It's easy, as you ride along here in western Washington, to forget that you're not in Tennessee any more. The countryside is gently rolling, green, bucolic ... with cows and sheep and goats and llamas penned up to one side, watching bored as you pedal past. Fields are full of hay, mostly rolled now and shrinkwrapped into giant Hostess Ding Dongs to be called into play during the coming winter.
But, as Vincent Vega once said, "it's the little things."
Some are obvious, such as the mountains. Today, they shadowed my ride to left and right for the first flat 30 miles. "Come play with us, Danny," they called, as I motored along on my big wheel and kept my eyes fixed forward. Eventually, I knew that I would enter that elevator full of blood ... just not now, please. Not now.
The casinos aren't subtle, but when are they ever? Cars whizzed past me on a Sunday morning near this one, spewing fools hoping to strike a deal with the one-armed bandits. Money-changers, trading coins for delusion.
The subtlety was left to nature, really. The road was lined with blackberries, but in spite of a reportedly dry summer here they were fat and juicy and thick, unlike the sparse morsels we get back home. And there were other, less-familiar berries -- something that looked like a pepper, and bushes full of dark ominous orbs whose proliferation proved their poisonous persuasion.
Subtle ... a four-P piece of alliteration is certainly not that.
I had gotten a late start, thanks to my diligent observance of the 10pm to 7 am "quiet time" at the RV park. By the time that I had cooked breakfast, gotten dressed, broken camp, and loaded up it was almost 9 am. I grabbed a second cup of coffee at a roadside stand and headed out onto the backroads.
As I mentioned, the route was flat at first. I crossed some lovely rivers, slightly wider and faster flowing than most back home, but otherwise the same.
Another difference, of course, was the weather -- temperatures were more like December in Tennessee.
I'm glad to say that the humor is about the same. From the Barbie dolls hanging from the phone line ...
... to people willing to name their businesses with an eye towards entertainment.
I also went by this place today:
The sign said it was a school, but it looked more like a minimum-security prison. There didn't seem to be anybody there, either. Spooky ...
After 25 miles, I stopped in Rochester at this place.
The owner, Bob Connors, is a bass player who had worked with Stephen Stills and Larry Gatlin. We talked music for a while, in particular our mutual philosophy that it is best when it is organic, and he told me that he is planning a visit to Nashville in a few months and might look me up then. That would be cool.
Bob also makes a mean breve and his candy is great. He is selling this place as of this coming Thursday, but said that the new owners don't plan to change anything. It's been successful for 18 years, according to Bob, so I don't see why they would.
RandoBoy does not ride on chocolate and coffee alone, however. I stopped at a Quizno's in Centralia for a flatbread sandwich, and it was the busiest Quizno's that I have ever seen. As so often has happened during the past few days, people asked where I was heading. The lady in line behind me, when she heard that I am riding alone, promised to pray for me.
A few miles out of Centralia, the road turned up and I had a two-mile climb. Once atop the ridge, the wind came around behind me and I moved briskly along. I saw three touring cyclists, apparently doing the same route but northbound, and then went down a steep descent with a couple of riders just out for a spin. I saw "Dan Henry" arrows on the road about this time, so these were obviously popular cycling roads.
A little further on, there was another climb up onto another ridge with another tailwind. This road took me past Lewis and Clark State Park, where I had to get a picture since we so frequently visit Meriwether Lewis Park on the Natchez Trace.
Five miles more and I was in my stopping point for the evening, the City of Toledo. I quickly found the city park, which does not appear to have anyone else staying for the night. It's only $10 for tents, with rest rooms and a shower. (You have to feed quarters to the shower, but the rest rooms are free.)
My campsite is next to this really cool tree, too.
But the ground is so hard that I broke one of my tent spikes driving it in.
Tomorrow is a long day, as I finish up the state of Washington and end up in Astoria, Oregon. The people at the grocery store here were telling me that I had to visit the Maritime Museum there, and that Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies were both filmed there. Maybe that's another way that Washington is just like Tennessee -- lots of friendly folks.