My last day of riding on this opened up after a good few hours of sleep in one of the motels in the town of Clu Elum, at the start of the Cascades Mountain region. I came back to the same place I had my supper the night before, The Sunset, for breakfast. And some breakfast..:) lots of everytjing really, and calories to burn me all the way to town. The Sunset was recommended to me by Rich in the photo below. He stays at the same motel as I did last time. But he pays for a month at a time. When his wife died 11 years ago, he decided he could not continue living there. The memories of his wife were simply too overwhelming. Would you believe that Rich is 86?
The only way to Seattle from Cle Elum was along the I-90. As a matter of fact this Interstate like me, started in Boston, spanning the northern part of the United States. Biking on the Highway is allowed in a few select states, among them is Washington. There are other options to cross into Seattle of course, but the I-90 is quick and direct. There is an old railtrail, called the Ironhorse Trail or John Wayne Pioneer Trail that goes from Plummer in Idaho and all the way to Seattle. Unfortunately this is not paved, and in most section only rough rock, so one really needs mountain bikes tires to safely ride on it. Speaking of safety, riding on the I-90 feels quite safe, due to the width of the shoulder. I have a red taillight blinker that is powerful enough to even in bright daylight gives the drivers a heads up as to my whereabouts.
In the distance you see some hills. They are part of the Cascades, the last mountain range before the pacific. There were some, but not monstrous climbing up to Snoqualmie Pass. Just seeing the number of miles to Seattle drop by each stroke of the pedals were fuelling me up the hills. Due to road construction there are sections where bikes are not allowed. They advice you to actually get on the railtrail. I got lucky and the road inspector gave me a ride in his pickup truck pass the blocking.
The scenery in this region is absolutely beatuiful. If it were not for the fact that I was riding next to three lanes of traffic, often at speeds of up to 70 km/h, watching for glass, metal and other stuff in front of me, I would have stopped and taken more and better photos of the beauty around me. After all the endless plains, often without any trees, in temperatures of 45 celcius and beyond, it was nice to see lots of trees, cool temps, and rugged mountains. It looked alot like Norway actually.
At the bottom of the descent and slightly beyond, I ran into this fruitstand, where they were selling cherries by the basket. I needed the stop and the treat to get off my adrenaline high riding down the busy mountain.
I was served by Blake. He resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. He had that lovely accent, being southern folk. He comes up to Washington in mid summer to sell fruits from the surrounding orchards. Among many things Washington is especially known for their cherries. And the Rainier kind especially. This orangecolored gem has a perfect balance of sweet and sour. Needless to say they did not last long.
Little Rock, Arkansas is where Bill Clinton resided in his early years of working as an attorney, before making his way into politics. Blake talked highly of Clinton and was hoping to see Hillary make office in the upcoming elections.
Shortly after having come off the mountains I was able to bike on bikepaths and smaller roads all the way to the city. You can see how green this place is. Seattle has done alot to allow for bicyclist. All over you see dedicated bikepaths and lanes.
Gone is rural America, as the Seattle skyline enters the picture. I have come to the end of my journey and it feels real good I tell you.
After 52 days on the road, with 45 actual riding days, I kind of met my mark of riding one day for every year I am old, but originally the intention was to total at 45 and to be in Seattle for July 4th. But with a trip of this sort, plans are one thing and reality something quite different. I could have biked faster, rested less, talked less, to fewer people, eaten while riding, etc….but I made the choices I did, in attempt of finding a balance of pure progression along the road and immersion into the the encounters and serendipity of people and places along along that road. After all, in the end this trip is mostly about the people I met, some about the landscape I saw and very little about the actual biking. The multitude and diversity found here is simply unmatched anywhere, at least in my experience. People here share their joy, their pain, their heartaches, their worries, their hopes, their homes and their food. Time and time again I am struck and often overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality shown.
I was very happy to roll into a store to buy myself some clean shorts and a t-shirt. I will spend a couple days in Seattle, hosted by Roar and Per’s cousin Dennis, before I fly back to Boston on wednesday to reunite with my dear Lynda.
I thank you all for taking time to follow me and my ramblings online. It has been a source of energy to read your encouraging comments along the way. It has also been an exercise in staying open and sharing of my experiences, becoming less of an introvert that way, which is nice. The best in life is always better when shared.
I wil try to write a summary of the lessions learned along the way, once things settle down a bit.