WEEKS 1 AND 2

You can see pictures here.

WEEK ONE MONDAY AND TUESDAY

 
Met Dick and Sharron at the airport as well as Dennis. Dick and Sharron haven’t changed but Dennis grew out his hair and cut off his goatee. Almost did not recognize him! Amazing how a little hair makes a difference!

We spent a lot of time reminiscing about last year’s ride, telling jokes, recounting snippets of trivia and other humorous moments from last year’s escapades.

Before going to Dick’s we stopped in at McMenamin’s and had some micro-brews and dinner. Not a bad place to spend a few hours as it is quite elaborately set up with not only a restaurant but a hotel, wine tasting room, movie theater, etc. Turns out the McMenamin’s buy up failed farmlands or places of historic interest and restore them. The hotel was particularly impressive in its styling and restoration. All the hallways, doors, and fixtures have unique artwork imbedded in them. Some of it quaint, some pastoral, some with interwoven messages but lots of it really bizarre! We all got a tour of the rooms and none seem to have private baths or TVs but all are decorated with beautiful period furniture and art.

We also went to the wine tasting room where this blond chatted up Dennis and we all agreed she wanted to take him home. Dennis, I believe, was of a totally different opinion.

Bought a sleeping mat and got a tour of the local area. Picked up a U-Haul truck as we’d decided that it would be easier to truck our bikes to Astoria rather than ride there. Plus it saved us a minimum of one riding day.

John Peabody stopped by. He’s a friend of Dick’s from their riding club. He seemed a bit apprehensive about doing a long distance trip but I do not think he will have any problems. We will probably be the worst experience he’ll have what with our biting wit, sarcastic comments, and bizarre attitudes.

Merle also showed up and it was nice meeting up with him again. He looks good and looks happy to do a trip again.

Ordered pizza, drank beer and watched Dick’s slides from last year. Did an awful lot of bullshittin’, too.

WEEK ONE WEDNESDAY: ON THE ROAD AGAIN!

 
Today begins the continuation of last year’s ride. Hopefully an opportunity for some closure since we did not all finish together last year. This will give us a chance to do so but at a different location and a different country.

After turning in the U-Haul in Astoria, we all hit the road. It took me no time at all to settle in to riding a fully laden Betty Boop. She still handles herself well even loaded down with almost 50 pounds of gear, food, and water.

But the smell! PEE-WHEW! Astoria must do quite a bit of fish processing or drying or something but it was rank! I can not imagine living downwind of that! Goodbye property values!

We went to Fort Clatsop for a little sightseeing. Having just read the adventures of Lewis and Clark through their journals, much of this was very interesting to me. The word Clatsop is Indian for the flat-head Indians that populated the area back in the early 1800s. They used to flatten the head through use of boards clamped to the forehead. A most unusual appearance for those having undergone the flattening process. Once inside the Fort I was able to mentally project myself back almost 200 years to imagine how miserable those poor bastards must have been during the winter when they saw the sun only 6 days out of 120. They experienced rain EVERY SINGLE DAY except 12! Throw rain, cold, unsanitary conditions, lack of food, lack of showers, fleas, and other biting insects into the mix and you have miserable conditions indeed. When the men ate, supposedly they’d kill an elk and about 8 men would polish it off-to the tune of 6 to 8 pounds of meat PER MAN PER SITTING!!

Got to check out the rooms, some quill writing exhibits, a film about life back then, candle making exhibits, skin tanning exhibits, and a flintlock demonstration. Well worth the side trip!

Met up with Sharron (Dick’s wife) at Fort Stevens where she’d verified spots at the hiker biker sites were available. It was just like the old times again, as if no time had passed: set up the tents, unload the bikes, eat, and bullshit about the day. Even got into a philosophical discussion of homosexuality and marriage, homophobia, politics, etc.

Based on all that in such a short period of time I’m afraid John may not quite know how to take us just yet.

Went to the beach and caught up on my journal while waiting for the sun to set over the John Iredale wreck. It wrecked in the early 1900s while waiting for weather to clear up prior to its going up the Columbia River. At the time it sank, it did so in 20 feet of water. Today there is no water. Just sand. Wow! Believe it or not there actually were people playing IN the water! NUTS! It was freezin’!

Ended up disappointed as the sky was too cloudy for decent photos. Too bad!

Firewood was the next order of business but the campground had run out. Shot the shit until 10 PM and then turned in. Got to use my new tent and what a great difference! Has lots of room and is well worth the extra pound of weight. It’s a Sierra Designs Meteor Light CD.

WEEK ONE THURSDAY: OBVIOUSLY NOT FULLY CONDITIONED AND PHYSICALLY FIT!

 
AAH, so far so good. Sure was nice to be woken up by screaming jays, cawing crows, and twittering/tweeting of songbirds. But not by the raucous snoring of some Butthead 50 feet away!! The family arrived late in the night, rattled around making all sorts of noise while pitching camp, interfered with everyone else’s sleep and then this jerk continues to interfere by snoring. Fortunately it takes a small explosion to awaken me from my sleep so I didn’t hear a thing until I got up. But the other guys were not in such happy moods. So we made a lot of noise as a sort of retribution. Butthead didn’t wake up, though. Darn it!

Got up early out of habit but realized that one of the things that might make this ride more enjoyable is that there is no need to hurry and leave camp or hit the road. It’s generally cool and foggy (or cloudy) so it’s best to wait a bit before putting in serious miles. Granted, if you are on a mega-miler day, things may be different but we were on a 40-50 mile per day basis which translates roughly into 3-5 hours on the saddle so none of us were in a hurry.

Contrast this to last year when I’d be up early every day in an effort to beat the winds or heat or thunderstorms.

Got my first jolt of caffeine at a concession stand within the park and then rode to Seaside to have breakfast at the Pig and Pancake. YUM! Doesn’t the name just conjure up wonderful visions of scrumptious food? I loved it. Had a good breakfast, too. Not the best I’ve ever had but good.

Lounged around waiting for Dick and John to show up. We all then toured the boardwalk area which was full of tourists with quite a few in short sleeve shirts. Obviously they were not walking far.

