June 20, Millersylvania to Rainbow Falls State Park, 39 miles
The rain didn't stop in the morning but it wasn't cold and I had rain gear. As I departed, I could see that the campground had filled up overnight. Kids everywhere on their bikes; the smell of bacon and pancakes mixed with the wood smoke, made my mouth and eyes water.
I couldn't resist stopping at Bill & Bea's Burgers on the outskirts of Centralia. I was not disappointed. Although navigating through Centralia wasn't fun, the fun did begin when I got onto a pleasant, hilly country road dotted with horses, cows, sheep, and John Deere tractors. The last 15 miles to Rainbow SP is on the Willapa Trail, which I mentioned having traveled last year.
June 18 Lewis & Clark to Millersylvania State Park, 42 miles, 990 elevation gain
More sun today, but rain's on the way I'm told. Leaving Lewis & Clark, I stopped to check out the Jackson House State Park (first state park in Washington), a historic site just down the road. It became a welcome stop over for people following the Oregon Trail to Puget Sound.
I could not find an alternative to Hwy 99 north, and even though there's adequate shoulder, it's busy with large trucks and fast traffic. On the plus side, I pulled into the Great Wolf Lodge/Waterpark and connected to their wi fi while having a break.
In spite of having a pre departure checklist, I always forget a thing or two. This trip was no exception. I didn't bring a pump. Feeling this is a necessity, I was able to navigate to a retail store and buy a pump for insurance, guaranteeing I wouldn't get a flat.
Millersylvania SP is a very large and very popular destination. I decided to stay two days. There's a small lake where one can rent boats, several miles of trails, lots of day use areas, and if you can believe it, a beer garden! Maybe I'm living a sheltered life, but I never expected a beer garden in a state park.
I spent the next day doing a lot of nothing. I found an empty campsite with electricity, sat in my fantastic Helinox Zero chair with a book, and got stuff all charged up. Anticipating rain on my second night, I scoped out a shelter near my campsite which I moved to so as not to have to pack up wet stuff.
June 17: Kalama to Lewis & Clark State Park, 45 miles, 2000 elevation gain
Today was the start of a short tour, beginning in Kalama, WA, a short drive from home. The Port of Kalama lets you park in the McMenamins lot, which is patrolled 24/7, if you request a permit.
Yeah, you are probably thinking that 45 miles isn't so far. Well I didn't think it was either until I started climbing some hills that I wouldn't want to do on my road bike. I swear I will never ride Bond Road again for anything! I found a paved bike path that runs the length of the town of Kelso, a welcome change from the climbing and the traffic.
By the time I got to the campground, it was late and no one was around, so I found my own spot and tracked down the ranger in the morning as I was leaving. I love hiker/biker sites - no reservations and cheaper than regular tent sites. Washington and Oregon and a few other states have a no turn away policy for hikers/bikers, reducing the stress of where to camp the next night.
Out today with my paddle buddy, Alain, on Estacada Lake, Oregon, a short 40 minute drive from home. The lake is actually a large dammed section of the Clackamas River and is part of the Milo McIver State Park. The water is calm except for approaching the upper dam, our turn around spot, 3 miles up. Small power boats allowed but most were there for fishing, not that anybody was catching anything. We saw a couple of bald eagles and an osprey tending its nest high atop a dead tree. Alain and I always have a contest to see who can collect the most and sometimes unusual, trash. He won, no contest, as you'll see in the photos.
Stanley is beside himself with excitement as I organize for a small bike tour, now that Washington has opened some state parks for camping. Oh, and the Gypsea is a bit excited also. YAY!
Now that Spring seems to have arrived in the Pacific NW, if only for a few days, the Gypsea finds locations to visit, close to home, but mostly nowhere near people. Some hiking, some running, and some cycling (oh how I crave even a short tour to camp at a state park!). Take a look at the photos to see what Spring looks like in Southwestern Washington. Continue to wear your face masks around others and continue your high octane optimism!
It's with considerable disappointment that I must cancel my adventure to ride the Katy and Route 66, due to current circumstances. I've read about long distance bike tourists who are stuck in foreign countries; must be very stressful. I want to survive to ride another day but like many others, I'll continue to ride solo locally and plan more future adventures. Take good care, my fellow adventurers. This too shall pass.
Other winter play included an adventure to the Grouse Vista TH to snowshoe. Although the road is probably totally clear and not enough to warrant snowshoes or even spikes now, this was an adventure just getting to the TH. It was necessary to have a high clearance vehicle, big tires and even chains at times. I was white-knuckled as I looked over the side of the road and considered the possibilities should we slide off the road. A few obstacles needed to be removed on the way, but we were prepared.
Skiing at Teacup Nordic near Mt. Hood was pretty nice (soon will be time for the annual Blind School Ski Day!) with the birds fighting for every scrap in my hand.
An attempt at Dog Mountain in bad weather forced turn around due to very high winds and deep snow.
Having missed the rain (snow would have been OK) by a few days, we arrived to mild temperatures and mostly blue skies. The Methow Trails System encompasses over 100 miles of groomed trails, most of which were in good shape considering the rain and warm temperatures. The base diminished at about an inch a day during the 8 days we skied but still plenty of coverage in 95% of the areas we skied. I was relieved to know I still can skate ski and thankful to take advantage of the new heated wax hut at the Winthrop end of the trail system. It's a long drive, but very much worth it. On two different days, I ran into some friends from Seattle, Bill & Sheri, and Lissa, a cycling buddy. I think everyone we spoke to was from Seattle, except us.
Half the fun of adventurous travel is figuring out where to go. Although I don't plan to do an international trip in 2020, never say never. A long-time-coming return to the Methow Valley is coming up in February 2020. I wonder if I remember how to skate ski!
Thinking about options for long bike tours - Missouri has some interesting options including the famous Katy Trail, an old rail trail about 200 or so miles long, all of which is a State Park now. A modified Selkirk Loop, previously done by my friend Stasia (click here to check out her blog), a trip from Vancouver WA to anywhere, part of the Southern Tier route? Plenty of time and suggestions welcome via comments or contact.
I've been reflecting on the great times, friends, and shared experiences I've had in the last few (er, many) years. Old friends, you're tagged and not forgotten; you've helped shape me into the person I am today. Walk with me for a moment, down memory lane?
Wishing you all much joy and happiness always!