Introduction - June 14, 2014

Last summer, while closing out the commercial fishing season in the Southwestern District of Prince William Sound, Alaska, I started thinking seriously about what the next summer would be like. I've been seining for pink salmon over the summer off and on since I was thirteen years old on my father's boat. I have loved this experience for too many reasons to list. Over the years, my entire family have, at one time or another, been involved in this industry. The salmon runs in Alaska have coincided perfectly with my public school teaching summer vacation. Over the past fourteen years, I have taught many different courses in grades four through twelve. Most of my time has been spent at the eighth grade level. I love my job. For the past five years, after saying goodbye to my students at the end of the school year, I've hopped a flight to Cordova, Alaska, to help get the boat ready in time to make the early run of pinks in Valdez Arm. The summer always ends fishing the later run in the southwestern part of the sound. I typically return to my home on Whidbey Island about a week before school starts. It's been interesting living in two completely different worlds every year. I decided to commit to living another new lifestyle the next summer - one of a bicycle tourist. It was time to say goodbye to Alaska for a season and realize my dream of cycling down the Pacific coastline, something I'd been wanting to do for quite some time.

So here I am, sitting at my computer two days before I plan to embark on this journey. The school year ended yesterday. Fourth quarter grades have been recorded and my classroom is clean. I'm happy to have a wife (Christina) that supports my wanting to give this lengthy trip a shot. I haven't started packing and don't really know where the first campsite will be. I am bringing good bicycle maps and am lucky to have my teaching colleague and longtime friend, Charlie Snelling, join me for at least a portion of the trek. I plan to use my iPhone 4 with the Blogger application to frequently update this page with descriptions of the day and, hopefully, several pictures. I'm truly looking forward to this.

Day 1 - Home to Kitsap Memorial State Park - June 16, 2014

Stepping Out the Front Door - Home on Whidbey Island

Saturday, I spent time off-and-on packing for the trip. I wanted to keep my load relatively light. Everything I needed fit into my two rear panniers and a handlebar bag. I'm sure that there are a few small items I will pick up on the trip, but having backpacked for many years, I know that the gear I brought will keep me comfortable.

The first day started in the pouring rain. I had a big smile on my face as I climbed the hills near my home. I met Charlie in Freeland. When I arrived, he was analyzing the front end of his bike. He was worried because it seemed to shimmy as he peddled. I took it for a short spin around the WiFire Cafe parking lot. We decided to take it to our local Half Link bicycle shop to see what David, the owner, thought. He determined that the bushings in his fork were shot. We grabbed a coffee at the newish cafe at the Bayview Farm and Garden while we waited. I ran into my aunt and a friend of hers. We talked about the trip. It was neat to see them. They wished us luck as we headed north to catch the ferry to Port Townsend.

After arriving in Port Townsend, we hit the local Mexican place close to the ferry. I had the "Burrito Grande" which ended up being my last meal of the day due to its mammoth size. We then moved down the road at a reasonable clip, eating up mileage. There were a few tough hills heading down Paradise Bay Road. It did feel good to get up and out of the saddle for awhile while tackling the hills. We took a short detour into Port Gamble to watch a little of the United States vs. Ghana World  Cup soccer game.

Our day ended about three-and-half miles down the road at Kitsap Memorial State Park. The facilities here are nice and they have a large, open field. I did my regular yoga routine around sunset while looking out over Hood Canal. In all, we covered about fifty-five miles today. I look forward to tomorrow's ride.

Hood Canal at Sunset - Kitsap Memorial State Park

Day 2 - Kitsap Memorial State Park to Twanoh State Park - June 17, 2014

Today started at 7:00 AM. The hiker-biker site at Kitsap Memorial State Park was a little out of the way in the deep woods. Cost: $12 per night in Washington. I had to turn over quite a few times throughout the night, but slept well. I'll get used to the pad in about three or four days. Over extended trips, I grow to like the Z-Lite pad. We pedaled out of the campsite at 8:00 after a brief chat with an RV camper who was interested in our trip.

We stopped in a Silverdale cafe, just off highway three, for a quick breakfast. We talked to a guy that previously served  in the New York City Fire Department. He briefly demonstrated how to enter a building and put out a fire. Blast the ceiling with water. It's all about the steam...

We moved on through the outskirts of Bremerton and into Belfair. Before getting back on highway three, we hit the DQ. The Butterfinger Blizzard wrecked me for the next five miles.

Taking a right on 106, we skirted the southern end of Hood Canal and coasted into Twanoh State Park at around four o'clock. The ranger was courteous and informative. The hiker-biker site was right on the canal itself. After taking a hot shower, I strolled around the park. The picnic sites were amazing. The construction looks to be from 1930's era. One shelter had a large stone fireplace and stove for cooking on. I got a little sentimental thinking about all the families that have enjoyed themselves using the site over the years. It is my hope that the state can maintain these publicly owned lands for future users.

I figure that we did about forty-five miles today. In the two days I've been on the road, I've seen only three other groups of bicycle tourists, all of which were headed north. Walking to the shower at the end of the day, I met a couple other guys that were headed south. They had started in Montana and were heading toward Santa Cruz, California. They looked like they had really fine-tuned their game over the last month on the road.

As a public school teacher, it takes time to come down off of the demands of the classroom. My mind is still there, but I'm already beginning to notice a slight change in mentality after just a couple days on the road. This mental shift was certainly a major reason I decided to embark on this trip to the border.

Hiker-Biker Campsite on Hood Canal - Twanoh State Park

Day 3 - Twanoh State Park to Free Camp Outside Porter - June 18, 2014

Clearcut Napping Spot with "Stickstand" - Cloquallam Road

Snelling and I woke up at around six o'clock this morning and were on the road at seven. I'm really starting to get used to the sleeping pad. I poached a little power for my iPhone from an outlet outside one of the park maintance buildings. Yesterday, the ranger encouraged us to continue to follow 106 down the southernmost part of Hood Canal until we hit highway 101. We followed his advice, with one exception. Snelling noticed a shortcut called Purdy Cutoff. We took a left turn and followed it to 101. With little development, huge Bigleaf Maples, scattered old growth Cedar, fast running streams and blooming Foxglove, the Purdy Cutoff was just that - purdy.

