Bike tour 1974 to See the West: Seattle to Canada

June 20th, 9:00 AM
odometer start: 1604.0
now: 1613.2

I'm at a little town called Chemacum about 15 miles from Pt. Townsend. I'm following a valley with ~200 ft hills on either side, so its pretty easy riding. Once at Pt. Townsend, I take the ferry to Whidley Island and head north to Deception Pass. over a bridge and I'm back on the mainland where I pick up the Shagit River. After the Cascades I leave the river and cross both Rainy Pass (4,855') and Washington Pass (5,477 ft). Not too bad, considering there are some 9,000' mountains nearby. I'm looking forward to the ride down!


I'm now at Oak Harbor, the largest town on Whidbey Island. The ferry ride was quite uneventful, which was a bit disappointing because it had run aground earlier today due to an inexperienced skipper and lower than normal tides. The island is pretty easy riding of the rolling hill variety and consists mostly of farms and forests.

I guess that by tonight I'll be east of Sedro Woolley, which will be the last big enough to be in red on the map for 40 miles, than none for another 83 miles.

June 21th, 11:00 AM
odometer start: 1705.4
now: 1718.3

101.4 miles last night. Then again, I quit after 9:00 PM. Not too bad considering I just missed the ferry from Port Townsend and had to wait 1.5 hours for the next one. I had dinner at Sedro Woolley and went from there to past Concrete with a 10-15 MPH tailwind so I did about 10 miles in one half hour stretch I timed. Keep in mind I was also going uphill slightly, so you can see what fighting the Oregon headwinds was like.

I spent the night at a public fishing area near the no camping sign by the Skagit River which is very swollen and roaring along thanks to the spring melt (summer melt?) here. Many of the mountains bordering the valley have nice snow fields on their tops which seem to be getting more extensive as I go east. A lot of red raspberries just beginning to ripen here so it looks like plenty of snack opportunities for quite a while.

Looks like I'll be well into the mountains - perhaps past the passes tonight if I work at it. Then again, I may be shooting pictures all day long since things are awfully scenic around here. I've been passing up a number of good shots figuring that better opportunities will present themselves as I get higher up in the world.

Time to get going. The road is definitely steeper now - wonder just how steep it will get?

June 22th, 4:00 PM Twisp. Wash
odometer start: 1769.2
Now: 1821.0

The North Cascades are really neat! Cycling across them turns out to be much harder than I expected - every half mile there's some new and wonderful view that requires stopping and getting a picture of! The roll I finished yesterday will have a lot of good stuff in it, but Chris and Doug will have to wait for the next roll for the snowbank ecosystem shots.

2009: A sad note on the news today - Kodak announced they're discontinuing Kodachrome 64. ABC Nightly News had a rather nice and fond story about its legacy. I really have to get some slides scanned now.

1974: As I mentioned in the index page, I started this trip with a new camera and new color film, and had only seen a test roll of B&W film for results. It was probably back in Oregon when I finally called home and high on my list of questions was how the photos were and what should I be doing differently. Mom came up with the completely unhelpful comment that they were wonderful. Dad had taught me a lot about photography, but he wasn't much more helpful, though I did get out of him that the exposure and focus were fine, so that was a relief. Once I got home and started looking at the photos I realized Mom was right and that I had been doing well.

Uphill-wise, the Cascades weren't all that hard. Only the stretch from Diablo Dam to above Ross Lake was rather steep (and part of it wound around into a strong headwind) but the rest, even the stretches going up to the passes was pretty simple. The ride down was lots of fun, but not nearly as long as I expected - about 30 up and 10 down, so I must still be pretty high. At Rainy Pass, there were snow banks on either side of the road, but temperatures were in the 50's - a little warm for ideal uphill riding, but not at all uncomfortable.

The change in climate between the two sides is very striking. Its quite obvious that most of the snow falls on the western side, as that's where most of it was, allowing vegetation (mostly firs) to get a longer hold on summer. The geologic change is also evident. While the Cascades just start with a bang on the west, they seem to be petering away here. Then, again, I'm not all the way past.

I stopped for the night about 3 - 4 miles west of Rainy Pass under cloudy skies and wasn't planning to pitch the tent until the thunder sprinkle started. Hardly rained at all, and when I woke up there was hardly a cloud to be seen. Oh well. Weather here is mostly (95%) sunny and warm (84 degrees) and SE wind (funny, I'm going that way too - grr). From here I'm going to follow 153 to Rt 97 (probably camping near the intersection ) and follow 97 north for a few days.

June 23 8:45 AM
odometer start: 1856.2

I'm now in Brewater on Rt 97, after spending the night at Alta Lake State Park near the end of Rt 153. Hadn't realized how close I am to Canada, though I should have since 24 mile Ross Lake reaches it. From here it's 77 miles, so I should be able to reach it today.

That presupposes that my rear tire lives through today which may be asking a lot of it. It looks like the ply inside it is torn at one point, causing it to bulge out a little. Not sure what I should do with it, as increasing pressure will put more stress on it and decreasing pressure will put it through more flexion. Guess I'll ride on for a while longer and if it gets any worse I'll switch it with the front tire. This being Sunday makes it a bit hard to buy a new one today.

The area around here is pretty dry, sort of hilly grassland, so it's a bit incongruous to see a river like the Methow trying to overflow its bank.

Well, might as well get going and see how far I can get before the tire blows up.

June 23th, 2:20 PM
odometer: 1901.7

Well, I made it to Omak and stopped at a drug store from some cloth tape which I wrapped around the bad spot. I quickly decided it wasn't going to work, especially when I tried to putting on the rear brake and tore off part of the tape. Fortunately, a woman I talked to pointed me to a discount store that was open where I got a $1.99 Korean tire and some more Kodachrome - 64 film (the first I've seen in quite some time). So, it looks like I'm back in business again. About 40 miles to Canada, might as well get going.

I believe I tore the ply in the tire on gravel in the campground the night before. The Korean tire did fine, even with more air in it than rated, and got me to Canada that evening. I replaced it the next day. I found a really cool way to fold a tire in three (i.e. it turns into three loops) without twists, and kept the tire for the rest of the trip. I hadn't brought a spare tire because I had never had one fail before.

Try the three-fold with a broad rubber band. It's a little hard to describe, so I won't. I've seen it used in some car windshield sunshades and a foldup kiddie play house.

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