Monday, September 5, 2011

BLUE TAILS ARE NOT JUST FOR COLD FISH


Some bald fat bloke and
one of his lovely partners
"The Colonial Ball is in September, are you going to come along?", asked an eager friend. I found out later that she wasn't after a date but was just trying to fill the hall. Sigh!
"Does this mean I will actually have to dance?", came my somewhat trepidatious reply.
"Uh! Did you used to be blonde", was her response.


Ok so that was just after Easter this year and at that time I couldn't even spell 'dance' let alone do it. There was only one thing for it; go out there and learn to dance.


I thought that this may be some what akin to teaching a fish to fly but I was soon disabused of this notion. It was actually more like trying to teach a deaf fish to fly. The upshot of my procrastination was that the Ball moved inexorably closer and I was still looking up Dance in the dictionary.


My friend had a solution, she actually had several but only one was printable, that being, come along to the Tuesday evening Contra dancing at the St Margarets Uniting Church Hall on a tuesday evening. Now, I have a little secret, I used to go to Contra with my lovely friend Deb but after she left to go to the states in 2008 I stopped going along. Apathy I think.


So off I went and had a great time, as I knew I would. Soon I was hooked, but Contra is only on every second week. The alternate week there is a Waltz class. Well, I reckoned anyone who could teach me to Waltz deserved a medal and a valium (not necessarily in that order) but I went along anyway. Colin, our instructor, and Linda, my adopted dance partner, managed to get me to do a reasonable facsimile of a waltz after a few lessons and now, some three months later I can actually get around pretty well. This amazes me more than you can imagine. Several local Podiatrists have recently bought BMWs as well.


Now, this is Contra twice a month and Waltz twice a month which still leaves a bit of time, or so I thought. It came to pass that every Monday in
All Saints Uniting Church Hall in Ainslie, there is a bush dance. Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound. Off I trot on Mondays now to learn Bush Dancing. As it turns out, this session on Monday evenings is the training session for all the dances we will be doing at the Colonial Ball.



Saved!


I am aurally challenged so music has a habit of 'sounding' different, so, accompanied by much eye rolling, laughing and strange looks from my fellow dancers (most of whom have been at this game for a while) I slowly managed to look the part. I owe this chiefly to the patience of a number of my fellow dancers who understand my proclivity and assist with gesticulations, subtle head nodding and various other directions.


Linda on Left and Jean
But wait, there's more! These people are addicts. Most Saturday nights will see us strutting our stuff for a few hours in deepest darkest Cook. These nights are a heap of fun and were great training for the ball. Ok, now we have, Bush Dancing on Monday nights, Contra and Waltz on Tuesday nights, Most Saturday nights there is a dance, so can anyone tell me why I would say to one of the ladies, "I would love to learn Rock and Roll".


Her eyes lit up and she said, "I have just started going to Rock and Roll, why don't you come along". Or words to that effect. I think I may have actually said that I thought this was wonderful so I may come along too. Well it seems that now I have a Rock and Roll partner and go along to Rock and Roll on Sunday afternoons for three hours. Well I guess that is about the limit ... "What's that, there are rock and roll lessons on Thursday evenings" Sign me up!


"Oh and they have a dance in Queanbeyan on Friday nights?" Well that's easy, I live in Queanbeyan.


Ok so now we have Monday night, Tuesday night, Thursday night, Friday night and most Saturday nights. Oh and did I mention that I have been asked to join the Bush Dance Demo Group. There goes this Sunday and probably some other Sundays as well.


Still it's a heap better than sticking a needle in my arm.


However I digress, back to the ball.

Awaiting Instruction (that's me up on the right looking
as if I have sat on a broomstick).

The big night arrived. All togged up, with a glass of red to celebrate the occasion we headed off to the Albert Hall, making a ‘fashionably’ late entrance. As we approached the hall the cacophonous yet somewhat melodious sounds of collective gaiety washed over us. I was immediately swept up in the gala atmosphere—the hall looked splendid, all the dancers dressed in various styles of period costume were amazing. There were beads and bustles, sequins and slippers, with ladies dressed up to the hilt, a soldier bewigged as champagne he swigged and even a chap in a kilt (enough of the doggerel - sorry) The champagne and canap├ęs were tasty and complimented the atmosphere splendidly. The caterers served up an excellent supper and I managed not to spill too much sauce (on myself anyway).



