Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ronnie's 2011 Bicycle Adventure from Fort Bragg, CA to Jordan, Montana



May 1
7:45 AM.  Out the door!!  Ronnie’s 70th Adventure is officially underway, finally!  I have had the bike packed and ready to go for several days in the dining room!  During that time I have checked and rechecked, making sure I have everything.  One last night in bed to toss and turn, worry and stress and finally get up, have breakfast, button up the house and roll my Long Haul Trucker out the front door, through the gate to ride into the morning sunrise!

By 8:15 I am at Mackerricher State Park sitting on a picnic table taking a break.  It is a beautiful morning.  I couldn’t ask for better!

I did a mock run of this day several months earlier with Johnny, Patti and Sequoia when I joined them on their ride towards Portland as far as Rockport Campground so now I have a better idea what to expect this time around.  I know that feeling of turning off the bike trail from Mackerricher onto Highway One and heading north.  What it is like to ride Highway One with no shoulders.  Not as scary as I had originally thought.  The curves are generous and the sight lines are good especially because of the slower speed limit.  Plus it is easy to hear someone coming with time to squeeze over while they pass.  Soon I am past the Little Valley turnoff to the flying field.  The guys will be flying today but no flying for me.  I’m on my way!

Having learned from my hamstring experience I am taking it easy and making sure I “spin” up the hills rather than not shift down and push hard.  When it gets too steep to spin I get off and push.  I want to take it easy today and not suffer any setbacks in the leg department.  At the downhill and uphill just south of Westport I have to get off and push.  I don’t know if it is because the bike is heavier with a full load or if I am still a bit out of shape from my hamstring setback.  It seems I rode up this grade with Johnny Patti and Sequoiah but not this time.  Hmmm.


Arriving in Westport I buy a bagel, fill my water bottles and have a sit down snack at the picnic table across the street from the store.  What a beautiful day.


12:15  I have reached the point where HWY 1 turns inland and the start of the Rockport Grade.  It is an uphill mix of riding and pushing and by 1:35 I am over the top!  The last time I was up here with the Portland bunch it was sleeting!  This time it is a fun downhill ride and soon I am past the turn where Patti, Johnny, Sequoia and I spent the night at the Rockport Beach.  I am now riding my bike into un-ridden territory!  I am officially on my way!!

It is a nice flat ride and I start thinking about finding a place to fill my water bottles and wondering where I will camp for the night.  I want to get close to the start of the Leggett grade but not past my last chance for creek water.

At thirty miles from Fort Bragg I happen upon a closed logging gate and see that the logging road crosses a creek and travels south along the opposite side.  I park the bike, hop the gate and take a walk to check it out.  It looks good even though there are recent truck tracks indicating activity but hey!, it is after four in the afternoon and every good logger should be heading home by now.  Back to the bike, slide it under the gate, walk it over the bridge and then along the logging road looking for “my spot”.  I want to find a place that isn’t noticeable from the logging road or the highway.  The area is quite wooded with ground sloping down to the creek.  I find a place where I can get down off the logging road towards the creek and mostly out of sight.  There are a lot of large ferns.  Sunlight is filtering through the redwoods.  Perfect!  There are some log rounds someone cut with a chainsaw so I grab a few and carry them over to my camp for use as a cooking table and to sit upon.  Up with my MSR Hubba tent, blow up my NeoAir  air mattress and out with my MSR International cooking stove and food bag.  It is time for black bean tacos!


After dinner I walk further out the logging road.  It runs alongside the creek a ways and then up into the hills.  Along the way I come across a nice big pile of bear scat.  Not too fresh.  I’m not worried.


Back to my tent and settle into a great night of sleep with Cotteneva Creek murmuring in the background.


Fort Bragg to first Stealth camp, 30.05 miles.

Click HERE and click 3D

May 2nd

Oh boy, this is the day I have been worrying about.  Leggett Hill.  1,800 feet of up!

I discover some rodent has gotten into my Ziploc bag of trail mix during the night.  One corner of the bag has been chewed open and every cashew is gone!!  The coconut and the dehydrated cranberries are still in the bag but all the cashews, my favorite part of this trail mix, is gone!!


I cook oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar and then finish packing.  It is a sunny day coming on.  Walk the bike up through the ferns to the logging road and back to the logging gate, park and find a way down through the brush to the stream to top off my water bottles with my Katadyn water filter.

8:20 AM.  I’m ready.  The bike altimeter shows I am at 131 feet of elevation as I start up the Leggett Grade.  


At 243 feet I find parts of a rear derailleur hanging on a road side marker!  Not a good sign!  The road becomes steeper and I wind up having to push the bike from 400 to 500 feet. 


I am able to ride to 800, walk to 900 and then remove my shirt.  I’m getting warm!  


At 1,000 feet I stop for a break and some “snackage”, write in my notebook.  At 1,100 I discover I left my notebook at 1,000!  Coast back down to get it and re-ride the 100 feet back up to 1,100 feet!  Bummer!


At Hales Grove there is some easy up and down riding for a ways and then up and up.  I am able to ride to 1,320 before pushing again.  At 1,400 a guy on a touring bike whizzes by me downhill and shouts “Hi”.  He is doing the fun part!  Then another guy appears and this one stops.  He is Thomas from Belgium riding a green Long Haul Trucker!!  He is doing the Pacific Coast Trail from VancouverBC to San Diego.  "Having a great time!"

Onward.  I stop for a break at every 100 feet of elevation gain.  1,500, 1,610, 1,700.  I finally reach 1,800 but is it the top?  At 1,817 I arrive at the spring at mile marker 100.51 and yes, by golly, I have conquered Leggett Hill!!  I refill my water bottles with wonderful cold spring water.  It is 12:30.  Four hours to climb Leggett Hill!


I try both sides of the hill for cell coverage but there are no bars.  I have to keep my exciting news to myself. 


Now, a fast four mile ride down to the bridge into Leggett.  I have to constantly stay on the brakes to keep my speed down around 25 mph.  In fifteen minutes I am down on the bridge across the Eel River at 740 feet elevation!  Then a steep walk up towards HwW 101.  


I did it!!

I ride into Leggett but nothing is open except the gas station.  I check my GPS and discover it is only 1.4 miles to Standish Hickey State Park.


1.4 miles of introduction to HWY 101 with semi tractor trailers, motor homes and cars whizzing by at 65 miles per hour!  What a change from the much quieter HWY 1.


2:40 PM and I am in campsite #32.  Five dollars for the campsite and four quarters for the shower!  As I am setting up my tent I notice someone ride by with panniers.  I hop on my bike and catch up with them to discover she is Megan from Canada riding to San Diego.  She has just stopped for lunch and is hoping to catch up with Thomas from Belgium.  Good luck!!!

I walk across the highway to the market, buy a beer and four deviled eggs!  I didn’t realize I had a hunger for deviled eggs until I saw them in the cooler and then I couldn’t resist!

Back to camp and after a beer, four deviled eggs and a shower I grab my book and find a nice sunny spot to sit and enjoy the remainder of the day.  Unbelievable, Leggett Hill is now a thing of the past!!  I actually did it and I don’t feel all that bad!!!


Click here and click the 3D button

May 3rd.



Leave Standish Hicky State Park and back onto HWY 101.

I arrive at the Richardson Grove section of the highway where the road is very narrow, no shoulder, with big redwood trees squeezing the road.  Semi-trucks, motor-homes and people in a hurry.  I have my tail light strobe light on and I'm wearing my dayglow vest, doing my best to be seen while riding the four inch wide fog line.  By golly, most trucks and cars give me as much room as they can, some even slow down and wait until it is safe to pass by.  


When I reach the entrance to Richardson Grove State Park I pull in and take a break from the traffic but skip visiting the park.  I just want to eat some snackage while my heart rate settles down!

And then, re-enter the fray.  Out of the park and up a long hill heading north.  The turn off onto Benbow Drive appears.  Whew!  Nice to get off onto a bucolic two lane road with almost no traffic.  


This demonstrates the lack of traffic.  Set my camera for thirty second delay, walk back to my bike and pose!!  Unfortunately, one more mile and I am back on 101.


This is the new bridge that, it is said, has a roadbed higher than the Golden Gate Bridge!  Hard to tell.

Next, off 101 onto HWY 271.  I ride past the swimming hole Lolli and I have visited several times.  It is too much of a down hill on loose gravel, and back!, to be worth a swim.  


Further on I meet a guy riding his bike for exercise.  He is interested in my touring set-up.  He has been reading CrazyGuyOnABike.com.  He says he has always wanted to do a bike tour and now that his son is in high school, maybe he will.  Nice guy.

A few more miles and back onto HWY 101 and into the heat of the day.  I finally have to get off the bike and push up a long hill into a strong headwind  I work up quite a sweat while the traffic hammers by me.  I happen upon a fishing boat flag beside the road.  It is a dayglow orange triangle with the word “STRIPPER” on one side.  The fiberglass pole it is attached to is quite weather worn.  I get rid of the pole and attach the flag to a rear pannier to help traffic notice me.

Finally, the turn off to Garberville!  I coast into town and pick my way through the milling traffic until I spot a drive in!  Park in the shade and order a chocolate shake.  Five Dollars!!  But oh is it good!  I check my cell phone and yes!  Full bars!  I have a nice long talk with my Lolli and then call my brother and give him an update.

I get directions from the milk shake lady to the Garberville Library, ride over to it, and discover it is closed on Wednesdays!!  Oh well, onward to find a grocery store, buy a few items and head for Redway.


Too soon I am back onto HWY 101 and ride past the big slide of last winter. Heroic work going on.

It is really hot riding in the sun on HWY 101 but then the turn off for the "Avenue of the Giants" appears!  Finally, some shade.  Perfect!


No "Giants" for a while but then they start to appear.  I stop at a market and buy a small bottle of Tylenol and a bottle of Fetzer Merlot.  I'm going to celebrate my first, over thirty mile, ride!  The person running the market tells me it is about six more miles to a campground.  When I get to the campground it turns out to be more of a trailer park than campground.  I decide to keep going.  Soon I see a nice little area in a redwood grove beside the road, pull over, and walk my bike behind a tree.  There is very little under story except for a few downed branches and some ferns.  Perfect!  

I start to set up my camp behind a big redwood but then decide to move further into the woods by a nice little stream.


Get the tent set up and the air mattress and sleeping bag installed and start cooking dinner.  I discover I don't have a cork screw with me but then notice this Fetzer wine bottle has a plastic cork.  I am able to pry the cork out with one of the tools on my Leatherman (don’t leave home without it)!

It is getting quite dark when I notice a flash!  And then another!!  Some tourists are walking around the redwood tree I had almost camped behind, taking photos of each other!  Good thing I decided to move deeper into the woods or I might have become their Sasquatch!!


Click here.  Click the 3D button to follow along.

May 4



Up in the morning and back onto the Avenue of the Giants.  Mid morning I arrive at Myers Flats.  I notice two touring bikes parked in front of an espresso store called,“The Daily Grind”.  The bike couple are sitting on a bench enjoying their drinks.  I talk to them and discover they drove their car from Chicago to Crescent City and are now riding their bikes from Crescent City to Santa Barbara where they have friends.  He is 71 years old.  She is sixty something.  They are pulling BOB trailers.  They warn me the espresso store owner is very grumpy.  I walk into The Daily Grind and order a smoothie and yes, the owner is very grumpy. 

“What do you want?”  “What flavor?”  “That’s five dollars.”

I rejoined the bike riders on the bench outside.

The lady from Chicago suddenly realizes she can't find her sun glasses.  We look all around and decide she must have left them on the counter in The Daily Grind.  She goes back inside and asks Mr. Grumpy if he has seen her sun glasses.  Of course he says, “No!” 

She comes back out and we speculate about the pile of sunglasses Mr. Grumpy must have behind the counter!!

Three guys on Harley’s arrive and commence arguing among themselves as to who will go in and order drinks.  They have been here before and know about Mr. Grumpy!!  And, here I thought he just hated bicyclists!!   What an interesting advertising ploy, to be famous for being nasty!!

I step into the market next door and buy a 4 pack of AA batteries; my camera has been giving me a “low battery” warning.

Soon, we all return to "the road".


In a few miles I happen upon a day use park, stop and take a break, spread my sleeping bag out on a picnic table to air out and charge my cell phone with the solar panel my brother gave me for my birthday.  While that's happening I walk down to the Eel River and fill my water bottles.


Mid afternoon I arrive at a traffic stop.  I ask the highway patrolman what’s happening.  Turns out there is a VW commercial photo shoot happening.  I park my bike to see what is going on.  There is a lot of equipment, big semi truck trailer full of equipment, catering trucks, Ad people, cameramen and assistants standing around.  Evidently they are all waiting for the sun to “get right”.  I’ve seen enough, return to the patrol man and get permission to ride on.


I am enjoying this ride along the Eel River, up and down wooded hills, but the day is wearing on.  My ACA map shows a campground symbol by the town of Holmes.  I arrive at a “Holmes” sign by an intersection but I don't see any sign of a town or campground.   I stop a woman driving by and ask her if she knows where the campground is.  She has no idea.  Another guys stops and I ask him.  He too has no idea!

Onward towards Stafford.  And then, a Good Sam Trailer park appears.  Maybe this is the reason for the campground symbol.  I'm still getting use to these ACA maps.

I pull up to the gift shop/office.  There are two guys on duty.  I ask if there is a State Park nearby.


"Nope, no state park.  We are it and you can put your tent anywhere you want.  There are showers too."

I buy an ice cream bar and look around.  They have a lot of nice gift and souvenir items.  I tell them it is a good thing I am traveling on a bike, I have no room for some of their nice wood carvings.  They tell me they can ship anything!  I finish my ice cream and decide to move on.  It is just too commercial a place to be tucked in among motor homes and fifth wheel trailers.


Fifteen minutes later I arrive at, Shively Rd.   I can see that Shively Road crosses the Eel River but only in summer when the river is low.  There is a removable bridge sitting on the bank so, currently, Shively Road is just a dead end and perfect for me.  I walk down and find a small grove of skinny pine trees with no understory.  I bring the bike down and wander around a bit until I find a nice flat spot "mostly" out of sight, park the bike, get out my ground cloth and set up the tent.  It is a beautiful warm evening and for the first time I do not put on the rain fly. 



I cook dinner sitting on the bank of the Eel River.  I discover, surprisingly, there is good cell coverage.  I filter water from the Eel and top up my water bottles.  Such a beautiful evening.


Time to lay down and enjoy the evening sky through the tent mosquito netting.  I can see lights on the trees, now and then, of a passing car up on the road.

Strange.  Here I had spent months worrying about Leggett Hill and Highway One and now that is all behind me.  I realize I have not given much thought beyond Leggett and Highway One.  Now I’m in sort of  a “What’s Next” mode.  I guess that's the next thing to worry about since it seems I like to worry.

May 5


My stealth camp was fine.  A good night’s sleep.

I enjoy my tea and oat meal sitting on the bank of the Eel River watching ducks and geese fly low over the water.  There are a group of geese in a backwater and they raise a chorus every time other geese fly by.  They did invent the cell phone, you know!

Back to the road.


I ride through Redcrest and further up the road I see a corn cob shaped monument.  


It reads:

To Pepperwood
And It’s Loved Ones
Gone But Not Forgotten

A lot of the old lumbering towns in this area are gone.

A few more miles and I am back on HWY 101.   Some folks on a Harley blast by and, as I ride along, I think about what they see compared me.  They are traveling around 65 mph and I am poking along at 7.  


And then, sitting on a guard rail post, I see someone has placed a small animal skull.


 I’m sure the Harley riders missed it!!

Next, my turn off to Scotia.  Yippee!  Away from HWY 101 again!

Down to Scotia and right to the girder bridge over the Eel River to Rio Del.  


Time for a photo op!  This bridge was built in 1940, the same year I was conceived!!

Over the bridge and suddenly I find, “What’s next”!  What’s next is a hamburger stand!  I try riding past but my bike “automatically” turns in!!  Suddenly I realize, I’m HUNGRY!


This is a great, small town, mom and pop burger stand!  I order a big cheese burger, chocolate shake and fries and then wait on the deck, in the sun, at one of the tables.


Sunshine!!  The sun was slow arriving this morning but by the time my order comes up it is spectacular!!  Sunshine makes me happy!  And the burger, boy o boy, is it good.  My first dining out experience since leaving Fort Bragg and..., about time!!


From Rio Del the American Cycle Association map puts me on back roads to Ferndale.  Now that the sun is out I bungee the GoalZero (solar panel) onto the back of my bike and charge the cell phone as I ride.

I come upon some short, and serious, ups and downs.  A couple of them make me get off and push.  Grizzly Bluff Road!  Uff Da!!  Up and down, up and down but finally, out onto nice flat dairy farming land.



Large dairy’s and lots of cows.  There is a headwind from the north but not too strong and I know Ferndale is getting closer and closer. 

A final up, past the Ferndale cemetery, and down into Ferndale!  Yippee!  Only 2:30 in the afternoon.

I visit The Hobart Brown Kinetic Sculpture Museum and then ride out to the Humboldt County Fairgrounds camping area recommended by ACA map.

Park my bike and walk into the office.  The manager lady welcomes me and tells me I can camp anywhere I like and the showers are free!  Holy Smokes!  This is the best welcome I have had since I started my ride!!


A little more conversation and she realizes I am NOT here for the “Tour of the Unknown Coast" bike race” no, I am just touring on my bike looking for a place to spend the night.  “Oh.  That will be $10.00 please!”   Bummer!  I should have kept my mouth shut!!


I wander around looking for my spot away from the motor homes and trailers.  Bike enthusiasts are arriving.  Once my tent is up I partake of the showers and rinse my biking clothes.  I have two sets.  Back at the tent I rig a clothes line between two trees and hang my wash.  The coastal marine layer has returned and it may be a while before they dry.


I ride into town to have dinner at a Mexican Restaurant, after all, today is Cinco de Mayo!  During my two chicken enchiladas and Negro Modelo I decide to take a day off to see what the Unknown Coast bike race is all about.  


May 6  Rest Day


Walking around I see this is quite a big deal.  The fair grounds meeting hall set up for registration.  The kitchen/dining hall is getting ready to feed the riders dinner and breakfast.  A lot of booths are being set up to sell cycling equipment and clothes.

In the evening a documentary is shown in the hall about the Annual bicycle race from San Diego to Atlanta.  I find it interesting but ultimately gruesome.  The winning rider rode nine days on eleven hours of sleep!!  He didn't stop until the second night but for only one hour!  He was carried off his bike to a motor home for an IV drip while his muscles were massaged!  He slept during that and was then carried back to his bike and sent on his way!  When he stepped up on the podium in Atlanta for the first place trophy he didn’t seem to know who he was or where he was!!  Another competitor, a surgeon with a wife and two children, fell asleep late in the race, hit an oncoming car and was killed instantly!

The movie over, I return to my tent happy in the knowledge I am just a lowly bicycle tourist!


May 7

While I sleep the, Two Hundred Mile, riders leave at 5:30 AM.

The One Hundred Mile riders leave at 7:30 AM during my tea and oatmeal!


The Fifty Mile riders start gathering for the 8:30 send off.  This guy built his own bike and is very proud of it.


I spot Paul, Eleanor’s son.  He and his friend are here from AshlandOregon.


I photograph their departure, return to my campsite, load my panniers and leave the fairgrounds at 9:00 AM.


The historic Fernbridge.  I have driven over it, camped in my Vanagon under it but never crossed it by bicycle, until now!


I let these guys go first!



I ask someone about this paint job.  They thought it is a protest about some zoning issue.


It is a nice ride on the old highway to Loleta.  


The old highway crosses HWY 101 onto Tompkins Hill Road.  Swiss Hall was probably built by Swiss dairy farmers.  I also discover why "Hill" is part of the name of this road!!



