August 2006

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 59

08/14/2006 04:37:13 by Administrator

From: Burlington, Washington
To: Bay View, Washington
Mileage: 8

Bitter Sweet, because all journeys have an ending. We had a very short ride today. Yet another gorgeous day, blue skies and temperatures in the high 70's. We decided to finish our journey at Bay View State Park because Noel's Mom and Dad came from Texas to meet us (THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!) and we wanted a quiet place for reunion. We can not thank Mom and Dad enough for being there at the finish, it was so much appreciated!

Not much to report, the traffic was pretty busy until the last 2 miles of the ride. The people on the west side of Washington state are boxed in by the mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west; so there is a lot of people and cars but not many quiet roads!

We had one more hill, and before the hill, yes there was another cornfield for viewing. We were also looking for red winged blackbirds and morning doves, the other two common sights along our cycling tour across the US. One last logging truck passed us as we climbed the last hill, one last hand wave.

Mom and Dad had a long ride up from Westport Washington, so we had time for talking, reflecting and having SeeMore's photo taken with his wheel in the ocean. We unpacked everything, and took inventory and repacked things for traveling home.

We dropped off SeeMore at Skagit Cycle Center, we are a little nervous about his trip home, which will be delayed 5 days because they are very busy. We are in Westport for a couple of days, enjoying being with Mom and Dad, and the ocean.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 58

08/13/2006 04:35:21 by Administrator

From: Newhalem, Washington
To: Burlington, Washington
Mileage: 70

We were up with the sun this morning for a very early start; after a terrific night's sleep. Last night we were lulled to sleep by the Skagit River. Our campsite was at riverside among giant hemlock, Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. It was like being in a fairy tale surrounded by the giants of the forest and ferns. After packing up and eating a quick breakfast of oatmeal, we pushed SeeMore quietly through the wooded trail back to route 20. The walk-in campsites were THE campsites to use in this campground. Today's ride featured no headwind and no major hills to climb, a very easy ride today.

Washington state drivers were still asleep so we had the road to ourselves as we cruised passed more mountains, dropping in elevation.

Traffic began to pick up around 9:30 am, just in time for our second breakfast and route change in Concrete, WA (yes there really is a town named "Concrete") With eggs and toast in our bellies we crossed the Skagit River where the route leaves busy route 20 for a peaceful ride on the south side of the river through a tunnel of towering pines. Which occasionally opened into a meadow or farm field.

When we hit route 9 we had a decision to make, whether to head into Sedro-Wooly or the bigger, busier city Burlington. We opted for Burlington due to the hotel selection and bike shop.

After a rude awakening to the hustle and bustle of the big city and traffic we landed at the Holiday In Express, a bit pricey but all services and amenities including guest laundry, pool an Jacuzzi Ahhhhh . . .

Tomorrow it will be a short ride to Bay View State park where we will touch our tire into the Pacific Ocean and complete our journey.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 57

08/12/2006 04:32:51 by Administrator

From: Mazama, Washington
To: Newhalem, Washington
Mileage: 63

. . . And yet, and yet, the moments we have had, the marvels we have witnessed, the wonderful truths we have seen. You see, when night falls and you close your eyes to sleep and dream, we have seen the things that you can only dream about. We have been there. . . Oh yes. All the way and back!

This quote, taken form the TV movie Gulliver's Travels and revised a little, only begins to describe today's ride. Just when we thought we had seen it all, one spectacular ride after another, days and places you wish you could never forget, God decides to give it to you with both barrels. Today's ride was the crown jewel. We are so glad we decided to ride east to west because we are finishing our journey in the Cascades and we have truly saved the best for last.

We crossed Washington pass (elevation 5477) and Rainy pass (elevation 4855) today. Out of the five passes, Sherman was the most difficult for us to pedal over; Loup Loup and Washington are tied for second followed by Wauconda and lastly Rainy. Rainy was only a 2-mile climb up after we rode steeply down from Washington pass (about 3 miles); so for us riding from the east, this pass was very easy.