By nine o'clock, we were eating at Nita's Restaurant in Shelton. I enjoyed a stack of their buttermilk pancakes and a fried egg over-easy. We missed Nita, the ninety-year-old owner who takes Wednesdays off, but signed her guest book. The cook/server was interested in our trip. I left satisfied and a bit over-stuffed.

We left Shelton and headed out Cloquallam Road. The first part was quite a climb. The road finally leveled out and so did my heart rate. That quickly changed as I was run down by a large black dog. My main concern was my right ankle, but he was all bark and no bite. Around the Lost Lake area we caught a nice downhill and headed past Bulb Farm Road. There were many clear cuts in this area so we pulled on the breaks and slipped up one of the logging roads. I had a tuna sandwich, threw out my sleeping pad and bag and took a nap. Our daily schedule is being worked out. My vote is for the midday nap.

After waking, I took a picture of the spot with my bike on a "Stickstand." We then moved on down the road to Elma. There, we had teriyaki and picked up a few groceries for the morning. We pedaled about seven miles down South Bank Road along the Chehalis river and found a place to free camp on the west side of the bridge that lead to the small town of Porter. We found privacy from the road up against some tall grasses and blackberry vines. It was a beautiful spot looking out over a field of grass. All total, we cycled about fifty-five miles today.

Free Camp - Porter, Washington

Day 4 - Free Camp Outside Porter to Lewis and Clark State Park - June 19, 2014

Memorial Outside "Timberland" Library - Centralia, Washington

woke up at about five o'clock today feeling fully rested. The sky was overcast. Each long piece of grass held a single dewdrop just below its tip. I'm finding it easy to get lost in the details out here.

We were on the road headed south by six. We passed through Oakville, looking for a breakfast spot, but everything was closed. We pushed on down the road for about seven miles to Rochester. We hit the Highway Diner, just as we entered town. I had the blueberry pancakes and an egg. There seems to be a pattern here. The waitress told me that they use local blueberries. The food and service was outstanding. We went over the route for the day and looked forward to our next big stop - Centralia.

We arrived in Centralia before noon. We stopped at their beautiful "Timberland" Library. Outside, there were several memorials to recent wars and union activities. I took the time to reflect, then moved into the library. I charged my phone while checking email and learning a little bit about Centralia on one of their computer terminals. We stopped by a Mexican restaurant and grocery store before leaving the town.

Looking at the map, I thought that their would be a few hills leaving Centralia. I was correct. Centralia Alpha Road offers a pretty good climb. Luckily, I've noticed that my legs and hips have become stronger the last few days. The payoff for our toil was a picturesque glimpse of Mt. Saint Helens. I'd like to hike to the crater in the near future.

Later, we cycled down Tauscher Road. There was a huge downhill that took my breath away. It was hard to lay off the breaks. I don't ever remember going that fast on a bike. I wish I had invested in a bike speedometer.

We pulled into Lewis and Clark State Park around 5:00. The campsite host told us that we could choose any site in the park at the hiker-biker price. I'm amazed that our Washington State Parks are so empty this time of year. I encourage everyone to hit the road and visit them. This particular site was very beautiful. Upon arrival, I had dinner, took a shower and practiced yoga. I met two brothers from Pittsburg, PA. One had landed his first teaching job in Texas and was on a well-earned vacation. They had road tripped up the coast of California and Oregon and were headed to Olympic National Park. I suggested they hike the Ozette Triangle. It started raining in the evening, so I slipped into my bivy sack to finish my blog entry. We cycled fifty miles today. There is nothing else I'd rather be doing.

Day 5 - Lewis and Clark Campground to County Line Park - June 20, 2014

The Founder - Longview, Washington

It rained hard last night for several hours. I had not set up my tarp, but weathered it out just fine in my bivouac sack. Over the years, I've spent many nights in wind and rain in my bivy. I really don't think that people stay drier in tents. I do admit that I should have set up my tarp in the evening. The rain caught me by surprise at midnight, and I didn't have the get-up-and-go to drag myself out to pitch the tarp after the deluge started.

We hit the road around six o'clock and peddled twenty-three miles to Castle Rock. We had breakfast at Lacey Rha's Cafe, a little diner that used to be a small theater. The service and food were great. 

We decided to take highway 411 down to Longview to get groceries. I placed an earbud in my right ear and enjoyed listening to the Allman Brothers Band on the way in. I was given the album "Eat a Peach" by my good friend Justin before heading on this tour. I particularly enjoyed the thirty-three minute "Mountain Jam" and Justin's favorite "Blue Sky" while pedaling toward Longview.

Once there, I dropped a few items that I didn't need in an envelope bound for Whidbey. We then shot over to Robert Long Park in the middle of town for a quick lunch. Wanting to reach our campsite at a reasonable time, we left town on the well-traveled Ocean Beach Road.

After another sixteen miles of cycling, we pulled into County Line Park. Located on the Columbia River, the site offered a view of our first goal - Oregon. All of the tent sites were taken, but the kind campsite host offered us a less desirable spot for six dollars. What a steal. The facilities were nice and showers were cheap. A tug ran by in the evening bound for Portland. I thought about my son, brother and father in Cordova, Alaska, as I watched it move on. I hope they have a great seine season. In all, we cycled about fifty miles today.

Tug on the Columbia - County Line Park

Day 6 - County Line Park to Seaside International Hostel - June 21, 2014

Crossing the Border - Westport Ferry

woke up this morning and was surprised to see an older "Nomad" RV parked right next to me. The fact that I didn't hear it drive in confirms how well I'm sleeping on this trip. It was a special moment looking out on the Columbia rolling by in the early morning. Before leaving, I noticed that my rear tire was flat. I changed out the tube and we were on the road by 7:30.

The ten miles to Cathlamet on Ocean Beach Road was relaxing. The shoulder was good and the pavement smooth compared to the eastern section we did the previous day.

We stopped at Thyme Square Bistro for breakfast. The service and food were very good. The waiter told us that the ferry to Westport left on the hour. We planned on catching the 11:00 ferry, so we quit the restaurant in plenty of time to cycle over Puget Island and board it.

The ferry was an open vessel that could only take a small number of cars to Westport at a time. According to the deckhand, the ferry was owned by the county. We parked our bicycles on the port side and enjoyed the ride.