 At the north end of Tompkins Hill Road is the College of the Redwood campus.  I am insulted by their sign!  My Surly ain't no toy!!

Back onto HWY 101. 


Eureka!  I made it!  At least as far as Eureka, CA!


The ACA map takes me along the west side on old streets past former businesses and industry.


I see the Carson Mansion in the distance.  This is a very different view of town from what Lolli and I usually see when driving through on HWY 101 thanks to bicycling.  I like it.

Return to HWY 101 at the north end of town and onto the seven and a half miles of, “Speed restricted to 50 mph”!  Anyone who has driven this section knows exactly what I am talking about.  I have seen cyclists riding this section before and now I am one of them!


Halfway along I stop to rest and snack by a Caltrans yard. I pose my bike for a photo by a statue of the California Golden Bear.


Arcata, CA.!  Off  HWY 101 and up the hill to the Humboldt University, left, over 101 and down and out onto farming and marsh land on a very nice bike path.  Good on you Arcata!!


I meet a rider.  His name is Dominic and he lives near McKinleyville.  As we ride along I ask him about places to camp around McKinleyville. 

“Why not stay at my house?”

Perfect!


He takes the lead.  We arrive at his house.  It is the last house west of McKinleyville!  Nothing but bluff and slough and Pacific Ocean.  Awesome!

“Make yourself to home”.  I do!  Lolli and I have hosted cycle tourists several times and I guess this is the "Cycling Karma" I have heard about.

 "Pay Back"!

I shower while Dominic cooks rice and beans and makes a salad.  Being a cyclist he knows good cycling food!  He has an interesting selection of beer  in the refrigerator too!!


 Yep, a cyclist lives here!!


He offers his laptop so I can catch up on my blog.  After a couple hours of blogging and bike talk I lay my sleeping bag on the couch and enter the sleep of the dead.   What a wonderful end to a 44 mile day.


May 8

In the morning Dominic fries bacon and eggs.  He tells me about the biking group he rides with each Sunday morning  They are riding to Trinidad this morning.

"Would I like to ride along?"


Perfect!  We have to hustle to get to the corner market where they meet at 8:00 AM.

Away we go!  


The ride is on bike trails and secondary roads.  A beautiful morning ride.

8.5 miles to Trinidad.  We stop for a break at a small cafe and have espressos, muffins, smoothies and visit gathered at a picnic table in the sun.

Trinidad is their turn around point.  They wish me luck.  A nice bunch of folks.  On with my helmet and gloves, out the parking lot and north on the old highway alongside HWY 101.


6 miles I come upon the entrance to Patrick Point State Park.  Lolli and I, Ed and Suzanne, camped here one time in our Vanagons during Thanksgiving Weekend.  It poured rain and the raccoons broke into the cooler and ate the turkey and drank the eggnog!!   A memorable weekend!


This time all is quite and peaceful!

14 miles to OrickCA.  I hope to find a campground but riding through, no campground do I see.

At the only open CafĂ© and ask. 

"Nope!  No campground.  There might be one six miles up the road."

I order a hot fudge Sundae; cool off, and ponder the situation.

Back onto HWY 101.  It is late in the afternoon and quite warm.  I’m ready to call it a day but riding along  I don’t see any opportunities for a stealth camp.

I arrive at the turn off onto the Newton B. Drury Parkway.  Yippee!  Off of 101 and into some shade!

In a few more miles.  I see the sign for Drury State Park.  Whew!

Turn into the campground and discover it is spread way out.  After some more riding I finally find a nice place; picnic table, fire ring, and water faucet.  The restroom and showers are right over there!  Perfect!

I setup my tent up and am busy blowing up my air mattress when a Rangette arrives on her Cushman scooter/truck.  She says, "You can’t camp here.  You must move to the Hiker/Biker area".

Evidently she notices I look a bit tired and feeble so offers to haul my unpacked stuff in the back of her scooter/truck to my new campsite.  Away we go, me riding along behind the Cushman scooter/truck in exhaust fumes.  

Of course, the Hiker/Biker section is way off in the southernmost part of the park, several blocks from the restrooms and shower.  I see the grass has not been cut.

Okay.  Fine!  Good enough!

I drag my bike and stuff to the picnic table and start over.

I'm about set up when a cycle tourist shows up.  "Hey!  Hey!"

Rafael from Belgium!!  He picks a campsite two spots away.  After he is set up we talk.  He asks about showers.  I point towards where I last saw them!!


Roosevelt Elk are grazing their way through camp.  Big monsters but they are only interested in the..., hummm, uncut grass?

Another cycling couple arrive and set up between Rafael and I.  Turns out she is from VancouverBC and he is from Seattle.  They met during their ride.

Rafael rides an interesting touring bike made in Holland.  Very sturdy.  It has a generator front hub and hydraulic brakes.  He has Ortlieb panniers.  He tells me he has toured all over Europe and to the north of Sweden.  His plan is to ride to Oregon and then across the United States via the “Northern Tier” the Adventure Cycling bike route and eventually arrive at the end of the road in Nova Scotia.  Then down to Boston and fly home!

I discover he is a ham operator and has a small Uniden “transceiver” with him powered by a Lithium Polymer battery.  He uses a slingshot to launch a string up over a branch, then pulls the dipole antenna up and stakes it out.  When the sun goes down he is able to “work skip”, DX-ing all over the world.  Often times he is able to talk to friends in Belgium!

All his camping gear is first rate and well thought out.  His sleeping bag is made by Haglof.  He said it has chemicals that adjust to temperature so it is warmer when cold and cooler when warm.  I don’t know if I can believe everything he says but he definitely knows how to bike tour.  I wish I could keep up with him for a while and learn his ways but he is quite a bit younger than I and rides quite a bit farther per day than my todays effort of 38.5 miles.

The good new is, the hot shower is awesome!!


May 9



I wake to a beautiful morning!

My fellow campers and I pack at various speeds for our return to the road.  Overhearing the conversation of the couple next to me as they make breakfast and break camp it doesn’t sound like they will tour together much longer!!


The "Bickersons" and Rafael.

In any case, I am the first one on the road.  It is a nice, but cool, morning.  Low lying fog in places but blue sky overhead.  Perfect riding!


In a few miles I leave the wonderful, peaceful, Newton B. Drury Parkway and return to the business of HWY 101.  Five more miles, over the bridge just south of Klamath and I turn towards a gas station/mini mart/Subway.  I order a teriyaki chicken/onion sandwich on flat bread.  I am quite leery about leaving my bike out of my sight while waiting and ask the guard in his booth if he will keep an eye on my bike for me.  He indicates the TV monitors in front of him and I see my bike and realize he is "Security" for this building which also houses slot machines!!  I am on tribal land and this is, among other things, a mini casino!  I enjoy my sandwich outside on a picnic table near my bike.  Just in case!

Today, being Monday, I would like to weigh myself.  My brother, sister and I have been having a “Wait Wace” for over a year.   Each Monday we e-mail each other our current weight.

I ride over to the tribal office, park the bike and inquire at the front desk about the possibility of them having a bathroom scale.  Nope.  They don’t have one, “Try the Health Clinic up the street”.

I pedal to the  health clinic but no joy, they are closed on Mondays.  Bummer.


I ride over to this Golden Bear for a photo opportunity before pressing on.  I think he smells a Snickers Bar in my handlebar bag!

Back out on 101 I see a couple heading south on touring bikes.  I pop over to say hi.  She is from San Francisco and he is from Scotland.  They met in Thailand six years ago while hiking and have stayed in touch.  Recently they decided to get together and ride the Pacific Coast.  They flew to Vancouver, BC from their respective locations, looked for and bought second hand bikes in a Vancouver bike store, rode to various thrift shops for clothes, sleeping bags and tent and now, here they are, heading for San Diego!!


While we are talking Rafael arrives and joins the conversation!  I talk them into posing for a "Silly Shot"!  What great fun but soon we need to resume our individual adventures.  I really enjoy meeting and talking to “fellow” traveling cyclists, they are all so upbeat and inspiring!

Onward, into the afternoon. 


I arrive at a famous tourist trap, "Trees of Mystery" and, of course, have to take my photo by Paul Bunyon and his Blue Ox Babe.


And then, a close up of, "Babe's" blue balls!!

Onward.

I want to find my place to camp before taking on the hills this side of Crescent City.  My ACA map shows those hills will take me to 1,200 feet above sea level!

4:30 PM.   I arrive at the Wilson Creek bridge.  On my right is an American Youth Hostel.  Yippee!  Pulling up to the gate I see it is closed and locked.  Stepping over the gate I walk around to the back to check things out.


A sign on the building states it is closed “permanently” as of September, 2010.  Way too bad, it is such a nice old Victorian style house.


Fortunately the parking lot is out of sight of the highway and away from road noise but it is also packed gravel and sloping.  I find an “almost” level spot and gather some downed tree branches to use as anchors to tie my tent to in lieu of stakes; the gravel surface is too hard to pound a stake into but, hey!  It'll do!

An easy day.  17 miles


May 10

I am out of oatmeal.  Some trail mix and a Lara Bar will have to do.
Deflate the air mattress, shake out the sleeping bag, pack the panniers.  I carry the panniers to the gate, return, and walk my bike to the gate, lift it over to attach the panniers.


 Just as I set off I notice my GPS is missing!!

Park the bike, hop over the gate, walk back towards my campsite and there it is lying in the leaves!  Whoa!  I am so glad I noticed it missing before I hit the road.

8:55 AM.  No more screwing around.  I roll onto HWY 101, cross over the Wilson Creek bridge, set the altimeter for sea level and immediately start the climb.

9:20  Five hundred feet up in 0.92 of a mile.
9:30  Six hundred and ten.  Take a little rest.
9:40  Seven hundred even.  Stop to admire the Trillium.


10:00  Nine hundred feet.
10:15  One thousand twenty-seven.
10:22  Eleven hundred feet.


10:35  Bingo!!! Finally, twelve hundred feet!!  I did it!!
Wrong!
11:00  The “real” Bingo is at twelve hundred and ninety-six feet!
11:06  Oh no.  Down, around a curve, and MORE up!!


11:22  Finally, the Real Summit.  Fourteen hundred and thirty-seven feet above Wilson Creek!!

A little rest, some snackage, zip up my jacket, and enjoy the long, fast, curving ride down, down, down and out onto the flats south of Crescent City.

I happen upon Rafael while riding into Crescent City  I see a Burger King sign and ask him if he would like to stop for lunch.  He would. 

I follow along behind him and soon he pulls into a McDonald’s!  I guess he doesn’t know the difference between Burger King and McDonald’s.  Maybe in Belgium fast food is just fast food.  Whatever, McDonald’s will do.

We park our bikes where we can keep an eye on them, enter and order.

His English is some what broken but his English is a whole lot better than my Belgium-eese.

There is a Safeway behind McDonald’s and Rafael keeps an eye on my bike while I get some oatmeal.

Soon we are on our way.   Rafael decides to explore Crescent City.  I return to my daily grind.  It seems I have just enough poop to get from one campground to the next whereas Rafael is on vacation sightseeing!!  Ah youth!!

Once clear of Crescent City and  HWY 101 I am on quiet country roads.  Pretty country.  Lake Earl Drive.  Fred Haight Drive.  First Street through the town of Smith River, population 1,000.  


A nice cemetery.  Sarina RoadOceanview Drive and then…


Welcome to Oregon!!  By golly, my first new state!!  (notice the clouds?)

I stop to call my friend Ed to brag but there is no answer.  Bummer!

Onward to Brookings, Oregon.


I stop and fill my MSR fuel bottle at a gas station.  My first purchase of regular gas for my cook stove since I left Fort Bragg.  53 cents!  I'm getting pretty good mileage!!

Onward.  Hopefully there will be camping at Harris Beach State Park; just a few more miles.

6:30 PM.  The end of a long ride.  I am pretty well whipped.  It has clouded over into a light drizzle and, to add insult to injury, there is a small, steep, hill up to the entrance of the State Park!!  Gack!

I ride up to the kiosk to read the information board to get a sense of the layout and cost when a guy rides up on his bike and asks me if I would like ham hock and beans!!  “I have a crock pot full at my camp site!”

What a welcome!!  Turns out “Hank” is a bicycle rider who could tell, when he saw me, I would welcome a warm dinner.  He tells me his campsite number and says, "Come on over after you get set up".   I ride over to the hiker/biker camp area.



Whoo Hoo!  There's Rafael setting up his ham radio!  He already has his tent up and has finished dinner!

I set up my camp next site over, grab my towel, soap, a change of clothes and ride to Hank’s for ham hocks and beans.


Hank has the crock pot out on the picnic table along with a place setting and a bottle of wine.  There is a smoky campfire and classical music on his boom box.  Welcome to Oregon indeed!!  Hank tells me about the bike rides he has enjoyed in New Zealand and Australia while I have three helpings!  


Finally satiated and on the verge of tipsy from the red wine and good company I repeat my thanks for the last time and head for the showers.

Great showers!  Unlimited hot water unlike California's 25 cents for three minutes.  I notice there is also a laundry with washers and driers available.  Oregon State Parks!!  Woo Hoo!

Hot water and a full belly.  How unbelievable and excellent a day this has been.  Wow!

Refreshed and pleasantly tired I ride back to my tent, crawl into my sleeping bag, lay down and listen to the soft murmuring of Rafael calling, “CQ, CQ, CQ”, into the night air. 


Day 11

Just as I get my food bag and stove out Rafael invites me over for breakfast.  I am interested in seeing what he calls breakfast.  Joining him at his picnic table we share milk, bread, raisins, sardines and cashews.  Tasty, energy packed, quick and easy.  No fiddling around with a camp stove, no dishes afterwards.  Good idea!!

While we are eating and talking I notice a Raven fly away from my campsite with something in its beak.  I run over to check and by golly, he stole one of my tortillas!!  He, or she, pulled the zip-loc bag of tortillas out of my nylon food bag and somehow extracted one!  I put the remaining tortillas into my food bag and put the food bag back in my front right pannier!  Bad bird!  Boy, they don’t miss a trick!

Back to Rafael and the remains of our breakfast and conversation.

One thing and another, pack up my gear,  I don't get back on the road until almost 11:00 AM!!

Overcast, rather cool and soon it starts to sprinkle.  Riding along I wonder if it is going to continue and finally decide it is.  Bummer.  Welcome to the Pacific North Wet!!


The good news is, Lolli bought me some nice rain gear for my birthday and, for the first time, I am going to check it out.  I stop beside a small building and dress under the eave.  Back onto the highway and yes, it is a good idea to put on the rain gear.  It is now really raining!


This rain gear has “Pit Zips”; zippers under each arm that I can open or close to help keep me from getting hot and sweaty.  Pedaling up a hill I unzip to keep cool.  Cruising down a long grade I zip up and stay warm.  They work great!  Thank you Lolli!

After thirty miles, a long hill, increasing rain, I finally arrive in Gold Beach where I think, and hope, there is a State Park.  And then, I spot a sign for a library!!  

Turn off HWY 101 and look for it.  Up and up into the hills.  This must be a mistake and then, there it is, six blocks off the highway up a long gradual climb!!  It is not in town but rather, out of town in the woods!  The good news is, it is a very nice looking, modern, recently built library.

I pull up under the porch overhang, park and remove my rain gear, helmet, and gloves.  Get out my notebook, camera and USB cord.  Walk into the nice warm building, see all the nice shiny computers and am told by the librarian they do not allow “devices” to be attached to their computer!!  This means no photo updates to my blog!  Beans!!  I'm sure having a heck of a time with "connectivity"!

Greatly disappointed I decide to hell with it and head back into the rain.

Outside the entryway I discover a middle aged man and a young black girl looking at my bike.  He is explaining various part of my bike to her and then he turns to me and tells me how dangerous it is to ride a bike and how bad people are.  I realized this guy is some kind of nut.  I am already pissed off about the library and the steep hill I had to climb for nothing and the rain and now I just don’t have the patience for his crappy outlook on life so I interrupted his spiel and “Share with him” my favorite parable.

“It seems a traveler is walking (biking) along when he sees a wise man sitting beside the gate to a town.  He asks the Wise Man, “What kind of town this is?”.

The Wise Man responds, “What kind of town did you come from?”

“Oh, it was full of rascals, thieves and liars.”

The Wise Man says, “You will find this town to be about the same.”

Later, another traveler arrives and asks the Wise Man, “What kind of town is this?”

“What kind of town did you come from?”

“Oh, I hated to leave; it was such a nice town full of friendly, honest people.”

“You will find this town to be about the same.”

That shut him up and he actually thanked me for my story.  He really did seem to have a dark cloud over him and I felt bad for the little girl, wondering what their relationship was but, enough was enough.  I was getting chilled. 

Down the hill in the rain I go thinking about the "town" I came from, Sunny California!!

HWY 101 and, Whoot Whoot!, there is Rafael checking his map in front of the Gold Beach courthouse.  I pull up beside him and holler, “Hey!  Hey!”

We discuss our situation and I tell him I hope to find a campground in Gold Beach

“No, the next campground is twenty eight miles”. 

Twenty eight more miles!  I have already ridden thirty, mostly in the rain, and my stuff is getting quite wet.  Rafael says he is going to press on and I decide to continue too but crossing the bridge north of town the wind is blowing the rain sideways, I am totally miserable and decide this is nuts.  I tell Rafael I have had enough.

We say our good byes, “Good luck, I hope to see you again”, and I return to Gold Beach.

There is a motel.  I ride up to the office.  $30.00 for a small room.  Good enough.


Fifteen minutes later I have stuff spread out all over the room with the heat on high, crawl into bed shivering and try to warm up.  Damn!

5:30 PM I cross the highway, in the rain, to a bar and order fish and chips and a Budweiser.  This is my first night out of my tent since leaving Fort Bragg.  Maybe I'm not ready for "Ronnie's 70th Adventure".

Or..., maybe, this is it!!

May 12




I wake to a beautiful, clear, 40 degree day!!  

I check out of the motel at 9:00 and ask if they can recommend a good place for breakfast.  They do.  Unfortunately it is about a mile in the wrong direction but I ride to it and order a sausage patty, two eggs, home fries, and an English Muffin.  I sit in the corner where I can keep an eye on my bike while catching up in my notebook.  I notice the Gold Beach “regulars” are gathered in their usual spot solving the worlds problems.


After a nice breakfast (and a bit stuffed) it is time to get on the bike, get back to work, and head north.  In a while I pass the motel and recross the bridge that defeated me.

I’m surprised and happy to discover the ACA map routes me off of HWY 101 and onto a much quieter, “North Bank Road”, alongside the Rogue River.


Part way along I notice someone's "Garden Art" and park for a photo.

Gradually the road rises to the hills and I reach the turn-off onto Cedar Valley Road.  It is a beautiful ride up into the woods with  lots of moss and greenery.  There is very little traffic.  Up, and up, and finally a nice long downhill back to the coast.  As I near the coast I hear traffic hammering along HWY 101.


Back onto HWY 101 and a nice long straight shot beside the beach.  That's Humbug Mountain off in the distance.


Early afternoon I happen upon Ophri Roadside Park, pull in and spread out my sleeping bag and clothes and lay down beside them to enjoy the wonderful sunshine.  Ahhh!

I start thinking about Raphael and how he has it together.  He gets his “thirty miles” over easily and explores towns and information centers along the way.  He is “touring America”.  Me, I’m just trying to get the "thirty miles" to the next state park over with before I drop!! 

Rafael has a system for keeping his clothes clean.  He washes his “under clothes” each night in the restroom and hangs them to dry overnight; “People don’t steal underwear!”  Also, I think I might do better on yogurt, fruit and nuts like him than on sausage, eggs and home fries for breakfast!  And, I must admit, I have a lot of anxiety.  Raphael is cool, calm and confident.  He has bike toured extensively.  There is a lot I could learn from him. 

