Leaving Seattle Was Like Preparing For A Dinner Party
Leaving Seattle via bicycle was an experience akin to preparing for a dinner party. There is that rush to organize everything, to make certain that you have all of the pieces in place. Even when you think you are ready, you find yourself nervously double-and-triple-checking all the preparations. It’s more like you are trying to bring an internal equilibrium into balance than actually tending to anything specific. Later, when guests are talking and happily milling about you finally relax.
And so it was for Elisabeth and me – the things we knew were packed in our panniers had to be uncovered and touched once more, if only to reassure ourselves that we had chosen our gear wisely. For a brief moment, I had a mild freak out, convinced I had way too much stuff to ever fit comfortably on my bike. Elisabeth told me to snap out of it. Recognizing my temporary insanity, I followed her advice and returned to normal.
As I mounted the Surly and took one last look over my shoulder, a flood of emotion welled up inside me, Leaving the comfort of the Ohlweilers was a bit like leaving home for the first time to go away to college. I was both excitedly committed to our journey and reluctant to leave the cocoon we had found at Chris and BJ’s home. Forty-three years ago, I had a similar feeling, as I stood on the curb in front of my college dorm watching my parents drive away and leaving me alone to negotiate my new life.
We’ve had rain every day since arriving in Seattle, but yesterday the skies cleared for us, and the pristine beauty of the Pacific Northwest was in full regalia. Slowly, we made our way down the steep hill above the city and found the exquisite Burke-Gilman bike trail. It took us through the city and along Lake Washington where, some twenty miles later, a small sign announced, “Leaving Seattle.” From there, we rode among hundreds of others: cyclists, joggers, and people out for a stroll. We pedaled past small villages, streams, and farms. We were both so taken with the beauty of the place, we didn’t talk much during our ride. Of course, Elisabeth was often just a dot on my horizon. But she would check on me occasionally, waiting patiently by the side of the trail while I pedaled to catch up with her. (I believe I see the pattern we will follow for the rest of our journey.)
Forty Miles Later, A Holiday Inn
All in all, we pedaled forty miles, yesterday. Not bad for two people who haven’t been riding, especially fully loaded, and are wickedly out of shape (at least me, that is).
I admit I have rarely been as happy as when I finally saw the Holiday Inn sign announcing our destination. As the crow flies, we are in the town of Issaquah only twenty-five miles from Seattle. But we took the long way around on our first day out so we could settle in on our bikes and enjoy the scenery the circuitous route provided.
Today, we start climbing. Yikes! Our destination is Iron Horse State Park, about 26 miles to the east, and the start of the John Wayne Trail. The JWT is an old railway bed. The surface is hard-packed gravel, and we follow it over the Cascades to the town of Ellensburg on the eastern slope of the mountains. There, the weather should be drier and possibly warmer. Yeah!