Saw the site where Lewis and Clark had a salt operation running. Having run out of that most valuable commodity, they sent some men down the coast from Ft. Clatsop to boil sea water in an effort to get salt as a by product. For all the time they were there, the men managed 4 large buckets of salt used to cure meat and flavor foods.

If you want to read an interesting book that details the Lewis and Clark expedition, try this one: THE JOURNALS OF LEWIS AND CLARK EDITED by BERNARD DeVOTO published by Houghton Mifflin Copyright 1953 and renewed 1981.

The men needed to go 14 miles south of Fort Clatsop because at that time the Columbia River’s discharge was so big that coupled with the prevailing winds and currents, kept the water too sweet at its outlet. Only 14 miles south were the men capable of finding a spot not affected by the flows of the river. Nowadays a jetty just outside Astoria directs the flow considerably further westwards and it has greatly affected the beaches, too. Witness the wreck of the John Iredale and that it used to be in 20 feet of water when it beached. Now it is buried. All the result of the jetty, wind, wave, current, and sand action.

Am also keeping a sharp eye out for tall buildings or bridges to jump off just in case I need to put myself out of my misery should the stock market continue to gyrate like it did today. DOW down 300 and NASDAQ down 64. UGLY! (Just kidding about the tall stuff, though!) Note: little did I know then what further surprises were in for me!

So far Oregon is a very pleasant place to ride. Lots of roads have wide shoulders or bike lanes thereby making the state very biker friendly. It is also ecologically concerned and its citizens routinely recycle many objects.

Took a small detour and went to Ecola Park. GEEZ LOUISE! Somebody should have warned me about the hill! For the first time in my touring time I had to walk my bike! Last year I had too much pride to walk so therefore I ground up the hills but this one was another story. I attribute that partly to lack of conditioning prior to beginning the ride and part to the slope of the hill itself. What a bitch!

I did learn one thing though: no hill is so steep it can not be walked! Thanks for that one, Dick!

Since Ecola Park was situated so high up, the view of the Tillamook Head Lighthouse was great. It was built in 1881 for $125,000 and is now a bird sanctuary. They also allow you to bury your ashes here for only $5000—but only after bird nesting season. So time your death appropriately!

Had to go through the Cape Arch Tunnel. Don’t try to be macho, walk your bike through this thing. You’ll be glad you did. It’s dark, it’s uphill, and the traffic really does not pay attention to those cute little lights warning motorists that cyclists are in the tunnel.

Learned something else, too. Oregon State Parks are highly sought out by the locals and tourists. Ft Stevens had 600 spots and all of them were full. Nehalem has 204 and when we checked in at 4 PM only 20 were available. This was about the only park that had vacancies virtually all the way to LA! Thank goodness for hiker/biker sites!

Today I also got my first clue I may be short some warmer clothes. Need to buy some quickly! And guess what? Clothes washed by hand do not dry quickly in cool, damp weather so I had to sleep alongside my jersey and shorts in order to allow my body heat to dry them off. It worked, too!

WEEK ONE FRIDAY: ROCKY THE PISSED OFF RACCOON

 
Okay, big tip for coast riders: cover your bike seat if it’s made of permeable material. I didn’t and had a wet butt for a good part of the morning. YECH! Turns out that last night’s efforts to sleep with my damp clothes all went for naught. Ah, the lessons we learn!

Now on to the day’s events. Stopped for breakfast at the Bunkhouse Restaurant just outside Nehalem. We were all supposed to meet there but Dick blew past and I only saw him at the end of the day. Climbing a hill today, John stood on his pedals and promptly snapped his chain. We spent ½ an hour messing with it and finally got it cobbled back together. I had flashbacks from last year: it’s still a hassle remembering where all my gear is in the panniers! A bit of a nuisance that could be ameliorated by compartmentalized panniers but those are out of my budget’s reach. So I will suffer through this for several more days. The problem was exacerbated when I was helping John and couldn’t locate my chain tool. AAARGH! So now I believe it will help to put my rain gear, tools, and food only in my front panniers, though. At least I’ll know where that stuff is.

Since the other guys were so far ahead and by this time wondering what happened to us, I told John we needed to invent a story about having met up with a couple of middle aged women at an overlook and that they offered us drinks and engaged us in cycling conversation as that was one of their interests, too. We’d also embellish it by saying they’d come to the campsite to visit us later in the evening. John was a bit apprehensive (well, he IS married!) but……

About 7 PM Dennis and Dick wanted to know where the women were! What a hoot!

Rode through Tillamook: a tourist trap! I just do not see where anyone can get their knickers excited about a cheese factory, especially an automated one, but there they were, all lined up to watch machines convert milk to cheese. And then happy to spend oodles of dollars at a cheesy (pun intended) gift shop. Capitalism truly is great here!

Those of us that met up in Tillamook did our grocery shopping at the local Safeway only to have to lug that food up and down hills to the campsite. Never go shopping when hungry!!

The hills here are a bit more than I bargained for. Hopefully in a few days I’ll be better conditioned. I am not so sure they are worse than the Ozarks but they come a close second.

The sight of the day today were innumerable blackberry bushes sending feeler branches into the roadway in a vain attempt to grab a purchase and take over. A seeming “Man vs. Nature” thing that resulted in the bush losing as cars mangled the feelers. It really needed to be seen to be appreciated.

Cruised through the town of Garibaldi and as I passed a parked police cruiser I realized there was a dummy inside. Yep, just like those dummies you see advertised in the in-flight magazines of many airlines. It was pretty impressive as it slowed traffic down with many drivers not even realizing what they’d just passed. The dark tinted windows allowed just the shadow of a figure to be seen.

Turns out that going through Garibaldi when I did was a good move. At the end of the day I heard on the news that the whole highway was shut down for several hours due to a head-on collision between a semi and a car. No word on the condition of the occupants.

Took the Three Capes route and highly recommend it. Very scenic and not much traffic. If you are in a hurry you can scoot south of Tillamook but the detour only adds a few additional miles. Even the climbing was worthwhile for the views obtained.

