Sunday, August 31, 2014

Antioch, oh Antioch

Another brief break from our Washington Cascade bike ride postings.
We're back, and doing the usual local loops. It seems that Antioch is still very... Antioch
The streets if Antioch hold many a mystery.
Tricia picked up a stick, and we weren't even mountain biking. As Steve noted on Instagram "Dang. That's one of those 'couldn't do it on purpose if ya tried' things." Indeed.
Your bike is making a funny sound, Tricia. #notevenmountainbiking
And we are still waiting for the Marsh Creek connector trail to open. #stillwaiting #stillbitter It looks ready to me.
They really need to open this trail soon. #stillwaiting

Washington Cascades, Day 13, Washington Pass

Pass, south Washington Cascades 2014_0085
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

The original pre Washington-is-on-fire plan was to ride over Washington Pass from the South. Instead we were going to tackle it from the North as a simple out and back. Our leaders looked us over and figured we were too wimpy to ride from Newhalem to the summit and back, so they elected to give us a head start by driving us part way, thereby making is it a fifty-mile ride. We still got 4600 feet of climbing, so it wasn't a totally slacker kind of day.

Having all our bikes on top of the van looks pretty cool. I kept wondering how many dollars were up there catching the wind, and just how low the trees and anything else we went under were. But we didn't lose anything.
Bikes on roof  Washington Cascades 2014_0102
Before we got to where we'd start our ride, we stopped at the overview for Diablo Lake. It was... well, just look at the photos.
Diablo Lake overall Washington Cascades 2014_0041
We all went crazy making snapshots.
Diablo Lake photo Washington Cascades 2014_0044
Photo making Diablo Lake Washington Cascades 2014_0042
Heather wanted to make a group photo, because even though we are super cool cyclists on a multi-state adventure, we're really just tourists like everyone else.
Heather Adderson photographs Washington Cascades 2014_0043
When I was photographing for the newspaper we referred to this as "Line 'em up, shoot 'em down."
Group photo Washington Cascades 2014_0051
When we finished our "Ohhh" and "Ahhh" over the view, and wrapped up our bit of photographic nonsense, we headed just a short ways up the road and started our ride.

It was about 25 miles of six-percent, which isn't a horrible climb, but is relentless. There's a spot at Rainy Pass with a short steep downhill. It was hard to truly enjoy, knowing that we were giving up hard-earned elevation that we would have to reclaim almost immediately.

As always, there were cyclists out there with panniers just to let us know we weren't that tough. We also saw this man on his recumbent trike, slowly grinding uphill. When we went past he asked "How much farther?" I answered 20 miles. I don't know if that was heartening or depressing for him, but we did see him just short of the summit when we were returning later.
Pass cyclist Washington Cascades 2014_0057
The climb really is beautiful. Tricia and I have been down the North side twice before. It was fun to see it at 5mph instead of the twenty-plus we had coming down.
Climbing up to pass Washington Cascades 2014_0065
Even though I like quoting that "The journey is the reward," really, the summit is the reward (or is it the swell downhill?) Getting to the top feels great and the views are unreal.
Washington Pass sign Washington Cascades 2014_0070
We all loitered around the overlook, marveling at how rugged the mountains here are.
Pass summit gang Washington Cascades 2014_0089
And making a few "photos or it didn't happen" snapshots.
Photos at the top of pass Washington Cascades 2014_0076
As we pushed our bikes back toward the road, Tricia's rear tire exploded. She'd managed to pick up another huge cut in a nearly-new tire. We used another Park Tools tire boot (if you don't have some in your seat bag you're making a big mistake. Read about our experiences with them here) and carefully rolled the 25 downhill miles to the van.

