Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wander Around Washington -- 7-24-07

7-24-07 Iron Creek Campground to Vancouver

While I am a fan of living in the moment, one of the things that makes us human is our ability to plan, to anticipate, to understand cause and effect and use our human skills in the present to make our future better. As they say, "today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."

My meager planning skills pay off this morning. The day dawns cool and grey and I get to wake up feeling like a genius because last night I heated water in the Kelley Kettle and I have lugged a small stainless steel thermos all over this great state and I brought along some General Foods International Cafe Vienna instant coffee.

So this morning I am drinking hot coffee about ten seconds after thinking that I would sure enjoy a cup of coffee and then I breakfast on Clif Bars and pack up my camp. At 6:20 AM I'm rolling up the road.

The sky clears as the day brightens and I ride up Elk Pass. There is no sign at the summit of the 4,075' pass, which seems like something of a shame, but I know and the bike knows when we've come across the crest. It's blue and clear on the south side and the road swoops and turns and before too long there is a gap in the trees and Mount St. Helens looms into view.

At 10:15 AM I take the slight detour to the east to stock up on food and drink at the Eagle Cliff General Store before rolling west along 90 on the north side of the Swift Reservoir.

Cougar really is a blink-and-you-miss-it town and while I don't blink, I do think "well, I stop someplace in town" as I roll by the trading post on what I think is the outskirts of Cougar. Nope, that was the whole damn town. Oh, well. I keep going.

I stop at a place called Jack's where 503 turns south and where all the folks sign in if they are going to go climbing on Mount St. Helens. It's 1:00 PM now and I have an ice cream bar and a pint of milk and grab some M&Ms and caramels for the road.

503 rolls up and down and up and down, south past farms that look like farms and not like the big agri-businesses I'd seen further east. As the road heads south, traffic gets heavier and the road gets bigger. Amboy is still a little town but Battle Ground is big and has strip malls and all the things we build when we want to make one place look like every other place. The old town is still there, but it seems to be loosing its battle with the future.

I'd been planning on stopping in Battle Ground, but when I couldn't find the bike shop listed in a quick scan of the phone book, I decided to keep rolling south.

The road is busy rolling out of town, but there is bike path along east side of the road. I work my way south and things become more urban.

The back side of the Washington State Bicycle Map features small detailed maps of selected cities, including Vancouver. I use this information to plot my approach into the city. At the Padden Parkway I follow another cyclist onto the bike trail and then I follow a series of bike trails and roads marked with bike lanes downtown.

I do a bit of solo exploring in Vancouver and I'm pleased to find that it's pretty easy to get around this town by bicycle. I think I know the names of a few of the people responsible for this nice state of affairs and I'm hoping to meet with some of them tomorrow. For now, it's 6:30 PM and I decide that I've exercised my hobo skills enough over the past few days. I check into the Econo Lodge, have a nice shower and call home.

Stats Dst 107.58 Ave 10.4 mph Max 31.5 mph
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