The initial plan for this leg of the journey was to pull out of Portland, roll to Crater lake, cross over to the California coastline, and zip down to Sequoia National Park. Then I looked at the weather.I discovered that the overnight low in Crater Lake on October 29th was 23 degrees. I've had enough with sleeping cold. Actually, sleeping cold is not so bad, there are always things to do to get warm. Build a fire, sleep in clothes, and cuddle up with woodland creatures just to name a few. The problem is waking up cold. With below freezing temperatures, breaking camp in the morning is a ROARING pain in the ass. First you have to roust the the raccoons and squirrels from your bag, and they're always so cranky early in the morning, then you have to build a fire to thaw out your tent. I decided to make for the coast. At least the ocean will keep the temperatures reasonable. By this time it was already dark, so I made camp and crashed out in Eugene. I had killed alot of time trying to work on my sprocket earlier in the day, so I didn't get very far.
I woke up to a light rain and took off west down 126. I have given up on part time rain gear. The only time it comes off is bedtime. It's still in the 40's, so every extra layer of insulation helps. I'm wearing 3 layers on the bottom and 5 on top. Thank goodness for underarmor. Speaking of Baltimore, I have been unable to find either Natty Boh, or Yuengling out here. Through the intermittent sunlight, I got to watch the hypnotic shadow dance of the rich mountainous woodlands between Eugene and the coast. This began the most perilous portion of my journey. With wafer thin roads that make the Appalachian backroads look like megahighways. The roads opened a little as I approached Florence. I knew that my rations were running low, and decided to pick up some jerky at a small roadside cafe that advertised their as homemade. As I walked up to this 10 foot by 10 foot cafe, I could see inside that 7 strapping (and perhaps armed) men are deeply engrossed in some sort of meeting. I opened the door, the conversation stops and the crickets take over. All eyes clocking me and what my next move was. And then she steps out of the back. I didn't even know her name, but it stopped mattering if these men had weapons or not. I'd have fought them all with the arm that I chewed off the first that attacked me just to say hello. I make my way through the throng to the jerky fridge (smoked salmon, trout, grouper, and beef), pull out a container and place it on the counter. The conversation behind me resumed and was quite interesting. The last thing I heard was "Science doesn't want free thinkers" before everything else faded away and I locked eyes with this stunning redheaded woman. Her bright green eyes dancing with the fire of life. For the first time in this trip, I was willing to throw away my tools and computer, chuck her on the back of my bike, and ride into southern California. I even went so far as to offer her to come with me. She will never know how serious I was.
I stepped outside with a smile on my face, and the cessation of rain. The sun came out and 5 miles later I was looking upon the white sands of the Oregon Dunes. I climbed a dune and watched the breakers slam into the sand. The area is reminiscient of the Washington scablands. There are saltgrasses and twisted windswept trees peppering the mounds of dust on one side, and the clean green breakers of the Pacific ocean on the other. I stood there wondering what the pioneers thought when they saw this place. Did they taste the water, think it was an inland sea? Did they try to circumnavigate it? Did they know that they had finally reached the end of the New World? Heading toward the park exit, I looked up to see the face of a dune covered in wheel tracks. This apparently is a popular offroading location for atv's and dirt bikes. I considered taking my ride out onto this sand castle o' fun, and thought better of it when the flashbacks of Pictured Rocks Park popped into my head.
Out of the dunes and down the coast. The trees grow thcker by the mile. I was running out of sunlight, and knew I needed to crash soon. I wanted to make the California Border, but just outside of Brookings were signs for camping in Siskiyou National Forest. The moon was going to be obscured by clouds and my headlight is not the most powerfully luminous incandesence in the world. I decided that it was as good a place as any. It wasn't. It was marvelous. I followed a 10 mile road into the Winchuck campground. Only 20% of this road was paved, and the rest was crush and crumble. The Winchuck area of the park is gorgeous. It's right on the river, and the ground is covered in inches thick moss. Birch, Dogwood, and Cedar tower over each other, chasing the rays of fading sunlight. The Winchuck area, however is also closed in October. I'm all fine for illegally camping in a National forest, but there was a split in the road a mile back that led to another area of the park. The Ludlum House is another 5 miles down potholed gravel roads, but since it was getting dark, I figured that I might as well see if it is open. I pulled in to see 1 large trailer and knew I could crash here. The couple in the trailer were the groundsmasters. They offered me wood, and the best site in the camp. They also warned me of the wildlife. They have the usual foxes and squirrels, but they also have a couple of other animals that have been sighted. The civet cat, a smaller and endangered relative of the skunk that has spots instead of stripes has been seen in the area, as well as a mountain lion, or maybe it was a bobcat. Either way, my jerky was put high in a tree branch. I had visions of fighting a wildcat over 2 lbs of beef jerky and then sneezing for a week (for those who don't know, I'm quite allergic to cats). I built a fire, made camp, dined on spaghetti-o's and fell asleep to the sound of the river. I took a short constitutional in the morning along the river, and hopped on my bike. Had I more time, I would have followed the Bombsite trail. The end of which is the site of the only successful aerial bombing of the continental US by the Japanese in WWII. I didn't even know that the Japanese had made it to Oregon. It makes you wonder what the tactical significance of the target was, it's in the middle of a National Forest. I hope they don't go bombing Yellowstone or Glacier next time.
With the morning sun dappling through the mist laden trees, and my the coals of my fire cool to the touch, it was time to explore the California coastline. Back to Brookings and down 101, I hit the California border in 10 minutes. For those who have never been, California has a checkpoint at it's border where it asks if you have any fruits or vegetables. It's like customs for a state. They are trying to keep foreign plants out of the state. It would probably be more effective were the checkpoint actually manned, which it wasn't on this lucky morning.
Round the world cyclists
and the most dangerous road in the world
Questions?, Comments?, Hate Mail? Send it to Pete or John
11/18/06 Issue 17 - Moregon
11/06/06 Issue 16.2 - Metal Ist Krieg!! Cont'd
10/31/06 Issue 16.1 - Metal Ist Krieg!!
10/27/06 Issue 15 - Cape May to Cape Flattery or
10/23/06 Issue 14.2 - 2 days in dutch and the steam out
10/17/06 Issue 14.1 - Seattle to Dutch
08/25/06 Issue 13 - Holy Mackerel!!!
08/22/06 Issue 12 - Ever heard the verb shunt?
08/18/06 Issue 11 - Close but no cigar
08/14/06 Issue 10 - On the hunt
08/09/06 Issue 9 - I've really been at my parent's house this whole time.
08/07/06 Issue 8 - Nooooorth Dakota where the wind comes sweeping down the plains
08/02/06 Issue 7 - Grooves, Grates and Gravel
07/30/06 Issue 6 - Moon Over Parma
07/28/06 Issue 5 - I LEAVE TOMORROW!!!!!!!
07/24/06 Issue 4 - Why Jersey, and what's the holdup?
07/23/06 Issue 3 - Is this fraud? and Welcome to Delaware
07/22/06 Issue 2 - MVA, Headaches and Miracles
07/21/06 Issue 1 - Mission Statement