On the Road to Missouri
The last of Route 66 and arrival in St. Charles Missouri
Continuing on Route 66, I visited the vintage cookie cutter museum, went to a circus, and saw a large junk monster.
In Uranus, Oklahoma, I saw the worlds largest belt buckle and an alien. I’m in historic St Charles, Missouri where I’ll begin my bike tour tomorrow. Not only was St. Charles the first state capitol of Missouri, it was the starting point for the Lewis & Clark expedition. There’s an interesting museum here telling the story of their preparations and the voyage itself.
I hope to post a few updates over the next few weeks, while on my bike.
Closing in on Missouri
Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma tonight. I am lounging in a beautiful library in Tulsa, uploading photos and elevating my foot, which doesn't seem to enjoy sitting and driving any more than I do! Although, I am enjoying a great Stephen King audio book. He always keeps me alert and engaged.
Seems like as soon as I crossed the New Mexico/Texas border, the topography changed instantly, from rocky hills to flat and rolling grassland. Green too! More traffic also, and dominated not only by gigantic motor homes, but shared in number with 40 foot plus trucks loaded with secret goods going to who-knows-where.
I passed through the second largest wind farm in the United States, near Amarillo. As far as I could see in all directions, the windmills were silhouetted against a darkening sky threatening some serious rain. Camped out at a busy truck stop last night. I'm glad I made the blackout shades for car windows. I woke to dense fog and just hung out, reading, hoping it would lift any minute, which it did not.
Texas and Oklahoma have some very impressive rest stops along the highway, as you can see in the photos below.
Winslow, Arizona...These are two beams from the World Trade Center, 9/11 remains. They have been installed here in memory of all those who lost their lives that day.
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert
The plan was to get a back country permit and camp a few miles in and see a bazillion stars. The weather was not cooperating. Prediction was for cloudy skies and winds to 25 mph. So I did some short day hikes. You can get directions for "back country" hikes that takes one off the beaten path, literally. The rangers provide color photographs and notes for navigation to interesting points. GPS coordinates also. I was remiss in logging the waypoints, ended up wandering a bit, and decided not to get lost on a day hike. The scenery was every bit as stunning at Grand Canyon, though in a different way.
THE GRAND CANYON IS NOT A GIANT WISHING WELL!
Don’t throw coins over the side and hope your dreams will come true. What you’re doing is poisoning the wildlife! Condors and other birds along with chipmunks and other local creatures see shiny things and pick them up and ingest them. Many die a slow and painful death.
There’s a group of about 40 volunteers that come annually and rappel over the sides, down as much as 300 feet, to pick up litter that has blown over, as the prevailing winds blow into the South Canyon – plastics of all kinds, food wrappers, and hats. One year, they picked up 400 hats; some still had price tags.
There are more volunteers, who dedicate the entire season to monitoring trails, assisting hikers, and facilitating emergencies, should that be necessary. I chatted one volunteer who has been coming to Grand Canyon to sleep in a tent for five months every year, for 8 years. She said the camaraderie and the feeling of helping making a difference brings her back every year. She also said that since this program was initiated, incidents have been reduced by 50%. They do some trail work, but the AmeriCorps Youth Program does the serious trail work with the assistance of pack animals and helicopters as needed. They have done some fantastic work on the Hermits Rest trail…
On the Road!
The gas tank filled, Stanley dressed for the ride, and we're on our way! The scenery and mountains have been nothing short of stunning, especially for someone who's used to lots of trees and green stuff. Sure is HOT down here!
The countdown has begun for the next adventure. I'll leave in mid-May, stopping and car camping in Death Valley , then on to Grand Canyon, Painted Desert and on to St Louis to begin the ride on the Katy Trail, a 300 or so mile Missouri State Park. I'll continue west somewhat, then returning via a modified ACA Route 66, for about 850 miles of adventure cycling! Periodic updates to be made, hopefully.
While you're here, check this cool Panorama Mirror, my ride buddy and friend, Robin, has designed and sells. Just click on her name for contact info. If you don't like helmet mirrors or bar end mirrors, this might be just what you're looking for!
Hike, Run, Ride in COVID Times
Now that I'm pretty much healed, except for some lingering PTSD, I'm back to hiking and trail running (with a bit of Nordic skiing), armed with a Garmin InReach Mini just in case. Soon as weather begins to cooperate, I'll be back on Alvin and/or Stanley to train up for the next bike tour. A few photos from local winter trails....
Drive, Hike, Run, Ride!
