Archive | July, 2013

Monday July 29, 2013

30 Jul

Hello Family and Friends,

Since we left Portland, OR a week ago, we have been following the Lewis and Clark Trail back across the United States. The trail follows the Columbia, Clearwater, and Snake rivers through the Cascade and Rocky mountains. The scenery of mountains, rivers and waterfalls is truly magnificent. In many places the rivers have been dammed up since the Lewis and Clark days for flood control and power generation. This has a negative impact on seeing the many waterfalls as described by Lewis and Clark, and it has had a negative impact on migrating fish such as salmon which can no longer get up stream to spawn. We made a stop at a fish hatchery along the Clearwater river operated by the local Native American tribe and the US fish and game department. Here the migrating salmon are caught by the hatchery, the eggs are harvested and hatched in incubators. The small fish are then raise in ponds before being released back into the river. Although the return rate of mature fish 3-4 years later is low, they are making good progress increasing the fish populations.The population of fish is tracked by either the pattern of their dorsal fin clip or by a small micro chip in their snout. Both of which are done at the fish hatchery prior to being released. One of the losses is young fish getting caught in the power turbines as they make their way downstream to the ocean. Therefore at some dams the fish are re-captured and shuttled around the dam by truck. A very interesting tour,mostly self guided, but with several of the employees providing anwers to our questions. After the tour, it was encouraging to feel that there are some areas where our country is being environmentally conscious.

Eventually we crossed over the Cascade range at Lolo pass on the Idaho/Montana state line. It was cool but comfortable at the pass as it was very warm in the lower valleys.

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Coming down from Lolo pass into Montana we stopped for the night in Missoula, MT. The next morning (Tuesday 7/23)  we stopped into the Adventure Cycling headquarters just to say hello and see the facility. Adventure Cycling provides services to many cyclists on the several cross country routes that pass through Missoula.

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We departed a bit from the Lewis and Clark trail today to head north to Glacier National Park. We drove along Flathead Lake which is quite large and partially in the Flathead tribe reservation and partially managed by Montana State Parks. This route was plentiful with cherries and there were many stands, about every 100 yards, selling them. There were so many cherries they could never sell them all just in their small communities. They needed a tractor trailer load to sell them to a larger metropolitan area. We entered Glacier in the late afternoon at the west entrance to pick up the park newsletter to plan our visit for the next 2 days. With an ice cream cone to cool us, we sat by Lake McDonald and enjoyed the view. Now in Glacier, the fruit of prevalence has changed to huckleberrys. Huckleberry pie, ice cream, sauce, salad dressing, licorice, and jam are all prolifically available.

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After a not so restful night due to traffic from cars and trains very close to our non air conditioned room (we survived), we did head into the park for a hike to Avalanche Lake, a glacier fed lake with several waterfalls. The hike followed the lake outlet initially which was beautiful in and of itself. After 2 miles, we reached the actual lake and hiked around its perimeter as far as the trail allowed. The water in the stream and lake was very clear and had a blueish/green color from the minerals washed out of the rocks by the glaciers.

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We did not stop to rest very long as the flies were hungry and it was quite warm. It was a good hike back out since it is shaded the entire way. We stopped at McDonald Lodge after the hike to have lunch and relax by the lake’s edge for the rest of the afternoon.

On Thursday we awoke early to begin our drive through Glacier on the Going to the Sun Road. A beautiful ascent as we climbed to Logan Pass and the continental divide at elevation 6646 ft. There are too many beautiful spots along this road to mention or show in this post, but the highlight was the top at Logan pass which opens into a sub-alpine meadow fed by many glacier streams. The meadow was full of wild flowers to Marsha’s delight. There were also a few patches of snow left in the meadow, but most of the snow and ice was high up in the mountains on the glaciers. One interesting point was that two months prior to our visit (May) this area of Logan pass was buried in 12 ft of snow. That is a lot of snow melted in 2 months!

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Coming down from Logan pass brought us to the east side of the park and a valley which is the start of the great plains. There are many glacier canyons on the east side with streams, water falls, and lakes. Again the waters are very clear and have the bluish/green color. Thursday afternoon we took a boat tour across St Mary lake with a stop on the far side for a 1.5 mile hike into St Mary falls.

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We camped just outside the east side of the park Thursday evening and enjoyed a very good dinner at a small local cafe. In fact it was so good we showed up again first thing in the morning for breakfast. The view at the end of the day looking back into the park was awesome.

