Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Camp to Home!

Originally I had planned to camp at Tree of Heaven campground tonight. Somewhere along the road I decided that idea was not so great and that I wanted to eat and sleep at home tonight. I think when I got to the Klamth River market called Quigleys and was looking for food that nothing looked good and so I called my wife from the pay phone there since there is no cell coverage and told her my plan.

It was going to be a heck of a ride but she could pick me up in Yreka at the Mexican restaurant Casa Ramos. And, I had done the 35 mile ride from Yreka to Mount Shasta a hundred times so that did not seem like a big cheat.

Check out the State of Jefferson flag flying in the low position. The State of Jefferson was a short-lived secession movement to try and get some politicians attention and more money sent up this way in 1941. 

I get to the turnoff for 263 which is a beautiful road next to the Shasta River and find out the road is closed. That means the only way back is over Interstate 5!! I had never ridden this road on my bike and really wanted to do this.

There is no way I am riding 8 miles on I5 with the noise from hundreds of big rigs. So, I call my wife to come get me at the rest stop off I5 at the junction with 96. 

Here I am ending the tour at a highway rest stop. A somewhat ignominious end to a bicycle tour but as you can see I was delighted!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Decision Time

I had thought about this day a lot starting a month before the trip at least. Back and forth went the decision making process. Should I stay in Cave Junction or ride through to Happy Camp over the little used backroad from O'Brien.

Since it was an extra 10 miles past the turnoff to Cave Junction and I had not figured out where to camp there, I decided to go for Happy Camp. The mileage was a doable 75 miles but there was 7500' of climbing which was far and away the most of the trip.

It did not help that morning that I had a headwind all the way along 199. It is a narrow road right next to the Smith River. This is where the middle and north fork of the river come together.
Raft race? Sounds fun!

Now, I cross back into Oregon for a little while.

Bridge about 8 miles outside of Happy Camp over Indian Creek
I tanked up on sorbet, iced tea, and other surgery liquid things in O'brien which this picture shows in entirety. It was hot now - the hottest weather of the trip at probably around 90 degrees. I turned off on the road designated by my google instructions. My Garmin was still useless just showing a location on its map but not the road I was on. My instructions said to make a left, right and another left onto the road to Happy Camp. The last left did not materialize where it was supposed to so I flagged down an approaching car who looked a little suspicious of me. I told them my dilemma and they just smiled and laughed a little and said I was on the road and "just keep going", "keep going a long ways up and then down". Sounded a little ominous but at least I was on the right road.

Then I climbed and climbed on one of the weirdest roads ever. It never went down and you could never see valleys and it seemed like a never-ending ridge line with the summit around the next corner seemingly forever. I made the summit around 4 pm and started down. There was never I sign I crossed back into California or was going to Happy Camp.

Resting by Indian Creek around 5:30 pm I realized I was dehydrated and in a good bonk. I downed some Goo and Cliff bars but my body was done for. I could not imagine pedaling another 8 miles, setting up a campsite, bathing in the Klamath since there are no showers at the Curly Jack Campground in Happy Camp and then pedaling 4 miles back into town to eat. So, I GOT A MOTEL ROOM  across the street from the market. I ended up buying bacon, eggs, peppers, onions and made a giant scramble in the efficiency kitchen. Then I started in on my dessert which was a sherbert swirl and tonic water. After 3 glasses of this I found a soup bowl that would hold the rest of the half gallon of sherbert and the bottle of tonic water and ate it all.

Even though the air conditioning did not work real well it was comfortable enough to sleep alright. After all the climbing up the river into a headwind and the heat and climb out of O'brien I was spent and collapsed into a too soft bed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Harris Beach to Jeddidiah Smith State Park

This was going to be a very short day at only 28 miles. I would be crossing back into California and was somewhat sad to leave Oregon. The Oregon Coast had been everything I thought it would be and more. The other cycle tourists had been fun to talk with at the campsites and I knew it would be unlikely to meet more at this time. So, I spent some time at the beach by the campground this morning doing Tai Chi and taking pictures.

The fog was just lifting and was creating some really fun light, shadow, and surreal effects.

 This was going over the bridge at Brookings, Or

 There was a group of touring cyclists in the site across from mine - yea! They had driven down from Reno and started in Fortuna and were going to head north into the headwind until they were tired of it and come back. Nice group that shared their mosquito repellent with me - good thing as the skeeters were fierce there.

