Saturday, August 22, 2009

Astoria, OR to Lincoln City, OR

Hello friends! We're sitting in a hotel in Lincoln City enjoying our first off day since Seattle. The sun's out, we're well-rested, and we just ate some burritos we picked up at a funky natural grocery store here. The cashier was hilariously nutty: she hummed and talked to herself the whole time she was checking us out. The last few days, like the last 3 weeks, have been a mixed bag: some supa sweet and some supa crappy. We ended on a supa-sweet note though, so it's all good. Here's what we've been up to:

8/19/09- Astoria, OR to Nehalem, OR- 48 miles, 5 hours, 32 min on the bikes

Shortly after our post on the 18th, while our burritos (yup we're burrito fiends) were warming up in the microwave and a new episode of Australia's Next Top Model played on the laptop, the lights flickered and then turned off at the hotel. In fact, the lights went out in all of Astoria. Our burritos were still frozen, so we just busted out our trusty oreos and watched the show until the laptop ran out of juice. The electricity was back by morning so we got to have our beloved burritos before checking out.

We stopped by the bike shop in Astoria and got to air up our tires for free with their super fast hose. What takes Arik 10 minutes of tough pumping with our mini-pump took maybe 15 seconds with their hose. The guys there admired Arik's antenna and shared their own dog-fighting tips and sent us on our way.

We climbed out of Astoria on steep, residential roads, then rode through rural, sunny hills. As we rode into Seaside, OR the fog rolled in with us. The sun disappeared, replaced with cold air and gray skies. We stopped at a bookstore in an outlet mall to search for the elusive Born to Run (no luck again), then headed to Broadway, the main street through town.

A foggy peak

The ocean's supposedly behind me but who knows what's back there?

We'd definitely found the most happenin' spot in Seaside. Crowds of tourists carrying bags of saltwater taffy and licking ice cream cones stacked with 3 scoops of ice cream packed the sidewalks while 4 seater beach cruiser bikes rolled slowly and unsteadily down the street. We parked our bikes outside "The Buzz," a candy shop advertising chocolate-covered bacon, twinkies, and pop-tarts and pretty much every brand of candy I loved and dreamed of as a kid. Arik called his bro Aaron for some help finding a veggie restaurant and/or bookstore while I headed into The Buzz to scope out the offerings. A quick stop here in the storytelling to send a big thank you to Aaron and to our pal Jeff. Both guys have been ready and willing to look up shops, hotels, and directions for us when we're on the road, even when our first words when they pick up are, "can you get to a computer?"

So back to The Buzz- holy cow was this place awesome. I walked in and the smells of chocolate and caramel and fresh popcorn blasted me with childhood memories and stuck a smile on my face that didn't fade even when I went back out onto the blustery street. I couldn't eat 99% of the stuff in there (and good lord were the chocolate-covered oreos tempting!) but the experience of walking the aisles, dodging wide-eyed kids and often their equally wide-eyed parents made me feel like I'd presented my golden ticket at the door and had entered the venerable chocolate factory. We ended up snagging some dark chocolate truffles, which we scarfed down with alarming speed. I next went to the ice cream shop next door to peruse the soda offerings. Arik and I both love trying out new and unique sodas, and this place actually had their staff rate their favorites. We picked up 2 five star root beers and were not disappointed. Note: I realize it's a bit strange that on a trip packed with stunning coastlines, towering trees, and incredible mountains, I can spend two paragraphs extolling the wonders of a candy store that sells chocolate-covered bacon. Such is the nature of my sometimes awe-inspiring addiction (those who've seen me consume a giant box of Nerds in one sitting are witnesses).

Aaron found us a bookstore, so I went to check it out while Arik stayed with the bikes. A gate spanned the front door, but a friendly note assured prospective customers that it was just for the store cat, and that we should come on in. Though small and manned by an unassuming woman, Beach Books was a delight. Karen, the owner, said she knew they'd had Born to Run at one time but would have to check in the back b/c she thought they'd run out. This was the closest I'd come to finally catching that sly minx of a tome but alas I came up short again- they'd sold out. No worries, I'd still check out the place. I'm so glad I did! She had everything from classics to new releases, and just about every book was on my "Books to Read" list. And no crappy filler! Just good, solid books, many tagged with summaries written by Karen or her employees. Although I'd wanted to keep holding out for Born to Run (our pannier space is getting limited) I cracked and picked up The Alchemist. She said I picked a good one, and Arik, who's reading it first, agrees.

Aaron also found us a promising veggie restaurant in nearby Cannon Beach. The town was beautiful- the quintessential beach town. We rolled down the small main street and quickly spotted Sweet Basil's Cafe. We parked our bikes out back and grabbed a seat outside, a move we somewhat regretted as cold fog started to roll in off the sea. Despite the frigidness, the food was delicious! I had a Garden Sandwich and Arik had a Cucumber Sandwich, and we both thought we'd picked the best thing on the menu. Just two mounds of fresh, crisp, healthy tastiness. We hit up another bookstore in search of Born to Run but still no luck. All I can say is this sucker better be worth the wait!

