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Thursday, July 8, 2004

The long-time ticking of my trip's departure time clock has been finally replaced with a simple ring, signaling the pivotal time has arrived. , and with the first rotation of my van's trusty tire I set into motion the beginnings of a long journey that will take me far from home to new and exciting adventures, big adventures as I like to call them. And with this first journal entry I mark into my personal history, for better or for worse, the beginnings of my first day on the road. At this singular moment, having just stepping into my new and untamed wanderlust, I am not quite sure which theme better describes of my current state of affairs, mental or otherwise -- reckless abandon or thoughtful preparation.

But, no matter. Whatever my trip's outcome, I desire to come back a better, more enlightened person. The alternative, because there is always one lurking about, is I shall return unenlightened, unemployed, and just plain broke. Rooting for the former and not entertaining thoughts of the latter, because who wants to entertain negative thoughts on such a momentous day, I stumble forward into a perilous world, bringing with me the broadest of smiles and the most willing of hearts. I am finally off. Much to my pleasure, my big adventure begins with great fanfare and myriad well wishes from adoring fans who have come from near and far to see me off -- if only in my mind.

Having scrambled all morning and afternoon finalizing my trip preparations, I find myself cutting the bow strings and pushing away from the dock early in the evening. Realizing in short order that I know nothing about sailing and wishing not to jinx myself, perhaps a better analogy would be better suited, like I mounted my horse and galloped off down the trail, although I have to admit, I know nothing of horses or galloping, so perhaps I simply opened the van door, jumped inside, and drove off down the road, which is exactly what I did.

With great excitement and much anticipation I head due north from Portland, OR into Washington State. Located near Lewis River Lower Falls, my evening's destination will be a mountain bike trailhead, which is to say, an official bike starting point which often baits one into thinking they're responsible in their trail planning, and by greatly stretched association, good at the sport. And given my vast inexperience at mountain biking, I can use all the delusion, tomfoolery, and outright hoodwinkery to fool myself into believing I have a good chance of not only completing the trail unscathed but feeling generally impressed with my performance afterwards. As for the trail itself, attested to by my trusty trail guidebook, the singletrack portion of the trail runs along the western bank of the Lewis River, a beautiful river that flows rough and tumble over and down three separate falls as it quickly passes through Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

My trip's first picture taking starts in ernest after passing through Woodland, WA. Prior to then, worthwhile pictures prove to be rather non-existent. Turns out the road up to Woodland is predominately boring interstate highway, and who wants to see pictures of a highway anyway, not me. As they say, take the highway and see practically nothing. Well, actually, that's not completely true. Perhaps I could have snapped pictures of my fellow drivers, many showing great annoyance because I've opted to drive the speed limit, now that may have provided a good measure of amusement. However, I know just how they feel, I was one of them up until today.

But, today and for the next few months I'll be driving the speed limit. Why might you ask? Well, time, as it turns out, is on my side. You see, I'm not in a big hurry to go anywhere quick. Plus, if you think about it, when you drive fast, more attention has to be focused on changing lanes, adjusting the cruise control, shaking your fist at the slow drivers (slow drivers like me), and worrying about whether there's a cop hiding around the next bend just waiting to write you a ticket. In addition, the van sports a big v10 engine, so speeding equates to exponentially larger fuel pump bills. At the unpopular speeds of 55 to 60 mph I get about 15 mpg, not bad, not bad at all.

Now, for my first set of pictures! Just outside of Woodland WA, going east, the terrain starts to get somewhat hilly. These are foothills no doubt, signaling the start of Mount St. Helens' western slope. The day is slowly winding down and the shadows are lengthening by the minute, soon evening will be upon me. Wishing to reach my destination before nightfall, I must make haste.

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