Hikin and Bikin the Oregon Coast…with Coyote


South Bend WA to Astoria OR 81km
Astoria OR to Cannon Beach OR 40 km
Cannon Beach OR to Nahelem Bay State Campground OR 28.25 km
Nahalem Bay State Campground OR to Cape Lookout Campground OR 62.23 km
Cape Lookout Campground OR to Lincoln City OR 57.53 km

We’re about a third of the way through Oregon and have stopped for a motel night in Lincoln City after three nights of camping in a row. Look out Laundromat! Hello king sized bed. Soon enroute for a big chilled glass of Chardonnay. Yippee!!!

The cycling is challenging to say the least. I think we did the two worst hills in Oregon today but there is one more to come close to the California border and another tunnel that runs uphill. The traffic can also be intimidating at times. At this point, I would have to say that the roads are better in Thailand for cycling because of consistently wide shoulders, availability of back roads and less traffic. However, the flip side of the tough cycling here is that all those hills lead to dramatic scenery. As anyone who has driven 101 through Oregon can tell you, the views are amazing: big Pacific breakers seen from the tops of rocky, brown cliffs and bays with tall sea stacks.

After seeing very few people in campgrounds in Washington, we’re seeing full campgrounds and meeting many other cyclists in the hiker/biker areas in the campgrounds. Most of them are friendly and many of them are very interesting – in a good way! A quick account: we met a guy named Garth who is from Pemberton and cycling to the tip of South America and back. He has an amazing health recovery story and is riding to raise awareness for Guillain-Barre Syndrome. We met a woman named Danielle who is from New York and just quit her job teaching in the Bronx. She is cycling the coast solo and although she doesn’t see why we all found that very brave — I think she’s awe-inspiring for doing it solo. We ran into our friend Beau again (we first met him outside Baskin Robbins in Aberdeen). He is also cycling for a cause, promoting a youth leadership volunteer program and stopping to talk to schools and chambers of commerce as he pedals his way to San Diego. We’ve met many others as well – two couples from Minnesota and the east coast cycling to San Diego, a great guy named Pierot who is also enroute to San Francisco on his bike and then off to trek in Nepal (it turns out he live three blocks from us in Vancouver).

And then there’s Coyote. We first ran into Coyote at the bike shop in Astoria. I couldn’t tell by the load on his bike (huge and included a ghetto blaster) if he was homeless or travelling. We chatted and he told us he was on his way to Eugene Oregon; it was hard to tell if that was home base but he it sounded like it might be.
We ran into him again later that night – he was sitting on a curb eating a sandwich as we walked into a kind of posh tourist restaurant. I felt a little stab of guilt.

I didn’t think about him again until I saw him pushing his bike with its expedition sized panniers and ghetto blaster, smoking a drum tobacco home rolled cigarette, his grey hair pulled into a ponytail, smiling and chatting to everyone along his path. He told us he weighs 135 pounds and Ian was not able to lift his bike which we estimate to weigh over 100. He is somewhat manic and talks non-stop. While everyone else was setting up their tents, he made the rounds and chatted and then proceeded to just sleep out in his sleeping bag without setting up any kind of camp. He told us many stories but two stand out: stopping for the night and pulling out his sleeping bag on church property and being woken by headlights from one of the church members and then a second time by flashing lights. The parishioner, apparently too stricken by some kind of conscience to complain to cops, called in an emergency re someone being sick and needing assistance. Luckily the paramedics were feeling more Christian and once they made sure he was ok just told him to get a good rest before he started pedaling the next morning.

The other story is how he is struggling with the load he is carrying. He has toppled over twice and has to hike the hills (in fact he calls what he is doing hikin and bikin and I think only he and I have to resort to this kind of bike portage for our very different reasons). Given how little he seems to need at camp (we’ve been in the same campground with him twice now) I realize he is carrying around his worldly possessions. He couldn’t pass up that free ghetto blaster. I gather from his stories he was a contractor kind of guy in a small town. An old hippie for sure come on hard times, also telling us stories of eating out of food banks and living out of his truck before giving up.

The rural and small town poverty here is very tangible. I sure hope Obama wins this election. Mitt Romney isn’t going to do much for all the Coyotes out there. Watched the Daily Show last night. Jon was making fun of a senator who voted down a one billion dollar package meant to help veterans get jobs. All of a sudden the Republicans have no money. Yet they spent 800 billion on a war no one agreed with.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *