Oregon Coast Take 2

Finally on the road again. My second time cycling the Oregon Coast. This time with my sweetie Patti.

Day 1
Saturday, September 12th, 2009
Victoria, BC to Astoria, OR by car.

We were amazingly well organized and left with plenty of time to spare. It came as a bit of a surprise to me since I only started packing and checking over the bikes the afternoon before we left.

The sun was shining and broad smiles were on our faces as we drove down the Trans Canada Highway to the Coho Ferry terminal to catch the 10:30am sailing to Port Angeles, Washington. "Do you have a reservation?" queried the toll booth attendant. "No we don't" I sheepishly replied. "You won't get on the 10:30" we were informed. "You're wasting your time hanging around" concurred the young man directing traffic. "You'll be on the 3:00pm sailing for sure" he went on to reassure us. "Please pull into lane 11". So off we went for breakfast and some last minute shopping.

Finally we were ready to load. Hordes and hordes of cars were loading ahead of us while my anxiety started going sky high. "Did they forget about us?" I thought to myself. "Excuse me" I called out the window to the young man directing traffic. "Are we still getting on this sailing?". "Yes, don't worry. You'll get on". After all the passengers with reservations got on there were about 30 spaces left for "non reserved". The moral of the story is "Make a reservation".

I had to check and see if there were any bicycles on the deck. I leaned forward and a loud "thump" emanated from the downsloping window as my forehead smashed into it. The fine folks sitting near the front let out a few polite chuckles and inquired as to my wellbeing. "Show's over" I called out while waving my arms in the air. This resulted in a round of more hearty laughs from more fine folks sitting at the front. I sat down with Patti and pretended not to have a headache.

On we zoomed taking turns driving. It was my turn to drive in the dark and on we puttered through some small town. I passed a sign stating "40mph" and was doing about 43mph. The car coming in the other direction suddenly lit up like a gaudy Christmas tree and a few rather raunchy words escaped my lips. It was apparently a 30mph zone and I was clocked at 43mph. I'm glad to be contributing to the local town's economy by paying the $124 ticket.

Day 2
Sunday, September 13th, 2009
Astoria to Cannon Beach by bicycle.

It was the best of days, it was the worst of days. Well not really but I just don't know what else to say right now. Light headwinds all the way, a bit of drizzle which naturally stopped as soon as our rain gear was put on.

Beautiful Beach by Seaside.

Seaside was our first stop as we pushed our bikes down the main street. It had been closed off for a hotrod festival. Many cool cars lined the street. Sat on the promenade by the stunning beach while a musical kite competition took place. Great location, absolutely grotesque town. Whoever allowed a huge concrete condo monstrosity to be built right on the otherwise quaint main street, right be the beach, should be hung by his toes while the sea lions nibble at his ears.

Cannon beach is much nicer. Still touristy but more quaint than tacky. Went and set up at the local RV park for $32/night. Can't wait for the $4/night hiker/biker sites in the state and county parks.

It was still early and our lips were dry. A local brewpub was quickly spotted with our finely honed senses. Bill's Tavern had some great ales. Not wanting to be rude we did each sample two of them.

Relaxing at the RV Park in Cannon Beach.

Back at the campsite I invited myself over to the site of two other cyclists and we had a lovely chat. Two very friendly and interesting Brits who started cycling in Nova Scotia, crossed over to the West Coast, and are now heading south to Argentina. Part of the trip is for charitable purposes for muscular dystrophy. Check out their blog "www.cycletheamericas.org".

Day 3
Monday, September 14th, 2009
Cannon Beach to Barview County Park by bicycle

Now came the killer hills. Two of them in rapid succession. No sooner had we zipped downhill, hooting and hollering, after one long climb, another climb materialized by Oswald West State Park. Undaunted, we pressed on and gritted our teeth through the Arch Cape Tunnel, which just had to be uphill as well. I would normally stop to pick up interesting junk along the way but I only gave scant attention to the handy screwdriver lying in the gutter along the way.

Typical Coast Line View Along The Way.

More Killer Hills.

Resting at the top.

The Mother of all Nurse Logs.

A quick stop in Manzanita to pick up some supplies, including a small bottle of Oregon Port. It'll go well with some chocolate. On to the county park where we were cheerfully informed that hiker/biker sites were available at $5/person. $15 later we had our sites and a bundle of firewood. After getting lost and heading to some large pier full of fisherfolk, we settled into our site, only to discover that we had no can opener for our cans of chili and no corkscrew for the port. A crisis was averted by bumming a can opener from two Christian troubadours and a corkscrew from some drunks in an RV.

View From Barview Hike/Bike Site.

The troubadours had sold everything and have been on the road for 12 years "spreading the lord's message" while carrying their guitar on their bicycles. Well, to each their own. A younger fellow showed up by himself. We chatted most of the evening and had a great time with him. He's a corporate pilot from Denver and works 12 days on, 12 days off. Talk about lots of opportunities for vacations.

Swapping Tales With Thor From Denver.

We went to sleep with the waves crashing onto the nearby beach. The earplugs went in when I realized that the chain smoking drunks of corkscrew fame would keep me awake.

Day 4
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Barview County Park to Whalen Island County Park (Pacific City)
54km by bicycle

Thomas and Little Nicki Frolicking in the Trees.

Today I was feeling slow and sluggish ...at least more so than usual. This is now the third day of light headwinds. Where are those fabled NW tailwinds we're supposed to have in these parts at this time of the year? At least we were headed towards Tillamook for some ice cream. A Re-Store was spotted along the way and Patti just had to pull in to check it out. I may have to organize an intervention to deal with her addiction :-). But we did pick up two $2 kites to fly on the beach at some point.

Supporting Habitat For Humanity.

And there it was in all its' splendor. The Tillamook Creamery in all its' touristy glory. After gorging on ice cream we headed over to the Blue Heron Cheese Factory. They make 4 kinds of brie, all of which really kick ass. Petted some sheep and watched the llamas and one lone ostrich in the back.

At The Blue Heron Cheese Factory.

I assured Patti it would only be another 10km to the next campsite. As we rode down the hot and somewhat dreary, albeit flat, highway I started realizing that it was much farther than the maps had indicated. I shared the news with Patti and I’m still alive today :).

The road narrowed to cross a bridge and I moved further left, after making sure there was no traffic. Donkeyhole in small blue pickup truck came up behind us while we were on the bridge and decided to lean on the horn. After all, how dare we take up space on HIS road! I made a rude gesture and continued on. Now came the climb. It seemed long, it was hot and the pavement had the texture of sealed gravel. Suddenly there she was, My roadside mascot. A stuffed frog with a dizzying array of colours. She will now be named Mookie. One of the Mooks that got saved from being tilled into the ground as so often happens in “Tillamook” ;-) Minutes later Patti found a road mascot of her own. A little horse she called Sandie …found on near Sandlake Road.

We took the right turn onto Sandlake Road and immediately enjoyed the peace and quiet all the while cursing the new headwind. But at least we didn’t have hundreds of cars whizzing by non-stop.

Whalen Island County Park Hike/Bike Site.

We spent the evening at the hike/bike site at Whalen Island County Park. The biker site is down on the estuary and we enjoyed watching the seagulls, blue herons and the immature (white) herons scoping out their dinners in the water. Patti went for a walk on the beach and reported back with a bear sighting.

Patti Decides to let her Artistic Side Flourish.

Day 5
Wednesday, September 16th, 2009
Day off at Whalen Island

We were having breakfast after a nice sound sleep and Patti took down the tent fly to attempt to dry it off. It constantly drips with wetness …on the inside. We’ll just have to stop breathing to keep it dry. Of course Murphy was watching and it started to rain. The fly was hastily reapplied and we spent some time in the tent reading. The rain came down harder and harder and a decision had to be made. A day off was in order and we decided to hitchhike into town.

We donned all our cycling rain gear and trudged up to the highway. Our thumbs flew out in desperation with each passing car. All to no avail. No one even slowed down as the flew past at 55mph or more. The cursed map said it was 4 miles into town so we decided to walk and hitchhike at the same time. Finally the local hairdresser, who had gone home for lunch, stopped and gave us a ride into town. Total wait, about 45 minutes. As it turns out the distance into town was more like 10km. We thanked Kim profusely for the ride and stepped out of her car. As I was stripping off my wet weather booties they felt rather squishy and “creamy”. “Oh crap” I muttered as I looked at the booties and my hands now soiled with disgusting brown …well, crap. There was dog poo in several spots and a few ticked off moments were spent in the bathroom cleaning up.

Gathering Ideas For Our Own Mobile Home :-)

We gorged on Mexican food. Not wanting to create an international incident with the Mexicans we just had to sample their beers and margaritas. The things we have to do to maintain solid diplomatic relations with other nations can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. We did our Internetting at the library and stocked up for the evening at the local grocery store. Two Mike’s Harder Lemonades were procured and I promptly dropped one can in the parking lot. It sprung a leak and started spritzing all over the place. Since we are resourceful women and don’t lake wasting anything we just had to finish it off in the parking lot.

A bit of wine tasting later we headed out on the road and stuck out our thumbs. The first driver to come by stopped for us. It was a mother with her two teenage sons. Patti got to squish in with the two boys in the back while I sat in the front and chatted away. When she found out where we were going she offered to drop off the boys at her hotel and drive us all the way to the campsite even though it was about 4 miles out of her way. What a great human being.

We wanted another fire but had no more firewood, and the campground hosts weren’t going to be back until 6:00pm. So we helped ourselves to some of their wood with the intention of repaying them. I confessed to the crime and was rewarded with a third bundle of wood for free. We have to use it all up anyway she said. We’re leaving on October 1st. Yet another kind gesture from a complete stranger.

Day 6
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Whalen Island County Park to Lincoln City by bicycle
54km by bicycle

More light headwinds. I no longer believe in the wind gods as they have forsaken us. Once again we passed through Pacific City and started looking for air. For some reason, Oregon gas stations charge 50 to 75 cents for air. I simply refuse to pay for air and am even boycotting an entire chain of gas stations back home, since they’re the only ones in BC who seem to charge for this.

