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Thursday, October 1, 2009

STP Seattle to Portland

After exiting the ferry station we headed towards Eric “Ricky” Rose's house in Green Lake via a very scenic route through Seattle. Once we got to his spot we found the key that Eric had left us and entered to find a care package he had put together for our arrival. The package consisted of various primping and cleaning supplies with a note that welcomed us but warned us not to destroy his bathroom. After cleaning up and being very careful not to disturb Eric's pristine living quarters, we met up with Ian Sawyer, and his fiance, Kara as well as Eric for some Thai food which Seth and I had been craving for months (Seth and I had been discussing for weeks all of the places we would eat once we arrived in Seattle). Still tired from a 70+ mile day of riding we decided to call it a night and headed back to Eric's house to rest up for a huge week.
As we had arrived a day earlier than expected, Seth wanted to surprise his special lady friend, Eliza at the airport. Unfortunately, Eliza missed her flight and was forced to purchase another flight later that day. After much secret planning and replanning with Eliza's mother, Geannie, they finally got to the airport and from what I hear she was quite surprised to say the least. However, Eliza was not very happy with her mother and sister for not informing her of Seth's early arrival.

The plan was to all meet up that night at yet another surprise party for Eliza's friend MaTTie, not to be confused with Eliza's sister MaDDie or the legend himself, Matty Fake. This was confusing at times depending who was around. Seth and Eliza went out to dinner with Eliza's dad, Chip, while Maddie (Eliza's sister), Eric, and I hung out at Eric's house and had a few pre-surprise party beverages. We all finally reconvened at a newly opened wine bar downtown Seattle just in time for the big surprise. It was a great party and we all had a very good time. We would like to thank/apologize to whoever covered the tab for the open bar.

The next morning Maddie and Eliza prepared a delicious breakfast of pancakes, bacon and eggs and we all got ready for a day of boating on Lake Washington courtesy of Captain Chip Veal. The weather was perfect and we spent a long day out on the water cruising and drinking beers before heading back to Geannie's house for another big party. As soon as we opened the door it was evident that Geannie had been cooking all day and the entire house smelled amazing. Needless to say we were pretty hungry and were very excited to learn that Geannie was preparing her infamous jambalaya. Before continuing, it is important to establish that Geannie is an incredible cook. We have said this about quite a few people that have cooked for us on this trip but Geannie's meals, or should I say culinary masterpieces, were truly on another level. For fear of running out of adjectives to describe all of the different breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that she blessed us with during our stay in Seattle, you can assume if she cooked it, it was amazing. Seth had invited all of his college buddies that were still in the area which included Ian Sawyer and Kara, Sam Burns and his fiancée, Eva, Matt Kopicky and his wife, Ginger, and Avery Dahl. Unfortunately, Eric Rose could not make it but we were very pleased to see Ricky show up instead. We were also privileged by the presence of the one and only T Swimme, not to be confused with B Swimme who is also a legend, enjoys napping, and can usually be identified by his bleeding eyes. As many of you know, Seth rowed crew in college and I remember noticing that the average height of everyone at the party was extremely tall. Incredibly, Geannie cooked enough food for this entire crowd including a number of Eliza and Maddie's friends. Two other people that we met at this party were Geannie's boyfriend, Robert and Hannah's (Maddie and Eliza's older sister) ex-boyfriend Doug. We would like to graciously thank Doug for the largest donation we have received thus far on our trip. His enthusiasm for green awareness is inspiring to say the least. We would also like to thank Robert for putting up with us for an entire week and making many sacrifices of his own on our behalf.

The next morning we were spoiled with another breakfast which included grits which was a much welcomed change from oat meal which we have eaten just under a 100 mornings since we left California. After regrouping from the night before we started to mobilize for the UW football game against LSU. We headed to Eric's house to grab some more clothes, had a few pre-tailgate drinks then headed to campus. We found all of our friends at their official tailgate party and we joined even though we didn't have the official tailgate wristband. I noticed that many of the different tailgate parties required a wristband or special t-shirt to be included in the festivities. Because we did not have tickets to the game I also found out that one can eat like a king at all of these tailgate parties once the game has started even without a wristband or t-shirt. On our way back to the car Seth and I enjoyed cheeseburgers, chicken wings, baby-back ribs, sausages, salads, and various fruit arrangements. We caught the depressing end of the game at Eric's house and finished off the night with some Chinese food delivery.

