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Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Atlantis in the fog

Atlantis in the wind and rain

October 12th: In which the weather turns for the ride home
I was awoken before dawn by wind and rain buffeting the tent. I’d been pretty closely watching the weather for this trip and while it was forecasted to rain on this day it wasn’t supposed to start until later. So I figured I’d be able to pack up, make breakfast and such before it really got started. Not the case it turned out. In fact the weather forecast was pretty much wrong for every day after the first (not a huge shock that). It was supposed to be sunny or partially sunny every day and then clouds move in Thursday night and rain Friday morning. Instead it was cloudy pretty much after the first night and started raining maybe 4am.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - View from camp

View from camp

After packing up my wet gear and making breakfast in the rain I retreated to the campground bathroom to change into foul weather gear. I set off right around 9am in a steady rain with wind off the ocean blowing me home. The route was the same that I used riding in all the way to way to hwy 107. I did ride the trails that I’d seen in Aberdeen both along the dike and then behind playfields and into suburban woods to Cosmopolis. These were nice, flat, pretty new trails. It rained steadily this whole time and was pretty chilly. However in my rain coat and pants I was comfortable enough. The route back diverged on hwy 107 – I rode north-ish into Montesano just past where my previous route had joined 107 from those backroads post the gravel section. I’d reached Montesano around noon and stopped for lunch at the ever popular Subway.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Bicycle Path to Cosmopolis

Bicycle Path to Cosmopolis

After lunch I struck off eastward on roads that paralleled hwy 12 for a fair piece. I’ve ridden this stretch a couple of times before but it turned northeastward after a dozen miles or so and from here it was new routes until  I finally intersected hwy 101. I’d cooled down during the lunch break and it seemed that the wind had shifted and I was riding into it a bit. This caused me to become quite cold for maybe an hour or so.  It’d been pretty flat so far but as I rode beyond Elma on backroads it began to climb a bit. This helped warm me up and I was comfortable enough for the rest of the ride.  There are a lot of low density housing out here – farms but also just houses on large lots.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - silo


The houses thinned out and there was more farms for a spell and then I was in some hillier forestland. The rain was not just a heavy mist and as I came out of the trees into the valleys these hills were hidden behind tendrils of fog. I rode up a long valley going pretty directly north and then southeastwards on the other side of the valley! I was now quite near hwy 101 and had been on some of these backroads before. A familiar Dan Henry that marks a route that wends all around Olympia and it’s surrounding enviorns appeared and I knew I was nearing home.
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - fog in the valley

Foggy valleys near Mud Bay

The frontage roads ran out and I rode a few miles on hwy 101. I’ve ridden this stretch before and with it’s big shoulders it’s no big deal. Still I was happy to exit onto Steamboat Island Road and take backways down into Mud Bay. From there its a long, long climb up to West Olympia – a route I’ve now ridden many times. Drizzle was picking up again as I rode into town a bit after 4pm. I stopped at a grocery store to get some soup and then down into Olympia and back up toward the capitol where I live. I made it home around 4:45 and unloaded under grey, drizzly skies. I was happy to take a bath and eat some hot soup!
Autumn Bicycle Camping Day 4 - Riding down to Mud Bay

Backroads to Mud Bay

So a pretty long days ride in the rain, but mostly fine and I do enjoy how fresh it is to ride in the rain and the mysterious layer that fog adds to everything. It’s pretty steadily rained since I got back so I’m glad I got in this last trip. This year I camped in April and October – the earliest and latest camping trips I’ve done.
I ended up riding 73.2 miles today.
The total distance ridden for this trip was 172.2 miles
All my photos of this trip can be found on Flickr: Autumn Bicycle Camping

