Eugene, OR to Walla Walla, WA– 1,011 km (Total Mileage: 20,103/40,075 km)
Well, this is it, my last post from the road for at least a little while. I set out from my hometown of Eugene, Oregon about three weeks ago to look for renewable energy work in the Portland and Seattle areas, and then headed east towards Walla Walla for my sister’s graduation. 60 kilometers short of my arrival there, I passed my halfway mark–half an earth circumference, or 12,450 miles/20,037 km–and my stopping point (for now).
Despite one particularly long day (70 miles of gravel heading up and over Snoqualmie Pass, 2 miles of pushing my bike up steep singletrack, 2 miles of pushing it over snow fields, and a whole lot of rain), this leg has been a good way to finish off the first half of my tour. Back on my home turf, among hills that I know and love, the wildflowers were out and my friends and family helped welcome me home.
My route for this last leg took me up the Willamette Valley and through Washington to Seattle, then east to Walla Walla. Heading east from Seattle, you can spend two 60-mile days on gravel bike paths, with beautiful views and isolated from the traffic.
Eugene’s branch of the national climate march, bringing wise words from Il Papa on climate justice.The green of spring in the Willamette Valley. Nearly everyone seems to develop some form of allergies after a few years of life in the ‘grass seed capital of the world’. Climate change is lengthening the pollen-producing period for plants in some northern areas, and people are already suffering from worsened allergies and asthma–with expensive and life-threatening consequences.The road north. Thanks to Theo for lunch and Lise for hosting me on my first day out of Eugene.This area is famous for its covered bridges, a low-tech, low-impact solution to dangerous ice that would form on the valley’s bridges in winter.Spring wildflowers along the road 🙂This rails-to-trails bike path east of Seattle runs nearly continuously for 130 miles.Electricity cooperatives are almost as old as our commercial electric systems. Many of them sprang up in response to the needs of rural communities in the era of electrification and survive until this day. Tanner Electric Cooperative was founded in 1936 and is run as a not-for-profit, offering renewable power options to its customers in rural western Washington.A dusting of snow above farmland, near the top of Snoqualmie Pass.The Iron Horse Trail is a gravel multi-use path converted from the old regional rail line, and offers great views of the surrounding mountains. This photo taken from a rusty old trellis bridge.Heading into the darkness at the top of the pass. Props to the creativity and tenacity of the no-face artist.Getting on into the drier hills of the East, the Columbia River bends north into Washington.The eastern Cascade region is a national hotspot for wind energy production. In 2015, the state of Washington produced 7,100 Gigawatt-hours of electricity, 6% of the state’s energy production and enough to supply nearly 620,000 average American homes with electricity for a year.I’ll end this chapter of the tour with some flower pictures and thank-yous. These are from the garden of the CarltAnn House Bed & Breakfast in Walla Walla (Thanks, Nathan and John!)Thanks first to my friends and family, who have supported me along the way. None of this would have been possible without you.And thanks to everyone who has contributed to the project so far, with writing, creativity, or logistical support. Thanks to all those who have helped me without even knowing me. I’ve had people give me food, shelter, cash, cheers, 加油s; spend hours trying to understand my bad Chinese/Russian/Kyrgryz/French/Arabic/Georgian/Turkish. Truckers in China saved me from a blizzard and fed me snack food and grain alcohol to boot. Just in the last few weeks, there were Yvonne in Vantage and the WSDOT employee who shuttled me past dangerous sections of road, there were friends who hosted and fed me, and there was the Toutle River RV Resort, which let me stay free of charge. No country or region has been without its helpers, and I’m grateful to you all.Finally, thanks to you, for reading. I’ll be back out there before too long.