Thursday, August 14, 2008

To Everett

We left Rockport State Park in the early morning rain. yuck. I haven't had to ride in the rain since Pennsylvania (i out ran the rain in Iowa), but I guess it was fitting to spend our next to the last day in the rain. It was also fitting that I would get lost just one more time.

You see we stopped about 17 miles in for coffee/hot chocolate because it was cold, and when we did my group apparently missed the sign saying we were supposed to turn right. We went straight instead, and 10 miles later realized our mistake. We turned around and headed on, adding 20 miles to the day. A long day with lots of hills, we had one last big downhill headed into town before racing across some very narrow, busy bridges to reach our host location. That night we went to a Karaoke bar for Hannah Wagley's birthday and to celebrate the end of the trip. It was a great night.

Then into Seattle. Wow. After over two months of riding we were down to just 40 more miles. Because of the route, a lot of it on the bike paths, we stayed in big groups for most of the day. Things really sunk in for me when I saw the space needle, such an icon of Seattle. We had really made it. Things were pretty crazy as we headed through downtown, and we eventually made it down to the water where we followed the road down past all of the piers. We crossed over into West Seattle and then grouped up and waited about a mile away from Alki Beach. When everyone made it we rode in, parents cheering and then we all ran into the water. My parents surprised me by coming! I had no idea they would be there, and it was so good to see them.

We had a ceremony on the beach that night, and everyone began to leave after the build day on Monday. Dustin, my roommate came up on Monday night, and we've been hanging out with Lisa and her brother, Matt. We're staying at the Green Tortoise, a hostel right in the heart of the city. Great location. We've been really big tourists, checking out the space needle, Pike's Market, the University of Washington, kayaking in Lake Union, and just hanging out on the beach. Its been great catching up with Dustin, and I can't wait to get back to Ruston before too long.

We leave for the airport later tonight (our flight is at 6 am), and we'll head to El Paso for a few days before heading back to the 708 house.

Wallace to Rockport State Park, WA

Well its been a while since I've been able to post. I did such a great job keeping this thing updated for most of the trip only to go for a week and a half at the end with nothing. It wasn't all my fault, I promise. We camped out and were in rural parts of Washington for several nights, but you'll learn about that soon enough if you keep reading this post... so here we go.

As best as I can remember after all the madness of the last few days

Wallace to Coeur d'Alene was an absolutely gorgeous ride. We started the day by climbing a small pass called Camel's Hump, and then just before lunch we climbed the Fourth of July Pass (even though it was August 2nd). The second pass was on the interstate, but even still it was an awesome ride. We ate lunch at the top of the pass and then descended into the toursity town of Coeur d'Alene. We had another pretty big climb up to a bridge a couple hundred feet high before cruising into town. I got there early, and an arts festival was going on. After a quick nap a group of us went swimming in Coeur d'Alene lake and then walked around the festival for a while. I even got some Huckleberry Lemonade while walking around. Delicious! Then we ate ravioli and then a group of us went back to town for a little while since it was going to be a short day into Spokane.

The next morning was a Sunday, and we had a very short ride into Spokane, our first stop in our last state. I was riding sweep with Katharine, and a local chiropractor was awesome enough to give free adjustments to any riders who wanted it done. Since I was sweep and had to be last anyways, I jumped at the chance and definitely enjoyed it. We left the church almost an hour after the main group which waited on us at the the state line. We took group pictures there before heading down the bike trail into town. A few miles out we stopped and went swimming at a great water hole with giant rocks (but not deep enough to jump off of), and then road in to the Fourth Memorial Church we would be staying at for two nights.

Our build day in Spokane went pretty well. We were working on the house where the Habitat's Americorps volunteers will be living starting in September. The local chapter was between builds at the time, but it was good to be able to help out in any way that we could.

I don't remember much about the ride from Spokane to Wilbur. We camped out that night, the first time of the trip, and it was a lot of fun. It turns out Bike & Build and camping do work well together, and I think we were ready faster the next morning than usual.

