Last weekend (Monday and Tuesday) Don and I decided to take advantage of Portland's unusually warm spring weather and head out on a quick overnight bike ride. The trip was impressively convenient and easy, and yet we both had time to take in the beauty of the gorge and empty our minds after a long week of work. This is a trip we'd recommend to anyone who has some basic gear and feels comfortable biking for about 25 miles a day.
Looking down at Horseshoe Falls near Siouxan Creek in Gifford Pinchot National Forest
With Spring just around the corner (it officially starts on March 20th!), it's time to start breaking in your hiking boots, dusting off your backpack, and planning those first few camping trips of the season. This last weekend I decided to take advantage of our unusally warm March and head out on my own 1-night backpacking trip. I chose Siouxan Creek because it was less than 60 miles from home, the trail was easy to moderate, and there wouldn't be any snow at the relatively low elevation. I also knew I wanted an out -and-back trail so that I wouldn't get to any uncrossable creeks that would leave me stranded, and I read in my hiking guide that there would be some nice campsites along the way.
It is hard to believe that it has been over a three months since Don and I finished our bike tour. Time flies when you are working full time and readjusting to life out of the saddle. I have had very good intentions to write up a final blog ever since we left Yorktown, but haven’t had enough hindsight or perspective until now to actually make it worth it. Now I must rely on my ever-fading memories and thousands of photos to take me back to bike tour and the many lessons learned, experiences had, and ideas developed.
Dipping our front wheels in the Atlantic Ocean in Yorktown, VA
After 70 days, 4,415 miles, and countless moments of joy and suffering, Don and I made it to our finish line in Yorktown, Virginia. The final week of biking was comprised of so many emotions that there would be no way of fully expressing it all in a blog. We have been enjoying a wonderful weekend of celebration and relaxation in Yorktown, which has served as a perfect outlet for reflection on what we’ve accomplished. For this blog post, I plan on summarizing our final week, including our last day of riding, but without much commentary on what this trip has meant to us or on all of the ways we’ve been changed by this experience. I’m saving those thoughts, along with more details about our time in this charming East Coast town, for next week’s blog.
We spent this last week simultaneously riding through the Appalachian Mountains and the outer reaches of Hurricane Sandy. It was a challenging week of biking to say the least, but we feel like we’ve come out the other side stronger and with more appreciation for this beautiful Eastern mountain range. As a native West Coaster, I had grown up with the misperception that the Appalachians were really more like hills. I had never expected to find the long, steep slopes, endless switchbacks, or magnificent views that we came across in Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia. Fortunately, as tough as this week has been, it all started out with a very fun, relaxing day off in Berea with Don’s family.
This week has been spent in the very green, very picturesque state of Kentucky. It seems that the residents here have a sincere love for their front yards and specifically for their state-of-the-art lawn mowers. Every home has a perfectly kept lawn in front of it, usually at least an acre or two in size, and every day we ride past about a dozen people riding around on their lawn mowers. It gives the state a sense of orderliness and cleanliness, and it makes a person wonder how each state can manage to be so unique in its appearances and lifestyles.
The last five days of biking took us through the whole state of Missouri, the crazy hills of the Ozarks, across the Mississippi River and into the state of Illinois. We've stayed in some of our nicest accommodations, met even more cyclists and locals, and both enjoyed and struggled with strong winds. Above all else, we have continued to enjoy the beauty of the fall colors and the blissful daily temperatures in the 70's and 80's.
At this point we are about 2/3 of our way across the country, and all of the town names, lunch stops, and city parks are beginning to run together. Every day continues to be filled with beautiful sights and interesting places and it is getting more difficult than ever to pick and choose photos and stories to include in our blog. Eastern Kansas and Missouri have been our most surprising destinations yet, with far more trees, hills, and colors than we ever expected.