Friday, October 30, 2009

Day Two Hundred Forty-two, 091028 - Tillamook, OR

Day Two Hundred Forty-two, Date Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Time in Saddle: 7:08
Distance for the Day: 66.22 miles From Astoria To Tillamook, OR
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,918 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 282’/60’, Highest: 605’ Accumulated: 2864’
Speeds: Avg: 9.2 mph, Max: 36.9 mph
Weather: 42° thin, solid overcast
Expenditures: $41

Woke up at 6:41am got up at 6:45am; shaved – I try to shave every few days; a truck did roll by – it must have gotten through the locked gate, but he didn’t mind my being here; did hear some kind of far off explosion in the wee hours, but don’t know what that was; there was a sign that said “Live fire in progress when flagged,” so I wondered if the explosion had anything to do with that, but I doubted it; saw the red glow of sunrise, but that’s now gone, and it’s just a cool, moist, gray day; 7:57am and ready to roll off this mountain I climbed; 8:44am stopped at mini mart for hot cocoa and muffin; spent $25 and continuing south along the Oregon coastline; stopped in Seaside at 11am for a few additional food and drink supplies ($4) and continued on; stopped in Cannon Beach to look for Joby tripod at Radio Shack (no luck), but did buy a new Velcro strap for my water bottle holder at the hardware store next door. I keep losing the straps for that thing – hopefully, this one will stay with me until the end. Further south, I stopped in Manzanita for more food items ($4). I came coasting down a long grade, and the windchill in combination with the lack of pedaling got me a little hypothermic. I stopped to wolf down the 2nd half of my Subway sandwich, quick (I wanted to make the next big town, Tillamook, before dark), and pounded on.

Went to a pizza parlor ($8), plugged in, and found a wi-fi signal from the nearby Radio Shack; answered email, checked weather, checked my route, and blogged; stayed from 6:15pm to 9pm closing; got to talking with the pizza place owners, they suggested an abandoned former Safeway building, I found a spot behind it up the loading dock to be high and dry, somewhat, and set up my tent up there at about 9:30-10pm (N45 27.763’ W123 50.558’); inside with twisty chips, soda, and new book, which I read until 11pm and then went to sleep; it wasn’t raining, but it was lightly drizzly; it might have lightly rained during the night but not bad.

Day Two Hundred Forty-one, 091027 - Astoria, OR

Day Two Hundred Forty-one, Date Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Time in Saddle: 4:25
Distance for the Day: 42.13 miles From South Bend, WA To Astoria, OR
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,852 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending –52’/282’, Highest: 326’ Accumulated: 1781’
Speeds: Avg: 9.5 mph, Max: 33.9 mph
Weather: 42° partly cloudy with a few bouts of light rain, warming to the mid 50s
Expenditures: $27

I woke up several times through the night, as every now and then a rain squall would hit my tent with the noise of spattering drops and a gust front pushing my tent around. I really woke up at 6:15am, and waited until 7:15am to get up, and secure my gear. I lucked-out – there was a hole in the weather, and it was currently clear overhead, but I was pretty much surrounded by large, rainy looking clouds. The wind made the breakdown a challenge, again, but this time I was better prepared for it, and used my four water/Gatorade bottles to help keep things from running off. I was ready to roll at 8:03am, and plowed forward, with a quartering tailwind to help me along the way. I got rained on lightly a few times, but not too bad.

I crossed the Columbia River on the Astoria Bridge, and thereby passed into Oregon, at 12:57pm. (By the way: that picture ["Looking back north..."], below, is a rare shot. No pedestrians are allowed on that bridge, but since the right-hand lane was closed due to construction work going on, and no traffic was using that segment of the roadway, anyway, I stopped long enough to snap a few shots before getting admonished by a construction worker for converting from 'cyclist' to 'pedestrian.') I arrived in Astoria at the other end of the bridge at 1:15pm, and went into town to look for a Joby tripod (no luck). I then stopped in at Subway for a meal deal + 3 cookies ($14), and while eating, I charged my notebook and camera batteries, downloaded pictures off the camera’s SD card, and also downloaded the voice files from the new digital recorder. I left Subway at 3pm, asked a local where the library was, and on my way found what turned out to be a great bookstore, Lucy’s Books. I went in and asked if they bought used paperbacks – they didn’t, so I just gave them my Stephen King “The Green Mile,” since I was done with it, and couldn’t carry it with me. I then found a Dan Brown paperback thriller “Digital Fortress,” and brought it to the counter to purchase it. The gal said, ‘even Stephen,” and just traded it straight across for the King novel I gave them. Cool. They also had free wi-fi, and sold cookies, hot cocoa, and homemade chili, so instead of going to the library, I parked myself there from 4pm until they closed at 8pm to transcribe my recorder notes. I got hot cocoa, cookies, a soda, and chili ($13).

When I left at closing, I got to talking with a local guy and told him I was going to go looking for stealth camping, and he came up with a suggestion: there was a park at the top of the hill up 16th street, just past the Astoria Tower at the top. I thanked him (I should have strangled him!) and went to find this site. That may have been the longest, steepest grade I’d done for the entire trip, including the roads up to my Auntie Elsie’s in Los Angeles, which were also very steep, but not as high. I must have climbed at least 200 feet in less than a half-mile. I had to stop several times to rest, and it got me sweating despite the cold of the night. I did find the park, however, and bypassed the closed gate to enter. I didn’t find any covered picnic tables, but I did find a gravel spot off the road that overlooked a suburb of Astoria around Youngs River (N46 10.721’ W123 49.157’). In the moonlight filtered by a high, thin overcast, it was very pretty, so I set up there. I was inside, reading my new book, munching, and drinking Gatorade by 9:30pm, and went to sleep at 10:30pm. There was a street down below, but it was far enough away, I didn’t worry about anyone seeing my reading light. All in all, the guy who suggested this site did steer me in the right direction, but he should have pointed straight up!

Day Two Hundred Forty, 091026 - So. Bend, WA

Day Two Hundred Forty, Date Monday, October 26, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:27
Distance for the Day: 46.01 miles From Hoquiam To South Bend, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,810 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3’/-52’ make correction, Highest: 478’ Accumulated: 2388’
Speeds: Avg: 8.4 mph, Max: 34.0 mph
Weather: 48° rainy, off and on, becoming mostly cloudy in the afternoon
Expenditures: $21

The morning, I woke up at 3:30am. Since night is falling earlier these days, trying to sleep an hour after it gets dark (around 7:30pm) is too early. After 8 hours of sleep, I’d wake up in the wee hours fully rested, but would then have to try to continue sleeping until just before daylight (about 7:00am). Trying to sleep when you are no longer sleepy is uncomfortable, and not very productive. So, from now on, I’ll stay up until at least 9pm before starting a sleep cycle.

