Sunday, October 11, 2015

All About Oregon

It's hard to believe we have been on the road for two weeks! Time is really flying, as are the miles. 

After a blissful rest day in Cannon Beach, we hopped back on our bike and turned our wheels South. It felt good to get back  on the bike, and our legs felt strong as we cycled up and over the rocky headlands. The warm, sunny weather didn't hurt either, and we took many opportunities to stop for photos of sea stacks and bays. We rode up and over Neahkahnie mountain in the hot sun, and cruised down into Manzanita Oregon where we stopped for a cup of coffee and a bagel before heading out to camp just outside of town at Nehalem Bay state park. 

Manzanita is located against a stunning backdrop of forested headland and sand dunes, and we took advantage of the 80 degree weather to walk into town along the soft sandy beach. After an afternoon spent grocery shopping and using the library WiFi we returned to camp to find that we had company! We only saw four other bike tourists while we traveled through Washington, but now that we are south of Portland we are seeing more every few days. We met Dennis, a solo traveler biking from Bellingham, WA to Phoenix, AZ by way of the Pacific Coast, and Monica, another solo traveler from British Columbia, Canada making her way to San Diego. We haven't seen Dennis again and expect he has already reached California, but Monica has become our buddy since we are traveling at the same pace. It's been really fun talking over dinner in camp and sitting around campfires.

Every day seems to bring new challenges to overcome, which on tandem means plenty of communication. Every decision to coast or shift has to be stated, which has its challenges when the noise of traffic and wind limits conversation. My stoker's saddle still isn't perfect, and only lasts me 25 miles every day before I start hurting - not ideal. I bought a gel seat cover while in Newport in the hopes it would get me off the rails, but that didn't cut it. After much deliberation I ordered a wider Brooks saddle that we will pick up from the Post Office in Brookings Oregon on Tuesday, and I very much hope that it will be the answer to my saddle woes. Either way we'll be carrying an extra saddle for a while until I break the new one in.

We have fallen into a daily rhythm where we leave camp by 9am every morning and reach camp between 1-4pm depending on our daily mileage. The Oregon coast has a great many breweries and lighthouses, and we have made a habit of stopping at all of them that work with our daily schedule and route plan, and have sampled many delicious brews and learned a LOT about late 1800s lighthouse operation on our trip.

Currently we are holed up in Umpqua Lighthouse State Park for our weekly rest day, where we are tent bound as the remnants of a tropical storm  batters the Oregon Coast. It's much nicer to spend our day eating and loafing about instead of battling 20+ mph gusts of wind from the South with driving rain! Tomorrow we head out through Coos Bay, and will be in California by Wednesday!

Trip highlights by day:
7. Cannon Beach to Nehalem Bay State Park, 17 miles. Hot sunny weather and long sandy beaches!
8. Nehalem Bay to Cape Lookout State Park, 40 miles. More warm weather, and a tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory with FREE SAMPLES and huge ice cream cones. Incredible sunset over the Pacific, followed by an intense campsite invasion by a pack of insatiable raccoons.
9. Cape Lookout to Devil's Lake State Park. Enjoyed a beer at Pelican Brewery in Pacific City and visited McMenamins in Lincoln City. Had a quiet backroad climb up Slab Creek.
10. Devil's Lake State Park to Newport, 29 miles. Rainy start, with views of grey whales spouting off Depoe Bay, a magnificent climb up Cape Foulweather on the old scenic highway, a living history tour at Yaquina head lighthouse, drinks at Rogue Brewery. Stayed the night with our dear friend Angie in Newport and ate delicious thai food!
11. Newport to Carl G. Washburn State Park, 36 miles. Visited the Newport Aquarium before leaving town late. Had a beer at Yechats Brewing Company, followed by a gorgeous late afternoon ride along the coast in the Siuslaw National Forest with quiet roads.
12. Carl G. Washburn to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, 35 miles. Stopped at the Heceta Head lighthouse, and visited the Sea Lion Caves. Strong headwinds made descending difficult. Lunch and coffee at Siuslaw River Coffee Company, followed by rain in the afternoon and steep hills just before camp!
13. Rest day at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park! Nice tour of the lighthouse, views of large waves breaking at the mouth of the Umpqua river, and afternoon naps in the rain.

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