After a nice sunny rest and refreshed sleeping bag and clothes it is back on the road and onward.  In the distance I can see Humbug Mountain getting closer and closer and I wonder how HWY 101 deals with it.  Will I go around or will it be up and over?  Looking at my map it looks like it will be up and around the east side of the peak.


Bigger "Garden Art"!


I see you Humbug!


How about this, kids!  An Airstream.  Almost the same year as the one I lived in!!

Onward and upward and soon enough I am past Humbug Mountain and zooming down to Humbug State Park.


I find Humbug State Park to be a pretty little campground with over attentive camp hosts putting around in their John Deere four-wheel maintenance truck pruning, clipping and spraying.  I ask them where their sunniest campsite is located.  “Follow us”, they hop on their John Deer and lead me to number 81, right next to the showers and across from the highway, (there is a river separating us, hopefully the traffic will thin out at night).  They mention a bicyclist used this site the previous night who had a bunch of wires up in the trees!! 

Hey!  Hey!  Raphael and his ham radio camped here!!  Cool!

While I am setting up my tent a young couple walk by with backpacks.  I stop and talk to them and discover they are hitchhiking down the coast to Point Arena!  The more interesting thing is the little blue parakeet the girl is carrying in a wicker basket!  The little bird sitting on its perch looking out at the big, big, world!  I can identify!!

After camp's established I walk over for a shower and discover someone stole the temperature control handle!  I look in the other shower stalls and they are missing handles too.  There is only the shaft the handles should be attached too!  Finally I realize the “shaft” is actually a push button!  Push the button and water comes out at a pre-set temperature!!  New one to me!  I rinse my shirt, bike shorts, and socks and drape them over my bike to dry.


It has been a short day’s ride so I walk around the campground and discover a trail out to the beach that passes under the 101 highway bridge.  The structure of the bridge is quite remarkable; the beach, not near as interesting.


Continuing my walk around the State Park I happen upon a young couple towing a teardrop trailer with their Honda Element.  They are more than happy to show it to me.  It is very nicely made.  They tell me a guy in Petaluma makes and rents them!!

Back at my camp I see a young couple on touring bikes have arrived and are setting up next to me.  We greet and meet and too soon I discover they leave their radio on all the time.  Strange!
  
Time for dinner, some wine and call it a day.

May 13


Up in the morning, my neighbors are ready packed and on the verge of leaving.  I discover it was a series of podcasts they were listening to, just loud enough for me to hear it but not loud enough to be able to understand what the podcast was about.

I too pack up and get rolling.  The couple with the parakeet are walking out the entrance of the state park as I leave.  We say goodbye, they head south with their thumbs out while I turn north.


The sun is filtered through clouds, this south wind might mean some weather heading my way.  I ride over the HWY 101 bridge I hiked under last evening and immediately encounter a hill.  I have to stop and take a break part way up.  Pretty, but quite windy.

Over the hill I coast down into Port Orford and stop at the Safeway.  Two young women are sitting outside on the curb eating their lunch.  Behind them are their bikes with panniers.  They are taping up their knees.  They are heading south and both are having tendon troubles.  I leave my bike parked with theirs and enter the store to buy a salad tray of carrots, broccoli, celery, cauliflower with dip, plus 3 bananas, 2 containers of yogurt and a two Snicker bars.  When I come back out the women are gone and some homeless guy is standing next to my bike looking at it.  I quickly check to see if anything is missing as he shuffles off.  I thought I would be out of the store before the ladies left.  I hate to leave my stuff unattended.

I move around to the south side of the building and enjoy the sun while eating my salad.  I check and discover there is cell phone coverage so talk to Lolli and some other friends.


The afternoon is a hard ride against the wind which has shifted to the north.  I stop at Sixes, Oregon and eat my yogurt, sheltered out of the wind, in the abandoned building next to the post office.  Finished, I enter the post office and ask the young lady if I can use the restroom.  Not supposed to, she says, but come ahead.  Nice restroom!  On my way out of the building she offers me a Red Vine!  Nice stop!

Onward into the wind with some sprinkles but mostly sun.  I spot a nice, new, modern library beside the highway.  LangloisOregon.  I don't see any town around here but they sure have a nice library!  Again I am unable to upload my photos!  I keep getting an error message.  Evidently my photos are too large.  I decide to change the resolution on my camera to a lower setting.  Duh!


It is a long tough day but I finally make it to Denmark!!  :-)

I try to take it easy and use granny gear a lot on the hills but the inside back of my knees are starting to talk to me.  This is the first time I have heard from my knees since starting this trip!  Initially I was worried about my Achilles tendon, the one I pulled before this trip, but I have not had any problem.  The back of the knees issue is new.

Finally, BandonOregon and only a few more miles to Bullard State Park.  I am more than ready to call it a day.


They have five dollar hiker/biker sites and soon my tent is up and I am blowing up my air mattress.


This is the first campground with mosquitoes!

(In my notebook I am musing about how I seem to have enough blood to either operate my legs or my brain but not both at the same time.  I seem to experience, "Runners Dumb", I can't think straight when exhausted!)

I enjoy a wonderful, long, hot shower.  Back in camp I discover the “hook up” at a trailer site near me has a 110 volt outlet!  No one is camping there so I plug in and re-charge my cell phone and Zune!

I have decided to take a day off.  Right after dinner I crawl into bed.  It is only 7:30 PM but I don't care.  It has been a tough day against the wind.   With my Zune I finally find a Jefferson Public Radio station with NPR.  For a while I was afraid there was going to be no choice but country, religion or Limbaugh!

May 14


In the morning I remove the panniers and put them in my tent, zip it shut, and enjoy a light and zippy ride back to BandonOregon.   The Long Haul Trucker feels real different without the load and it takes a bit to get use to it.


Over the bridge and into the touristy section of Old Bandon.  I find an art supply store.  He doesn’t have any Micron pens but he does have Prismacolor pens.  I buy one.  He also has 4Gig SD cards and I buy one for my camera.  That is the end of my cash!  I am flat broke!  I plan to get more money when I buy groceries.  I had an ATM machine eat my credit card one time while on vacation.  It was a very involved process getting it back.  I avoid ATM machines as much as possible and go for extra cash when buying groceries.  I hope I can do that in this town!

Heading back to the State Park I spot a Ray’s Grocery.  It is a big modern market.  I buy more than I need because I am concerned about whether I will have enough food to last a couple of days if the rain causes me to hole up for several days.  I also get “cash back”.

$36.00 on food and AAA batteries plus $50.00 in cash.  I’m happy again.

I unload at my tent and decide to ride out to the nearby lighthouse to do a drawing of it.  The ride is further to the lighthouse than I expected, about four miles but it is a nice ride just inland from the beach and sand dunes.  


The lighthouse is a small one.




 Looking north along the beach.

The lighthouse hosts are a husband/wife team.  


The wife mans the gift shop while, up the tight winding staircase, her husband is in the lantern room waiting to explain the history.  


The Fresnel lamp is gone.  He tells me the lamp went missing years ago and no one knows where it went.  Too bad.

Outside I find some rocks to sit on with a nice view of the lighthouse and spend a pleasant hour or so sketching on postcard size watercolor paper.  I’m going to send this one to Ed and Suzanne.  I plan to sketch more lighthouses as I travel along the Oregon coast.


The overcast increases and a light drizzle begins so I ride back to my campsite.  Inside my tent I bring my notebook up to date and listen to “This American Life” followed by “Prairie Home Companion”.  (Thank you Jefferson Public Radio.)  54 degrees at 5:35 PM.  A lazy evening confined to my tent munching mild cheddar, dried salami, crackers and reading my book.

May 15

9:00 AM.  Packed and rolling.


A rather nice, sunny, morning ride.  Soon my Adventure Cycling Association map routes me off of HWY 101 onto a secondary road called, “Seven Devils Road”.  It is a pleasant ride past a lot of retirement homes in the quiet country side set back a ways from the ocean.  All going well until I suddenly arrive at the end of the blacktop!! 

I find it hard to believe ACA has routed me onto gravel.


Checking my GPS and ACA map I discover I should have turned off onto “Beaver Hill” road.  Hmmm.  Beaverhill road is about three miles back.  I see on the map that Seven Devils Road continues and eventually reconnects to HWY 101.  I decide to press on even though it is gravel.


The road turns into a series of ups and downs and then I encounter some very steep up and down through a heavily logged area.  Oh boy!  Did I ever screw up.  The hills have become so steep I can only walk!  The day has become sunny and warm and I am working up a sweat and drinking all my water.  I start worrying about whether I will have enough water and finally come across a small stream.  I am able to filter and refill my bottles.  I begin to wonder if I am going to be able to get out of here before nightfall.  This terrain is so hilly it would be hard to find a level place to camp. 


 I’m talking a break at the top of a particularly long up hill push when I hear an engine and a guy comes around the bend in his pickup.  He pulls over and we talk.  

He is out testing his electronic dowsing rod, looking for gold!  The device seems like “snake oil” to me but he is quite excited about it.  A friend of his makes and he sells them.  He tells me I only have about a quarter of a mile of gravel road left before I get to the blacktop.


He continues on his way and I resume my struggle.  By golly, he is right, I am back on smooth, wonderful, black top gently rising and falling with a final coast down a long hill towards CharlestonOregon.


Along the way I meet a mom and daughter team riding south on recumbents.  Holy Moly, they are packing a load!  I can’t imagine how they are going to cross some of the narrow bridges I have crossed without tying up traffic.  I tell them to be sure and take the Beaverhill turn-off.

“Do not stay on Seven Devils road!”.


Some humor.  I like humor.

Sunset State Park just before Charleston, Oregon is further off the beaten track than I really wanted to ride after my Seven Devils experience but I finally arrive.

At the kiosk I locate where the hiker/biker section is and ride over to have a look and choose my campsite.  I think I am going to need to see the ranger to break a twenty but discover I have a five in my billfold.  Being whipped I decided to lie down on the picnic table for a little rest before checking in.  After a nice little nap I walked over to the kiosk to pay my fee and discovered I don’t have the five dollar bill with me.  Darn!  I recall I left it on the picnic table!  I walk back to my campsite and discover it isn’t there!  I look all around under the picnic table and then search my whole campsite.  There is no wind to blow it away, there are no people around to take it, there is just a Raven sitting in a tree watching me! 

Unbelievable!  There is now a five dollar bill in a Raven’s nest somewhere in Sunset State ParkOregon

Back to the Ranger to change my twenty after all!


I get the tent up just as the sprinkles start and then it commences to rain!  Nothing for it but sit in my tent enjoying snackage; apricots, salami, cheese, crackers and some Merlot wine! 


Oh boy!  Slugs and rain.

Overall it was a short day but still a lot of work due to my screw-up.  Seven Devils was harder than Leggett!  Pushing my loaded bike up that gravel road reduced me to, 25 steps, stop and catch my breath, 25 more steps.  Over and over.  The down hills required gripping the brakes very carefully through the loose gravel trying to keep from sliding out and falling down.  Wow!  I now know why it is named, “Seven Devils Road”! 

I got to meet all seven!!

May 16


Mixed sun and overcast this morning with a temperature of 44 degrees.  The radio says 40 percent chance of showers this afternoon in the Coos Bay area and mostly rain showers the rest of the week.



I decide to call this a rest day.  I’m not excited about riding in rain.


Hello Skunk Cabbage, my ol' friend.  I've ridden to Oregon to meet you again...

But, since it isn’t raining, yet, I decide to ride out to the coast to see the lighthouse.




It is quite a long, uphill, ride to the overlook and, guess what?  No lighthouse!  But a great view up and down the coast and some guys fishing off the rocks.

Back to camp.

Early afternoon I ride into Charleston to buy "comfort food"; Dinty Moore Beef Stew, a box of Double Stuff Oreo Cookies and a bag of English Muffins.  I also purchase a two pack of Lithium AA batteries for my camera which has been giving me a "low battery" symbol or even refusing to turn on this past week.  I'm afraid it is on its last legs but, remarkably, the Lithium batteries snap it out of its lethargy!


It starts sprinkling while in the store so I get out my rain gear, put it on, but the rain stops by the time I get to camp.  Along the way I finally spot the lighthouse.  It is located out on a rock and is no longer accessible for tourists.  Because of the drizzle I decide to skip doing a drawing of it.


Back in camp it starts sprinkling again and I hole up.  But then I notice the camp host and his wife are out mowing the lawn and trimming brush.  It dawns on me, I am nearing the Pacific North Wet where people even golf in the rain!  No more California dreaming!  Stop sniveling!!


3:30 PM.  The sun is out full strength and I have everything spread out to dry.  


I walk to the far end of the campground where the yurts and the nicer showers are located.  As usual, they are located far from the hiker biker section.  

Oops, I’m sniveling again!

May 17


Okay, make that two days of sloth.  Time to move on.  Some sunshine sure would be nice.  No NPR via JPR this morning.  Just god and cowboys and “easy listening” music on the FM.

9:00 AM.  Packed and outta here.


Hmmm.  If the weather doesn't improve I may have to go there!


Coos Bay and then North Bend sort of blend together into one long ride.


10:27 AM.   I lived in North Bend once upon a time, North BendNebraska, that is

I stop in a nice little store for hot tea and egg sandwich. 


I stop at Moe’s bike shop to top off my tires.  My tires gradually lose their 80 psi over the course of several days.  Moe’s is a big, cluttered, famous, bike shop.  They hand me an air hose that is hooked to their compressor.  I have to be real careful to not over fill.  They probably sell a lot of tubes and tires because of that compressor.  Most bike shops let you use a hand operated "floor pump".


Since I survive topping off my tires successfully they give me a sticker for my bike!  


Right after Moe’s, and I mean, right after Moe’s, there is a big girder bridge with no bike lane.  I have to gut it out staying as close to the railing as I can.  One asshole honked.  Everyone else was courteous.  The two ladies I met yesterday, on recumbents, told me they really held up traffic when crossing this bridge!  I believe it!!

3:00 PM  31.92 miles.  Umpqua State Park.  This is the worst hiker/biker campsite yet!  Dark and dank with no chance of sun even if it was shining.  No showers.  One flush toilet in an outhouse!  The campsite is bare dirt, damp and sloping!!  It begins sprinkling twenty minutes after I arrive.  Fortunately I have my tent up with my sleeping bag inside.  The only good news; there is a power outlet at an unused trailer site just up the hill where I can recharge my cell phone.  Also, surprisingly, there is 3G available!!

Drips from the trees and drizzle all night.  Mosquitoes.  A fog horn blows every ten seconds.

Insert F word here.

May 18


Up and on the road by 8:30, my earliest start yet. 

After a nice, six mile warm up ride, I enter ReedsportOregon.


I spot this awesome skateboard park.  For such a small town, population 4,378, it is really quite something.  Fort Bragg is trying to build a skateboard park.  They should check one out this one!


Further in town I see a “whole food store”!  Ride over, park, and Oh boy!, finally a chance to buy oatmeal, brown sugar, raisins and cashews in bulk.  I make my selections and as I am checking out I tell the owner what a wonderful the skate park they have.  He says he wishes they would tear it out, “It is nothing but a hangout for druggies”.

!!! 

At the town library I notice a city worker getting out of his truck.  I walk over and ask about the skate park.  He tells me, “It is great for the kids and a wonderful place for family gatherings on weekends”.

Hmmm.  I guess it is all in who you talk to!

The Reedsport library is one of those marvelous old brick buildings with wide steps up to the front doors but, even with the help of the librarian, I can’t upload my photos.

I notice they have a rack for swapping paperback novels so I "upgrade" mine.  No charge!!

 I grab a salad for lunch at Safeway on my way out of town.


Next town, Gardner, after crossing the Umpqua River.


Interesting old town.



The art gallery has a bronze statue sitting on the roof looking out over the estuary.


I leave the estuary and head into some hills.


I pull off onto a logging road for lunch and, while enjoying my salad, take in the view of ...,


the unbelievable Oregon logging practices!  How they can still do this in this day and age defies common sense.


3:00 PM.  26 miles.  Honeyman State Park.  Sunshine!  I enjoy the shower and wash my hiking shirt, pants, biking shorts, socks and my thick merino shirt.  I string up a clothes line to dry them but the marine layer has started to roll in.  Hopefully there will be some morning sun.

5:45 PM.  Seven other cyclists have rolled in and are staying the night!  A guy from Georgia and a photographer from Texas, they happened to meet on the road and decided to travel together.  There is a girl from EugeneOregon and an older couple from Germany.  Also another couple who are riding a tandem from OttawaCanada!  Everyone is busy setting up camp and cooking.  By the time it is time for the evening campfire and conversation, I am in bed!!

May 19


A sunny clear morning but the sun hasn’t reached my campsite.

I move my tent and sleeping bag into the sun and visit with the cycle tourists in the next camp over.  When I return, one Bluejay, two crows, one squirrel and a chipmunk scatter!  Now what?

The little farts have been feasting on my $7.80 per pound bag of trail mix I bought in Reedsport!!  Damn!!

They have knocked it off my picnic table and  torn it open!  They have been gobbling as fast as they can!!  I try to salvage what is left while they squawk at me; the birds in the trees, the chipmunk and squirrel from the ferns, just looking for another chance!!  Aggressive little buggers!  Jeez!

I get myself organized, everything packed in the panniers and by 11:00 AM, I am off.


 A beautiful day.  The highway cuts through sand dunes several miles east of the Pacific!


And then back out to the coast.  Heceta Head lighthouse but when I get to the turn-off it is to too much work to get to it for a sketch.  Lazy me.


Up and down.  Up and down!  Taking a break.  The north wind has really picked up.


2:00 AM  13.85 miles.  Sort of reminds me of HWY 1 down by Jenner.  Steep up and up.  No shoulder.

A group of Adventure Cyclists are doing a weekend loop out of Portland, thirteen of them.  One of them informs me I am climbing Cape Perpetua, the highest hill on the Oregon Coast.  I believe it!

I stop for snackage of avocado and crackers at a pull out were I can get out of the headwind.  I have been pushing the bike uphill for the last twenty minutes!  I’m told there is a tunnel on the downhill side.


Finally, over the top and a nice downhill zoom and then, there is the tunnel.  It is quite narrow with no bike lane.  I see some bicyclists coming uphill in the tunnel.  I don’t want anyone trying to pass me with them coming so I take up all of my lane.  We whoop and holler in the echo-y tunnel as we pass by each other.  No place to stop and talk.

Out of the tunnel and into the sunshine and headwind and, finally, Yachats (population 617), where my map indicates a state park.  I stop in the store for some supplies and a celebratory bottle of wine for surviving the hill climbing and headwind.  The checker says there is a park down by the ocean.  I ride over to check it out and yes, it is a park but  just a park.  No camping!  Day use only!  Bummer!

Nothing for it but to ride back up to HWY 101 and onward.  It looks like five more miles to a Federal  Park  At least the wind has died off.

I arrive at the Federal Park but it is too expensive.

Okay.  One more mile to Beachside State Park.

6:30 PM.  Beachside State Park.  Whoa Momma!  A total of 36 miles today against the wind!  I’m tuckered.



How about this!  The shower and restroom just a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Another bike traveler arrives, Dan.  

He is a young, energetic guy.  He asks if we can double up on my five dollar hiker/biker site.  Why not, he has interesting stories to tell.  Then a homeless guy walks up wearing a backpack, smoking a cigarette.  Already he is complaining about this and that so I encourage him to move on to a different  campsite.  I'm not interested in listening to sob stories.

There are a lot of crows hanging around and bird shit on the picnic table.  I tell Dan about my previous  experiences with wildlife; "Be sure you keep your food out of sight"!

Dan is riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker, green, and has Ortlieb Panniers and a Brooks B-17 saddle.  He says he really likes his Brooks saddle.


