More ride stories
Day one: Landed in Portland, assambled my bike, and headed west. Got about 45 miles (to Gales Creek) before excessive tiredness sat in. I spent the night in the Balm Grove Tavern and Park. A park (at least the private ones) in Oregon is a place for you to park your RV at overnight. I convinced the bartender to give me a beer when I paid for my night's stay, and I played a game of pool with one of the locals before setting up camp.
Day two: Headed out west. Went over the coastal range, then got to the coast (Tillamook) by lunch. Then headed south. Missed the entrance to the campsite I was planning on staying at, so went to next one. Dragged in late to a state park in Lincoln City, having gone 99.5 miles that day. Began to feel cramped by not being able to sit up conveniently in my tent and began to wish for a new one. The state park had a biker/hiker area, an area with a few picnic tables and a fire pit where bike tourists and backpackers stay and pay only $2 a night. I addition, there were flush toilets and solar heated showers. There was one backpacker and four other bikers there besides myself. One of them, Tim, was particularly nice.
Day three: Headed south along the coast. Started off really slowly, had only gone about 35 miles by 3pm. Picked up, however, and did 45 miles before I pulled into my campsite (Honeyman State Park, just south of Florence) for the night. It was a real sunny day, and the coast was very pretty. There was another hiker/biker area at this campground, and again 4 other bikers, one of whom was Tim.
Day four: After wandering around the dunes for awhile, I headed south. When I got to Reedsport I headed east along route 38. At Elkton, where 138 splits off from 38 (about 60 miles from where I started), I went off a very steep shoulder and ditched the bike. I tumbled over a few times, heard a KLUNK as my helmet hit the road, and scraped up my elbow, but I was OK. The same could not be said of the bike. The front rim was horribly bent and the bike seemed to want to turn right all the time. I pushed it to a gas station to ask if there was a bike shop in town. There wasn't, but a mechanic tried to straigten the wheel, without success. They suggested that I try to hitchhike into Roseburg, the nearest town with a bike shop. So I walked to the intersection of 138 and tried thumbing it. About the fourth truck by picked my up. This fellow said he'd take me as far as his ranch, 8 miles down the road. As we were driving, he noted that by the time I could get to Roseburg, the bike shop would be closed, and why didn't I set up my tent at his ranch for the night, and he'd get me a ride in the next day. Myra immediately became suspicious. But I went to his place and met his entire family, and I knew I was perfectly safe. I was invited to eat dinner, take a shower, and wash my clothes. What nice folks!
North Umpqua River
Day five: Got a ride into Roseburg with an Oregon forest service employee who was out passing around orders for Douglas Fir seedlings. On the way in he stopped to show me a herd of elk, an osprey nest, and a fish ladder (a way for migrating fish to go upstream around dams). At Roseburg I got a new wheel. As I was riding out, I noticed that the bike still wanted to turn to the right alot. I took it back and they said the fork needed to be straightened. While they were straigtening my fork, I got a ride from the shop owner to the local sporting good store to look at tents and kill time. I really had no intention of buying a tent when I walked in there, but they had a really nice tent at a good price (and Oregon has no sales tax) so I bought it and mailed the old one back. Finally, my bike was fixed, so I headed east along 138, which goes along the incredibly beautiful North Umpqua River. I pulled into Eagle Rock campsite, about 50 miles from Roseburg, where a guy and his two daughters invited me to park my sleeping bag in their tent for the night. So I ate dinner with them and slept in their tent.
Day six: Got a ride with the people I'd spent the night with into Crater Lake. I'd heard that from about Eagle Rock on it was a straight climb up to it, so I wanted to avoid that climb. They left me at a campground south (and considerably below invertical distance) of the crater, where I set up my tent and left my bags. Since I'd never set up the tent before I wanted to make sure I did it in the daylight. It didn't look like rain so I didn't worry about the fly. Then I went off to bike around Rim Drive, a 42 mile (when you include the distance to and from the campground) ride around the rim of the crater. It was cool while I was up there, cool enough to wear a light jacket while biking. I learned later that two days after I left it snowed there.
