Sunday, November 24, 2013

Surly Resurrection

While disassembling the bike in early July to pack it up for the trip home from the final leg of our cross-country tour, I noticed that the powder-coat finish on the bottom of the top tube, as well as in other places on the frame had become badly pocked.

This is not really supposed to happen to powder-coat, which is why it is popular as a finish for touring bikes that sometimes don't get the best of care. The bike had been refinished when I had the couplers installed in February of 2010.

Since the trip, I have not riding as much, and when I have, it was on the tandem with Kathy. As a result, it was a while before I emailed the photo above to Steve Bilenky at Bilenky Cycle Works in Philadelphia, who had done the couplers and had subcontracted the powder-coating. He agreed that something was wrong and asked me to send him the frame for a closer look. Eventually I cobbled together a box and sent out the frame (but not the fork, which had a couple of nicks, but nothing like what was happening to the frame). His diagnosis after inspecting it in person was that the frame must not have been prepped adequately. In spite of the fact that three years had passed, he offered to re-finish the frame at a deep discount, using his current (different) powder-coater. 

Unfortunately, they were unable to come up with an exact match for the color, so we decided to pick a different color that would look ok with the original-color fork. The frame arrived here about 10 days ago, but they forgot to include the bottom bracket, headset cups, and the coupler nuts with the frame, so I had to wait another week for those to arrive.  

When the missing parts showed up, I installed the coupler nuts, put the two halves of the frame back together, and drove over to South Lake Bike. The new owner, Brett, quickly pressed in the headset cups, installed the bottom bracket, and thoughtfully applied Frame Saver to the inside of the tubes.

I spent yesterday afternoon and early evening getting the bike reassembled. You can see the result below. The dark blue fork looks a little unusual, but doesn't look bad with the light blue (RAL 5014 Pigeon Blue) I selected for the frame. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fred & Seth's Great Adventure: Summary

I have finally taken the time to gather all the data from the five stages of our Key West to Seattle bicycle trip. Here they are:

Along the way we rode through 13 states: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkasas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

We figured that the entire trip took about ten weeks. It turned out that we were exactly right: 67 days of riding, plus 3 rest days. We also guesstimated our daily average to be around 65 miles and that turned out to be close as well -- just under 66 miles per day. The total mileage I assumed to be 4,500. We actually rode 4,416 (in my case 4,316 because I did not ride the 100 mile day into Yellowstone thanks to my foot injury on that stage). If we hadn't hitched a ride from Jeffrey City to Lander, WY, the miles would have been 4,476, pretty close to our estimate of 4500 miles for the entire route.

It is interesting to note that the first and last stage were almost exactly the same length, though the first stage was a day longer and the last required almost 9 more hours on the bike. The GGT (Colorado-Wyoming) stage had almost as much climbing as the final stage, but it was 6 days less, so it was definitely the most challenging ride of the five.

Colorado was certainly beautiful, and there is little that is more pleasing to my eyes than the water seen from the bridges between the Florida Keys, but the last stage through Montana, Idaho, and Oregon had the most spectacular scenery by a considerable margin, and the most days of it. Montana is my new favorite state (in the summer), and there is much more there, such as Glacier National Park, that I have yet to see.

I love looking at the track, so here it is, again:

Fred and I are both so very grateful to have had the opportunity to do this trip, and we are especially grateful to our wonderful wives, Pat and Kathy, for their support of this dream.

Is there another big tour in our future? We don't have anything specific planned, but I can't say that we aren't kicking around some ideas. It won't be too many years before Fred turns 70 and the desire to do something manly in celebration might well make another appearance.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July 2, 2013: MIM Day 17, Yelm to Mercer Island / Seattle WA

The Grand Tour, Fred and Seth's Most Excellent Adventure, is complete. Both of us made it up the final hill and rolled into Larry and Marcia's driveway on Mercer Island at around 3 PM this afternoon.

This last day was 73 miles, with 2,000 feet of climbing including a 14% half-mile climb as soon as we got onto Mercer Island and just two miles from our destination! Larry, with whom Kathy and I plan to visit for a few days, met us as we came off the I-90 bike path that crosses Lake Washington on the East side of Mercer Island. After greetings, he warned us about the "little hill" and led us on a circuitous path to his house. We pulled up to the driveway where Kathy and Larry's wife, Marcia, waited for us, surrounded by American Flags and signs celebrating our accomplishment.