While I was on the route John and I heard this really loud chitter-chatter sound. Looking around thinking it was coming from the woods I see this raccoon in the middle of the road with its back arched, looking very upset at something. He/she even got up on its hind legs acting very defiantly, still chittering and chattering as if scolding us. Then it scooted into the woods.

Conclusion: whereas in the East I had to contend with mad dogs, I guess out west it’s raccoons.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything!

Ended the day at Cape Lookout Park. The broken record repeated itself today as all the sites were filled up so again we went to the hiker/biker sites. Hey, for $3, it’s a good deal. The walk to the showers and rest rooms in most H/B sites is a bit longer but the price is right.

Our particular site was good tonight, situated in the woods with plenty of space for tents and gear. Just a bit of a dirt trail to get to it.

Tonight turned into one with a festive note. Earlier in the day we’d loaded up on salad mix, mushrooms, cukes, tomatoes and radishes and made one hell of a salad. Dick and John made dinner in their cooking kits and we all ate like kings. Washed it all down with a bottle of Merlot and a bottle of Fumee wine. Also got firewood and built us a nice fire. Now THIS is bike camping!!

Wrote a good portion of today’s journal from the beach waiting for the sun to set. It was so much better today as there was no wind. Just the pounding of waves on the shore in frustration at trying to claw its way closer and closer to us but failing. Been told by more than one person that the weather we’re experiencing on the Oregon coast this time of year is unusual. It should be cloudy and rainy. No complaints from me!

WEEK ONE SATURDAY: HAIL! HAIL! THE GANG’S ALL HERE!

 
Earlier in the trip we had an informal lottery trying to determine when we’d see Merle and Kurt. We also have been doing low mileage days to make it easier for them to catch up with us barring not being able to have someone drive them down. All of us picked the 9th at 4 PM or later.

Well, they showed up today! Hooray! It is really cool to have the gang back together again. Chatted for a while, helped set up their equipment (Merle has a B.O.B. and a new double vestibule tent) and then Merle and his son, Tom, went to get something to eat. I went to sleep as I was quite tired.

Why was I tired? Climbing. But a good tired feeling, not an exhausted one. Fortunately the scenery was beautiful and the weather cooperated. I find it hard to believe we are having such good luck. The first hill leaving Cape Lookout Park was a pain. Had to do 700 foot elevation gain in 2.7 miles. (6% more or less)

Take a breather at the 1.1 mile point and enjoy the great views from the Anderson’s view point.

Stopped at Cape Kiwanda Park just outside Pacific City. A fantastic place to spend a couple of hours wandering around, walking the dunes, climbing to the top of the bluff and then grab photos of the surf pounding the cape.

I should have arrived a few hours later to capitalize on the position of the sun and even better would be to return in winter when the surf is really aggressive and puts on spectacular displays.

After hiking the dunes a bit, I took in the fishing boats coming ashore, literally gunning it onto the sands and just before hitting the beach, throttling back the engines. Those things MUST have to have their bottoms replaced every few years. No way they can continue to take the abuse of acting like amphibious landing craft without doing some damage to the bottoms. Maybe they have false, replaceable bottoms?

Had lunch at the Pelican Pub. Decided I am not a micro-brew aficionado. They ALL taste the same to me so I see no sense in spending more money on cutesy, artsy-fartsy beer. Give me a Sam Adams any day.

Biked into Devil’s Lake State Park (yep, full again!) The H/B area is up a steep path but once there, the space is large, open, clean and with picnic benches and fire pit.

Any biker contemplating the coast ride should seriously consider only staying at parks that have hiker/biker sites. First, they are cheaper and second you’ll never be turned away as opposed to a regular campground with only regular sites which, when all booked, will leave you stranded.

WEEK ONE SUNDAY: THAR SHE BLOWS!!!

 
What a lazy day today! Writing this on the beach, I am warmed by the sun, feeling very content watching it set providing a technicolored sky. Click here and here to view some sunset photos. Back at the H/B site it is considerably cooler as the site is in a heavily wooded area.

Got here a bit early so there was plenty of time to set up camp, dry out the very wet tent and fly, eat, B.S., and so on. The beach at this park is a bit unusual in that the back half of it is strewn with large rocks and tree trunks (just where DO all these tree trunks lining Oregon and California’s beaches come from?) The front half of the beach on down to the water’s edge is fine sand. So where did all the rocks come from? Probably erosion. I don’t know.

Started off the day by doing laundry. YECH! What a boring thing to do on the road but does give me a chance to catch up on reading or journal writing. All of us hate doing wash. Gather all the clothes, sort them, put money in the machine to buy soap, put money in the washers, wait. Take the clothes out, put money in the dryer and wait. Check the dryer so clothes don’t melt. Take some clothes out. Wait. Put more money in. Check again. Take more clothes out. Wait. Put more money in. Wait. Put more money in. Check clothes. Some are still damp. Take damp clothes out. Screw it, let them air dry. Let’s go! This is boring!

Fortunately, there was a café nearby so we whiled away the time drinking coffee and eating breakfast. I finally had the dreaded pancakes. Been putting it off as long as I could because I recall having burned out on them last year.

Was able to catch up on news with Merle and Kurt.

Talked to Merle about his BOB. He likes it, it’s quite practical and the only disadvantage is having to ship it. I guess you can box it and have it go as check-on luggage. The tent he has is also a smart move since it has two large vestibules with individual entries. This allows him to put the BOB on one side and have access to it from inside the tent. Plus it is sheltered from the elements and prying fingers.

Kurt still has most of his gear from last year and felt “inadequate” since all of us have new stuff. We ribbed him quite a bit about it and he took it gracefully.

In a sorry testimony to progress, it’s not bad enough that many of these coastal towns are jammed with traffic for months but Lincoln City recently decided they were going to become a 4 season town by approving a new casino. Now the summers will be filled with beach tourists and the winters with gambling tourists. What is it with people and gambling? Is it really so much fun to lose money? Damn, I just don’t get it.