After arriving in Westport, we swung into a local Texaco, grabbed groceries and watered up. The counter clerk assured me that we had three major hills to climb on highway 30 before reaching Astoria. The first climb was the longest and worth the effort. We peddled into a park at the peak and looked out over the Columbia. While there, I enjoyed an apple pie and talked to another local cyclist. He was "horsing around" for the day, visiting a few waterfalls that, according to him, the general population knew nothing of. He claimed one was seventy-one feet high. I would like to check those out someday. We left the top and enjoyed the ups and downs into Astoria. As I took the hills, I was conscious of the fact that I was becoming a stronger cyclist.

After entering Astoria, Snelling and I stopped at the Rogue Public House on pier 39 for a drink and an opportunity to carefully look at our maps. We decided to put in a little more time in the saddle and ride highway 101 into Seaside for the evening.

We crossed the 101 bridge and headed south. With a relatively flat grade and the wind at our backs, we reached Seaside in a flash. I was happy to ride on a wide shoulder all the way. As I was pedaling, I pondered where we would be sleeping for the night. My cycling map gave me a couple options in the immediate area.

After being turned down at the Thousand Trails campsite, we road to Seaside International Hostel. The woman at the front desk was very kind. She offered us a room, but gave us the option of sleeping on the front lawn for fifteen dollars. We decided to take her up on the latter offer. After setting up my bivy under the protection of a small shrub, I unpacked my dinner and ate in the common room.

After dinner, Snelling and I struck up a conversation with a Norwegian woman named Hilde who was also cycling the coast. She was a surgical nurse from Oslo who was taking an extended holiday in the states. She had just attempted to summit Denali, but was turned back due to weather conditions. After completing the coast route, she planned on taking a plane to Ecuador to meet her sister and continue touring. Hilde was getting the most out of her time away from her job at the hospital.

I took a hot shower and sunk into a chair in the common room to work on my blog entry and wait for our laundry to finish. We cycled approximately fifty-five miles today.

Inviting Hostel - Seaside, Oregon

Day 7 - Seaside International Hostel to Cape Lookout State Park - June 22, 2014

Overlook - Cape Falcon

I woke up around six-thirty this morning having slept well. I went inside the hostel and found our load of laundry dry and waiting for us in a basket. Small acts of kindness sure make a difference, especially when you are on the road. I quickly folded my clothing and packed my bags. The two of us then cycled a couple blocks to the Seaside Coffee House for breakfast. The food and coffee hit the spot. Unfortunately, I left my waterproof windbreaker on the chair I was sitting on. I didn't find out about this misstep until we were settled in at our campsite in the evening. My plan is to contact the cafe tomorrow morning. If they have the coat, I'll see of I can work something out with them to get it back. The forecast is for rain on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how this subplot works out.

After leaving Seaside, we didn't make any extended stops until we reached Cape Falcon. The overlook on the top was breathtaking. We took advantage of the photo opportunity as we could see quite a distance south. After taking a much needed break, we enjoyed the long downhill plunge into Manzanita.

The two of us previewed what Manzanita had to offer before deciding to grab a bite of Mexican food. I have been eating much more frequently that I do at home on this trip. When putting in a lot of miles, it's been important to make sure that there is enough fuel in the system to burn. I guess that I'm laboring the obvious. Before leaving, we stopped by a bicycle rental shop and asked that they add a little pressure to our tires. The kind owner was very happy to help and we were back at full PSI in no time.

We then pushed on to Tillamook. The  wind was at our back and we were able to cover the distance very quickly. Subway and Safeway drew our attention for dinner foods. After stashing the purchased items in our panniers, we moved on to our campsite - Cape Lookout State Park.

The hiker-biker sites at the park were, in my opinion, the best we had encountered yet. All were in the woods, just up from the beach, and there were many to choose from. I had dinner, threw a change of clothes in one pannier and road to the showers. After cleaning up, I walked out just in time to witness the sunset. Campers poured onto the beach to catch a view of the spectacular moment. I then hopped on my bike and road back to the campsite to tidy up equipment, practice yoga and do a little blogging. We did just over sixty miles of cycling today.

Sunset and Helmet - Cape Lookout State Park

Day 8 - Cape Lookout State Park to Devil's Lake State Park - June 23, 2014

Beach Breakfast - Cape Lookout State Park

We took our time getting out on the road this morning. Yesterday was our longest day so far, and we needed the sleep. I took my breakfast to a picnic table overlooking the ocean and watched the waves roll in. We left our campsite around 9:30 AM knowing that we had a hard climb up Cape Lookout to look forward to.

The trip to the top was approximately 800 feet of elevation gain. According to my maps, this was the toughest climb we will encounter on the Oregon coast. It didn't actually take that much effort to get to the top due to our being fresh out of our sleeping bags. The long winding road down was a blast, although I had to keep my attention sharp. I felt like I was skiing a giant slalom that hadn't been completely groomed. There was rough pavement around every corner. It's not always easy to see when the evergreens cast dark shadows over the roadway.

We pedaled into the outskirts of Pacific City and stopped at the Stimulus Espresso Cafe. While locking up my bicycle, I had a conversation with a couple who were vacationing on the coast. They were interested in my adventures so far and offered to buy me a coffee. I was very pleased to accept and will look for an opportunity to pay it forward.

While sipping the freebie, I did a little research on my phone regarding general delivery to the Brookings Post Office. Armed with my information, I called the Seaside Coffee House with my fingers crossed, hoping they had my coat. They did! I gave the barista the information she needed and she promised to mail it general delivery to Brookings. I'll pick back up with the saga of my lost jacket in due time.

Later, Snelling and I had a conversation with a fellow cycle tourist named Tim who was also heading south. He has done the Pacific coast tour before and offered some helpful information. He also clued me into an idea for my 8th grade Adventure Education students. There is an old railroad grade in Washington that begins in North Bend and continues through to Ellensburg. We wouldn't have to fight traffic and could do the trip in about five nights of camping. I'll have to research the logistics of this tour when I return home.

Before leaving Pacific City, we hit the local library. I uploaded a video that Snelling took with his iPhone to YouTube. A local grocery store was in the immediate area of the library, so we stopped and bought groceries for the evening. We headed out ready to push to our campsite at Devil's Lake.

We came upon a road crew just one mile out of town. We found out that we would be traveling on gravel for the next two miles. The flagger suggested that we take an alternate route, but we decided to forge ahead. The road wasn't too bad, but the going was extremely slow. At the halfway point, I talked to another female flagger. She had been putting in thirteen hour days lately on the stretch of road we were on. I looked at her closely. She wasn't lying.