The next day I said farewell to my good friend Thomas and Seth, Eliza, Maddie and myself headed out to the Gorge to see the Dave Matthews concert. The plan was to meet Matt Tong and his girlfriend Jill, Jack Parker, Eric and/or Ricky Rose so we could roll into the show togetherl in Eric's Vanagan. The concert was packed but luckily some of Ricky's friends had saved us a spot to pitch our tent.

Seth and I soon realized that we were not pitching any regular tent but more like constructing a small compound (Not pictured above. Incredibly we did not get any pictures but Seth did do a Cribs style tour of the compound on video). This was by far the biggest tent I have ever seen and we would like to thank Robert for loaning it to us as we would have been severely under-supplied with our singles. Once we set camp and had a few cocktails it was time to head into the concert where we watched G Love perform before DMB went on. The Gorge, which I would highly recommend visiting if you have not been there, is set against an amazing backdrop of the Columbia river.

The performance was great and Seth and I were both very happy to be back around some music after being in remote wilderness for over 3000 miles. After the encore we hurried back to the tent to heat up the huge pot of chili that Geannie had made for us before we left. I thought that we were excited to eat until I saw Ricky Rose. He must have asked me a hundred times to serve him a bowl while I was warming the massive pot on our tiny burner. Once I did serve him his bowl he politely requested the cheese by saying the word “cheese” another hundred times until he got it. After putting half of the bag of freshly grated cheese into his bowl he found a jar of Tostido's Salsa Con Queso and dumped the remainder of the contents on top of the cheese. Even to us this was quite impressive.

The next morning we broke down the compound, packed the Vanagon, and headed straight for the greasiest breakfast diner we could find. This didn't take long and we were fed and back on the road in no time heading back for one more dinner party at the Veal's before heading south. We even got to see Inglorious Bastards at a really cool theatre/bar where they will serve you throughout the movie. Actually, I was almost denied entrance into the theatre because I didn't have my ID. The only ID Seth needed was his newly trimmed handlebar mustache.
After one final breakfast we said goodbye to everyone and were off to Portland via the famous STP (Seattle to Portland) route, which only took about 10 pages of directions. Luckily Seth had done this route before and we only got lost once at which time I received the lecture I always receive when we get lost on how I need to be more proactive with navigating. I must admit that this is true, however it is much easier to just follow Seth and not worry about carrying so many maps.

Our first night of the STP route we went about 70 miles after a late start and decided to eat dinner at a park which had lunch tables before finding a spot to camp. While eating we met a Ukrainian gentlemen who introduced himself and was very interested in our trip. We asked him if he knew anywhere we could camp nearby and he gave us very detailed directions to a lake in Tacoma where we might be able to camp. Not wanting to back track to Tacoma we proceeded south and settled on a spot about 5 minutes before complete darkness just 15 feet up an embankment off a remote path. This was one of the more sketch spots we had camped at and just as we finished erecting our tents we heard the dogs. At first the barking seemed to be coming from a good distance away but it was quickly approaching and before long there were dogs barking all around us. The worst part of this dog experience was that we could see movement amongst the trees but they never came completely into sight. I grabbed the bear spray which I had inadvertently smuggled over the US border and we got into our tents for a horrible night of sleep. After a couple hours the dogs finally stopped barking for a while and we fell asleep only to be awoken by what sounded like a pack of coyotes in the distance which set the dogs off again and the entire show started over. To tell you the truth I was a little bummed that I had bought a $40 canister of bear spray in Canada and still had not gotten the chance to use it so I was at least a little excited to blast anything that came up to our tents. After another hour or so the dogs once again got tired of barking and were finally silent. Just as I thought I was going to get some sleep an owl landed in the tree above my tent and started hooting so loud that I had wished the dogs would come back.

