[in which I, BL, and NC ride bikes for long distances]
Generally an awesome time.
In terms of the getting there, we set off Thursday morning, made 50+ miles by early afternoon, stopped for a quick bite to eat, and then hit mechanical troubles that set us back 6+ hours. We wound up, thus, not making it nearly as far as we had hoped, but eventually being able to get back on the road and continue our trek with our spirits less deflated than the series of punctured/pinched/ripped tubes we wound up carrying along with us. Weather-wise, we had some significant rain in the morning, but were able to get through it and into beautiful sunshine and more-beautiful scenery pretty quickly.
So Thursday night we wound up camping in a county park in a little town called Tenino, about 80-85 miles down the road from Seattle. We got in, set up camp, cracked open a couple of beers, BL started cooking some really delicious pasta, and a police officer pulled up. We weren't entirely certain that we were allowed to camp in the park, given that there was a giant chain across the entrance we'd come through, the restroom area was locked up, and the water was turned off (we wound up cooking the pasta in a combination of bottled water and St. Pauli Girl), so we were slightly nervous. The cop was pretty cool, though, as it turned out - just checking that we weren't 'teenage punks' (well, we're not teenagers, anyways...) who were hanging around the park and breaking into cars. Once he assured himself of that, everything was good.
Sitting on the side of the highway while you try to fix a tube (as we spent six hours doing on Thursday) isn't beautiful scenery. Mountains and trees and valleys and fields are beautiful scenery - and we hit a lot of that our second day. Unfortunately (to a certain extent, I suppose), we also hit some rolling hills, which slowed us down. Wanting to make it to the training on time (it began at 6 PM on Friday), we decided by mid-afternoon that we would get to Kelso/Longview and decide whether to bike through or bus or train the rest of the way.
When we made it into Kelso/Longview, it was about 4:15 PM, and we were still about 50 miles out of Portland. The train was a disappointment, in that its bike spots were full. The bus was a disappointment, in that the last one left just before we found out that the train was full.
E was not a disappointment. E was most definitely not a disappointment; a friend of ours, he was willing to pick the three of us (and our bikes!) up and give us a ride down to Portland, going a good bit out of his way to do so. Much, much appreciation for him from all of us.
So we got into Portland about 10:30 on Friday night, after the training had concluded for the day, but not too late to meet the folks who were putting us up. I wound up staying with K, one of the Rosehip folks, and a real sweetheart (if you're reading this, thanks so much!). After two very long and very stressful days, a hot shower, some hot food, and a soft bed were fantastic, fantastic things to have.
[coming up next time: reflections on the medic training and on biking around Portland]