Life of Adventure Blog
Bicycle adventure coast to coast across America with Howard and Frosty Wooldridge in the summer of 2012 www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com
Join us as we pedal from the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast to Washington DC on the Atlantic. As the journey moves across this wondrous continent, I will write stories from the road on this website’s blog. Stay tuned.
We will be following Howard’s coast to coast horseback route from his epic ride in 2003. You will enjoy majestic mountain passes, raging white water rivers, enormous wilderness beauty, spring flowers, hummingbirds, migrating fowl, buffalo and spectacular wild animals. From the Rocky Mountains across the Great Plains to the Blue Ridge Sky Line Drive. It will be a most amazing adventure.
We will cross the Oregon Trail, Jim Bridger’s hunting areas, Lewis and Clark’s trail, mountain man rendezvous, Pony Express Route, Route 66, Daniel Boone country, Great Smokey Mountains, Blue Ridge Skyline Drive and into Washington DC.
We will video the entire journey for a documentary that features sights, sounds and the amazing experiences that occur on this bicycle adventure. You will share with the wild, crazy and interesting people along the way. Additionally, Frosty will write a book: Bicycle Adventure Across America: Pounding the Pedals for Life, Joy and Laughter.
Bicycling will change your life, thrill your body, accent your spirit and provide you with pictures, hilarious moments, a boatload of memories and a basketful of pictures to remember for your lifetime.
Start: New Port Beach, Oregon
Time: April 22, 2012
Finish: June 20 to 30, 2012 at Virginia Beach, Virginia
Bikes: Mountain expedition touring machines and regular touring bikes as you wish
Details: Complete pack list provided, bike suggestions, anything questions will be answered.
Thanks for sharing the road with us this summer.
Love, laugh, ride, dance and pedal,
Howard and Frosty Wooldridge
Heading toward One Street Down, you gotta laugh at life
After freezing our butts off coasting down from Santiam Pass, we lost a lot of altitude, and we gained a lot of rain and cold, too. We reached a Subway Sandwich store where we devoured a “salad in a bun.” They also featured hot broccoli soup with bread. Nothing like dipping a piece of bread into hot soup and plunging it into your mouth when you’re shivering and wet. It’s like pouring heaven into your body.
That brings up another point about long distance bicycle touring. Nothing is average! Nothing is taken for granted! Nothing is ordinary. Breathing feels good and you notice it. Eating takes on a whole new understanding. You feel your body at work.
Food tastes like a gourmet dinner even if you are eating a PB and J. A drink of water refreshes like nothing else. A shower provides an exhilarating experience of heaven on earth as it washes away the day’s sweat, dust and strain of pedaling a bicycle. Bicycling lets you know you are alive in a way that brings joy, exhaustion, peace and a sense of purpose.
We camped out that night in the rain in an open field with trees all around us. We heard the raindrops pepper the tent before falling asleep. We smelled the fresh, clean air enter our lungs. We quickly dropped into the serenity of deep sleep. A few owls hooted as I dropped into dreamland.
Next day, we headed for Redmond, Oregon. Only 20 miles! We would build up a breakfast appetite second to none in those 20 miles. We would be ravenously hungry. We would devour any breakfast table adorned with food.
We dropped into a canyon to cross the Deschutes River. Right out of a picture with gray rock, red bushes lining the water and green trees bursting everywhere! Such beauty! We felt enormous appreciation for the beauty we pedaled through in Oregon.
As we entered the city limits, I asked a lady, “What is the best café diner in town for breakfast?”
She said, “Hands down, the One Street Down Café!”
That got my attention.
“Wayne, let’s head over to the One Street Down Café.”
“Sounds great to me,” Wayne said. “I’m hungry enough to eat everything in sight.”
We did find it a challenge to locate the café since it wasn’t on the main drag. We kept asking directions until finally, on 7th Street, we cruised north until we arrived at a burgundy painted house. A black iron fence surrounded the building. In the courtyard, we saw steel black tables, umbrellas and chairs for summer dining. Apple trees bloomed pink and white. The green lawn livened up everything before us. We saw an “Open” sign in the window. “Good food served here.” Also, “Wifi hotspot.” They opened 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week. Very classy!
I walked in to see a beautiful interior of delightfully painted walls in sublime colors. On the left, a waterfall fell down a glass sheet in the most visually sublime manner. Black tables with copper tops scattered around the room. Beautiful paintings enlivened the walls. The 60s music came from a 40 year old turn table with a 78 record on it. The Beatles sang to us.
“We heard this is the best café diner in the entire State of Oregon,” I said.
“We’ll have to prove it to make it true,” said one of the ladies serving us.
