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September 4, 2016: Labor Day Escape Ride

Day 1, Saturday, September 3, 2016

Suver? Wren? Blogett? Nashville? Summit? Logsden?  Oh, yeah, Newport!

I’m leaving the shop for 3-4 days on two wheels?  Dreams like these can leave you with an incredible hangover the next day!

It was nip & tuck, and this year I’d intended to make a break for it, maybe even having to close the shop on a non-holiday day!  I’d been eyeing Fourth of July, only to have a missive requesting nine-plus rentals delivered that weekend.  That pretty much killed that escape, even though at the last minute they cancelled the delivery and showed up in person.

I didn’t go through the preparations, like looking for my sleeping pads, cookware, camping wear, etc. -- that I hadn’t used in over 15 years –- and plunged into the remaining busy days of August, but kept a close eye on Labor Day weekend, hoping that it wouldn’t suddenly become a necessity for me to remain at the shop. 

I still hadn’t decided to take my old friction-downtube-shifting custom touring bike made nearly forty years ago, or my Ira Ryan extreme weather/gravel bike, when unexpectedly and unannounced, a touring frameset returned after a year’s absence.  This was to be my dream bike, but the famous Seattle framebuilder whom I’d commissioned to build it, missed many of the “small” details on the first build after waiting a year, and I’d sent it back for him to make the correct frame.  Unfortunately, other than the braze-ons for the Gordon lowrider rack on the fork lining up, nothing had changed, except it now sported a one-color paint job, not the two-color that we’d initially agreed upon in the contract.  In discussing the situation, I was told that “as a framebuilder, he reserved the right to make changes to the contract if he thought it was in the best interests of the customer”.  Turned out that the rear Gordon rack was designed for horizontal dropouts, and this time he made a compromise that fastened the rack to the brake bridge, but  the rack was still not level.  It became clear that there were no refunds to be made, no further attempts at fulfilling the terms of the contract, and I considered small claims, selling the frame at a fraction of what I’d paid, or trying to resolve myself and live with it.   But I decided not to build it for this trip, as I’d paid more than what I’d agreed to, and received less than the contract stated.  I prepared the Ryan with heavier wheels for my potential trip.

Shop Departure

Ready for the road

At the last minute, Nate, a long-time employee, had a friend’s wedding advanced a week early, causing him to leave early that Saturday, and my former manager, Di, wasn’t sure she could come in that Saturday . . . things were looking pretty tentative.  I focused on getting bike sales and repairs under my supervision completed as quickly as possible,  knowing that I’d have to face them, and additional responsibilities, upon my return.  I made my preparations the evening and morning before my departure, which ended up with a late send off at 10 am Saturday morning.  Di did arrive, though Nate’s wedding attendance had him leaving that afternoon.

I really couldn’t believe I was going to leave the shop on a weekend and possibly close the shop the day after the holiday as well, if I couldn’t complete 200 miles in three days, but I was excited to have the excuse to avoid any responsibilities, other than finding shelter and food for 3-4 days of pedaling.

Some of the roads between Buena Vista and Wren I hadn’t traveled , or least for many years, a nice change from repeatedly doing the 35-50 miles routes from the shop.  And on a loaded bike as well!

And leaving Salem via Liberty Road South proved to be different than the many times I’d ridden it the last decades.  While the rack I installed was able to accommodate the disc brake, it wasn’t as sturdy as I’d like, and the Needleworks panniers weren’t designed for that type of rack.  I used removable zip ties to secure the bottoms of the panniers to the rack, and in instances of standing, I discovered something akin to my first overnight trip from Eugene to the coast with a borrowed Pletcher rack and inexpensive panniers – no, not nearly as bad, but was aware of trying to smoothly push the pedals around to prevent that tail-wagging sensation.  And what were typically short bursts of hills headed out of town, became longer durations as I used the lower gears to effortlessly spin up them with my load.

The Ryan had a 10s drivetrain, with Campy ergo shifters on a 30/40/50 triple crankset linked to a Shimano rear derailleur and a 12-36 cogset.  I certainly appreciated the shifting-at-the-fingers before this trip was over!

I descended into Ankeny Wildlife Preserve without concern and crossed the ferry, before finding I was 15 minutes late to further load my bike with some edibles from Claudia at the Buena Vista B&B!  No further sources were lined on my route before possibly Wren, so it was with regret that I pedaled on.  I did get the picture of the Community Church’s bus covered with blackberry vines, and the Sasquatch, Bigfoot, or fugitive from Planet of the Apes operating the entry booth on Prather, alongside his neighboring carved bear with an axe!

B & B

A rider has to keep up his strength

B & B

But I was too late

church bus

The vine-covered church bus

Carved bear

Just your regular giant carved bear


Sasquatch operating the ferry booth


Plenty of room for a bike on the ferry

Groves of Aspen in varying hues, fields of corn, squash, sunflowers and hemp, along with elaborate steer on the Bush Ranch entry, were passed as made my way to Kings Valley highway.  Occasional mists of sprinkles were encountered, but not enough to dig out my rain shell, or to remove my vest either.

Aspen grove in the Fall

Groves of Aspen in the Fall

The last time I rode Kings Valley was not a pleasant ride.  It was quite the caravan of RV’s , logging trucks, and drivers quick to indicate that the roadway wasn’t for cyclists.  I was quite pleased to find that traffic was actually pretty few and polite.  At the Kings Valley school, I was asked by a woman passenger motoring beside me, if this was the way to Newport!  I wondered if Siri was out of range, or if the navigation system had broken down in their vehicle!  So far, my paper maps were still readable, and I still haven’t acquired a cell phone yet.


Cornfield that seems to go on forever

Hemp Field

Field of Hemp

Squash field

Squash about ready to harvest


And an expanse of sunflowers

I’d thought of taking the back road to Fort Hoskins, which would have allowed me to bypass Blodgett, but glancing at my old Avocet Altimeter revealed how few miles I’d actually traveled, especially given the time of day and my average speed.  Another trip . . . ?

