Maps and travel plans

My life has become full of maps, maps, maps and more maps. I am frequently acclimating my sense of direction in new surroundings. Learning my way around Seattle (and Portland, previously) has involved a variety of navigational tests, including figuring out which streets are one-way, and in which direction (and riding the wrong way up/down quite a few); delighting in the discovery of empty alleys, paths and cuts to make my way around…

Downtown Seattle alleyway

learning that Seattle buses going past city lines won’t run on holidays; knowing west by the sight of the Puget Sound; mispronouncing Northwestern cities and streets: Anacortes (sounds like Anacortiss), Puyallup (Pew-al-ep); referencing (and doubting) Google Maps and transposing directions onto my right palm for easy reference while riding; learning to just ask cyclists instead; finding out where good food can be found (International District’s Saigon Deli for cheap banh mi sandwiches ($2.25); loving the ache and burn of pushing up the last 2 blocks (14th to 16th) to the Polo Mansion at the end of the day; learning the distance from Seattle to Spokane (320 miles) and Spokane to Pullman (WA) and Whitefish (MT) (260 miles); comparing bus and train rates and travel times (The bus ride from Spokane to Glacier Nat’l Park is both $10 more and 10 hours more time travelling); checking weather forecasts in other regions; scouring Craigslist for rideshare opportunities; and coordinating my adventures with polo schedules in every city along the way…and contemplating train hopping for a brief moment. Striving to remember place names and geographical relationships; cherishing the good weather and praying it lasts.

Up until this trip, I have been pretty much fully unfamiliar with the geography and climate of the Northwest, and of the midwest–which is where I am heading – at any time of year, and have been exposed only to regions where the weather in June is not typically 57 degrees (F) in the daytime (Seattle). Adjusting to the weather has meant layering up and investing in a windbreaker (Portland rain made this item an urgent necessity). And so far, that has been enough–I am hoping to fare well in the Montana mountains with my sleeping bag and tarp (aka “shelter”); the daily average temperature there is around 70. I expect it will be cooler if I make my way up into the mountains. I will feel it all out when I get closer.

One week ago I had no idea or yearning to head to anywhere in Montana, yet one sleepless wandering morning in Portland led me into Powell’s Books, where a book on hiking (“50 Places to Hike Before You Die”) piqued my interest–in Glacier National Park in particular–and a new destination was added to my route about the Northwest. Or perhaps 3 or 4 new destinations: I am stopping over in Spokane for about a half a day, and when I depart Glacier National, I hope to head out to Bozeman or Missoula–or both if the opportunity presents itself.

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