We sat down as she set out the silverware and water glasses. Really nice!
“Wayne,” I said. “Look at this napkin and silverware. It’s tied up in a string and you have to pull the string to release it.”
“Pretty darn classy,” said Wayne.
“This is the first time in my life that I have ever seen silverware and a napkin tied up like this,” I said. “This place is special.”
Wayne order oatmeal, toast and fruits. I ordered pancakes and hash browns.
When they arrived, I had never seen a better presentation of food. Wayne’s oatmeal featured nuts, raisins, currents and brown sugar. He watched a “castle” of fruit built up in a special glass goblet.
“Wow,” said Wayne. “This is top drawer.”
My pancakes arrived with incredible butter, maple syrup and green leaves.
“These potatoes taste like a million dollars,” I said.
Kathi, the owner, came out to speak with us. Lovely lady and the wait staff was mostly her daughters and other family members. All very attractive! We talked about the ride and her incredible presentation of food.
An hour later, we sat back with joyfully full stomachs.
I have to say that this café represents the best and most unique eating I have enjoyed on six continents. It’s fresh, clean, organic, tasty and the atmosphere is fabulous. In my own appreciation, the One Street Down Café is the Mount Hood of eating experiences in Oregon. It is as sublime as the deep woods of that state. It sets the benchmark for culinary excellence.
We left with full tummies, full hearts and warm feelings. I will always remember the One Street Down Café as the finest culinary establishment of my travels on six continents.
Laugh, love, pedal, eat voraciously and live it up,
Heading toward One Street Down, eternal wilderness, open road
The summer—no sweeter than ever;
The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness---
O God! How I’m stuck on it all. By Yukon Poet Robert Service
How do Service’s words touch you? Do you feel the eternal spirit of the wilderness? Feel the sublime joy of smelling the fresh mountain flowers? The clean scent of pine, the subtle “white music” of a river rushing past your campsite? The energy you gain from stretching your muscles on a hike or bike ride? Does your mind feel alive? Does your skin feel the magic of temperature changes?
Whether the wilderness in the Yukon or the Rain Forests of South America, I love the “lightness of being” in the wilds. Some call it “grounding” where you touch the Earth with your bare feet and reconnect with the vibrations of Nature. Whatever it is about immersing myself in Nature’s arms, I feel at peace, balanced and vibrantly alive.
Given a choice of a motel or a tent by a river—what would you choose? Do you like the sound of a microwave cooking up your dinner or the sound of your stew simmering on a campfire crackling with energy?
Have you ever sat by a campfire;
When the wood has fallen low,
And the ashes start to whiten;
Around the campfire’s crimson glow?
With a full moon high above you;
That makes silence double sweet,
And the night sounds all around you,
That make the spell complete.
Tell me were you ever nearer;
To the land of heart’s desire,
Than when you sat there thinking;
With your face toward the fire?
Maybe you have guessed my choice. Tell me yours. Let’s get out there into the wild to really feel our lives.
The sun rose through a gray sky while we packed up our tents. Quickly through the 46 degree morning, we cranked east toward a new pass. We pushed hard on the pedals to move our bikes over the summit. We passed more skeleton trees poking into the sky. When it burns in Oregon, it burns everything down to gray wood. We saw lots of woodpecker homes holed into the dead trees.
As always, Nature finds her way, does her thing and makes everything work. For certain, we need massive forest fires at intervals to keep a balance within the woods. The suppression of fires in the USA for the past century has caused terrible damage to ecosystems.
Again, our lungs heaved and our breaths came hard as we pressed on the pedals. While we cranked a higher percent grade, we covered the altitude gain in two hours to reach the top by noon at 4,617 feet.
As we wrapped ourselves up to keep warm on the ride down, three huge snow-covered mountains popped up behind us. Really stunningly beautiful!
We pedaled on a road titled “Over the River and Through the Woods” of Oregon. You can imagine that we pedaled along a river and through deep woods. Heck of a great title for a road! In Colorado, we have the “Peak to Peak” highway that takes folks along a stupendous number of peaks along the route.
As we pedaled, my legs felt the burn of the climbs and the joy of the coasting downhill. My mind pursued the climbs and it also felt the “glee” of the gravity power of coasting. A triumph no matter how big a pass or how small releases a sense of joy throughout my mind. It sparkles in every cell of my body. All triumphs represent effort over time. Celebrate yourself in the corridors of your mind.
We headed toward Redmond, Oregon and the One Street Down Restaurant experience.
