Route: Umatilla, OR to Roosevelt, WA (along the Columbia River)
Sho’s (age 12) quote of the day, exhausted as we stopped cycling at the end of the day, “I feel like a dead person.”
Some days, you wonder if you’re in a practical joke, expecting a TV announcer to step out and say, “Surprise, you’re on candid camera!” That’s the way I felt at midnight, as I leapt from our tent to attempt to manage the unfolding fiasco.
The day started off pleasant and promising. Sho, Saya, my sister Becky, and I cycled out of Umatilla on a protected bike lane over a massive bridge. The broad and mighty Columbia River stretched below us, sparkling in the warm sunshine. McNary Dam loomed off to our right, and we stopped to take photos of the beautiful scene. After crossing the bridge, we enjoyed the luxury of riding on a traffic-free road along the northern side of the river for nearly 6 miles before joining up with Highway 14, a smooth, modestly trafficked road with a comfortable shoulder running parallel to the river.
Continuing our roadkill project, we documented three deer by the road and, curiously, a dead river otter. We could not fathom how or why the otter might have gotten there. The river was several hundred yards away, down a steep slope and on the other side of train tracks. We speculated that someone might have brought the body up from the water and left it by the road to be picked up by Department of Transportation workers.
The ride was mostly uneventful, except for an unlucky string of flat tires on Becky’s rear tire. We cycled about 50 miles today, regularly letting out appreciative compliments of the beautiful river views. We made it to the tiny community of Roosevelt by 5:30 p.m. and set up tents in a perfect spot by the river. The site had a broad grassy camping area with a small beach, swing sets, bathrooms and best of all, an excellent view of the river and the outrageously gorgeous full moon rising over the bluffs on the southern side. Sho and Saya played on the river’s edge for a while before it was time to drift off in our tent.
I was awakened by a firefighter’s hose rocking our tent with a jet of water so hard that it seemed like a joke. The sprinklers in the park were designed to spray out about 40 feet while slowly turning 360 degrees, and we had unknowingly set up our tent between two sprinkler heads hidden in the grass about 10 feet on either side of us. Another cyclist had set up his tent a hundred feet away and was battling the pummeling water too. Sho jumped out with me and grabbed some rain displacers, semicircular plastic devices that could be pushed into the ground next to the sprinkler heads, and stopped the stream of water from drenching our campsite. There were about a dozen rain displacers spread throughout the camping area -- obviously, this is a known issue for anyone who camps here. We slept with one eye open, wondering whether other sprinkler heads were hidden in the grass ready to give us an unexpected shower…
Here are some pics:
On the bridge leaving Umatilla
One of Becky's flats
View from the road
Our campsite. In the sprinkler line of fire...
Full moon rising above the Columbia River
Beautiful full moon
Trying to stop the midnight deluge next to our tent