Don’t Look Now!

We were motoring toward Portland before Tillamook awoke.  The road climbed above the snow line, which we reckon was at about 1000 feet (300 meters).

In Tillamook State Forest, just before sunrise.

From 1500 feet, we descended past the snow line to the Portland area.  Soon we were in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

At the airport, we returned the car that let us continue the Ride despite a week of dangerous weather.  And we met Peter and Waad.

Two of Peter’s sons joined the military and were sent to Iraq. Peter suffered terribly while his sons were in danger. One son’s unit enjoyed fresh bread delivered daily by a friendly baker. Deliveries ceased when the baker was murdered for fraternizing with Americans.

Waad worked for the U.S. military in Baghdad. He had better luck than that poor baker.

Jeffrey told Peter and Waad that it took him 3 years to win asylum for an Iraqi ally. The men warmly shook Jeffrey’s hand and wished us safety on the road.

No more motors!  Jeffrey loaded our gear onto the Sprint 26 and we set off for Seattle.

A bit of residential Portland.

We looked back at Portland a few miles after crossing the St. Johns Bridge.

We think this is distant Mt. Adams, 12,281’ (3,743 meters), one of several snowy peaks visible over cranes on the Willamette River. An airplane is at the top of the photo.

Icicles hanging from rocks alongside US Route 30.

We saw dozens of whistling swans on various tree-lined ponds along our route. This disappointing long shot is the best photo we could get.

We were delighted with these amazing smooth shoulders (often with bicycle markings) on US 30. This truck . . .

. . . trailed a street sweeper. Imagine keeping roads clean for bicycles. Oregon!

The road paralleled railroad tracks so grades were gentle. St. Helens was on the route of Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery.

An intimidating neighbor.

The Lewis and Clark Bridge spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.

Log trucks spill bark onto the bridge’s bike lane. Near the top of the bridge, and all the way down the Washington State side, the bark formed a thick bumpy slippery layer. Jeffrey held our speed to 4 mph lest we skid into traffic.

The only “Welcome to Washington” sign we saw was at the top of the Lewis and Clark Bidge, where we couldn’t pause for a photo. In Longview, Washington—Cowlitz territory—Joey posed alongside the fish. Washington—the 39th state on our Rides for Human Rights!

As we bike, Jeffrey constantly checks our rearview mirrors.  It’s silly.  If we’re already as far from the motor lane as possible, what good does it do to see a truck heading toward us?  It just makes him nervous.

After checking the mirror thousands of times in 61 miles, we found a nice hotel in Kelso, WA.  We’re safe.  We’ll sleep.  No worries.

The Rides are nothing compared to the risks Waad took to help our people.  While he waited for America to give him refuge, he constantly checked his (metaphoric) rearview mirror.  Not that it would have stopped a knife or bomb or bullet headed toward him.  It just added to his torment.

So it is for people fleeing persecution everywhere.  They check their rearview mirrors.  At the end of each day there’s no easy sleep for them.  Not until a safe country opens the door.

Since World War 2, that safe country most often has been America.  Until now.

Something is wrong with this picture.