On July 25th, we rode away from the Columbia river and headed north on 401 to Naselle, WA where we found a quiet, deep woods campsite on state land. As the day wore on it actually started to cloud up. Light drizzles of rain were sporadic. This part of Washington was devoid of heavy traffic and we slept well without interruption. We woke to a clouds and misty rain that seemed to be just floating through the air. It was not enough to don rain gear but enough to cloud your glasses.

Camping among the ancients

By mid-morning we were riding up along the Willapa Bay passing an oyster farm on the Palix river. The miles came easily even if there wasn’t much of a view due to the low lying clouds. As we rounded Range Point we began a short southerly jaunt into South Bend,  WA, elev. 80 feet. Here we picked up the Willapa Hills Trail. During our research earlier in the trip we planned on this being a 56 mile off-road route up to Chehalis, WA. The first 6 miles were paved but poorly marked. We wound up winging it through Raymond, WA and eventually made it through. As we left Raymond the trail was turning into a roughly ballasted and  overgrown trail. At first, the trail was passable and then the long tendrils of the Blackberry bushes slowed our progress to a crawl. At times,  it was Bryan in the lead wielding a Leatherman, cutting barbed branches to gain us another 50 feet or so of progress. Guess the trail doesn’t get much use in these parts. The trail parallels Rt 6 and it is generally easy to ditch out onto the road to avoid the really overgrown areas.

Coffee Shop in South Bend, WA

Debi riding out of Raymond, WA on the Willapa Hills Trail

Along the Willapa river

A still passable Willapa Hills Trail

Mother nature sequestering a little more carbon back into her soil

Making our way toward Rainbow Falls State Park in Dryad, we met Marlene and talked about Blackberries and her memories of the trains that passed through here back in the day. We also had a nice experience in Pe Ell, WA where we chatted briefly with Bonnie about her town of 600 people. That night we went to bed early and took advantage of the hiker-biker campsites. The park was quiet and subdued. We met and saw no one until the morning when we chatted with a ranger at the bathroom. We headed out on the road and then eventually, got back on the trail only to be foiled by a non-existent trestle over the Chehalis River near the Spooner road in Adna, WA. The flooding of 2007 took its toll on the area.

Quiet camping in Rainbow Falls State Park

Bridge over the Chehalis river = OUT

Old work train near Chehalis

Once in Chehalis it was a short six mile ride into Centralia, WA where we found some groceries at Fuller’s Market. At the nearby farmers market we bought some pees and apricots. We decided it would be a good time to do some laundry and call our friends Barbara and Jamie who we originally met in Mexico and arrange our paths to meet again. They have just come back from an epic trip to the Artic Circle in their 1984 VW bus! They just got off the ferry from Alaska a day earlier!

See you in Tenino, WA!

B+D

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The next morning we found our way into Astoria, OR and located a small cafe on the Main St. The place was hopping and had some interesting items on the menu.

Safe inside our coffee shop, The state of Washington looms in the background

Typical breakfast muffin?

Alas, A real egg muffin!

Astoria, OR has a riverwalk path that is a nice alternative to the riding the Main Street through town. The path makes its way along the southern bank of the Columbia river, passing by and through waterfront business. It even shares space with some waterfront railroad tracks which need to be minded.

Along the Riverwalk path in Astoria, OR

Heading east along the waterfront

Rusty river funk in Astoria, OR

Old pilings along the Columbia river

In Astoria, there are three bridges. Small, medium and large. We crossed the small one and the large one. The small bridge did not get any pictures. The large one however deserved some.

As we ate we hemmed and hawed about the crossing of the Columbia river-  a 4.5 mile crossing, a long climb to get on the bridge, ongoing construction, wind and traffic. We could see the forested hills in Washington on the other side. At this point in our travels we have gone over quite a few bridges and honestly it  is not that much fun unless you can get some unique circumstances that improves the situation.

We decided it was time to go and we headed out and hit the local grocery store for more provisions. The Washington side looks a little desolate for the first couple of  days. After our shopping we met some nice folks and traded some road stories of the area. Leaving the store we headed back down the riverside path and  started on the climb up the bridge. Traffic was thick. Access to the bridge was an approach ramp that rose directly over land and houses in town. Once we were  above the rivers edge we were quite high up. Still, a short climb remained alongside the line up of cars waiting for the construction delay. We approached the flagger at the front of the line. She said we would go first to get around the construction equipment then we were to pull over and let the  batch of traffic pass and then we would have the lane to ourselves. Well, at least until the next wave of traffic came. We were able to cross the bridge in four waves of traffic. All driving extremely fast in what we deemed windy conditions.