Everyone has been asking, "What's next?" For now, the only serious plan as far as I am concerned is to do whatever Kathy would like next summer. She has been talking about a bike-free trip to Italy and if that's what she wants, that is what I will happily do. I can't begin to express my appreciation of her support of this endeavor over the past five years. The least I can do is to help her to fulfill one of her own travel dreams.

Below is our track across the U.S. Each year's portion is a different color. The first stage was Little Rock, AR to Gainesville, FL, in 2008, shown in red. In 2009, we continued down to mile marker 0 in Key West, shown in white. Fred and I skipped 2010, spending a week cycling in Provence with our wives and our friends Steve and Debi. In 2011 we rode from Colorado Springs to West Yellowstone (light blue). The following year, 2012, we took on the plains, starting again in Colorado Springs and finishing in Little Rock (yellow). For the finale this year, we cycled from West Yellowstone to Mercer Island, in the shadow of Seattle (purple).

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1, 2013: MIM Day 16, Longview to Yelm, WA

The penultimate day of the final stage of Fred and Seth's Great Adventure. Our final night on the road is being spent in an unexpectedly exquisite Prairie Hotel in Yelm, WA, roughly 65 miles south of our destination on Mercer Island (just outside of Seattle). I guess everything is location. In a more touristy town, this room would go for at least twice the $90 we are paying here in Yelm.

Today's 78 mile ride was pretty uneventful, other than the time we spent in the enchanted forest. 

The Enchanted Forest
We rode through some pretty farm land, and went up lots of little hills, some of them rather steep. None was very long, but together they added up to about 2600 feet of climbing, mostly in the first half of the ride. The hills slowed us down, of course, so we were out there pedaling for six full hours. We got our first glimpses of Mt. Ranier but no photos... Oops, Fred just looked up through the large window in my room and noted that the mountain is right there! We immediately embarked on an impromptu expedition in a vain attempt to get some pictures without power lines or some other distraction in the foreground. No luck. We'll try to get some shots once we leave the immediate area of town in the morning. It is quite impressive.

Frustrated with our failure to capture Mt. Ranier, Fred noticed a volcano that looks about to erupt on the side of my nose, apparently the result of massive doses of sunblock during the day, and BreathRight strips at night. No worries, though. The seismologists have been alerted, haz-mat teams are standing by, and there should be no danger to anyone outside a 50 mile radius of my hotel room. That's a good thing, as there is no way that the national media will be covering anything other than the Zimmerman trial in the foreseeable future. Events like forest fires, typhoons, and nasal volcanoes will just have to take care of themselves in the meantime.

OK, now where was I? Did I mention World's Largest Egg? No? Well, you can see a picture of same below. I asked the young woman in the town of Winlock when the egg is supposed to hatch. She responded that they have been waiting 65 years, so far. In the meantime, she will keep watering it. All I could think of is that I would hate to run into the chicken that laid the damn thing.

The World's Largest Egg is in safe hands in Winlock, WA.

The historic jailhouse of Vader, WA, the ancestral family home of Darth Vader, Lord of Darkness.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013: MIM Day 15, Portland OR to Longview WA

Talking to Kathy last night, I commented that in some ways it feels like the tour is already over. I have long anticipated visiting the Columbia Gorge and Portland (if half a day in Portland really counts as a visit), but I really have no expectations for these last three days making our way up to Seattle. Particularly with the current heat wave in the Northwest, I have no hope of wonderful riding conditions, and, right or wrong, I don't expect any beautiful vistas to rival those of Montana, Idaho, or the Columbia Gorge along the way.

During today's short (51 miles) ride, we caught a few glimpses of Mt. St. Helens in the hazy distance, but somehow it did not measure up to Mt. Hood or the breath-taking mountain-scapes of Montana. It was a bit of a novelty to ride through the town of St. Helen, but my sample of one teenage cashier in a Walgreens store suggests that the eruption is a long forgotten, dusty memory. She had "no idea" of the year of the eruption (1980)!

  In spite of new tire and tube, Fred had another flat about an hour out of Portland. The tire still looks pristine, and there are no detectable anomalies in the rim that might explain his four flats. The hole in the new tube is a perfectly round, 2 mm hole. Our best guess is that it was a manufacturing defect. We replaced the bad tube with another new one we picked up yesterday at Performance Bike and it appears to be holding. Fred did ask me to switch the tubes for him, on the chance that he did something wrong when he changed the tire and tube last night. Anyway, we have our fingers crossed.

