No pictures in this post for now - the hotel internet connection is really slow and we're having trouble uploading. We'll try adding a gallery later! This morning we woke up for our final morning at Chez Kenny Salvino’s, an honor and a privilege that we won’t be experiencing for the rest of the trip. All bikes were present and accounted for (better security), and after doughnuts, coffee, and cold pizza we said our goodbyes and drove back to Jim Bob’s Chuck Wagon where we ended yesterday’s ride. We try to purchase shirts from each brewery that we stop at, and even though Jim Bob’s was more of a barbecue joint, we wanted to commemorate the experience. We were told that the smallest t-shirt they had was an extra large, which was a little much for my small-medium sized bicycle crew members, so they all decided to try to cram into one extra large (which sort of worked with one person in the middle and two other heads using the armpit holes.) This arrangement was not conducive to riding bicycles so we used our ‘Here and Now Project’ shirts for another day of riding (a little funky for sure).
We got a late start (11:30am) so it was hotter n’ you know what from the get-go (it would reach 95). We traveled a few miles through town and quickly met up with the Yelm-Tenino trail which we stayed on for the rest of the day. What an amazing trail! It’s smooth and flat with very few crossings. We got to see a baby bald eagle and a few scrub jays, along with beautiful oak trees and pine trees and rivers and lakes. One lake provided a cooling off dip for my crew members who ride without umbrella shade. There was a great stretch of trail with a minor decline where Matt coasted for over 2 miles without pedaling forward or braking to slow down; that’s impressive trail design. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but this was certainly my most memorable trail experience other than the Centennial Trail between Arlington to Snohomish.
The elements were mostly kind to me today: Earth remained smooth, water declined to rain, the fire of the sun was shaded by my umbrella… and then wind decided to make an appearance. My humble pace when met with an equally humble headwind spells disaster for the umbrella. The umbrella tends not to gradually blow out of position, but rather to explode backwards with no warning into my eyes or behind the chair. These mishaps occurred throughout the day while Dr. Blaustein tried to improve upon the methods by which we were securing the umbrella. Instead of getting frustrated, I decided to tip my hat to the wind and her sense of humor and give thanks that only one of the elements was trying to make us laugh today.
We wrapped up our day after 17 miles at Tenino Park, which has an abundance of shade trees and a fantastic swimming area in their rock quarry. My mom picked us up and we ate, gassed up, and motored on to a unique treat: a private concert with folk singer John Craigie. This was an honor that cannot be captured in words. Josh Blaustein and myself are huge fans and we found ourselves grinning like teeny-bop fans in John’s backyard listening to our favorite songs. I was also lucky enough to harmonize with John on Guy Clark’s Dublin Blues and one of my favorites: Long Black Veil. If you don’t know about John Cragie you need to; this is a humble, thoughtful, kind man, and is one of the great modern story-telling singers. This was truly one of the major (and totally unexpected - thanks Blaustein!) highlights of the trip.
Saturday will be another hot one on the roads, and we hope to get to Napavine approximately thirty miles away. I and the crew are feeling rejuvenated after the concert, but we're also chanting the "Safety First" mantra. Wish us luck!