A full moon was our guide on our morning climb. The moon was centrally framed between each set of mountain peaks as route 20 rose out of the Methow River Valley floor. As we climbed, the highest ridges and peaks in our views were snow covered. Around every bend was another "Kodak" moment. Route 20 was pretty quiet until the late afternoon, when it got pretty busy. Temperatures for the day did not pass the high 70's and for most of the day there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Perfect cycling conditions, with perfect scenery. . .what more can we say.

We passed waterfalls, forest of huge evergreens, the smell of cedar, orange mountain ash berries, blueberries, blackberries, gorges, rivers, turquoise glacier lakes, stony fast moving creeks, huge mountain peaks dotted with glaciers, tunnels, black squirrels, wildflowers galore, and a variety of birds. So much filled our minds until it seemed like we were on overload.

Then, if the ride was not enough. . .just for something extra . . We were able to camp in Cascades National Park; where we pitched our tent in between a group of enormous Douglas firs right along the Skagit River.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 56

08/11/2006 04:29:28 by Administrator

From: Okanogan, Washington
To: Mazama, Washington
Mileage: 59

Loup Loup pass was a steep 14-mile climb, but with plenty of breaks we made it up and over the pass (elevation 4020). After the 8-mile down hill (with a little road construction and detour) we arrived in Twisp at 1:00 pm for beverages and rest room breaks.

Going up Loup Loup pass was breath taking, in more ways than one. The scenery and fresh forest smells was incredible. We could see some of the smoke and smell the wildfires, but that disappeared about 4 miles from the pass. The Methow River valley between Loup Loup pass and tomorrow's challenge, Washington pass, is truly beautiful! Both the Rear Admiral and myself have voted Washington State as the most beautiful state we have cycled in on this journey.

We had lunch/dinner in Winthrop, which is a tourist trap kind of town. It's really is not fair of us to label it, but it has a population of 349, and yet created our first traffic jam of Washington state. The traffic jam was caused by all gift-tourist shops, and not enough parking places for half the state of Washington (at least it seemed like half the state of Washington).

Tonight we are staying at Mazama Ranch House which is a nice 8 room hotel that claims to be "the best little horse hotel in the State of Washington". We have to agree, but then again we have only been to one! It is truly a horse lover's paradise. After settling in, we went and visited the only grocery store for the next 50 miles, and after spending half of our retirement savings for tomorrow's lunch supplies we ventured back to the ranch to watch the horses and sunset.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 55

08/10/2006 04:27:46 by Administrator

From: Republic, Washington
To: Okanogan, Washington
Mileage: 72

Another day, another stellar bicycling ride with some surprises along the way. We had a short climb (about 14 miles) to go up and over Wauconda pass. Not a lot of challenge, taking it one pedal at a time we were surprised that we had reached the pass so easily. Next we had a 25-mile down hill into Tonasket and into the Okanogan valley. The valley is very arid, except for the Okanogan River and the thousands of fruit trees (apple, nectarines, peaches, pears) that are irrigated from the river. We were very surprised how much this section of Washington looked like Montana with rocks, cacti, dried grasses, sage, and cliffs. . . except, of coarse, the fruit trees!

We had lunch in Tonasket, and this is where route 97 joins route 20, which makes for a rather busy stretch of road. Adventure Cycling has a few side roads that keep you away from a lot of the 97/20 traffic. So far when Route 20 is by itself, and not joined by another route, it is very quiet.

We also had our first dog chase of the trip. A very fast Jack Russell Terrier (picture Eddie on the TV show Fraser) came at us as we tried to reach maximum warp speed. SeeMore was riding into a headwind, and 17 mph was all he was willing to give. The Jack Russell was willing to give 21 mph. The Rear Admiral, with the speed and accuracy of a modern day Annie Oakley, shot the Jack Russell right between the eyes with a blast of ice-cold water from my water bottle. The dog was defeated, and I lost some valuable ice-cold water. . . but ankles were saved in the process! (did I mention I lost some valuable ICE-COLD water?)

