About an hour before I was going to call for a cab, Southwest Airlines informed me that my flight had been cancelled.
They rebooked me on a series of three flights, the first of which leaves Portland at 5:35 am tomorrow. After checking for alternatives, I decided to go with the glue and extended my stay at the hostel, and booked a cab for 3:15 am.
My flights are Portland to Denver, Denver to Dallas, Dallas to Washington National. I would guess that my probability of arriving at home tomorrow is no better than 25 percent. Hence I am doing laundry to feel somewhat productive.
I should point out that Southwest has been unable to provide any guidance except for the new booking. They didn’t answer their phone (I waited an hour on hold), their online chat was useless, and their email response told me they’d get back to me within ten days.
I am hoping to get reimbursed for my additional lodging costs.
The day began with coffee and granola in the hostel cafe. Afterward Corey packed up all his cares and woes and took off for a nostalgia tour of Portland (he has a daughter who attended Reed College) and then head to the Amtrak station. We confirmed last night that his bike tools will remove his pedals, essential for boxing his bike.
This morning I rode a half mile to West End Bikes and turned over The Mule for shipping. West End shipped The Mule home in 2018 and it arrived intact.
Corey and I shared a room last night with a bike tourist who just did a loop ride in western and central Oregon. He’s now headed north. He wasn’t exactly chatty but that’s okay.
I’m killing time here at the hostel. My flight leaves tomorrow afternoon which should give me plenty of time to chill. (I hate to bring this up but it’s actually kind of cold here.)
As far as bicycling goes, the tour is now officially over. Thanks to everyone who read these blog posts. Your encouragement of my insane little adventure is most appreciated.
In the coming weeks I will convert these blog posts into a proper journal on Cycleblaze.com when I get the time.
I’ll also post a few more entries reflecting on the tour.
Our hotel was enormous. Its long hallways reminded me of The Shining.
The hotel cannot find enough staff to operate properly. Breakfast was a disappointment. At this stage a couple of bowls of Raisin Bran and some coffee gets the job done.
After a tour of industrial Longview we rode back across the Lewis and Clark Bridge to US 30 in Oregon. The bridge is downright scary. It’s noisy and shaky and has shoulders filled with debris.
We were glad to be off of it except for the fact that US 30 to Portland is nearly as nasty. The shoulders were adequate and the debris was less but the trucks made for a deafening bike ride.
We rode. All business. Get her done. No need for excess hemoglobin because there were no hills to speak of.
After about 50 miles we left the highway to ride the street grid to Union Station. Corey went inside to check out the bicycle-on-train situation. He could have put his bike n the baggie car unboxed but decided to box it for protection anyway. Amtrak will provide the box and tape. He also learned that for a reasonable price he gets to head home tomorrow, a day earlier than planned.
After scoring an Amtrak win we decided to check into the NW Portland Hostel where I stayed in 2018. It’s located a few minutes from the train station, the bike shop I’m going to use to ship my bike home, and lots of hip places for bike tourist celebrities like us.
Note also that we have N95 masks for the event that we have to share our room with a Covid vector.
Tomorrow we’ll prep for our respective journeys home.
Our night as bridge trolls worked out okay for me. Corey was kept up by the clomping of feet in the room above us.
We began the day with breakfast at Pig and Pancakes, a chain apparently. We ate at one in Cannon Beach. Fortified with pancakes (good), coffee (not bad), and scrambled eggs (meh) we headed east out of Astoria on US 30 headed for Portland.
Traffic was heavy, the shoulder was debris-filled, and the air was filled with mist. The road rolled up and down with the occasional somewhat serious climb. No matter. Our blood is still teeming with hemoglobin.
I began the day with a very sore lower back. The pain abated with every mile, and a couple tablets of Vitamin I.
Corey stopped and pointed out Mt Rainier. After about 30 miles we stopped at a gas station for snackage. A fuel truck driver gabbed with us. He said it wasn’t Rainier. He also told us the next climb would be four miles at six percent grade.
Corey and I agreed that it was a serious climb, made much worse by the incessant traffic and inadequate shoulder. We also agreed that it couldn’t have been four miles.
During a leveling off we saw two snow covered mountains in the distance. I have no idea which two it was. I think the one on the left is Mount Fuji but I could mistaken. I’m any case the one on the right was Mount Vesuvius for sure.
We had a crazy fast descent to the exit for Longview, Washington. Longview is halfway to Portland and has many motels and restaurants. According to Fuel Truck Driver there are many methheads there too.
The ride across the Columbia River was very stressful. Logging trucks go to Longview to drop their loads at the port and a paper mill. The shoulder was littered with chunks of bark. The crossing was not a lot of fun.
We stopped at Walmart where I bought a duffel bag to consolidate my panniers into for my flight home and a t-shirt to wear on the plane. (Laundry opportunities are unlikely between now and Saturday morning.)
Next we went to a bike shop for air for my rear tire and recommendations for motels and lunch. The lunch restaurant one of the bike shop guys recommended was right around the corner.
I had a cup of pig butt stew as a side dish. It was very tasty. I wish I had ordered a huge bowl of it and skipped the chicken caesar wrap.