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On Friday 7/26, we took another boat tour across two lakes in the Many Glacier area. The lakes where equally beautiful as yesterday and rather than ride the boat back across the lakes we walked the 2 miles back. The meadows between the lakes were very peaceful.

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Friday afternoon we again stopped at the local cafe for a late lunch/dinner before making the 4 hour drive to Great Falls, MT. As you can tell from all the pictures in this post Glacier NP is an awesome place and we’d recommend this as a must see NP. However, the park service is concerned about the large increase in visitors in the last 5 years and are making plans to control the impact on the environment. This is generally a good thing, but it may make it more difficult to get into the park in the future.

Great Falls, MT put us back on the Lewis and Clark trail. The explorers had to make an 18 mile portage around the series of 5 waterfalls in this area 210 years ago. However as else where, the Great Falls of the Missouri river have mostly been submerged by dams for flood control and power. The city of Great Falls today has built a very nice bike trail along both sides of the river and put up a very good visitor center depicting the Lewis and Clark expedition. Much of the information we have seen else where, but the center here also focused on the view of the Native American tribes which was very interesting. The river here was once lined with copper and silver smelting operations, but in the last 100 years these have gone out of operation and little remains. We did get a few shots of what can still be seen of the Great Falls.

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After the ride along the river on Saturday, we stopped by the Montana State Fair which was going on in town. It was a typical state fair with lots of agricultural displays, quilt displays, carnival rides, horse racing, and food vendors. My favorite was a photography display which had some really neat pictures. We picked up some Montana fair food for dinner and then caught the Saturday evening entertainment – Dwight Yonkam band. The show was a country/rock type performance which was mediocre – we skipped out after an hour and rode our bike back to the hotel.

Sunday 7/28 was a day to relax and make plans for the remainder of our trek eastward.

Monday 7/29 we continued southeast along the Lewis and Clark trail to Bozeman, MT. which also follows the Missouri river upstream to its source in the Montana mountains. The river passes through some very narrow gorges in this section.

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We got into Bozeman in time for an evening ride through town and the campus of Montana State University. The MSU campus was pretty with well kept lawns and buildings. We stopped for dinner in town and then back to the hotel to call it a day. The next few days we will tour Yellowstone and Grand Teton NP.

Love to all – Manny and Marsha

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

23 Jul

Greetings to all!

Since we last wrote we have spent a great week with our three boys as we biked the Willamette Valley of Oregon completing 270 miles together. We all met at our hotel in downtown Portland on Sunday evening (7/14). Monday morning required a lot of logistics such as picking up the rental bikes and packing our gear onto the bikes as well as storing everyone’s extra baggage in our van but we managed to be on our way out of Portland by noon.

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Initially, we had difficulty finding our desired route out of the city and our tandem had a broken chain which Manny expertly repaired. At the end of the day, we pulled into a beautiful campsite at Champoeg State Park.

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Just 7 miles before the campground, we had a great meal with cooling drinks! Just to add to our delight there was a berry picking farm just a short distance from our campground which Eric volunteered to check out. He arrived just 15 minutes later at our site with fresh blueberries and strawberries!  Yum!  After warm showers we soon headed to bed.

Tuesday was cloudy initially (Oregon morning fog) but by afternoon had cleared to mostly blue skies. In Keiser, we found a great lunch stop at Birdie’s Bistro with excellent sandwiches but also fabulous desserts which we took to go. With no campgrounds available, we did take a B&B in Monmouth. In the town square was an ice cream shop which just beckoned trying shortly after we arrived. Manny, Eric and Nathan went off to the library to do some route reviews for the next couple of days. Then  it was on to  trivia night at The Yeasty Beasty Pizza Parlor. There were four categories: US women’s firsts, Gray’s Anatomy, Science, and Crown of Thorns. You can guess that we aced the science trivia but the rest of the categories kept us out of the winnings for free dessert!  Still with full stomachs we did not miss dessert! The comfy beds at MaMeres B&B were the best prize at the end of this day!

Wednesday morning was begun with a fabulous breakfast at MaMeres before we left Monmouth. We cycled on thru pretty countryside and had lunch in Albany at a BBQ restaurant before heading to a  KOA campground outside of  Corvalis. The campsite was shady and we had good showers which were welcome as the day before there were none. Since we were 5 miles from town, we did use a local restaurant for dinner delivery. Nathan had packed 2 games on his bike and we thoroughly enjoyed playing both before sacking in for the night.

