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North America

Last Days on the Oregon Coast: Pigged out Raccoons and French Bistro Bliss

[slideshow]

Lincoln City to South Beach Campsite 48.11 kms
South Beach Campsite to Florence 79.24 kms
Florence to William Tugman State Park 53.50 kms
William Tugman State Park to Bullards Beach State Park 63.55 kms
Bullard’s Beach State Park to Port Orford 49.46 kms

We booked our ticket last night…later than we would have liked but EVA Air has booked up over the last week. So, we are committed to October 29, San Francisco to Hanoi, Vietnam and will slow down if we need to between here — Port Orford, Oregon and San Francisco.

The last week of cycling has been a mix of more cliff-side, breath-taking, adrenaline spiking views of the Pacific interspersed with stretches of Highway 101 which turn inland where we see lots of forest and lots of clear cuts.

I’m getting braver or dumber. Hard to say.

I’m certainly getting fitter… we hit our half-way mark of 1000 kms a couple of days ago in Florence Oregon. I can feel my quadriceps muscles with my hands now – definitely popping out. The good news is my knees, as a result of those bulging quadriceps, are surviving the cycling assault. My hands and wrists are a different story and Ian and I are continuing to work on seat height and handle bar position to deal with tingly fingers.

We had a surprisingly lovely French meal in a bistro in this tiny town last night– the owner is from Brittany; he emigrated 20 years ago. My 50 km ride, now considered an average day, didn’t quite justify salmon with beurre blanc, vichyssoise, chardonnay and bread with garlic butter…but it was very good and Ian and I enjoyed popping into yet another little universe.

We find that every stop at the end of every day is like entering a different world…very different than travelling any other way, even slowly by car. Everyday we marvel…hey we got here, to this very spot, on our own power. Yesterday from my spot on the shoulder of the road I cycled around caterpillars and grasshoppers where I could and saw, in the trees, some kind of bluebird I don’t know the name of. And after a few solitary hours (Ian is always 5 to ten minutes ahead), I arrived here in Port Orford, in a new town, a new world.

The ride to Florence was another cyclist’s rite to passage…cliff sides, climbs, missing guardrails and finally an uphill tunnel with no sidewalk just before the summit. But again, all those amazing views of sea stacks, surf, and beach, in-between looking in my side-view mirror for logging trucks and honking big camper trailers towing pick-up trucks competing with me for a narrow winding highway 101 lane without shoulders.

After a day off in Florence where we checked out the local museum and then the local marina where we saw the fisherman’s catches of the day (Chinook is in season), we lived it up with real restaurant food two nights in a row (as opposed to pub food or camp food). We had lamb curry one night and a crab ceasar salad the next night (crab is plentiful this year and the salad was top of the line). We got up the next day and cycled and camped for the next two days.

The first night at camp we hit the tent early as it was/is chilly at night now. I was just drifting off when I heard something around the campsite. Was it a person? I yelled out. “Whose there?” No answer . I stuck my head out, shining my new headlight (which is on a strap that goes around my head…how geeky can you get) on the marauder who turned out to be about 4 raccoons. I yelled in my meanest voice, making direct eye contact with the ringleader, telling them to get lost. They looked at me and figured I meant business and all raced off. Ian and I then moved my food pannier up to my handlebar assuming that the raccoons could not easily reach it and might perhaps be scared off by the bike falling over if they tried to get into it. Ian woke up at 6:30 am to the sounds of a raccoon fight. They had knocked my bike over, gotten into the pannier and were at the end of a big raccoon party. They ate a 2 pound block of Tillamook cheddar, six pita breads, a box of ravita crackers, 6 granola gars (they knew enough to take them out of the foil wrappers), a bun, and 10 pepperoni sticks. They left the zucchini and the cucumber. My only solace is Ian’s vision of them all holding their stomachs and groaning, in line for what could only be futile mission to the outhouse, bunged up as they must have been on all that cheese. Grrrrr.

Our second night at camp we decided to try a yurt. Was 39.00 and nice to have heat. The yurts have vinyl-upholstered bunks and futons, basic furniture and lights.

Our third night at camp we met a German woman named Anita who started cycling solo from Anchorage Alaska with a dream of cycling to the tip of South America. Her English was a bit dodgy and she was a bit lonely. She’s cycled 5000 km so far, hooking up with people to keep her company on the way. I hope we did our share as I was in awe of her and felt compassion for her feeling a bit lonely. She was questioning herself in terms of tackling South America on her own.

We also met Robyn, another home renovation type carpenter fallen on hard times. He is now an entrepreneur foraging mushrooms and berries, setting up camp for 5.00 a night in the state campgrounds, where he bases himself three days at a time in a tent and goes out into the woods to do his thing. He ships his mushrooms by bus from a variety of locations in the Coos Bay area. He was a very sweet guy who offered his chicken and mushroom stew to Ian, Anita and I. He deserves a place to live – he certainly works hard for his money and he is now very knowledgeable about foraging. Hey Mitt, he probably works as hard as you. Try paying some taxes. No middle class is not a pretty picture. It leads to instability and a lot of barbed wire.

So a day off here in Port Orford and then we are off for two more days of cycling and camping in Oregon. We expect to be in California on Thursday.

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