Bush Ranch

Miles and miles of farms and ranches along the way

The miles pedaling in the saddle without an excuse for standing on the pedals, seemed endless.  Tiring of the saddle speed, I’d occasionally attempt to increase the speed by standing, but found it only incremental and disheartening, and finally resolve myself to crawling up the hills seated with less effort.  One gentleman flagged me over from his yard and informed me that if I needed water, even if on another ride, his pump was available.  I still had plenty, and told him maybe on my return trip.

I barely glanced at Wren, imagining it to be small town filled with businesses dependent on the horde of motorists headed for the coast or back, before making the right turn onto Highway 20, and the endless zooming of traffic that filled it.  Ten miles to Blodgett, an obnoxiously noise-filled ride, with the zipping of sport cars, the rattle of motorcycles, the rumble of freightliners, and the snarl of diesel pickups turning to high-pitched whistles with the foot on the accelerator, all reminding me of some pre-historic stampede to somewhere, while remembering the long, slow climb between me and Blodgett.  And by the time I reached that country store, I regretted not exploring the back roads to Fort Hoskins and Summit, but stopped for my “dinner”, not knowing where the next source would be this side of Logsden, on the Summit  Hwy.  The “spicy” burrito under the heat lamp was quite filling, and due to my stint of riding, guilt-free!

Summit Maniquins

Summit Mannequins

Leaving Blodgett, the Summit Hwy almost immediately is immersed in tall . green, woods, not old growth, but still enveloping the roadway as it meanders thru them.  Approaching Summit’s “outskirts”, I could hear classical music playing loudly from a small barn, interrupted only by the occasional snarl of some woodworking machine.  Creative ironwork greets you, along with a view of the ballerina in the garden, and the staff-carrying orchardist not noticing the two giraffes indulging themselves among the apple trees!  A red-painted bicycle with a basket of pink flowers serves as a landmark to a vineyard.  Imagination runs rampant outside the mainstream of life!

Summit Girrafes

Summit Giraffes

Decorated bike

A lovely, decorated bike at Summit

As I neared Summit itself, a man sitting on his covered porch, appreciated my efforts by stating that it was quite a climb from Blodgett, and he wasn’t describing the beauty of it , either!  The multi-color accents of the community center or the grange probably wouldn’t have existed in logging’s heyday!

SummitFolk Art

Summit creative ironwork

Once past Summit, you have a long descent ,winding under a railroad trestle, that’ll put a whistle in your ears just coasting with your hands on the brakes for the “just in case” situations.  I spotted the three bears carving on a short level stretch, and used the time to dawn my rain shell once more.

Summit bears

More bears, this time at Summit

Summit Church

A church at Summit

Summit Trestle

Summit Trestle

Nashville serves as an intersection, with a colorful store/trading post serving as the only business to identify Nashville.  If you continue on, the road eventually rejoins Hwy 20 to Newport, while turning right leads you to Logsden.  Taking the right begins a slight ascent while listening to the stream burble and cascade as it descends behind you.  There’s an old wigwam burner off in the woods and a small mill that I’ve occasionally seen in operation.  I remember seeing wigwam burners back in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s on Hwy 22, but I believe they’re no longer legal to use.  Old logging equipment, hidden under a carpet of moss and vines, can be glimpsed if you’re not moving too fast and intent on avoiding branches and rocks on the road.

Nashville sign

Made it to Nashville

Nashville store

And the local hub of commerce

Nashville truck

An old logging truck hidden in the forest

Logging truck

It's been there for a while.

Wigwam burners

An old wigwam burner. In years past they were used by sawmills to burn wood waste and sawdust. Because of environmental concerns, use of wigwam burners is now outlawed.

I was fast(?) approaching where the climb over the mountain turns to gravel, sometimes packed and sometimes freshly graded and loose, and I wondered how the wider tires would handle it.  I was also contemplating where I wanted to spend the night, now knowing that it wasn’t possible to reach Newport before dark.  It had stopped misting, and I remembered a lake/pond on a level spot near where we found a mouse had used a neglected mailbox for a home some years ago.  It was pretty rocky ground around the pond, and I really wanted to get over the gravel before calling it a day.  The road leaving the mouse’s residence went up and out of sight, and I wasn’t sure the time spent exploring it for a campsite would earn a suitable site.  And so I continued on, appreciating the wider tires, the lower gearing available with the at-your-fingers shifting, and the packed condition of the road surface.   I’d both walked and ridden on narrow 23c tires on this road, and walked a tandem with 25c tires over this, and while my unloaded front wheel tended to drift, it was easier on the touring bike, despite the concentration of finding the best path on the roadway.  Even after cresting the summit, the descent was much more controlled, though the occasional washboard would cause my butt to find the saddle with additional impacts!

After descending the gravel road over the mountain, you enter free-range cattle, and in years past, have actually wandered thru them on my bike.  Didn’t see any on the road, just down in the gulches near the stream.


Shelter for the night

No pinch flats, broken spokes – the Randonneur 32’s and the 36 spoke Mavic CXP 33’s, laced with Revolution 14/17/14 spokes to White Industry MI5 hubs – it was a sigh of relief to leave the gravel and be back on smooth pavement once more.  I immediately began scanning the wayside for a suitable campsite, and at 5pm, 63 some miles, I spotted a gated logging road that appeared to have a level spot a short distance off Logden Road.

Well, it appeared to be level, but after wedging myself and the bike under the gate, and shuffling in my bike shoes to the “level” apparition, it turned out that it certainly wasn’t, though perhaps relatively it was!  I spied another potential site a bit further up the road, and changed into my camping shoes.  It wasn’t level either, and I trudged a bit further to find one that surpassed the previous two opportunities.  Turned out to be a ½ mile from the roadway, which turned the rush of passing vehicles into a muted whir.  The next day was Sunday before a holiday, so I didn’t think I would be disturbed by a logging truck finding my tent in its way in the early morning . 

I set up the tent, a Big Agnes Fly Creek, for the first time, which was smaller than the Eureka Timberline I’d used for years, and found the tripod seemed almost as secure as the A-frame Timberline, but more dependent on the guy-wires and tent stakes than the Timberline.  And the crushed rock of the roadway make driving stakes with the palm of your hand challenging – I still have a blood blister some weeks later!

