August 3, 2001

8/3/01 Concrete, WA

49.7 / 5578 miles

Went to bed early last night due to intermittent rain. It didn't rain hard, just enough to get you wet if you stood out in it long enough.

It rained like that all night and into the morning, so I slept in a little later than normal. Letting my bladder force me out eventually. Surprising, the kids group camped next to me beat me out of the campground.

The clouds kept everything in perpetual shadow, darkening forests that were already dark enough. And because of the recent showers, everything was wet and the air full of moisture. Even with a relatively flat road, I was soon soaked under my windbreaker.

My route took me over some low hills to cross an agricultural valley with a large variety of crops ripe for picking. After that, I skirted Burlington and made my way up the Skagit River valley. Stopped in Sedro-Woolley but both the library and museum were closed. What a wonderful name, Sedro-Woolley. I'll have to find out the story on that one.

Farm fields all the way up to the base of the mountains

Instead of following the busy Hwy-20, I'm riding the South Skagit Highway on the other side of the river. The river is the most amazing bright blue-green I've ever seen. Almost as if it's artificially colored. The huge trees overhead give my ride a "tunnel" effect. Just after lunch, I cross the river to the town of Concrete.

The blue green river looks amazing

An interesting little town. Ate lunch at Ha'ls Drive In. When I ordered two cheeseburgers and a large vanilla shake, the girl asked if that was all. "Do people usually order more than that?" I said. She assured me yes. They must be big eaters here in Washington. Down the street is the high school which is built over the road creating a tunnel. And across the street is the future site of the "Concrete Silo Park".

Why build over the road?

A pretty short day as I check in at the Eagle's Nest Motel & RV Park. The sun has fought a valiant fight all afternoon but I've been chased back into my tent several times because of rain. Tomorrow I'll camp at the base of the Cascades, with my first pass being the first of four and the second highest, Washington Pass at 5,477'. I'm at 500' tonight.

A peaceful campsite next to the river

I've been thinking these last few days about this second half of my adventure. After so many miles, I've become at ease with my riding routine. As I look at the miles ahead, I feel I'll be early reaching Texas.

Because I needn't worry about the physical aspects of the trip anymore, I look to making the remaining miles more productive mentally and spiritually. I know you will laugh but I get so anxious about when I'm to finish, especially in light of my earlier stumble when I thought I was going to quit. Despite all plans made by others, I just need to enjoy the ride and I'll get there when I get there. Such is the bane of long distance travel.

As always, I'm constantly reflecting on what I do in my day to day life. Out here, you realize that there is little truth to the statement "I'll start that tomorrow". Life is continuos and if I'm to reap the benefits of this trip, I need to look at continuing the "adventure" in my life after I finish biking. That means that I need to stop putting off things I have no excuse not to be doing now. Like eating healthier, stretching and lessening my stress. Emily got me thinking of Chi Gung, an ancient health system that uses movement, breathing and massage. So I'm studying that a bit every evening.

Other things will have to wait, like learning the violin. I feel very strongly that music is a vital part of our mental health. Despite coming from a non-musical family (except my brother Tom who is a great guitar player) and having few friends that play an instrument, I'm bound and determined to learn an instrument solely for the purpose of giving voice to the music inside of me.

And despite the fact that I've carried drawing pens since the beginning, I've avoided putting any use to them on these pages, using any excuse I could find. So, if we're being honest with ourselves, I need to loosen up and draw.

The spiritual growth of the rest of the tour is harder to explain or define. My hope is that I will have past stress removed and new vitality added to help as I join the rest of you in the "working world". A lot of people look at this adventure as a vacation but it's not. It's a dream that I'm following because I must, even though its a path followed by few. Only time will tell if it will help me find my "own" path or not. But I have no regrets, no "I wish I'd done that." And maybe I'll touch someone in such a way to give them the courage to follow their dreams. That would be the icing on the cake for me.