We broke camp and got back on the road as soon as possible in the morning and found a park a few miles away where we ate breakfast and got a little rest. After another 60 miles or so we were once again looking for a spot to camp. We were in rural farm country which is notorious for unleashed roaming dogs and sure enough we heard a large one approaching us quickly on our right so we began pedaling faster. I saw a very big black and white pit bull looking dog coming right for me and I quickly turned my bike to the left which caused it to pass me and start running for Seth. The dog then realized that I was still much closer and once again turned back towards me. The bear spray was out of reach so I disengaged my right cleat to punt the dog in the face as he approached but he avoided my foot and bit onto my rear dry bag. I dragged the dog for a few seconds before it finally let go and it looked as though he was about to try round 2 but I yelled at it as loud as I could and he slowed down and turned away. I was very disappointed that I had blown yet another chance to use the bear spray.

We stopped at a grocery/deli/gas station down the road and the owner informed us we could set camp on the lawn behind the store and we gladly accepted. It was a beautiful night and we slept very well. Much thanks to the owners of Mt. St. Helen's Grocery.

We got going early as we had an 80+ mile day ahead of us and we needed to meet Stephen Mull in Portland by 5PM. Just to make things interesting we decided to go12 miles in the wrong direction to start off the day. Now we had lost an hour and had to complete a 90+ mile day. However, we did to see this camel on a farm we passed while traveling down the wrong road.
We put in about 65 miles before lunch and decided we better get a legitimate meal to make sure we had the necessary energy to finish our long ride. I'm not sure how legitimate our meal was but we did order everything on the dollar menu at both McDonald's and Taco Bell. We were a bit surprised and disturbed to find out that a bean burrito was more expensive than a beef burrito of the same size. Nevertheless we made it to Portland with time to spare. Seth had contacted his friend Ryan, another one of his rowing acquaintances, and asked him if we could store our bikes at his house in Portland for while we went fishing for a week. Ryan had no problem with this and we grabbed the few clothes and fishing gear we would need before heading out with Mr. Stephen Mull. Stephen flew in from Virginia the night before and had borrowed his step father's car to pick us up in Portland then go fishing for a week.

Our final destination was the Deschutes River but Seth and Stephen wanted to first hit the Klicketat River which they had fished the year before without any luck. We did not get to the river until after dark and we had some trouble trying to find the campground. After backtracking a few miles Stephen finally spotted the turnout and we quickly set camp. After a few beers we decided to hit the sac as we wanted to be on the water by 6AM at the latest. As Seth was getting into his tent he noticed a large black spider crawling on the his mesh screen which turned out to be the biggest black widow any of us had ever seen.
It was at this point that both Seth and Stephen realized that they had left their tents open while we were drinking beers on the tailgate of Stephen's truck. They both spent the next few minutes inspecting every inch of the interior of their tents before reluctantly turning out their lights and crawling into their bags.

We were up by 5AM and on the water by first light as planned but did not move any fish all morning. We fished until 2PM with the same results and decided to make a move as there were reports of excellent fishing on the Deschutes. We made it Maupin by about 4:30PM and decided to stop in the fly shop, The Deschutes Angler, before heading down to the river. The reports were still very good and one of the owners of the shop, XXXX Hazel, was very interested in hearing about our trip. She too had traveled around the world on a fly fishing adventure and when she heard what cause we were riding for she insisted on giving us a bunch of free flies. We thanked her and headed down to the river about an hour before twilight. Seth hooked but did not land one fish which was the only action we saw that night. We found a camp spot nearby and once again planned to be back on the water by 6AM.

The next morning Stephen rose 3 fish on dries but was unable to hook any of them. Seth and I did not see anything so we decided to check out the river below Maupin for the mid-day session. To our disappointment the lower river had been completely blown out by the White River which flows into the Deschutes just a couple miles downstream of town. The rest of the trip turned into a constant battle with the clarity of the water and deciding on whether to fish the crystal clear upper section which held less fish or the mirky lower section which held much better numbers. When all was said and done we caught some beautiful Steelhead in both the upper and lower sections and it turned out to be a very successful week of fishing.

