Tag Archives: portland

Home Sweet Home

I have been home for just over a week now but haven’t posted about my last day of riding yet because I’ve been busy trying to wrap things up, settle back down, and just get myself back together.

That last day of riding was a breeze. My mom had warned me that it might rain, but I was prepared for the worst, just to get home.

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A funny sign in Idaho city.

I left Idaho city right around 10:30, which was about an hour from the time zone change, so I gained an hour before right away.  It was, for the most part, a nice day.  It was cloudy, but dry and not too much wind, even through the flat lands.   The closer I got to Oregon, the more giddy I got, and – don’t laugh – I actually cried when I saw the “Welcome to Oregon” sign.  Oddly, the time change sign didn’t appear for quite a few miles after the Oregon sign.  Time zones are weird, I tell you.

In Eastern Oregon, there were some mountains just West of Baker City that had a good covering of snow on the tips – this is good news for people in Portland because Mount Hood is significantly higher and must be getting dumped on.  If only I could get one snowboarding run in before shipping out… bad idea, I’d probably break another bone doing that, and then where would I be?

I stopped in Baker city for gas and actually forgot that there are gas pump attendants at gas stations here, something I thought I would never forget.  Too bad they don’t help much with motorcycles, anyway!

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Big ol’ thunderhead in the distance. Fortunately it turned out to be on the Washington side.

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I pulled over at a viewpoint near Arlington, Oregon for a minute to take a picture of the Columbia and the clouds I was riding toward.

Continuing on, I stopped for gas a couple more times, making sure to text my mom at each stop letting her know I hadn’t encountered rain yet.  I intentionally gassed up when I got to the Dalles because I wanted to just push through Hood River without the temptation or excuse to stop, and get home.  From the Dalles Portland is just over 100 miles, so I knew I’d be fine.

Then the rain hit, but only between the Dalles and Hood River.  And I wouldn’t even call it rain, more like sprinkles, or 6 inch rain, as my mom’s brother-in-law, Keith, has apparently dubbed it.

Though I was eager to get home as soon as possible, I couldn’t resist stopping to take a quick picture of Multnomah Falls.  Had I been super motivated, I would have taken highway 30 and enjoyed a nice scenic back road view, but I’ve done that and didn’t want to spend an extra hour doing so again.

One of the most majestic aspects of the Columbia River Gorge is the amount of scattered waterfalls throughout the topography.  Some you can see from Interstate 84, but not most.  I still want to see the Oneota Gorge that lies somewhere near Multnomah falls and is said to be visible only by walking through a knee-deep stream.  Multnomah Falls itself is the highest waterfall in Oregon, and arguably the second highest waterfall in the country, depending on the time of year when comparing the competitors.  Regardless of where it ranks, it is awesome to see in person.  My favorite hiking trails reside very close to the falls.

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When coming from the East, passing Multnomah Falls is when you know you’re practically home.

As I got closer to Portland, the threat of rain was beginning to look imminent.  Right about the time I crossed into Portland from Troutdale, I began to notice sprinkles on my visor.  By the time I was through the city and coming out of the Vista Tunnel, it was coming down hard.  Of course, typical Oregonian drivers, traffic slowed down while I managed to get soaked in the course of only a couple of miles.  I told you, God has a great sense of humor!

Needless to say, I got home in one soggy piece, happy as could be.  The mileage on my bike read 8,996.8 miles from the moment I left home in the first place.  Despite thinking about it and having many people suggest it since, I neglected to ride around the block a few times just to get it up to 9k.  It’s 9k anyway you look at it, to me.

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My total trip mileage was 8,996.8 miles; we’ll call it an even 9k.

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After riding through a quick downpour, a rainbow was visible when looking back toward Portland.

I unpacked all my soggy gear and headed to my parents for dinner.  It was so good to see my roommate and my parents.  To be able to hug them and just be in my space was a great relief.

The next day, I started back into training with the Army and at the gym myself.  Everyday I do some sort of workout which typically includes yoga and weightlifting, or running too much and an insanity workout for PT.

At the recruiting station, I brought all the recruiters their Big Sky Brewery special edition Battle of Mogadishu beer labels, which are not for sale and never will be.  These are the labels for beers that are only sent oversees to active duty, deployed troops.  However, the owner of Big Sky was kind enough to send these home with me and I managed to keep them all in one piece!

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The Battle of Mogadishu beer labels given to me by the owner of Big Sky Brewery for my recruiters. I framed the labels before giving them away.

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All the Sergeants at the recruiting station with their Battle of Mogadishu beer labels. (From Left: SGT Borror, SFC Curtis, SGT Baker, SGT Bobian, and SGT Gandia)

Expect to get a couple more updates before I take off in 19 days to basic training.  After that, I won’t be on here for at least three months.  If you’re interested in getting my address to send me letters during basic, please send me your email and address to wendthr@gmail.com and I will add it to a list of people my mom will contact when she gets my address.

