Day 10

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Seaside St Pk, WA to Centralia, WA
$21 :: snacks, airplane ride
55.8 mi :: 8.3 hr :: 39.3 mph :: 6.5 mph :: 668.4 mi

Still cloudy & moist this morning, packed up wet. Stopped @ the Mt. St. Helens visitor center, but tho the sky was clearing, clouds clung to the mtn. Thinking I had missed my chance to see it, I headed back down to the route.

The sky cleared and the day became beautiful. Riding started to feel very good.

I was thinking of some semi-lucid dreams I had had during the night where I tried successfully to fly and unsuccessfully to have sex.

After crossing I-5, coming down a little hill, I spotted two deer crossing the road ahead. One was across, the other looking at me. I froze. Coasting downhill I made no noise. She didn’t know what to think of it, and watched until was very close. The she leapt across the road, right in front of me. Almost over me. And was gone over the fence and into the trees.

The route took me to some tiny farm roads with no traffic. Up ahead I saw a large bird soaring with a white tail. And a white head. Bald Eagle – just removed from the endangered spec. list. It swooped into a tree by the road where I got a good look at it. It looked too big to be a bird, more like a pterodactyl. Then I noticed another one swoop out of the tree. I felt it was female, I don’t know why. I thought I might have heard the screeching of eaglets. As she soared off, I followed.

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As I came around the bend I noticed something wrong with the sky ahead. I stopped when I realized what it was – a huge, snowy, towering mountain sticking up over lush green pastures. Mt. Raineer, of course. First time I’ve seen it. Before long, St. Helens and some of the other, lower Cascades come into view as well. Those incredible volcanoes just steal your breath.

As I pedal down the sunny way, I pass a funky little airport with a sign for a skydiving school. My flying dream comes back to me as I go on. What a great day to be skydiving. And think of all the mountains you could see. I stop. I couldn’t possibly afford it could I? I can barely afford to eat! But it can’t hurt to ask. I turn around.

After a little confused searching I find the school’s owner gassing up the plane. Mike – boisterous and friendly. $155 for a tandem dive, too much. $145 to trtrain and static-line, still too much. $20 to ride along without jumping – just right. I go off to sign the requisite liability waiver.

I feel totally comfortable in Mike’s hangar – a little messy, humourous, old couches and chairs strewn around, sky divers of all sorts milling about, another friendly employee, Dave, to set me up with papers & coffee.

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The excitement of the dream comes back as we take off. I’m surprised after the first student jumps how much I really would love to throw my body out into space as well. Another student jumps, then I get in the best spot to watch Dave. He falls backwards, facing us, then twists into a wicked dive. He gets smaller fast. I think I see him spread into an arch. It seems like he’s been falling a long time. Finally his chute blooms like a little flower.

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Just Mike & I left in the plane, he points Mt. Hood, Jefferson, St. Helens, Adams, Raineer, and the Olympic Range. Incredible to see them all at once. The he does a barrel roll for me. Woo-hoo! Well worth the price of admission, Mike.

I’m just getting around to thinking how well a cucumber would go with my lunch collection, having pedaled a ways further, when I pass a guy selling produce by the road. $0.45 for a fresh cucumber and a big Washington apple. I make cucumber, peanut-butter, cream cheese sandwiches with cinnamon-raisin English muffins – yum. I need them for a couple of brutally steep hills that follow.

In Centralia they want $8 for a crappy tent site. It’s too much – I decide to push on & look for off-road sites. I have to go a few miles, but the first prospective side road delivers the goods: a concealed, un-hostile (no KEEP OUT signs) site a decent ways from the road. There are swarms of mosquitos but they don’t seem to be biting. Much. Guess they haven’t reached blood-lust stage yet.

New tree is the Douglas Fir. They get huge in old-growth forests here.

Matches don’t work, lighter dead, so it’s fudge grahams for dinner. Not too hungry at least.

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