We saw some bigfoot tracks on the road, and briefly stopped to photograph them.
Bigfoot track Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0534
Having survived the climb, the torn tire, and a possible bigfoot encounter, we all piled into the van and started toward Sedro-Woolley. But before we got there Heather pulled over at Cascadia Farms, and treated us all to fresh berry ice cream and shakes. And thus ends another tough day of roughing it on the road.
Cascadia farms Washington Cascades 2014_0096

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Washington Cascades, Day 12, Van ride and Newhalem

Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

With fires sweeping through Washington blowing our planned itinerary to pieces, our Adventure Cycling leaders where in full tilt improvisational (but experienced and very clever) mode. Today instead of riding bikes, we'd be in the van and on a ferry, heading for a small campground near Newhalem close to Washington Pass.
rain on windshield Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0573
Torn map Washington Cascades 2014_0111I'm not a big fan of being in motor vehicles, but this wan't too bad. And being as it was raining a little and the sky was gray maybe it was a good thing. We chatted a lot and made jokes. Jeffery and Mark explained how not to take care of a map, and showed what can happen when you don't.

Best of all, we weren't trapped in the van the entire time. I can see how riding a ferry could get old if you had to do it every day, but for me the ferry to Edmund was like an amusement park ride.
Leaving Port Townsend headed for Edmund on the ferry. #beatsdriving
When we arrived at our campground I guess we could have gone for a ride, but it seemed late in the day after we set up our tent.
Tricia tent Washington Cascades 2014_0171
Tricia wanted to go for a walk. After some arm twisting I ended up going with her. It turned out to be almost magical. Walking down the road we stumbled across a path that took us into a different epoch. It was clearly a portal to previous time in the Earth's history.  Here are too many photos.
rain forest Washington Cascades 2014_0157
Leaf Washington Cascades 2014_0165
walk in the woods Washington Cascades 2014_0124
tricia water Washington Cascades 2014_0140
River Washington Cascades 2014_0146
Fear Washington Cascades 2014_0145
Fungus Washington Cascades 2014_0141
fren Washington Cascades 2014_0117
leaves Washington Cascades 2014_0133
mushroom Washington Cascades 2014_0163
Apparently some fungi have adapted to look like aluminum cans to avoid being devoured.
Trash Washington Cascades 2014_0143
It was our turn to cook again. Tricia made red beans and rice, and cooked up some andouille sausage as well as some apple chicken sausage for the non-pork eaters and a bit of tofu for the veggie folk. We had Mississippi Mud Cake for desert.
Tricia cooks Washington Cascades 2014_0174
The star of the evening was our leader, Heather Anderson, who read a bit from her book, I never Intended to be Brave. We sat around and asked her and Greg serious and silly questions about their adventures until we realized we'd better hurry and pack up the cooking equipment before it got dark. We'd never have made it without the rest of our group pitching in.
Heather reads Washington Cascades 2014_0176
Eventually we got back to our luxurious tent. Doesn't this fisheye make it look downright spacious?
Inside our tent Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0585

Friday, August 29, 2014

Washington Cascades, Day 11, Port Angeles

Dock Washington Cascades 2014_0184

Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

The plan was to ride Hurricane Ridge in Washington, as an out-and-back but when we woke up it was raining and foggy. We might have done it if we had to in order to get to the next campground, but the idea of climbing 5000 feet in the rain and fog for a view we wouldn't get, then descend a steep mountain on wet roads just did not sound like fun. At all. We decided to explore Port Angles instead. It was a good call. We still got a few miles in, and had a relaxing day.

Teen Dance Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0587Our first stop was, of course, for coffee... and  a sweet treat, and a New York Times. The coffee shop was conveniently next to a small bookstore, where we dropped a bit of cash. I was blown away by the sign on the bulletin board advertising a "Read for Rides" teen dance to raise money to buy books and bicycles for middle school kids.  Why don't we have cool stuff like that here? Yes, I am just a bit bitter. The bookstore also had an extensive selection of books about Bigfoot. I sent a photo of one of the books to our bigfoot-obsessed friend who commented "If this guy knows so much about hunting Bigfoot why doesn't he go get one?" Point taken, Kellie.
bigfoot Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0589

We also stopped at the Bike Garage where it turned out the owner grew up right near where we live. Small world. Then we hit the pier and saw ships coming and going.