After dinner (I'm currently on a Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatball kick, fast and simple) I go for a walk to see if I can find the ocean.  The campsite is with-in hearing distance but a dense wall of brush and trees block the view. 


I found it!

May 20


8:53 AM  Sitting at my picnic table, in the sun, having tea and oatmeal.  I'm eating my oatmeal with the remaining half of my Spork, thanks to the birds!!   Being close to the restroom I can keep an eye on my cell phone while it charges.

The homeless guy is gone.  I'm sorry I didn't want to hear his story but...


Dan and I chat.  While we are talking his Ortlieb panniers get shit on by some crows in the branches overhead!  It is a big mess which he finally gets cleaned up.  He packs the rest of his stuff and hits the road.

It is almost noon!


I decide to walk around the campground and come across this signage at the "Day Use" end of the park just north of where I am camping.  NO this, NO that, NO most everything!

Back in camp I call my brother.  He is busy installing automatic levelers on his fifth wheel trailer.  He and his wife are getting ready to leave on vacation.  He will be pulling his thirty-five foot trailer with his F-250 King Cab Ford pickup powered by a V-10 Triton gas engine!  We agree I will be his "carbon off-set"!!

I talk to my cousin in Southern California and get the phone number and address of his sister, my cousin, in Lincoln CityOregon.  I will be passing through Lincoln City and I hope I can stop in and say hi!  Maybe score a warm shower, hot meal, and a place to sleep!

In the evening I listen to some NPR and call this, "A Rest Day".

May 21


Three weeks on the road!  Only a few miles to Waldport.  I stop for groceries; 9 grain bread, yogurt, salami, cheese.  I need gas for my stove and some cashews would be nice.  I’m thinking about buying myself a Brooks saddle in Newport.  Dan really likes his Brooks.  My butt has been getting sore from the seat that came with my Surly.  Maybe I’ll treat myself; I’ve earned it after 1,300 miles of training and almost 500 miles of Adventure!


The bridge over Alsea Bay just north of Waldport.


It has interesting little porticos at either end.

An overcast day with no wind, yippie!  The sun looks like it might burn through.

Riding along I happen to spot a credit card by the side of the road.  I coast to a stop, swing back, and take a look.  Yep, someone’s credit card!  I'm at the entrance/exit to an Art Glass gallery.  I pick the card up, ride over to the gallery, and tell the owner about it.  She doesn’t know the person but says she will look into it and, “Thanks for turning it in.”.  Feeling good about my good deed, I press on.


Seal Rock.


 Bus loads of school children out investigating tide pools.

I meet a bike touring couple heading south!  We talk for a while and I discover they are from the Sumner area of Washington State.  

I have kids and grandkids in the Sumner area but they don't know them.  

She tells me she has ridden "Ragbrai" in Iowa and the "STP" (Seattle to Portland)

“Both are big parties!!”


Another heroic bridge.


A nice biking and walking path option.


Looking down on Yaquina Bay!!


In Newport I stop at the Chevron to fill my MSR bottle.  Only forty-five cents worth but I give the attendant a dollar and tell him to keep the change!  Magnanimous me!

Eight more blocks to the Newport Bike Shop to see about a Brooks saddle.   I pull up, go to park my bike, and discover my “Click-Stand” is missing!! 

Then I recall I heard a funny sound when I left the gas station.  I remember I looked behind me to see what it was but a car was pulling up to the pump so I moved on.  Now I know that sound was my Click-Stand falling to the ground when I left.  I’m wondering if it was run over and squashed; is there even a chance it might still be there?

I decide to ride back to the Chevron to check anyway and, by golly, there it is!  The attendant found it, didn’t know what it was, and put it on the bench by the office.  Whew!  I’m so glad I tipped the guy 55 cents!  My bike karma is strong!

Back to the bike shop.


 They have a lot of nice bikes and even a Calfee made out of bamboo.  The first one I've seen!  And, sure enough, they have Brook Saddles.

I decide to bite the bullet and buy the Brooks B-17.  $105.00!  Since I don't want the weight of hauling my old saddle with me I talk them into buying it.  They offer me $10.00.  Okay.  (In hind sight I could have mailed it home.)

They install the new saddle and I take it for a test ride.  The seat is very slick and I slide all over the place!!  I ride back to the store and have them re-adjust it a bit.  Maybe because I am wearing hiking pants over my biking shorts is the reason it feels so slippery.  Maybe I should wear only bike shorts for a while until the newness wears off.  I  hope that helps.  It sure isn't all that comfortable at this point!  They tell me it takes a while to break the seat in.  Whatever, the black Brooks sure looks nice on my black Long Haul Trucker.

Before leaving Newport I happen upon an art supply store and buy two Micron Pens.  On down the street is a used book store where I trade in, "The Thin Red Line" for Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms”.  I seem to be on  a military kick.

Eight miles more and I arrive at Beverly Beach State Park.

There is quite a hill to push up to get to the hiker/biker site.  Just what I enjoy most at the end of a day of riding and, of course, the showers and restrooms are "far and wee"!  


I find a site with a bit of sun but it doesn’t last long.

Once I have camp established a German comes rolling in on an overloaded BMW motorcycle and sets up his tent.  It starts to drizzle so we don’t talk for long.

It is a hike to the showers and back but well worth it.

Dinner over, I crawl into bed and call it a day.

May 22



Breakfast; oatmeal, honey and raisins.  Update my log book.

The Ranger arrives and tells the guy with the motorcycle this campsite is only for human powered travelers.

10:45 AM.  Outta here!  Full sunshine!  I have GoalZero charging my Zune.  Today I will find out if buying the Brooks saddle was a mistake.


 A "witness tree"?  Something to show how big trees use to be?  Spotted owl nest?


More up and down along the Pacific.

12:15  8.02 miles  I stop at a beautiful ocean side, Day Use, park for lunch.  Some fellow ‘mericans are having lunch at the next table.  When they get back in their car they leave paper plates, beer cans, empty chip bag and napkins blowing in the wind.  I don’t understand people like that.  Absolute slobs.

I gather up their mess and walk it half a block to the restroom trash can which, by the way, is in plain sight.  Jeez!


Further along I happen upon this fun and very interesting couple.  They are riding about twenty feet of tandem recumbent!  Never seen one before!  They are a great antidote to the trash couple and perk up my faith in my fello 'mericans.


Arrive in Lincoln City.  Take a photo and call my cousin and tell her I am here.

She says “Come ahead” and gives me her address which is near 36th Ave North.

Great!  I start riding and after a few blocks I notice a street sign, 30 Ave. South!!  Lincoln City is one long, long, city!!  


Along the way I happen upon this sign. Evidently some religious nut had been predicting the end of the world!

It takes forty five minutes of pedaling up and down hills, past strip malls, through the old town, the new town and the edge of town before I finally arrive at Dee's house!  And here I thought I had arrived when I saw the “Welcome to Lincoln City” sign!!  NOT!

Deloris and I have a nice visit.  And yes, I am more than welcome to stay for dinner, use the shower, sleep in the guest room and have breakfast before resuming my trip.  "Make yourself to home!"

Wonderful!!!  They jury is still out on the Brooks Saddle.

May 23


"Bye Dee!  Thanks for the hospitality!"

8:45 AM.  On the road after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast.  The TV news was about a tornado killing 80 in JoplinMissouri.  I sure don’t miss TV!

There aren’t any state park campgrounds shown on my map for quite a ways and I’m anxious about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and how full campgrounds will be.  Always something to think about!


Well, how about that!!


10:00 AM.  7.40 miles.  I’m getting very familiar with “granny gear”!  Up and up the old scenic highway north of Lincoln City.


There is no traffic and it is very green.  A lot of bird calls.  It seems like there is a song sparrow singing his heart out every fifty yards.  Up, up, up.  My butt is sore.

10:32 AM.  I think I have reached the top.


11:30 AM.  16.10 miles.  A nice zoom back down to 101.

I stop for lunch break and pull on my second pair of bike shorts hoping they will help me get through today’s ride!  My butt is really sore.


 At a "viewpoint" I notice a Bald Eagle sitting on a structure.  First one I have seen this trip.

I stop in Pacific, Oregon at the market and buy yogurt, Snickers, chocolate milk and a can of meatballs and spaghetti.  I have discovered a cold pint of chocolate milk is a real, “pick me up”.  I ask the clerk if there are anyplace places around here to camp.  She thinks there might be a camping area over by the beach.


On the way to the beach I ride past the end of the Pacific runway!


The beach area is beautiful but it is also a zoo with many people, upscale condos, and RV parks with motorhomes parked cheek by jowl.  Not my cup of tea.

Onward up the hill.

Several miles north I notice a small parking area and a  trail to the beach.  I walk out a ways but it is very narrow through dense brush and overgrowth with no areas large enough or flat enough to pitch a tent.  Just as well, it is a rather sketchy location for stealth camping.

Onward.

3:10 PM  31.51 miles.

This is turning into a long day of riding on a sore butt.  According to my map it is another ten miles to Cape Lookout State Park.  Bummer!

And then, a sign!!  "Whalen Island County Campground"!

I turn off, cross a small bridge, and ride up to the camp host who is raking grass.  I ask if they have hiker/biker sites.  “Why sure!  $5.00.  There are no showers but there is running water in the restrooms.”

“Perfect!  Sign me up!”


She leads me over to a beautiful campsite on a low grassy bank overlooking a large estuary.  Absolutely perfect!  Sunshine even!


I set up my tent and drape my sleeping bag over a large driftwood log to air.  Home Sweet Home!


In the next campsite are two Vanagons; my kind of people.  I walk over, introduce myself, and discover they are from BendOregon and have a Subaru engine in their Vanagon (just like mine!).  Their friend, from Santa Cruz, has a stock Vanagon.  They are members of the Wet Westies.  They offer me a beer and we talk "Vanagon".  Nice!!  

I'm wondering why I am riding a bicycle!!

Back to camp, a quick dinner, and I'm in the sack by 7:30 PM.  It starts to sprinkle right after I crawl in.  Surprise!  Surprise!

May 24


Up at 7:30 this morning after 12 hours of sleep!  I guess an old man needs his sleep!

Yippee!  Sunshine, but the marine layer is starting to roll in.  Hopefully it will burn off.


10:30.  Packed and ready to shove off.


Sand Lake.  Population 26!  I stop for an ice cream bar.

The road rises through the dunes and I happen upon this...,


A crew setting up to film a commercial about a fuchsia colored chair and foot rest!!

12:45.  Top of Cape Lookout!  Pretty good climb!


They must get a lot of rain up here, there is moss growing on everything!  Even on the hiking trail sign!


Over the top of Cape Lookout and down, down, down to the campground.

Northern Oregon and their Cape Arago, Cape Perpetua, Cape Foulweather, Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout!!  Up down.  Up down!

1:45 PM.  11. 93 miles.  Cape Lookout Campground

Cape Lookout is a rather strange place but hey, a short day of riding.  Good enough.


I set up camp and, of course, discover the showers are located at the opposite end of the campground!  This time I use my bike and ride to the showers!

I get there, undress, and am ready to turn on the water.  I pull aside the shower curtain and discover the shower nozzle aimed right at me!!  Every other state park shower nozzle has been located either on the right or the left side of the stall.  Not this one.  There is no way I can reach in and, 1. see if the shower works and, 2.see if the water is hot enough without getting sprayed!!

Why would State Parks build such a nice new facility with such a stupid shower design?  Most amazing!

Back at camp I call Jeff.  We decide to aim for this Friday at the Astoria Regional Airport, weather permitting.  I have about eighty miles left to ride before I reach Astoria.  Three days?

I call my friend Suzanne.  She informs me, "Lolli might come down to Astoria to see you"!!

Whoot!  Whoot!

May 25


A new day but it doesn't look good.


 Riding along Netarts Bay I spot this house.  Not only is this house located out in the country beside a beautiful bay, it also has barbed wire, concertina wire, security cameras, motion sensor lights and a guard shack!!  Maybe they won the lottery!


 The rain starts in earnest and I suit up.  The question is, should I take the road around the point or should I take the shortcut up and over?

I decide on the shortcut and after a long granny gear grind up I clear the top and experience my closest call yet on my bike!  I am zooming down the hill towards Tillamook on a narrow blacktop two lane road with loose gravel shoulders, my glasses rain spattered and foggy when a Kenworth dump truck comes barreling down on me from behind and puts on his Jake Brake!  Of course a car is coming the other way.

I try to give him all the room I can and accidentally slip off the blacktop into the gravel at about twenty miles per hour!  I can't see if there are culverts or road side sign in my way, all I can do is try and stay upright and regain the blacktop as soon as the dump truck, and accompanying spray, get past.  Fortunately there were no culverts or signs.  I make it.  Just another "flip of the coin"!!


 It absolutely pours as I ride through Tillamook.


I happen to notice and photograph this sign.  "Boquist", must be pre-Bloomquist!


I am in my yellow mood and it ain't good.


In Garibaldi I stop because of a sign advertising hot apple pie ala mode.  They are a new business and do not have plates yet so I have to eat my "hot apple pie ala mode" out of a foam hamburger container with a plastic fork.  Not worth the $5.00.

There is not much left of Garibaldi except this smoke stack and a few stores and galleries trying hard for visitors.

HWY 101 through Nehalem Bay has a surprisingly tough uphill climb at the north end.  I have to get off and push!

Finally, Nehalem State Park!  It is located two and a half miles off Hwy 101 and, of course, it has one of those tough up hill climbs and then down to get to the park.  39.28 miles!  This has been one long shitty day.

May 26

It rained all night.


Raining now during breakfast.  Eating oatmeal with water dripping off my nose!

Raining while I pack up camp; tent, rainfly, and ground cloth wet and heavy.


Passing trucks throw water up from their tires into my left ear like a dope slap!!


My yellow mood is getting moodier!  (A garbage bag over my handlebar pannier.)


Looking back after the climb up Cape Falcon.


E-gad!  This is getting ridiculous!!


There seems to be no end to the rain.

3:00 PM.  25.73 miles.  I arrive in Seaside, Oregon like a drowned rat.  I see a Chamber of Commerce Information sign, pull in and walk, dripping, into their office.  I ask the nice lady if there is someplace in town where I can camp.  She walks over to a display rack and starts picking out various hotel and motel brochures.  The young assistant at the desk speaks up and says, "There is a Youth Hostel just a few blocks down the street."

YES!!!  Thank you Jesus!!  Someone who understands!!!

The assistant draws a map for me and with-in half an hour I am in heaven.


Sixty-five bucks for a single room but I don't care.  I spread out my gear to dry, take a hot shower, crawl into bed and try to stop shivering.

5:00 PM.  Feeling somewhat recovered I dress and take a look around.


Living area.


 Communal Kitchen.


Back yard estuary!

I call my Lolli and tell her where I am.

She will arrive tomorrow!!!

May 27  Interlude



Lolli arrives and brings beautiful weather with her!!  What am I sniveling about, this is perfect!
We stay an extra day in Seaside, Oregon walking the boardwalk, exploring the town and dining out.

Finally we check out of the hostel, load my bike and five panniers into the back of Lolli's Subaru Outback, and (by golly, it all fits) hit the road for Lolli's mom's house in Shoreline, WA.

Wow!!  I can't believe how fast, smooth, and effortless traveling by car is!  It has been almost one month since I rode in a car.


We stop in Olympia at our friends Ed and Suzanne for the night.  Ed introduces me to the network of "Rails to Trails" around the Olympia area.  Very nice.


Note: My Long Haul Trucker is "wicked fast" unloaded!!


 Arriving in Shoreline I mow the lawn and help around the house for several days but also get to explore the "InterUrban" bike trails of North Seattle.  This photo is of the new bike and pedestrian bridge over "Aurora", old highway 99.


 I ride to Fremont (27.6 miles round trip) where this rocket marks the center of the Universe!  Fremont is bike friendly but very hilly.


 A few days later Lolli, mom and I move to my mother-in-law's cabin on Elger Bay, Camano Island.


Kick back and let my butt heal, my palms heal, my gear dry out.  Perfect!


 After a few local rides near the cabin I decide to load the bike and see if I can ride from Camano Island to my brothers house on Whidbey Island.  (That's Whidbey in the background.)


 It is a beautiful ride up the Skagit Valley north of Stanwood.


 Hook a left towards Anacortes and another left over the Deception Pass Bridge onto Whidbey Island.


Fifty miles from Elger Bay I camp for the night at Deception Pass State Park.  What a rip!!  12 dollars for a hiker/biker camp site located up a steep and overgrown trail in the woods with no view but plenty of noise from jets taking off from the Whidbey Naval Air Station!!  Oh yeah, fifty cents for a three minute shower "token"!!  And..., it starts to drizzle!

Up in the morning and onward.  I have my first crash of the trip in Oak Harbor!  I see a large grocery store, turn in and head for the store through the parking lot.  I'm watching an approaching car and fail to notice the huge speed bump right in front of me!!  Bam!  Up I go and while flying I discover I have forgotten to turn the lock on my handlebar pannier so it too flies up into the air and lands on the blacktop right in front of me where I immediately run into it and fall over!  One knee is bleeding, my palms are scraped and my camera, cell phone, toothbrush and notebook are scattered before me.  The driver stops and asks if I am alright.  I'm in deep denial of course; if I don't acknowledge what just happened, maybe it didn't.

I sort myself out, get my stuff gathered together before shoppers drive over it and limp into the store for a banana and some yogurt.  Sheesh!  All I wanted was some lunch!!


Almost to Coupeville I notice these cows.  A few of them notice me.  I have never seen "Hampshire" cows before.  Hampshire pigs, no problem, but Hampshire cows?


 I have a nice visit and great barbecue with my brother and his wife.  Stay the night in a comfortable bed.  Use a very nice shower.  The next day we compare our camping vehicles!!  They are getting ready to go on vacation too.

Next morning they haul me and my gear back to Elger Bay where our friend Suzanne has arrived for a visit.  She lives in Vancouver, Washington and has offered to take me back to "The Trail" where I will "Officially" resume "Ronnie's 70th Adventure".  I have been googling around, found, and printed out maps of the Historic Highway 30 route alongside the Columbia River from Troutdale, Oregon to the Dalles.  This is good because I only have Adventure Cycling Maps from California to Washington.



I am now at Suzanne's in Vancouver, WA.  It has been a wonderful break.  Lots of good food, good company, soft beds, and hot showers.  I could get use to this but no, dammit!  It is time to move on.

June 15




I talk Suzanne into driving me to the "Portland Women's Forum" parking lot at the top of the hill east of Troutdale.  I'm already upset with the weather; resuming my ride in Troutdale with a big hill before me just didn't appeal.  Thanks Suzanne for driving the extra ten miles.


Looking east up the Columbia River.  Where I'm heading doesn't look good.  But, oh well, it is a warm rain!


The amazing Vista House at Crown Point!  It was built to showcase Highway 30 back in the "good old days".  Some lady volunteers are setting up a table with cookies and coffee for visitors but unfortunately they will not start handing it out until 10:00.  Because I am anxious about the weather I decide to press on.  No cookies for me.


Looking up at the ceiling of Vista House.  Quite remarkable.


On the steps looking down river towards Portland.


Looking up river towards what, I hope, will eventually be the dryer side of Washington State.  It doesn't look promising.


But rain means "lush" and one hundred varieties of green!


Old masonry railings edge the many bridges along Historic 30.  Moss is abundant.


This highway is a remarkable feat of early road building through difficult terrain.  There is very little traffic this early in the season so it is a very pleasant ride.


Bridal Veil Falls, one of many waterfalls along the way.  I think it would be more spectacular on a hot sunny day!