Keeping my promise to be gone before sunrise, I got up at 6:15am and began the breakdown process. A periodic, light rain did start during the night, but it was the occasional gusts of wind that made breaking down a challenge. At one point, I had to go running after my tent as it went tent tumbling across the small parking lot. I finished by 7:06am, and left shortly thereafter. I went to a mini mart still in Aberdeen for a breakfast of hot cocoa, cherry cheese Danish, and blueberry muffin, plus I stocked up on more Gatorade ($8). It was a gray, lightly rainy morning, and I just stoically plugged away as best I could, wanting to just get miles behind me. The terrain was somewhat mountainous, and I’m sure pretty enough under nicer conditions, but the rain and fog kind of ruined it for me. I’m sure I would have liked it a lot more had I been viewing it from the comfort of a car, but when you’re wet, cold, and uncomfortable, it’s a little harder to appreciate. I stopped in the town of Raymond for 2.5 hours to dry my sleeping bag ($3 for dryer + a soda). My ‘black banana’ pannier, where I store my sleeping bag, tends to collect a puddle of water whenever I go through any significant rain, and my sleeping bag soaks it right up. I was also somewhat hypothermic, so I waited for a few other customers left, before opening the dryers they’d just finished using, to stick my upper body into them, and gather as many residual BTUs as I could get (sometimes, I admit: I’m just pitiful). I also held my hands against the dryer window I was using. I was thinking of getting inside one and activating it – not *too* seriously. While eating the other half of my Subway sandwich for lunch, waiting for my stuff to dry, I met and talked with ‘Al,’ who was also there doing laundry. He was a recently retired oyster collector, and was touring around a bit in his camper. At the end of our conversation, which included a mention of my not-really-waterproof waterproof gloves (I was trying to dry them, too – not very successfully, I might add), he went outside and brought me a nice, new spare pair of Thinsulate gloves he had in his truck. Wow – that was nice, and they even fit my finger lengths, which is very rare! I thanked him profusely, and then took off to find the local Radio Shack (still looking for the SD-to-USB converter and Joby tripod). Still no luck with the tripod, but they did have the converter, so I got that ($14), and I stopped at the grocery store to get a roll of trash bags ($4), to try to keep my sleeping bag drier, and to make a (hopefully) more watertight, makeshift poncho. I continued on from Raymond at 3:40pm. A few hours later, as the daylight began to fade (around 5:30pm), I saw a short, semi-steep gravel driveway that went up off the highway with a real estate ‘for sale’ sign by it. At first I passed it by, but then swung around and rolled up it to check it out. There was a single, abandoned building sitting in a huge open gravel lot with trees all around. It was a little close to the road, but fairly well protected, so I picked a high, level spot in the gravel and set my tent up there by 6:04pm. The sky was partly cloudy, and I could see the slightly gibbous Moon in the still-blue sky. Just after I hopped in, I heard the crunch of gravel as a truck drove up, so I went to talk with them. Turns out they were hunters, looking for deer to hunt. Not seeing anything, they left. There was a big, fat cloud heading my way, so I got back inside quickly, and one minute later, short rain squall hit, with a wind strong enough to push my tent around, a bit. I was close to finishing Stephen King’s novel, “The Green Mile,” which I’d just seen at Dennis and Paula’s in Sequim (they had the DVD), and at 7:15pm, just as I was getting to the end of the book, the rain came down hard, and the wind really pushed my tent around, adding an interesting bit of real-time drama to the finish. Afterward, I listened to music on my iPod before hitting the hay at 9pm.
Something incredible happened before I went to sleep. I was listening to the dramatic and beautiful Enya song, “The River Sings,” and thought it’d be cool to pop my head out to look at the Moon. I was delighted to see it was in fairly close conjunction with Jupiter – that, alone, was cool. But then, as I was raptly viewing this celestial event, I saw the silhouette of a large owl, its wings spread wide, silent as the night, fly right across the Moon, directly toward, and then right over me, in *perfect* alignment. Enya, Moon, Jupiter, Owl. It was one of those shining moments that occur but a few times during a person’s life, and I will never forget it for as long as I live.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-nine, 091025 - Hoquiam, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-nine, Date Sunday, October 25, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:56
Distance for the Day: 62.27 miles From Queets To Hoquiam, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,764 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 10’/3’ correct this, Highest: 540’ Accumulated: 1503’
Speeds: Avg: 9.4 mph, Max: 28.5 mph
Weather: 42° overcast, light wind out of south
Expenditures: $10

I woke up at 6am and got up at 6:20am. It was still dark, but I couldn’t see any stars, so knew it must be pretty solidly overcast. I broke down and packed away my gear by 7:02am, and could begin to see that the sky; it was overcast. I took off and went to the mini mart I went to the previous evening, but they wouldn’t open for another 20 minutes, and I didn’t feel the need to wait, so I left and continued south down Hwy 101. I stopped at 8:30am for a quicky breakfast of meat stick, PayDay candy bar, and a Nature Valley breakfast bar. At 9am, it started to rain a bit, so I put on all my rain gear (jacket, pants, poncho), but then went a few hundred yards, and of course, the rain stopped. I took off my poncho, and kept going. The shoulder on Hwy 101 thus far was variable: sometimes barely wide enough at 2 or 3 feet, down to a nearly non-existant 6”. Sometimes it had this relatively new looking covering of a black, medium-grade gravel that I’m sure is great for car tire traction, but was slightly too rough for my trike; it made my teeth and trike vibrate, and these stretches of road came in miles-long stretches – it was pretty uncomfortable, but still better than a sharp stick in the eye, no shoulder at all, or a shoulder ruined by a buzz strip. Every now and then, they did get the shoulders very right, with a 6’ wide shoulder and 4’ of clean, smooth pavement, free of the black gravel texture.

Spare notes: One of these days, I’m going to have to re-set my tires so the beads aren’t pinched. It’s a minor problem, but when I go fast, the front-right and rear tires go “bump-bump-bump,” and it’s mildly annoying. Also, nowadays, my right leg seems to be more problematic than my left. It’s muscles and knee joint are prone to becoming somewhat painful when I go up long hills. I can fix it for a while by doing the leg extension stretch, and resting it a minute or two – it’s not debilitating, but noticeable.

