Blog Post By Sara Turner, Urban Forestry Manager

A Full Suitcase of Butterflies and Friends of Trees

Let’s pick up where we left off with Sara & Neil – they’re finally in Oregon, and gearing up for the start of the Tour Sunday!

I packed up to head west on Wednesday evening. It’s tough packing for “swinging temperatures from 50s to 80s” and clothes for rain and clothes for business casual evenings (not to mention, a wedding after the Tour ride). My suitcase was stuffed and weighed in just under the “50 pounds or less” no-bag fee. That was my first sigh of relief.

Arrived in Portland yesterday afternoon. I had an aisle seat on the flight, so I didn’t get the best aerial view of our Portland landing. I did, however, get a quick glimpse of Mt. Hood sticking up from the conifers dotting the landscape. It’s my first time here and my first reaction is that there’s so much sky and nature, trees and open space. The density picks up closer into City Center. There aren’t dozens of cranes with their arms hanging out precariously over the land erecting steel I-beam structures like back home.

I got in before Neil and took the Max lightrail from PDX to the Friends of Trees office, where we shipped our bikes to. They arrived safely and on time. Phewwie!

I met a few other Friends of Trees staffers and, while chatting, one or two’s of their descriptions of our route got me a little nervous about the ride. I had just gotten here and I’m already crossing my fingers that I’m physically ready for the hilly climbs and will be able to make it through, without having to quit and hitch a ride in the sag van. I hope I have the right bike, right shoes, right gear, and just fit in with the other riders’ abilities.

I’m certainly a friend of trees and wanted to check out the local flora, so Katie Neis and I walked down the street to see a Persian Ironwood. I recently saw it listed on a Falls Church tree species list and wanted to see a sample specimen. The tree is in the witch hazel family and is a great choice for small spaces. Here in Portland, I saw a few of them planted in street boxes under utilities. There are a lot more conifers here than in DC like Incense Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Western Red Cedar. Katie and I had a few tacos at a taqueria called Porque No- why not?

Neil and I woke up this morning and like kids on Christmas, opened up our bikes boxes and assembled the bikes, attached the handle bars, slipped on front wheel, screwed on the cranks and pedals, and mounted the front and rear brakes. It was easier than I thought it would be, but we will still have the Tour bike mechanics check them out on Saturday before hitting the road.

Saturday we register and pick up our STIHL uniforms and will go to a rider reception and welcome dinner. I cannot believe Sunday is almost here. Yeah!! Neil and I plan to spend the rest of today and Saturday touring around and stretching our legs out.

Want to give a big thanks to Erica Timm and Katie Neis for being great hosts, and helping with bike logistics and room and board for the first few days.

Remember guys, follow Sara here on Tree Speak — and catch all of the real-time action on Twitter with the hashtag #CTdT12. Feel free to tweet back and send your support!

If you’d like to give Sara & Neil a gift to help them reach their fundraising goals, check out rider profiles for both Sara and Neil.

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