Day 1: Out of the Emerald City

September 3, 2002
Seattle to Monroe
36 Miles Google Map

Slept very well last night… The first of my priorities this past summer of freedom was working on my music, which I may try and cover later. The second was to ride my vintage 1991 Sequoia Touring Bike all the way from Seattle to Iowa to see my grandmother. I’d been contemplating an adventure like this off and on for some ten years, but never managed to get it on the schedule. Now that I’m in my mid-forties, however, I decided I have to tackle this while I am still sane and able-bodied. And grandma is not getting any younger, either! Her ninety-fifth birthday is the eleventh of next month, and I’m going to try and be there for the party. 

The bike, loaded down with clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag and all kinds of special tools, is worryingly heavy. Though built for extended touring, I’m concerned that the weight will lead to numerous flat tires. (In fact I got one just a couple blocks from my apartment when doing my first full load test ride a few weeks ago.) I probably could have scrimped and left some items behind, but cycling halfway across America is an endeavor that demands to be taken seriously.

Freedom is the ability to depart without having to return. I am not on a trip, I am on a journey. A transition, if you like. Yet I almost didn’t make it out of the Seattle area. The Burke-Gilman Trail, which snakes through and around the university, was a pleasant enough ride, but the maze of special east side bike trails afterwards had me on my way to Redmond at one point rather than Monroe. Kind of like a misguided rocket falling back to earth. The freeway rules regarding bikes and a hard-to-decipher map further confused things. But fortunately there was plenty of time to get re-oriented and back on track.

The Monroe Hotel I’m staying at is next to a pleasing little brook and is delightfully quiet and out of the way. As I write this entry, a train is coming through the early evening. Its wail is long and lonely with an undercurrent of clicks and clacks, all of which would get bleached out in the never-ending rumble of the megalopolis I left today. My old Seattle life is already beginning to recede.

The rain that had been threatening off and on never came to pass. While the Seattle TV weathermen cannot mention precipitation without adding the adjective “much needed”, I’ve always felt that there’s a proper time and place for it, say October through April, or anytime I’m not out riding. I hope the amiable conditions will continue. Then again, I’d rather cycle through a chilly drizzle than have the late summer sun bake me onto the asphalt. Especially with the Cascade Mountains looming on the horizon. Their size and beauty makes a crossing attempt seem puny, almost insulting. How dare I?

    Today:     36 Miles
    To Date:  36 Miles / 58 Kilometers

Mr. Butch with his dorky glasses, all ready to shove off!

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