08/11/2006 04:29:28 by Administrator
From: Okanogan, Washington
To: Mazama, Washington
Loup Loup pass was a steep 14-mile climb, but with plenty of breaks we made it up and over the pass (elevation 4020). After the 8-mile down hill (with a little road construction and detour) we arrived in Twisp at 1:00 pm for beverages and rest room breaks.
Going up Loup Loup pass was breath taking, in more ways than one. The scenery and fresh forest smells was incredible. We could see some of the smoke and smell the wildfires, but that disappeared about 4 miles from the pass. The Methow River valley between Loup Loup pass and tomorrow's challenge, Washington pass, is truly beautiful! Both the Rear Admiral and myself have voted Washington State as the most beautiful state we have cycled in on this journey.
We had lunch/dinner in Winthrop, which is a tourist trap kind of town. It's really is not fair of us to label it, but it has a population of 349, and yet created our first traffic jam of Washington state. The traffic jam was caused by all gift-tourist shops, and not enough parking places for half the state of Washington (at least it seemed like half the state of Washington).
Tonight we are staying at Mazama Ranch House which is a nice 8 room hotel that claims to be "the best little horse hotel in the State of Washington". We have to agree, but then again we have only been to one! It is truly a horse lover's paradise. After settling in, we went and visited the only grocery store for the next 50 miles, and after spending half of our retirement savings for tomorrow's lunch supplies we ventured back to the ranch to watch the horses and sunset.
08/12/2006 04:32:51 by Administrator
From: Mazama, Washington
To: Newhalem, Washington
. . . And yet, and yet, the moments we have had, the marvels we have witnessed, the wonderful truths we have seen. You see, when night falls and you close your eyes to sleep and dream, we have seen the things that you can only dream about. We have been there. . . Oh yes. All the way and back!
This quote, taken form the TV movie Gulliver's Travels and revised a little, only begins to describe today's ride. Just when we thought we had seen it all, one spectacular ride after another, days and places you wish you could never forget, God decides to give it to you with both barrels. Today's ride was the crown jewel. We are so glad we decided to ride east to west because we are finishing our journey in the Cascades and we have truly saved the best for last.
We crossed Washington pass (elevation 5477) and Rainy pass (elevation 4855) today. Out of the five passes, Sherman was the most difficult for us to pedal over; Loup Loup and Washington are tied for second followed by Wauconda and lastly Rainy. Rainy was only a 2-mile climb up after we rode steeply down from Washington pass (about 3 miles); so for us riding from the east, this pass was very easy.
A full moon was our guide on our morning climb. The moon was centrally framed between each set of mountain peaks as route 20 rose out of the Methow River Valley floor. As we climbed, the highest ridges and peaks in our views were snow covered. Around every bend was another "Kodak" moment. Route 20 was pretty quiet until the late afternoon, when it got pretty busy. Temperatures for the day did not pass the high 70's and for most of the day there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Perfect cycling conditions, with perfect scenery. . .what more can we say.
We passed waterfalls, forest of huge evergreens, the smell of cedar, orange mountain ash berries, blueberries, blackberries, gorges, rivers, turquoise glacier lakes, stony fast moving creeks, huge mountain peaks dotted with glaciers, tunnels, black squirrels, wildflowers galore, and a variety of birds. So much filled our minds until it seemed like we were on overload.
Then, if the ride was not enough. . .just for something extra . . We were able to camp in Cascades National Park; where we pitched our tent in between a group of enormous Douglas firs right along the Skagit River.
08/13/2006 04:35:21 by Administrator
From: Newhalem, Washington
To: Burlington, Washington
We were up with the sun this morning for a very early start; after a terrific night's sleep. Last night we were lulled to sleep by the Skagit River. Our campsite was at riverside among giant hemlock, Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. It was like being in a fairy tale surrounded by the giants of the forest and ferns. After packing up and eating a quick breakfast of oatmeal, we pushed SeeMore quietly through the wooded trail back to route 20. The walk-in campsites were THE campsites to use in this campground. Today's ride featured no headwind and no major hills to climb, a very easy ride today.
Washington state drivers were still asleep so we had the road to ourselves as we cruised passed more mountains, dropping in elevation.
Traffic began to pick up around 9:30 am, just in time for our second breakfast and route change in Concrete, WA (yes there really is a town named "Concrete") With eggs and toast in our bellies we crossed the Skagit River where the route leaves busy route 20 for a peaceful ride on the south side of the river through a tunnel of towering pines. Which occasionally opened into a meadow or farm field.
When we hit route 9 we had a decision to make, whether to head into Sedro-Wooly or the bigger, busier city Burlington. We opted for Burlington due to the hotel selection and bike shop.
After a rude awakening to the hustle and bustle of the big city and traffic we landed at the Holiday In Express, a bit pricey but all services and amenities including guest laundry, pool an Jacuzzi Ahhhhh . . .
Tomorrow it will be a short ride to Bay View State park where we will touch our tire into the Pacific Ocean and complete our journey.
08/14/2006 04:37:13 by Administrator
From: Burlington, Washington
To: Bay View, Washington
Bitter Sweet, because all journeys have an ending. We had a very short ride today. Yet another gorgeous day, blue skies and temperatures in the high 70's. We decided to finish our journey at Bay View State Park because Noel's Mom and Dad came from Texas to meet us (THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!) and we wanted a quiet place for reunion. We can not thank Mom and Dad enough for being there at the finish, it was so much appreciated!
Not much to report, the traffic was pretty busy until the last 2 miles of the ride. The people on the west side of Washington state are boxed in by the mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west; so there is a lot of people and cars but not many quiet roads!
We had one more hill, and before the hill, yes there was another cornfield for viewing. We were also looking for red winged blackbirds and morning doves, the other two common sights along our cycling tour across the US. One last logging truck passed us as we climbed the last hill, one last hand wave.
Mom and Dad had a long ride up from Westport Washington, so we had time for talking, reflecting and having SeeMore's photo taken with his wheel in the ocean. We unpacked everything, and took inventory and repacked things for traveling home.
We dropped off SeeMore at Skagit Cycle Center, we are a little nervous about his trip home, which will be delayed 5 days because they are very busy. We are in Westport for a couple of days, enjoying being with Mom and Dad, and the ocean.