Saturday 1st September 2001, Portland OR

Today was to all intents and purposes the last day of our US tour. Portland was to be our last stop, as we would be parting with our bikes sometime in the next few days. We just had to make it safely there.

There were, indeed, times on the journey south down I-90, when we had our doubts. Brutal side winds knocked us flat, sending us swerving into the off-side lane of the Interstate. We slowed to almost walking pace. More than once we stopped, exhausted, in the lee of anything we could find, before battling on.

South of Pasco, we could have hoped that the wind would ease as we changed course to head west along the Washington shore of the Columbia river on Rt. 14. No such luck.

Still the wind seemed bent on unseating us. Spotting a sign that said ‘No gas for 84 miles’, we stopped at an unmanned gas station in the middle of nowhere … and took advantage of the facilities (a revolting chemical loo).

Somehow we survived the worst the weather/road could throw at us. We were amused to pass another imitation ‘Stonehenge’, and felt obliged to stop. This one, at least, had a serious purpose. It had been built to honour victims of the First World War. As a memorial, it was certainly more emotive than Rolla’s perplexing version.

By Stevenson, we felt we deserved a rest and a bite to eat. The little town is a Mecca for windsurfers (can’t think why!). Hundreds of them were out on the river today, though initially all we could see of them was the flash of spray against the setting sun. From the cliff top road, they looked like a shoal of silvery jumping fish.

The wind had dropped by the time we crossed the Columbia into Oregon, and we were able to give the bikes one last blast on the Interstate. We checked into the tiny Econolodge in Portland. For dinner we walked into town and found the excellent Kells Irish bar. We enjoyed a great meal, washed down with the best pint of Guinness west of Boston (praise indeed from one who doesn’t normally touch the stuff outside Ireland).