We also enjoyed a beautiful bike path through the woods.
Tricia Port Angeles trail Washington Cascades 2014_0210
And another bike path through a less than beautiful industrial area that ended at a military installation where we were not welcome. At all.
Bike trail port orchard Washington Cascades 2014_0208
We had fun playing with the rocks anyway.
Rocks Washington Cascades 2014_0190

Tricia rocks Washington Cascades 2014_0197
Tricia just got her first grand daughter (Thanks Ryan and Stephanie!) so has taken an interest in all things baby girlish. I busted her peering longingly through a baby store window. Not that they sell babies. They sell baby stuff.
Baby store Washington Cascades 2014 iphone_0593
All in all, more fun than riding in fog and rain.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Washington Cascades, Day 10, Forks to Port Angeles

Truck route mountain pass Washington Cascades 2014_0224
Read all the posts about this trip in backwards order (or better yet, start at the bottom and work up) here.

Forks may be famous for vampires and werewolves, but being in Washington we were pretty sure there would be coffee, too. So when we headed out in the morning, destined for Port Angeles, we were confident we'd find coffee six miles up the road in town. And indeed we did, at a lovely little drive through, or in our case, ride through. The coffee was fine, and it got us ready for what we expected would be a relatively easy 70 miles (which turned out to have almost 4200 feet of climbing. Oh well.)
coffee in Forks Washington Cascades 2014_0217
The first 20 miles or so were a delight, with very little traffic through wooded areas and past a small lake. Just exactly what you dream of when you dream of bicycle touring.

Then we saw the sign, or rather the first sign.
Read notice Washington Cascades 2014_0221
Which directed us to the next sign.
Read notice 2 Washington Cascades 2014_0223
Just in case you didn't read it, it says, roughly "If you ride this road you will be killed by a motor vehicle, and it will be all your fault becasue you do not belong here and so too bad for you."

That's the road we turned on. Not because we're crazy, but because that's the way you need to go to get from Forks to Port Angeles. But hey, it's only 40 miles or so of RVs and logging trucks, so what the heck.

What bothered me even more was that, after we turned on the Hell Road, there was not one, not one, sign warning motor vehicle users to watch for cyclists, or share the road. Nothing. Washington is a great state to ride in, but this is a major fail.

Here's what I'd like. In addition to this sign, a sign for drivers that reads:
Drivers, please exit your vechicle at the gate and sign the statement that you understand cyclists may be on the road, and that if you so much as startle one by driving closer than three feet you will lose your drivers license. If you come in contact with one and injure them, your head will be placed on a spike to the left of this gate along side the other heads of careless drivers.
 That's not too much to ask, is it?

That said, we saw few motor homes, and the giant logging trucks that flew past us made the attempt to give us as much room as they could. Mostly we listened for them, and when they passed us we had already stopped our bikes and were waiting in the dirt off the road. Some of our group just rode, and trusted the trucks to give them space. I just couldn't.

But there weren't that many trucks, and the ride was beautiful. The top photo is a view from the highest point on the Hell Road. And, again, Curtis Flower Photo Hater saw so many beautiful flowers he couldn't resist photographing them himself. Yikes.
Flowers again Washington Cascades 2014_0235
Technically not a flower, but I don't care.
Flowers again 2 Washington Cascades 2014_0237

Aflowers again 3Washington Cascades 2014_0245
At several points during the ride I was sure I could smell the ocean, and indeed we weren't that far away. We took a bit of an off-route detour to add a few miles (and hills) and get closer to the water. Sarah Palin claims she could see Russia from Alaska, but we could see Canada from our lunch stop.
Can we see Canada 2 Washington Cascades 2014_0253 copy
Eventually, and in no big rush, we arrived in Port Orchard and set up camp. We hadn't had showers available the night before, so the hot water at this camp site was a big hit with all of us.
Port Orchard camp Washington Cascades 2014_0213