The beginning-Washington state

Washington state map click on map to see enlarged view

6/25 Seattle, 18 miles, 3 hrs!!! we flew from Oakland to Seattle this morning to start our trip. Our time in CA was almost sad. A friend died a month before we arrived, a person I considered a sister turned out to be a stranger and the couple who my husband and I based our belief in a happy marriage on, divorced when we weren't looking. So much for expecting everyone to freeze in place. Despite the bad news I had a nice visit, courtesy of my cousins Valerie and Barry, who let us descend upon their home like 'a plague o locusts upon the land' (bye Naomi and Nia). Once we got into Seatac airport, we bus'd to Angle Lake Cyclery to pick up our bikes- a major mistake which I'm sure we'll pay for when we leave. note to self: next time you start a cross country trip in Seattle, get the bikes AFTER you've visited the city. We had to cycle 16 miles from the bike shop to the city- a trip we'll probably have to repeat on the way out. After making several wrong turns we finally ended up at the Green Tortoise youth hostel. note to self: never go there EVER again. The first clue was the buzzer and speaker at the entry door, clue number two was the crack dealer out front. We ended up at the AYH a few blocks away- big improvement. Tomorrow we'll do some sight seeing and repacking for our wednesday departure. Now its time for bed.

Day 1 6/27
Seattle, WA--North Bend, WA
50 miles
12 hours!!!!!
Here's the Reader's Digest version of our first day's tragedy:
It rained
we got lost
it rained
hills that looked like downhills went up
it poured
hills that went down felt like uphills
Jalysa fell
the heavens opened up
I got a flat
it rained
we got lost again
did I mention it rained?
happy ending
Today was our first day on the road-unmitigated disaster pretty much explains it. We did some sight seeing yesterday, the waterfront, Imax theatre, art museum space needle and the cool pig statues spread around the streets. Yesterday's weather was fine, day before yesterday's weather was fine. today's weather was not fine. We were up and waiting for the hostel's daily bagel delivery by 6:30, we were packed and ready to ride by 8:30, it started raining at 8:27. It rained all day. We got lost trying to find a way out of Seattle (including several extra uphills for which someone should pay dearly). The bike paths in and out of Seattle are an excellent idea, unfortunately nou need psionic powers or the nose of a hunting dog to find your way anywhere. The trip from Sea to North Bend should have been about 35 miles- it took us almost 50. We had a couple of really nice downhills, but most of it went up. We had to wait out a thunderstorm in a historic house in Bellvue, WA. I would like to have taken the tour, but didn't want to drip on the furnishings, cuz by then we were majorly sponge bob'd. So today was just a crappy day, til we got about 6 miles from where we were heading (Jeff and Cathy's house from the Warm Showers List) then it got worse. Crossing an overpass, just before an on ramp, Jalysa fell and tore out a good sized chunk of her knee, immediately we were attacked by folks in pick ups and SUV's with cell phones, first aid kits and directions. Eventually we escaped and got on the 5 mile trail to Jeff and Cathy's. I called ahead to let them know we were close and mentioned that I must really be tired because it wasn't much of an uphill, but it seemed steeper. Jalysa discoverd the reason for this - I had a flat rear tire. Of course this signaled the heavens to open up. I thought "no prob, I'll walk it and fix the tire in a nice dry garage- HA, an hour later we're still trudging up this trail. We didn't reach their house til almost 8:30 and only after their daughter Julie and her friend Anna came out looking for us. I was never so happy to see people I didn't know. Jeff and Cathy took us into their home on short notice, changed their plans and made us feel at home. Jeff is the family cyclist and helped map our route from here to Ellensburg. Cathy fed us and let us put a pig and a monkey in her dryer. Jalysa's knee is ok and will make some nice pix for the site. That's it for today.

Day 3 6/29
North Bend, WA-- Easton, WA
47 miles
12 hours
We didn't ride yesterday, we took the day off to recover, do laundry and pick up a few things. We got an early start today- a first, we actually LEFT at 6:30. Today was difficult, it started with a 2 mile downhill to lull us into a false sense of complacency and then zapped us with a 24 mile uphill!!! Through 3022 feet Snoquolomie Pass. Towards the end, I could only go about 1/20th of a mile without stopping. we had breakfast at a truck stop and lunch on a rock about 5 miles from the top. The ride up the pass was difficult for me, challenging for Jalysa. I think the hardest part We got on I-90ato exit 34, off at 47, back on at 53 til the end at exit 70. We're at an RV campground in Easton, WA. Kinda sucky place, for the last 15 miles of the day I kept Jalysa going with promises of a pool at the campground, of course the pool is not open. The attendant said she would put us near the playground- it looked more like an overgrown deathtrap. We did meet some very nice people here though. And this is a first, a couple of women (Joan and Elly) came over from the site across from us with soda, chips, watermelon and a salad, they invited us to their site where they plied me with beer and jalysa with ice cream and brownies. They were very nice people. hopefully we'll make Ellensburg tomorrow.

