Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 3- Part 1

Steve’s Just Ride-

Day 3, Vantage, WA to Wilbur, WA; 98.2 miles

PLEASE NOTE: due to limited Internet access in many of the Western states that I have biked thus far, this blog is being updated as access allows. Sorry for the delay.

Part 1-

I think that I will have to have one word for each day of this journey. Today’s word was “grueling.” It started out that way as I merged onto I-90 and rode across the narrow-shouldered bridge that spans the Columbia River. Here, I met the first long climb of the day, a 1.8 mile ascent up and beyond the Wild Horse monument. The wind wasn’t bad, traffic was fairly light but I could tell this was going to be a warm day and I was now wearing a backpack filled with the next two days belongings, toothbrush, maps and other necessities, pared down to a minimum for weight.

From the speckled, flat grey sky I got the sense as to why Native Americans used to paint the hind quarters of their horses. Maybe it was so the horses would run like the winds. Yet, while the clouds here look a bit threatening but sufficiently broken up, like pieces of grey slate, to be of too much danger.

I’m also getting the sense as I proceed that this is on of those “are we there yet?” sort of days. I keep looking down at my odometer only to see that I’ve gone far less than my body feels that I have. I look out at the landscape, look warily at farms and dilapidated homes for signs of a charging dog then look down again at the odometer. Ouch. This goes on for awhile as I ride rolling hills on the frontage road that parallels I-90 until I turn Northeast onto the long ribbon of highway that is State Route 283 on the way to Ephrata.

Here, the fields are marked with nice blue and white rectangular signs that must be meant to tell the tourists flying by in their cars or RV’s what is growing out across this horizon of fields. On my bicycle I get the gift of a light sprinkle from the sky and at 19 miles an hour I feel pushed through the scenery. I am also given a familiar scent. I can’t place it exactly but it seems like maybe a tea that I’ve had before, perhaps, lemon grass. I ride further and am convinced that yes, it must be lemongrass. And, I go on this way for maybe a half of a mile with no nice blue and white rectangular sign on either side of the road to validate my suspicions.

Ahead, there is a mammoth watering device stretched out across the fields and, lo and behold, the sign that says that these low green leafy plants that extend as far as I can see, are peppermint. I stop to take a photo and am misted by the watering machine…and, in childlike exuberance, pull out my cell phone to call my wife. If even for a brief moment I can share this with her, to connect our souls over something as joyous and simple as living and breathing and aromatic plants, I will let her know that she rides beside me over every mile for the people who work for and are cared for by AJS and ASJ (the Spanish language equivalent of “AJS”) in Honduras.

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