Everything changed when we hit 101. I felt like I was riding on a ribbon of silk. The shoulder was wide and smooth. Also, there wasn't any traffic to speak of. We covered several miles, then came to the base of Cascade Head. The climb was over 700 feet of elevation. It wasn't a hard climb, but it seemed as though it went for miles. We took the downhill, exited 101 onto the eastern road around Devil's Lake, turned toward Lincoln City and followed the signs to our campsite.

I chose an open spot at the top of the hiker-biker designated camping area, ate dinner and took a shower. Expecting rain,  I decided to set up my tarp. There was only single trees available, so I tied off to my bicycle. I like the problem solving that comes naturally out here.

As the evening progressed, more and more bicycle tourists arrived. Before dark, there were at least fifteen of us in a relatively small area. It was enjoyable talking to different individuals and couples. One particular group of three were planning on touring for two years. One of the three worked online for the television show "The Biggest Loser." She told me that they would stop from time to time so that she could work on her laptop. She had spent the day working on it at Starbucks. Their goal was to circumnavigate the entire United States. It sounded like their plans had changed dramatically throughout the eleven weeks they had been on the road. For one, they had taken on a puppy which they were pulling in a small cart. The woman told me that he had stopped growing. This was, at best, a hopeful guess.

We cycled forty miles today.

"Bikestake" - Devil's Lake State Park

Day 9 - Devil's Lake State Park to Beachside State Park - June 24, 2014

Lighthouse - Yaquina Head

Today, I woke up to overcast skies which looked like they wanted to rain. I packed up quickly and headed into Lincoln City. I found the Corner Cafe less than a mile up the road. I ordered coffee and waited for Snelling to arrive. It's become customary to take shelter in little caf├ęs in the morning. I have begun to look forward to that time of day. The waitress was kind and the omelette I had was filling. After being given the check, I asked for a garbage bag. The forcast  mentioned rain for the foreseeable future. This has weighed heavy on my mind. I figured that I could wear a plastic bag to keep the rain off until we arrived at Brookings. She brought two black bags for me to use. I took them and felt confident. The only downside to this stop was my getting the 70's song "Dream Weaver" stuck in my mind.

We pedaled out of Lincoln City and took on a long stretch of coast. There were multiple viewing areas on Otter Crest Loop, an alternate route to 101. At one point, we stopped to gaze down at the spectacular Devil's Punchbowl and, further south, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. I decided that I wanted to check it out up close. A few miles up the road we took a short detour to the lighthouse. I'm glad we did. There was a gray whale feeding off Yaquina Head. It was in no hurry and came up often to breathe. The lighthouse itself was commanding. It was interesting to read some of the logbook entries from the 1800's. The keeper and his family lived on the premises. One entry described a family party where the keeper and his wife dressed in each other's clothes - wild times at Yaquina Head. I hit the road to Newport with party ideas on my mind.

We stopped at Newport's library to take a break from the harsh sun and do a little reading. Heading down Olive Street, we pulled over at a lemonade stand being run by two elementary-age, sibling entrepreneurs. We brought a couple lukewarm drinks, thanked them and pedaled on down the road.

Powering through mileage, we rolled into Wakonda Beach for a quick drink and a grocery stop at Ray's Food Place. On the way out with our dinner, I was approached by PJ Key, an early twenty-something with a big smile and beard. He was on a three-year backpacking trip of the lower forty-eight. He claimed to have never paid for accommodations due to his "sneak camping" prowess. He was living the dream while packing heat at his side - a Glock 9. He had been traveling down local rivers using a lightweight backpacking raft. I left him thinking "Into the Wild."

Cycling a few more miles we pulled into Beachside State Park, just off highway 101. The hiker-biker site was nice and I ended the day with dinner and a shower.

We cycled just shy of fifty miles today.

Interior Setup - Beachside State Park

Day 10 - Beachside State Park to Honeyman State Park - June 25, 2014

Lighthouse and Fog - Heceta Head

I woke up around 8:30 AM and checked the weather report. Rain was on the agenda for the day. I hustled my gear together and pedaled six miles down 101 to Yachats. The Alder Restaurant called my name. I entered and waited for Snelling to arrive. We had a good breakfast and talked about the mileage for the day. We backtracked to the library. I answered a little work email then moved on down the coast.

The stretch out of Yachats was peppered with state parks and lookout points. A light mist kept us cool. We stopped for a quick lunch break just south of Heceta Head. The lighthouse on the head was lightly shrouded in fog. Below, sealions basked on the rocks. The Oregon coastline couldn't possibly be taken in on one bicycle trip. There are many spots I would like to return to.

South of Heceta Head, the shoulder was rather inadequate. Luckily, drivers were, for the most part, courteous. I was happy to hit the base of the hill and experience a flat, large shoulder. The misty dampness had, by this time, changed to rain. We cycled to the northern outskirts of Florence. I spotted the 37th Street Laundry. We had clothes to wash and a desire to get out of the rain. We hunkered down in the laundromat for ninety minutes. Other bicycle tourists had the same idea. At one point, there were five of us using laundry as an excuse to get out of the rain. One bearded man was from Australia. He had started in Vancouver and was planning on heading all the way to San Diego.

After I finished folding my clean clothes, I took out my garbage bag and cut holes for my head and arms. The fit was great. If I find extra time, I have enough plastic left for sleeves. I will need a little duct tape. The garbage bag really helped keep the rain off for the rest of the day. We stopped at Burgers and Brew in old town Florence for a bite before biking the final six miles to Honeyman State Park.

The hiker-biker site at Honeyman was well marked. I was surprised to see six tents already set up. Cyclists were hunkered down for the evening at eight o'clock. Only one small group was stirring. I found a little spot by myself, set up my tarp and hit the showers. Looking at the weather forecast, we may have a tough time drying out until Saturday. That's okay. The weather, up to this point, has been extremely good.

Today, we bicycled thirty-five miles.

Rain Solution - Florence, Oregon

Day 11 - Honeyman State Park to Bastendorff Beach Campground - June 26, 2014

I woke this morning to the sound of pouring rain on my tarp. It took me some time to climb out of the warm sleeping bag. Once I started moving, I was on a mission to pack my bike and hit the road. My plan was to find a place to eat a couple miles up the road at Dunes City. I dawned my garbage bag, waterproof pants and shoe covers and pedaled out.