Got to Boiler Bay where I’d read that you could supposedly see a ship’s boiler during low tide but my friend, Mr. Fog obstructed the view. Did get to see several whales, though. Good thing I brought along my binoculars as I’d have been hard pressed to see much of anything. None of them breached but they did show themselves and they did spout.

Scott took one of his mystery pictures of the whales. Those are the ones where you take a picture of something after it’s no longer in the viewfinder and when the photo comes back you can show it to people, point to a blank spot and claim to have seen something there, embellishing your story as you go along. By now I am sure he’s up to a whole school of blue whales cavorting in the water. So I took one of Dennis and Kurt doing the same thing.

Headed up Foulweather Cape where winds can kick up to 60 MPH in the summer and 100 MPH in the winter. Saw that the road to the Otter Creek Byway was closed so Kurt and I plodded up the hill. The byway looked like it stayed down low and skirted the hill but the closed sign scared us off. Dick and John stayed behind at Depoe bay to have lunch and since we didn’t see any grocery stores we kept moving. Dennis was following behind us and climbed for about 150 feet or so and then I watched him peel off and go back to Otter Creek. As Kurt and I huffed and puffed uphill we saw Dennis way down below cruising on the “closed road” and hugging the coast line. Sure looked like a good way to go.

By that time I was already too committed to the hill I was on so I continued climbing. At the top, Kurt and I detoured off 101 and picked up Otter Creek, which was open only to pedestrian traffic to see Devil’s Punchbowl (kind of disappointing and no photo op). We then headed to the campground. At the “THREE TIMES AS MUCH” store and found out we were the first ones there. HMMM!?!?! “Where were Dick, John, and Dennis?” I wondered.

It turns out the path Dennis took was washed out after several miles so he had to double back and climb the pass, too.

We even ran into Vulker again. He was with us the past two nights and from the Bavaria part of Germany. He had just finished his obligatory military service and decided to tour the Pacific Coast since it is so well advertised where he’s from.

As we went along during the trip we observed that people we’d meet one day would be run into several times during our ride simply because we all had different ideas about how fast to go so when one set would slow down, the others would catch and vice versa. Much different from last year when everyone was in a hurry to get from point A to Point B and once seen were never seen again (unless they rode with you!)

Had a very stimulating Conservative vs. Liberal conversation with John. Turns out he’s a die-hard liberal with a tinge of conservative tendencies. I was sure I could have converted him if I’d have had more time. You know how it is, some people have that look about them that pleads for some salvation and I believe he needed to be saved from the lies and hypocrisies of the leftist media we’re exposed to. Having done that, redemption and salvation would be a piece of cake. Right, John?

It was hard for me to imagine a man who worked as a game warden for many years and then choose one of the bastions of liberalism, Oregon, to live in. I mean, here’s a guy who’s had to pull his gun on people—almost always a field of work in which conservatives have a stronghold.

In any case, I truly enjoyed our discourses. He’s a cool guy. It’s not often you can discuss opposing views and not feel as if you’ve been shut off or you yourself feel like shutting off the other person but with him, we’d argue, trade points, point fingers, raise voices yet never feel offended or slighted. Don’t know if he felt the same way.

WEEK TWO MONDAY: DEJA VU

 
I continue to find it hard to believe the good luck we are having with the weather. Another sunny day right from the get-go!

With the exception of a small stretch of level riding, today was up and down all day. Overall was quite a good day, really. Goes to show what scenery can do to keep your mind off the grinding up of hills.

Took the detour around Newport to avoid 101 but when all was said and done, I really couldn’t see much reason for it. I should have stayed on 101.

Some of the guys say they hate traffic but unless there is something to see that’s worthwhile and as long as I have a bike lane, I do not mind riding in traffic. Granted, if it’s like an expressway where cars are blasting past and trucks are thundering by for hours on end, that’s a different story. But such was not the case. Oh, well. Lesson learned.

Stopped at a market south of Newport expecting to run into Dennis or Merle since they usually end up in front but Merle asked Dennis to observe him from behind as he felt something was wrong. Turns out he lost a cotter pin on his B.O.B. and needed to get to a hardware store to repair it.

Walked my bike across the bridge at Waldport (smart idea!! Do not ride your bikes at this bridge!!) and stopped in at the first restaurant on the right side for breakfast. Good grub!

Did a stopover at Devil’s Churn and let my imagination go wild trying to picture what it would look like in a fierce winter storm. It must be awesome to witness an angry ocean pounding away in a narrow gully.

Went through Cape Creek Tunnel (I found it to be much easier than the Cape Arch Tunnel) and on the way stopped at several turnouts to photograph Heceta Lighthouse and lots more of the incredibly scenic landscape that surrounded us. Many of the trees along the coast are gnarled from the effects of powerful winter and summer winds coming at them from the west and north. Many are growing at 45 degree angles or have half their sides sheared off.

Also stopped off at the Strawberry Hill turnoff to catch sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks just a few feet from shore. While some sunned themselves, others cavorted in the water.

Flew into Florence on the tails of a good wind. Saw that the bike shop that boxed my bike last year was now out of business. It’s not surprising due to the orneriness of the owner. Safeway got a few of my dollars in exchange for foodstuffs. It also brought back humorous memories of last year’s stop there at midnight and how people avoided me since I had my panniers open on a bench with everything spread out in front of me, looking like a homeless Grizzly Adams.

Stopping point for the night was Honeyman State Park—yep, full again!

Met a French biker going to LA who might ride with us tomorrow. He was with two other guys already there. One of them was a mild mannered kind of guy and the last one seemed to have a chip on his shoulder. The “chip on the shoulder” guy recounted his running into a cyclist named Rebecca who told him about having met a group of 4 riders, two of which had American flags on their bikes (me and Dennis) and all headed for Mexico.

He also said she told him we were gay! This must be the same woman we ran into at Sand Lake who, when I asked if she was traveling solo responded, “depends on who asks.” She was obviously trying to be defensive against the weirdoes. Told us she was solo, though. She must have trusted us, I guess. This was a couple of days ago and we ran into her again at the Pelican Pub near Kiwanda Park.

