Day 2 – May 17, 2015 – Sunday
6:00 am and we are up. I’m not a morning person, but sleeping in a different bed or camping spot each night makes me wake up early. We load up and head around to the front of the hotel for breakfast. We grab some food, chat with a few people (one guy just told us how dangerous the road is for bikers – thank you very much), now we head out.
Centralia is a town with over 16,000 people. It’s quite a few miles just to get through town. We take a picture holding up two fingers to say “its day two” but it ends up looking a little more “groovy” than I’d like.
I’m enjoying a pretty easy ride on these back streets and suddenly we see the world’s largest pencil! Dad says “you want a picture with the world’s largest pencil?” I say “Sure.” I’ve been known to skip spontaneous moments like this, but it’s a good thing to enjoy the ride not just rush past.
Our detail map to get through town takes us through neighborhoods and back streets, but we get lost between Washington and Cherry for about 10 minutes because the turn onto Cherry isn’t where it should be. We head in the direction we “think” we should generally go and miraculously find Cherry St! Thank you Jesus! Getting lost in a car is no big deal, but on a bicycle it’s much more inconvenient.
We ride on. We pass the Cowlitz Mission and the Lewis and Clark State Park where Dad and I stayed on our last bicycle trip. We take several back roads and then Jackson Hwy into Toledo. Toledo is very familiar to me, I specifically remember this downhill street into town. We stop at a grocery store and resupply, but we want lunch. We ask about Subway (we ask this in every town on our trip) and the cashier says there is no Subway but Sandy’s has great Subs. We ride across the street and Sandy’s is closed for another hour, so we go back to the store, purchase sandwiches and then back to Sandy’s to eat on the table they have outside their restaurant.
All the ride today seems familiar, the Cowlitz River, the grassy fields. It’s such a weird feeling to be in the middle of nowhere and have such strong déjà vu. As we are riding by the Cowlitz River, the wind is blowing and the cottonwood trees are raining down on us. It’s almost annoying me, there are so many seeds in the air. We pass what looks like a Christmas tree farm and pull over. It’s getting hot and we have to go to the bathroom. We strip off some layers and take turns using our outdoor tree lavatory near this huge gravel pit, which also seems familiar. Have I used this gravel pit for my sanitation needs before? Ick! I just stepped in some soft mud, I’ll try to stomp it out when I walk across the road.
We stop and look at the map a few more times, there are a lot of roads and I don’t want to miss where we need to be. When I start riding after a map check, my left shoe wont click in. I click in my right foot, and try my left, it won’t click in. I try again. Finally, my left foot clicks in. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I need to remember to lube my clips. We ride a few more miles then head up a hill to a stoplight and busy intersection of Doughtery Drive NE. As I’m slowing I start to twist out my left foot to stop and I can’t get my foot out! My automatic reaction is to pull up which doesn’t work, so I panic and try to twist my other foot out but the ground doesn’t come soon enough so I try my left foot again and since it’s still stuck I promptly, fall over. Dad looks down at me “Are you alright?” I say “Yeah, my shoe won’t come off?” I slide my foot out of my shoe and use my hand to twist and jerk my shoe off the clip. That baby was STUCK! I walk on one shoe across the street to an outdoor seating area. My clip is full of dried mud. You know that mud I forgot to clean out at the Christmas tree farm lavatory? I clean out my clips with a knife. Dad oils my clips and discovers that one of my clips is coming lose. He tightens the screws and says “You need to get some new clips for your shoes. If this comes loose when you are riding you could be in trouble.”
We eat an apple and then head over the overpass into Castle Rock. We get dinner at a store and start looking for a place to spend the night. We could go back several miles to the RV park or ahead about 28 miles to the next camp ground. We don’t have 28 more miles in us, so yep, you guessed it, back over the over pass to the hotel. The hotel is not as far back as the RV park and we don’t go “back” very well anyway.