Wikipedia:
"The original highway was promoted by lawyer and entrepreneur Sam Hill and engineer Samuel C. Lancaster, to be modeled after the great scenic roads of Europe. From the very beginning, the roadway was envisioned not just as means of traveling by the then popular Model T, but designed with an elegance that took full advantage of all the natural beauty along the route.
When the United States highway system was officially established in 1926, the highway became the part of U.S. Route 30. Since then, modern Interstate 84 has been built parallel to the highway between Portland and The Dalles, replacing it as the main travel route and resulting in the loss of some of the original sections of road."


Ho Hum.  Another waterfall.


I-84 down below.



This is an area where a section of Highway 30 slipped out.  These steps provide a way for bicyclists and pedestrians to continue.  Note the "groove" provided to help guide bike wheels during accent or decent.  I removed my panniers to make the bike lighter and easier to handle down the steep grade.


 Soon I am back on the old highway.  A lot of artistic masonry went into this old road.


 Along with the wonderful Highway 30 and greenness there are slugs!  But notice the dry ground!  Yes!!  After riding 26.65 miles I am closer to Eastern Washington and have arrived at Herman Creek Campground.

I have to push my bike up the hill to the campground but hey, it isn't raining!!  This is a very small campground with only 9 campsites.  I walk around and check the sites out and finally settle for #1 because of the view of the Columbia River and some log rafts.


The fee is five dollars for those with a Golden Age Pass.  Hey!  I got one of those but this is the very first time I have ever used it!  Cool!


After I get my tent up and stuff spread out to dry a fellow cycling tourist shows up.


Eric from Michigan!    He is 20 years old and heading for Portland to see his girlfriend "who is no longer there"!  He gives me directions on what to do after Biggs when old HWY 30 dumps me out onto Interstate 84.  "Cross over to Maryhill, Washington.  Take HWY 14 east to the Umatilla Bridge, cross back over the Columbia and get on HWY 12 East."

I carefully write this down since my Historic HWY 30 map quit at Biggs.

Because Eric will arrive in Portland tomorrow he loans me his Adventure Cycling Maps of Idaho and Montana!  He also gives me his half empty container of Bull Frog sunblock SPF 36, "You're gonna need it!".

I can't wait!!!

We talk until 10:30PM!  Nice guy!

June 16


 Eric is outta here and I hit the road too.


What's this!  It looks like I am going to be out from under the cloud pretty soon!


 Oh my yes!  Sunshine!!  I have to ride alongside Interstate 84 for a ways but I don't mind.  Good weather is just ahead!


 I stop at Starvation Creek State Park and roadside rest area and talk to a guy who is on a road trip with his Harley Davidson.  I wonder why I sold my Harley Davidson, travel was so much easier then.  But then too, I wouldn't notice the lava formations, stop to admire the flowers, listen to the birds, see all the broken glass and bungee cords along the roadside.

I leave the rest area and resume riding the breakdown lane of I-84.  In about fifteen minutes I hear a "beep beep"; the guy on the Harley roars by giving me the "low hand" sign.  Cool!

Nine more miles takes me to the off-ramp to Hood River.  The first thing I notice; Hood River is a hillside town!  I never noticed these things when riding my Harley!

I find the main part of town and start looking for a bike shop.  I'm hoping to buy an Adventure Cycle map that will get me to Idaho.  The bike shop guy recommends a guy down the street who owns Anthony's Pizza, "He does all kinds of bike touring."

I walk my bike to Anthony's Pizza.  It is a really neat restaurant with open windows out onto the street.  I ask the waitress about the owner "who is into biking".  She tells me to "just go up those stairs".  Up I go and am welcomed into Anthony's office.  We have a great talk about bicycle touring with me picking his brain and then he draws a map on a piece of paper showing how to get from Biggs to Clarkston on the Idaho border.  He warns that "groceries and water will be a problem along highway 14".

Back down in the restaurant I order a pizza "wrap" with spicy chicken.  Sit by the open window where I can keep an eye on my bike and watch all the pretty people walk by.  Excellent!


 Leaving Hood River via the old highway there is an immediate climb of switchbacks.  I have discovered Interstate 84 is straight, level and crazy busy with semis, motor homes and people in a hurry.  Old Highway 30 is up and down and up and down with California Poppies!!  Sunshine!!  Peace and quiet.  No contest!


Once past the "burbs" of Hood River I suddenly see barriers in the road.  I'm thinking, oh no, not after all those switchbacks but as I get closer I see they just stop car traffic.  This is the Senator Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead!  There is a nice little park for people to park their car, get out, stretch and then continue either on bikes or walking.  Perfect!

I like Hood River.  A very health conscience town and I didn't even mention wind surfer heaven!


 Great views of the river along this path.


Approaching the Mosier Twin Tunnels.  Check out that sky!!!


Mosier Twin Tunnels.


Arriving in the small town of Moser.  I stop at the market to buy tortillas, peanut butter and a can of spaghetti and meat balls.



I also buy a nice cold bottle of chocolate protein drink, walk across the street, and sit on the picnic table looking at this totem pole.  It is quite different from most totems I have seen.  Very intricately carved.


Next up, Memaloose Overlook.  Then down, down, down and, up, up, up to Rowena Pass.


Starting down from Rowena Pass the headwind is so strong I'm almost knocked over several times.  Chubasco style winds that slam me all of a sudden when coming around an exposed point.

According to my map it is 12 miles to The Dalles.  My map doesn't show any campground between here and there so I better start looking for some place to stealth camp before I get down on the flats.  The switchbacks overlooking the river are very windy, the switchbacks against the hills are quite sheltered.  I finally find a sheltered turn with a small parking area and a trail going up the hill.  I park my bike and hike up the trail for a look.  I have to walk about fifty feet to get past all the toilet paper and about another block before I find a level enough area for my tent.  The spot just big enough.  Back to my bike to push it up the hill.


There is poison oak everywhere.  I am very careful choosing a site for the tent, I don't want poison oak transferred onto me when I roll up the tent in the morning.

Good new / bad news..., no rain fly needed but, there are a lot of mosquitoes.


Home sweet home, my sleeping bag drying out.

After my dinner of spaghetti and meatballs I am lying on my down sleeping bag listening to NPR.  Since it is still warm I am nude.  Suddenly a guy goes zooming by on a dirt bike!  He takes a quick glance and keeps going.  I lay there wondering if this will become the movie, "Deliverance" or "Easy Rider"!

Finally gets dark.  I don't hear anybody coming with baseball bats..  Guess not.

June 17



Peanut Butter and tortilla.  Breakfast of Champions!  Pack up and leave my stealth camp after a, thankfully, non-eventful night!


 Back on the last section of HWY 30.  I'm not flagging down traffic.  I'm "gronking" the sun and scenery!!  Oh happy, Happy, WARM morning!  No wind.  Perfect!!


The end of a good thing.


Riding the breakdown lane of Interstate 84.  I stop in some shade for a break and WOW!  What is that?  Mount Hood?  I hadn't noticed it in my bicycle mirror.


The Dalles Dam.  I take the exit to visit the dam but homeland security will not let me get close enough to even see it.  "You need to park your bike and sign up for the tour bus ride."  Nope.  No thanks.


Back on the Interstate one of these blow by now and then.  I finally figure out they are hauling sections of towers for windmills.  Pretty interesting how the section they are hauling is the only structure between the tractor and the rear end of the rig.  No trailer!


I still can't get over eastern Oregon/Washington weather.  After all the rain, this is wonderful although, I must admit, Bull Frog sunblock is becoming quite necessary.


Ten miles beyond The Dalles I see this railroad bridge across the Columbia.  Two freight trains are tied up waiting for a barge to pass under the bridge.  I stop and watch the action for a while.  Finally the movable section of the bridge is lowered and the trains start rolling again.


A huge windmill blade just passed me!  I have been trying to get a photo of one but they are always by me and down the road before I can get to a full stop and get my camera out of the handle bar bag.  Frustrating.


I pull off for lunch in a shaded roadside park.  I'm enjoying watching the river go by when I suddenly heard a loud "POP-swish"!  A car club has arrived in the park on their way to some car show and all their cars have some sort of air suspension system they release when they park their car or truck and it settles on the ground!


Strange!   I guess they are the opposite of "jacked up" pickups!


Back on the road.  There is a nice section of frontage road allowing me to ride beside I-84.  Every now and then there is a roadside shrine.


And Sagebrush!!  Oh man, my first sagebrush!!  I stop and rub some into my biking gloves to smell and I take a few sprigs to adorn my handlebar bag.  I love the smell of sagebrush.


Ah!  There's one!

30 miles.  I arrive in Biggs, Junction.  Biggs Junction, Oregon.  The day is, for me, getting hot!  Biggs is a jammed packed truck stop, gas station, fast food, mini market four-way stop.  Full of hot and bothered drivers, whiny kids and disaffected teenagers all waiting in lines for gas and fast food.  I park at the MacDonalds and walk inside to order a Hot Fudge Sunday.  It takes forty five minutes!!  If I didn't want my treat so bad I would leave in disgust except, well, for the air conditioning!!

Across the street I spot a small mini-mart and take my life in my hands trying to get to it between big rigs, motor homes, and SUV's!  I buy some salami, bagels and more spaghetti and meatballs.

Now, it is time to face the bridge.


A wikipedia photo.
This is where I cross over to Washington State to get to HWY 14 East.  The bridge is old, only two lane, with a very narrow, almost nonexistent, bike lane.  Of course the late afternoon wind is blowing 30 miles per hour, across the bridge, up river.  Oh momma!

I make it almost to the high point of the bridge where the girder bridge section begins when I see in my helmet mirror a big semi tractor-trailer rig coming up behind me.  Of course there is a semi tractor-trailer rig coming the other way too!!  I squeeze over as close to the bridge railing as I can get when my front pannier suddenly snags on the curb twisting my handle bars to the right into the railing!  I grab the rail to keep from dumping over into the road just as both trucks roars by.  Maybe I am over emphasizing this a bit but not really, it scared the shit out of me!!

The trucks are gone, I mentally regroup, sort myself out and coast the rest of the way into Maryhill State Park.  Whew!


Nice park.  $12.00 Hiker/Biker.  Welcome to Washington State Parks but, oh well.

I set up in an area that turns out to be, "NOT the hiker/biker area".  Oops!  Pack up and walk my bike and gear over to my new, correct, campsite.  Get set up, walk to the shower, wash myself and my clothes.  Back to camp, string up my cloths line, hang my cloths, and kick back!  Ahhh!!


Off in the distance I see the start of tomorrow's ride.  Up, and up, and up to HWY 14.  Oh goodie, something to worry about while I try to sleep.  Also, according to my map, it is an 80 mile ride to the next town, Umatilla and, remembering Anthony's advice, "No services until you get to Umatilla".

For dinner I have spaghetti with meatballs and the last of my salami chopped up as extender.

I settled into my tent for a well deserved rest, soon busy counting sheep when suddenly my eyes pop open.  It is 10:00 PM and I am sick to my stomach!!  I swallow hard several times trying to mentally will myself well but soon realize there is only one way this will pass, I have to get to the restroom NOW!  I unzip the tent and do a hasty two step through the dark towards the "Day Use" restroom; I really don't want an audience when my schist hits the shan.  I arrive not a moment too soon and discover the door locked!

Nothing for it but to hoppity skip to the other "Campground" restroom about one block away.  I am really, really, on the verge of losing it when I slam my way into a stall in the men's.  E-gad, that was close!

Greatly relieved and subdued I stagger back to my tent and fall into bed.  It must have been that several day old salami and no refrigeration.

I start stressing about tomorrow's eighty mile ride with minimal supplies, an empty stomach and cleaned out large and small intestine!  I really should ride back to the mini market in Biggs Junction in the morning to buy some extra food but I can not face crossing that bridge across the Columbia two more times.  Nothing for it but to try and get some sleep and deal with what happens as it happens.

June 18

I wake to light drizzle.  Oh boy!


Pack up, roll out, and pedal up and up, up, up the grade to HWY 14.  Take a break to look back to where I was.


 Up on HWY 14 I see signs for the Stonehenge structure at Mary Hill but the road to it is even more up and I have had enough.  No.  Time to bicycle east; lenticular clouds in my future.


 Just as Anthony said.  Nothing for 80 miles.  Oh boy!


This is sad to see.  A straight road, minimal traffic.  What a singular spot to cease existence in such a vast location.


And then there are these.  The end result of all the long loads I saw on Interstate 84.


The sky becomes more ominous and it starts to sprinkle again but as they say, "It is a warm rain".


Another damn dam on the Mighty Columbia.


The dam probably powered this aluminum smelting plant which is now in ruin and slowly being disassembled.  Large pieces of metal siding are banging in the wind as I pedal by.


The light rain ends with a wind squall and the weather starts to improve.


Check out my bike computer!  2,235 total miles! 1,235 training miles before I left Fort Bragg and 1,000 into "Ronnie's 70th Adventure"!

And then, what's this?  Roosevelt!  Roosevelt, Washington!  A very small glitch in the road where there is a mini mart with an OPEN sign!  Inside I find a great selection of food items for the bicycling traveler.  The woman behind the counter even has a bike log so I can sign in!  She said, "The oldest cyclist to log in was 86, the youngest was 8, riding with his dad on a tandem".

While I enjoy a sandwich and chocolate milk two more bicycle travelers arrive.  They are young guys heading east but I am sure at a faster pace than I.


I refill my water bottles, buy some extra snackage and press on.  The wind has become a nice tailwind and I make good speed as the weather gradually improves.


Now and then I come upon one of these.  Cell tower?  Homeland Security?  Aliens?


After sixty miles I decide to call it a day.  This is the longest time I have spent in the saddle in one day and my butt hurts.  Looking for a stealth camp isn't easy in this wide open country but eventually I come upon a small side road that ends in some brush between the highway and the railroad tracks.  I park my bike and walk around looking for a level spot for my tent.  Oops!  A pile of deer carcasses.  I realize this is where highway maintenance crew dumps road kill!

I find a spot upwind from the dead deer for the tent, get it partly staked down and discover red ants starting to run all over the tent!  Oops!  Ant hill!!


One more move.  The final location is not as level as I had hoped but it will have to do.  It is hard to heat my Dinty Moore Beef Stew in the wind but finally dinner is over, I am settled in, the wind subsides, some birds start their evening song and stars come out.  All in all, I will have to call this, "A Pretty Good Day".

June 19



Up and ready to roll.  A sunny day!  I'm a happy guy!


I was told about a "shortcut" off of HWY 14.  Christy Road.  I would turn off onto it several miles before reaching the Umatilla Bridge.  Christy Road is a nice two lane blacktop road just like HWY 14 but with even less traffic.  Riding along I pass a fenced area with tumbleweeds piled to the top and just over the top of the tumbleweeds I thought I spotted something that looked rather colorful and nylon-ish!  I stopped,  turned around, pedalled back and sure enough, it is the stealth camp of the the two young guys I met at the Roosevelt Mini-Market!  We exchanged "Good Morning" and I pressed on.


I am definitely entering different country.

And then I arrive at the Umatilla bridge!



I was told there is a bike lane over the bridge starting at the end of Christy Road.  Sure enough, there it is.  The bike path leads off into a large culvert type tunnel below the bridge access.  I ride through and come out into the sunlight between the bridges.  The path turns into a gravel trail and seemed to end.  Huh?

I turn around, ride back through the tunnel and decide I must have to ride up to HWY 14 and then find the bike lane.  I peddled up the hill to 14, take the exit for HWY 395 onto the bridge and started riding towards the bridge but then come upon a "Bicycle Exit" sign!  I take the bike exit and end up riding right back down to where I started, the end of Christy Road!!  Beans!

Once again I ride up hill to HWY 14 and this time I stayed on the bridge even though there obviously isn't a bike lane and continue on across the bridge with HWY 395 traffic hammering beside me!



Stop for a photo opportunity midway across.

Turns out there are two bridges side by side and it is the second, more modern bridge that has the bike lane.  If I had continued on the gravel path I would have ended up on the proper bike lane across the Umatilla Bridge!



Down off the bridge, around, back under the bridge and to a quiet secondary road that leads me to this nice quiet park.  Perfect!

I'm enjoying some early snackage and notice families and more families arrive and claim picnic tables.  It finally dawns on me that today is Father's Day.  I check my cell phone reception, have plenty of bars and call my two sons and one son in law to wish them a happy Father's Day.


Back to the daily grind I continue on the frontage road which soon comes to an end and I have to climb the grade up to highway 730 and ride past the McNary Dam.


I am definitely in Eastern Washington now.  It has become a very warm day with a nice tail wind.


Mid afternoon I happen upon a nice shady tree alongside the river and take a break.


Flocks of white pelicans cruise magically into the wind!


Almost to my exit onto Hwy 12 I notice this parasail.


Getting closer I see there are two people out zooming around on surfboards using sails for power.  They really zip along.


Highway 730 wraps around this geographical feature and I stop to check it out.


Late afternoon and forty seven miles I find this small Army Corp of Engineer campground.  There is no charge but also there is no toilet paper in the restroom, no water faucets that work, trash bins overflowing, a constant dry wind that makes setting up the tent tricky and, I soon discover, ticks!!


But hey!!  It'll do!

June 20

Some fello 'merican cut firewood and burned it in his fire ring all night long.  I guess he was doing what he calls camping.  Unfortunately I was located down wind of him and was pretty well smoked by morning.  Fortunately his fire didn't escape the fire ring and torch off the dry grass hill I was camped on.


But hey!  It is morning, I'm out of that crappy campground and riding into a beautiful day.


I notice it is pretty easy to figure out what country I am in!


Also bread basket country.  Potatoes, I think!


And one of many wind farms.


Arriving in the small town of Touchet I notice this old gas pump first and then the bicycle powered lawn mower.  Nice!


Back on the road and more road kill.  I think this was a great horned owl.


Some clouds arrive and I am offered advice.  One photo and I press on.


The heat and humidity cause me to take a break and assume the pose against this building.  I'm trying to imitate the "resting cowboy" cut-out you see here and there.  But no.  Wrong hat!

After my break I suck it up and press on for Walla Walla.  Entering town on the old former highway I notice a VA sign with an arrow pointing up a side street.  Since I am getting low on some of my pills I decide to check it out.  After pedaling several blocks I notice a cop parked at a donut shop and ask him where the VA is located.  "Three more blocks up that street and take a right, you can't miss it."

Several more blocks and quite a few more to the right I finally enter the "Campus" of the Walla Wall VA!!  It is a huge, spread out, "Campus", no other word comes to mind.  I see a sign for "Human Resources", park my bicycle and enter the lobby.  The nice lady listens to my request and then draws me a map of where I need to go.  Back out of the air conditioned building and pedal around the large park like setting to the Admissions Building.  Park the bicycle where I can keep an eye on it and check in.

It turns out I have to go through the whole admittance rigmarole and need to take a number and wait for my name to be called.  After waiting an hour, I'm up.  Fortunately this building is air conditioned too.  Now the paperwork is complete I can visit pharmacy and make my request.  Then it is just a matter of taking a number and waiting another hour for my pills!  A total of three hours out of my day but everyone was very helpful and friendly and, it got me through the heat of the day!

Pedaling out of town I notice a nice looking Mexican Restaurant and decide to treat myself.  Chicken Enchilada, chips and salsa, one frosty Negra Modelo and I am a happy guy.  There was more than I could eat so I asked for a doggy bag and packed the left overs in my front right pannier.

Out into a hot afternoon ride out of Walla Walla through a bunch of road resurfacing, the hot asphalt sticky and slowing me down.


Just in case.....


I begin to notice how small towns have big schools.  This one in Dixie, WA, really went all out for their children back in the day.


The late afternoon, generic, Eastern Washington, bike touring photo.  Just had to stop and take one.


 What a surprise.  The little town of Waitsburg, WA.  No strip mall, no suburbs, just coast down a hill, turn a corner and here it is!  1940 all over again!