Journey to the East: 7 August 2012

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012


Bar Harbor

Pushed on by a flowing wind I come out to the sea
-Hōsai Ozaki

Today I completed my cross country ride from Seattle, around the Olympic Peninsula to Bar Harbor Maine. This last day of riding was a bit mixed: most of it was on highways 1 and 3 and there was a constant flow of traffic on them. I was defintely feeling the effects of the last couple of days (weeks, months) but I mostly took it easy and enjoyed the ride. It was sunny and clear, humid but not excessively so and the wind was light and with me most of the time. There was one respite from the highways on a wooded ridgeline to the town of Surry where I stopped for lunch. Easily my favorite bit of riding on this day. There was some good hills getting back to the highway but then I was riding in serious edge city jammed with traffic. Once through that I rode past the airport, the one bit of the ride against the wind, across a bridge and was on Mount Desert Island. I immediately discovered that the state parks I intended to stay at were full and calling around the other campgrounds were filling up (I couldn’t bring myself to stay at the KOA). So I left the route and road to the Bar Harbor Campground to secure a spot. Having done that I returned to the route which wound around the island, mostly in trees with not much of a view and still tons of traffic everywhere. From the tiny town of Mount Desert (pronounced like the after dinner sweet) there was a good long climb up to the Acadia Park entrance. But then it was descending all the way to Bar Harbor, a classic harbor town with old brick buildings, wooden piers, a green square all of which was jammed with traffic and tourists. I made my way though the throngs to the pier and the end of the tour. Beautiful views of islands, the Atlantic and many boats. I walked down to the beach and placed my hands in the water – been a long time since they were in the pacific, Then I went into town to find a beer.

the Atlantic at last
cupping water,
I wash off 5000 miles


Journey to the East: 6 August 2012

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012


Sunset at Belfast Bay

the deep clear blue water
shines brightly “”
my sad shadow

Long Shadow
Today or tomorrow had to be a longer day due to camping options and I wanted it to be today. But I was slow to get started and took perhaps too many long breaks which led to me riding later than I like. But it was a much better day then yesterday – the wind was much gentler and with me most of the time and equally welcome the shift in wind had brought in dryer air and the humidity dropped. The day was a mix of those familiar hilly backroads, highways and cute little coastal towns. Yes I’m now on the edge of the Atlantic and deep bays cut into the land which necessitated several bridge crossings, usually on more major highways. On one of these more major highways, as the day was waning but I had many more miles to go, my front derailleur cable finally snapped. I’d been antipating this since the rear cable snapped but the timing cold have been better. I pulled over and replaced it and also took the opportunity to,lube the chain. My drivetrain running much smooth I returned to the highway. It was 6pm when I reached Camden which felt like a slice of merry olde England – a beautiful harbor packed with sailboats, narrow streets lined with sweet shops, bookstores and narrow alleys with pubs. I really regretted that I just immediately turned north and rode into the Camden Hills.


Fields and the Camden Hills

The hill part notwithstanding this was a spectacular section of Maine. Up for a good piece, but then down to Megunicook Lake which looks to be carved right out of the bones of the earth with many small rocky islands. After a nice section wending along the lake the route climbed back into the hills where there was farmland amongst the rolling hills and valleys. Then it was eleven miles of riding, almost always up or down down, until I descended into Belfast; yet another charming coastal town. There was a street fair going on and for the second time this tour I had to just ride on by as it was twilight and I had to get to camp. Always some minor regrets. I crossed Belfast Bay on a nice pedestrian bridge and then it was just a couple of miles on a highway to Mooring’s Oceanside RV Park and Campground. Right on the water and very reasonably priced (for the East Coast) I pitched my tent in a field as night fell.

shadows lengthening
on the hills —
a hint of the ocean

night over the bay;
shooting stars —
I enter my tent

Journey to the East: 5 August 2012

Monday, August 6th, 2012


Brunswick Cemetary

The image, as in a Hexagram:
The hermit locks his door against the blizzard.
He keeps the cabin warm.
All winter long he sorts out all he has.
What was well started shall be finished.
What was not, should be thrown away.
In spring he emerges with one garment
and a single book.
The cabin is very clean.
Except for that, you’d never guess
anyone lived there.
-Lew Welch

