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!

Not dead, just busy. (And there’s upcoming stuffs!)

Hello friends, it’s time for me to clear the cobwebs from this blog for a moment. I’ve been in the midst of Pedalpalooza this past month, which means I feel like I’m always up to something, but don’t have the time and energy to report it here. I’ve had eight pretty decent events, and I should write up a more substantial account soon. Hopefully. (Reminds me: I never really did a report on the Lake Pepin event, eh?)

But remember, you can always follow the more up to the moment reports on my Instagram (yep, I have an Instagram.) If you go through there, you’ll see LOTS of pics of the events over the past month. And yep, flickr and tumblr also have stuff on there as well.

wp-1451883303879.jpgAnyways! The busyness is not subsiding soon. No! I get on a train Monday night and head to Seattle for a couple days. Did you know that they are having a Free Bike (party) up there? It’s sort of like Pedalpalooza, but shorter and not as many events. Gotta start somewhere! I’ll be leading one ride as well! It’s the Sunset Mystery Ride. It will happen at 7 pm on Tuesday July 5. Meet at the PCC Market in Fremont, 600 N 34th St. 5mi ride to a mystery location for sunset viewing. Get supplies in market, we depart at 7:30. Remember the three Ls: Lights, layers, and libations! Sunset is at 9:07 pm. (And if you are around, you should check out Madi’s ride with kids and dogs to beer earlier that day. I’ll be there!)

tumblr_o9npmjioeY1s4tkqfo1_540Then I get home and who comes to town? Mr. Tarik Saleh himself, that’s who. The leader of everyone’s favorite bike club will be here, and we’ll be doing a ride! Join us on Saturday July 9th for the Tarik Saleh Bike Club Ride! Meet at 10 am Fillmore Coffee, 7201 NE Glisan St. Get there for breakfast/coffee, depart at 11. 20-30mi ride, mixed terrain, a few hills. Nothing too intense. Many breaks for food/beverage, ends in Montavilla.

And finally, Mary of Chasing Mailboxes and Ed of Daily Randonneur will be in town after a (probably) epic two week tour of the Sierra Cascades! They’ll be in town on Friday July 15th. Come and hang with them from 4:30 pm to let’s say 8-ish at Velo Cult, 1969 NE 42nd Ave in the hoppin’ Hollywood district. Hear tales about their adventure!

There is more stuff coming, don’t you worry. I’m working on a bunch of fun rides, whether group/public things, or my own stuff. Stay tuned!

A quick recap of my Seattle New Year 2016 trip

Hello all! In typical Granton fashion, I am pretty late with my trip report. I will have to say it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had in Seattle, despite fighting a cold the whole time and stabbing my middle finger with a razor on the last day. The weather was good the whole time: dry, sunny, cold (for Portland/Seattle/Vancouver standards.) Alright, here we go!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

This was my “mellow day” as I wanted to rest a bit due to the cold, and since I had four days to play with, I didn’t need to feel rushed. Started the day with lunch in the International District, then went over to 20/20 Cycles in the Central District where I spotted their new Kalakala locally-built touring bike (plus a Cycle Truck!) I then rolled up to Capitol Hill and Volunteer Park where I was greeted with a great view of the snowy Cascades. I finished the day out in Fremont and Ballard where I enjoyed some beers.

Wednesday 30 December

I started the day with the local Coffee Outside crew at their meetup spot on Lake Washington. We were greeted with a great view of Mount Rainier and a great sunrise! But yes, it was cold. From there I rambled about, hit up one of my favorite Seattle spots, the Ballard Locks, then hung out with my old Portland friend and current Compass employee Theo for drinks and pizza with his ladyfriend Dejah.

