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Brookings, OR

Sept. 22, 2007

It was very hard to start back on the road again. It seemed that my body tried to actively forget what being in shape was during my break, and I forgot the rhythm of eating and drinking which makes the miles roll underneath my tires.

For the first time on my trip I was pulled over for riding my bicycle on the highway. It turns out that highway 18 near Tiger mountain (a huge mountain bike area) is off-limits to cyclists. I found this out about 500 ft from the summit when I was made to stop riding and wait for someone to give me a ride down the moutain.

I eventually did, and continued on through the greater urban Puget Sound to south of Tacoma. While riding I met a road cyclist who showed me a good route into Tacoma, and also gave me water and a sandwich (thank you very much). If only I had the sense not to get lost by his directions. I wound up riding around the industrial area of Tacoma for half an hour before I found my way south, and it was unpleasant.

I eventually made camp in a field near Ft. Lewis Army Base, where the sound of their night exercises kept me awake and in terror for my life. But eventually the sound of automatic rifle fire became just another noise, and I drifted off to sleep, wondering what could possibly have possessed my to leave my warm bed.

The next day I managed to find interurban trails which got me off the highway quite a bit, and a day of riding in cold and oppressive weather found me camping just outside Rainbow Falls State park, because I wanted to use their bathroom facilities, without having to pay their usurous $14/night rate.

On the third day, I finally made it out to the coast at the town of Raymond, and shortly before my arrival, it began to rain hard for the rest of the day. I also met a couple who were riding down the coast, and I wound up camping with them and another couple in Bay Center.

I got a chance to get pretty good and lost the next day when I beach trail went from pavement, to small gravel, to large gravel, to sand. So I had to turn around. I eventually made it up to Cape Disappointment, where I was disappointed to find that it was gorgeous and scenic. I could see Oregon off in the distance across the Colombia River, and I knew that I was almost in bicycle friendly territory. I crossed the bridge to Astoria, which was not nearly as bad as some had made it out to be, and a short while later I was at Ft. Stevens state park. There I got my first state provided hot shower, and I stayed up well past dark talking to other cyclists. It was definitely good to be amongst other cyclists again.

The next day I rode through Cannon Beach where I got my first taste of Tillamook cheddar in a grilled cheese sandwich, and on to glorious Tillamook itself, where I took the tour of the facility can got to see tons of cheese be processed before my eyes. It nearly made me weep, it was so beautiful. But it started to rain, so of course I had to press on further to find a place to camp. I eventually made it down to Cape Lookout, where I stayed in what has to be one of the most scenic campsites I’ve been in yet. But during the night, it decided to dump so much rain that the ground flooded and my things became soaked. I decided I would take it easy getting going that morning and try to dry things out a bit. I also shared coffee and a campfire with a couple from Portland and a couple of other cyclists. It was a fantastic experience at that site, despite the rain.

I took it easy that day, and only went the 45 miles into Lincoln City and decided to call it quits. On the road, I encountered a group of three pairs of tandem cyclists, who despite being of retiring age, managed to leave me in the dust on several occasions. They also told me more about RAGBRAI, and it seems that this is a ride I’ll eventually have to do.

In Lincoln City I ran into a couple I’d met at Ft. Stevens, and they treated me to dinner (which had I known they were going to do, I might have had another beer :).

And the last three days have seen me reestablish my rhythm finally, as I pounded out consecutive 70+ mile days. I’m amazed that I am nearly done riding the Pacific Northwest, and I’m starting to really hit the books hard on learning Spanish. Mexico’s coming up, and I feel like I know nothing at all!

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