Washington

...now browsing by tag

 
 

Tour without a goal – 1 September 2014

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

On Amtrak near Stellacoom

Bottle in hand,
I climb out on this great rock.
Since Heaven and Earth began
it’s stood a thousand feet above the water.
I raise my cup and smile at the sky,
and the Heavens whirl until the sun shines out of the West!
I could sit here on this rock forever! hanging my hook
    like the wise men of old.
At least I’ll send this to those who came before me here:
may the music I make, make harmony with yours.
 
-Li Po

Day 60
After a fairly fitful night sleeping on my coach seat on the train, I spent the rest of this day riding up to Tacoma. Sunrise was a bit past 6am and in the pre-dawn light we moved on the western side of Mt. Shasta. From this angle the mountain looked spare and barren as when I rode past it’s southern extents but there are a few more glaciers visible on this side. As the sun rose this was quite a striking scene. I ended up having breakfast and lunch in the dining car and there they fill every table with guests. On the border with Oregon the train takes one valley over than the one I rode down on and it was a lush wetland and lakes fed by Klamath Lake. Whereas the valley I’d ridden down was dry, barren and almost desert-like. Water, the staff of life. North of Klamath Falls was some really stunning scenery as the train rode high up on a valley wall over trestles and through tunnels. The valley was filled with trees and the far walls were craggy cliffs. Further on it went to the east of Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters – neat to see stuff from the tour from this perspective. However best part of the Coast Starlight IMO is from Olympia to Washington.

down from the mountains
only mountains of the mind remain
like dragonflies over water

From Olympia the train cuts across the Nisqually Valley and actually onto the coast. I don’t know if it does much travel on the Coast in CA before San Francisio but this is the only section actually along the open water, albeit the Puget Sound, from that point on. The sun is always setting in this section as the train comes up in the summer and as you pass Anderson, McNeil and Fox Islands the sun was sinking toward the water. Finally after 26 hours on the train it pulled into Tacoma Station right on time. I had to get off at Tacoma because as far as I can tell only three WA stops have baggage service: Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle. Happily my bicycle came through all right and with no hassles (especially as I hadn’t taken off the pedals as they require) and I very quickly straightened the handlebars and minimally strapped things on to ride the couple blocks to the bus station. There I had a few minutes to re-combobulate the bicycle a bit more and catch the bus to Lakewood where I managed to catch the last bus to Olympia. I can’t say how happy I was to see that that bus didn’t have a full bicycle carrier! Finally just around 9pm I was back in Olympia, exactly 60 days after I left.

beyond the vast expanse
the fiery sun sets
behind jagged hills

This was been a great tour with achingly beautiful scenery the whole way. I’m so happy I did it and now as autumn approaches, my favorite season, I’m happy to be back in the Pacific NW. Over the next days and weeks I hope to write a post-mortem and get some pictures uploaded. Stay tuned for all of that. Thanks to all who’ve read my attempts to capture this trip. I know I couldn’t do it justice and I hope that I at least gave an impression of it.

walking alone in the darkness
light pouring out of windows
one foot after the other



Posted from Olympia, Washington, United States.

Journey to the East – initial Stages

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

When I lost my job at the end of July 2011 I was thinking I’d set right off on a cross country bicycle tour. However all of the business involved in the lay off necessitated that I be in the area for at least a month and ideally three months. So I took my shorter 2011 tour and began planning for the cross country tour in 2012.  I have always found it the case that for the last, say 10% of the tour one finds ones thoughts turning primarily toward the post-tour. That is to say at that point you are ready for it to be done. I use the percentage because this time scales depending on the length of the tour. That is to say it may only be the last couple of days on an 2 week tour but perhaps the last week on a 10 week tour. This has held true for me on all my (self supported) tours which have ranged from 9 days to 103 days.  But for the cross country trip I wasn’t sure how touring in the months range would go – my longest tour at that point was just under four weeks (2009). So taking this into account I planned the tour in stages.

