Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Just One More Day!

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go...I'm leavin' on a jet plane...
I can't say it any better than John Denver. Tomorrow is the day! I remember when it was only one month and now it is only ONE DAY!

Actually, my bags have been packed for a few days (well, packed and unpacked, then packed again). Stella is suffocating in the bag (she also doesn't understand the excessive amount of bubble wrap--I tell her it's for her own good), but tomorrow she will be free!

Julie is picking Stella and I up at 5:30am. My flight is at 9:00. I hope I don't forget my helmet! It's new (since I discovered a crack in the other one). Notice the nice red visor! Ooo la la!

I've confirmed tomorrow night's stay in Lakeside with my Warmshowers hosts Dennis and Julie. I have directions from the airport to Adventure 16 (to buy fuel for my stove) and from Adventure 16 to Dennis and Julie's house.

Now...I wait...until...tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 2 of the Shakedown...Deja Vu

We woke this morning to rain. Not too heavy, just enough to make the tent rainflys wet. We, again, took our time getting moving. We watched the huge dump trucks going up and down the hillside next to the park. Apparently, they are going to build a subdivision there (it is tribal land-- the casino must be doing well!).

We got everything packed up and were on the road by 10:15. Just a couple miles down the road, it started to rain more so we stopped and donned our rain pants. When we got into Shelton, it had stopped raining, so we took our rain pants off. We stopped at the minimart near the Little Creek Casino to use the restroom. It started raining more so we put our rain pants on again. We decided to go 106 to Hurley Waldrip Rd. to avoid the spray from the traffic on 101.

It pretty much rained all the rest of the way home...just like last year's Shakedown Ride (even on much of the same roads).

Last few photos from Day 1 of the Shakedown

Hood Canal from Potlatch, note the "vessel names", my new tent.

Still more photos

The Skokomish River and Hood Canal.

More Photos from the Shakedown Ride

The first is on Madrona Beach Rd. The third is the Shelton Subway.

Shakedown Ride to Potlatch, or...

A Long Way to Ride to Lose $5!

It seems like I just did my Shakedown ride for last year's Pacific Coast trip! Yet, here I am doing another shakedown ride for Sierra Cascades.

This year Julie and I decided to ride to Potlatch State Park on Hood Canal. It is about 43 miles from my house. Since we didn't have that far to go, we took our time. First we stopped at Blue Heron Bakery for some treats. It is an obligatory stop when heading that direction.

When we got to Shelton, we decided to take a little break. We didn't want to get to the park too early. As we were sitting in Burger King (free Wi-Fi), I looked on my iPad to see if there was a Subway up the road. I had remembered seeing one the last time I rode that way. It didn't show that one, but it showed there was one in Shelton just a mile back from where we were. We decided to go there. I had just eaten a cookie (from Blue Heron) and had some orange juice, but who says you can't eat dessert first??? So we rode back down the road to Subway. Since I didn't know this Subway was there, I got to check another Subway off the list (only 35,654 to go--worldwide)!

After lunch we returned to Hwy 101 and continued our ride. Before long, we came to the Lucky Dog Casino. The had a sign saying "New Card, $5". So, we pulled in there, locked the girls up out front and went into the casino. I was able to get a Player's Card, but Julie couldn't because she didn't have her drivers' license with her. With the card I got a ticket with $5 on it. I put it into an Indiana Jones penny machine. At first I was up to $17.50 but, all to soon, I was at $0. Oh well, easy come, easy go! Still, it was a long way to go to lose $5!

A few more miles up the road and we arrived at our destination. Potlatch is not a very big park. First we looked at the Cascade Marine Trail campsites on the water, but they were kind of exposed. Instead we went up into the park and found the Hiker/Biker site ($14). Since I really needed to set up my new tent, and it really isn't big enough for two people (even though it is a "two person" tent), we also brought my 3 person "tent mansion" (or as Julie calls it, the Taj Mahal). After I set up both tents, we took our showers (.50 for 3 minutes--got to get back into the 3 minute shower routine). Later, after dinner, Julie was reclining in the "Taj Mahal". She said she kind of likes this two tent idea. I wasn't sure if I should be offended??? I told her that was fine, but next time she has to set up her own tent!

