California has welcomed us with open arms. This milestone being reached, we start the third and final chapter of our big adventure after almost four full weeks of riding bicycles. However, Oregon did not let us leave without throwing a few challenges at us.
Day 24: Sunset Bay State Park to Bullards Beach State Park, 46km
It is cold and foggy this morning. All belongings that were left out during the night are damp. As we get ready in this heavy, gloomy air, we realize that it is but a classic kind of morning for the Oregon Coast.
It does feel as if the weather is an extension of our feelings, though, for our group is splitting up this morning. While it was fun travelling with all our companions, Taylor and I want to take it easier today – give our legs a rest. Plus, our schedule is more relaxed than that of our friends. If we keep up racking miles like we’ve done the past few days, we’ll be in San Francisco way too early.
The rest of the group – including Jackie, the newest member of our biking squad – gets ready before Taylor and I do. Their plan is to push all the way to Humbug Mountain State Park today, which we plan to reach in two days’ time. We hug each other goodbye and hope to meet again on the road. Then, they disappear into the morning mist.
We’re back down to two.
The road to Bandon takes us over the 7 Devils – a series of hills through a classic British-Columbia-like landscape of tall trees, small trees, young trees, old trees, and cutblocks with no trees. At every uphill, motivational messages are spray-painted onto the asphalt. They tell us that walking a bike is not cheating, and that the real devil, instead of being a hill, actually has an engine. The road also asks me if I am loving this. Without hesitation, my answer is that I am, of course, loving this. Not only the up and down. But all of this – every small little detail, how it unfolds and adds up, the lessons I learn, the people I meet.
As we roll into Bandon, we come across cyclists from Vernon, BC! And, on top of it all, one of them worked with Taylor’s mom before retiring! The world surely is small.
We hit up Bandon Coffee – guess who we meet? Our travel companions! Herbie tries to convince us to push on to Humbug Mountain State Park with them. However, we want to spend the afternoon to blog, message friends, and communicate with the world. Furthermore, we do not feel like cranking out another 100+km day.
Thus, we part ways once more after this short reunion.
Taylor and I spend hours at the coffee shop and the library. I even forget to have a proper lunch, which leaves me absolutely ravenous by the time we are ready to head to our destination for the night. It is a short backtrack out of town to Bullards Beach. We absolutely send it, fueled by our primal desire to eat. On the menu tonight: Idahoan instant mashed potatoes and Amy’s organic chili – best combo, ever.
Day 25: Bullards Beach State Park to Humbug Mountain State Park, 62km
It is suprisingly dry this morning. In fact, there isn’t even any condensation on the tent walls.
We have a quick coffee in town before heading south.
The road is not very scenic, as it goes inland until Port Orford. We stop for lunch in Langlois, which, according to its welcome sign, is ‘world famous’ – but for what? Then, we ride through Denmark… No, not the country – it’s the tiniest little hamlet of a few houses and many pastures.
We get to Port Orford. Taylor requests a photo of her and the welcome sign; this is where her best friend Laura and her had their car stuck on the beach on their road trip through Oregon a few years back. They needed to get the Keen Bean, as the car was named, towed off of the beach as the tides were rolling in.
We get groceries and fill one of our fuel bottles up at the gas station for only 53 cents. None of us have ever spent so little for gasoline…
From Port Orford, Route 101 winds its way along the coast again. The views are spectacular. We can see Humbug Mountain from afar. It looks more like a big knob to me than an actual mountain. But, to be fair, I am quite spoiled in that regard.
The campground is nestled along a river in this rather tight valley which opens up onto the beach along the northern flank of the mountain. We get our site, shower and have dinner before heading to the beach for sunset. Oh, boy, does it not disappoint. We watch as the sun turns into an orange ball of fire and slowly plunges into the Pacific Ocean. We also spot some whales out there in the water.
As we watch this spectacle unfold, it suddenly hits us. We are able to enjoy this moment precisely because we made it here in our own power. It is our doing and that of our bodies. Of course, we are constantly aware that we’re biking really far. However, some moments are just so special and perfect in their temporality that you reach a deeper level of understand. We are doing something truly amazing.
Day 26: Humbug Mountain State Park to Harris Beach State Park, 79.5km
The day is rather gloomy, and its reality hits us right in the face as soon as we start pedalling: headwinds – strong and gusty on a road meandering along right on the water. Basically, there is no way for us to hide from them. The only thing we can do is to keep on trucking.
Luckily, the views are absolutely gorgeous today. We get to see what I consider to be the most rugged, wild, and remote section of the Oregon Coast. There’s little people living on this portion of the coast. The landscapes are windswept.