The five stages of the tour were:

Stage 1: Seattle  to Olympia
Stage 2: Olympia to Anacortes
Stage 3: Anacortes to Glacier National Park
Stage 4: Glacier to Minneapolis/St. Paul
Stage 5: Minneapolis to Bar Harbor

Now I should say that the “planning” for this was pretty loose. I basically have reached a point now where I can just pick up and tour and if I use the Adventure Cycling maps I don’t really even need to think much about the route (beyond getting on to their route that is – usually the first few days).  In all honesty I really planned out the first three stages and was rather coy about touring beyond that (see my initial Journey to the East post). The latter two stages, while really always expected, were defined in situ.   To give a good overview of the entire tour I’ll describe each of these stages both as planned and as they turned out in two posts. In this one I’ll cover the initial three stages – which is only about a quarter of the total tour – and in the next the last two.

Stage 1: Seattle to Olympia; 2 days (April 30th – May 1st);  88.5 miles

I’d been living in Seattle since returning from my 2011 tour and the first stage involved all the preparation for the tour. I had a storage place while I lived in Seattle and I spent much of the months I was living there selling stuff out of it. I was in a massive downsizing mode. My goal was to get to having all my stuff fit into a 5′ x 10′ storage unit. I also went car free during this time, for the first time since college. Two days before move out day I put everything into a van and put it into a storage unit in Olympia. I returned the truck in Oly and took the bus back. I was then in my apartment with only my touring gear and some cleaning supplies. I cleaned the apartment, checked out and by noon on April 30th I was bicycling away. My Journey to the East had begun.

I had the full load on my bicycle plus an extra dry bag of stuff (mostly clothes) from leaving the apartment.  I knew I’d get out of Seattle fairly late due to the check out appointment so I had a pretty short days ride planned. I rode to the downtown Seattle Ferry terminals mostly via trails and took the ferry to Bremerton. From there I took back roads to Twanoh State Park where I camped right on the water. The day was a relatively easy 42 miles but it was definitely tough with that heavy load. This is also the earliest in the year I have camped and it was pretty cold that night. The next day was just a bit more miles to Olympia via the reverse of the route I’d done on several occasions (including the year before). A blustery rainy day it was a good test of my new rain gear.

In Olympia I spent the next 3 days getting ready. I decided to get ride of some of the stuff I was carrying based on the last couple of days ride. I bought an initial supply of alcohol for my stove at REI as well as other needed supplies. My maps from Adventure Cycling arrived (I had waited until the last moment to get these to get the updated maps). The whole packing up my apartment and moving had been pretty strenuous so this break was welcome.

Stage 2: Olympia to Anacortes; 10 days (May 5th — May 15th);  429.2 miles (517.7 total)

The next stage of the tour was getting to Anacortes the start of the Northern Tier. Now I had just the year before ridden from Olympia to Anacortes over three days along the inside of the Puget Sound.  However I had several considerations beyond a quick route to the Norther Tier in mind so I decided to do a loop around the Olympic Peninsula. First and foremost all the passes (Rainy/Washington) on the North Cascades Highway had had not yet opened up and it wasn’t looking like they would for at least a week. Secondly while a loop around the Olympic Peninsula is nearly 500 miles it never is that far from cities where I could get any needed repairs, missing supplies and the like. Basically I spent an extra ten days doing extensive shakedown on the gear. With new wheels on the bicycle and a bunch of new camping gear I felt this was a good idea.  The final consideration was that I really wanted to go the most NW corner of the United States. Bar Harbor isn’t quite the most North Easterly corner but it is pretty close. Anacortes, though the town I grew up in which I dearly love, is not even on the Pacific Ocean: tt is on the Puget Sound (which I also love). For me a cross country trip should at the very least go from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

I had ridden counter-clockwise around the Olympic Peninsula a number of years before (tour 2007) this so I knew the basic route. But I picked up Adventure Cycling’s Washington Parks route as it differed from my previous route in that it bypassed hwy 101 around Lake Crescent which I felt was the most dangerous section of that road and looked to be even worse east bound. Plus it connected with the route I’d need to take up to  Cape Flattery (the most North Western corner of the US).  The ACA route had a few deviations from the route I’d taken before which was welcome.  I also worked out my first day of riding out to Lake Sylvia where I connected with the ACA Washington Parks route.