I continued on, and made Holquin at 3:51pm. There wasn’t much there, so I continued on over the Holquin River bridge into Aberdeen – that gave a bit of trouble. There was no walkway on the bridge, so I had to take one of the two available lanes to cross. This was going fine – traffic would come up to me, and they patiently (I think) went around me. Part way up the incline, I came to what looked like it might be a walkway to get across the rest of the bridge, though in thinking back (Clue #1), it seemed odd that it should only start at that point on the bridge (not much use to pedestrians, if they had to walk up the roadway to get to it). Nevertheless, I tried taking it, and (Clue #2) had trouble getting my trike onto it as the entry to it was a little too narrow, but managed it anyway. I rode it for a short while, to where the bridge started going downhill, and discovered that it ended without making it all the way across (Demitol). So, I had to pick the front end of the trike up and swing it to face back, went back to the narrow gap, got through it, and waited for traffic to clear so I could get back into the lane, again. What a waste of time – I hate it when that happens. I finally made it across into Aberdeen at 4:15pm, and found a Radio Shack to see if I could get the SD card reader and Joby tripod, but they didn’t have either item. I got to talking with the guys there, and they checked the weather for me (it was going to be rainy for the next several days – ugh!) I backtracked through town to a Subway, and got a meal deal and cookies ($10). I talked with a couple of young people there about my trike and trip, and then went out to a church right on Hwy 101 to see if I could overnight on their back walkway. It wasn’t raining, yet, but I thought it would later, so I wanted to try to be under an eave, or something. I found some people there, and got their permission to set up my tent (N46 58.490’ W123 51.652’). It wasn’t a great site, as the main street on the front side of the building had a lot of traffic, and the noise would reflect off the surrounding buildings directly into my tent. That’s the way it goes, sometimes. I wouldn’t get a great night’s sleep, but I can get by on very little. I set up my tent on a walkway under the building’s eave, as planned. I got in with my book, trailmix, and strawberry soda at 6:23pm, and planned to get up at 6:15am like I did this morning, to get out of there and be on the road just as the light of day started to get sufficiently bright. About an hour after I got settled in, a bright set of car headlights lit up my tent, and a guy said, “Is anyone in the tent?” Turns out, it was one of the church’s board members, who didn’t know I’d gotten permission, and was just checking me out. I described the guy who gave me permission, and he called the actual church’s pastor to get more official permission, and after that, it was cool. As expected, despite the use of earplugs, the reflected traffic noise would wake me up every now and then, plus, it did start to rain, and unfortunately, the wind blew it in under the eaves, so being under them was no help. Hmph!

Day Two Hundred Thirty-eight, 091024 - Queets, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-eight, Date Saturday, October 24, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:12
Distance for the Day: 51.67 miles From Beaver To Queets, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,699 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 321’/10’, Highest: 482’ Accumulated: 1637’
Speeds: Avg: 9.9 mph, Max: 35.4 mph
Weather: 44° mostly cloudy, breaking up and clearing at the coast
Expenditures: $12

I woke up at 6:45am. It hadn’t rained all night, so I got a great night’s sleep. I realized this was Saturday morning, when I usually give my Auntie M a call, but belatedly realized I didn’t put her phone number on my new phone, yet. I signed up for one day’s worth of web access on my new phone, and got my Uncle Leo’s phone number using Zabasearch. I called him, and we chatted a bit, and then he gave me Auntie M’s phone number, and I then called her. I finished at 8:15am, got out, and saw that it was a partly cloudy day, which quickly became mostly cloudy and foggy. In this desolate place, it was kind of pretty, in an eerie sort of way, so I took a few pictures, broke down camp, packed the trike, and was ready to roll by 9:10am. I was now heading south – how exciting! I stopped at 10:20am for a mini mart breakfast of hot cocoa, carrot cake, muffin and got food drink supplies ($9) in the town of Forks, WA. Since I lost my camera, I find I now need yet *another* Joby tripod (this will be the fourth!). I’ll be checking likely stores in every town I come to, but they’re hard to find, and it’ll probably be a while before I can replace it. I also need another SD-to-USB adapter, but Radio Shack regularly carries those.
When I arrived at the coast, I left the last dregs of clouds behind, and it was totally clear. The road following the coastline was rolling, but relatively flat, and quite pleasant. At 3:20pm I got my first view of Pacific Ocean since March (when I was in Los Angeles) by standing on a picnic table to look over a bunch of bushes at Ruby Beach. I could see a huge, miles-long beach that looked good for boogie boarding, but not so much for surfing. I stopped in Queets to get food and drink at the local mini mart ($3) and thought I’d check out the local community center for a potential stealth camp. The center was somewhat isolated from the small, nearby neighborhood, and it had an external power outlet, so I plugged in to charge my laptop and phone. I read my book while waiting; the computer charged up pretty quickly, but the phone took almost 2 hours, even though it was down only one bar – sheesh! Cars would pass by, going to and from the nearby neighborhood, but nobody either saw me, or if they did, didn’t seem to mind my being there. It got dark, but I was still lit up by the security lighting around the area, so I could still read. After my phone finally finished charging, I looked around to see where the best place to set up my tent, and decided on the end of the dead end street that was right next to the community center building front door. I was visible from the road where all the traffic was passing by, but I guess I was far enough away, about 100 yards, that if I didn’t jump up and down, waving my trike’s flag, I was fairly unnoticeable. I got no visits from the local constabulary or other disturbances the entire night – how nice! I set up and hopped in by 8pm, and went right to sleep. (I didn’t want to push my luck by lighting up my tent by reading with a light.) I woke up at 11pm – that’s pretty regular for me – went back to sleep – woke up at 2:30am, and drank the rest of my soda, which I always hold in reserve for when I get thirsty, which is also a pretty regular thing. Zzzzzz!

Day Two Hundred Thirty-seven, 091023 - Beaver, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-seven, Date Friday, October 23, 2009
Time in Saddle: 5:02
Distance for the Day: 44.43 miles From Cape Flattery To Beaver, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,647 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 428’/321’, Highest: 723’Accumulated: 2582’
Speeds: Avg: 8.8 mph, Max: 38.9 mph
Weather: 46° occasional showers, warming to the low 50s
Expenditures: $27

Because of the noise from the occasional bouts of rain, I kept waking up throughout the wee hours, but did get snatches of sleep, which for me is enough to be practically as good as a solid night’s sleep. At about 6am, one car came up to and around the gravel trailhead loop where I was, but it didn’t stop, and I didn’t see or hear it or any other vehicle after, so I was good. I could hear the ocean waves whomping the coastal headlands, and would have liked to go see them, but the weather was still rotten, and I didn’t want to leave my trike alone. I waited until about 7:45am for the daylight to show before getting up and out to do my breakdown; it wasn’t raining at the moment, but everything was wet, and I spent a little extra time, as usual, trying to dry stuff off while packing it away. That’s the wonderful thing about this tent, by the way: it can be totally wet, but once you set it up and get inside, it still works just fine. I was ready to roll by 8:46am, and headed back to Neah Bay for breakfast, to stock up on supplies, and hopefully recharge my laptop as it was down to about 60%. I made it back to Neah Bay at about 10am, and got hot cocoa and a muffin ($4) at a tiny espresso shop, but they only opened for a little while, so I had to move on before I could do much with my notebook. I then went to the restaurant, Warmhouse, more to warm up and dry off than for hunger, but I got a burger, fries and hot cocoa just the same ($10). While riding the several hundred yards from the espresso place to the restaurant, a young husky dog followed me for a while, and I couldn’t shake him. He waited outside the restaurant for a while, but finally went away. I didn’t want him following me out of town, though I felt kind of sorry for him, as he didn’t seem to have anyone to play with. From 10:30am – 12pm, I ate, charged my notebook, and briefly talked to a nice couple who were doing a boat trip around the world, so we traded blogs – his is . I checked my phone messages, and found out that FedX had a question about the delivery address for my ATM card – ack! This meant that they hadn’t sent it, yet, and that also meant that I would get to where I wanted them to send it a day early. Since I didn’t want to wait a day in Aberdeen, I called FedX up, and had them send it to my relatives in Crescent City, CA, instead. Afterwards, I continued on back down the road I came in on, but diverted south at 4:04pm onto Hwy 113, heading towards Sappho and beyond.