I found a branch that served as a kickstand for my bike to keep it upright, and aimed the dark/motion sensitive tail light at my tent’s door, just to alert me to any critters, two or four legged, that might express an interest in my bike.

I ate the just-in-case sandwich I’d made for dinner that night, possibly potato chips and an apple, but found sleeping on the foam pads uncomfortable and really missed my Thermarest.  I slept fitfully and found my old hollofil MacKenzie sleeping bag wasn’t keeping the chill off.  I slept in my camp clothes the next few nights and kept warm.  I also found that the rainfly was an integral part of keeping the heat in.  The door to the tent itself was no-seeum , while the door to the fly is waterproof.  I left the fly door open so that I could see outside and observe my bike, but the damp air was freely invading the tent.  I hadn’t staked it either, and when I looked outside at 7 that morning, dew covered everything and visibility was very limited.  I closed the fly door slept better to awaken to a “starting to cook” temperature in the tent as the sun had arisen and burned off the fog.  The tent was pretty wet, and there wasn’t anything to suspend the pieces from to dry them, so I just packed them in after doing a minor shake down.  It was 10 by the time I skidded down to the road, finding a pile of abandoned truck tires to sit on while changing into my cycling shoes. 

Day 2: Sunday, September 4, 2016

This part of the trip to Logsden was what attracted me the first time I rode it.  All kinds of ironwork, whether it was atop a fence or staged in the middle of a pasture, line both sides of the road.  I watched for new sculptures, but was intent mostly on getting to the Logsden community store for breakfast!

Logsden ironwork

An example of Logsden ironwork

Well, maybe breakfast, but with such a late start, it was more like lunch.  I had a “gobbler” sandwich, and they gladly opened a can of cranberry sauce to add to the turkey and  cream cheese.  The first time we stopped here, the gas prices were so high that the older pumps couldn’t display the additional digits to reflect the price – they had to calculate the costs inside, and they had signs on the pumps informing customers of that!  I’ve sat at the picnic table with friends in the past, but today it was filled with local produce, and so I sat on a nearby bench to watch the comings and goings of the community.  The store has it’s third generation operating it, and grandma has been working there for 25 years, occasionally helped by great-grandma, and some grandkids.

Logsden store

Logsden store

Beer, various soda’s, chips, the deli, and a room for folks to use a computer to connect to the internet.  The older of the two grandkids, was a heavier teenage girl, who’d open a container of  jerky and hand a piece to the younger girl, a blonde with streaks of blue in her hair.  When an attractive woman jogged past on the lonely road, they both followed her with their eyes, and when she was a safe distance down the road, ventured out to make statements of ridicule.  Not sure if it was small community politics, or her athletic endeavors that earned the scorn.  Interesting blend of the old and new!

Logsden restroom

Rustic door to the Logsden store restroom

After finishing lunchfast, I pedaled off hoping to reach Newport before the day was done, but wasn’t sure what the wind would bring further down along the bay.  I was interested in seeing what the road from Siletz to Toledo was like, though I was sure I must have ridden it as a participant on several of the Newport Lighthouse centuries.  Highway 229, as it’s called, turned out to be a busy roadway, with a shoulder that varied in width, the roughness of the pavement, and the amount of discarded debris.  I stopped at one guardrail to taste the blackberries and take a rest while calculating how far it was to Newport.  229 intersects Hwy 20, and 20 was definitely a straight shot, whereas riding into Toledo meant following the shoulder of the bay afterwards and adding many more miles.  The amount of traffic on 229, which would be far less than 20, convinced me to take the scenic route along the bay.

Sunday, the day before Labor Day, left me with no choices in Toledo for a snack, or even a cup of coffee, which I would have welcomed.  I remembered the hill at the edge of town that takes you down to the edge of the bay, and while the sign warned motorists of cyclists on the road, I doubt many climbed at the slow speed I did that day.  Lots of graffiti decorated rail cars waited at the edge of town, and I had to take a picture of one painting condemning selfies!  Made for a good joke later on!

Toledo Selfie

Decorated Toledo rail car

It was hard peering thru the trees to see Toledo’s industrial area near the waterfront below, or the soaring pipelines that I could only guess at what they transported, and I certainly didn’t want to stop on that incline, and try to get started again!

The road along the bay is popular with cyclists just out for a spin.  Looked like most were just getting in a ride, even an older couple on beach-type cruisers, no devil-take-the-hindmost groups.  Just enjoying the waves and historical markers along the way.  One can see the remains of bridges that used to be part of the roadway before someone figured out how to make the roadway that I was riding.  I can’t imagine living out here, as the great grandson of Daniel Boone did.  Kentucky’s winters are cold, but the coast winters here are pretty rain-soaked, and trying to farm here would be pretty challenging.  The car show at the Mad Dog Tavern drew a lot of attention, but bet they don’t have one in December or January!  But it’s a nice summer day, with the sunshine glinting off the bay thru the clear blue sky and I’m enjoying it.

Boone Homesetad

Marker for the Boone Homestead

Mad Dog Tavern car show

Mad Dog Tavern car show

Every once in a while you’d get glimpses of the Yaquina Bay bridge in the distance, announcing how close you were getting to Newport.  Its arches divert your attention of that long straight span you might be riding soon, or more likely walking!  I stopped just prior at a restaurant that had outside seating where I could keep an eye on my bike.  The allowed me to use the outside entrance despite the sign stating the entrance was on the street side, and I happily settled at a bar adjacent to my bike.

Razor clams on rice and veggies was tasty, and a pint of ale washed it down.  Lots of time for people watching, and the holiday provided lots of tourists meandering about.  I skipped the wax museum, and other such attractions, as I wanted to get to South Beach and get set up before dark set in.  

