Saturday, September 13, 2008

Homeward bound

Our last day. We leave North Bend, commenting that after blowing by on the way south we stayed there after all. We consider which road to take home and consult with our new expert, Lisa, who took highway 38, to Reedsport, down to meet us, and highway 42, through Bandon home. She recommended highway 38 that follows the Umpqua River so we took it and had no regrets. The sun was warm and the river magnificent. To finish in style, we stopped by the winery of friends Mark and Shaghayegh who were having a seasonal winery event on the very day we were driving through. We visited with friends there and relaxed in the sun, toasting to a job well done.

It has been a wonderful trip. I would like to extend thanks to a whole lot of people for helping make it that way:

Amanda, for letting me take her bike. I had plenty others to choose from, but I got so used to that TREK 520 when it lived here for so long ... it was a great ride.

Bad Monkey's bike and skate shop in Vancouver, for tuning that bike up superbly, and with a fantastic turn around time as well.
Cheryl, who delivered Bonnie to my door for a smooth start to our trip.

Ellen, for driving us to Dismal Nitch, our starting point and then taking on the Astoria bridge with us and then traversing the Astoria bridge AGAIN before heading back home. YOU ROCK!

Lisa, for joining us for a tour of Bandon. She was tour guide deluxe, and her quick laughter was great medicine for sore muscles.

Nancy and Lisa, for watching Lily and tending to her every need. Bonnie seemed to enjoy the news of Lily antics everyday.

Steve, Jeff, and Patrick, for lovingly watching Kizzy for me, and Julie, Lucy and Annie for taking Kiz to the dog park for a wonderful day of play.

Bonnie, for planning and going on this SUPER trip with me. As I realized how easy it was to travel with you I started to worry ... if I thought you were that easy to travel with, then maybe it's because you were inconvenienced! ROTFL!! (I sincerely hope not.)

And ... to ALL OF YOU, for reading this and cheering us on!

Friday, September 12, 2008

On our way home - post ride Day 1

We slept in, read and were out before our 11 departure time. The Whales Head area was still awash in the white of fog, so we set our sights north and sun followed. We ducked into Gold Beach for a short drive around and found it a little more interesting than before.

Cape Blanco sounded nice, and if it wasn't we could escape to the car. :) We now know why it is called Cape Blanco. I doubt the sun EVER shines there. It was foggy-white beyond belief and the wind had to be 50 MPH. I got out to look but could hardly shut the door for all the wind blowing it open. We stayed 5 minutes and rejoiced that we have warmth and an engine to get outta there. It had an eerie quality, like you could film a horror movie ... a smothering feeling and a constant whistle of the wind. I climbed down the steep hillside to find it totally protected . Bonnie wondered where I'd gone thinking perhaps I was blown off the edge.

We passed Langlois, the best little town-of-nobody around. It had a library and post office, a couple artist places and a small market where I was able to score some Rock Star Juiced, like I enjoy once in a while ... which is about how often you can find it.

As we continued up the coast, we couldn't help but stop into Bandon again, and we found more fantastic places to hang out! We walked the beach, shopped a little more as well and scored a plate of fish and chips before they closed for the night at 5pm. I guess a lot of people have home cooked meals in that town.

We kept on cruising up to Coos Bay and then North Bend looking for a place to stay the night. We will be in range to have a leasurely drive back home tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Crescent City Finish - Day 7

