Riders at Deception Pass, bikes in the barn in Langley, Jack's rain gage outside our tent, the last supper (with Susan practicing her yoga?) Ranger Tommy's first farewell, a view of the sky that caused a day of grief.
Oh my gosh have we got weather! After gorging themselves on the all you could eat sea food feast, the tribe headed to the beach for a stellar sunset and then a snooze in their tents. It was up early for french toast and scrambled eggs, then on the road for a long 75 mile day traversing the ups and downs of Whidbey Island. The day started out with a little cloud cover, not hot and not too cool. Kind of like a Goldie Locks story......ok bad analogy. But not for long. About the time the tribe hit Deception Pass the skies broke loose....kind of like the God's Must Be Crazy......with no coke bottles, (did I just date myself or disclose my love for obscure films?) just thunder, lightning, rain and hail. We thought that it would pass, but the crazy weather continued all day long. The tribe was soaked, cold, and pretty well beat by the time they peddled into Langley. We offered up got chocolate and cider to take the chill off as they set up their tents. Many opted to just camp in the barns at the fairgrounds that we stayed at.
My best friend Susan showed up to help us finish out the tour. She and I started our catering business 19 years ago....The Wylde Thyme Catering....but she wised up and found a real job. (We named the business after a really large bottle of wine sitting on the floor of my moms kitchen. Not that we have been known to do crazy things....my husband cringes every time we get together. Our road trips are infamous....at least the parts that we admit to.)
So, tonight was Ranger Tommy's first last farewell. We served up a dinner of marinated vegetable salad, honey spiced pork chops, Eastern Indian vegetable stew, reheated orzo with pesto sauce and fresh rhubarb strawberry shortcakes & whipped cream for dessert. Following dinner was the final presentation of awards for this hard cycling tribe.....youngest riders Zach & Keilan, oldest male and female riders, (both over 70!!!), heaviest luggage, lightest luggage, most mechanically challenged....then the final first goodbye from Tom. Some ask, why Ranger Tommy? While in Bryce Canyon one year Tom heard of a midnight hike that the parks offered during a full moon through part of the canyon. Tom inquired at the park office if he could sign up 65 people for the tour. Sorry, too many and the tour was full. Could he, Tom, hire a ranger to guide our group? Sorry, we don't work that way. Could Tom make a donation to the park to make an exception? Are you trying to bribe an public official? Ooooops. Tom backed off. Could he, Tom, take the group in? After all, he was leading them on the road tour... They guessed so. So that was the plan. Tom would lead the group, in the dark with headlamps, through winding trails along treacherous terrain, into the canyons of Bryce. At that nights map meeting, he put forth the plan. Then, two of the tribe interrupted and questioned him, expressing concern that he was not a park guide. To remedy that, they provided him with a certificate of completion of the Junior Ranger program for Bryce Canyon. There, Tom was deputized as Ranger Tommy. Complete with the hat.
It has been an amazing 17 years of working tours with Tom. We have had our good times, our challenging times, our happy times and sad times. We have made friends for a life time with people from around the world. We have watched each others families grow and spread their wings. We have lost some close to us and seen new babies been born. We have helped cyclists from every reach of the continent experience an adventure on their bicycle. He has led them, and I have fed them. Quite a legacy.