This past weekend was a mission in search of sun, warmth, and a break from the PNW forest terrain (rain) in exchange for the high plains.
Orion and I headed over Snoqualmie Pass before sunrise and landed in the amber fields of the Eastside by 8:30am. We stopped at the town's grocery store for some supplies and ended up leaving with a sack of pork ribs for breakfast. The town of Mattawa brought me back to the years I lived in Arizona, where road trips meant a tour through the Native American reservation lands. The streets were quiet, colored with the windblown sands, and speckled with litter and plastic bags strewn about like man-made tumbleweed. I always catch myself wondering what it'd be like to live in a small desert town, reminiscent of the old southwest.
We ascended into the grassy hills and sand dunes of our destination, passing acres of fruitless vineyards and orchards as far as the eye could see. We parked in the staging area with just a couple other trucks and the peaceful silence of the morning. There was just a slight arid coolness to accompany the smell of damp sand and drying vegetation.
The theme of the day was based on exploration. I had my maps and a GPS track to follow if we wanted to have any guidance. But every time we'd get to a point that looked interesting, Orion and I would deliberate for a moment before he'd just say "I'm up for doing it, if you are," and I'd always reply "I'm game for whatever." Then we'd go, regardless of any hesitation I might've had looking over any precipices, bottomless canyons, or questionable descents that could potentially have us suffering, trying to climb out...with or without our bikes.
Mattawa is a fantastic place. A stark difference from the lush woods riding of its Westside counterpart. Wet roots, deep puddles, and tight trees in trade for sand, volcanic ash, tumbleweeds, and big hill climbs. We had it in our minds to experience the riding here in preparation for the Odessa Desert 100, coming in a couple months in April. We explored just about every corner we could make, and even sought out climbs that we couldn't do on our first, or many subsequent attempts. The openness, lack of blind corners, and coming back to the truck dry and not soaked were such refreshing changes.
The end of the day sent us back to the same grocery store, this time packing out with quite the opposite of the deliciousness we had that morning. Overly heat-lamp-baked bean burritos, chicken wings that reminded me of the Skeksis characters from The Dark Crystal, and a mysterious but -according to Orion- delicious red food coloring wrapped coconut cauldron looking cake, filled to the rim with yellow custard.
Looking forward to heading back.