Total miles: 43.5
Total ride time: 3:41
Total actual time: 5:45!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fisherman's Bar Trail

These photos were taken on the Fisherman's Bar Trail and at the park on the Willamette River at the end of the trail.


Here's some shots of the rowers at the regatta on Vancouver Lake.

Vancouver Lake Park

Here is a photo of Mt. St. Helens from Vancouver Lake. Also, a couple of kayakers with Mt. Adams in the background.

Yep, More Photos!

Heading back to Vancouver over the I-5 bridge.

Still More Photos From Day Two

Mount Hood on a sunny day. Me on the Marine Dr. Trail. The Portland Airport from the Marine Dr. Trail.

More Day Two Photos

Here are some photos of the I-205 trail to Oregon.

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". Hmmm...so 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!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Adventure Continues...Post #2 Three

Seems these first two photos didn't show up when I copied the post to a new email. So...for the third time, here are they are.

The Adventure Continues...Post #2 Too

For some reason I can't post 5 photos when I email the blog post. Here are the other three photos that were supposed to be in the previous post.

The Adventure Continues...Post #2

This could also be titled "The Nostalgia Ride".

From the train station in Vancouver, Stella and I headed along 8th St. in downtown Vancouver. I was hungry and on the lookout for a Subway. Sure enough, not a half mile from the train station, directly across from Esther Short Park was a Subway! I ordered my lunch and sat at an outdoor table with a nice view of the park. After lunch, I rode up Main St. past the Kiggins Theater where I used to go to Disney movies when I was a little kid. I was planning on riding all the way to 39th then going over to Leverich Park and picking up the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. Instead, I turned on Mill Plain and rode over by my high school alma mater, Hudson's Bay. I took a photo, then proceeded up Reserve St. to McGloughlin Blvd. and Clark College (where I went to school for one year before transferring to Eastern Washington University). Took a photo there, then rode back under the freeway to F St. where THEN I headed up to 39th (in a somewhat convoluted way). I got to Leverich Park and the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. In the park, it was kind of confusing as to which direction to go (there was a fork in the trail and the signage was not clear--something I was to experience a lot in these two days!). I asked a guy who was walking by and he told me how to go to get to St. John's Rd. which was where I wanted to go. I followed his directions and made it to St. John's. From there it was very familiar territory. I rode up St. John's which is something I haven't done on a bike since I was a kid. The photo above of the road going up the hill is St. John's. It seemed much easier on Stella than I remember!

The last photo is of the street my dad lives on (53rd St.) and the house where I grew up (from the time I was 4 years old). I parked Stella in the basement. 

I'm not sure of the total miles for the day because Stella's computer was not working for part of the time (hate it when it does that and I don't notice). It was probably in the neighborhood of 7 or so miles. Not too far distance-wise, but very far back in time!

Sent from my iPad

Stella's Most Excellent Train Adventure--Post #1

I had planned to drive to Vancouver to see my dad before leaving on my Sierra Cascades trip. Two of my boys were going to come with me. They ended up not being able to come, so I decided to take the train and bring Stella with me. The weather forecast was for sunshine and warm temps. It would allow me to do some riding and see my dad.

I made my reservation (and Stella's--she cost $5.00) online and arrived at the train station to print the tickets. I arrived somewhat too early because the station wasn't even open yet. Just as an aside, one would think the train station in the capitol city of Washington would be staffed. It is not (except by volunteers--mainly older gentlemen who like trains). Anyway, after the station lobby was opened, I was able to print the tickets and go out to wait for the train. As I was waiting a large amount of 8th graders from Komachin Middle School started arriving. A friend of mine was there also, as a chaperone for the kids. They were going to Portland for the day. There were about 50 of them. Fortunately, they had 3 cars to themselves.

When the train arrived, I took Stella to the Baggage car. The conductor guy loaded her on one of the bike hooks and I walked throughout the Baggage car to the car in front. The conductor showed me to a nice seat and off we went. Stella was not too happy to not have a window, but I told her her ticket was only $5, what did she expect!

All to quickly we arrived in Vancouver. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go to the back of the car I was in to get to Stella or if I was to go up to a car that had a door open. Since it didn't appear that anyone was coming to open the door, I hustled up through the gauntlet of middle-schoolers to the next available open door. As I got off the train, I told a different conductor I needed to get my bike off. He asked if I was in Car 9 (which I was) and said someone was headed back to baggage to get my bike off. I walked back to the Baggage car on the platform and retrieved Stella.

Below are a couple of pictures. One of Stella at the Olympia station and one at Vancouver.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Uncle Sam, Parachutes, Nonexistent Roads...

...and seemingly non-stop eating!

The last time I did this ride, it was a year ago in April. I had it as 67 miles with the Hart's Lake portion. Today, Julie and I did the ride in reverse without Hart's Lake, yet it was 69.2 miles. I think last time I didn't take the trail from Yelm (I think I probably took the road).

We started at 9:00am after Julie rode to my house. We took the road out to Yelm. When we got to the new roundabout on 510, we took the 510 alternate (a new road). As we were riding, I looked to my right and saw there was actually a bike path! We turned around and went back to the roundabout where we could get on the path. Curiously, the path is on both sides of the road. We were able to take it as far as Cullens Rd. where the alternate route (and the bike paths) end. We still stayed to the backroads and came into Yelm just east of the cinema. At that point the road is Yelm Ave./Hwy 507. We stopped at Safeway so I could get some cash. Julie wanted a Reese's and string cheese. Well, they had a buy 2, get 2 free deal with the candy so I got two Reese's and two Almond Joys (plus the string cheeses). We decided to eat the cheese and Reese's then do the loop of 702/8thAve/507 before lunch. It was only 10:30 and the planned lunch stop was only 3 miles away.

The last time I did this ride I went 507 to 8th Ave S., then 702 back to McKenna. At the 507/702 junction, I decided we should go the other way. My plan was to go to 8th Ave. EAST. It was on the map as the better road to take (as opposed to 8th Ave. SOUTH). So, we're riding along doing the rollers of 702. We come to 8th Ave. S. We go by on our way to 8th Ave. E. We pass 8th Ave. E. Ct. I'm thinking, "Oh, 8th Ave. E. will be next". Nope, next was 10th Ave. E.! Where was 8th Ave. East? I tried to look up the map on my phone, but it wouldn't load. In the interest of not adding more miles, we decided to go back to 8th Ave. S. We rode along, doing more rollers (a bit steeper ones). After awhile we stopped to take a break and eat our Almond Joy bars. We were sitting at the Lacamas Community 4-H Center. I looked off in the distance and could see a bunch of something in the air. They were parachutes, about 8 or 10 of them. I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised as Fort Lewis (or, I should say, the JBLM -Joint Base Lewis McChord) is very close and, in fact, 8th Ave. goes right through the JBLM property. I'm sure they were out doing training maneuvers.

As we continued along 8th on our way to 507, I saw this "Uncle Sam" tree. Had to take a picture! Once on 507, I was making up a little song to the tune of "The Song That Never Ends". Only this was, "The Road That Never Bends". It goes like this:
This is the road that never bends.
It goes on and on my friends.
When they started building it they made it really straight.
Although it's really boring,
They thought it would be great!

And so on...well, we finally made it to the McKenna Subway for lunch. Good thing we had had the other snacks because it was 2:45 and we were starving (Julie's butt was also killing her--she needs new shorts!)!

After a good lunch, we got back on the road. The sun had finally come out and I switched to my sunglasses (still had my long finger gloves on--it wasn't THAT warm). We rode into Yelm and picked up the trail. Our next stop was the cookie store in Rainier (it's getting to be a habit). We had our cookies, then got back on the trail for the last 13 miles or so. I left Julie at the bridge (poor thing, she still had 4 more miles to go). Made it home a little after 5:00. Long day of riding!