Notes: when I stopped at Neah Bay for lunch at it was raining, and even with the poncho my upper body still got wet. My medium gloves would get soaked, and then they’d leak into my shirtsleeves, and would then pool up in my elbows and wick further up to my shoulders. Also, my poncho would gather water off my face and leak into my shirt from my chin, so the front of my shirt would get soaked – so the upshot was: I still got soaked, Demitol. The pants worked pretty good, but once my shirt got soaked, it would begin wicking into my pants and underwear; I was able to keep warm if I kept moving, and towling-off once or twice along the way also helped, but I couldn’t stay still for long, or I’d start to get cold, again. For the record: I don’t like riding or camping in the rain. When I go fast down hills, the rain feels like stinging BBs hitting my face, and I can’t wear my goggles because they get foggy, and I need to see. So, I hold one hand up to block the rain from hitting my eyes, and zoom down with one hand steering. As long as I don’t hit warp speed, I can manage this just fine. I keep thinking of the world cyclists I met back in Zion Nat’l Park, Martin and Nadine from Germany. When asked what they did when it rained, they said they didn’t ride. I wish I could sit out rain days, too, but at this point, the longer I wait, the worse the weather will become, so it’s not an option. Sigh!

The road to/from Neah Bay was narrow-shouldered, winding, and hilly, but the traffic was light enough, there weren’t any problems. I stopped in Clellam Bay at 3:05pm for a bathroom break and food and drink ($13). That’s when I found out I lost the handle grip, cap, and ‘emergency brake’ rubber band off my right steering handle – Demitol. Not a critical loss, but most annoying because I’d known it was loose for months, and should have glued it in place – I just never thought I’d actually lose it. Poop! It stopped raining, and cleared up some. I made it up and over a semi-big mountain coming south towards Sappho, and then got to Hwy 101 and headed west and south on that. I kept finding little side roads that would lead off into the forest, and found one that looked semi-promising, but the one level spot I found to set up had a 3-leafed ground cover which may or may not have been poison oak. Not being sure, I left that site and continued on. I saw a sign for a park up ahead, but then saw a nice road on the left that said it was a dead-end, so at 6:20pm I followed it, and found there were little gravel roads leading off it that went into these little cul-de-sacs, surrounded by what looked like harvested forest – perfect! (N48 3.957’ W124 17.551’) So, I set up my tent there on the gravel. My “waterproof” mittens that aren’t waterproof got mostly dry by my wearing them, so I put on my fingered medium gloves to try to dry them out, but I didn’t wear them long enough, so they stayed pretty soggy. I dried the tent and mattress off as best as I could with my hand towel before using them, and was set up and inside at 6:50pm with book, food and drink. I ate and read until 7:40pm, and did the end of day stats in the tent for a change – I usually do them in the morning, but these days, I find it’s easier to do it in the tent when I’m warm and dry with a light, rather than in the cold dark and wet in the morning.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-six, 091022 - Cape Flattery, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-six, Date Thursday, October 22, 2009
Time in Saddle: 9:08
Distance for the Day: 79.90 miles From Port Angeles To Cape Flattery, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,602 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 451’/428’, Highest: 663’ Accumulated: 4688’
Speeds: Avg: 8.7 mph, Max: 41.5 mph
Weather: 41
Expenditures: $10

I woke up and got up at 5am. It was still dark out, with beautiful stars and the faint glow of dawn above the eastern horizon. I broke down and was just about ready to roll at 5:56am. I was a little *too* early, and wasn’t quite willing to ride in the dark along the highway. There was an “espresso shack” conveniently in front of the business where I spent the night, so I stopped there and got some hot cocoa and a toasted bagel w/cream cheese ($5), and ate that while waiting for the daylight. I took off at about 6:30am and made the Rte 112 junction to Neah Bay by 7:38am. I had actually mistakenly passed that junction the day I lost my fanny pack – on that day, a tragic car accident had occurred, which I read about while staying with Dennis and Paula. A couple of people died, and I remembered seeing police and ambulance when I passed by. A sad thing to see, to be sure. The day eventually got light enough for me to turn my lights off, and I stopped in Joyce at 8:20am to pick up food and drink ($5). The weather became a light overcast – I could see the sun through it, but it was still pretty cool at about 50°. I stopped in Sekiu from 12:45 to 1pm for a hot dog and pear ($3) – just something to hold me on the way towards Neah Bay – I knew it would be close, what with the days getting shorter, and all. I made it with pretty good time to spare, but had a lot of trouble trying to get to that last compass point. First, I tried the route Street Atlas showed, which took me up a steep, hard-packed dirt road. It went up a couple hundred feet, and then went up and down for a ways. I ran into a local in a truck, and asked him about the road. He suggested going back down to the paved road, and following that out to my westmost point. I didn’t want to do that, as I was already nearly halfway to it via this route. He said the route I was on might not be do-able with my trike, but I hate going backwards, so was determined to at least take a look. I continued on the road, and put in a huge effort to climb some pretty steep hills, before ending up in the local dump(!) Hmm. I checked my GPS and map, and found I’d passed a fork to my true route. When I found it, I saw that the local was right: it had become an impassable (to me) two-wheel jeep track. So, I tucked tail, and went back to the nice paved road to Cape Flattery. It was mostly a flat route, so I made pretty good time, but at the end, it became a somewhat long not-too-steep uphill grade that got me to my vaunted “westmost point.” The *true* westmost point could only be reached via a hiking trail, which my trike couldn’t do, so I got as far as I could go and declared it the final compass point at 6:17pm (yay/whew!) It had started to get pretty dark, so I picked a spot away from the parking lot, up by the trailhead, and set up my tent right there. I got in by 7:10pm with food, drink, book, Subway sandwich, and chili cheese Fritos, with strawberry soda – a real celebration meal! I gobbled and read, and it started to rain just before 8pm, but I was already in and dry, so was literally a happy camper, though I did have to use earplugs to quiet the noise of rain hitting the tent, which kept waking me up throughout the night.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-five, 091021 - Port Angeles, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-five, Date Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Time in Saddle: 1:19
Distance for the Day: 9.38 miles From Sequim To Port Angeles, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,523 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending ??/451’, Highest: 468’ Accumulated: 1411’
Speeds: Avg: 7.1 mph, Max: 26.8 mph
Weather: Overcast and lightyly rainy
Expenditures: $7

