Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 5 - July 5 -Wallowing in Walla Walla WA

Day 5 - July 5 - Hermiston OR to Walla Walla Start time: 9:30am; total so far 369.7 miles (594.7 kms)

Distance: 56.04 miles (90.2kms)
Total time: 4hrs20mins (including a stop for a chat with other riders at their lunch spot)
Average Moving Speed: 17.9mph (28.1 kph)

Maximum Speed: 30.9mph (49.7 kph) 

Calories burned: 2924

Powered by: 2 fried egg sandwiches,3 pancakes, 1 protein bar, 2 bananas, about 2 liters of water, 2 liters of Gatorade, and a Subway footlong Veggies with double cheese when I got to Walla Walla.

Elevation gained: 1348 feet (410 meters)

Weather: Very sunny with light SW wind; temperatures rose from 68F (20C) to 84F (29C).

I've always wished to visit Walla Walla WA since the name sounds both funny and intriguing.  It means something about 'rye grass' but there seems to be some doubt about that translation.  I notice that some locals call it "Wally Wally Land" which has a very different meaning in British slang.  The town stands out from its neighbors as it has the feel of a New England small college town transported to the arid West. The neighbors are farm service centers and many of them without tourist draws nearby are quite run-down with lots of empty storefronts redolent of better days.

The first 20 miles or so from Hermiston followed the Columbia river but the busy highway with lots of  trucks made it hard to enjoy the scenery. 

I left Hermiston at 11am as I knew it would be an easy day with a short distance (56 miles = 90 mms), a tail wind, and not much climbing.  The first half was fast with the speedometer on the GPS consistent at about 23mph = 36kph.  I met a group of 6 riders going from Portland OR to Missoula MT following the same route as me. We have a common acquaintance at the University of California, Berkeley where they are based.  Another example of the "Small World" of academia that David Lodge has portrayed in his books.  They stopped about halfway on the day's run to Walla Walla for a delicious lunch to which they invited me.  I nibbled a little as I was not very hungry after the large breakfast about 90 minutes earlier.  They have a large van and take turns driving and riding, each according to his/her wishes.   I also saw 3 other bike-tourers going west and as is the custom, loud greetings, encouragements, and big waves were exchanged. Since I'm now on the "Lewis and Clark" route of the Adventure Cycling group in Missoula, I expect to see more riders using their guides and mapped route.

Still not green

After the turnoff onto rte 12, the route leaves the river and climbs very gradually to the town of Walla Walla.  Without irrigation, the landscape would look like that behind the state welcome sign but the valley is very lush with many wineries, lots of onion and wheat fields, and even some lavender fields that are very fragrant.

Lots of historical markers coming into Walla Walla about the Whitman family and their relations with the indigenes; lots of historical sites too. 

The farmer was ploughing this onion field (I assume after it was harvested) and the air reeked of onions. Note the irrigation in the background - lots of different types of systems in operation and it's cooling to ride through the spray that the wind whips onto the roadway

Downtown Walla Walla was a very nice surprise after the empty spaces and decrepit stores of other towns in the area.  It felt like a small New England college town. Whitman College is beside the center.

One of the older buildings on the Whitman College campus.  The campus was completely empty as I toured it on my bike after dinner.

I know many "odd fellows' (mostly academics) who might be advised to move here since the accommodations looked very nice, at least from the outside.

For sale - adjoining the campus

Well worth a visit if you go to Main Street in Walla Walla

DInner was 4 large pizza slices and a pint of Torpedo IPA, and dessert was a huge sundae from Brights (est. 1934).  Jody and Mara are concerned that I'm not eating enough and calculate that I need to consume about 7000 calories and 100 grams of protein a day if I continue to ride these kinds of miles.  So I promised to eat more and get more protein into my diet.  I procured protein bars and powder from the supermarket; I noticed that these supplements share a shelf with testosterone boosters and I won't comment further on this locational juxtaposition.

This sundae must have had over 1000 calories; I'll need them all tomorrow on the long distance to Lewiston ID with some sizable climbs.

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