After lunch we rode across the Cowlitz River to Kelso where we found a hotel for $120. It’s not bad at all. The lobby is rather posh.
Tomorrow it’s back across the pine bark bridge and another 50 miles to Portland, this time without the long climb. We plan to go to Union Station to get some definitive answer about whether Corey had to box his bike up for his train ride home. (In some cities you can just put your bike in the baggage car. Also, if a bike box is needed we’ll have to find out if Amtrak supplies them.)
I am staying at the house of my friends Eric and Sue just outside Portland. Sue is out of town so Eric is doing his best to show me around the area.
Yesterday we checked out a rose garden and a Japanese garden on the hills west of downtown.
That’s Eric with the statue of the rose garden’s founder.
After s midday break we drove to the Cannon Beach. The Oregon Coast is truly beautiful. Sometimes dorks get in the way of pictures of haystack rock.
After Cannon Beach we drove south to Oswald West State Park. More pretty.
We stopped one more time to gawk at the scenery, this time at Neahkanie Mountain.
The last couple of days have been like going through decompression. My body is figuring out that it’s been through a lot. My brain is happy not to have to navigate, find a place to sleep, or keep a look out for large metal things.
A tip of the hat to Eric (and Sue) for the hospitality.
I’m off to the airport in an hour or two for the flight home.
I have four things to do while in Portland and I did three of them today thanks to Eric and his wife Sue’s station wagon.
We drove to West End Bikes in downtown Portland and dropped off The Mule for its shipment home. The service department people seems to be very competent so I have a good feeling that this is going to work out fine. Still, parting with The Mule was difficult after over 4,300 miles.
Next up was a trip to Andy and Bax Army surplus across the Willamette River. It took all of four be minutes to find a big duffle bag. (Later I tried out all my stuff and it looks like I can make this work without incurring luggage charges.)
Chores completed we drove to Multnomah Falls up the Columbia River gorge. The parking lot was closed, but we could see people leaving, so we drove to the next exit and doubled back. And the parking lot was magically open!
The hiking trails were closed but we did get to check out the falls from the base and the walking bridge part way up the cliff.
As you can see, my head completely absorbed the water.
The hostel served its purpose. It had a bed and shower, and was walking distance to Powell’s book store.
I spent the evening hanging around the hostel, sampling a local koltsch.
This morning after checking out I rolled to Voodoo doughnuts. I had the Mafia fritter, a concoction only a deviant mind could invent.
Then I rode about 10 miles to my niece Shannon’s house. It was a mighty hilly ride.
I spent about five hours there. It once my grandnephew took a nap he was a fun play buddy. He’s currently trying to figure out how to crawl. I pulled out my grandpop’s knee bouncing act, perhaps my earliest memory.
He also had fun playing with Mrs. Rootchopper’s crinkle quilt.
His mom is a happy, if tired, camper.
After baby time, I ride a few miles to Eric’s house. Eric and I worked together for years. He’s putting me up for a few nights so that I can get The Mule and me home Thursday night.
M&Ms come in all kinds of flavors these days. Last night I meant to buy the old fashioned milk chocolate kind, but I got the sleeping pill version. I ate some and passed out at 9:15. I woke up 7 1/2 hours later with no idea of where I was.
This tour is starting to wear my ass out. Good thing it’s nearly over.
The hotel breakfast was biscuits and gravy, oatmeal and raisins, eggs, sausage, potatoes, coffee, and OJ. I took an apple and a banana for the road.
The ride to Portland must have featured a tailwind because I put no effort into it. I rode over the St, John’s bridge and followed my maps toward Multnomah Falls which is well east of the city up the Columbia River. As I rode I saw beaucoup runners, mostly really good ones. Oregon is the home of Nike, the late Steve Prefontaine, and Alberto Salazar and the weather is perfect for running. At least it was this morning, before a heat wave hit.
There were also bicyclists riding what was obviously a predetermined route. It was the Portland Bridge Pedal. It’s like the 50 States Ride in DC but with signs instead of a 10 page indecipherable cue sheet.
I rode to the Columbia River and around the airport. I saw two story house boats and green islands and a rather enormous snow covered mountain which I took to be Mt. Hood. (It might have been Mt. Adams but what do I know.)
When I arrived in Troutdale, I saw an electric sign that said the interstate exit to Multnomah Falls was closed. I asked the Google and it told me that the cycling route to the falls was closed.
I booked a room in a hostel conveniently located 15 miles across Portland. So I asked the Google to direct me. And I got a tour of the city. I was riding mostly in the northwest part of town. Parts reminded me of Pasadena, others of Stockholm, and others of Arlington Va. I saw light rail, Craftsman houses with interesting paint jobs, and helpful bike wayfaring signs.
I even saw two buildings that had a Peter Max kind of paint job.
I checked in to my hostel which is walking distance to all kinds of interesting stuff that is closed because it’s Sunday evening.
Tomorrow I go see my niece and grandnephew. The boy looks like a cross between Winston Churchill and Don Zimmer. This raises the question: what do they call gerbils in England?
Total miles: 4,301.5
And another thing, while riding through Portland, The Mule turned 50.