The next day we met up with Stephen's friend Ryan who brought his wife's younger brother Hank and his buddy Mike. Ryan brought his drift boat so we decided to try our luck in the still very mirky lower section.
We fished hard all day and did not move a single fish between 6 rods. We found out from Fish and Game later that day that nobody had reported catching a fish in the last 2 days. However, that night I landed the first Steelhead of the trip and lost another one just before dark. I also fell in a hole in the river and filled up my waders and almost ruined another IPOD and camera.
The next day we hired a guide, Sam Sickles, who went far above and beyond what we had expected for single day float. His determination to get all of us into fish on a day of relatively tough conditions was impressive. His knowledge of the river which he generously shared with us, was essential to the rest of our trip and we all agreed that he was one of the better guides we have fished with. For anyone that plans to take a trip to the Deschutes we would highly recommend contacting Sam at www.riverborneoutfitters.com. Here is a picture of Sam with his 2008 slab of the year on MoldyChum.com. I was conflicted of weather or not to put this picture on our blog as it completely disgraces all of our pictures. Nevertheless:
Seth hooked into the biggest fish of our trip the morning we were fishing with Sam. Let us not compare these fish but simply respect them as two very eaqually beautiful creatures of God.
We were then graced with the presence of our father, Neil, who came out to fish with us for the remainder of the trip. It was just a couple days before his birthday and we were very excited and thankful that he could spend it with us on the river. He had driven all the way from Marin and brought Seth's raft so we could float the entire lower section of the river to the mouth. He had also reserved a very small cabin for us all to sleep in for one night before taking off on the 3 day float. The next morning we purchased all of the needed supplies and put the boat in the river just a few hours before sunset.
We fished till dark and did not move any Steelhead but Neil did catch a good sized rainbow.
The next day was much better conditions as we were blessed with overcast skies. Neil hooked up with another very nice trout first thing in the morning and we were hooking into Steelhead throughout the day.
Till this day all of our fish had been caught in the early morning or just before dark. We were very fortunate to find a great camping spot that afternoon which was right next to a run that Sam and some of his other clients were fishing. He informed us that it was excellent water and suggested we fish it as soon as he left. When his clients were ready to move on after not having any luck we moved in to fish the remainder of the evening. Stephen quickly hooked up on back to back fish followed by Seth and I both hooking up at the same time. Seth had foul hooked his Steelhead in the dorsal fin and it had quickly stripped all of the line off his reel. He was running down the bank trying to keep his line from breaking when he ate shit directly onto his back. I was following him while fighting another fish and I remember looking up and starting to laugh after he had fallen only to slip on the same exact rock. This all occurred in front of about 10 gear fisherman that were throwing out comments throughout the entire experience. Out of all 10 of these guys there were only 3 of them that were still sober enough hold a rod. Somehow Stephen had found the end of Seth's line a couple hundred yards downstream and netted the fish while also filling up his waders with water. I subsequently landed my fish and we released them during the last few minutes of daylight.

This turned out to be the best evening of fishing we had during this trip. Later that night we had the pleasure of hearing the group of drunk gear fisherman sing old frat songs long into the morning. We hit the same hole the next morning but did not have any luck and did not see anymore fish on our last day of the trip.

We took the boat out that afternoon and packed everything back into Neil's truck before heading to Hood River for his birthday dinner at local micro brewery. We then parted ways with Mr. Mull who had to drive all the way back to Seattle that night. Seth, Neil and I stayed down the street at very nice hotel which was right on the Columbia River. The following morning Neil dropped us off at Ryan's house and we decided to stick around one more night to take care of errands and get a part changed on my bike. Neil also stuck around Portland that night and took us out to an amazing dinner for Seth's birthday. He treated us even further by sharing some wine that he had been saving for 24 years. After dinner we said goodbye and were ready to get back on the road the next morning.

We took a lot of time off in between Seattle and Portland and it was great to see our father and friends after being in Alaska and Canada for what seemed like a long time. We have already realized that this portion of the trip is going to be significantly easier as we will never be far from a city that we have either lived in or have many friends that we are looking forward to see.

4 comments:

Stephen Mull said...

Wow, Sam has one of the most provocative guide sites I've ever seen. You da guy Sam.

Parker Berling said...

Good eye Mr. Mull. I wonder how many people caught that? I'll bet Sam's phone is ringing off the hook for guided trips.

All fixed. Also, your photo did not post. I will fix that next.

eric said...

Ricky was hungry..... Cheese makes Chili better.

Menorca yacht charter said...

Thank you ever so for you post.Really thank you!

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