Monday, July 30, 2012

Puppy Tales

My Grand Puppy, Baker.  Consumer of one pan of brownies, a 10 pound bag of flour, and 1/2 of Aaron's tent.  Isn't he cute?

Cycle Washington #2 has been over for a week now!  Hard to believe!  Ranger Tommy and a few of his pals are cycling the Olympic Coast.  Jack and I have been working our tails off cleaning equipment and canning everything under the sun.  I can't stand to throw out any of the leftover produce, so I now have 14 quarts of carrots, 7 quarts of tomatoes, 12 pints and 6 quarts of zucchini relish, 4 quarts of vegetable marinara sauce, 8 pints of curried vegetable stew,  gallons of frozen berries and the last of 8 loaves of banana bread is in the oven.  Whew.  I know what we're eating all winter!

One story that I did not convey in my last post that happened on the rainy ride to Langley was a puppy tale.  Don J and a couple of tribe members had just made the start of the bridge over the slough west of Anacortes and stopped for a couple of minutes.  (I would stop and hitch a ride.  Jack has not convinced me that I can ride the bridge, regardless of the cordoned off bike lane.  The bridge is really high.  I'm a chicken.)  Back to the puppy tale.  As they stood there a black lab youngster ran up and joined them.  He thought it was a great day to tag along with a group of cyclists. We shall name him Spot for lack of a better name, though he did not have spots.  Over the bridge Spot went, leading the tribe along the way.  Spot had a great time running in front of them for the next 3 miles until it was time to cross highway 20 and head out to the island.  "What to do?" pondered Don and friends.  Spot surely needed to go home, and crossing highway 20 was not a safe place for him.  To the rescue came Mechanic Kevin.  Now known as Under Doggy Kevin the Puppy Saver.  He rolled up thinking that there was a mechanical issue.  No, just a Spot issue.  Don convinced Kevin to fetch Spot and put him in the van, then transport him back to the other side of the bridge in hopes that he would find his way home.  Kevin complied and when he pulled into the area that Spot joined the tribe he noticed a man standing outside of his truck looking around for his pup, Spot.  Kevin asked him if he had lost a dog and miracle of miracles Spot made it home safe and sound.  Good job Under Doggy Kevin.

Don told the story when he made it into camp that evening and it led to many, many dog stories.  Don works with his dogs as companion pups servicing people in hospitals and care facilities.  What a great endeavor!  We heard many puppy tales from other tribe members....I know our pups are just as much family as the kids.  I miss my Ruby Dew when we are on the road!

Cycle Washington #1 and #2 were great rides! I hope that ACA runs this tour again next year....hint hint.  See you in Oregon!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rain, Rain.......

Riding across Deception Pass: a view from the pass: Ranger Tommy & his stellar crew: Ranger Tommy, we'll miss you!

It rained, it poured, kind of like a spoof from Noa's Ark!  It wasn't forty days but we may have gotten that much precipitation in one day!

Sunday morning greeted the tribe with clouds and a chance of rain.  What should have been a gorgeous, sunny day of riding along the beaches of Whidbey Island turned out to be a wet, sloshy day of sagging and hiding from the downpour. The view from Deception Pass was limited as was that of the Straights of Juan de Fuca.  (Ranger Tommy tried out a new joke about the Straights last night.  Can't publish it here but I can tell you he needs to stick to his original script.  Nice try though.)

We rolled into camp and set up our kitchen for the last time with Ranger Tommy in the lead.  As the rain continued Aaron was challenged on how to keep Baker dry.  Under the truck didn't work.  Under the shelter didn't work; he was determined to consume the piles of bird poo.  (Baker, not Aaron.)  His tent didn't work: he no longer has a screen on the door.  Baker likes to destroy screens.

Mother Nature's sense of humor put the damper on the second to last day of Ranger Tommy's final tour, but not on the festivities at the last map meeting.  Tom told his stories, the tribe feasted on Spiced Pork Chops, salad, East Indian vegetable stew, baked orzo with pesto & sun dried tomatoes and a HUGE bowl of three berries in a rhubarb sauce & fresh whipped cream for dessert.  I am happy to say that this tribe was well fed this week.  And I am proud to have provided the foods that they enjoyed.

