Today was like one of those perfect summer days we remember having in the English countryside as children: clear blue sky, a light breeze, hot enough for short sleeves (but not too hot), bright green lush fields stretching into the distance, birds chirruping. You get the picture. We’re amazed at how similar the flora in WA State is to England. We’ve seen daisies, buttercups, cow parsley, dandelions, gorse…we could go on.
The fauna is slightly different. We started our day at the motel drinking coffee, eating doughnuts, and watching a tiny humming bird buzzing around outside the lobby window. Don’t see many of those in Blighty these days… Soon after we set out on our 43-mile jaunt from Castle Rock to Centralia, we saw some Steller Jays (vibrant blue); the bird with the scarlet red arm-pits (we’ve seen loads of them); and later a bright yellow bird (see photo).
But generally, it was the peace and quiet of the day, the minimal traffic on the roads, and simply the feel of being in the middle of the country that enveloped us as we pedalled along. We were tempted to think that there was nothing that could really be captured adequately in a photo, and then out of the blue (quite literally) we had the most amazing vista with Mt St Helens emerging off to our far right, and directly ahead of us, Mt Rainier looming magnificently in the distance: both covered from peak to base in snow and looking wholly alien against the pure green foreground. We felt compelled to get out the camera and start snapping!
After a few ridiculously steep climbs that appeared out of nowhere, we suddenly found ourselves cycling through the residential outskirts of Centralia. A quick stop for Anthony to get rid of a rather large bug that had flown down his cycling shirt and bitten him (!), and we rolled up to the motel. Exactly on time, Margaret beeped to confirm that we were arriving at our destination. Hurrah! Yesterday’s Gamine performance was the worst we had encountered so far on the trip; so bad indeed, that we had to download the Garmin maps and stats from Audrey, and Anthony had more than a few stern words to say to Margaret. When she wasn’t listening, he even talked about needing to replace her with a newer model…eek. Margaret’s performance today… not a foot wrong: no U-turns; no route calculation errors; no routes twisting round in circles; no hissy fits; not even a chirrup out of place. Margaret lives to see another day. What a relief for Margaret fans everywhere.