This first part of the tour was interesting; cold, especially at night and the parks mostly empty. I also found a number of the places I intended to camp either not open or permanently closed. The addenda that ACA provides for the route was of course not updated for this year so it was always a crap shoot on whether I’d find a place to camp. My second night at Lake Quinault I found none of the four campsites open and ended up staying at a hotel.  The night after that I was in the large Kalaloch campground which had only a few other people there besides myself. That night a raccoon unzipped my front pannier and stole my food bag. Luckily I was able to have breakfast the next day at the Kalaloch Lodge and resupply that afternoon in Forks. From that point on I either used a little padlock on my pannier or hung up my food. That same night the campsite I was heading for was closed and ended up going off route a bit to stay at a DNR campground (which doesn’t charge anything for cyclists which is pretty nice. No services though).

Campgrounds were either empty or packed with fisherman. As I headed out toward Cape Flattery I stayed at a campground that catered to fisherman and due to the start of halibut season it was just crazy packed. I stayed there two nights as I rode out to the Cape. The fishermen were generally good people and though the fishing didn’t seem so good this season (nobody I talked to caught their limited of one (1) halibut) they were having a good time. The next day the campground I stayed at was empty again. After two days on hwy 112 – which was a new route for me – I arrived in Port Angeles and the route was now very familiar – The Olympic Discovery Trail (third time riding this) then various roads to Fort Townsend State Park (only person in the hiker/biker area) then a rest day in Port Townsend staying at Fort Flagler for the first time (again the only occupant in the H/B area). After the day off I took the ferry to Whidbey Island and rode very familiar roads (I grew up on these islands) to Anacortes and the end of stage 2.

As I said most of this was familiar routes but with enough variety to mix it up.  This is one of the most beautiful areas in the states and I never tire of riding out here. Doing so in the spring and taking some different routes just added to the experience. Everything worked out with the bicycle and gear so by the time I left Anacortes (the biggest town I’d stay in for quite a while) I was in good shape.

Stage 3: Anacortes to Glacier National Park; 19 days (May 15th — June 3rd );  780.7 miles (1298.4 total)

I was now on the official Northern Tier route which begins in Anacortes. I more or less took the same route from Anacortes to Sedro Wooley that I used in 2011. This route is partly my own devising with overlapping segments with various published routes. I also chose to use the Cascade Trail from Sedro Wooley to Rasar State Park as opposed to the ACA route. This is basically because the route while on very nice back roads is on the other side of the Skagit river. To get to Rasar State Park you have to cross at Concrete and backtrack (which I did last year). Now there are other parks but Rasar has a great hiker/biker site, is on the river and I for one prefer City/State/National/DNR campgrounds over private. Plus it made for a better days ride distance ride at this juncture. I was again alone in the H/B site.  The next few days were a repeat of the previous years crossing of Rainey/Washington Pass. The North Cascades National Park campgrounds had yet to have opened up but luckily one of the parks had winter camping which was free, though there was no services.  The hwy had only been open for a week or so at this point and there was huge snow walls as I rode over the passes. There was a lot of people engaged in x-country skiing, snow shoeing and other snow based activities at the top of Washington Pass. Once again I wondered why there was nobody handing me a beer as I summitted. Clearly life does not mirror our advertisements.

 

 

Coming down Washington Pass I found the campground where I stayed the previous year full and once again skipping the published route I rode into Winthrop. My main motivation in this was going to the Old Schoolhouse Brewery though that necessitated staying at a KOA which I’m generally not in favor of. The next day after a couple hours of riding I turned onto the road up Loup Loup Pass concluding the section of this route which overlapped with the previous year and I was from now on always riding new territory. There were three more passes to do which I did in pretty quick succession: Loup Loup followed with a day off in Omak then Wauconda Pass where I camped a few miles shy of the summit and finally Sherman where it snowed on me as a sumitted. The campground I stayed at near the summit of Wauconda I was again the only occupant. In fact they weren’t technically open for the season so the proprietor let me stay there for free. I ended up having dinner at the gas station/general store/restaurant in Wauconda with said proprietor and his son. I signed the book at the restaurant which was filled with previous Northern Tier riders. This was the first place I’d been to where people knew exactly what the route was all about and were quite familiar with tourons from years past. I received many stories from these guys from various years as well as more info about the area.  I also heard about for the first the people that were “ahead” of me – this was a trend that would continue. There was apparently a Scottish fellow who was about a week ahead (and thus crossed Washington Pass the day it opened) and who was determined to be “the first person to complete the Northern Tier in 2012″ – he would write such in the books that I’d see as I rode across. There was also a couple that had stayed here a couple of days prior.