Thursday 31 December 2015

This was a big day of riding! Robert and I did a thirty-odd mile ride southward that followed the shoreline from West Seattle down to Burien. And man, some climbs! We had beer and lunch at Elliot Bay Brewing, then headed out to the Sound again at Three Tree Point. We came back up into the city via Georgetown, where more beer and pizza was consumed. Robert went back to his home in Beacon Hill, whereas I went back to the hostel to retire for the night. I was too worn out from the distance, hills, beer, and pizza to even think about doing anything else for New Years. Yes, I was asleep as 2016 was ushered in!

Friday 1 January

The last day. Madi met up with me at the hostel, and we got New Year’s brunch on Capital Hill. Then we headed up to Gasworks Park where I met my friend Andy and his family, who was in town visiting his old friend Eric and his family. Andy used to live in Seattle with Eric, and had more of a secret past than I reckoned as Andy and Eric were in the band The Action Suits with Peter Bagge of Hate comic fame! (Eric also works at Fantagraphics, go figure.) We got some drinks and food in Fremont, then I had to bolt to catch the 6:05 pm train home.

A big thank you to all of you who hung out with me in the Emerald City: John, Theo, Dejah, Robert, Madi, Andy, Eric, and everyone else!

Seattle trip wrap-up.

Okay, so the last time I left you I was wrapping up my first two big days in Seattle (and the small first night.) This left Thursday, my last day in town. Originally I was supposed to meet up with Doug in the AM when we’d ride to do a “coffee outside” type thing. (This is why I brought all my coffee-making stuff.) Alas, this was not fated to be, but we agreed to get coffee at a cafe near King Street Station before my train departed.

I decided to take a southerly ramble to see some spots that I hadn’t yet seen on this trip. I headed out to Lake Washington via the I-90 Bike Tunnel, a portal I had been through only once. The views on the lake side were great, Mount Rainier trying to peek (peak?) through clouds to the south, Bellevue pretending it’s Vancouver BC to the east. I rode along the lakefront to Seward Park, where I made some coffee. A nice setting for coffee, I do say so.

Then further south through some never-explored-by-me neighborhoods towards Rainier Beach, and back ’round towards central Seattle via the Chief Sealth Trail. The ride was a little over 20 miles total. I made it back just in time to have coffee with Doug at the Zeitgeist, where of course we talked about bike stuff, of course.

The train trip south was uneventful and sorta boring. (The problem with taking the evening train during winter months is that you don’t actually see anything.) I got off at Vancouver, Washington instead of Portland. While the ride from here to my house (6 miles) was slightly longer than from Union Station in Portland (4 miles), it shaved off travel time, and gave me an excuse to hang out at Niche wine bar where Mr. Boulanger awaited.

Overall, I had an amazingly good time in Seattle. The weather was decent, I got some good riding in (100 miles over 3 days), got to finally meet people I only knew over “teh interwebs” (Robert, Doug), got to see someone I haven’t in a long time (David), and got to hang out with comix folks, also something I haven’t done in a long time. I needed something different to start this new year, something different that what I’ve done the previous three New Years. And this trip didn’t disappoint.

Seattle trip update.

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It’s Wednesday night as my thumb hits a pretend keyboard on a smartphone. Just finished up two eventful and fun days in Seattle. The weather has been ok, mostly cloudy with some drizzle, high around 45F.

Tuesday I hooked up with Robert/Spiral Cage and we had a fun ramble round the reaches of the city, interspersed with breaks for coffee, food, and beer. The ramble got out to Alki Beach, Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, West Seattle, and Georgetown. From there we hustled up to Fremont, where Robert and I parted ways. Then I met my old comics friend David Lasky in Greenwood where we had pizza and went to a low key comics/zine people party, which is how I rung in 2014. Then a ride through throngs of drunks back south to the hostel in the International District. I managed to clock in an impressive 50 miles of riding.
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This morning, due to both the extensive riding yesterday, coupled with the extensive drinking, I was a bit slow going at first. That didn’t stop me from getting out and riding! I rode along the waterfront all the way up to West Point Lighthouse in Discovery Park, then over to Ballard Locks where I enjoyed a little “coffee outside” action. Then onto the beach at Golden Gardens Park where folks were burning Christmas trees and plunging into the frigid waters of Puget Sound. I then routed my way back to the hostel using a route around Lake Union. 30 miles without even thinking about it!
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Tomorrow is my last day in town.  I hope to get in a little more riding before I hop on Amtrak back to Portland.