The staff roasted Tom after dinner, with Daryl shining bright with his tale of trying to take over Cycle Utah this year, a tour Tom has led since it's inception.  Evidently he has racked up quite the storage bill at Temple View RV park, having left equipment there for the last umpteen years.....Daryl presented Tom with a trumped up letter from the owner explaining the charges.  Tom may have to get a real job.  Oh, he's retired.  I'm sure he'll work it out.

Kevin's wife, Linda, flew in on standby from the mid west and arrived just in time to join the fun.
There were tears and laughter, standing ovations, and a custom designed trophy to send Tom off from his last night of leading the tribe. For me, it's a tough goodbye.  Tom introduced me to this eclectic way of life 16 years ago.  It will be strange not having him on the road with us next year.

The evening wound down, we all turned in to soggy tents, (except for the fortunate few that got in early enough to set up their tents in the Fiddle Faddle Barn), and got some shut eye before an early start for the ride back to Redmond.

To Tom's last tribe: it was a pleasure cooking for you.  I hope to see you on another ride.  Maybe the Oregon Coastal Tour: there's still room!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We Be Jamming!

A plate full of yumm: Netzy getting on the road: oysters on the barbie: rum cake queen Nana, my bff Susan: Netzy partaking in the happy hour: a seafood feast.

On the one and one half days between the two Cycle Washington tours not only did I shop like a madwoman I baked for the trip and Susan and I managed to produce 50 jars of fresh strawberry jam, in hopes that the tribe would like to take home souvenirs from the trip! It was quite the assembly line going on in the kitchen: wash, hull, smash, cook, jar, seal.  I am delighted to say that I came home from the tour jam free!  I think we may have a new business venture happening.  Jam anyone?  Seriously.

We woke early on Saturday to more sprinkles and the forecast of more rain for the ride to Bay View State Park.  The tribe is hanging in there: damp spirits that they are.  The upside of the rain is that Aaron has been quite busy with bike cleaning.  The starving grad student needs all the extra cash he can manage to procure.  He has an extra hungry mouth to feed: he and his girlfriend gave themselves a chocolate lab puppy for Christmas.  Baker is joining us tonight.  He is a great grand puppy with an affinity for chocolate brownies (he ate a whole pan as I was out of the kitchen), screen doors (which I do not have one anymore), and flour (that was a trip to the vet while Aaron was on the last trip.  Kara's parents were puppy sitting and he was a bad puppy).  We will see what havoc he can wreak the last two days.

Today's ride was be a gentle day compared to the last.  As the riders wound down the river into the Skagit Valley they peddled through the berry and potato fields, then along the Samish Bay into camp.
The rain started again as they left camp, but subsided in the afternoon and actually things warmed up.

Jack was walking through the campground last night and a man walked up to him and said, "I know you!".  Jack looked at him and said, "I don't think so."  The man said, "Yes I do!  You were in the paper on Monday and your wife is the cook for the bicycle tours!" Too funny.

Jack and Sue and I scrambled the day away, filling propane, re-upping at Costco, picking up fresh berries at Sakuma farms, taking Mom for her Mocha, then up Chuckanut Drive once more to pick up the bivalves that the tribe is eagerly looking forward to for happy hour.

We set up camp, set out or jam for sale, and started the seafood feast promptly at four.  We attracted quite a bit of attention from the other campers today.  It is a weekend and the park is full.  Many stopped by to see what was going on and one man even bought jam!  The tribe enjoyed the steamed clams and mussels, as well the grilled oysters.  We have a new tribe member joining us for his first tour from Chicago.  He had never eaten bivalves before and is a new mussel convert.  This tribe did not gain the notoriety of being seagulls, though.  We only went through one case of oysters, not the two that last weeks gulls gulped down.

At tonight's map meeting Ranger Tommy introduced Mom to the tribe, pronouncing her the queen of rum cakes and cookies.  She was given a standing ovation.  Well deserved after years of providing yummy treats for many, many tribes.  She's still baking away this week for the Oregon group....pretty amazing for ninety.

After a delicious feast of bourbon salmon, curried coleslaw, greens with fresh berries and a raspberry chipotle dressing, steamed vegetables and potatoes, pecan pie bars and cookies, the tribe waddles back to their camp sights for a good nights sleep.  Sunday's ride is a tough one on the hills of Whidbey Island, and the weather isn't looking to friendly.

And We Got Weather....

Looking forward to the pass: a waterfall along the way: chilling after a cold day on the road: rainy days mean work for Aaron the bike cleaner aka Where's Waldo?