After Sherman Pass there is a long descent and you arrive at the Columbia River. I’ve been all over Washington State – first camping as a kid with my parents and such and later on my own and then of course the last decade of bicycle touring but there are still many places I haven’t been. This northeast corner of the state is one of them. Even after the long descent you are still at a pretty high altitude. This would persist all across the “high plains”. The terrain is pretty interesting too – its all scrub and juniper and the like in between the Cascades and Sherman Pass but then you descend to cross the Columbia and enter the Colville National Forest. There is is much more like the Pacific NW with denser undergrowth and evidence of a lot more water. This persists until East Montana. The Colville National Forest is more or less the end of Washington State and at Newport I crossed into Idaho – the second state of the tour.

 

The weather had been pretty rainy, though in the typical spring on and off style for the last week or so. I was rained on less on the Olympic Peninsula in the rain forest than I was during my couple weeks of negotiating mountains. Of course as clouds cross mountains they do tend to lose water so not a huge surprise.  It was cold, especially at night during this period, dropping below freezing the night I camped at Wauconda. This would more or less persist until I was out of the mountains and into East Montana. I took another rest day in Sand Point Idaho where I was able to stock up on locally roasted coffee and drink beers in the local brewpub. The motel I stayed at was the best deal of the tour and was quite nice. It even had a little kitchen which let me continue to make my own breakfasts as is my wont. Soon enough I was back on the road and also quite soon I was in Montana – the panhandle of Idaho could be easily crossed in a typical touring day.

I would be in Montana for a long time – it is the widest state on this route. There were a lot of alternative routes on the ACA maps and I would take them or not as the mood struck. Mainly as long as I could get to services and campgrounds I needed I would take the more out of the way and deserted routes. I was on one of these alt routes, riding on a dirt road as matter of fact, when I unceremoniously crossed into Montana.  The first campground I stayed at in Montana was empty except for the campground host as was the next. These were both on lakes and just fantastic. The campground host at the second of these camps regaled me with stories of wildlife and other bicycle tourons he had encountered.  I had thought I’d seen a wolf with cubs the day before and he did confirm that that was an area he had seen wolves so seems likely. I’d seen a bear cub the day before (the third bear of the tour) so it really was fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities here.

 

 

While most every day on tour is a great day you’ll still have better days than others. For some reason the day I rode into Libby was one of these. I was in this city campground that was just really beat and exposed and wasn’t feeling it too much. So I hung out at the library and then went to a hardware store where I got my windup radio. There being a super market right next to the campground I was able to get get some heavy items I normally wouldn’t want to carry and had a good solid dinner listening to NPR. So was back in good spirits by the next day. It was only a few more days of riding until I reached Glacier and these were some of the wettest days of the tour. Particularly the day I rode into Glacier it had poured rain and I lingered in Whitefish for as long as I could trying to wait it out.  It was still drizzling when I finally set out and would continue to do so – with bursts of real rain – all the way to Glacier. This was also the only period where I couldn’t find any HEET for my alcohol stove but it worked out as I ate most of my meals at the restaurant at Glacier.

It rained most of the time I was at Glacier and thunderstoms  predicted the day I ended up leaving. So while I had intended to stay at least three days there I only stayed two. The inter park shuttle system had started up yet and barring riding all over the park I had no way to see much beyond where I was. So I ended up taking on of the Red Bus tours which drove to several points around the park. It was again a rainy day and while I got to see much a lot was pretty fogged in. The Going to the Sun road had yet to open so I was not going to be able to ride out of the park on the main route. A pity but I know I’ll be back some day.