(Pictures at last!) I got up at about 8am, and continued to reload info into phone/computer. Paula fixed me a bowl of cereal with blueberries and banana slices, and at noon, she took me to the post office so I could mail home a box of the bits of detritus from my recent purchases, and showed me where I could pick up a nice rails-to-trails bike path from Sequim to Port Angeles, before returning home. I was going to get a late start, today!
At 2:53pm, I was ready to hit road from Dennis and Paula B’s home in Sequim, there was sun out earlier, but had become overcast, again. I hated to know it, but I had now entering a wet period – it was going to be rainy or drizzly until the unknown future – ugh! My hosts were wonderful! They put me up, fed me with great food, drove me all over the place, and we talked and talked – they were not just great hosts – I feel like they’re my newest friends. Dennis had taken off before I woke up this morning, so I missed saying ‘bye’ to him, but Paula and I left the house at the same time, and I said ‘bye’ and ‘thanks’ to her. Just as I started heading back to the paved roads of Sequim, it started to sprinkle at 3:01pm – great. I used the Discovery Trail Paula showed me, and made Port Angeles at 5pm. It was beautiful, but windy, hilly, and took about 2 hours to go its 13 mile length. I tried out my new poncho, and that worked pretty well, keeping the water that collects on my chest and stomach from then leaking into my rain jacket’s zipper. I spent about 1.5 hours exploring PA to see if I could find someplace to replace my Joby tripod (I forgot about it when we did all the shopping, before), but didn’t find anything. In the meantime, it got dark, so I stopped to get a Subway meal deal ($7) and food and drink for the road at a mini mart ($3), and then took off in the dark up Hwy 101, looking for a stealth camp. The weather cleared, and I found a place behind a car repair business at 8pm (N48 6.310’ W123 29.324’) and got in to eat and read at 8:30pm, before going to sleep at 9:34pm; the temperature was about 56°.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-four, 091020 - Sequim, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-four, Date Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Altitudes: n /a
Speeds: n/a
Weather: n/a
Expenditures: $13

(So boring without pictures! Just one more day.) I woke up at almost 10am, this morning, just as Dennis finished preparing an amazing breakfast of smoked salmon omelet with zucchini – it was wicked good, and I usually don’t even like fish! I called the Port Angeles branch of Bank of America, to verify my credit card had indeed arrived, and I also arranged to have a new ATM card forwarded to the branch in Aberdeen, WA, so I could pick it up there in a few days. Paula drove me the 13 miles to Port Angeles, and I got my card. We also stopped in at a bookstore, so I could get Dennis a copy of my favorite astro book, The Stars: A New Way To See Them, by H.A. Rey. We also stopped in at Swains, the local “general store,” which was jam packed with all kinds of merchandise, to get a $1.34 coin purse for my new fanny pack. We went back home after that, and I continued loading phone numbers into my computer and phone. Then we had a wonderful vegetable and chicken stew that Dennis cooked up, and chatted away. Pamela went to bed, and Dennis and I watched the movie, “The Green Mile,” because I was reading the book – cool movie! I’d only gotten about one-fifth of the way into the book, and it seemed like a “regular” story, without anything weird happening. True to Steven King, though, a definite paranormal twist showed up, and was deftly worked into the plot. After the movie, we both retired – he had to get up at 5am, and it was now 1am(!)

Day Two Hundred Thirty-three, 091019 - Sequim, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-three, Date Monday, October 19, 2009
Time in Saddle: n/a
Distance for the Day: n/a
Accumulated Trip Distance: n/a
Altitudes: n /a
Speeds: n/a
Weather: n/a
Expenditures: $493

(Pictures coming - I swear!) I woke up at 8:45am and got up at 9am in the home of my hosts, Paula and Dennis B. I had a bowl of Rice Chex with blueberries, and chatted with Paula for a while about a diverse range of subjects, including her ‘fairy garden,’ which was a beautiful garden surrounded by a low rock wall. It went fine for several years, until a particularly nasty weed invaded it, and eventually forced her to have it totally destroyed to try to rid the dirt that the weed had just about saturated. Around 11am, we headed out in one of their cars, and she drove me around to the local Bank of America (my bank), where I withdrew a thousand dollars from my savings account. I had a new credit card overnighted, but it wouldn’t show up until tomorrow, and I wanted to get as much done, reconstructing my lost fanny pack, as possible. I picked up a new camera, cell phone, digital voice recorder, and iPod Nano at Costco ($386). Paula also picked up some food items for dinner tonight, and the next few nights. Then, we went over to Walmart, where I got some ear buds (small earphones) and an arm band to hold the iPod ($31). Then, Paula had to pick up her grandsons Sean and Jake at the school bus stop. We went back home, and we chatted for a while, before the kids had to take off for their own home. I connected my new iPod to my computer, and re-synched it to the songs that were backed-up on the notebook. I now had all my music back (yay!) Dennis (a retired elevator technician who used to work in the SF Bay Area, and who was born and raised in Oakland!) then took me out to do a bit more shopping at the Big 5 Sporting Goods store, where I got a new, better fanny pack ($16), then to Home Depot where I got a replacement Leatherman Wave ($76), and even to Rite Aid to get a travel toothpick ($4). It only came in packs of two, so I gave him one. He then gave me a short tour of the area, and I saw new developments where farms used to be, homes that faced the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and he told me about the demographics of the people living in Sequim. Paula made a terrific dinner of salmon, rice, and greenbeans, and we three chatted up a storm. After the meal, Dennis showed me pictures of a 13-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon they’d taken a few years prior; it looked awesome. (I love looking at other people’s pictures – I just naturally enjoy the vicarious thrills every time.) Afterwards, Paula went to bed, and I showed Dennis how to set up and use his computer-driven Meade telescope. It got a little late, so he went to bed, too, and I stayed up re-loading as many telephone numbers into my new cell phone as I could get from my computer and from the web. I also sent out a mass email to everyone I could think of whose number(s) I wanted. It will be a gradual process, to build the list back up, again.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-two, 091018 - Sequim, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-two, Date Sunday, October 18, 2009
Time in Saddle: ??
Distance for the Day: ?? miles From Blyn To Sequim, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: ?? miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending ??/??, Highest: ?? Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: ?? mph, Max: ?? mph
Weather: 52° overcast with fog over the hills
Expenditures: $17

