Sisters to Astoria, Oregon: The Final Leg

Day 84- August 23

From Sisters we planned a short day of about 45 miles due to the last big climb, but the day so turned into 60ish miles to get to Nimrod.

We packed up our things quickly as it was quite cold and we were hungry. A fellow camper told us about the Gallery, a breakfast diner. We went and it was good. Not that much food, at least for a biker, so Dad and I went to a bakery for second breakfast. When we went outside there was a guy there looking at our bikes. He was talking to the Philly man more, but Philly wasn’t having any of it.

“You have water proof bags.” The guy said.

“It rains.” Was the response. I had to control my smile.

Like other people, bikers or not, this guy also had to tell us how hard our climb was going to be and how dangerous. We biked 4000 miles to this point, I think we have come across pretty much everything.

In fact, the mountain was not that bad at all. We have climbed higher elevations and on much busier roads. The map gives an alternate route (20 more miles, but less of a climb with more cars) in case this pass, McKenzie Pass, is closed with snow. We took the McKenzie pass, which doesn’t allow huge cars/trailers. This seriously decreased traffic.

It was a beautiful climb up- lots of shade. It wasn’t that steep either. We slowly made our way through the trees and finally we reached the top- to lava rocks. The trees had dispersed showing where lava used to flow.

After taking our pictures we climb some stairs on the viewpoint. It was cool seeing snow covered mountains, lava fields, and trees all together.

I’m glad we climbed the side we did as we only gained about 2000 feet, but the descent had us losing 5,000 feet (4000 was during the first half). The first half of the descent was steep switchbacks and the second half gradual.

I was having problems with my back break – it wasn’t breaking. So we had to adjust that mid descent. I was going really slow, which is abnormal. I don’t blaze down hills, but I don’t go slow either. I still kept it slow after the adjustment because of the curves. If you missed a turn….that was a far fall down.

Again, trees lined the road giving lots of shade. And barely any cars. However, this ended rather quickly, it seemed, and we rejoined the rest of the world on a main highway. Luckily it was still going downhill so we could quickly move.

The Philly man caught up to us at a small town’s store and restaurant. We also saw the guy from Oregon from Mitchell. He was leaving when we arrived. The store had a food truck in the back that made food so we got pulled pork and drinks.

We planned on staying in an RV park about 10 miles down the road. However, when we got there, the owner informed us that the restrooms were not working so she couldn’t host tents. We were forced to keep pedaling. We passed several campgrounds before, but they were uphill in the wrong direction. The next town had this resort and we heard from a RV park guest that they allowed camping. She also told us that she liked it there “‘cept for the squiters [mosquitos] and yellow jackets” as she wiggled her toes in mismatched socks in Birkenstock.

We found the resort and was told by the owner that he offers primitive camping for free- no water, no toilets, etc. We passed and saw on our map another camping symbol further down. I called the lady-owner of a B and B, said she did offer camping as well as cabins. It was another 10 miles.

We pedaled on. We made it to Nimrod and found the place. The 3 of us decided that splitting the cabin was better. It was one bedroom with a pull out sofa bed, kitchen, bathroom, and deck that led to the river. It was really nice. We made dinner and ate on the deck.

Our short day turned into quite an adventure.

Day 85- August 24

We woke and made some instant oatmeal to carry us to the next town. It was about 20 miles til we found anything. The small towns we went through had nothing, or at least no breakfast places. Luckily it was still an easy ride as we were continuing to drop in elevation. We made it to map 1!!! The last map!

We were pretty close to Eugene, OR by the time we found a restaurant. We parked our bikes in front as we normally do, but the waitress was worried they were going to get stolen and offered to have them inside the gated seating area. We thought about it and we decided they were fine. She was nice for offering!

The Philly man joined us and we ate our first course because of course we were still hungry so we had to order pancakes after. That did the job.

We went around Eugene. We originally thought we would go to Harrisburg, a 50ish mile day, but they didn’t offer much lodging. There was one RV resort place and that was it. So we planned to go to Corvallis about 76ish miles.

It was an overall easy ride since we were still dropping elevation. The last half of the day, however, we had headwinds and we could only go about 10 miles an hour instead of about 15. We also entered farm lands at this point bringing me back to Kansas. Whenever there were trees, the wind died down a little.

A regular road bicyclist passed us before town and I saw him get on a bike path. The road was quite busy so we followed him and hoped it was going the same direction. After a very long turn we did make it to town. There was a Rodeway Inn right there so we got a room and then searched for drinks. Not finding a store we just got sodas at McDonald’s and sat there for a bit.