Yaquina Bay

Yaquina Bay

Yaquina Bay Harbor

Yaquina Bay harbor

I followed the road under the famous Yaquina Bay bridge and assessed the onramp to it on the other side.  Lots of traffic, especially RV’s, sometimes with cars in tow, trucks hauling boats, and of course 18-wheeler’s as well.  I remember riding across it years ago on quieter moments, and there is a button to push that flashes a sign alerting motorists to bikes on bridgeway, but I opted to walk on the sidewalk.  I should have changed into my camp shoes, but thought I might ride a portion of it.  There are signs that riding your bike on the sidewalk is prohibited, but , again, I remember riding on the sidewalk from past trips.  Maybe when I was using toeclip and straps, and riding on the backside of the pedals, but successfully getting my panniers thru the turrets on either side of the bridge as well.  I didn’t trust my judgement with panniers and clipless pedals on this trip!  

Ocean Blue Lunch

Ocean Blue Lunch

Raxor clams

Can't run a bike on an empty tank

The sun was settling and the resulting glare off the water, combined with clouds imitating “Stary, Night”, gave a surreal effect of the ships on the horizon where the bay becames ocean.  I paused to enjoy the view, taking periodic pictures, only interrupted by the frequent passing of those RV’s, trucks with boats, and 18-wheeler’s jouncing by.  The image of my attempting to ride up and over the bridge, and having traffic backed up to Lincoln City, justified my walk across the bridge.

Ocean bridge Harbor

Ocean Bridge Harbor

Bridge view

View from the bridge

Walking the bridge

Walking along the bridge

Sea lions

After a hard day's work, a little rest is necessary

I stopped at a mini-market the waitress had informed me of, and parked my bike near the entrance.  It was pretty busy as one of the few stores open on Sunday, and the cashier was having problems with the computer processing sales.  Another clerk was attempting to get a second one operating and assist the first cashier with hers as well.  I was nervously eyeing my bike, holding my yogurt, chips and another pint of ale.  I hoped to use the yogurt to help me lighten the estimated four days of granola in my pannier, which hadn’t appealed to me sitting on the logging road this morning.

Yaquina Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge from down below

As I traveled south on 101 towards South Beach Park, I tried to remember the many times I’d pedaled this stretch, but it remained blank to me.  Most of my trips had started at Fort Stevens, and the distances traveled each day hadn’t deposited me in Newport, so the facilities here were unknown, other than it had a hiker/biker area.  The ranger at check-in informed me that a party of four Italians were on their way to San Francisco, and I casually checked them out as I rolled in.  There were others camped about as well, but the Italian flag on one of their mountain bikes set them apart, as well as their to-me-sounded-Italian language.  My Italian is not even as good as our hero’s in Breaking Away!  I was the late comer, and set up next to a well-used shelter, open to the four winds, but with a roof to help with Oregon’s unpredictable precipitation.  Quite a dip underneath it, looked more like a water collector than a shelter.  There were other wooden platforms, perhaps to keep the underside of one’s tent dry, but without a “real” sleeping pad, looked less than inviting!
I discovered what appeared to be the restroom turned out to be the gathering room for the park, and a ranger informed me that a group of about 50 would be attending a talk outside the structure, so getting an early sleep was out of the question.  Fortunately, he later came by and decided to hold it inside the meeting hall. 

After returning from the longer walk to the restroom than I would have wished, I read “Long Cloud Ride” written by Josie Dew, while drinking the pint of ale and a bag of salt & vinegar chips.  My 200 mile trip to the coast and back paled in comparison to her tale of  a 6,000 mile ride around New Zealand in 2007.  Kinda put a damper on my interest in riding New Zealand too, with her stories of narrow escapes from traffic and consistent changes in terrain, along with the buckets of rain!

Turned out I wasn’t the last to join the hiker/biker site, as well after dark a couple rolled in and began setting up their tent.  They must have had a great ride that day, as both were laughing without a hint of exhaustion as they prepared their site.

While they weren’t quiet, they were muted by the foghorn, the dogs, the periodic crying of kids, and the somewhat distant barking of the seals up the road near the bay!  I had hoped the softer terrain – and anything is softer than gravel – would provide me with good night’s sleep, but found that eventually either of my hips would force me to rotate from one side to the other, using my lower back to give each a break.  Closed cell pads are for the young and hardy, and I knew that getting a new inflatable sleeping pad was in my future.  Not the first time that I wished the tent had double doors, one at each end, I struggled back into my camp shoes and twisted around to exit the tent for the walk to the restroom in the dark.  There’s something to be said for bivouacking by the roadside and the convenience of taking a leak in the middle of the night!

Sleeping fitfully, I almost welcomed the noise of the Italians getting ready to depart the next morning.  I decided to get an early start and see how far I could go today to make tomorrow’s ride home shorter.  I packed up and left my camp shoes on, knowing that I’d probably be walking back across the bridge, unless traffic was slow and I could ride the BeBop pedals in my street shoes. 

On my return from washing up at the restroom, I encountered the woman from the couple arriving last night.  She said she recognized me from when she lived in Salem, and had been in my shop more than once.  She lives in Corvallis now and had numerous adventures cycle touring.  They’d accidently ridden a 100 mile leg yesterday, which helps explain their late arrival last nite, but not the boisterous laughing they had expressed!

I hoped that I could find a coffee shop open on Labor Day in Newport, but the mini-market just before the bridge was closed.  Traffic, though not as heavy as last evening, was still intimidating, and as I approached the ramp to the sidewalk over the bridge, I dismounted and watched a cyclist pedal past me and the sign forbidding the riding of bikes on the sidewalk.  No panniers, just a rider out for a morning’s go, but I heard him exclaim as he crunched thru a pile of unexpected broken bottle glass, while I was able to circumnavigate it while pushing my bike.

I took pictures of the protected bayside of the bridge, and the many folks below, either being tourists or preparing for work, or just enjoying the quiet waters of the bay in their kayaks, accompanied by the occasional seal or two.

Once over the bridge, I was despairing of finding anywhere to find a morning cup of coffee, but found Coffee House was open.  I pedaled on up the bay, wishing for a more visible, and nearer by, place to park my bike while having breakfast, but the staired-building was the only one open.   It was busy, and the line was long, placing me with no means of observing my bike.  There were huge remains of meals being trucked back to the kitchen, helping in my decision of what to order.   Scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, and biscuits – took a while to place, but once ordered, arrived at the window seat I grabbed when it became available.  I could see the red of my panniers, and the passing of walkers, but when a seat with a better view of my bike became available, I quickly re-seated myself!  A holiday, lots of different nationalities paraded up and down the stairs, some content to wait in the order line, and others deterred by the length of the line, venturing off to find an unlikely place open with a shorter line.