(Still no pictures. Haven't replaced my camera yet, but will soon.) The sky this morning was solidly overcast, and made things darker when I emerged from my tent. It was still dry, though, and for that much, I was grateful. I packed up my gear, and took off, continuing up the highway towards Sequim, and my last extreme compass point: Westmost. I stopped in the town of Blyn, where they had a rather large, well-appointed “mini mart,” to have a hot cocoa and Danish breakfast. I also charged up my laptop, and checked the map to figure out my route for the day. I left at 9:45am, with the plan to hit the Subway in Port Angeles. I got to the Port Angeles Subway at 12:05pm, and got a meal deal ($11) lunch, ate half while reading my book, and stowed the other half for tomorrow. I continued on at 12:45pm, passed through the town of Port Angeles, proper, and stopped at a mini mart to pick up some Gatorade and a soda ($6). That’s when I made a HUGE mistake: I left my fanny pack on an outside shelf, and took off without it. I made it several miles further west, and stopped to take a picture, but my camera, along with my credit card, ATM card, driver license, cell phone, Leatherman tool, digital voice recorder, iPod, and several other nice things, was not where I usually put it; I instantly knew what I’d done. Demitol – and I’d just got through telling my friend, Joe, that I have lost plenty of wallets, but ‘I never lose that fanny pack.’ You know what it was – I forgot to knock on wood – it’s true. Anyways, I rushed back to the spot where I’d left it going full steam, but it still took 20 minutes, and of course, by the time I got there, it was gone, and no one had turned it in to the mini-mart people. I asked to use the mini-mart’s phone, but they weren’t receptive to that idea, but suggested I go back into Port Angeles to contact the police. Good idea, so I did that. It being Sunday, they were closed, but there was a phone to call Dispatch, so I called, let them know my situation, and they said they’d send someone ‘in a few minutes.’ I waited, and then I thought I’d see if there was any wi-fi in the area. There was, so I sent an email to Joe and Joanna explaining my situation. Fortunately, they were home and checking email, and we arranged to contact each other via Skype. It worked great – we even did it with video. They set up my Skype account with money, so I could make outside phone calls, and sent me $150 via Western Union at the Port Angeles Safeway (a few blocks away). I also called my bank to have them cancel my credit and ATM cards, and to overnight a new credit card to me at the local bank, here in P.A, though it would come in on Tuesday. Also, by coincidence, an astronomy friend of mine mentioned in an email I received earlier today, that she had a friend who lived in Sequim (they pronounce it ‘skwim’ – don’t ask me why), the town just before Port Angeles(!) She gave them a call, and they said they’d be willing to host me, so I could stay with them while I waited for my card to come in – what a lucky break. Thanks, Lynn – yer a lifesaver! I used Skype to call them, and Pamela and Dennis B drove their pickup the 8.5 miles from Sequim to Port Angeles to take me and my trike back to their home at about 9pm; we arrived at about 10pm. We chatted a bit, and then they went off to sleep. Meanwhile, I got online using their computer’s network cable, and began to search for replacement gear. I did that until about 2:30am, and then blogged a bit more before heading off to sleep, myself, at 3am.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-one, 091017 - Blyn, WA

Day Two Hundred Thirty-one, Date Saturday, October 17, 2009
Time in Saddle: ??
Distance for the Day: ?? miles From Seattle To Blyn(?), WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: ?? miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 456’/??, Highest: ?? Accumulated: ??
Speeds: Avg: ?? mph, Max: ?? mph
Weather: Cool, overcast
Expenditures: $

Sorry – no pictures (again). See note at the bottom of this post for why.

I spent most of the morning repacking my trike, getting it ready to hit the road. We said our final and fond farewells, and I took off from Joe and Joanna’s at 11:20am. I almost immediately missed a turn, but just as quickly corrected, and got on route. After just a few minutes, I stopped at a gas station with an air pump to try to re-set my two front tires to get rid of the ‘pinched bead’ problem by over-inflating them; it worked on the left tire, the right tire was still slightly pinched. I would have to try doing it again with soapy water someplace else. Schwalbe tires are apparently notorious for this problem. I also searched a couple of places for my favorite brand of trailmix (Planters Nut & Chocolate, or Sweet & Nutty), before finding it at a RiteAid (and they were on sale!) I looked for a Subway, but didn’t find one before getting to the ferry (from Edmonds across Puget Sound to Kingston - $7 for a bicycle), so I made the mistake of getting a small, overpriced lunch of hot dog, soda, fries, and ice cream sandwich for $15(!) Of course, not long after getting into Kingston, I passed a Subway. I hate it when that happens, and it has happened quite a few times on this trip. The land was somewhat hilly, and I gradually went from sea level to as high as 600’ ASL, with plenty of downs as well as ups, but it was very scenic. I saw a number of decent stealth camp possibilities along the way, so rode until just before sunset with confidence I could find one when I needed it, and indeed, did find one – a side road not far from the main road, with a barred empty lot that my trike (without flagpole) *just* squeezed under. I inserted into this spot at 6:08pm, found a level spot, and set up my tent by 6:45pm. I gave Joe a call to let him know about where I was, and that I had encountered only a little bit of sprinkle before the day became mostly sunny. The sky at sunset was getting cloudier, but there were still plenty of blue patches, though there were patches of fog on the hills all around. The temperature was cool, but not the freezing cold I experienced while still east of the Cascades. I then hopped in with Fritos Chili chips, orange soda, and my new Stephen King book, “The Green Mile,” which the homeless guy in Cambridge, MA recommended. I munched and drank and read until about 8pm, before going to sleep. The sound of traffic was faint and light, and when I woke up at 10:30pm to drink the rest of my pop, it was pretty much gone.

(Note: I lost my fanny pack, and with it, my voice recorder – so all my stats between this day and Oct 21st were lost. I will be able to reconstruct some of the info, and will do so at my earliest opportunity.) (I also lost my camera, and the few pictures I had on it of today and tomorrow. A bummer, for sure – but survive-able.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quickie Update - 091027

Hi all: Sorry for the lack of updates - I'm really behind (ack!) I'll try to get back up to date ASAP, but the combination of lack of wi-fi, plus the bad weather, has kept me running with no writing. I just passed from Washington State into Oregon, and am catching up on email here in Astoria, OR. At worst, I'll do a humongous catchup when I get to The Three Peas (Pat/Pete/Parker) in Crescent City, CA. Until then, BE GOOD. I'll try to do the same. Cheerios! (crunch, crunch) ;~Don

Friday, October 16, 2009

Days Two Hundred Twenty-six thru Thirty, 091012-16 - Seattle, WA

Days Two Hundred Twenty-six thru Thirty, Dates Mon-Fri, October 12-16, 2009

I hung out at Joe, Joanna, and Joshua’s (their cat) for the best part of a week. We caught up, talked about my trip, our lives, old times, the future – we watched the sci-fi movie, “The Watchmen,” They took me to REI and the local bike shop so I could get some self-sealing innertubes, a cheap poncho (still trying to figure out how to stay dry in rainy conditions), and other needed accessories. I then installed the new tires that my trike dealer, Steve, sent to this address; the rubber on my rear tire was worn thin by now, and it split right up the middle, all the way around, from the cold(?), over-inflation after getting fixed(?), I don't know (see the picture); we went to dinner at a friend of theirs, and had pizza and a fantastic, home-baked-from-scratch plum tart; I took them out to dinner at a nice Indian restaurant, and when I wasn’t doing all this other stuff, I updated my Street Atlas mapping program to show the route towards the “westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states,” and then down the Pacific Coast, back to San Francisco. I also had to do a fair bit of work to update my stealth camp locations on my computer map, and blogged, too. So, now I’m up-to-date, again, and girding myself for the final leg of my ‘fantastic journey’: out to that last extreme compass point. After more research online, and on Google Earth, I found out just exactly *where* I could find that westernmost point, as I’d found out it wasn’t where I had originally thought. I thought the westernmost point I could cycle to was the town of Ozette, BUT, it was only the westernmost *town* - not the westernmost *point*. I looked again, and indeed, I could get a bit further west by riding out to Cape Flattery, about 3.5 miles southwest of Neah Bay. Two of the other three “extreme” compass points had similar qualifiers on them, as well: "The most extreme compass points that I could get to as a public person, on a cycle." To get to the absolute real westernmost point, I’d have to do some hiking and/or boating, which wasn’t happening.

