McClinchy Mile 2015

Shortly after last year’s McClinchy Mile, the Oso mudslide happened.  This year, they changed the route from Arlington to Granite Falls, to Arlington to Darrington via the new road through Oso.  A small donation was provided to the community.

Since this was both an excuse to get on my bike again after nearly six months off, and an opportunity to ride in a new area, I was pretty motivated to get out, even in the record-setting rain.  So were a lot of other folks.  Attendance was estimated to be above 200 people.  (300 pre-registered + 80 day-of)

Highway 503
Highway 503

Anticipating a moderate rain most of the day, I went straight for the REI rain pants and Showers Pass jacket.  I also had my very dorky Da Brim from last year’s Cycle Canada.  As long as I was pedaling, I stayed warm enough.   I didn’t have to think too hard about the route as it was essentially an out-and-back on 503.

Oso Mudslide
Oso Mudslide

There is a small pull-out at a viewpoint of the Oso Mudslide.  Anticipating people would want to reflect, a porta potty has been left there.  It’s weird seeing half the hill missing and the area generally covered with mud.  Here is a panoramic view on my Flickr page.

Rest stop - biscuits and gravy
Rhodes River Ranch – biscuits and gravy

On the way back, the stop at Rhodes River Ranch offered us the most delightful biscuits and gravy and fresh coffee.   The facility is a working horse ranch that had such success feeding its workers that people also come there for the food.  I really wanted to stay longer, but I was getting soooo cold not moving.

Considering how long I’ve been remiss in cycling, and how utterly rainy it was, the ride went pretty well.  I was glad I had a few dry sundries to change into, but I needed a serious dose of hot coffee and car heater blasting to shake the chills.

This would be an outstanding route in nicer weather.

Makeshift memorial

My walk into work takes me across the Lenora Street pedestrian bridge, a walkway that goes under the Alaskan Way Viaduct and over the pair of railroad tracks running north-south through downtown.  To the south of the walkway, and underneath the roar of traffic on the Viaduct, is the the fourth version of fence erected by the city to discourage people from going under the bridge.

Razor fence
The fourth version of the fence, with razors replacing the barbed wire. It still doesn’t stop people.

 

As evidenced by the bent razors, increasing graffiti, and garbage, the city is only slowing the activity.  People sleep along the corner of the walkway, sometimes well until noon.

Residentially challenged
Residentially challenged

Later in the day, there will be piles and piles of garbage.

Garbage strewn all over
Later that day: Garbage strewn all over

An doorway to the adjacent parking garage is a river of urine.   It is an area I try to spend as little time transiting as possible.  (I will be very glad when my office moves in a few months.)

Fence from afar.
Fence from afar.

Last Wednesday morning (the 4th), I happened to see this photo and narrative taped to the base of the middle of the fence:

Christopher Lee Davis
Christopher Lee Davis

It is a picture of Christopher Lee Davis – in younger and happier times – with an orange, bottle of water, and two spent tea candles.  The white note reads:

To you, who has found this simple offering, please choose something among it to enjoy.  That is the spirit of which I Have placed it here.  It is in honor of my son, Christopher Lee Davis, who died one year ago on this ground hear of an overdose.  There is no more that I can do for him in this life than to honor the joy and beauty he brought me by trying to share something with others, whether or not you knew him is of no concern.

Please enjoy some if you choose and if possible, leave some to be enjoyed by others as well.

It would be a great honor for as many souls as possible to share in this simple offering for Christopher, my beautiful and only child.  I do have a favor to ask and that is for those of you who find this to please leave these little things of his here in memory of him today, Tuesday, March 3, 2015.  I am unable to be here to light this candle, so if someone would light this candle here on this spot for Chistopher at night fall, it would mean very much to me.  Thank you.

Because the name is so common, I have had little success finding anything specific about him.  I feel very sad for the parents.

