After a very cold night, in the 30’s, we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and as is our pattern a leisurely morning, allowing the sun to warm the van and the hot coffee to warm us. On our way out of the camp we walked around a nearby pond to look for birds; not much activity this morning but the park is said to host 147 different birds; we did spot some red wing blackbirds flitting about the marshy edge of the pond. On the far side, we encountered a tree that had fallen victim to a beaver attack and noted that they had made a fair amount of progress with the tree lurking over the trail, it won’t be long before the comes down and hopefully without injury to an unsuspecting walker.
The fruits of their labors was evident just a few steps away, the largest beaver dam I have ever seen, a testament to their house building skills.
We headed into Yakima to find a bike shop and a new patch kit and saw this dog just chilln’ out, watching traffic and people, he looked like he owned the jeep and thoroughly enjoyed being chauffeured around by his driver.
It was a surprisingly beautiful drive from Yakima south. Usually this is not my favorite stretch of road, miles and miles, and miles of barren rolling hills but this early in the spring the hills are still green with lacey lime green trees in the water basins. Entering the Yakima Nation tribal land we passed an area where the hills were covered with yellow balsamroot in full bloom and with the river meandering through the flat and scores of horses grazing in the green pastureland along the edge of the hills; it was a beautiful site.
Abruptly the green rolling hills transitioned into pine forest; we stopped at Brooks Memorial State Park for a lunch break. We had wanted to inspect this area for biking possibilities but it did not look bike friendly for us, more of a mountain biking area.
The southern stretches of I-82 offer magnificent views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, sometimes Mt. St. Helens and the cap of Mt. Rainier in the distance. When the sky is blue there is nothing prettier than Mt. Adams across a field of green.
And then of course there are the windmill farms just before you cross the Columbia River into Oregon; I love windmills and have to restrain myself from taking photo after photo after photo of them but for some reason they just fascinate me.
We chose a campsite for the night at Memaloose State Park near Hood River; it is well situated for our biking and we found a beautiful grassy spot overlooking the Columbia River, heavily treed and dotted with willow trees that dance in the wind. It is a lovely park but wedged between the highway and the train tracks. The train tracks are right below the park and the train traffic is heavy along this corridor, on both the Washington and Oregon side of the river so the park is noisy! I have found that earplugs virtually eliminate the highway noise and the trains become a muffled rumble.
As I got the van set up George set about to repair the flat tires. Normally a quick fix, he quickly becomes frustrated because after patching the tire will not hold air and on close inspection he finds more than one leak, perhaps more than two leaks; what the heck did we get into? This was obviously something we were not going to resolve ourselves so I looked for bike shops in Hood River and off we went, flat tires in hand. The young man at the bike shop was quickly able to diagnose the problem – goatheads, a.k.a. puncturevine, a.k.a death to tires. These thorns embed themselves in the tire and apparently there is never just one goathead, they run in packs and will ruin and otherwise pleasant day of riding. It would have been too labor intensive to remove them all so instead we opted for a self-sealing tube and he had them replaced in about 15 minutes. We figured we must have gotten into trouble when we left the rocky dike trail and took a grassy path back into the campground. In dry desert settings biker beware.
By this time it was too late to bike so instead we found one of our favorite eateries in Hood River, the Full Sail Brewery and enjoyed dinner on the outdoor deck in the sun, a nice way to end the day.