Journal July 13-July 19--Washington
July 13 Vancouver, WA to Kalama, WA
Never famous for our early starts, we got on the road at noon, after updating the web site on Andrus' computer, working on the bike a bit, and enjoying the company of these fine people. Andrus brought Patti food shopping and sewed her ripped shorts. I gave the neighborhood kids rides on the quad and inspected the Pahn's impressive backyard garden. We were advised that the Interstate highway was the most reasonable choice to avoid many extra miles and steep hills. It was busy and noisy, but had a wide shoulder (which many people here call an "apron"). In places, bicycle signs directed us off of the interstate and back on, where a stretch of state highway was more suitable for bikes. The people in the rest areas were particularly friendly and interested in our outfit. Henry found blackberries while we answered questions about our trip.
We had a flat tire on the rear of the quad, the first puncture of the trip, except for three trailer flats in Mountain Home, ID. It was a thorn. We fixed it on the side of the interstate, and had several nice folks stop to ask if they could help. We got off in Kalama and stayed in a motel.
We are feeling much stronger and the miles go by faster than before. I think we have all reached a new level of fitness and strength over the last week or two. Our spirits are high, and we have lots of anticipation as we near Seattle and our ferry into Canada. We have seen so much and met so many people, yet it feels like this was all just preparation for the northern part of our journey, the part that is before us now.
July 14 Kalama, WA to Chehalis, WA
An early start!! Today was the first day of cloudy weather since...we cant remember! Must have been in Missouri or before. It was a pleasant change, cool and in the sixties or seventies all day. The change in weather brought a tailwind, too, and its been a long time since we had one of those as well. We did the fifty miles or so into Chehalis with time to spare, even though we stopped in a town near Mount Saint Helens to view a film of the 1981 eruption and local destruction. I also got a chiropractic adjustment.
Rain is predicted. We are prepared. My sister Chrissy is mailing us our silk long johns and wool sweaters in preparation for the colder weather up north. Its hard to think of these things in July, but Seattle is the best place to pick them up, and todays cool weather was a reminder of things to come.
July 15 Chehalis, WA to Auburn, WA
Eating lunch today we met some nice folks, as we often do. Troy and Walt, two brothers who have a car reposession and towing business, were waiting for a client (known as a "deadbeat") to return from work so they could bring him some unhappy news and take his car away. They fell in love with the kids and they were fascinated by the bike and the tour. For a long time they were unable to believe that we pedaled all the way from Vermont to this town, Rainier, Washington, where we were eating a second lunch in the park at 3:30 in the afternoon. They both laughed and held their ample bellies and said, "Man, I couldn't do that on a MOTORCYCLE!!"
Before long it was decided that we would pedal a few more miles and meet them in a town at the edge of the Seattle metropolitan area. They would bring us in their flatbed car-carrier to their house in Auburn (a suburb of Seattle) and we would sleep in their fifth-wheel camper that was parked in their yard. It was a good thing. The roads were crowded and chaotic, and shortly after we settled in, a tremendous thunderstorm rocked the camper, making so much noise on the roof that we had to shout to be heard. To think we could have been camping! It sure felt good to snuggle into the sheets in that bed!!
Photographer Billy got everyone in but Timmy out on the interstate from Vancouver to Kalama, Washington
July 16 Auburn, WA to Kent, WA
Ortlieb USA, our sponsor supplying waterproof panniers (saddlebags) and other gear, is located in Auburn, but it took us all morning to get there. There were rides on the quad for Walt's kids, calls to make, and breakfast for the crew. Then we had a nightmarish traverse of an area meant for cars, not bikes. It was hilly, congested, and full of ramps and overpasses and multi-lane highways. It seemed like rush hour. Then we took a wrong turn and wound up three blocks from where we started, an hour and a half later. When we finally arrived at Ortlieb, Jeff, Carl and Jason made us feel so at home that it was worth the struggle. We had a fine lunch and toured the warehouse, and the newspaper sent out a photographer and reporter to interview us. We talked about sponsorship for a 24-month around-the-world tour in 2002 or 2003.
Shortly after we left Ortlieb the famous Pacific Northwest weather caught up with us. Heavy rain forced us to take shelter in a deli. Nothing to do but eat, I guess, so we ate. It let up and we rode into Kent in the rain. The bike path brought us through industrial areas, along railroad tracks and under huge power lines in the rain. The area is full of cyclists, some fully prepared with rain suits and fenders, some just getting wet in their baseball caps and sweatshirts. Our bike path map (supplied by our friends at Ortileb) helped us find the Best Western Inn in Kent, where this wet crew dried out and watched a movie.
July 17 Kent, WA to Seattle, WA
Some bike path construction put us onto city streets where we promptly got lost. A very friendly cyclist named Carl, recently returned from Holland, helped us find our way. After he left us, he backtracked several miles in the rain to warn us of some construction and amend his directions. What a guy!
We managed to meet Dr. Steve Below (from our sponsor, Preferred Chiropractic Doctor) and Dr. John Apsley (from our nutrition sponsor, Prime Factors) at the Space Needle in Seattles City Center. The misty rain that we started out in stopped, and we rode our bike to R&E Cycles, the legendary tandem and pro bike shop in the University district. There we left the bike and trailer, and John took us to his house for a Chinese food feast. John's wife, Linda, and her son, Alan, both work for Microsoft. In a pattern that I am beginning to recognize, we talked and talked into the wee hours and made plans to get up early and fill the day with activities. John is a tremendously interesting, talented and articulate man with much to teach us about nutrition and optimum health. Steve is big, energetic, and inspiring. He envisions a world full of people getting healthier every day through simple attention to natural laws.
July 18 Seattle, WA
R&E Cycles really helped me out of a troubling situation today, and I am grateful to them for their hospitality and friendship. Stress and strain of fully loaded (perhaps overloaded!) touring on sometimes rough roads had caused a crack in the frame tubing on the quad. I had noticed it, and since it was in a location where failure would not have caused a crash, I had been keeping my eye on it and hoping to make it to Homer, Alaska. The crack was growing, however, and the experts at R&E agreed that it would be prudent to repair it now. Frame builder Matt agreed to do a temporary repair on it tomorrow. It wont be pretty, but it will be safe. I spent four hours in the repair shop here cleaning the drivetrain and making some minor repairs, and enjoying the company of Phil, Chris, Bob, Dave, Steve, Halle, and the rest of the crew. Owner, Estelle, really hit it off with Ellie, and owner, Dan, and I enjoyed discussing bikes, particularly tandems, and the bike business in general. Actually, I spent more time talking than I did working on the bike, but I managed to get things done and prepare for tomorrow's frame repair.
July 19 Seattle, WA
After a fantastic visit to chiropractor Dr. Melinda Maxwell, I visited R&E Cycles to check on the frame repair, then ran around Seattle with the family in John Apsley's car shopping for food, clothing and equipment for the next phase of the trip. I was able to find my way around because I had spent a few months here in 1997.
In the afternoon I reassembled the now-sound quad, tuned it and lubed it while Ellie and Henry and Timmy cleaned and polished the frame. It was hard to leave the nice folks at this shop, a place so professional and inviting that I began to think, briefly, about working in bicycle retail again. Just briefly, though. Thank you all for a memorable day.
We celebrated Henry's birthday a day early with a gourmet salmon dinner from our host's kitchen and a fantastic chocolate cake that Patti baked. Timmy was more excited than Henry. Working late into the night at John Apsley's computer, I managed to get this update and some pictures sent to Chrissy for you to see on the website. Tomorrow at noon we board a ferry for the next leg of this fantastic adventure.