Cycling Events

This is going to be another light cycling event year simply because I’ll have a lot of weekends sucked up by touring colleges with the kiddo; however, I think the big three are selected:

ososlide
Oso slide

McClinchy Mile – March 15.  I think this is the only local organized ride in March.  This year’s event has a route taking us along the Stillaguamish River through the Oso landslide zone.

 

lots_of_open_road
Pendleton has wide open roads, sun


Century Ride of the Centuries
– May 23 – 25.  I think this may be the event I’ve participated in the most often.  Pendleton has great roads, the CRoC rest stops have food second only to R.A.P.S.O.D.Y. (may it rest in peace), and the weather is usually pretty okay.

Home of the Oreo Cows!
Home of the Oreo Cows!

Cycle Oregon – September 12 – 19.  This year’s “Hell on Wheels” is similar to the route I rode in 2008, my first Cycle Oregon:

  • Baker City – Farewell Bend – 51 miles, 1500′ gain
  • Farewell Bend – Cambridge, ID – 53 miles, 2600′ gain
  • Cambridge to Halfway, OR – 103 miles, 6600′ gain, including the out-and-back to the Hells Canyon Dam.

    Hells Canyon Dam
    Hells Canyon Dam
  • Halfway to Wallowa Lake – 84 miles, 7530′ gain – Over the top of the dam to an amazing viewpoint.

    Hells Canyon overlook
    Hells Canyon overlook
  • Rest day – there’s an optional 44-miles, but after the previous two days, I am going to want to take the tram ride up.
  • Wallowa Lake to La Grande – 85 miles, 2800′ gain
  • La Grande to Baker City – 59 miles – 1800′ gain

50k elevation challenge

After 3 3/4 years, I finally completed the 50k elevation challenge (for geocaching) in October with my friend Jes.

Victory!
Spoiler alert: Victory!

I logged far more than than 50k of elevation over the period, but the challenge had so many rules that many of my hikes didn’t count.  In fact, for a while I had kind of given up even tracking gain.  I was tantalizingly close after a huge boost in July from Cycle Canada but resigned to completing the official challenge in 2015.  In September, Jes mentioned that she wanted to go to Mailbox Peak, and let me tag along.  The elevation gain (>4000′) put us both over the cutoff.  On that trip, we schemed on how we might finish it off while not completely incurring the wrath of our respective spouses.

Checking the mail at Mailbox Peak
Checking the mail at Mailbox Peak.  I would completely destroy those shorts on the way down.

Armed with the three rules (credit to my soon-to-be-ex-coworker Ronni):

  1. Remain friends
  2. Don’t get hurt
  3. Have fun
hint_roks
Geocache hint: Under a pile of rocks.

 

Oh Dark 30
Oh Dark 30.  Oh, so dark.

So at oh-dark-thirty, we arrived at the Mt Si trailhead to see four other cars in the abject darkness. Thanks to improved stamina, the hike up to SiHi went very quickly and felt far less strenuous than Mailbox Peak did a few weeks earlier. After Haystack, we were in find-or-bust mode for the 50k, zig-zagging up a vein on the side of the mountain.

winner
Jes made the find of the cache.  Once the log was signed, we broke out the ceremonial cupcakes and sandwiches hauled up the mountain as our reward.

trailcakes
Lemon, Espresso, Pumpkin Spice

 

sandwich
Roast beef, provolone, heirloom tomato and avocado.

Now as most of you know, when you do a hike like this on a cool/windy day, and you stop actually climbing, you get quite cold. That’s pretty much what happened to us. With half-sandwiches in hand, we set out to the east to the next set of caches. This was an adventure as the BirdsEye imagery supplied by Garmin seemed like BirdsCrap. There was bushwhacking. Lots of bushwhacking. However, in looking back at the tracks, I still think it took about 40% of the time than it would have to find the trail we came in on and circle back.