So that is the initial stages of the tour.  All in all it went pretty smoothly and there hadn’t been anything I could handle. The early days when campgrounds were not certain to be open was the most problematic but it all worked out. There was of course some down days, but surprisingly few. Most importantly by the time I’d reached Glacier I was at thirty-five days of riding and I wasn’t burned out on touring at all.  I knew I could continue on from and make it to the east coast of which I’ll recount in the next post.

Journey to the East: 11 August 2012

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

20120811-192353.jpg

Between layers of clouds

 

How cool it is!
The clouds have great peaks
and small peaks
 
-Issa

 

Water running down
Yestersay it had had been overcast and by evening rather cool (which I have to admit was nice). It started to rain when I went to bed and would continue to so until I got up before sunrise to catch my taxi to the airport. I packed up my went tent and other items in the rain and walked to the campground entrance to catch my taxi.The taxi service was overly conservative on the time needed to get me there that I arrived before the tiny Bar Harbor Airport had opened. They eventually showed up and let me in and after checking in, security and all the usual we were off n a tiny 8-10 seat twin engine prop plane. I can’t recall the last time I was on a plane this small. We went through layers of fog and cloud before ascending to where we could see the rising sun. Absolutely stunning views of mounds of clouds below and streaks of clouds above in the blue sky.

dwindling light –
clouds
above and below

Once in Boston I found myself with most of a day to kill as there had been no morning flights when I booked. So I took the bus and subway to Harvard Square which I hadn’t made it to last time I was in Bean Town. I mostly just looked through the many bookstores and every so often would hang out at coffee shop trying to keep myself awake and my iPad charged. I was happy to have a chance to see this part of town but i defimitely wish it had been a shorter layover. When the time came I retraced my steps to the airport and the journey home reconvened. First a short hop to Philly with yet another layover and then finally the flight to Seattle. Evening now, this would mostly be a night flight bringing me to the Emerald City near midnight. This last flight was long, packed and being completely exhausted now not much fun. Turbulent as well, from thunderstorms in Philly that led to a slight delay but for much of the rest of the flight as well. But I was just sitting there and eventually it came to an end. Thankfully a friend picked me up and drove me to Olympia and I was done.

This concludes The Journey to the East.

always traveling alone –
whether by myself
or with others

Posted from Olympia, Washington, United States.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Atlantis in the shower

Showers on part of this ride

I’ve been living in Seattle for about nine months now (and of course just across Lake Washington for 12+ years) and am going to at the end of this month set out on an extended bicycle tour. I’ve moved in at the tail end of summer and was here for all of autumn and winter and about half of this spring.  During this time I’ve ridden (and walked and bussed) all over the city for recreation, for utilitarian purposes and for transportation. I broke my camera on one of these rides so a lot of them went undocumented, but I got a new (used) camera for my birthday and was back to taking photos. So this post is the first of at least a couple with rides around Seattle. These posts will mainly be in the form of photo essays with pictures of sights and scenes witnessed while out riding as opposed to routes or individual rides.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 -Ballard Locks 2

Looking toward Ballard from the Lock

This post will focus of rides taken in the winter, mostly late February and March as that is when I got my replacement camera. Some of my more regular rides took place mostly in the dark what with it being winter and all, so this is by no means total documentation of all my rides.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ballard Locks

Ballard Locks

Prior to moving to Seattle I think I’d ridden through the Ballard Locks only once or twice, but it has since become a regular part of several rides. On a warm summer day it can be packed at the locks and walking your bicycle along the thronged walkways a real trial. But in winter, even on a clear day, it is a nice route.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Peeking between some trees at the University Bridge.