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Thursday our day was a short 25 miles to Brownsville where we camped in the town park. On the way , we passed by an Oregon State Historic Site called Thompson Mills. We took a tour which included them actually starting up the turbines to power the mill by opening the water chase. Initially the mill ground flour, then animal feed and finally used their water rights along the Caleopooia River to generate electricity. We also learned some of the local history caused by the mill’s water rights which adversely affected the farmers and how more recently the favorable removal of local dams has allowed for the return of the salmon to the stream. The tour was fairly long but we were glad we had stopped.

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Dinner was a short walk from the campground to the local saloon where we all enjoyed some hamburgers. Another round of games finished off the day.

The local coffee shop was open at 7am on Friday which although with a very limited menu was able to fuel us for the start of our day with more than our normal granola bar.  Friday was our hardest day of 58 miles with the sun out in full strength as well as more hills and a bridge construction site to lift our bikes around.

Fordyce Farms was a welcome respite  after 48 miles as they had ice cream and homemade fruit and cream smoothies which they called milkshakes. It relieved us from the sun for awhile and then we finished the last few miles into Silverton Spur RV site. They did have a good grassy space for our tents with a picnic table shelter with blinds blocking the sun, warm showers and a restaurant which delivered pizza. Not bad!

Saturday morning was damp and chilly but no actual rain. Granola bars for breakfast and we were off for Portland. We were chilled by the time we rode the 22 miles to Canby where we found an awesome coffee cafe. We had a much needed nutritious breakfast and a warm place to sit. Back on the road getting around Oregon City was a little difficult as I missed directed us down onto a busy road, but Troy was able to reroute us onto a great biking road  without backtracking. From there we found the bike path which led us directly back into Portland. It was very obvious that the bike path is the easy way to get in and out of Portland. But when we had started 6 days before we were heading in a different direction so as to make our loop. In the end a safe trip, great biking, good weather and good eats.

It is said that anything can grow in the Willamette Valley of Oregon with lots of fog and rain from the coast and warm sunny afternoons. We rode past many fields of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, marianberries, hops, string beans, and clover for honey (lots of bee hives). In addition Oregon is well known for growing nursery stock including all kinds of ornamental trees, bushes, lilies, and iris. They also produce seeds for grasses and flowers including daises and sunflowers. All this put together made for a very colorful bike ride – a sample below.

Bee hives in the fields

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Hops

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From the bike path back into Portland

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Fields of flowers

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After returning the bikes we enjoyed some pizza in downtown Portland and the went to Mass at St Andre Basset Church. There are many homeless in the downtown Portland area and this church provides many services including meals and consoling. We were warmly welcomed to their Mass.

Early this am, we hugged our grown men goodbye as they headed off to the Portland Airport to fly home to their respective destinations. After 20 days here in Oregon, we have finally pointed the car east to start the trek home across the northern states. Today, we drove into eastern Washington and then just over the state line into Lewiston, Idaho where we will spend the night.

Sunday July 14, 2013

14 Jul

We spent the weekend back in Bend, OR and on Saturday we participated in the Tour Deschutes bike ride. The ride was a cancer benefit and it was very well organized. The ride went through some beautiful scenic roads around Bend with views of the Cascade Mountains all around. The most notable peaks where the snow capped Three Sisters. At the completion of the 50 mile ride we enjoyed the Mexican buffet lunch provided and talked with another local tandem pair, Mike and Cheryl. It was a great day for a bike ride, sunny with a high of 75F. This seems to be the weather all the time in Bend which makes it a very agreeable place to live. However, Mike and Cheryl assured us that although they do not get much snow in the valley in the winter it does get cold. They relocate to Hawaii for the winter!

In the afternoon we went to the nearby town of Sisters (named for the mountains). Sisters hosts the country’s largest outdoor quilt show and it was going on yesterday. It is not a big town, but they  close off the main roads through town so visitors can walk around easily to view the many quilts hanging from every poarch and building in town. The quilts were everywhere and over 1300 in total! This show has been going on for 32 years. There were many entries from Oregon of  course, but we also saw entries from New Jersey and Japan. Marsha enjoyed looking at all the quilts and I followed where ever she went just like she follows where ever I go on the tandem.

Sunday morning we went to Mass in Bend and arrived a little early. The high school youth group was holding a car wash to raise funds for a trip to Stubenville Northwest this summer. It was good timing, our car was  very dirty and we were happy to support their Stubenville retreat. After Mass we headed back to Portland to meet up with our three boys. Starting tomorrow we will spend 6 days biking the Willamette Valley Senic Bikeway. We are looking forward to fun week spending time with the family which has not happened in several years.

