Summertime rolls

Ah, is it really the end of August? Summer moves so fast. But there’s still plenty more summer to come.

Yes, I know the conventional thinking (at least here in the States and also Canada) is that summer ends on Labo(u)r Day Weekend, which is around the first Monday of September.* Which is this coming weekend.  Kids go back to, or are back in school. Tourist facilities start shutting down. The nights grow longer.

But while I can be a pessimistic grouch about a lot of things, I take a more optimistic view of summer’s end. I consider the entirety of September to still be summer. (And since Autumnal Equinox in the northern hemisphere happens on September 22, most of September is technically summer anyways.) Besides that, I don’t have kids or a conventional job, so I can still do things.  And the weather tends to be pretty awesome here in September: warm and not usually too hot, maybe a little rain but not much.

So I still have a bunch of stuff to look forward to. For instance, the day you read this I will be heading up to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest with my friend Steve for a backpacking trip into the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Yes, my first ever backpacking trip! I’m a bit anxious, but hopefully nothing bad will happen. I did test out my new bag and walked five miles with it loaded, and man, that was tiring!

And there’s the big week-plus tour I want to do in the later part of September. The current plan is something in southern Oregon. And by “southern” I mean the SW corner of the state, as anything east of the Cascades would be “eastern” or “SE” Oregon. I haven’t seen the southern coast (anything south of Newport) since my big coast tour in 2006, and I’d like to check out more of the lands of Umpqua and Rogue. And hopefully get up to Crater Lake again too!

*****

Looking back, this summer is shaping up to be one of the best ones I’ve had in a long time. I’ve done something on average every other weekend. (In fact, I skipped doing something one weekend because I needed a break.) I’ve camped a couple times a month since May. I’ve gone to the Coast twice! And now I have some romance, too. That definitely brings my mood up.

Still, there’s part of me that wanted to do more. I get bummed about trips that didn’t happen, like the Grand Tour Bikeway tour I was supposed to do in early August. Or look at all the stuff going on that I can’t participate. And there is that itch that needs to be scratched, the itch of a really long bike tour.

Then there’s a part of me that longs a little for the quieter summers of the past couple years, when I could just take a leisurely bike ride instead of doing some camping trip all the time. And the time to get all the other things done in my life. Then again, winter will be here before I know it. I can do that stuff then, and also not look back on a summer and regret it.

*Yeah, it’s usually the first full weekend of September, but if Labor Day happens to be on September 1st or 2nd (which it can), some of that weekend falls in August.

Advertisements

A birthday weekend towards the coast. And car camping?

Ever since I got back into camping in 2005, I’ve pretty much done it with a bike. I can count on one hand* the amount of times I’ve driven, er, have been driven somewhere to camp. All of my current camping equipment and expertise (so to speak) is based around carrying it on a bike. “Car camping” is this big nebulous thing to me.

And last weekend I went car camping.

August 7th was my birthday. Originally I had booked four days off (Saturday August 5 to Tuesday August 8) not for my birthday but for a bike tour in Eastern Oregon that was organized by someone else. As is the nature of when you rely on others to plan your trips, it fell through a couple weeks before it happened. No problem, I have time off to do other stuff!

Normally I would just use it to do a four day bike tour somewhere else. But I wanted to hang out with my girlfriend Emee. And right now she does not bike camp, but has a van. So, why not car camp?

Well, in this part of the world, it’s not as easy as one would think. Yes, there are plenty of great places to camp. But finding one of those available on an August weekend? With only a couple weeks lead time, I found that pretty much anywhere that was reserveable was booked solid. Sure, we could free camp in National Forests and such, but for my first trip with my new girlfriend, I wanted something with…amenities. So, where?

Then I remembered a couple campgrounds to our north, both about 10-15 miles outside of Chehalis, WA: Lewis and Clark State Park and Rainbow Falls State Park. Both were off the beaten path,  far enough from the population centers of Seattle-Tacoma and Portland. Plus, both were first-come, first-served! I stayed in both before, Lewis and Clark during the Big Tour in 2011, Rainbow Falls during my PDX-Oly-Astoria tour in May/June 2012. I remember both as being pleasant. (It didn’t hurt that both had hiker/biker sites either!)

