Saturday, May 21, 2011

Now for Day 2 of The Excellent Adventure

This morning I got up, packed up my two panniers and rode to my friend's house in an area of Vancouver called "The Heights". I rode back down St. John's and returned to the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail continuing East. Clearly, this trail is not a rail trail. There are WAY too many ups and downs! The trail runs mostly along a greenbelt of power lines. I took the trail to Andresen Rd. From there I had to exit the trail and ride up Andresen to MacArthur Blvd. When I was in 4th grade, a freak tornado came through Vancouver. It came down the hill very close to Andresen.

At MacArthur, I turned left and went about a mile further to my friend's house. After about an hour's visit, my friend suggested I ride over the I-205 bridge (on a bike path) to Oregon then ride the Marine Dr. Trail along Marine Dr. to the I-5 bridge and back into Vancouver. I had lots of time before my train at 6:30, so I decided that would be a fun way to go.

First I went down a steep hill and back over to Leiser Rd. where I continued down, over Hwy 14 to the Evergreen Hwy. Evergreen Hwy. needs some serious road work! I bumped and bounced my way to Ellsworth Rd. where I had to go up a little ways, turn onto a dead end road, and ride to the end where the I-205 trail started. The trail goes a short ways, then comes up between the north and southbound lanes. Except that it is very noisy, it is a pretty cool way to cross the river. You don't have to worry about which side of the bridge to be on. It is one trail down the middle for both directions of travel. I passed one other cyclist coming from the other direction.

Following the signs, I made my way to the Marine Dr. Trail in Oregon. I must say, I certainly hadn't planned on riding to Portland when I decided to take Stella on the train! The trail follows the Columbia River for most of the way until after the Portland Airport where it crosses Marine Dr. and goes along some grassy fields. Then the trail ended. There was a bike route sign that pointed left to go to the Hollywood District and Concordia College (both places I wasn't planning on going). There was no arrow pointing right. I went left, but then turned around because I didn't think that was the way to go to get to the I-5 bridge. As I returned to where the trail had ended, a guy was coming off the trail. I asked him if he knew how to get to the I-5 bridge. He said he was going that way too, but wasn't really sure how to do it. We rode up the short distance to Marine Dr. There was no shoulder at all on Marine Dr. Wes (as I later learned was his name), said that couldn't be the right way (at least for a bike route), so we turned around and went back the way I had tried before. This time, we continued on 33rd St. Wes had an idea of where we needed to go. I figured I had plenty of time so I might as well follow him. We booked along pretty fast. Wes was riding a single speed bike. Every time we came to a hill he would get ahead of me but, he would slow down when he got to the top and wait for me to catch up. This was a good thing because, at one point, I had no clue where I was or how this was going to get me to the bridge. Anyway, we continued on making turns here and there to stay on the bike route. When we got to Rosa Parks Way, I was starting to get some idea of where we were. Still, I'm not sure I would have figured out how to get, first, to Delta Park, and then over the slough to Hayden Island. Turns out Wes didn't know how to get over the slough from Delta Park either. As we were stopped at an intersection after having gone under I-5 and wondering how to get up onto the bridge over the slough, another cyclist came up the road. We asked him how to get to the I-5 bridge. Turns out, he too, was going that way and said to follow him. So now, it's three of us headed to the bridge. The second guy was also riding either a single speed or a fixed gear. At Jantzen Beach, he told us how to get up onto the bridge. I had decided to find a Subway at Jantzen Beach for some lunch, so I thanked Wes and we parted ways.

I rode under I-5 on that road that goes to the shopping area. Not surprisingly, there was a Subway just down the road a ways. However, it was part of a mini-mart and there was no place to lock Stella. Also, there was no place to eat. I decided to go back to Vancouver and eat at the same Subway I ate at the day before. Before I left Jantzen Beach, I stopped at Best Buy because, in the morning, I had tried to power off my iPad and it wouldn't turn off. It just kept "thinking". Consequently, it was getting pretty warm in the case. I asked the Geek Squad if they knew how I could get it to turn off. One of the guys just pushed the home button and the power button at the same time and that reset it. Then he was able to turn it off. Whew, problem solved!

