Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hawkins Family Bike Tour: Day 3

Dear Friends,

Some of you are wondering what this all means. I know, it's pretty tricky. Claire and I are riding from Seattle to Portland and taking 5 days. Usually people think of that ride in terms of something only done in the middle of July, on two days of a weekend, with 8,000 people whom you should not trust on two wheels with your safety, ahem I mean, 8,000 of your closest friends.

Nay, Claire and I are taking advantage of the fact that I have 4 different weeks when some percentage of my students are on spring break and this is the week with the largest percentage of students missing that didn't take place in February. You take what you can get. We have also started a silly and self indulgent pattern of going to crazy places for our anniversary (roughly) and here is this year's installment. Just so you know, the first year was to Mexico City (the concierge wouldn't let us ride bikes nor tell us where we could rent them), yes, the city; the second to Romania (we couldn't stomach $320 to cart our bikes over when a train ride across that country was $12 first class), the third to Ashland and environs (Claire was very with child this time last year), and this year finds us on a bike, just one, riding to visit family.

With that, today's story begins with last night. After a nice dip in the hot tub, Claire's cousin Jordan informed us that global warming doesn't exist. Jordan is a contractor who specializes in sewage mains and water mains and any kind of pipe for liquids or cable or anthing you like as long as you have to dig to install it. We were about to agree with him based on the nippy weather yesterday and the fact that it took us quite a while to warm up. But I pointed out that global warming really has more to do about accounting for all of your costs, that if you are dumping something into a river or burning some hydrocarbon, that you should pay the entire price for its use. He was in complete agreement because his job is figuring out what things are actually going to cost sometimes years in advance and I'm glad we could reach some rapprochement. I also think that he would love that I used "rapprochement" with reference to him.

So for today's ride, we went from south Tumwater/Littlerock to Onalaska (just look it up. It exists). I think it kind of fun that all of our family live in deep exurbia and riding our bikes there provides for some really great riding atypical of our downtown Seattle regular commutes.

Ah yes, the ride. We got loaded up. Thorvald is getting used to the pattern and really likes hanging out with us. He's really adapting to trailer life and goes to sleep most easily there, inexplicably to our better senses. The roads back to the main one are much shorter than we remember, and soon enough we are charting new ground, cutting east so as to meet up with good ole' state route 99. We ride east then south, passing through Tenino, Bucoda (originally a Romanian name but who knows, it was settled in 1853), and then we catch lunch in Centralia.

In the middle of Centralia is a park with a Carnegie library and a statue of a WWI soldier. It's a memorial but not to what you would think. It's dedicated to the men killed in Centralia's famous labor riot of 1919. How completely cool is that. These guys were soldiers, marched in the Armistice Day parade, and spoke up somehow for worker rights, only to be gunned down.

I don't know that I've ever done anything that courageous, but seeing that statue was the high point of my riding day, oh, that and the great weather we had, and the sickeningly flat route (sore bums for both of us; Claire switched her saddle out; we carry two for her), and of course, the Yard Bird.

You just have to go to Chehalis (twin city to Centralia) to see the paper mache exquisiteness that is the Yard Bird. It must be two stories high and 60 feet long and stands at the highway as a sentinel, inviting passers by to feast on the Yard Bird flea market. Oh, you must go. It's a very good time.

We got in at 3 PM, left at 9:30 that morning, covered 45 miles, had a nice lunch, let Thorvald run wild in the labor/philanthropist park, and talked to all kinds of people who love bikes and love their families. It was a great day.

Day 4 is the marathon. Stay tuned. We haven't done it yet.


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