Anyway, this guy asks Dennis if we were gay. And says he is. Plus he is going northbound. Dennis mentioned something about the wisdom of doing this and the guy replies to the effect that anybody can go south. Only the bold go north. The boy was a very strange case and we avoided him.

It could also be that Rebecca made up the story to make the guy go away. Who knows?

Lately the campground sound of the day is that of the portable generators kicking into gear in all the surrounding motorhomes. The residents are using the gensets to fire up their furnaces so they may stay warm. Makes me want to think of them as a bunch of wusses but one of these days I will be driving a motorhome, too, and who knows if I won’t be doing the same thing?

Another observation: I’ve heard people say the difference between men and boys is the size of their toys. But it really is an appropriate statement when brought into the realm of recreation and we make the correlation between children and adults. As children, most of us had a little box or basket in which we’d place favorite toys and head on vacations with Mommy and Daddy. Then we became young adults, our “basket” became bigger. We had a car and bought a tent and crammed the trunk. Then we graduated to maybe a tent trailer. Middle age sees folks graduating to trailers. Older middle age we jump to 5th wheels or Class C RVs. Then in retirement, Class A RVs with a hitch that not only pulls ALL our “toys” like an extra car or a boat or a motorcycle and bicycle but has a kitchen, bathroom, living room, expandable bedroom, TVs, satellite dish, microwave, stereo, computer, and last but not least, the family poodle. America really is great, eh?

WEEK TWO TUESDAY: THE AMAZING DRYING ABILITY OF TOP HALVES OF COTTON SOCKS

 
Woke up early and I guess our noise irritated our asshole north bound neighbor. He crawled out of his tent and stalked off muttering out loud enough for us to hear over 75 feet away, “Bunch of Motherf*****s”. Dennis thinks he’s got an ax to grind and may have made up the Rebecca story to piss us off.

Rode in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. To see the dunes you will need to get off the bike and walk into the dunes area but I got glimpses of it throughout the day. Much of it was shrouded in fog so the views were not great. Dennis and I actually went into the park and read that the state was working on getting rid of some of the grasses in the area that were planted decades ago to keep sand from moving. It’s pretty heavy duty grass, hard to kill, and capable of being buried up to 3 feet and will still pop up. So burying it is not an option. The only way to eradicate it is to uproot and burn it.

Had a good riding day challenged by a couple of hills and blessed with sun.

Stopped in Reedsport and got to witness what Kurt called the “high price of progress”—hills denuded of their trees. Somewhat sad and had me wishing for fog so that I could not see it. Had breakfast there at the first restaurant on the left coming into town. Not bad. The restaurant exemplified a part of life in Oregon as I expected it: New Age music playing the background!

Rode by North Bend and availed myself of their computer to get on the internet and check mail. Then made a quick run to Wal-Mart to buy some warmer clothes and felt like the biting cold north wind would freeze me. Yet I’d see locals traipsing by in short sleeves. I do not get it. It’s foggy, windy, and overcast all day yet these people must have acclimated.

While at the library Merle informed us he was bailing out and going home. His lips were breaking out just like last year but I also suspect his heart was not in it. Seems quite depressed and there is little we can do right now.

Decided to ride across the bridge into North bend. What a harrowing experience. My knuckles were white, my palms numb, my wrists sore. There was a two foot wide sidewalk about 9 inches above the road surface and a fierce wind blowing sideways to me. One misstep, one brush of the panniers against the wall could send me into traffic and certain death.

Yeah, I could have walked it across but it was a very long bridge. Dick suggested walking it halfway up the incline and then wait for a clear spot, jump into the road and pedal your ass off downwards to the end. I like Dick’s idea after doing it my way. Should you not have wind then it’s not so bad.

I’ve never had such an energy sapping, white knuckled and stressful ride as that crossing. (But then again, I hadn’t made it into California where more fun awaited!!)

Did it again! Park was sold out! So glad there are H/B sites! Sure have to admire the good job Oregon does with its parks. Clean, well laid out, reasonably priced (for bikers!); regular sites vary from $18 to $20 dollars per night!! Most H/B sites are well sheltered, too, so that if winds are blowing on the roads, very little is felt in the site area.

Ended the day with a shower in which I forgot to bring my towel. Having nothing else to use I resorted to using the clean top half of my socks. I was amazed at how much water they absorb!! The cold and fog got to me tonight and I had to flee to my tent early. BRRR! Can hear the droplets of water from the fog hitting the tent. Sounds like rain but is proof of its thickness. Have my newly purchased warm clothes on and it feels really good to be warm!!

WEEK TWO WEDNESDAY: VILMAR BECOMES TARGET PRACTICE FOR REDNECKS

 
Awoke to hear water dripping on the tent. Thinking it was raining, I peeked out and saw that it was extremely foggy. The water was coming from the trees above the tent. Those that camped in the open had relatively dry tents. Another lesson learned!

Chowed down on some fruit and went off to face Seven Devils Road and the nasty hill it promised. Turned out to be more bark than bite. Yeah, it was not that easy but then again it was not that tough, either. Sure am glad I have different gearing!! Just took it really easy and cranked away.

Did get to ride through fog shrouded and windswept ridges for about 13 miles. Fortunately the fog hid from sight the denuded hillsides and rendered a surreal appearance to the whole area. It also deadened the sound of everything in this virtually traffic-less roadway.

Stopped in at “The Station” in Bandon for breakfast to pig out on coffee and a great omelet. Then went to do clothes—again! Not really in a rush and it beat doing them by hand so we took advantage of it. Plus got to read the paper and catch up on journals.

Dennis had the first flat of the trip 5 miles east of Port Orford. The tail winds were quite strong and at times I was angling through them with the bike handling very interestingly (in a white knuckled sort of way!) Occasionally I could even feel myself being “pushed” up some hills—all the more reason to question the sanity of anyone attempting to go northbound.