The winds are not the only battle we have to face today, however. We also have to climb a fair amount of hills. The biggest is right outside of Gold Beach (which we bike through at a crawl – that’s how windy it is). Interestingly enough, this massive climb turns out to be the best part of the day’s ride because it is protected from the wind.
We are utterly exhausted when we finally reach Harris Beach. Our bodies feel completely numb. Minds blank, spirits crushed by the combination of too much wind and too much climbing, we set up our tent in slow-motion with too-cold-to-function-properly fingers.
It is another act of pure kindness that saves our day. As we get our stuff sorted, our tenting neighbours offer to share their dinner of steaks, mashed potatoes, corn cobs, brownies and foraged apples with us. Ronnie and Amanda say that they got a package of seven steaks from the local food bank and have already eaten all they could. Plus, they are just happy to be able to feed us after having been given food by people on many, many occasions. These two don’t have a lot of possessions nor money, which makes this selfless act of sharing food even more touching.
We still make it to the gorgeous beach in time for sunset despite our state of utter fatigue. The Oregon Coast rewards our day’s efforts by offering up one of the most intense sunsets I have ever witnessed in my life – yes, even though yesterday’s was already mind-boggingly incredible.
Day 27: Harris Beach to Crescent City, 46km
The headwind is still there. However, we do not have to bike very far today (and there’s no big hills).
On our way into Brookings, we pick some apples from this extremely old tree that Ronnie and Amanda told us about. It is beautiful: its trunk is covered in moss and there is fruit everywhere. We get about 5 apples each.
In town, we spot our favourite grocery store: Fred Meyers, where the deals are so insane that you can get Clif Bars for 88 cents and jars of natural peanut butter for $1.50. I leave the place with enough food to last me a month.
It is time for another milestone today, and the end of our adventure’s second chapter, as we cross into California shortly after leaving the city of Brookings. I feel incredibly proud to have biked through two states in slightly less than four weeks. However, this crossing does not fill me with as much emotion as did the previous one – probably because of the lack of Columbia River?
In Crescent City, we roll up to St Paul’s Trinity Church Community Centre, which is the local Warmshowers hub. And who’s sitting outside as we get there? It’s Dave! All our friends are here! Well, except Giuliana – her extremely tight schedule has forced her to push on while the others are taking a day off. There’s also Judith, a woman from New Zealand taking it easy on her tour down the coast as she is a bit older than us. I am super stoked to be reunited with them!
The church is nice, and so is our host, Katie. She comes by for a little bit, shows us where everything is. The only payment she requires from her guests is a hug – something we are more than happy to provide. We can stay for a few days if we like.
Taylor, Jackie, Dave and I check out the beach. Dave and I climb a sea stack. Then, our entire team goes for a few pints to a local micro-brewery. Their stout is on point. Then, Jackie heads off to go on a Tinder date with this guy who lives out of his van, and we run into Peter, a trans-America cyclist who is also staying at the church. Eventually, we all end up back there (including the Tinder date, Dylan, and his van, which we check out – a sick rig, 1994 Chevrolet in great condition – he has a Youtube Channel about alternative living styles, check it out here) and have a big pasta dinner.
Day 28: Rest Day in Crescent City (to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and back, 26km)
Herbie, Laura, Dave and Jackie are taking an additional day off, so we all get to hang out. In the morning, Taylor and I go to the laundromat to wash our clothes. I am left with only my casual shorts and tie-dye t-shirt to wear.
Since it’s Sunday, it’s a pretty full house at the church. We try to make ourselves pretty small. I call my mom around lunchtime.
In the afternoon, Jackie, Dave and I set off to see the redwood trees. We bike all the way to Stout Memorial Grove, in the middle of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and walk amongst the giants. I feel insignificantly small among their incredible size, wisdom, and old age. Many spirits must live among them, high up above us in the canopy. It is a beautiful place.
And I get to ride an unloaded bike on a dirt road for a few miles, which basically feels like mountain biking at this point. I am beyond happy to get this bit of exercise in today, even if it ends up raining on us.
Back at the church, there are several newcomers and we’ve got a full house! There’s Laurence and Florence, two girls from Quebec we’ve met at Cape Lookout and Bullards Beach. Then, there’s Dan, his epic full beard and epic tattoos of banana peels and yams. There’s also Martin, whom we met at Humbug Mountain and Harris Beach, and Will, who’s been living in Argentina for the last couple years and loves his yerba mate. There’s just too many people to meet on this grand adventure – it’s getting hard to keep up with it all!