Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cathlamet, WA to Astoria, OR

34.2 miles, 3 hours, 15 min on the bike

We're in Oregon! We slept in this morning at the inn, then headed out close to 11:30 to catch the 12pm ferry to Westport. If we missed it, we'd be stuck waiting for an hour, so we ended up really having to motor. We streaked across the beautiful blur that was Puget Island and made it to the ferry with a little time to spare. We chatted with a trucker for a bit, who warned us of the hills we had to look forward to across the river.


Our route did indeed end up being sucky today. We spent the entire 27 miles to Astoria on Hwy 30 which, though our map promised had wide shoulders most of the way, in fact had narrow shoulders and sometimes no shoulders at all. Add to the mix the huge trucks hauling tree trunks that went barrelling by and sprayed gravel and dust in our faces and it didn't make for a very pleasant ride. The route also featured a series of long, arduous climbs followed by super fast (and fun) descents. The climbs were so long and tough Arik ended up crafting some tunes for the occasion, including the instant classic "This is the Hill That Gets on Everybody's Nerves" and a rousing rendition of "What Goes Up Must Come Down" :) I have rather regrettably had Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" in my head since we left Kelly's, and that song usually also makes an appearance on our uphill battles. The upside is the weather has been rockin'! A lot of the folks up here are complaining about it b/c they don't have a/c but we love it- blue skies, full sun, and temps in the high 80s.

At the top of one tough hill, Arik spotted a sign that said "Eagle Sanctuary" and we turned off to check it out. We both were picturing a little nature preserve with baby eagles being nursed to health but in fact it just ended up being a lookout point. We were a little disappointed but our spirits were quickly lifted by the view of the Columbia's Estuary, which Lewis and Clark spent some time in:

The Columbia's Estuary

The detour provided a blessed respite from the stress of the highway and we were sad to rejoin the traffic. 2 fun random Arik moments from the ride: 1. At the top of the first big hill when we were just tipping over to start racing down, an 18 wheeler was crawling slowly up toward us. Arik did the universal honk signal and the trucker gave us two good honks. It was a nice send-off fo sho. 2. With a number of cars around, Arik pulled the dog-fightin' car antenna off his handlebar rack and started waving it around like a sword and shouting "En Guarde!" Then he gallantly pointed his sabre/car antenna in the direction of battle and led the charge down the hill. He is an entertaining chap.

We got into Astoria around 3:30. It's a really cool town, with the river on one side and the ocean at the tip. While cruising through town, another tourer rolled up behind us at a red light. We turned around and realized it was a guy we'd asked directions from way back in Bellingham and who Arik spied in Centralia! He's a cool kid named Ian and he's doing the same route as we are. We checked into the Rivershore Motel and just had time to put our stuff down before we hurried out to get to a vegetarian restaurant before it closed at 5. We walked through downtown Astoria to get there and it's really sweet, with old buildings and unique shops. We walked by an instrument repair shop and saw the owner, a bespectacled old man, almost hidden by piles of books and yellowed papers. I love places like that.

We made it to the Blue Scorcher Bakery Cafe with time to spare and both had a toasted tempeh, lettuce and tomato sandwich- supa tasty. After that we went to the Astoria Cooperative and picked up some Amy's burritos, drinks, some more trail mix, and Coconut Bliss ice cream. The co-op was awesome! Just my dream grocery store. I'd really like to help bring one to the Cliff. We've been meaning to try the Coconut Bliss but always passed b/c of the astronomical amount of saturated fat even in a tiny pint (look it up- it's nuts!). But we figured if there was any time to gorge it'd be now when we'd burn it off in a day. It ended up being really tasty- a lot like frozen yogurt. After the co-op we set off in search of some shorts for Arik and my Born to Run book. We found a cool bookstore but no luck w/Born to Run. JC Penney's was the only place anyone could think of for shorts, but for some reason they only had basketball-type ones so that'll have to wait for tomorrow. We made one last ditch effort by biking to the Safeway a little farther into town but still didn't have any luck. It was pretty nice to ride the bikes without them being all loaded up though.

Came back to the motel, watched an episode of Weeds on the laptop, then went out to the Riverwalk to check out the sunset. It ended up being beautiful, with an awesome view of the huge Astoria bridge:

Sunset at the Astoria Bridge

Us, thanks to the trusty ol' Gorillapod

We should be staying in state parks for most of next week, so don't worry about us if you don't see any blog action- we're still alive and will report back when we can!

In the meantime, amuse thyselves with these pix of our wondrous tans:

Mia's Beauteous Thigh

The Zebras

Be well,

Arik and Mia