I made it.
After 2,038 miles pedaling from the Mexican border to Seattle, I'm back at home. Here's a look at the final days of CWU's West Coast tour.
On Day 41 I left Portland in a drab, chilly rain. I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't get the true Pacific Northwest experience. Not really.
I pedaled through the mess to the town of St. Helens. After chatting with catering company and microbrewery owner Trent Dolyniuk I grudgingly complied with this bathroom instruction. A few minutes later another cyclist and I collided when he turned off of a side road while looking at his cell phone as I pedaled the wrong way down a one-way bike lane because "it's just one block". One of the attachment hooks to my rear pannier snapped off and sent the bag sliding into the middle of the street. Otherwise we were both OK. We apologized to each other and went on.
I met my buddy Adam for pizza there in town. When I almost turned down a beer because "I probably shouldn't drink anything cold right now" Adam grew alarmed and graciously demanded that I stuff the touring rig into his car for a lift through the 50-degree drizzle to my stopping point for the day.
It's not often that one sees a massive ocean tanker pulling through the intersection (Rainier, OR).
From there it was another day of wet riding to Astoria. Third-generation shoe-store owner Pete Gimre kindly bought me a cup of hot chocolate (and a cookie) at the cafe across the street from his store. I also came across a law-abiding black-tailed deer (it used the crosswalk).
Crossing the massive Astoria-Megler bridge into Washington was mildly unnerving, but at least scenic. I was back on the 101. I had a long pedaling day ahead of me, though I did manage to stop to take in the local news, visit with a banana slug, and enjoy 10 miles of solitude along a beautiful, fern-adorned logging road before arriving in Cosmopolis.
From there I headed east, stopping at a diner in Montesano and chatting with Wendy Keith, a mother taking a day to herself for Mother's Day.
I stayed with some nice folks in Shelton and then pedaled towards my final destination: Seattle. It was another rainy day. My equipment was getting worse for wear, and I got flat (in the rain). I kept my eyes on the prize.
After missing the ferry to Seattle by three minutes (it's that one below, pulling away), I had a one-hour coffee break and then went to the front of the line for the next boat. I was happy to find a dry seat under a heat vent.
I spent my last few miles visiting some of Seattle's icons. As I was wrapping-up my sightseeing I accidentally found myself in the middle of a motorcade. Lo and behold, I rolled right past Jimmy Carter. I gave him a big thumbs-up while his secret service agent scowled at me. Then a fellow cyclist stopped to chat with me and gave me some tasty cheese curds.
I thought I had officially finished the tour on a bench under a church awning in the southern part of the city, waiting out of the rain for my host to get home. Then I had to pedal another couple of miles to his house, and on the way I passed a drug deal and almost rattled the bike apart on a cobblestone road, so I guess those events count as part of the tour, too. My final chat was with Marley Blonsky, a Seattle cycle enthusiast who focuses on encouraging women to hop on bikes (http://lifeontwowheels.space/).
A few tour stats:
Days on the road: 45
Of those, days I didn't pedal at all: 3
Miles pedaled: 2,038
Miles carried: about 150
Longest pedaling day: 78 miles (twice, once in CA and once in OR)
Shortest pedaling day: about 1.75 miles (from the St. Herman of Alaska Monastery down the mountain to the Platina, CA store. I hitched the rest of the way along dangerous CA Highway 36)
Flat tires: 2
Folks interviewed: 39
Things lost or broken: a sock, a glove, a rear-view mirror, my orange high-viz rear flag (it was half of a child's hunting vest I bought at Walmart), my handlebar stem cap (probably still outside the ACE Hardware in Borrego Springs, CA), a pannier hook, my sunglasses nosepad
Here's a map of the tour. Most of this data was directly recorded via my GPS and shows my exact route (including wrong turns and roadside rest breaks).