Coffee House

The Coffee House was open

As I enjoyed my not-normal breakfast, I could see folks wandering down the dock and occasionally purchasing the fresh tuna offered on one of the tethered boats.  I suppose you can catch tuna right out of Yaquina Bay, and it’s probably not illegal to advertise tuna freshly brought in by air from Alaska and cleverly stored on a boat in the bay . . . but even if I were to purchase some, it wouldn’t be very fresh by the time I rode home!

Fresh tuna

Fresh tuna?

Despite the number of walkers, I wasn’t questioned as to how far was I going, when did I start, how long would it take,  . . . type questions, as I packed up. I decided I needed to investigate the barking of the seals that filled the air, and had annoyed me so much last night.  I rolled my bike down a ramp onto a dock, and there they were on nearly submerged floating docks.  I took a couple of pictures while observing their sunbathing and re-seating when the inevitable new seal attempts to climb onto the dock, along with the accompanying ruckus.  The noise attracts tourists as well, and a woman walking her dog stopped me to ask the usual questions on bicycle travel.  I told her my story of owning a shop and finally escaping for four days for the first time in over a decade.  I told her of Emily, one of my employes, that left for Maine earlier in June, with only her bike for a companion.  She had always wanted to take such a trip, and I encouraged her to do it soon, not wait for the moment of opportunity, but to create it.  I recommended Miles from Nowhere as an inspirational read, before departing and heading up the bay.

The tide was going out and the exposed mudflats were a mosaic of drain patterns, sometimes occupied by gulls and an infrequent heron.  I spooked one of those “how-can-that-fly” long-legs near the road when rounding a corner, but it left with that guttural complaint before I could yard my camera out of my jersey pocket.  A few corners later, I spied some fishing boats near the roadside, and as I was pedaling, one hooked a fish.  I stopped to observe, as did a car later, while the rod bent and the reel spun under the fish’s attempt to escape.  The fish performed a merry-go-round the boat, despite the angler’s efforts, and his exclaimed “Come here, you little piglet!”, along with the required grunts for some time.  He had to drop his net and resume working the reel before landing the fish with his net a second time.  I know that some form of salmon are referred to as “hogs”, but this didn’t look like an under-sized salmon to me, but what do I know of fish other than sandwiches and filets consumed in a bike shop!


The exposed mudflats


Trying to capture the piglets

I’d ridden up the bay before on Lighthouse Centuries, but it had always been in a hurry and in a paceline, leaving little time for musings while taking in the serenity of the sunshine along the water’s edge.  I’m sure Oregon’s coastal winter weather would leave you plenty of time to reflect upon life, but for now, the weather was perfect to take in the panorama of the tree-lined shores.  Pausing at the top of the climb approaching Toledo, I took a picture of the raised pipelines that probably have something to do with sawdust from the wood manufacturing, and contemplated the simpler lives of early settlers here in the bay, carving out a living from the bounty of natural resources.  They would be amazed at the changes, even down to the paved road along the bay, which must have been a sticky wicket on a rainy day back then.

Toledo Milla

Toledo mills and pipeline

A holiday, and the coffee shop, along with most businesses in Toledo, was closed.  I rested for a while on their porch and had an energy bar, not really excited about the roadway to Siletz, an abrupt transition from the tranquil bay road to narrow shoulders and speeding motorists.   But the intersection with 34 had an A & W open with a nearly full parking lot of RV’s and vehicles towing boats, and I ordered an ice cream cone, as well as using their bathroom, before commencing the trek to Siletz.

Lots of debris from trees, and  discarded items from passing motorists, lined the shoulder, and I had to keep a sharp eye on the roadway ahead and the view from my mirror to evade having to veer into the travel lane while a motorist passed.  A little red convertible screamed past me at some point, going way faster than the 55 mph signpost allowed, and I almost cheered as the oncoming patrolperson in a Charger did a quick U-turn and spun his wheels with a squeal of protesting rubber, as he sped off in pursuit.  I have to say, I was delighted to find the two of them parked on the shoulder further down the road as I pedaled by!

Some time later, I heard sirens coming from behind and before long, here came a small 4X4 being chased by the same Charger, or at least the same color.  The 4X4 wasn’t slowing down at all and I wondered how this would end.  As I crossed over the bridge into Siletz, an old Dodge Dart, all hot-rodded out in screaming yellow, yelled something at me as he put the pedal to the floor headed the opposite direction.  I wondered if this was the local speedway when holidays didn’t prompt the presence of patrol folks.

I turned right up the road to Logsden, wondering if the 4X4 was ever caught, and curiously noted the number of churches in Siletz.  Far more than a community this size would typically exhibit.

A few miles further up the road is a bend, where a white plastic fence outlines the road, is missing a different section every time I pass here.  It has an interesting corner where you can follow the fence on gravel and then return to the road after making an abrupt turn left.  There’s a small gap in the fence in the corner, and I decided to take a break and investigate.  The VFW Riverside Cemetery Memorial Walk & Ash Garden is behind this fence.  The cemetery lies along the paved section of the road, where the missing sections of fence occur (folks in a hurry to join the cemetery?), and the gravel road leads to the walk beside the river.  The river, at this time of year a small stream, is pretty far below the embankment the memorial stone sits on.  I found a nice mound with a tree trunk to recline upon and watched the water flow downstream, sparkling in the sunlight.  There were trails leading off in both directions, but I didn’t follow them, being restrained by my cycling shoes.  There was a car parked out front on the gravel, and I watched for the owners to return, but in vain.

Riverside Cemetery

The Riverside cemetery

River side

Watching the water flow....

