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OREGON COAST CYCLOTOUR July 2021.

Right for Wrong Reason
One of my favorite sayings is “I’m usually right but for the wrong reason” but it was Bill who could have been saying that about his summer trip planning. His intent was to book our trailer in a nice facility in Bend, Oregon, from May through mid-September. The hiking and biking would be excellent and it was anyone’s guess if there would be any location in the US West free of wildfire smoke, but not making reservations in high season wasn’t an option.

Bill began booking us in February and it was already too late to implement his easy plan. For May, he patched together 3 weeks in LaPine, near Bend, and then 10 days south of there at Willow Lake. Starting June 1, we could be in Bend for a month, then we would have to leave for almost all of July because of a lack of RV sites. After being out of the area for nearly a month, we could return to Bend for 6 weeks. A crazy schedule but as we always say: “We have to be somewhere” and it was a workable plan.

The unanticipated genius of Bill’s patchwork itinerary was that we dodged the worst of the early heat waves. Portland was topping out at a record-smashing 116° four days before we returned to the valley. We left Bend for Portland just before Bend was peaking on its hot streak. And then we went to the Oregon coast for 17 days, well after the unheard of 116° temperature in Seaside. We of course were hot, but by chance, never took the brunt of the heat. We were so, so grateful to be spared the worst of it. The AC in our trailer couldn’t cope with super high temperatures but the partial shade in Bend was a huge help and we weren’t in our non-air conditioned apartment at the peak of the heat. “Way to go, Bill!”
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“It must be July”.

Launching
This north-south bike route along the Oregon coast, which we’d completed several times more than 20 years ago, uniquely began for us with 3 days of cycling north on an inland route. Bike touring on the Pacific Ocean always has the complicating factor for us of both getting from the Portland area to the sea and then back to there from our southern most point.

Each of our coast tours had novel solutions to the logistical problem, with the first being the most ambitious, which was running from Mt Hood to Seaside. Well, we didn’t actually run the entire route, but we were members of a Hood-To-Coast team participating in the long weekend event in which we were relay members. We’d shipped our bikes and gear to a Seaside bike shop, which held them for us. Upon completion of the relay, we waved good-bye to our teammates in the rented van when they drove back to Portland and we headed south on our first-ever, sampler bike tour. The tour was only 4 nights long, but we were mesmerized by the experience which launched our 20 years of subsequent cyclotouring.

Fast forward to 2021, and Bill crafted a plan for us to pedal north, approximately along the Columbia River and I-5, to Astoria and then turn south to cycle along the beautiful Oregon coast. It was conceived as an easy-going, nostalgia tour over 17 days, biking 25-30 miles most day. The bar was set low, in part because of my ongoing performance shortcomings due to the side-effects of anti-hypertensive medications. The side effects were devastating in 2018 and we compensated for them by rushing to buy the only electric bikes we could obtain, though they were barely suitable for touring. They saved the day. We used them again in 2019 until we swapped them out for a better pair part way through our summer touring season in Italy, and then because of the pandemic, we didn’t tour at all on them in 2020 and 2021. So, we hadn’t toured on “push bikes” for 3 years and I was still an unreliable athlete because of the relentless medication-induced illness.
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Coming down Green Mountain on the inland route.

In classic form, we got a late start on Day 1, but our nostalgia tour was off to a good start after picking up our forgotten, new, front fenders from our trailer. Twenty-six miles, 1,600‘ of elevation gain, moderate headwinds, and heat filled our day. Day 2 brought us to our knees. The only way to avoid a day on the freeway was being farther inland and going through the hills. Little did we know that Green Mountain Road was notorious, a road carefully avoided by local, avid cyclists. It took us over an hour to ride 4 miles. I forgot my inclinometer, but the grades were surely between 15-20%.