Astoria – Megler Bridge from the waterfront bike path

Below the bridge in downtown Astoria

View from the bridge over Astoria

About to start the crossing

Once we arrived on the Washington side we were relieved to be done with the bridge. We stopped at a rest area called Dismal Nitch to unwind and debrief. Here, we decided to take Rt 401 to Naselle, WA instead of 101 up the coast. We were all  done with traffic for the day. The sun was still shining and it appeared that most of  the cars were heading up the coast. We had a nice chat with a couple of cyclists getting ready to cross the bridge to Oregon. They would have to do the steep climb out over the water to the high point of the bridge where they then would meet the construction. We deemed either direction not that much fun.

Debi rides away from the big bridge along the northern bank of the Columbia River

Near Dismal Nitch (although not so dismal this day)

See you down the road and in the hills in Washington State!

B+D


To Astoria

11Jan13

On July 23rd, we left Portland and headed to Astoria, OR. Once we recovered from Bryan’s crash and Debi’s bee stings we said goodbye to Sam and headed out into the countryside northeast of Portland. Our ride took us through North Plains on our way to Banks, OR where we planned to pick up the Banks-Veronia State Trail. It was a great day of riding and we were now well out of the city and back out in the open country. We were able to piece together our route through Bethany and West Union by using Google maps with the bicycling route toggle turned on. We found a series of rec paths and power line routes that connected to some wider roads. It turned out to be another beautiful day and we spent most of the day on the bikes.

Lavender fields near West Union

Lavender plants

Clover fields

Oregon countryside near West Union

Along the Banks-Veronia State Trail

Open path on a sunny day

Old Trestle

Quiet campsite along our route

The next day we finished up the rail trail in the quiet morning and then we were back out on Rt 47 heading for the town of Mist, OR. We travelled along the Nehalem river corridor. In Mist, we picked up Rt 202 and rode through Birkenfeld where we stopped at a small store for lunch. The day was bright and sunny and the riding was wonderful. Traffic remained light as we pedaled along. In the town of Jewell, we remained on Rt 202 and climbed up over Tide Water Summit, a nice 700′ climb from town. When we arrived in the town of Olney we decided to follow the Youngs river. This would  avoid Astoria all together and since it was rush hour it seemed like a good idea. The day was wearing on, the sun was getting lower and we wanted to get on over to Hammond where we planned to stay at Fort Stevens State Park. It turned out to be a long day and after getting a bit lost on the way into Warrenton we wound up riding a total of 92 miles. We got to the State Park  just as it was getting dark. Hot showers and hiker-biker camp sites were exactly what we were looking for.

The occasional logging truck zooms by

Plenty of logging still goes on here

Saddle Mountain from Rt 202

Quiet roads on the way to the coast

Reforestation begins immediately

Hay bales in the field below Eels ridge with Saddle Mountain in the far distance

Along the Youngs River, Astoria in the distance

The next morning we woke up early surounded with thick fog all through the park. We rode our bikes to the water and checked out the Peter Iredale shipwreck and the beach. This was the first time we had seen the Pacific Ocean since we were in southern Oaxaca two years ago. The weather here is a just a little bit different than Mexico. After leaving the park, we rode to Fort Clatsop in the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. From here it was only a short ride to Astoria where we will cross the bridge into Washington state.

Peter Iredale Shipwreck

A lone morning bicyclist on the beach

Debi checks out the shipwreck

Recycle Bin at Fort Clatsop

Unique chimney at the Fort

Hefty door latch at Fort Clatsop

Herons, Egrets, Astoria and the bridge north to Washington

Now it’s on to Astoria to find a cafe and get ready for one of our last big crossings of  the trip.

See you in town!

Debi and Bryan


Portland!

27Dec12

We were pretty excited to arrive in Portland, OR on our bicycles. Portland has a reputation of being one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the USA. We rolled into town on July 16th. After a few phone calls we were able to connect with our friends Galen and Sam who we would meet up with later. We had an easy ride into town following bike routes and paths. Portland takes care of their pedestrians and cyclists with a large network of on road and off road bicycle routes.  Once in town we met up with our friend Joshua. We met at a restaurant called The Observatory. A fine place with amazing happy hour  specials! We planned to spend a week here in the city before getting back on the bikes and heading to the coast and then crossing into Washington state. Sometimes the city is just what we are looking for –  a bit of culture, music, art and friends!

Here are some pics of our stay…

Galen and Bryan out for a walk in the sunshine

On Saturday, July 21st we took a ride around the city and up to Rocky Butte where we took in some views of the city and the surrounding area. A short climb up and then a sweet descent back through a tunnel on a curve. Riding around Portland you realize quickly that the city is quite large and that it would take a long time to see it all. Even on a bike.