; In looking forward to touring in 2021 I've decided, instead of taking the train to St. Louis for last years' deferred tour, I'll drive! I plan to visit some national parks, do some hiking and some trail running along the way. For a person who doesn't enjoy long drives, I'll load up on audio books and limit the number of driving hours per day, making for a longer crossing.
I bought an atlas and with several tour books on National Parks; I'm looking forward to visiting Death Valley, Grand Canyon, and others, car camping my way to St. Louis. When I arrive in St. Louis, a gracious WarmShowers host will allow me to park my car at their house for the 700 some miles of my bicycle tour.
All the planning for the bicycle tour was already done and with a few tweaks, I'll be ready to hit the Katy Trail and beyond.
Hiking in The Dalles Area
I took a few days' road trip to explore the eastern Gorge, and test out my hiking ability and stamina. The scenery is stunningly different from western Gorge and for me all the more amazing. Here's a link to Wikipedia about the formation of the Columbia Gorge. The photos here speak for themselves.
Long "Road" from August to November
I wasn't sure I'd even write about this, so I'll make it short. In mid-August, I fell from my mountain bike and broke my femur, a couple inches south of my hip. It was a very tough and painful ordeal getting rescued and transported to hospital. Even recovery seemed to be slow and frustrating.
Well, it's about 13 weeks in the past now, and I'm about 80% "there". I've resumed some hiking and even thinking about 2021 touring.
Bike Tour Days 8 & 9
Corvallis to Willamette Mission State Park, 49 miles, 1047 elevation
Somewhat cooler today but still too hot. The Willamette Mission SP is way out there, close to the Wheatland Ferry, if you know where that is. Campsites are hot and dry but only hikers, paddlers (from Willamette River), and bikers can camp at this state park. Otherwise, it's day use only. Many miles of hiking trails bordered by hop vines and fruit trees. Apparently a world class, competitive disk course here. Most of the people I encountered were there for the disk throwing. Water faucet at campsite, thankfully. I left at daybreak, heading back to start, for 48 miles more.
Total distance on the tour, about 405 miles. Garmin recorded a high temperature one day at 107. Highlights - camping in the cemetery and the fresh peaches. Lowlight - heat and heavy traffic.
Stay tuned for the next adventure.
Bike Tour Day 7
Deadwood to Corvallis, 61 HOT miles, 2100 elevation
This was the worst day of the ride. Not only because the temperature peaked at just over 100 degrees, but the traffic was miserable, as I closed in on Corvallis. I had already planned a hotel stay so I was motivated to keep going for the air conditioning, if nothing else. As the day progressed, I had to stop every few miles in any available shade. I had plenty of water and also consumed electrolytes.
Bike Tour Day 6
Florence to Deadwood, 28 miles
I decided for a shorter day, knowing there is significant climbing and still temperatures pushing 100 degrees. I decided to check out the Deadwood Cemetery as a possible campsite instead of on the highway at the boat ramp. Up a short hill and directly above the highway, I came to the Deadwood Pioneer Cemetery, Est 1853. Beautiful secluded location. A large area that could be used for gatherings, not just funerals. There is a local organization that is attempting to identify all the graves, an generally preserve this historic site. The oldest I found dated back to the Spanish American war. Many WWI and WWII sites, logged, identified, and numbered in case one is looking for someone.
A local man, Mac, is in the process of chiseling a stone marker within the cemetery. He had interesting stories to tell, not only about the land surrounding Deadwood, but about his time as a historian on the Lady Washington Tallship. Check out the link above to their website. Mac told me the elk come through every evening on their way to the river. I waited and waited but they must have decided to keep away from me.
Bike Tour Day 5
Ranger kicked me out of the campground so I found a cheap hotel in town. I informed the ranger that there needs to be more clarity on their website about coastal hiker biker sites being closed. I did a little walking around Florence, finding the best burger and beer in town, in my opinion, at the Beachcomber Pub. That's it. That's all I did except wash some socks.
Bike Tour Day 4
Fern Lake/Richardson to Honeyman State Park, 65 miles, 1900 elevation
Well I decided to ride the whole way to Florence (Honeyman SP). This involved climbing from near sea level over "low pass", about 1100 feet. Yikes, 100 degrees! Thankfully lots of shade today.
The thing about routes in Garmin 830 is that they list out the day's climbs and as you approach them, you get a little countdown to climb notice. I mostly didn't want to know I was riding 8% or 10%. Although knowing I had 30 feet of climbing to go was good. Also a graphic climb profile was helpful.