We immediately rallied our climbing technics honed in the Alps: frequent, short stops strategically made for effortless launching. In the Alps, that often meant positioning just so on a switchback but here, it meant pulling into a driveway with a “No Trespassing” sign. My heart rate, which runs higher than Bill’s, max’ed out at 169, and I knew when that occurred without looking at my monitor. Sadly, I had to push my bike about 100’ uphill to an attractive launching point because my quad muscles gave out before I could pedal to it. With clip-in pedals, it is critical to stop while I still have enough power and speed to release the pedal’s grip on my shoe to prevent falling over. It was hardly a reassuring way to begin the morning of our second day.

Mental as well as physical endurance is critical when cyclotouring, like it is on long hikes, so that day I focused on how well I was doing, not my deficiencies, not what I might not be able to do the rest of the day or the rest of the tour.

Once at the top of Green Mountain, a middle-aged man in a fire engine red truck pulled along side me and shouted “It’s all down hill from here.” I couldn’t quite make out the next sentence, but I could tell that it was accolades. Unexpectedly, my quads and knees survived the metered effort with no pushback that afternoon or the next morning.

The Search For Food
An hour later, we were again confronting another classic, cyclotouring challenge: the search for food. We always cook dinner in our rooms at night when overseas but in an effort to travel lighter, we decided that we would graze on grocery store food and at fast food restaurants during this trip. My list of digestible foods had become frustratingly short, making mealtime away from our own kitchen difficult and demoralizing. The bright spot was my current high protein, meat-based diet was a nice fit with the prevalent Standard American Diet.

Our first day on the road was fueled by fresh food from home so the food adventure began the next morning, before the huge climb. Rosie’s Restaurant across the road from our freeway interchange motel was the only place that opened before 10, so Rosie’s it was.

We were conspicuously out-of-place, beginning with being among the few normal-weight folks there. The patrons wore “life has been hard” on their faces, with the only laugher coming from 4 spirited young men in a corner booth. Granted, we rarely eat out, but I didn’t know that they still made melamine (plastic) dishes. They are durable and serviceable but set a low bar. The stamped flatware was of the thinnest stainless with a rose pattern, which echoed the budget tone and the restaurant’s name. We reminded ourselves that we were there for food and nothing else.
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“I think we should move” was on Bill’s mind, not the burgers or bike tour.

We had accepted the covid-option: we had called-in our order at Rosie’s and were in and out in about 35 minutes, a fraction of the time that other folks were spending there. The next day, we ate breakfast at an American classic, Shari’s, which required an additional hour for our meal. Sitting in restaurants isn’t how I like to spend my time in the mornings, especially since I’m not a coffee drinker.

Later that day, after conquering Green Mountain, we pulled off at Kalama, WA to fuel our bodies with plain burger paddies from The Burger Bar, a local take-out place. It was while sitting on a shaded park bench by the railroad tracks eating our burgers that Bill sprung the “I think we should move” declaration on me. The last straw for continuing to live in our regrettable “traveler’s apartment” was the recent record breaking heat and the feared disintegration of our stuff in our SE corner apartment without air conditioning. Online searching for apartments suddenly was the most important activity in our days once we were in for the night with our groceries for the next 24 hours.

Stories
Some travelers collect souvenirs but being minimalists, we collect stories instead. While having breakfast at Shari’s at the start of Day 3, Bill nudged me and said “Check out that guy.” He was indeed ‘stare worthy’ and told his story with patches on his jacket and cap. Rather than steal glances like I usually do, I went to his table and asked if I could take his picture. I told the truth, saying I was looking for a photo to take that reflected that it was the 4th of July and he did just that very well.

Darral, who carefully spelled his name without me asking, smiled and unprompted, began telling me his story. He proudly stated that he was currently driving a truck for a woman business owner, that he was 72 years old, had spent 14 years in the military, starting in the Marine Corp and finishing up in the Army. Darral was shot twice but coyly said that neither shooter lived to tell his story. He then commented that it took 20 years to recover, saying “You never forget those things.”
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Vietnam vet Darral.

