1 Oct – 12 Oct 2021
Oct brings us away from the coastline and we will begin to head inland. After Phoenix, Arizona which we visited in July, our second state capital to visit will be Salem, Oregon.
1 Oct we are still on the coast riding to Lincoln City. It’s a big, busy town and we arrive there around 4pm when the traffic is heavy. It’s not nice riding, not peaceful or quiet at all. Riding down we hear the sirens of an ambulance. We stop and pull over to one side and let it pass, it’s easy to pass us but at speed it’s better to let it pass us without them worrying about us. Pretty soon we catch up with the ambulance – it has stopped on the other side of the road and we can see a cyclist leaning against a wall, his bike on the floor and a few people and cars stopped to watch/assist. I did consider going over to see if there was anything we could do as fellow cyclists, but as we ourselves are on our bike we already have our hands very full and wouldn’t be able to help. We ride on, quietly, reflecting on what we had seen. This road is not a nice place to ride. Arriving at our camp site there are a few other cyclists there already set up for the evening. As is so often the case they are all heading south and have been seeing other on the road and at the camp grounds for some time. They are expecting another rider to come, he is later than they would have thought. Maybe he decided to ride through and get some more miles done. We shared what we had. seen coming through Lincoln City and sure enough the rider we had seen was the rider they had been missing. He was riding south along the coast and as he texted his fellow cyclist friends he had had an accident. A car had passed him too close and just clipped his handlebars. He crashed onto the road. The driver initially didn’t stop but some witnesses say that the car came back a few minutes later to check, but upon hearing the sirens got back into the car and drove off again. It turns out the driver had no insurance and was afraid. Fortunately the witnesses got the car registration and passed that to the authorities.
At the hospital the fear was that the cyclist had broken either his hip or leg, but fortunately x-rays showed that was not the case. Just a big fall and bruises. Nothing broken. He has some family in nearby Newport who could come to get him.
It’s sobering and scary to hear about what happened to him. What if that was us? Yes, we have our medical insurance. But would it be enough? We have no family here in the US. Who could we call upon to assist us? It frightens me and makes me feel worried for our safety. But I know that we will carry on riding. The world is a big place and there are dangers out there. But we can’t just stay at home safe in our comfortable place if we want to see and experience it. So we will ride on, as careful and cautious as we can while also reaching out with our hearts and minds open to the blessings out there.
On the 2 Oct we left Lincoln City and had a big breakfast just on the outskirts of the city. Staying in or near a city, sometimes means we will have a bought breakfast if there is time. It’s more expensive than the things we make ourselves at camp but it’s nice to eat out and get a big breakfast to set us up for the day.
Leaving Lincoln City we are heading East. We say goodbye to the ocean views that have been with us almost every day since we left San Francisco. The next time we see the ocean will most likely be when we reach the East coast and are looking out over the Atlantic.
Tonight is another night that we have no planned campground or place to stay. I know that we can reach Grand Ronde but there aren’t any places that we want to stay there. One RV campground is there, just to make sure we ride in but as we are there after the office closes we decide not to stay. The toilets and showers are locked with combination locks so we wouldn’t be able to make use of them. It doesn’t make any sense to pay for a campground if we can’t use the facilities there. So we ride on, looking for a place to pitch our tent. On Google Maps we can see there is a church in town and we have heard that churches will sometimes allow travellers to stay for a night so we ride over to the Seventh Day Adventist church in Grand Ronde. It’s late on a Saturday afternoon and all quiet at the church. We tried calling the number listed on the church website but there is no answer. Certain there is no one around and confident that we have at least tried to contact them, we take a look around the area. As it happens the church is built on a slope and under the church there is a covered area where they have a small basketball court. It looks out over an empty field. It’s a perfect place to camp! It’s covered, so we don’t need to worry about any rain but it’s also open so we can see the night sky and get plenty of fresh air. For the first time in the trip we pitch the tent but leave the rain fly off. So we can get the nice views and there is no fear of any rain or dew making us wet during the night. Dinner that night we had the rest of our breakfast that we didn’t finish and added a can of chilli sauce with wraps. As is often the case we add some fresh fruit that we have picked during the day’s ride.