We decided to leave mid-afternoon on Friday and aim for Rainbow Falls. The two hour ride was pretty uneventful, except for the “event” of me driving most of the way so Emee could catch up on work. Yes, I still have a driver’s license, even if it’s every year or three until I actually drive! We got into Rainbow Falls around 6, and found plenty of sites still available. On a Friday night in August in Western Washington! Unbelievable. We found a good one and paid for two nights.

Rainbow Falls is along the Chehalis River. The “falls” themselves are a plunge in the rock along the river. No Multnomah Falls, for sure, but great for swimming. Emee and I didn’t get in the water, but there were plenty of others that did.

The other main attraction here is the Willapa Hills Trail.** It’s an old Northern Pacific rail line between South Bend and Chehalis now converted to rail-trail. The trail is in various states of repair, but they’ve done A LOT of work over the past couple years. It’s rideable by “regular bikes”*** from Pe Ell, seven miles west of Rainbow Falls, to Chehalis, fifteen miles east. And they are working on making the whole thing rideable by “regular bikes”. Emee and I packed bikes in the van: her Gary Fisher hybrid, my Raleigh Superbe.  We headed west to Pe Ell, took a break, then headed back to camp. The trail riding was fairly pleasant, if a bit unexciting (I hear heading east is more fun, as there’s a lot more bridges over the river). The big complaint was the gravel: while many rail-trails use a fine crushed limestone, this was more small gravel, and there were several loose sections. I probably wouldn’t mind it as much if I brought one of my two-inch-wide tired bikes, but the Superbe with 40 mm tires wasn’t as fun. Oh well, hopefully it gets graded out a bit.

And then Sunday! To the coast. This time we did have reservations at my favorite coastal park/campground in the area, Cape Disappointment State Park. Heading west down the Willapa River valley to the ocean, the hazy sunshine (we’ve been having a heat wave in Western Oregon and Washington, and fires from the Interior had been clouding the skies) was traded with gloomy overcast, and a dramatic drop in the temps. Aah. It got chilly enough that I actually put a down jacket on…

Monday was my birthday. We drove over to Astoria to hang out in the town. We stayed at a very nice hotel (Commodore) and wandered the streets on foot. On the way out of town we had an obligatory stop at the Astoria Column despite the fog. And since you were going to ask, no, we did not stop at the Goonies House, sorry.) And coming back to Portland, we rode the Puget Island Ferry, the last ferry on the Lower Columbia River!

*****

It was a good trip. But different. It took me a little bit to wrap my head around the concept of car camping again. I’ve been used to packing light and making sure everything can fit on a bike. But with a van? Stuff that sucker up! As it is, since my gear is bike based, it didn’t take up a lot of space. But there were things that I wished I had thought of bringing but didn’t, like a cast iron skillet for cooking over the fire. I’d never think about it in my regular trips, but here it would have been a fun luxury.

What wasn’t a fun luxury was stressing out about where to camp. And I’m not used to that, since with a bike trip, one rarely books a spot in advance. Most places in the area are amenable to cyclotourists–if they don’t have a dedicated camping spot, they’ll usually make room somewhere. They ain’t going to do that with a car!

Anyways, the next camping trip will be more human powered, but a bit different…

*Assisted bike camping is different, though. There are many times I’ve put my bike on a bus, then rode ten miles to camp. But that still falls under the umbrella of “bike camping”.

**There was a bit of hiking in the state park on the other side of the Chehalis River, but since the floods of 2007 cut off the bridge across the river in the park, to get to this rump part of the park requires a several mile detour.

***Some sections are still just old railroad ballast, so they’d be excruciating to ride on anything short of a bike with 3 inch tires.

Another one of those “stop gap posts” to say that I’m still alive because I’ve just been too damn busy, in a good way, though.

IMG_20170801_100746-01Hello friends. It’s August already? Wow, how this summer has flown by. It’s been a really busy summer for me, which is good. But busy means I haven’t really had time to sit down and write something substantial for this blog in a long, long time.