East of Waitsburg there is some amazing hillside farming.  I stop and watch a crop duster spraying the contours.  Pretty tricky flying!


Four and a half miles east of Waitsburg and Whoot!  Whoot!  Lewis and Clark Trail State Park!  A nice little road side campground.  A stream babbling nearby.  Shade!!


Perfect after a warm ride of 56.4 miles!!  Except for the crop duster.  Evidently the airport where he refills his hopper is nearby and every twenty minutes he flies right over my tent, his turbo-prop powered plane very loud but, by dusk, he has called it a day and, after my left over chicken enchilada, I call it a day too.

June 21

 I decide to take a day off.  Such lovely weather and nice campsite.  After breakfast I decide to ride back to Waitsburg.  It was such a lovely looking town.


Along the way I discover the source of the airplane noise.  A small airport business and


 an Air Tractor crop duster.  This is the one I saw working the hills last evening.


Riding further towards town I see another windmill blade heading my way and manage to get stopped and my camera out in time for this shot.


Here is the interior of the Waitsburg Hardware and Mercantile Store in downtown Waitsburg.  You name it, they got it!!


Right next door is this empty space just waiting to become an art gallery, or something.


Although it is a historic town they don't seem to have the same restrictions on exterior colors like, say, Mendocino!


I enter the market, buy some chocolate milk and fruit and retired to the shady city park.  Right across the street is the outdoor town pool!  Kids are swimming and moms are hovering and I don't take a photo.  Tempting but no.  I don't want to be talked about as, "That pervert on a bike".  I read my book instead.


Heading back to camp I have to "document" this sign.


And this one!


Back in camp I give this Lewis and Clark Trail Campground a thumbs up!  Perfect in fact!


All my gear and I mean, all my gear, spread out and drying in the afternoon sun.

June 22

 Up and rolling after a great night of sleep.


I park my bicycle and back off far enough to try and encompass the whole grain elevator!  If I back up any farther to take this photo my bicycle will not show up in this photo!!


Entering the town of Dayton I see it is turning out to be a warm day, just like I figured!


The Dayton library and again, a frustrating blogging experience.


In the middle of town is this courthouse.and I am sitting at one of the outside tables at very nice deli enjoying my lunch.


Oops! Another windmill blade rolls by.  There sure are a lot of windmills being installed somewhere.


The Liberty Theater just down the block.  I'm reading my book, enjoying my lunch and shady spot when suddenly four bicycle tourists arrive.  I invite them to join me but they are on a budget and prefer to sit in the grass, in the shade, over by the courthouse.  I bus my mess and move over to join them.  Cece, her boyfriend and two other cycling friends who all have a first name starting with C.  Therefore, Cece and the C's!!


They share a snackage of bagel, cheese, salami, cream cheese and fruit and invite me to join in.  They are from Portland but heading to New York.  Cece's father was killed during the World Trade Center disaster and they are all riding to New York to be there on the Anniversary, 11/11.  A great bunch of folks.  I talk them into a "silly shot" in front of the "Hall of Records" beside the courthouse.


Soon I press on while they check out the town.  Half an hour later, here they come and blow by.


 Leaving me to my solo contemplations, a windmill farm in the distance.


Hmmm, Which came first?  Starbuck or Starbucks?


Oh boy, it is turning out to be a very warm day.


More windmill towers being erected on hill tops. (click to embiggen)


More and more reference to Lewis and Clark.  It is interesting to think about them as I poke along averaging 7 miles per hour.  They probably traveled even slower.


 Towards the end of a very hot thirty-three mile day, I finally arrive in the small town of Pomeroy.  I roll up to the first mini market I see and enter their air-conditioned splendor!!  Yes, they have cold chocolate milk and yogurt, exactly what I am interested in.  I am also interested in a place to camp for the night.  I ask the young clerk; she doesn't know but refers me to the older lady stocking shelves.  She doesn't know either but thinks the fairgrounds east of town might allow camping.

Thanks, and back out into the heat I go.

Continuing into the heart of town I see two middle aged men in suits standing in the shade. I roll up to them and soon get the feeling that one guy is the mayor and the other is a real estate agent, or not; probably just me and my automatic profiling.  Anyway, I tell them my story about how I have bicycled "all the way" from California (My ride is finally getting some gravitas!) and wonder if they can recommend a place I might camp for the night.

"Well sure!  Just go two blocks that way (pointing) and take a left.  Continue six blocks to the end of the road.  The town park is on the left.  There are restrooms and running water."

"Thanks!"

I arrive at the park and yes indeed, it is a nice little town park.  There is a sun shade over the picnic tables so I sit down in the shade and enjoy my chocolate milk and yogurt.  Then walk up to the restrooms and take a spit bath.  Feels great!

It is early evening but still quite light out.  I decide it might be a good idea to not look too "settled in" before it gets dark.

There is a golf course right across the street and golfers are slowly calling it a day and returning to their cars.  Some glance at me as they drive away.  I read my book and don't pay them any "overt" attention.

And then, here comes an older lady out for the evening walking her little dog.  Oh, oh!  This could be my eviction notice!  She leaves the sidewalk and walks straight up to me and asks,

"Are you planning to spend the night?"

"Er, um, well, I am hoping to."

Well, I just want you to know the sprinklers come on around midnight.  You might want to camp in the gazebo."




Perfect!

Yes indeed, Pomeroy is a, "Friendly City"!

June 23

 My Gazebo house worked perfectly although I got to listen in to a long drawn out domestic dispute from 10:00 to 11:00 culminating in a car door slam and burning rubber.  Warm evenings brings shouting partners out to where I can clearly hear them while everyone else is inside watching the evening news!


Up and on the road again,  I noticed this was for sale.  A bit much for my needs.


Pedaling along I happened upon this historical fact.


I compare the map to reality and think I can see the trail.

 

Getting pretty indistinct though.


And then I encounter a long long uphill.  And soon there are cyclists passing me one after another!!  Some say they will see me at the top.  I finally come dragging up to the top and there they all are having snackage.  It is a group of 14 riders heading for the east coast.  But they are traveling light and


letting this "sag wagon" do all the work.  Cece and the C's are there too and we are invited by the group to spend the night at their next overnight stop in Lewiston, Idaho at the Presbyterian Church.  They have their itinerary all mapped out and are staying in churches and monasteries across the country.


Back to the road and I see this unfortunate critter.  No rattles.


I stop to check out the older highway bridge.  It is blocked off at both ends and is now a historic relic.



There is some signage affixed to the bridge.


And this nod to bike touring!


Strange geology exposed by this road cut.  It looks like vertical granite pillars but is probably lava.


My excitement is obvious as I follow some of today's riders over the bridge into Idaho.


Yippie Skippy!  A new state!!


Cece had given me her cell number so I gave her a call to find out where they were.  I should have known!!  A burger and beer joint!  I soon arrive and join them.  We have a great lunch and pitchers of local microbrews and then head off to the Presbyterian Church.  There is a tough uphill before we get to the church and drinking beer before the ride didn't help any but soon we find the church and settle in.


The church is a big facility which takes up almost a city block.  There is the main church and classrooms and meeting hall with attached kitchen and bathrooms.  There is a house with kitchen and bedrooms and bathrooms and utility room with washer and dryer.  It is all ours to use.  The 14 LV's riders settle into the house while Cece and the Cs and I take over the meeting hall and kitchen.


What do touring bicyclists do beside ride bikes?  They eat!!  Here we are enjoying our evening repast which Cece and the guys whipped up; lentil, carrot, celery soup and black bean burritos with cheese!

Cece and the guys spread out their sleeping bags in the meeting hall while I elected to put my tent in the back yard to keep an eye on the bicycles that are parked out there overnight.

Since it was such a warm evening I didn't bother to put on the rain fly but did drape it over part of the tent to block out the back yard sodium vapor security light which was shining in my eyes.  I settled into my too hot down sleeping bag and called it a night.

3:00 AM.  Downpour!!  It is raining cats and dogs!!  No thunder and lightning warning, just instant downpour!  I scramble to find the zipper to get out of the tent and hastily lunge out to try and spread my rainfly over the rest of the tent before my down bag and everything else is soaked!  I get the rain fly in place and crawl back into my soggy, cold, heavy sleeping bag.  Shit!  If I don't move I sort of heat up a damp area.  Suddenly the rain stops and I fall back asleep.

June 24


First daylight I wake to blue skies and birds singing.  My half hour downpour turned out to be the sprinkler system!!  Unbelievable!!

I should have know there was a reason for this nice green lawn!

The sprinkler heads are the hidden "pop up" kind.  Fortunately the house has a washer and dryer.  I stuff my wet sleeping bag and clothes into it.  By the time Cece, the Cs and I have finished breakfast my stuff is dry.  I pack and hit the road while Cece and the guys are still busy packing.


It is beginning to look like my ride along the Lewis and Clark trail has really begun.  Lots of historical stuff.

Soon, along come Cece and the guys, they wave, say they might see me in Orofino and leave me in the dust.  I really would like to see them again, they are so much fun, but their riding speed and mine do not match and I have to let them go.



There are a lot of highway historical signs along the way which make a good place to pull over, read the sign and catch my breath. (embiggen to read,)


Just to the right of this sign you can see the stone arch that the story is about, the Ant and the Yellowjacket locked in mortal embrace.




All the spring rain has caused the Clearwater River to overrun its various small islands.


Oops, another sign.  Time for another break.


And here is the bridge over the Clearwater to Lenore.

Riding along towards Orofino I notice what looks like a cell phone or PDA case laying in the bike lane alongside the highway.  I ride past it, think about it and decide to stop, pedal back to it and check it out.  I ride up, pick it up and yes indeed it is a leather case with something in it.  I toss it into my handlebar pannier and ride on.  It has been a forty mile day and I have had about enough.

Bingo, a campground alongside the Clearwater River appears.  Perfect.

I pedal into the campground and check out the kiosk.  $5.00 Hiker/Biker camping!  Perfect!

I ride the loop looking for my spot, something close to the river and in the shade.  I find it, park my bike using the Click-stand and sit on the picnic table to cool off.  Oh yeah, almost forgot.  What is in the PDA case.  I get the leather container, open it and discover a Canon Point and Shoot camera!  It looks fairly new.  I wonder if it still works after being dropped on the road.  I turn it on, the lens extends and the screen lights up.  It is almost exactly like my Canon.  Great.  Nice to have a back up camera.

I push the button to see if there are any photos already on the camera and who should show up but Cece and the Cs!!  The first photo is of them in the rec-room at the Presbyterian Church!!  It is Cece's camera!!  What are the odds of me finding a camera and knowing who it belongs to!!

What to do.  What to do.  They had said they might see me in Orofino but it is still pretty early in the afternoon.  They probably passed right through Orofino with out stopping where-as I am pretty much done and just want to pitch camp and call it a day.

I do have Cece's phone number, decide to give her a call but discover there is no cell coverage.  Hmmm.

Well, I guess the right thing to do is to ride on.  Pedal on into Orofino and see if I can find them.

Back onto the road I go, back into the afternoon heat.

Entering the outskirts of Orofino I hear someone holler, "Hey Ronnie!"

By golly it is Cece waving!  I ride over to her and discover they had stopped at the Orofino Park to take a nap during the heat of the day.  Now she is looking for her camera which she thinks must have bounced out of her handlebar pannier when they rode across the park grass to the shade tree.

I smile, reach into my handlebar and say, "Ta-da!!"


Unbelievable!!  We are knocked out by the bicycle "karma" we have just experienced!!

Hugs all around.  "Farewells", "Safe travels", and I pedal back to my campground while they press on.


( I never saw Cece and the guys again but I checked out their website when I got home.  They did arrive in New York in plenty of time for the 11/11 Anniversary.)

June 15

 Up and at 'em.  Had an interesting talk with a guy in a huge motorhome.  He and his wife are full-timing and trying to decide if they want to sell their home in Denver and really full time.  He admired my minimalism.


Quite an impressive dam.  The Dworshak Dam.


It must be the weekend, the Harley riders are out in force.


This sign was interesting.


It seems to be the target for bottles and cans!!  Maybe that is a good idea, sort of like the fly decal in men's urinals, something to aim at.


Serious Lewis and Clark signage all through this area.


The Clearwater river route via HWY 12 is turning out to be a very nice ride.






29.4 mile day.  A short day.  I'm a bit anxious because I don't see any campgrounds in the near future on my maps.  But, right here is an RV type of campground called, what else, "The Lewis and Clark Resort and Motel".  The tent sites are a bit pricey but they have "free" showers and laundry.  There is a big wedding party going on with lots of participants staying in the motel and in motorhomes and trailers so I choose a campsite as far as possible away from the revelers.

Since it is mid afternoon I go for a walk and check out the restroom, shower and laundry room.  Good enough.  I take a shower and wash some clothes.  Walking further afield I check out the restaurant and discover they have Prime Rib!!  

Let's see..., heat up some Dinty Moore Beef Stew on my stove or treat myself to dinner?

I ordered the Prime Rib which comes with baked potato, green beans and, "Help yourself to the salad bar.  Anything to drink?".

"How about a Long Neck Bud!"

Perfect!  The Prime Rib is a nice sized piece of meat, the potato is quite hefty too but I consume every bit.  I almost lick the plate!  Bike riding is hungry business!

Back to my campsite past a pond of ducks and frogs.  Although I am camped at the far end away from everybody there are a surprising amount of cars driving by kicking up dust from the one lane dirt road.  They drive past looking at me, go around the bend and up the hill behind me!  I finally stop one car and ask the old couple, "What is going on?".  Come to find out there is a RV retirement park up the hill behind me and this little road is the only access!!  Fortunately, we retirees call it a night quite early and, except for the bull frogs in the pond, it soon settled down into a peaceful night.  

Perfect sleeping weather.

June 26


Leaving the Lewis and Clark Resort and Motel.  I think that is Lewis's arm right above my head!



One of the first churches to help subdue the Indians.



Christian influence on a roadside marker.


And butterflies!  It is amazing how many butterflies lie dead or injured along this highway.



An interesting Christmas candle slid over a roadside post.



One of the reasons I cut my ride short yesterday.  I wasn't sure what the camping situation would be on the reservation.


The nice weather allows me to put out my Goal Zero to charge my cell phone and Zune.  Unfortunately I discover there isn't any AT&T coverage all the way across Idaho.  I didn't know that when I last called Lolli from Lewiston, Idaho and told her I would give her a call in another two days. 


Riding along I happened upon this guy who was just putting this fish he caught into his ice chest.  I talked him into bringing it back out so I could photograph it!

Whoa Ho!!  Wild Goose Camp Ground!  27 miles on the clock so I might as well call it a day,


A very nice little campground right beside the Clearwater.  No showers but there is running water and toilets and, they accept my Golden Age Passport!!  Perfect!


 Picnic table, tent close to the river for that wonderful white noise


 even a set of concrete steps down to a platform in the river!  I soak my "engine".

June 27


Oh what a great wake up!!  The view from my sleeping bag through the mosquito netting!

I got to talking to another camper.  He and his family have been coming to this campground for years.  He loves it here and I must say, it ain't bad.  He has some bottles of "Muscle Milk" and offers me one.  I have never tried this protein drink before but put it in my pannier for lunch.  Nice guy.


On the road again and happen upon this sign at the convergence of the Selway and the Lochsa Rivers.  According to the sign I could have been hundreds of feet underwater if the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act had not been passed by Congress.


On up river I go.  A perfect day for riding.


Whoot!  Whoot!  Only 75 miles to Lolo Pass.  I have been stressing about this pass for quite a while but try to keep in mind Leggett Hill and how it ultimately wasn't that big a deal,  Hopefully this won't be either.  So far, so good!  Just a gradual elevation gain, mile after mile alongside the river.


I happen upon this hiking bridge across the river that goes to a hot spring.


 On the railing I see this.  Evidently someone was getting anxious for a dip!



I walk my bike out to the middle of the bridge for a photo shoot.



Looking up river.  In the foreground, my home and transportation!  All in one small package!


Beside the trail to the hot springs is this sign..., NO NO NO NO NO!  Of course, if I was sitting in a hot tub I wouldn't want a bunch of traffic either.  The hot springs are farther than I want to walk and I don't want to leave my bike unattended.  Maybe some other time.


On up the road I come upon a nice waterfall, park my bike, set up my camera on the mini-tripod and, since there is no traffic, set it for 30 second delay, walk across the highway and pose by my bike.  Of course, here comes the only car I have seen in half an hour!!  How do they know?!


Try again.  There, that's better!

Further up the road I notice river rafters coming down the river and stop to watch.


They are getting their money's worth!


Evidently the Clearwater is a popular watercraft playground.


Ah, another cross country traveler.  It is always nice to stop and talk, do the "Where you from, where you going?" and have them sign my vest.


Next point of interest, the "Lochsa Historical Ranger Station.  I park my bike and go for a walk around the grounds.  There are docents to answer questions but I am free to just walk and gawk at my own pace.




I remember my Aunt Marie had one of these in Gowrie, Iowa when I was a wee shaver.


An assortment of old stuff including dynamite "plungers".


The office.  The china plate and cup have the Forest Service insignia!  Those were the days!!  All in all a nicely preserved part of the past.

Back to the road and onward.

28 miles and a campground named ?????


This is a very spread out campground and it takes me a while to find the hiker/biker area.  I'm searching just as a fellow cyclist arrives, Diana Cure.  She is from Portland and also heading east.  We ride together looking for the hiker/biker section and after crossing another bridge find the area.  She selects a more secluded spot away from the river noise but I like to be close to the white noise and pick this spot with two, count them, two picnic tables!  One for cooking and one for airing clothes and sleeping bag.


Almost immediately the local camp robber shows up ready to see what I have.  After my wildlife initiation in Oregon, this guy is out of luck.  I'm wise to his ways.



Home sweet home.  Sunshine, a flowing river, a place to sit down and relax.


Tea brewed and the table set for dinner.


I suddenly notice just how much that little store back in ???? charged me for one mini box of raisins!  What a rip!

Diana walks over for a visit after she got her tent up and camp established.  We talk for a while and I discover she has just graduated from college in Portland, Oregon and is now is a certified large animal veterinarian!  She sold her car, TV and furniture, and got rid of her apartment.  Her whole life is now reduced to just what is on her bicycle.  She is ultimately heading to some friends in Georgia but meanwhile checking out the small towns along the way and thinking about where she would eventually like to live and work.  Nice!

More power to her!

June 28


In the morning I talk to the two guys who rolled into their campsite on expensive BMW motorcycles.  They are heading to Alaska!  Nice guys, beautiful bikes.  After the morning sun has dried my tent I pack up and hit the road.  Diana Cure is long gone.


Whitehouse pond.  The first pond I have seen. 


Starting to get into some hills.


I keep having westbound travelers holler at me and say, "Hey!  Are you Ronnie?  I heard all about you, your famous!"  Then they want to take my picture!!

Evidently Cece and the Cs have been spreading the word about some old fart heading east on a Long Haul Trucker!!






Oh boy!  Snow up there!


I check out this roadside campground and see they have a pitcher pump.  I have never seen one with this arrangement on the pump head.  I think it is to help it self prime.  I give it a try and it works.  I refill my water bottles.


I wonder if that is my road up there.


Lochsa Lodge service station.  Check out the gas prices!  I buy a few groceries at the market and then coast down to the campground.


40.5 miles.  Powell Campground right below Lochsa Lodge.  I end up sharing this campsite with Gary, a fellow traveler and we decide to walk up to the lodge for dinner.  We have Lasagna, green salad and  beer, I'm building up my strength for tomorrows assault on Lolo pass.  It is only 12.9 mile up the road!

June 29

 Up and breakfast and on the road again.  The final push for Lolo Pass.  Only 12.9 miles to the top!


Spotted this buck and was able to stop and get my camera out in time before he disappeared.