Dunes City ended up being pretty tiny, with no restaurant in sight. I decided to push fifteen miles down the road to Reedsport. It POURED on highway 101. Luckily, the rain was warm. I wore my wool vest over my t-shirt and left my arms bare. This was a perfect combination with my custom-fit plastic bag. I flew down the highway with my bag billowing and wet pine needles flying off my gear. After crossing the bridge into Reedsport, the Lighthouse Cafe caught my attention.

I quickly locked up my bike and entered the cafe for what ended up being close to two hours. Snelling arrived shortly after and we ordered breakfast, dried our clothing and charged our phones. Wanting to put in a reasonable amount of mileage for the day, we put on our waterproof layers and started cycling.

The weather dramatically improved on the ride to North Bend. I stopped to take off my garbage bag and recognized Hilde as she pulled up. We had not seen her since we left Seaside. She had stayed the night in a hotel and had booked another in Coos Bay for the upcoming night - very smart. She gave Snelling a little piece of duct tape to patch his sleeping bag and we said goodbye. It is likely that we will see her again down the line.

We crossed the long bridge into town and made a brief stop at Safeway for dinner and breakfast foods. Outside the store, I spoke with a kind drunk who preferred Mongoose bicycles and wished us luck on our ride. I flashed him the peace sign as we pedaled out of the parking lot.

We bucked a headwind through Charleston and all the way to our final destination, Bastendorff Beach Campground. I set up my tarp, joined Snelling for a chit-chat session with another camper and his son, talked to my wife Christina, did a little writing and hit the sack.

In all, we covered about fifty-five miles today.

Day 12 - Bastendorff Beach Campground to Bandon - June 27, 2014

Chris, Mike, Ben and Shaheed (The Great 48 Tour) - Bandon, Oregon

Rain came in light waves throughout the night. I woke around eight o'clock, shaved, packed my bags and Snelling and I cycled out of the campground.

We backtracked to Seven Devils Road and hit the first hill. I met all seven of those hill devils over the course of two hours. The upside was the curvy downhill on Wiskey Run Lane. Twenty miles down the road I pulled into the city of Bandon. The Minute Cafe caught my attention just after entering town.

Upon entering the cafe, I noticed a group of four cyclists having large lunches and smiling. They invited me to sit down. Snelling joined us and we talked about our trips and lives for over an hour. The group was from South Dakota and had graduated from college in the spring. They were forty days into a tour of the lower forty-eight states on tandum bicycles. This trip was an adventure as well as a fundraiser. They hoped to make a large donation toward building a high school in Honduras. Ben handed me a card with their trip website address: Check it out if time permits.

The group talked highly of This site had been mentioned by a few cyclists we met over the past few days. It is a networking tool for people touring on bikes and people who are willing to offer their home as a free place to stay for the night. I was interested in giving it a try.

As we were leaving the cafe, Snelling noticed that his tire was going flat. He pedaled toward the bicycle shop, and I rode to the information booth in the middle of town. The woman inside highlighted a town map with the route to the public library. By this time, I was conscious that the day was moving along faster than I wanted it to. I rode up to the bike shop to meet with Snelling and checked the status of his bicycle. It turned out that the tire work was going to take a little time so I cycled to the library. 

While I was there, I reserved a public computer, signed up on the Warm Showers site and figured I'd give it a try. I sent messages to two people residing in the area of Bandon letting them know that we were in a pinch. Almost immediately, a man named Brian answered my request and offered his home. He sent me a text with his address and asked that we pick up a few select drinks and some buns at the store. They planned to make hamburgers. We had a little time, Brian and his family were not going to be back until seven-thirty, so we rode out to Coquille Point for a look at the view of the ocean. The point was beautiful, and I took a short video. I looked forward to the evening indoors.

We left in time to pick up the requested groceries at the store and make it to Brian's place by seven-thirty. Upon entering the vicinity of the house, we were met by the barking of Brian's dog, Mr. Peepers. I talked to him for awhile and held out my hand. He finally calmed down and became comfortable. I later learned that he has been known to nip. To date, Mr. Peepers has never broken the skin of a human. Brian, his wife, Nicole, and two children arrived soon after. They were very hospitable, offering us dinner and the use of their living room to sleep in. Their one requirement was that we read an essay that Brian had written drawing parallels between the Erie Canal and a proposed bicycle trail along the coast of Oregon. I enjoyed the essay, and Snelling and I collaborated on a short piece in support of the proposed project. Later, Brian showed us a couple of his inventions - a drive-by shooter and a dog dish that connected to a pickup truck's trailer hitch. The drive-by shooter was a basketball hoop built on top of a trailer. It looked a little like a siege weapon from the dark ages. You could tow it to any park, extend the backboard upward and shoot hoops. The trailer hitch dog bowl attachment was an interesting idea. While turning it over in my hands, I imagined Mr. Peepers' paws on the back bumper, straining to eat from it. Brian must have come up with the idea when his dog was much younger. Throughout all of this, their children were flitting about, interested in everything. I could tell that they were very creative and used to having cyclists in the house. Brian said that they have offered accommodations to over five hundred people over the last six years and never had a problem. I couldn't help but think about the possibility of inviting people into my own home. I will have to talk to Christina about it.

We ended up cycling just over twenty miles today. 

Day 13 - Bandon to Humbug Mountain State Park - June 28, 2014

Air Conditioning - Oregon Coastline
For one reason or another, I didn't sleep that well on Brian's couch. I woke up several times, anxious to get on with the day. I am finding that the inertia that has been built up over the past two weeks of cycling is difficult to slow. Snelling and I left Brian and Nicole's home at around eight in the morning.

We cycled to Old Town Bandon for breakfast at the Minute Cafe, then to the public library to access their computers. I threw my sopping wet tarp over my bike before entering the public building. It was completely dry when I exited a short time later.

Library Solution - Bandon, Oregon

Seeing a grocery store on highway 101, we bought lunch and dinner foods. Before leaving, I thoroughly cleaned and oiled my chain. It really needed attention after the rain we had been experiencing. I had previously purchased a couple cotton washcloths at a RiteAid for the job. We officially left Bandon at around twelve-thirty.

