Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dark Days

We had been hoping for bad weather but were disappointed.  Although the great ices of Snowpocalypse 2016 had begun to melt, the streets were still cold and slippery, so I took the bus to our start breakfast meet spot.  After a delicious croissant sandwich, and a respectable amount of dawdling to allow the temperature to rise, we were off.

It wasn't raining, but we couldn't tell because tree branches were melting so quickly.  Some branches lay in the street, others cracked and threatened to fall on our helmet-clad heads.  The whole weekend would be filled with snowballs tossed from trees and snow sabers tossed from power lines.

Our leader demonstrated how icy ice is with a quick fall on a wafer thin footbridge overpass.  We stifled our laughs and carried on, cautiously and always behind our coalmine-canary leader.

Finally arriving in the great state of Washington, we enjoyed a mile or two of new pavement on the Evergreen Highway, until it turned back to its usual cement crap complete with crevasses.  We passed through Camas, with all its special smells, and carried on to Washougal, where we got lost for a minute before finding ourselves at a cozy brew pub.

Two pm isn't late unless it's solstice time, in which case it's almost sunset.  So, we skedaddled east and up and away from downtown Washougal.  A few miles up the hill, the higher elevation had more snow and slush and ice in store for us, so walking became the new way to go.  Luckily, I had worn my special bike cleat walking shoes, which is a lie.

About six miles later, after dark, a car stopped and a man jumped out to ask if we needed help.  We were dumbfounded and didn't answer, so he asked again.  I told him I'd accept a ride.  He asked about my friends and I said "what friends" and hopped in.  Turns out we were just a half mile from our destination, but I had no regrets.  The car was filled with a friendly family, complete with two cheery children and a blazing hot seat warmer.

The destination made it all worthwhile.  It was a lovely castle of a home, packed with big cats and friendly people, delicious vittles, cold beer and a wood burning stove.  We ate, we drank, we stripped our wet clothes off for laundering, and finally, we headed across the street for sauna time.  This sauna was hot!  We took turns jumping out and rolling in the snow, some of us in our underwear.

By the next morning, most of the snow and ice had turned to slush.  There was one slippery patch left, which gave our ride leader another chance to demonstrate his wipe out skills, but otherwise it was pretty easy going.  Back to the pub, back to town, back to life.

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