Through Wind and Rain and Weather….

OK I want to start this by first apologizing for being whiney yesterday.  My wife and I have a saying “Suck it up buttercup!” and that’s what y’all shoulda been saying to me!

I also want to thank whichever of y’all did the sun dance for me!  Cuz around 1030, I saw sunshine!  by 10:45 I was on the road!

By 11:05 I was being rained on again!!  BUT, like I said, I hate leaving the house and taking off in the rain, but once I am on the road, I do not turn around because of rain.

I decide to head south along the Lake Washington Loop, go for 26 miles or so, then turn around and come back.  The route takes you through the Arboretum along Lake Washington Blvd.  An 8 mile road where bikes have the right-of-way!  It also has views like this

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Do you see the clouds?  YEP, full of rain, I got soaked not once by twice!  However, after getting south of here, the rain stopped, and we even had Sunbreaks.  (I am not sure if the rest of the world has these, for us in the Northwest it means brief periods of time where the clouds part and sun shines.  Anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes or so….)  I was able to dry out.

When i got to Renton, I noticed a sign I hadn’t seen before indicating a bike route.  I thought to myself “What the hell!” and took it.  It took me along Renton airport where they build Boeing 737s.

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Very rarely, in this day and age, to we get so close to a runway!  How close you ask?  Well let this sign explain it.

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Have you ever noticed that sometimes the things you most need on a bike show up at the right times?  It could be a bike shop, or min mart, a sign telling you where to go, or a burger joint when you are starving or one of these (and it had GREAT timing!)

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Well I decided to keep traveling along this route as it was trending north, and as long as I knew where the lake was, I had an idea where I was.  Next thing I knew, I was at the location of Seahawk Training Camp!  I will be doing this route again during preseason I tell ya!

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I kept following the Lake Washington Loop signs north.  Soon I was traveling along the old Dinner Train route that used to run from Renton to Woodinville.

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These tracks are not in use anymore, and there is talk of making them into a bike trail, just as they did when they built the Burke Gilman Trail.  I love the Rails to Trails plans!   We have the Iron horse Trail that leads over Snoqualmie Pass, and another one on this side of the lake would be killer!

Sorry I digressed.  I continued along, next thing I knew, I was in a town called Kirkland, and there were no more signs!  OK, I know the north and south ends really well, and I know downtown Seattle.  However, I know squat about the east side!  I do have a couple of rules that have saved me when lost before.

First, when in doubt, just go in the direction you need to go!  I needed to go north, so north it was!  Every now and then I saw  I405, so I was able to keep my bearings.  Sooner or later I would find somewhere I knew.

Second, if there is an established bike lane, follow it!  I have found, at least here in WA, that following the lanes, while traveling the direction you need to go, will get you somewhere at least close  to where you want to be!  It may not be the shortest route, but more than once I have kept the route I discovered as a training ride.  I have a 25 and a 40 miler I found doing just this.

To Quote Hannibal (George Peppard) from the 80s show “The A-Team” . I love it when a plan comes together!   I was in some place called Juanita, and found Juanita-Woodinville road!  I know Woodinville, I ride my bike and wine taste there regularly.  I took a hard right.

I was just about to wonder if I was mistaken when  metro bus, on its way to Bothell (You have to go through Woodinville to get to Bothell), passed me and hung a left.  “HA!!” I was back on track, and sure as spit, I went down a long hill and ended up right at my normal bike path!  Could NOT have mapped it any better.  I was even close enough to swing by the Willows and pick up a windbreaker I had left there the night before!

I was flying at 16 mph along the trail heading for my car!  (Since it was a new route and a late start, I parked the car at the bottom of the hill to give myself a break at the end and get me home faster.)  I decided the whole time I was going to stop at Starbucks for a chocolate chip cookie!  I deserved it.  Suddenly on the side of the trail was a bake sale!  Oh Hell YEAH!  Turns out it was three kids doing a bake sale for cancer.  No cookies, but they had cupcakes and lemonade for a dollar!  SOLD!  (they also had rice crispie treats but I hates those!)  By the way, I still got my cookie on the way home!