To my surprise my dance card filled up and I didn’t get to sit out one dance. As a matter of fact, due to a clerical error I had two booked for one dance. The night swept by amid gales of laughter, wonderful music and some excellent calling (apparently). I did not crush too many toes, didn’t flub too many of my steps and exited the hall in total exuberation and near total exhaustion.


To all who had a part in preparing for The Colonial Ball, well done. It was a superb evening and I will be back again.










Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Disaster and Luminous Leprechauns

Tuesday 16 June

Still not practiced in the art of camp site packing I fumbled my way through the task, swearing at the now wet patches of bird poo and the sticky goo from the pine trees. There is a fog and just a hint of misty rain which is probably just bloated fog anyway. Breakfast done and dusted, its time to hit the road. The trip through town was a bit of a doddle but I knew that there were trials to come, I just didn't know the whole of it.

Left: Looking back at Crescent City from halfway up the Hill from Hell.





The road out of Crescent City immediately turned toward the heavens and for about 40 minutes I spun in granny gear never seeming to get anywhere. Eventually, there was some respite in the form of quick drop of about half a mile. Whoa, off we went, when suddenly, and at 45kph there was an ear rending (yes even for me) screetch and the back of the bike started to slew from left to right (or is that right to left in the northern hemisphere?) and fortunately back again until I finally managed to stop the whole kit and caboodle to discover that the trailer was minus its left wheel. Closer inspection revealed that the axle shaft was worn into a very nice wedge after being dragged about 60 metres along the road. Beside me, and very close, the road dropped precipitously into the thick forest so I thanked whatever deity prevented me from plunging into its verdant depths and looked around to see if anyone had witnessed this embarrassing interlude.

Ok so now the problem - where is the (expletives deleted) errant wheel. No problem, after all how far could a swiftly rotating, eccentrically weighted, round, rubber tyre clad object go? I didn't want to know the answer to that so with sinking heart I began what was fortunately a brief search for the thing. There it was, about two metres from and roughly the same distance below the road, wedged precariously in the branches of a shrub. Not being an experienced alpinist, the job of extricating the thing was not something that I intend to brag to my grandkids about but nevertheless, wheel in hand I struggled back to the road and began the search for a solution to my new problem - how (more deleted expletives) do I fix the wheel, still with axle attached, back into the axle shaft?

Photo above: A serendipitous photo of the start of the downhill that witnessed the beginning of my trailer woes. Disaster lurked just around the corner.

Photo Below: Terrain similar to that where my bicycle wheel turned up.

To my rescue, a discarded cigarette packet complete with its silver paper. I fashioned a shim from the silver paper and guiltily discarded the rest of the previously discarded packet into the scrub (after wiping off my fingerprints). With my bandaid solution the left wheel seemed to be fairly firmly wedged into what was left of the axle shaft so I set off to resume my journey to Orick, stopping every mile or so to kick the axle back into it's place. Needless to say the pace of my ride was much reduced. Quickly, the road resumed its climb to the 1500' mark where it turned almost vertically downhill for the next mile or so. Around a bend and I was confronted by some roadworks - oh joy!

The roadworks came complete with flag-person who seemed to wave me behind her (arm held out to the side, palm down and quickly moved behind back repeatedly) so that I could continue and not wait for the line of traffic to move off. Well did I get that wrong; I was abruptly followed by a stream of vitriol fit to make a bullocky blush, which warned me that perhaps I was in error. I stopped and turned.

She appeared to be gesturing me to stay where I was - wrong again - the motion of raising and lowering a downturned palm apparently means come back here. Eventually, after she yelled over the 30 metres between us 'are you deaf or something sirrr', I decided that she required an audience so I turned back uphill accompanied by more verbal abuse that started to get my hackles up. When we finally got together (a marriage not made in heaven and destined to be short and turbulent) she started to question my aural acuity again in a voice that could be heard for some distance. When I explained to her that I was indeed aurally challenged she shrunk to even less than her 5' and looked as if she could have crawled under a rock, perhaps the one from under which she came originally.

Below: Illuminated but not illuminating, Californian Leprechauns wear day-glow green, plastic stetsons and hold lollypops.

Now this person was about 5 foot high (or standing in a hole), 50 kilos wringing wet and had trouble holding the lollypop sign. Dressed in day-glow yellow, she looked like one of those glowing sticks that you get at shows and concerts. This vision was crowned by a building workers helmet that was shaped like a stetson (yes it was rigid plastic) complete with leather, silver studded hat band and toggles. I did have a bit of trouble keeping a straight face as she berated me for my recalcitrance - sirrrrr.

She got the last laugh though and wouldn't let me ride through the roadworks in case I got keeled or worse (sic) so I cooled my heels for 40 minutes as the traffic sped past me at about 10 k's an hour and until a 'trerk' came from the other side to ferry me through the seemingly impassable terrain.

Upon alighting at the other end after a short trip through what was rather innocuous hard packed dirt secton of road complete with idle machinery and an army of similarly employed road-workers I unloaded my bike and trailer to discover that the right trailer wheel had followed its mate and parted company from the shaft. Another quick fix, this time with a discarded match (there may be something to this smoking habit after all) I was again on my way to Klamath and then on to Orick after another brush with the stratosphere.

Paul Bunyan, his red axe and his Blue Ox, Babe dwarfing the SUV's and other gas guzzlers.

Klamath boasts a 20+ foot high wood carving of Paul Bunyan and an equally gargantuan effigy of a dyspepsic looking blue Oxen named of all things 'Babe'. There is a cable car ride through the tops of the redwood forest but, sadly the wait for the cable car was more than the time that I had and one had to walk two miles to get to the damn thing so I passed on that and headed off. Shortly down the road I was greeted at one end of a bridge by two large, gold grizzly bear effigies (everything here is twice the normal size) and at the other end, mooned by a similar pair. The bridge crosses the Klamath River and the bears represent California. Strangely, the grizzly bear is the California state emblem but the grizzly's were hunted into extinction by the locals in the state over a 100 years ago. Go figure!

Below: You are nobody till you have been mooned by two golden grizzlys. And lived to tell the tale (sorry about the pun).


The flat road through Klamath was soon followed by another series of steepish hills that take the unsuspecting traveller 800 feet up before about 9 miles of gently sloping downhill into Orick. By the time I arrived in Orick I was largely over my desire to throw the trailer over the cliff into the Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless a couple of long cold beers managed to help erase the memory of what was not my best day so far.

Thank the lord for alcohol!


Right: A wooden effigy remarkably resembling my mate Terry welcomes me to Orick!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gold Beach to Brookings


Saturday 13 June

Last night's pizza was huge so the doggie bag made a good chaff bag for breakfast the following morning. The pizza was washed down by the browish liquid from the coffee drip machine in the room so I was ready for the road nice and earlyish. By 10 I had left Gold Beach in my wake and headed out to Brookings via Pistol River and not a lot else. Not a lot else that is if you don't count the biggest climb of the trip so far followed up by a series of lesser climbs all the way to Brookings.

The bike gearing is playing up a bit because I suspect the cables are stretching so I pretended to be the knowledgeable bike mechanic and did a bit of 'tweaking', luckily I managed to get back a few of the gears I had lost. The reward for 300 vertical metres was a huge downhill for nearly 7 ks. Woo hoo! Today I am riding along the coast but in forests of many different kinds of conifers and oaks which cascade down the steep slope to the road then on to the cliffs over the ocean - very spectacular. I have lost count of the different kinds of wildflowers including many hued Rhododendrons and Irisis. At home the Patterson's Curse is the weed of choice, here it is the sweet pea. They are everywhere and like the Patterson's Curse, they are spectacular but try convincing the locals of that. Today must be also be a rest day for RV's because the traffic is fairly light. All good!

Spectacular scenery today with Arch Rock, Thunder Rock Cove and Natural Bridges Cove taking a lot of beating. This is a superb part of the coast, very rugged and breathtaking.

Thomas Creek Bridge soars across the creek at a height 358 feet, over 100 metres. If I don't stop stopping to take photos I will never get anywhere before dinner time.

Brookings appears up ahead and I find my home for the night - the Harris Beach State Park. This park is spectacular, set in soaring redwood trees with manicured lawns, screens of native shrubbery and is picture perfect. The price for this - $4 for a tent site including free showers and cheap washing facilities. I pitch my tent in a grove of trees with two others, all of us cyclists. The park ranger is giving a talk tonight on the various different types of Seals and Sea Lions that can be seen along the coast so wander up there with my bottle of wine and am treated to an excellent hour long presentation.