Total miles: 69.2
Total calories burned: 2,611
Calories eaten: Whoa, a lot!

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Noisy Ride Redux

After having been off the bike for a few days, it was great to get a longer ride in. Julie and I headed up to Dupont. After a snack break at Starbucks, I gave Julie the choice of going to Steilacoom and riding along the water to Chambers Creek Canyon, or going to North Gate Rd. and going through Interlaken and across Lake Steilacoom. Julie chose Chambers Creek. So, off we went. It was overcast, but the sun was trying to break through, so the temp was not bad. Julie survived going up Chambers Creek Canyon (it is a pretty long hill). We worked our way over to Bridgeport Way and headed back to Lakewood. I knew of two Subways along the way. We decided to eat at the one I hadn't eaten at (check yet another Subway off the list! Seriously, I need to get a map and put pushpins in all the places I've eaten at Subway restaurants). Then it was on to my favorite high traffic road, Gravelly Lake Drive, where bikes are allowed to use the whole lane. We got on the freeway at the Gravelly Lake exit and proceeded to hop on and off the freeway to Mounts Rd. Then it was back the way we had come.

Total miles: 58.7
Total calories burned: 2,226
Total days until I leave on my big trip: 23!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

3 Cities, 7 Towns, 1 Day

I really wanted to take advantage of the great weather today, but I couldn't decide where to go. So, I kind of went everywhere! I even did a couple of new roads! Of course, I started with Lacey (city #1). I rode through part of Olympia (city #2) and Tumwater (city #3). As I was riding down Case Rd., I noticed 140th St. It looked like a good road, so I U-turned and headed down (well, up for a little bit) 140th. It took a turn north and became Erskine. I backtracked to 133rd. Then over to Littlerock Rd. (I thought that's where I might end up). 133rd came in at the southern end of Littlerock (town #1). I headed south away from Littlerock down Littlerock Rd. I followed that to Rochester (town #2). Straight through Rochester along Albany which branches off to become James. I eventually came out to Hwy 99 at Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound (town #3). I then headed into Centralia (town #4--although some might argue it is a city) for lunch at Subway.

After lunch, I went up Hwy 507 with a detour up Zenkner Valley Rd. past Bucoda (town #5) and into Tenino (town #6). I picked up the trail and rode to Rainier (town #7) to Main Street Cookie Company. I figured at 59 miles with about 12 to go, I could have a couple of cookies. After the cookie break, I took the road back to Lacey.

Total miles: 71
Total calorie burn: 2,611
Total calories eaten: ummmm...less than what I burned!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Even the Ants Are Out!

It's hard to see in the photo, but this ant hill (that is, apparently, For Sale!) was a very busy place today.

Julie and I planned to ride the Littlerock Rd./Maytown Rd. loop. For me, it's 32 miles. When we got to Littlerock (the town), we realized we were making pretty good time. Since the weather was gorgeous we wanted to keep going. We continued down Littlerock Rd. to Rochester. As we turned onto US 12 another cyclist was stopped on the side of the road. He had rear panniers. He asked if I-5 and Old 99 was east. We told him it was 5 miles east. I noticed he had ACA's Pacific Coast Route map in a pocket of his handlebar bag. Of course, I had to ask where he was headed! He was currently headed from Port Angeles to Portland (home). Then he was going to continue down the coast to San Diego. I told him I had done that route last summer. I also told him he would love it. He had to be to San Diego by June 7th. I told him I had done it in 33 days. He said he was 75 years old (he did NOT appear to be 75!). I told him I still thought he could do it. We said good luck and continued on. We worked our way to Tilley Rd. This ant hill was at the intersection of Tilley and 163rd.

I had to be home by 2:15. I rolled in at 2:13!

Total miles: 47
Calories burned: 2,226