Frost Heave
One thing that has become clear to me on this tour is that riding all day into a strong headwind is pretty much soul crushing. Worse than hills or bad roads or traffic; it just takes a constant toll and turns the ride into a grind. Well today had said strong headwind for most of the ride and that plus the fatigue from a week of riding in mountains made this day into a slog. Plus the route turned once again to the back roads and avoided towns all day, thus it was again up and down for e duration with some short hills having exceedingly high grades. Only in these winding valleys would I at times escape the wind – oh and sometimes the hills themselves would block it. Once again these roads were in variable quality but most of them just terrible and yet no matter how off track, or how bad the roads the traffic was pretty constant. The humidity had reached a peak and while clouds often blocked the sun it did seem to mange to burn down whenever one was on a particularly onerous climb. I moved pretty slowly and once again I was somewhat constrained by the camping options but by five pm or so I’d reached the town of Brunswick – the only decent sized town I saw all day. From there I went off route, even off the maps suggested off-route route to the Thomas Beach Campground. A big private ‘ground, it was sparsely occupied on this Sunday evening. My weekend camping, always in question, are done with for this tour and it should be straightforward to camp for the remaking days.

nights eerily quiet
without the cicadas whirr —
the white birch

Journey to the East: 25 July 2012

Thursday, July 26th, 2012


(said like "Benway!" in this clip, but with an extra syllable)

California topo maps all rolled up
(“Roll up the sky like a hide”)
Shall I ever be in those bright mountains, ever again?
-Philip Whalen

A brief sojourn into Canada
After a quite pleasant night at Evangola State Park I was back on the road heading north. But not for long before the route turned inland in order to come around Buffalo from the eastern edge and skirt across the top of the city to the bridge that crosses into Canada. So at first the route was along the lake and then in the woods and suburbs but became increasingly urban as I approached Orchard Park just outside of Buffalo. Orchard Park is where section 9 of the Northern Tier maps end so I am now on section 10 – double digits! A warm sunny day but with the highs not getting above the mid-eighties, this is pleasant riding. The route into Buffalo wasn’t bad though quite urban and the road quality deteriorated so I had to carefully watch the road as well as the traffic. Finally I made it to the lakefront again and was on paths most of the way to the Peace Bridge into Canada. A few questions at the border and there I was in the second country of the trip. From the crossing it was a pretty flat 15 miles or so into Niagara though the wind, which had been quite mild, picked up a bit and due to the vagaries of the route was sometimes against me. I was definitely feeling it – long past due for a rest day. The route goes right though the prime viewing areas for Niagara Falls, building up from the initial infrastructure to the massive roaring falls. Even on a Wednesday it was packed with tourists. I checked it out but didn’t want to be too late at the hostel so I soon rode on. I made it to the Nagara Falls Hostel around five pm and checked in for a couple of days. Finally taking that day off; most likely the last one until the end.


Niagara Falls

water falls with an endless rumble –
a solitary leaf floats down stream

Journey to the East: 24 July 2012

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012


Now I'm really in the NE

At the last turn in the path
                –bending, bowing,
              (moss and a bit of
-Gary Snyder

Back East
It was a miserable night last night as it never really cooled down and hot nights are my nemesis. The second of these bad nights in a row. The days ride however was much better, though the tiredness sometimes had me casting a jaundiced eye on things. Anyway the route was again mostly along Lake Erie and at first it was fairly urban as I rode through the city of Erie and its suburbs but then I was more out into the country and the traffic dropped off and the amount of vineyards dramatically increased. There was a good long stretch without any towns right on the route and during this portion of the ride I saw a fully loaded touring bicycle leaning against a railing. I stopped to check it out and up from the river where he’d been brushing his teeth emerged M__ from Montreal. He was riding Montreal to Chicago in a rather seat of the pants style – no set route, wild camping and so on. Not really a big deal except he had a limited timeframe: 8 days. Well I definitely wish him the best of luck. I also saw a group of four or five touring bicycles parked in front of the KOA. There is a popular circle route of Lake Erie so I’ve been expecting to see more tourons, but I gotta question anyone camping, excuse me, Kamping at the KOA unless they have no other choice.