Day 4 6/30
Easton, WA-- Ellensburg, WA
40 mi
9 hrs
Of course we got out of camp late today- 0830. It was all downhill after Cle Elum. We ate at a supermarket and watched the local 4th of July parade. After C.E. it got rolly, not as hard as yesterday but tough enough. A couple of long climbs and about 14 miles of the interstate (yecch). The ride along the river on old highway 10 was better but not very smooth (there's just no pleasing some people). We're staying with Gerard from WSL til monday- gotta do some work on the bikes, go to church and maybe swim.

Day 5 7/1
rest day
No riding today- lazy slugs that we are. Missed church (d'oh). Gerard put together a cookout for us and invited a very interesting group of people. There was Cathy, who cycled across Canada, Colette and Jeff, who have a collection of over 300 homeless bikes, Ron, who puts together very interesting clectric vehicles, Susan, who dances and makes a mean strawberry pie, Jim who's written a couple of books and rides a bent (man after my own heart) and taught in Alaska for 20 years. There's an interesting cross section of people here. Everyone seems to be doing something out of the ordinary. I'd love to stick around and learn more about them. Tomorrow I gotta go to the bike shop and find out why my rear wheel won't stay true-then we're off.

Day 7 7/3
Ellensburg, WA--Vantage, WA
30 miles
7 hrs
We didn't ride yesterday- it took so long at the bike shop, we ended leaving them over night. They retensioned my rear wheel (which apparently had been tightened by WAY too many people), laced the spokes together and made some minor adjustments on both bikes. We started at 1030, (note to self: not a good idea- am I the only one who didn't know there was a desert in Washington State??!!!). Today was tough on Jalysa-she got headaches and had to stop often- she went through her water before we went 15 miles. The first 17 miles or so was mostly up, then we hit 13 miles of almost all down, it was almost boring! When we got to Vantage the owner of the campground we intended to stay at let us stay free, he said that was the going rate for anyone cycling to NJ. Though it was incredibly hot today its starting to cool down now. The view from the road across the Columbia river is beautiful. We swam for a bit and took a walk along the river. The folks in Ellensburg told me that crossing the Vantage bridge is kinda dicey- very little shoulder in the middle and high speed traffic. We had a volunteer to take us across (thanx Beth), but she wouldn't arrive til after 10 and I didn't want to ride in the heat the rest of the day, so we'll try to get across the bridge early. As I write I see at the campsite behind us a gathering of kids, my spidey sense is telling me there will be no rest for me tonight.

Day 8 7/4
Vantage, WA--Othello, WA
45 mi
11 hrs
We got an early start today. We were up at 5a.m. and on the road at 7. It was no problem getting across the bridge- it was the rest of the day that was difficult. We climbed for around 10 miles, some of it not too steep, then made good time to Royal City. We stopped at a nice (but a mite expensive) restuarant about 2 miles from Royal City and then meandered into town to find a park to nap in through the heat (it was supposed to get really hot today). We lounged in R.C. til 2 pm. Even with waiting the heat was incredible. Over 100 deg F. The last 9 miles were torture- uphill all the way, I don't know how I made it. Jalysa hung in there even though it was too much for her. When we finally dragged into Othello I could barely walk, Jalysa of course turned into a bouncy thing as soon as we got off the bikes. The weather channel says the temp tomorrow will be lower, but I'd like to keep it a short day anyway.

Day 9 7/5
Othello, WA-- Othello, WA
14 mi
We didn't get on the road til almost 9, Jalysa had a flat last night that didn't show up til this a.m.. After we got rolling things went pretty well, today's nowhere near as hot as yesterday, easy rolling hills, nice tailwind. I was almost in heaven-til... Jalysa started having trouble with her big toe. A few days before I had trimmed her toe nails, the next day she complained about the left one hurting, I thought it was the trimming. No problem, I taped up her toe to keep the pressure off of it, but that didn't work. She tried riding for a couple more miles, but it kept getting worse. We stopped and headed back to Othello to the hospital ER where the doctor (after the requisite amount of paperwork) said it didn't look that bad and sent us to the clinic next door. Now I'm thinking- no big deal, the doc will pull out a nail file, correct my trimming, slap me on the hand and send us on our way-NOT. While I was at the front desk arguing with my insurance company I heard screams coming from the back. I ran back just in time for Jalysa to nearly rip my arm off because the doctor was jamming foot long needles into her toes. Apparently my daughter had more than 1/4 inch of toe nail ingrown into her feet. We gingerly pedaled back to the hotel we stayed at last night to see how her feet will be. The doctor said 48 hours off the bike, but that her feet will heal quickly. After seeing what happened- I'm not so sure. Maybe we can wait a couple of days, tape up her feet and put her in some sandal, but right now its not looking very good.

Burlington twp, NJ

I owe everyone an apology. I'm sorry it took so long to update this- but it's taken me this long to drag myself to the computer and do it. We're home. Two days after my last update Jalysa was still unable to walk like she didn't have her feet nailed to the floor. In the end I had to hitch a ride to Moses Lake, rent a van for all our junk, drive up to Spokane and fly home. There was no way out of Othello- no bus, train or even rentals. I'm going to change the name of my site to "How NOT to go across the U.S. by bike". Despite the shortness of the trip and my best efforts, we still managed to learn something- hopefully I'll be able to apply it to next year's attempt- because we will be trying this again. Beth and Jalysa