With Paul and Babe!
Today turned out to be a race against the clock. At the beginning of the day, we decided to catch up with Ben, who always got ready and left way before we did, at Elk Prairie Reserve State Park. Derek and I were riding with Justin again today. The day stated with our climb up the "mountain." I was not looking forward to riding up what we rode down yesterday to get to the campsite. We reluctantly set out and I stormed up the nearly vertical hill. I may have made it out to be worse than it was, but I just kept chugging along and made it to the top. It took me 26 minutes to get up the 2 mile hill, but I was very proud of myself. I thought I would have to walk some of it, but I stayed on the bike for the entirety of the ride. Once at the top, it was all worth it because we had a huge descent ahead of us from the climb the day before. We were speeding down the hill through a dense layer of fog. It was everything I had pictured before coming out here. You could barely see 20 feet in front of you, let alone realize that the ocean was just 100 feet down the cliff to the right of us. We stopped at a scenic vista and took in the beauty. It is something else to be able to watch the fog literally roll in and blanket the coastline. Just amazing. After reaching the bottom of the hill, which is always a bummer, and riding for a bit we reached Klamath. This was one of the stops I was looking most forward to. There is a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. If you remember from the Timberline Lodge mosaic at Mount Hood, I have a fascination with this folk tale. The statue is at the entrance of the Trees of Mystery, which was on the billboard we saw yesterday. The statues are almost archaic looking. They look like giant reproductions of a folk art carving. They are extremely simplified, but get the job done. They tower over you and make you feel like a bug. They also use a bit of humor with a hand that waves, an eye that blinks and a talking voice. That's right, they have someone somewhere listening to the audience and talking back to them through a speaker. We could not figure out where they were hidden, which added to the mysteriousness. It was very entertaining. I love to add humor to my work to make it more approachable, and this is an instance in which it works in the "real world." I wanted to see how folklore varied throughout the country, and this gave me chance to do this. I have seen one of these statues in Bemidji, MN and this one was a bit more simplified. Maybe it was due to the logging traditions and the redwood carvings that came from this. These redwood carvings that I have seen so far on the trip have been simplified and sometimes just plain awful. Nevertheless, they are a blast to look at, and of course, I would want one in my yard. They had a great gift shop here with a cabinet of vintage souvenirs, which included a museum of Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. It was very cool to see some of the artwork and crafts from the natives of this area. My favorite pieces were a rug with a beautiful geometric pattern and a seal intestine rain jacket. Some of my favorite inspirations for my work are quilt patterns and animals, so these two objects fit in perfectly. After soaking all of this in, we set out to reach Elk Prairie. It was a nice day of riding until we reached the campsite, where there was no Ben to be found. We got there relatively early, so we figured he had kept going to the next campsite, Patrick's Point. We had heard this was one of the best campsites on the route, so we decided to try to catch up. We left, but not after talking to another bike tourist who was moving from Seattle to Missoula! This was too funny because I am going to Missoula for a two month residency at the Clay Studio of Missoula and I just left Seattle which I would love to move to some day. Great minds think alike. Shortly after leaving the campsite we saw a herd of Elk grazing in a field. They were huge and very elegant. They would jump over a fence, but it looked like they were simply stepping over it. We stopped at a convenience store to get some food for dinner and found a jar of peanut butter for $9.50! What!?! It is always best to stock up at supermarkets. We passed a campsite that was listed as having no water to see if Ben was there, but luckily it was closed, so we kept going. Water is kind of a necessity. As we were going up a hill, I broke another spoke on my rear wheel. This was it. I could barely ride the bike forward, as the wheel was wobbling so bad that it was hitting the brake pads. We tried to find me a ride to the campsite, but nobody offered. It was getting late and starting to get dark, so I trued the wheel the best I could and we kept going. I knew that since spokes kept breaking, I had to replace the wheel. That was tomorrow's mission. Luckily we would be in Arcata, where there are several bike shops. We finally made it to Patrick's point in pitch black dark. Of course Ben was there, about to go to sleep. He always beats us! We set up camp, had some spaghetti (with real tomato sauce) and our beloved Cherry Pepsis and hit the sack. Today was a long day. Some of the best sights of the trip so far!