Right at the scene of the flat, there was a clean, perfectly usable sombrero, which brought back some fond memories of one of our first meals during the first stage of our trip (the Tour de Fred in 2008). We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and the waiter took our photo with each of us wearing a sombrero.

2008, Tour de Fred
2013, MIM Tour
The only excitement on the road today was crossing the Columbia for the last time from Oregon to Washington. As usual, the shoulders on the bridge were rather narrow, and there was plenty of traffic. One new thing was that the shoulder was peppered with debris from the logging trucks that often use the bridge -- big hunks of bark, primarily. Our recent spate of flats have made us hypersensitive to road debris, so getting across the bridge was like an exceptionally narrow slalom course between the guard rail and the passing cars. I am very grateful that there were very few trucks while we were on the bridge, and no logging trucks at all.

We will be returning to normal mileage days for the final two: 77 miles tomorrow and 66 for the final ride into the Seattle area. It will still be hot tomorrow, so we are going to try to get going very early to miss the worst of the heat and the possibility of increased wind in the afternoon.

June 29, 2013: MIM Day 14, Cascade Locks to Portland

Within minutes of getting on the bike today, my legs are saying stuff like, "What? Are you kidding? We're not done yet? No, no, no! Ain't gonna happen. You can't make us do this again." I take a breath and think, "OK. Don't panic. This kind of thing happens from time to time, I'll just take it easy and in five miles or so, they'll loosen up and all will be well..."

The first eight miles were on the interstate again. We usually cook along pretty well on the shoulder, but for me today, it was an effort. We finally made it to the exit at which the scenic Columbia Highway parts with the interstate. We got off the freeway and started looking for the famous waterfalls of Columbia Gorge. The road was beautiful, winding through dense forest. Suddenly Horse Tail falls appeared. Beautiful. 

We stopped for a while to take it in, then continued on and arrived at the big attraction, Multnomah Falls. 

While there we spoke to several local cyclists, including a couple who assured us that if we continue on the scenic route we will find the climb to be pretty similar to the one we did yesterday. With that in mind, I bought and consumed a coffee and large chocolate muffin. Apparently, that's all my legs were waiting for, because back on the road everything was back to normal. We did the climb up to the overlook and after that, an unintentional detour that included a little 12% climb without any problem.

Navigating into Portland was a challenge, though. We enlisted the help of some locals at a convenience store in Troutdale. They were kind enough to allow us to draft for the next five miles or so, and then put us on the bike path that would take us into town. When the GPS started to show that we were about to go too far south, we got some more advice from another cyclist and finally got our bearings and chugged away right up to our hotel.

We have taken to answering the question "Where did you start?" with "Key West." That almost always results in, "Excuse me?" or something of the sort. At that point we fill in the details like "About 1,000 miles each summer." The clerk here at the hotel was funny, playing along with stuff like, "Well, where's the news crew?"

Oh, Fred rolled up to the front of the hotel with another flat tire. It happens that there is a Performance Bike store 4 short blocks away, so we picked up a fresh tire, a couple of new tubes, and some fresh patch kits. That should pretty much guarantee no more flats during the remaining three riding days.

Stats: 58 miles, 2800 feet climbing, 5 hours saddle time.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June 28, 2013: MIM Day 13, Biggs to Cascade Locks OR

Today we rode 67 miles with 2300 feet of climbing in 5 1/4 hrs of bike time, on the Oregon side of the river. A surprising number of miles were on the shoulder of I-84. We enjoyed some spectacular Columbia Gorge scenery today.

As you can see, yesterday's desert has given way to much greener vistas.

We came around a curve and suddenly there was Mount Hood in all its glory. The town in the foreground is The Dalles, pronounced like "Dalz" with a short "A".

These photos were taken from the shoulder of the interstate, where we rode about half our miles today. Partially that is because in some places there is no other option, but toward the end of the day it was hot and we were tired, so we chose it over a steep climb on the alternate route.

A climb we were glad to have taken was to the top of the Rowena Crest. This shot was taken while still on the way up.

Yours truly, at the top of Rowena Crest. It was actually a pleasant 400 foot climb at 5%. The photo below tells the story of how it got to be that way.

If you look carefully, you will see a recreational rider coming up on the right side of the loop.

The geology of the Gorge.

Another view of the cyclist riding up the hill. He is one of more than a half-dozen we encountered. The climb is very popular with locals.