Crazy.  That's the only way to describe it.  They call it Adventure Cycling for a reason: and today was an adventure!

The tribe rose very early to fuel themselves with a large breakfast to help them peddle the two passes: Washington Pass and Rainy Pass.  It was overcast with the forecast predicting rain and thunderstorms while crossing the Cascades.  The staff put together weather response plans and the tribe hit the road.  The ride started out dry.  We packed up camp, said our good byes to the self contained crew and Brian Martindale,  then caught up with the last rider about 5 miles from the climb to the top. It was at this point that I realized that I had not made a sandwich for one of my "special needs" riders.  (That would include vegetarian, gluten free, allergies.)  I told Jack to step on it and maybe we could beat him to the top and forgo the shame of being blond...or just tired.  He had to be one of the strongest riders and had already blasted through the lunch stop.  I rummaged around in the truck and put a lunch together for him and we hit the road again, hoping to catch up with him before the top of Rainy.  He was on his way down the other side, of course.  Well, I had 50 some miles to beat myself up.

 When we got to lunch stop the rain started to fall.  By the time we were at the top it was coming down pretty good.  By the time we got to Rainy it was pouring.  On the way down it was a combination of hail, snow and sleet, complete with lightening. The tribe got to experience just about every weather condition imaginable.  The staff did a good job of picking up riders and keeping them warm.  We had two close to hypothermic.  It is hard to imagine that one day the weather is 90+ degrees and the next it is snowing: mentally you don't prepare yourself for what may happen and outfit yourself properly to ride through it.  Ranger Tommy has just one more weather story to add to his collection of tales.  Maybe he should write a blog!

We got into camp and set up in a torrential downpour.  My brother showed up with a new batch of gluten free baked goods for my one rider.  I grilled a sandwich, yes he's the one I forgot, and sent Aaron back up the valley to try and find him.  About 12 miles out of camp Aaron caught up with him changing a flat at the side of the road.  He was so thankful to have a warm sandwich delivered that I think he forgave me.

Susan showed up around four and helped us prepare a hot pasta feast to refuel the tribe when they all came in. As they gathered for dinner she managed to drop a case of Blue Moon on the deck of the truck.  Kevin was in tears: it's his favorite.  I think there may be a job opening..anyone interested in working in the rain and sleeping in a wet tent?  It was a soggy night: we did not have use of a pavilion tonight, but the rain let up long enough for everyone to eat and slosh into their tents.

Tomorrow is Saturday and we will be at Bayview State Park for the Seafood smorgasbord.  Hopefully it will be in the sun.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 3 Done

Resting at the Rest Awhile: Kevin hard at WORK!: that's a lot of luggage: our new massage therapist, Tiffany: tribe member Linda with Flash.

Two ride days have passed since I blogged: two great days of riding for the tribe!  Wednesday the tribe hit the road and headed to Alta Lake.  It was a hot ride and I believe everyone stopped for milkshakes and smoothies at the Rest Awhile Fruit Stand.  I know we did!  We got into camp, set up and prepared the Greek Lemon Chicken for dinner.  Except the lemon juice that I thought I bought was lime juice.  So, we had Greek Lime Chicken for dinner!  It tasted great!

Thursday the tribe had a pretty easy day riding into Winthrop.  Just a warm up for the ride over the pass on Friday.  We stopped in Twisp for breakfast at the Hoot Owl Cafe and I had the largest chicken fried steak that I think I have ever seen!  I could not eat it all and that is unusual!  Aaron met up with us in Twisp with sad news: his bike rack came off of the car and his bike was drug about 35 feet until he stopped.  :(  Fortunately the frame is ok: the front wheel is toast and the saddle is banged up.  Could have been worse!

Thursday night we were joined by a group of van supported riders that are finishing up the Sierra/Cascade route with Adventure Cycling.  There are 6 riders and 2 leaders, a few of whom have ridden our supported tours.  This was a self contained tour but proved to be pretty brutal: they started the ride in San Diego, rode to the Mexican border, then criss crossed back and forth over the Sierras.  ACA sent Jack down with a van to help support them from Yosemite.  He stayed with them for 2 weeks, then swapped places with Heather Anderson for the rest of the ride.  We were also joined by a couple doing the same route self contained.  They said that as of yesterday the had climbed a total of 110,000 feet!  In nautical terms that is outer space!  By the end of the trip they will have climbed farther than Chuck Yeager made it as a test pilot!  He climbed to 112,000 feet, flamed out, then crashed the plane!  Hopefully there are no crashes for these two tribes.