Lake Union,Fremont and Aurora Bridges as seen from Capitol Hill

One of my more frequent rides was to ride up Capitol from the U-District heading toward Beacon Hill. I did this the most in the Autumn and early winter often in the dark so never got any pictures of it. Riding up to Capitol Hill during daylight hours there are many beautiful views of Downtown and Lake Union on the west and the U-District and Lake Washington on the East.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Montlake Bridge from Capitol Hill

Montlake Bridge, the U-District and Lake Washington as seen from Capitol Hill

As per it’s name there is a good climb up to Capitol Hill no matter which direction you come from – it is a ridge between Lakes Union and Washington. Amusingly enough it is the heart of Seattle’s hipster culture so you often get to see those fixed gear bicycles pushed up the hills. It also has some of the worst pavement I’ve encountered in the City (which is rife with bad pavement) including on the bulk of the signed bicycle routes. Still lots of great riding, good exercise with all the hills and culture rich with parks, museums and endless amounts of restaurants, bars, coffee shops and the like.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Gasworks Park

Gasworks Park

In order to get about anywhere in the city from the U-District you either ride up into Capitol Hill or west to Fremont/Ballard and various routes to downtown. Along the Burke-Gilman Trail (a major rail-trail route) is Gasworks Park, which is built around the remains of a refinery. With it’s location, views of Seattle and Lake Union, lots of open space and of course the industrial age novelty this is always popular park.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Boats on Lake Union

 Boats on Lake Union

Lake Union which is surrounded by Seattle and the neighborhoods of Fremont, Eastlake, U-District, Wallingford and Ballard and looked down upon from Queen Anne and Capitol Hills is clearly a central features. From water-skiers to house boats, sailors to rowers and of course the ubiquitous sea plane tours it is an active severely urban lake. It connects to Lake Washington via the Montlake Cut and to the Puget Sound via the Ballard Locks.  The sequence of the Puget Sound to Lake Washington is a major water thoroughfare.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Golden Gardens

 The beach at Golden Gardens Park

This whole water way is lined with parks and trails with the Burke-Gilman Trail being a corridor that stretches along it all. From it’s terminus at the northern end of Lake Washington (where it connects to the Sammamish River Trail which you can take all the way to Lake Sammamish in Redmond) it follows Lake Washington to the Fremont Cut, skirts around Lake Union to the Ballard Locks and via the infamous missing link, reaches Golden Gardens Park on the Puget Sound. (check out this map for the whole route: Burke-Gilman Trail Map).

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Looking west toward the Olympics

 Looking West toward the Olympic Mountains from Golden Gardens Park

From Golden Gardens Park you can climb up a winding hill to the neighborhoods of Loyal Hights and Phinney Ridge. These are more residential neighborhoods mainly smaller houses but also the infrastructure to support that. Continuing east you reach Greenlake where the lake and its parks are a major feature attracting many people. Further easy you reach I-5 which bisects Seattle, after going under it you are in Ravenna which is north of the U-District.

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ravenna Pea-patch Gate

 Ravenna Pea-Patch entrance

Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012 - Ravenna Pea-peatch

 Ravenna Pea-patch

All these neighborhoods are more residential with their small parks, open-spaces, shops and lots of little houses and apartment buildings. A totally different character than those areas that surround the water-ways or the dense younger demographics of Capitol Hill. From Ravenna it’s a short mile or so south back to the U-District where I live and is a good place to wrap up this post. This only scratches the surface of Seattle and it’s neighborhoods, but this is just the first post in the series.

For more photographs from this series check out my associated set on Flickr:
Seattle Rides 1: Winter 2012

Tour2009: Itinerary

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

This is my basic Itinerary for the tour. This will also serve as an index of sorts, as I’ll turn all these pages into links after the tour.  This basic route is from Kirkendall and Spring’s Bicycling The Pacific Coast, with my own route for the first couple of days and ending in San Francisco. From San Franciso I’m taking the Coast Starlight Amtrak home which I’m also looking forward to – I haven’t done a train trip of this length before.  Of course there is a bit of flexibility in this schedule, especially in Oregon where the next campsite is never that far down the coast and thus could easily stay at different places then those noted here. This is a popular tour route in the summer and its often better to not slavishly follow a published route if you don’t have to. The key is that about 55 miles needs to be ridden every day to make it to SF within my allotted time.  So watch the blog to see how the trip really progresses.

