Billie Holiday welcomes me with a happy tail and snuggles. Billie keeps me coming home. She’s the sweetest pup. I am home for a week before my next adventure and I’m spending all my time with her.
We visited the bicycle shop, Clever Cycles every day that we were in town. They had some cool touring bike stuff and promised us two bike boxes. The manager, Eva had the genius idea to lend us one of their cargo e-bikes to get the bikes the half mile back to the place we were staying. Check out the photo below - Cristina having a grand ol' time pedaling the e-bike and boxes. Also, pictured our last supper at Virtuous Pie- delicious vegan pizza, (gave me some intense gas)!
We broke down our bikes in Ken + Heidi's backyard and packed them into the Benno boxes while sweet Angela the cat supervised.
Instead of throwing all of our shite and panniers into a cardboard box, we decided to put three of them together and saran the heck outta them! It made me feel like I was at the airport going to Cuba. I made a reservation with Radio Cab to pick us up in a van for the airport. That's it, ready for departure.
After a full day's rest of loafing around Lewis and Clark State Park, we felt energized for our day. I had previously secured us a night with a Warm Showers host in Longview. The host- Marti encouraged us to sleep late and leave late because it was an easy ride and they would not be home until after 2 or 3. We left camp at 9 and headed out. Different than other mornings, the sun was already beating strongly at that early hour. Cristina kept having issues with her right shifter on her Surly Disc Trucker. When we made our morning nutrition and pee stop, I tightened her shifter. We forged on ahead, knowing we would be stopping in Castle Rock for lunch.
We reached Castle Rock, sweaty and ready for some time out of the 90' day. We found a sweet bookstore/cafe shop for a refueling of caffeine. A few doors down, we dined at a small cafe- enjoying amazing turkey, provolone and cranberry relish paninis. After we ate, Cristina headed into the coffee shop for some ice cream and I to the bakery across the street for a donut. When I returned, Cristina had already finished her ice cream and declared that her shifter broke. In pieces. This is bad. Very bad. Basically her bike would be unridable up hills, as she wouldn't be able to change gears. With a load of 50 lbs on your bike- shifting gears is absolutely necessary to get up hills, unless you prefer to walk them. (Walking hills is totally okay, too.)
Since she already ate her ice cream, and there was nothing I could do for her, I sat down and ate my custard filled, chocolate glazed donut. We ascertained that there was not a single bike shop in town. Cristina was muffling a complete freakout. I figured we would have to hitchhike to Marti's place. (I was also navigating over the phone how to handle my puppy having been sprayed by a skunk the night before.) As I calmly ate my donut, I messaged Marti and told her the situation. Behold! Marti offered to scoop us up. We sat tight, sweating in the midday sun, calling bike shops in Longview. None seemed to have the necessary part for Cristina's bike. Marti picked us up and took us directly to a bike shop she deals with all the time.
The team that worked on Cristina's bike, and came up with a temporary fix, enough to ride to Portland.
Sad little Billie hiding in the corner because she does not love to take baths.
What a cycle tourist eats in a day...
I thought I would document what I ate the last day of my cycling tour. It started with pancakes for breakfast at the Fines. My first snack was 3 fig energy balls. Then I had Kind "breakfast bars". Then I enjoyed a tasty toasty egg and cheese bagel and a cookie. We toasted with ginger beers when we arrived in Portland. For dinner I scarfed down a brisket sandwich. Finally, to cap off the day, we put ourselves in sugar comas after eating Voodoo doughnuts.
Our last cycling day into Portland was fairly smooth only because the hills weren't killer. Cristina's shifter gave her issues most of the ride, which really sucked. We stayed with another WS host, Heidi and Ken, more cool folks. Pictured on this page is their cat, Angela, lying on the bed with us. We got out and checked out some of the sites including going over three of their many bridges.
We rolled into Lewis and Clark after climbing a ridiculous amount of hills in 90's weather and full on sunshine. In the morning, leaving Elma, we met a friendly Kiwi cyclist named Clare. We ran into her a few times during the day and chatted during a wee break. At a gas station/convenience store we were buying coffees and the cashier asked where we were headed and where we were coming from. After we told him he said the coffee was on him! This is a small example of the acts of kindness shown by strangers. I think one of the reasons I travel is to keep up my confidence in the human race.
We rewarded ourselves with DQ blizzards when we stopped in Centralia. We stopped to pee alongside a Fire Station. Does anyone get why the street sign MEYERS LANE amused me so that I needed to photograph it? One of the slides has a photo of Mount Rainer in the distance. We arrived at Lewis + Clark old growth forest and set up camp for the night, as the only bikers in the campground. I really enjoyed my stay there- it was free from the RV noise and nonsense that happens in a lot of the other parks, and our shaded spot provided the perfect place for a rest day. The next morning Clare showed up and we invited her to share our campground with us.