Day seven: Headed south out of Crater Lake (didn't want to go back up to the top of the crater again carrying all my gear), and it was all downhill. Then went north along highway 97, the sraightest, flattest road I've ever seen. It goes through a desert (Oregon's High Desert, semiarid land covered with sagebrush, dust, scraggly pines, and occasional clumps of grass). Ran into a road crew that was laying new pavement and got a ride through the work area (they didn't want to get my tires all covered with tar). Camped in the a place (88 miles from where I started) that was basically a few flat spots in the woods. I had asked a local in La Pine where the nearest campgrounds were, and she mentioned this one, not mentioning that there were no facilities (like toilets or a source of water) there, and that there were no signs leading to it. I found it only by going exactly where she said it would be. There was no one else there, and I felt sort of lonely and scared. It didn't look like rain, so again I didn't get out the fly.
Day eight: While waiting for the dew to dry from the tent so I could pack it away I attached all the ropes and tighteners to the fly and read the instructions on how to attach it. Continued north and did some sightseeing along with my biking. Went in Lava River Cave, a lava tube that is long (about a mile of it has been dug out), dark (they rent you propane lanterns so you can see, flashlights are just not bright enough), and cold (I was wearing a jacket, and my hands got very cold). Also went up to the top of Lava Butte (courtesy of a nice family with a car), which is a very tall cone with a small crater at the top and gives a nice view of the surrounding territory. Camped in Tumalo State Park, about 4 miles north of Bend, and had my first shower in 4 days. Met a real nice family who lived in Corbett, Oregon, along the Columbia River. Didn't look like rain, so I didn't put on the fly.
Day nine: At 6am I awoke to the sound of raindrops hitting my tent, a very unexpected (but very welcome to the locals) event in that part of the state. I got out and put on the fly, very glad that I had assembled it the previous morning. I went back to sleep. When I woke up I asked around about weather reports, and was told it would clear up in the afternoon. I decieded to wait it out. I got a ride with the nice family to the High Desert Museum, about 6 miles south of Bend, as they were on their way into town for breakfast. Wandered aound the museum for a few hours, then got a ride as far as Bend with a couple of nice ladies in a Mercedes that smalled strongly of leather and had only one windshield whiper that would lengthen itself when it went past the corners of the windshield, and from Bend to the campground with a white-bearded guy in a small pickup that had junk all over the floor and a large black dog that kept crawling all over me. The tent was dry, so I packed up and left, heading north on 97. It was 3:40 by the time I hit the road, and I had terrible headwinds, so after only about 33 miles I called it quits and parked myself in a KOA campground, which cost $10/night! Well, at least I got a shower and got to do my laundry.
Day ten: Continued north on 97. Went through some grasslands, lots of fields (some growing peppermint, what a wonderful smell), then back to the high desert. Out of Madras turned onto 26 north and went through a large Indian reservation, where the only Indians I saw were in stores on the way in. It was cool, which was good, since I found no sources of driking water (I mean stores or rest ares with drinking fountains, not streams) until I reached the campground where I slept for the night. Out of the reservation, the land seemed to suddenly turn from desert into forest. I camped at Frog Lake campground, about 7 miles from Mount Hood, the highest point in Oregon, and about 67 miles from the KOA.
Path on Beacon Rock
Day eleven: Headed north along 26, then north along 35. The first part was up and down hill until I got past Mount Hood, then the road followed the Hood River into the city of Hood River. There I crossed the Columbia River into Washington State to avoid highway 84, which is a superhighway, then headed west along route 14. Camped in Beacon Rock State Park, where I had to pay $.25 for a shower (showers in Oregon parks, if they had them, were free), which was about 81 miles from Frog Lake. This was the 4th of July, but the nearest fireworks were 10 miles away, and I knew of no way to get to them, so I saw no fireworks (BOO!).
