I was awoken around six by howling winds; hoping it’d die down I went back to sleep. At eight the wind is, if anything, worse now with lashing rain. This is bad news as I have to cross the Astoria-Megler Bridge today. So I lingered at Cape Disappointment: I took a shower, leisurely made breakfast and packed up. I went to the camp store for espresso and then hit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive center. The interpretive center was quite interesting and though it’s beyond the scope of this post I became interested in Lewis and Clark for the first time in ages (they are rather overrepresented in US history classes) . The expedition of the Corps of Discovery more or less ended here so they had quite the set up for it. I have to admit I could see doing a bicycle tour following their route, immersing in the history. But as this was about the extent of my intersection with their route I’ll save that for another time. I then walked up to the lighthouse about 3/4 of a mile through the woods and at this point the weather just as bad if not worse then when I entered the center an hour ago. I didn’t linger at the lighthouse as it was crazy windy and rainy up there. Plus I’d been here not so long ago.
I then rode the three miles or so to Ilwaco and stopped for lunch at the port area of Ilwaco, which features art galleries, restaurants and little shops all along the harbor. Pretty nice, but as has been the case all over there were many folded shops with For Sale signs. I had grilled cheese, fries and a salad- I felt I wasn’t getting my normal amount of veggies, so I was getting salad almost anytime I’d eat at a restaurant. I finally left around 1:35, a very late start but I kept hoping the wind and rain would die down. There was some evidence of this as the storm clouds were looking lighter to the east, but it was foul weather. Anyway I was finally on the road again and the days real trials were yet to come. I was dreading the Astoria-Megler Bridge crossing and as I rode the 9 miles along the Columbia River in this strong wind and occasional spatter of rain I became increasingly worried: I decided I’d just walk across the bridge if I could. The rain stopped and the clouds were breaking up a bit when I finally reached the bridge, but the wind was still howling. I pulled over before the crossing, took off my raincoat, swilled some Gatorade, hell I’d have even crossed myself if I thought it would do any good. Then with a cry of “those who hesitate are lost” I turned onto the bridge and pedaled for my life.
Finally Across. Check out my panorama of the Astoria-Megler Bridge
That turned out to not be worth much as the fierce crosswind kept my speed way down. The next three (3!) miles were among the most stressful, hellish, riding I’ve ever done as buffeted by the wind, five tractor-trailer trucks passed me with only a couple of them moving over to give me room, countless cars, some seriously speeding (some even trying to pass other cars!) and two RVs who did give me room as they whipped on by. To add insult to injury the bridge ends with a serious climb from sea level to the edge of the Columbia valley wall in Astoria. Then you descend this curving ramp which ends at an intersection to the highway to the coast. There is a hotel at the bottom which I stopped at to catch my breath, I have to say f there had been a bar there I’d have bought a shot of whisky. Or two. I was now in Oregon at 3:10 in the afternoon; the sky was clearing up and I was now on the road to the coast. There was another bridge which also sucked but wasn’t even a patch on the other, but it featured a lot more traffic and the shoulder was filled with crap. Finally I was off bridges and on my way to the Oregon Coast.
I hate to sound like a broken record but the headwind at this point was nuts, easily the strongest I’d faced yet. The reason everyone rides north to south on the Pacific Coast route is the prevailing winds are supposed to be north to south. So four days of these northeast blowing winds just seems vindictive. After a few miles I heard an odd rubbing sound and pulled over to check it out. My rear tire was low, which isn’t unprecedented what with the big load and variable temps but when I unscrewed the cap the valve came out with it! Well this was stranger, but in this tube the valve screws into the stem. I tightened it and pumped up the tube and set off again. The road was quite trafficked but had a wide shoulder; it was a bit off the coast and went thorough farmland and little towns. The tire though was not holding air and every so often I’d stop and try to tighten the valve and refill it. I hit the little town of Seaside which heralds the start of the coast but is all strip malls and knickknack shops, so I rode on without stopping. Just outside of town was a long, long climb and steep to boot. It of course immediately went down hill and bottomed out at Cannon Beach. I decided at that point that I was done for the day and rode into town to find a hotel. This is a super popular tourist destination so I knew it would be a pricey hotel, but worth it I decided – it was over ten miles to the nearest campground and already 7pm. This I should note is one of the nice things about touring as a fully employed adult: one can afford the occasional extra night in a hotel. I chose the Blue Gull and checked in. I quickly showered and then walked into town with beer and dinner on my mind.
Cannon Beach is one of those rare tourist towns that gets it all right. The main drag is all art galleries, quaint restaurants and well turned out little shops. It somehow avoids the complete tat that that I saw in Ocean Shores yet us not just a rich persons playground, for the beach is still the main attraction here. Anyway more on Cannon Beach tomorrow when I explore it a bit more during business hours.
“For a quart of ale is dish enough for a king.”
-Wm. Shakespeare, The Winters Tale
I had dinner at Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse, which I’d frequented the last time I was here. If I’m honest this was part of my rational for stopping here. I had their Duckdive Pale Ale and later their 2×4 Stout. The Pale was good: hoppy and slightly flat. The Stout is strong with that sharp alcohol tinge that involves but also caramelly and malty. Dinner was seafood stew which was quite tasty, loaded with various kinds of fish, scallops and prawns. I’ve been eating a lot of seafood over the last couple if days which I’m wont to do when I travel, plus “when in Rome” and all that. Will have to eat more strictly vegetarian for a while now though- my system isn’t used this much seafood. After Bill’s I walked around town in the gloaming before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Miles today: 46m
Miles to date: 275.2
A few pictures from this day can be found here
(as always forgive me for the iPhone related mistakes)