Heading to Seattle for the New Year

I spent my first five (2002-6) New Years living in Portland…in Portland. I never had a “great” one, though. Some were tolerable, some weren’t. Maybe it’s all the expectation on making the New Year holiday “epic”? So I decided to actually work towards this epicness, and started my annual tradition of going out-of-town for the holiday. The first two years (2007-8) I headed out to the Columbia River Gorge for a solitary holiday. In 2009 I took the train north to Vancouver, BC. In 2010, the first New Years with April, we took the bus out to the coast and stayed in a yurt at Nehalem Bay. Then the past three New Years (2011-13) we took part in the regular cabin camping trip to Stub Stewart State Park. All of these adventures had been fun.

I had thought about going out to Stub Stewart again for New Years 2014, as it’s a pretty easy trip and people are going out there. But it’s starting to get stale after doing it for three years, and it might be a bit weird since it would be without April. So I decided to do something different and booked Amtrak tickets to Seattle for the holiday.

Seattle, our “sister city”.* I’ve been up there scads of times since moving to Portland, but it’s been a long time since I’ve done a real trip up there. The last time I spent more than a day in change in the Emerald City was 2009! So it will be nice to go back and have some time to explore.

I’ll be taking the Amtrak Cascades up there on Monday night, December 30th, and then heading back down on Thursday January 2nd. Live in Seattle and want to get some coffee or something? Get in touch!

*Everyone in Portland would rather have Vancouver BC be our sister city, but alas.

Helens-Rainier-Seattle-Vashon Tour 2012: Seattle, Vashon, Tacoma, Sickness, End.

The Cobain house and bench

Monday, August 20th. A day off in Seattle. I took a casual approach to the morning, since my only commitment of the day was the Bike Touring Workshop I would facilitate at Bikeworks in the evening. I hung around my private room in the HI for a bit, and then set out to explore.

I’ve been to Seattle scads of times since I’ve lived in Portland, so there’s not a heck of a lot of new ground to cover, but try to cover new ground I did. I set out first for Capitol Hill and then the Central District, where one of my favorite bike shops, 20/20 Cycle is located. Unfortunately, Alex, the owner wasn’t there, so I chatted with the guys in the shops, and then headed eastward to Lake Washington.

While riding along the lake, I took a quick pause at a parklet with a park bench. Being a music nerd, I recently found out this particular bench is a shrine to Kurt Cobain, as the house that adjoins the parklet (seen in the photo) was the last house that Kurt lived (and died) in. The bench itself is covered with all sorts of Cobain/Nirvana graffiti. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good shot, as my camera had no charge left. (I foolishly forgot to bring my charger for the trip.)

I rode southward along the lakefront, pausing at Seward Park, then I headed westward to the Columbia City neighborhood, where Bikeworks is located. Before the workshop, I met Davey who works at Bikeworks  and set up the event. We’ve known each other for years, as he was also heavily involved in comics and zines (he worked at ZAPP, which is the Seattle equivalent to the IPRC.) We had a burrito and chatted, as he had other obligations for the night. Then it was the workshop, which went fine, albeit with only two participants. After a beer in the neighborhood, I zoomed back downtown to the hostel.

On Tuesday I left the hostel and headed for Vashon Island. The route I took out of downtown hugged the waterfront. The first part went through the port, then through Alki Beach, Seattle’s beach neighborhood. The views were great, and after about an hour and a half of riding I was at Fauntleroy in the far SW corner of town. I didn’t have long to wait for the ferry to Vashon Island, and the ferry ride itself was quick.

