Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 60 Daunted Courage, August 28, 2013

Route: Astoria to Seaside, OR

Quote of the day by my college friend Brad Graff:  “60 days is a long time to do anything.”

Today Sho, Saya, my wife Eiko, and I cycled the final 20 miles of our 1700-mile bike adventure.  We pedaled down the Pacific coast from Astoria to Seaside, Oregon, savoring the last ride of our 60-day trip.  We visited the site of Fort Clatsop, where Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1805-6 and took photos at their statue by the broad sandy beach in the heart of Seaside.  The statue marks the official end of the Lewis & Clark Trail and the end of our time in the bike saddle.  Sho and Saya impatiently posed for the obligatory photos by the statue, then raced off to frolic in the ocean with Eiko, while I picked up a U-Haul truck for the drive back to Portland.  We’ll box up our bikes and ship them to our home in New York City, then fly back on Saturday.

When we returned to the home of our friends Brad and Lisa Graff in Portland, we were surprised by streamers and a chocolate cake!  On top of the cake were candles spelling out “1700” (as in the number of miles we had cycled).  As we said thank you and dug into the cake, Brad made the quote of the day.  How lucky are we to have such cool friends?!

After such an intense two months, perhaps I will experience a sense of let-down in a few days.  But right now, I feel relieved, elated and pretty tired.  I wouldn’t mind a long massage and a good night’s sleep, but Brad wants me to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to join him in a yoga class, and Sho and Saya are begging to go kayaking on the Columbia River as soon as possible.  That’s okay.  There will be time enough later on to rest and reflect on this trip.  As soon as we return to NYC, I will get to work writing Daunted Courage: Cycling the Lewis & Clark Trail with Kids.  I’m looking forward to re-living the experience as I write and encouraging others to create their own family adventures. 

Here’s my advice:  Come up with an idea that excites and, better yet, intimidates you.  Ignore the naysayers, but if you’re married with children, consult your spouse and kids.  Then figure out how to pull it off.  Don’t wait until you retire or have more free time or become independently wealthy.  Do it now.  Each moment is precious, like a present waiting to be unwrapped.  Who knows what you’ll discover? 

When Meriwhether Lewis embarked on his famous journey, he wrote in his journal, “we were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width… the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine… I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life.”  For now, it’s time to rest, but I can’t wait to come up with more moments of departure.

Here are some pics:

With Sho and Saya in Seaside, OR

Streamers were waiting for us at Brad and Lisa's house

With Eiko, Sho, Saya and our 1700 cake

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 59 Daunted Courage, August 27, 2013

Route: Rainier to Astoria, OR

Progress to date (in red):

Quote of the day by Saya (age 6) upon reaching Astoria, OR, the end of our 1700-mile bike trip:  “We made it.  We really made it!  Can I have some ice cream?”

The highlight of today’s (and yesterday’s) ride was the fact that my wife Eiko was with us.  Saya gave her hugs at every opportunity, telling her with a serious face, “I don’t want to be away from you that long again.”  Since Eiko met us in Portland, Sho has said, “I love you, Mommy” more times than I can count.  I feel the same.

The most unexpected experience on today’s ride came as we cycled on Highway 30 out of the town of Clatskanie.  A police car raced past us, lights flashing, and pulled to the side of the road just ahead at the edge of a cow-filled pasture.  I could see three more police cars positioned along the perimeter of the field further up the road.  Just as we passed the second car, the police officer inside announced through a bullhorn, “Give yourself up!  We have you surrounded and are bringing out a dog to sniff you out.  You have no chance of escape.  Please turn yourself in now.”  Several cows nearby paused mid-chew and looked up as if to say, “What?  I didn’t do anything.”  We continued pedaling and never found out if the fugitive was caught.  But Sho and Saya talked about the event for the rest of the ride, pointing out potential culprits and speculating on the details of the unfolding drama.

When he first saw the Pacific Ocean on November 7, 1805, William Clark famously wrote in his journal, “Ocian in view! O! The joy.”  He was actually at the Columbia River estuary and needed a couple more weeks to reach the ocean, but it’s the sentiment that counts.  I enjoyed a similar sense of elation upon reaching Astoria, the end of over 1700 miles and nearly two months of cycling along the Lewis & Clark Trail with my kids.  When I asked Saya how she felt about her accomplishment, including pedaling over the Rocky Mountains, she said, “I already told you before, I knew I could do it.”  Sho said, “I was confident we’d make it, but the trip was really hard.”

For extra credit, we plan to ride another 20 miles tomorrow to Seaside (the official end of the Lewis & Clark Trail), stopping on the way at the replica of Fort Clatsop, where the Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-6.  They stayed along the Pacific coast for 106 days, and it rained all but twelve of those days.  Fittingly, the air was damp and cool, and the sky was full of clouds throughout today’s hilly ride.  We were greeted in Astoria by a misty rain typical of the Pacific Northwest.

