Day 32. July 15.
A storm had rolled in as we got back to camp the night before, so we had set up the tent under a pavilion. It stopped raining before we went to sleep, but it was still nice to have everything stay dry… For a while at least. We had about 80 miles to get to our next stop in Albany.
The bike trail was really nice, but it was so hot and humid. The miles seemed just drag on. After a brief stop at a park on the trail we noticed a couple of bikers behind us, but couldn’t tell if they were touring or just out biking. Eventually they caught up to us and we found out that they were touring, but didn’t have to carry as much stuff because they always stay in hotels.
We rode with Bob and Connie for quite a while and it helped us keep our pace up, which Ethan was happy about. We chatted about biking and traveling while we rode and it was cool to hear how different touring is when you’re limited to just staying in hotels. The conversation was an awesome distraction from the heat. We rode with them to our lunch stop, their final destination for the day, in Alexandria. We parted ways and were sad to be leaving our biking buddies. We hadn’t seen any of the people who we stayed with a few nights before for a while, so it was nice to talk to other bikers again.
We found a place to eat called Raaper’s and decided to treat ourselves and got separate meals. Ethan had chicken wings and I got a massive 1/2lb burger topped with bacon and onion straws. We decided it was the best meal that we’ve had at a restaurant yet. It was delicious, but then we had to go back out into 90 degree heat and ride another 40 miles. Ugh. We filled our water bottles with ice cold water knowing full well that it would be warm in less than an hour. It’s so hard to drink enough water when you’re sweating so much… It’s too humid Mother Nature! Give us a break!
After lunch we really slowed down and eventually it just got too hot. We made it 20 miles to the next town which had a Walmart and McDonald’s right off the path. More cookies from Walmart, then a smoothie and ice cream at Donalds. We loaded up with cold water and tried to cool down. We were hot in the desert of Washington and the plains of Montana, but the humidity just takes it to another level. We didn’t end up leaving until 6, which meant it would be another late night. We were just happy that there was finally some cloud cover and that the wind had died down a bit.
After about an hour the big fluffy clouds turned gray and we started to get sprinkled on. It felt good, but we did start to pedal a little faster just in case. Well, we didn’t quite pedal fast enough. It started to get really windy and the rain got a bit heavier, but it wasn’t quite pouring. Ethan checked on where the next town was in case there was lightning and it was about 4 miles away. We barely rode another mile when the storm hit us full force. It was pouring buckets and we were soaked in seconds. We rode as fast as we could and pulled into a gas station right off the path in Freeport.
We put our bikes under the gas pump cover and stood there in disbelief for a minute or two. It was raining so hard and it didn’t seem like it was going to stop any time soon. I had no idea what we were going to do except keep rising because it didn’t appear that there was a hotel in town. We went inside and I tried to dry off a bit with the hand dryer in the bathroom. It didn’t really help, but it was warm. Ethan checked the map and there was a park across the highway that had a pavilion, but there were definitely no hotels. We decided we’d wait to see if maybe the rain would let up, but it was already 8.
As we stood there debating what to do, we attracted he attention of a truck driver who had stopped to use the bathroom. He asked us about our trip and the usually accompanying questions. We must have looked pretty pathetic because he immediately offered to drive us wherever we needed to go as long as the back of his truck was open. Lucky for us, it was open and we gladly accepted his offer. He was with a girl and another, so the guys got the bikes, while the girl and I got in the truck. The inside had a bunk bed so I sat on the bottom bunk and felt horrible that I was getting it soaked. The guys were also soaked when they got in and then I felt even worse. They said not to worry and asked where we wanted to go. Of course, Ethan had already checked for hotels in the next town and there was one right off the highway.
The hotel was in the town that we planned to camp in and it was only the next exit up the road. The driver had to do some serious maneuvering to get in and out of the hotel parking lot, but he made it out somehow. We were so impressed that he didn’t hit any cars. Anyway, we unloaded the bikes and crossed our fingers that the hotel wasn’t too expensive. We knew it would be a bad idea to try and camp because we were completey soaked, but we are also on a pretty tight budget. We went in and again, I think we just looked so pathetic that the concierge just felt sorry for us. He gave us the local price for the room and ended up saving us $30. It was so awesome of him.
We pretty much went straight to the hot tub to warm up. It was glorious. We ended up not actually eating dinner, but snacked on cookies and free fruit from the breakfast bar. We watched the second half of Fantastic Four and both fell asleep before the end. There’s nothing like having a whole queen size bed to yourself after a long day of biking and getting drenched in rain.