The image of, and stories from, Darral were in my head for days. I began filling in the blanks with multiple-choice options about his family or lack thereof, a possible history of drug abuse, the complicated issues of military service, and why he happened to be in this small town. Further scrutinizing his photo, I concluded that Darral is likely Native American and a Trumpee, though neither descriptor was a part of his script he shared with me. We guessed that despite his hard life, that Darral was doing OK: he had a flashy, newer Ford truck; an engaging smile; and a gentle manner.

There was no missing that it was the 4th of July when I met Darral because pleated fan bunting and flags were often in sight on our rural route. It was a relief to see flags everywhere without the concurrent expressions of hatred and grievances that had become so common in the last 4 years. It was only our second 4th of July spent in the US in the last 21 years and I was surprised to note how much I enjoyed the sentiment. Last year when we were in Fruita/Grand Junction, CO, the 4th was all but invisible, which I found to be a bit sad. The 4th was such a fun holiday as a child.

Antique and collectors cars, ranging from gleaming to rusted, were roaming the backroads in numbers on the 4th of July weekend. They turned our heads every time we saw one and were more prevalent than the small signs nailed to trees with quotations from Jesus. Both religious signs on trees and exotic cars out in droves on sunny summer days were reminiscent of our cyclotours in the Alps, which was bitter-sweet.

The most precious pleasure in the early days of this bike tour was talking to strangers. After 18 months of conversations compressed because of the sounds being muffled by masks and plexiglass barriers, it was joy to chat, make little jokes, and to swap stories again. There was Darral at Shari’s, our hostess in tiny Cathlamet hotel, and the couple we chatted with after inviting ourselves to sit at their unused picnic table for lunch along the Columbia River. My mild hearing loss had added to the futility of attempting anything more than the basics in the pre-vaccination times. I savored the connection made with the stories more than the content of them.
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Flags & pleated fan bunting marked the holiday.

Unspoken stories unfold in novel ways with the slow travel on bikes. While finishing up our picnic lunch on the Columbia River at a regrettable, little park called County Line Park, two ambulances rolled into the tiny gravel parking lot. They arrived from opposite directions, one blaring its sirens, the other not. They maneuvered around until they were side by side, pointing the same direction. We hadn’t heard any cries for help, were baffled by their presence, and then “County Line” took on a new meaning. They were passing a patient from one ambulance to another, most likely because of a jurisdictional issue. I heard “no broken bones but badly bruised.” The middle-aged patient looked calm and comfortable and the 4 EMTs took their time with her transfer. She of course, would be less calm when she received charges from 2, not one, ambulance companies.

We went on our way after the ambulances cleared the parking lot and 30 minutes later, learned the rest of the story. I was riding uphill when an unmarked police car that was leaving the road shoulder pulled out in front of me. Still pedaling, I asked the tow truck operator, who was finishing loading a very expensive motorcycle onto his flat bed trailer, if a woman had gone off in an ambulance from the scene. Rather than saying “Yes”, he commented that he was now taking the guy to the hospital and cautioned me about the dead deer in the road ahead of him. On this hot afternoon, there was no stench emitted from the carcass and Bill and I both concluded that the motorcyclist had hit the deer. It’s not often that one can piece together a story like that when speeding by in a car.

The other story that unfolded during our online apartment searches each evening was the horrors of the housing crunch. The high prices, the competitiveness in securing an apartment, and the hideous new normal of renting sight unseen. We were aghast but determined in be winners in this race. My discouraging, ongoing medication illness tinged our search with need for a place suitable for old people, which ruled-out an intriguing downtown loft.

Approachable
One of the fun things about being cyclotourists in the US and abroad is that it makes us very approachable; we guess that we are deemed to be safe because it is clear what we are doing. Amazingly, we had a little streak when solo men chatted-us-up, even without our bikes.