Goodby Clearwater River.  It has been a lovely ride alongside you.





 Starting to work up a sweat!  The up is getting seriously up!  I have settled into the 100 feet of elevation gain and take a break.  Then ride until there is another 100 feet of elevation gain and take a break.  But now I am stopping for a break after every 50 feet of elevation gain.  Whew!

I come up on a three-some of bike riders, two men and a woman.  They are also heading east but they had stopped to soak their neckerchiefs in a small stream.  They show me their neckerchiefs and say it is like turning on an air conditioner.  Their neckerchiefs have some absorbent material in them that sucks up water and keep the neckerchief around your neck nice and cool and since blood is pumping right past the cool damp neckerchief via the carotid arteries, it helps cool you off.  I have decided I definitely need one.

We press on and they slowly leave me behind.  Gary, the guy I shared last night's campsite with is behind me and according to these people, having a hard time of it.  His bike was really overloaded.


I'm now getting high enough to start seeing patches of snow!


And then..., Lolo Summit!  I did it!!


 How about that, Lewis and Clark ran into rain with hail and thunder June 29th, 1806.  I'm here 204 years later, on the same date, and the weather is the same!!


Mammatus clouds and a wind, rain and hail squall greets me and quickly passes!

Lolo Pass is also the dividing line between Idaho and Montana.


Rolling down the other side into strange weather of rain and sun.


 Along the way I meet these guys from Italy heading up towards Lolo pass.  They have crossed the country from New York and are heading for the Pacific.  Wild and crazy guys!


Ah!  What's this?




The first midwestern style water tower I have seen on this trip.  I reminds me very much of the one that was in North Bend, Nebraska, where I grew up.

On my map is a symbol for a campground called Traveler's Rest.  Sounds good and when I get to it I find it to be back a ways from the highway on a recently graveled road.  I gingerly pedal the distance and can not find any campground.  There is a building and inside are some volunteers.  I ask how much to camp.

"Oh, there is no camping here.  This is the historic site where Lewis and Clark "rested" after they got over Lolo Pass."  It was good enough for them but not for me.  Beans.

Back to the highway.

I roll into the town of Lolo, MT which is basically a very busy intersection of HWY 12 entering Interstate 93.  I have not experienced this much traffic in days!  Everybody zooming this way and that.

I'm pretty much ready for a campground but with all the development around it doesn't look good.

I stop at a post office and wait in line to talk to the post mistress; I want to ask if there is a place to camp around here but the line is long and slow.  Finally I get to ask my question and of course, the answer is no.  But the lady behind me in line overhears my request and when she leaves the post office she sees me by my bike and says she will call her husband and see if he knows of any place around here.  I'm hoping she will offer her back yard but then, I have no idea how far out of town they live.  She talks to her husband but he has no suggestions.  Nothing for it but to press on for Missoula.

Onto Interstate 93 and the going home commute in light rain.  Crap!

Riding along I keep an eye out for some place to stealth camp but the closer I get to Missoula the less likely the odds.

And then I am riding past strip malls and fast food joints. Heavy traffic.  I spot a small casino and decide to go in and ask.

Inside the dim smoky interior there are people sitting at one armed bandits and further towards the back a group of people sitting around a card table.  I see the manager sitting in her office.

I ask her if there is a place to camp around here and she tells me the KOA is about it.  I ask where it is located and she says it is way across town, about five miles away!!  Awe man.  I'm really not up for five more miles in the traffic and rain.  She says, wait a minute and goes to the card table and asks the folks there if anyone is heading towards the KOA.  Nope.

I start to leave and she says, "Wait a minute, I'll ask Mark.  He should be here in a minute.

Mark arrives and she asks him if he would drive me to the KOA.  I offer him five dollars.

Sure!  Out the door we go to his old Ford pickup with a camper shell on the back.  He opens the rear and it is full of junk!  Old car parts and empty oil cans and pieces of rugs, boxes, etc.  He says' "No problem" and pushes a bunch of stuff aside and stuff my bike in and on top of the junk!!

"Hop in!".

I go around to the passenger door and he says, "Wait a minute", and scrapes fast food containers and books and DVDs off onto the floor or tosses them behind the seat so I have room and, after a worrisome grind, grind, grind the engine finally starts and we are off.

He tells me all about his head injury and his divorce and his lost dog and his trouble with the cops but says he knows a way around the commuters so up side streets and alleyways we go.  I have no idea where we are going and have to trust this wild man and the casino woman.

Sure enough, after about a twenty minute ride we arrive in a very strangely laid out KOA like nothing I have ever seen before.  It seems to be located in a residential area behind some large buildings and there is a line of huge motor-homes waiting to check in.  Mark pulls around them and drives me right up to the front, right in front of a monster motor-home.  I feel rather guilty dragging my loaded bicycle out of the back of the truck with Mr. and Mrs. and the obligatory little white dog looking down on me through their huge front windshield but I soon scurry out of their way and after slipping Mark five bucks, he roars off leaving behind a cloud of blue smoke!

Check in!

What a mad house!  There are four check-in people dressed in yellow smocks a with people standing in line to check-in.  What a land office business they got going here!!  I finally I get my turn, tell the lady I would like a tent site and bingo, $22.00 later she is drawing the route to my tent site on a hand out map.  "The showers are here, and this is the number for the combination door lock.  Check out tomorrow at 11:00."

I pedal off following my map to J-22.



Home sweet home!!  E-gad!

June 30

 I've decide to take a day off.  I return to the KOA office to pay for another day and discovered the price had increased two bucks!  "It's the weekend".

I said, "Hey, it is only Thursday".

"Yeah, we count Thursday as part of the weekend."

Back to my campsite.

I get to talking to a guy who is tent camping.  Turns out he is waiting for his friends to arrive so they can ride the Continental Divide Trail.  I ask him if there is a REI around here.  He points to the big building backed up against the KOA.  "That's it!"

I decide to pedal over to REI to see if they have one of those "air conditioned" neckerchiefs.  They do!   I find a nice blue one.  They also have silk sleeping bag liners.  I'm thinking that just might be the ticket for hot weather sleeping.

Next, according to my GPS, there are several bike shops in downtown Missoula.  Since I now have over 2,000 miles on these tires that came with the Surly and I'm thinking my bike needs some love.

I visit several bike shops before I finally find one that has some "road'" tires.  What they have are Michelin "City" tires but the bike shop clerk says the locals use them what with all the broken glass and debris around town and they like them .  I have never heard of them but then, what do I know, I just started biking six months ago.  I decide to buy them.


While waiting I look around the shop and notice a Surly Pugsley on display.  Never seen one of those either.



The bike mechanic installs my new tires; total bill $50.00.  I'm thinking, "oh oh, too cheap" but, oh well, then set off looking for "mecca", the former church housing Adventure Cycling Association.


Bingo!  Here it is.


Inside are photos of earlier travelers!  (and to think I have it tough!)

One of the guys working there shows me around the facility, points out the soft drink cooler, the freezer containing Ice Cream Bars, the computer and says..., "Help yourself".

He takes my photo to add to the collection on the wall of folks passing through.


Confidence is quite high, I write I am traveling from Fort Bragg to Mechanicsburg, PA.


I buy an Adventure Cycling Association jersey.  I notice they have in stock the tires I really wanted but I didn't know they sold tires here.  Duh!  Oh well, next time.

While I'm looking around the three folks I met on the other side of Lolo Pass arrive.  It is good to see them again.  They tell me they stayed with some "Warm Showers" folks they found on the internet.  That would have been a lot cheaper than KOA and more interesting!!

I really should have done some research when I entered Missoula yesterday or headed directly for Adventure Cycling Association to get ideas on where to camp but I was so "fried" by the time I entered the "Big City" I was scared of the weather and all the going home traffic.  I was grasping at straws and not thinking clearly.

Pedaling back to the KOA I see a barber shop so stop and get everything trimmed down to half an inch. 

Arriving at the KOA I realize I left my Click-Stand behind at the barber shop.  A quick eight mile round trip and once again I have my Click Stand!!  This is the second time I have tried to give it away!


Wearing my new ACA jersey in the KOA restroom.  Pretty slim and dapper!

July 1


Riding out of Missoula I notice this lawn sprinkler.  I remember one of these when I was a kid.  I always thought they were ingenious with how the sprinkler is steered by the front wheel following the hose.


Meet these two ladies from New Zealand.  They have crossed the country; starting on the east coast and are heading for Portland!


I happen upon Bonner, Montana, a former logging town.  All the houses use to be company housing.  Now the lumbering days are over, or greatly reduced, and these homes are for sale. Nice old homes on a tree lined street....,


right across from the mill.


This is the first time I need to start watching for Bighorn Sheep.  I really hope to see one.


Interesting geological feature exposed by the road cut.  I feel the need for a photograph of me pointing to it!


Up and down, up and down....,  Really long ups and downs.


After reading this I now know how to tell the difference between a Black Bear and a Grizzly Bear.  I hope I don't see either one!

It is getting to be a long day.  I am checking small side roads hoping for a stealth camp but everything is fenced and gated.  Onward.

And then..., a sign pointing off the highway to Ovando, Montana.  It looks to be a ways off the highway on a downhill road and I wonder if I want to invest the energy to rattle down there and possibly have to ride back up but, what the heck.


Down the hill, around the bend, and up the grade when someone starts hollering, "Ronnie!!"

It is the threesome from Lolo Pass sitting on the porch of the Stray Bullet sucking up a pitcher of beer!  I pull up next to a Harley and join in.

Strange damn place, some guy, a friend of the woman owner, keeps bringing out fresh pitchers of beer every time ours starts show the bottom and he won't take our money!!

Cold beer is a perfect antidote to the end of a hot long day and the conversation is great but soon I'm thinking I better get some food in me or I'm going to fall off my perch!


We ask it it is possible to order dinner and are told that the place is closed but they can make us some sandwiches.


Sandwiches, more beer, and more chips.  We are finally "about there!".  It is 5:00 in the evening but it sure doesn't look like it with these long days.


The lady bar owner tells us to pitch camp anywhere.  I try the far side of the post office where there is some green grass and shade but as soon as I walk into that area mosquitoes swarm!  I end up camped right against the building in the shade.  Fewer mosquitoes.

A fifty-five mile day and too much beer.  What a day.  Burp!!

July 2


Up in the morning.  I drag my tent over into the sunshine to dry off.  The metal roof of the Post Office started dripping condensation on my tent in the early morning!  I have my down bag draped over my bike to air out; sleeping in a down bag on a warm night after too much beer is sweaty business.


The scene of the crime!!  We all stagger in for coffee, tea, and breakfast!


I discover we have a new addition to our group.  This guy came rolling in late in the evening.  He joined us for breakfast and we heard his story.

He had always wanted to do a bicycling trip so saved some money, got the okay from his wife and kids, quit his job and set out from Lincoln, Nebraska for the west coast.  Through Wyoming he pushed too hard and tore his Achilles tendon!  He took time off to heal and was fitted with a boot to support his foot .  He ordered a small, one cylinder, gas engine to help power him up the steeper hills and resumed his journey.  He has an unusual third wheel trailer; a wheel the same size as the others on his bike that has racks for two additional panniers.  Pretty cool set up.


I wish I had written down his name and website if he had one.


The three some is still packing up when I hit the road.


We gather for a parting shot and I never saw them again.



Entering the outskirts of Lincoln, Montana.  Turns out there is a pre-Fourth of July Rodeo happening.  I see a lot of folks heading for it using various rigs and 4X4's.


Close to town I spotted this intricately carved sign.  The statues are carved from individual logs.


I stopped in Lincoln for cold chocolate milk, a banana and vanilla yogurt then sat in the shade and watched the after parade crowd go by.


Heading out of Lincoln I notice an airplane model sitting in someone's yard!  I turn around and ride back for another look.  I see some guy standing at his barbecue grill up by the house.  I ride up the driveway to ask about the plane.  The guy looked up from his grilling.  I tell him I really like his airplane.  He said, "My dad made it", opens the screen door, hollers inside, "Dad!" and out comes this fine gentleman.  I tell him about my interest planes and a bit about me being a former model maker for Boeing and Northrop and currently a Radio Controlled model airplane guy.

He invites me for a closer look, we walk over and shows me his plane.  He said he made it for his grand kids to operate during parades.  He used an aircraft fuel drop tank for the body and a beer keg for the engine cowl!  He hand carved the prop and the wings are covered in fabric.  It is powered with a single cylinder Briggs and Stratton!  Very nicely done.

He invited me to stay for Forth of July Barbecue with him and his family!!  Well, shucks.  Why not!!


What a great bunch of folks.  I get them interested in performing a "Silly Shot"!


And then, back to road.  Along the way I passed this sign.


6:00 PM.  I finally make it to the top of Roger's Pass!  Nothing but downhill from here!!

Downhill, downhill, downhill.  A nice long downhill ride but the day is getting long in the tooth and I need a place to camp.

I check out several small, un-gated, side roads but they all head up and up and up into the hills.  I can't find a level enough spot for my tent.

Onward.

Most of the way is fenced and gated.  It is not looking good and then...,


I notice a small clump of trees between the barbed wire fence and the highway with just enough room and somewhat level ground to pitch my tent out of sight of passing traffic.  Not the best but, it'll do.


A fifty two mile day.  I discover I have weird sun burnt spots on the top of my head where that everlasting noon day sun has shone through the ventilation holes of my bike helmet!!  You can't see them in this photo but I can sure feel them!  Fortunately, I found a small American flag laying beside the road left over from the Fourth of July hoop-la.  I will use it as a helmet liner tomorrow.

July 3


 

Up in the morning and back to it.  Down, down, out of the mountains.  Away from trees and into the sun!


It is getting pretty sparse around here and warming up quite quickly.


The mountains are becoming a thing of the past.


The bicycle maps suggests I leave HWY 200 and take HWY 287 north to Augusta and then east and south to Simms, MT.  I don't know why but I figure they know better than I.


 I am getting low on water but notice there is reference to a grocery, on my map, at the intersection of 200 and 287.

After 37 miles I arrive and see the bar and grocery but it appears it is closed even though there are some cars parked by the building and a dog barking at me.  There is a rope across the entryway.  It looks like folks are just living there now.  I'm of a mixed mind as to whether they would be open to my request for water.  I defeat myself by thinking they are probably bothered all the time by that request and decide to press on.


No trees of any size.  I guess they have to laminate them!!


Very little traffic.  Very little anything except me and the vastness!


The mountains recede slowly but recede they do.

I finally arrive in Augusta which is a wild west looking kind of town.  There is a hamburger joint with shade over some picnic tables.  Perfect.  Lunch!!

I sit there enjoying my burger, fries and chocolate malt, wearing my bike garb while "working" people come and go in their "working" garb, big hats and big bellies.  A guy walks by wearing a t-shirt that says;

ATF
ALCOHOL TOBACCO FIREARMS
WHO'S BRINGING SNACKS?

it's that kind of town.  They don't ask who or why I am and I ignore them.  Soon a young girl rides by on her bike and I hail her as a simpatico bicyclist.  It turns out she is looking for a place to swim but "The river has too many rattlesnakes".  ?

Back to the road and away from the wonderful shade of the hamburger canopy.

It is getting quite warm and I finally spot some shade trees up ahead on the other side of the ditch.  When I get there I park the bike and wade down through the tall grass over to the shade of the trees.  As soon as I reach the shade swarms of mosquitoes rise up and engulf me!  Gack!  Nothing for it but to return to the heat of the highway.

The afternoon sun is getting unbearable and the wind has really picked up.  Wide open spaces.  I finally see an agriculture building of some sort and some semi trailers parked beside them in the gravel lot.  I ride over to them and crawl under one into the shade.  The hot wind is blowing dirt and gravel over me and into my ears and eyes but I'm out of the sun.  Shade is the important thing.  I lay there reading my novel hoping the wind will start to abate.  I lay there under the trailer from 1:00 until 2:45 PM!  The temperature hasn't dropped a bit but the wind has changed to a more favorable tailwind.  Nothing for it but to crawl out from under the trailer and press on.

Twelve more miles and I eventually rejoined HWY 200 and then arrive at the town of Simms, MT.  There is a truck stop at the north-east corner of town.  I enter their air conditioned splendor and buy my cold chocolate milk and then ask about a possible place to camp.  She tells me I can put up my tent in their RV park and points out the window.  I see several picnic tables but no place to get out of the sun and afternoon wind.  She then mentions the city park over by the High School.  She gives me directions and off I go.


Arriving at the park I see some memorial benches, one with a child's bear left behind but most importantly, there is shade!  Cottonwood fluff is blowing around in the warm afternoon breeze.  I lay my air mattress on a picnic table in the shade and take a snooze. It has been a fifty three mile day of nothing but sunshine and wind.

In the evening I walk back to the Fireside Inn and order the chopped sirloin, baked potato, canned beans and salad washed down with a Long Neck Bud.   Burp!  The air conditioning is wonderful!

Walking back to my camp on a diagonal road.  It isn't until I take a look at Google Maps I realize what an interesting and strangely laid out town this is.  The High School is the center of the town.  Everything else is arranged around it half a mile to a side!


July 4


Up in the morning after a peaceful night of sleep.  The wind died down.  I have my tent over in the sun drying out from condensation.


The Simms High School stadium is interesting, the Home team bleachers are four times wider than the Visitor bleachers but then, I guess that makes sense.


Again back to it.  I am slowly leaving the land of mesas and entering prairie.




Any stop in the shade is welcome.




Getting close to Great Falls.  The name says it all!

 

It is amazing how many prairie dogs I ride by that have been hit by cars.  In a ten mile stretch of the I-15 frontage road I must have counted one hundred!


The signage is getting goofier the closer I get to Great Falls.

I finally arrive in Great Falls and stop in the shade at the city park.  Big city.  No idea of what is what.

I check my Android for campgrounds.  There is a KOA.  I call them and ask them how much for a tent site.  "$42.00."  What?  You got to be kidding!  "Nope, it is the 4th of July."

I call the local Youth Hostel.  No answer.

I call something called Dick's RV.  They have tent sites for only ONLY $16.00!  I'll take it!

She gives me directions and off I go.

Along busy streets and over the overpass she mentioned, l arrive at the intersection she said Dick's RV is located by.  There is a lot of traffic.  I'm not watching where I'm riding near as much as I am looking for Dicks and wham!  I ride right over a broken beer bottle and my front tire is immediately flat!  Damn.  My new Michelin City tire!  I then notice the RV park is right on the other side of a chain link fence but, which way to the entrance?  There is a guy mowing the grass in there and I wave at him.  He shuts down and I ask him how I get into the place.  He tells me there is a pedestrian entrance around to my right.  I walk the bike around to the right and sure enough.  Through the gate and past huge parked motor homes and trailers to the Office.  I check in and am given a map of where to go.  Also shown where the restrooms and laundry is located.  Good enough.


I repair my first flat of the trip.  In fact, this is the first flat I have had since I was probably 12 years old!! The tire has a half inch cut across it.  I install a new tube and pump it up with my wimpy travel pump.  Good enough for now.  Set up the tent.  Blow up my air mattress, chill out on a hot afternoon.  Great Falls Montana.  Who'ed a thunk it.


And then, the Fourth of July kicks in!!!  A friggin uproar until two in the morning!!  It was like Dick's RV was in the middle of the battle field!  I caught this one burst from among thousands of "BIG STUFF"!

All this for only $16.00 bucks!

July 5


Mostly packed and enjoying my cup of tea, the ground cloth flipped over and drying.


Downtown Great Falls



I find a bike shop and they have Specialized Armadillo Tires.  Kevlar lined.  Bullet Proof!!


I decide to buy them even though my rear Michelin tire is almost brand new.  Confidence.  I'm looking for and trying to build confidence!


