Monday, May 30, 2011

Start The Adventure

Saturday night we stayed with a former student of Cal’s and a family friend who lives east of Seattle.  It was great to meet her husband and son, and visit with her again. We had a wonderful evening. 

This morning we drove to downtown Seattle to the ferry dock and caught a ferry west to Bainbridge Island dock.  We continued driving west to Neah Bay - the northwestern tip of the Olympic peninsula, arriving around this afternoon. This is actually a Native American Reservation. Due to this being a holiday weekend we made a previous reservation at a Mom & Pop hotel – not the greatest from the outside, but it is clean and does smell good inside.  After an early supper at one of the only restaurants in town, we drove out to Cape Flattery – the tip. We needed to hike the last half mile.  It was beautiful, rugged, and there is a light house on the westernmost island of rocks.   

Cape Flattery - Western Tip of Lower 48
  Later we drove to Hobuck Beach - still on the Reservation, and we were able to take the bike out to the Pacific Ocean (in a drizzling rain), where Cal was able to dip the rear wheel of his bike. The goal now is to dip the front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean!  After the dipping ceremony, and photos session (in the rain), Cal rode 4 miles back to the hotel!  So he has begun the trip!!

Dipping In the Pacific - Hobuck Beach
As we were doing ‘our thing’ on the beach, a lady in a vehicle was watching us.  After Cal was on the road, she drove up beside me and asked, “may I ask what you are doing?” I gave her a brief explanation, as I was standing in a heavy drizzle. She was so excited about this whole idea that she asked how she would be able to follow our progress. I gladly gave her one of the blogspot address cards we had printed. 

After we arrived back at the hotel and were reloading the bike, I began telling Cal about this gal and her excitement, when to our surprise she pulled into the parking lot beside us.  She had gone home, grabbed her camera and a good luck item (small sand dollar) and was thrilled to catch up with us outside the hotel.  She wanted to take our photo, a photo of the bike and give us the good luck item. After I left her by the beach, I realized I had not explained much to her, so it was great to be able to chat with her further. She is Assistant Prosecutor for this County. Cal needs all the luck and prayers he can get for this trip.  It was a delightful encounter with a local person.


Friday, May 27, 2011

End of "The Oregon Trail"

Tuesday morning we left northern Utah and within an hour crossed into Idaho.  But first I must tell those from Mt Pleasant – in northern Utah we drove by the West Liberty Foods operation (we had forgotten West Liberty Foods also had an operation in Utah). We made a wrong turn at an exit and were on a frontage road, when there in front of us was ‘West Liberty Foods’.  While Cal was getting coffee he chatted with some locals having coffee - the one guy sold the land to West Liberty Foods. He told Cal that besides slicing meat and cheese, they make chicken nuggets here.
We drove northwest in Idaho on I-84, and at Ontario, Idaho turned west onto US Hwy 20.  We drove Hwy 20 across the high dessert country of Oregon.  On other trips to Oregon we have driven along the Columbia River, but this time we decided to take a completely different route and drive west across the middle portion of Oregon.

In both Idaho and Oregon, farmers are busy in the fertile valleys.  Lots of wheat and hay, but we also saw acres of veggies – onions and spinach. Also in certain areas there was a heavy concentration of large dairy operations.

This part of the country has been having a lot of rain, plus this winter there was an increased amount of snow fall, so between the rain and the snow melt, flooding is an issue here.  In fact at one point near Burns, OR there was a detour, as water was across Hwy 20.

We stopped in Bend, Oregon for the night. Wednesday morning we drove onto Mill City where we stopped to see friends. These friends are old Litwiller family friends - their Mothers were in school together in the 1920s, and the families have camped together many years.  This couple is serving as Host and Hostess at a US Bureau of Land Management Campground.  We had a wonderful afternoon and evening catching up as it has been a few years since we have seen them –since the last campout, (when we stayed at a motel).

This area of Oregon is a rain forest - moss is on the trees trunks, Spanish moss hanging from the trees, and ferns are growing everywhere. While we were with them, it seemed like it rained almost every half hour. It rained (sometimes hard), stop, blue sky would appear and the sun shine, but it would rain again within a matter of minutes! Winter and spring in Oregon!

Thursday morning we drove to Oregon City, OR to visit friends who also lived/taught in Holland in the early 70’s when we were there.  We always enjoy visiting with them, but this time Cal wanted to visit with Bill regarding his experience of riding bike across the US during the summer of 2009.  Our main topic of conversation was biking.  Bill gave us some wonderful tips. 

By Thursday evening we arrived at my sister’s home just south of Portland, OR.  This was the first time we had been to their home in the country.  Their lovely home is situated so that on a clear day they can see Mt Hood, however it continued to rain (it seemed like every half hour), and we have not seen the mountains yet! They prepared beautifully grilled salmon for dinner. 

Friday we spent with my sister and husband. They showed us around the area. Oregon’s wine industry is growing, and the vineyards are planted on hillsides that are otherwise not productive. Again it seemed to rain at least every half hour!  What seems so unreal to us from Iowa, is that normally in a few weeks it will stop raining, and not rain with any regularity again until September.

Tomorrow we will be on our way to Seattle, WA as we near the start of the bike ride, scheduled to start Monday morning, May 30.

Oregon Vineyard

Monday, May 23, 2011

“Home, Home on the Range”!

Today we traveled west through the rest of Nebraska and all of Wyoming on I-80.  In Utah we turned north on I-84.  We are presently about 40 miles from the Idaho border.  In Nebraska and Wyoming we actually saw deer, antelope, elk, prairie dogs and a flock of wild turkey.  One of the male turkeys was in full strut – fan tail and all. So we felt like we were “Home on the Range”.
Prairie Dog in Wyoming
I-80 actually follows very closely to the old Mormon and Oregon trails.  In Nebraska the land is flat and the Platt River is nearby.  I cannot imagine how slow the trip west seemed for those pioneers as they crossed the western plains in their covered wagons, when it seemed like ‘forever’ in our covered wagon traveling at 70mph.  Actually Cal will have a better feel of their experience as he rides his bike east. 

