September 05, 2013, Thursday
Humbug Mountain State Park to Harris Beach State Park, Brookings, Oregon
49 miles (running total = 166 miles)
David is still quiet and reserved this morning as the fog surrounds our little camp. The sting of losing five hundred smackers is still there. I mention that the next town of Gold Beach will have several banks, and he can access his money at home from there, and be back in business. We decide to hit a bank in Gold Beach, break camp after breakfast, and pedal onto the fog enshrouded Highway 101 again, in the tight little canyon. It’s early, and petroleum powered vehicles are far and few between. The air is cool, so we make good time, that is until I see something that forces me to stop immediately ...
David didn’t stop. I last saw him cranking on ahead around the next curve. I pulled into the large dirt parking lot to the right. It was too early for anything to be open, but what was staring at me from above didn’t care about business hours. Two creatures from the Jurassic period of time dared me to visit them, so I did. I parked the trike, yanked out my camera, which I always carry around my torso for quick access, and stepped way back to capture the moment for you to see here. Have you ever photographed your trike about to be stepped upon by a tyrannosaur? Only in Oregon! David surely wonders what happened to me again, as a while farther on, there he waits as I finally pull up.
David uses all the latest and greatest electronic gadgets, gizmos, and gear on this trip: a portable solar array that he places atop his panniers to charge his devices, an iPad, an iPhone, and who knows what else. As I pull in behind him, playing catch-up once again, he is dialing a number on his iPhone. The fog is heavy, but the signal is strong because we have gained elevation out of that little Humbug Mountain canyon. Pompous grass is growing wild along side the highway, and the farther south we travel, the heavier it gets in places. This grass is the fancy looking stuff with puffs begging to be photographed.
At one large turnout overlooking the vast Pacific, which is featured in the opening scenes of the PCTA movie production, I meet a fellow named Tim Cassese, who is pedaling his Surley Long Haul Trucker bicycle south along the same route David and I are following. He is tall, lean, and a very happy fellow. Tim asks me if it’s going to rain today, having determined that I live on the Oregon coast. Guess he figures since I live in these parts, I will have a pretty good handle on weather patterns. He had heard on the radio last night that rain was predicted today for the southern Oregon coast. I tell Tim that it will not rain today, and that these clouds and foggy conditions will dissipate come midday. He is relieved to know this. We say goodbye as he departs slightly ahead of me. Cycling the coast, you meet many others doing the same thing. Some you see again, others it’s a one-time meeting and you never see them again on subsequent days.
Since the morning is foggy and cool, we make great time into Gold Beach, a southern coast community with full services. We cross the bridge on the north end of town, pedal up the steep hill into the downtown area, and stop at the Umpqua Bank so David can remedy his financial poverty situation. Next, we take a while and do a midmorning calorie refueling at McKay’s Market. My nectarine looks perfect, but it has a consistency closer to an apple than a nectarine. David resupplies his Gatorade stash, I guzzle three Odwalla chocolate protein monster drinks and eat some mixed nuts, and we answer more questions from curious onlookers of our trikes in the parking lot. It’s a very good thing we scarfed up on the high calorie food here in Gold Beach, because what came next was … well, enough to do a triker in.
After we leisurely pedaled past some gigantic rock monoliths in the ocean, called by some sea stacks, our gauntlet ramped up a few dozen notches in short order. The first visual clue of the impending challenge were some words written in chalk on the shoulder pavement: “HILLS ARE Fun!” it read. A quick look at our elevation profile maps confirmed that the mystery author was simply trying to give followers a little pep talk for a big obstacle: the longest and toughest hill on the southern Oregon coast! I call it the Bellview hill because Bellview Lane is at its summit in the woods. It was still somewhat foggy, but the air was warm and somewhat muggy. I was sweating like crazy at the top, and had to unbutton my shirt to vent the heat … that is, until the breeze and fog started chilling me a tad.
Just over the top, it was clear we were going to have one doozy of a thrill ride going down the south side of this monstrous mountain summit. This was one of those great downhills where braking was not required, and the grade was steep enough to allow a seemingly endless increase in coasting speed. Thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five … wow, this is making up for the north side agony. Half the hill we are dying and crying, and the other half we are flying. This is one of those 50 miles per hour gems that comes along now and again on the Pacific Coast route. Even though it is the uphills that build us and make us stronger trikers, it’s those downhills that keep us stoked and begging for more!
I have not seen David for quite some time by now, up to my old antics of picture taking, but as I round the final curve of the humongous downhill heading into the straightaway, I see David at a pullout with tourists, waiting with his camera to get a movie or photo of me. I am having so much fun at this speed, I do not even stop to say hello to him, nor can I even take my hand off the handlebar to wave for fear of losing control, but rocket on by at break-neck speed as the road levels out and the sun comes out. Tourists are everywhere. They must think I’m some kind of a nut case.
The ocean views are spectacular, some of the best on the entire Oregon coast. Oregon’s coast is very different than California’s coast, which is much drier and barren of the big trees. I see a beautiful floral bouquet on the guardrail, likely where someone was killed in an automobile accident. It makes me sad. Everyone is worried that I will be killed on a trike, but somehow the statistics of 50,000 annual deaths from cars in the US each year seems to negate that fear.
This afternoon, we reach and cross the Thomas Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in Oregon, at 345 feet elevation above the ocean below it. David crosses first in the ample shoulder lane, so that stevie-boy can do what? Take another photograph, of course, as he pedals this Pacific Coast landmark. On the next hill crest, I take a water break, while David takes a cell phone break.
Around 5:30 PM, we roll into Brookings, Oregon, a full service town that is about six miles north of the California border. Harris Beach State Park is on the north end of town, and offers great camping, fantastic views, awesome hiking, hot showers, flush toilets, and even a laundry room. Now, once again loaded to the hilt with cash, David pops for the entrance fee, and gets us another regular campsite near the laundry and showers, with paved pathways to keep us pristinely clean after our showers. Our daily camp duties are slowed now and then by the curious walkers who just have to know all about our vehicles, somewhat different from their gigantic and invasive Rvs. Again, we are stealthy trike phantoms who roll in and pedal out with no toxins or noise to betray our presence.
Tonight, I pitch my tent, eat my dinner, take a shower, and then start a laundry. The laundry room closes at 9 PM, but it is still early enough to get one load in. What I didn’t count on however was that one of the dryers was out of order (“sorry for the inconvenience” the sign read), and other users were not returning in a timely fashion to remove their laundry. Another sign read that this room is locked precisely at nine, no ifs, ands, or buts, and any laundry still in here is locked in until morning. Well, as it turns out, when the official comes to lock the laundry, my clothes are still damp, having started them later than expected. So, I gather my clothing up, walk in the dark back to the trike and tent, and set it all on my trike seat to wait out the night. The laundry opens back up at 7 AM, so I figured to be the first one in!