So our brilliant plan to go down to Salem last night to get a good night’s sleep had a small snag. Well, actually a big snag by the name of Wally. Because S. had gone to bed already with her dogs, he just wouldn’t settle down, and his pacing kept T awake. (I slept just fine, thank you very much!) But even if the morning started early, it was nice to spend the first half hour or so in S’s pretty backyard, chatting.
We decided to go to a favorite breakfast spot of S, a quirky little local spot called The Off-Center Cafe. It’s named because it sits on a corner next to Center St – get it “off Center”? While we waited, I snapped this picture of S, because she’s cute:
And here’s a shot of my delicious breakfast – the bread is homemade and everything.
After fueling up, it was time to head home and get ready for our ride. I had a four hour ride on my training plan, so I’d printed out the route from a metric century that we’d done last year. That way, I figured if T and S didn’t want to ride for the whole time, they could bail out and I wouldn’t be totally hosed. Plus, we’d missed doing the ride this year, the route was really beautiful and not too hilly, so I figured it was a good choice.
We managed to get on the road by 10:00 and the weather was perfect – sunny, but not as hot as the last few days, so everyone was in good spirits as we left Salem and headed out into the country-side. As we were leaving a suburb of Salem, called Keizer we passed a half-marathon in progress and got to cheer on the last runners and walkers coming in. Then we headed into fields of irises in bloom and it was like riding through an Impressionist painting:
Gorgeous, right? From there we rode through lush green farmland under a bright blue sky. We had a brief stop next to this hops field, so I snapped a quick pic:
It’s a little hard to see from the photo, but the plants wind their way up the wires and eventually will go all the way to the top – a good 12 feet up. It’s a pretty cool sight when it’s all filled in. A little agricultural trivia for the beer-lovers out there…
Before long, we reached Champoeg State Park, which was our turnaround point. Ironically, that same park was on the route that I took last weekend to go to my parents house, but I turned around early because of getting lost so often – so I apparently could ride my bike to Salem, if I so desired. The park has nice restrooms and even a little shop where you could get a cold beverage and a Snickers bar – a fact that I took full advantage of.
After a quick re-fueling break, we headed back. The ride back was uneventful, except for how much better I felt this year than last year. Last year, I literally had to stop a few times on the way home to stretch because my legs were cramping up and I was much slower. This year, I actually out-lasted S, which has NEVER happened – usually she and T are kind enough to wait for me when I’m lagging way behind, so I rode the last few miles into town with her. We stopped at S’s ex-husband Joe’s bike shop, so that T could get the horrible creaking noise on his bike fixed. After a quick repair and good-natured teasing of Joe and his staff, we climbed the last big hill to S’s house.
T was kind enough to go to Jamba Juice while I took a shower, which turned into a much longer affair than expected – as it’s only a few blocks away from S’s house. But he brought back yummy recovery beverages, which S and I enjoyed in the backyard while he took his shower. We lounged for a little while until S’s other local ex-husband Rudy (a.k.a. Husband #2) came over to join us for dinner. We went to the same Mexican place we went to last time and I indulged in a margarita to go with my chicken sopitas. Yum!
When we got back, T helped S get her DSL working. Unfortunately, this involved a VERY lengthy call to Qwest’s stupidest Tech Support person. Finally, he was able to get the problem fixed and we were soon on our way home. The dogs slept the whole way back and have been sacked out ever since. All in all, a very lovely Sunday.