Cal-i-forn-ia lo-ve, duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh! I have been singing that Tupac song a lot lately. After stopping at McDonalds again for breakfast (still not sure why we go there for anything but shakes) we headed to the Golden State with Justin. Justin is from Vancouver, Canada and is a heck of a guy (he is riding from Vancouver to San Diego!). It is nice riding with other people for long periods of time, which we ended up doing today. On our way to the border, I got a little confused with the map and we ended up taking a "scenic detour," AKA got lost, and turned back. Eight miles later we were back on track and almost to the border. And then, all of a sudden, there it was - the sign! We made it all the way to sunny California, which it actually was. As soon as we crossed the border, and told the guards that we had no fruit, we were free to roam the countryside. Although it was probably gradually getting warmer as we were going south, it seemed automatically warmer and brighter in California. We were riding through a lot of farmland which was pleasantly scenic. We stumbled upon a herd of cows and stopped to watch. They were just as interested in us as we were them. As we left, we noticed that they started to follow us. We stopped and went again. They stopped and went again. It was hilarious and one of those things that made my day that much better. They were even running after us, which made us feel pretty special! After more farmland and winding roads, we hit a coastal road again. The wind going out to the ocean was intense. We even thought about going an alternate route to get through Crescent City. I am so glad we didn't! Once we hit the coast it was just breathtaking. The ocean was blue as blue can be, the waves were crashing and the rock formations were more dramatic than ever. Postcard-worthy! Outside of Crescent City we saw our first Redwoods billboard advertising the Trees of Mystery. I was really excited, as I am most looking forward to seeing the Redwoods. I knew we were close. Before I knew it, we had begun the climb into the Redwoods. The Crescent City hill is billed to be one of the toughest climbs of the trip, and it was! It was a steep, narrow, winding shoulder-less climb up into the Redwoods. Seeing the first Redwood of the trip made the climb worth it! They are so overwhelming it's insane. I had ample amount of time during the climb to take in the wonderful views. Directly at the top of the climb was our campground, sort of. We turned left towards the campground and saw a sign that said "Campground 2.5 mies." Not too bad until we noticed the steepest descent of our trip. It was 2.5 miles straight down to the campsite, which is fun, until you realize you are going to have to ride up it in the morning! UGHHH. We made the best of it and reached our highest speeds of the trip yet, 36 MPH. The campsite was great, right in the middle of the Redwoods. There was a trail that circled the campground that took us through the forest. One bummer about California is that they charge you to take showers. And they are timed! Oregon has free, as-long-as-you-want-showers, which are one of the best parts of the night. Oh well, saving water is good I suppose. Wish me luck on tomorrow's climb out of here.
Today was our last full day in Oregon. Tomorrow we arrive in California! Yesterday, I broke two spokes at the campsite. I was able to replace one and true the wheel enough to keep riding. Well, today I broke two more and now I need a bike shop. Derek's bottom bracket has been acting up as well, so we are looking forward to stooping at the bike shop in Brookings. Today's ride was full of headwinds and climbs. Tough, tough riding, especially after waking up late and tired again. I really thought we would have gotten used to waking up early by now, but we haven't. We rode past Cape Sebastian, a beautiful look out point with rocks that jet out into the ocean. I don't think I will ever get sick of looking at these rock formations. Pretty early into the ride, we passed the Prehistoric Gardens of Oregon. This one is just like the Dino World in Plant City, FL. Huge fiberglass dinosaurs placed on a trail in the "rainforest" of Oregon. We didn't go into the park, but we did browse the gift shop. They had some pretty funny postcards of each dinosaur. I chose the one of the dolphin-like dinosaur that was laying on the ground. The back of the postcard said these creatures were helpless if out of the water. It was pretty funny. I knew just the person to send it to. Tip of the Day: When selecting postcards in a shop that nobody buys postcards at, select the postcard behind the first in that stack. The front ones are always faded, but they protect the ones behind. Cool! We also endured our first potentially disastrous bicycling event. We ran out of water. We were climbing like crazy and realized we both had very little water left. Luckily, we got to another view point with a bathroom. As I was walking up to the bathroom, I dumped the rest of my water out so I could refill it with fresh water. These bike water bottles always make the water taste like plastic (I would recommend getting the aluminum kind next time). As I reach the bathroom, I open the door to find an outhouse… No water! I started to freak out. The one thing I was worried about before leaving the trip was running out of water. Derek and I tried to figure out what to do; keep riding or wait? A truck pulled up and I noticed a package of bottled water in the back. I usually hate to drink bottled water (what a waste!) but these were worth their weight in gold. I approached the truck and the man came out like a scene out of Cheech and Chong. Needless to say, he was very happy and willing to share. He gave us two ice cold bottles of water and we were on our way. It turns out, he was from northern California and had never driven up the coast through Oregon and was finally doing it. Yay! We kept riding and stopped at another view point (we do this a lot). This time, there was a not so pleasant guy there, sitting in his truck. At first, I thought he was talking to, and then yelling at, someone in the back seat. It turns out he was alone, talking to himself. He kept getting in and out of his truck, moving things