Wilbur to Omak was a hard ride. In a flashback that eerily familiar to our days in Nebraska, the morning started out hot, windy, and hilly, and just plain hard. Then we descended down to the Coulee Dam on a long downhill only to have to climb back out before lunch. We stopped at a farmer's market for lunch where we were treated to free apple cider and popcorn while we ate. Emily had fallen just before lunch. and although everything ended up being okay, they took her to the emergency room just to be safe. Lunch was a little longer than usual, and then Lisa and I decided to brave the wind and hills together for the last half of the day. A special surprise came for us when we reached Distautel Pass (which I didn't know was coming) and we had to climb for what seemed for ever. At what we thought was the top Lisa and I took a break only to discover once we got up that there was still more climbing to do after a short downhill. By the time we reached the "real" top of the pass, the van had just caught us and we stopped for a short water break. The last 15 miles or so from here were literally all downhill. We saw Omak from 8 or 9 miles out, and just descended the entire way in. The downhill definitely made the day easier because we were all toasted after the climb.

Descending into Omak was great, but that just meant we had to climb out of it the next day. Just as we were leaving Omak we began climbing Loup Loup Pass. I started riding very strong, and feeling pretty good. About 4 miles into the climb I stood up to get some momentum, leaned too far over my handle bars, and something funny happened. My front wheel locked up just a little and I went toppling over the front. Luckily I landed pretty gracefully (well no one saw it happen, but it felt graceful), and I didn't injure myself. Unfortunately, I bent a few spokes in my front wheel and wasn't able to ride it anymore. Luckily again though, Julie was totally awesome and let me borrow her wheel for the rest of the trip! So I continued riding, caught up with Lisa and Joe when Lisa had a flat, and we made it to the top together. I was pretty shaken up after my fall, and after a pretty long lunch we headed into the town closest to Early Winters to hang out for the afternoon. We sat in a coffee shop all afternoon before heading to our camp ground for the night (about 12 miles away). The park hosts who were there were a really neat couple from British Columbia who I talked to for a while before taking a book and my mp3 player down to the river and reading until dark.

From Early Winters to Rockport State Park was my favorite day of the trip hands down. we started the day with a climb up Washington pass. It was 15.5 miles long, and literally started about 100 yards from where we were camping. Joe was driving that day, but he decided to do the first climb with us, descend back down, and then go get the van. He, Chad, Jake Schorr and I rode together off and on through out the whole climb, all grouping up right before an awesome set of switchbacks that took us up to the top of the pass. As you reached the upper switchbacks you could see the Cascades for what seemed forever. After taking pictures at the elevation sign Joe went to get the van while Chad, Jake, and I back tracked just a little to cheer people on up the hill. After a while we descended and then immediately climbed Rainy Pass where most of the rainclouds on the west coast drop their rain before going over the mountains. From there, it seemed like it was all down hill. We followed the rivers down stream past several lakes which I don't remember all of the names of (except Diablo Lake), and several dams meaning our elevation just kept dropping. The water at these lakes was a beautiful green blue, and all of the vegetation was breathe taking. Lisa, Courtney, Kate, Jake Schorr, Hana, and I all stopped at a huge waterfall and played for a while before second lunch. Jake Schorr's dad met us at second lunch where he had fresh strawberries for all of us! He also told us he had an amazing dinner for us once we got the campsite! I was one of the last people to leave second lunch (sweep almost had to chase me out), and Marty, Lindsey, Jess, and I rode the rest of the way in. Along the way we stopped at a really cool blueberry farm where several of the other bike and builders were picking berries. We mooched off of them for a while and then headed to the campgrounds. I was on the road for 10 hours that day. Then Jake Schorr's dad, Josh, had a great grill cookout for us before leading us in the Shabbot, the Jewish worship service celebrated starting on Friday night.

And that's where I'll end this post. I know I still have the ride to Everett and of course Seattle to tell about, but I'm still used to going to bed early for Bike & Build. Maybe I'll get around to it tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Superior, MT to Wallace, ID

Today is August first. On the 10th we reach Seattle. It's crazy to think how fast this summer has melted by. Where did it all go? We crossed back into Idaho today, and the next state we'll reach is Washington. We'll be there for a week before hitting the Pacific and this cross country trip will come to an end. It definitely snuck up on me.

Dinner last night was great. We had ribs cooked by the local Methodist Church at the fair. Then we watched team roping for a while before hitting the sack. This morning we went back out to the fairgrounds where they treated us to pancakes, sausage, and eggs. Yum! The rodeo was going early this morning, so after we ate we headed back over to the arena to watch barrel racing for a little while before hitting the road.

