When we started stirring again in the morning, the sun hadn't yet risen, but Anna was already off to work and Chad could be found under the sink trying to fix the plumbing while Bjorn sat a few feet off and watched. Chad suspended his seemingly ill-fated endeavor long enough for us to make some toast and scramble about a dozen of their hand gathered eggs from the coop behind the house. We were all very happy to be preparing a meal in a kitchen, rather than on a picnic table in some park, and we ate our simple, but quite satisfying meal with gusto. Chad sat in the corner of the living room absently holding Bjorn and responding to us when we would engage him directly, but he seemed very content just relaxing with the baby and staying out of our bustling about as we readied our gear. Before we left, Chad offered us the use of his workbench if we so desired, and sent us off very warmly (he even drove after us when he found I'd forgotten my knife). Chad and Anna gave us a refreshing night and morning of rest, and we offer all the thanks we can muster for their hospitality.
|The tunnel to the great beyond.|
|Fern-gully is real.|
|Oh, Oregon, ye state of beauty concentrat'd.|
|Falls well that ends well.|
10/19 Day 87: Portland, OR to Clatskanie, OR 69 miles (4483 miles)
|This is from the day before.... but the road to Astoria was|
We were, at this point, feeling a little bemused by the circumstances. We had made it all the way across the country to the town we were going to move to, but now we were leaving that town to ride to the ocean on what seemed like a 'just because' portion of the trip. Obviously, we all were excited to do the full shebang and make it coast to coast, but arriving in the city brought to bear so many other, very pressing concerns. Where were we going to sleep when we got back from Astoria, and where would we find work? We willed these thoughts out of our minds and did as we had done for so many days and just spun the pedals until Portland was miles away. We stopped at a Subway in St. Helens for lunch around 20 or 30 miles outside of town, and tried to figure out where we were going to camp for the night. As usual, nothing really seemed to line up and our options were to ride 100 miles or 40, so we were momentarily stumped. Luckily, a quick internet search turned up a campground that was not on our maps and was ideally situated just outside of a little town about 35 miles away. Highway 30 was not the most ideal road ever, due to the high traffic volume, generally uneven pavement, and the amount of debris on the shoulder, but there was a shoulder, and even a bike lane in many places. We also saw two couples heading the opposite direction on loaded touring bikes. One pair was headed to Portland, and when we asked the other, especially fresh looking couple where they were headed, they enthusiastically replied "Around the World!!" We all gave each other a special brand of a 'they don't know what they're getting in to' look and shrugged saying to ourselves: "Well, good effin' luck, then."
We had a real steep climb to get over just after the town of Rainier, and then we screamed down the other side to the very edges of Clatskanie, where we took a two mile detour from the route to find Perkins Creek Campground. The camp site was a nicely kept facility with a friendly owner and clean showers. We cooked what would be our last camp dinner, since we had a place lined up to stay in Astoria via warmshowers.org and set up camp for the last time, too. None of us was too upset over pitching the tents for the last time, but I think we all felt a slight sense of satisfaction that we had been roughing it for so long and were just around the corner from finally seeing the ocean again, and dipping our tires in the sea.
10/20 Day 88: Clatskanie, OR to the Pacific Ocean 47 miles (4530 miles)
We woke slowly, none of us in a rush, because we knew our goal was well in hand. Astoria was only 38 miles away, now, and we had fairly easy terrain on our path to reach it. Our bodies were creaky, and a bit sore, and we were all mentally drained. We were ready, now, to find homes again, and for the comforts of friends and family that were just around the corner. Erin and I had already purchased flights home to get my car and visit loved ones for a week from today, and Ben and Mandi were eager to get back to Portland and find an apartment. In a way, the walls we'd built to hold back the rest of the world's pressures and obligations had already crumbled. In our minds we weren't bike tourists triumphantly finding the shore, we were 4 homeless, jobless bike hobos who were riding to the beach before going back to the city to live in a motel. This attitude significantly tempered our anticipation of making it to the shore, but we were nothing if not strong willed, and we would not let our doubt get the better of us now that we were so very close to the end of something monumental.
We ate some croissants for breakfast at the picnic table in our campsite, and slowly broke down camp for the final time. We loaded our bikes and set off for the coast. The riding was good, and we made short work of the miles in front of us. We weren't going to stop until Astoria, and we took only a few breaks to replenish our energy from our dwindling food reserves. There was another killer hill that took us a while to summit, and then the terrain became a picturesque, rollercoaster of small hills with views to cloud-wreathed, low mountains covered in pines and craggy rocks. There were a few small farms, a few small fisheries, and many good views of the Columbia RIver, but we barely noticed. We were dead set on Astoria, and when we arrived around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, we were relieved, but disappointed. We had suspected that Astoria would have no good views of the ocean, and none of us would accept dipping our tires in the Columbia after having come so far. Just as we rolled in to town, it started to rain, so we ducked in to the Rogue Public House that is in town. We had some tasty brews and some alright food, and we weighed our options. We were around 15 miles from Fort Stevens State Park, which had beach access, and the other beach access was even further south than that. 15 miles is no big deal, but a 30 mile round trip is, so we had to figure something out.
|Like baby turtles to the sea.|
We were done. We scrawled our names and our final distance in the sand, took pictures of us dipping our tires, and rode around like mad idiots in the surf while waving our bottles of beer. We had made it.
We lingered long on the beach, we must have been there for at least two hours just marveling at the waves. The sun began to set, and gave us a sight that I will never forget as it set off a wild, rosy smear of color across the clouds in front of us, and created the vibrant tip of a rainbow in the dunes behind while we and our bikes and all the errata that had sustained us and sheltered us lay strewn about the beach in between. We did it. Hell yes, we did it.
|Going for the wheel dip.|
|Thanks for reading from: Ben|
|The 4200 Miles Crew|