Ride up to Rocky Butte

Mt. Hood from Rocky Butte

View of the Columbia River

We were always pleasantly treated to the Portland music scene. Sam is a  multi-talented musician and he gave us our ration of good tunes at cool venues all over town. Thanks Sam! We enjoyed it all!

Sam playing bass at Beaterville Cafe

Sam on Banjo outside of Migration in NE Portland

Looking downstream on the Willamette river toward Fremont bridge

Vibrant flowers near the Hoyt Arboretum

Trolley in downtown

Bamboo bicycle in downtown

Funky, painted intersection in Portland

One day during our stay, Bryan took off on an all day ride through  Forest Park and down Skyline Drive with a short stop at the Willamette Stone State Park to complete a big loop within city limits. The first time riding into downtown from the east side of the city is exhilarating.  You can follow bike boulevards through residential neighborhoods that are full of blooming trees and flowers. The citywide bike map is essential for first time navigators. There is a lot of signage and markings that apply to bicyclists so keep your eye out.  The climb up Thurman to Forest Park is a lung burner.

Leif Erickson Road in Forest Park

Forest Park

Overlook from a cemetery west of Portland

Hydrangea in full bloom

Willamette Stone Survey Marker

On another day, Debi, Galen and Bryan rode around Portland unloaded and made a visit to Laurelhurst Park in SE Portland and Mt Tabor Park for some outdoor music. There is no shortage of things going on in Portland. Every day and night something is happening somewhere. A lot of it is free or very cheap. Getting around Portland is easy as a pedestrian or cyclist. You are not a minority here. The City offers comprehensive and detailed maps geared toward walkers and bikers. They are free and break the city up into the four main quadrants with detailed views of specific areas.

Debi and Galen riding through Laurelhurst park

Big beautiful trees in Laurelhurst Park

Free music in the park – Portland style

On our way out of town, Sam joined us for the ride through the city and up through Forest park. It is always a pleasure to get to ride with friends on this trip. It makes it so much more memorable. Bryan had a rough go at first – leaving the city, we were travelling down a street when a car door opened from a parked car in between Sam and Bryan and Bryan didn’t see it in time. In a flash I was flat in the street. Her door caught my front right pannier and it pitched me over the bars. The woman who opened the door was startled. Glad there was no additional traffic because I was in the lane, down. All parties including the bike were OK  and we went on with our day. That was a first and hopefully only incident of that nature. We took it a bit more cautious as we left town. Once in Forest Park, Debi was stung three times by a bee! Turning out to be a  rough day. Sam rode up through Forest Park with us and then planned to take the return loop I did the either day and come  back down Skyline drive.

Sam and Debi crossing the Broadway Bridge on our way out of town

Sam and Bryan emerge from Forest Park

So, now we are headed out of town and on our way to Astoria, OR to see the sea.

See you down the road!

B+D


Saturday July 14, 2012

Our time in Bend was relaxing and sunny. We left in the early morning and followed a series of bike paths and routes out to the north side of town. We had breakfast on the trail and then popped out on US 20 and started heading toward Sisters. The traffic was moderate and when we got to Sisters it was in the midst of the annual outdoor quilt show. The main road through town was closed to vehicular traffic so we had an easy view of all the quilts displayed. We were thinking of you – Karen, Lori and Chris!

The quilt show was drawing quite a crowd and the streets were filling up. Cars and traffic were slowly making their way through a detour route around town.  It came time for us to move on too so we decided to head out and ride up over Santiam pass and then wind our way through the Willamette and Mt. Hood National Forests to Estacada, OR. Our route brought us around the south side of Black Butte and then around the north side of Suttle lake. From Sisters it was only a 1700′ climb up to Santiam pass in the Cascades. The weather started to get a bit dark and rain was threatening but it somehow steered clear of us. We crossed the Pacific Crest Trail  at the top and then began our amazing  descent along the North Santiam River. Views of Mt. Washington and the surrounding area were spectacular.

View near Bend and Sisters

Black Butte and Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington

Easy ride down main st in Sisters, OR

Quilts displayed on a building

More Quilts

Once we got out of Sisters the traffic was fairly moderate even with the road closure. We met and were passed by the occasional cyclist. Most were out for the day or were fully supported.

