Friday, May 31, 2013

Day #4: I've Looked At Clouds From Both Sides Now

Today's Route: Umatilla, OR to Walla Walla, WA (61 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 274

I've now officially entered my second state: Washington. It's true that I flirted with the state on yesterday's ride. But from here on out, there will be no more Oregon.

Hello Evergreen State!

Today was a lazy day. I took my sweet old time packing up camp this morning - I oiled my chain, I gave my tent fly a chance to dry (it was damp only from my breathing), and I made multiple trips to the nearest empty RV campsite to "borrow" some electricity.

I was running low on food this morning, and so I stopped at a small market in McNary, just a mile or two outside of the campground. There were meat sandwiches. And potato chips. And sodas. And cookies galore. None of this looked appetizing. I didn't want to put crap in my body, so I kept going.

About 25 miles into the ride, I hung a right onto Route 12, which meant I'd no longer be riding along the Columbia. I'll miss my friend, the river, as she has been my companion since Portland. But that's all right. I'll make new friends.

And so new friends I made. My new friends are the clouds. I love to watch them, changing ever slowly against the perfect blue sky. They are so pure and white against the green fields and the brown cattle below.

I like to think about the shapes of the clouds. I've seen "bows and flows of angel hair, and ice cream castles in the air, and feather canyons everywhere."

The clouds on one side of the road.

The clouds on the other side.

Every time I looked up to the sky, I kept seeing a solitary, sparkly green heart.

Heart (and gratuitous crooked nose holes shot).

Back in March, Jake came up to Seattle to join my friends and me for an overnight bike trip to Scenic Beach, in Seabeck, WA. Just before we left for the ride, Jake managed to sneak little heart stickers onto nearly everything I own. Surprisingly, many of the stickers have still stuck, including one underneath my helmet visor. As I divert my eyes from the road to the clouds, I am reminded that somebody loves me.

High on clouds and the sparkles from a green heart, I soon arrived in Touchet, about 20 miles shy of Walla Walla. And I was hungry. I stopped at the gas station and bought a chocolate milk and a bean burrito. While these weren't too far above the offerings in McNary, I was hungry.

There have been some studies on the affects of drinking chocolate milk post-workout. Apparently it's fairly decent for you, so I have no qualms drinking this stuff in large quantities. Anything to justify chocolate in liquid form.

My first chocolate milk for the trip.

Now, I've heard of an XXL-sized t-shirt before, but I'm not familiar with XXL burritos. I think these man-sized burritos are stocked for the local construction worker guys that fill up on their daily snacks at the gas station before heading into work. Today, XXL looked appropriate for this biker chick. Driving a Long Haul Trucker is tough work!

Me and the XXL burrito, warming up in the sun.

Before I left Portland, I picked up a book of anthologies off of the free reads shelf. Despite the fact that I can use my iPad as an e-reader, I still prefer reading old-fashioned books.

Also priced for bike tourists in mind.

This book of 75 anthologies, surprisingly, weighs a ton. And so I will tear out the pages as I finish reading each story, thus lightening my load as I go.

I'm really enjoying the short stories. So far I've read stories by authors such as Virginia Woolf, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. They bring back wonderful memories of high school English class. Well, except for James Baldwin, who brings back awful memories of my junior year high school teacher - the one who wouldn't let us forget that she was a Playboy bunny in her younger days.

All the cloud gazing caused me to miss the recommended turnoff to Walla Walla, so I stayed on Route 12 a little longer than intended. No worries!

I got into town, had some "FaceTime" with Jake, took a spin around the adorable downtown, and then spent a few hours at Graze, replenishing the calorie bank with a Ghirardelli brownie and taking advantage of the wifi.

Sign should read: "A place to eat and blog."

My dear friend, Cassie (the one who turned me on to cookie butter and Warm Showers), has accepted a professorship at Whitman College here in Walla Walla. But she ain't moving here until August. That's a big bummer, as it would have been great to catch up!

I had to check out campus, to see where Cassie will be doing her thing. What a lovely campus! I spent some time laying out in the grass in front of Prentiss Hall. Classes must be out, as I had the whole place to myself.

Feeling all academic on campus.

By the way, Cassie was a key participant in my first multi-night bike tour back in 2011. "Oh Hell" Cassie, Eye Candy Andy, and I rode a 400-mile loop around the Selkirk Mountains. Great fun was had! Check out Andy's magnificent write-up of the trip here.

Me, Andy, and Cassie on our Selkirk trip.

As Cassie has not yet settled into town, I arranged to stay with Warm Shower hosts. Dan, Alison, and their two kids (Sonia and Gus) were awesome! You should see the amazing book containing the photos and thank you messages of cyclists who have stayed here. Back in 2008, they did a cross country tour. Sonia and Gus were 11 and 10 years of age, respectfully, at the time. They have done a number of other tours as well. Check out their website at:

With 5 cats, 1 dog, 2 kids in high school, and multiple interests, I forgot how busy family life can be. Gus was off at baseball, Sonia was headed to the library, Dan was preparing for a film festival, and Alison was busy being mom. So, I made myself at home, on the front porch of their beautiful historic home, which was constructed in 1908.

The most fuzzy of the Warm Shower hosts.

I'm tempted to leave the tent door open tonight to see if this little love ball will keep me company.


  1. I love that song! I saw Judy Collins in concert when I was growing up.

  2. That doesn't date you at all, Dug. ;)


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