This had to be the most beautiful campsite of the trip with 250 - 300' tall redwoods to pitch my tent under and the river a minute away.
The clean, clear water of the Smith River right below my campsite.

I hung out with other cyclists that night drinking beer, eating cheese and salami, talking bikes and thinking about how early to get up.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bullards Beach to Harris Beach - 89 miles

This was July 4th so it seemed prudent to get on the road early which is what I did. The plan was to ride the 25 miles to Port Orford and have breakfast there. Leaving Bullard Beach I took the scenic bikeway road and ended up on a dead-end out by this inlet. Very pretty but not the way I wanted to start the day.
I got back on route and enjoyed seeing the city of Bandon which seems to be suffering from overbuilding. There was lots of for sale signs everywhere. Very pretty views of the coast from several of the properties. Something, though, felt a little hollow about this place. I would need to spend more time here to know if that was a valid observation or not.

This silly looking sculpture was along the road going out of town.
Pedaling into Port Orford I see a restaurant and a guy walking towards the front door. I ask him if it is any good and says yes and it needs to be since it is the only place for breakfast. I noticed he has some strange Chinese herbal liniment formula in his hands that I happen to have called Five Photos. Since this is a rather obscure piece of knowledge we start talking and I find out he is a retired guy from California who had been a harmonica player in a band to a hunting guide doing mule trains and worked in the forestry service. Breakfast was a little slow and it was probably two hours before I got my food and ate. When I came out they had the main street closed down for the parade.

Once out of town the coastal views were so spectacular I was stopping every 5 minutes to look.

I was already at Humbug Mountain which was only another 5 miles or so out of town. The choice was to stop early and camp there or push to the next hiker/biker site at Harris Beach about 45 miles away. With a terrific tailwind it was an easy decision to push on.

So, I still make it in to the campground early at around 3 p.m. There is no one at the hiker/biker site so I set up camp, take a shower and then head into Brookings to pick up some food. Chicken from the deli and a couple beers make supper that night. When I get back Michel  and his son are setting up camp. They had fun watching the parade in Port Orford. We talked about the great riding that day, the terrific scenery and I hear more stories about the ride Michel is doing.

This is a link to Michel's page during his time in Oregon. It has pictures of him and his son.  Check it out....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Florence (Honeymans St Park) to Bandon (Bullards Beach St Park)

This was about a 75 mile day. I got out of Jessie Honeyman's State Park before any of the other cycle tourists got up. It must have been the lack of coffee but I suddenly realized that Oregon's rumble strip is the best one for cyclists.

It seems they can paint and somehow pattern the blacktop all in one process. Plus, it is narrow, does not extend into the shoulder where cyclists ride, and also is not so deep like some that almost knock you off your bike. Anyhow, kudos to Oregon Transportation Dept for this design and hopefully other states will copy it.

This critter had been hit by a car but was still alive. I thought it was a beaver at first but then realized the tail indicates something else. This thing was pretty big at around 7 - 8 pounds. Anyone know what it is?

Gardiner has to be one of the saddest looking towns along the Oregon coast. The only people I saw were digging out in the mud -  I am guessing for clams.

I finally made it to Reedsport and stopped at the first restaurant in town heading south which was the Harbor Light Family Restaurant. I asked a guy who lived in the house across the street how it was and he said the food was good though a little expensive. So, since I had already pedaled 20+ miles on an empty stomach I went in. The special this morning was razor clams and scrambled eggs. As much as I wanted to try this since I knew this breakfast option might never present itself again this lifetime, the thought of clams and eggs just did not sit well so I got the smoked salmon and eggs scramble which was darn good.

 I only seemed to see these signs when leaving those areas.
 Oyster Farm
 Welcome to the land of dune buggies, motocross bikes, 3-wheel ATV's, 4-wheel ATV's, trucks pulling trailers with ATV's in the bed, RV's pulling trailers with ATV's in the back and then these motorhead cities of trailers, RV's, and pickups all parked on top of one another with motorcycles, dune buggies and ATV's just buzzing in every direction.
 One of the dune encampments. Truly a motorhead's dream come true!!!
This man was the most amazing person I met on the trip. He and his 39 year old son came in the camp the night before right when I was turning in. Then they showed up at Bullard's Beach this afternoon. I started to talk with Michel and found out he had started in Prudhoe Bay and was going to the tip of Argentina. He was a native French speaker from Quebec and was also fluent in Spanish and heavily accented English. Why was he amazing besides having such an incredible goal? Well, he was 65 years old and was doing the trip mostly by himself. And, 24 months ago he had his first hip replacement with the second one 18 months before he started this trip!!

