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Coastal Contemplations day 14

Sunday, June 19th, 2016
Crossing the rocky stream

Crossing the rocky stream

in summer cool
ambling down my
road to hell

-Issa

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

Posted from Eugene, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 13

Saturday, June 18th, 2016
Umpqua River Lighthouse

Umpqua River Lighthouse

dancing butterflies—
my journey forgotten
for a while

-Issa

the butterfly flies anyway
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park was the southern most extent of my journeys.  In fact I had gone beyond the road where I needed to start heading east.  So this day requires back tracking north for a ways.  But I was going to camp just before the turn east so this was going to be a short days ride.  I began by heading down to the Umpqua River Lighthouse.  This was the sixth lighthouse I’ve checked out this trip.  Almost a lighthouse themed tour, which one could easily do in OR as they continue to be present as you move down the coast.

Clearcuts with the coast in the distance

Clearcuts with the coast in the distance

From the lighthouse I found a backroad that let me skip the climb out of the campground, which on reaching 101 would just descend. In steam I took a nice pleasant road to the banks of the Umpqua and rode along the river to Wincehester Bay.  Then it was on 101 with its rolling hills until Reedsport where I stopped at Jitterbug N’ Java. A really interesting coffee shop it had a dance floor and stage fully loaded up with instruments. They did live music and jam sessions along with dancing.  I lingered over lunch there before returning to the road.

the shadow of a bird
crosses my path —
yellow wild flowers

Apart from the typical northerly winds this was excellent riding weather.  Blue skies, clouds blowing by, warm but not hot.  There was the long climb up to the clearcuts and along the way I noticed a tiger swallowtail struggling on the shoulder.  I pulled over and grabbing a stick helped it walk onto it.  Then I transferred it to a stalk of grass – these big winged butterflies can’t take off from the ground.  It immediately flew off and crashed right into the road. I rescued it again, and this time holding the stick aloft it flew off and wobbled across the road. On the other side it randomly encountered another Tiger Swallowtail and they began that timeless dance.

at the far end of the lake
amidst the trees
a lone cabin

At the top of the hill I stopped to look at the clearcuts.  On the other side of the road I go down a short access road and there, beyond the clearcuts is woods and hills as far as I can see.  Nestled in a valley is a lake, the north end completely wooded with the exception of a train trestle running across and one solitary cabin.

Dunes and the last glimpse of the Pacific

Dunes and the last glimpse of the Pacific

Now it was the descent from the hill, and riding in the National Forest land amidst the lakes.  There was also a long stretch of roadwork in progress but like yesterday they were actively working on it.  Then pretty early still in the afternoon I came to Honeyman State Park.  This is on the Oregon Dunes and after situating myself I hiked to the edge up the dunes and up the fine sands.  Far in the distance I was able to see the ocean.  The last sighting of the pacific this trip.

amidst the devastation
stands one lone
pine

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Florence, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 12

Friday, June 17th, 2016
Fingerpaint the sky

Fingerpaint the sky

where I saw
a pretty bird…
they burn the mountain

-Issa

without intentions
This day was mostly clear, with an unusual southerly wind blowing white streamers of clouds across the blue canvas. On the road I almost immediately reached Yachats where I stopped at the Bread & Roses Bakery and lingered over their fine coffee and baked goods.  Departing I found my rear tire flat.  I fixed that in Yacharts but all of this found me fairly late on the road.  And this was going to prove to be one of the most memorable stretches of the coast.

Devils Churn

Devils Churn

The route entered the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and while the traffic was higher, the shoulder smaller, it was just stunning. I climbed for a a spell and was on these rocky outcroppings right on the wave cut edge of the mainland.  The first stop would be at Devils Churn (with Devils Lake,  Punchbowl and now Churn the devil is well represented on the Oregon coast). The last time I was in these parts I was running late so I just took a picture of the churn and moved on. Not this time. I walked the trails right down to the rocks and looked into the narrow passage where white water would shoot up.  There was a little food counter at the info booth where I was able to get a sandwich for lunch which I eNyogen as a picnic at the Churn. On the menu for the counter they had posted a favorite quote:

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

-Lao Tzu

I continued to crawl up the cape, which went up and down and had an overlook every quarter mile or so.  One of these had a rocky sealevel shore with a hole in it where the wave action made a natural waterspout.  Another area sealions would come in to rest.  Everywhere there was these stunning views of the rocky shore, the blue ocean, and the white streaked sky.

blue sky
blue waters
no seperation

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Making my way to Heceta Head, there was the turn off for the lighthouse.  This road descended right down to the water and then there was a half mile trail right back up to the headlands.  “No motor vehicles” was posted but it said nothing about bicycles. So I rode the gravel trail up to the lighthouse.  As I arrived the volunteer tour guides noted that was the smart way to do it.  A classic lighthouse right on the edge of the coast, it cuts a dramatic figure against the blue sky. Leaving the lighthouse I found there was a back road from the keepers house to 101 that let me avoid the long descent and climb back up!