On the return, we saw the Philly man and made plans for dinner. We went to this nice restaurant a block away that uses all local farms for their food. They print out their menus everyday. It was quite good.

Day 86- August 25

We went to Burger King for breakfast and then carried on. Due to the long day the previous day, we were able to move our next destination further along. We decided Grand Ronde at about 52 miles.

This map’s profile, being map 1- near the coast, was 200 feet elevation segments and not 1000. So though it indicated we had climbs, the climbs were only several hundred feet. The highest point was at 800 feet and our biggest climb 600 feet gain or so.

So, this day had climbs, but simple ones. We were on a busy highway for the beginning. Then transfered to a bike path and small roads before returning to that highway. We stopped in a town called Monmouth for a drink and snacks. It was about 20ish miles since Corvallis and we needed a break. We got 2 powerades as they were on sale and a tray of apple bars, like fig newtons. We sat on the bench for an hour. Dad even took a nap.

The rest of the day was simple. The weather was warm, but as we were reaching the coast it was cooling down, plus no humidity.

We have heard so much about how Bicycle friendly Oregon is, but here on out, it was not. The cars were very inconsiderate. There maybe a lot of bicyclists in Oregon, but anyone doing any touring through here should be careful.

After a intimidating ride, we reached the Wandering Spirit RV park. Their tent site was very nice- shade, nice grass, near the creek, and near the restrooms. We sat by the creek for a bit then set up our tent. We asked the office about the casino we passed and they informed us their was a really good buffet, plus a free shuttle there and back.

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We got some drinks, took showers, then called the shuttle service. Our driver was very pleasant. He said he has been working there for 17 years and loves it. He wished us luck and we went off to find the buffet.

It was really good. It had different foods and they were all hot and well cooked. After stuffing ourselves we walked around the casino and Dad decided to play penny slots. At the end, he won 26 dollars.

The Philly man didn’t join us. He was tired from the previous day and his wife was in town so he stopped and she picked him up. He texted us saying he would see us the next day at the planned campground.

Day 87- August 26

We woke up and ate some muffins from the convenience store next door then prepared for the rest of the day. It was only going to be 50 miles to the Cape Lookout State Park, but we had our biggest climb of the map.

An RV man came over to ask us about our bikes and the trip. Dad asked him about his RV. He just retired and is now traveling with his wife. His daughter is a truck driver. Dad asked him if he had prior experience with big cars/trailers. Nope. How about practicing with the RV before leaving? Nope. He then told us,

“Yeah, and the roads here are quite narrow and windy. And my RV is wide.”

Dad and I looked at each other and hoped he wasn’t on the road with us. He was extremely nice, but his hand tremor and lack of experience with his vehicle made us nervous about our own safety on our bikes. Not necessarily of him him, but of all the other trailer/RV drivers like him.

The day was beautiful- very sunny and decently warm. Perfect for our first day on the coast. Though, everyone was asking us when we got on the coast and they had a hard time understanding that we just got to the coast. For most of the day we didn’t see the ocean yet.

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What? Only 760 feet??? Lame.

We got back on the busy highway from the previous day. It was gross how fast the cars were coming and hoe little room they gave us. Everyone was going to the coast for the weekend. We made it to the first town called Rose Lodge and missed the turnoff, because we were looking for a cafe, and had to turn around. Luckily it was only a mile.

The turn was near a store so we went in to ask for a cafe. There was the lady cashier and a male customer. The man saw we were biking and was trying to give us bike friendly dorections, which also cooresponded with our map, but the woman was not at all paying attention. I was wearing my bike helmet and Dad was holding his, not to mention our bike shorts. The man finally says,

“They are on bikes.” To which the woman replies,

“Oh, you’re on bikes?!” I tap my helmet, but she still didn’t notice.

We eventually found where the cafe was, not to far off route, maybe a quarter mile. The Philly man shows up as we were leaving and we confirmed plans.

We took the Old Scenic Highway 101 and turned off for the cafe. The food was quite good. But before that, I went inside to ask how the seating worked, because everywhere is different, and the waitress was quite gruff saying I had to wait my turn if I wanted to sit inside. Since there was no line we decided to sit outside and it was cool enough. When I left, I told Dad what she said and pointed to a group of people by the door. I wasn’t sure if they were all one party when the older woman growls,

“I’m in line!” Once she saw we walked to the outside seating she got more happy. We sat next to this very open older couple. They were telling us their whole life story and we weren’t asking that many questions. But they were very nice. The woman said,

“You know this place is famous…..no? Well, it’s famous.” Dad and I smiled and nodded, but all we cared about was food. Their homemade bread was delicious.