We’ll update this blog again after the bike trip.

Blessings to all our family and friends,

Manny and Marsha 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

12 Jul

In the morning our campground was directly across the road from the Mt. St. Helens visitor center. While we had remembered some of the events leading up to the volcano eruption, the ranger’s presentation gave us an additional perspective.  The ranger had grown up there and they had all been under the impression growing up that Mt. St. Helens was dormant and would not erupt for a very long time, certainly not in their lifetime.  As we know, that impression was incorrect. The visitor center movie as well as the various displays depict in good detail the day by day events which lead up to the May 18, 1980 eruption. As we finished at the visitor center, we drove the  57 miles to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which is 6 miles from Mt. St. Helens. The road in leads only to the observatory which is within the 110, 000 acres of the National Monument which was formed after the eruption to allow the area to heal and return to a natural state.

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Weyerhaeuser who has logging rights,and I guess owns the land in this area, suffered a hugh loss of trees and was instrumental in beginning recovery within a week after the devastation. They replanted by hand all the trees that were lost. This replanting of trees proved to be extremely beneficial as it had the effect of mixing in the ash with the soil which made for a much healthier environment. Otherwise the ash would just gradually running off into the streams.  There was also a different movie at the observatory and displays with detailed stories about the individuals who were caught within the eruption zone on that day. Truly remarkable events!

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Seeing the size of Mt. St. Helens now, which is 1300 ft smaller since the eruption, we can’t imagine why they thought it would not be such a big disaster. Especially since they knew that the side of Mt. St. Helens was growing by at least 5ft per day. Of course we are looking at the events in retrospective!  Having seen the area, we decided to head on our way. This time to Hood River, Oregon. 

Today, we took a 30 mile bike ride right from our hotel onto the old columbia highway which is also historic route  US30. I wonder if US30 in Berwyn is “historic”?

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The route for apprx. 5 miles was entirely closed to motorized traffic and very wide and in excellent condition. We were told of this ride by a fellow bike rider from last weekends mini tandem rally. Great advice!

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This afternoon, we relaxed by the pool while I caught up with some wash. Certainly the only chore I have been doing since April 1st. Will I even remember how to clean?!
We have travelled 2100 miles by bike and 9500 miles by car so far on this epic journey!  Wow!

Tomorrow we head back to Bend, Oregon to participate in another bike ride on Saturday, that bikers from our July 4th ride had told us we would enjoy!

Love to all!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

11 Jul

On the morning of July 5th, Manny worked on cleaning up the tandem while I did some shopping at the stores just a 5 minute walk from our hotel. I  also  was able to enjoy the quilts on display at the shops as part of the activities for the July quilt fair in Oregon.
By the afternoon, we headed on our three hour journey to Gresham, a small town just outside Portland. The Pacific West Trail Bike Club hosted a mini tandem rally there for Saturday, the 6th and Sunday, the 7th. Both days the 50 mile loops were awesome with 35 tandems participating. The ride Saturday was somewhat cloudy and gray, but did turn sunny by the afternoon.  We were plagued with a slow leak of our rear tire which we decided to just repump with air till we finished the ride. It was a good decision as when Manny replaced it, he found a broken spoke which probably was just barely hanging on during the ride. Sunday’s ride was from the town of Hillsboro and was even prettier than Saturday.We had a smoother ride as well due to the bike repairs completed. We met a lot of people as they were so welcoming!  Sixteen of us joined together for a meal after the ride and we all had a great time chatting over some good food.  At least it tasted good as we were all pretty hungry by the time we headed for this late lunch!
With the mini tandem completed, it was time to head to Long Beach, Washington about a 3 hour drive, where we had made our next hotel reservation. On Monday, we toured the Lewis and Clark Visitor’s Centers at Fort Clatsop and Cape Disappointment.  Both were excellent! Even having read the book, Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose , we still learned some interesting elements of their expedition.  On this journey, we wanted to follow some of their historic expedition. Here at the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia Rver, we finally have  been able to do so. After an excellent fresh seaford dinner ,we headed up the hill in Astoria to see the Astoria Column. Our son,Nathan, had recommended we take the time to view this as he had started his transamerica bike ride here in 2009.  We arrived just before sunset and the views were stunning. Thanks Nate for the recommendation!

