Expecting to fly

I am staying at the house of my friends Eric and Sue just outside Portland. Sue is out of town so Eric is doing his best to show me around the area.

Yesterday we checked out a rose garden and a Japanese garden on the hills west of downtown.

That’s Eric with the statue of the rose garden’s founder.

After s midday break we drove to the Cannon Beach. The Oregon Coast is truly beautiful. Sometimes dorks get in the way of pictures of haystack rock.

After Cannon Beach we drove south to Oswald West State Park. More pretty.

We stopped one more time to gawk at the scenery, this time at Neahkanie Mountain.

The last couple of days have been like going through decompression. My body is figuring out that it’s been through a lot. My brain is happy not to have to navigate, find a place to sleep, or keep a look out for large metal things.

A tip of the hat to Eric (and Sue) for the hospitality.

I’m off to the airport in an hour or two for the flight home.

Any Road Tour: Bikeless in Bikeland

I have four things to do while in Portland and I did three of them today thanks to Eric and his wife Sue’s station wagon.

We drove to West End Bikes in downtown Portland and dropped off The Mule for its shipment home. The service department people seems to be very competent so I have a good feeling that this is going to work out fine. Still, parting with The Mule was difficult after over 4,300 miles.

Next up was a trip to Andy and Bax Army surplus across the Willamette River. It took all of four be minutes to find a big duffle bag. (Later I tried out all my stuff and it looks like I can make this work without incurring luggage charges.)

Chores completed we drove to Multnomah Falls up the Columbia River gorge. The parking lot was closed, but we could see people leaving, so we drove to the next exit and doubled back. And the parking lot was magically open!

The hiking trails were closed but we did get to check out the falls from the base and the walking bridge part way up the cliff.

As you can see, my head completely absorbed the water.

Tomorrow we may drive to the coast.

Any Road Tour: Day 63 – Put a fork in it

The hostel served its purpose. It had a bed and shower, and was walking distance to Powell’s book store.

I spent the evening hanging around the hostel, sampling a local koltsch.

This morning after checking out I rolled to Voodoo doughnuts. I had the Mafia fritter, a concoction only a deviant mind could invent.

Then I rode about 10 miles to my niece Shannon’s house. It was a mighty hilly ride.

I spent about five hours there. It once my grandnephew took a nap he was a fun play buddy. He’s currently trying to figure out how to crawl. I pulled out my grandpop’s knee bouncing act, perhaps my earliest memory.

He also had fun playing with Mrs. Rootchopper’s crinkle quilt.

His mom is a happy, if tired, camper.

After baby time, I ride a few miles to Eric’s house. Eric and I worked together for years. He’s putting me up for a few nights so that I can get The Mule and me home Thursday night.

Mikes: 12

Tour Miles: 4,313.5

Any Road Tour: Day 62 – Falls, fail, and fifty

M&Ms come in all kinds of flavors these days. Last night I meant to buy the old fashioned milk chocolate kind, but I got the sleeping pill version. I ate some and passed out at 9:15. I woke up 7 1/2 hours later with no idea of where I was.

This tour is starting to wear my ass out. Good thing it’s nearly over.

The hotel breakfast was biscuits and gravy, oatmeal and raisins, eggs, sausage, potatoes, coffee, and OJ. I took an apple and a banana for the road.

Oink.

The ride to Portland must have featured a tailwind because I put no effort into it. I rode over the St, John’s bridge and followed my maps toward Multnomah Falls which is well east of the city up the Columbia River. As I rode I saw beaucoup runners, mostly really good ones. Oregon is the home of Nike, the late Steve Prefontaine, and Alberto Salazar and the weather is perfect for running. At least it was this morning, before a heat wave hit.

There were also bicyclists riding what was obviously a predetermined route. It was the Portland Bridge Pedal. It’s like the 50 States Ride in DC but with signs instead of a 10 page indecipherable cue sheet.

I rode to the Columbia River and around the airport. I saw two story house boats and green islands and a rather enormous snow covered mountain which I took to be Mt. Hood. (It might have been Mt. Adams but what do I know.)

When I arrived in Troutdale, I saw an electric sign that said the interstate exit to Multnomah Falls was closed. I asked the Google and it told me that the cycling route to the falls was closed.

Boo.

I booked a room in a hostel conveniently located 15 miles across Portland. So I asked the Google to direct me. And I got a tour of the city. I was riding mostly in the northwest part of town. Parts reminded me of Pasadena, others of Stockholm, and others of Arlington Va. I saw light rail, Craftsman houses with interesting paint jobs, and helpful bike wayfaring signs.

I even saw two buildings that had a Peter Max kind of paint job.

I checked in to my hostel which is walking distance to all kinds of interesting stuff that is closed because it’s Sunday evening.

Tomorrow I go see my niece and grandnephew. The boy looks like a cross between Winston Churchill and Don Zimmer. This raises the question: what do they call gerbils in England?

Miles: 61

Total miles: 4,301.5

And another thing, while riding through Portland, The Mule turned 50.

Any Road Tour: Day 60 – Most peculiar, Momma

Bike touring is strangely like having a job. You get up. Eat. Pack up your things. Ride for hours and hours. Find your bed. Go to sleep.

Over and over again.

It’s quite a grind but somehow you only really notice when you stop.

I’m in Astoria. My legs, mostly my quads, are sore. I spent the morning walking around, stopping here and there for coffee.

After a break in the hotel, I went out for lunch. The restaurant was short one cook. I ordered and waited an hour for a sandwich and fries. I didn’t care. I had no place to go. The waitress zeroed out my bill because of the wait. (I left a generous tip, of course.)

I’m back in my room. It has four huge double hung windows. The walls and bedspread are white. It’s the perfect temperature for a nap which I sorely need.