Leaving the city on a very busy highway I happen upon this sign.  It gets me thinking and I realize I am heading West.  Not East.  Oops!  Nothing for it but to turn around and face all that congestion once again.


Somewhere along the way I pass the  Malmstrom Air Force Base entrance and then the traffic really thins out.  This country is getting flat as a fart.


Yep, flat as a fart!


Well, except for a few rollers.  I stop and take this photo from the centerline of HWY 3, HWY 87, HWY 89 and HWY 200 all rolled into one!  Not a lot of traffic!

As the day wears on I start to wonder where I will lay my head tonight.  No campgrounds show on my map but then, the only map I have is of Montana.  The Adventure Cycling Map I was following ended at Great Falls!  I didn't realize there was a "Part 2" Adventure Cycling Map of Montana but it stands to reason, Montana being so wide!

Then I see a road sign, "Belt, Montana" to the left, 1/2 mile.

I take the turn off and the road arrives at the edge of a canyon and starts steeply down.  And down to..., what I see ahead looks like a river valley!  I'm not sure I want to ride all the way down there only to have to push my bike back up in the morning but oh well, I'm committed now.  Down I go!

Belt, Montana!


Not only is it a nice little town with a town park were I am free to camp, they also have a nice market and a saloon with burgers, onion rings and Long Neck Bud!!


The bar counter-top is covered with pennies laminated in polyester resin.

And like so many of these small towns they have war memorials and they show a very disproportionate amount of loss for the size of the town.  This one caught my eye, Louis Blomquist.


The campground is perfect for my needs.


These malformed trees creak in the wind all night long.


Across the way is a grain silo beside a rail line.  I'm told Belt was known for the coal it produced back in the early days of railroading.

July 6

 I have a wonderful night in the town park.  Good sleeping and I discover, talking to the guy at the market, there is a way out of Belt that doesn't involve pushing my bike up that steep road to the highway!

"All you have to do is follow the old road, out along the river, and it will eventually rejoin the highway."

Perfect!


Along the way I observed American ingenuity at work.  "Oh Honey, the roof leaks."

"There!  Fixed!"


Back onto HWY 200 heading east.  The "rumple" strip, so hated by bicyclists, is prevalent in eastern Montana.  I am forced to either ride in the driving lane or over on the very narrow, debris strewn, strip by the grass.  Fortunately cars and trucks are few in number but when one appears invariably another one will be coming from behind me and we all arrive at the same spot at the same instant three abreast!!  It is remarkable how often this happens every hour or so.


Fast building cumulus clouds.  Ah yes, Montana.  Big Sky Country.



I am quite amused by this sign.  You couldn't ask for a more vacant area!


I stop at the Geyser, MT Post Office at lunch time.  The place is closed for lunch so I laid down in the shade.  Man o man is it getting hot.  I have decided to lighten my load by mailing my Tilly Hat, the water filter pump and the California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho maps back home.

Today has been a tough push up over the Judith Mountain Range.  Nothing steep, just long, long up grades and long, long down hills against a headwind.


I realize I am starting to lose it!  I find myself talking to cows.  They look up and listen to me as I ride by.  I tell them they better not eat so much, it could threaten their longevity.  Also, for some reason, I start hollering at them..., "99 cents?  Only 99 cents!  Let's buy it!!"  Over and over, the cows watching me.


Hot, hot, hot!  I have been using gobs of sunscreen, soaking my neckerchief every chance I get, I have the flag I found on my head under the helmet to keep from sunburning my head even more.  I'm getting cooked!


 And then........, can you believe this?  A pool!  A, by god, swimming pool in the wee town of Stanford!


 In no time I pay the fee and fall into the empty pool sizzling until I cool off.  Heaven.  Absolute Heaven!


And!  Just across the way I can set up my tent in the shade of a hedge and stuff spread out to air.  YES!  It was a tough forty mile day but all is now forgiven.  Whew!

July 7


6:30 AM.  Up and at 'em.  Looking back at Stanford.  A long up hill grind heading east.  At 8:45 I find two pennies.  The first "wages" I have made since I left on this adventure.


And then a garter snake.


I'm not familiar with the weather of eastern Montana but what I see forming looks ominous.


Interesting though.


I've heard of Burning Man but Blue Man?


They roll 'em big here in Eastern Montana!


Moccasin, Montana.  Hardly any town but a huge school.  Closed and abandoned, broken windows and decay.  I stopped and talked with a guy mowing his lawn,  He told me originally there were one room schools in the various towns scattered around this vast country but then they were forced to consolidate and schools like Moccasin's were build and kids bused in for miles.  Now even these schools are closed and new, more modern, schools are built in towns like Lewistown and kids are bused even farther.  And so it goes


One of the few occupied buildings in Moccasin.  Evidently a former business that is now being used as a residence.


The town pump out by the highway.  A few poppies in bloom.

 

Approaching time for lunch I happened upon Hobson set back a half mile from HWY 200.  A strong cross wind but I pedaled into town and aimed for the Post Office to ask where I might find lunch.  As I walked to the Post Office the UPS driver arrives.  He is carrying some packages to the Post Office so I asked him if he knows of a place to get lunch around here.  He said there is a market in town but he would recommend I continue on down the road another five miles to the new Amish Market.  "You can't miss it and it is well worth it!"

Back to the Highway and onward under more threatening skies.


Finally, bingo!  The new Amish Market and Deli!  Most remarkable.  Sandwiches built to order, cold chocolate milk, lots of small packages of snackage just perfect for bicyclists and cheap.  Really cheap!  3 for $1.00 Power Bars!

I sit out on the porch in the handmade Amish furniture enjoying my lunch and talking to the owner.  He tells me they are a family owned business.  They just opened this April.  His wife, sons and daughter help run the store and a girl cousin from back east is helping for the summer.


After lunch I park my ride by their ride for a photo opp!


Then, back to it!

Threatening skies.  Fast building clouds with some thunder but they only amount to large drops of rain six inches apart, and then, pass  on.


Summer returns to a long, hot slog.

Finally I near Lewistown, Montana.  I see a business loop sign and take it to avoid the uphill to the overpass.  I wind around and down and evidently enter Lewistown on the old highway.  Narrow road and quite a bit of traffic, no bike lane, of course.

I see a small park and decide to take a break in the shade during the heat of the day; some kids messing around walking, kicking a soccer ball and texting.  Teenagers.  I'm thinking this might not be a good place to camp for the night and press on.

I come upon the City Park.  A vast area with tennis courts, soccer court, picnic areas and so on.  Near by I spot the Chamber of Commerce.  I walk over, enter the air conditioned splendor and ask the nice lady is it is okay to spend the night in the park.

"No, I don't think that is allowed but let me check."

She gets on the phone and talks to someone.  She tells him about this nice old guy riding his bike from California to Pennsylvania, he would like to camp in the park just tonight.

She hangs up and says that was the head of the Park District and he said it would be okay with him if it is okay with the cops.

"I'll check with the police."

She calls them and tells them the same story and gets an okay.  I'm good to camp!

I tell her my brother-in-law told me that Lewiston is the geographic center of Montana.

She said, "Oh yes!  In fact the exact center is the kitchen sink drain in the house where I met my husband!  Of course that house is gone now.  The property was bought by some church outfit."


 So, here I am.  Lewistown, Montana, home of the Minuteman missile!

I set up my tent as evening draws nigh.  Soon a guy walks over and asks if I am going to camp here.  I tell him I am planning to.

He says, "It is illegal to camp in the park."

I tell him I got permission from the lady at the Chamber of Commerce.

He says he works for city parks and it is illegal.

I tell him the lady got permission from the head of city parks.

He puffs up and says he's going to call the cops.

I tell him to go ahead, the lady at the Chamber of Commerce got permission from the police department.

He walks back home and I crawl into my tent for the night.

No cops arrive but the sprinkler system comes on at 2:00 in the morning!  Fortunately I have the rain fly in place.  Just the noise of the sprinkler water hitting the tent kept me awake for half an hour.

July 8

 An uneventful night once the sprinklers stop!


Passing the sights on my way out of town.  Not really my kind of town.


Really, not my kind of town.


More signage and information along the way.




All the points of interest read and noted so back to the grind.


Porcupine?  Or rather, what's left of one.


Other roadside casualties.  Pretty sad with the stuffed animals stuck on the markers.

After fifty five miles I finally arrive in the town of Winnett, Montana.  And not a moment too soon.


The weather wasn't all that threatening but I was done.



And fried!!  Water blisters popping out on my arms and legs.


But hey!  A shady town park and guess what?


It is located right beside the town swimming pool!!


 I'm told I can use the port-a-pot across the street behind the church when the pool is closed.



 Take a shower, go for a swim.  Rest a while.  Take another swim.  Perfect!


What a nice little town.  I think I will stay a while.

July 9


It's Saturday and I'm taking the day off.


In the Winnett Store I spotted this T-shirt.  (In hindsight I wish I had bought one.)


A young kid on a bicycle has stopped by several times showing interest in who I am, where I have come from and where I am going.  His name is Corey and he is staying with his grandparents in town.  He comes by when I'm making my tea, interested in how my white gas stoves works, nice kid.

Later he comes by and I ask him to lead me on a tour around town.  He leads off and I ride along behind him as he shows me the school, the business section and the far reaches of town.  It doesn't take long!  Nice and polite kid.


Right next to where I am camped, just on the other side of the fence, is Carroll Manuel.  He saw me and Corey having a good time and decided to introduce himself.  He brought over two chairs to sit on in the shade and then he brought out a history book that was about his life.  He is the Outstanding Teamster for Montana for Horse Hitch.  He tells me he broke and drove teams all his life and has traveled all over the world with horse teams for exhibitions.  He is a very interesting man but deaf as a post.  So, it was mostly a one way conversation.

He told me Winnett is in Petroleum County and Petroleum County is as large as Rhode Island!  Yet, it has a population of 500!


Turns out today, Saturday, is the day for a benefit for the pool with barbecue, pop, chips and ice cream,  lots of people and a good time had by all.  My campsite is right in the midst of it all but am assured it is no problem and the good times roll on all around me!!


There are building in town available for your business, art gallery or whatever!  Winnett is a nice little town.

July 10

 Up and at 'em.  Sunday morning and I am rolling.


Not much shoulder.  Not much traffic.  Carroll Manuel told me to watch for his ranch.  He told me where it starts and when it ends, seven miles later!  Yes, his ranch is seven square miles!  I don't know that I actually saw it, it all looks pretty much the same out here but it gave me something to think about as I rolled along.


But pretty soon it was me talking to the cows again, "99 cents?  Only 99 cents!  Let's buy it!!"


Bicycle, seven miles per hour.


The flooding Musselshell River buried this fence in topsoil.


24 miles into my ride I come upon this rest stop.  It is the only one I have seen in Montana and it is brand new and spectacular with lots of signage to read and ponder.




I use the facilities, fill my water bottles and take a break in the shade.


And then back into the heat and wind.


This road cut maybe shows some of the oil shale, or not.



44 miles.  Sand Springs.  I was looking forward to stopping here for cold chocolate milk and yogurt but the market is closed.  Fortunately the hose bib on the outside of the building works and I top up my water bottles.


Pretty little Prong horn antelope.  Recently hit  by a vehicle.  The eyes just starting to glaze.


Onward and onward and onward.


59 miles.  Big Dry School.  And that's all!


Hot but fortunately I have a tail wind.


Check it out.  Seventy miles so far today.


Stopped for another photo op.  Don't know why.  Something about the erosion pattern I guess.


Finally, Jordan, Montana.  A seventy-six mile day!!


A small town and a park and some picnic tables.  No water or outhouse.  But, I'll take it!

Whew!

Once I am sorted out and recovered, somewhat, I walk into town and have dinner.

July 11










14 miles.  Fourteen miles is as far as I get east of Jordan.  The wind has shifted to head on and I am barely able to make progress.  Plus it is hot again and no shade at all until I arrived at this dehorning, vaccinating machine.  I park the bike beside it and crawl underneath into the only shady spot for miles!

I wait for a change in the wind, for the day to start to cool, something.

3:00 in the afternoon I returned to the highway and let the wind blow me back to Jordan.  I roll into town and check into the Jordan Hotel.  They have a room.  I take it, grab the key, enter my room, turn the air conditioner on high, close the drapes, undress, cycle myself through the shower and fall onto the bed. Fork me.  I am done.

The weather report on the TV says the unusual wind change will last on through the week with T-Storms.

In the evening I walk to the restaurant on the edge of town to have a steak and a Long Neck Bud.  I get to talking to the people at the next table.  I have decided to see if I can hitch a ride to Circle, Montana.  They think there is a Senior Center bus that goes to Circle once or twice a week but they are not sure.

Back to the hotel/motel and the cooling noise of the air conditioner.

On my Montana map it shows an Amtrak Station in the town of Wolf Point sixty miles north of Circle.  I have decided I have had enough.  I am going to see if I can hitch a ride to Wolf Point.

July 12

Wake up in a motel bed.  The wind is still blowing and when I push aside the heavy window drapes I see it is getting hot already.  A last check with the morning news, the weatherman says it is going to be T-storms all day and on into the weekend.

I turn in my key and ride my bike to the gas station/mini-mart.  They serve breakfast and I have sausage and eggs, biscuits and gravy.  Talking to the counter clerk he thinks the auto parts store up the street gets a delivery a couple times a week from Wolf Point, maybe I could snag a ride.

I ride to the auto parts store and the lady says there might be a delivery today but she is not sure.  "You would have better luck at the gas station".


I sit in the shade at the gas station/mini-mart and ask each pickup driver that pulls in for fuel if they are heading for Circle.  All of them are just in for fuel and groceries and heading back to their ranch.  I wait.

At noon I decide to walk over to the library and find me a book to read.  At the library they have a rack of paperbacks for only a dime each.  I find a page turner and head back to the gas station.  Along the way I walk by the Hotel/Motel I stayed in last night.  I decided to enter and ask the lady if she has any ideas for a ride.  She is having lunch with her girlfriend and the girlfriend tells me her ex husband is coming by to pick up their daughter and take her to Circle, maybe you can catch a ride with him.  She whips out her cell phone, gives him a call and tell him about me needing a ride for me and my bicycle.

"No problem.  He'll meet you at the gas station."

Amazing!  I hot foot it back to the gas station and soon a refrigeration service truck pulls in.  Seeing the bicycle he asks if I'm the guy looking for a ride to Circle.

"That be me!"

We pick up the bike and toss it in the back of the truck among refrigeration freon tanks and assorted gear, I hop in the passenger side, the daughter in the middle and away we go!!

They are interested in hearing my story and the miles roll by.  Straight as a string.  I point out the dehorning machine as we zip by it at seventy miles per hour!  They sure drive fast around here but then I guess you have to if you want to get anywhere.

He tells me there is a motel and a town park in Circle.  When we finally arrive the wind is still howling so I elect to go to the motel, no way I can set up a tent in this wind.

We unload me and my bike in the driveway of the motel.  I enter the office and no one is there,  I look around and the place is a real dump.  The "office" is strewn with papers.  I push the button to call attention but nothing happens.  Strange.

Back outside the wind and heat is really something.  Some guy is working at one of the units, notices me and walks over.  I tell him I would like a room.

"No can do, we're filled up."

WTF!  The place doesn't look filled up to me it looks more to me like someplace people rent for months at a time.

There is nothing for it but to try and hitch hike on to Wolf Point.  He tells me my best chance would be to go over to the intersection and stick out my thumb.

I can hardly push my bike against the wind to the intersection but do.  I park the bike on the Click Stand and wait for a vehicle.  My bike blows over!!  I pull it back up and get it better situated and my hat almost blows off.  If it had I doubt I could run fast enough to catch it!!  Jeez!  What a wind!

About every twenty minutes a truck comes along and I stick out my thumb.  They drive by looking at me and continue on.  The cars I don't even bother with.

And, here comes another car, well, not really a car, it is more like a SUV but at the last minute I decide to stick my thumb out anyway and by golly, it pulls over and stops!!  The guy hops out, comes around and opens the back hatch.  The interior floor is covered with groceries in boxes.  It looks like they have been shopping at Costco but he says, no they have been on vacation to South Dakota to see their grandson.  He pushes some stuff out of the way and helps me remove the panniers.  We stuff them here and there and finally we lay my bike on top of the groceries!!  There is just a bit of room behind the passenger seat for me.  I hop in, he introduces me to his wife Cathryn.  His name is Ken.  And, away we go!

As we ride along I tell them my story and that I have finally had enough, I'm trying to get to the Wolf Point Amtrak Station so I can go home.

Cathryn tells me there aren't any trains running because of the major flooding in Minot, North Dakota!

I ask how long before they run again.  She says, "let me check" and whips out her cell phone.

The answer turns out to be "Indefinitely!"

Hmmm.  Well, how about the Greyhound.  Is there a bus depot?

"No.  No bus station in town."

Well, is there a motel in town where I can stay while I sort this out?

"We have three motels in town, let me give them a call", and she whips out her cell phone again.

Soon she has the answer.  "Every motel in Wolf Point is full!!"

Ken explains that there is a major oil industry boom going on in Williston, North Dakota and there is such a shortage of housing that workers are commuting from Wolf Point, 103 miles each way!

Oh boy.  Now what?

Ken then mentions they have a 5th wheel trailer set up on their extra lot in town.  I could stay there if I wanted, it is hooked up to power and sewer.

Perfect!!


Soon my bike and I are ensconced in their trailer!

Next problem.  There is no AT&T cell service.  My phone doesn't work.

No problem.  Ken leaves his with me so I can make calls.

The deal was, my brother bought me the bike, my sister had offered to get me home.  All I had to do was pedal!

Time to check out that theory.

I called my Sis, explained the situation.

Soon she and my brother-in-law call back.  I now have a booked flight out of Wolf Point to Billings, Montana and from there to Seattle!  Del, by brother-in-law, gives me his UPS number so I can ship my bike!

I call Ken and Cathryn and tell them the plan.  Ken says he will pick me and the bike up in the morning and take us to his wife's floral shop where she has boxes of all sizes!  From there he will take me to the UPS station which is eight miles out of town and then get me to the airport in time for my 11:00 flight!

I spend the evening breaking my Long Haul Trucker down into smaller bits totally amazed that just ten hours earlier I was sitting outside the gas station in Jordan wondering if I was going to die!

Unbelievable!!

July 13

True to his word, Ken arrives and we load my bike "parts" and panniers into his truck and head for his wife's Floral Shop.


Ken helps duct tape the boxes together.



We load them in the truck and off to UPS we go which, for some reason...,


is located eight miles out of town!


Arriving at the UPS center Ken knows the clerk because he is retired from the Wolf Point Post Office and he knows everybody in town.

We have time for a quick breakfast and then Ken takes me for a little drive to see what I missed.


This is the bridge over the Missouri River and the unbelievable flat land beyond!  Gnats and mosquitoes are all over me when I step out to take this photo.  They are everywhere.  It is very hot, humid and windy.  I believe I abandoned my adventure at exactly the right time.


Ken knows the ticket guy at the Wolf Point Gulfstream International Airlines too!


After the one hour obligatory wait and a TSA pat down I am ready to board the plane.


Soon I and four other passengers are on our way to Billings, Montana.


Looking out the window I see what I am missing.  I don't miss it at all!

A short layover in Billings, Montana, a change of planes, and by evening Lolli is driving me from the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport to her mom's house in Shoreline, Washington.  It is a beautiful Pacific Northwest evening.  Perfect mild temperature, no bugs, no wind.  Riding along at 65 miles per hour through the evening traffic just sitting in the passenger seat talking with my wife.

Not the way I thought this would end but I am really counting my blessing for the "Bicycle Zen" of the last two days; hitching rides to Wolf Point, the generosity of Cathryn and Ken and especially, the "Extraction Team" gifts of Del and Diane.

Suddenly I am with my Lolli.  I am one lucky guy!