That’s the “problem” with blogs. It’s better for long-form writing (well, longer form writing), where I can lay out a synopsis of my trip and my thoughts and feelings from it. It’s harder for the in-the-moment stuff. That’s where things like Instagram and flickr come in handy. I urge you to check these out if you want a daily dose of what I’m doing. And I can do flickr/Instagram easily with mobile devices. I’ve tried to blog using my phone and my mostly-useless tablet, but anything beyond a few paragraphs is a chore. Until I get a nice new laptop that’s more portable than my wheezing circa 2009 Netbook (gasp!) I have to do my blogging either at home on my said netbook, or on my work computer. And I’m not always at either…

And yep, this summer has been busy. Looking back at the past summer or two, this one has been pretty packed. I end up doing things two out of my three “weekends”, with the other one for “chilling out and doing laundry”.  And when I’m not going out of town or working, I’ve been hanging out with my new and awesome girlfriend, Emee!

So what’s happened since the last time I spoke?

  • Well, I did do that Bellingham and San Juan Islands trip from July 13 through 17. It didn’t turn out as planned, turning into a more “traditional” bike camping trip, but that’s okay. I camped at both Shaw and Lopez Islands, and also spent a nice day in Bellingham.
  • The following weekend (July 22-24), I went out to the coast again! My friends organized a big bike camping expedition out to Cape Lookout, which happens to be my favorite coastal campground. I took the bus out on Saturday, camped the night with friends, and rode back over two days back to Portland via the quiet and scenic Nestucca River Road.

I hope to write about these trips plus my June tour in more detail…soon. (Fingers crossed.)

So, what’s going to happen?

  • This coming weekend (August 4 through 8) Emee and I are going to drive north (with bikes) and do some camping! We’ll also hit the coast, staying one night at my other favorite campsite on the coast, Cape Disappointment. We’ll also spend a day in Astoria!
  • The following weekend should have some bike camping too!
  • The following week is that eclipse thing. I may hide under a rock.
  • At the end of the month, I’m supposed to go on my first ever backpacking trip! Yep, my friend Steve is going with me to the Indian Heaven Wilderness north of us in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Should be fun!
  • And I’m still planning by other big bike tour of the year, which will happen at the end of September. My plan is to do something in Southern Oregon which will hopefully incorporate parts of the coast and Crater Lake!
  • I’m still working on leading some bike rides. I still want to do it, but Pedalpalooza burns me out and I don’t want to overburden myself, esp. since I’ve been doing so much other stuff. I’d still like to do another Sunset Moonrise ride or two, and maybe another Chehalem Range Ramble?
  • Oh yeah, Three Speed October is just a couple months away!

Okay, hope everyone is having a good summer!

A brief update, since it’s been awhile

Hello friends! Yeah, it’s been a bit since I’ve written something substantial here. What can I say, the last month has been extremely busy! June consisted of a bike tour, Pedalpalooza, and a bit of romance. As such, I didn’t have a lot of “free time” to blog about it all. I do want to write something about that tour, but it may be another week or two before that happens, sorry.

This is the part where I casually mention that I’m quite active over on flickr and Instagram. These are the best windows in my day-to-day life, so if you want to see things as they happen, I encourage you to check them out!

Anyways, even though Pedalpalooza is a fading memory, the bike fun hasn’t stopped. On Sunday evening, I led a Sunset/Moonrise Ride. About a couple dozen folks rode the five miles from the Woodlawn neighborhood to Broughton Beach on the Columbia River. The weather was perfect, if a bit windy. And the sunset and moonrise were great. It was good hanging out with fun folks.

And now more action: This Thursday, July 13, I’m leaving for another trip! I’ll be taking the train up to Bellingham where I’ll spend Friday. Then I head south to tiny La Conner, Washington for their Seersucker Social. And from there I head west through Anacortes to catch a ferry to Lopez Island (part of the San Juans) where I’ll camp Sunday night. Then I head east on Monday, get down to Seattle for the night, and head home Tuesday morning. It should be fun!

Christmas in July sale: A bunch of random bike stuff for sale

Hello fine folks, as part of the never-ending bike parts acquisition swap and purge, I’m finding myself with a box full o’ stuff that I want gone. All prices are sans shipping, and I will be willing to make deals if you buy multiple items.

  • For those of you outside of Portland, please include your zip code when inquiring, so I can work out a shipping price. Payment is done via Paypal.
  • For those of you in Portland, we can work a local pickup either in the Woodlawn neighborhood of NE or on SE Hawthorne. You can pay in cash.
  • Feel free to make an offer if a price feels somehow unreasonable.