We were also joined by a surprise visitor: Brian Martindale, formally the director of tours for ACA.  He and Tom and I go all the way back to the first Cycle Washington.  He used to wrench the tours before moving to Missoula and working out of the office.  I have a picture of him with Scott's big wheel on the bike stand: Scott, about 4 at the time, insisted that he "fix it"!  This is the same big wheel the he used to peddle around camp with the storage compartment filled with cold beer to deliver to the riders.  But, I have told that story before!

I tried a new salad Thursday night: shredded cabbage, Kale, carrots & sunflower seeds with a raspberry vinaigrette.  It was really good and really good for you!  We also dined on broccoli salad, fingerling potatoes, polenta with parmesan cheese, bbq'd pulled pork and Opa's sausages.  Dessert was provided by Laurie, owner of the KOA that we stayed at: a variety of ice cream bars in honor of Tom's retirement.

It's sad to imagine the in 3 days Tom will be off of the tours.  As well, in 3 days my youngest, Scott, is heading to Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego. These last 17 years have gone by too quickly.  Some things I wish we didn't have to change.

Today is Friday.  The tribe was up and eating breakfast before 6 am: it's a long way to Rockport and they wanted an early start.  The weather has turned and rain and thunderstorms are predicted in the passes and on the other side.  I hope everyone grabbed their rain gear!  I know the staff is prepared to shuttle as many as necessary.

We are getting on the road: need to re-up on ice and follow the tribe over the hill.  Talk to you on the other side.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Wheels on the Bus......

At the top of Steven's pass (did anyone cheat, take a pic and say they rode this?) A view of Tumwater Canyon:lunch stop with Daryl & Kim the Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth: the Maypole: the curry feast: Sorry, Kevin but I can't help picking on you!  After a hard day of riding, a toast; it was quite a storm!

Didn't go where they were supposed to!!  Following breakfast on Tuesday the tribe packed up and waited patiently for the bus to shuttle them to the top of Stevens Pass.  And waited, and waited, then went to Starbucks for coffee, and waited.  A small glitch in communication: the driver thought she was supposed to go to the top of the pass and shuttle the tribe back down.  After a few terse phone calls the owner of the company brought out another bus and got the tribe on the road: 2 hours late.  So, water stop #1 turned into lunch stop and lunch stop turned into water stop.  Dinner was moved 1/2 hour later to ensure all got to eat.  And eat they did.

We have had many, many days on these tours that the staff has to be flexible and change the plans.  Tom likes to tell the story of one of the first Cycle Washington rides.  We ran the tour in reverse from this route at the time.  When the riders got to the top of Washington Pass a storm rolled in.  The temperatures dropped and the rain started pouring.  No one had rain gear on their bikes and were caught completely off guard.  Tom passed out every article of personal clothing that he had in his van.  Bikes and people were packed into the vans and they headed into camp.  Or so they thought.  The KOA camp ground lost their water pump.  No water, no showers, no bathrooms.  Tom got to Winthrop to see the marks on the road pointing the wrong way and his staff standing on the corner directing the tribe to an alternate camp ground.  It continued pouring and my Dad and I rigged up blue tarps for the tribe to eat under and I cooked ribs and chicken in the rain.  Not the first time and probably not the last.

It was a gorgeous day for a bike ride.  There was cloud cover on the East side which helped keep the temperatures down in the 80's.  Unfortunately, the mosquito situation at Confluence State Park has not improved.  The camping area for the tribe was a swarm of nasty little critters: a few had the sense to bring mosquito netting for their faces.  85 degrees and everyone was in long sleeves and long pants.  The state was supposed to have sprayed for the drillers, but has not done so.  The park ranger said people have been leaving their reservations early because of them.  The only time I have seen them worse was in Montana.  We were lucky that they did not care for the pavement that we set up on and were not bothered too badly.  Hopefully tomorrow night will be better.

I am a little nervous about tomorrow night at Alta Lake.  We don't have the group sight this trip and no one is sure where I will find a place for the big yellow truck.  I'll let you know on that one.  I may just head home.  (Kidding, Tom)  We have been known to set up in some pretty remote conditions: hope this isn't one of them!  The start of Idaho a couple of years ago was classic: the field that we were supposed to have used looked like land mines had been targeted there.  We had to set up in an access road with the water supply 1/2 a mile away.  Sometimes I have a sense of humor.  After the fact.