The first item of business on Vashon (as it was about 3pm) was to stop by my host’s house and drop off gear so I could explore the island unencumbered. Thankfully her house was right near the ferry terminal. But it was quite the hill to get there. (This would be the theme of Vashon Island.) I did a thirty mile loop exploring the island, passing by sound views, houses, farms, trees, and a few villages. The riding was quiet but very challenging, as Vashon had loads of hills, many of them steep. I don’t think there was any point on the island higher than 500 feet in elevation, but the grades felt as steep as 15% in places! (Later in September there is supposed to be a century ride on the island with 10,000 feet of combined elevation!)

Vashon was an interesting place. It was sleepy, just like I thought, a haven for folks who want to be near a city but want to be in a rural environment. But it had a surprising number of services, at least in the “town” of Vashon. (There are no incorporated cities on the island.) Here was not one but two grocery stores, hardware stores, post office, pharmacy, restaurants, a library, post office, and a bike shop! One could survive on the island without having to head back to Seattle (or Tacoma) for every little thing. I can see the appeal of living in a place like this.

My host Yve was great. Her house was one of those 70’s “rustic” deals, with high ceilings in the common area and a great view in the backyard. She has been living on the island for awhile and really likes the community, though she finds it a bit limiting at times. I could see that, and this is what prevents me from living in a place like this. I can dream, though.

Wednesday was the final day of the tour. I bid adieu to Yve in the morning. The plan was to bike the length of the island (about 15 miles) southward on the main road (Vashon Hwy.) to the southern ferry terminal, where I would catch the ferry to Tacoma. Vashon Hwy. was the flattest road on the island, with mostly gentle grades, so it wouldn’t be much of a problem with the load. But a bigger problem would soon surface.

I made a quick pause in Vashon town to stop at the grocery store, bike shop (which had a great collection of vintage bikes, like a Raleigh DL-1), and coffee roastery. This is when I started to feel sick. Nothing that bad at first, just a general blah and slight nausea. Now I suffer occasionally from acid reflux, so the slight nausea and blahness are normal, so I chalked it up to this. But as I biked southward to the ferry terminal, I started to feel worse and worse. At the ferry terminal I started to feel chilly. By the time I got off the ferry (a fifteen minute ride) I felt really nauseous. This limited my enjoyment of biking around Point Defiance Park, as I was less concerned with the great scenery (reminiscent of Stanley Park) and more concerned with my urge to throw up. Finally I hit up a bathroom and attempted to puke. Nothing, just dry heaving, eh. But I felt better, so I drank some water and took some ibuprofen.

I felt okay for the ride through Tacoma to the Amtrak station, where I’d catch the 6pm train back to Portland. Here is where I started to feel really bad. Even though it was a mild day, I felt cold, cold enough to put my hoodie on. On the train, I had chills and the urge to puke, again. This was not good.

As the train neared Portland, I texted April who was to meet me at Union Station. I told her I was sick and we would need to take a cab home. I was in rough shape when I got off the train, feverish and wanting to puke. After the ride home, I went to bed, which is where I stayed for about thirty-six hours, battling a fever of 101F.

I don’t know exactly what hit me, but I’m suspecting it was a case of food poisoning. Not fun, but I’ve had a couple cases that were worse. It put quite the damper on what was otherwise a great tour.

Helens-Rainier-Seattle-Vashon Tour 2012: The road to Seattle (Sat Aug 18 and Sun Aug 19)

After five days with lots of climbs, the two days of riding to Seattle was a bit of a relief in the exertion department, though a bit underwhelming in the scenery department (to be expected.) Because I’m me, I planned on a long, meandering route that first skirted the Seattle area from the east, then north, then back south into the city. The benefit of this routing was two-fold:

  • I would see a side of the Seattle metro area that I hadn’t seen before, nor had much reason to explore.
  • Because the route was “fat”, I could trim it down a bit if we ended up spending an extra day in the mountains or if I was running behind.