Just as I had feared, the weather for the foreseeable future (a week) was going to be some degree of rainy. Ugh. But, if Lewis and Clark could survive trekking through the wilds of Idaho and Montana, if the pioneer settlers could survive taking covered wagons through thousands of roadless miles, if Frodo and Sam could pass through darkness and danger in the land of Mordor, by god, I can face a little rain. Even a lot of rain.

Expenditures for Oct 12-16: used Stephen King book, “The Green Mile,” ($4), 3-Slime self-sealing innertubes, 4-CO2 cartridges, 2-velcro ankle bands, 2-sets of two thorn proof tire liners, one new bike pump at Gregg’s Cycles ($108), other miscellaneous food and accessory items ($62)

Day Two Hundred Twenty-five, 091011 - Seattle, WA

Day Two Hundred Twenty-five, Date Sunday, October 11, 2009
Time in Saddle: 22:28
Distance for the Day: 118.73 miles From Ellensburg To Seattle, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,416 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 1468’/339’, Highest: 2996’ Accumulated: 5453’
Speeds: Avg: 7.6 mph, Max: 57.7 mph (false)
Weather: 20° clear, becoming high stratus layer overcast
Expenditures: $20

It was *very* cold this morning, even penetrating my sleeping bag at about 4am. That’s rare. There wasn’t anything I felt like doing about it, so I semi-dozed and suffered a bit, until I woke up at 5am, but still couldn’t quite bring myself to get up that early. So, I waited until 5:45am before getting up – the stars were glorious, but I couldn’t stand still and admire them: it was too cold! I discovered my water and Gatorade bottles had frozen solid (first time). The only thing that didn’t freeze was my fruit drink, which was in an inside pannier, under my stealth cloak. I don’t know why it didn’t freeze, too, but that’s what happened. I hadn’t prepared for this level of cold the night before by bringing all the usual layers into the tent with me, so I had to do the extra work of putting on the layers I had, run outside and retrieve the other layers, dive back inside and remove the outer layers so I could put on the inner layers, and then put the outer layers back on. I also broke out two sets of the instant chemical heat packs – one pair for the hands, and the other pair for the toes. Then I had to break down and stow away my camping gear. The sun was not up yet by the time I finished at 7:10am, my fingers were numb, and despite the layers I had on, I was still on the verge of hypothermia, and, I still had to try fixing my flat. I moved the trike out of the field to a spot closer to the side of the road, and waited for the heat packs to thaw my fingers, some, before beginning the repair work. I could only work for a few minutes at a time before my fingers became too numb to continue. I would then pause long enough for the heat packs to thaw my fingers enough to keep going. Since the heat packs weren’t really *that* hot, this would take several minutes. The sun rose, and I would also stand in its faintly warm glow every now and then, to keep myself from getting too cold. Eventually, I did manage to take out the gooey self-sealing innertube (when they get punctured, they leak sealant until the hole seals, and it’s a little messy), I cleaned out and inspected the tire for remnant puncturants (I made that word up), put in the second, spare (regular non-self-sealing) innertube in, and inflated it with my second-to-last CO2 cartridge (my hand air-pump broke, remember). I was ready to roll again at 8:08am. The sun was well up, but nothing was thawing, yet – even the ice on my trike hadn’t melted. Cold!

At 9:40am the air temperature was still 30° F, and my feet felt like blocks of ice. The toe warmers kept my toes from going painful to numb, but the rest of my foot wasn’t helped. However, the warmers made things tolerable and even doable, and I was glad to have them. The terrain had started to climb upwards, and I was seeing interesting limestone layers where the road cut through some low hills. The skies to the north and west were somewhat clear – a good sign, and the skies to the southeast, where I’d just come from, were much cloudier – I hoped they wouldn’t catch up with me. I was thinking about what I should do once I got over the Cascade Mountains – should I continue on into Seattle, or should I find a stealth camp, and then go into Seattle the next morning. The last weather forecasts I saw said chance of rain on Sunday, but I didn’t recall whether it was supposed to be early or late, or the percentages. I would definitely be riding at night, if I decided to go for it.

I stopped off at Cle Ellum from 11:15am to 12pm for a quickie breakfast of muffin, cocoa, and a breakfast bars ($5), when I got to talking with ‘Doug’ who was a trucker who hauled fruit, locally. He was a real gabmeister, but he gave me some interesting viewpoints on how truckers see cyclists. He really pushed for getting a single LARGE reflector for the rear of my trike, but was somewhat mollified by my three small ones. I ate my breakfast, and we chatted for a while, before I had to extricate myself from what could have been a much longer conversation, and continued on my way. A west wind came up, making it a mild tailwind for me, which was good – it was strong enough to make it feel like I was standing still, and this reduced the wind chill factor, making me a little warmer. Temperatures were still very cool, and my water and Gatorade bottles were only just starting to thaw, even though it was mid-day. I stopped in Easton at 1:30pm for a quickie lunch ($5) of a hot dog and soda, and continued on. I rode several miles on a nice bit of road construction that cars couldn’t use, yet, when I hit an obstruction that at first I thought was going to really screw me up: that newly constructed concrete roadway ended, abruptly, and there was no shoulder for the single lane of traffic just to my left. After a minute of considering my options, I realized the original two-lane highway had split, and there was another, slightly higher lane, also going west, up and to the left. I walked over to it by walking forward about 20 yards to get past a guard rail, crossed that lower-right lane, crossed a bit of grass and dirt up to the higher lane, and saw that it had a somewhat better shoulder – one that I could use. So, I went back to my trike, waited for a gap in the near lane traffic, rode my trike up the road past a guard rail, then up the grass/dirt divider to the other, higher lane, and continued on. It was still a bit tight, and the cars did slow a bit when they got close to me, but in about 20 or so minutes, after a few more miles, the construction zone ended, the roadways came back together, and the highway’s older, regular shoulder returned. Whew! I hoped there weren’t too many more of those.
It wasn’t too bad, but as the afternoon wore on, the constant roar of the end-of-weekend traffic got to be a bit much, even through my earplugs (not that I could do anything about it). I got off the interstate twice to take a few short, parallel roads, one going through a ski resort (Summit Central), but for the most part, I stayed on the interstate. After passing the summit at close to 3000’ ASL, I began to hit long, downhill stretches. As always, and especially on interstates, going fast meant dodging debris, mostly in the form of bigrig tire retread shreds, with their deadly steel-belted wire strands – ugh! Sure keeps you on your toes, though. By the time evening began to settle, and just before it got completely dark, I made it to Issaquah. From there, cyclists are no longer allowed on the interstate, so I got off, spent a bit of time looking for a suitable restaurant, found a Fatburger, got a hamburger, fries, and soda ($10), and called my friends Joe and Joanna to let them know I was going to continue on until I got to their place, which I thought would be around midnight. Joe helped me pick a suitable route to get there, and I left the restaurant at about 7pm to resume the ride. In retrospect, I should have just laid up somewhere for the night, but I got a ‘bee under me bonnet,’ and had to make this major goal tonight, do or die. My biggest regret for doing it at night was: I missed a lot of photo ops. I passed over three bridges, went through several very nice looking parks and interesting neighborhoods, probably had some good overviews of the city, but couldn’t see anything (sigh!) Of course, it ended up taking longer than I thought it would – Seattle had a lot more hills than I remember, the few other times I’ve visited here, and I didn’t pull in to my friend’s home until 2:40am, Monday morning. That was a record: I’d been up for 21 hours, and rode 118+ miles all in one shot. Joanna wanted to greet me when I came in, but it got too late for her, and went to bed. Joe stayed up, though, and we chatted a bit while I ate a late dinner (the burger I’d eaten 7 hours previously was completely burned up by then), and then we called it a night, and I went to sleep on their guest bedroom floor, right around 4am.

