Monday, September 16, 2013

Week Thirteen

Columbia River to Portland...3 days

212 miles..8,034 feet climb
5,326 miles total...198,134 feet climb total

Gotta love the gentle curves of Columbia River Highway

The Columbia River impoundment is huge with broad and continuous lakes the rest of my way to Portland. Crossing over at Umitilla to Highway 14 on the Washington side, the day's ride will be long with very limited services for 85 miles out of a total of 95. I make good time with little wind and good roads. I begin to look for a shady spot to take a break and have a snack. At mile 60 I spot a grove of Cottonwoods and ride down a short side drive to a level spot. I roll my bike through some scrub brush to enter the shade of the Cottonwoods. It is a pleasant place to relax and snack.

Lake Columbia...

An hour later I begin to mobilize myself to continue on route. As is my habit I check the tires for pressure. They are both flat! There is a single goat head thorn body the size of a small peanut with several menacing spikes radiating of which is embedded in the side wall of my rear tire. Upon pulling it there is the small sound of escaping air.

I have one good spare tube and one with holes I have not patched as I should have the previous night. Putting the good tube in the front, I then work on the rear. Bicyclists are never excited to remove the rear wheel. In my case I must unload all gear before even having access to the wheel. My travel bowl is filled with water so I can more easily locate the bubbling hole. There are five!!! I only have five patches left, I believe at that time. I extract twelve thorns from the rear tire alone. Not all have punctured the tube and most are worn level with the tire surface indicating I picked these up at an earlier time, perhaps that morning. These thorns are easily blown by the traffic to the shoulder where I have been riding. All that angst about dodging glass is beginning to appear a minor irritant. Goat head thorns have been known to give car tires a flat. They are terribly tenacious terrors unseen by the weary rider.

I carry the bike back over the shrub field to the gravel drive and reload gear. Tenuously I continue the next forty miles to camp believing I have no spare tube or patches, and hoping the lost time patching and pumping tires won't put me into camp past dark. The road is kind, clear of additional thorns (though I ride a little more closely to the fog line), and camp comes at 7:30 with time to eat, pitch camp before dusk, and then shower. Maryhill SP has no standard vacancies but there are hiker-biker sites for $12 that I have to myself.

The next morning, both tires are flat again!

Washington state apples
Columbia a river side canyon
Where I hoped to camp once upon a time

Digging deep into the gear stash I find another patch kit. Before leaving home I bought patch kits, would forget where I put them, and buy another kit, misplace that one, so buy another...thank goodness. I patched another four holes in the rear tube. The front leak was a result of a tube seam defect. This took two additional hours of my morning delaying breakfast on the other side of the Columbia River in Biggs.

I-84 with Mt. Hood in distance
The Dalles...native salmon fishing platforms
Columbia River gorge

This day would take me onto the historic Columbia River Highway (Highway 30), a 75 mile parkway constructed between 1913 and 1922 as one of the first roads undertaken by the newly founded Oregon Transportation Department to build a water level link across the Cascade Mountains. In the process a wonderful parkway served to connect Portlanders to the natural wonders to be found along the southern banks of the river. It didn't take many years for larger, faster cars and greater transportation demands to overtax the CRH. Newer roadways began to replace the older between 1930 to 1950 with today's Interstate 84, removing and overlaying portions of the original parkway. Many sections sat abandoned and forgotten until about 2003 when leadership and funds allowed the beginning of restoration and relinkage of many sections to create a trail option to I-84. Portions of CRH are still open to auto use. However, there are still sections to connect between Biggs and The Dalles so I will ride about 25 miles on the shoulder of I-84. This is legal in western states where there frequently are no other options. Actually, I am more at ease with 70 mph interstate traffic passing eight feet away as I ride a cleaner shoulder than the day before on Washington Highway 14 when they passed within four feet of me as I dodged glass and apparently thorn-infested surfaces. I believe people toss fewer beer bottles from interstate roads...they probably have already finished their six pack before they arrive there.

Blackie was hoping to do a little wind surfing
Change in climate for the better!
Horsetail Falls
Multnomah Falls
It's a new world!
Crown Point viewpoint
New friends on trail

The historic Columbia River Highway is worth the traffic and traumas of the previous days to arrive at the point where the climate changes almost instantly from dry sage brush and scrub grass to the Pacific rain shadow of pines, oaks, ferns, moss. It's an amazing change and a very welcome relief for this southern boy. Several waterfalls drop off the high cliffs and are easily accessed from the CRH. The engineering details of the parkway are nicely done. More information on this road can be found at Once again I buck averages and where the Columbia gorge typically has western winds that make the river a great wind surfing Mecca for many, I receive a strong eastern tail wind.

The end is near!


Then it happens. I arrive at the door of my Portland friend! The "Boston to Portland" journey is COMPLETE!!



It is exhilarating to let this accomplishment sink in! It is a challenge to spend three months on a bike, to cross a continent, to stay prepared for the many unknowns that confront the solo traveler. This is vastly countered by the beauty of the country and the beauty of its people. I have enjoyed experiencing the beauty of so many special places this small path has taken see it first hand. But it's the kindness of the people encountered on route that will be and remain the most memorable and ultimately more meaningful aspect. I cannot help but feel that if I could only get a select group of 535 temporary residents of Washington, DC to join me on this journey, the disfunction of Washington and divisiveness of its politics would dissolve to the innate decency, fairness, and kindness of the country's citizens supposedly represented by its political representatives. This is the harmony of travel I have witnessed these past three months. This is the harmony I trust to continue to witness in our world. I have only peripherally kept informed of national and global issues while on the road, but know that harmony is a universal truth that must be brought forth in our lives. It does take work. I am grateful for this insight the many encounters have shown is but an example of the whole.

May the journey continue!



On a day off my Portland friend, Jerry, and I take a drive and hike up the slope of the 11,250' high Mt. Hood. The Timberline Lodge at elevation 5900' claims to be the best example of mountain lodge construction in the country...I agree. The degree of craftsmanship is exceptional.

Mt. Hood @ 11,250' peak
Timberline Lodge
Timberline Lodge door knocker


For the bicycle traveler...


  • Hat Rock SP, Highway 730, Umitilla, McNary Highway I-82 bridge across Columbia River to Washington, Plymouth, Christie Road, Highway 14, Highway 97, Maryhill SP, hiker-biker camp
  • Maryhill SP, Highway 30, I-84, The Dalles, Highway 197, Highway 30 Historic Columbia Rover Highway, Rowena, Mosier (there's a swimming hole a short hike off the road here that I missed but noticed lots of people wearing bathing suits), Hood River, host house
  • Hood River, Highway 30 Historic Columbia River Highway, I-84, Cascade Locks, Highway 30 HCRH, Crown Point, Troutdale, NE Marine Drive, I-205 bike trail, Portland, friend's house


  1. I am impressed by the quality of information on this website. There are a lot of good resources here. I am sure I will visit this blog again soon.
    link wheel service

  2. Congratulations on finishing an amazing journey!


Leave a comment...