Day 7: Gold Beach, OR – Klamath, CA (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Forest)

Leaving Southern Oregon, we hugged the coastline and took  in more stunning views of the sea stacks, cliffs and the Pacific. We also passed over Oregon’s tallest bridge, Thomas Creek Bridge. At 345 feet tall, it was a bit hard to look down. It definitely gave me vertigo.20130729-225651.jpg

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We were very excited to reach California although it seemed like right at the state line, our reliable tailwind had shifted into a headwind! Thankfully, it wasn’t as strong as what we enjoyed over the past couple of days. Whew!

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The first town we reached in California was Smith River, which is known as  the world’s largest supplier of Easter Lilies. You can see a crop growing in the background below. You can also see that the lilies have a light blue dusting, which I initially thought was a part of the plant. Wish someone had told me it was fertilizer before I tasted it… (just kidding).

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Just before we reached Crescent City, about 20 miles south of Smith River, we passed by Pelican Bay Prison, one of the largest supermax prisons in America. Honestly, we almost missed it but then noticed the four very tall watch towers in the complex. It was weird to be freely biking by a prison that is known for their solitary confinement treatment. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the grounds.

Although Crescent City (pop. 7,600) is one of the larger towns on our trip, there’s not much to report about it. Just about every other house we passed was for sale and many storefronts were empty or boarded up. It wasn’t until afterwards that I learned that half of the population are incarcerated prisoners, since Pelican Bay is included in the Crescent City’s township. I don’t think that would have affected the city’s housing economy though. Maybe a lot of these empty residences were second homes? Another item to add to the “Things to research when you have internet” list…

Immediately leaving Crescent City, we approached a major climb of about 1,000 ft of elevation. However, the climb was our entrance to the Redwoods National and State Park and each pedal stroke was sweeten with views of old redwood trees. We felt like ants, maneuvering our way through the world. Everything was larger than life and you couldn’t help but look up and up and up.

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We finished the day at the Elk Prairie Campground in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park — along with 25 other cyclists!! We knew there were going to see other touring cyclists along the way, but I never imagined this many!

The next couple of days will probably be high mileage days so that we can get to San Francisco by Thursday, August 1st (my original deadline of July 31st is looking very unlikely at this point). Thankfully, there is only one other major climb left in our travels and many campgrounds along the way.

 

Miles: 94.3

Weather: Warmner morning than usual (only required a rain jacket not down and rain jacket as we have worn most days); hazy clouds and temp dropped to 55 by 6pm.

Riding Conditions: Mainly stayed on Rt. 101 into CA; no issues with pavement, traffic or shoulders

Campground: $5/person, hot showers ($1 for 10min); lots of bikers but hard to talk to everyone; bear and elk in area required use of bear food containers. Grade: A

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Day 6: Charleston, OR – Gold Beach, OR

It was a very cold start this morning — 45 degrees when we woke up at 6:30am! Can you believe it’s July 27th and 45 degrees over here?!? Luckily, we had several climbs in our first 15 miles to warm us up. Btw,  I don’t think I’ve ever wrote ‘lucky’ and ‘climbs’ in the same sentence hah.

It was also another day of meeting people along the way. There was Gary who was making his way north in a recumbent bike. He had hiked the Appalachian Trail and is now traveling the west coast via bike. Dana’s also headed north, going to the Grand Tetons for a wedding. And Steve is from Utah, and is biking south to San Francisco because his wife’s in NY for two weeks so why not? (It’s also his fourth time down the coast).

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We decided to make it a shorter day than usual due to campground locations, but we didn’t realize that the campground we were planning to stay at was hosting the county fair! Thankfully they found us a spot and we were able to enjoy the fair, including Saturday’s spotlight event: Tuff Trucks Competition. Think of a red neck monster truck derby and that’s what it was. Pieced together trucks, raunchy MC, dirt flying — Dad and I loved it. There’s no way in the world we would have ever seen something like this out east and here we were, sitting in the second row, screaming and hollering with everyone else haha! (Video to come, once I figure out how to load it onto the site…)

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Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the whole fair and missed out on some great events, like:

  • watermelon spitting contest
  • ugly dog contest
  • all you can eat ribs eating contest

But what’s a fair without fried dough (or funnel cake as they call it here).