Our original plans included getting a car in Brookings, but it was so small they had no rental car company. Alternately, we planned to rent a car out of Crescent City California, seeing the irony of renting from HERTZ only after the better part of a weeks worth of aches and pains, LOL. We blew by our intended lodging for the night fairly early, 17 miles north of Brookings, at a place called The Whaleshead Resort. We would come back to that place with a car after we were done with our ride through Brookings, then to the California Border and then 19 plus more miles to Crescent City and the Hertz rental facility. We were in California a day early. So far, being early had presented no problems whatsoever, but things were about to change. So sure it would be okay, I didn't even check to see if we could get a car early until we arrived in Crescent City. Nope. They had no cars until 9 am the next day! Wow, what a blow that was! here we were, after 67 miles of riding, at least 45 miles from our reservations for the night, and 70+ miles from the next possible town with a rental car. We needed to sit down and think and get warmed up as well. Bonnie thought coffee would do her some good so we rode through town until we found a Starbucks and went inside.
It didn't take long for the dozen and a half patrons of the establishment to hear of our plight and offer up solutions, all of which we'd already thought of. We got a phone book though and thumbed through what looked more like the a Bi Mart Christmas ad than a Yellow Pages ... excuse me ... it was BOTH white and yellow pages, LOL. Suddenly small towns seemed oppressive.
Things looked up a bit when we found 2 listings under Automobile - Rental, in their book. The other was a company we'd heard about when checking out Brookings rentals. It was a company that provided local rentals only, and for a song, we could rent a newer model vehicle back up to our place at The Whales Head and return it at the Hurts ... oh, I mean HERTZ ;) place the next day when our car was ready. We wanted to drive around the south coast area anyhow, so we could spend the rest of the day checking things out down there and be ready to head farther up the coast with our HERTZ car. Eileen at 2 Guys Auto Rental said they were only about a block from Starbucks ... we could cruise up when we were done with our hot beverages and they would get us on our way. Like, WHICH Starbucks, I thought? Figures, it's the ONLY Starbucks, and it's new as well. This guy with a well worn pair of Dickies and a cap that has a monster truck on it, like he's cheering on the monster truck team, approaches me from across the condiments counter with his cup tipped so I could look inside and asks, "Miss, is this cappachino stuff SUPPOSED to be all frothy like on the top?" He supposed all people who spend a week riding a bike just for fun down the whole Oregon coast, were no doubt from a big city and would know the answer. What he didn't realize was that I don't drink ANY coffee, and he shouldn't have expected it, given that I was standing in a coffee shop warming my hands around a hot cup of brew -- herbal tea as it turns out. Nonetheless, I authoritatively nodded yes, knowing Starbucks put frothy stuff in lots of their drinks, and sure he knew not what he ordered. He nodded affirmatively back to me, not even questioning the truth of it while scruntching up his nose "I won't order this again". I guess Starbucks should have sent a handful of Seattle 16 year olds to Crescent City, to do a tutorial on how to order coffee properly! ROTFL!
We got our car and set our sights north. Back up to Brookings with a walk at Harris Beach State Park, a place Jamie and Beth recommented. It was beautiful ... even in a foggy haze. Then, to the Whales Head for a finish line supper and a nice warm hot tub to relax in!

Gold Beach to California border and beyond - Day 7

Leaving Gold Beach was easy. Throughout our trip we have been noting spots we'll want to explore a little more with a car as we head home, and Gold Beach didn't really make the list. We started out in a fog so heavy we got wet from riding through it. I figured it would burn off in no time but it didn't. I started with lots of clothes and lighted vest, then removed extra layers and just had the lights, because it wasn't that cold, just misty - my glasses and skin then got dew covered and I was verging on uncomfortable until I got hold of myself and did a reality check ... we had just ridden nearly 400 miles down the coast of Oregon in September without a drop of rain!!! Even this fog, was a minor inconvenience; it just collected on us as we moved so fast through it, LOL. We each found a tolerable combination of clothes and kept moving, up several climbs and then down. I found it most comfortable without glasses or jacket as I warmed on those up hill challenges ... at the top of the first big one the pavement was graffitied "nice warm up" and we figured it was prepping us for what was ahead. Yikes!

Over the course of the last week, have made a few observations about riding a highway that you don't see ... or see differently, driving a car. Some we liked, others we didn't, here are a few:

..... I scratched my head, perplexed when I saw signs reporting "BICYCLES ENTERING ROADWAY". Mostly, we were ALWAYS on the roadway. Still every hundred miles or so ... maybe in a narrow place ... maybe not, they remind the drivers we are out there. Hmmm. I guess its like when we were in a construction zone in Northern California today, with those flagger people with orange vests, walkie-talkies and a duel stop/slow sign in hand. This particular flagger lady had us wait until last to proceed through an area of one-way traffic. As the last of the north-bound cars cleared, she got a message from her south-end buddy "white toyota pick-up" and then released our fellow south-bound travelers with engines. As she held up the stop sign for the next transition and let the two of us have our turn at the tail end, we heard her call into her walkie-talkie "18wheeler, unloaded, Dickens Company logo on door".
"WHAT ABOUT US," we screamed as we rode fast to try to catch that 18 wheeler! Sometimes you just don't count when you're on a bike.
Here's another ...

...... "ROUGH ROADWAY". You just don't get a good sense of "rough" from your car, or even walking, like you do from a bike. Even when it's not posted, it's often rough. There are miles of new roadway down hwy 101, owing mostly to unstable coastal soil. Cracks in the existing pavement are painted, no doubt under the scrutiny of the highway department's watchful eye. Anyway, old and new layers of pavement meet irregularly ... yes ... in the bike lane. Exactly where you feel it most.

...... "Passing lane 1/2 mile ahead" Not a good sign. On pedal-power, that means you're coming to a hill, probably a very, looooooong one.

