Wrote this in Sandpoint, Idaho…

Admittedly, at the start of this tour, I was green when it comes to the outdoors. I may exude the elitist REI member persona, but don’t let the Patagonia fleece and earth toned beanie fool you, a few weeks ago I didn’t even know how to operate my own camp stove.

But all that has changed now. As I near the border of Montana, I must say, I am now a man of the earth. I bathe in the river.  Cheez-its get stuck in my beard. People inch away from me in the line at the bank. And I grind my coffee with a rock.

Be forewarned, When I get back to Seattle I will be a quiet, interpersonal being who writes books and keeps to himself- only emerging to say a few profound words, then returning to my Georgetown loft apartment.

Throwin’ in the towel

July 30, 2008

After 16 days of attempting to heal my shoulder on the road, I woke up this morning to find it’s almost as bad as it was in the beginning. I don’t think I can keep riding without doing permanent damage. See you all soon.

Goodbye Cutbank

July 28, 2008

After a week of living the Montana prairie life, it is time to mount my steed again and continue eastward.  My shoulder feels a lot better, although I am still wary and wonder whether it will hold up to the rigors of riding.  As for the rest of me, I’m 6 pounds heavier thanks to Mona and Joe and definitely ready to continue the adventure.  I have 35 days to do the remaining 3, 100 miles, and this little vacation moved my daily average required to complete the trip to about 92 miles.  Sweet.

As some of you know,  I brought Simon along for the first leg of the trip.  The plan was to take him all the way, but when we reached Omak the temperature was 109 degrees and the little feller started getting overheated, which is no wonder considering his perma-sweater.  We held an expedition meeting and decided that the only prudent choice would be to to take him home, but the thing is, getting him there and me back on the bike was a three day series of events.  Here’s how it went down:

Day 1:

6am:  Wake up under gas station awning in Wauconda, Washington.  Map lied.  It’s not a town.  It’s a gas station.  Simon not doing well, not life threatening, but definitely worth a trip to the doc.  Decide I gotta bring him home.

7am: Ride to Republic because the phonebook says there’s a vet there.

10am:  Arrive in republic, extremely nice vet helps me formulate plan which consists of leaving Simon at vet, going to Spokompton and renting a car, and then heading back to vet to grab him.

11am:  Star hitchin’ to Spokane.

2pm:  Renew license in Colville so I can rent car in Spokane.

4pm: Arrive in Spokane after three rides, one McDonalds milkshake,  and one dead pigeon thanks to Larry the trucker, who then proceeded to tell that joke about the last thing that goes through a pigeons mind after it hits the windhshield (it’s its ass apparently).

8:30 PM:  Got dog, looks better, and stoked to be in a sweet supercharged Pontiac Gran Prix. Start driving.

Day 2:

3:30 AM:  Arrive on Whidbey Island. Sleep.

10am:  Wake up, drive back to Spokane.

7pm: Drop rental car off, start walking through rather questionable part of town.  Rock fanny pack and white legs with pride, nod at friendly gentlemen wearing blue bandanas.

9pm: Finally get ride to Chewaleh (part way there).

10pm: Get ride to Colville (still only part way there).   Decide not to hitch over Sherman Pass in middle of night.

Day 3:

1am:  After having three sprinklers soak me, decide there is no safe lawn in Colville, watch the plywood mill make plywood for a while, curl up on bench with trusty patagonia fleece.  Doze in and out, slightly wet.

2am: Woken up by flood of giggling Colville nightlife from closing bars.  Colville’s giggling nightlife thinks I’m a bum.

4am: Wake up, walk over Columbia river bridge, hitch ride over Sherman pass with dude who plucks trees out of the ground with a helicopter for a living. Did not know job existed.

8 am:  Reach Republic, grab bike and gear out of horse trailer (thanks, Doris). Ride into town, pass out under tree in city park. 

10am:  Wake up with a bird on my head.  Seriously.  Dude thought I was a rock or something. 

11am:  Mount bike, and ride on.

It was quite a process, but all is right in the universe now.  Simon’s at home and I’m gonna go try and shoot me some more gophers.  I love Montana.

Oh, one more thing, everyone go see The Dark Knight, it’s worth the ten bucks.

So here I am in Cut Bank, Montana, three weeks into my tour, and this is my first blog post.  My visions of logging onto the internet in a quaint little internet cafe every evening after the days ride quickly dissappeared soon after take off, partly because the internet is tough to find, and partly because most of my time off the bike is spent finding a place to sleep, or with the people nice enough to let me stay with them.

But I should have the time to write a bit now.  A few days back I threw my wheel into a pothole, sending a shockwave up my arm that ended at my clavicle.  I decided to attempt to “ride it off”, but that went over like a fart in a space suit, so I’ve thrown myself at the mercy of western medicine yet again:  So far, an arm sling, lots of rest, and some glorified Ibuprofen I probably paid too much for.

But let me take you back a few days.  My ride started out at Neah Bay, Washington, and worked its way along  the northern part of the Olympic Penninsula heading east.  From there, it was Highway 20 all the way over the Cascades to the Washington/Idaho border, which is pretty close to where Simon departed the expedition.  I injured my shoulder in Idaho, and made it about 300 miles into Montana before I realized some R and R was in order.

So that’s the skinny.  I will post some more meat in the coming days, but for now you know, in short, how I got here.

You can also look at some of the pictures that I’ve taken so far.