Thursday, July 28, 2011


I was dropped off at the Rattlesnake Lake Trail Head for the John Wayne Trail at 11:30 on Wednesday. 
Shortly after taking off I saw this sign:  Snoqualmie Tunnel is my destination.  The John Wayne Trail is a multi-use path (biking, hiking, equestrian) which follows the route of the now defunct Milwaukee Railroad. 
Grades are generally slight, no more than 4 or 5%; however, it is a constant uphill climb for the 18 miles as you go from 1000 ft at Rattlesnake Lake to 2550 at the entrance to the tunnel. 

The road surface is very coarse gravel (several inches deep in places) with fist-sized rocks occurring quite frequently. 
The larger trestles have been retained with appropriate safety fencing added.
There is a plethora of flora along the way however, I saw very few animals--my wheezing and gasping for breath undoubtedly warned them of my approach. There are also numerous waterfalls, visible and unseen but heard.
I finally arrived at the west portal about 5:30 and after taking an obligatory picture, began setting up my camp for the night and preparing a most welcome dinner.

The next morning (today) I entered the dark hole that is the west portal. Almost immediately, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel--2.2 miles away! The east portal is the white spot in the lower center of the picture--the white spots on the left and right are reflectors along the sides of the tunnel.

After a relatively short 20 minute ride, during which I was 'rained' on by water seeping through the hundreds of feet of earth above me, I arrived at the east portal.
The remainder of the trip was mostly a downgrade however, since there is less traffic on the eastern approach to the tunnel the areas of deep gravel and fist-sized rocks became more numerous. I got some good scenery views from the 'other side' of Lake Keechelus.

After being battered by the increasing number of rocks for 20 miles, I decided to call a halt when I reached Easton. I was going to ride the remaining 12 miles to Cle Elum on the freeway, but as luck would have it, Frances was only five minutes behind me on her way home from Tacoma. Thus ended my jaunt through the tunnel; it was a good experience but not one that I would want to do again--I'll stick to paved roads from now on!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I’ve been on the move during the last week, although most of the time was spent driving the car.  We left for Ocean Shores last Wednesday for Barbara’s family reunion and discovered our cabin did not have internet access, so I wasn’t able to update my blog.  There were around 100 people in attendance but I had the only trike.  The weather was beautiful and I was able to ride 70+ miles over the course of the reunion.  One of the really great things about the area was that there were no hills; yes, 70 miles of flat riding!  The bad part about the weather was that it was beautiful—no wind driven waves crashing over the jetty, and I didn’t see any real good photo ops.  

However, I have a mini-trip scheduled for tomorrow: they recently opened the Snoqualmie Tunnel on the John Wayne Trail and I’m going to ride through it.  I have the trike loaded and will be dropped off at Rattlesnake Lake; I’ll camp somewhere along the trail and will complete the ride back to Cle Elum on Thursday.  It’s only about 50 miles but it’s all gravel so I’ll be a bit slower than usual.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The road less traveled

I took a different road today; actually, not totally different, just a different direction.  I normally ride up to Upper Peoh Point Road and follow it to Watson’s Cutoff.  I can then go flying downhill for about a mile and a half, reaching speeds of up to 30 mph until I connect with Lower Peoh Point Road.  I reversed direction today, riding out Lower Peoh Point Road and up Watson’s Cutoff instead of down; I sometimes reached a blazing speed of 8 mph but, generally, I plodded uphill at 3 to 4 mph.  The sights are much better at the slower speeds as you are able to look around and enjoy the view instead of concentrating on staying on the road and being vigilant for squirrels that may try to cross in front of you.  I guess the saying of ‘take time to smell the roses’ would translate to biking as ‘slow down and enjoy the view.’

Friday, July 8, 2011

The past few days have not been good for riding; actually, the days were fine, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s.  However,  I had some chores to do which kept me off the road with my trike and on the road with a truck.  One of my daughters is moving to Scotland and had some items to move to different locations to be sold.  After a couple of ‘great weather’ days, imagine my surprise when I woke up to 50° this morning!  It got into the mid 50s about noon and I went out to run a few errands—wearing sweatpants.  Finally, about 2:30 it got into the low 60s and I went out for a bit longer ride.  Although I didn’t go far I was reminded of the beauty of the surrounding area and how lucky I am to be able to get out and enjoy it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Ice Man

Today was the hottest day of the year—85°.  I rode my trike in the parade and, although many people didn’t know what Team Buggie was, I did hear “We love you Daddy” and a couple cries of “Grandpa.”  The heat brought to mind another story from my childhood.
 The Ice Man
The Sheyenne River angles in towards Lisbon from the Northwest and forms the Northern edge of the city until it makes a sharp right turn and cuts through the middle of town, about a block East of Main Street.  There is a dam just about where the river makes its turn and consequently, the river along the northern edge is quite deep (15-25 feet) and relatively wide (50-100 yards).  The slow moving water behind the dam would freeze to a thickness of 1 ½ to 2 feet every year which made for a great ice skating rink, but more important for this story, it was harvested. 
In the early ‘50s there was an icehouse just above the dam.  Each winter, ice would be cut from the river in huge blocks (2’ X 8’ or so) and stored in the icehouse, packed in sawdust.  The reason for the ice harvest was that refrigerators were expensive and not common items in many households—we had an icebox until I was 11 or 12.  An icebox looked like a refrigerator, but where the freezer is today is where you would store ice, which would then cool off the lower portion to store perishables.
During the late fall when it started to get cold and throughout the winter and early spring, you could just set out a pan of water and make your own ice for the icebox.  Starting in the spring though, when the ice was gone from the river, the company that had harvested the ice during the winter began sending its trucks out and about town, selling ice.  There was a set schedule—every 2 or 3 days or so; each house that needed ice was given a red sign.  The sign was about a foot or so square and in each corner was a number—as I recall, 5, 10, 15 and 20. 
On delivery days, you would put the sign in a window that could be seen from the street with the number of pounds of ice you wanted in the uppermost corner.  That way, the driver could stop, see how much ice you needed without going to the door to ask, and just cut off the right amount from one of the blocks in the truck.  He would then take the ice into the house, collect his money and be off to the next house. 
While my brother and I may not have known the delivery schedule, we knew that when the sign went up in the window, the Ice Man was coming!  On particularly hot summer days we would lay in wait for him, hiding alongside the road.  With eager anticipation, we would watch him come to a stop and dismount from his truck; invariably, he would leave the back doors of the panel truck open as he carried the ice to the house with his large ice tongs.  And we would strike!
We would leap from our hiding place and quickly run to the back of the truck.  Grabbing one or two small pieces of ice each, we would then dash back to our hiding place; we knew if he came out of the house and saw us, he would tell mom and we would need ice to soothe our burning butts!  Once he had driven off, we were safe to come out of our hiding place and walk around with our small treasure, slaking our thirst with its marvelous coolness.
Sadly, the old icehouse burned down.  I’m not sure whether it burned before or after we had gotten one of the new-fangled refrigerators; either event sounded the death knell of the industry and the Ice Man came no more.

Friday, July 1, 2011

More Flags

Today was beautiful:  75° and a very slight breeze.  It was a day for getting a few things done around the house and doing a few errands on the trike.  Weekends are not a good time for long rides in this area.  There are so many visitors and quite a few of them are pulling trailers of some type; since they’re not accustomed to pulling them they sometimes tend to forget they’re there.  That can lead to some very dangerous situations.  So, I just stayed on local streets and still rolled up nearly ten miles. 

One of the projects I was working on was attaching a couple of flags—a USA and a USMC.  I may try to infiltrate the parade route tomorrow.