40th Birthday Excursion - Day 2

Planning our cycling trip from Seattle to Portland (STP), I had forewarned my family that Day 2 would be the most tedious and challenging stretch of our ride (65+ miles). What we didn’t expect was being saddle sore, and the onslaught of God’s wrath - generally reserved for January (versus end of May).

Despite a humble beginning cycling through Puyallup (including a one-mile walk uphill – the most difficult on the STP route), torrents of rain, hail and wind arrived during the most treacherous segment of our trip: a 15+ mile, two-lane highway along the south-side of Fort Lewis.

I had forewarned my family about the highway (boasting a meager 18-inch wide side strip), but the weather made it downright perilous. Large, 18-wheel semi-trucks roared past us, hail pelted us, and we were wet to the bone (notwithstanding ‘water-proof’ shells). Sadly, we were geared for summer cycling – with the hail, temperatures dropped into the 40’s: it was COLD.

Good fortune carried us safely to Yelm, where we had the reprieve of a great cycling trail (off the highway) and some respite from the rain. Notwithstanding’s Caleb’s flat tire (#2 – no worries, 3 more spares), we made it to a great off-the-trail diner in the middle of nowhere (Sonja’s CafĂ©: Rainier, WA). The owner greeted Janelle and the boys with warm towels to dry off, and an order of hot cocoas was placed immediately. We ate our fill (burgers for the boys, and a bento box for James/Janelle); it was a great find.

With only 25 miles left to Chehalis, we thought the worst was behind us. Then, God unleashed the rains and floods – seriously 3+ inches of water rushing across the roads as we cycled into Centralia. Either we were in a state of delirium induced by hypothermia, or perhaps it was the impossibility of it all, but we all started laughing hysterically. ;)

A few miles prior to our hotel Caleb graced us with another flat tire (#3 – no worries, 2 more spares). We unpacked and enjoyed the reliable service offered by the Chehalis Holiday Inn Express, including a quick dip in the pool to refresh ourselves. Afterwards, we walked downtown to enjoy a wonderful dinner at The Shire. We are ‘food snobs’ and must admit to being pleasantly surprised finding the Shire in Chehalis – we enjoyed salmon, short ribs, lamb, wine (Oregon Pinot Noir) and excellent service. It was a great nightcap, to a seemingly impossible day. In consideration for my sons’ efforts, I agreed to buy them new wetsuits (seriously); and I promised Janelle the next 40 years of my life (and fair weather cycling trips in our future). ;)

We fell into bed, and chuckled as we watched Uncle Buck before dozing off to sleep.

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