And I took one and it was glorious.

I went out to dinner at the Fort George Brewery down the street. Last night I ate pizza in their upstairs taproom; this time I went into the downstairs pub. Being alone meant I could skip the half hour wait and sit at the bar.

Conversation ensued with Julie, an artist visiting from Juneau. She wore a floppy hat and bragged about her boys, 16 and 9. As we talked I could feel my right hamstring going into and out of spasm.

We were asked to move over one stool to make room for a couple. No problem. I stood up and my right hamstring went bonkers. A massive muscle spasm. My right leg gave way beneath me. I stifled a yell and fell hard on my butt, all the while grabbing my hamstring.

I don’t know what hurt more, my pride, my butt cheek, or my leg.

I felt like a complete idiot. I hadn’t even finished a pint of beer and I fell off a bar stool. If your going to fall off a bar stool, you should at least be piss drunk. I mean you should get your money’s worth for the humiliation. I was robbed!

Lordy.

After Julie left, a young man sat down. He was a pharmacist. We talked about blood clots and various blood thinning medications. He told me about the clinical studies of various blood thinners and aspirin. Recent studies suggest that discontinuing certain blood thinners might cause a rebound effect, a surge in clotting. Eek! I think I’ll just take aspirin for my flight home.

We also talked about opioids. Doctors and pharmacists in Oregon are required to tell their patients they after only five days, certain opioids can be addictive. I was on Percocet for weeks before and after back surgery. I hated the disorientation that drug caused. And I still went through withdrawal when I switched to acetaminophen.

I walked back to the hotel without the slightest limp. I doubt my leg will cause me trouble on the bike tomorrow. The plane next week might be interesting though.

So my last night in Astoria involved falling off a bar stool and geeking out about prescription blood thinners and opioids.

Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed.

Any Road Tour: Day 59 – Wheel dip at last

So I hovered the complementary breakfast. Frosted Flakes, banana, OJ, coffee, toast. Burp.

And so I left Kelso (he wouldn’t tell me who Superman is either) and headed for Oregon using a route suggested by the bike shop dude yesterday. The Longview Bridge flies over the port which seems to ship nothing but enormous logs.

On US 30 in Oregon I climbed for about 500 feet. To put this in normal people terms, DANG!

The road was a high speed two lane truck fest. Riding on it stressed me out but I was on a mission from God: get to the bloody Pacific Ocean!

I rode and rode, up and down, timing my sprints across narrow bridges so as not to become a dead bicycle tourist.

I stopped at a gas station for Diet Coke and a candy bar. The bathrooms were PortaPotties that should have been emptied in May. I chose discomfort over disgust and rode on.

After another ten miles I stopped in Svensen. The town was having its free Senior’s lunch. I chose the market instead. It was owned and run by a Muslim family. I guess we’re not in Montana anymore.

The owner without hesitation let me use the bathroom. I wish I had been hungrier to repay his kindness. I bought some Gatorade and a big cookie.

Friend of the blog Ryan recommended Mo’s. Seafood and Chowder restaurant earlier in the day. All I could think about in the cool headwinds was hot clam chowder.

And so the first thing I did when I got to Astoria was to get chowder at Mo’s. In a bread bowl. A perfect meal after 54 miles of hills and cool headwinds.

All the way to Astoria I was passed within a few feet by huge trucks, campers, and mobile homes. My nerves were a little frayed. I left Mo’s and headed under the Astoria Bridge to Cape Disappointment in Washington. It’s waaay high and waaay wife with not a whole lot of room for bikes.

Rather than go to the hostel, I decided that I’d ride to the ocean and dip my wheel in, the tradition ending if a transcontinental bike ride. I followed my maps. One bridge had a metal grate bridge deck. My nerves were shot so I walked it.

It took me a good 45 minutes to find the biggest body of water on the planet. My frustration was off the charts. Where is the fucking thing!!!

I finally found Fort Stevens State Park. After two more miles I came to a parking lot. The ocean was right over the dunes. So I pushed The Mule over a 15 foot sand dune. It kept sinking in. I kept lifting it out. PUSH!!!

Getting to the top took everything I had. Now I had to go down the beach side of the dude. The Mule kept sinking in which, I suppose, is preferable to having an 80 pound loaded touring bike go screaming down a hill without me.

I pushed the bike across the flat beach and asked a dad to take my picture.

I talked with him and his wife. They were there with their two naked towheaded toddlers. Pale white, tow headed, naked toddlers on a beach for some reason just crack me up.

Mom suggested that I walk my bike two miles down the beach to the site of a shipwreck. The dunes are much lower there.

Off I went. I tried riding but The Mule objected do I walked. Even a ten-foot dune is a bitch to push a touring bike over.

On the other side a mountain biker named Steve led me out of the park. I decide to take the main highway, US 101, back to Astoria.

It went fine until I got to the bridge. It was narrow with strong crosswinds that yanked the front of The Mile all over the place. I made it without incident until a tractor trailer went by me with a foot to spare.

DON’T LOOK AT IT!

I didn’t and managed not to get sicker under its rear wheels.

That pretty much sealed the deal on Cape Disappointment.

My hostel is more of a pensione. I have a private room with a shared bath and a shared shower. It’s expensive but I just crossed the damned country on a bike. I’m staying here two nights. I had to carry The Mule up a flight and a half of stairs. Tomorrow The Mule gets a rest too.

I’m really not usually this messy. Honest.

I sit in the Fort George brewery drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching the white caps on the Columbia River. (Thanks again to Ryan for the suggestion.)

I know my days on the road are coming to an end. As my son used to say when he was a toddler, I want to sleep in my own bed.

Miles: 82

Trip miles: 4,170

A final note: Happy birthday, Klarence. Thanks for screwing the lid back on my jar.