Itinerary

Washington

Day 01 ““ To Shelton
Day 02 ““ To Twin Harbors State Park
Day 03 ““  to Bush Pacific County Park
Day 04 ““  To Oregon Border

Oregon

Day 05 ““ To Nehalem Bay State Park
Day 06
““  To Cape Lookout State Park
Day 07
““ <Rest Day > Oregon Coast
Day 08
““ To Beverly Beach State Park
Day 09
““ To Jesse M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
Day 10
““ To Sunset Bay State Park
Day 11
““ To Humbug Mountain State Park
Day 12 ““ To Harris Beach St. Park (California Border)   ~56m

California

Day 13 ““ To Elk Prairie Campground CA
Day 14 ““  To Eureka KOA
Day 15 ““ <Rest Day > Redwoods
Day 16 ““ To Marine Garden Club Grove
Day 17 ““ To Standish Hickey State Park Recreation Area
Day 18 ““ To  MacKerricher Beach State Park
Day 19 ““ To Manchester State Beach
Day 20 ““ To Bodega Dunes State Beach
Day 21 ““  To  Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Day 22 ““ To San Francisco
Day 23 ““ SF
Day 24 ““ SF -> Seattle Train
Day 25 ““Arrive Seattle

Vernal Equinox

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

At last it is spring. Not that today was much different then yesterday but lets face it – there is a level in which its all mental. The real big change as far as I’m concerned was the shift to daylight savings time a couple weeks back.  I commute year round and a certain percentage of my rides home are in the darkness. I’ve gone to great lengths to be able to ride comfortably and safely in the dark and there are aspects of it I enjoy a lot. But I can’t deny that I prefer to ride in the light.  Things had been lightening up, there was a trace of dusk if I left work at a normal time, a bit of light if I left a bit early. But the daylight savings time switch kicked it into pretty much full light on my ride home.

In the last week or two the flora has burst into brilliant life. Only the most reticent trees still raise unadorned limbs to the sky. everything else has woken from their winter slumber.  Of course the cherry trees and the dogwoods have been blooming for nearly a month now and many of the cherries are heading toward dropping their flowers as the leaves are pretty dominant now. The flowers are coming up,  pretty little blue wildflowers ion the side of the highway,  various flowering shrubs. The colors are stunning and the frequent rains only serve to wash away the dust and put a brilliant sheen on things.

Speaking of the rains, the persistent drizzle of winter has begun to transmute into the showers of spring. The morning will be partially cloudy, maybe a bit breezy, and then a series of showers will come and go throughout the day making any sort of anticipation of the conditions for the ride home impossible. Sprinkles come and go on those ride and sure even a full evening of rain. Dressing is always tricky this time of year and as the temperatures warm this increases. One might need to wear a wool stocking hat on the ride in and a cycle cap on the ride home. Fingerless gloves on direction, full gloves the other. A sweater when it’s dry, but just a shirt under a rain jacket when its raining.  Of course with the wool I primarily wear I can almost always just go for it and change clothes at either end.

The clothing thing is always toughest in the transition months and I find that it it overheating that is my biggest challenge. This year I’m more on the ball I picked up some wool arm warmers and knee warmers. I run through a pattern every year from t-shirt, shorts and bare feet in sandals in the summer to wool, tights, two layers of wool socks, a wool undershirt, a wool sweater and a wool hat in the winter.  As I move from winter to summer, I replace the sweater with a light tweed cardigan and then the tights with leg warmers.  The next step is always the hard one, from there to t-shirt and shorts.  So I’m hoping that the arm warmers and knee warmers will fill that gap. I’ve been trying to get these for years but every year Rivendell sells out of them right when I decide I need them. So I got them this week probably a month before I need them. Trying to think ahead.


I keep riding all winter but there is not denying that it is mostly commuting miles. And even those reach a low point in the winter as I missed days for severely inclement weather, sickness and general malaise. What really suffers are the longer recreational rides. Sure I got some in this winter, a couple a month, but it definitely a lesser affair.  The longer days really help, especially as I’m not much of a morning person.  Riding has already picked up a bit and should only continue. So here’s to spring!

(see all my Vernal Equinox pictures here)