The Little Muddy Creek loop - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

June 7, 2020

The Little Muddy Creek loop

Yesterday was a complete wash-out, bike-wise.  Thunderstorms, strong winds, periods of intense rain put a bike ride out of the question.  Instead, we took the opportunity to drive down to Eugene for a long overdue visit with our friend Lynn.

While we were there catching up with each other’s lives, Lynn pulled out her phone and showed us a photo we hadn’t seen before, from the time she rode Amtrak up to Portland and spent Christmas with us three winters ago.  It was a pivotal time in our lives, and Lynn was the final guest to stay over with us in our Pearl District condo.  Less than a week after we saw her off again at the train station, we made our New Year’s resolution to sell our home and hit the road with our bicycles.

This was startling news to Lynn, who reminds us that just days earlier we had been talking about how much we loved our condo and living situation, and how perfect It was as a spot for aging.  It was perfect, really.  Flat, no stairs to navigate, hallways wide enough to be wheelchair accessible if it comes to that, an elevator, a front door that opens to a street car stop, and there’s even a passable Italian restaurant just yards away that we can look down on from our living room.  What more could we want, when we get to old to travel?  A cat or small dog perhaps, but that’s easily arranged.

Five days later, and we’re planning to sell our dream home and jettison most of our possessions.  So capricious, that Team Anderson!

Another SD selfie, for the COVID-19 family album.
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Christmas Day, 2017, back in those halcyon days when we still had a home.
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Suzanne GibsonI thought now were your halcyon days!
I have to admit I had to look up what halcyon days means... New word for the day.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonWell, of course these are. Well, not THESE days exactly. We could do without this virus thingie, and this president. Other than that though, yes.
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3 weeks ago

The weather today doesn’t look that promising either.  It’s dry when I walk over to New Morning Bakery for my morning coffee, and it looks like it could stay that way maybe two hours if we hustle and get out the door quickly; but we don’t.  After that it looks to be wet until late afternoon, so we resign ourselves to a relaxed day around the apartment, with the hope that maybe we’ll get a break in which to take a walk about town.

On the way to breakfast, I pass below Corvallis’s crowning landmark: the Benton County Courthouse.
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Built in 1888, the Benton County Courthouse is the oldest in Oregon still used for its original purpose.
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As the morning advances though, the forecast incrementally improves.  Now, it looks like the rains will stop by five - early enough for a short pre-dinner walk, perhaps.  Then, it moves up to four, then three.  We start considering taking a ride after all.  Finally, when it appears that rains will stop by two, we commit ourselves and select a route.  Right at two, we leave home and bike east toward the Van Buren Bridge, looking at the gloomy cloud formations in all directions, and hoping we aren’t making a mistake.

Two blocks later, we’re stopped by a long procession: it’s a peaceful George Floyd/BLM demonstration, chanting their way south on Fourth Street.  We watch for a gap in the line and make our way across the street but a block later are held up again, by marchers northbound on Third.  Then, one more block and we’re stopped yet again on 2nd.  It looks like it must be a huge long snake slithering its way through downtown, chanting as it goes.  There must be a thousand or more marchers here.

Black Lives Matter! Say his name! A huge but peaceful masked congregation demonstrates in downtown Corvallis. Looking ahead, you can see another line at the next light, and if the photo we’re clearer you’d see another line at the next.
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An unbroken line marches south on Fourth Street.
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Leaving Corvallis, we look northeast at the retreating rain and hope we haven’t ventured out too soon.
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The route we’ve selected for today is a loop south on the east side of the river.  The first seven or eight miles follow the same course as our ride to Sand Ridge, but then it continues south another six miles before crossing over to Peoria Road and returning north.

I wasn’t sure what to call this loop, but looking at the map I see that it roughly parallels little Muddy Creek, so we’ll name it after that.  Muddy Creek looks strange.  A tiny, meandering stream that originates in the Coburg Hills just north of Eugene, it closely parallels the Willamette for about twenty-five miles until finally merging just a mile upriver from Corvallis.  It’s so close to the Willamette, at one point being only a few hundred yards from it.  You’d think that at some point over the millennia one of the meanders would have cut through and intersected further upstream.