Tonight was curry night and the tribe did a great job of cleaning up the curried chicken and tofu with peanut yam sauce.  My friend, Jim from Baltimore, loves to compare our food to that of other rides by saying, "where else to you get tofu with peanut yam sauce on a bike ride?"  I don't know: we never have time to ride other rides!

We are missing a few of our friends on this ride.  Bob and Linda headed back to Montana and are working the Divide Tour with Tony and Annie.  My dear friend, Hal from Texas, had to drop at the last minute.  He is amazing still cycling at 70+.  He has ridden with us with his son a few times and came to Utah one year to wash dishes for me!  He saved the day in Bryce Canyon as I came down with the flu and couldn't work.  He and my nephew, Jacob, pulled off dinner with me hollering directions from my tent.  Thank you, Hal.  We miss you!

We got the tribe up this morning, Wednesday, fed them a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and swiss cheese; sausage, oatmeal, fruit and cereals.  Then they hit the road to head up the Columbia to Alta Lake.  We are off to Costco then into camp.  No internet until we get into Winthrop, so I'll write again then.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here We Go Again!

Don from California: the tribe well fed and waiting for the bus to the top of the pass.

Cycle Washington #1 is over and done, Cycle Washington #2 is on the road!  We spent the last 2 days re-upping all of stores, baking banana bread and cookies and making strawberry jam.  I think we're ready for the week!  You know that song: You keep, Talking in your sleep?  I keep, working in my sleep.

If I remember correctly we met up with the tribe last night in Redmond and served them a salad buffet that included honey almond chicken salad, pasta salad, pea salad, green salad with trimmings, and brownies for dessert.  I also think that I was present this morning to serve them a hearty continental breakfast and pack their lunches.  I do know I slept all of the way home to pick up the rest of  our equipment and frozen foods.  I also think that I am writing my blog.......I may sleep all of the way to Wenatchee.

We have another great group: many, many return riders.  Don from California, still peddling at 80!  Netzy from Montana, new to the tours last year. Pete and Carol from White Salmon make an appearance at least once a year.  And, the list goes on! The weather this week is looking good: mid 70's this side of the mountains, mid 80's on the East side.

So, the article in the Herald newspaper published yesterday!  I was very surprised to see that we made the front page!  Amy did a great job writing the piece, and Mike's pictures are great!  You can see the article at .  A few of the new tribe had already read it by the time we had our map meeting.  Some wanted to know if the food would be the same on this tour.  What they were trying to wrangle out of me was, "Do we get the seafood feast too?"  Of course they do!

I have one participant that has to eat gluten free.  This is not unusual on the tours, but what is new is the gluten free products that I am supplying for them.  My brother and sister in law are in the process of opening a gluten free bakery in the Skagit Valley area.  They have provided me with a supply of cookies, cupcakes, breads and granola.  So far the cookies and granola have been a hit!

We are loaded and ready to head over the hill.....the tribe is on the bus and headed up the pass.  We'll see them on the other side.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Got Weather?

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 husband cringes every time we get together.  Our road trips are 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.

Tomorrow is our last day.....we will be up bright and early to get them on the road.  They will head to the ferry to cross the sound to Mukilteo and then peddle their way back to Redmond.  We will head back to home base, re-up, and get ready to do this all over again on Monday.  It was a great tour, awesome people and amazing rides.  We will see you on the other side Monday.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Peddling for Bivalves

Taylor Seafood harvesting in Samish Bay: the tribe partaking in the feast: A contented staff: full seagulls lounging on the lawn: my family of foodies.

So the motivation for today's ride was the feast waiting for the tribe at Bay View State Park.  I am sure that the ride itself was part of the motivation: after a long day yesterday they had just 56 miles of gradual downhill, one little climb, and an amazing ride along the Samish Bay.  And, what a feast they were about to hold!

One thing I forgot to mention is that we picked up a couple of strays at Rockport.  Two young men are just finishing their self contained tour from Vermont to the West Coast.  They happened upon us and  were happy to partake in last nights feast, as well breakfast this morning and sandwiches for the road.  I did make mention the seafood feast happening tonight, and if our paths crossed, they were more than welcome to join us.  I think their path changed from their original plan.  We did see them at dinner, breakfast and lunch once again!