I rode over the bridge into downtown Vancouver and back to Subway. After lunch, I remembered that a friend of mine had told me there was this really good French bakery on Main St. I looked it up on my phone and saw that it was just 16 blocks up Main St. I decided to go there to get something to eat for dinner on the train (train food being horribly expensive and not that good). I found the bakery and purchased a spinach, ham and cheese croissant, a filled pastry thing and a piece of hazelnut cake (like a Ferrero Rocher, only in cake form).

Since I still had several hours before the train, I decided to ride out to Vancouver Lake Park. I had seen the bike route signs for it the day before. The route goes out Mill Plain Blvd. As I was riding along, I came to an intersection. The bike route sign pointed left to go to Vancouver Lake and Frenchman's Bar. It pointed right to go to East Vancouver and Hazel Dell. Well, there wasn't really a left turn. I turned left anyway because I could see what looked like might be a bike trail. It wasn't, or, at least, it didn't go far. So I got back on the road (by this time the road had become Lower River Rd.). I rode for awhile, but started to doubt I was going the right way. So, I turned around and went back to where the sign had said to turn left. I went into the driveway and rode until the road dead ended at the train tracks. There was no bike path so I rode back to the intersection. At this point, I thought that, probably, the sign that said to turn left, really meant to stay on Lower River Rd. So, I turned again and returned to where I had began to doubt that I was going the right way and just kept going. As you know, I was raised in Vancouver. One might be wondering why I don't know how to get to Vancouver Lake. Surely, in my 19 years of living in Vancouver, I must have gone to Vancouver Lake at some point! Well, yes, that's true! However, I have never ridden a bike there, AND, it's probably been about 30 years since I've been there!

I finally made it to the lake. There was a huge rowing competition going on. Several schools and rowing organizations were there. The Vancouver Lake Rowing Club's boathouse is there. I've never seen so many shells (2, 4 and 8 oared)! I saw one race and took some pictures (later post).

When I came into the park, I noticed the trail to Frenchman's Bar (on the river). I still had plenty of time, so I rode that trail (my third for the day) out to Frenchman's Bar Park. It is a fairly good size park on the Willamette River. Since it was such a nice day, there were quite a few people there. They have courts for beach volleyball and a few people were playing. Others were having picnics and barbecues.

As I was riding back along the trail, I pulled off into a little wayside of sorts. There was a sign thing that said the Native Americans called the Willamette "Mult-no-Mah". that's how Multnomah County in Oregon got it's name! Learn something new everyday!

There was a guy with his dog there. He commented that Stella was a nice bike (she knows she is, but still she likes the compliments). We talked for abit, then I headed back along the trail.

At this point, although I still had about 2 1/2 hours before I needed to be at the station, I decided to head there anyway. I just made one small detour when I got back into downtown to get a bottle of soda to have with my dinner. Then I went to the station. I got there at about 4:20. There were a lot of people hanging around, laying on the grass. And, there was a train there. I later found out that most of those people were actually on that train, but it had been delayed due to a freight train problem south of Portland. They had gotten off the train to sit out in the sunshine. Finally, the conductor hollered, "ALL ABOARD!" and most of the people got back on the train. The train left, and shortly afterward an eastbound train came and the bulk of the remaining people got on that train. By then, it was almost 5:30. I had asked the station master if the 6:30 train was going to be on time. He said it was, but he could get me on an earlier train if I wanted. I told him that would be fine, but would there be room for my bike. He checked, but there was no space for Stella. That was okay, I wasn't planning on catching an earlier train anyway. After most of the people cleared out, I was able to sit on the bench and eat my dinner (I saved the cake for the train).

About 1/2 hour before the train was to arrive, the station master came out and put an Olympia tag on Stella (they didn't do that when I came down). The train arrived and Stella was loaded onto the Baggage car again. This time, I was several cars away from the Baggage car. When the conductor came to collect my ticket, I asked him where I should go to get off when we got to Olympia. First he said I would have to go up to car 3 which was quite a ways away. Then he said he would come back and open the door of the car I was in so I wouldn't have to walk so far back to the Baggage car to retrieve Stella. I thought that was mighty nice of him!

As it was coming down, the ride was over before I knew it. I gathered my panniers, got off and picked up Stella. I loaded up the panniers and rode the whopping 1.3 miles to home.

Total miles ridden for the day?: 50.1
Total states?: 2
Total bike trails/routes?: 5 or so
Total times eaten at Subway?: 2
Would I do this again?: Absolutely!

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