The town of Brookings is less than a Kilometre away so I cycle into town and track down an excellent seafood meal - scallops and of course clam chowder. I found a bike shop just before dinner and the mechanic did his magic on my gears for the princely sum of $10. Today was my last full day of riding in Oregon because the California border is only about 6 miles (less than 10 ks down the road).

Sunday 14 June

Who needs an alarm clock when, just above my flimsy abode, there is a bird convention happening. I swear that there must be a million of the things blissfully caroling away just above my head. As I emerge from my tent this is bourne out by the tell tale signs of their guano which, assisted by gravity, forms large patches on my formerly pristine tent. Fortunately the bike, sheltered by a picnic bench remains unblemished.

Who can guess what country we are in?








Fuelled by two very tasty cinnamon buckwheat pancakes and several cups of coffee I head out to Hgy 101 and California. Crossing the border into California is a bit daunting. I am asked to stop by no less than 4 uniformed blokes with buzz cuts and canons strapped to their hips. Y'all carrying any fruit. Feeling guilty for harbouring an innocent bag of nuts (with dried berries) in my bag I quickly and with shaking voice declare the nuts but deny giving succour to any potential terrorist apples or bananas. Y'all have a nice day now and willcum to Keliforniiiia. Deeply relieved I pedal off into the distance wondering what would have happened if I had been caught carrying contraband.

Prior to the border I had been cycling along Oceanview Drive, a quiet detour from the busy Highway 101, my last views of the Oregon coast were spectacular and viewed in almost total solitude. Was this a road or a wide bike path? I merge back with 101 for the short trip past my welcome party and then Oceanview Drive appears again so I spend the next 15 ks or so back in peaceful rural country with little or now traffic. Oceanview Drive is a misnomer though, there is no view of the ocean. Nevertheless the ride was enjoyable, the weather has warmed up and I am cycling in front of a 15 kph tailwind. Just before the little town of Smith River my newest friend Kell, sidled up to me and we have a pleasant chat about cycling and the beautiful countryside that we are in.

Fortunately Kell is not a a cycling evangelist but a 74 year old retiree from San Francisco. He is very fit and riding a bike that looks as if it would float away if his weight wasn't holding it down. He jokingly tells me that he gets on his bike when his long suffering wife needs a break and spends a fair bit of time cycling the coast and other regions around California. We share a cup of coffee and a chat while Shirley, the proprietor, cleans up around us. Apparently it is after closing time and her soaps are waiting for her. Oblivious to this Kell and I chew the fat so Shirl resigned to the fact that we have settled in for a while finally turns on the telly and watches Days or some other long drawn out soapie.

Finally, after our coffee either evaporates or we unknowingly drink it, Kell and I part. He is over the horizon in next to no time leaving me to dawdle along smelling the roses. Back to 101 for another short stint then onto Lake Earl Drive for the final 14 miles into Crescent City during which I pass the State Penitentiary near Fort Dick (an interesting juxtaposition) where regularly spaced signs tell me not to stop for hitch-hikers and to roll up my windows. Having no room for the former and a dearth of the latter I increase my cadence and speed past Lake Earl.

Crescent City is a reasonable sized town with all the necessary shops and a great selection of restaurants. I stumble across an RV park that has 'tent sites' where, after selecting one of only two shaded sites I stumble round filling up gopher holes and smoothing the hills that used to be the holes. Finally with tent flushed clean of its little avian messages and erected I set out to explore the the town.

My restaurant of choice, seafood of course, nestles on a breakwater that stops the harbour from leaking out into the sea. There are a number of noisy sea lions sunning themselves on large pontoons put there for that purpose. They occasionally let out grunting sighs and slither into the water for a snack and after a turn around the harbour fly out of the water landing on their bellies on the pontoon or on some other poor unfortunate sea lion that was foolish enough to stay to close to the edge.