I plugged into my iPod and listened to a set of the Doors and Rush's "2112 Overature." We pedaled through the mileage we wanted to cover, taking only one real stop to have lunch at Battle Rock, a place where a captain and his men held out against native peoples who were not happy they were there. He later escaped and came back with more men to set up an establishment - another story of exploitatation on the west coast.

Cutting slightly inland, we moved into a valley of Big Leaf Maple, Bay and Cyprus trees - Humbug Mountain State Park was beautiful. The hiker-biker camp had a view of the southern side of the valley. Snelling and I settled into adjacent sites and I layed out my gear to dry. His rear tire had a slow leak, so, together, we changed the tube. I found the culprit - a small piece of metal embedded in the rubber. The facilities at Humbug were the best that I have experienced so far on the trip. The showers were well-designed, spacious and at a perfect water temperature. I hope California has invested in their campsites to the extent that Oregon has.

We cycled just over thirty miles today.

Battle Rock - North of Humbug Mountain

Day 14 - Humbug Mountain State Park to Harris Beach State Park - June 29, 2014

Gil Working Magic - Brookings, Oregon

I slept extremely well last night. The mosquitoes were out in force, but, luckily, my bivy sack has a bug screen. No problem. We left Humbug around nine o'clock and pedaled twenty miles to Gold Beach. There were spectacular views around every corner. I could have spent the entire day snapping photos.

The Barnacle Bistro called to me after entering Gold Beach. I'm glad it did. The fish tacos and garlic fries were excellent. Snelling wanted to put more air in his rear tire, so we made a quick stop at a Cheveron down the street. They had free air. After putting in about fifty-five pounds of pressure, we pedaled over to the grocery store to grab a few snack items for the road. I've been purchasing a lot of fruit on this trip. I've eaten a ton of bananas and nectarines. I'm looking forward to the roadside stands in California. We left Gold Beach around one o'clock in the afternoon.

The next thirty miles slipped by quickly. This was probably the most picturesque stretch of coastline in the state. The wind blew from the northwest, pushing me up and down the hills. It was quite a rush. I enjoyed getting the Led out on the last major stretch of Oregon. Bombing a thickly wooded hill, as it opened to a white-capped Pacific, with "The Rover" winning a battle with the wind for my attention was a unique moment.

I arrived at Harris Beach State Park at around four-thirty in the afternoon and placed out my sleeping bag and bivy to dry. Snelling arrived and we took some food out to a point overlooking the ocean. We then decided to see what the town of Brookings had to offer on a Sunday evening.

Cycling through town, we didn't see a place we wanted to stop, so we headed across the bridge and down to the waterfront marina. Toward the end of our search, we spotted a restaurant/lounge that seemed popular. We locked the bikes and walked in. Upon entering, my eyes were drawn to Gil Kirk. His voice and electric keyboard set the mood. I plugged in my cell phone, ordered a drink and became mesmerized by the scene. On the television, older men were caught up in bidding wars over vintage automobiles. After a visibly upset owner let his '77 Corvette go for eight grand, Gil fielded a request for "Blue Bayou" from a retired woman whose ear was heavily bandaged. At that point, I slipped into a very relaxed state. Time stood still. After leaving, I couldn't help but look back over my shoulder. I asked Snelling the name of the place. He didn't know.

We ended the evening at Zola's Pizza. I ordered a small slice. The pizza was good, but what I was most impressed with was they way the man fielding pizza orders delivered the information to the cooks. He clipped the receipt to a carabiner and whipped it down a light zip-line that crossed the busy restaurant. The cooks took the slip of paper and sent the biner back. I started thinking about how I might use this in my middle school classroom.

We biked over fifty miles today.

Day 15 - Harris Beach State Park to Mill Creek State Park - June 30, 2014

Blue - Downtown Coffee Lounge, Brookings

I woke today just after eight o'clock, packed up and pedaled out of Harris Beach. I rode through the town of Brookings and settled on the Downtown Coffee Lounge right on highway 101.

As soon as I entered, I could tell that I liked the environment. The eighties hit "Take My Breath Away" was playing at a volume that seemed a touch too loud. A couple older gentlemen were in locked in combat on a large chess board. Other games cluttered the bar overlooking the street. I ordered a breakfast burrito and a drip coffee. I asked the man working behind the register for the Wifi password. He told me the word was "love." What a wonderful start to the day.

When my burrito came, so did Blue, a smallish dog that knew how to beg. Blue was owned by the man playing chess who was sitting closest to the window. I noticed that he was deeply involved in finding a way out of check. Blue was my companion throughout the meal.

After finishing, I headed over to the post office to pick up my raincoat. The woman at the front desk could not find the package anywhere. I called the cafe in Seaside. The woman on the phone said that they had misplaced the information I had given them regarding the delivery to Brookings. I told them to mail it to my home on Whidbey. I don't expect much rain, and my garbage bag works well enough in a pinch. I'll update the lost coat status after my return home.

After the disappointing trip to the PO, I jetted over to the public library to meet Snelling. We departed Brookings at around noon.

Border Crossing

The thirty mile ride to Crescent City was, for the most part, flat. We moved along quickly, passing the "Welcome to California" sign shortly into the ride. It was hard to believe that my bicycle had taken me so far in a short number of days. We rode inland for a time. It was hot, and the smell of farm manure was thick. We finally cut west to the coast upon entering the outskirts of Crescent City. For much of the coastal route, there was a designated bike trail. After grabbing groceries, we stopped at a local park, sat under a palm and had lunch. We left Crescent City fueled up for what we knew was going to be a long climb.

About two miles out of town we hit the slope of a hill that would take is up over one thousand feet in elevation. I was up out of my saddle for much of it. About three miles in I entered Redwood Narional Park. Almost immediately, I was completely surrounded by giant, old-growth redwood trees. There was a comfortable stillness that I experienced, and the climb was a real joy. Near the top of the hill, I wheeled left into Mill Creek State Park, paid the ranger five dollars for a hiker-biker spot and headed two-and-a-half miles downhill to the campsite. I knew I was going to have to climb put in the morning, but I savored the long curving coast down.

The hiker-biker accommodations were fair. There were metal containers for food and items that smell. Bears have been sighted in the park. Before going to sleep, a logger named Jeremy stopped over to chat. He was working in a job ten miles north. There is a certain bravado associated with those thy work the woods.

