Sunday, August 10, 2014

Aug 9 (Day 221) - Off day to get ready for PNW leg

I cycled exactly....drumroll please.......1 mile today. I rode to Albertson's for my late afternoon candy fix. Some ice cream may have been purchased for after dinner as well (NOM NOM NOM). Since there was no real action today, I can discuss my plans for the next few days, and I address some odds and ends that have recently surfaced.

After much deliberation, I have decided to bypass Western Idaho and instead head towards Yakima, WA. I will follow the I-84 corridor from Boise, ID to Ontario, OR and then onto Baker City and La Grande. From there I will head to Walla Walla, WA and onto Yakima via Richland. Here are some examples of the distances I will cover the next few days. My ideal days are   probably 80-90 miles, but the spacing of the towns prevents this along this stretch. I might try to bundle Day 3 with either Day 2 or Day 4; A 43-mile day is just way too short without doing any birding. Most days will require zero to mild climbing except where noted.

1- Boise > Ontario                         ~ 62 miles
2- Ontario > Baker city                 ~ 73 miles - Some climbing, but difficult to calculate on the interstate using Google
3- Baker City > La Grande            ~ 43 miles - Flat, downhill
4- La Grande > Walla Walla          ~ 74 miles - 3,400' climbing, but 5,000' of dropping
5- Walla Walla > Richland             ~ 62 miles
6- Richland > Yakima                    ~ 81 miles

It is going to be near 100F around here the next 2-3 days, but it looks as though I am going to have decent (10-15 MPH) southeast winds to push me north and west. This schedule would put me in Yakima on August 14 or 15. This will give me some time to bird around Yakima where I hope to find White-headed woodpecker and Sagebrush sparrow. There are also some suggestions that I might be able to tick Spruce grouse west of Yakima. This might eliminate the need to go to the Cascades to get this bird. Sooty grouse could potentially be found in the same area, so, if I can get some local help, this might prove an ideal place to use some time.

Since we're on the topic of the Cascades, it looks as though forest fires might interfere with my ability to bird that area. I am still waiting for more local intelligence. The situation could clearly change for better or for worse by the time I would hypothetically reach the area. I guess forest fires are just one more variable that goes into this type of Big Year that can be ignored on other types. I think I am going to have plenty of time to reach the Cascades should I decide to do it. I think I may have been able to sort out a camping solution to the North Cascades as well, but I'l probably

I have received a couple of inquiries about riding on the interstate. The general rule is that if no alternative route exists, then riding the interstate is perfectly fine. In the eastern half of the country, there is always an alternative route. This is not as true for the western half. For example, I rode I-10 the entire way from Austin, TX to Arizona as there was no alternative. The same can be said for my time on I-84 across Southern Idaho. Several police passed me and did not even turn their heads. The Google route planning feature will find a route between any 2 points, but 130 miles on dirt roads to cover the same as 50 miles on the interstate is not a viable option. All of the interstates on which I have biked have had nice wide shoulders, rumble strips, and good surfaces. I actually feel much safer on the interstate than on local roads with traffic lights and such. Interstates are normally graded really well since big heavy trucks must be able to use them. If you're on a purely biking trip, then there isn't much point to being on the interstate. In my case where its actually a birding trip with a constantly ticking clock, the interstate is the best way to cover long distances when there is little to no birding to be done.

Despite being an off day, I am totally wiped out tonight. I am going to sleep like a rock. Hopefully my energy will return when I get back on the bike tomorrow.


  1. Interesting stuff about riding on the interstate. It really makes me realize how impressive your big year is... riding for a week+ down I-84 with no birding to do must take some serious dedication. Especially as the year wears on and new species become harder and harder to come by, I admire your resolve. In my mind, a biking big year deserves way more respect than a traditional one!

  2. I hope you have a voice recorder with you. When you are cycling 100 miles it leaves a person with a lot of alone time to think and solve the problems of the world. Sometimes even though the scenery is breathtaking and you want to absorb every mile into your brain a voice recorder helps you record those memorable moments and experiences and sights that you encounter along the way for you to revisit from your rocking chair 40 years from now or to review moments in time as you write your book of your great adventure. GO FOR IT.