I earned my dinner tonight as the restaurant is three k's from the camp ground so the walk there and back was good for the appetite. Coincidentally, there is an excellent ice cream parlour on the way home. When I ordered my ice cream the person behind the counter excitedly said, 'you are an Australian aren't you?'. I replied in the affirmative, asking her how she knew because most people think I am a pom kiwi (for some strange reason). She said, 'oh no, I know you are an Australian because my children watch the Wiggles and you sound just like them'. Sigh! Where is my bright yellow skivvy?

Looking North from the edge of Crescent City, the rocks don't stop surfers from doing what they do.

Monday 15 June

Rest day today so there is time to wander around and look at the town. Washing done and all my house work finished I set out in search of breakfast, which I found not far from my abode. Finding a computer shop I convince the proprietor to download all my photos to a DVD for safety. An hour and $20 later I have checked my email, downloaded all my pics, done a few facebook essentials etc. With the disc safely posted to Deb for safe keeping I find a great little italian caf where I settle in for lunch. This place has a wonderful old bar that was the counter in the original restaurant in the town. The original was owned by the grandfather of the current proprietor so he is fiercely proud of it and his business. The food was pretty good as well.

The lighthouse on Battery Point is connected to the mainland by an isthmus which, in the manner of all good isthmuses, (or is that Isthmi?) is under water as the tide flows and is only exposed for short periods depending on the height of the tide. Just re-read that last para - d'uh! Alas every time I was there the Point was cut off so I didn't get to see the lighthouse. The coast is rugged here and the long breakwater provides a man made safe harbour for pleasure craft, fishing boats and the coastguard.

The next difficult choice for the day is, where do I have dinner. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is made easy, today is Monday and most places are closed but I did manage to find a place, obviously run by heathens who believed that the masses needed to be fed even on a belated day of rest. It was also fortunate that they knew how to cook. The food was excellent and the service was as good. I won't tell you what I had but I am sure you can guess.

Crescent City closes down on monday evening (and possibly every other evening as well) so there was nothing for it but to retire to the campground with the remains of my bottle of red and a good book. Life is so hard!





Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coos Bay to Bandon and beyond



Thursday 11 June

Relaxed after my 'rest' day, a trailer full of lovely clean clothes and all my camping gear and with breakfast done and dusted, I head off into the fine misty rain heading for Bandon. Yep, rain! The clouds that have been ever present since leaving Eugene have finally decided to do their thing. The rain stayed with me for about an hour, just long enough to keep me cool while I climbed the 'hill from hell' or is that to hell. Yep it was, 'to hell' because after a short sharp downhill there was another climb. Ok so it was only 160 metres up but it was straight up and it happened three times in the space of 12 ks. Granny gear was the only way to go for the best part of two hours. Ok so I will stop complaining now.

My reward was a long slow downhill ride all the way from the bottom of the last roller coaster to Bandon where I had planned to stop for lunch. Over lunch I had a good look at the map and decided that the 80 - 100 k days were folly. At the rate I was going I would be at my destination about 4 days early and I was missing too much along the way. So, short lunch turned into long lunch and a search for a bed for the night. I found what was to be my cheapest motel on the Oregon Coast and one of the best.

Bandon is a wonderful town/city/village sitting on the south side of the Coquille River and by the Ocean. Originally the town was built on stumps set into the mud flats beside the river because the original settlers didn't want to cut down the trees that grew right to the river and the ocean. Then along came 'progress'. So many restaurants; so little time.
Sigh! I settled for lunch at 'Brewed Awakenings' where I was waylaid by the guy who owned the place. He had been to Australia in 2007 with whistle stops in Sydney and Melbourne and two weeks in Surfers Paradise. We had a great chat and he gave me some route advice about the next leg of the trip.

Dinner was one of those unforgettable meals; clam chowder (of course) and the best clam chowder of the trip so far, followed by mussels sauteed in sherry. God I love food! Well I had to walk that lot off so I took a long stroll around town looking at the lovely old victorian buildings and the remains of the old town.

Friday 12 June

Disaster! I decided to top up the air in the bike tyres and when I went to remove the pump the valve stem came out with it. This leaves a hole in the tube considerably bigger than an air molecule so all the little bleeders rushed out. OK, no big deal, I can change a tube! Well, getting the (rear) wheel off was a breeze gravity did most of the work, changing the tube etc was just as easy, now for the really easy part ... . Well let me tell you that getting the wheel back on and the brake cable back into the puller was just so much fun I spent two hours doing it. There was no way that brake cable was going back in the puller. Finally I had to disconnect the cable etc. Note to self:- do a PP maintenance course and take the bike along with me. When I got the whole thing back together and the wheel moving around without rubbing on the brake pad I was ready to chuck the whole rig into the river and find a bus.

Finally on my way to Port Orford. There is a god; the road was a gentle climb out of town for about ten miles followed by a long 10 mile down slope another gentle climb, more downhill, all this assisted by a lovely tail wind. Langlois and Denmark fell behind me in a flash and before you know it I am in Port Orford. I had planned to stay in here but there was a dearth of camping sites and almost no decent motels so I stopped momentarily, had some lunch looked at some of the local sites and soldiered on with Gold Beach firmly in my sights.

Just before Port Orford another cyclist pulled up beside me and settled in for a chat. Lawrence was travelling light but had come all the way from Seattle. After a while I asked him if he was camping or staying in motels. He told me that he was staying with family all the way. 'That's great', I replied, how lucky for you to have family all along the coast. 'All gods children are my family', came his reply. Oh no! Someone else about to set out to save me from hellfire and damnation. Is this the dreaded cycling evangelist? Lesson learned from Corvallis, I fell quiet and let Lawrence soliloquise, which he did for a short while till I think he realised that I was too far in the hellfire and damnation mire to be saved. With a bless you and a good luck Lawrence was off over the horizon. I suppose I can be thankful that he didn't lean over and try to kiss me on both cheeks.

Port Orford is home to Battle Rock which has a great story attached to it. The scenery was as good as you get along the Oregon Coast. The buildings were a bit weather worn though and there were no decent eateries. A shadow flashed from my right and Lawrence pedalled furiously out of a church driveway, dashed across the street and into another church yard. I guess Lawrence is a bit of a tart when it comes to which church he finds his family in. Hey maybe he is raiding poor boxes. He waved at me as he whizzed past just as I left town after my lunch and I heard a 'Jesus has indeed given us a glorious day', so there must have been some decent churches in town. Huey had turned out a great day, 20k tailwind, the sun had come out from behind its veil of cloud and fog and the road had enough potholes in it to allow me to hone my cycling skills. Praise the lord.

I digress however, the road out of Pt Orford and beyond the point of no return I spied a huge monolith rising out of the sea and into the heavens (to retain the biblical tone). This was one huge mountain and no road snaking around it's precipitous seaward flank. My legs turned to jelly, sorry Jell O, as I pondered the climb over this behemoth. Mt Humbug was, as it turned out, aptly named.

As I approached, the road sloped gently down hill and remained that way. For over half an hour I rode on a sloping to flat road under an arbour of oaks and birch trees, along two gurgling rivers until I emerged sometime later at beach level with a long straight run to Gold Beach. There was lots of oh'ing and ah'ing, many photographs. This was probably one of the most picturesque parts of my ride so far.

A long flat wide bridge delivered me into Gold Beach where my choice was, a motel in town with hot and cold running water and a huge soft bed or a wilderness camp ground up a 5 mile unsealed road and nothing but a pit dunny and cold (non potable water) and plenty of bugs. Tough choice but the motel won out so I settled in there and washed the grease from this morning's little mechanical marathon off my hands and face. Durning my post prandial stroll I was treated to a glorious pacific sunset.

Ahhhhh!














Captions:
Near Port Orford - flowers by he road.

Looking at the beach from the saddle of my bike about halfway up the first hill out of Coos Bay.

Some of the poles that supported the old town of Bandon.

Battle Rock at Port Orford.

Typical Beach vista with sea stack and many rocks.

Left - Looking at Humbug Mountain (ok so it wasn't really that big).
Right - Back at Humbug Mountain after I snuck past.

Bottom - Gold Beach Warf back to bridge.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

North Bend, Coos Bay and a day of rest.


Tuesday 9 June

My 80 k day turned out to be 95 because I didn't read the instructions carefully enough; my destination was to be North Bend but the camp ground was actually in Charleston which was another 10 miles plus change, further on. But I am getting ahead of myself here. Today's scenery was not as spectacular as yesterday's but I believe there is more to come.