Nice wayside on the way up Santiam pass

Easy open roads in Oregon

Action shot

Roadside Foxglove

The day proved to give us more downhill in one day than we have had in a long time.  That night we camped near Idanha, OR  in the Willamette National Forest leaving even more downhill for the next day.  We woke  early and got on the road in a flash. We stopped in Idanha at a small store for some coffee and breakfast snack. After a few more miles we took a stop in busy little Detroit, OR. Here we ditched a bunch of traffic and took a hard right onto Forest service road 46. This road took us past Breitenbush Hot Springs.  We tried to make a reservation there to camp but they were full. Next time for sure! We continued to gradually climb up and around Bald Butte in the Olallie Scenic Area and then crossed into the Mt. Hood National Forest. Here is where we picked up the Clackmas River corridor which we would follow all the way to Estacada, OR.

Once we were well into the forest we decided to use our new water filter that we purchased in Santa Fe. Our filter is the Sawyer complete 2-liter system and works great. It is gravity fed and takes no time at all!

So nice!

One of many small waterfalls pouring into the Clackamas River

Using our Sawyer water filter at the above waterfall

The Clackamas River corridor was an amazing ride. The river wound its way through deep forest and rugged mountainous areas. It did however prove to be challenging to find a campsite for the night. Steep rocky walls, the river itself and impenetrable Black berry bushes thwarted our efforts for a couple of hours. We did eventually find a small spot under some high tension wires. Not the most glamorous site but it worked out well for our riding the following day, and it was free.

Debi blazing down the Clackamas River Corridor

camped low near some high tension wires

Once in Estacada we found some coffee in a shop called The Grind House. It was a dreary morning but things improved as the day moved along. Estacada was full of murals painted by artists years ago. As we left Estacada our secondary road routes brought some steep hill climbs, steeper than we have seen in awhile. We got our first views of Mt. Hood southeast of Portland near Boring, OR.  In Boring we found an amazing fruit stand and had to stop to refuel. Here, we picked up the Springwater Trail which was unpaved and downhill and then joined with the I-205 trail which brought us into Portland.

The Grind House

One of several murals in Estacada, OR

View of Mt. Hood near Boring, OR

Fruit Stand!

Raspberries! More berries!

Mile marker on the Springwater Trail

Yay Portland!

Stay tuned for city adventures.

B+D


Bend, OR

17Dec12

We owe our readers some posts after taking a long break from blogging and then a longer break from computers all together. We have plenty to share of our last 1500 miles of riding through the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for hanging in there!

Here’s a quick summary of our travels to get us up to Bend. In October 2011, we left from Saratoga, NY and bicycled in a roundabout way (which is our general route style) to Myrtle Beach, SC. From here we rented a car, drove to Jacksonville, FL. We then spent all of December and January exploring the depths of Florida, central on down to Key West. We had a terrific reunion with family in the Keys and then we decided to rent yet another car and drive up to Asheville, NC and spend a few weeks with friends and gather ourselves for the next leg of travels. In mid February we caught a rideshare on Craigslist and arrived after 2 nights and 3 days of whirlwind cross country travel in Tucson, AZ. We remained in the Southwest for a couple months, volunteering at a National Park and biking from Southern Arizona almost to Denver, CO. In Denver we nearly melted from the temperatures in July. We made an executive decision to take a weeklong rental adventure from Denver to Bend, OR. The rental car helped us along on our journey in order to get us closer to our friend’s wedding in August near Seattle in addition to a housesitting job. We also used the rental car to avoid some blistering heat and drought that the west was experiencing this summer.

So here we begin again, the rental car (affectionately named Butterscotch), our bicycles and us are about to arrive in Bend on July 9th, 2012.

After our morning hike on the obsidian flow at Newbury Crater Volcanic Monument and a slow scenic drive up to Mt. Bachelor we arrived in Bend at Denise and Jimmer’s home. Denise was Debi’s roommate when she lived in Bend in 2003-4 and Jimmer is Denise’s husband. After catching up we made plans to float down the Deschutes river that afternoon. Returning the rental car was flawless. Bye bye Butterscotch bye bye –  back on the bikes now!

Floating on the Deschutes is a local pastime on a grand scale. The four of us  floated on a Monday afternoon with hundreds of other people. Hmm, we understand Bend’s high unemployment rate.  With Jimmer’s truck loaded up with two cheap floaties, an inflatable kayak and an inflatable raft we hit the river at a crowded park/launching site. Floating the river has become so popular that parking became an issue in the downtown area so the city started providing bus service for floaters. These buses pull trailers so floaters can easily load their tube or floatie on and head back up stream and do it again. The driver helps load and covers them up with a cargo net. Slick and simple. Gravity sport + Mass transit = a whole lot of fun.