One middle-aged man patted his massive belly that he described as Humpty-Dumpty and extolled the virtues of electric bikes while we were astride our pedal bikes and about ready to launch after our picnic. He repeatedly said how much he admired us and shared his recent biking adventure, his first ride on his new e-bike.
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Wrapping up at our ‘inauspicious’ picnic spot before being approached by “Humpty-Dumpty.”

He had an e-bike that allows you to not pedal at all, which is what he did, until the battery was drained. He was then stuck pedaling it the remaining distance of his 10 mile ride to a weed shop in town. He spent 2 hours at the shop getting stoned while waiting for the battery to charge in the shop, then rode back. He was thrilled with his great adventure, loved the disbelief from his family that he actually did it, and delighted in his magnificent experience of nature compared with spending the day on the couch like he usually did. There was nothing to do but cheer his accomplishment and encourage him to do it again, though he didn’t chime-in with his own enthusiasm for another outing.

While leaving a grocery store that evening, an older guy saw us examining a popular model of a parked e-bike (perhaps one that also functions as a motor scooter) and told us where we could buy one. His monologue included stories about growing up on the steepest street in Astoria—“even steeper than the steep one in San Francisco” and that he thought it was a 46% grade. We didn’t quibble about the details while he jumped to his military service and how he got from there to currently building tables. After all of the coronavirus-induced isolation, people were eager to talk.

Right for the Right Reason
Bill’s decision to buy-up for our coast trip lodging served us well: it made finding suitable places easier for him in the planning stage and gave us a better experience. Because he queried the hosts when booking, all most all establishments let us wheel our loaded bikes into our room. We would leave the panniers on while in the room rather than putting them on the floor, which spared our fragile discs from two deep forward bends each evening and the next morning. Paying more generally secured larger rooms, sometimes with better views, and the prized “guest laundry services”. A coin-op washer/dryer every other night was wonderful. We each basically had 2 sets of base layer clothes, so the timing was perfect.

Bill carefully shopped for rooms with both a microwave and a frig and succeeded in doing so at all but one isolated location, which was a bit of a planning crisis for us, given that that night was the 4th of July holiday. But what the boutique hotel’s website failed to reveal was that the self-serve continental breakfast kitchenette was open all hours to guests and it had a microwave. We leapt at the opportunity to cook the cauliflower I’d bought because it could be eaten raw, cooked it up, and smothered it in butter. It was heavenly! Being on a keto diet, the lion’s share of my calories are obtained from fats and I wasn’t looking forward to eating a glob of straight butter to get my needed calories, especially after having come up short on calories at breakfast that day at Shari’s. (We both eat about 2,500 calories per day and have done so for more than 20 years.)
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Our loaded bikes in our room doubled as clothes racks.

Oh, how I savored my long-denied, over indulgent showers in the better rooms Bill booked. To not be limited to the 10 gallon water tank in our trailer or subjected to our apartment building’s severe water restricter on the shower head that spews out more air than water. Ah, feeling the force of hot water on the top of my head again was bliss. Only at one older motel was there a water shortfall: unbeknownst to me, the hot water ran out about half way into filling the tub so my bath was lukewarm. Bill inquired at check-in the next night and learned that we had best bathe early there as well.

Older But Different
I couldn’t argue with Bill that our age seemed to be catching-up with us given our weariness on our coast cyclotour. The 23-30 mile days that were generally accumulating about 1500’ of gain were modest, especially with our reduced gear load of 30 pounds each. I was tired every day and disappointed that I never felt perky. But, on Day 6, when we easily dispatched the climb up to the dramatic Manzanita Head between Cannon Beach and Manzanita, he ate his words. He volunteered how wrong his assessment had been.

Of course we weren’t as robust on the bikes as we were 20+ years ago, but we knocked out that 350’ steep pitch like it was no big deal. Initially, I wasn’t even sure that we were on “the hill”. Our ease reminded us that, even being older and in poorer condition, how habituated our bodies were to cycling. They are now in charge of our tempo and they judge the situations better than our minds, so we always defer to them; experience matters.
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We stop for steam engines wherever they are.