Later, while riding upstream, I noticed some kayakers making their way down, I reflected that the car at the memorial might be a car parked for the kayakers’ return trip to where they’d put in, as opposed to someone just enjoying a lengthy walk or sunning themselves by the stream somewhere.  I imagined spending the rest of the afternoon reading a book on a grassy slope or perched on a cozy log, accompanied by the rhythmic ripples of the stream  . . . but knew I needed to reach Logsden and prepare for my night’s encampment, and so pedaled on.

After leaving Siletz, houses/farms, get further and further apart, until you reach Logsden, where it becomes more like ranches getting further and further apart, with fences separating each from the other.  Before the pavement turns to gravel, there are no fences, and the ranches have turned to solitary structures far from the road, or logging roads winding off into the woods.

The mother and grandmother were tending to the Logsden community store when I arrived.  No sign of the kids, just a few customers getting beer or gas coming and going while I deliberated on what to choose for my evening meal.  I explained my goal to the proprietors, and they made up another “gobbler” sandwich using some more of the cranberry sauce they’d opened yesterday for me, with some pickles and apples on the side.  They didn’t have any advice on a campsite, but I explained I could find something before climbing over the mountain on the gravel, just pitching my tent by the wayside.

While having a snack outside on the bench, the Charger with the patrolman pulled up, and when he came back, I asked if he’d caught the 4X4.  Nope, the truck had turned off on a logging road where the Charger couldn’t go, but the trooper knew where the logging road came out and was going to wait a while and see if the truck reappeared there.  After he’d left, another trooper in a black & white official vehicle also headed up the road.  I wondered if the 4X4 driver had a chance, or why he evaded the police in the first place.  Was he holed up with supplies somewhere in the woods – waiting for the troopers to give up, or risking an official 4X4 to root him out.  What chance would he have  upon his return, as surely his license plate had been recorded with the trooper tailgating him south of Siletz.  He’d have to abandon the vehicle, unless he’d covered the plates prior to his encounter with the trooper.  And why would he do that?  Guess I’ll have to Google that upon my return home!

I also headed up the road from Logsden, watching carefully for a perfect campsite as I rode.  I really didn’t want to sleep, if you can call it that, on a crushed rock roadway again.  Old barns, battered by the NW’s winter storms, appeared both leaky and waiting for the right wind to upend themselves.  The surrounding pastures too open and I didn’t want to risk a midnight eviction notice.

Old Barn

Weathered old barn

I knew there were more secluded areas closer to where the pavement ended, but that was also where the free-range cattle lingered as well.  I soon saw them down in the streambed a ways off the road, and pedaled on looking for a more ideal site.  I noticed a stand of re-planted fir trees, with a welcoming bed of moss and needles beneath them, but a deep ditch separated them from the road.  I turned around when I could see the pavement end, knowing that anything level up there would only be logging roads and crushed rock.

I found a less arduous entry into the firs, and watched for signs of recent use by cattle.  None of the “pies” looked freshly made, i.e., “gooey”, but I could tell that cattle had been thru the firs.  I decided to risk it, thinking the cattle had settled for the night down the road.  I pitched the tent and reclined against a tree trunk to eat my sandwich and read my book.  The wind softly whistled through tops of the trees, with the inevitable scraping of a branch against another, and the sounds of small branches falling to the ground.  I looked forward to a quiet night, with soft ground beneath me aiding my sleep.

Camp site

Perfect place to spend the night

When I finished eating, I secured the rest of my belongings, and with plenty of daylight left, scouted out the surrounding area.  I saw a trail that the cattle must have used to traverse thru the firs, and I began throwing dried out branches in it to alert me should a creature decide to travel it.  I got carried away, and began to build a “boma”, a fence of dried branches instead of the thorns they used in parts of Africa, around my site.  Certainly not “horse high, hog tight, or bull strong”,  I hoped it would deter any creature, or at least, help me gauge the distance of an approaching creature.

I retired to my tent, and hoped for an early start the next day, getting the climb over the graveled mountain first thing in the morning, and arriving home before the end of the afternoon.  The occasional passing truck left me waiting for an eviction notice, but only one stopped, and while I assumed that I was visible in the remaining light, the slam of the closing door, along with resumed roar of the engine, only left me with the possibility that the driver would be calling the responsible authorities, or owners, to ask me to leave.  Most likely, the driver had stopped to relieve himself!

Despite the moss & needles beneath me, it still wasn’t the softness of my missing thermarest and knew I’d be tossing and turning like a rotisserie trying to find the sleep I wanted.  I managed to snooze for some time, until I heard something outside the tent making clawing noises.  My panniers were inside the tent, but images of a porcupine gnawing on my saddle for the less-than-savory salt stains, and the resulting uncomfortable condition of the saddle, led me to open the tent and shine a light on my bike.  No shining eyes revealed themselves under the glare of the light, and my saddle was intact, and whatever created those clawing noises must have left quietly.

I resumed my troubled sleep until an explosive “Pop!” jumped my eyelids wide open!  I held my breath, listening to additional “Pops!” as something made its way thru the forest.  I was certain it was a cow, as my inadvertent stepping on dried branches earlier in the evening couldn’t compete with the crisp percussion of a hoof bearing a half-ton or more.  It kept its distance and meandered about before heading out to the pavement, where I could hear its clatter of hooves as it made its way up the road.  I was relieved to have it gone and attempted to venture back into my snooze, only to be startled by the repeated screeches of some kind of night bird, and not that of the inquisitive “who” of an owl.  This had just ceased, when a couple of ranch dogs somewhere up the road began frenzied barking, echoing off the hills not unlike the Hound of the Baskervilles.  They quit just as suddenly, and I eventually eased back into my restless snooze.

The passing of a speeding truck roused me once more, followed by the intermittent crunching of branches, of what I could hope was another passing cow.  The clattering of hooves on the pavement confirmed my assessment, only to leave me startled by the explosive bellow that rang like a giant gong off the hillsides.  The stillness that hung in the air afterwards was interrupted once more by the screeching of the night bird for a short time, and then again the ranch dogs began their serenade, accompanied by yet another speeding truck.