Time For Second Breakfast, Like Any Good Hobbit.

We were running low on "fuel" when we hit Neskowin. This was also our last chance to inquire about old 101 vs new 101. A bus driver was waiting nearby and I chatted him up. He strongly recommended the old highway. More gradual climb and less traffic. He also cautioned us about the disappearing shoulder on the new 101. Then he insisted I take a bus schedule. Maybe I just have this look of someone who's not going to make it up that hill. Inside the cafe I noticed that the waitress was quite trim and fit looking. "Do you know anything about the local bike routes?" I asked her. "Yes I do" she answered without a split second of hesitation. She also recommended the old 101. On we headed and a very wide section of the road. A small blue pickup truck went by (sound familiar?) and the donkeyhole leaned on the horn. Must have been the same jerk objecting to us filthy hippies, or whatever, being on HIS personal highway.

Slab Creek Road, aka Old Highway 101.

Now things looked familiar again. I recognized the old 101 turnoff from my previous trip 4 years ago. The moment we turned off it was like turning off an obnoxious, noisy, American TV show. I almost let out a big sigh of relief. In the 1 1/2 hours we were on the old 101 we saw about 10 motor vehicles and 2 horses. It was so quiet that I actually heard an automn leaf make contact with the pavement. Even though it is a rather long climb, and the highest of our entire trip. It was relatively gradual. Patti was struggling a bit and mashing up the hill. I had stopped and she went past me. "Honey, are you sure you're in your lowest gear?". "Yes I am". "Well, it looks like you may have another gear to go from what I can see" I gingerly replied. With a mix of annoyance, embarassment and relief she shifted into low gear and made what remained of the climb a lot easier to bear.

Thomas, Little Nicki, Mookie, and Sandie Watching Over Our Tent.

The campsite in Lincoln City is right in town. An older man was camping in the lower section and started chatting about wanting to sell his Bob trailer since he didn't really need the trailer and front and rear panniers all at the same time. There was something vaguely familiar about him. What are the chances of running into someone like him 4 years ago at the exact same campsite. Is he simply a modern day vagabond? is he a local homeless man moving from site to site? who knows.

It was laundry time and I slung a huge garbage bag full of clothing over my shoulder as we headed to the laundromat which was promised to be 1/4 of a mile away. As the bag dug into my shoulder we started realizing that it was actually over 1/2 mile away. Time to throw in the laundry and go for a $12.65 supersized veggie burger dinner at the Burger King next door.

Back at the campsite more cyclists had shown up. All female so far. Kelly and Sarah were heading to San Francisco and one of them was riding a standard 10 speed with no climbing gear. She was complaining about having to walk up a lot of hills. I quickly set her straight and strongly suggested she get herself some more suitable gearing once in Newport. Another woman, who shall remain nameless, and I went into town to fetch some libations for the evening. She's an interesting person and we chatted over wine, brandy, bourbon and chocolate til bedtime.

Hitting It Off With Carolyn From Salem, Oregon.

Day 7
Friday, September 18th, 2009
Lincoln City to Newport
50km by bicycle.

"Fatima" Scrabblebiker Eisele Getting Ready For The Morning.

Finally! Praise Buddha, hallelujah!! The highly anticipated tailwinds had materialized. We were zipping along at a beautiful clip on mostly flat terrain which hugs the coastline. Waves are crashing against jagged rocks and wisps of swirling fog appear sporadically. Made a stop in the little tourist town of Depoe Bay. A gaggle of tourists was gawking out towards the water. Suddenly we saw it too, grey whales spouting in the distance. One of them appeared close enough to shore that we could see its' body as well. More incredibly easy cycling in one of the best settings so far.

The Two Intrepid Cyclists Near Depoe Bay.

Now the official bike route veers off highway 101 and follows the coastline along a narrow road with little traffic. Soon the road turns into a southbound one way with a one way bike lane. Now the climb begins in earnest. Up and up and up it goes. Where it ends everyone knows ...a tacky tourist shop, albeit one with a killer view.

Otter Loop Road. One Way Bike Lane.

That's Where We're headed. Keep on Pedalling!

Zipped down into Newport with wild abandon. The driver behind me never even attempted to pass since I was going fast enough for him on this narrow road.

At South Beach State Park the sign said campground full. We chuckled and went in anyway, knowing that it only applies to drivers of motorized vehicles. Campground full does not apply to the hike/bike area. The same hobo from last night had already set up and was smoking by his tent. "Let's not set up too close to the smoker" I said to Patti under my breath. But we ended up close to him anyway since we wanted the covered picknick table, knowing that it was going to rain tomorrow. We made it an early night while listening to the rude sounds emanating from the sea lions back in town, about 2km away.

Before heading to bed we decided to escape the noisy yurt people behind us, as well as three rather noisy cyclists who were getting on our nerves. We took our headlamps and my trusty camping/hiking knife and headed down to the beach to relax. We had a lovely time listening to the waves and talking about "what is reality" until we both realized that the whole discussion was quite pointless ...albeit very interesting. Once it was pitch dark we headed back into camp while admiring the beauty of the lit up historic Newport bridge in the distance.


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