Serendipity in Orbit

The good fortune that enabled us to make the smoothest of transitions from suburban professionals to unemployed vagabonds has miraculously continued to follow us on the road. Despite Seattle having just broken a long-standing record for rainiest March in recorded history (8.4 inches and counting), we rolled out of the city last Sunday under bright clear skies. Whether or not the high pressure system I had been crossing fingers and toes for ever bothered to materialize, I do not know. But what I do know is that we enjoyed five straight days of sunny, dry, spring weather as we rolled east through King and Snohomish counties, over Stevens Pass, alongside the Wenatchee and Columbia Rivers, and up into the northern Cascade Mountains.

Everywhere we went, we’d hear about the rain they got the day before. Or the storm coming our way. But we’d saddle up and move on, constantly staying one day ahead (or behind) the foul weather, blissfully comfortable in our dryness.

Kristin and the obvious Seattle landmark.
Kristin and the obvious Seattle landmark.

I sit here in the former mining town of Republic, Washington recollecting on the variety of landscapes we witnessed and still can’t believe all of those sights were packed into a week of cycling across state, and not a drive across country. Lush wet-side slopes gave way to towering snow-capped peaks which, in turn, stand as a roadblock to the Pacific moisture and yield a barren, rocky, canyon-filled country to the east. We pedaled along one of the continent’s great rivers, past a hundred miles of apple, cherry, and peach orchards (not to mention vineyards), and even got to see a few bighorn sheep… right where the road sign said we’d find them.

Kristin making her way up Highway 2 past Mt. Index.
Kristin making her way up Highway 2 past Mt. Index.

The delayed opening of North Cascades Highway wasn’t the setback I thought. Instead, the late February snows that forced us to take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass opened up an opportunity to see far more varied terrain. Central Washington proved far more scenic, and the roads more enjoyable, than I anticipated.

Kristin nearing the top of Stevens Pass.
Kristin nearing the top of Stevens Pass.

Of course, this isn’t San Diego. Our “easy” 65 miles on Thursday from Lake Chelan State Park to Omak turned us straight into a stiff and unrelenting headwind that lasted the whole of the day. Leaving Omak, we continued north to Tonasket, only to be met with rain and the promise of mountain snow. Sure enough, the drizzle turned to snow as we ascended past 3500 feet in elevation on our way to Wauconda Pass (4,310 feet). The gentle snow that was so pleasant to ride through on the western slope turned to a driving sleet that pelted our faces on the eastern descent into this old mining town, where we anxiously took a couple nights to let our shell-shocked bodies recover.

Bighorn Sheep on the side of Route 97-Alt en route to Chelan.
Bighorn Sheep on the side of Route 97-Alt en route to Chelan.
Kristin enjoying the rural roads of Chelan County.
Kristin enjoying the rural roads of Chelan County.
Moonpies and a campfire on the shores of Lake Chelan.
Moonpies and a campfire on the shores of Lake Chelan.
Doug on the very scenic Apple Acres Road in Chelan County.
Doug on the very scenic Apple Acres Road in Chelan County.

Special Thanks: This first week was made all the more enjoyable thanks to the generosity and hospitality from our Warm Showers hosts Andrea and Jerry, Curt, and Parker. Also want to thank Jerry Holkins (aka Tycho) for his generous gift which effectively sponsored our weekend stay in Republic. Pints will be raised in your honor tonight!

 

 

 

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Doug Walsh

Writer, Traveler

Doug Walsh is a writer, traveler, cyclist, and gamer who spent two years traveling from Seattle to Singapore, the long way around, by bicycle and sea. He's the author of the upcoming novel "Tailwinds Past Florence."

23 Comments
  1. Glad to see you are both off to a great start. I can’t even begin to fathom a weeklong road trip, never mind a 3-5 yr worldwide bike trip. Unreal. I’ll be following along and living vicariously through you two. Stay safe and keep the pics coming!

  2. Kristin,

    Shanna is getting ready to bloom! 🙂 We miss you, but, it looks like you are having a great time and making great progress!

    1. Pamala,

      Thanks so much for taking my plants and apparently Shauna is getting enough hot air and happiness over near your desk as well. Hope all is well with you and have a great weekend!

  3. Hi Guys

    Love following your adventure -so far so good . You are seeing things that most of us did not know existed . Enjoy every moment . Will stay on your journey with you !

  4. Sounds like you two are having fun even with some of the minor weather challenges. Thanks for sharing and hope your travels go well.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  5. I’ve been checking in to see the pics daily – they’re fantastic – thanks for allowing a little bit of vicarious living! How many hours a day do you guys spend on the bikes?

    1. Thanks Ed! We typically roll out around 9am and travel until 4 to 5pm by bike. Actual “ass in saddle” time is around 5 hours or so, not counting time spent having snacks or taking photos. We aim to average 55 miles a day, which was a lot harder in WA with the mountains. I’m sure our average will go up to 70 or so once we start crossing the Great Plains.

  6. Congratulations. Love the posts and the narrative. Continued success. Tell us more about your expected route. I know many people along the way that would open their door for you, for a shower or a meal, whatever.

    1. Thanks Bob. We’re doing our route-planning just one week at a time, but we’ll be crossing northern MT on highway 2, then crossing southern North Dakota en route to Fargo. The “Cycle Route” page on the site has the most detail we can give at this point.

  7. Looks like a great first week for you both! I am so going to enjoy following your travels here. Best wishes for continued great weather, new adventure and safe travels.

  8. So glad to read that your good fortune continued for the start of your adventure, especially given the amount of rain we have had in March!! Republic is such a great little town and having been amazed by the sights on the multiple motorcycle trips I have done in that direction, I can only imagine what it was like to ride a bicycle that way this time of year!! Safe travels and happy times you two!

    1. Thanks Eric! Folks started warning us of “snow in Republic” when we reached Tonasket. Then, when we climbed up to Wauconda, the lady in the cafe let us know she got a call from Tonasket and was told to keep an eye out for us. She then called ahead to Republic on our behalf. We haven’t seen a single cyclist since leaving Seattle and the folks up here in Republic aren’t hiding their surprise at seeing us come through this early. Montana should be interesting…

  9. The photos are stunning. Happy to see you guys making such progress, and that the weather has cooperated. Here…notsomuch. Omelet is planning a hunger strike if this rain doesn’t stop 🙂 Safe travels you two!!

    1. Thanks, Megan. Hopefully the weather has dried up by you now that April has arrived. I would hate to see Omelet have to protest Mother Nature. We saw some rain on our way from Libby, MT to Eureka, MT today, but otherwise it has been sunny in the mid 50s during the day and in the low 30s to upper 20s at night.

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About Us

We're Doug & Kristin Walsh, a couple of Washingtonians who love to travel, both abroad and in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. We set off to travel the world in 2014, primarily by bicycle. We're back home now, but the travel bug continues to be fed every chance we get.

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