Recharging the Batteries
or Five Peak Thursday
Even winter can get to me sometime. And the last week I've felt down, mentally and physically. But thankfully, getting myself out of a funk isn't the hardest thing. I've realized over the past few years that nothing recharges me like a good, decent bicycle ride. A ride explicitly for the the sake of riding. Not running errands about town, just a bike ride. A good 40 to 60 mile jaunt, something that will make me good and tired (and hungry) when it's done.
In the summertime it's pretty damn easy, since most every day from mid-June to early October is perfect weather for this. The winter is tougher, though. I'm not afraid of rain, and do my share of riding in it. But there's only so much time I want to spend riding in the rain. So a long ride has to wait for a "nice day"--something cloudy to clear, high temps in the upper 30's to low 50's. Yesterday was that nice day.
My intention was to somehow get to Kelley Point Park (the original goal of the "Crown Point Ride" from earlier in the month). I headed eastward first, going over the "pass" of Mount Tabor, the low point between the two summits of the hill (right around SE 69th and Belmont) to get coffee at the Bi-Partisan in Montavilla. Then onto the I-205 path northbound to the river, and then west along Marine Drive. The morn was perfect, with a pea-soup fog over the Columbia River obscuring the planes taking off from PDX. 20 miles into it I was near Jantzen Beach, and on a whim I decided to cross over the river via interstate Bridge into Vancouver, Washington. Besides, I wanted to see if the library over there had any good music CD's to check out. (Answer: they don't, since they have no music CD's).
Rather than head to Kelley Point on the Oregon side, I headed further west along Lower River Road in the 'Couv to Frenchman's Bar, which is even more secret. From there, besides all the birds, you can see the mouth of the Willamette and the start of Sauvie Island! And then I turned around to look north and east for a tremendous view. The fog had finally burned off, giving a great view of Mt. Saint Helens and Hood, but more importantly Rainer and Adams, which are much more difficult to see from Portland. Four out of the five possible snow-capped volcanoes visible from Portland--all at once! I thought to myself, the day would be complete if I catch a glimpse of the most elusive peak of them all--Mt. Jefferson on the Oregon side. (I did catch it later, making it a five peak day!)
Moments like that are what keep me in Portland. I was barely 10 miles from downtown Portland, yet I was in quiet countryside, more birds than humans and farms around me. And I get such a great panorama, reminding me that wilderness is in my grasp, an hour by car or a day (or less) by bike. Two hours west (by car) I'm at the coast, two hours east I'm in desert. I've lived in Portland for 5 1/2 years and I've learned a lot about the town, but there's still so much to learn. And I've barely scratched the surface of what can be found in the Northwest.
It was nearing 3pm, so I needed to take full advantage of the light. I headed back east through downtown Vancouver and then east along Old Evergreen Hwy to get to the I-205 bridge, bringing me back to Portland. Up the hill to the Alameda Ridge and then west to Alberta to check out Last Thursday's action (pretty much dead) and to get burritoes at Don Pancho with friends. Over 50 miles put on the bike. A good day.
This new year's I'll be getting even more recharging. I'll be out in Bingen, Washington, in the eastern part of the Gorge (just across from Hood River, Oregon), staying at the hostel there for a few days while I savor the solitude and work on personal projects. Happy new year!