One of the local riders was kind enough to take this rare shot with both of us in it.

The problem with riding on the Interstate is not really safety, but rather the amount of debris in the shoulder. Here's Fred fixing his second flat of the trip. Inspection of the tube later in the day showed both the initial puncture and several "snake-bite" punctures that resulted from the time it took to stop.

June 27, 2013: MIM Day 12, Hermiston OR to Biggs OR

Our hotel in Hermiston, OR
After 11 days of cool or cold weather, today the forecasters said things would be changing dramatically, bringing temperatures that could rise into the mid-90's in some parts of the Northwest. As this day was expected to also be our longest, and with little to any shelter from the sun, we were eager to get an early start. It was largely a downhill ride to the I-84 bridge back to the Washington side of the river. We found US Highway 14 with little trouble and started cranking away to the West. As you can see in the photos below, this area is regarded as desert.

What you see here is pretty much what it looked like for most of the ride. No trees, and very much the desert.
Almost immediately we encountered a sign saying, "No services next 83 miles." Our research showed a few scattered places to get some food, so that was a surprise, but we had enough snacks and liquid even if it turned out to be true. A highway worker a few miles up the road indicated that our research was correct, but it was not until about mile 59 that we encountered a little convenience store that also served as a basic restaurant. In fact, they were used to catering to passing cyclists and encouraged us to share their cyclist guest book, which we did. Some other diners warned us of a significant climb close to the end of our route. That corresponded to the profile in the Adventure Cycling map, though their description was more extreme.
More turbines.

Fred and I get older, but never seem to outgrow our 9 year old sense of humor.
Wind turbines lined the bluffs on both sides of the river for tens of miles. At one point we watched a train of a hundred cars full of coal roll by in the foreground, with hundreds of wind turbines in the background. No photo, unfortunately.
The river has several significant hydro-electric dams as well.
When we finally got about 10 miles from our destination, a huge brown butte appeared, dominating the skyline. We gradually noticed trucks coming down the switchbacks on its face, and finally accepted that this monstrosity was what the woman in the restaurant was describing. Yikes! This time it was I who invoked Fred's "Strength in numbers!" battle cry, and headed out to face our fear. Just as on Monday, once on the hill, we found it to be manageable -- five to seven percent, long but quite do-able. A couple of miles from the crest, we turned onto a steep descent that put us on the bridge back over to Oregon.

This is a shot of the bridge that brought us back to Oregon at the end of today's ride, shot from outside my hotel room in Biggs. Note the turbines on the ridge above the bridge.

A typical scene in Biggs. There are three highways that intersect here. All local business cater to truck drivers and others who are just passing through.

It is unclear whether or not Biggs (or maybe it's Biggs Junction) is an actual legal entity, or just an intersection of highways that has sprouted a motley crop of lodging and eating establishments of questionable quality, in addition to associated convenience stores and truck service facilities. Anyway, we had booked at Biggs Three Rivers Inn, and had ridden over 90 miles in the hot sun, so this was our home for the night. It was also my birthday, so we hoped for something decent to eat at Linda's Restaurant. That was not to be, unfortunately. In addition, I felt a bit depressed, probably due to the cumulative fatigue of yesterday's  85 miles and today's 91. Anyway, tomorrow should be fewer miles and hopefully I'll get some sleep tonight. I'll celebrate my birthday properly with Kathy in Seattle next week. That is, assuming that she'll still need me, that she'll still feed me, now that I'm 64.

Stats: 91 miles, climbed 2800 feet, 7 hours saddle time.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 26, 2013: MIM Day 11, Dayton WA to Hermiston OR

Having rested up for a day, I suprised Fred by appearing right on time to ride out at 7:30. We were looking at an 85 mile day, so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. The air was cool and the sky was overcast, but it was not raining and there was no wind. The first 45 miles was a slight downhill and we made the best of it, finishing that first section in less than three hours. US Highway 12 (which has been our primary route since turning onto it a week ago in Lolo, MT) morphed into a four lane, divided highway with broad, smooth shoulders as we passed through Walla Walla, WA. Eventually, it returned to its usual format as we got back into the more rural areas. We stopped at a convenience store in Touchet, WA for 15 minutes or so, then it was back on the bikes to finish our time on US 12 and start several days of riding along the Columbia River. Worth mentioning is that a seemingly unending array of wind turbines sat up on the ridge a couple of miles to the left of the highway. Very few of the blades were turning at all, a testament to our good fortune wind-wise.