Jimmer at the helm of our flotilla

Bryan being towed down the river

Floaters waiting for the bus and trailer to bring them back up river

Living in Bend is an outdoor adventurer’s dream. As Jimmer proved, you can ski in the morning and kayak the river on a July afternoon. Full respect to anyone who is taking runs this time of year. We  spent our five nights in Bend sleeping on a futon in the backyard – open air. We kept our days simple and relaxing. We worked in the shade on the back patio – Debi making cards for Denise (thank you cards for baby shower) and Bryan repairing and cleaning our bikes. We checked out the Bend Farmers Market and a few shops downtown. We took their dog Hazel for walks and had awesome dinners with Denise and Jimmer. Bryan fixed up Denise’s mountain bike and took an evening ride out on the Deschutes River trail for some single track bliss. Denise, Debi and Bryan went out for a walk to check out gardens at The Environmental Center, where Denise teaches gardening, re-use and sustainability. Downtown we enjoyed a summer music festival.

Downtown Bend

Gardens at Denise’s workplace

From Bend, OR we  ride our bicycles to Portland, OR which will take us 2 and half days to make the 185 mile trip. Thanks again Denise and Jimmer for hosting us! We had a great time.

B+D


It’s summertime and the living is e a s y. We are on Vashon Island, in the Puget Sound of Washington. We connected with a housesitting job, so we’re staying put and enjoying the view until after Labor Day.  There’s mountain bike trails 2 minutes out our door and the blackberries are bursting just as close. Vashon is an island close to Seattle and has only ferry service to access it. We’re officially on island time.

The view of Mt. Ranier from our temporary home

We have some posts to share with our bike travels from Bend to Portland and Portland to Vashon. Stay tuned and we’ll get those up as soon as we can pull ourselves away from sitting on the deck.

D+B


Road Trip! 2012

22Jul12

We are not purists. Sometimes taking a break from the biking is smart and deserved. At our current rate of travel we were going to be hard pressed to make it up to the Seattle area for our friends wedding in early August. All said, we rode over 500 miles in Colorado this summer which just feels invigorating. From Denver we rented a car and began a drive up and over to Bend, OR so we could remain on track for the rest of the summer. Hot, hazy temps and thick air were  easily left behind in our little Kia Soul we nicknamed Butterscotch.

Two bikes, Two passengers, One in and out Satellite Radio

We stopped for a break in downtown Cheyenne to walk through a park and take a photo op at a large locomotive called a big boy that was one of 25 built (in Schenectady, NY). This one was built just a few months before Pearl Harbor.

Big Boy Steam Locomotive on display in a park in Cheyenne, WY

Builders plate

From Cheyenne we drove Happy Jack road which we had read was a scenic alternative to the highway. Cheyenne was quiet and we did not stay long. It is amazing how short of a time you can be in a place when you have a car. We decided to drive up and out to a place called Vedauwoo recreation area near Cheyenne, WY. Vedauwoo offered a rock climbers paradise with close camp sites to all kinds of formations. Nice looking singletrack too.

Vedauwoo Recreation area

Rock formations in Vedauwoo

Small beaver pond

Thoughts of Chiricahua in Vedauwoo

Almost invisible

Sunset at Vedauwoo

On Tuesday, July 3rd we got up super early from our campsite and hit the road before 4am so we could get to the Jackson Hole area at a reasonable time. Before going to bed that night we we made sure the car doors were locked up but we forgot to check to see if the hatch was shut. It wasn’t and we left it open all night. No bear trouble but a mouse got in and chewed on a bunch of packages.

That same day we drove all the way to the Grand Teton National Park and found a campsite in the Signal Mountain campground. This park is incredibly huge and even with it being a national holiday we found it quite roomy. Our first day in the park we went for a six mile hike around Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. We also made a car trip up to the summit of Signal Mountain to have a look at a wildfire that just started that day. The fire became known as the Bear cub fire. We watched it spread to over 2,000 acres during our stay in the park.

Stunning views of the Grand Tetons

View from Signal Mountain

Bear cub fire

Close up

Trail around Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

Hidden Falls

Hiking past Inspiration Point

Bull moose spotted

Together in the Tetons

On our second day we woke and went and got coffee at the local store and went back to the main visitor center to watch the National park movie (which we always try to see). We were the only ones in the theater. After the movie we headed into Jackson Hole and made a stop at the local visitor center which borders the National Elk Regfuge and learned about all the antlers that are shed by the elk. Boy scouts collect them in large bundles and auction them off for loads off cash. Today was the 4th so there was a parade going on full swing in town. After a nice lunch in the park we connected with our friend Justine who lives south of town and drove off to visit and stay with her and her partner Kurt and their daughter Chloe.  We took the gondola up the ski mountain for some early dinner at a slopeside restaurant where we met some new friends – Dena and Jeff. – So nice to meet you both and share some food together!  Fun to talk about Florida and Wyoming.

