Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Must... keep... climbing

The next day started early, I got a couple hours of driving in before getting to a nice beach and going for a long run, made a little surreal by the coastal fog. I thought Yogi might be getting tired, he was actually running BEHIND me towards the end, but he quickly put me in my place to chase off some seagulls.

Beach run!

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Bend was 6 hours away. I was going to be a long drive, but if I moved quickly it should be doable. The drive through the rest of Northern California was the standard gorgeous forests and pacific coast. The road turned inland where I finally hit the border into Oregon. I drove pretty much non-stop all day.

Apparently you can't pump your own gas or you'll get arrested in Orgeon, as one helpful gas station attendant informed me.

Bend seems like a Boulder from 2005, a lot smaller and less crowded. I met up with Kurt, we'd be staying on a friend's couch for the night. I took a quick shower to knock down my smell a few notches, and then headed to a place called The Lot, which is an outdoorish food truck/beer pavillion. I had a Wet Burrito and a few beers before we headed to Bend Brewing and then Deschutes, where I wisely/poorly chose to have a sampler of every beer.

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The following morning was a flurry of gathering supplies, doing laundry, packing, and a quick breakfast before driving to Mount Hood. I also got Yogi a more comfortable setup instead of just sleeping on top of my duffel bag. We stopped at Mount Hood Brewing to get lunch, have a few beers and figure out our plan for the day. We decided on going to Ramona Falls on the Western slope of the mountain.

Yogi got a better bed today

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The hike was about 7 miles and Kurt has a bad knee, but there was a lot of water for Yogi to jump in and the falls themselves were pretty gorgeous. The big river valleys also provided some nice clearings to see Mount Hood. The trees are so tall and thick here it's hard to find the consistently epic views you get in Colorado.

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Afterwards we camped along a rive we passed on the way there. It was pretty isolated besides the few cars that would drive by every couple hours. It was also my first campfire of the trip, the Miata doesn't have a lot of room to carry excess firewood. We made a gargantuan amount of chili-mac, and I had a Sanctification from Russian River, which seemed perfect for the occassion.

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Kurt and me had breakfast at a neat place just at the end of Lola Pass Road, the ZigZag Inn, and then said our goodbyes after he gave the car a sign off with a sharpie. During the Mongol Rally we had friends and helpful strangers sign our car, and it was too good of an idea not to do again.

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I headed North, along a nice mountain road around the East side of Mount Hood. The road took me along a river and finally through some vineyards before I crossed the Columbia River into Washington. Instead of heading on the road North that follows the West side of Mount Adams, I decided at the last minute to head farther West and drive along the East side of Mount St Helens. It was a great drive, but my GPS died so I was driving by intuition. There was a sign saying the road I was on was closed, but I decided to keep going anyway to check it out.

I stopped at a small grocery store in the middle of no where called Eagle Rock to ask for directions. Two helpful people gave me some great directions, a map, and a recommendations for the scenic route. Unfortunately the route I was planning was closed, so I had to head West and take... sigh... the 5 North to Seattle. The scenic route would take me along a dirt road mountain pass, so I hoped that would make me feel like less of a cop out for taking the 5. I thought that would be as good an opportunity as any to go for a mountain bike ride.

I checked my chain beforehand, there was a link on the verge of failure. I decided to try to fix it by compressing it and re-pressing the shaft, and then hoped for the best. The start of the ride was probably the worst type of surface imaginable for someone on their third ride ever with clip-in pedals, basically over sharp volcanic rocks. I chickened out by walking some of it and hoped it would end quickly, and after a couple hundred yards I entered dense Washington forests.

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I was consistently climbing, and I had a goal of getting to the bottom of the mountain, but as I kept riding... and riding... and riding... it was quickly apparent this was an ambitious goal. I finally got to an open clearing thanks to an enormous landslide, providing a great view that made the entire ride worth it. A little farther on I had a good view of how close I was to the mountain, but the snow forced me to finally give up. Somehow my quick chain fix worked perfectly the whole time.

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A photo posted by Byron Young (@byron.a.young) on


After that I drove basically non-stop to Blue Origin, where my friend Kristina works. She gave me a tour of their badass facility, and all of the exciting work they're doing. I'd be staying at her place with her husband Ryan for a couple days to prepare for my longest couch-less stint through Canada.

That evening we went to a nice Hawaiin-Mexican-American fusion place right on the water, and then to an amazing bar called Brouwer's Cafe before calling it a day. I've got a lot to do today to prepare, hopefully I don't get too distracted by breweries and good food.

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