This area is the Oregon Dunes National Park and the dunes are vast areas of ever moving sand. I did a side trip that, had I read the instructions carefully enough, I should not have done. The real scenic spot was further up the road and more easily accessible, as it was I did a 6k side trip down (and of course back up) a very steep hill and out to the sea. The dunes go on forever and the diversity of bird and plant life is spectacular. Every type of bird from the soaring Turkey Buzzards to tiny finches darting around in the bushes. Now I have to say the Turkey Buzzard looks great from a distance but up close and personal they would be stiff competition for Muscovy Ducks as the ugliest bird I have seen.

The closer I got to North Bend the closer the dunes got to the road. In some places I had to ride off the side lane to avoid sand that was encroaching onto the road. The sound of the traffic as it speeds past is now accompanied by the many off road vehicles that speed across, up and down the dunes. This is a serious training ground for the Dakar Rally. North Bend arrives and another bridge but not just any bridge, this one is a monster and very narrow. So narrow that cyclists are not allowed to ride across but we must dismount and walk across its nearly 2 klm length.


Ok so we are talking about a 'footpath' that is about 900mm wide and a bike plus trailer that is around 750mm from hub to hub. The drop to the road is about 300mm and the traffic is 'right there'. Slowly I negotiate the path with one wheel of the trailer falling off about half way to the top. Over the top and on the way down there is a board walk attached to the bridge rail that allows the maintenance crew to work on the water side of the railing. The path is now about 800 wide which means that I have to step down to the road walk side step fashion and push the bike and trailer along a path with only about 25mm clearance either side. Such fun! By the time I get to the other side of the bridge I am a blubbering mess and I have earned my first abuse from a motorist.

I arrive at the Sunset Beach RV and Campground where a tent site is a whopping $21 (plus taxes). I am not sure if I have just rented it or if I now own real estate in Oregon. It is a great spot under a small tree and right next to a beautiful beach. After setting up camp I head back to Charleston which is about 2 k's back up the road for an incredible meal of clam chowder, sauteed oysters and one of the best beers I have had in ages. All this along with a nice glass of Zinfandel has put me in a mellow mood for the ride home - fortunately. The restaurant allowed me to bring the bike inside where I could watch it so that was a bonus. My ride back to camp was a treat, two k's, no moon, no street lights, one tail light and a single led front light.

Wednesday 10 June

Today is a rest day so I am up bright and early (go figure) serenaded by the sounds of a million birds and the crashing waves. Now I did say it was a rest day but by the end of it I will have clocked up over 50ks on the bike and about 10 in my shoes. I decide that I will go into Coos Bay for breakfast and with that aim in mind I set out on the bike, sans trailer, for the 'short' ride. I get lost of course and why is it when you get lost you seem to find the steepest hill in town to get lost on. Well I did. Eventually I find a great coffee shop that is opened after 20ks where I sit down to what is now brunch. The town, sorry City, of Coos Bay is lovely with many old buildings and a beautiful boardwalk along the bay area.

I head back to Charleston where I buy a meal for dinner and a couple of bottles of Mirror Pond pale ale then on to my camp where I have a pile of washing that needs doing. Sorry that there are no pictures of my washing on the line but there are no lines in Amarica. it all goes into clothes dryers roughly the same size as the utes and RV's. This done I set out to explore the beach and headland as the sun sets slowly into the Pacific Ocean. I enjoy my dinner in the picnic area of the park (the only place with a light) where I get my diary up to date.

Seen on a sign just out of Coos Bay - Bonk and Bonk Investigations (I kid you not)

Bikely map of today's route - http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/319110



Saturday, June 27, 2009

Florence here I come


Monday 8 June

Newport is bustling when I finally get started, I still need to find a store that will sell me a cord for my camera battery charger so I set out looking for a computer shop. Just by luck I spot a secondhand computer junkyard in a side street and finally get the resident geek to put down his spliff and float over to the door to open up. He crawls through his pile of cords to no avail until I suggest to him that is is most likely to be printer power cord. Light appears from behind his slightly ajar eyelids and he agrees. In no time at all I am the proud owner of a charger cord with an American plug. I tuck into a short stack of buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup and pecans for breakfast (note to self, eat better). These are very, very good pancakes which makes up for the 'coffee'.