There are a number of extremely large forest fires burning north of Okanogan and northeast of Winthrop. The Tripod and Spur Peak fires have burned more than 74,800 acres, or nearly 117 square miles, of national-forest land. They were both started by lighting, and have been burning since July 24th and are only 20 percent contained as of this writing. We could see the huge amount of smoke coming over the tops of the mountains as we rode in the Okanogan valley today (see photo below).

Tomorrow is the Loup Loup pass (elevation 4020) and we are hoping for two non-smoking seats on SeeMore as we travel just south of the fires.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 54

08/09/2006 04:24:22 by Administrator

From: Kettle Falls, Washington
To: Republic, Washington
Mileage: 44

We had a great dinner last night at the Apple Warehouse Deli in Kettle Falls. We split a sandwich and shared a Greek salad that was just perfect. They also had home baked cookies and goodies, which we also easily consumed!

The morning ride began with a 3 mile decent to cross over the Columbia River. It was quickly followed by a 25-mile ascent of Sherman's Pass. This was not easy, we are guessing that we averaged between 4-5 mph for most of the 25 miles, especially the last 7.

On the way up, the Rear Admiral spotted a rest area with rest rooms. She said, "I'm going to signal left". What I saw was a single touring cyclist coming down from the pass, so naturally I pulled up next to him. He was from Germany, and spoke very little English. We are from America, and speak very little German. We think he is making a loop from Seattle to Colville Washington, then up to Canada and over to Vancouver before finally returning to Seattle. He was a very nice gentleman; we just wish we could have communicated with him better. So after he continued down hill, I start to pedal SeeMore back onto Rte 20 and continue up the mountain. However, the Rear Admiral wanted to continue to go left and towards the rest area. SeeMore doesn't go very well in two directions at one time, so naturally he didn't. This was a rare time on this trip that our minds were not in tandem.

The pedaling might have been a challenge, but the scenery was grand and it made the efforts easier to handle. At one time we believed we startled a moose in the marsh next to the road. All we heard was the sound of something very large, sloshing to get out of the water. Could have been Bigfoot, now that we think about it!

We are here in beautiful Republic Washington (population 956, maybe). It is a pretty nice small town nestled in between two passes; Sherman and tomorrow's challenge Wauconda (elevation 4310). As I type this, the Rear Admiral is sleeping (3:00 pm). She worked very hard today, and I am truly blessed that she was able to pedal me up the hill!

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 53

08/08/2006 04:22:59 by Administrator

From: Ione, Washington
To: Kettle Falls, Washington
Mileage: 55

Today was a tune up for tomorrow's Sherman's Pass. We had to get over the Selkirk Mountains on our way to the Cascade Mountains. It was another beautiful ride and the riding conditions were near perfect. So far Rte 20 is very light traffic. We had an overcast sky with temperatures rising to 91 degrees, but by the time that happened, we were pretty much done for the day except for riding around Kettle Falls to see what we could see.

After turning on to Rte 20 (about 4 miles into the ride) we were greeted with a five-mile ascent with a number of switchbacks. One pedal at a time brought us up and over onto a 10 mile plateau through the Selkirk Mountains and Colville National Forest. The only thing missing in the tall pines, dark mountains, and marsh grassland was a moose or two! It was just like being at an Imax theater (only better!), except SeeMore was our seats and yes we had to pedal a couple of times.

After our decent out of the Colville National Forest, the Adventure Cycling map takes you on side roads into Colville (population 5000). We had little trouble with these side roads, but for the west to east riders . . . we would suggest staying on Rte 20. It has the same scenery, and the climb out of Colville is very steep.

Lunch in Colville was proceeded by a ride around town. Afterwards, it was a short ten-mile ride to the small town of Kettle Falls (population 1500). Tomorrow the climbing begins in earnest.