Part 4: The amazing One Street Down, eastbound toward Idaho
Laugh, love, pedal, eat voraciously and live it up,
Tombstone Pass, cold nights, camping out in deep wilderness
After Tombstone Pass and its world of white, we rolled down the other side. Of course, we "rugged up" with all the cold weather gear we could muster. Gore-tex jackets, gloves,sweaters, foot covers, tights, bacalava, zipped up neck gators and wool socks. We rolled down hill for six miles knowing that we would be pounding the pedals back up another long pass. Around us, deep woods filled with massive pine trees of every size. Some looked over two hundred years old while others were just starting out. The woods beckoned in its beauty, mystery and grandeur. I relish camping in the woods. It gives me a sense of peace, quiet, tranquility and spiritual bliss.
"We're not going to make the next pass before nightfall," said Wayne.
"Let's find the perfect spot," I said.
"In all this snow?" said Wayne.
"Let's find a clearing in the woods," I said.
We pedaled slowly with the temperatures dropping quickly from 55 to 50 to 45. It would be a cold night. We could be freezing our butts off at 20 degrees this night. This is when nature let's you know you're alive.
We found a clearing along the highway where the snow had melted enough to show some ground. We cracked out the tents and puffed up the sleeping bags before cooking up a hot dinner of beans and rice.
I crawled into my tent with these last words as the temperatures dropped toward the 30s and 20s, "Slap on everything you can to keep warm tonight Wayne. I think it's going to really drop into the 20s."
"Way ahead of you," Wayne said. "I'm ready to sleep like a baby wrapped in layers."
That night, my temperature stick read 21 degrees. Fortunately, I carried a 20 degree bag and stayed warm.
Next morning, we awoke to frozen water on the tents. We packed them up, loaded the bikes and began our ride to the top of Santiam Pass. We passed a huge burn area with gray skeleton trunks of once formerly majestic pines. The road continue its 5 percent incline through forest beauty. We saw 10,000 foot peaks in the distance. We climbed toward a 6,000 foot pass, which kept our immediate attention.
What's it like climbing a mountain pass? I've climbed them from 5,000 to 10,000 to a lot of them at 11,000 in Colorado to 15,500 foot passes in the Andes. I've climbed them in heat and sweating like a pig all the way to the top. I've climbed passes in rain which is miserable. I have climbed them in snow and on gravel. Each presents a specific challenge. Whether I like them or not, there is only one way over a mountain pass and that's with guts, gumption and endless determination. At the top, the grind melts away until the pedaling becomes easier and then, gravity takes over. Once that happens, my mind flies with delight, bliss, euphoria and freedom of flight.
We reached the top of Santiam Pass at noon. At the top, it proved flat for a mile, and we saw the trail sign for the Pacific Coast Trail. That path runs from Canada to Mexico for backpackers. My friend Doug Armstrong has hiked it. He's also cycled and hiked seven continents. He loved his journey on the Pacific Coast Trail.
At the top, from sweating, we packed on the jackets to get ready for a chilly descend. We rolled down a long, winding and dry road into Sisters at the bottom. Looking back as I sped down the long road, I saw Mount Hood rise out of the woods behind me and before me the Three Sisters rose to 10,000 feet into the grand blue sky. Really imposing!
We met Howard at the Subway and gobbled down some footlongs!
We headed toward Redmond, Oregon and an amazing meeting at One Street Down.
Laugh, love, pedal and live it up,
Oregon and the Cascade Mountains
On April 22, 2012, Wayne, Howard and I pushed our bikes out onto the sand near the waves rolling in from the Pacific Ocean at New Port Beach, Oregon. People, dogs and children dotted beach front. Seagulls soared over the breakers. The sun warmed all of us as we prepared for camera shots of the beginning of our bicycle ride across America.
"Hey miss," Howard said to a passing beach walker. "Could you please take a shot of us?"
"Sure," she said as he handed her his camera.
She took a few shots and handed it back. Several other beach walkers marveled at the signs on our bikes: "Across America" and "Coast to Coast."
From that beach, we faced 3,500 miles of hills, mountains, plains, cold, hot, rain, snow, towns, cities, good pavement, otherwise pavement, physical effort, mental effort, patience for what Mother Nature tossed into our path and our own interaction with one another and the people we would meet.
I walked out to the waves and scooped up a small bottle of Pacific Ocean water. I would scoop up another bottle of the Atlantic Ocean. Those bottles would join six other bottles to make eight bottles to represent my four coast to coast bicycle journeys across America in the past 35 years. Each crossing taught me many lessons in my youth, middle and now into my "later" years. It's all a great learning experience. I want to make sure I stuff my bucket-list with all I can while I walk this planet.
"Let's git 'er done," Howard said as he pushed back toward the City of New Port Beach.