Once on “Unmarked road”, we headed east with the intent of getting to the top of Teneriffe and returning west to the caches we passed.  About halfway, we heard intermittent rumbling of thunder. Then it completely opened up. We were huddled under trees for a while when Jes spotted an oasis – a small shelter made for the trailworkers’ stuff.  We stood under that for a while.

outwaitingrain

Despite my poker face, I was pretty cold and wet, starting to shiver while standing around watching the weather.  Self-preservation overcame social awkwardness and I lifted up the tarp and suggested we hang out inside for a little while.  Being dry gave me a chance to rifle through my backpack for the pair of mylar blankets I tossed in the night before.  We each huddled under one.  When the rain subsided, they were stuffed into the jacket as an extra layer of insulation.  The crinkling noise was obnoxious, but being warm was nice.

mylar
Can’t hear you, crinkling.

 

Resigned that goal 2 (Teneriffe) was a dicey proposition — altitude + bad weather — we headed back west for the caches we’d skipped over.  Three DNFs in a row due to trail work.  As appetite returned, Jes served up a lovely pasta salad made with roasted pine nuts.

pastasaladWe headed down the zig-zag until the cross-trail to Kamikaze Falls.

tokamikaze
On the way to Kamikaze Falls. Daylight, schmaylight.

With 90 minutes until official sunset, we hoped we might be able to get the trio of caches at Kamikaze Falls. Once at the falls, we had 40 minutes on the clock, but the sun was definitely below the mountain line and it getting dark fast. We punted on the other two caches because one of them felt rather insanely dangerous with the conditions (tired hikers, rain, dark) and turned around. That takes a lot of willpower when a cache is so dangerously close.  The falls were very nice, though:

kfalls
Kamikaze Falls with about 2 minutes of daylight remaining.

 

It was probably a good thing we left when we did because the trail looked completely different at night, what bits we could see.  We just sort of plodded west, climbing over things along the way, until the trail got less minor.

moss
Daytime version of the trail

The thunder returned, as did the rain.  Being under the tree canopy tempered the effect until we got back to the main trail.  There, it was pouring enough that pools of water were collecting in the horse tracks, which made for slower going downhill.

Close to the bottom, we were debating whether to take the “closer” trip that would bring us to a main road, then walk back along that a mile to the car, or power through the paths leading us to parking.  I suggested the latter simply because we’d been out for over twelve hours and I was tired.

This section of trails was in good condition.  As we continued, we saw an occasional reflective tack from a night cache in the area.  The thunder subsided enough for us to hear owls in the trees above.  It was pretty cool.

Nearly 14 hours and 16 miles after we started, we were back at the car.  This was the longest hike either of us had done.  Jes’ fitbit claimed it was 45,000 steps.

 


Overpackaging

I purchased a Sandisk 16Gb USB stick drive (~$10 on Amazon.com) to transfer large files between machines rather than having to burn multiple DVDs.  (Also because I ditched my optical drive to install a second hard disk in my ancient MacBook.)  While shuttling files, the USB stick went into some kind of lock-out mode.

The consensus from the Interwebs was the device committed seppuku and was a lost cause.  Rather than toss it into the abyss, I thought I’d see how long the warranty was on these devices.  To my delight, I was only halfway through it.  I should at least try filing a warranty claim.

Finding the customer support contact mechanism is always difficult.  With each two steps forward came one interstitial step back to read some frequently answered question.  Invariably, these all devolve into “is your computer up to date?,” “is the device plugged into the computer?” and “Are you a moron?”   Nonplussed, I eventually found the sUpEr SiKrEt form to request a RMA (return merchandise authorization).  The form asked for a lot of information, including a copy of the receipt and the device serial number, etched in a subatomic font.

A day later, a customer support person contacts me asking for “supporting documentation,” taking photos of both sides of the USB stick, because why the hell not.  Oh, and would I please provide a copy of my receipt?   Because I could respond via e-mail, I supplied largest resolution, highest “quality” photo I could take of each side.  I also discovered something really useful: the phone’s camera makes an excellent magnifying glass.  Also: Two can play at this game.

