October 6, 2006
I’m up early to say goodbye to Krista before she goes to school. I pack my things, which doesn’t take very long, and walk my old frame two blocks away to the mailbox store. The cheapest method of shipping is over $100, because it’s an over-sized package. Ouch. And that’s Fedex – US Postal Service would be $220.
That hurts a little, but I try to look at it this way – 30 years from now, I wouldn’t think twice about paying $100 to have this old frame back. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it works out.
I return to the house and everything is ready to go, so I have a cup of coffee and look on the computer one last time. The weather for the upcoming week looks great. I say goodbye to Travis, and that’s it… I’m turning the pedals at 10:30am.
Travis and Krista (And my other new friends) were so remarkable that I’ve got to thank them one more time. Often folks at work would ask me about myself, and ask where I’m staying. When I’d answer “With Travis and Krista,” the reply was always “They’re good people.” What an understatement.
It’s a gloomy, auspicious start, with an overcast sky. No matter how experienced I am at this sort of thing, the first day always carries an anxious uncertainty with setting out on my own. I’ve recently grown comfortable and accustomed to sleeping indoors, and all the other taken-for-granted luxuries of “normal life.”
Now on the first miles to the northern outskirts of town, I’ve lost some of the hubris of being a lean, mean, TransAm cycling machine.
Mostly I feel heavy. The seasons have changed, so I’m carrying an extra fleece liner for my sleeping bag, and I’ve also broken backpacker code by carrying blue jeans with me. Wet, heavy cotton equals pure death.
I ride in them this morning, and think I also must have gained ten pounds during my stay in Eugene. Yesterday they took me out to the bar for my final night in town. The pitcher of Black Butte Porter I drank isn’t digesting well.
I tune in to the radio, and one of the first things I hear is Tom Petty “Into the Great Wide Open,” and then Paul Simon “Late in the Evening.” The sun briefly shines through the clouds. Moments later I see a spectacular patch of flowers, and take my first picture. Things are feeling normal again.
The terrain is surprisingly flat and spacious, with open, brown fields under the gray sky. For some reason I think of the scene from The Big Chill where Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum stroll through a field, revel in the outdoors, and watch for snakes.
I meet a pair of loaded cyclists coming from the other direction. “We’re going to San Diego!” they say. We exchange the usual relevant information on weather and traffic, and move along.
I pass through Harrisburg, and enter Corvallis. There are a few people in Corvallis who I could possibly get in touch with, but I didn’t plan ahead on it. Besides, I intend to cover more distance today.
Stopping for a snack at the Dari-Mart, a light drizzle falls. Why does Snoop Dogg carry an umbrella? For the drizzle! Heh. I remove my blue jeans and become spandex-man once again.
Riding out of Corvallis, a local cyclist on a recumbent yells “Nice set-up!” I guess it’s because I’m now styling matching black panniers and a black frame.
The misting drizzle ceases, and then starts again before the skies begin to clear for good. I ride through Monmouth and come to Rickreal, where I intend to spend the night at the fairgrounds, listed as viable camping on my Adventure Cycling maps. There’s a gravel lot with a few RV’s, a large hall, and some other smaller buildings.
I set up out of sight, in the doorway of one of the small closed buildings, and fix my Ramen dinner. It’s lonely sitting on the cold concrete, after a month of loud restaurant noise and always having people around. I’m tired and don’t feel like typing my journal, and start to drift to sleep – even while sitting up.
I get motivated around 8:30pm, and rise to wash my dirty cookpot in the bathroom. It’s dark, and I see a man who calls out to me.
“Hey! What are you doing?!”
“Staying the night?”
Over by that doorway over there?”
“No! I don’t think so! This is private property! I thought I heard a door close a couple minutes ago! You have two minutes to get out of here before I call the police! There better not be anything missing anywhere, or I’ll send ’em right after ya!” He marches off.
Wow. Okay. I’m feeling forlorn and lonely in the first place, and don’t exactly have the gumption to argue, “Now wait just a second here…” so I stuff my things together and head out, passing the parked RV’s.
Now I cycle out into the cold dark night, with no plan of where to go. I head in the direction of the nearest town, Dallas. Eying up potential stealth campsites, I’m discouraged and not brave enough to explore any of them in the darkness.
I was proud to pick and choose my food in the gas stations today, spending a total of three dollars today, and end up dropping a whole lot more than that on a motel room. Ugh. Life is good.
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