The intensity of the endorphin high that was etched in our minds from that first time up Manzanita Head around 1999 was still vivid for us both. We remembered reaching the crest and marveling at the beach panorama far below us. We savored the drama of the view, noting how much more startling it was from having worked for it rather than having driven up to it. Our hearts pounded and we gasped for the next breath while we celebrated our triumph those many years ago on much lighter, carbon fiber bikes with less gear.

This time, I was part way up the hill before I was convinced that “This is it, not just another roller along the way.” I checked the accumulated gain on my Activities watch app and decided that this was the big one for the trip and that I was well into it. I congratulated myself so as to push away any self doubt, noting that I was doing just fine and I wasn’t all that far behind Bill. It wasn’t long after that that the dramatic views confirmed that we’d nailed it.

It was clear: these weren’t the same bodies that they were 20 years ago but that we still had what it took to do loaded touring on standard “push” bikes. Much of what had been lost with aging had been replaced with experience, skill, and deep metabolic and structural adaptation to the sport. We never were sprinters but we continued to be solid novice endurance athletes. I was disappointed however that my level of weariness remained constant everyday; I had hoped to strengthen enough over the 2 weeks to feel more energetic. Time will tell, but that weariness may have been more about medication side effects than aging.

Where Does the Time Go?
The eternal question of our daily lives for decades had been: “Where did the time go?” Anyone observing us would surely conclude that we fritter it away, but all of the things we do seem so necessary in the moment even though we are continuously striving to capture the minutes that leak through our fingers.

The day we biked from Seaside to Wheeler-on-the-Bay was a perfect example of the struggle to maintain tempo, to attempt to account for our missing minutes. Like always, we awoke at 5:00 am with the help of the unforgiving alarm. I did my new healthy back routine prescribed by the Palm Springs PT of 10 slow cobra push-ups and a 20 minutes supported backbend in bed. I time-sliced the backbend with checking emails, the news, and the weather on my phone. By 7:00 am, I wrapped up my latest combination of Qi Gong, yoga, and myofascial release work with a special focus on my chronic buttock muscle issue and knee vulnerability. Then it was on to assembling and microwaving our high protein breakfast of precooked hard boiled eggs and precooked sausage to fend off sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss). A half an avocado was added to the plate to dilute the saltiness of the sausage. After the hot breakfast that I sponsored, we ate the cold plate Bill prepared with sliced celery, carrots, and apples.
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Our heated, pre-cooked, hot breakfast a-la-Barb.

With the first of 3 daily rounds of “exercise-eat” behind us, we used the remaining 2 hours to do our personal grooming, lunch prep, “kitchen” clean-up, and repacking our panniers. We made our target time of a 9:30 departure, 4 ½ hours after arising. It’s hard to say what takes so much time, but it does.

We slowly rode through the tourist area of Seaside in the fog to allow Bill to finish reminiscing about being there as a child with his family. Then it was out into the heavy traffic on Hwy 101, again with a narrow focus on staying alive. We made a couple of unsuccessful detours in the drizzle in hopes of escaping the heavy traffic only to discover that they were not the through roads indicated on our navigation.

Unexpectedly shedding tears while lingering at a view point over Cannon Beach burned up more minutes; it was the place where we brought our beloved dog for romps on the beach and then scattered her ashes. Both at Seaside and at Cannon Beach, we had to allow a little extra time for the emotions that had welled-up to be processed so we had the concentration needed to be safe in the intense traffic. A bit later, the chill of yet another round of drizzle kept us from pausing too long at our beach-view picnic table for lunch.

After concluding our 2nd round of “exercise-eat” for the day, we were off in search of the notorious-in-our-minds Manzanita Head. We knocked out that formally, monstrous hill with ease and only being 5 miles from our destination for the night, lingered at the several view points reading the tourist information signs and dried our clothes from the recurring drizzle in the welcome sun.

