Day 142: Hangin’ Out and Doing Nothing

Ahhhh…it feels so good to be in town on a double zero. This is undoubtedly our last double zero on the whole trip, and likely our second-to-last zero, and somehow this only makes me appreciate it all the more.

Cascade Locks is a pretty small town, and everything you want and need everything they have is within easy walking distance of our hotel. This means both restaurants open for breakfast, all four open for dinner, the post office, grocery store, and so on.

During the day today, we mostly tried to accomplish all the practical stuff we need to before heading onwards. A lot of this is routine pack maintenance (cleaning things, emptying out trash, trying to make it a bit more organized, etc.). We also hit the grocery store, as this is our last “buy” resupply — meaning we didn’t send ourselves a box here, but instead planned to buy all the food for our next segment while in town here. (Advantage: you can get whatever you happen to fancy at that moment. Disadvantages: it takes a lot more time, and you inevitably end up with a heavier pack, since it’s never as weight-efficient.)

There was some excitement here in town around dinnertime. We headed down to the river to eat dinner at a beautiful riverside brewery (so gorgeous!). We were just through our appetizers when someone pointed and started talking loudly…and we swiveled around to see a great cloud of smoke coming up from just a few blocks away, down the main drag in town. Yikes! Soon enough, cell phones and the local grapevine brought us news, courtesy of the locals in the restaurant: an electrical transformer had exploded and then caught trees and a shed on fire behind someone’s house, sending up the huge amount of smoke we saw.

I was a little nervous for a while, just because we’ve seen so many forest fires recently, but it was clear soon enough that the fire was at least reasonably contained — especially since a small group of firefighting vehicles arrived across the bridge from Washington. Not long after, though, a very distraught-looking woman showed up at the restaurant, coming to see a man who was already there…and after listening to their conversation, it was clear that it was their house that had almost caught on fire. In such a small community (Cascade Locks has just over 1,000 residents), everybody knew each other, and other locals came over to comfort them. Still, that seems like a particularly scary thing to have happen, and I felt pretty awful for them.

The blown transformer also seems to have been pretty important, too, because that’s around the time we noticed that the power was out at the restaurant. This changed my order forcibly from a burger to pork ribs (fine by me), but also closed the place early. When we headed back to our hotel, we found the power was out to the entire town. It turns out Best Westerns — or at least this Best Western — come equipped with quite the supply of battery-operated lanterns, enough flashlights to supply every guest with one, and so on. While it derailed our plans to go in the hot tub, it ultimately wasn’t all that big a deal…we’re headed off to sleep anyway.

Tomorrow, we’re headed, midday, off to Hood River, a town about a dozen miles away. It’s both the only place around here that had a room for that night (because Trail Days, a huge annual PCT festival, is happening this weekend) and where our friends Treeman and Hedgehog are staying. It’s also the second of our two zeroes here…more time to relax before taking on Washington.

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