Sunset over Lake Erie

Just a few miles later I crossed into New York State; the Northeast at last. Ohio had felt transitory from the Midwest to the East and the little bit of Pennsylvania even moreso, but NY, now that’s the east. There had been just a fantastic tailwind all day and I definitely feel for the westbound riders in the area, but it definitely helped on what was a moderately decent amount of miles. But more vitally while it got pretty warm, it is summer after all, the higher heat of the last couple of days has broken. Anyway around five pm I arrived at Evangola State park where I got an absolutely stunning campsite on a bluff over the lake. The wind off the lake was nuts, which I admit made cooking more difficult, but as this is my last night on Lake Erie, totally worth it. The sunset, as pictured above, was glorious and as it set a thin crescent moon came out from behind the trees. This is what it is all about.

blown across the sand,
by the summer wind,
a solitary leaf

the fiery sun
falls behind the blue line —
the crescent moon emerges

Journey to the East: 23 July 2012

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012


State number twelve

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light
-Gary Snyder

A change in the air
This morning dawned overcast and later began to drizzle – reminded me a bit of the Pacific Northwest especially with the endless grey lake stretching out like the ocean. It did clear up though and the day once again reached the low 90s – too hot. But there was a feel of a thunderstorm brewing and with strong northward blowing winds I was propelled right along. The route once again was along the lake but would duck inland at various times, usually to get around something on the lake edge – a nuclear power plant for instance. After not seeing any other tourons since Illinois I talked to two eastbound riders today (and yesterday I saw a ‘bent rider I’m pretty sure was touring). The first, J__ was an older gent pulling a BOB and he greeted me by asking “I’m old enough to know better, what’s your excuse?” No excuse needed,I replied, just touring to tour. He was going cross country in stages and was focusing on seeing, as he put it, “America’s industry before it returns to nature”. So he’s off to Detroit of course and ending this section in Chicago. The second touron I met was a solo girl whose name I didn’t get. She was riding Boston to Seattle to do graduate work at the UW. I ran into her just past the small port town of Ashtabula which had an excellent coffeehouse and roaster: the Harbor Perk. Not long after this I rode through the decrepit town of Conneaut and the route turned inland and I was in Pennsylvania. The route angled back to the lake but spent many miles going though farmland in the now beating sun. Finally back on the lake in increasingly more urban areas I turned off route toward Presque Isle which is a big state park and this week happens to be Presque Isle Week meaning its packed. I stayed at Sara’s Campground a private ‘ground fit on the edge of the state park. It was jam packed and they had the tenters check by jowl.

traveling day after day –
forgetting what I used to do

Journey to the East: 22 July 2012

Monday, July 23rd, 2012


Lake Erie

Here’s a dragonfly
               (T OTA L LY)
Where it was,
          that place no longer exists.
-Philip Whalen

This summer I hear the drumming
This was the third long day in a row, driven primarily by the spacing of the campgrounds. Today was much improved though, with the addition of a decent tailwind most of the day. The route gave up all pretense of staying rural as it reached Lake Erie and went through increasingly larger towns. Plenty of traffic too. I really enjoyed this section of the ride though with its views of the lake though the trees; kind of like riding along on the ocean back home. It all culminated in the city of Cleveland which is of course a good sized city. The route was quite through the city, first going through neighborhoods, then a nice park with trail and finally over a bridge into the downtown core. From there it dropped fit to the waterfront by the Indians Stadium and then the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Staying on the waterfront most of the rest of this now hot day the towns began to decrease in size. Finally I made it to the quite small (but still part of a larger region) town of Perry where I left the route and rode to its park right on the Great Lake. Here they have a little campground that once again seems to be mostly seasonal RV-ers. However they are fully up on bicycle tourists and allow them them to stay for free. Nearby to me was a group celebrating a birthday and after plying me with questions w/r/t the tour gave me cake and ice cream. Nice and definitely needed on a day, the first ever on tour, that I rode more than a 100 miles.