The extended pause at Manzanita Head became quite elongated with the arrival of Eddy, a smiling young man on his 2nd bike tour. Like when we were at that stage in our cycling career, he was full of questions once he realized the depth of our experience. Unlike us however, he didn’t ask about gear, tires, and other equipment. He had yet to advance his visions about international travel but was wide—eyed while we spun our tales about discovering the Italian Dolomites, doing via ferrata hiking trails, circumnavigating Sicily, and riding in the Czech Republic. Perhaps chatting with Eddy burned up a half an hour or more, but it was necessary pay-backs for the time people spent guiding us at that stage so many years ago.

We said good-bye to Eddy, whom we knew we’d never see again, flew down the 2 mile-long hill like he had done, and pulled into what we knew from our prior research was the best food store for miles. So began another painfully long, hurry-up-and-wait shopping event.

Bill guarded the bikes while I went inside hoping to find high-protein sources for our next 5 meals and dinner vegetables for 2 nights that we could carry in our panniers, store in a small refrigerator, and heat in a microwave. It was slow going at the well-stocked, independent market while I read labels on unfamiliar brands for salt content, grams of protein, and additives. I did better than expected, parked my cart in the produce department as is our routine, and then we switched roles so Bill could round-out the meals with fresh produce for the breakfasts and 2 lunches and complete the check-out.

It was around 2:30 when we were chatting with Eddy and almost 5 pm when we rolled into our Wheeler Bay lodging for the night in the middle of our 3rd and last round of “exercise-eat”. Had we it to do over, we would not have rationed our time any differently but it was once again frustratingly tight to make our 8 pm bedtime.
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A chatty (OK, hyperactive) former tri-athlete finishing his cross-country tour.

A Success But…
Bill’s coastal cyclotouring trip was flawlessly planned, with moderate distances and gain each day and pleasant lodging, but we won’t be doing it again. The traffic was horrific. At times, overtaking cars passed us every 1 to 2 seconds and a 10 second gap between cars on our side of the road felt like a long break.

Gone were the days when we could occasionally ride side-by-side or be heard by each other when riding single file. Perhaps in another year, after the post-covid traveling surge had passed, the traffic would be tolerable, but the charm was gone. The villages had become cities, the very scenic Cape Meares Loop had been closed since 2013, and flagging maintenance of the shoulders made for too many dicey situations while sharing the road. Crossing the very narrow, heavily used bridge in Newport at rush hour underscored how dangerous the riding was.

All we could do was pity the jerks that gunned their old Diesel engines so as to lay a particulate-laden cloud of exhaust for 1-2 blocks while they passed us when we were struggling on the climbs—their American, bad-boy revenge for us slowing them down, or for just being on their road. Most expressions of the grievance culture look pathetic, as did these silly displays. Another driver apparently fortified his ego by honking then swerving into us when he was the only vehicle in sight. We certainly notice the ugly behavior but, fortunately, we are essentially unflappable in holding our course while enduring passive aggressive behavior. At least no one threw stuff on us, which was the sport in Portland and Oregon when we first began cycling years ago.

We have also changed since our first-ever tours on the Oregon coast. The Oregon coast is unique and dramatic, but there is a lot out in the world that fit those descriptors that are accessible and less dangerous for us as cyclists. We’ve always favored noticing and savoring over hard-driving athleticism and biking the Oregon coast has become a ‘head down and go’ sport because of the dangerousness of it. We can no longer recommend it as a ‘starter’ tour for cyclists, like it was for us. It’s bitter sweet: we’d changed, it had changed, and that is an inherent part of life.
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In hindsight, our last view of the Pacific Ocean on this trip.

New Beginnings
This emotional, nostalgic bike trip unexpectedly became a closing a chapter in our lives, a farewell journey to biking the Oregon coast. And just as unexpectedly, it was where we were when we launched ourselves on a new trajectory for our ‘at home’ lifestyle and the relationship with our belongings by deciding it was time to upgrade our abode.