A few miles north of Curry County Line I was tooling down the road minding my own business when I heard these loud bangs. Looking around I see someone in a yard a couple of hundred yards away to the west either shooting a gun or setting off large firecrackers. I couldn’t tell for sure as my attention was focused on riding and keeping the bike on the road. Next thing I know I hear these banshee screaming, whistling, angry bee type noises over my head going west to east. I knew it was not a power line whining or a tire blowing out or any other vehicle making that noise. John was behind me a couple of hundred yards and I knew he’d been a warden and had quite a bit of firearms training since he’d had to pull his gun on poachers, etc. So I asked him what sound does a bullet make if it’s on a trajectory over your head. His description came damn close to what I heard so I marked my location and pedaled onwards looking for a phone. Pulling into Langlois I called the local sheriff’s department and reported the occurrences stating that if what I heard was what a bullet sounded like, then maybe they needed to do a roundup of the local rednecks.

Needless to say I was not a happy camper at that point. Why people have to do stupid crap like that is beyond me. Obviously another instance of where natural selection failed. Assholes should be sterilized so as not to have children. And if they already do, then the children need to be monitored for behavioral signs they may do the same thing as their parents and then sterilize them in a preemptive effort to keep the gene pool clean.

The little store/market right there on the highway in Langlois was very helpful to all of us. Very biker friendly folks. Stop in and give them some business!!

Felt like forever before I got down to Humbug Mountain State Park. It’s quite nice like all the others I’ve stayed in so far. Set up the tent, took off the gear, showered, ate, and went down to the beach to watch the sunset.

Looks like the days are falling into a routine: up, bathroom, tent down, gear packed, eat, ride, eat, ride., eat, ride, stop, set up, shower, eat, beach, write in the journal, sleep, get up to pee, sleep, get up to pee, sleep!!

Met Brad who’s a math professor at the University of Oregon. He’s been teaching 20 years and when I asked him about the quality of high school grads he said they are not up to snuff like they used to be. Damn feel-good educators and the NEA! He also told us about this meteor shower that was to occur about midnight tonight and since it was very dark and clear in the park, I was interested in taking a peek. Like clockwork, I was up at midnight but could not see anything.

We decided to rename Kurt “Monk” as opposed to “Slacker”, his moniker of last year. Monk, you say? Turns out Kurt has this sudden desire to be virtuous, think virtuous thoughts, and becomes critical of our raunchiness and foul language. He also said he would eat much more simply and not engage in foul-mouthedness. The label stuck immediately. Even he liked it. Noticed I do not bring up other aspects of Monk-ish behavior? This is a family journal!!

John also got his today. He’s “Beer Slayer” for his propensity to buy beer and promptly put it away. He and Dick-Dick-Dick have a nice symbiotic relationship going. Dick gets the evening grub and prepares it. John gets the beer. Works really well.

WEEK TWO THURSDAY: DID YOU KNOW THAT GODZILLA REALLY DID DESTROY TOKYO??

 
Had to leave early today as I was supposed to meet up with my friend, Leslie, at Gold Beach. So at 715 I was on my way. Had some moderate climbing and descending along the way but nothing to get worked up about. Arrived a bit early at our pre-designated meeting place and she showed up on time. Got to meet her Dad, Vernon, and her step-Mom, Marlene. Plus I got to meet her daughter, Vera. What a little doll! We scurried over to the Egg Palace for breakfast where the rest of the guys eventually showed up. I introduced folks to one another, we sat around chatting for about 1.5 hours and then I had to take off.

Climbed to Cape Sebastion and for the rest of the day it seemed as if I was rolling into and out of the fog. Quite an interesting experience. Climb a hill, get into the sun, warm up and then shoot down back into the cool and quiet of the fog. Of course, this slide into the fog entailed about a 20 degree decrease in temperature and depending on how sweaty you were it could be a bit on the uncomfortable side. Naturally, I felt quite chilled as I sweat like a pig.

So far the ride is very reminiscent of the Appalachians. A tremendous amount of climbing. We’ve done well over 18000 vertical feet so far and there’s far more ahead. I am not enthused about the narrowness of the roads nor the lack of shoulders in California while skirting the coast near Big Sur. Add truckers, RV’ers, and sheer drops of several hundred feet and the mix can be deadly.

Got spectacular vistas today of sea stacks and hillsides swathed in fog. Took lots of photos and many came out well.

I am getting a bit intimidated by all this climbing as my knees are beginning to bother me. So I am back to eating ibuprofen. I do not look forward to the hills but supposedly 100 miles or so south of San Francisco things get better and remain so for the last 300 or so miles to San Diego.

Got our first taste of transients in parks with the crew we found tonight. OOOWWWEEEE! Where DO these people come from?

One guy has been there I do not know how long, living in this small tent and doing day jobs. His parents (yes, parents) came to visit and he was giving them the grand tour of his camp site and his tent!

Later on in the evening I was in my tent and overheard these mental giants arguing about whether or not it was American bombers or Godzilla that destroyed Tokyo!! Oh, it gets better! You see, this erudite conspiracist insists it is not Godzilla from the movies but the REAL Godzilla that no one wants to talk about or confirm the existence of. This one loony bin kept insisting the media was doing a huge cover-up job. Then he went on to say he actually shot down a satellite with a 22 rifle. He couldn’t believe he’d done it until he hiked the 24 miles to where it crashed and gathered pieces of it. Where or where are you, Natural Selection, when we need you most?.

Just as I was falling asleep I also heard a World War Two dissertation involving the Germans and the Russians and the failed German effort to conquer Russia. For the most part our hero at least had most of the details right but still choked on a few facts.

There are WAY TOO MANY weird fucking people on this planet.

As for Harris Beach itself, it was nice and facilities good. The hike down to the beach made you work out your leg muscles. Boy, was it steep!

WEEK TWO FRIDAY: A BREAK FROM ERECTING TENTS

 
It was surprisingly clear late into the evening and then at 5 AM the fog comes creeping in, veiling the campsite. I feel like I am in a bad English mystery.

Bailed out about 730 and went into town for breakfast, eating at the “Homeport Bagels and Sandwiches” in Brookings. It’s a very cool restaurant that has a young boy employed behind the counter. His name is Travis, well mannered, polite, and courteous. He complemented everyone as they walked in and provided great table service. He also told us he was responsible for making all the bagels in the shop while school was on vacation. When in session, he gets up at 5 and makes some of them before going to classes. Too bad lots of other kids today don’t have the same attitudes, thoughts on life, and work ethic as this boy has. Tipped him well.