I had resigned myself to not getting any sleep, wishing the dawn would speed its appearance, and I could safely ride up the road.  Somehow I lapsed into a slumber, only again hearing the “Pops!” of snapping branches.  This time it was coming closer yet, and I froze when I heard the snuffling sound of breath being sucked in not more than eight feet away.  It’s restless feet crunched more branches, and again I heard that heavy intake of air as though it were next to my feet.  The “hair” on my back rippled in anxiety, and that cold sweat bathed my skin.  I slowly let my breath out and instinctively reached for my headlight, pointed it in the direction of the inhalation and put it on strobe.  I couldn’t see beyond the walls of my tent, and wasn’t sure what reaction I’d created.

While most see cows as funny costumes, complete with udders, or write songs like “Cows With Guns” and as comic creatures casually chewing their cud along the wayside, bulls can weigh as much as 2,400 pounds and have a temperament to match.  The family store in Logsden have plenty of polaroid’s depicting locals beside their trophy cougars, and bulls will defend their herd against such predators.  I questioned whether my strobe was a defense or another way of waving a red flag.  Lying flat on my back, I could only imagine the height of such a bull looking down on me.

I somehow fell asleep waving my strobe, only to be awakened by another speeding truck, and thought ironically of being thrown out of my site in the pitch black by some concerned local who’d noticed my strobe.  I couldn’t hear any cracking of branches, or heavy intakes of breath, but again was startled by the sudden echoing bellow up the road.  And again, the screeching of the night bird, and later, the insistent barking of the ranch dogs ringing off the hillsides.  A thought did cross my mind that some speeding truck might find a cow on the road and send it injured and floundering down and over my tent . . . .

I awakened later with the urgent need of my bladder, and deliberated whether it would be better to be stomped on with a full bladder in my tent, or to be crushed while relieving myself outside.  I finally chose the latter, but my headlight did not illuminate any creatures outside.  I slept better afterwards, how long I’m not sure, but the patter of raindrops on my tent brought me back to my nightmare.  I lay there listening to an occasional speeding truck – where are all these locals going at this on this little used road at night? – and hoped that the rain would stop soon.

Day 4: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I gave up as it began to get lighter, and began packing my bags, putting my cycling shoes in plastic bags to lash to the outside of my panniers ‘til I could get on pavement to use them.  I skipped breakfast, in my hurry to get started, and cold yogurt on granola wasn’t appealing, though a blistering cup of coffee, even convenience store quality, would have been wonderful.

I’d scouted out the access to the roadway last evening and a ditch separated me from it at this end of the stand of trees, but I double-checked, and the awkwardness of a loaded touring bike forced me to backtrack thru the woods to my original entrance.  My “fence” stood undisturbed, so the cattle must have gone around the ends, but I found no evidence to avoid stepping into as I made my way onto the road.

While not a downpour, I wondered what the graveled road over the mountain would be like in this rain.  I coasted down to the cement bridge over the stream, and used the guardrail to trade out my shoes, thinking that maybe I’d wish I hadn’t changed to my clipless shoes somewhere on the graveled road ahead.  I wiped my glasses once more before swinging a leg over my bike and pedaling up the road.

Soon enough, I found the cattle lolling on either side of the road as well as standing in the road.  Some frisky calves sprinted away from me, a couple of cows did their comic blank stare at me, and the bull, well, one always wonders what such an immense creature thinks when staring at you.  I pedaled on by them, ready to give a futile sprint if necessary, but only the calves sped off into the brush of either side of the road, and rest just stoically stared at my departing backside.

Free range cows

Free range cattle

The gravel came soon enough, and I gave another wipe at my glasses with my gloves, before locking my hands to the handlebars and giving my full attention to controlling my bike on the slippery crunch of the packed rock.  I picked my way around the loose stuff, and hoped that a speeding truck would not force me out of my more secure path.  A light fog attended my progress, but the raindrops falling on my glasses were more of a visual challenge.  This was certainly not the trip back over the mountain I’d envisioned earlier on my escape!

I kept my eyes open for better campsites as I climbed over the summit, but only spotted rocky logging access roads.  Even as I neared the pavement, where a small body of water collected before turning into a stream, I couldn’t spy a smooth, level spot that would equal the stand of trees I’d camped in last night.  I’d still have to listen to the speeding trucks, but without the presence of the cattle, the aggressive barking of the ranch dogs, and possibly not the screeching of the night bird.  I continued to look as my tires spun onto the pavement, but it wasn’t ‘til I reached Nashville that anything looked promising.  The community store had some flat, grassy area, but pretty visible to any passing vehicles – and I’d want to get consent from someone before crashing the site.  If anyone had been working that day, I’d have stopped and inquired for future reference, and a dry spot to eat my granola and yogurt, but the store was closed. 

For a while, the road runs along a railroad, and while it has some bumps and grinds in it, it’s still a railroad grade.  When the railroad disappears, you begin the climb to Summit, and while I appreciated the climb from the other side two days ago, I knew this side was much steeper.  I’d have like to remove my rain jacket, but it was still raining enough that I would get soaked and chilled, and so used my low gears to keep the exertion to a minimum to avoid a steambath from the inside!

I couldn’t remember how far it was from the trestle to Summit, but it was a long and grueling climb to the trestle!  Still a few more bumps to Summit, but the rain had slackened and I was able to get a little more air in my jacket.  Reaching Summit, I rolled my bike up onto the covered porch of the grange hall, and had my breakfast of granola and yogurt.  Across the road, someone was doing some woodwork with a power machine, that drowned out the intermittent conversation I could hear.  Each time the machine was turned on, I could see the lights momentarily dim in the building and the whine of a blade filled the air.

I regretfully finished my breakfast, and mounted my bike once more.  The rain was more of a drizzle now, but I knew I had a long descent and I closed up my jacket and pulled my overmitts back over my gloves.  But before I knew it, I was climbing again, and I had plenty of time to listen to the buzz of chainsaws and a couple of large trees hitting the ground.  I could see several men with saws on the far side of the stream busy with their work, but it wasn’t a logging operation with trucks and cranes, just pickups and 6-7 men, but the noise of the saws was incessant. 