The barks of harbor seals filled the air, as we stared out at the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Gray clouds covered the sky and darkened the water.  I pulled my family close and smiled at the scene, a fleeting moment that would soon pass.  But one made sweet by the effort it took to arrive here.

Here are some pics:
Eiko and Saya taking a break during a climb

With Sho and Saya during the ride

Reaching the top of several long climbs today

 In Astoria with Eiko, Sho and Saya

We made it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 58 Daunted Courage, August 26, 2013

Quote of the day:  Rolling his eyes and making a face, Sho (age 12) described his sister Saya: “She's so blechhh.”  Saya (age 6) responded about Sho: “He's so blechhh.”  Ah, siblings…

National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog just published a piece I wrote about this trip, which includes a short video with excerpts from our ride up Lemhi Pass.  You can check it out here:

My friends Brad and Lisa live on Portland’s NW Skyline Drive in a glorious home that sits along a ridgeline with stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascades mountain chain.  I awoke this morning in a second story guest room and watched the sun slowly climb over mist-covered fir trees, its rays illuminating the distant snow-covered mountains.  I marveled at how quickly the summer had passed, how this exhausting, stimulating, overwhelming, amazing bike trip with my kids would soon become just a collection of memories.  With 100 miles to go before reaching the end of our ride at the Pacific Ocean, I’ve already started to miss the trip.  But my body is also ready to take a break from the bike.  Sho and Saya seem to feel the same.  Early on today’s ride, Saya said, “Daddy, I just don’t feel like sitting on a bicycle right now.”

The ride from Brad and Lisa’s house down Cornelius Pass Road was dangerous, a fairly steep descent with no shoulder, lots of blind curves and steady traffic.  We stopped frequently to allow cars and trucks to pass, made it down safely and soon were on Highway 30, which runs parallel to the Columbia River and will take us to Astoria, our final destination on the Oregon coast.  The shoulder was broad enough to keep us perfectly safe, and the quiet, tree-lined river flowing to our right offered a pleasant distraction.  But it was not a particularly pleasant road for cyclists, as the loud traffic was nearly constant.  The driver of a pick-up truck revved his engine as he passed, spewing a cloud of black smoke all over us.  “I think he did that on purpose,” Sho said, making a face and fanning away the exhaust.

When a bald eagle soared overhead toward the river, we pulled our bikes to a stop to get a better look.  Just then, a red compact car pulled to a stop behind us, and a short, plump middle-aged woman stepped out.  She wore a t-shirt that said “World’s Best Grandma” and seemed to be missing a few teeth.  She bypassed Eiko and the kids and approached me with a wily grin.  “I’ve run out of gas and wondered if you might be able to help me.”  Living in New York City, I hear variations of that line all the time.  It’s just a scam to try to get money out of you, and I wasn’t going for it.  I gave her a disappointed look and said, “I watched you pull your car to a stop behind us.  I highly doubt that you happened to run out of gas at this very moment.”  She immediately gave up and retreated to her car.  We resumed cycling, and she passed us a few minutes later.

We stopped for the day in Rainier, a small town about 50 miles from the coast, and stayed in a motel.  Before going to bed, we had a video call with Arisa, Sho and Saya’s 22-year-old cousin who is battling cancer and has been in the hospital in Tokyo since January.  She has lost her hair but not the sparkle of fun in her eyes, and she made Saya laugh with her silly jokes, just like always. 

Here are some pics:
Starting today's ride

Eiko and Sho about to leave Brad & Lisa's house

On the road.  Eiko and Sho = happy.  Saya = fussy.

Sho holding a metal piece that was lodged in his tire.  After this discovery, he got to practice changing a flat tire...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 57 Daunted Courage, August 25, 2013

Progress to date (in red):

Quote of the day from my college friend, Brad: “I think when you die, you lose all your airline points.”

Eiko, Sho, Saya and I spent today with Brad and Lisa Graff, treating ourselves to one more rest day in Portland before making the final push to the Pacific Ocean.  I met Brad the first week of college in 1986, and we’ve been good friends ever since.  When you're 18 years old, it’s difficult to project nearly three decades into the future, and it’s kinda strange to be here already.  Brad brought out a box of photos from our college years, and everyone laughed at what nerds we were.  Yet another reminder to treasure each moment, because they sure do disappear.

Today’s saddest moment was saying goodbye to my sister Becky, who flew back to her home in Nashville.  She made a big difference to me over the past week, and I appreciated the chance to share a part of this adventure with my big sis.

Today’s happiest moment was making sushi together for dinner.  Eiko taught Brad and Lisa the nuances and intricacies of making sushi rolls and nigiri, with help from Sho and Saya.  I was impressed by how quickly Lisa learned from Eiko.  Brad, not so much. :-)

Today’s coolest moment was when Brad and I came across two coyotes playing in a field.  I thought they would run away from us, but they were having too much fun frolicking and chasing one another to worry about the two humans nearby.

Here are some pics: 
Two coyotes at play

Makin' sushi

Brad and Lisa about to dig in