One of the big draws for the town of Grand Ronde is the casino. The Spirit Mountain casino is very big and just outside of town. We had called them and asked if we would be able to pitch our tent somewhere on their property but the lady who spoke to us said the security staff probably would not allow that. In any case we had spent a nice comfortable night under the church. We rode over to the casino in the morning to see if we could get some coffee. As was the case at the first casino we went to, free drinks were available so we filled our flask and had a good cup of hot coffee in the morning.
After the night at the church our day’s ride takes us into Amity. There are a couple of churches in the town but our first stop is at the city park. We see some potential spots that could be nice to stay at. There are some locals in the park walking their dogs or with their kids chatting. I went over to chat with them and see if they knew anywhere we could safely and comfortably stay for the night. They couldn’t help but they did point me to the park host who lives in an RV at the park. He was very kindly and told me that unfortunately camping is not allowed in the park even though he personally would have no problem if we stayed the night. In the end he showed us that we could setup camp behind a building close to his RV. The police come around to the park most nights but behind the building we would be hidden from view and most likely would be able to pass the night undisturbed. We slept early that night feeling safe. We had arranged for Tim and Rosa to come to the park in the morning. Again, we could load up our bags into their car and then Tim would take us for a ride. We rode through some rich agricultural land and stopped at the Hopewell Hub, an interesting store selling work from many different artists including Tim’s older brother Arthur. He is a glass blower and has made some lovely glass items that are for sale there. The young lady at the shop kindly opened up for us to take a look inside the store which was closed and we had a nice latte made with some locally produced milk. After the ride we finished up at Tim and Rosa’s home in Salem, Oregon. Our second capital city.
We stayed in Salem for four days with Tim and Rosa. We rode over to the Oregon State Capitol building and took the self-guided tour around the building and took some pictures in and around the area. We also helped do a little work in their garden trying to arrange some rocks to make them look pretty. It’s good fun and it makes us feel useful when we can help out a little bit.
One afternoon we went out for a drive and we went to a farm. It’s coming up to Harvest festival and Halloween season and the place is full of pumpkins. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Some tiny, little bigger than my fist, some huge, huge, ones that weigh a thousand pounds and need a truck to move them around! We have seen huge fields, already harvested of their pumpkins, only a few of them left scattered on the edge of the field but it’s really an eye opener seeing so many pumpkins gathered at the farm. It makes me wonder about them. There are just so many of them! For sure, some of them are used and maybe people will make pumpkin pie or do other useful things with the flesh. But it makes me kind of sad to think that so much of that good food has been produced to be placed on door steps and in gardens for decoration purposes only and will ultimately end up in compost or trash. Some will be eaten, some will be carved, but sadly many will be just used as an ornament until they start to go bad and then discarded. It’s a sad reality about the state of the world to consider that so much resource goes into growing the pumpkins while there are people who are needy of food and other support.
At the farm we do our part to not let the pumpkins go to waste. We get some pumpkin spice coffee and doughnuts!
7 Oct we left Salem, again riding with Tim. Rosa joining us later in the car with all our luggage. It was a lovely day and we had planned a big day of riding from Salem to Portland. It’s a 54 mile ride which is a lot for us. Happily the first half of the ride we had no luggage and were joined by Tim. We met up with Rosa and our luggage for lunch at Champoeg park.
Our destination today in Portland is the house of a long time friend of Rick. Rick who had helped us so much during our time riding on the west coast was helping us again by putting us in touch with his old friend Erich and his wife Lisa and their son Truman.
Eager to get to Portland we were riding happily even as we moved further north and into some big cities. Passing through Sherwood we had a crash! Just as the road approaches a big junction and the cycle path we are riding one merges to the left to allow a right turn lane for the cars we had our fall. It looks like a truck had lost a load of grape pulp onto the road. The car lanes had been cleared of grape pulp by all the passing traffic but the bike lane still had a layer an inch thick with grapes. Fortunately we were not going very fast and there were no cars close behind us. I saw the dark coloured road and wondered what it was, but before I knew it I felt the front wheel slipping out from under us and we landed on the floor with a bang. Some cars passed us by on each side but we safe on our little island of grapes. A quick check and we had some cuts and scrapes but nothing too serious. We picked ourselves and JB up and wheeled to the pavement where we could properly check for damage to both of our bodies and bike. The panniers and other bags were all still safely attached and no damage to the bike besides a light covering of grape. A couple of scraped knees and elbows and a hole in my leggings was our damage report. We do carry a first aid kit in our gear so we were able to clean up and cover our cuts before we got back on our bike. The knees were stiff from the shock but they soon loosened up and we could continue our ride.
