Why can’t I free your doubtful mind?

The temperature has not risen above freezing since it snowed last week. The furnace has been working overtime to keep the house warm and Tina and I have been fighting off a dry cough that mysteriously arises when we’re trying to sleep at night. After noticing the cough disappear during the daytime, I was finally able to conclude that our furnace filters were dirty. I also assumed that the filter in our bedroom vent and the one in my CPAP machine needed to be changed, too. Thus, my mission last night was to remedy the problem with fresh filters all around.

The first step was to be the purchase of said filters at the Home Depot which is about a mile away from the 102nd Avenue Blue Line station. Before leaving I double checked with the online Goodman furnace and AC webiste to make sure I knew what model I needed. Biking there would be relatively easy, I thought, and then I’d just bike back and get back on the Max. It didn’t quite work out that way.

The ride to the Home Depot was relatively short but it was wicked cold – 28 degrees with a strong east wind blowing out of the Gorge. The furnace filter section had been recently devastated and there were no 14 x 21 x 1’s left. I searched for about 15 minutes before finally summoning help, which was slow to arrive and could only confirm that they were out. I picked up a nifty vent plate with a built-in filter (I had previously jury-rigged our bedroom vent with a cutout furnace filter). After the quick self-checkout, I left having spent an hour on my “quick” errand and I still wasn’t done.

I mapped out the remaining business landscape between Home Depot and home and decided my next best bet would be the True Value on 122nd. Although it was 7:00 by then, I had a little hope that it might still be open. If not, there was a Staples right next to it that would be open and might have filters. I rode to the 102nd Avenue station and, seeing no Max in sight, decided to continue by bike to 122nd.

Those 20 blocks proved more difficult that I had imagined, especially since much of the bike lane still contained frozen slush, crunchy snow and the occasional scary patch of ice. Because the Max tracks run right down the middle of the street, Burnside is a single lane one-way on each side of the Max. That means that swerving out of the bike lane to avoid hazardous biking conditions is mostly out of the question. Because of that, I detoured north to Glisan where there is no bike lane, but there are four lanes of traffic.

As I approached 122nd and Glisan, I was delighted to see a heretofore unconsidered Target store come into view. Gleefully, I pulled into the parking lot fully expecting to find the filters. Unfortunately, I was met by 20-odd feet of broken car glass. With a car on my left, I was unable to swerve out of it and my tires took the full brunt. There was no immediate hissing so I put it out of my mind for the time being.

Target did, in fact, have the filters in the size I needed. They even had the fancy pleated kind. I stopped by the electronics section to check for Wii’s and Wii remotes (they had neither) before checking out, bundling up and riding off to face the chill from the east. I headed north on 122nd until I took up my normal route heading east on Halsey. That particular stretch of road is probably the worst part of my commute during the winter because of the east winds from the Gorge. This night it was even more difficult because of the aforementioned ice, snow and frozen slush that clogged about a mile of the bike lane. Finally, I headed down the hill on 162nd which marks the “home stretch” to my nightly commute. That stretch culminates in an especially critical section of road where the bike lane narrows absurdly under the railroad underpass. During that section, I “take the lane” and get in front of any traffic so I can be plainly seen.

Right as I made my move, I noticed that the balance of my bike felt a little funny. I thought it felt a little like a flat front tire, but the steering still seemed to be working perfectly. I slowed down drastically to avoid crashing directly in front of the car which was now tailgating me as we careened down the hill. I slowed to nearly stopped for my left turn onto Stanton and powered my way up the hill. I jumped off at the top of the hill and check my rear tire. Sure enough it was going flat. Over the objections of my already numb feet, I hoofed it the remaining four blocks home.

The new vent plate was too small for our vent, but the new furnace filters worked well. Neither Tina or I had any problems with the dry cough last night and I slept extraordinarily well.