View from the chapel

Park entrance in Jackson, WY

Albert and Bryan

Butterscotch

View from the lift at Jackson Hole

That night we went back to the house and grilled burgers. After dinner, Kurt and Bryan went to make preparations to secure a boat for a float trip down the Snake River in the AM. We drove out to where we were to pick up the boat and the boat was there, deflated and not on a trailer. The trailer was left up river and we should just go and pick it up. So, we went and got the trailer and then went back to the boat. Loaded it and blew up the remaining sections and strapped it down to the trailer for the  morning ride. On Thursday morning, we picked up the boat and dropped off a car at the take out in Astoria. Then we drove up to the put in in Wilson. First cloudy day in weeks but our trip was awesome and lasted most of the day with the rain holding off until the very end of the trip.  Thanks Kurt for making that all happen!

The start of the float in Wilson

Me Ship Mates

Lunch on the banks of the Snake river

Looking up river toward the Tetons

On Friday, July 6th we woke up early and hit the road a little after 4am. We drove down the Snake river valley past the Pallisades Reservoir in the early morning darkness and were soon driving across southern Idaho. Our first stop of the day was at Craters of the Moon National Monument for some hiking. We walked around the Devil’s garden and summited Inferno Cone.

Early morning Idaho

Devils Garden

Two hikers on the shoulder of Inferno cone

Summit of Inferno Cone

Tree on summit of Inferno Cone

Visita at the Craters of the Moon National Monument

Later in the day we decided to deviate from our original route and head north up through Hailey and Ketchum just to see what was shaking up there. We had heard good things so we decided to have a look.  This turned out to be a great idea as the Mountain Bike Cross-Country National Championships were taking place right in Ketchum and Sun Valley!  This whole area was super exciting with their 34 mile Wood River Trail connecting the local communities and ski lift access within walking distance to town. Art galleries and shops speckeled every street. There is an unheard amount of mountain biking going on here-over 500 miles of trails within a small radius of town. Usually, a Starbucks coffee house would not make mention in our blog but this may have been of the most interesting establishments as it shared space with a visitor center.

Sunny days in Ketchum

Bike sculpture

Wood River Trail in Ketchum

Outdoor art exhibit in Ketchum

Starbucks in Ketchum

We also made a little time to visit Ernest Hemmingway’s grave in the rain. As we left town we started to climb up over a pass where we were rewarded with our first views of the mighty Sawtooth range. A spectacular drive along the Salmon River into the town of Stanley, ID kept us spellbound.

Hem’s grave

That evening we stopped at a roadside hot tub along the river just outside Stanley. Super hot water piped into a steel tub was just what we needed. It was so nice we planned to hit again in the morning when we drove back through. That night we camped at Mormon Bend at a national forest campground.

Soaking tub near Stanley, ID

Mountains near Stanley, ID

On Saturday, July 7th we woke up early, hit the soaking tub one more time and then drove over a couple passes through the mountains on our way to Boise, ID. The day was starting to heat up and by the time we got to Boise it was 103 deg F. We parked our car in the city park and went and explored downtown and its giant farmers market.  In Boise we met Ben and Scott who were touring on bikes and struggling with the heat. They were on their tenth day of their tour. That night we camped at Dixie campground in the Boise National Forest.

103 deg at the Boise Farmer’s market

After a quiet night of sleeping in the woods we got up and drove off to John Day Fossil Bed National Monument for a quick look around. This is quite a place if you are into fossils. As the day marched on we quickly found our way to Bend, OR where we made a short grocery stop at Trader Joes’s and then with one more day of the car left we headed off to Newberry Volcanic National Monument . We were able to check out the Lava River Cave which gave us a welcomed reprieve from the heat. It was about 39 deg in the cave and we walked for over a mile underground.

Tree full of shoes on the side of the road

View near John Day

Down in the Lava tube

That evening we camped up at Little Crater Campground and hiked out around Paulina Lake to a primitive hot spring. The campsite we picked was right on the water. It seemed like most of the folks had gone home as the end of the holiday weekend approached. Our site was quiet until about ten dudes showed up next door and proceeded to unload coolers of beer. It was 9 pm and they were just about to start cooking food so we decided to move our site to a quieter area. We packed up and without disrespect we moved away to sleep soundly.

