I had to postpone my bike trip by one day because of a stolen car (read the previous post).
By Monday morning, my jitters had doubled. I was so ready to start cycling that I was shaking. The weather was still perfect. A hearty breakfast was still necessary. Also, the long anticipated Windows phone update was finally available, and I had to plug in my phone and wait for it to update.
Of course, I didn't have to do any of this. I was just doddling. Even though I plan to come back to Seattle, there was something difficult about leaving. I have always loved the story of El Cid. As I prepared to travel to San Francisco on my bicycle, I felt that I knew what he felt when he was exiled. Of course, I was choosing to leave, not being thrown out of the city by force. And I was riding a red bicycle, not Babieca, the beautiful warhorse. Also, I didn't have any loyal followers and I wasn't a Spanish dude from the 9th century. So, really, there are no parallels to be drawn between me and El Cid, and I'm not even sure why I brought this up.
My phone finished updating. I left and didn't look back.
The only other bike trip greater than a week that I've done was in the south of France. The south of Washington isn't the south of France. In fact, the south of Washington is kind of a depressing place, with creepy, Lynchian undertones. Even on a beautiful day, the rotting cabins in the fir forests and the roadsides littered with bottles and shattered glass are eerie and sinister.
For as much as I praise the West Coast, I now believe that the Puget Sound is Washington's only redeeming part. There were a few nice rails to trails paths, but otherwise I was on narrow roads where apparently most people had never heard of the "give cyclists 3 feet of space" rule. With few exceptions, pickup truck drivers seem to be especially bad at giving space. They also have apparently never heard of fences for pitbulls in the south of Washington and I had a couple of terrifying encounters with dogs larger than myself. The only other people I saw riding bicycles were toothless methheads riding BMX bikes.
I know I sound a bit negative and maybe a touch judgemental. It's because one thing happened that made me have a really bad day. I had a running armband that I had put my ID and some cash in, as well as my phone. I tied it to my handlebars to help me navigate. I was using GPXViewer to navigate, but I realized that I had the wrong path - I'd downloaded a gpx file that had me going down I5. To figure out the correct route, I used Google maps, which quickly used up my phone battery. I placed it in my pouch to charge on my portable charger and kept riding. Many miles and hills later, I looked down at my handlebars, and realized that the armband was gone. My ID and cash were gone too. The only thing to do was to backtrack and find the ID.
Two hours later I still hadn't found it. I'd been over every inch of road for 25 miles, slowly searching for the armband, but it just wasn't to be found. I decided keep going. So back it was, over the roads that I had already covered twice. By 7pm it was obvious I wasn't going to make it to Centralia. The wind was blowing strong and night was falling. In the town of Yelm, 30 miles north of where I'd hoped to be by then, I found a random Walmart. I washed my face in their bathroom, bought and consumed half a jar of nutella, and set my tent up in a field across the road. The wind was blowing so hard that the tent was shaking and it was hard to fall asleep. My eyes were filled with dust and when I closed them they hurt.
Before I went to bed though, Tony called to tell me that the car had been recovered in Pike Place. "And it still has half a tank of gas." He said. "I'm going to sell it tomorrow. I have no reason to own a car." And he sold it the next day.