I stopped at Triangle Lake at the city park for a long break. Set up my Helinox Zero chair and enjoyed the view and a snack. Most of the lake access appears to be private, as the lake is ringed with houses and private docks for water ski boats and fishing boats.
I stopped again, in Deadwood, about 30 miles from Florence and the state park. The nice lady at the market told me where I could camp, across the street, at a boat launch area along Deadwood Creek. I was also informed by a fellow customer that "riding a bicycle on highway 101 is suicide".
As I reeled in the last 14 miles to Florence and the state park, the road became 4 lanes with a shoulder between 5 and 8 feet. I was very glad for that, considering the heavy trailer and motor home traffic on this stretch. It was hot, hot, still, with a headwind, and I was looking forward to the upcoming layover day.
I was unpleasantly surprised to learn, upon arrival at Honeyman SP, that hiker/biker sites were CLOSED. No one around, so I made my own campsite anyway. They would have to carry me out if they thought I was leaving tonight.
Bike Tour Day 3
Adair to Fern Lake/Richardson County Park, 51 miles, 1000 elevation
Amazing 5 foot shoulder traveling along Hwy 99 going south. Nice buffer with the heavy traffic. Day temperatures are climbing into the miserable range, between 90 and 100.
Silly me, I thought a route called the Apple Trail was a bike trail. Most elevation today was on this 4 or 5 mile stretch. It turned out to be a road with climbs between 7 and 8 percent. Well on a road bike maybe that's not so much but consider that Stanley weighs about 68 pounds fully loaded, plus the heat.
Fern Lake indeed has hiker biker sites, but it's just an area on the edge of the common green space area and adjacent to big tent city. I was able to find an empty site and use the power to charge up my Garmin.
Speaking of Garmin Edge 830, I had pre loaded my daily routes and found this extremely helpful for navigation except for the few times it went crazy and told me to make a U turn, repeatedly. I could still be in Salem making the same U turns if I had not started ignoring Garmin. Eventually it self corrected. If I head straight to the coast tomorrow instead of stopping for the night in Deadwood, I will have two days in one spot.
Bike Tour Day 2
Champoeg SP to Adair Memorial, 56 miles, 1214 elevation
Riding was so much more pleasant today but temperature is climbing. Traffic, yes, and fast, but not much of it. A stop at Johnson Fruit Company satisfied my craving for a very fresh, juicy peach. Nothing is better on a hot day. I resisted stopping frequently to pick ripe blackberries and was rewarded at having some right in my camp.
Please know that camping is not really allowed at Adair Memorial. However if you give them a call and ask permission, you might be permitted to do so. If you meet Susanna, the pheasant care taker, she'll likely enjoy chatting with you and filling your water bottles. There's no water here.
Bike Tour Day 1
I needed a bike tour since I had to cancel Missouri until at least next year. I planned for 9 days, riding from a friend's house in Beaverton, sort of southwest, to the coast, looking for some cooler temperatures, which I found little of.
Beaverton to Champoeg State Park, 41 miles, 1148 elevation
Although I had carefully planned my route, thinking I would be traveling low traffic roads, today was disappointing in that I traveled on a very busy highway for miles. Although mostly the shoulder was adequate the traffic was not fun. I did find a nice bikeway along Highway 47, just leaving Beaverton. It didn't last long enough.
The Champoeg State Park in Oregon does much to accommodate we cycle tourers. A bike work station, a nice, large camp area with picnic tables, some of which are covered, some small lockers, and lots of outlets and USB plugs for charging stuff.
Destination - Quartz Butte, WA
Quartz Butte area is sort of between Mt. Adams and Mt St. Helens and close to East Fork of Lewis River. Our adventurous group were seeking out a new to us place to car camp and hike. Traveling on a secondary, amazingly well paved road for about 5 miles, we found our destination, but couldn't quite make it to the end of the road, without a little trail maintenance. We were prepared for that with loppers, choppers, and shovels.
We were able to get our tents set up and a fire built just before the rain started. After dinner, we had the best smores, thanks to Mike and the quality chocolate he provided. He made the sticks for us also!
After a lazy start the next day, we hiked down (and I mean DOWN) to Quartz Creek. Amid lots of blowdown, we slowly made our way down the steep trail to a beautiful spot on the creek, ideal for napping and doing lots of nothing except talking about food and more smores.
Another hike, another trail, the next day, then we were on our way home.