7-26-07 Portland OR to Olympia WA
Even though I'd told her that I in no way expected her to be awake when I left, Beth got up very early this morning to make sure I had everything I needed before taking off. I take her up on her kind offer of breakfast and we have a wonderful quiet chat over coffee, cereal and toast before I take off at 5:20 AM. Beth's notes of that chat are here:
I work my way north and west through the streets of Portland, past the college and out of town via the St. John's bridge. I stay on the Oregon side of the Columbia, stopping briefly at a minimart in the little town of Deer Island for some coffee and a candy bar.
At 10:10 AM I cross back into Washington via the Longview Bridge. The traffic is heavy on the bridge and the narrow shoulder is strewn with bark debris from the passing logging trucks. As has been the case earlier on this trip, I'm glad to be riding a bike with fat, tough, two-inch wide tires instead of some faster, skinny-tired machine. My green bike might not win and beauty or speed contests but it's proven itself to be a great bike when the road conditions are less than perfect. The Schwalbe Marathon tires let me hold a straight line and roll over a lot of road junk that would puncture more fragile treads.
I work my way through the Longview traffic and head north on the relative quiet of route 411. I'm basically following the Seattle-To-Portland (STP) route backwards and I stop for snacks at Castle Rock and Winlock, where I take a picture of the World's Largest Egg.
It's been years since I've ridden the STP and my state map doesn't have the detail to list all the small local roads but my navigation seems to be going OK. I see a few other riders out enjoying the day and as I get closer to Centralia, I start following some local Dan Henry marks.
Like hobos of bygone days, some cyclists leave marks for their fellow travelers in the form of a visual code. On this trip I have relied on the State Bike Map and various local bike maps for navigation, but often I've found the knowledge of local riders is my best guide. In this case, the Dan Henry marks get me close to Chehalis via some lovely local farm roads. In Chehalis I cross I-5 and then roll north to Centralia.
I'd arranged to meet Phil Meany in Centralia. Phil is a very nice retired fellow who'd been the Centralia College librarian for nearly 40 years. He is also an avid cyclist who has served on the Washington State Bicycling Advisory Committee. Phil and I meet up at Santa Lucia Coffee Roasters in downtown Centralia. We have a wide-ranging chat over coffee and Phil tells me about the local cycling and history. He hands me some local ride sheets he's produced and tells me about work he's done to promote the area as a cycling destination. Since the Centralia area features many quiet country roads, is equidistant from Portland and Seattle and right on the Amtrak line, it is be a good get-away destination for riders from either of those cities. One of the sheets Phil hands me is for the Historical Lewis County Bicycle Ride. I suspect that the Dan Henry marks I was following earlier mark out one of the loops of this ride.
Phil also advises me on my route to Olympia. "The shoulder will disappear right at the Thurston county line, but it the road widens a bit further on and then the shoulder returns." I still have some miles to cover today, so I thank Phil for his time and the great information and head north at 5:30 PM.
I roll into Olympia at 7:45 PM, snap a picture and know why I've been lugging a spare camera around. One of the weaknesses of my cheap pen-cam is that the shutter button is fragile. As I snap the photo below, the shutter button jams inside the camera. The shutter directly on a micro-switch which is soldered to the camera's circuit board. I should say "was soldered to the circuit board" because it just sheared off. I guess I'll be taking pictures with my other camera for the rest of the trip.
I explore a bit of Olympia, grab a burger and some onion rings for supper. As darkness falls I find a quiet place to roll out my bivy. (This trip has taught me that I would make an excellent hobo!)
Today's Stats: Dst 135.62 miles Ave 11.5 mph Max 29.0 mph