I am just a vagabond, a drifter on the run

And eloquent profanity, it rolls right off my tongue.1

One of my favorite couplets, I had to find a way to use it. Four years ago, I rode across the country as a gainfully-employed healthcare professional. A job and 15 patients/day not that I could see that many) awaited my return. Today I ride across that same country, just a vagabond. No job awaits. I am a retired person. When I arrived in Gloucester, MA four years ago I wasn’t ready to stop riding. I wanted to turn around and ride home. This time, that is theoretically possible. (I say “theoretically”, as I am not on a bike suited to carrying heavy loads, so that would mean shipping stuff home and relying on motels and restaurants.)

While I have done this before, all that does is make me over-confident. Have I trained enough this time? After, all, I’m four years older now; pushing 70. Getting into shape comes more slowly, as does recovery.

“Roll um easy” sounds like good advice. There is no rush. The other coast will be there when I get there. Okay, so there’s a schedule – I do have to be at a campsite each night if I want a place to sleep and eat. But how I do that each day is open for consideration. Last time I was tempted to turn around and ride Needles Highway a second time. I can do that if I want. I was into camp plenty early every day – I could ride it twice if I want to.

It is not the same country I rode through four years ago. Even if it were, all I have to do is look to the other side of the road (from the one I was looking at last time) at any given moment and I would be seeing something different this time.

Day 2 Skykomish to Wenatchee.

We awoke in a cloud. If it gets much colder I’ll have to wear my fleece tights to sleep. I wore most of my non-biking warm things last night. We stayed in that cloud as we climbed Stevens Pass. Climbing for 16 miles is all that kept us warm. While Stevens Pass is only a little over 4000 feet, we started at about 800 feet, so it was a 3200 foot net gain. We came into snow at 3200 feet. I passed a snow tunnel (where the snow had melted over a stream but was otherwise intact). I thought about a picture but didn’t really want to stop. About 100 yards later I came upon a full bottle of beer (Modelo). I thought a photo op in the snow with a beer sounded like a great idea (for someone else) so I didn’t stop again. I did stop at Deception Falls to go over the falls in a barrel before getting back on the bike. See the post from 4 years ago for photo. I shot video but have no Wi-if connection here so won’t try to upload it today. No stop at the red caboose, but there is a photo (and maybe a little essay about childcare) four years ago so check it out. I’m not providing a link, since it’s a bit of a pain with the phone app. I likewise didn’t stop at the Iron Goat Interpretive Site but, as a public service, it’s the Cabra de Fierro Sitio Interpretivo. I could maybe get that interpreted in French, Greek, or Afrikaans if I asked around.

The song for the morning climb (to which I cannot provide a YouTube link due to lack of internet access) was “Easy Skankin’” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. I changed the lyric to “easy spinnin’” to keep a rhythm for the climb. Since I can’t listen to it, you go ahead without me.

Visibility at the pass was near zero but the staff were waiting with brownies as a consolation for the lack of view. Heading down the pass involved some serious evaporative cooling. My feet were numb and I kept shaking out my hands to get feeling back. At mile 25 the sun came out for the first time in the four days I’ve been here and at mile 44 I shedded multiple layers.

Descending along the Wenatchee River was breathtakingly beautiful. Most of the best views were in places where I couldn’t take pictures, so you just get the two below.

We rode through orchards. (If you look at apple or pear boxes you may see “Wenatchee Valley” or “Lake Chelan”. That’s where we are.) We saw apples , pears, grapes, cherries, and hops. The sunscreen was packed away so my face is slightly burned. It is >80 degrees F here.

Tomorrow will be the first day >100 miles. No rain in the forecast at either end, at the moment.

Tonight’s dinner was memorably wonderful. A green salad, a spinach and strawberry salad, slaw, pineapple, oranges, grapes, watermelon, rice and broccoli, a noodle dish, garbanzo beans in a fabulously spicy sauce, and ice cream. There was also chicken, but I was plenty happy without it. When I remarked that the plates weren’t big enough to hold it all, the cook said “That’s what seconds are for.” It was clearly not FHB night.

The post-dinner meeting let us know about a little route alteration, increasing distance to 107 miles, with lunch at 62; meaning I’m glad I replaced the calories burned today; and I’ll need some snacks to tide me over. Forty miles is my limit without food.

