A Bike Well Traveled: Part II (June 22, 2018)

In the past several years of bike touring, I (and my bike) typically covered 3,000 miles or more.  So far this summer, only my bike covered that many miles ... and with no wear-and-tear!! 

My bike arrived back in Tucson last evening.  I just did a quick test ride and all appears to be in good working order.

Bike's travel itinerary:  Tucson-Sacramento-Chicago-Seattle-Portland-Seattle-Chicago-Sacramento-Tucson. 

As I mentioned in my previous posting, a partially collapsed tunnel south of Eugene has shut down all train travel between Sacramento and Eugene.

So, am I pissed-off?  No, not really.  Am I disappointed in having canceled this summer's proposed ride?  Kinda ... but not doing the ride really is not very important in the overall scheme of things. 

What's in store for the rest of the summer?  Same answer Amtrak gave me when I asked where my bike might be ... "Don't know."

Oh, well.

A Bike Well Traveled (June 16, 2018)

Much relief ... just received a call from the Portland Amtrak station ... my bike finally arrived in Portland via re-routing through Chicago.

And now it makes a return trip again through Chicago.  The work on the rail lines between Klamath Falls and Eugene is on-going (collapsed tunnel near Oakridge, OR); currently there are no trains running between Sacramento and Eugene.

The gentleman I spoke with indicated it should arrive back in Tucson in four to five days.

One can hope. 

Ah, Hell ... Oh, Well (June 12, 2018)

Back in mid-April, I decided it was time to start planning a bike tour for the summer of 2018.

Not wanting to do one of the marathon point-to-point rides as in the past, I decided I would do some sort of a meandering ride lasting anywhere from two to three months ... two to three months that would offer not only beauty but also an escape from Tucson summer weather.

Okay (I decided), I will head to the Northwest and meander around Oregon, Washington, Idaho, maybe British Columbia ... and then, depending on various conditions, maybe down the Coast to ... well, not sure about that either.  A wonderful summer's adventure loomed.

My pre-tour plans included extensive training rides (actually half-assed rides on the flat, paved Loop multi-use path), and preparing all of the bike and camping equipment.  The schedule was to ship my bike via Amtrak Express Shipping so that the bike would be in Portland, OR on Monday, June 4.  Southwest Airline tickets were purchased well in advance so that I would arrive in Portland on Tuesday, June 5.

Other than my abysmal attempt at getting into shape, all went well.  Took my bike down to the Tucson Amtrak Station, boxed it up and paid the required shipping fees.  On Tuesday, June 5th, I boarded Southwest Airlines and, again, all went well.  Arrived in Portland mid-afternoon, successfully checked into my hotel and (without getting lost) mastered the Portland transit system in getting down to the train station.

But ... no bike!

Seems there is extensive work being performed on the tracks between Klamath Falls and Eugene.  The Amtrak passengers, and passengers' luggage, are loaded on to buses between the two stations, but not so with large Express Shipping items.

So I said, "Okay, here is the tracking/shipping number ... where's my bike and when will it arrive in Portland?"

Answer was "Don't know" to both questions.

Seems Amtrak does not have any kind of individual package tracking system.  They can tell you where every rail car in the United States is located due to their GPS system ... but shipped items, not so much.

So I have spent the "waiting game" time visiting Nancy O'Brien in Eugene and Bill Burk south of Bend ... awaking every morning at 4:00 A.M. worrying about things that can not be solved at 4:00 A.M. ... wondering if I will ever see my Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike again ... trying to figure out on a daily basis what is the best plan should the bike miraculously reappear that day.

I have been telling myself that in the overall, this is little more than an inconvenience; that I live a charmed life as compared with many in our world.  I tell myself this all the while thinking some very vile thoughts regarding Amtrak.

In fairness, the Amtrak shipping managers at the Portland Station (Mark) and Eugene Station (Nancy) have been wonderful ... they have been very patient with my daily requests should the bike appear that day; can't blame them for Amtrak's lack of a tracking system.  I thank them for seeming to care about my situation.

So, unless the bike shows up today (Tuesday, June 12 ... and I fear this will happen), I will be flying back to Tucson this coming Thursday.

Ah, hell!!

Oh, well.

Like Dear Mother Said ... (July 11, 2016)

... "Moderation in all things."  Very wise advice, indeed.

I guess I must be one of the few people my age that was not aware of the evil side affects of large doses of the wonder drug Ibuprofen.

