Day 6 - Yakima to Othello - C2C - from Westport, Washington to Sandy Hook, New Jersey - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2016

Day 6 - Yakima to Othello

I write this from the comfort of a motel room bed.
With yours truly all washed and spiffy and with clean clothes, too.
There is something to be said about basic creature comforts.

Washington State Parks sure got their money's worth out of me. Got to the park at 9:30p - left at 5:30a. But it promised to be cooler and it was. Stopped in Moxee only a few miles down the road to get a muffin and watched Hillary Clinton claim the Dem nomination. The locals were none too happy - which reflects the split in the state of Washington between the SeaTac metro area and the eastern part of the state. I kept my mouth shut.

Early Morning Orchard Poles in East Yakima
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Paul MulveyNice color in the sky contrasted against the ground
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3 years ago

Then it was a long ride on Highway 24 heading east. Not much between Yakima and Othello. The super smooth shoulder switched over to gnarly chip-seal a few miles east of Moxee which meant weaving from roadway to shoulder, but the traffic thinned out quickly. The slow climb up the valley was pleasant and scenic. The clouds came in and kept it cool and the rain showers were refreshing after days of 100-degree heat.

Lazy Riding on a Cloudy Day
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I stopped a second breakfast at the Silver Dollar Cafe at the junction of Highway 241. It was the first time I felt I had any extra morning time without rushing to get miles in before it got too hot. The cook/wait/cashier had recently graduated from Washington State and was great.

It was a quick downhill to Vernita Bridge and the rest stop with trees and shade - although the shade wasn't needed today. I was dismayed at the level of traffic on the two-lane bridge. Because WSDOT is painting the I-90 bridge at Vantage - with closures and lane restrictions, there is a good deal extra traffic - way more than anticipated. I called up WSDOT to complain that there is no safe cycling crossing of the Columbia for a 150-mile stretch. As always, they mention the long-stalled Washington State Parks effort to rehabilitate the Milwaukee Bridge at Beverly - which will be lucky if it happens in 25 years. I reminded them that bicycle access is a transportation issue, not a parks issue.

Vernita Bridge - Essential Rest Stop in 80-Mile Stretch
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Anyhoo, I managed to cross the bridge in one piece - waited for a good gap in traffic. But it was the next 30-mile stretch of Highway 24 that was the issue. Not only was there no shoulder, but the edge of the highway was broken up, too. Plus traffic was pretty steady, too, with lots of trucks. I had to focus constantly - sometimes pulling off as a truck came barreling down on me with another car coming in the opposite direction. Cyclists may have a "right" to the road, but we is at a fundamental disadvantage should there be any mishap.

Columbia River Bend with Hanford Reactor in Distance
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The wind - which the kind folks at the weather service had promised to be NW switching to SW was due south with a little easterly vector tossed in - and strong. Which made it all the trickier riding. Tired and frustrated, I pulled off into one of the few gravel entrances to the closed national wildlife refuge, leaned my bike against the locked gate, and took a nap to the whoosh of passing traffic.

Wetland Ponds on the Refuge - Amongst the Miles of Sagebrush
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Traffic had lightened up a bit when I came to - not much, but enough. The wind was still a pain in the ass. Just when I was counting off the miles one by one, a farmer, Roy Dobson, stopped to offer me some water and we chatted for a bit. He operates Rosebud Winery raising wine grapes on the Wahluke Slope - part of a growing wine industry in the Northwest. It really raised my spirits and let me get into Othello. Othello instead of Scooteney Reservoir campground which would have mean 4 miles into the wind instead of 4 miles with it.

Spent too much money, but the shower, first thing, and then clean clothes made a huge difference. Now if I can just get everything put back together and back on the bicycle.

Total Chaos in 15 Minutes
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PS - Can anyone explain this? The whole afternoon I was battling a strong sidewind with an edge - SSE as I was riding due east. A half hour after I got to Othello it shifted to the west. Go figure.

Today's ride: 80 miles (129 km)
Total: 325 miles (523 km)

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