Ironically, on the first full day of the bike tour Bill had crafted, Bill announced that he wanted to move to a new apartment as soon as possible, so all of our spare minutes immediately were diverted to looking for apartments online, making appointments to see apartments, and mentally culling our stuff. We didn’t know if it would take months or years to fulfill that dream, but we were committed to being ready to pounce when the opportunity arose.

Bill had always had a terrible time letting go of possessions and, after our last difficult move in 2009, I had refused to move out of our meager, hot, noisy apartment until he confronted his demons hiding in boxes he hadn’t touched in over 20 years. We had so much stuff when we moved into that 2 bedroom apartment that we couldn’t even get all of our boxes inside our unit on move day and, to our horror, left some of them in the building hallway overnight. My sentiment was “Never again!”

Bill accepted the boundaries I set after that miserable move long ago and now better understood why I had set them. Now, he was suddenly making announcements like: “I’m ready to give away the power tools”. The deeper-felt acceptance of the reality of our current lives was music to my ears.

We knew that our new apartment wouldn’t be much bigger than our current one and would at least double in price, but it would be nicer, quieter, and have the now-essential AC. And with Bill’s commitment to a major cull, we wouldn’t be “shoe-horned” into it like we had been. Our current configuration had only been tolerable because we didn’t spend much time there but it was time to do better for ourselves.

About 10 days into our tour, while I was taking photos at Boiler Bay on a cold, gray afternoon, Bill approached me and I once again rhetorically asked “Are you having fun yet?” He countered with sharing that he had been contemplating shortening the bike trip by 2 days to get us out of our traffic misery and to repurpose those 2 days to sorting through our belongings. What pivot! Going from being unable to cull to wanting to dive-in made my jaw drop. He had been slowly mastering his relationship with possessions for years, but the tipping point came fast and he was positively excited about shedding his excess.

That riding day from Lincoln City to Newport was one of the more scenic days of the entire tour but the strong winds were unusually icy cold and the gusts were stronger than forecast. We were in the middle of a multi-day streak of small craft advisories because of the wind. The route had a few bypasses from the main Hwy 101, which were a huge relief from the road stress, but it didn’t change our overall opinion about being fed-up with the traffic and shortage of fun; we were both ready to do the unthinkable by cutting the trip short.

Bill finished up the phone calls the next morning to end our tour at Florence instead of continuing on to Coos Bay as planned. U-Haul had a truck available in Florence and there were no cancellation fees on our remaining lodging reservations, so truncating our trip was a ‘go’. It was hard to believe that we were choosing to sift through our past as defined by our belongings rather than bike, but it had been an easy decision. Our exercise would suffer for 2 additional days on what was anticipated to be a business-oriented week while at home, but we’d pick it up once we got back into our trailer.
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Loading our bikes & us into a U-Haul truck for the drive home in heavy traffic.

And so it was. We enjoyed our scheduled rest day in Yachats (yah-hots) by walking south on the rocks from our motel towards town, did our grocery shopping for the next 24 hours, had lunch out of the wind in our room, and walked north in the sand before dinner. The next day was the newly designated last riding day to Florence. Luckily, we opted for a standing lunch at what turned out to be our last view of the ocean. The next morning, it was only a mile-long ride back to the U-Haul office where we were given a $100 discount for dropping the truck off at the location of their choosing, not ours. The $20/day rental expense had swelled to $240 with the mileage and other fees, so it was irresistible to not grab the price break.

We would return to our apartment steeled with resolve to winnow our belongings for a newly streamlined lifestyle and tour our first potential new apartment building the next morning. It would be an intense 8 days at home of being jarred by our hidden belongings and being in the fray for a new apartment before we returned to Bend, Oregon at the end of July for 6 weeks of hiking. We were however, primed and ready to meet the challenges and onslaught of deciding-making that lay ahead of us.