Another surprising thing about Muddy Creek: it’s one of a pair.  There’s a different Muddy Creek across the river, paralleling the Willamette on the west side.  The other one is larger and longer, so in planning for a possible future ride and to avoid confusion I’m calling this the Little Muddy Creek loop.

Owl Creek again. Still no frogs or owls, but if I’d been quick enough I could have shown you the little green heron that just dashed off.
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Southbound on Peoria, Rachael flashes back at me as she slips out in front.
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Skies above are broken and partly sunny when we start out, but they grow steadily darker and more menacing as we ride south.  About seven miles in we encounter the first sprinkles, and stop to discuss the situation.  Continue on, or turn back?  We can’t decide, but it’s not cold and not unpleasant so we continue on.  I feel a bit like that frog in the pot, wondering whether to hop out yet before it starts boiling and it’s too late to save myself.

The light sprinkles turn to light showers, but never worse than that.  Near the southern end of the loop the showers stop, and we congratulate ourselves for sticking it out.  We’re turning back north now where the skies look less threatening, and we assure each other that we should be in the clear for the ride home.  Five minutes later it’s raining again, the hardest yet.  Very funny.

Another mile though, and it really does stop for good.  We enjoy a dry ride north up Peoria Road, pedaling into an irksome wind that turns quite stiff when we reach Highway 34 and turn west toward the city.  

The ride ends on a humorous note.  Five miles from home, Rachael continues on ahead when I stopped to take a photo, racing to get to the bathroom before I get there and claim it first.  Four miles later, I look across the highway and am startled to see Rachael biking the other way, riding away from Corvallis.  I holler at her, she looks up, and crosses the busy highway to join me.  She was confused at the underpass just before the bridge, and turned the wrong way after crossing under the highway.  She has her issues with navigation anyway, but the main problem was a mapping error I created when building the route.

So, we ride the last mile together.  And even though I arrive home first, I tactfully cede first access to the bathroom to her.  It’s my fault that she didn’t arrive sooner, after all.

Looking southeast. Menacing.
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This was probably my favorite part of the ride. The dark clouds are dramatic, but we’re in the sun here. Too good to last.
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So we didn’t stay completely dry after all. For a few miles conditions looked like this as we biked through a light drizzle.
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There’s that mystery crop again!
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More detail, by special request. What say youse now, Bill & Andrea?
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Bill ShaneyfeltDefinitely looks like some kind of Brassica... Looks kind of like Canola, but it has yellow flowers. Maybe seeding for radishes?
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4 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltI think Bill is correct on this. Apparently the Willamette Valley produces a quarter of the world's radish seed (among many other vegetable seeds).
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4 weeks ago
Ron SuchanekTo Andrea BrownAnd radishes are the best way to keep wolverines off of your land. In my 20 something years in Oregon, I've yet to see one. Man, those radishes really work.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekAnd vampires. And singing cycling cowboys. It’s as good as garlic or Goop.
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanNow that I see a closer-up photo I know for sure they are radishes going to seed. I remember them well from when I worked for a summer at Northrup King Seeds World Headquarters on their huge experimental plot.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI recognize the leaves, but didn’t realize it would grow so tall when it went to seed. So would you call this old growth?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownGreat to know. This would never have occurred to me.
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3 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonDefinitely. Radish old growth!
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3 weeks ago
Another century farm.
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A window into the past.
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Barn and silo, Excelsior Stock Farm.
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Shingles and roses.
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Jen GrumbyScott saw some roses with shingles
Inspiring him home to write jingles
A bike tour with a song!
We'll all sing along!
Especially if it's one that's bilinguals.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWe need to work on Jeff to support links in the comment box. It would be great to hear you singing this, in Spanish.
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3 weeks ago
Image not found :(
Here’s that little Muddy Creek we’ve been talking about.
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One last barn for the day, Peoria Road.
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North on Peoria Road, we find a bit of sun and a lot of wind to end the ride on.
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Ride stats today: 39 miles, 400’

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