After Cannon Beach, the ride started gettin' crappy. It was cold and foggy and we climbed high up in the hills. We rode through a really dicey tunnel, with hardly any shoulder and cars zooming by. The tunnel amplified all sound so the cars sounded like a pride of roaring lions. I had my rear light blinking but was constantly worried about being seen in the fog. We somehow missed the camping entrance to the state park we'd meant to stay in, and didn't realize it until we'd gone too far to turn back. We soldiered on, but it started drizzling and the fog closed in. We rode along dropoffs where we couldn't see anything beyond the road- it felt like a slip or wrong turn would send us flailing into oblivion. It just felt really scary and surreal and I got pretty shaken up. Arik was ok enough to snap a few pix but I wasn't pleased:

Foggy bridge


Mad Mia

Shoulda followed this advice

We carried on through the fog on narrow shoulders, the cold rain mixing with my hot tears. I was a big bawling baby by the time we got to Manzanita, and when we finally saw the sign for Nehalem State Park I almost had a complete breakdown. The sun was setting, we were cold and soaked, and the sign said we were 13 miles from the park. 13 miles would take over an hour, which would leave us riding in the dark and the fog- basically not an option at all. Ever rational and optimistic, Arik stopped into a gas station and determined that we were in fact only 1.3 miles away- not 13. The man said we'd "missed the little decimal," but after a second look it still looked like 13 to us. I was worried he was engaged in some kind of sick joke, but having no other option, we headed to the park. It felt like it took forever to get there, but we finally made it. The park worker asked us where we'd started the day. When we told her Astoria, she smiled a bit dismissively and said, "Oh that's not too bad. A guy came in earlier who rode 105 miles today!" Thanks lady. We called our worried parents, got set up, ate dinner quickly, and then walked to the showers in the dark. They were hot and free (one of the perks of Oregon state parks) and we conked out quickly- exhausted but finally warm and mostly dry.

8/20/09- Nehalem, OR to Cape Lookout, OR- 41.2 miles, 4 hours on the bikes

After the previous day, we were crossing our fingers for sun and easy riding. The sun didn't cooperate but we did have a nice, unremarkable ride. We rode down 101 pretty much the whole way. It was cold, but not rainy, so that was an improvement. We stopped in Rockaway Beach, OR and got our first good view of the Pacific Ocean. It was pretty but we both decided we aren't big fans of beaches that require jeans and a jacket. We ate two pb&j burritos on a bench overlooking the beach and had fun watching two little dogs chase each other through the sand. It reminded us of Guido and Lex. :-/ We're reminded of Guido often, especially when we ride by Italian restaurants!

First good look at the Pacific

We rode past a number of roadside espresso stands. We picked up an oreo frappuccino at one a while ago and I thought it was just a random oddity, but it turns out they're sprinkled all over our route. A welcome alternative to Starbucks for sure. We missed our turn to the state park but Arik didn't realize it and, b/c he was flying down a hill, (we always seem to get lost right after a descent- it sucks!) he couldn't hear my shouts. I had to ride up and down 3 big hills before I got close enough for him to hear me (we can't hear each other even when we're 5 feet apart when we're doing hills) and we had to turn around and do it all again. We rode 6 pretty miles to Cape Lookout State Park. The park worker lady who checked us in was nice and gave us some shower tips re: where to get the most hot water.

We got set up, checked out the beach, and got firewood. Despite the tips, the showers ended up being pretty stingy with the hot water, but at least we got clean. We had some ramen while Arik tried to get the fire going- a firestarter made it go a lot faster. We had some lentils, which ended up being kinda gross, so we had some chili too. Still unsatiated, I ploughed through a pb&j burrito for good measure. We had some serious appetites goin'. Arik had worn his clothes in the shower to try to wash them (we've had mixed results with our laundry attempts) and his plan was to dry them by the fire. It didn't work out too well and we ended up just strapping the clothes to the back of the bikes and praying for hot, dry weather. We were lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves. Arik woke me up in the middle of the night asking me to turn on my light. "The lantern?" I asked groggily. "No- your bike light. I can't see." "Umm my bike light's on my bike," I replied. "Wait, we're not on our bikes? Oh geez..." Turns out he was dreaming that we were riding and when we went around a turn he suddenly couldn't see. His headlight didn't work so he wanted me to turn mine on. Poor guy has some scary state park dreams.

Blurry Arik and Mia by the fire

8/21/09- Cape Lookout, OR to Lincoln City, OR- 44.7 miles, 4 hours, 40 min on the bike

We woke up yesterday, enjoyed a fire whilst eating our oatmeal, then mounted our noble steeds in the crisp morning air. Smoke blew from their nostrils as they pawed the ground, anxious to get moving. The chances of getting Arik's clothes dried seemed pretty slim- the sun stubbornly refused to come out and the air was cold and damp. We got some great looks at the Oregon coast, but it was still a bit cold for our liking. Then, like magic, we moved inland and though the sky was unchanged, the breeze turned warm. We rode by sand dunes, where guys on four wheelers revved their engines and raced each other, and we felt like we'd entered a whole new world. We took off our sweaters and soaked up the warmth, content despite the cloudy skies.

