Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Centralia, WA to Cathlamet, WA

8/16/09- Centralia, WA to Castle Rock, WA- 4 hours, 50 min on the bike

Despite the crappiness of the prior 2 days, Arik woke up yesterday intent on making this day a better one. It was supposed to be sunny and warm so I was bummed when we pulled back the plastic shades of our Motel 6 room and saw clouds. I was even more bummed when we checked the weather and realized it was in the 50s. Arik wasn't fazed. He decided to put his trust in the day and pulled on his sleeveless shirt and started putting on sunscreen. I thought it was a bit goofy but played along. Sure enough, as we checked out, a little sliver of sun started to peek through the clouds, and by the time we started rolling out of Centralia, we were riding in full on sun under blue skies for the first time all tour. The heat warmed up our muscles and the sun made the neighborhoods that looked rundown in yesterday's cloudy gloom sparkle. Everything looks better in the sun.

On the way out of town, we turned on Summa St. and had to snap a pic. Arik and I both graduated summa from college (nerd alert! :D) and Arik even taught our 2 year old niece Aly to say the word.

Right out of town we got stuck on a huge hill. Not the best warmup, and it seems like every time we start out on a ride it's uphill. doh. The sun beat down on us but it still felt tons better than the soggy cold we'd been riding through before.

A little ways into the ride we had our first dog encounter, and it pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. The black, athletic dog came running out when we rode past his driveway but the look in his eyes was more curious than menacing. We both calmly said "No" and he just looked at us and stopped. We rode on, keeping watch on him in our mirrors, and he stood in the road and watched us all the way around the bend. It was a peaceful encounter and a good start to the day.

After that we rode through some beautiful terrain- wide, rolling fields, mountains, trees, and low traffic. There were also a ton of cows. One of them ran up to the fence mooing when we rode by- perhaps she sensed kindred spirits? We took a break on a rural road outside the Denture Cup Inn, an "Adult Family Home." We also climbed a couple of tough hills. As we headed up a particularly steep one, Arik said "ok, if we make it up without stopping, we'll make it through the whole tour." After a lot of struggling, we made it and shared a high five, but I asked him not to make such gambles again- my legs can only take so much and I don't wanna jinx the trip!

We stopped in tiny Toledo, WA for a snack. We'd hoped to find a restaurant but the only one we saw was boarded up on the sides and looked a bit seedy so we settled for the mini-restaurant inside a gas station. We enjoyed some crinkle fries and then got back on the road.

By the time we got to Castle Rock we were pretty tired. The sun really takes a toll and we were ready to hit the sack. The state park we'd decided to crash in, Seaquest State Park, was 5 miles off the route. We took a wrong turn and got delayed a bit, but were stoked to finally see the signs for the park. "Just 5 more miles!" we told ourselves. Alas, our map didn't mention that those 5 miles were all over a ginormous hill! We were hot and tired and sweaty and mad about getting a little lost, and now we had to climb a huge hill in the afternoon sun. argh. We passed two other tourers who were taking a break at a particularly tough part, but we somehow soldiered on.

We made it to the park without getting off the bikes, but the other tourers beat us to the check in b/c we got mixed up once we got into the park. We chatted a little with them as we waited to check in. They were dressed much more casually, with plaid shirts and skateboard-style round helmets. I felt a bit goofy in our gear but can't imagine how they'd be comfy biking 40 miles in such nice threads.

We had red beans and rice for dinner and took a shower. The tourers invited us over to share their fire and we had a nice chat. They are pros at this touring thing- the guy (Russ) said his New Year's resolution was to do a tour every month, and he's kept to it. They came up from L.A., took a train for a little bit, and are biking all around the country. They think it'll take a year! They also gave us some good tips, including that we should use tortillas instead of bread (they pack easier and stay fresh longer). They seconded all the rave reviews of the Oregon coast and told us which state parks to check out. They also said we should consider taking the train from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and skipping the LA traffic b/c the roads are not bike-friendly. Arik likes the idea (he's never been on a train) but I'm not sure about it. Also, we are using different maps than they were, so hopefully we take a better route. We'll check it out. We read for a little while and then turned in.

8/17/09- Castle Rock, WA to Cathlamet, WA- 40 miles (we finally figured out our bike computer!)- 4 hours on the bike

We woke up today to sunny, blue skies- hooray! We were a bit wary of our route b/c for the first time, our map advised us of "steep hills." The worst it had ever warned of before was rolling hills, and it's also failed to mention some pretty substantial climbs, so we were prepared for the worst. Fortunately, it looked like once we hit Hwy 4, it'd be smooth sailing along the Columbia River. The hills were tough but nothing worse than anything we've seen, and we never had to get off the bikes and push so that was a small victory. While taking a break in the shade, a solo tourer came rolling up for a chat. He was in his 60s and in incredible shape. He told us he'd been struggling up the hill, staring at the asphalt, telling himself he'd stop whenever the next bit of shade came. When he got to the shade he looked up and we were there! He's also riding the exact same route as we are, all the way down to San Diego- by himself! We have mad respect for solo tourers. This has been tough, but we always have each other to rely on and lean on. To do it all alone takes a lot of cajones for sure. We had fun chatting with him and then headed back on the trail. Hopefully we'll see him again along the way.

We celebrated when we got to Hwy 4 but the highway actually ended up being worse than the hills. It was under construction so the road was really rocky and uneven. There were also a ton of big trucks that kicked the rocks up at us and showered us with dust. Oh and there were some hills thrown it right at the end for good measure!

Hwy 4- pretty view, not so fabulous street

We were tired and hungry when we rode into Cathlamet, but were immediately excited when we spotted the Bradley House Inn. There isn't any camping around here so we knew we'd be in some kind of hotel, but we'd tried calling Bradley House earlier in the day and hadn't gotten through. The sign said there were vacancies, but again when we called and knocked we didn't get an answer. I left a message, crossed my fingers, and hoped we'd hear back soon. In the meantime, we headed to the Riverview Restaurant for some good eats. We had beer-battered onion rings and some pasta, which they graciously veganized for us.

While there, Audi, the innkeeper at Bradley House, called to let us know we could indeed stay there and apologized for being stuck at the doctor's office longer than expected. She'd be back soon and recommended we pick up a brewski at the market and chill on the swing at the back of the house. Sounded good to us! We went back to the inn and took a quick pic before taking our stuff to the back:

We walked down Main St. to the Cathlamet Market and got drinks and chips and reloaded with oreos (we've gone through a ton of these!). Went back to the inn and sat outside and snacked. Audi came out (she didn't realize we were there) and welcomed us in. The place is great! Just really cool and homey- and internet to boot! We took a shower, called the rents, then headed back outside to get some more snacks at the market. We spied an awesome sunset from the front porch and ran back inside to get the camera, then ran down to a path that goes along the water to take some shots- it was gorgeous!

Sunset over the Columbia River

Mia- the white spots are bugs


Got some snacks, headed home, and have been chillin' ever since. We'll be in Oregon tomorrow!

Be well,

Arik and Mia