Sunday September 2:
I felt kind of sad to leave such nice people who had provided me with an awesome shabbos experience, but I was also excited because the last time I was in Washington was about 5 years ago and I didnít stay long or see much. My first time in
I love engineering feats especially dams and bridges, I always take a detour in order that I can check out a dam and may even take a tour if offered. The Grand Coulee Dam would be impressive to most, but to me, it just didnít work out. I quickly left disappointed and headed towards the Cascades, I guess the Hoover Dam is so huge that everything fails in comparison to that. I would love to see the Three Gorges Dam in
While driving through this canyon of towering cliffs that rose 2000 feet, and pondering all the traffic, I remembered that it was Labor Day weekend and that is why there was so much traffic. It seemed like every car was loaded with some sort of roof rack 75% with bikes and the rest with kayaks. Multitudes of cyclists hogged the shoulders and suddenly the traffic ceased and I found myself gazing up at the greenest lush slopes I had ever seen, then I saw two towering triangle peaks with snow on them and waterfalls cascading all over and I had entered the Cascades. I stopped for a few pictures and tried to find a hike to get me farther into the mountains. I came around a switchback and saw a bunch of cars parked on the shoulder by a trail head parking lot. I really didnít feel like hiking with people, I turned around 5 minutes later thinking that on Labor Day weekend everything is crowded and this trail must be short and nice if itís so crowded.
I then continued my tour of the Cascades and started looking for a free campsite, which I would learn is nearly impossible in popular national parks. The Cascades are a beautiful mountain range, they are very jagged and require climbing skills and ice gear to ascend them. They are also incredibly green, and they are filled with lush rainforests on the western side. Multiple unnamed waterfalls cascade down from the cliffs, and there are some huge glacial lakes that give the park a feel like that of
My knees hurt for some reason so I opted to find a campsite rather then find an evening hike. The canyon or valley I was driving through is called the
As I was riding up the shoulder I came to a tunnel, there was a button I could push to make some lights flash to warn drivers or cyclists in the tunnel, I have seen this feature on the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon as well, it is such a west coast thing to do. Well the lights in the tunnel were non existent and half way through it became pitch black with a small window of light coming from either end, scarred the hell out of me, because I couldnít see anywhere but straight. Luckily no cars came in, on the way back however, it was worse due to the fading light and clouding up of the skies.
In the general store I was told by the locals that they smelled rain, something that folks in western
I let it b e known that $12 to set up a tent was piracy, to the national park ranger manning the site, she was kind of cute actually and if I knew how I would have hit on her, and tried to get her back to my 2 person tent which could barely fit me. So far this is the only time I have paid to sleep on the trip, I try to do it all for free, and when I resign myself to try and find a hotel I only sleep in one if I am sick or its under 30 bucks.
The Campsite was crowded with weekend campers, it was a white trash/redneck festival. Big dually tire trucks with campers on the back, folks sat at their campfires drinking bear and talking loudly, my neighbors had their truck radio tuned to the local country station until 9:30 at night. I hate to say it, but that was the best night of sleep I had so far, even though the money thing bugged me.
Monday September 3:
I woke up refreshed and decided to go do another hike in the Cascades, I drove up the road a bit and made sure the hike was through some rainforests. I chose a lake once again and this time hiked the Pyramid Lake Trail which was 1500 feet of elevation gain in 2.1 miles, not very long at all, considering any decent hike into anything in
I got my rain forests all right, tons of them and they were beautiful. I hiked past huge trees covered in moss with all sorts of bugs buzzing about the air, it hadnít rained the previous night but it felt like it due to the humidity and dampness in everything, it was a rain forest though. I hiked past some little streams that made the area even more green and then I reached the lake which was tiny, but perfectly clear with a great reflection of snowcapped pyramid peak in the back round. Most of the other folks on the trail had seemed disappointed with the hike, I however liked the forests so much I hadnít even cared the lake was more like a puddle.
I hiked back down and started heading west toward the coast, I still hadnít made up my mind weather to go to Seattle, Vancouver or Victoria. I didnít even feel like being in a city, but my stomach pleaded with me for its sake. I decided going through the border on a holiday weekend would suck so I stayed clear and decided to head out over the coastal area. I stayed on Route 20 west until I hit the Port Townsend ferry, which was $22 due to my bikes on the roof, I removed them an d threw them in my wagon, instantly I saved $11. I waited for the ferry and marveled at the coastline and birds flying all around.
