St Helens – Portland – Troutdale

Make America Bike Again – Day 4

This day would be a memorable stretch of the Lewis & Clark trail, beginning with some morning mirth. We sliced up a watermelon in the parking of the Safeway store and devoured it joyously. Then, time to ride.IMG_1214

A celebration was going on in every town along the way. It was a perfect day for bicycling. As we neared Portland and the road headed turned east, Mt St. Helens, one of our active volcanoes, came into view. We crossed the St John’s bridge into Portland. Robert had to stop and take in the views, but we didn’t linger.

Portland from the bridgeInstead, we kept going into Troutdale, a scenic area at the western end of the Columbia River Gorge. The town straddles a small tributary of the Columbia. The Sandy River is named for the large natural build ups of sand that adorn it’s banks.

At the close of the holiday weekend, they were filled with bathers and other revelers. But not us. We had to find a place for the night. There were several state parks in the area, but also an abundance of “No Camping” signs. It was dusk when Frosty asked a young man in a pick up truck where we might find a place to camp that night?

“There’s no camping for twenty miles,” he replied, “And, it’s uphill.”

Next there was silence. I could see the young man, Brian, talking with his wife in the front seat, their small child comfortably in between. All around us passengers in other vehicles slowed to stare. Until Brian turned back toward Frosty and invited all of us to camp on the lawn of his parent’s home in nearby Corbett, and join in their celebration.

IMG_1246This is how trail angels often appear. Just when things look bleakest, a kindness appears in the form of a hospitable stranger, to turn events around. It was the beginning of a fun and memorable evening. Everyone in our group carries a luxury item or two. Robert has his books and his air mattress. For Gerry, the Irishman, it’s a small traveling guitar. He is a gifted player and a professional musician in his homeland. That night he had a campfire and a willing audience of singers. It was unforgettable.

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Robert, Frank, Gerry, friend of host, Frosty, Brian’s son, Don, and Brian. (Can anyone reading this remember the dog’s name?)

Thanks so much Brian, Ed, and Corinne for your hospitality that day, for the elegant campsite with its many blooming hydrangea, and for sharing the 4th of July with us.

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