Cross-country bicyclist pedals into warm reception

August 13, 2005

It’s a good thing Kathleen Welland didn’t head south on Highway 35 to her Parkdale house and allow fatigue and anxiety to prematurely end her bike trip from St. Louis to Fort Clatsop.

If she had, she would have missed what her fellow teacher Joeinne Caldwell had prepared for her.

There, in the middle of Cascade Locks, the former Parkdale kindergarten teacher had arranged to have a municipal welcome for her former colleague.

She had the school’s custodian erect the message on a sign.

She arranged to have the Sternwheeler’s captain sound the message on the riverboat’s horn.

Her husband caught and barbecued the message (a salmon) out of the Columbia that morning.

And when she heard, saw and felt it, Welland couldn’t help but shed a tear over it.

“It moved her to tears because everybody in town knew something very special happened here,” Caldwell said. “It was maybe the first time we heard that sound.”

The city’s administrator Bob Willoughby showed up. So did its mayor Ralph Hesgard, wearing a T-shirt that urged Welland to “retrace history.”

The head ranger at Bonneville Dam was there, too, to present Welland with a booklet on Lewis and Clark’s journey.

That night, Caldwell’s husband Jim barbecued the salmon with lemon, butter, garlic and onion.

Welland showered and rested.

And just as she had throughout the last month and a half of riding, Welland moved on at the break of dawn.

She reached Goble, outside of St. Helens, that night and slept in a campground.

On Aug. 3, she finished the journey she had started 44 days earlier in St. Louis.

“I was surprised that there would be that much interest in what I was doing,” Welland said. “People do things way more challenging than what I was doing. But it was really touching to have that kind of a welcome.”

Several of her Parkdale friends had gathered to welcome her with a yellow banner at the finish line in Fort Clatsop.

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