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Today, we headed on our way again; stopping at Settlement Camp and Dire Notch. Both places of historic interest from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

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We drove a beautiful scenic Highway 4 along the Columbia River and saw several Osprey nests. One nest was occupied and we had a great view thru our binoculars.

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We are relaxing now at Seacrest Campground where we will spend the next 2 days as a homebase for touring Mt. St. Helens.

Happy summer days to everyone!

We will post again on Friday.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

5 Jul

Happy 4th of July family and friends!

Being away from home  on a holiday such as this can leave one feeling a bit homesick. However it was nice to catch up by phone with much of the family today. We celebrated here in Bend, OR by going a local bicycle event ride, The Firecracker 100. The ride was 100 Km (66 miles actually) through some very scenic areas east of Bend. Bend sits on a high plateau between two ranges of the Sierra Cascades so the hills here are not bad so long as you do not go too far. We followed the Crooked River for about 12 – 15 miles which wound it’s way through a canyon cut into an old lave flow. Eventually we crossed over the lava flow and up onto a plateau.  The climb was not bad and the view as we came onto the plateau was stunning. The plateau was populated with large cattle ranches and fields of alfalfa and wheat. The farmers where out harvesting the alfalfa and in the background to the west rose three high 10, 000+ peaks covered in snow. The peaks are known as the Three Sisters. It was a perfect picture out of a travel magazine or an Adventure Cycling tour catalog. Many of the riders on this ride were very strong so it was a fast ride and a personal best average speed for Marsha and I. We were pretty beat at the end.

We enjoyed the rest of the day walking along the river trails in Bend watching the many tubers,  kayaks and other floating devices going down the river. We also feasted on a great pasta dinner to recover from the morning bike ride. We’ll watch the Bend fireworks tonight to finish off the holiday.

View of the Three Sisters from our hotel patio. The picture really does not do them justice.

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I trust all of you also had a good and relaxing 4th of July holiday!

Manny and Marsha

PS: Note that we will add some pictures to our two previous posts tomorrow so you might want to check back at them later.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4 Jul

We arrived at Crater Lake on Tuesday morning just in time to take a trolley tour with a National Park ranger around the rim of the crater. The rim road had just been opened the previous night at 6:30 pm. The snow accumulation at Crater Lake is usually 45 ft each year. This past winter they only had 30 ft of snow and thus were able to open the rim road a little earlier than usual. Even so there were 2 areas with snow that were piled higher than the height of the trolley car and also so close that you could have touched it with your hand out the window.  Despite the snow on the ground, the temperature was 95 degrees and the mosquitoes came out in force and were hungry! We still were able to enjoy 2 small hikes around part of the rim trail and found the views to be serene and stunning.

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By some amazing miracle, just 1 day before, we were able to book a room at the lodge right on the Lake! So after dinner at the lodge, we relaxed on the back porch there enjoying the view until the mosquitoes got the best of us. We retreated to our room,which was on the 4th floor, and had a spectacular view of the lake!  Sitting in the window seat, we decided to try planning our journey for the return east. We have a tentative plan and have picked out our most desired places to see before arriving home in September.
This morning the sunrise over the lake was awe inspiring just looking out our room window.  Leaving the lodge, we headed by car 11 miles around the rim road to our 1 mile hike down to the lake to enjoy a boat ride around Crater Lake. The lake is 6 miles by 4 miles in dimension and is 1953 ft deep. It was formed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Mazoma approx. 7500 years ago. The eruption was so powerful that the volcanic ash spewed 30 miles into the air. The eruption came from the sides of the mountain essentially splitting the cone of the mountain from it’s base. After the molten lava escaped, the cone fell back down but now into the immense opening created from the eruption. Over time the snow and rain filled the crater. Crater lake has no stream nor rivers which fed it. It is fairly consistent in water levels due to the melting snows and rain. There is an underground seep which lets water escape from the lake but it is unknown where the water drains to.  The water in the lake is very pristine as well as very clear. You can actually see the bottom in the shallower areas. The striking blue of the water at the deeper levels is just beautiful.  At the edges, the water is emerald green due to the shallower depth. Again the colors are just  magnificent.

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We finished our boat tour and did the 1 mile steep ascent back to the car without too much huffing and puffing. I guess that bike riding is getting me into shape after all!
We drove 100 miles north from Crater Lake to arrive in Bend, Oregon where we spend the next 2 days. We are joining a local bike ride tomorrow and then  will take in the local fireworks.  Happy 4th of July to all!