Day 65: Arlington, WA – Seattle, WA!

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Elated-exhausted-enthusiasm would be my description of arriving at the end of my journey. Even though I’m well-fed, well-rested, and clean, I’m not really ready yet to write my final blog entry.

I slept like a pancake at Rod’s house, and awoke to an amazing breakfast made by Kayo. Fueled for the ride to Seattle, Rod and I set out around 9:15 along a beautiful trail that basically ended at the Snowhomish Bakery. There were surprisingly few bicyclists out given what a gorgeous Saturday morning it was!

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After the bakery stop (and the most delicious sticky/cinnamon bun you can imagine! – Most reminiscent of Bruce Adam’s Thanksgiving rolls…) we rolled along to the north shore of Lake Washington where we met up with Ivan, Julianna, and one of their friends, Evangelos.

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It was so surreal!!! It felt amazingly normal. I can’t quite explain it, but despite being a very long distance in total, I think that since each day was a more modest ride I felt that it was very natural that I was in Seattle! I realize that makes a whole lot of not too much sense… 🙂

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My sister knows me SO well! She picked blackberries for all of us to share upon arrival!

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Here are the computer science nerds!

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I think it all started to hit me when I saw this sign…

The five-goober peloton rolled into the U-District and straight to my favorite little fish taco restaurant, AguaVerde. Julianna had conspired with my Godparents and one of my Godsisters, Phil, Barbara, and Lauren to join as well! Kayo (the most amazing final-leg SAG driver ever!) and my new Arlington cycling friend the estimable Dolph joined for lunch as well, making our party the best lunch crew in all of Seattle! 🙂

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Barbara and Phil were so sweet, Phil made an amazing welcome-home Americano (truly the best coffee in Seattle!), and Barbara gave me a welcome home balloon and a sunflower bouquet!!! I felt so well-dressed biking to J and Ivn’s apartment after lunch with the balloon trailing behind and the flowers strapped to my rear rack!

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Lunch was exactly what I’d been imaging the whole trip… 🙂

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…and I’m fairly certain the sentiment was shared!

I was wonderfully overwhelmed by the day. After lunch, J, Ivan and I started towards home in Capitol Hill. Ivan decided that 4,121 miles wasn’t enough and had to find a nice Seattle hill for me to scramble up. 🙂 Even after riding up how many passes without a foot of walking, I could be easily humbled by a Seattle hill! I imagined Professor Klingle laughing and reminding me that it would’ve been an even hillier city before the regrades!!! Oofta!

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I was ready for a nap upon arrival, but at the encouragement of Mama and Ivan’s mum, Julianna took me somewhere AWESOME.

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In the span of a few hours, I went from smelly cyclists back to clean, eucalyptus and tea-tree oil scented Flavie. 🙂 Thank you mothers for the inspiration!

When we got back to the apartment, Ivan met us with an amazingly delicious dinner. Such contentment!

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Thank you all for participating in this adventure. 🙂 I know my experience was made more vivid by having this outlet by which to reflect and process what I’ve seen and read all your comments and encouragement. In the next few days I hope to write one more post to wrap things up, but in the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you!!,

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Day 64: Newhalem, WA – Arlington, WA

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This morning, just as I was getting ready to roll out, a lady walked over towards me, holds out her hand, and presents me with the most perfect honeycrisp apple you can imagine. Her name was Karen, and she was my welcome to the Pacific Northwest committee! She said that she’d sen me packing up and thought at first I was a guy. Haha, I do look scruffy! She realized somehow that I wasn’t, and decided to come over and ask about my trip. We talked for a bit before I realized she was wearing a Boston sweatshirt! We laughed. It was just so fitting! A Washington welcome apple and a greeting from Boston! Amazing start to the day!

Big day…!

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I set off a bit later than I’d planned, and stopped at three coffee stands. I was just enjoying myself too much! In Marblemount I met a man with his puppy Poppy. What a cutie!

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After making the turn onto the Arlington-Darrington road, I heard the telltale honking from a red pickup truck Rod had told me to expect. What joy!!!

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Rod also brought his lady-friend and another bicycling friend along. Us three women biked while Rod drove the pickup until Darrington, where Rod hopped on his bike for the remaining miles into Arlington. With my panniers in Rod’s truck, I felt wobbly at first and then really speedy! Such a different ride!

I’m absolutely elated to have reached Arlington! Tomorrow Rod is riding into Seattle with me. I’m in continued coordination attempts with my sister and her dear I-Dawg to see if they can join in the ride as well.

Two words: holy moley! 🙂

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Day 63: Winthrop, WA – Newhalem, WA

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The Internet is particularly slow here, which is frustrating because I would like to post approximately 1,000,000 photos from the day! Today’s ride was the most visually stunning day of my trip, bar none. Just as an appetizer, share my surprise in finding SNOW still along the road. In September!!!

