sprinklers. Who knows? Either way, we didn’t get in trouble for overnighting in the city park and we were told the cop was cool (by the cashier at the grocery store), so we weren’t worried.
The alarm didn’t go off on my GPS this morning because the batteries were too low, so that was annoying. We woke up an hour later, at 6:30 instead of 5:30 and packed up and rolled out of town at 7:45 this morning. We were aiming to do 100+ miles and head past Lewiston and into the state of Washington.
We breaked at a small town up the road (7 miles) and grabbed a donut and lemonade for fuel, then we continued to Orofino where we bought meat and cheese to put on bagels. There Joe (one of the guys from a couple days ago) caught up to us, but Geordie wasn’t with him. They had split this morning as Joe wanted to finish sooner and he knew we were taking a short-cut across Idaho and Washington to get to Oregon faster. Geordie was going to continue on the transamerican route and finish in Astoria, Oregon. So Joe rode with us the rest of the day to Lewiston and I went ahead for the last 10 miles or so leading into Lewiston. Turns out Chase wound up with a front flat tire a few miles outside of town and he tried fixing it, but didn’t have any great luck. His tire seems to have a slow leak and the second tube he put in also didn’t seem to work too well, and he has yet another flat.
In Lewiston, we refill on water and then about 2 hours after I got in, we depart to continue riding a little further down the road to see how far we get. Not even 7 miles outside of Clarkston, Washington (we crossed into Washington between Lewiston and Clarkston when we crossed the Snake River), did Chase wind up with another slow leak on his front tire. He pumped it a few times and continued riding – it made it far enough to get us another 4 miles or so down the road to a campground next to the river. We pulled in there and debated whether or not we wanted to pay the ridiculous $22 campsite fee for tents. We decided to ride through first and check out the campsite and see if any were available. As we rode in, we met a couple (Patrick and Theresa Peters ) walking their cat (yes, a cat) and so we stopped to chat.
Their cat is awesome and is on a harness with leash as they’re on a 10-week vacation around the States. They’re from Vancouver in British Columbia and they offered to let us camp on their campsite and so we rolled on over there and set up while they went for a cat walk around the campground. Patrick and Theresa got us cold drinks and some watermelon and cantelope which was amazing. We sat around chatting for a bit and then I went off to shower. By the time I got back, they had already gone to bed, but had told Chase we could use their propane stove if we needed/wanted to cook anything. So I got out my chicken and broccoli rice which I’ve been carrying since Kentucky probably and decided to make that. Now I’m completely exhausted and going to hit the sack – we covered another 87 miles today, so not too shabby. Unfortunately, tomorrow will start out with Chase trying to track down the leak in his tube/tire since his front tire is completely flat again.