So, I’m not updating as frequently as I though I might, but it’s fine. I’m sure you’re not too upset. And, if you are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Tumblr, you’re not missing out on anything. Moving along.
About a week ago, I went to the Mountaineer Columns with my dear friend, Sunshine. It was a 6.7 mile bike ride. We climb the crack for a couple hours, then it was a 6.7 mile ride back to our neighborhood (and I had to go immediately into work). The ride kicked my ass. If it weren’t for Sunshine’s encouragement, I might have died. It didn’t help that my tires needed air and my bike is significantly heavier. But this isn’t the time for excuses. What it comes down to is I’m out of shape and need to work on that.
I had the day off today, and a few days ago I started questioning where I could ride. I’ve considered riding my bike east to Cougar or Tiger Mountain. Cougar Mountain is only 14.8 miles away from me, which seemed very plausible. However, I doubted if I would be able to bike nearly 15 miles (yes, there are plenty of ascents and descents along the way) and then have the strength to do hiking, THEN ride back 15 miles. Since I had the day off today, I decided to check out the I-90 Trail, which runs along side of Interstate 90 (obviously). I wanted to see what kind of ride it would be, gauge how much huffing and puffing I’d do, etc. It wasn’t bad! For a trail that runs along the freeway, you didn’t see much of it, which was nice.
The ride was pretty “mild.” There were definitely some steep ascents, but equally as many descents. After my first few miles, I confessed to Twitter that I needed to invest in a pair of spandex shorts. The Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge (Seattle to Mercer Island) was quite a stretch, but it was great because the view was lovely and between the cars whipping by and the water, there was a pretty comforting and cooling breeze. There was a rad bike tunnel with some random art and loads of bikers passing through.
I dropped off into Park on the Lid (ate a peach), then to Luther Burbank park (ate a Cliff bar), then crossed the E Channel Bridge to Bellevue, where I rode around Mercer Slough Nature park (ate another Cliff bar) and relaxed.
Before I hit my “destination,” my back brakes ended up going out, so I had to pull over and remedy that. Cyclists, man. They’re so great. Nearly every single person that passed me (like, 20) slowed down or stopped to make sure I was OK and asked if I needed any help. It’s things like that that make me feel good and reinstates that faith in humanity. Thankfully, about three minutes of quick adjusting put me back on my wheels again.
I knew I wouldn’t be going any further east, and since I already rode over ten miles, I decided to head back home. I’m not ashamed to admit that every time I descended down a long stretch, I sung Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free bird” and every time I ascended up a painful stretch, I yelled out loud, “Keep it up! Don’t you stop now! Get it, get it, get it!!” and so on. I was drenched in sweat when all was said and done, but when I started seeing familiar streets, and threw out a few “Yeah Buddy’s.”
Dropped by QFC to get dinner. Road home. Realize at some point I lost half of my keys. Walked back a mile to the store and there they were, on the sidewalk by the bike rack. Lucky me. All in all, it was a great day. Topping the day off with writing to you, uploading the remaining photos to Flickr and drinking a Strongbow. Good day!
Alright, so I feel like I’m bragging and I’m really trying to stay humble. It’s not bragging in the sense of “HEY LOOK WHAT I DID – PRAISE ME!” It’s more like, “I’m really stoked about this accomplishment and I am excited to share it with others. Let’s back up a few months. My best friend, Sunshine has been asking me to go climbing with her for months. I’m a busy lass, so I kept putting it off. I always had an excuse. A few weeks ago, I met my friend, Neil, at a benefit concert. He just got into climbing, so we exchanged numbers and decided to go together some time. An opportunity finally came to go climbing with Sunshine and Neil and I was half tempted to call it off. I had orders to pack, videos to edit and a thousand other usual things. Sunshine and I have coined a phrase – “RESPONSIBILITIES ARE FOR LATERS” and we use it quite often. Shortly and obviously put, responsibilities can wait. Fun can happen now. So, I talked my roommate, Dan, into going and we went to Stone Gardens and gave it a go. I feel like I did pretty great for my first time, although I quickly realize how little forearm strength I had. Needless to say, I left wanting to go back. However, I haven’t been back since.
Sunshine and I have been going on adventures every week. Since we share the same schedule, we have off during the week and we are able to take short camping trips. Last week was Bellingham and the week prior was North Bend and Tinkham Road. I’ve seen more of this state in the past month than I have since I moved here in September, and I’m so grateful to have someone like Sunshine in my life to share these experiences with. I’ve hiked mountains, held sea stars, seen Snoqualmie falls, camped out in the rain, etc., etc., and the experiences keep growing.
Vantage, WA was next on our destination list. We didn’t have many expectations (We rarely do). We just wanted to get out in the desert. Long story short, Sunshine ended up talking to some strangers while I let my feet rest (Pro Tip – Don’t hike in Dr. Martens). I later joined the crowd (Justin, Chris, Lars, Yon, Emily and later Katie, Brooke, Jenny and Kelly). Four groups basically merged into one big group and everyone was helping everyone, shouting out words of encouragement, lending belaying devices, sharing lunch and just having a great time. Sunshine only had a harness and shoes and I had nothing. One of the guys offered Sunshine to climb and she took him up on the offer. Since I didn’t have any gear, Lars let me borrow his shoes and Sunshine her harness. What kind of person lets a dirty stranger borrow their climbing shoes without question? People who climb are a different kind of people. After Sunshine, I gave it a go. I was hooked. We ended up taking turns, switching harnesses and shoes and spending a few hours. Later in the evening, numbers were exchanged and we called it a night. Sunshine and I had a delightful meal of tacos and no utensils. Her and I have no problem using our dirty fingers to scoop out refried beans, so it works. I can’t imagine being high strung and going camping. I’m happy to be mellow and have an equally mellow traveling buddy. (:
The next day, we woke up early and got lost heading to Sunshine Wall. When we got turned around, we ran into Brooke and Kelly and they led the way. Brooke had an extra pair of shoes and harness and let me use them all day, even after she left. As we hugged goodbye, she said, “Just keep them for the day. I trust you for some reason.” More climbing, climbing and sunscreen. The photos hardly do this trip justice, and words fail to paint the pictures properly. There just aren’t enough pigments. You can view the entire Frenchman Coulee / Vantage trip on my Flickr, along with my other adventures.
I’m going to cut this short, but just know that I still can’t stop smiling and I learned a lot from this trip, which I will be sharing at The Radical Uprise. Life is grand, eh?