around, talking, yelling and going towards the bathroom. Odd. We left and hoped to never see him again. I didn't really want to ride my bike on the highway next to him. We stopped for BBQ for lunch. Mistake. We kept riding and who did we see along the way, not once, but twice? Crazy-rest stop-truck-guy! Both times he rambled past us with less room than most drivers give us. I was not surprised. Also, how did he get behind us twice?? We finally made it to Brookings and got to the bike shop just in time to get both of our bikes fixed. Good thing too, as Derek's bottom bracket turned out to have a missing bearing that was worn away completely. It got really cold outside, but we wanted to get dinner before we went back to the campsite, which we passed to make it to the bike shop. I asked directions to a pizza place, and after getting lost, we found another one. And good thing we did! This place, called ZOLA'S, was just what we needed. Really good, wood fired pizza in a hole in the wall space with great atmosphere and full of people. This is something that most of the coast has lacked. Touristy places are usually just that, touristy, in a bad way, and empty. It was awesome and I highly recommend it. Despite our full stomachs and the freezing weather, we stopped for McDonald's milkshakes. Woo Hoo! We made it back to the campsite and joined Ben, Justin and Zachary. We finally started to remember peoples' names! After an unsuccessful attempt to make a fire, Derek and I ate a piece of pizza and went to sleep. Long day!
Majestic wood carving of a Native American merman fighting a dragon...
After a good nights sleep, we road away from Bandon on our way to Humbug Mountain State Park. We ran into Ben along the way and stopped at a convenience store for lunch. I thought this would be like all of the other convenience stores along the way, but this seemed to be the hub of the little town of Langlois. There were people coming in and out of the store the whole time we were there, and like in the movies, they all knew each other. We got a bowl of chili each and sat down to eat. Halfway through our meal who shows up but Larry! We thought he would be long gone, especially since we took the day off, but it turns out he was still on track with us. He joined us for lunch which was fun. When we stared riding again, Derek and I noticed that Larry's front light was on (He has a generator hub that powers the front light, cool!). He was a ways back, but the light kept shining. I said he was our fairy god mother for the trip. We passed a field of ships which we stopped at for at least 10 minutes. They are just so darn interesting. They called to each other and all ran away at the same time. It was really funny. Later on we passed another souvenir shop and i got some salt water taffy and postcards. I don't know if I have ever had salt water taffy, but I found out I love it! I might even be addicted… Soon after the shop was a road with OCEAN VIEW painted on it. We had to go, and good thing we did. It was an amazing view of the ocean, cliffs and rock formations. Luckily, the route followed the coast directly so this was our view for a while. We reached Humbug Mountain State Park and set up camp, but not before I realized I broke two spokes. I was able to fix one, but the other could not be replaced. I did my best to true it, but we will see how long it lasts. We found out there was a beach access at the campground, so we ventured over there. It was super windy and super awesome! There was a stream going into the ocean that divided the beach in half. Boys will be boys, so we had to cross it. This involved getting our feet wet. The water is SO cold over here! After exploring a bit we went back to camp. After meeting a bunch of new cyclists we made dinner. We made the mistake of getting tomato paste for our pasta instead of pasta sauce. Note: Tomato paste is NOT, I repeat, NOT a substitute for pasta sauce. Gross. Big mistake. Never again. Tomorrow will be our last full day in Oregon. I can't believe how far we have come already!
View from our room
We woke up and prepared to tackle the Seven Devil's Hill, which turned out to be a series of seven steep hills. We left with Nate and Sean and by the time we got to the first hill the rain started coming down. So far on the trip, if it rained, it only lasted a few minutes. Not this time. It rained and rained and kept raining. After getting dropped by Nate and Sean, Derek and I were left to fend for ourselves. I have to admit, it wasn't as bad as people made it out to be. The road was quite scenic with almost no traffic. The rain was actually refreshing and Derek and I decided it was really fun. At the top of the hill, there was a thick covering of fog. It was gorgeous! Then came the descent. It was sill raining, which did not slow us down. We flew down the hill with grins on our faces. At the bottom of the hill was the town of Bandon. It is a cute little fishing town with an old town section. We saw Nate and Sean's bikes outside of a coffee shop and we joined them. At this point we were freezing. It was nice to get a hot drink and some cookies (even though I don't normally like hot drinks, I'm weird). After about an hour and a half of talking Nate and Sean headed back on the road. Not us. Derek and I decided that this would be the perfect time to take a rest day. One of my birthday presents was a night in a hotel on the trip so we used that. We found a cool, little hotel called the SEA STAR LODGE on the water and took a rest day. We walked around the town and found a place to eat a late lunch. I finally got the fired chicken I had been craving during the trip. It was pretty good with garlic bread! Everything was soaked to we went down to the laundromat to do some laundry. It was my first time at a laundromat and I felt oh so cool. We got another half gallon of chocolate milk and waited for the clothes to dry. Livin' it up! We got back to the hotel and verged out while watching American Ninja Warrior. I still don't understand how we were so captivated by that show… The ice cream we got had melted and never froze which was a bummer, but that was made up by the amazing night of sleep we got by sleeping in a bed! I know we haven't been camping for that long, but it was nice!
