Hidden Gem

Make America Bike Again – Day 6

“What makes the desert beautiful,” said the Little Prince, “Is that somewhere it hides a well…”                    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

By this same logic, a bicycle tour is beautiful because of the hidden gems that are revealed along the way. One of these gems has got to be the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Yes. It’s true that during the summer there are many tourists, RV’s, and trucks. That just lends support for touring it on a bicycle.

Another reason for the bicycle preference is that just a few miles down the road … between the towns of Hood River and “The Dalles…” the Historic Columbia River Highway becomes hiker/biker only. There’s an invigorating blend of climbing into sunlit Oregon forest, views that compel a stop, and finally, an exhilarating descent into the river valley below. The pictures speak volumes.

Look at the craftsmanship in the 100 year old guardrail pictured in the header. What a narrow roadway! This was one of the first public highways built in the Pacific Northwest. Construction began in 1913…about the same time that Henry Ford began making automobiles affordable. According to the highway engineer for the project, it was designed to make: “Those points where the most beautiful things along the line might be seen in the best advantage, and if possible to locate the road in such a way as to reach them.”

The incredible stretch of downhill roadway in the picture above could easily be mistaken for a location somewhere along Europe’s Mediterranean. To feel it through the tires of a balanced and stable touring bike was a joy. To ride with the knowledge that there could be no cars or trucks following to close behind, with their irritated and distracted drivers, just adds to the moment. This stretch of highway called the Historic Columbia River Highway is truly a gem, waiting to be discovered along the Lewis & Clark trail.

When the highway was conceived, its purpose was to build access to places of great natural beauty. Now, one hundred years later the balance has shifted. Within the more popular national parks and scenic areas, waiting for a parking space with the engine running and the air-conditioner on, is the norm. There are many good reasons for remembering how much fun it can be to ride and travel on a bicycle.

 

 

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Epiphanies and Inopportune Times

A sold out show…

and I have a ticket. A favorite author is presenting tonight at the University of Denver. Nothing to do but wait; until the sun has set, the dogs have finished eating, and rush-hour traffic has faded away. These things complete I can head over to campus, search for parking and finally, engage with the evening. Wet shadowy sidewalks fall away beneath my intentional pace. I’m eager to feel the light and warmth just inside the doors of the Newman Center Auditorium. The corner of the last block passes beneath my feet. I’m going to make it! And then, the flash of a visual epiphany in the corner of my eye. It dares me to stop, turn and take a moment. I can be so relentless when the goal is near at hand. Just keep walking, straight ahead, but then I look back to catch a glimpse. Not even seeing the front steps of the building, which are coming up fast, maybe too fast… Continue reading “Epiphanies and Inopportune Times”