Since doing research on  possible causes of my extreme Prostate discomfort during the last few days of my Northwest ride, I have completely stopped taking Ibuprofen ... also stopped placing my ass on that wee little bicycle saddle.   Lo-and-behold, the extreme discomfort (as in pain) has not re-occured, and if I may unashamedly boast for a second, I have re-acquired quite an impressive flow.

Met with my Doctor today, so my re-entry into the world of medicine has begun ... blood test tomorrow, then on to who knows what.

If all goes well, one of these mornings I will awaken and realize I slept the night through ... oh, what a glorious morning that will be!!!

I have been communicating with Kim as her bike touring continues.  She is currently in Victoria, Vancouver Island, and is having a wonderful time of it ... I find myself wishing I were still riding, all-the-while understanding why I returned to Tucson.  So, I sit in my evaporative (non) cooled apartment (with a floor fan blowing in my face), reading Kim's daily journal in which she sometimes laments the cool weather she is experiencing ... damn.

Learned my lessen regarding Ibuprofen ... Mother was indeed wise.   But then she also often said, "Serve hot things hot, and cold things cold" ... and I have no idea as to how to apply that pearl of wisdom to my life.

Given what has transpired in my life recently, and comparing my travails with things that some friends are experiencing, I must say that all-in-all I live a blessed life ... in short, life is good.

Heading Home (July 3, 2016)

Sad to say, but I am pulling the plug on this summer's ride and heading home ... will be flying back to Tucson on Wednesday, July 6.

Since around 2008, I have known that I have an enlarged prostate, but have always felt that the inconveniences, as so aptly portrayed in various pharmaceutical ads, was something I could live with rather than consuming said pharmaceuticals.

I don't really know if riding has triggered the increased inconveniences and occasional pain while attempting to expel a few tablespoons of urine, but this new condition is quite bothersome ... to the point where I am more concerned about this than my usual concerns about my lack of ability to hear.  I am guessing that since I will be turning 70 years-of-age in two years, that my body is telling me that I will, from here-on-out, be acting my age.

Anyway, I decided to head home and get this taken care of rather than continue riding for another month-and-a-half.

Remarkably, Kim has absolved me of any guilt feelings I may have for abandoning her ... quite obviously my telling her of my decision yesterday was a real shock.  One of Kim's outstanding qualities is that she lives in the present, and looks at changes as opportunities.  As we parted ways yesterday, she said that she would take a day off today and reconsider possible routes ... continue on the planned route ... ride back down the Pacific Coast ... or even ride back down to her home in Austin.  Remarkable positive approach to life.

Our ride had been going well as we rode from Corvallis over to the Coast (just north of Lincoln City), then north to Washington via Astoria.  The adjacent photo was taken at Rockaway Beach, OR ... one of our overnight stopping points.  I have biked the Oregon Coast numerous times, and it is almost always a beautiful ride.  I say "almost always" because a couple of years ago I rode in cold wet weather and that is not a fond memory!

So, back to the desert heat of Tucson ... saddened that the ride is over ... saddened that I will not be sharing more time with Kim ... saddened that I am almost 70 (how the hell did that happen!!).  But, as the old saying goes, "If handed lemons, make lemonade."

Although with my current prostate condition, I think I will hold off on drinking too much of that lemonade.

Rested, and Moving On (June 29, 2016)

Even though we are only about two weeks into this ride, three whole days of rest (or rather, three whole days of not riding) is greatly appreciated.

After arriving at Suzanne and John's home in Ashland on Thursday afternoon, we spent Friday morning leisurely lounging around, then were given an afternoon tour of the many different areas of town.  What a beautiful town.  The aged architecture of the buildings downtown have been wonderfully restored, and there is a wide variety of shops and restaurants.

The primary draw of out of town visitors to Ashland is the Shakespeare Festival.  As I understand it, the Festival runs annually, February through November. Top notch.

On Saturday, John (with my assistance), loaded and strapped the bikes onto his pick-up truck and we were driven the 200 miles to Eugene.  I was thinking during the drive that had we been on a coast-to-coast ride, that accepting a 200 mile "lift" would be unthinkable.  This ride does not have that sense of a "point-to-point" feeling, so not having to ride that 200 miles is perfectly okay with me.

On Saturday afternoon and Sunday, the rest days continued.  Kim spent time with some friends she met back in 2012, when she was passing through Eugene on her cross-country ride.  I spent the days visiting with Nancy O'Brien, whom I have known for many a year and visited often when passing through Eugene.  Very pleasant days, with a liberal dose of stops at the local ice cream parlor ... Nancy knows my weakness for rich flavorable ice cream.  Movie, shopping, music-in-the-park, and of course great food ... wonderful rest days.