We then went back on the old highway and started our first climb of the day. Then we ran into a couple doing the Pacific Coast Trail. At this point, all the bikers are doing that trail. They said they met the Philly man and we talked to them for a bit.

They told us about a young German couple traveling with their dog. With passed them, the dog was in its own trailer- it was some type of pit bull/retriever mix. It was huge! They didn’t stop as they sped downhill. Finally, we made it to the top and started downhill when we came across 2 guys. One was from the Netherlands and the other guy was American who joined him on route.

The Netherlands guy was going from Alaska to Panama City and had met the Welsh guy in Alaska! The other guy was asking me a bunch of questions on our bikes and gear. They also met the Philly man earlier. Both were impressed we almost finished the transam.

We continued and transfered onto highway 101, the coastal highway. Finally, we see the Pacific Ocean. I couldn’t stop smiling.

We stopped for snacks and drinks at Pacific City as we were still full from brunch. It was definitely a beach tourist town. The Philly man showed up and said his wife was meeting us at the campground with dinner.

We found a viewpoint and stopped to take pictures. A car showed up and a woman got out to take photos. She asked if she could take our photo for us and we posed for a picture. She then asked the normal questions of where we are biking to and from, etc. We told her and she freaked out.

“What? From Virginia? We drove from Indiana and we thought we were heroic. Hold on, I want to tell my family.”

She opens the car door and says,

“Hey lazies, these guys biked from Virginia!”

We could hear her husband from within and her two boys stuck their head out. One saying,

“I’ve never heard of such a stunt!” The kid is around 8….I’ve never heard of it til Dad brought it up and I was 22! We laughed and continued on encountering some other bikers. They didn’t look like they were enjoying the hills.

We continued and encountered the big climb. We were all pissed. It was a steep climb for a mile or two and to top it off there was no view of the ocean. Just trees. I biked 4000 miles to the ocean, I want a view. I was cursing, Dad was cursing, and so was the Philly man. We finally reached the top to a small window of the water and then went down hill to the campground.

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The “window”

It had hiker/biker sites, but Mrs. Philly had a car and managed to get a regular campsite. It was close to the restrooms. It was such a pleasure meeting her. She brought out dinner and we dug in. They went out to watch the sunset on the beach as it wasn’t too far and we got ready for bed. The cold was settling in and so was the fog. It was going to be a cold night.

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Day 88- August 27

We woke up and quickly put our things away as everything was damp. It was misting. We planned on breakfast at the next town of Netarts, but nothing was open so we continued on to the next, Oceanside. We asked a couple of people walking into town of their was any open restaurants. They said yes. We picked the first cafe, which offered brunch. It was really a restaurant for fancy dinners as it had a great ocean view. The clouds didn’t even diminish it.

It was warm, which was great since we were wet from the mist/light rain. The Phillies found us and joined us. We wanted second breakfast and WiFi so we went across the street to a coffee shop and got a muffin. Mrs. Philly came back and told us the road we wanted to take was closed due to mudslides. Luckily, the map gives an alternate route at Netarts, only 2 miles back.

We finished up and made our way back then to highway 131. A very busy highway. It was only 7 miles to Tillamook then back to 101, but it was enough to have several close calls. I flipped more people off here than I think I have in my whole life.

As we were riding through Netarts again, I was asked by a woman if I needed help and another bicyclist appeared and gave us advice. He was impressed we have almost finished the transam.

To leave Netarts, it’s a very steep and longish hill. I was waiting at the top for Dad when a car slowly drives by me with the window down. I thought they were going to ask if we were all right. You know, nice things. Instead, this old guy yells (again while moving)

“At least one of you has common sense and not hold up a bunch of people.”

His wife didn’t look at me. He drove off. I was dumbfounded. Dad came and asked what he said. What was Dad suppose to do? Pull off every time a car went by? The man didn’t even have the courage to stop, he kept driving while he yelled at me.

Tillamook is the hometown of the cheese company by the same name. The factory is near 101 so we stopped for the restroom. I then heard a lady say,

“Ew, it smells like cow.” Um…..

There were free samples of the cheese so then we also did that. We ended up buying a pound.

The day remained gray, but luckily it dried up so we weren’t as wet.

We caught up with the Philly man before the campground and he said his wife got another site. It was about 47 miles to Manzanita/ Nehalem Bay State Park. We turned off the route at Nehalem, missing some of the climb and made our way to the park via back roads and residential areas. I misunderstood a sign and ended up going more than I had to, but I got to the park.

We found Mrs. Philly and laid things out to dry from this morning like our tent. The Philly man made a fire and we enjoyed our dinner near it. The only thing was that the restrooms were so far away. Mrs. Philly got the campsite because someone was checking out early, great luck, otherwise we would have stayed in the hiker biker site.