All fuelled up I set out for Florence, at last I am heading south towards my intended final destination, wherever that may be. My first task is to negotiate the long Yequina Bay Bridge. This is no mean feat. Typical of Oregon's regard for cyclists there is a push button at the beginning of the bridge which sets a swag of flashing lights ablaze to warn motorists that there is a cyclist on the bridge. All the way across I wonder if the lights are still flashing but I survive and after leaving the bridge I wave merrily at the long line of traffic I have collected and get several waves and 'Hi's' as they pass me.

There are a couple of steep climbs today but the first part of the day to Yachats is a bit of a doddle. I cycle mostly in sight of the coast and the scenery is spectacular, huge rugged cliffs and sea stacks way out to sea but mostly along the coast. Yaquina Bay was the first landfall in this neck of the woods for our very own Captian James Cook who called the place Cape Foulweather. He was obviously not happy with the weather or the place so didn't stay long enough to find the Bay.

Seal Rocks is spectacular and remarkable for the fact that there are no seals here nor are there very often, if ever. The birds, however, love the spot and return en masse every year to nest and raise their young as do the Oregon RV's. The coast is starting to get rugged again after many miles of long beaches and flat dunes. Waldport and Alsea Bay appear just in time for lunch. The Alsea Bay bridge is incredible and just one of many wonderful bridges I will cross over. There are so many bays and ravines on the coast that the bridge makers were kept at it full time.
This bridge was long and a bit scary because there was no edge to ride on. The traffic was, again, very patient and stayed behind me at a lesurely 25 kph whih probably doesn't even register on a mph speedo. Yachats is next and the chance for a breather before the first big hill of the coastal run. Well it looks big on the map profile but it was not bad so perhaps I shouldn't have had that extra doughnut.
Heceta Head is famous for its lighthouse and is truly a beautiful spot. I rode the 300 metres down to the beach but the walk was a bit too far and I was running out of time again. I think I worry too much about leaving the bike out of sight.
Today's little bit of excitement is a tunnel through a massive headland that seems to go up forever into the ever present ceiling of fog. The approach to the tunnel is over a bridge just after Heceta Head. The bridge is an engineering marvel and the tunnel, although short is very narrow. There is a push button at the beginning of the tunnel that, when pushed, sets flashing lights going that warn motorists that there is a cyclist in the tunnel. This is comforting and to my surprise the cars and RVs behind me stay there patiently until I emerge from the other side. I wave thanks and usually get a wave in return. This is a major highway but nobody seems to be in a major hurry to get anywhere, even the mullets in their huge utes (pek urps. I actually saw one with a double gun rack in the rear of the cabin - I smiled but kept my head down).

Next stop Florence after a very pleasant day in the saddle. Florence is a a fairly big town but the camp grounds are all about RVs so my tent stays packed up for another night but I find a motel with a huge room and a very hot shower. The Silver Sands Motel has a huge king sized bed and a massive bathroom at less than a third of the price of the Best Western just up the road. All the moteliers along the way are happy for me to put my bike in the room so this is a relief.

I take a long walk around the town and eventually settle in for dinner at a hamburger joint near the motel. I have long learned that one doesn't just order a hamburger with the lot. For a start, nobody does pineapple on a hamburger. So it goes like this:
'I will have a cheeseburger with bacon please.'
'(stunned look) Um, what sort of bun, whole-meal, rye, play dough, wheat ... ?'
'Rye please'
'Rare or well done?'
'(I assume that we have moved on to the meat) Rare please'
'What dressing would you like with that?'
'What are my options?'
'Italianmustardmayochiliketchup ...?'
'The first one (whatever it was)?'
'Cheese?'
'Yes please (isn't that normal with a cheeseburger)'
'(rolls eyes) What kand o cheese sirrrrr?'
'What have you got?'
'American Pepperjack, American Blue, American, American Brie, American ...'
'Blue oh wow, definitely blue'
'You want fraas (I stifle a chortle remembering one of those irreverent blond jokes)'
'No thanks'
'etc ... '

By the time I have finished my order I realise that I should have ordered a beer first to help with the ordering process and also it is now almost time for breakfast.

Anyway the beer was great and the well done hamburger excellent even the chips that I didn't want were an unexpected treat. I left the 25 different little sachets of sauces on side of the table though.

Well it is time for bed. Bye.

Bikely route map for the day - http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/318424