Made it to California!!!

Got our pictures taken by one of the bikers at the site last night. Then we ran across the road to get our pictures welcoming us to Oregon as we could not get it last year.

Rode about 25 miles into Crescent City where I stopped in at Marina to get some photos and also listen to sea lions barking off in a foggy distance. We ate at a Subway, shopped at Safeway, and headed out. Very foggy and quite chilly. Makes for a difficult day, clothes-wise, as first you are cold, then warm up, then sweat, then go into a fog bank and get super chilled.

Approaching the agricultural inspection station near the border, Kurt wolfs down his fruit only to find out we were waved through. Maybe they figure cyclists don’t let their fruit hang around to contaminate anything and end up eating it all quickly!

Started a 1000 foot climb and if you go by the book where it says it’s a 5 mile climb to 1200 feet (making it a 4% climb) you will be very disappointed and upset. It was an ugly climb with lots of traffic. Fortunately we had 2 lanes south-bound so there was plenty of wiggle room. And I sweated like the proverbial oinker. It was literally pouring off me. Felt like I’d taken a bath.

Can’t help but wonder if, when climbing or descending, it helps to have fog on the road. From the cyclist viewpoint, I believe it does. From the scenic viewpoint, hell no! But my logic tends to favor the idea that in fog, drivers concentrate more on the task at hand and tend to notice objects on the road and not be so distracted. If it were clear and sunny, they’d be focused on watching the scenery. A scenario such as the following would then develop: “Hey, Ethel, lookit them rocks down there” Thud, Thud. “what the hell was that?” In the distance would be a flattened cyclist. Ugly, eh?

Made it to the Redwoods Hostel. Cost $12 and was a welcome relief from pitching a tent. It stayed foggy until 5 PM, cleared up and at 730 it got foggy again. The house was built in 1908 and then bought by AYH and restored in 1987. Cool place with quite a variety of folks hanging around. Ate a big dinner and then relaxed the evening away.

WEEK TWO SATURDAY: A JOURNEY BACK TO THE SIXTIES

 
Started out the day a bit miffed at my cyclometer because it seems to give up the ghost whenever the weather gets a bit damp. Really a nuisance as I rely on it to keep track of distances.

Had breakfast at Sis’ Restaurant in Klamath. Very home style with attentive waitresses and locals who helped themselves to the coffee and even served other customers. I loved it. The waitresses liked it as it took a workload off them when the place got packed.

Today was also the day I asked the question, “Relative to how we see things, how do birds see things? In 3-D? In color? I doubt it is in 3-D since their eyes are on opposite sides of their head. And how can they immediately tell if an object is food or a piece of plastic without even going up to it? Mysteries to all of us and apparently of interest only to me! The other guys looked at me as if I just landed from Mars.

Being cloudy, I was glad to have the cover for the climb today. Made it much more tolerable.

Took the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway off 101 and was immediately surrounded by tall stately redwoods. Stopped off to read some pamphlet material describing the difference between coastal redwoods and giant sequoia redwoods. The coastal variety is taller (up to 367 feet) but the Giant Sequoia can live up to 3200 years (more than 1200 more than the coastal cousin; it’s bark is almost 3 times thicker and it’s diameter is almost twice as large. Because of all this, it’s evident the redwoods have few natural enemies and the thick bark allows it to survive most forest fires.

Rode by Elk Prairie Campground and hoped to see the elk that populate the area but none were in sight.

The climb bordered on the surreal all morning. Also very serene and traffic free. It was so quiet I could even hear water droplets falling in the woods as I rode along. Also heard deer bounding about.

Stopped by the twisted tree (a must stop!) and climbed around in it. Simply amazing how something so huge can grow in such a strange shape. Then it was on to the “Big Tree”—another must-stop. We all got together and had our pictures taken on the tree just to get a better idea of its dimensions. I did a little climbing on it but didn’t get too far up.

I just can not understand how the logging industry feels they can or should have the right to chop down these beautiful trees. Something than can live 2000 years just does not renew quickly. The removal creates havoc with the ecology and bio-systems reliant on those very trees for their survival.

AAAH! Another hostel night. And what a hostel!! It’s called the Arcata Crew House Hostel and is straight out of the 60’s atmosphere! Felt like I was transported back 3 decades. There are 13 people living permanently in the hostel and 4 rooms are rented out to travelers during the summer.

The permanent residents are a mixed bag of folks including one guy, Mike, who makes furniture out of willow trees and another, Chris, who is a musician.

John and Dick stayed at a hotel because Dick (and presumably John) does not like hostels. The hostel costs $15 and when Dennis made reservations, the proprietor said he could get all 5 of us into the room. There were 4 bunks and one of us might have had to sleep on the floor but that’s no big deal. Slept really well but unfortunately I got what must have been the squeakiest bed on the planet. Any time I needed to roll over or go pass water it would make this infernal racket that I know disturbed the sleep of others. Such is life in a hostel, I guess! Another disadvantage I see is my hotel experience of being an early riser and in a hostel room it is hard to stay quiet while rooting around getting your gear or clothes.

Arcata’s claim to fame is Humboldt State University and the counter-culture attitude that comes with a lax marijuana driven society.

Got settled into the hostel (arrived pretty early and had to wait for them to open) then headed to the “Hey Juan” restaurant with Jim and Dave, two hikers who ended their trip here in Arcata. Jim is a photography teacher in a high school and Dave is a chemistry teacher. Also met up with Chris, whose acquaintance I’d made earlier at the hostel and who’s lived IN the hostel for 8 years!! Chris was with his friend, Dan. Earlier Chris had given me the names of several good local micro-brews and recommended Hey Juan. Had even invited me to comer along but I was waiting for Dennis and Kurt. He’s a trumpet player with few gigs in this neck of the woods. His specialty is classical and jazz.