In both eastern and western Wyoming we saw wind turbine farms on many ridges.  However mid Wyoming, along I-80 there are no wind farms, but today we experienced extreme winds. I would not have wanted to be driving a semi rig or a motor home today.

West of Cheyenne, Wyoming we saw our first snow.  They have an extensive system of snow fences to collect snow so their snow melt is not just off the mountains but from the drifted piles of snow.  Water is so precious in these parts and having a longer snow melt period helps the reservoirs for the grazing cattle. 

Wyoming is also actively drilling for natural gas.  We saw lots of new pumps, pipes, and storage tanks, as well as the drilling rigs.   

In western Wyoming and Utah (east Salt Lake City), there are beautiful snow covered mountains - still plenty of snow for skiing.

6 miles ridge to ridge

 We drove in and out of rain storms all afternoon, and the temperature is at 50 degrees – a little nasty. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On the road again!

Last night was the last time we were in our own bed for the next month or two!  This morning we begin our trek to the west coast.We hope all the loose ends have been tied up! Being out of town for 6-8 weeks takes planning! The most complicated item has been at the HUD Project Rachel manages.  There have been move-outs (tenants going to nursing homes), redecorating apartments and then the move-ins.  After yesterday all is in order, so I am able to leave worry-free. 

It was 10:00 this morning before we left home, a little later than we had hoped, but...  We stopped in Des Moines at the bike shop for a few items before continuing west of I-80. Tonight we are in Kearney, NE. We have thought of  only an item or two that we have forgotten - nothing major. It was a beautiful day, sun shinning the whole way, beautiful fluffy clouds, and the temperature was perfect. The newly planted corn fields are turning a hue of light green.  The plants are sticking up 1-3 inches. When we return the fields will look completely different. 

For those who are interested in the price of gas - at home we are paying $3.86, Des Moines it was $3.57, and here in Kearney, NE it is $3.94!!  We don't expect it to decline as we travel farther west.       

Cal has included a map of the State of Washington and has outlined our route in orange.  I hope this way you will have a better idea of where we are traveling - along the northern part of Washington

Route is in Orange, SR 20, across the top of Washington State Starting in Olympic Penninsula
 Tomorrow we need to be on the road early and drive a full day, so we are in western Oregon by Tuesday pm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Less than a Week and Counting!

Our plans are set in place to leave on Sunday, May 22, however we are getting cold feet!  If you want to know why, look at the following website - interesting site. The photos of the DOT clearing the highways are beautiful (several are included).  However we are wondering whether we are leaving home too early as the passes are still not open.  They are hoping to have the highway opened by Memorial Day, but we understand they have had more snow in the past day or two. 

Highway 20 - Hairpin Curve - Snow covered

Opening US Highway 20 - Hairpin Curve

Opening Highway 20 - Just a few feet of snow!!

After we leave home it will probably be two weeks before we arrive at the Cascades, as we will be driving west, seeing friends and Rachel's sister, and then Cal has probably 4-5 days of riding before we arrive.  We know there is an 80 mile stretch of highway with no services other than campgrounds.  We hope the campground are cleared too, as there is no way Cal will ride 80 miles in one day in that terrain!  Don't you agree, it looks COLD with all the snow! 

As to Cal's training, he rode 60 miles on Sunday and 75 miles on Monday.  He needs to have several back to back days here in Iowa, as that is what it will be while on the road.  He is planing on 35 & 45 mile rides yet this week, before we leave. Since mid March Cal has ridden 1000 miles, which includes his ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  

We keep checking items off of our 'to do/to take/to buy' list.  We are trying to wind up a few spring projects.  Tonight Cal painted the final coat of paint on his bee hive boxes - they look great, and I primed our wrap around front porch tonight.  If the weather agrees, I plan to paint the final coat tomorrow night.  The porch at least looks better with primer than the scraped bare spots, but hopefully the weather will be agreeable.

Friday, May 13, 2011

2 weeks and counting

The month of May is here and we have been having cool weather, until this week.   All of a sudden summer arrived!  The cool weather has been good for the early spring blooms. This is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Enjoy a few of our photos. 

We have decided to delay our departure from Mt Pleasant by one week.  Originally we had planned on leaving May 15, however due to the Washington DOT web site report, the mountain passes through the Northern Cascades will not be open until the first week of June.  They have been having late snows and crummy weather which has delayed the opening this year.  We will be seeing several friends and Rachel’s sister on the west coast, but we can use the extra time here at home to do our spring work.  Instead of repainting our garage Cal has just finished the installation of vinyl siding.  It is wonderful to think we will never have to paint this garage again! Next is painting the porch floor! 

Cal continues to train by riding 50 miles every 2 to 3 days. Some days are better than other – depends on the direction and strength of the wind.  The other day with the sudden change in the weather - to hot weather, the heat bothered him somewhat, but he will adapt to that as the weather continues to warm up.  He also need to use plenty of sun screen on his legs.  Due to his position on the bike, the tops of his legs have direct sun.    

When someone hears about our upcoming adventure, often they ask Cal if he is raising money for a 'cause'.  Up until now, he has not specified anything, but while on a ride over the weekend he decided, "If someone wants to donate, I will give them the opportunity".  There are two causes we would highlight. 
Polio Eradication through Rotary, or
Iowa MOST (Miles of Smiles Team ) that goes to Guatemala each year to repair cleft lips and
     palates(the team we were on in February).  
If you are interested in contributing please contact us via email.