Day Two Hundred Twenty-four, 091010 - Ellensburg, WA

Day Two Hundred Twenty-four, Date Saturday, October 10, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:34
Distance for the Day: 65.35 miles From Topenish To Ellensburg, WA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,298 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 681’/1468’, Highest: 1499’ Accumulated: 2169’
Speeds: Avg: 9.9 mph, Max: 30.2 mph
Weather: 41° totally overcast, but not threatening
Expenditures: $22

Woke and got up at 6:00am; broke down and ready to roll by 7am, still before sunrise. But, I had a nasty little surprise this morning – the gravel lot had goatheads, and my rear tire got another flat (#21). I had to fix it, and I also had to pick a bunch of thorns out of my two front tires, too. It’s a tricky operation: I have to rotate the tires, looking for little, light-colored ‘dots’ on its surface. These are the ends of the thorns that have stuck into the tire, but haven’t yet penetrated the tire liner. I used my Leatherman knife to dig out the current crop, and each tire had at least 4-6 of them, each. I didn’t have an air pump on me (as you may recall, it broke, recently), but was able to use another CO2 cartridge to inflate my repaired tire enough to make it to a gas station with a compressor. It takes a bit more space and expense to carry them, but that CO2 inflator has turned out to be a real convenience and time-saver, I tell you. At 8:30am, I stopped at the next gas station/mini mart, got a breakfast of hot cocoa and Danish ($5), and brought my rear tire up to full inflation.

At 10:31am I stopped in Union Gap for bathroom break and get more food items ($6), and stopped at a Burger King for a burger/fries/soda lunch at 10:55am ($6). I had to figure out if I wanted to take the side route, or the interstate to get through some mountains north of Yakima on my way to Seattle. I asked a local person outside of Burger King who, it turns out, was quite knowledgeable about the difference between the two routes. While the interstate had a wide shoulder, it went over three significant climbs, whereas the side road was much less hilly, but it was winding, had relatively narrow shoulders, and had medium traffic levels, including big rigs. Tough choice! I stopped in at a Clarion Hotel at the north end of town to use their free wi-fi, charge up my notebook, check the weather, and research the two routes. Kudos, by the way, to Clarion for their letting me just come in, sit in a comfortable chair, and use their free wi-fi and electricity. I ultimately decided to take the side (Canyon) road, and was very glad to have picked it. The traffic wasn’t that bad, the majority of the route had sufficient road shoulders (though at times it had *no* shoulders), it was *very* picturesque, and the climbs were indeed quite manageable.

I stopped along the way at 2:50pm for bathroom and snack break at the Rozer Recreation Area. It had a nice parking lot, *free* camping(!), bathrooms, picnic tables, and was very placid. The river widened enough to slow its flow down enough to make it seem more like a lake, and every now and then, the overcast sky would permit the sun to break through enough to send down a shaft of light that made the river sparkle with slow-flashing silver splinters of light. It was still somewhat cold, but there was no wind, and I watched as ducks swam and dove on the slow, brown waters. Thus refreshed, I made it out of the Yakima Canyon at 5pm, into Glen Ellen at 5:30pm, and stopped in at Subway for cookies and milk ($3). Then, I stopped at a mini mart for soda and chips ($2).

It was now 6:05pm; the sun was getting ready to set, and I continued on, determined to get as far as I could go toward the town of Cle Ellum to try to reduce the distance to Seattle as much as possible. I found a field off Rte 10 on the way to Cle Ellum at 6:45pm and stopped there for the night (N47 2.189’ W120 36.769’); it was some kind of crop that had been harvested already. There were no house lights nearby, it was pretty close to the roadway, but there wasn’t much traffic, and I knew as it got later, there would be even less, so noise wouldn’t be a problem. At 7:07pm, with the last light of day in the west, the stars began to come out. I could see bright Jupiter in the east, and the Summer Triangle (the three bright stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair) was still almost directly overhead, even though Summer was over. Like me, it seemed to be trying to hold out against the approach of cold, wet Winter.

Ho-boy – my right-front tire went flat (#22) at 11,298 miles; it appears the magic combination of Mr. Tuffy tire liners and self-sealing innertubes was starting to wear off, as I have apparently started getting flats, again, after more than 4000 miles of flat-free riding. The states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Eastern Washington all have these wicked little ‘goathead,’ seedpods from a ground-hugging weed, which, in certain circumstances, have the ability to *sometimes* penetrate even Mr. Tuffy, and defeat the self-sealing innertubes. I’ve been picking their thorns out for a while, now, but because the tread on my tires is wearing thin, I think they’re now able to penetrate far enough to get through to the innertube and cause problems. I have three new tires waiting for me at my friend’s home in Seattle, and I estimated that I *should* be able to make it there before any more flats happen – I hope. It was very cold this evening – already down to freezing. The sky cleared up, and that lets the heat of the day escape to space. I decided to fix the flat tomorrow morning, knowing that this might be a mistake (it would be *really* cold, then), but the evening light was failing, and I didn’t want to get caught trying to do it in the dark.
The field *looked* grassy, but it was actually just close-cropped plant stalks, thick enough to poke up stiffly. I worried a bit that this might penetrate my ground cloth, penetrate my tent bottom, and poke up and puncture my air mattress, but it wasn’t quite sharp enough to do that, so I was okay. I set up my tent in the near dark, and cloaked my trike. I hopped in and munched chips, sipped soda, and read my book until about 9pm, when I went to sleep.