It took only a few days of cycling to get down the Oregon Coast from Otis, with an average of 72km (45 Mi) we covered it in 6 days. The area is very impressive, even though it was quite rainy and windy, we enjoyed it a lot. Below is a picture overview of some of the scenery we saw along the way.
We also saw some less pretty things, as explained in my previous ‘trash rant’, but overall it was another highlight.
We camped a few days in the rain but also stayed with some wonderful people: Linda & Gilbert, Terry & Lily, Nicole & ‘Jim-Bob’ Brian on Couchsurfing and Ken Neeley, who celebrated our last night in Oregon with us in the local Pizza Place…
Next stop: California!
(click on the images and a larger version will appear automagically!).
Kowalski! Status report!
After 6300km (almost 4000 miles), our Santos Travelmaster bikes are great as ever. Ivana got another flat tire (her 3rd I think), I am still at one!
My back hurts at times and some of the steeper hills I could feel my knees, but so far, so good…
Next stop: California!
<rant> Imagine cycling along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal nature in the US, maybe even in America. Dunes, forests, cliffs and rough waves. So nice they declared it a ‘National Recreation Area’!
I enjoyed the scenery, but got more and more annoyed with the trash that was on the side of the road. It got so bad that I could not focus on the nature or even on the traffic, but just on the next piece of plastic that had been thrown out of a car window, or maybe I should say truck window?
Besides the ugliness of the trash, the chemicals that are slowly released into nature (by decomposing and by getting eaten by animals), it also creates dangerous situations for cyclists, as many times we have to go around heaps of glass or large pieces of trash, forcing me onto the car lane (assuming there is a shoulder to begin with).
At one point, at the bottom of a steep hill, I decided to take some photographs.
About one mile later, I had about 75 pictures of discarded trash, all taken within 45 minutes of uphill cycling (some more were shot after lunch, one hour later). Please take the following facts in account:
- I only started shooting after I got really annoyed by all the trash, so there were hundreds pieces more, just before this series.
- All first 75 shots were taken within 45 minutes; this includes cycling uphill, getting off the bike, releasing the flap of my handlebar-bag, getting the camera ready, taking a picture and getting moving again. Mostly I could do only a few pedal strokes before stopping again.
- Many pieces are missing. Only halfway up I started to shoot ‘doubles’, before, I passed items if I already had shot them. Missed Doubles (or triples) include red Bull, Coca Cola, Camel cigarettes, all Beers Of Idiots (see below) and more
- I did not shoot most unrecognizable and/or unbranded pieces of trash, such as random car parts, plastic wrappers of all kinds and sizes, unrecognizable glass items and much, much, much more…
- The road was steep on my side, the side of this trash, so likely a multitude of trash was to be found lower down the slope
- It was busy and there was no good shoulder, so I could not stop for every piece.
- Image #27 is the one in the middle: Scenic Byway… Besides this sign, there had also been a ‘Adopt-A-Highway sign before I started shooting.
- I only shot one side of the road.
Here is it: all the glory of Mile 207, Oregon (click image for larger version)
Not all of the below are scientifically proven or valid, but it after cycling several thousand kilometers along the US highways, it is reasonable safe to assume that:
- There are hundreds pieces of trash per mile of US Highway, even though it is in a ‘National Recreation Area’
- Coors & Bud (especially light) are the choice of beer for trash-throwing idiots
- There is just as much ‘healthy’ trash (waters such as Dasani, Aquafina, ArrowHead (with ‘Eco-Shape bottle’!), V8, VitaminWater etc) as there is stuff that was already trash to begin with (KFC, McDonalds, Taco Bell, BurgerKing etc etc)
- Drive-thru coffee creates throw-away empty coffee trash.
- Adopt-a-Highway seems nothing more than a scam where local businesses get some advertising and never look at ‘their’ road again. There were some exceptions in the US (especially notably when the Adopter was a Bikeshop or Eco-market etc), but generally those signs only seemed to attract trash as the idiots throwing things out of their car, seem to need something to aim for..
I assume that the crazy fools that throw these things out of their car window (trust me, they are NOT cyclists…) have zero respect for nature also have no respect for others or even themselves, as they are messing up their own planet. Is is just education? lack of proper values taught by their parents? Or just plain stupidity? I really wonder what goes on in their minds if anything at all.