The ride today was really good. We sepnt most of the day on I-90 (its legal to ride on the interstate in Montana and Idaho), but it wasn't too bad. We left the interstate for about 12 miles before lunch and climbed through a really pretty area. It was an open range, where cattle can roam free, and Chad and I ran across some cows in the middle of the road. After lunch we climbed Lookout Pass on I-90 where we reached Idaho and the Pacific Time Zone. It was all down hill from there until we reached the nice little town of Wallace. We cleaned up, explored the town a little bit and enjoyed all the extra time we had (a short 60 mile ride plus gaining an hour means some of us got in about 1!).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lincoln, Missoula, Superior

As I sit here in the Library in Superior, I honestly can't remember much about the ride from Lincoln to Missoula. I Remember it was pretty long, seemed even longer, and with five mile to goI had to be motivated by Lisa saying "Jut five more miles until our day off!" That's all I remeber, but we made it none the less.

We got into Missoula, made ourselves a great pasta dinner and then hit the town for our first night out in over two weeks! Most of us ended up at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill where I'm pretty sure we overwhelmed them when we first walked in. The opened up a special room upstairs, the "501 Lounge" and we had a great night just hanging out and enjoying ourselves.

I woke up pretty early on our day off, I guess its just engrained in me these days. After breakfast at the church Lisa and I met up with Sophia at a coffee shop where I spent the rest of my morning reading. I haven't been to diligent in the reading department this summer, so it was good to give my brain a little workout.

We headed back "home" for lunch, and then a group of us headed out to go float the river all afternoon. Maybe the fact that there were 13 of us should have been some kind of ominous warning, but we didn't pay any attention to it. After a good ride up the river, our guide dropped us off for a 5 mile float trip. We grabbed our tubes, jumped in, and immediately realized just how cold it was. Honestly it wasn't too bad unless you were in the shade of the trees, but once the sun went behind the mountains, things turned colder. Most of the group got out and walked down the highway to our pick up point, but a few of us decided to tough it out (probably not my best decision on this trip). By the end I was balancing on top of my tube, shivering, hoping that no more rapids would cause me to get wet. It all ended up okay though. We all made it back safely (including Kate and Courtney who apparently hitch hiked back into town and left the rest of us a little worried), and it was a pretty fun way to end the afternoon. On our way back from the store where we rented rafts Lisa, Julie, and I stopped and got dinner at the Pita Pit (this WAS one of the better decisions of my trip).

Oh, side note. Julie is back as I just mentioned in the paragraph above. It was fun getting to hang out with here on the rafting trip and on our way back from dinner. She was definitely missed, and I'm glad she's back! Now all 31 riders are back.

The ride from Missoula to Superior was, well, superior! (yeah, lame joke, i know) No, but really, the 60 mile day just seemed to melt away as we travelled down the side roads next to the interstate and along a beautiful road following the river into town. In the morning, a big group of maybe 20 of us rode together most of the way before breaking up at a gas station. Mark, Shira, Lisa, Marita, and I kept going, and reached lunch pretty quickly. We had some great bakery donations (specialty breads!) and lunch was very good. We also had some not so good donations, like the angel food cake that seriously tasted like cotton candy,but I'm sure it was all eaten by the end of lunch anyways. After staying at lunch for quite a while, our same group minus Mark hit the road again. Following the river for most of the afternoon was great, and then we had mail drop once we got here! Mom sent me a new video camera/picture camera since mine died on me, so hopefully I can get back into the habit of posting pictures again. I guess I'll just have to steal everybody else's pictures off facebook so I have some from Nebraska and Wyoming.

Tonight we're going to the Mineral County Fair where our dinner is provided. Tomorrow we head to Idaho again!

Monday, July 28, 2008

From Helena to Lincoln

Today we climbed from Helena to Lincoln. Well, not the whole way, but it sure seemed like it for a while.

St. Peter's fed us a great burrito dinner last night follwed by an amazing pancake, sausage, and hashbrown feast for breakfast. I was in bed before 8 and slept outside in the church courtyard (it was the perfect night to do so), so I was feeling great this morning. A big ggroup of us rolled out together and stayed together for the first 20 miles or so. The terrain started going up hill at this point, and we began to spread out with Jake Schorr, Jake Stangel, Sophia, Joe, and I taking the lead as we headed up Fletcher Pass. It wasn't too bad to begin with, but just as soon as Jake Stangel said, "This is probably the easiest pass I've ever climbed" the road decided to change that. The last 2 or 3 miles up the pass were pretty tough, but Joe and I kept pushing while we talked about the Tour de France (which apparently ended yesterday). We reached the top of the pass at about mile 36, and the van was waiting for us there. We took our time eating left over pancakes and sausage, and I stayed there for almost an hour. Lindsey, Lisa, Hannah, Marty, Marita, Jess, Barbara, and I all rode together for parts of the ride after lunch. The descent was quick and full of switchbacks, and then we fought the wind for the rest of the ride. Luckily it was a short day (57), and we all reached the school in Lincoln fairly early. The van got to the school right as I did, so after a quick unload and shower most of us decided to take a good long nap for a good portion of the afternoon.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bozeman to Helena