And here’s what’s available. UPDATE 7/10: Anything crossed out means it’s been sold or claimed.

  • Takagi Tourney triple crank set (sort of). This came off of the Crested Butte, so 1984 vintage. The rings are 46-36-26, which are separated since I was going to convert this to a double. Non-drive side crank is not original, it’s Shimano. $15
  • Shimano Deore rear derailleur. 90’s vintage, reverse pull. $15
  • Shimano Deore brake levers for cantilever brakes. Original “bull moose” style that came off of the Crested Butte, so 1984 vintage. $15 for the pair.
  • Suntour bar end shifter. Still works, used for right side (rear derailleur.) Friction only. $10
  • Bottle dynamo, top left. Generic Basta. $1
  • Bottle dynamo, top right. Spanninga. Original wheel has a dent so there’s a new “cap” over it. $1
  • Bottle dynamo, bottom left. AXA HR. Not really functional, for parts or to fix up. FREE (as long as you buy something else.)
  • Bottle dynamo, bottom right. Generic Dutch. $1
  • Power Grips. $3
  • Klean Kanteen plastic bottle cage. Designed for steel water bottles like Kleen Kanteen (smaller sizes) and Hydro Flask. $3
  • Maxxis Holy Roller Tires, 26″ x 2.4″, pair. Never mounted! $30 for the pair (or $20 if you just want one, for some reason.)

Sunset Moonrise Ride, Sunday July 9

Just because Pedalpalooza is over, doesn’t mean that bike fun is over!

Come join me for one of my favorite semi-regular rides: The Sunset Moonrise Ride. Did you know that at the time of the full moon, the moonrise is just around the same time as sunset? That means if you find a good spot, you can see both! And I definitely know of a good spot.

Meet on Sunday July 9 at 7:30 PM at P’s and Q’s Market, NE Dekum St at NE 13th Ave. Get your supplies at P’s and Q’s*, we roll out at 8 PM. We’ll ride an easy five miles down to the Columbia to watch the sun set and then the moon rise! And of course enjoy food and drink down at the water.

Picnic blankets, lights, and layers encouraged.

FOR THOSE WHO CARE: Technically the date of the full moon is on Saturday. But Sunday will be better this time, as the moonrise on Saturday is shortly before sunset, which means a lackluster moonrise. On Sunday July 9, the sun set is 9:00 PM, moon rise at 9:20 PM.

*P’s and Q’s are not exactly known for their cheap beer, so plan accordingly!

REMINDER: Proper Pedal Picnic TOMORROW, Thursday June 29!


​Yes, my final #pedalpalooza ride! 

Meet at P’s and Q’s (NE 13th Ave and NE Dekum St) at 6:30 PM tomorrow, Thursday June 29. We depart at 7. We ride approximately 5 miles to a mystery picnic destination. 

Get supplies at P’s and Q’s (or elsewhere.) Keep it classy: Dress up a bit and think of fancy (but not necessarily spendy) things to eat and drink. Don’t forget your picnic blanket! (And layers and lights too!) 

#pedalpalooza2017 #properpedalpicnic #bicyclepicnic 

REMINDER: Woodlawn Park Coffee Outside, Three Speed Ride, Slough Country Ramble TOMORROW Sunday June 25

Tomorrow! Three #pedalpalooza events that blend into each other. 

First, at 9 AM tomorrow, Sunday June 25, meet in Woodlawn Park (N of NE Dekum, W of NE 13) for Coffee Outside! Bring your own coffee to make via camp stove, or bring brewed coffee. Breakfast ain’t a bad idea, either. 

Then, at 10:30 AM, the combined Three Speed Ride/Slough Country Ramble will depart! Bring any kind of bike, but Three Speed is of course preferred. We’ll ride about 15 miles around the lowlands of the Columbia Slough. Not a loop, will end near transit/food/beverage. 

IT’S GOING TO BE HOT TOMORROW, so please be prepared! Extra water good. We WON’T have a brew up stop, but bring something like iced tea for a mid ride stop. 

See you tomorrow! 

#pedalpalooza2017 #woodlawnpark #coffeeoutside #sloughcountryramblers #columbiaslough #threespeed #threespeedride #societyofthreespeeds #threespeedmafia