"I'm with you," said Wayne.
"Pedaling my bike as fast I can to keep up with you guys," I said.
As I looked back over the ocean, the waves crashed eternally over the beach. The ubiquitous seagulls squawked as they fought over some food that washed up on the sand. Within three months, I would stand on the Atlantic Ocean to see the same scene. In between, I would live a ton of memories, snap a wheel barrel full of pictures, create a video of the journey and learn more about life from interactions with people. I look forward to the animals we will see and the people we will meet.
Bicycle adventure presents certain physical, mental and emotional challenges that most travelers never consider. While it looks wondrous to pedal a bike across a continent, it's hard core, hard physical muscle work. At times, when I have a 15 mile climb up a six percent grade, it's slow going and arduous work. At other times, it's smooth sailing "Zen of the Crank" when my mind and body feel bliss, joy and spiritual energy as the body works at maximum efficiency. It's a heck of a "high" not understood or appreciated by most folks unless they ride a bicycle for many days with a sixty pounds of gear.
We bought two days worth of food at the local store. We aired up the tires.
"Let's do it dudes," I said.
We headed east on Route 20 which would connect with the Oregon Trail. By the way, the trail from the 1800s still shows the wagon ruts to this day when you cross over it. The entire north woods of Oregon still operates with old railroad tracks, the big timber companies, logging and hard living. And, truly, oh so much beauty on so many levels.
We pedaled into deep woods. We pedaled along the Little Elk Creek. We pedaled through bright green moss growing on the dead and live trees along the road.
We reached Philomath where a couple saw Wayne on his back with his feet up looking like a dead bug.
A woman said, "Here's $20 to have dinner on us...we pedaled our tandem all over Alaska so we know you're having a great time."
I grabbed the the 20 spot and thanked her! They drove off.
"We are money magnets," I said to Wayne.
We pedaled all the way into Corvallis where we stayed at Joan's house. She featured a hen house, garden, apple trees and two huge redwood trees in the back yard. Monster trees and only 50 years old! Joan featured simple living, quiet living, peaceful living and joyful countenance.
Next day, we hammered the pedals through small, old towns. The Coca-Cola signs dominated. Lots of old 1965-70 pick up trucks! Dr. Pepper with 10/2/4 on the bottles. Wood chips filled the highways where the logging trucks carried their product to the mills. When they rolled past us at 65 mph, they blew us off to the side with their first air draft and nearly sucked us into their rear tires. The fresh smell of cut wood wafted into our noses.
Along the route, the old towns really gave a glimpse of Mayberry RFD with Andy, Aunt Bee, Opie and Barney. Every town featured a hardware, gas station, bank, seed business, barber with a revolving red/white/blue barber's pole, hospital, veterinary clinic, 5 and 10 store, dentist and chiropractor.
Out of Sweet Home, we rolled into thicker wilderness and rising incline as the road began its serpentine route through the Cascade Mountains. Big spruce, Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine shot into the sky like green cathedrals. They dominated! Above, hawks and eagles soared across the the vast blue sky. We followed the Santiam River. Everywhere, winter receded, but as we hit 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 feet, Old Man Winter made his last stand with cold winds, seven foot snowbanks and dark, threatening clouds.
Pedaling through that deep wilderness, a sense of quiet awe inspired me. The woods, as Gordon Lightfoot said, "Are too silent to be real." The nice aspect of cycling stems from the silence of our bikes. We came upon deer grazing in the glen. Canada geese played in a pond. Mallards guarded their new nests. We when we scanned the woods, we saw woodpeckers and crows. The sky always presented several hawks soaring on the thermals. Sometimes, we watched a hawk flutter above his potential unsuspecting lunch, then dive to grab it with his outstretched talons.
When we stopped, we listened to the trees. We listened to the wilderness whisper through the branches. We listened the the heart beat of nature every throbbing and pulsing through its vast creative network. Tumbling waterfalls energized us, raging rivers enthralled us and the chatter of a squirrel brought the wilderness music to a daily crescendo.
The great woodsman John Muir said, "Leave the loathsome tension of the big cities, come to the mountains and your troubles will fall away like autumn leaves."
As we climbed to 4,617 feet, our lungs worked, our breaths labored and our legs worked hard. We reached Santiam Pass.After all that effort, we felt a sense of bliss at reaching the top. The mind clears of the hard push up and relaxes for the long ride down. We celebrated our triumph in the corridors of our minds. Then, down, down, down along fantastic wilderness colors until we began to pedal again.
Ahead, more climbing to reach Tombstone Pass....
How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World www.HowToLiveALifeOfAdventure.com