Before arriving at Bay View Jack, my mom, and I sped up Chuckanut Drive to Taylor Shellfish Farms to procure tonights delicacies.  Oysters, clams, and mussels all from Washington waters......fresh for the grilling and steaming for "happy hour" with the tribe.  We then sped back to Sakuma Farms to get our paws on fresh strawberries, tayberries and raspberries to mix with greens right out of my mom's garden for the salad du jour! (A tayberry is a cross between raspberries and blackberries.  Where the name tayberry? Simple.  B + R = T.  B is the 2cnd letter in the alphabet, R is the 18th letter in the alphabet, T is the 20th letter in the alphabet.  2 + 18 = 20.  Oh, my mind doesn't work like that.....)  We already had the salmon on board, so it was back to the campground and hard at work to feed our tribe recently christened "the seagulls".  And, they ate like seagulls!

I had a couple of visitors tonight.  Well, many, but these 3 stood out.  We had a reporter and photographer from the Snohomish County Herald out to do a feature on the catering on this tour.  They joined us for 4 hours, happy hour and dinner.  They interviewed most of the tribe and staff....I have no idea what is going to be written, but it will be published in the Monday's addition of the paper.  You can find it by googling the Snohomish County Herald.  We also had my mom, sister, all 3 sons, Erin that used to work for me on the tours, and her 2 little guys.  It was quite the reunion!

The tribe had an awesome dinner..the happy hour, berry and fresh greens salad, steamed fingerling potatoes, steamed fresh vegetable medley, bourbon salmon, and fresh home made cookies for dessert.  They fueled up for another long day tomorrow across Deception Pass and down Whidbey Island for the last night together.  The first of Ranger Tommy's Farewell.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Over the Top

Bright and early up in the sky: happy tribe members getting ready to head out for a long day: pics from the climb: tribe members at the top: Aaron off the bike after the climb: pics from the top: lunch at the top: Keilan at Diablo Lake Overlook

What a day!  Day 5 is the longest of the rides for this tribe.  Everyone was up EARLY.  Fortunately Jack and I had the sense to get even earlier and have coffee and breakfast ready to go by 5:45.  I think everyone was out of camp by 6:30.  With 95.1 miles and two mountain passes to ride over this was a good idea.  Plus, they were trying to beat the heat.  It wasn't as hot today, but still in the 80's.

Today's route took the tribe West out of Winthrop along the Methow River, a gradual uphill to the base of Washington Pass.  Then the fun began.  A 10 mile climb of up to 8% grade and topping out at 5,477 feet.  Lunch was at the camp ground at the top and the tribe got to go out to the overlook and see what they had just accomplished.  Good job tribe!

We stopped in Mazama on the way by, and if you are on highway 20 ever it's a great little time out.  They have a fabulous general store and deli and a new sports outfitting store with bike rentals, maps, hiking & camping gear.....worth the time off the road.

A funny thing happened at the lookout.  Our friend Jim from Baltimore, who thinks it's a vacation to take time off from work and wash dishes on our rides, walked out to the lookout to take some pics.  A couple was there with a minister and some friends and asked him if he wanted to witness their wedding!  Of course he did, and now he has another story to tell!

After the tribe left the campground they had a screaming downhill for about 10 miles, then another shorter climb up to Rainy Pass, elevation 4,855 feet.  After that it was downhill most all of the way into Newhalem, with a stop at the Diablo Lake overlook. (Except for Jim from ACA, he didn't want to waste the downhill by stopping!)  From Newhalem it was another 25 miles into camp, riding along the Skagit River into Howard Miller Steelhead Park.  Our last rider came in at 7:30 to a round of applause from the whole tribe!  It was a gorgeous day and a fabulous ride.

Dinner tonight was a pasta feast to refuel the tribe.  Linguini with meat sauce, Orzo with pesto cream sauce & sun dried tomatoes, sautéed zucchini, green salad, and Aaron's Oreo pudding surprise for dessert.  (The surprise is that it didn't end up on the floor of the truck as it has in the past!)

Lot's of beer and lot's of stories tonight then everyone was off early to bed.  Tomorrow is and easier day into Bay View State Park.  Everyone is eager to partake in the seafood happy hour and the salmon bbq.  I'll let you know how it goes!