The Northwest's answer to sweet Vidalia onions.
In other respects, the weather was not quite as welcoming. The sky was getting darker and the air was getting cooler as the clouds thickened. Rain threatened, but never amounted to more than a few drops here and there -- not enough for any of the oncoming drivers to bother to switch on their wipers. We finally reached the intersection of US 12 and US 730, the latter being our route west along the south bank of the Columbia. 

First look at the great and historic Columbia River. Note the heavy, gray sky. 
Unfortunately, 730 has much narrower shoulders, and far more traffic. The number of trucks was rather  alarming at times, and the amount of oncoming traffic often prevented them from moving over, assuming at least some of them would have done so if it had been possible. There was one place where the shoulder all but disappeared as the road went up and around a blind curve. I was in front and tried to time our arrival at that part of the road so that there were no trucks coming up behind us right then. The only safe option was to take the lane, leaving any traffic coming up from the rear with no option but to wait until there was an opportunity to pass in the other lane, or simply to slow down and let us get over the hill and back onto the shoulder when it reappeared. Anyway, we were fortunate that we had the hill to ourselves, with the exception of a single car.

In addition to the traffic, we now had the Columbia's prevailing west wind in our faces, so our pace fell from the effortless 17 MPH of the earlier part of the day, to 12 or less. We finally made our turn off 730 onto Diagonal Road, which runs, well, diagonally inland toward Hermiston, our destination for tonight. After seven or eight more miles we were at the Oak Tree Inn, which turned out to be quite nice and to have decent food choices, a supermarket, and a Dollar Tree nearby. By the way, it did start raining about ten minutes after we checked in at our hotel! Pretty good timing.

All in all, it was a satisfying day. Although one of our longer days, it was not overly tiring and it gives us confidence for our longest day tomorrow. The weather is forecast to take a dramatic turn, though, becoming clear and hot. As a result, our plan is to be riding no later than 7:30. I will be glad to switch to my normal Florida biking kit, and every indication is that we can put away our rain gear and cold weather stuff for the remainder of the trip. Fred is not quite as enthusiastic, but if we can just get through the long day tomorrow, the shorter days that follow should be manageable.

Today we rode 85 miles in 5 and 3/4 hours, climbing 1,600 feet along the way.

June 25, 2013: MIM Day 10, Rest day in Dayton, WA

It was very satisfying to be having breakfast at the Best Western while watching the rain falling outside. As forecast, the weather was pretty much the same as the day before, so our decision to wait it out in Dayton was a good one. Between rainy periods we wandered around this historic town, checking out the restored train depot (the oldest still standing in the state) and the pharmacy that still has a functioning soda fountain. We also spent a while chatting with Bill, who volunteers at the old 150 seat theater that subsists on grants and donations and shows both recent films and local plays. The latter bring out the largest crowds, especially when it is a production featuring community children. As in every community, those events draw all the family members of the young actors. Bill, who I would guess to be about 75, is also infamous in the town for being its only Segway rider, at least until it got away from him a couple of years ago and he retired his wheels. Here are some photos of the theater, train depot, a government building, and more:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 24, 2013: MIM Day 9, Clarkston WA to Dayton WA - (The Soul-Sucker)

I love bicycle touring, but if today were typical, or even common, I'd be home watching TV. Today's ride was only 67 miles, but it was cold, wet, gloomy, wind-blown, chock full of long climbs, and even had another flat to fix. If there was any scenery to admire, I sure didn't see it.

Reviewing the ride on the map before leaving showed a 2000 foot climb early in the day, then a gradual descent, then what looked like an inconsequential 500 foot climb just short of our destination. The first climb started out pretty shallow, but then ratcheted up to between five and eight percent, pretty much in sync with the worsening weather. We were on a shoulder that was rarely smooth, and sometimes pretty narrow. We were finding Washington drivers to be pretty courteous, especially by comparison to those in Idaho, but it could have just been that Washington's highway department graciously provided two lanes for uphill traffic. It was therefore easy for vehicles to shift over into the center lane as they approached us from behind. There were notable exceptions, such as the truck pulling a bulldozer on a "Wide Load" trailer. Through the rain, I saw him coming up in my rear-view mirror and there was no sign that he was going to move over, in spite of the empty lane next to him. I sprinted to a wider section of the shoulder, but Fred was behind me and got to experience a close encounter of the terrifying kind. I absolutely do not understand what goes on in the minds of these drivers.