The route ahead

The route ahead

Just past the lighthouse 101 crosses a stone bridge and then goes into a short tunnel. Uphill of course!  Then it hugs the coast line for a spell and then climbs up to the Sealion Caves.  I was able to check out the sealions and a lot of birds before the official attraction so I didn’t go in.  But from here the coast dramatically changes. It becomes quite linear and all sand dunes.  101 goes inland and I would be away from the coast for a while.

at the summit of the forest climb –
clearcuts

It had taken me hours to do this 20km stretch of coast so it was pretty late when  came into Florence.  I got some supplies and then had to really make time to my destination.  The road was all through trees now and coastal forest lakes.  A long stretch of National Forest Land there was quite a few campgrounds, boat launches and recreational areas.  There was a good long climb through the trees which culiminated in a massive clearcuts. But then it was a descent to the Umpqua River which I crossed via two bridges into Rockport.  A couple more ascents and descents as 101 cut off the mouth of the river and I came to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park where I would rest after this epic day.

whits cranes
fly away
as I draw near

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Reedsport, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 11

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

plum blossoms—
in my account book
I enter “cash for sake”

-Issa

beach to beach
It rained all night only ceasing upon the dawn.  So it was a damp morning of packing as I broke camp and headed south.  A scant distance Down 101 I came to Newport and the turnoff to Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  A classic lightouse right at the end of the headlands overlooking the dramatic and rocky coast. There were vast amounts of birds nesting on the rocks and a young bald eagle was also sitting there digesting one of those birds.

Oregon Coast at Yaquina Bay

Oregon Coast at Yaquina Bay

From the headlands the route mostly winds around Newport skipping 101 and the edge city there.  But I had to brave that edge city to find a laundromat and do my washing.  By the time I had taken care of the necessities it was past noon so I also had lunch in Newport.  Needless to say I left town pretty late in the afternoon,  However one of the glories of the OR Coast is that there are campgrounds every few miles and with little need to make miles I only rode a couple of hours after lunch,

Sunset at Wakonda Beach

Sunset at Wakonda Beach

I arrived at Beachside State Park which is in a little strip of trees right between the beach and 101.  The Hiker/Biker site is right near the entrance in a little stand of trees.  A path through those trees led to an unofficial beach access point.  My own private beach.  The clouds were dramatic, torn up like sea foam.  In the distance was a massive cloud with tendrils reaching down to the ocean as it shed rain.  That I imagine would make landfall in a couple of hours.  The wrack of clouds made for a particularly dramatic sunset, reflected in the wet beach.

paying no mind to the
surf and the traffic —
a lone frog sings

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Waldport, Oregon, United States.

Coastal Contemplations day 8

Monday, June 13th, 2016
Cape Mears Lighthouse

Cape Mears Lighthouse

in spring breeze
his stole billowing…
a monk comes too

-Issa

wind and waves
I decided to stay another night at Cape Lookout, so that I could explore Cape Mears which I’d missed yesterday.  Taking a leisurely morning I enjoyed the first bright blue dawn in a couple of days.  The sun was already quite warm as I made my way back along the Three Capes Route.

mornings clouds —
white thumbprints
on blue paper

The tide was out in Netarts Bay and flocks of seagulls, cormorants wheeled over the windswept mudflats. Great Blue Herons as still as the standing rocks pointing out of the crystal blue seas.  The wind was against me riding north but in the morning it is pretty minimal.  A lovely ride all around.

standing and waiting…
waiting still…
the great blue heron

In Netarts I stopped for lunch and in talking to the cafe owner I found that the “closed” part of the Three Capes Route may be opened for exclusively cyclist use.  There road had been partially wiped out by a mudslide and it’s right on the edge of the rock so not much rebuilding. But sounds like a bicycle can get through and they already are.  So I could have done it – the risk would have paid off.  So it goes. Leaving the cafe in the afternoon the wind had really picked up.

little snail
inch by inch, climb
Mount Fuji!

-Issa

In response to Issa:

inching up this hill
a butterfly floats past

The road up to Cape Mears went up the rocks and down into coves concluding with a full 2k climb to the lighthouse turnoff. With the strong afternoon wind and constant traffic this would be a preferable northbound route! The road descends to the Lighthouse which was packed with visitors.  I took the trail down to the lighthouse, which is at about the height of the lighthouse itself.  What I really enjoyed was the scenic overlooks, where you’d stand in the hard blowing wind gazing out at lumps of rocks poking out of the blue waters and birds flying everywhere. At the head of the cape you could stare out to where the rippling blue of the ocean meets the blue gradient of the sky.

gusting winds
blow right through
an empty mind

The lighthouse itself is a charming relic of the past.  I do though wish that lighthouse keeper was a viable occupation… After the lighthouse I walked around the cape some more, checked out the Octopus Tree and then made my way back.

Sunset at Cape Lookout

Sunset at Cape Lookout

Again a lovely ride along the capes this time blown along by the strong winds. That evening I was treated to a lovely sunset, an ideal nightcap to a perfect Oregon Coast day.

setting sun
glowing red
on wet sands

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Posted from Cloverdale, Oregon, United States.