After the regular meeting there was a special meeting for the coast-to-coast riders. (Not everyone is here for the duration.) The meeting was getting long when someone ran in to announce that tents were flying away and bikes were falling over. After battening down the hatches, I’m ready for bed. I won’t cover the bike tonight, as I’m afraid that would only give the wind encouragement.

The rhythm of this life is pretty simple and satisfying – get up in the morning, dress, pack everything away, load the trailer, eat breakfast, ride. Arrive at camp, unload the trailer, hang everything to dry, then pitch the tent, clean and lube the bike, take a shower, and change. Hang out until dinner and a meeting. Set out clothes for tomorrow. Go to bed. Rinse, repeat.

1 Lowell George, “Roll Um Easy”, 1973

Play ball!

The Assembly of the State of Wisconsin has passed a bill proclaiming that “No sporting event may be held in a venue the construction of which was financed at least in part from moneys contributed by a state agency or local governmental unit unless the event is preceded by the playing or singing of the national anthem.” (AB 226, 2021)

The bill does not define “sporting event”. If I take a Frisbee to the park and toss it with a friend, is that a “sporting event”? How about a pick-up softball game? A kids’ soccer game?

A park is, by definition, “a venue …financed…by a state agency or local governmental unit” (unless a National Park). Therefore, it appears that any sporting event in a park must be accompanied by the National Anthem – if this bill passes the Senate and is signed by the Governor. Understand that this is a state that failed to pass any legislation establishing safety regulations related to COVID-19.

I, for one, am fully prepared to sing the National Anthem when I throw a stick for Bailey to fetch. If I don’t feel like singing, I have it ready on my phone.

I’m going to define this trip as a “Sporting Event”. In several weeks we will pass through Wisconsin and we will ride in “a venue…financed…by a state agency or local government unit”. Just in case I forget then, here is the National Anthem to kick off Cycle America 2022!

I think I’ll propose that this be the legally-required version (Ha! And you thought it was going to be Hendrix, but in MA that might be illegal.)

In Massachusetts, you must sing it correctly. To sing the anthem “other than as a whole and separate composition or number, without embellishment or addition in the way of national or other melodies” is a crime. (General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 264, Section 9.) Having heard some renditions before sporting events, I might be inclined to agree.

Day 1 Everett to Skykomish 76 miles, 3517 feet of climbing for 680 feet of net elevation gain.

Don’t expect these data every day. I set my altimeter according to Google at our start point. I believe there was a misplaced decimal point, as we were 160 feet below sea level when we reached Puget Sound.

Cold! Wet! Death-defying busy highway! Drawbridges without shoulders! And that was all in the first five miles.

We rode west (West!?) for the first 16 miles for the obligatory dip-the-rear-tire-in-the-Pacific-Ocean photo op – our first scenic detour. We didn’t actually make progress toward Boston for the first 30 miles. It’s a good thing crossing the continent is mostly incidental to having a good time.

Sealed with wax, it will be merged with the Atlantic in 9 weeks.

To yesterday’s list we add France and British Columbia to the homes of our riders. It rained a bit overnight so we packed up wet. My neighbor carefully dried her tent, then went inside for something. When she came back out, it was raining. Breakfast was forgettable – hash browns that had been rehydrated and heated. “Hash whites” would be more accurate. Coffee was ½ hour late and pale brown water. It looked like the water of Castle Rock Lake but lacked the flavor. It ruined perfectly good water. Thanks to my former co-workers for the shot of espresso at “Proper Joe”, a coffee shop at mile 30. The town of Snohomish seemed like a pleasant place if it weren’t cold and wet. My former co-workers will keep me in espresso and beer as I cross the continent. Thanks again! And feel free to comment below. Just don’t give me too much work news – remember the “former” that goes before co-worker.

I probably wrote of Skykomish’s history as a Superfund site last time, so go back to June 17, 2018 to read that story.

The rain stopped after a few hours and we had a cool and cloudy day. Arriving at camp, I dried out and pitched the tent, cleaned and lubed the bike, then took a shower. As they say, take care of the horse first.

After going back and forth a few times I decided not to bring a sleeping bag since I was usually too warm four years ago. Too warm has not been an issue. I need to sleep in more clothes tonight.

As usual out west, the most beautiful views were in places that it was barely safe to look – no way could I stop for a picture. Tomorrow we go up and over Stevens Pass.

Lush – that’s what you get when it rains all the time
The Cascades, shrouded in fog.