The next morning, I had three emails.  The first acknowledged receipt of my supporting documentation.  The second indicated a verdict was reached by the warranty cabal.  The third included RMA instructions with a UPS label that I’d print out and slap on my extremely well-packaged sarcophagus sent to their return center.  Once received, there would be another evaluation period, after which the disposition would be determined and revealed to me in a deeply symbolic dream.  Okay, maybe I imagined the dream part.

After a few days, I received an email update as my deceased USB drive completed each stage of its journey to the warranty after world.  When it eventually reached the Asphodel Meadows the final notification indicated a new stick drive would be on its way.

Tonight, this arrived:

Huge Envelope
Huge Envelope

The replacement USB stick was enclosed within another envelope (not shown) in the larger, yellow, padded envelope.  For scale, I have placed a quarter next to the stick drive.

I estimate the cost in excess of the original product:  $14 for UPS both ways, $1 packaging, $2 for the device, $5 for people to interact (the dude sending me email, packaging, typing stuff).

Paseo-like Cuban pork sandwich

And now for something completely different… Paseo-like Cuban pork sandwiches, using a recipe from the Seattle Times food blog, originally based on Paseo reverse-engineering done by Lorna Yee, presented in her cookbook The Newlywed Kitchen.

This took me about 1 1/2 hours of attentive cooking, but elapsed time was about 20 hours as most of the marination happened the night before.  It makes enough to feed six.

For the pork, mix in a gallon-sized, sealable ZipLoc baggie and let marinate overnight:

  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or loin roast
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 2 C orange juice
  • 1/2 C lime juice
  • 2 T brown sugar (they recommend dark brown, which I didn’t have, so I added 1t of molasses)
  • 2 t dried oregano (they use 2T fresh. I couldn’t find any at the store)
  • 1/2 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 C diced onion
  • 2 bay leaves

For the garlic mayonnaise, also prepared in advance:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 C mayonnaise
  • 3 T sweet relish
  • Juice from one lemon. I also added the zest because zest is awesome.

For the sandwiches, you’ll need:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings
  • 48 inches of baguettes, sliced into 6″ lengths. You can use banh mi-style bread, really crumbly and light.
  • Bunch of cilantro, leaves only

Instructions:

  1. Plop the pork into a roast pan and pour the rest of the marinade mixture around it.  (Obvious note: do not cook the bag.) Tent the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and cook at 300F for two hours.  Turn the meat over, remove tent, and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  2. Pull out the garlic mayonnaise so it can reach room temperature.

    Garlic mayonnaise.  I amended the recipe to include the zest because zest is awesome
    Garlic mayonnaise. I amended the recipe to include the zest because zest is awesome
  3. Cook the onion slices in a sauce pan until they’re browned

    Onions.  You can slice them thicker.
    Onions. You can slice them thicker.
  4. Remove meat from the heat and let it set about 20 minutes until it’s cool enough to manage.  I used a fork to shred the meat into chunks, then dumped the chunks back into the cooked marinade.

    I cut the loin into smaller chunks, then used a fork to pull them apart, but I did this in the cooked marinade where it could absorb more.  End result is shown.
    I cut the loin into smaller chunks, then used a fork to pull them apart, but I did this in the cooked marinade where it could absorb more. End result is shown.
  5. Sandwich assembly is simple:
    a) Spread some mayo on each slice

    Slices of bread, mayo spread, rhyme said, right Fred?
    Slices of bread, mayo spread.

    b) On one side, add cilantro leaves.  The other, onion.  I didn’t use the jalapeno Yee’s recipe called for because I didn’t want it to be too spicy for my kids.

    Cilantro leaves and onions, oh my!
    Cilantro leaves and onions, oh my!

    c) Add pork

    Add a layer of pork mixture.
    Add a layer of pork mixture.  Angelic singing to commence in three… two… one..

    d) Enjoy!

    Nom nom
    Nom nom

Initially, there’s a mild jolt as your taste buds try to figure out what kind of citrus is involved (orange, lime and lemon!), then you just enjoy the sandwich.

Very enthusiastic thumbs up.