Right now I’m technically on vacation. But at the moment it sure doesn’t feel like it.
When I planned on taking this week and a half off, oh so many moons ago, I had more ambitions for it. I wanted to do a good bike tour. And I had a great idea for one, one that concentrated on Southern Oregon. But the big problem became the fires. Seems like most of western Oregon (along with much of California and some of Washington) is on fire right now. Well, it’s not all on fire, but when you factor in all the smoke and closed areas, it makes trying to do a bike tour hard.
So I had a back up idea of something closer to here, something along the Cascades in Washington and northern Oregon. Then the fires hit here too. For instance, Indian Heaven Wilderness, the place where I had my first backpacking trip in late August? It caught on fire barely a week after I went! And the biggest tragedy: my beloved Columbia Gorge caught on fire on Labor Day. Now there’s a big fire (48,000 acres) that’s threatened much of the attractions here, in what is probably the most accessible “playground” to Portland. It’s going to be a long time before we’ll be able to access some of these areas. 😦
Because of all the fires, air quality in Western Oregon has been really bad, the worst I’ve seen in all my years living here. There have been several days of thick smoke causing low visibility. It’s as bad as some cities in China. And since the fire started in the Gorge, we have gotten ash falling in the city. It’s surreal, and not good.
So I then changed my plans to have a bike tour along the coast somewhere, maybe not the Oregon coast since I’ve been out there several times this year. But maybe the Olympic Peninsula, since it’s been seven years since I did a circuit here.
And then the rains showed up on Sunday, the first significant rainfall in three months! Now this is a very good thing. Remember all those fires I’ve talked about? Well, the rain is going to help put them out. Also, it vastly improved the air quality in Portland. No more orange-tinged sun in the middle of the day. But for bike touring? It’s not exactly the most fun experience. Especially since the areas I’d be touring would see more wet. Especially since the wet is supposed to hang around until the weekend.
So, I’m not going, not this moment. I’m also realizing that there are several projects I’d like to get done, projects I’ve pushed back during this busy summer. I’m going to use these rain days to get some of them done.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not going to do anything. I’ve got eleven days off. This weekend Emee and I will head up to Lake Cushman on the southeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula to hang out in a friend’s cabin! And from there, I’m going to take a few days to do a li’l tour of Hood Canal and Puget Sound to Seattle, where I’ll catch the train home. The weather is supposed to be better next week, anyways.
But while there will be a few more nice days before fall really hits, it’s the end to my default summer wardrobe of straw hat, seersucker shirt, shorts, and sandals. And honestly, I’m glad.
Oh, the frustration of the plan…and the backup plan…collapsing on us. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to salvage something. Those of us in Texas are craving fall (more mid 90s today). We know it is out there somewhere.
Air quality this summer has been very bad in the great central valley of California. The air is brown with visibility down to a couple of miles sometimes. All due to forest fires that ring the valley. We get an inversion layer then add in all industry and cars and presto magic toxic air soup. It has been hard to ride without having breathing and allergy issues. We won’t get our first rain until end of October or so. Good luck with your plans.