Flowers I picked along the way
We woke up in the middle of the dunes this morning. How often can you say that?! After packing up and getting SOME of the sand out of my shoes and socks, we headed down the trail to the highway. The trail was heavily wooded and steep going towards the dunes, so the way back was mostly downhill. We took advantage of this and rode down like we were on mountain bikes. It was so much fun we took a video of it at the bottom. Derek is set on getting a mountain bike once we get back home. We traveled south until we saw another touring bike across the street at a breakfast place. We stopped and sat down directly at his table. We figured he would be as excited to talk to us as we were to him. His name was Ben and he was a college student from Oregon. We decided to get breakfast too and had a fun time talking about each others trips and what we did and did not expect out of the trip. Ben was super nice and we were sure we would see him again along the way. Of we went. We eventually crossed the enormous bridge to North Bend and Coos Bay. The bridges in Oregon are beautiful and have some great architecture. It is nice to see that they take pride in this type of everyday affair. There is a bike shop directly after the bridge called MOE'S BIKE SHOP. Of course we stopped, and of course I bought a t-shirt (one of my addictions). We went a little further and saw the lumberyard. The piles were unbelievably large. The owner of Moe's (I don't think his name was Moe) told us that most of it would be shipped straight to China. It is a bummer that the trees we are cutting don aren't even being used here in the USA. We stopped at the library to check some emails and met another tourer named Larry. He had ridden his bike all the way from New Jersey, was going down to San Francisco and then going all the way back! I can't even imagine. One of my favorite parts about the trip is that I don't have to worry about going back to the start. Good for him though, that is quite a feat. Anyways, Larry has a huge beard, of which I am very envious, and was just about the nicest guy you could ever talk to. The kind of guy that laughs after everything he says and can, and does, strike up a conversation with anyone that passes by, of which always ends in a smile and a laugh. Seriously, this guy was awesome. After parting ways with Larry, Derek and I stopped at a coffee shop/ book store and had some lasagna while using the computer and charging our phones. (You find out it is necessary to charge your phone whenever you can while touring.) After riding through North Bend (which was a bit of a disappointment) we got to the campground, which was on top of a long and winding hill. It was not what we wanted to do at the end of the day, but we made it. The campground was called Sunset Beach State Park. We met two new riders, Nate and Sean, from Olympia. We all talked about our trips and schooling and whatnot. It was a good time. There was a homeless guy that had some pretty odd stories to tell, which made the night interesting (I'll leave it at that). We decided to leave together in the morning to take on the Seven Devil's Hill, which was supposedly a big, scary one as thought of by the locals we talked to. Wish us luck!
The dunes all to ourselves!
Today we rode out to the Oregon Dunes Recreational Area. There are huge sand dunes just off of the coast that are sky high. They seem incredibly out of place after riding through so much forest. There are a lot of RVs going to and from the dunes with their trailers piled high with 4 wheelers and dune buggies. I have to admit it would have been fun to try some of that out! We rode past Honeymoon State Park, which we later found out was the last of the hiker/biker campsites in the area. After going to a couple campsites that only offered regular sites, we stopped at the last one and pulled up to the camp host. Luckily, he told us about a trail that we could camp off of for free. After a bout a mile of pushing our bikes up a forest hill, we reached the dunes! It just opened up to huge hills of sand with the ocean in the distance. Nobody else was anywhere near us. It was pretty amazing to have the dunes all to ourselves. The forest was thick with huge mosquitoes, but the dunes were free of them, so we pitched our tent out in the middle of them.
