Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Great Bike Ride – Day 9

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

After a good night's sleep, and a fine breakfast, we ran over to the Visitor's Center at Grand Coulee Dam to take the tour. Unfortunately, the special inclined elevator they use to take visitors down into the Third Power House was down for repair, so no tour. With a little disappointment, we hit the road.

My main drive for coming to this part of the country was to visit the Manhattan Project sites where my granddad, A.G. (Tom) Lambert worked during World War II. The key site was the Hanford Engineer Works, which was run by duPont. From its construction in 1944 until just a few years ago, this was a top-secret facility, where the plutonium for nuclear weapons was manufactured. Today, it is being decommissioned. However, twice a year they give tours of the facility, and it turns out tomorrow is one of those days. I called the tour office and tried to beg my way onto the tour. They said no way – the list had been closed for security reasons.

The ride from Grand Coulee to Richland was beautiful, following the shores of Banks Lake for about the first 60 miles. With the black rock buttes around us, it felt like a scene from a cowboy movie. As we came out of the canyon, we hit some strong crosswinds which stuck with us for about 50 miles. Fighting against these take a lot of steam out of you.

When we got to our motel in Richland, I saw a flyer for jet boat rides on the Columbia River, which include a run past the Hanford reactor sites. I was excited again! So I called the number to get reservations on the trip tomorrow morning, only to be told that there weren't enough reservations and they had cancelled the morning trip. Not a good day for satisfying my interest in the Manhattan Project. At least we visited the little museum here in town.

Tomorrow we had planned to run into Portland to pick up Diane at the airport. But her flights are actually on Thursday, so we're taking our time by riding the Lewis & Clark trail into Portland. Should be beautiful.

So after a great Mexican dinner at a place next door, we're crashing for the night.

DAY 10

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