Rain is in the forecast for the entire Pacific Northwest for the foreseeable future, but the sky this morning is only partly cloudy, so I rush to take advantage of this lull and get as far ahead as possible. Yet, I’ll have to put a brake on the ride. Klamath Falls, Oegon is only 30 miles away. It’s the only decent-size town before Seattle and my last opportunity to gear up before crossing the Cascades. Therefore unfortunately I will have to spend precious time there, risking bad weather.
When I reach the Oregon state line, I’m about to take the usual photo of my lonely bike next to the welcome sign when I notice three farm workers taking a break nearby. I run to them waiving my camera, asking to take a picture, but they are Mexicans who don’t speak English. I immediately switch to Spanish without even thinking about it.
“¿Podria tomar un foto, por favor?” — I’m amazed how automatically this flies out of my non-Spanish-speaking mouth! And I’ve left Mexico over a month ago. Here’s the photo they took. They stand there watching me and waiving long after I say thanks and good-bye and take off.
I spend several painful sunny hours shopping in Klamath Falls as bad weather slowly and ominously moves in from the southwest. I end up cycling all over town from one sporting goods store to another before I eventually find the right lightweight rain shoes and pants at The Ledge (my mountaineering rain pants in New York are too heavy for cycling anyway, so I shell out for a new pair here). The Ledge is a really nice specialty outdoors store akin to Tent & Trails in NYC. The owner, Michael, and his staff are super helpful.
Finally I’m ready to leave town, but it starts raining.
A friendly man named Kiven invites me to have dinner with his family and spend the night at his house. (He saw me sitting at a gas station studying maps and casting dejected glances at the rain outside — and felt bad for me.) Seeing that it’s already late afternoon and that I’ve had a relatively productive day anyway, I accept.
But it’s still early, so I first kill a couple of hours riding in the rain to the library, liquor store, and the waterfront promenade, using this as an opportunity to test my new rain gear and adjust the bike to it. Yes, I asjust the bike: the soles of my rain shoes are thicker than those of my normal shoes, so I raise the seat and expand the pedal cages.
Kiven takes me to his friend’s house and we drink beer there for a while. I do my laundry at Kiven’s and settle in for the night in his camper parked next to the house. The soothing whisper of rain lulls me to sleep; the cool night air refreshes me for an early wake-up.
Kiven runs a sex/smoke shop and as a sign of his appreciation of my ride he gives me a useful gift from his inventory