4pm 19th of September 2013
My 30th birthday had come in quietly. no explosions or breaking of the earth as had expected when i was nine years old. I bought myself a liter of rum and some friend of mine brought a cake over. It was all the celebration I wanted or needed. After my guest left I stayed up playing Skyrim and watching Samurai Jack.
My plans for a long bike ride to Bridge of the Gods had been delayed due to greatly exaggerated weather reports. watching cartoons about quest and playing and adventure game, my mind kept drifting to the packed rucksack sitting on my work bench waiting for me to take it out into oblivion.
It was four in the morning when i decided i had an hour to get ready and be out the door. i suited up, studied my maps and took notes. I had to unpack and re-pack my rucksack a few times before I felt i had just what i needed. it was exactly 5am when i stepped out and rode into the night.
Early morning Portland is one of the most dangerous bike rides iv had so far in my life. drivers are running stops and reds since no one elses seems to be on the road. few signs of human life in Portland in the dark.
I had 60 pounds on my back riding my Schwinn Varsity 700c through parts of Portland i have never been. Once i crossed the east 82nd line i stopped to check my gear and tighten up my straps. I took a shot of some foul-tasting green tea energy shot. I hate energy drinks but i am not against stimulants in small doses to help one stay alert and focused. Forward onto dawn I rode, literary,
I reached Gateway at 6 am. I stopped on the bridge write a short poem.
standing in mist
the silhouettes of the mountains in the pink, blue and green sunrise,
my burden is lightened by the site
I remounted and moved on.
I reach 181st and the world is illuminated but the sun has yet to make its appearance. Other than north Portland this is the most i have ever seen a face darker than my own. Once Portland MLK street was lined with communities of people of african ancestry but over a very small amount of time had been moved out. Now I know where most of them ended up. Outside the reach of the city among the factories and warehouses. In the mid 1800s blacks were forbidden to set foot in Oregon at all. apparently it just made more sense to keep them close just out of sight.
I start to wonder If I am going the right way and stop to ask at a coffee shop for directions. The coffee shop is a little blue hut, smaller than any apartment i have ever lived in except for one. It had a small walk up window and inside was a young blond barista with a heavy coat of spray on tan dressed in a small shimmering emerald-green bikini that matched here eyes. I was tempted ask her if she was cold but realized she must get ask this by thousands of men with an intent to warm her up in a not so selfless manner. I asked her if she knew if the road I was on was the right one to get on the Colombia Historical Highway. she said she didn’t know that she lives in Vancouver. i asked her wich way Vancouver was. She pointed and i used that to determine i was in fact heading east. i thanked her and tipped her. I couldn’t help but shake how strange it is that some one would rather get coffee from a cold under dressed adolescent white girl than from a dressed up barista of any gender and any skin color. Maybe it was a little conservative up brining rearing its little head but I couldn’t help but feel there was something wrong there.
Before Halsey and 201st I see a 12 by 18 sign that says in big white letters ” Dream Big”. A message going ignored by the residence of the nearby suburbs and trailer parks. A message passed by the peasants on their way back from the city center where they labor to serve the lives of yuppies, hipsters and trustifarians. Dream Big made sense when you could afford to dream but you work so hard and sleep so little you don’t get a chance to dream or have time in the morning to sit and think about any dreams you were fortunate to dream. Even if you found the time and energy you would be completed to keep your dreams to yourself or invite the mockery and alienation of your fellow peasants and coworkers who also gave up and repressed their dreams. “Dream Big” the sign said and I prayed to no one that would be the last sign anyone ever obeyed.
I pass through Troutadale on the CHH, or Colombia Historical Highway. The downtown strip seems to be set up to look like a small frontier town. It once boasted to have a bar on every corner and in the middle. I rode down to cross the sandy river and continue on the CHH. I had to stop and cry when I saw the wide jade color river. The coastal waters where I am from are a turquoise and blue color to see the jade river was to see just how far from home I truly was. I was as well have been light years away on another planet.
At 9:23 am,after passing farms and climbing a steep incline I reached the Portland’s Womans Forum (854ft above sea level and 22 miles east of Portland.) I took a break and admired at how the Colombia river looks like an inland sea or how I would imagine one. From theat point you can see Roster Rock which according to Ranger Monica used to be called Cock Rock because it look more like a phallus to the people who lived here before the white man. Rooster Rock is a little more kid friendly. Ranger Monica is a Oregon native that used to live in south-east Portland until a year ago. She traded a little bit of isolation to the company of trustifarians that want to get back to nature with out the brutality of it. I asked her if I had anything to worry about when it came to bears. She told me its unlikely I will see one but they are around. The bears want my food more than they want me.
I road to the vista house where hurricane winds where the order of the day. I took a bathroom break and refilled my water bladder before my 20 mph decent on a curvy rode to Multnomah falls.
The falls were lovely but I was not too interested since a water fall to me is nothing more than water falling off a cliff.
I arrived at the cascade locks at 2:30 pm and had a one hour dinner break at Char Burger. I had one of the best tasting baked chicken and scalloped potatoes with a big piece of carrot cake. There were other adventures there. A group of honored citizens who had just finished a trek from southern California to Oregon along the Pacific Crest Trail. One of them, Jack had been traveling with his wife June when five miles from the finish line his knee finally gave up.
After one last refill of my water bladder I headed out to cross the Bridge Of The Gods. I soon learned there was no designated pedestrian crossing. The lady at the toll booth let me cross at my own risk for a fifty cent toll. A real rip off I thought but I was too tired to fight anyone about fifty cents. Money seemed so small compared to the journey I had that day and the day was not yet over.
I barely had to pedal on the evergreen highway heading west to my camp site. I stopped to ask a parked Washington State Patrol man to confirm I was headed the right way. I was a fourth of a mile from my destination. Once again my burden felt lighter and I road to the gravel rode that was Kidny Lake Rd at 4 pm. There was the humming of power lines backed up by the choir of frogs.
I set up camp west of Buttlers Pond on a maintenance road that hade not been used in weeks from the looks of the runners sprouting across the gravel. I found what I suspected to be bear shit from the day before. the bastard could not have been too far, from the looks of it he had been gorging on the black berries all night.
I put my REI Half Dome 2 lightweight 3 season tent. It was just what I needed and took me five minutes to put up with the rain cover. Seeing how no one was around I stripped down to my under wear and got ready to sleep. It was 5pm when I finally dozed off with my knife in hand ready for bears or psychos.
I dreamt of a man in black and a cowboy hat giving me puzzles to solve and at the end of every puzzle I had to kill some sleazy creeper that always resembled one of my friends coke dealer.
I woke up to find there was a lot of light outside of my tent. Thinking it was morning I put my cloths back on. when I stepped out of the tent it was still night-time. The moon was high big and full. Everything not in shadow was illuminated.
It had been years since the last time I was alone with the moon, too far for any city lights to disturb us. Her and I used to dance together on top of a shipping container in Culebra listening to a St. Thomas rock station. Her light reflected of the Caribbean Sea. With her we saw the dear brought generations ago by the US Navy. We could se the light of the metropolitan area bounce off distant clouds but nothing out shined her light. I had not been intimate with her since I left Culebra. Not until my night near Butler Lake. She had been the light that showed me the truth of night. I said hello and she just blew me a kiss and went on shinning. I took a piss at the edge of the treeline, the border of darkness. I returned to my tent and waited for morning.
to be continued….