Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The North Cascade Challenge!

Having completed my "semi"-loop around the Olympic Pennisula my next goal was to ride over the North Cascade Highway,  Do some mountain work.  Lolli would follow along with my Vanagon as Sag Wagon.
She would wait for me at various places along the way with water and food and we would camp in it at night so I would not be burdened with panniers full of camping equipment.  Perfect!

I decide I will start my ride at Newhalem.  Newhalem is close to the start of the North Cascade Highway  but only at 500 feet elevation.  Mount Washington and Rainey Pass top out over 5,000 feet!

We arrive at a State Park on the outskirts of Newhalem late in the evening, set up the Vanagon and go to bed.

Up at 8:00 and getting ready to roll.

Riding through Newhalem I park my bike against the steam engine for a photo op.

And then, I settle into the ride.... UP!

Part way along Lolli stops to see how I am doing.  She had stopped in Darrington to buy me a cold chocolate drink, snickers bar and some trail mix.

Back at it and the first of two tunnels.  The day is warming up.

Some beautiful scenes along the way.

After seven miles I arrive at the turn-off to Diablo Campground.  Soon Lolli pulls up and we decide to see what the campground looks like.

Well, it looks Perfect!  In no time at all the Vanagon's top is popped and my hammoch stretched between two trees.
Only seven miles.  Well, it was a lot of up and it was getting hot!

In the afternoon we walk on into Diablo, which was a company town during the building of the Diablo Dam.  I find a trail up to the dam and hike up while Lolli waits in the shade.

Eleven switchbacks and another half mile I arrive at the Dam.

This makes up for today's wimpy bicycling effort.

Like I said.  Perfect!

The next morning we haul my bike over Washington Pass and Rainey Pass.


And find another perfect campsite at Klipchuck State Park.

What can I say.
Camping with my Lolli in the Vanagon trumps solo bicycle camping.
Riding in the Vanagon trumps pedalling.

So long North Cascade National Park.
May some other time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 14. July 20th, 2013.

This is it.  Only about thirty miles to Ed and Suzanne's and all of it on former railroads road grades converted to hiking and biking trails!  Nice!

I zip back into Tenino for breakfast at the one and only restaurant; avocado, tomato and bacon omelet.  Excellent!

Now then, back to the start of the rail/trail.

Wonderful riding.  No traffic, no road kill.

Signage about former towns along the way.

Sometimes I can see forever!! 

At seven miles I reach the turn-off onto the Chehalis, Western rail/trail to Olympia.

Less than 21 miles to go.

Hidden dangers?  Could it be things that go bump in the night??

Now and then active rails beside former rails.

Embiggen this image to see what a great idea was accomplished.

Well, okay.  One road kill.

The view from the bike lane over Interstate 5.  Roaring madness for a few moments and then back to the peaceful bike trail.

And finally, the end of the line.  Ed and Suzanne's.  This photo taken from their deck.
30.82 miles.  A wonderful ride.  For the first time I rode wearing ear buds listening to 88.5 FM KPLU.  Since it was Saturday I listened to Car Talk, followed by This American Life followed by Radio Lab.  Excellent!
The miles flew by.

Lolli will arrive this evening.
Back to the cabin on Elger Bay tomorrow.

417 miles in 14 days.

I'm thinking about trying the North Cascade Highway next.  Lolli said she would drive the Vanagon as Sag Wagon.  Hmmmm.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 13. July 19th, 2013

7:30.  Overcast and light mist.  I didn't put the rain fly on last evening so stuff is damp.
I have good cell coverage so I talked to Lolli and Ed.  The plan now is I ride to Tenino and then take the rail/trail out of Tenino and intercept the Chehallis/Western rail/trail that goes to Ed's house.  I should arrive at Ed's Saturday and Lolli will arrive Saturday night.  We stay the night and then Lolli will haul me and my bike to Camano Island.

Now then.
Where is Elma?

I hit the road and ride the remaining one mile to Elma but it is not there!  Instead there is a big highway intersection, cloverleaf deal.  Highway 12 and 410.  It is overcast and I don't know which way is north or even east for that matter.
I see some guys at a Schwan's Ice Cream distributorship working on a truck, ride over and ask them where Elma is.  They point out the right way but tell me it is another eleven miles!  Beans!  I was hoping for breakfast.


In a few miles I start to enter the town of Montesano.

Looks like they got religion pretty well covered!

There's the Busy Bee Restaurant and I park like the big boys do.

Inside it is an old time cafe!  Peggy Sue playing on the Wurlitzer, lots of old timey signs and memorabilia.  And, REAL breakfast!


Turns out Montesano is hosting a classic car show this weekend; several hundred hot rods and classics are going to show up.  It seems Montesano is host to a lot of classic car gatherings and there are a lot of stores and shops aimed at that market.

Even old timey bicycles!

The street through Montesano is the highway and it is an old timey highway, Washington 410.
Montesano reminds me very much of Waitsburg in Eastern Washington and particularly, Freemont, Nebraska where I lived when little.

Ten miles later, guess what?

Yippee although I have no intention of going to Grays Harbor.

