Lewis, Clark, and Transamerica a/k/a "Mom's Fiftieth Birthday I-don't-want-to-grow-up Bicycle Ride Across America"

Oregon Coast
This is one segment chronicling my family's bicycle tour through the northwest, and Paula's continuation beyond Montana. If you came here via a Web search, you might want to back up to the index page to start with the overview.

June 2003

June 30th
[Ric here] This was the longest of days, and the shortest of days. At 0000 EDT, we were home - and still packing! Paula and I finally finished at 2 AM, and I had a quick shower before going to bed. The alarm clock was set for 3:45 and a friend was going to pick us up to go to the airport at 4:30. Hey, an hour and a half of sleep is better than none!

The flights out were uneventful, I was by myself and Paula and Hannah on a different one and arrived in Portland around 11 AM (PDT). All the panniers arrived fine, we had packed them in sports bags, we made it the UPS store, where the bikes were in good shape. Whew. By the time they were all reassembled (handlebars, seats, pedals, rear racks, front racks, water bottle carriers), it was, well, I'm not sure.

We reached NW Portland, and decided the most sensible thing to do was crash at a hotel instead of pushing forward and running into accomodation problems. So we stopped at a local chain that has free internet access, and that's why this is here!

July 2003
July 1st
The first day of real riding will put us on Rt 30, apparently a very busy road, at least here, but said to have bike lanes or somesuch. I think my concerns about a serious headwind will come true, that can be a serious demoralizer. We'll see!

July 1st-3rd
[Ric Here]The route from Portland to Astoria is US 30, apparently much beloved by truckers, the logging industry, and diesel powered pickup trucks. Near Portland and other substantial towns are marked bike lanes and in between are decent shoulders. Well, except where there are hills big enough to rate a passing lane. Along with the traffic is a huge amount of noise. All in all, not a road I'd recommend. I've bicycled on Interstate highways in Montana that were more pleasant.

Along the way the road goes through a few towns, and some places that seem to exist by name only (e.g. Boyce NH is part of Canterbury, but no one driving through would realize it as a "place."

July 1st was our first real day, spent getting out of Portland (one flat tire in the "industrial scrubland", and the rest fairly easy going and getting used to biking with all the traffic. We camped at a semi rundown RV site with a boat launch and pier, and no real place for bikes except by the picnic tables. Good showers, worked fine.

Columbia River and Mt St. Helens July 2nd featured three 600-700 foot climbs. The first was right after a major intersection with one of the few bridges that crosses the Columbia River, and done right after a large breakfast. The road climbed up the side of the hill to climb out of the valley and past a couple turnouts with good views of Mt St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. Rainier is big - it's readily visible from Seattle too!

At the top we continued on a ways to a second climb that was less exposed and I guess a little less traffic. Fatigue was setting in and Hannah was sapped by the time she got to the top.

After that, things were pretty easy, we stopped at a store and bought one of my old instant energy sources - a squeeze bottle of honey. Hannah and Paula did pretty well after that and we stopped soon before the third hill. After a good rest and a commitment to climb it, I just hunkered down and kept rolling. Hannah and Paula decided to turn back, and tried to call me on the cell phone. I had thought of stopping and turning mine on, but decided to just keep grinding away because there was no decent place to stop.

Columbia River and Mt St. Helens At the top there was a short road to a small park and views of the Columbia River valley. I checked it out, found an very good (but illegal) campsite by a decaying picnic table that was out of sight of the parking area. The bathroom had running water (cold only). Meets my criteria Just Fine! There was another bicyclist there who had been dropped off by his wife. We went back to the road to chat, and he went on his way to Astoria.

Eventually, Hannah and Paula made it. Hannah refused to talk for ten minutes and collapsed by a tree in a grassy spot. I lobbied to stay the night as I had seen only one potential spot on the climb up. And so we stayed and didn't get found out until morning by the keepers. After realizing we were on bikes they didn't seem to mind too much.

Banana Slug The only wildlife to visit us were a couple of 6 inch slugs that checked out an old moss covered campfire spot. I kinda expected to find them on our tent in the morning.

We hoped to make it into Astoria fairly early, but were tired from the previous day and had to deal with a couple 300' climbs, headwinds, etc. We are at the Astoria Library, barely in the center of town, after lunch and laundry. I guess we'll try to find an inexpensive motel or campground and make it an easy day overall.

July 7
[Ric here] We're at an Internet Cafe ($5/hour, so don't expect much editing) in Pacific City OR, a ways south of Tillamook. We spent the night at Cape Lookout, a state park just north of 850 foot hill which we did in the morning. Not much warm up, not much appreciated, and pretty steep (rates 3 arrows on OR's bicycling map, their steepest indication). That has really slowed us down, and we haven't had much to eat either.

Also at the camp (I'm recalling backward here), was a large group of kids riding from Seattle to San Francisco. They were at our previous camp too at Nehalem Bay, another state campground. Both have a biker/hiker area seaparate from the main campground and big enough for just one more. It's a good idea, as both activities involve the travel, not the destinations as the main interest of the trip. Also, there tend to be more kids at the main campgrounds with a day's worth of energy to burn off at the campground, whereas hiker/bikers are interested in food, shower, and sleep.

Nehalem Bay Coming into Nehalem Bay we had to cross a double stage hill, where we lost of our altitude between stages to cross a river. The second stage went up the side of a mountain that had long been an impediment to travel until the road was built. Hmm. It's still an impediment to travel, but sure has nice view of the Bay! We were pretty beat after that.

Ft. Clatsop dressup I think I forgot the day before. I'll have to write a piece on my page, I'm surprised at how quickly the days on this ride pass into the general memories of the trip. Oh - in keeping with the Lewis and Clark motif, we bypassed Rt 101 (yay!) to visit Ft. Clatsop, a rebuilt fort guided by the trip writings. Good spot, worth a visit if you're out here. We continued on Lewis & Clark Rd for another 15 miles or so to Rt 101, and discovered that the southern part is under reconstruction and had to ride on rough gravel for 3 miles. Fortunately downhill. We heard that the state is rebuilding that part of the road for the bicentennial next year.

Pacific wheel dip The night before we stayed at an RV park. Nothing special, warm showers. Getting there entailed leaving Astoria and crossing a causeway and bridge with a fierce crosswind. I figure the sea spray was enough to annoint the bicycles, but Paula and Hannah just made a proper dip-the-wheel-in-the Pacific ceremony. We'll be leaving the coast soon for some inland southerly travel that will be relatively flat (actually no major hills until Eugene), so we ought to be able make somewhat better time.

July 16
[Ric here] Hmm - 9 days since the last update. Well, we've been busy. We arrived in Bend at my brother's home a couple days ago. Doug's home is a lousy place to relax - my sister's family is here too and yesterday we all went kayaking in a lake a ways out of town. Eight people, we only had to rent one two-person kayak. Doug and Cheryl have enough stuff to open an outdoors store. Fortunately the Tour de France is going on, so that demands a fair amount of television time!

The last update was from Pacific City on the coast. I have a map with me to help recall the chronology so this will be more coherent than the last update.

We continued on to Neskowin, where we needed to spend the night. No campground, motels were full, but then we realized that what looked like one motel was really two and the other had room at $99/night, more than we wanted to spend, but we walked in and found it had a kitchenette, so the savings on restaurant costs made it a good deal after all. A river flows into the ocean here through the beach. The motel has a foot bridge over the river and I wandered down to the ocean after dinner to poke around and watch the incoming tide deal with the river's flow.

The next morning we left the coast. The chronology continues on the Western Oregon page.

Other links:

index page and overview

Paula's page

Ric's page

Hannah's page