We discussed how this was our last night of the trip and how we couldn’t believe it was over.

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Yes, that’s chicken on a stick over a fire

In the middle of the night there was a commotion and all of a sudden someone shouts “get the f…. out!” Apparently, a drunk guy wandered into the wrong site and that person was telling him to leave.

Day 89- August 28

We woke up ready for the day. Our last day….we had some leftovers from dinner for a pre-breakfast then went off to Manzanita. It was about a 2 mile ride. It was Sunday so the streets were full of tourist walking around. We saw some coffee shops, but no restaurants. Dad asked someone and he told us of one up the road on 101.

We took pictures of the beach next to town and then rode up. There were motorcyclists getting off their bikes in the parking lot. I was the first to arrive so I said hello. They said hi back and on man asked how many miles per galleon do I get. We laughed as I gave an unsure face and say 55.

We got a booth and had our last big breakfast of the trip. I got the seafood omelet. It was great.

It’s hard to describe our feelings of it being the last day. The Philly man was quite excited and ready. Dad and I were not as energetic. I wished many times for it to be over during the Ozarks or the heat in Kansas, but now that it was here….

It was also weird that we were on the coast. We biked 4400 miles. Across the USA. WHAT??? Everyday is  only 50-60 miles average, but yet we biked it. All of it. In 3 months. And now we were here, on our last day. One day, in the beginning, I calculated when we would be done and I said August 28. It was an estimate, but yet, here we were.

We had one more 50 mile day to Astoria. Several small climbs left. It was slow going and fast at the same time.

We had to go through a tunnel. Bicyclists are required to push a button before entering. This activated lights to warn cars there was a cyclists inside and to slow to 30mph. Luckily, we were going downhill so we could exit the tunnel and get in a shoulder as fast as possible. Because, those cars were not slowing down. I was fortunate to exit before any cars came up, but Dad had some (insert mean word) pass him in the tunnel. The tunnel is feet long and no shoulder. Just wait a few minutes. Endangering a life is not worth it.

One van in particular almost hit Dad. I was watching him in my mirror. He’s not slowing down. He’s not slowing down. I race to get to the shoulder as he zooms by me, not at 30 mph.

We took a break at Canon Beach and sat near the beach. A couple was getting something from their car when we were leaving and asked about our trip. Dad didn’t hesitste,

“So, I’m about to brag, but….” their jaws dropped when they heard. They congratulated us and asked us further questions. We headed on and stopped after 10 miles in Seaside for lunch. The past few days my appetite hasn’t been what it was. I still ate normal, but it wasn’t the many plates of food appetite of a biker. Maybe because I knew it was ending or maybe because our days are easier and I’m burning less calories?

We had a hard time finding the road for the last leg of the trip, but with the help of Google maps we were on our way. It was nice being off the chaotic 101. It was like we were back in the beginning. Farmlands, some hills, very few cars. Eventually we had a turn to another road, but it said road closed detour. Thinking we could get around the road block we went a mile down the road, but saw he whole road was dug out. No way to cross the hole. We doubled back and took the detour.

At the end, I wondered why the map didn’t just take us that route to begin with as the other road put us back on 101 faster.

We were right across the bridge from Astoria. The end was near. We had a hard time finding the bike path once in Astoria, but then we made our way to the end.

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Unlike Yorktown, this point is at a maritime museum, not at the column. There is one in Astoria as well. We met the Phillies there and took photos.

The Philly man was extremely happy. Dad and I didn’t met his level. We decided to do dinner later and went to our motels. We were done. Done.

Dad and I talked about it in the room. We think it lacked luster, or we were not as enthusiastic like the Philly man, as we knew we would finish, but also there didn’t seem to be an end. In Yorktown, we signed a registry saying we were biking, but here, nothing. Granted, it was for the state of Virginia, but some type of book log would have been nice.

Even as I write this several days later, it doesn’t feel like we finished, but yet I know we have since I’m sitting in a car going 70 miles per hour up a hill passing other cars.

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Machines!!!

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We got dinner at a restaurant on the water and celebrated our achievement. The Philly man completed a dream of his since he was a kid, Dad achieve something he once thought he was too old for, and me? I still don’t know why I did it, but I now have an incredible feeling.

The next day, Dad and I drove to the column, as it was really steep and took pictures. We then drove to Seaside and dunked our front tires in the Pacific ocean. We dunked our back tire in Yorktown and now our front is in the Pacific. The water was too far away to take the whole bike.

(We rented a car)

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My next post will be a FAQ/thoughts of the trip. Thanks for following along on this incredible experience!

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