We cycled approximately forty miles today.

Welcome to the Forest - Redwood National Park

Day 16 - Mill Creek State Park to Patricks Point State Park - July 1, 2014

Wild Rhododendrons - Del Norte Coast Redwoods

Today, Snelling woke earlier than I did and hit the road. I took my time getting out. The two-and-a-half mile climb out of the campground was slow, but enjoyable. I rode past the ranger office and turned south on 101. I pushed up a short incline, then relaxed through the downhill of the Del Norte Coast Redwoods. I immediately noticed the wild Pacific Rhododendron growing heavily in the understory of the forest. As a lover and collector of rhodies, I was enthusiastic about seeing them in this particular natural environment.

As I moved west, the cool fog chilled me down. I stopped, put on my fleece and continued down the slope to the beach. The entire coast was socked in with a thick fog. It was pleasant to watch it pour over hills, giving a different perspective on the shoreline. I cycled on and met Snelling at "The Trees of Mystery." The parking lot attraction showcased a large sculpture of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe. I considered stopping, but left that point of interest for another day. Our thoughts turned toward Klamath, six miles down the road.

When first entering Klamath, I spotted a restaurant that specialized in chicken. I preferred a breakfast joint, so we kept moving. Before the bridge leading out of town, I noticed a large yellow sign that read "Log Cabin Cafe." We immediately turned our handlebars in her direction. The cafe offered reasonably priced meals and had the World Cup on. After eating and charging our electronics, we cycled back onto 101 and moved south.

The highlight of the day came after turning onto Newton B. Drury Parkway. The road runs through the middle of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, a part of Redwood National Park. The northern part was and uphill climb. It was worth it. As the road sloped downward, I entered a spiritual place - an ancient redwood forest. Quietly cycling through the untouched wood was, by far, the most peaceful part of the trip thus far. The road meandered at a perfect pitch. I coasted at a crawl for miles. The redwood forests alone are reason enough to take this journey. Losing track of time, I finally broke into an open prairie. Toward the southern end, I encountered a couple wild elk grazing on wet grass. I will return.

Cycling on, we moved through Orick, headed west and rolled into Redwood National Park Information Center. I was interested in some of the displays. We had a long lunch on the benches outside the center, then moved on to Patricks Point State Park.

Upon entering the park, I payed my five dollars and asked the ranger to make quarter change for a dollar. She understood my request and uttered a quick comment regarding the hot water. From a distance, I heard the slight "ting" of a warning bell. I moved on to the hiker-biker campsite, set out my sleeping gear, cooked a little dinner and walked to the showers.

Hitting the campsite and washing the road off has become an anticipated experience. I pressed four quarters into the machine and waited for the water to get hot. After about a minute, I realized that lukewarm was all I could expect from the facility. I hustled through the cleanup, using only five of the ten minutes allotted. I opened the door to the sunshine and greeted two older campers intent on cleaning up. They questioned me about the water. I told them it wasn't great. They smiled, and each entered their own stall. Needing to brush my teeth, I walked around the back side and entered the bathroom. It was then that I heard the moans - the woman began complaining to her husband through the wall about her experience with an audible shake to her voice. I quickly left the premises. They need a larger hot water tank at Patricks Point.

We cycled just over forty-five miles today.

Spotlight: Drying Wet Gear

After taking a shower in the evening, my towel and flip-flops are always soaked. I have found a simple solution. I hook the towel underneath the bungee cord that holds my sleeping bag to the rack. I thread my flip-flops to the outside of my pannier with the strap on top. By the time I reach camp, both are completely dry.

The Drying Rack

Day 17 - Patricks Point State Park to Humboldt County Fairgrounds - July 2, 2014

Trinidad from the South

I woke this morning at around eight o'clock. When checking my text messages, I was pleasantly surprised to find a picture of a hand-written poem by my friend Justin. He really should publish. I packed up and cycled down Patricks Point Drive to Trinidad. Taking a look around, I identified it as a classic NORC (naturally occurring retirement community). I met Snelling at Seascape Restaurant, down by the pier. I had the short stack and an egg. The waitresses were kind. One wore extremely colorful, broken glasses.

Morning Poem

Pedaling south, we encountered the Hammond Trail, a paved bicycle trail that stretched for at least five miles along the coast west of McKinleyville. It was a joy to ride.

The Long Stopover - Arcada, California

After entering Arcada, Snelling spotted the East Side Laundromat. We each had five days worth of dirty clothes and needed to stop. I locked up, grabbed my used clothing and started the washer. After sitting down, I noticed a patron making the most of his washer wait time. He was surfed up against the folding table, working the corner into his lower back. He worked different portions of his spine over the course of fifteen minutes. 

After he left, I reflected on how much I enjoy spending time in laundromats. There is something to be said about the slow work being done by machines - the sound of movement, the heat, the possibility for conversation. I found a sticker with a quote next to the chair I was sitting at. Someone had been caught up in the waiting game of the laundry experience. I didn't find the piece particularly profound, but it made me reflect on laundries, and what they can offer people - time to think.

Laundromat Musings - Arcada, California

Before leaving, I walked next door and bought a sandwich at Blondies Food and Drink, slipped it into my pannier and pedaled south out of town toward our next destination, Eureka.

The road to Eureka had been recently paved with asphalt. The shoulder was slopped with tar, which my tires picked up. It wasn't long before rocks began sticking to them and clicking against my fenders. To clear the front wheel, I extended my leg forward and drug my Chuck against the spinning rubber, freeing the pebbles. No more noise.

Eureka Lunchstop

We stopped in Eureka at a grassy spot across from the boat harbor and had the sandwiches we previously purchased. I noticed a six-sided die on the top of a park garbage can that had different playing cards on each side. I'm a heavy gamer, but I didn't recognize the piece. I left it on the can. Thinking about it now, I should have rolled it.

Loleta Pride

We left Eureka and, before I knew it, arrived in Loleta. Generally speaking, the town needed paint. Taking a spin around the neighborhoods, I couldn't help but eyeball a restored VW Transporter. I miss driving the one that we once owned. I may someday get back in the game.

Crossing the Eel

Crossing the Eel River, and pedaling another five miles, we reached Ferndale. We found the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, unpacked our gear and headed into town. We met Don, a motorcycle tourist, at a large Victorian Hotel at the edge of town for a drink and a chat. He was headed to Canada on a multi-day road trip. It was the first day of his adventure. I ended the evening with a hot shower at the fairgrounds.

