Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Great Bike Ride – Day 10

Once again, the weather was beautiful as we pulled out of Richland WA. The first leg of our day was a run west on I-182 through the orchard country of the Yakima valley. It's almost picking season, so the crates were piled up at the ends of the orchards row ready to go.

From there we took WA 221 south through arid and mostly treeless farmland (again). After about 30 miles, we reached the Columbia River Gorge. Rather than run on I-84 on the south bank, we stayed on WA 14 on the north bank all the way into Vancouver. There certainly wasn't much traffic, or any gas stations either. And the views were spectacular.

We did stop at a little roadhouse along the way for a break and something to drink. It looked like it would be fun place at night. The restrooms had very unusual wallpaper, at least in the men's room. Pat reported a similar theme in the lady's room as well.

The Columbia is a formidable river at this point, the better part of a mile across. We were surprised by the amount of wind that blows upstream - enough that at one point I thought that something was wrong with my bike - as though it were losing power. I was put at ease when we stopped for lunch and both John and Buss said they were getting tired of fighting the headwind. However, the scores of windsurfers we saw must have loved it.

We stopped at Bonneville Dam, about 40 miles from Vancouver. We got to see the generator gallery this time, but could not go down on the generator floor -- post 9/11 security tightening again.

One of the coolest things at the dam was the fish ladder. At some point as these dams were being built, folks figured out that the migration paths for salmon to their spawning grounds were being cut off. So structures were added to the dams so the salmon could work their way around. At Bonneville there is a viewing gallery below water level so you can see the fish making their way through the ladder. Some of the salmon were huge - probably 24" and 15-20 pounds?

I was surprised to see a bundle of lamprey clinging to the windows. Lamprey are parasitic fish that spend their life in the ocean attached to larger fish. But they spawn in the freshwater of their birth, just like salmon. Apparently they don't swim as well as salmon, and have to take a break by clinging to the glass, as they cannot get a grip on the concrete in the ladder.

Diane arrives at the Portland airport around 1pm tomorrow. John is going to ride the shuttle over to pick her up and bring her back to our hotel, where we will load up and head southwest, ever closer to the coast.

DAY 11

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