I pay for this hotel since Dad paid for the last one. We stay at 7 West Motel in room #24. The room is nice and clean even though the building is very old. I felt really safe in this unit because there are two nice guys smoking pot outside the room next door. I know they will keep an eye out for “undesirable” elements. 😉
I chat with Marc on the phone. I don’t know it at the time, but my hubby tells Mom “We can’t afford for them to stay in hotel’s every night.” Fortunately mom comes to the rescue and tells Dad to spend whatever he wants, they will pay for it. Note to self: if I ever decide to start gambling take Mom, she’d be lots of fun when she’s flush.
I reorganize my packs again. I need to get everything just right so during the day I can put on or take off clothes, access my walking shoes or other necessaries and still keep all four of my packs balanced when I ride. The weeks of riding will teach me that I like my front packs a little lighter, making a quicker response time for turning, however, right now while I’m trying to scientifically better my ride, dad is watching TV and flexing his muscles for the camera.
Daily stats: Time: 5:02.02 Distance: 47.80 Average: 9.4 Max: 35.6 Odo: 84
Day 3 – May 18, 2015 – Monday
There is a reason adult children move out of the house. Every time dad and I share a hotel room I sleep with my bandana over my eyes and headphones in my ears, so he doesn’t wake me up when he turns on the bathroom light at night or when he snores. Also he has this bad habit of leaving the tv on all night, which I hate. However, I asked him to turn it off when he goes to sleep and he has been, which I appreciate, however my bandana and ear buds are making sleeping better.
It’s 6:30 am and I’m feeling a little depressed. It’s probably hormones. Sometimes having girl hormones stinks. I wake up and before I even start thinking I just feel sad. However, years of dealing with this has taught me to get up anyway. I want to achieve my goals and how I feel is irrelevant. Some days this is easier to remember than others.
I get up and look outside. It’s foggy. “Hey Dad it’s foggy outside. What do you think?” He looks and says “Yep, it’s foggy. Let’s check again in an hour or two.” The bicycle map tells us not to bicycle in the fog and since we do want to live to see California, we usually play it safe. I decide to call Marc and Dad turns on the tv to check the weather. Oops, I just realized it’s early and Marc won’t be up yet, but it’s already ringing. He picks up and says “hold on a moment.” I hear him getting up, walking down the stairs and going outside. A standard procedure for all cell phone calls made to the hill house.
8:30 a.m. we head out. The map is a little confusing, but Dad says he knows how to get out of town because he saw the bridge we have to cross. We ride a bit. Go over an over-pass, which we thought was a bridge. Turn around. Look at the map. Okay, we’re lost. We study the map and then backtrack. I remember “A street” and we take a left on that, ride some more, stop and ask a local fireman for directions. Luckily, now we are on the right road. We follow his directions (and the map) and get back on track. It’s so irritating when towns have roads with the same name, especially if they are going different directions. We want Delameter Rd, but we also pass a Delameter and maybe even a Delameter Ave. We turn left on Hwy 411, but the same road if we would have turned right would have been Westside Hwy. Oh well, between Dad, me, a map, asking strangers and a compass, we mostly get it right.
Actually, reading the map puts a good stress on me. I had a little bit of an upset stomach this and most mornings, which I think comes from the uncertainty of no knowing what we will face on the road ahead. I just tell myself “relax, all you have to do is get on your bike and start pedaling. That’s easy.” However, this delay getting out of town has cost us some time it’s now 9:30 a.m. and we are just leaving the “detail” part of the map for Castle Rock.
Never the less, we make it to Coal Creek. The map says there is a small market in Coal Creek, but here we are and there is nothing. There have been lots of ups and downs today. We get to Ocean Beach Road (also Hwy 4) and spontaneously decide to turn left and head into Longview to the bike shop instead of right to Cathlamet, because the next bike shop isn’t till Astoria and I still need new clips and dad thinks he might want panniers instead of pulling his trailer. It’s only 7 miles out of our way so we detour, plus it looks mostly flat.
