Trip of a Lifetime, Part IV

We left Port Orchard in the rain, of course. Wet was the theme down the coast. The misty conditions stayed with us until we left the peninsula and turned south onto US Hwy 101. The clouds stuck with us for the next few days.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun

The cloudy conditions lent an ethereal beauty to the coast. Pockets of mist-shrouded the coastline muffled the sound of the ocean. The twists and turns were a biker’s dream as we glided over the road. We traveled at a comfortable pace, usually maintaining the speed limit. I can tell you now that between the bicyclists having the same dream as us, and the little sports cars that want to prove how fast they can go, we made use of as many turnouts as we could find. There weren’t many.

The road was narrow, curvy, and damp. I wasn’t about to go down because someone in a car kept trying to push us along faster. Besides, it was the first trip with the new, bigger bike, I was still getting used to the balance. The highway didn’t have many paved turnouts for slower traffic, and I would usually see a place as I came around a blind corner. We passed a lot of places we could have turned into had we had a warning. Our goal for the day was Lincoln City, OR, where we planned to stay for a couple of days and visit a friend who had moved to Portland.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun

As we passed into Oregon, we crossed the Astoria bridge. The Columbia River empties into the ocean here, and the bridge is some four miles long. We were stopped by the ongoing construction, and spent some ten or so minutes feeling the bridge panel shake whenever a car went over—and a steady stream kept us moving. We were about a hundred feet above the water. That was more nerve-wracking than all the traffic on the twisties along the coast.

We spent the following day playing tourist, first at the Tillamook Creamery, then at the beach. The water was cold, so no dipping a toe. The winds were blowing off the water, and the waves were pretty active, so we walked in the sand and caught up on old times.

The next day we headed further south on US Hwy 101. Our goal for the night was Charleston, OR, and a place called Capt John’s Motel. That day, I realized why I had been toting my heavy riding coat around for 2500 miles. The air turned even more chill as the winds off of the ocean dropped the temperatures even more. For August, this was turning into one cold ride.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun

Add to that, the road conditions. The highway surface was pitted with baby potholes and old patch jobs that made riding faster somewhat of a challenge. In some spots, the road crews had added extra asphalt to the worn-down areas, leaving ruts and uneven pavement for the bikes to negotiate.

By the time we reached our motel, we were starving. After unloading the bikes, on the second floor, of course, we freshened up. We hiked across the parking lot to the Portside Charleston, a steak and seafood restaurant. We caught the eye of the staff, and the manager talked to us at length. Obviously, we weren’t from around there, so she picked our heads about our adventure. Then, she directed us to Seven Devils Road to reach US Hwy 101.

We left early, and the restaurant where we had planned to start the day was closed. We headed for the recommended detour and had one of the most beautiful rides of the trip. The experience was surreal. A light fog hovered in the trees, absorbing the roar of the bikes. By the time we reached US 101, we were breathless from the experience.

We took our time riding down the coast, averaging around 150 to 160 miles a day. We planned time into the ride to sightsee and putter down the road. We were in no big rush—that would come later—and we wanted to enjoy the experience. Along our path, we found a sight we hadn’t seen in a long time.

(C) 2014 JJ Shaun

When we arrived in Crescent City, CA, we raced the rain. Our gear was safely in our cabin for the night when the sky opened up. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to grab dinner before the rain, so it was a good thing we had road snacks. Breakfast would be a welcome meal.

We planned to camp for a few days and explore the area before looking at the calendar. More on that next time.

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