The weather had changed as I went west, it went from partly sunny to dense grey clouds that threatened rain at any time. I also noticed that there appeared to be an espresso stand at every possible place they could place one, the common joke in New York that there is a Starbucks on every corner does not compare to the amount of espresso western Washington must drink. There were all these mini drive through ones that stood like a newsstand would look like in
I sat on the ferry and donned my windproof fleece, well worth it since it got real windy and called. I talked some guy on the boat about the weather and realized that it would be gray like this almost the whole time I stayed here in the west. The ferry went to Port Townsend which was a wealthy, trendy coastal resort type town with a beautiful refurbished historic district and nice stores. I walked around a bit and took some photos of the stores. I then continued up the coast and eventually to Olympic National Park where I would spend the night.
The traffic was heavy as I drover past a bunch of state parks, I was driving over this bay and I saw something I had not seen in a few thousand miles. I saw frummies, thatís right a woman in a sheitle and a man with the baseball cap walking across the bridge.
I then drove towards
Tuesday, September 4:
I woke up in the rain and immediately rolled my tent up and hopped in my car, it wasnít too cold, just a depressing rain and gray that seemed to hang over everything. I drove passed very large moss covered trees. I drove all the way to the coast which would have been enjoyed if not for the weather, I just kept going making a few small stops, I had to get out of the weather, I couldnít take it anymore. I was actually getting depressed by the weather, I understood the need for all those espresso stands, the weather made me very dreary and tired. I stopped at the
Once I hit
I drove towards
To say it cheered me up would be an understatement, to say that it was some of the coolest riding I have ever done and was super fun and I got ride through old growth rain forests by a rushing river of gray water would be much better. Not only did it get me out of my funk, it brought me to new levels of riding experiences. I passed under and next to towering trees, around massive stumps and watched the mysterious river that was gray. I also met up with two riders and chatted with them for a bit, one of whom was from
One of the riders recommended a free campsite and some more trails to ride. I hopped on over to the free campsite which was real freaky because it was back in the woods and there were these 200 foot high trees blocking all the moonlight out. I set up my tent then read a book for a bit. I had a great nights sleep and felt very refreshed the next day, ready to ride some more of the surrounding national forests.
Wednesday, September 5:
I woke up from a great sleep to find that the sun was out full blast, I thought about it for a bit and realized that this was the first time I had seen the sun in 3 days. I was overjoyed and after a breakfast of a couple of protein bars I set out to find some more trails. I rode the one the two guys from yesterday had recommended and after a couple miles it ended, I was frustrated and couldnít find another trail so I rode back and hopped on the same one from last night. It was awesome, even though it was the same trail.
I then started droving towards Mt Rainier, which from the distance I was at appeared to be no more then a monstrous block of ice reflecting the sun to the extreme making it glare in every direction. After paying 15 bucks and being told that the old national parks passes which let you into all the parks for $50 a year were not made anymore I began the ascent up the road to the mountain.
The scenery changed from low lying old growth forest to tundra and alpine meadows, it was a beautiful transition until I reached a point where the mountain and all of its glory was in full view. One should remember that unlike
The road to the main viewing point is called
After getting back down I munched on a can of rice and beans and my buddy a shot glass, I have no idea what the allure to collecting shot glasses is, but he wants them and Ill get them for him. I decided to continue east, so as not to leave so much driving for erev shabbos.
While driving away from the mountain I discovered this beautiful mountain lake that made for some very nice pictures with the mountain in the back round. I then continued downhill and was amazed at the geographical change that took place almost instantly after going over the pass.
I had come from snow capped mountains, rain forests and meadows, and was greeted on the opposite side by bone dry desert. Sage brush and dead trees dotted the sandy hills and tumbleweeds blew across the road. It was a stark contrast, as I drove futher it got amazingly flat and the land resembled more like something of the southwest then Washington. I drove past Hanford Reach, which is this preserve of 200,000 acres of desert with low lying hills rising from the flat as an ironing board desert. I decided to camp here beneath the clear skies. I found a sandy pull off and threw down my pad and bag, I then sat awake for some time listening to the howling coyotes and gazing at the amazing display of stars that was to be my blanket for the night.