Primitive hot spring along the shore of Lake Paulina

Lake Paulina

Heading back to camp

Moss covered tree

Obsidian flow at dawn

Glass like obsidian

Paulina Falls at sunrise

The next morning we were up and packed by 5 am and headed over to a large Obsidian flow to hike around before heading back into Bend to meet up with Debi’s old roommate Denise and her husband Jimmer. On our way back to Bend we decided to drive up and check out Mt. Bachelor. In Bend, we return our rental car and get back to planning our bike trip through the Pacific Northwest.

See you there!

D+B

 


On June 19th, we rode into Paonia, CO. The weather was hot and it was relieving to have trees and grass around us as we descended into the North Fork Valley. The hills between Crawford and Paonia are unforgiving with no shade and many shards of broken glass in the ditches. As we approached Paonia we rode past orchards of cherries and apples. When we got to town we ate our lunch in a small park on Grand Ave, a good vantage point to watch the world of Paonia go by. We soaked up the shade of the downtown and then went over to the library to feel some A.C. and to contact Bryan’s  friend Laura who we would be staying with for the night. We made our way over to her house to meet her children and husband Doug.  We had only planned on staying a day or two but it turned into a week.  Colorado has been good to us in the form of small part-time work. In Paonia, we were able to do a little work for Laura and Doug helping them with landscaping and organizing also Bryan picked up work at a local house renovation with Doug.

Paonia is a bustling little town with about 1400 folks and plenty of small businesses scattered around. In our spare time we wandered about enjoying ice cream, the town park, and just peering into shops. A little gem tucked in to town is High Country News, a terrific publication sharing unique perspectives on news and events of the west. They welcome visitors, so we stopped in and shared our story. Neil LaRubbio showed us the office and gave us background on the history of HCN. A few days later, the size of Paonia was clear as we ran into Neil on the street. After a week in town we felt like regulars and it seemed so easy to just stay put. However, the adventure continues….if you happen to subscribe to HCN, check the visitors section of the next issue, we may end up in it!

Hanging out in Paonia has been wonderful and we have enjoyed the new friends and company. Here are some pics…

Town park in Paonia

Bryan trying out a tall bike

Three-seater Dr. Suess bike with giant water cannon parked at the Local Bike Shop

Fishbone bike rack

On our last day in Paonia, we decided to all  go to Delicious Orchards to pick cherries. They offer some great camping options if you are passing through.  You can never have too many cherries and this way we could bring a whole bunch to Denver. At $1.50 a pound it felt like heaven, We picked 16 pounds in 10 minutes – unbelievable!

So ripe they were almost falling from the trees

Cherries!

The whole Paonia gang (L-R Taz,Doug holding Theo, Laura and Willow picking cherries

View form the orchard

It worked out by staying longer in Paonia our time coincided with a trip to Denver that Laura and Doug had planned. They needed to bring an extra vehicle-which we signed up to drive. We traveled in a two car caravan, loaded our bikes into the pick up and drove over McClure pass and Vail pass (which we sorely missed not riding on our bicycles due to the fact that it has an actual bike path over the pass). On June 27th, we arrived in Denver to stay with Bryan’s cousin, Gillian,  her husband Tom and two beautiful children Evelyn and Sean. We also got to visit with Bryan’s uncle Dave which is always a good time.

Dave and Bryan

The Lucas family

Our time in Denver was relaxing and full of sporting events. We went to Evelyn’s swim meet  – The Cook Park Penguins vs. Wash Park Sharks. This was our first swim meet and it was super fun to watch all the contenders compete. Way to go Evie for getting three first place finishes!

Ready…

The plunge…

Evie in first place!

We also had a chance to go to one of Sean’s coach pitch baseball games on the other side of town. A lot of action from a dynamic team! Way to go Sean on your great catch! Nice job!

Sean knocking it way out!

Just before the big catch!

Sporty times in Denver continued, we saw a Rockies game and wandered around downtown for an afternoon. Thanks Gillian and Tom for bearing the heat and checking out a game!

View from behind home plate

Up to bat

Downtown Denver form Coors field

Gillian and Bryan at Coors field

A couple of sports fans

As the weeks have passed by we have come to the realization that we are running a little bit behind if we want to get to our friends, Galen and Sam’s wedding by the first week of August near Seattle. We decided to rent a car and drive from from Denver to Bend, OR. This little break will get us through the really hot temperatures in some barren country in southern Wyoming and Idaho, not to mention avoiding a few more forest fires. The money we made in Paonia more than paid for the car and gas so we are heading off in a little car on Friday.