Thanks again for reading and God Bless,

Heather

#PortlandtoRaleigh: The Journey Begins

I have arrived at my destination for the evening after traveling 280 miles away from home in just under five hours.  In the rolling farm fields of Eastern Washington exist countless tiny towns with populations well below 1,000.  You won’t find most of these towns on any road maps, and if you blink you’re sure to miss them.  My dad lives in one of those towns.  At least I’m sure he’s considered to be inside city limits, though his nearest neighbor is easily a mile away.  The only hustle and bustle you can hear from his house are the noises of the owls that reside in his trees and the coyotes that wander the fields at night.  I can’t imagine living in a town this small, though it does have its perks.  For one, I can’t get enough of the brightness of the stars and the young waxing moon (dad and I had to look up moon phases on wikipedia while discussing moon facts to my eight year old little sister).  But this all is just the destination, let me tell you about my journey to get here.

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The Panorama setting on my phone started working again! View of a stretch of Interstate 84 from the Tower Rd. exit just West of Boardman, Oregon.

Last night, my roommate Chris came home early from his vacation so he could see me off; he’ll be on his own in our apartment for the next six weeks, so it was a very thoughtful gesture.  My friend Brian also made a point to come over last night and monitor my packing.  This morning Bri Bri, as I affectionately call him, was kind enough to go out and get coffee and breakfast as I continued to stress over all that was or wasn’t going into my luggage.  When you have a certain amount of space and you know you’ll be living out of it for the next few weeks, it is difficult to attempt to plan for what you may need.  I did my best to only pack up essentials and stuff that I was guaranteed to use.  I guess I’ll find out later how fruitful my efforts were.  I made sure to take as long as I could packing and loading audiobooks and other mp3s onto my ipod and phone because I felt an unusual amount of unpreparedness.  I had been planning this trip for weeks, but still didn’t feel set.  Finally, it was noon, my planned time of latest departure.  It was overcast, warm, and all around perfect riding conditions – I had to tell myself, “it’s now or never”.

As we said our goodbyes, Brian reminded me to ride safe and to tighten the lid on my spare gas can when filling it up to prevent leaking.  Needless to say, ten minutes later at the gas station, I was kicking myself when I thought I’d screwed the gas can lid on tight enough, laid it on the seat of my bike, and watched it leak fuel all over the rear of my bike and insides of my saddlebags.  Oops.  I could hear Brian chuckling and saying, “Well, that sucks.  Told you.”  Oh well, a good rinse down of water washed away the fuel pretty quickly.  By 12:30, I was officially on my way and riding eastward.

The city of Portland will always be home for me.  It is where I was born, it was where I found solace in my teenage years, and it is where I continue to find new discoveries as an adult.  Leaving it behind me is likely a temporary event, but one that still feels eerie, nonetheless.

As I made my way through the city and found myself at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by grief.  It has been over five months since I had ventured that way on my own, and much longer than that since I’d kept on driving down Interstate 84 passed Hood River.  Months ago, this was the route I often took to get to Adam.  All I could think along that first stretch was, “please just let me get past Hood River and leave it behind me.”  Adam was always my kryptonite.  I wish I could say I knew what went wrong in our relationship, but I don’t, and I never will.  One day he just dropped a bomb on me and said he couldn’t be with me, but that I was his world and made him happier than anyone ever had.  Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and slap him for being utterly contradicting, but something in his face told me there was much more to it.  Months later, I still stress about what went wrong, but I’m finally starting to ease out of the heartache.  One day I’ll laugh at how girly and emotional I have been and look forward to my new found strength, courage, and bravery.

After getting passed Hood River, the rest of the trip went by quickly.  The only bad parts were areas where it smelled like an infant’s diaper or skunk, and where massive amounts of bugs seemed to flock to the middle of the highway, exactly where my visor would pass through – may they all rest in peace now… ew.  I had expected a little rain, but none came, and I am very grateful for that.    I stopped for gas once, stretched for quite a while, and acquired my lunch, which consisted of a king sized Snickers bar and some sour patch kids (my favorite junk food).  After the fuel stop, I was just over 100 miles from my destination, which took just over an hour because traffic on a Sunday out this way is very mild, especially with the higher speed limits.

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Wind Powered Energy fills this Columbia River Gorge with wind turbines. Notice the amazing weather conditions.

Tomorrow, it’s on to Missoula, Montana!  I can’t wait to see what the scenery looks like and take more pictures.

Crap.  I just realized I forgot my shampoo and conditioner.