His son surprised him in Vancouver by meeting him there and then was riding with his Dad as far as San Francisco. The son was an undercover detective for the Montreal police and had just completed a big case and was taking some needed R&R to recuperate. I also had the pleasure to meet up with them again the next night completely by accident again. Great people, great stories, and a strength of character that made me feel good just to stand next to them.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Newport to Florence - 50 miles

There is a hospitality center at South Beach where the best tool for cycling the Oregon Coast is available free. The volunteers in there give me this map of the coast that has everything the cycling tourist will want: names of campgrounds with hiker/biker sites; elevation profiles, distances, and alternate bike routes. Whoever put this together did an outstanding job as this is easily the most useful map I have ever had.

The nice ladies also told me of a breakfast spot in Waldport called Dan O's that some people on Yelp have given terrible reviews. It is true the waitress smokes outside and everything they said, but, the breakfasts here are huge and coffee cup is bottomless. There are two signs outside - one says Dan O's and one says Carols. Apparently it is in some kind of transition right now. I liked the food and also got into a discussion with a trucker at the next table. We talked about cyclists and how he is deathly afraid of hitting someone and tries his best. He does not understand cyclists who ride two and three abreast and thinks they have some kind of death wish - me either, by the way.

Today I really got to see the Oregon Coast and it is spectacular. With the tailwind I could have easily knocked out some bigger mileage but decided to try and be mellow and just enjoy the scenery. That sounds easy but when your bike is loaded, the weather is nice, and there is a tailwind at your back it is hard to fight the impulse to crank out big miles. 

 At the Jessie Honeyman State Park hiker/biker site I met Kevin with his vintage Schwinn Paramount. Kevin has fallen on hard times losing his job as an Iron Worker in Chicago 4 years ago and then losing his house there to foreclosure. He now lives with his Dad around Florence and pedals down to the hiker/biker campsite now and then to get out of the house. He had some cooking contraption he was using to make "pies" out of cherry filling and pieces of bread cooking it in the campfire. He picked this piece of hardware called a hobo pie maker up at a garage sale for 50 cents. The results looked weird but he liked it.
Also, at the campground were a couple guys from Vancouver, one from MN and then late that evening about the time I am going to bed an older French Canadian guy and his son showed up. More about them later.

Friday, July 1, 2011

McMinnville to Newport (Sunset Beach) - 65 miles

Left McMinnville and headed to the coast. On the way I detoured slightly off 18 to go through Sheridan and Willamina. There was a nice bakery in Willamina that had decent coffee so I got my caffeine fix there.
Sheridan was a depressed looking area though the mill was going.

My first planned destination was Devils Lake which is supposed to have a hiker/biker camping site but though I looked at two different places it was not apparent to me. It was too early in the day to stop anyways but thought it would be worth checking out in case it was so awesome I would be compelled to stop. So, on down the coast I rolled.
Devils Lake
First picture of the Oregon Coast
One of many alternate bike routes off the main 101
Sometimes you saw these signs for alternate routes and sometimes not
There is a bike shop listed on that will let cycle tourists shower there and is supposed to have lots of stuff for the cycle tourist. They were very friendly and gave me great advice about a state park campground down the road and also told me about the Rogue River Brewery Restaurant.  

 So I pedaled down to South Beach 2 miles south of Newport. There I met Irving and his Bike Friday who were over from Germany. I cleverly deleted the picture of him and his bike but he had a great setup where his folding bike fit in a suitcase that is considered standard luggage. Then the bike suitcase converts to trailer. A pretty neat setup.

Oregon is trying to preserve historical bridges. 

Irving and I went over to the Rogue River Brewery and had dinner. After a few brews and some good food I was ready to sleep. When we got back to camp there were 5 more cycle tourists. A couple from New Zealand and another couple from Germany and a guy out from Eugene.