grey drizzly morning
and just like that,
pining for autumn

Journey to the East: 21 July 2012

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012


The Backatcha Bandit strikes again

Develop a mind which rests on no thing whatever.
-The Diamond Sutra

Should have been done long ago
The wind continued to be against me on this day but instead of the ~18mph it was instead a sedate ~6mph. There was however none of the morning clouds so it got pretty warm as the day wore on. The route was a mix of riverside, farmland and cities. Ohio is definitely a much more developed state and the route really worked to wend its way out in the countryside. One great stretch of road was Scotch Ridge Road which followed the Portage River. All along it people, were having garage sales and as I approached the small burg of Pemberville it seemed nearly every other house was having one. Turned out to be a community wide garage sale this weekend. The mid-sized town of Fremont was little reminder of home (though clearly there is only one Center of the Universe) where I joined the North Coast Inland Trail. I was on this for about 9 miles and after an initial river crossing it was quite flat and straight. From there it was a hot and almost perfectly dead east ride to Avery, where just a quarter mile off route I found the Milan Mobile Park where I’d stay this night. An expensive private place, right near the Ohio Turnpike, an active train track and some light industry I can’t call this my favorite local. But the tenting sites were in the trees away from the RV bits and the showers were top drawer. So it worked out all right.

A trip update: I crossed the four thousand mile threshold on this day. There is just over a thousand miles left on the Northern Tier.

The monarch of butterflies
deigns to fly ‘longside
– thin crescent day moon



Journey to the East: 20 July 2012

Saturday, July 21st, 2012




Hot this morning, long before sunrise
All my bones ache and Rilke’s ghost
Titters in the closet, Frailing
His clanky lyre. The summer grasshopper plague
May now be over.
-Philip Whalen

We’re finally on our own
This day dawned drizzly, grey and cool – it was like the PNW in later October. Though of course already warmer at 8 am then those days would ever get. However I found this most welcome and it was the first cool mornings ride in a long, long time. I did however miss the first turn and turned onto a road of the same name heading the wrong way. It happens to the best of us over such a long tour but this was the worst failure of my sense of direction ever. Normally if I miss a turn (only a few times really) I quickly figure it out and never ride more then a couple miles off route. This time it was closer to 6 miles and even with using Google maps to work out the shortest way back on route I ended up riding an extra 11 miles or so. This was quite unwelcome as this was a long day to the next campground, I wanted to get to a bicycle shop for the wheel repair and there was the most brutal headwind since East Montana. So one of those mornings.

Back on route i immediately crossed into Ohio. The terrain was of course just like Indiana at first with soy and cornfields but soon I was following rivers and canals and there was more trees. The wind really slowed me down but by mid afternoon I made it to the decent sized town of Defiance where I went to “R” Bike Shop. They immediately got to work and I had my wheel fixed and trued in less than half an hour. Great shop; they told me they prioritize bicycle tourists when they come in as they understand the situation. These people get it; very highly recommended. Oh and that repair: US$13.30! From Defiance the route was pretty excellent following the old canel system along the Maumee River, there was still the wind but it was often blocked by trees. Running late with all of this I ended up just having dinner in the town of Napoleon before riding the final 13 miles, which were more in the open and windy, to Mary Jane Thurston State Park. There I camped right on the Maumee River among a cacophoney of insect and bird songs. A really nice state park.

like a hand,
the wind presses me against the road –
a crimson bird

a soft green cricket
hops onto my shirt –
summer morning