Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rochester to Rainier

Yet another day of waking up in the rain...

Either we offended the powers that be, or we're just paying our dues. We spent the first few hours of the day in our tent, waiting out the rain and listening in vain to the drops of precipitation falling on our ceiling. Fortunately, we were extended a tremendous amount of hospitality by a local church in Rochester, WA and had a place where we could comfortably wait out the storm.

We gave it until noon, and with the weather as light as it had been all day we set out to make a dent in our riding. We're getting pretty good at riding in the rain, and knocking out a few miles in less than ideal weather didn't bother us.

After about 20 miles in the drizzle, things started to clear up. Our spirits lifted, blue skies shone overhead, and optimism started to prevail. It's funny how simple of a pleasure dry weather can be - and how overlooked it is from the comforts of home. This trip is sure to teach me a lot about myself and about the way I view life, and from this point on I'll be sure to never take pleasant weather for granted.

It turned out to be a great day for riding with some great scenery in the Pacific Northwest. The precipitation held off for the rest of the day, which was extremely pleasant.

We rode all through the day toward the Oregon border, with the feeling of progress that comes with completing a state's worth of riding as our motivation. Biking through Washington is a pretty big achievement, and we were excited to taste that accomplishment at the border.

Fortunately, our solid pace throughout the day brought us to the Lewis and Clark Bridge (crossing the Columbia River into Oregon) Longview, WA with about 15 minutes of pure daylight to spare. Unfortunately, I'm an idiot and thought I had "smarter" directions over a different bridge that was "up the road" and would take us "right into a great place to make camp for the night". As Wikipedia would so eloquently point out later:

The Lewis and Clark Bridge is the only bridge crossing the Columbia River from Washington to Oregon anywhere between Rainier, OR and Astoria, OR.

Oh, how that information could have served us well. Instead, we followed my magical secret directions on a 22 mile sightseeing trip around Longview (well, it would have been sightseeing if it wasn't dark out). We rode through the dark for over an hour, with me insisting all the while that we were on the right track. My directions did work - they took us right back to the same bridge we stood in front of some 75 minutes earlier (in the daylight). With no lights and a sense of recklessness, we tackled the bridge at night (sorry Mom). It worked (although we were less than thrilled to ride on the shoulder of a main highway cluttered with debris in the dark), and we made it to Oregon safe and sound. Lesson learned: use the tools at your disposal. Going into this trip, I was dead set on leaving the day-to-day directions to physical map-checking and word-of-mouth directions. I learned today that it's not worth risking our safety rolling the dice like that, especially when we have turn-by-turn directions at our fingertips via the blessing/curse of cell phones. I'll be struggling to find balance with the technology input to our route-making, but I'll be content to not put us in a precarious situation again.

Thrilled about setting our tent up in dry weather, we went to sleep happy and comfortable. My favorite night's sleep of the trip so far.

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