Elma has a church too.  Trust in God but propane is nice!

And they even have bike lanes.

But enough about Elma.
This is where I leave Adventure Cycling Association Washington Parks map Section 1 and start following Section 2, the route towards Mt. Rainier.

The sun comes out and I past this road kill barn owl.  Beautiful bird.  Bummer.

On the outskirts of Rochester I happen upon "Cram a lot".  Cool!

And then Trail Magic #2 happens.

I'm stopped, looking at my map and trying to figure out which road to take when up pulls a white Vanagon bus.  I had waved at a white Vanagon bus a bit earlier and thought it was them; I wave at all Vanagons.
Anyway, out pops Pete and Mary, our good friends from Fort Bragg!!  They had gotten tired of hammering up Interstate 5 and had decided to take an off ramp, on the spur of the moment, and enjoy a lesser road.  And there I am!
But you think that's cool, last year Lolli and I were in a coffee shop in Port Townsend and in walks Pete and Mary!!  Amazing!

I will see them again at the cabin next week.

So, onward.  There it is!  Mt. Rainier!!

It is probably a better idea for these girls to produce fiber than hamburger!

My first bull frog road kill.

And then, Trail magic #3.

The day is warm and there is a long uphill stretch.  I finally reach the top and pull over beside a shady tree to catch my breath and have some water when I spot my blue tooth brush laying on the ground beside the tree!!
What are the odds??
Well, it isn't really my tooth brush but once I wash it real good in Dr. Bronner's, it'll do!!  :-)

Finally, Tenino!
I pull up to a latte stand and order a smoothie.  I ask the lady if there is somewhere around here I can pitch my tent for the night.  She tells me how to get to the City Park.  She tells me the STP (Seattle to Portland bike ride) came through here last weekend and people camped all over the park, she is sure that my one tent won't be a problem.

52.83 miles.  My longest ride of the trip.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 12. July 18th, 2013

Up and at 'em by 7:50.

I always thought solo bicycle touring, with all the days pedalling along the road, would give me plenty of time to think creative thoughts, make up stories, mentally invent stuff but no.  It seems all my blood is being use by my heart, lungs and legs with very little left over for thinking.  Mostly I pedal along with my mind caught up with either counting pedal strokes to the top of a hill or trying to remember stuff while I avoid broken glass and shredded tires.
For some reason, several days ago, I started trying to remember the name of a fancy car; no, not the Roll Royce, not the Bentley.  That other high end sedan.  I knew I knew its name but I could not bring it up.
This morning, suddenly, bingo.  Maybach!
And then I happen upon something like this.

A perfectly straight road for miles and..., wham!
What were they doing?  Why did it happen at this spot?
So sad.

And then, the various signs of patriotism.
I think about the war memorials I have seen in various small towns.
It is amazing the disproportionate number of "people to town size" that have died in wars.
Neah Bay for example.
I wish I had taken a photo of the plaque on their Memorial Stone.
It looked something like this:

There were more names listed under "Peacetime" than any other war!!
How would you like to be listed under "Peacetime"!
But, when you live in a small town where the only choice is logging or military....
Every small market and gas station around here has "recruiter" posters in the windows.  Logging isn't hiring much anymore but the military sure is.

Well, anyway.

It is a somber day for riding.  Cool, overcast, light breeze, birdsong.  Robins, hummers and the bird that goes; Wheet?  Wheet?  Wheet?
(Pete Gealey tells me it is a Swainson Thrush)

There is helicopter logging going on in the distance.  I can see it making trips to various logging sites, the choker setters try to keep up.

I pull into Humptulips and Whoot!

A fellow bicycle tourist!! Steven just finished his tour in the Army.  This is his first bike trip.  He is riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker just like mine!!  He left Port Angeles a couple of days ago and is headed for San Diego.  His butt hurts.
I know the feeling!
I talk him into posing for a "Silly Shot".
He heads on down HWY 101 and I look for my turn-off onto Yountman Road.  Gonna start heading east towards Olympia.

Yountman road is a county road and has some Oddities!!

A very nicely done mail box holder.

And then I come to an intersection and am supposed to turn onto Wishkah road.
(I'm following my Adventure Cycling Map, or trying to.)

A "feller buncher" goes by.

Deer keep an eye on me.

At the Wishkah/Wynoochee intersection I turn left and soon see a "no outlet" sign.
Oh boy!
I flag down a couple good ol' boys in their pick-up and tell them I am trying to get to Elma.
They tell me I am going the wrong way and give me the correct directions.

Soon I am back in agreement with my map and see that I have a four hundred foot hill to get over before I get to Elma.
It takes a while but I finally make it and then down, down, down into farming country.
I try to find the last "Gated Community" before I am out of the woods and onto the flats that are farmed and fenced but, no joy. 

I figure I am only a mile or two from Elma and running out of stealth site possibilities when...

There it is, a wee gravel road going down and around behind a bush!  I can see no one has used this road in a long time, even for a potty stop.  It is only 20 feet from the highway but,  it'll do!

39.94 miles and the sun is back!
Sunshine makes me happy!