B+D

Next up : Pictures from our road trip adventure from Denver, CO  up to Bend, OR


On Saturday, June 15th we got up early to beat the heat and left Ridgway, CO. It was a beautiful morning with the Cimmaron range on our east and the San Juan mountains behind.  Montrose was an easy 26 miles away and it was mostly downhill. We rode past Ridgway State Park and kept on descending. As we approached Montrose we picked up the Uncompaghgre River Trail. This flat paved trail brought us right into town.  We ate a quick breakfast at a picnic table at the Ute Indian Museum which is right on the trail just south of town.  As we got closer we found a Safeway supermarket to re-supply our food cache and then continued on toward the center of town. The day was starting to warm up as we checked out the local farmers market. As a change from our planned route out of town we decided to cruise some back alleys that paralleled our route which made for  more interesting sights and traffic free riding.

Leaving Ridgway, CO

US 50, heading east out of Montrose was plenty wide enough for cyclists but had just been freshly chip sealed and with the rising heat of the day it equaled a total bummer. Super hot and stinky air with no where to go but onward. The turn for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park was marked with a unique little gem and mineral shop and a small store. We stopped for a light browse of fossils, rocks and minerals all of which are a bit too heavy to carry on the bikes. After a bit to eat and a short nap we started the four mile climb up to our warmshowers.org hosts. This turned out to be a good climb and with the blazing sun it made it all the more challenging.

Rolling roads of Montrose

Upon our arrival our hosts Brad and Eva fed us an amazing lunch and gave us a tour of their home and gardens. We had an amazing dinner on their patio overlooking the San Juan mountains.

The next day, Eva drove us up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Brad and Eva kindly let us borrow their recumbent trikes for the day. It was a totally new experience to take these kind of bikes on a long ride so we were really excited. Eva took us up to the park and drove us down East Portal road so we could see the canyon from the bottom and then drove us back up to the top. East portal road is extremely steep. We unloaded the bikes and rode all around the park and then back down to their house. An epic day indeed. These trikes may have been the funnest bikes we have ever ridden. Although we wouldn’t tour on roads with traffic with them the trikes were super fun and really fast. In the park we checked out Devil’s Overlook, Painted Wall, Dragon Point and Sunset Point. While at Devil’s Overlook we saw two fighter jets rip through the canyon. One of the jets was well below us down inside the canyon.

View in the National Park

The steel steeds of the day

Slight view down into the canyon

Gunnison river at the bottom of the canyon – hard to capture the immensity

Debi getting ready to rip!

Bryan on three wheels

View down canyon

Painted wall

On Monday, June 18th we said our good byes to our amazing hosts. Thank you both again for an incredible stay and lovely conversations! We hope to see you again soon! Riding back out the dirt road and back out to the paved road was an early morning workout. Once on the pavement we bombed back down to the highway and had to wonder if the last couple of days actually happened because we had so much fun.

The day was  slowly warming up as we climbed long and steady up and over Cerro Summit. There was a little construction on the pass which always makes things interesting but the ride down into Cimmaron was fast, fun and wide open. We found a  roadside park and visitor center right off the road next to a visitor center for the Curecanti National Recreation Area. After a hefty lunch in the shade we started yet another climb over Blue Mesa Summit. The day was working us good and our ultimate destination would actually be about 12 miles north of our current location but because of the immense canyon we rode over 40 miles to get there.

Late that afternoon with the heat roiling and the traffic dwindling we crossed Blue Mesa reservoir which is the largest body of water entirely within Colorado. We re-supplied on our water at an ugly campground near the dam and moved on. It felt good to leave US 50 behind. Colorado 92 does not see much traffic and we were glad for it. That night we found a campsite near the Curecanti needle and watched the sun go down across the amazing canyon.

On the way to Blue Mesa

Looking down canyon from the north rim

Sunset from near our campsite

Curecanti needle

View up canyon from Curecanti needle

High mesa near camp

On Tuesday, June 19th we woke up early and started off with a quick chilly descent and then immediately started climbing up to a place called Hermits Rest. From here we could see the dam near the visitor center we were at the day prior in Cimmaron. The canyon is truly formidable and commands respect, space and attention. We have been riding the rims of the canyon for days and feel that the early settlers and natives must have met their match. In fact it sounds as if they avoided it all together.

Morning view from Hermit’s Rest

View from Hermit’s Rest with the San Juan Mountains in the distance

From Hermit’s Rest which hovers around 9,000′ we bombed all the way down toward the town of Crawford. A sign we passed proclaimed that we were now entering Crawford Country. Crawford seemed tired and struggling to hang on. The outskirts of town were riddled with dead prairie dogs and dry hot mesas. There is probably some hidden charms here but we didn’t spend enough time to seek them out.

As we made our way out of town we could see the lush north fork valley in the distance and we were glad to see more and more trees surrounding our hot  sunny ride to Paonia, CO.

See you there,

Bryan and Debi