October 26, 2006
Well I spent the last few days stuck in North Bend with a broken wheel, waiting for my final checks from Outback Steakhouse to hit the bank. It’s frustrating because I’ve had to start relying on my credit card. It’s my fault I guess, because I should have sent my paychecks home myself, rather than relying on the store to do so.
Riding south out of North Bend also means that I’ve “skipped” twenty miles with my little hitch hike into town, and I’m feeling a little bad about it. There isn’t any reason to – it’s not like I’m trying to claim any records here or anything.
I guess it’s a carry-over psychology from the Appalachian Trail. The whole way from Georgia to Maine there’s an “official” trail, marked with white blazes painted on the trees and rocks. Often there might be a loop trail to a campsite or spring, bypassing maybe 40 yards of “official” trail. People get so obsessed about it that they’ll walk the 20 yards back from a campsite, rather than continuing on the small loop trail. I was one of them. In retrospect it’s kind of silly, really.
The bike shop this morning is occupied by a lone, friendly older gentleman. The work area is an organized mess with bike parts and tools everywhere, making me feel right at home. I don’t know how some places manage to keep their shops so clean and straight.
He’s playing what sounds like a police radio, but he tells me it’s actually from the local airport – he’s an amateur pilot. We talk about flying small planes. I relate how I jumped out of one once, and suggest that might be a good occupation – carrying up loads of skydivers. It’s really a consistent business in some places, where they take up several scheduled “loads” every day, and literally drop ’em off.
The early riding brings me along the back roads east of the coast. There’s one little beast of a hill, and I’m up in the mountains. It feels like it could easily pass for The Cascades again, though the wide ocean is only three or four miles to the west.
Things are quiet and serene as I have the lanes mostly to myself. I’m really impressed with this Oregon Coast route – the way it gives you a little taste of all the different terrain. In October the sun turns a low arc from left to right – always in front of me to the south every day. Within a single day’s ride I wind through pastoral river valleys, over high rocky capes that point out into the sea, along flat sandy beaches with high dunes, into small port towns in deep bays at the mouths of rivers, past outposts on rural street corners that would fit anywhere in America.
I coast down from the Cascade-esque coastal range to Bandon. There I stop for a break and investigate the library, where they use Firefox browsers that won’t let me get anything done. There are some private seaside resort homes and the like for a few miles, and I turn inland again for a peaceful evening among cattle and sheep.
Arriving in Port Orford just after sunset, I check out the view after dusk from the scenic park here. The town is dark and everything but a gas station is closed at 7pm already. Things look eerily shut down now after the tourist season. I get a campsite at an RV park, and don’t bother with cooking a proper dinner on this quiet, chilly night. The World Series is being played somewhere. Life is good.