A little work project landed me in Richland Washington, on the banks of the Columbia River, for the last two weeks of October. Since the weather in the mountain passes was pretty dismal I decided to leave the motorbike at home and drive over in my van… Which meant that I could bring my Rockhopper mountain bike along and spend some time exploring the Sacagawea Heritage Trail.
The Sacagawea Trail, or more accurately trails, form a loop on both side of the mighty Columbia River and take a rider through Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick (the Tri-Cities). Since I was spending a couple of weeks in town, and the trail was right outside my hotel, I had the luxury of exploring several different routes along the trail.
So who was Sacagawea, (or Sacajawea depending on which spelling you prefer)? She was the 16 year old pregnant Shoshone girl who acted as an interpreter and guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Click the link for the “little girl saves the day story” and then you’ll understand why she has become an icon of American history.
Sacagawea’s baby boy, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (or Pompy for short) was born while the expedition was wintering-over in North Dakota in 1805. As you ride along the trail you’ll see numerous granite markers featuring interesting historic or natural history facts called “Pompy’s Lessons”. What fun, I stopped to read everyone of them. Yep… I’m the only guy you know that would actually stop to read every single marker.
About halfway through my stay Susan, Leane, Richie & their Dudes drove over to spend the weekend with me. We basically laid siege to the hotel swimming pool and tried out every playground apparatus in the nearby park.
It was a delightful break in the schedule and Sunday afternoon when they packed up and headed for home I started missing all their smiling faces as soon as they backed out of the parking lot.
So it was back on my bike and back down the trail.
Knowing that Tuesday’s schedule called for some evening work, I had the morning free. My plan was to ride down river a ways, cross the bridge to Pasco, loop down the opposite bank and cross the cable bridge into Kennewick, and then return north on the west side of the river. An energetic achievement given the amount of time I had, and the fact that the morning arrived with clouds and a chilly westerly wind. I mounted up and hit the trail about 1/2 hour after sunrise.
As always my outbound trip was delayed by my uncontrollable urge to stop and take photos. At one particular spot as I was framing an image of the sun reflecting on the water and I was assaulted by a pack of geese. These bullies didn’t want me anywhere around them an immediately started toward me as soon as it got off my bike. Here have a look:
Of course a sign saying Audubon Natural Area had me dynamiting the disc brakes for a closer look. A little bit of exploring revealed this was also the general area where the Kennewick Man was discovered back in 1996, sparking a decade of controversy and court battles. I was definitely coming back here when I had more time. But for the moment I was facing a nasty head wind and a 10 mile dash to get back to the hotel and gear up for work.
Well that’s about it for this edition of the Adventure Journal. I hope you all get a chance to go out an “noodle around” on you bikes for a while today. Just watch out for the attack geese…