Today was another good day on the bike. We woke up to a gerat breakfast provided by our hosts and prepared by Chad and the breakfast crew. It was a great mix of fruits, cereals, eggs, baked goods, and juices. We all ate so much we got a late start to our route meeting and then to our ride. The road from Bozeman to Helena is basically flat. For the first 45 miles until lunch I averaged 21 mph, and was feeling great. I stayed around first lunch for a long time (mainly because Marita and Jake bought frosted flakes so I was chowing down), and then decided to take it easy for a whlie. I rode alone for the next little stretch, and met up with a few other riders in a gas station at about mile 70. We rode together for the next 5 miles or so until second lunch where I refilled my water and hit the road again. I guess a big breakfast and then frosted flakes for first lunch were good enough. I moved pretty quickly the last 30 miles, making it into town pretty early. I wandered around for a little over an hour before heading to the church where they had muffins and juice waiting on us.

Its funny how two months ago a 100 mile ride was a big challenge our group had to mentally prepare for. Now it just seems like another day. We've all improved so much, and it is neat to see how things that used to be so hard are seeming easier for us all.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jackson, WY to Bozeman, MT

Heading out of Jackson was probably the most anticipated day of the trip. After a quick 6 mile warm up we began our climb up Teton Pass. Teton Pass is a 10% grade for about 7 miles, and then a descent down into Idaho.

The whole way up I had chills as Chad and I pushed ourselves really hard. We took the bike path, and the views were absolutely breathtaking. Once we reached the top we turned around and cheered for the rest of the riders as they arrived. Soon the entire group was cheering on sweep as they made it up the pass. After lots of pictures, hugs, and all around good feelings we decided to keep going. We had only gone 13 miles, but it felt like we should have been done for the day. After a super fast, switchback filled descent, the next 60 miles were pretty hard for me. My camelbak (my backpack that holds water) had a leak, so I was only riding with one water bottle. This made the day longer because I was trying to conserve water, plus I had a slow leak in my back tire which frustrated me a little more. A little dehydrated, and just wanting the ride to be done with I had a pretty slow afternoon into Ashton, Idaho. That night I slept outside on the front porch of the church, and it was amazing.

From Ashton we had a special treat as we headed to West Yellowstone, MT. "Team Merica" (that's a patriotic combination of Marita and Eric) was riding sweep on a 57 mile day. The morning flew by with only a few stops as we helped Shira with her two flats. Team Merica somehow missed a few people who had stopped to go eat at a local restaurant, and we handed our duties over at lunch. I rode most of the afternoon alone, arriving to the host location fairly early. When we got to the host location, most everyone decided to pitch in $5 to cover gas and park fees, and we went into Yellowstone National Park. Joe, being the awesome leader he is, did a lot of driving to make the day great for all of us. First we went and swam in Firehole river, and then we went and walked around a boardwalk with several geysers on its path. Getting to see a glimpse of Yellowstone was definitely one of the highlights of a great week.

From W. Yellowstone we rode to Bozeman this morning. It was a 90 mile ride that just flew by. It was downhill almost all day, and it felt like we weren't doing any work at all. First lunch came quickly at mile 30, and then a group of us decided to stop at mile 45 in Big Sky for hot chocolate (it was about 35 degrees when we started our ride). I left the gas station alone, and missed second lunch because I never saw anyone. It was okay though because I just ate a Clif bar and made it in fine. When I got to town Ashley and I went to get ice cream (she missed lunch too), and waited for others to get to town. Soon Barbara, Mark, and Kourtney arrived and the four of us decided to go see the Dark Knight, the new Batman movie. It was great. Then we came back, ate dinner, had our town hall meeting, and now its time for bed.

Two weeks from tomorrow we reach Seattle!