To back up a bit, let me explain this whole Access Permit thing. To get the Permit, you must go to Range Control on the Main Post. You give them photo ID, and your phone number. They give you a pink card to carry, and one for your vehicle should you want to park on JBLM. When you get the permit, which is good for two years, they also give you a brochure which tells what you need to do prior to going on post. It has a map that shows all the areas. What you must do before going, is call the number listed in the brochure to first find out which areas are open, then leave the info I mentioned above. The areas closest to me are 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23. Area 23 is the closest of these.
Today, only 20 and 21, of the areas within riding distance from home, were open. The map in the brochure is not very precise. As best I could tell, Area 20 could be accessed from the end of Johnson Rd. I've been that way a couple of times, so I knew where it was. Here's the tricky part. There are no signs out there telling you which area you are entering, or are in. Since the map has very few reference points, it's very easy to accidentally cross into a closed area--in today's case, Area 22. However, when I was looking on a website, it listed Area 22 being closed due to an endangered species of butterfly having been found there. So...I knew, if I accidentally crossed into 22, I was not likely going to run into any troops on maneuvers! But, also, how do the butterflies know not to cross into Area 20???
Anyway, I think I remained in Areas 20 and 21--at least until toward the end of the ride. I had done some looping around, and ended up back on a road I'd already been on. The second time, however, I turned, at an intersection, in the opposite direction as the first time. Since I knew where the other direction came out, I thought I knew where this way would go too. Turns out, not really. I thought I would come out on Rainier Rd near Spurgeon Creek Rd., which is Area 22...I think.
I started seeing signs for "tree falling", but I didn't hear any chainsaws or machinery, so I kept going. I came down a steep hill, and found myself in the middle of a logging area. I stopped to listen. Sure enough, I could hear a chainsaw, and the cracking sound of a tree falling. I turned around and went back up the hill.
When I got back up the hill, I could see a house. There was an overgrown road that I attempted to ride that went behind that house and a couple of others. When it became too overgrown, I turned around and went back to the first house. There was a bit of a path that lead into the yard of the house. I knew there must be a road that led to the house. I walked MC along the edge of the yard (I don't think anyone was home) to the driveway. The road ended up being Tucker Ave., which becomes Meridian. Meridian is not far from Johnson Rd, where I went onto JBLM! That is, of course, nowhere near Rainier Rd!
Anyway, it was just over 37 miles by the time I got home. Did I see any military personnel that I could proudly show my pink card to? No, of course not. I did see a guy out on the prairie training his four lab pups--two black, two chocolate. They were 5 and 8 months old. One was not quite so obedient yet, as she followed me for awhile, even though her owner was madly blowing a whistle!
Sorry for there being no photos. Just not much to photograph. Maybe if I'd seen one of those endangered butterflies...