Yesterday Kim and  I got back on the road riding the 45 miles north to Corvallis.  45 miles of extremely flat riding, starting with about 8 miles of multi-use paths along side the Willamette River (adjacent photo).  For the most part, the remainder of the ride was on a low-traffic road that traveled through farm land, orchards, vineyards and berry patches.  Very nice easy way to ease back into the daily riding pattern.

Today we head toward the Pacific Coast, with Astoria being the next major goal.  Looking forward to seeing the ocean once again.

And ... we are moving on.

Improved Visibility (June 24, 2016)

Crater Lake ... if you have not been, then you owe it to yourself to make a visit.  The many viewing overlooks are just (to use an over, over, over-used word) awesome.  I would, however, suggest you select a "good weather" day, as opposed to the day I selected back in June of 2013 ... the view from this same spot was somewhat different back then.  Much enjoyed the view and the weather this time around!!

Very much enjoyed spending a wonderful couple of days with Bill Burk.  Days that brought rest to this old body.  Days that brought much laughter and interesting conversations/memories.  Days that found joy in watching Kim and Bill create a wonderful new friendship. Much happiness experienced by all.

After leaving Bill's home, we rode south the 60 miles to Chemult ... Chemult can only be described as a very small wide-spot on the highway that is slowly becoming less wide.  The following day we rode the 47 miles up to Crater Lake.

The ride is most definitely "up" ...  two lengthy climbs ... but the payoff is well worth the work.  The weather was very forgiving as the temperatures were mild and the wind non-existent.  At the Lake's elevation (7,000' +/-), the air is very clear, the sky is very sky-blue, and the Lake is an incredible shade of deep blue ... awe inspiring.

As mentioned, the Lake is at around 7,000'.  7,700 years ago, or so, Mt. Mazama towered over the area that now encompasses the Lake at 12,000'.  During a series of small volcanic eruptions, the upper 5,000' of mountain collapsed into a molten magma dome that had formed under the mountain leaving the current ringed formation (warning:  as stated in previous postings, I was, and am, a "C" student, so take that explanation with some skepticism).  Knowing that this part of North America was inhabited by Indian nations going back 12,000 years, I wonder what those folks thought when the mountain collapsed.  I also wonder what colorful swear words were in their vocabulary that were included in describing the event.  Ah, the questions that muddy an often befuddled mind.

After a cold night of camping at Mazama Village, we headed down toward Medford, OR (76 miles).  The key  word here is "down" ... gloriously down ... 36 miles of down.  Kim shot a video with her iPhone that shows a tamer section of the downhill ride; other areas resulted in speeds often reaching 30 mph ... sweet riding indeed.  If that link does not work, I am sure that she will be including it in her online journal.  Unlike my postings which typically include one photo, Kim includes many photos, so if you are interested in seeing more of where we are riding I suggest you go to her journal.

Yesterday we rode the wonderful Bear Creek Greenway multi-use path the 20 miles from Medford to Ashland.  So nice to have a leisurely care-free/car-free (stole that phrase from Living Streets Alliance) ride.

Today we are taking a rest day here in Ashland staying with Kim's friends, Suzanne and John, whom she met on their Camino de Santiago trek last summer.  Very interesting and gracious people.  My only complaint is that their house is located just above the Ski area here in Ashland (just a wee bit of exaggeration).   The streets up to their house are incredibly steep (think the scenes from the Steve McQueen movie "Bullet").  Over the past eight summers of bike touring I have only once needed to get off the bike and push my way up ... now its twice!  But as I say, Suzanne and John are very gracious hosts, so meeting them and staying with them is well worth the pushing (maybe).

So today is a rest day, the weather is beautiful, my level of fitness is greatly improved ... life is good.
_________________

Side note:  When we were riding up to Crater Lake, we stopped at the Crater Lake National Park entrance sign for a quick rest and some snacks.  While there, a young lady from Denver (Carolyn) stopped, and in the course of conversation, asked us for our journal names so she could follow our travels.  She is on a six-week car tour of Western U.S. National Parks and is keeping a journal of her travels.

Of course I got caught up in us talking about me, and neglected to ask her for her journal name.  Carolyn, if you are reading this, please send me your journal url ... to:  randallgarmon@gmail.com.