Today we left for Beachside State Park. The ride was less hilly than yesterday, which was a welcomed change. On our way out of Lincoln City, we stopped at a pottery gallery we saw a sign for. It was full of pots made by local Pacific Northwest artists. I found a cup I would have loved to get, but it just couldn't fit in my bags (plus I know it would get broken somehow). It was fun to see some unexpected ceramics along the way! We followed the wonderful coastline for a while until we hit the Otter Crest Loop. It was a small one way road that climbed up a hill overlooking the cliffs and ocean. It was a nice break from the 101. It stopped at a lookout on top of the hill called Cape Foulweather. This old building was full of souvenirs, postcards and a breath-taking view of the ocean. We talked to some locals and found out that it was a popular whale watching destination. We stayed for a bit, but did not catch a glimpse. We had to keep riding, otherwise we could have stayed there for hours. Elena recommended a noodle restaurant in the next town, Newport. After asking directions three times and going to a wrong restaurant, we found the elusive Noodle Cafe. To our dismay, and empty stomachs, we found out that the restaurant was closed on Wednesdays, which it was, of course. Luckily, there was a Thai restaurant across the street. We ordered Pad Thai, classic, and even got complimentary Thai iced teas with the luck special. Score! We left with full stomachs and stumbled upon a sign on the side of Highway 101 outside of a house. It read, "Railroad! Come on in!" (or something like that). I thought this was too good to pass up, so we stopped. We entered the house, which had railroad paraphernalia all around it. We were greeted by an older man in his 80s. He had a HUGE model railroad set up inside his house. It went everywhere; up, down, eft and right. It was scrapped together using anything he could find. Way cooler than a perfect model railroad you see in magazines. To say he was excited to see us would be an understatement. He talked and talked and talked like there was no tomorrow. He told us about the railroads in the West, where to go in Colorado to take a train ride and how it was growing up in the depression. He made it sound like a lot of fun actually! It was fun to see him get to excited. I could tell not many people stop by, and I am glad we did. My favorite word he used frequently was Humdinger! It was really cute. He also asked how long we have been pals, and said it was important to have good pals. I have to agree. We talked some more and signed the guestbook. I felt a real connection with him and I am already thinking about making a portrait of him. One of the best parts of the trip so far! We hit the road and made it to our campsite at Beachside State Park. The hiker/biker sites were neat little spots tucked in individually in the brush overlooking the beach. We found a secret spot nestled under a bunch of trees overlooking the beach. We went down to the beach to toss around the Patagonia frisbee we got in Seattle and later worked up the courage to jump into the ocean, and boy was it COLD! It felt good after a few seconds though, but we didn't last long. We got out and dried off in time to watch the sunset and drink an expired caffeine free Pepsi and diet Mountain Dew and eat left over Pad Thai. It was a pretty cool evening if you ask me!
Today was the first full day on our bikes. Our goal was to reach Lincoln City, OR. We woke up to a rainy morning, so naturally, we stayed in our sleeping bags longer than we should have. The rain did not let up, so we finally got up and started packing, in the rain. Not the best start to our day, but we got through it. Some instant oatmeal and a packed, wet tent later we hit the road. Of course the rain stopped now… Right away, we encountered a huge hill. This made both of us a little nervous. What did we get ourselves into? We actually made it to the top and began our first real descent of the trip. This brought a smile to our faces! The descent was fast and winding, with a spot of warm sunshine and sand dunes at the bottom. We were ready to keep riding. Later on in the day, we made a left turn, following the Oregon Coast Bike Route signs. It took us down a small road with a few houses and organic farms. It was really cool to see a neat area like this so secluded. I could see myself living there. Well, four miles down the road and we come to a construction site. They are fixing a section of the road and we are not allowed to cross. Dang, that sign at the beginning of the road really did mean ROAD CLOSED… I thought it meant local traffic (and bikes) only. I was wrong. We had no choice but to turn back and get back on Highway 101, which is the road we use 99% of the time. This brought us to an even bigger hill than at the beginning of the day. We even had to walk parts of it. Not so much fun, but the scenery made it worth while. It was sopped in with trees and vegetation. Once again, we made it to the top, and the descent was just as fun as the first. We finally arrived in Lincoln City, and after the campsite at Cape Lookout, we were a little disappointed. The hiker/biker site was basically a city park, with a neighborhood right across the way. We did meet up with Reed again and a new friend, Elena. She had just arrived from Virginia! That's right, the Virginia on the EAST coast of the United States. It took her two and a half months to get to the Oregon Coast, which took her over three mountain passes, using the Trans America route. Pretty amazing. The funny thing is, she dated a ceramics major in college and even saw a demo by one of my professors, NAN Smith, at her school! Crazy! We had a good time talking and eating bread and cherries. Turns out the campsite isn't as important as the people that are there.