Thursday, September 6:
Sleep was decent and a awoke to a blazing sun and clear skies. I drove on east slowly in no particular rush and marveled at the difference of the land between what I had seen a few days ago and not too miles before. It was desert with all its glory, dusty forgotten towns no speed limits and windmills giving life to the land.
I was real tired and didnít feel like riding, but I figured how often do I get to ride in Idaho, so I mounted my bike and began the long ride uphill through some high desert forest mountains to get to the trails. I finally found some sandy single track and began to ride up some more. There were many lumps and jumps and even some log rides so I looked forward to blasting down after riding up. I rode for over an hour uphill and started some slight downhills. It was pretty scenery so I didnít mind my burning legs and sweat drenched helmet. The I stopped for a traditional chill and headed back, screaming down the hill and jumping after little lip in sight.
After getting my bike back on my roof, I headed south on
I then drove through this beautiful canyon along this rushing river which had many fly fisherman in waders standing mid river. The canyon was very cool and in many places white sandy beaches were the norm. I found a beautiful place to camp a long a fast section of the river, the sun was just starting to go down so I walked a bit down the river and sat on a flat rock with a good book, life is good. Sleep was real good, and the stars were real nice as well.
Friday, September 7:
I love Fridays on road trips, no matter how crappy the day is, I can always hope for a bed and a warm meal. I drove into McCall, which had money according to the bike shop guy in
The lake ended and in its place was a winding river with beautiful shores and tall pine sticking out of the white sand that seemed to be everywhere. I came to a sign that said the road was closed ahead due to fire; I kept driving until the end and turned around. The mountains all around me were scarred from forest fire having stunted blackened trees all around made it quite eerie, but beautiful at the same time.
I turned around and started making my way towards Boise, when I got into town which was pretty big, I had heard around 300,000 in he city itself, I went downtown to wander a bit before going to the chabad there. The Rabbi called me and gave me directions he seemed pretty friendly, always a good thing. Downtown
The chabad family lives in one of these culdesac style developments with nice names which probably signify everything they killed in order to put this house in the desert with lakes near it. I parked outside and went in with the flowers I had gotten them. I met the Rabbis wife who was very friendly and she offered me some food, to which I readily accepted. She told me that they had a whole crew staying with them. There was one guy on business from
The food was amazing, this Rabbi Lifshitz originally from
I noticed that out of the 4 Israelis, the only one who actually ate anything was the girl Adi, who was with them. Of course me the tactless one had to say something, first of all I thought she was kind of cool so I figured she could take what I was going to say and second I thought it was a compliment. I said ďman I like a woman who knows how to eatĒ and she was really eating up a storm, even dropped her knife on the floor. I am also a violent eater when I am hungry. Her 3 partners in crime were barely making headway on the chicken, while she had a whole plate of food going into her stomach. My roommate for the weekend made a comment like, that sure aint a way to compliment a girl.
Motzoi shabbos I watched the movie Shooter with my roommate and then we went to the 1:30 in the morning slichos with the rabbi. The four Israelis left for
Sunday, September 9:
I awoke the next morning from a deep stupor from the smells of pancakes being fried up downstairs. I quickly davened and then chowed down on some great pancakes and listened to Avraham Frieds Yiddish classics, very good music by the way. I then bid my farewells to a very nice family and promised I would be back on some of my travels. I began to drive towards Utah, about a hundred miles in to the drive I decided I hadnít gotten enough sleep and just began to get more miserable as the day wore on, I just hit cruise control and tried to lose myself in the music, I crossed state lines and began to plan out my route into Colorado.
I got off the highway and went through
Monday, September 10:
Its surprising what a great nights sleep can do to someone. I woke up in a great mood and was excited to be in
This was my first time in
The trail I chose was very sandy in places but the views were like no other. I havenít been around here for a couple years and every time I cheer for more. I love the southwest, only problem is the heat, the lack of rain and cool nights are great for open camping, but the days are sweltering, always causing issues. I walked around to the multiple bike shops in
Tuesday, September 11:
I woke up from my sleep and gathered my things, I was going to
I drove to the town of
I drove down towards
I followed my directions and wound up at the East Side Kosher Deli on
So I guess this is the end of my road trip even though I am in
I want to thank everyone for reading along and living vicariously through me. Now that I have a digital camera I may be able to document more of my adventures which tend to happen every day, with you.