9/9 – 9/18
Oregon offered so many things. Perhaps most importantly, it offered a great reminder of the complexity of America and the fact that you can’t be too quick to put a personality in a box of assumptions. Leapfrog down the 101 with several other cyclists. Two Italian boys, 19 years old. Flew into Seattle and bought two bikes and 1 trailer for $150. All their gear in the trailer and they took turns pulling. Sat at camp and played “No woman no cry” to reinforce traveler clichés of mine. Remebering two Italian boys in the room next to mine in Jamaica and their nightly escapades to be the sexual ambassadors of their country. Wander out to patio in the morning and they’re still up, drinking and smoking cigarettes, them and the nights catch all in underwear. Haggard and worn, but content.
Kiwi girl circling west coast until visa expiration empty pockets. Two young Canadians, Max and Sarah, that met along the way. Didn’t always ride together. Max gets in first and leaves notes on campground tables saying “Down at the beach, beautiful night, meet me there?”
Pouring rain wake up in Cape Lookout and one of my bags missing. Scour campground and see everything flooded. One tent on a picnic table, most bikers moved to the pavilion. Small lake encroaching on our site. Find bag in bushes, likely stolen by raccoons. Take refuge in pavilion for coffee until torrent passes. Everyone rides to little hotel in Pacific City.
Underwear slung from handlebars. Sleeping bags draped over chairs outside and tents setup in parking lot to dry. We bring ours in early. Pours again and naked cyclists come running out of their rooms to save gear. Pizza and movie night. Try to sit and relax, but ever aware of the triple buzzing of the fridge, fan, and lighting. They cannot harmonize like the ocean wind and rain.
Whales at Boiler Bay. Roadside blackberries poisoned by municipal efforts of polished street sides through weekly herbicide spraying. Chat with a nice couple over breakfast and a Michigan man keeps interrupting to tell me how terrible Detroit is and how we’ll probably get killed in Mexico.
Washburn to Florence ride up winding stretch along coast with old limestone blocks to safeguard all from aimlessly wandering off edge into ocean. Reminds me of ride in Zion to Mt. Carmel Tunnel with sea instead of red sandstone cliffs on my right. The people’s coast! Everything you dream of in an extended ride. Perpetual views of pristine sea, cliffs, and sand. Easy climbs and gradual descents. Mile long tunnels where you push a button to turn on blinking image of cyclist to inform drivers that you’re in there somewhere. Everything wet. Everything green. Stop at little country stores and they still use cash registers with buttons, no computers, no credit cards. Woman hits the perfect combination and plays the notes to “Shave and a haircut” and the drawer flies open and coins crash over the edge. I point it out and she does it over and over then realizes her boss will be angry when the day’s totals are off.
Arrive at Warmshowers host and go hunting for chanterelle mushrooms. Consider staying an extra day to go fishing but realize that we have conflicting ideologies and it is best that we move on. Bump into kiwi girl and Canadian lovers at the bar and they all get invited back to the house which cuts the edge a bit although our host keeps referring to all of us as freeloaders. Good dinner and conversation with the other riders though. Try to leave without seeing anyone and use all but enough coffee for half a cup out of spite and owner awakes as we’re leaving. I offer thanks and extend my hand to say goodbye and illustrate a lack for hard feelings.
“I’m not touching your grubby cycle gloves.” Bumps my fist with his and we depart.
Fried Chicken late breakfast 15 miles outside of Florence. Beautiful easy morning along the river. No wind and small hills.
Previous day’s drama gone from our minds by noon. Ride casually but quickly without the vertical and meteorological impediments that have been commonplace. Stopping for lunch at little lakeside convenience stores and taking in the river when there is a nice view. Original destination for the day was Triangle Lake. Locals say it is mostly private land and hard to camp. We take note of a few spots along the side of the road, but then notice a church with a huge lake front property. Given the previous night’s experience, the fact that I am sometimes told that I look like a Muslim with my stubbly beard, not knowing the propensity of violence for the congregation, and the fact that the following day was the sabbath and we would most certainly be discovered before leaving; we decided that this was not a good option for stealth camping. There was a barbeque next door though, so we went with the direct route of asking an attendee if they knew a good place in the area to camp.
“I mean our yard is probably the best place, but let me see if my husband knows of anything.” Her husband’s name was Gary. His face was slender with a grey and black beard. The skin still tight and full of color. The look of a man that has spent a good chunk of his years outdoors and eating vegetables. “He’s a cyclist too.”
“They should camp in our yard” he concurred, “You eat yet?”
“That is a generous offer, but do you mind if we confer for a moment? We sort of had a weird night at a stranger’s house yesterday and need to think about it” Soph and I take a step back to discuss the previous night, this couple, and whether or not we’re ready to stay at somebody’s house again. We walk back over to the wife, Laura. “So just one quick question.”
“Are you two white supremacists that will vehemently attempt to indoctrinate us with conspiracy theories and the belief that white Americans are genetically superior to all other races and then tell us to leave if we don’t agree with you? If so, no judgement whatsoever, I would just say that it is not the situation that we’re looking for and we will probably just wild camp somewhere.”
“Ummm no, we’re not.” Soph and I let out a simultaneous sigh of relief. “But we do have cats, are you allergic to cats?”
It was another 9 miles to their place. The road twisted through a funny mix of decaying cedar shake homes peppered throughout the forest with mossy roofs and a menagerie of religious figures and worn farm equipment. Every now and then there would be what appeared to be a new home built by a retired California hippy with odd shaped windows and perfect little gardens and orchards. There appeared to be a local ordinance stating that when you build a new home you have to leave the little old dilapidated clapboard barn to rot and return to the earth….
Sat at Gary and Laura’s until 2 the next day while they were in Eugene at church. Rainy. Classical music inside, coffee, peace. Wet ride to Eugene. Dinner with Tony, Jess, and Casey who we met in Juno when they picked us up hitchhiking to the Mendenhal Glacier. Lego trains and photo albums and floss dances. They seem so excited to see us. Share stories of going through similar areas. Casey has his hair done up and favorite tank top. Planetarium show on the ceiling. As I tell a story I realize they’ve been following our blog the whole way and I need to keep certain stories offline for occasions like this.
1 hour ride in the dark through Eugene to Rachel’s. Old Detroit Pedicabbing friend. Boyfriend Jack is cool. Lawyer businessman day trader and meditator traveller. Rachel tells us that she is pregnant and we sit around on the living room floor and chat into the night and catch up and try to teach Soph and Jack all about the dangerous lives of pedicab drivers in Detroit. Ended up taking two full rest days. Take them to dinner and make our special spinach curry feast followed by magic berry dessert.
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