Some places have a sign that says: ‘$1000 fine for littering’. This means that if one person was stationed here, he could have raised at least $80,000 in fines (likely a multitude) on this one mile alone. I think that will cover his salary? How’s that for job creation?
< / rant>
Day 135–140, 23-28 Nov 2008: Metal Cowboys, cycling in Portland, giving thanks with an old friend and to the beach…
Before we headed over to Portland, we had to visit an old friend we had never met! I had known MC & Dave since years by email & via the 7summits.com forum, but we had never met in person. It was great to finally meet them and we stayed longer than planned as they took us on a nice sightseeing trip through the Columbia River Canyon, with its gorgeous waterfalls and hosted us for the night in their great house. It was hard to say goodbye the next day, but we had another interesting date to get to that evening…
After arriving late at night in Portland, we ended up in the house of a well-known cyclist: Joe Kurmaskie, aka ‘The Metal Cowboy’. It was much fun to talk about his and our tours and meet and having dinner with his wonderful family in person, after having read about them in their books. It is great that even a well-known person like Joe gives back by offering ‘Warm Shower’ to biketravellers.
After adjusting our bikes we managed to catch his escaped cat the next morning, and we headed off to see Portland. It is known to be pretty and one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US and our hopes were high. We got quite disappointed; even though there were many people cycling and there were some nice streets with alternative shops and interesting architecture, it was still another noisy big city, mainly because of endless streams of large cars.
I realized that we had gotten spoilt in Amsterdam and the Netherlands: everything is focused around cycling: almost all roads have separate bike lanes, with their own traffic lights and distance markers. Nobody wears helmets because it is safe to cycle and because bicycles have the right of way in many situations. Here in Portland it was already nearly impossible to get into the city from the North as there are no clear signs and the big I5 highway has no easy way for bikes to cross the river.
25th November: Portland – McMinnville 63km: meeting an old friend!
After staying one more night with Couchsurfer Adam (one of the few Portlanders without a car?), we pushed our bikes up the steep hills and continued along the Pacific Highway 99. The rain came down nonstop and we had to adjust our brakes, in order to safely stop for the many traffic lights on the wet hills.
Once out of the city we stopped at a SafeWay to get some lunch and got into a bizarre conversation with some teenage kids. It deserves its own post which I will try to write up soon…
Back on the rainy road, I was passed by a car who pulled over to the shoulder. Thinking it was somebody who wanted to encourage us in some way, I stopped and waited for the driver to step out into the rain. It took about half a second before I recognized the smiling face that appeared on the asphalt: Ben! Our cycling buddy from the Dalton Highway! It had been 4 months since we had said goodbye in Fairbanks after riding down one of the hardest roads in the world together with Ben and his friends. Even though it was pouring rain, he thought he recognized Ivana’s Santos Bike and when he passed me as well, he was sure it was us!
It is a small planet after all, especially as we had no idea that his family lived so close. He was on his way to a place called McMinnville, to spend Thanksgiving there. He jotted down the name and number and promised to email their street address.
We had already arranged to spend the night in the house of Gary Schultz, an active traveller, who showed us pictures from all his great trips, but the next day we went to see Ben’s family: Carol & Mike. They are amazingly warm people and immediately invited us to stay the next days, so we could celebrate thanksgiving with them. It was nice to catch up with Ben as well, so we gladly accepted the invitation. We spend all day preparing the huge meal and had a great time together. Though we had so different backgrounds and beliefs, we were all thankful for life and for the opportunity to meet warm people like them.
28 November: McMinnville – Otis, 82 km, back to the coast
It was a fast ride to the coast, we zoomed across misty fields and empty hazelnut trees and had only one small pass to conquer before we could follow the Salmon River down to the coast. We had some trouble finding the place of our Couchsurfing host Alan, but when we got to his place it was worth the extra meters of uphill.
Alan lives close to the coast and he took us across the estuary for a walk on the beach, just in time before the night fell. While Ivana made some more of her famous pies, we finished the night watching some movies, getting ready for yet another famous part of our journey: The Oregon Coast!