I’m writing this from a very familiar place after all these weeks – my tent. Guffy gets all the glory, being my trusty steed and all, but my tent has been equally faithful. Tonight is my last night camping, so I figure it is about time I gave credit to my dear (only occasionally leaky) tent. Thank you, tent!

Tomorrow I have a wonderful ride to Arlington to wake up to. I’m really excited to see my bicycling friend Rod again! When I met him along the Northern Tier he gave me a tremendous amount of advice about routes and told me he’d be looking for my arrival in Arlington. I can’t quite believe that that day is tomorrow! Saturday, then, to Seattle!

More about today’s ride and a plethora of pictures tomorrow when I have better Internet! Bonne nuit!

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The amazing bicycle barn I stayed at just outside of Winthrop! I hurried my little heart out to get in before dark. The family is very sweet!

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Many of Guffy’s larger relatives came to cheer us on! Last big day of climbing!

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7ish miles out from the Bike Barn, I came upon signs for Mazama. Did I turn? Of course! I always turn… 🙂 And goodness my delight at finding the Mazama Store open and full of athletic people drinking coffee, eating breakfast, and planning hikes/ climbs/ rides for the day!

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Mmm! One of the best non-oat bran breakfasts to date! Toasted bagel with pesto, egg, and tomato. And coffee, of course. 🙂

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For Arrested Development fans the world over!

I promised a plethora of pictures. If there is any way in your precious life for you to visit the North Cascades, you really must. Phenomenally beautiful! I thought I was going to cry climbing up to Washington Pass, not out of suffering, but out of the realization of how tremendously blessed I am to be here.

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Penultimate Pass!!!

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The view of the climb from the Washington Pass overlook! Eek!

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The last pass of this trip!!! Sorry it’s a bit blurry. 🙂

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In case you were wondering how I got such awesome pictures of myself (hehe), I have wonderful friends to thank! There were a ton of cyclists out on the road today and many stopped to say hi and talk. A very sweet retired couple I met t the Washington Pass overlook even waited a bit for me to reach Rainy Pass! Really amazing!

Beautiful Diablo Lake!

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There were two tunnels along the descent. One had a little crosswalk button for cyclists to push which set a light blinking to warn cars of bikers in the tunnel. Sweet!

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First Seattle reference that I’d seen!!! Rolling into Newhalem.

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Just past the locomotive, I turned into the visitor center parking lot and was a tad disappointed to see that I’d missed the grocery stores closing by 12 minutes. A sweet couple on their way to Twisp gave me two bottles of water. 🙂 They are Iowa bikers and rode RAGBRAI this year! So cool!

And finally, my dear dear tent. 🙂

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Day 62: Omak, WA – Winthrop, WA

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Quick post before the library closes. Beautiful scrubby landscape, another pass, and a dead bear comprised today’s sights. And amazing apple orchards! If you’ve ever wondered where those Washington apples come from…

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This was an organic orchards called Jonny Appleseeds. How original! 🙂

I passed this house and had to adjust my eyes. I wasn’t expecting a flattened bear! 😦

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Climbing was slow and really hot today. It wasn’t unenjoyable, but it wasn’t painless either. I think the climbing gods were kicking me for my comment about the sneezing chipmunk last night… 😛

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Silly girl needs to not wear a winter hat while climbing! I just miss my bright orange sweater so much though… Only one more big day of climbing left!

As I came down the side of Loup Loup, I caught my first glimpse of the Cascades. My first thought was, “My mountains!” Im not sure what made me think they were mine exactly… I know the climb won’t be easy, but I’m really looking forward to it! I wasn’t able to take a picture while zooming down, but imagine glorious mountains with some bits with snow. And here are the foothills all around me…

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Day 61: Republic, WA – Omak, WA

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This is the beautiful view to which I awoke this morning. Last night at dusk there were no fewer than nine deer marching around in the field, having their pre-bedtime snack. This morning was absolutely frigid, but I packed up and biked the remaining three miles into Republic, where I found the public library and typed up the last post. When I tried to get back on the road though, I was still freezing. I hadn’t planned on a formal breakfast stop, but decided to go in search of coffee.

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This is my new definition of “coffee.” 🙂 I ended up having an absolutely amazing morning at Eich’s Merchantile! I read for a while, chatted with the barista (a former forest firefighter!), and even with Ryan, who called from the top of a mountain pass! Pretty awesome. Finally I decided to get rolling. It was difficult; I was finally cozy, full, and content! Ah well… 🙂

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First stop of the day, another “little hill.” 🙂 In all seriousness, it was much easier than Sherman Pass yesterday, but I got the same satisfaction out of climbing Wauconda. There were steep sections, to be sure, but it was all over in about 14 miles. A chipmunk backwards could have sneezed and made it up the pass… Hehe, just kidding.

I was expecting a more dramatic descent, I think, and at least initially I was a bit disappointed. Just a few miles after the pass came the little town of Wauconda. Did I stop? What kind of question is that!? I wanted to call Mama and Papa, but the cell phone gods conspired against me. Coffee time instead!

I loved the Wauconda Cafe! Maddie, the owner, is quite the character. When I pulled up there was a sign on the door saying they were closed for painting. Just as I was starting to turn away, out bounds Maddie with funky hairdo and big tattoos cheerfully proclaiming they are in business! Ok then! I was the only customer for the first 30 minutes, and Maddie was talking a lot, bit not exactly to me. I did gather though that she was exhausted from the painting (did I like the colors?!) and had forgotten to properly document the last gas purchase (they also have a gas station/store). It was great fun to feel like a local in Wauconda! The only other guy there was an older man who raced tiny cylinder cars (the specifics were totally lost on me, not being a driver), was the resident locksmith, and used to be a fireman. What awesome people! A younger fireman came in as I was getting ready to hop, and the three of us talked for a bit about fighting forest fires. I think I would be too scared of falling out of contact with my group and getting separated. Oofta.

Two of the many great signs Maddie has up on the walls… 🙂

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Although it may not seem likely, I did actually bicycle today! 🙂 the ride from Wauconda to Tonasket was slow, despite being downhill, because of the winds and because of some scary turns. The shoulder was virtually nonexistent and there were several hundred feet of blind corners. By the time I rolled into Tonasket, my knuckles were white. There was quite the view to behold, rolling into the Okanogan Valley!

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From Tonasket to Omak, I flew. I found my little campground (that isn’t little at all, has oodles of Canadians, and someone who yodels!), washed up, ate dinner, and here I am. Tomorrow, another climby day, this time over Loup Loup Pass. I can almost smell the coffee in Seattle… 🙂

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Day 60: Colville, WA – Republic, WA

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Beautiful deer this morning. Did you know white tailed deer wag their tails like puppies? It’s true, I’ve seen it!

My route today took me from Colville into the sleepy town of Kettle Falls, where I found a little natural foods store with coffee and Nancy’s kiefer. Mmm!

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I spoke to Mum and Papa from Kettle Falls as well. Mama told me about one of their chickens having a rough time because of the heat. Not this guy!

After crossing the Columbia River, I had a long bit of climbing to Sherman Pass. I found opportunities for breaks, such as interpretive displays about the logging industry. It’s true, I do like taking breaks! 🙂

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Guffy and I kept plodding though, and finally made it to what I think is my highest point on this trip!

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There was even a sign saying “it’s all downhill from here.” Given my route over the next few days, I’m not so sure about that, but ok… 🙂

It was soooooo cold going downhill! The sky had become overcast and the wind was blowing at me. I was sweaty from climbing, and despite putting on every piece of clothing I could (including two coats, gloves, a hat, and long pants) I was still freezing! I met three Bowing engineers on their way to Boston and the first few seconds of talking with them just involved teeth chattering and smiling. They are cool people though, piecing together their route as they go along!

Today another pass and a night in Omak or Okanogan. Hurrah!

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Day 59: Newport, WA – Colville, WA

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Another beautiful day in the neighborhood! After a good nights sleep, I woke up early planning to get a good start on my 80 mile day, only to realize the battery on my little cycling computer had kicked the bucket! Being the Sunday of a holiday weekend, I started getting nervous. Luckily I have something even better than Google: Vij! We were able to find an Ace Hardware not too far back where I was able to buy two little 3V batteries. Phew!

Much of the first half of my day was spent riding SR 20 along the gorgeous Pend Oreille River. Just short of Ione in a little place I believe was called Tiger, I met Jane and her husband of 25 years on a road trip in celebration of their anniversary! We talked and they shared delicious cherries with me, sending the remainder with me up into the mountains as they were headed into Canada and didn’t want to risk anything at customs. It was a delightful break before tackling the hill up 20!

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This is Crystal Falls, along the road toward Colville. Beautiful. 🙂

My final destination was a biker’s hostel run by the Bacon Family. It was a beautiful house in the woods, with a kitchen, beds, shower… Basically heaven! I was the only cyclist there last night, and apparently the first cyclist through from Boston! They have an awesome set of wall maps, one of the US and one of the world. Every guest is asked to pin their name on the map. Pretty cool!

Today I start in on my mountain passes, first up Sherman Pass en route to Republic, WA! My fireman friend Steve asked in a comment when I expect to arrive. Right now I’m hoping for next Saturday! I’ve contacted my bicycling friend and route mentor Rod in Arlington and am planning to be there on Friday the 7th before riding the last bit to Seattle on Saturday. Obviously this is all weather/etc contingent. Eek!

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