Final mile total was 58 miles.  In 4.5 hours.  With time to stop for pics and a bit of route finding.  Legs felt strong at the end, and I had more miles in me if I needed them!  Tha’s key as next week is my first century of the year, and it’s not an easy one!  Plus I just feel better getting some decent miles under my butt for the first time in a while!   Tomorrow morning is supposed to suck, but I should be able to bike commute home!

Hopefully it will be nice or I will be singing Rawhide again ‘Through Wind and Rain and Weather, hell-bent for leather…..”

 

Woodinville’s Willows Lodge

When it comes to hotels, I am not picky!  When my youngest and I did the Zombie Run last year, we stayed in the cheapest, tackiest hotel in Chehalis (Nothing moved and I never saw any bugs….).  When I biked the Or Coast, I just wanted walls and a bed.  So again I am not picky

However, when my wife and I go somewhere for a special occasion, it is ok to go all out.  This was the plan Friday night.  It was our 3rd anniversary last week.  Last year for our anniversary (or close to it anyway) we went to Key West.  This wasn’t an option this year, so Friday night we spent the night at the Willows Lodge.

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This is in the middle of Woodinville’s best area for wine tasting, right next door to the Redhook Brewery and right off my favorite bike path!

Just to let you know they are all about nature, this is next to the front door

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And you walk through this to get to the restaurant across the parting lot

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When you go in, your first see this look through fire-place:

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On the other side is the fire side lounge, our favorite date night place!  The staff welcomes you with a glass of either red or white wine as you check in, and they are there for your every need for as long as you stay!

My wife loves the spa, she has had messauges , the best facials ever, and manicures there.  Not being s spa boy I can’t give you first hand knowledge, but I have seen her come out of there relaxed and ready for a nap, which I hear is a good thing!

The grounds are gorgeous!  image

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With walking paths, ponds and gas fire pits to help you stay comfy.

Then there are the rooms……

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King sized, VERY comfy beds…

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Gas Fireplaces and sitting areas (we brought the wine!)

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A balcony with a great view, and my favorite part

imageA Giant bathtub!  Two people can soak in this with room to spare, and hell if you want you can even watch a movie while soaking!  The shower (which I am sorry I forgot to take a picture) is huge as well.  I seldom rave about a bathroom in a hotel, but this is VERY cool!

Now I am not a gourmet person at all.  But for those who are, the Barking Frog, the restaurant at the lodge is award-winning.  I find the dinners there too fancy, but the room service menu has “real” food.  Mac and Cheese, a pizzette (basically a damn good cheese pizza!) a burger and other simpler food (for simple people like me!)  The breakfast menu is stellar though!  We take her mom there a lot as a special treat.  They always pamper her (almost 80 year olds deserve it!)

I was still fried from recent workouts, so Michelle and I ordered room service for both dinner and breakfast,  She fell asleep early in the giant bed, and I sat in front of the fire, with a last glass of wine, the balcony door open, listening to the frogs croak.  it was nice, it was relaxing, and it was what we needed.

We slept in the next day and took our time heading out into the real world…  We always hate leaving.

Now folks it AINT cheap.  But the service is impeccable.  If you want to taste wine I can name off 4 fantastic wineries (Dusted Valley, Ross Andrew, Alexandra Nicole, and William Church) and another 10 + ok ones within walking distance.  Have a pet?  They are welcome at the lodge.  The bike path goes along the river and there are always birds signing and eagles soaring.  After eating there, you will have to get back on the bike to work it off.  So no, it aint cheap, but it’s worth it.

If you want to pamper your significant other, surprise him or her with a night there.  You won’t be disappointed!  Michelle and I will be back, hell maybe for our 4th anniversary, maybe before just because she deserves it for putting up with me!

Enjoy!