We stop at a gas station and ask where the bike shop is. The girl isn’t good with directions so she asks this guy walking into the store. I’m wondering does she know him or is she asking a stranger? He gives us directions. We ride on the sidewalk. We ride up behind this pedestrian walking and dad yells “hey, hey mister” but he can’t hear us because of his ear buds and we can’t get around him. We keep slowing and slowing. Dad’s still yelling. I’m wondering how slow I can go before I fall over. Finally, he notices us, moves over and says “sorry.” I say “sorry” and smile too because technically we are on the sidewalk which is pedestrian turf, but I’m thinking “dude you are an easy target when you walk down the street and can’t hear what’s going on beside you.”
We ride on a sidewalk full of tree roots and lifted cement, until we finally make it to Bob’s Bicycle Shop/Sporting Goods, mainly because Dad remembered how to get here. This town is confusing and the one way roads don’t help. Bob’s is so busy! We put on our walking shoes and go in. I buy replacements clips for my shoes, but keep my pedals, rather than buying both, which is awesome! It only costs me a little over $40.00, plus they put them on my shoes for me. It takes the guy about 45 minutes because he has to grind the one off my right shoe, so I’m glad I didn’t try to replace them myself at camp, I’d never have had the tools. Thank you Jesus! Another blessing!
While I am dealing with my shoes…Dad is wheelin’ and dealin’. He manages to buy racks and panniers for the front and back of his bike and to sell his trailer to D, a kid who works at the store. I’m writing in my journal while I’m waiting for them to get dad’s bike ready. D gets his own bike and does a test ride with dad’s trailer and he likes it. Dad gives him a super good deal, selling it for $200 when it cost him much more having been invented and shipped from Australia. D can’t get the money until his lunch break at 3:30 pm, so Dad and I decide to ride to Subway and get lunch. Amazingly Dad gets all the stuff from his trailer into his four packs and the rest bungees on top. We just get back from Subway (Dad got us back, as I was still lost – stupid one ways) and D is on his bike ready to go. We follow him to the bank and say our goodbyes.
I feel like we spent all day in the bike shop and haven’t done any riding! We decide to go to the campground a little over 17 miles away. If it’s closed we can push to Cathlamet which is also supposed to have camping. Dad takes off at a breakneck pace. It’s flat and we are riding on the bike trail that goes along Hwy 4 in the town. As soon as we get out of town we find the road is VERY poorly maintained. First there is wide roadside to ride on, then none. We pass parts where what looks like little trees about 6 to 12 inches high are coming up through the concrete on the side of the roads. I am literally riding over trees! The wind is blowing strongly in our face, but we are still keeping a good pace, sometimes 14 mph. There is a lot of traffic. I just watched a semi-truck almost knock dad over with its wind. That is scary! This road feels very familiar.
Finally, we see the sign for camping, cross the road and pull in. We ride to the park host’s trailer. It costs $11.00 to camp. There is already another tent in the tent area and the people are nice. They offer stuff to us almost every time we pass their tent to go to the bathrooms. Their firewood, cheese and crackers, beer. They also tell me it’s supposed to rain tonight. I pray it won’t. It’s pretty cold, the wind is blowing and we are right on the river. This wind is not helping me put up my tent! I didn’t bring any tent stakes because I didn’t use them with this tent previously, but I could use some now. So I improvise, using a bungee and rock to hold out the sides. Note to self: buy some tent stakes.
I called Marc earlier when I was waiting for Dad’s bike to get finished at the bike shop, now dad went to take a shower so I call again. It’s my third time today and Marc tells me Mom said “I better get a call from Steve today!” Ha.
I’m lying in my tent, writing this and…what is that sound a Tsunami coming toward us? Dad says “Angela look.” At the same time, I am getting up to look out. This huge ship is going up the river. It’s red and black and has Wisdom Line painted on the side. The guy in the tent next door says “a few of those go by at night.”
I’m not very hungry. I haven’t been as hungry as I expected I would so I am a little worried. I remember on our last ride, I didn’t eat much dinner one night and the next day I bonked, but last time I also had some heat stroke, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.
Showers done, camp set up, family called, bikes locked to the picnic table, and it’s a little after 8:00 pm. I’m ready for bed. I put one ear bud in and drift off to As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley.
Bike Stats: I forget to write them down. Later I figure a distance of 42.6