We cycled over fifty miles today.

Camping the Fairgrounds - Ferndale, California

Spotlight: Caring for a Leather Saddle

I've had my Brooks B-17 saddle for over ten years. The comfort it offers far outweighs the extra care one must take to preserve it. A simple solution for keeping the rain and dew off is a plastic grocery bag. I slip this on every evening at camp, or at a stop if it looks like rain. Before riding, I make a neat ball of the bag and stuff it under the saddle. This light-weight solution has worked for years and has contributed to keeping my Brooks in excellent condition.

Lightweight Solution

Day 18 - Humboldt County Fairgrounds to Benbow KOA - July 3, 2014

The Wooded Road - Avenue of the Giants

Today, I woke around seven o'clock and started my morning routine of eating breakfast and packing up the bicycle. I like grabbing some bananas and yoghurt the evening before and holding the items over until the following morning. The fairgrounds in Ferndale were very quiet during the morning hours.

Snelling and I started bicycling at around eight o'clock. We took Grizzly Bluff road out of town. This route took us over country roads with views of countless family owned farms. Many cows showed interest in our cycles as we quietly moved by. I made an effort to make eye contact with those that looked my way. I never once sensed hostility. These animals seemed well cared for.

We moved eastward to Rio Dell and stopped at a small cafe for a
second breakfast. I had the huevos rancheros. They were outstanding. A local man struck up a conversation with us. He shared a recent newspaper article about the "Atomic Man" who had, while working at Hanford, been exposed to five hundred times the recommended amount of radiation. After the exposure, he was not able to fully enjoy his retirement - hiking, fishing, etc. I am grateful to have my health. After three cups of coffee, I was excited about getting back on the road to pedal. The Avenue of the Giants awaited just a short number of miles up the road.

Looking Up - Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants is a thirty mile stretch of roadway that allows the traveler access into the heart of protected old growth redwood groves. By luck, we had positioned ourselves to complete the stretch in a single day. If you are a person who seeks out physical places to occupy in the hope of bettering yourself as a human being, I recommend pedaling this stretch on a bicycle. I'd like to hear the outcome.

Lunch Break on the Eel - Avenue of the Giants

For our roadside lunch, we stopped by a redwood grove and inched down to the Eel River. Snelling tested the water and went for a dip while I walked upstream. The wind was blowing hard through the canyon. I noticed several drunken butterflies tumbling down the rocky shoreline trying to maintain control of their new wings. I stood still on the stones, hoping one would land on me.

Leaving the Avenue of the Giants, we pedaled into highway 101 and down to the Benbow KOA. At first, the young woman at the desk told us that there wasn't room. The manager then stepped in and told us there was a space. Every square space was occupied with an RV. It surprising how many different names there are for these vehicles. We set up next to a pair of younger bicycle tourists, Dan and Sean. They had bicycled up from San Francisco and were working their way toward the San Juan Islands. They were both recent graduates of Colorado College with majors in religion. They shared some freshly popped corn and granola bars. We spoke about Malcolm X, Dr. King and Karl Marx. After enjoying a shower, I noticed that the KOA common room had a "Fun House" pinball machine. I left with $1.50 less in change.

Today, we biked over fifty miles.

KOA at Night - Benbow, California

Day 19 - Benbow KOA to Westport-Union Landing Site Beach - July 4, 2014

Jeremy - North of Confusion Hill

I woke before seven o'clock and decided to get moving. Snelling was already stirring and I knew that we had a big day in store. Dan and Sean had mentioned that there was a big climb after the town of Leggett. After packing up, I hit the road to beat some of the heat.

I was able to keep a pretty good pace on 101 in the early morning. There wasn't any traffic to speak of. The sun was coming up over the hills. The morning is a great time to ride. I was in a relaxed zone in no time at all. Just north of Confusion Hill, my thoughts were interrupted by a man looking down at me from an overpass. He hollered down asking if I had a phone - his car wouldn't start. Indicating that I did, I laid my bike in the grass and hiked up to meet the situation.

Upon cresting the hill, I noticed his vehicle, the driver's side door ajar and hood popped. I took out my phone and checked for coverage - no luck. He told me that he had parked his car the night before, fallen asleep and left the lights on which drained the battery. He asked me what day it was. I told him July fourth. He was relieved. He thought that he needed to be in court. I suggested that we make his car visible to passing motorists by pushing it down the onramp to the shoulder of 101. After shoving it down the hill, we pushed it into the grass. Almost on cue, a black pickup pulled along side and gave him a jump. As I pedaled by I waved goodbye and asked his name. He said "Jeremy."

I moved on to Leggett and met Snelling at a small grocery store. We bought breakfast items and, knowing we wouldn't have access to a store, food for the day. I filled my water bottles using the sink in their office. There was a tint to it, indicating minerals. I wasn't picky. I'd need it for the road ahead.

The next twenty-five miles were quite hilly. We rode to an elevation of close to two thousand feet on a curvy stretch of highway one. The downhill was, of course, a delight. I had to keep my attention very sharp. There were many blind corners that had to be approached with care. I broke onto the coast and spotted the first of four primitive campsites, all falling under the name Westport-Union Landing Site Beach.

We settled on the fourth large campsite overlooking the Pacific. Due to the fact that there were pit toilets and no showers, the hiker-biker charge was three dollars. The sites were not numbered. We chose an open, grassy spot by the entrance. With the massive amount of Independence Day campers, the place looked a little post apocalyptic. I threw out my sleeping pad and took a nap.

Waking at around six o'clock, we decided to head into Westport, just for something to do. Happening upon a small grocery store, we bought a few food and beverage items and sat on the front porch for about thirty minutes, people watching and talking about the community. We cycled back to the park before sundown.

Entering the campground, we were invited over to a warm fire provided by a couple older gentlemen. They both worked maintenance jobs at schools. One man, George, was seventy-two years old. He enjoyed his employment. They had made a tradition of coming to Westport together over the Fourth-of-July weekend for forty years. They were trying their luck at fishing during the day and burning a pile of oak in the evening to keep warm. We thanked them for their hospitality.

Today, we cycled over forty miles.

Sundown with Tents - Westport-Union Landing Site Beach