Day 13 Beacon Rock to White Salmon, Washington: A Shoulder to Cry On (or not) - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 13, 2011

Day 13 Beacon Rock to White Salmon, Washington: A Shoulder to Cry On (or not)

The hill we were so helpfully kicked down by the ranger turned out to be 2 km long and took us 45 minutes to trudge back up this morning. However at Bonneville the road transformed itself into the one we had hoped for - with a wide shoulder and gentle grades, by the river.

Bonneville Dam. "Your power is turning our darkness to dawn, so Roll on Columbia, Roll On"
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Road is wide and level at Bonneville.
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A strange Indian fishing camp. They hang nets in the water from structures extending out over the river.
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This new kinder and gentler face has lured us to continuing on the North side of the river. So we passed the Bridge of the Gods, and did not take the chance to bail.

The GPS says the nearest Chevron is 7km away, across the river, in Oregon!
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Dodie can stop on a dime, and she will brake like crazy for a quarter.
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Now at Stevensen, we are at the Venus Cafe. The Venus Cafe is not lovely as its name implies. But I could order fried potatoes (comes with eggs and toast as an afterthought, and I got a side of bacon). That's lovely by our standards.

Lovely cooking at Venus Cafe.
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Reading a booklet we picked up about the Columbia Gorge, we find that the Adventure Cycling route takes the south shore, and we see a bike route marked as a separate road from the interstate on that side. Oh well, the die is cast and we are committed to this side, at least until the next bridge, at Hood River.

Bridge of the Gods, our chance to flee to wider roads and faster food?
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You are here!
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The road continued up and down and with a narrow shoulder from Stevenson to Carson. Not until Home Valley did it relent and flatten out with a wider shoulder. However both flat and wide evidently can not be had together here, so the road gave up any pretense of wide, or for shockingly long distances - any shoulder- and stuck with flat (but with a strong head wind).

Narrow shoulder after Stevenson!
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Wider shoulder at Home Valley, but road is clogged with parked trucks of fishermen.
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Demo of headwinds after Home Valley.
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Trip financing lies on the road.
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Level road on the other side of the river.
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Narrow or no shoulder, as mentioned on other days, is better for your powers of concentration than a course in Zen. Very zen-like too were my thoughts on having an SUV whiz by within a foot. I didn't hear it coming, and it all would have been over in a second. Not a bad way to go. The alternative, hearing a huge powerful machine come up behind you, before being ripped to shreds, would no doubt be measurably less pleasant. Can you tell we are a bit freaked by this road??

Riding the iron rail. With a train on one side and a semi on the other, your concentration is, or better be, pretty focussed.
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The Gorge is beautiful.
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Riding the rail with a train. Too scary to photo it with a semi too. Note Dodie's jacket puffed out by headwind.
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Tunnels of doom. There are five of them. The second is long enough that having forgotten to take off my sun glasses I was almost completely blind. A pickup followed us through with its flashers going, though. We also had our helmet flashers on.
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The RV Park we found in White Salmon has a large lawn area for tents, plus the expected showers and laundry. This plus the lack of rain makes for the most relaxed of camping. We are right beside the Hood River Bridge. Across that bridge is a town with all the comforts and vices imaginable (even probably roads with shoulders). Still we are staying put, and tomorrow heading for Mary Hill. We have almost used up the Gorge scenic area, but we know there are plenty of scenes to follow.

Nice place to camp at White Salmon
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Hey, look at that! (Mount Hood makes a sudden appearance)
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Mount Hood above Hood River
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Beautiful Gorge II
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p.s. In the movie The Princess Bride, Miracle Max made a distinction between all dead and mostly dead. It turns out Dodie's Planet Bike computer was only mostly dead. After some hours on the hair dryer and a new battery it put forward a washed out, spotty display. However its strength increased and now seems fully recovered! (Astute or skeptical readers will of course also note that there has been no rain since the Planet Bike's stay in the hair dryer hospital.)

Today's ride: 55 km (34 miles)
Total: 789 km (490 miles)

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