Mia and the cloudy Oregon coast- our campsite was in the trees below

We rode through Sandlake on roads dusted (and sometimes coated) with slippery sand, then stopped at a parking lot in Pacific City to check our map. A slim old gent came puttering toward us with a wheezing, stumbling pug in tow. The pug, named Cho Cho, came over for a visit, and petting her soft plump neck reminded us of our own little portly pup. The man gave us directions and told us we had one more big hill to get over, then wished us luck as he and Cho Cho ambled off.

As we turned onto 101 a little south of tiny Oretown, OR, the sun came out in all her glory and the skies cleared. It was like someone snapped their fingers and decided the clouds needed to step aside. A big thank you to that someone! We stopped in a rural spot to put on sunscreen and eat some pb&j burritos while some cows looked on.

We rode on, warm and happy and energized, until we came to a spot where the route split off. To one side was the steeper, longer scenic route, while straight ahead was the more direct, but sometimes shoulder-less highway. After some debate we went with the scenic route. If we'd skipped out, we would have missed what ended up being the most beautiful, enjoyable stint of riding we've had all trip. The trees were insane- thick and tall and awesome in the true sense of the word. The road was narrow and virtually car-free, and though we climbed uphill for almost 6 miles of the route, the climb was so gradual we never felt winded. All that climbing made for a really sweet descent with hairpin turns, howling wind, and teary eyes. Arik made a video but it ended up being so shaky it was psychedelic. When I pulled up to him at the bottom all either of us could do was grin and shake our heads at the wonder of it all. The pix really don't do it justice at all, but here they are just so you can get a taste:

After the scenic ride we rode into Lincoln City and around Devil's Lake toward the state park. The lake was beautiful, and though we had to struggle through some tough climbs to get around it, we couldn't wait to check out the view from the park. Alas the park was...underwhelming. We were directed to what one of the workers called "a patch of grass" at the top of the park, but which ended up being more like someone's lawn. We were right next to a main street that came off the highway, across the street from houses, and the port o potty backed up to someone's fence. Aside from the noise and lack of privacy, our main concern was the security of our bikes. We'd planned to walk into town and of course would be showering and we just felt really uneasy about leaving our bikes there.

Devil's Lake

After some debate we decided the 8 dollar price tag just wasn't enough to make up for the lack of peace of mind, and that we'd opt for a hotel. We again called on Aaron but he couldn't find anything cheap. We still got our refund and just headed into Lincoln City. The first place we came to ended up being reasonable and had free wi-fi, so we got checked in. Thanks to, we found a pretty stellar eatery which we checked out post-haste. Aunt Mary's Toaster Bistro was a one of a kind place. Part vegetarian restaurant, part sex shop, it was unlike anywhere we'd ever been. No one under 18 is allowed, and the walls are covered in red shaggy carpet. Aunt Mary herself welcomed us in, then told us the offerings off the top of her head. She walked back behind the counter, where she had a stove, and started cooking everything up. She told us there was a lot to see and we should look around, and we gladly obliged.

She had loads of funny stickers and knick knacks. Arik and I have decided we want to start putting stickers from places we visit on our panniers, and we picked a good place to start. Aunt Mary brought over a bowl of soup, which was incredible, and her old dog trundled over to our table and fixed us with a doleful gaze no doubt polished by years of begging practice. We finished off the soup and looked around some more while she cooked up the entrees. They too were awesome, especially the barbecued baked beans Arik had as a side. We had to go into the "Filthy" room to pay, which was where all the really scandalous stuff was housed. The offerings were extensive- she had an entire section labeled "plump"! We left with happy tummies and were glad to have found a really unique place.

Came back to the hotel and ate some vending machine snacks whilst watching the finale of Top Chef Masters.

8/22/09- Rest Day!

Our first rest day since Seattle has been awesome. We've walked around a bit but have generally done a whole heap of nothing.

Some random thoughts:

- Pardon our French, but we've christened Oregon "The Coy Bitch." Every biker we met on the way here told us the Oregon coast would be the highlight of our trip, yet up until yesterday our impression was that Oregon was cold and foggy and full of tree-hauling trucks that mysteriously smelled like a middle school girls' restroom. Not pleasant! Then we have a day like yesterday that just blows us away. It seems Oregon doesn't want to be a hussy and give it all up on the first date, so she's slowly and steadily warming up to us.

- We've determined 4 hours of riding is about as far as we can do and still be in a good mood. Once we cross that line we become, in Australia's Next Top Model-speak, big wingers (crybabies). Every hill feels tougher and every road feels bumpier after the 4 hour mark.

Hopefully we're done with hotels for a while. We love them but they're hard to justify when 8 bucks gets us a hiker/biker site at the state parks. In that vein, a ginormous thank you to my mum, who's paying for this little respite and has given us a most enjoyable break!

Be well,

Arik and Mia

1 comment:

  1. I found a "supa" cheap hotel for you guys if you want to spend the night in San Diego.

    $219 deluxe accommodations plus breakfast for two
    $199 without breakfast
    $179 without honor bar
    $159 without A/C or heat
    $139 without pillows
    $109 without sheets
    $89 without lights
    $59 without linens
    $39 without toiletries
    $19 without bed