February 10, 2016

Journey of Hope TransAmerica Route 2007: Walla Walla is a Sweet Sweet Town

Written by Marc Saint Raymond | Delta Alpha

The smooth sounds of classic rock awoke the team this morning at the cheery hour of 5:30 AM, as a pumped up Steve Sollner shouted “let’s go to Walla Walla boys!”

We gathered our things out of the super-nice yoga room that had been provided to us at the City of Richland Community Center. After thanking Stan Johnson (who had stayed up all night so that we could use the facility) we hit the road for our quickest ride yet to Walla Walla. What was an easy day for most of the team took a few of us a bit longer. After my record 3 flats at one crew stop I became an honorary sweep for the day riding with Andrew McCaffrey and Mike Algozine. Despite several more bike troubles along the way we had a great ride through the wine country as we sped down route 12.

At around 12:30 we came upon the glinting “Sun Dome” arena of Walla Walla Community College, where the rest of the team had been relaxing for almost an hour! I’d personally like to thank Jim Peterson for letting us use this awesome facility which reminds me of a golden mini-epcot center. Crew chief Ezra whipped us all up some delicious lunch of sandwiches and leftover fruit and potato salad; I made my new favorite specialty of peanut butter, mustard, mayo, ham and cheese…delicious. Can’t be a picky eater on the road! After lunch we had a couple hours of relaxation time; some guys headed to the bike shop for repairs, but most of us fell right asleep as the past few tough days caught up with us. Apparently several days before the local newspaper let the town know we were coming through!

Waking up at around 4 felt like a whole new day as we packed into the vans for our dinner and friendship visit at the Lillie Rice Center for People with Disabilities. Beth Luxton and her crew had put together an incredible spread of barbecue chicken and burgers, various salads, and some of the best baked beans I’ve ever tasted. The true treat for me was to try out a homegrown Walla Walla sweet onion; you can eat those things like apples! The team spent a few hours eating and having a great time with the folks at the Lillie Rice Center. I was lucky enough to sit at the funnest table in the house where I met Liza from Ukraine, Mae and Mike from Taiwan, and Rasheeda and Pretty from India. We had some great laughs as they shared stories from home and I told them about our trip. I’m not sure how it went down but suddenly I was challenged by Liza to an arm wrestling contest! After an embarrassing defeat a few more of our guys tried their hand to similar outcomes. Liza was one tough cookie! Before shoving off we took a great group picture and thanked Beth and the rest of the folks at the center for showing us such generous hospitality. I even saw Beth recruiting a return visit from the cyclists from Washington for some manual labor.

We got back around 7 PM to the Sun Dome and after a little more relaxation most of the guys are headed out to see the town for a little bit, Ocean’s Thirteen is where I’m off to. Thankfully wake up tomorrow isn’t till 10 AM and we are all psyched to have a break from the bike!


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