We reached our hotel in Elma, excited for beds and showers after a few days of camping. Cristina told me I am losing muscle on tour. The hotel beds felt like a luxury! I slept so soundly both nights there. We dined at the nearby Rusty Tractor, which served surprisingly fresh foods and grass fed meats. Although their table decor included some strange off-color stuff...
We were both ready for some time apart, since we had spent nearly all of the last 2.5 weeks together. This tour seemed to be more of just us, we ran into only five other cyclists by this time and were primarily camping so we didn't even have WS hosts to chat with us. This plus something else that was mounting and I needed to get my arse to a meeting. In Kalaloch I was trying to start fights with Cristina over silly things, instead of talking about what was actually bugging me. I left on my pannier free bicycle and took the bus to Aberdeen for a meeting and sightseeing. The meeting was very cool and the folks were friendly. There were two topics- and one of them was character defects- so I had the chance to get honest about what I had been doing. My insisting on being right about stuff is a character defect. There is definitely more to it, but that is the crux. After the meeting I cycled around town, visiting Kurt Cobain's Memorial Park, the Nirvana Mural, and the fantastic Star Wars store before picking up supplied at the Safeway.
After two days of camping, I was ready for a shower but knew that was not going to happen. We were going to be wild camping that night in an area 12 miles before the town of Humptulips. It turned out the area- the Promised Land Recreation area was closed permanently. But we thought we might sneak around and hide out for the night. It was a pretty darn hot day of cycling. We stopped to pee, and I suddenly recalled that my ex, Cara, had mentioned something about having a friend in Humptulips... It was a long shot but I message Cara. I heard back from her within 20 minutes- it turned out that her friend was not at home but his daughter was there, and YES, we could put our tent up on their lawn. He even promised indoor bathroom privileges.
We arrived and relaxed a bit before putting our tent up in their spacious year. Showers and home baked cookies gave us life. This is the reason I host others and do some of the things I do, in hopes that the goodness, the kindness is returned to me and the rest of the world.
Land of Slugs. The Northwest of the US receives a lot of rainfall during the year, which explains why there is an abundance of slugs. In the Kalaloch (pronounced Clay-lock) campground the slugs were everywhere! I am not the squeamish type, but gimme a break already.
As we rolled up to the campground, an awful smell wafted in our direction. I shouted to Cristina that the park must be having sewage issues. The ranger wasn't on duty so we saw the camp host who explained that a grey whale was rotting on the beach- thus the noxious fumes. Further north, in San Juan we learned that the orcas are starving because their main food source is salmon- which is now scarce due to human consumption. Whales washed up alive or dead is not uncommon in these parts, which really depressed me and got me thinking about what I contribute to society and how I try to make the world a better place each day. I feel like we all need to do something- however small- to make the world suck a little less, and make it better for others, especially future generations.
Kalaloch Campground didn't have showers- which didn't thrill me since we cycled 50 miles in the hot sun that day and we were camping two nights there. Oh well. BUT I did remember to pick up a bag of marshmallows.
We made friends with our neighbors who invited us over for s'mores at their campsite. They had the giant marshmallows- which it turns out aren't that great for roasting because its almost as if they come out of their skin and slip off the stick. BUT they are delicious.
We did a little bike maintenance while we were there. We also visited the tree of life- that incredible tree with exposed roots on the beach.
Kalaloch is where I started being a jerk to my girlfriend. I had stopped doing my morning meditations and had not been to a meeting in two weeks... Even though I wasn't using drugs or drinking booze, my character defects were flaring up.
We left Port Townsend around 8 in the morning to get a good start on our day. The first bit was no big deal- trail riding. Although, I experience my first puncture and learned how to change a flat! Then there is a bit of cycling on the SR 20 which is sketchy as hell. Big logger trucks, RVs, and cars all whizz by sending you off-kilter with the wind drag from their vehicles. The shoulder is small in some parts which makes it even more unnerving. All in all- the section of road by Big Sur was scarier. We finally arrived at our stay for the night- this dude Lonnie who is a WS and couchsurfing host- and had loads of great reviews. He is a nice old fella, but his grounds weren't the cleanest. Cristina got freaked out by the flies in the loo and the maggots in the kitchen... The compostable toilet was housed in shed along with the shower...which made for a nasty smelling shower and a heckuva lot of flies in there. We slept in one of Lonnie's "cabins" which was really a shed with a bed in it. It was nice to be out of the rain but there was hardly any ventilation in there. We slept in the next morning but got ourselves together fast to hit the road. I had messaged a WS host in Port Angeles to see if we could stay the night and he responded "YES". Port Angeles was only twelve miles uphill... While we were riding on the trail, it started raining... Cristina skidded across the path... We were already going downhill, (we later checked and I clocked in at 28 mph on the Garmin)... I slammed my very effective disc brakes, came to a halting stop, flew over my bike, bounced on the ground and tumbled. It was a crazy accident, but somehow I made it out with only a scratch and a bruised up right leg and thigh. Phew.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.