..... On the other hand, "RIGHT LANE ENDS" is a very, VERY, good sign. From my bike, it is a sign of hope. We are approaching a DOWNHILL! Yeah! :)

..... Strangely enough, I learned to appreciate those big trucks for there ability to draft me just a little. Every bit helps when you've been on a hill for an eternity and your quads feel the burn.

Well, we made it to California, cold and cloudy, but our trip wasn't over yet ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ahead of schedule - Bandon to Gold Beach - day 6

Our visit in Bandon kept us off the road until 1pm, when we bid farewell to Lisa after a good breakfast and quite a few laughs, and headed to our new destination - Port Orford. I knew we weren't going to stop in Port Orford when Bonnie didn't even slow down to take a picture of the "welcome to Port Orford" sign. The ride there was unremarkable. Though the weather was pleasant, there were no astounding vistas to mark our trip and I never stopped to take a single picture, ohmygosh!
Instead we were headed to Gold Beach, and I was grateful. It sounded like a quaint place and Port Orford looked to be just another blip on the map. We stopped at a local grocery and grabbed a quick snack, talked over plans for the night in Gold Beach, guessing we would arrive about 5-6 pm. Off we went for the last leg of the night, expecting more scenery as we had seen since Bandon. Alas, we were MOST pleasantly surprised!
The road out of Port Orford opened up to a spectacular view of blue-green water with sandy beaches and interesting rocks standing irregularly against the magnificently sculpted coastline. It was a totally jaw-dropping moment. We stopped at Battle Park at the south end of Port Orford and captured it there in the late afternoon sun, on camera. This remarkable view continued down all 35 miles of coastline that we traveled to Gold Beach, where the folks at the Azalea Lodge welcomed us a day early. Then dinner at Spinners and a quick look around town.

Like ... what town? Although the trip to Gold Beach was AMAZING, Gold Beach itself was blah. No cute waterfront or boats in port. No boardwalk or even street side baskets of flowers. We had higher hopes for Gold Beach for sure. Leaving in the early morning was going to be easy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A day in Bandon - Day 5

"We have a ride to dinner!" Bonnie sang while doing a happy dance. Lisa met us on our way in town. We cleaned up quickly and went out to eat - IN A CAR! :) Hungry from a fun fruit and one cookie lunch, we were rewarded with a great dinner at the Crows Nest, a bar above the Wheelhouse restaurant in Old Town, Bandon. They serve a full menu up there and the view of the Bay is spectacular. Afterwards, we drove to the Bandon Marsh and walked out to the viewpoint, chatting with folks from Manitoba as we watched Canadian Geese fly in onto the water. Humans and fowl, travelers all.
The waterfront in Bandon is very nice. We walked that as well and took in the sunset with a multitude of pictures on every possible setting with all our cameras, then back to the Hotel La Kris, since these small towns close up early - seriously. The restaurants clost for the day somewhere between 5 and 6:30! Luckily, the Dairy Queen next door was still open so we got a little treat. Now this morning, after a bit of laundry we will have breakfast and check the town some more.

Rolling along - Day 5 - Florence to Bandon

It was another great day for a ride today. We left the cute, clean, little Motel called the Ocean Breeze before 9am, in search of a good breakfast spot. On our way we mingled with some biking chicks traveling from Seattle with a group of friends. I got to chat with Sherrie. for a while. She is traveling to Brookings, but some of the members of her group will continue on to LA. They're staying in campgrounds and have a friend sagging their gear.
We found our breakfast in Reedsport, happy that we had made good progress. We had a couple of options for today. We could stop in North Bend, or continue on through to Bandon. also a consideration was Lisa, a friend that was planning on joining us for the day. Unsure of how we would hook up, we sent her to Reedsport to catch 101. We passed by a few dune filled waysides and campgrounds that would have been worth checking out but we were less sightseers today, and more bikers. Quite early we were in North Bend. Have you been to N Bend? It's plain ... nothing caught our eye or screamed "stop here". Seems to me North Bend is a great place to be LEAVING ... so we did. On the bridge into town, we had to walk our bikes 2 miles as it was under construction. We traversed amid signs that mandated ear and eye protection. The view was part stunning( in the waterway and hills), and part trash heap. We couldn't get outta town fast enough. CoosBay was just right around the corner and it was much better, but we only had 25 more miles to Bandon. We texted Lisa our new location while standing in front of Les Schwab's, so we pottied there, drank water, and had a bit of popcorn as well, since we knew Les wouldn't mind. We met a lady there who told us she used to live 3 blocks from Steve Prefontane when she was a kid. She said he used to run past her house everyday. I was thinking he probably ran past EVERYBODY'S house EVERYDAY ... but there you have it. Essential Coos Bay history to be learned right there at Les Schwab's!
We kept on moving. There were more flats and downhills than before and we had high hopes of a ride to Dinner.