September 18 (The End)

September 18 (The End)

Just like when I left Bar Harbor, there was no fanfair, no parade in my honor, I had gone for a ride that day in July, and now the ride has ended. As simple as that sounds, I am forever changed in ways I have just begun to comprehend. I think it is much easier to understand why people have been making pilgrimages and traveling in other various ways since recorded history began. We may set out to discover new places but we will inevitably discover new places inside ourselves.

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September 15-16 (Bear Attack)

September 15: When I wake up it’s (shocker) freezing. I do a few jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. I hear an unknown animal call while eating in my tent. I elect not to investigate. It takes the first hour of my day to go 4 miles. It’s a pass! Wacouda Pass, somehow I missed it on the map. It wasn’t nearly as difficult as Sherman Pass, just annoying. After Wacouda, I traveled 20 miles downhill. It was amazing. Traveling downhill really gives you the opportunity to look around and enjoy the scenery.

I stop for lunch in Tonasket, Washington, eating my signature burger with an egg on it. 

Tonasket has a campground but I decide to keep going another 25 miles to Omak. I stop in an outfitter store there and stock up on some more camp meals. I’ve become mildly obsessed with raspberry oatmeal in milk. 

I stay in a small, town-run RV park in the middle of town. Even the tent sites have electricity, which is AWESOME. I meet the couples staying on either side across from me and they are super friendly, asking me a lot of questions about my travels.

September 16: I wake up before my alarm even goes off at 5:30. I’m feeling really good. Rested. Strong. I know I have another pass today. Loup (pronounced “Loo,” I think) is the french word for wolf. I am warned by locals that there is a wolf pack living on the mountain. Wonderful

I arrive at the local diner in Omak before it opens at 7am. I eat my customary giant breakfast. I love breakfast so much these days. Besides having all the foods my body seems to be craving, breakfast is the one time of day I have a plan, the plan hasn’t crashed and burned yet, my bike isn’t broken, and the day is full of promise. Sometimes I even have wifi. 

I accidentally travel the wrong way for about 3/4 of a mile. Breakfast bliss has evaporated by 8:30am. 

I head out of town, climb a few hundred feet without too much trouble, then lose all that elevation on a large downhill before the start of the pass. Omak has an elevation of 800 feet. The top of Loup Loup pass is 4,020 feet above sea level. Even though I walk a good portion, I am able to ride some too. I still feel good, strong, 

On my way to the top, during one of the portions when I am riding, I hear a large animal off to my left. I’ve become pretty used to hearing things moving in the woods along the roads I travel down, so I don’t pay much attention. The rustling is periodic, but moving closer. Definitely closer. I pick my head up and look up in time to see a large, black form moving through the trees towards me at a high rate of speed. 

It’sabearI’mdeadDobbytellmyfamilyIlovethem.

Then the black animal stops short of the road and gives out a loud, indignant, “MOOOOOooooooooo.” It’s a bull. A bull contained by a barely visible fence. Why is there a bull on a mountain. The bull turns and follows me along the fenceline while my heart tries to calm back down to a human rate of beating.  

Getting to the top takes between 3 and 4 hours. Riding down the 11 miles on the other side of the pass takes 30 minutes. The west side of the pass is eery, clearly there was a large wildfire here sometime in the last few years. All the dead trees are still standing, like ghostly monuments to man’s inability to preserve our wild spaces. 

After the pass, I ride another 11 miles to Winthrop, Washington to stay in the Pine Near RV Park. This is a pretty nice campground. They have coin showers (not ideal) that only take Sacagawea dollar coins… what? Ok, fine, that’s a little weird, but doable. They have an exchange machine you can put dollars or quarters into to get the appropriate coins to operate the showers. I take my shower. Then I go to do a load of laundry and the machines take… quarters. Why. I go root around through my stuff for any stray quarters I still possess that I did not turn into Sacagawea dollars.

I camp next to a band called “The Sky Colony.” They are playing at the local bar tonight. They seem really nice, we talk for a while and they all give Dobby some much-needed male attention.

We have traveled 3,103.1 miles.  

September 9-12 (Uhaul #2 and Crossing into Washington)

September 9: I wake up at 5:30 (living outside has led to becoming an early riser, even when I’ve slept indoors). By 6:30 I’m sitting in a diner considering my options. The evening before I reviewed the wildfire information provided to the town via info boards in front of the grocery store. There is a wildfire directly in the direction I need to go, only 3 miles outside of town. I sit in the diner for 2 hours trying to find a ride past the fire. Feeling the clock ticking away my time until winter, I break down and rent another uhaul. This one is an even bigger box truck than the last because they did not have any of the smaller trucks available. I drive 84 miles to Sandpoint, Idaho. My second-to-last state. I stay at the fairgrounds outside of town. There’s no real tent camping here. I’m required to pay the price for an RV and have to camp out of the way to avoid the sprinklers that will come on at night. The showers, on the other hand, are very nice. I take a long, hot shower. Hot water is something I have come to see as a treat instead of a consistent luxury.

September 10: Due to the distances between campgrounds, this is a short and easy day. I cross into Washington! My last state! I look at the sign at the border in amazement, and a little shock. Surprise that I’ve made it through 10 states yes, but on a smaller scale I just didn’t realize I would enter Washington this evening. I had thought the border was further along and I would cross it in the morning. Turns out the campground where I spent the night was just inside Washington. It seems less smoky here. The border crossing and the lighter sky puts me in high spirits. By the time I set up camp, I am too lazy to heat up the clam chowder soup I have for dinner, so I eat it out of the can, cold, like the heathen I have become.

September 11: This morning I am faced with deciding if I want to bicycle 40 miles or 80 miles to the next campground, which is really no decision at all. It only takes me until 1pm to reach Blueslide resort. I am now on WA route 20, the Cascade Highway, which I will remain on until I reach the Pacific Ocean. The weather is noticeably growing colder by the day, which reminds me that the mountain passes may close any time.

September 12: I spend almost all day walking my bike up a mountain. I rarely keep track of how far I walk anymore. Even the amount of miles I bike in a day doesn’t mean much. I can usually reach my intended destination. The miles are easier, even the walking is easier. I’m so much stronger than I was just a few weeks ago. I reached the top at around 1pm and stop for lunch at a lodging with a restaurant, Beaver Lodge. I ordered one of my favorite meals, a burger with an over-easy egg on top and french fries. While I am eating not one, but TWO cyclists come into the restaurant. They don’t know each other and I’ve never seen either before. The man is Phil, who is from Massachusetts originally but is traveling Eastbound to Havre, Montana. Kayla is from Boston, going west like me, and has been cycling the Northern Tier all summer. A solo cyclist! Westbound! From New England! And she’s FEMALE. This is the first female solo-cyclist I have met, and only the second female cyclist I’ve met at all (excluding myself). All three of us just happen to converge at this hotel restaurant at the top of a mountain. I stay the night at the Bacon Bike Hostel, located just outside of Coleville, Washington. There is no one staying here besides Dobby and myself. This hostel is run by a husband and wife for free. It is basically an entire house with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a beautiful balcony, and laundry facilities. All they require is that you give them advanced notice of your arrival. There are some amazing people in this world.

I am so excited to get the smell of smoke out of my clothes.


We have traveled 2926.8 miles.