While eating some burritos and drinking beer at Hey Juan’s, Jim made himself very visible to a girl across the street who was using a phone on the front porch. He waved her over and when she was done she came over with a pint sized version of a spitting image of the guy on the labels of “Mr. Clean” detergents. It was incredible to notice the resemblance. She said he was her “body guard.” Jim launched into one of the comic lines of the trip so far: he told her that when she smiled it lit up the sky. How cliché!! We had a great laugh at that. Jim, of course, is by now two sheets to the wind so I am not sure he remembers this.

The burritos, by the way, were great. And if you get the “death sauce” be prepared for a volcano to go off in your mouth. NASTY stuff. But good!! I sweated profusely.

Chris and Dan stayed with Dennis, Dave, Jim, Kurt, and I the rest of the evening and from Hey Juan we went to “Toby and Jack’s” where Dave insisted on buying all the pitchers of beer. We amply sampled the steelhead ale and the stout. I preferred the ale and found it to be quite tasty with a nice finish and heady bouquet. Ha ha Like I’m a beer aficionado, right? We asked Chris if people made good money in this neck of the woods. His answer was telling: “you can survive but you can’t thrive.” Poignant.

After Toby and Jack’s we were on our way to Marino’s when a guy comes up to Dan and said that Dan could kick him for $1!!!! Dan said he’d do it for 50 cents and the guy said OK! WEIRD! Finally Dan had to admit he did not want to kick the guy but was glad he’d found his niche in life. In Marino’s we partook of more local brew and discussed issues to such a degree that it resulted in the resolution of all the world’s problems. Meanwhile during discussions, the floor show treated us to serious grabbing and hugging action by a couple of lesbians. What a waste of good women (oooh, is that oinking I hear in the background?) But then again, I never said I wasn’t a chauvinistic pig.

The music scene in all the places we went to was very retro. 60s, 70s, 80s music with a touch of old blues.

The one thing I did enjoy was the smoke free atmosphere so far encountered in California. I remember reading a few months ago that many proprietors were concerned they’d lose business if they had to go smoke free. But these places we’ve been in sure do not reflect that. I suspect what has happened is that the people, like me, who hated to go to clubs and bars because of the smoke and resultant smelly hair and clothes, now are going. So it’s a totally different crowd. And by what I’ve seen, business is great! Sure wish they’d pass that law in Florida!

When all was said and done we left about 1230 AM. I had had enough and just wanted to sleep enough hours prior to getting kicked out of the hostel in the morning. Chris had a key so he let us in (It was after curfew—hoo hoo!) When we came in there were a couple of people in the sitting room smoking dope and watching “Beautiful Girls.” Very laid back. No hassles.

The hostel was built in 1904 and the sitting room has a fireplace with an ornate redwood burl ceiling. Just magnificent.

It closes in a week, possibly forever to cyclists and others in order to convert the rooms to $275 rentals for college students. So we are probably among the last to come through before doors close. I assume the manager and owners are tired of the daily hassles associated with an ever changing crowd.

Arcata is quite the music magnet: Laurie Anderson, Joan Baez, Joe Henderson are all coming to town. Lucky shits! In its role as a throwback to the 60s, Arcata goes a long way to prove it by having many VW bugs, VW combi vans, tie-dyed shirts and skirts, long hair on the men, etc. Everyone seems friendly with plenty of smiles to go around. Maybe they are stoned? If so, the world could learn something from this.

WEEK TWO SUNDAY: REST DAY AT ARCATA

 
Left the hostel and hoofed it around town. Stopped in at Los Bagels for breakfast and the daily reading of the papers. From there Dennis and I wandered to the Garden Café for more breakfast. The weather was beautiful and very conducive to the people watching done today.

While at the restaurant Dennis mentioned he wondered what it would be like to be a toilet. Always having someone sitting on you and leaving messy piles of excrement. Dennis got a bit weird with this one, that’s for sure. And they thought my question yesterday was bizarre!! Now there’s someone who just landed from Mars!!

Met up with Dick and John then went to watch a movie. Saw “Saving Private Ryan.” What an awesome movie. All I’ve heard about it was true. The first few minutes were truly shocking and so realistic. It’s as close as the American public will ever come to experiencing war short of actually being on a battlefield. Granted, there was some artistic license taken regarding uniforms and how some of the men acted but I do not believe it detracted from the movie. A real stunner. If you’ve not seen it, go now!! Or rent it and watch it on a big screen TV with the volume turned way up for the first 20 minutes.

Kurt’s been vacillating about dropping out of the ride but we hounded him and eventually convinced him that if he were to drop now he’d regret it the rest of his life. So now he will ride with us until San Francisco.

Returned to the hostel and sat around discussing all sorts of issues. Michael showed up and offered the house members some mushrooms he found in the woods. That’s something I would never eat—wild mushrooms. Heard too many stories about people having very bad experiences.

Chatted with a young lady I later named “Sweetness” as I never got her real name. She’d hitchhiked her way down the coast and had had several experiences wherein she was bailed out of ugly situations by passing strangers and other kind folks. When I asked her if attributed this good fortune to God she said she did not believe in God. Very reminiscent of a conversation I had with Scott last year. We then got into a discussion of religion so she shared her view that as human beings we are a field of energy that spreads itself out among the universe after our death.

THAT is quite another concept and the first time I’ve heard it. Really quite different from how Christians view life and death and the hereafter. But like I always say, “It takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round.”

Later in the evening I was sitting in the dining room by myself and she comes in and asks me if I smoked. Being in Arcata I knew exactly what she meant. She said she was going out to get high and wondered if I’d like to go along. I declined politely and now regret the opportunity to have chatted with her in her “heightened sense of being” (I do not regret declining the getting stoned part, though.)

She had to have been the most beautiful woman I’ve run across on this trip. To steal and improvise on Jim’s line, she truly had a smile that added another dimension to the word “gorgeous.”

And, of course, her luck continued to hold out. She told me she got into town and no sooner than did she try looking for a job than she got one. She also got a place to live—in the hostel. Some people have all the luck.

Click to read Weeks 3 and 4

You can see pictures here.

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