Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In a State of Contentment: Oregon (17th - 28 th Sept '10)

In Washington we had had 5 days of continual rain, and I mean a never-ending curtain of water... that kept us awake in our tent at night, that we sloshed through to pack up in the morning, that we struggled to cycle through every day and that eventually forced us into cooking our dinner huddled under a bus-shelter. We finally decided that we'd had enough and hit up the Warm Showers website to find someone who would feel sorry for us, take us in and dry us in soft fluffy towels. And we succeeded! Neil from Seaside was kind enough to let us stay, even though he wasn't at home our first night there! Instead we were greeted by the four Seattle cyclists that we had run into up in Washington. The second night two other cyclists from Portland turned up so there were 8 of us crashed in with Neil. The third night Joe (who we had also camped with one wet night in Washington) and two Canadian cyclists, Patrick and Emma, came to stay and they introduced us to cheap American wine and packet-brownies. We had only meant to stay one night but we were enjoying the company of the fun and irrepressible Neil – a young soul who is one of the most generous people I have met, and one of the most inspiring, really knowing how to life live! It also continued to rain so we were quite happy being dry in the house, reading books and welcoming in the other cyclists who came through.
We finally dragged ourselves away from Seaside when we started to see some easing of the grey clouds. Our first night out we camped in Nehalem where we discovered the joy of Oregon state parks, $5 per person for cyclists and free hot showers. Ah Oregon is cyclist heaven. We also discovered the cycling community. This was the first time our campsite had been filled with other cyclists. Here we met Team Krusti (Kristin and Rusty), who had also come down from Alaska and who we have been lucky enough to spend lots of time with as we travelled down the coast. We knew we were going to get along well with them when on one of our first mornings together we spent about three hours sitting drinking coffee in a cafe and eating massive bags of day-old donuts. We also met Michael from Portland and Ned and Charlotte from England who are heading the same direction as us (towards the sunshine and as far as possible).
Oregon was fantastic to cycle through, an awesome mix of rugged capes and cliffs, sea-stacks dotting the coast, huge expanses of squeaky white sand beaches and lush dense forests. We saw a bunch of lighthouses, though Jules enthusiasm for checking these out waned after the first one. We had a few climbs over some large capes, but we were always rewarded with great views, and awesome downhill runs! Dotted along the Oregon coast were little towns spaced at a reasonable cycling distance apart, filled with coffee shops and purveyors of fine cinnamon buns. Oregon is also home to the Tillamook Cheese Factory – a giant factory filled with cheese!! What more could you possibly want. Mmm cheese. Free tastings too.. AND they had cinnamon bun flavoured ice-cream! We considered not doing the rest of the trip and just camping in the Tilamook Cheese Factory carpark and eating cheese and cinnamon bun flavoured ice-cream until we ran out of money.
At the Tillamook Factory we were lining up for ice-cream (did I mention it was cinnamon bun flavoured!?) and I turned around to see Jules with a really weird look on her face. She'd been talking to an older American guy who was holidaying with his wife and elderly parents. She was looking so shocked I headed over to find out what was going on.. the guy repeated what he had just said to Jules “ Careful the ice-cream goes straight to your fanny”... I had to explain to Jules that in the US 'fanny' means something different to what we know it as at home. No wonder she was looking so weird, poor old Jules was having some very interesting mental images before I explained that he meant we were going to put weight on our butts (which is actually insulting enough all ready).
Partway down the Oregon coast we found ourselves in a bit of a dilemma. The Aussie Rules Grand Final was on and of course we had to see it. We had planned to be in Portland to be able to watch it (and catch up with a friend) but circumstance (well mainly the weather) conspired against us and we found ourselves in the humming little town of Newport, where the information centre guy had never even heard of the game let alone knew any pub who would be showing it (us: “no, not soccer, Australian Rules. No not rugby. Aussie Rules. No not like American Football. A lot like AFL.... ahh never mind”) We also couldn't camp anywhere here because the nearest campground was a few miles out of town and required us crossing a very long bridge, which we would have had to be doing at 1am after the game finished... and I'm very glad we didn't seeing as Jules, completely sober, managed to crash her bike into the bridge railing the next morning. So we had to blow the budget and get a motel. Not a very salubrious place mind you, its name kind of gave it away “Cheap Dump Motel” (or maybe “Money Savers Motel” but the first was how I always remember it) but it had cable and that's all we needed. We went to the supermarket and bought all the junk food we could (microwaveable pizza hmmmm). I talked Jules down from buying two 6-packs (she promised me she would drink at least 8 beers but she only managed to finish off 3 before craving a cuppa.. cycling has turning her into a nanna!). We were all set for the game, and it was an exciting game... which then ended in a draw. For some reason in AFL this does not mean extra time but instead means that the entire game is replayed next week.. noooo......
In the south of Oregon there are some massive sand-dunes. The first lot we came upon unprepared. We had climbed a forested cape and were zooming downhill, through the trees, when we suddenly came out into an open area with sand dunes stretched in all directions. Within the dunes there were clumps of bright green where patches of trees remained and surrounding the dunes was the lush forest. It was quite surreal and Jules and I were stunned to a halt. Further down the coast the dunes became a common sight, we even climbed some and ran down them.. and then realised that it was actually a lot less effort just to look at them.
We did a little detour one day out to a pretty campsite at Cape Blanco, which jutted out into the Pacific Ocean. As we were riding out to the camp an ethereal, wispy whiteness started enveloping us. We tried to work out what it was, and after ruling out a few potentials, like smoke, wayward clouds or ghosts, we realised it was fog. Having lived our whole life in arid Western Australia we were not used to fog and found it very eery . After this first lot of fog we hit quite a bit as we headed down the coast, but we never really got used to it. Everytime it rolled in we would find ourselves whispering, glancing furtively around and would hear spooky music playing inside our heads.
We took our time moseying down the Oregon coast, it was so beautiful and there was so much stunning coastal scenery to stop and check out. We also discovered that Oregon is harbouring an over-proportional number of nice people. It didn't matter where we were, sitting for coffee, camping at the hiker-biker sites, or doing our laundry we would end up nattering away for hours. It felt like we spent far more time gossiping than cycling in Oregon, but we must have done some riding as eventually we reached our last campsite in the state, the pretty Harris Beach.


  1. I didn't know you guys had a blog! Going to go back and read it all, just skimmed it and you have some AMAZING pictures. :-)

    Fiona x

  2. Hey girls!

    Life is busy with teaching, taking classes - reading about your journey was a great way to spend a little downtime this evening. Thanks for the great posts and pics - looking forward to more!

    Kind regards,