We arrived at the home of our Portland hosts just after 6pm. We would have been earlier had we not been delayed by the grapes. Dinner was all ready us and we were treated to a nice taco dinner. The whole family is very talented and we got to sample some of their skills in the kitchen. Truman made us a very tasty ice cream sundae for dessert which was dressed with warm syrup and peanut butter. We were very happy to have four nights to stay in Portland. Truman took us out for a little ride to show us around the local area and the nearby food trucks. Later on we went further on our own and chanced upon the headquarters of Showers Pass. Showers Pass are the makers of some very good waterproof gear for cyclists. It was perfect as I have been wanting to get some warm waterproof socks for riding in. Speaking with the staff at the showroom the gentleman was very kind to give us a big discount on our shopping just because we had ridden in on our tandem bike and told him about our big adventure. So we replaced our our rain jackets, got some warm waterproof socks and some other items as well. Just by chance we had ridden past the HQ which are on a quiet street. Just as we needed to buy waterproof gear we found this great place. Happy.
After spending a lot of time (and money) at Showers Pass we were hungry and headed off to find food at what turned out to be the Asylum that Truman had told us about. It’s where the old Portland Asylum used to be but now it is the location of some twenty or more food trucks. It was busy and exciting to be there. We walked all around the different trucks and finally bought food and drinks from three different trucks. It’s a shame we couldn’t try them all, but just like our tour of the US we only have so much time and can’t possibly visit everywhere so we just have to pick and choose where we can get to.
On Sat morning the big farmers market is at the University in Portland and we went there with the family. It really is very big and there are lots of different stalls selling all kinds of produce and cooked foods and other interesting things. Of all the different foods we could have the one we decided on was the Taiwanese buns. They have several different types with various fillings so we just had one of each. After that we took a walk downtown and we saw the worlds biggest book store. Powell’s book store takes up the whole block and is a few stories high. Visiting a book store while on a bike tour needs discipline to not buy books and add weight to our already heavily loaded bags! In the end we got to the warm book store and found a chair to sit on and we both fell asleep.
On the next day, Sunday, we were fortunate to be able to join a Meetup group that were going out for a beginners mushroom hunting trip. We met up at a nearby car park and the leader gave a brief introduction about picking mushrooms and how to use the different characteristics of a mushroom to help identify them. The most important part of that was not to eat anything unless you are 100% sure that it is safe to eat. It was a lot of fun for the afternoon to walk around the forest searching for mushrooms. We found a lot of them but mostly they were not edible. However we did learn that even poisonous mushrooms are not a problem as long as you don’t eat them. So we could pick them and take some pictures and we even brought home a lot of them just to show the family what we had found.
In the evening we went out for a new experience. Gale and I had booked tickets to go to see the latest James Bond movie at the Bagdad Theatre. The Bagdad Theatre is a very grand old building, ornately decorated inside, it’s quite an experience to go there. Just like in a regular theatre they have a balcony and they even have food service that can deliver food to your seat if you are seated in the balcony. We had a burger and a pizza delivered to our seat. It was good food and it was fun to have it delivered right to our seats.
Our last day in Portland we spent riding with Erich along the East and West banks of the Willamette River. Erich was kind enough to take us out for a nice ride. We loaded our bikes into his minivan and drove down to a convenient place next to the river to unload and begin our ride. It was a beautiful sunny day and riding Jonny Blessing was a beautiful way to see the city.
The next day we headed to Battle Ground. Lisa had very kindly reached out to her old high school teachers, Jim and Carol who were happy to not only take us in but also drove down to Portland so we could have a lovely brunch together. Thank you Truman for the delicious crepes you made for us all!