After a lunch stop at a cafe in Pomeroy, we headed back out in a light rain, expecting a couple of easy hours on a shallow downhill, followed by that little 500 foot climb, before a final drop into Dayton. Well, that might have been more or less true, were it not for the wind, which was such that the downhill was not even noticeable. During a rare break in the rain, Fred had a flat, which we fixed by replacing the tube. We were unable to find any cause for the puncture, but the replacement tube did the trick. Back on the road Fred was having trouble staying at pace. Luckily, I was feeling pretty good at that point, so I offered to stay in front and was able to move us along at a steady, if not speedy, clip for the next 15 miles or so. 

At that point, Fred said that he had to stop, and plopped down on the roadside gravel. I honestly thought he was done for the day. After a little while, some liquid, and a cereal bar, he announced that he was ready to get it done, boarded his bike and took off with determination. By the time I got going, he was already a quarter mile in front. I settled into a low gear and leisurely pace, expecting him to fall back pretty soon and not wanting to invest the extra energy necessary to catch up.

Incredibly, he found some kind of second wind and stayed out in front by the same margin. He stayed out there even when we hit the supposed 500 foot climb that ended up more like 1000 feet, and went on and on and on in the rain, the cold, and the head-wind. Every curve revealed yet another stretch of 5% or higher grade. Finally we were at the top of all visible hills. We had every reason to believe the summit to be right around the bend...

Well, instead of the summit, we found what appeared to be nothing less than the gates of hell. Ahead of me, Fred was stopped by the side of the road, still as a statue, staring ahead at a sheer vertical wall of asphalt, disappearing into the clouds above, but not before somehow pitching up even steeper than normal earthly geometry allows. I pulled up next to him, hissing, "No fucking way!" He responded with resignation, "Way." I tried again, but his response remained the same. I frantically searched behind us for a kindly pickup truck, or even a car with an empty bike rack, equipped with some kind of anti-gravity device capable of getting us over the soul-sucking hill ahead. With our destination less than five miles away, it seemed that we had reached the end. We were doomed to be reduced by the rain and wind to globs of once-human mud, remaining forever part of the roadside amalgam near Dayton, WA.

After a couple of minutes of stillness, Fred drew upon some strange inner pool of courage or recklessness, turned toward me and said, "C'mon. There's strength in numbers. Let's go." It was like something out of one of those war movies, when the hero jumps out of the foxhole, leading his platoon on a suicide mission to wipe out the enemy machine gun nest. Like one of the guys in the platoon, I didn't stop to think, I just followed. Or maybe I went first. Now it is all a blur...

In truth, it really wasn't that bad. All cyclists in hilly areas know the illusion. From the top of a hill, the next one looks impossibly steep and long. Nevertheless, we were thrilled to find that it really was the last one, and we finally started our rainy descent, still against the wind, into the attractive little town of Dayton.

Just before hitting the actual "downtown" strip, we passed a brand new, three story Best Western hotel and I told Fred that I wanted to come back to it if the Blue Mountain Motel turned out to be, umm, "disappointing." There was a "NOW OPEN" banner in front of the Best Western, bouncing up and down on it's bungee cord tethers in the wind to emphasize its availability. We rode through town, finally seeing the hotel sign "Blue Mountain Mo" (the T, E, and L were apparently burned out) a block up. After a brief inspection of one of our rooms, I told Fred that I didn't care if we had to pay for these rooms as well, I wanted to go back to the Best Western, with its large, clean, comfortable rooms and bathtubs full of hot water. He quickly agreed, and when asked if we could still cancel, the proprietor of the Blue Mountain Mo said, "Certainly." Perhaps given the way we looked, he feared having us there as much as we feared being there. Whatever. Our blessings on him, his children, and his children's children.

The view from the lobby of the Best Western

We left Clarkston an eternity earlier, at 8:45 AM. We arrived in Dayton at 6 PM. It took that long (including lunch and rest stops) to cover just 67 miles. We climbed around 3600 feet. I did not even take out my camera, but Fred has one of those ruggedized, shock and waterproof cameras, so here are a couple of shots he took during the day. The one of the wind turbines is the edge of a pretty large wind farm of about 150 turbines in this part of the state. The other one is a surprising sunset through the clouds, taken from our wonderful Best Western.