Our Adventure In Washington State
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At Christmas, I discussed possible retirement with my family. They knew I had considered it, and most thought I would wait until at least the summer of 2012. They became accustomed to the idea of my retirement after the start of the year, and supported me.
Entering retirement, we planned cycle touring as our first major experience. Following the advice of many, we selected a start date for our tour, 18 June 2012. We selected the date, based on completion of a 23 week training sequence. (Please find a training at http://wp.me/P2ngSu-ht.) Our goal was audacious, the entire Pacific Coast of the United States.
As it turned out, we started later than we planned, 20 May 2012. And, we rode only part of the Pacific Coast, Washington State and the Oregon Coast. Not only that, our tour came in two parts. In the first part, we rode through much of Washington State. In the second part, we rode much of the Oregon Coast.
Family obligations prompted our schedule change. When I retired in February, 2012, I had hoped to travel to Wyoming to visit our parents, earlier than later. Between weather and other circumstances, we were unable to go. Since we hoped to embark on a multi-month tour, we wanted see our families first. Also, Marian’s sister, Cathy, and husband, Ian were visiting Wyoming from the UK.
Prior to our trip to Wyoming, we put the finishing touches on our tour preparations. We had trained hard. We hoped it was the right training. We went on two overnight trips, which you can read about (http://wp.me/p2ngSu-ml). We had learned a great deal, and were eager to put our lessons to the test.
We laid out our plans. We purchased Adventure Cycling Association maps for the Pacific Coast. We poured over the maps, trying to understand what we were setting out to do. We used GPSies.com to plot our routes, loading the .TCX files into our aging Garmin Edge 705. Marian got a new iPhone for us to communicate with the outside world. We could also access the net, as needed. We hoped to use our Kindle to store our maps, and take electronic notes on our adventures. Her iPhone had a camera, but we elected to take a dedicated camera as well. To recharge the many batteries, we intended to use our Goal Zero solar array, plus recharging at convenient outlets along the way.
We completed our training, and then traveled to Wyoming to visit our family. We have driven the Wyoming many times together, and with our children. In addition, Marian has driven to Wyoming with the children, with me flying back to join them to complete the vacation.
This time, we did something we had not done before. We took the road less traveled as much as we could. We took Highway 50 up to Tahoe, and then on across Nevada. In Utah, we edged up to Highway 40 and drove on into Colorado, taking more back roads to Casper.
We had a wonderful time with our families. The year before, Marian’s mother, Beth, had moved from a retirement home in Cheyenne, to Casper. This was my first opportunity to see her new apartment. I remembered thinking how odd it was to see familiar things in a strange setting. Still, with Cathy and Ian in attendance, I soon got past my slight disorientation. Near the end of our trip, we went on to the cabin, and spent several days enjoying the quiet ambiance.
My father was still living in his house on Jonquil. As usual, while we were there, we had a large get together, with the house bursting with people. My father said something which stayed with me. He was always happy when everyone came. And he was sad when everyone left. My memories were only of the house filled with people. Watching him, I had some premonition that his time in the house was not long. As it turned out, his time was shorter than I imagined.
Our siblings were fully engaged in living their lives. We were just one more, someone remote, item in their lives. When we talked about the tour, they were polite. Marian’s brother, Eric, a talented amateur athlete, doing running, cycling, and skiing, was the only one who truly seemed to understand. We could tell the rest didn’t really understand the magnitude of what we were proposing to do.
We had resolved to continue our training, while in Wyoming. We had worked so hard to get ourselves fit, and we hated the idea of losing our edge. We were able to work in only a few rides. We rode the wonderful bike path in Casper, sad that they have yet to extend it further than the Sports Complex on the east end.
We also took the opportunity to do a single ride, while at the cabin. We rode our bikes, down-hill, from the cabin, near Wood’s Landing, to West Laramie. The ride was really, not much of a test. We had a terrific tail wind. It was almost all down-hill. And we carried almost no load. Marian’s brother, Eric, drove down and picked us up. While on the way back, we saw a huge plumb of smoke to the south. It turned out to the start of the Pouder Canyon Fire, a fire which would plague fire fighters for weeks.
We returned a few days before our train ride to Seattle. We made our final check-outs, did a few rides, and packed. Then, wondering if we could actually ride from Seattle to San Francisco, we boarded the train and set out on our first, grand adventure. We planned to bike the ACA route, starting in Bremerton, Washington, and, hopefully, riding down to San Francisco.
Our plan went awry, starting the first day on our bikes. Rain began to fall, and did not let up for several days. We suffered through a blown tire, far from any bike shop. A little later, a rear hub began to fail, again, with no bike shop nearby. We took the train from Centralia to Vancouver for repair work. Rather than return by train to Centralia, we struck out for Kelso / Longview, and rejoined the ACA route. Upon reaching the ferry at Cathlamet, we checked the weather forecast. As we had feared, two weeks of rain were forecast for the north coast of Oregon. We elected to return to Kelso / Longview for pickup. Oregon would have to wait for another day.
I was given a gentle, but emphatic lesson that it is impossible to expect a detailed plan to survive a long adventure. Adaptability and flexibility had been important. I was at ease with the problems we had solved, and our ability to develop a new route without our customary resources. I did regret that we had been close to the ocean, both at Elma and Cathlamet, but we would have to wait several weeks to see the blue of the Pacific. The lack of cooperation from the weather disappointed me.
|Read about the night train from San Jose to Portland|