Day twelve: I walked to the top of Beacon Rock, a very large rock that sits next to the Columbia River and provides a nice view of the gorge. Then I backtracked a little, heading east about 10 miles to get to the Bridge of the Gods to get back over into Oregon. Then I headed west again. I had to ride along superhighway 84 about 15 miles to get to route 30, the Columbia Scenic Highway. Just getting off 84, I had my first flat of the trip, on my back tire. I dug through my panniers for a spare tube and replaced it. On hwy 30 there are lots of waterfalls, at least 5 of them just off the road and more a short hike away. At the second one, Multnomah Falls, it started to rain, so I had lunch at the Multnomah Lodge (which I had been told, by the family from Corbett, had good food at reasonable prices) in an attempt to wait out the rain. I had a very nice, enjoyable lunch for about $5.25, tip included, but the rain had not gone away by the time I was finished. On the way out I found another biker, a short, chubby female with a nice touring bike, who was parked under an overhang, also hoping to wait out the rain. She was heading the same way I was (west) so we agreed to bike together as far as Corbett, where I wanted to call the nice family I had met and see if I could visit them. So we biked together, stopping at all the falls, getting thoroughly wet (it was still raining). We took some pictures of each other and the scenery and had a nice chat as we were biking. Despite me being fully loaded and her carrying basically nothing, I was able to keep up with her with no problem. At Corbett I called the family, who invited me to come on up, and as I was on my way there, the husband (who was on his way home) stopped to give me a lift. I dried off and had a nice dinner with them and felt very much at home. With all my sightseeing, I only did 36 miles, but I had very little distance to go and lots of time so it didn't bother me.
Day thirteen: I did the family's dishes in the morning (it was the least I could do) and headed off west towards Portland (I was only about 30 miles away). The rain had stopped, but my plan was to go to a park that I'd seen on my Portland map, find a shelter (in case it started to rain again), and sit there and relax and read while waiting for the youth hostel to open at 5. About halfway to Portland I got another flat. I didn't feel like digging through my panniers for the second spare tube, so I patched and replaced the one that was there. I was very near the park when it started to rain. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the entrance to it, so I got totally drenched as I rode around looking for it. Finally I got directions, went to the park, and found a shelter. The rain had just about stopped by now, but I was cold and wet. I took off my cold, drenched T-shirt and put on my warm, dry, fuzzy jacket, and waited for the hostel to open. At 5 I packed up and headed for the youth hostel. I picked a bed in the co-ed section on the "sleeping porch", a fence-and-plastic-sheeting enclosed porch where I could sleep next to my bike. I took a shower and then asked the person at the desk what there was to do in Portland. Turns out she's a fan of the same sorts of movies I am, and she know the location and times for a theater showing JESUS DE MONTREAL, a film I'd heard about and wanted to see. I zipped to the theater on my bike, and the nice ticket seller let me park my bike inside (I only had a cable lock with me). The movie was really good. This satisfied one of my cravings (things I had gone without for 2 weeks and really desired). On my way back to the youth hostel, I happened on the Rose City Blues Festival, which I would have gone into (only $2), except that it was almost over for the night. Oh, well. So I headed back to the hostel, hoping to satify another craving, that of beer. There I met Jill, a Californian who was doing a Seattle-to-San Diego bike ride and was waiting in Portland to meet her brother, who would accompany her the rest of the way. I told her about my exploits. She loves beer, but was on medication, so couldn't go out with me. I asked a geeky-looking German guy, but he had to get up early the next day. I came upon a bunch of people and asked them if they were interested, and it turns out that they had just come back from getting beer. Oh, well. So I settled for talking to them instead. Ended up talking mostly with this English fellow who had spent the entire day at the Blues Festival, and had recorded it on his Walkman.
Day fourteen: got up, ate breakfast, and headed downtown with Jill to kill time. We happened on the "Portland Saturday Market (Sundays too!)", where we wandered around the booths and looked at all the pretty crafts, and then I had to go. I went to the airport, put my bike in a box and strapped my panniers together, then flew back to Philadelphia.
Note: all photos taken with my Olympus XA, which looks like a modern point-and-shoot camera, but is actually a manual focus rangefinder and an aperture-priority automatic. For durability, portability, and sharp photos, they are hard to beat. They were only made in the late '70s to mid '80s but have a good reputation among photographers. Every now and then I'm tempted to buy a point-and-shoot, but then I get back another role of film and decide to stick with the XA.