Coastal Contemplations

Coastal Contemplations day 14

Crossing the rocky stream
Crossing the rocky stream

in summer cool
ambling down my
road to hell


a step east
On this day I would leave 101 for the first time since joining it in SW Washington.  I was riding to Eugene which was a fair piece and since I desired to spend some time in the city I left early. It was partially blue skids when I left camp but it clouded up as I made my way north (still on 101 for the time being) to Florence.  I began to hear thunder in the distance.  Big, threatening clouds rolled in and fat drops of rain began to fall. I quickly made my way to Natural Market and Cafe, where I had more coffee and a second breakfast. While I was here the storm passed right overhead – lightning flashes followed by thunder almost right away, which would shake the glass of the windows. It poured rain which was whipped around by the winds.  Pretty Dramatic.

Siuslaw River
Siuslaw River

But soon enough it had roared by and the blue skies were back and things began to dry out. I had put my bicycle under an overhang and had missed the bulk of the rain so I was nice and dry.  But I’d lost that early start.  So I hit the road and quickly turned onto Hwy 126 which I’d be following all the way to Eugene.  It began with a flat fifteen miles or so right along the Siuslaw River. The shoulder was good, the road flat but lots of traffic., more heading west than east, but still pretty busy.  But in the main this was good riding.

outlined against
green trees —
a white bird

At the tiny burg of Mapleton hwy 36 split off and the road headed into the, well not quite mountains, hills maybe?  The shoulder faded away and it had the feel of a paved forest road.  If it wasn’t for the traffic, which didn’t really let up, this would be my kind of riding. I still enjoyed being right in the trees and the many little rocky brooks that the road croused over and often followed along. There was a good long ascent, not to any really epic elegation but it went on for a long time.  And then there was a tunnel.  The hill actually crested right at the end of the tunnel.  This of course was followed by a descent into a forest valley.

under fluffy clouds
a profusion of pink roses

I’d almost caught up with the thunderstorm and the roads were wet and ahead I could see the storm clouds ahead and to the north.  But it outpaced me, or moved north and I was riding under blue skies with these big cotton ball like clouds.  The winds were out of the west as usual and helped push me along.  There was another long climb out of the forest valley this one actually had an elevation sign at the top: 756 feet. Made me smile.  This was followed by a long descent into the Wilamette Valley which I’d be riding in the rest of the way to Eugene.

Fern Ridge Wildlife area South Marsh
Fern Ridge Wildlife area South Marsh

The valley was farmland at first and then wineries showed up as I came into Veneta. From that point on it was fast traffic and lots of it and the road both deteriorated in quality and the shoulder bexams rather minimal.  I went through this vast wetland of the  Fern Ridge Wildlife Area which once I exited I was in the edge city portion of Eugene. A sign pointed me toward the Fern Ridge Trail which I was able to ride most of the way to my hotel.  Leaving the trail I rode through residential streets filled with funky little houses and streets with lots of life.

Sunset in The Whit
Sunset in The Whit

My hotel turned out to be right on the edge of the Whiteaker Neighborhood (“The Whit”) of Eugene, which is clearly a funky, happening area. Art, tons of foodie type restaurants,  coffee houses with character, breweries, all in the midst of those unique houses and a lively neighborhood. Nice.  I’d arrived late afternoon and I was able to spend about five hours walking around this area, checking out various places and enjoying the vibe.  As I walked back to my hotel, the sun was setting, lighting up the lingering clouds.  I crossed a set of tracks and as I did the Amtrack Cascades went by. Tomorrow morning I’d be on that train.

fiery sun set over train tracks —
no real road home

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

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