I’d always meant to stop and take pictures of leaning, moss-laden, building buried under the trees, next to the road, but on the descents it faded into the ‘woodwork’ and by the time you thought to hit the brakes, you’d be a quarter mile down the road, and I mean down!  Going up this climb didn’t necessitate hitting the brakes at all, and so I welcomed the opportunity to get the pictures.  I rolled my bike across the grade to get the right angle for one, and then up the road for another, and the camera informed me the card was full!  I’m sure I could have weeded out some less-than-fine shots, but that’s a lesson learned --not to be done on a wet day by the roadside!

Mossy house

An old, fallen mossy house

After cresting the final climb, I could tell I was near the intersection with Hwy. 20, by the noise of the rumbling freightliners and the whistle of smaller vehicles, with the Blodgett community store just across the highway.  I spied a small opening twixt the chaos and sped across the road, accompanied by the blare of a freighter’s horn and the hiss of its deceleration.  Picking my way thru the off-camber driveway, I was happy to get under the overhang’s protection from the continuing rain.  I shook off my jacket’s mist, before entering in and pouring myself a cup of the morning’s coffee.

The morning’s newspaper apparently had been read as it was scattered across the table I chose to enjoy my coffee at.  Just the usual Trump/Hillary said this, accused of this, stories.  I chose to look out the window and people watch.  The owner directed the unloading of a pallet or two of various beers from a freighter, while the woman behind the counter sold packs of cigarettes and the occasional coffee.  Everyone knew each other, just as the other afternoon when I stopped in here for those behind-the-glass burritos, another woman behind the counter had given credit to a local with not-quite-enough change to pay for a beer.

The rain had turned into a drizzle, when I stepped outside.  The traffic was continuous and the swish of tires squeezing the fallen rain from the pavement somewhat drowned the rumble of pavement irregularities, and the snarl of engines.  Just  10 miles down Hwy. 20, with a wide shoulder, to Wren, where I could start north on King’s Valley highway, with less traffic (hopefully) and a narrower shoulder (unfortunately).  Of course, I had barely started up the next hill, when the rain began in earnest.  I slogged along, pulling out to ride thru the former weigh station.  This side of the highway had a porta-potty, whereas the west bound side did not.  I’d stopped there to change into my rain jacket and now wondered why they hadn’t put a porta-potty on that side, as there was plenty of evidence to indicate a need over there!

On the final hill before reaching Wren, the shoulder becomes rather rough, with a six-inch strip next to the fog line being smooth.  I was attempting to ride that wire between motorists coming from behind viewed between the raindrops in my mirror, when I spied what looked like a ratchet.  My mind took a few pedal strokes to assess that image before I could stop, and I had to back my bike down the shoulder in the face of oncoming traffic to get the ¼ inch ratchet.  Despite my vigilance, this was to be the only worthwhile “road-kill” I’d find on my trip.

I was surprised to find how hungry I was when I got to Wren.  However, Wren had nothing to offer in the way of even a convenience store!  And right next to the highway!  I couldn’t think of anything between Wren and Salem, so I ate a granola bar and pedaled on north on King’s Valley.  Soon afterwards, log trucks began to pass me going both directions.  I knew when I saw a loaded log truck headed towards me, that soon afterwards, an unloaded one would approach from behind.  I kept a sharp lookout in my mirror, but the shoulder was narrow and a mess.  Most of the trucks gave me plenty of room, but one in bright orange gave me the shivers as it passed so close to me at high speed.  I watched intently for his loaded return and hoped I’d soon pass the loading station before he returned once more after dropping his logs.

I must have passed the log truck’s access road to the highway somewhere before cycling by King’s Valley elementary school with a more noticeable reduced speed zone.  I stopped to eat what I could find in my panniers on the porch of a weathered church, but no log trucks were frequenting the area.  I did not regret that only unloaded trucks had chased me to King’s Valley on the narrow shoulder of the road.

Heading east on Maxfield Creek Road, it began to get warmer, and I remembered descending a long hill on this road on my way to the coast, and found a guard rail to lean my bike against while removing some layers in preparation.   Lots of rusted tin roofed buildings met the eye, separated by expanses of open fields and plowed lots along this tree-lined road.  The trees provided intermittent shade, as the noon-day sun cast very short shadows, and I soon found myself riding the base of whatever shadows I encountered in an attempt to keep cool.

Descending that hill led me to the intersection with Arlie Road, which almost seems like a small town.  I turned right once more, and immediately noticed an increase in traffic on this narrow road, lined with continuous fields of farmland .  Even worse, was the drizzle that started and began to increase in intensity.  I watched the overhead clouds become darker as they raced in from the coast and finally found a farm that looked like it might provide some shelter while I changed into some rain gear.  Just a slight overhang on the downwind side of a shed was all I could find, and getting my shoecovers on in the mud was a trial.  Nothing to sit down upon, just leaning against the shed and trying not to fill the covers with mud as I slid them on, and hoping the cleats would not only engage on the pedals, but dis-engage even more importantly!

It was still raining as I passed the “Oregon Crop” posted hemp fields, and knew I’d soon be approaching the Hwy. 99w crossing at Suver.  The gas station has long been closed, and the later silos at the railroad crossing are the only other buildings of note.  Arlie Road become Suver Road after 99, and becomes more traffic-filled with most of the traffic headed south after reaching the intersection with Corvallis/Albany Road.  I finally received my “Get the #@%! Off the road” shouted at me by a narrowly-passing pickup near the end of this stretch of road.  I was relieved when it made a tire-squealing southbound turn as I was going to head north.

I proceeded without further incident to Buena Vista, where I hoped to beg a snack from Claudia once more at the B&B, but she was again closed, and I merely stopped to take off my shoecovers and a layer or two as the rain had ceased with the arrival of the sunshine.

I knew I’d be home soon as I crossed the ferry and began the very familiar trek up Liberty Road hill, though moving at a much slower rate with the additional camping gear on the bike.
I was surprised to find how many irate drivers gunned their motors and indicated I was number one in their rearview mirror as they impatiently passed on the climb.

How’d they know I taken my first four-day escape from the shop in over a decade!