Leaving The Dalles campground, Todd and I were greeted with miles of moderate descent on Route 410, while tons of traffic flew by us in the other direction, bound for the Park. So glad to be out of there! (Not that I don’t love the scenery, but I hate crowds.) The scenery remained decent for a bit, until we left the National Forest and State Park lands, then the route entered private timber lands. Ugly clearcuts dominated the view for the rest of the way into Enumclaw, the edge of the metro area.

At this point, I bid adieu to Todd. He had to be back to Vancouver, Washington by Sunday night and wanted to go his own way. Now I was on a solo expedition. The route now rambled through the periphery of the Metro Area, passing through suburban development interspersed with timber holds, farms, and wilder lands. The scenic highlight on Saturday was crossing the Green River Gorge. While the gorge itself was nice, the neighborhood around it was weird, a mix of shack and trailer park. (Leah had jokingly warned us before we departed about being wary of the sound of banjos in the mountains, but this was the only time I had that Deliverance twinge.)

About two-thirds of the way through the day, I met my Warmshowers host for the night, Matt, on the Cedar River Trail. He rode in with me, guiding me through the area to get to his house. At his house, I met his family, where we had a big taco feast and they put me up in their pop-up camper out in the yard. Such luxury after tenting for five nights!

Sunday morning I woke up to a dripping sound outside. Yep, a little rain. I think it’s a rule when I tour in the Northwest I have to have a little rain, no matter what. After a week of sun-sun-sun and temps pushing 100F, a cool, damp morn was quite the respite. And it doesn’t hurt that I wasn’t in a tent!

After a good breakfast, I hit the road. Originally I had planned for quite the ambitious day, as I would ride north to Issaquah, then east to Snoqualmie Falls, then north along the Snoqualmie River Trail, then west into the suburbs. But I really wasn’t feeling like it: I had ridden 60 miles on Saturday, and the Snoqualmie routing would make for a day in the 75 mile range, with a bit of climbing. After riding into Issaquah, I decided to take the easier route: Lake Sammamish Trail to Sammamish River Trail to the Burke-Gilman Trail into Seattle. A route into the using flat bike paths, how can you beat that?

But first, a brief pause in Issaquah. I was not there because I wanted to see the childhood home of Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, no.* I stopped in to see Kent Peterson, of course! I stopped by the bike shop he works at, and we chatted for about twenty minutes about bikes and bike touring. He told me that the route that I picked to get into Seattle was possibly the flattest way in.

The rest of the day passed by like a breeze. Now I know that some folks don’t like rail-trails, which is what I was riding on. But I like throwing them into the mix if I can. It also meant I didn’t have to negotiate a bunch of suburban roads around Seattle. Since it was a nice Sunday, it meant that there were a lot of people on the trail. But hey, that’s good, right?

The scenery varied between big houses with occasional lake sightings (Lake Sammammish) to open riverine lowlands (Sammammish River) to wooded with a mix of houses and glimpses of Lake Washington (Burke-Gilman). After about 40 miles of riding, I made it to Seattle.

I would be staying at the HI hostel downtown, near King Street Station and the stadiums. I could have chosen a more direct route after I got into the U-District, but I decided to stick to the trail to the bitter end in Ballard so I could visit the Ballard Locks. The locks are one of my favorite places to visit in Seattle, and I knew I might not get another chance to see them this year. The Locks were definitely choked with people, but it was worth it.

The biggest cluster-you-know-what happened further down the road path. Taking the Elliott Bay Trail towards downtown, I happened upon “Hempfest”, which basically blocked any progress further south. I had to turn back and enter city streets a bit earlier than I planned. But it wasn’t much further to the hostel, where I deposited my stuff and my tired body for the night. Another 60 mile day, even after trimming some “fat”!

*Anyways, I know where he currently lives, so I can throw garbage on his lawn any damn time I feel like it.