Day 7 Puyallup to Yelm, Washington: Catch-22 - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

May 7, 2011

Day 7 Puyallup to Yelm, Washington: Catch-22

The motel stay gave us a chance to plot an effective route South, to eventually regain our 'original' path to the Columbia River.

So this morning we set off with high hopes of making a lot of progress. Out on the street, though, and in the rain, things are sometimes not so clear.

We knew we had to leave from the South end of town, but got turned around. We had lots of clues about this, such as the GPS insisting that we make a U-turn. But wishful thinking clouded our actions. The wishful part was the hope that the huge hill at the end of town was not at the South end. Actually at one point Dodie flat out refused to go up it, even if it could be proved to be in the South. We circled the town three times, up on the freeway, off the freeway, up to the hill - balking and turning away. To boot, we got our first flat, on a freeway ramp, in a BoB tire. We had filled these things with Slime and confidently expected no problems. Instead a normal sized cut from a shard of glass set Slime oozing all over the place, but still the tire was flat. Of course it was also raining, or this kind of thing would be no adventure at all! By the way, unless stated otherwise you can pretty much assume that events described in this blog happen in the rain!

First flat!
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The culprit. Slime was no help.
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As it turns out the hill is not only called South Hill, but we are sitting now in the South Hill Mall, at the top. Conclusion, the hill is in the South!

So there we were, pushing the bikes up the hill and I suggested to Dodie 'Maybe you can pedal this thing'. 'No', she replied, 'Impossible'. Any further debate on this was shut off by the arrival of the State Patrol, officer Paine, flashing lights and all. Officer Paine immediately jumped in to the debate: 'You are allowed to cycle here on the freeway, but you can not walk. That makes you a pedestrian, and pedestrians are not permitted.' So Dodie repeated her position: 'I absolutely can not cycle up this hill. Arrest me if you want. I'm too old to care.'

To his credit, Officer Paine simply asked if he could help us in any other way, and left us to push the bikes up the hill. So what looked like Catch-22 - can't walk/can't cycle was averted.

The South Hill debacle cost us an amazing 4 hours and now, at 11 a.m. we are ready to set off, South!

The next road featured miles of the full range of American fast food and other franchises and box stores. What it did not feature was a shoulder, so this time the sidewalk was our path. The next road had a sidewalk that disappeared in miles of construction, with any shoulder filled with barrel shaped traffic 'cones'. I suggested that we slalom around these cones, but that got vetoed. Instead we rode against the traffic. I rode the white line or just a bit into the roadway itself and stared down each oncoming driver, encouraging them to give us a little room. Then at the last second I would retreat to just the shoulder side of the white line, assuming no traffic barrel was in the way. I know from having purchased smaller versions of these things that they are worth about $100 each. Yet both sides of the road had one every 50 feet for miles. Someone invested a lot of money in clogging up our cycling lane! At Spanaway, the rain that has been a constant backdrop became front row news as it decided to come down in buckets. We took refuge at a Shell station, that had some covered outdoor tables. A coffee and a hot chocolate, and covered tables to watch the rain from equals no so bad, except of course that we were making no forward progress. We knew exactly where to go next, too, because we had asked directions of one of the Shell's customers.

As we watched the rain tapering, a blue Subaru pulled up and a young man emerged to ask us for directions. Hah, the people who had circled Puyallup three times looking for the exit were ready for this one, and could look like the experts. The Subaru had Montana plates and we soon learned that the young man was from Hamilton (75 km South of Missoula) and was named Mike Lemoine. Further, he is a fisheries biologist. We began to suggest that he contact our daughter, Laurie, in Montana, who is also an aquatic biologist. It turns out Mike already was setting up a meeting with Laurie, and may come to study in her department! What are the chances of us being at that Shell, Mike being in Washington and stopping there for directions, choosing to ask us, and then not only knowing our daughter in Montana but be set to meet with her? This is the kind of serendipity that trips like this are good at.

"Lakeside" seat in Spanaway
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Steve and Mike confer on directions. Note Steve's new "flag person" getup.
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We finally reached highway 507, which passes through Spanaway, Roy, McKenna, Yelm, Ranier, etc. heading South. This road is mostly level, and has a narrow but usable shoulder with only moderate traffic. We began at last to make some progress. However Dodie was now fighting pain from a probable slight tear in a calf muscle. She carried on, but just 2 km from Yelm (our planned stopping place where we heard there was a motel though no camping spot) there is a bit of a hill. Normally this would be a granny gear affair, but Dodie had had it. She stopped her bike and started to cry.

A man in a passing car saw this and stopped to ask if he could help, such as by giving a lift. Dodie gestured helplessly to the unwieldy bike/trailer rigs, which can not be just left. The man said he had a truck at home (in Roy) and could go get it. Of course we thanked him, but knew that Dodie would recover in a few minutes. He wished us 'Be Safe', shook our hands and left us to it. This wish, by the way, we have heard from kind people numerous times each day.

We did of course make it to Yelm, but Dodie was in no shape to go motel shopping, even assuming there might be more than one. (The GPS, of course, denied any knowledge of anything!). So we rolled in to the first thing we saw and took one of two remaining rooms in the place.

Now, with Mother's Day on the horizon serendipity was operating with full force. The motel 'room' turned out to be a little smaller than a standard condo, and much better kitted out than could possibly be imagined out here. It has wide screen HD TV, a fireplace, a Jacuzzi tub, desk, table and chairs, kitchen, sofas, etc., and including a veranda with deck chairs. Wow, the Hobart fire department it isn't!

We began by spreading our tent on the veranda, but of course it got rained on. So we set it up in one corner of our huge room. No, we do not intend to sleep in it for old time's sake, but rather need to dry out seams so we can apply sealer.

Sleep in the tent for old times' sake?
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Tomorrow, Mother's Day, we plan not to bug out early as usual. Given the cost of this place, we need to hang out as long as possible. However the Yelm to Tenino bike path stands before us, and it would take more than a Jacuzzi to keep us off it for long!

Here are some shots of our luxurious "condo". They do not seem to convey the full size and splendour of it!

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Tent drying veranda
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Tent drying roof?
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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 457 km (284 miles)

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