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Thankfully the ruckus didn’t go on too late and we were able to go to bed at a reasonable hour (and wake up refreshed for a long day ahead of us).

 

Total miles: 80.7

Weather: Cold morning but warmed up to the low 80s

Riding conditions: Another day of amazing tailwinds negated any road issues we had

Campground: Curry County Fairgrounds in Gold Beach, OR. Cold showers and noise from fair (especially screams from the Zipper — my amusement park ride nemesis). But what an experience! Grade: B+

Day 5: How do you like your wind? (Newport, OR – Charleston, OR)

From the back, the front, or sideways? Because today you had your pick. Luckily for us it was mostly from the back. If you’ve never felt a tailwind before on a bike, imagine that you’re going at a steady pace when all of a sudden it feels like someone pushes your bike from behind. It’s like a turbo boost and it’s just awesome.

Once again we started in the fog today, but as it cleared, we had our spectacular views of the Oregon coast.

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We stopped by in Waldport for some coffee. These drive-thru espresso shacks every five miles it seems. Why isn’t this popular on the east coast yet?

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This espresso shack also happened to be right next door to the Green Bike Co-op, a free bike sharing program started three year ago. This non-profit accepts bike donations, fixes them up, spray paints then green, and leaves them around Waldport for the community to use — for free! What a great concept and a wonderful community amenity!!

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Further along our route, we entered the Oregon Sand Dunes Recreation Area. We could see and hear ATVs and motorcycles riding in he sand from the road — looked like so much fun! In some areas, the dunes even spilled onto the road. We totally missed our opportunity to make a “sand angel” but the tailwinds were so good, it was hard to stop.

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At the top of one hill, we saw the effects of the lumber industry, as the trees of an entire mountain face had been cut down. Riding through the Pacific Northwest, it would be hard pressed not to see a logging trucks each day. This may look ugly, but it’s just another crop.

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After a long mileage day, our eyes glistened when we saw this marionberry pudding cake ring at the local Grocery store. We had no issues polishing it off that night.

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Miles: 104.6

Weather: Chilly and windy all day, mid 50s; very cold at night as temperature dipped into the 40s. Brrrrr.

Riding conditions: We mainly stayed on Rt. 101; no real issues except for crosswinds which can create bike handling issues.

Campground: Flo and Lee were gracious camp hosts at the Bastendorff Beach Campground. The campground was full and they let us stay in their ‘backyard’. $5/person. Amazing sunset, picture below Grade: A-

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Day 4: Garibaldi, OR – Newport, OR

What an amazing day for seeing/meeting other cyclists! We saw a total of 16 touring cyclists and eight of them are at camp tonight. There was some overlap with our route and the Trans-America route which is probably why we saw such an increase of bikes on the road. It’s great meeting people who are doing the same crazy thing you’re doing haha!

This morning, within 10 miles of our start, we came upon Oregon’s own Tillamook Creamery. There really is never a bad time to have ice cream (right?) so we indulged at 8:45 am with a scoop (mint chocolate chip for myself, cookie dough for my dad). Tillamook is an all farmer owned company and we were happy to support them.
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Our route brought us pass Netarts Bay, where we saw many people clamming in the low tide. Based on the languages posted on the restrictions notice, it seems like its a popular place!

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There was a three mile climb out of Netarts and we experienced one of the wildest climate changes ever. Going up the hill, the clouds started to flow into the street and everything was quite wet — almost rainforest-like. Not only was it wet, but chilly at 58 degrees at the top, brrr. Then, about 100 ft pass the summit, it was sunny as can be with blue skies. The only clouds we could see were the ones going over the mountain and over the cliff. On our decent, we even crossed sand dunes!! No more moss covered trees or rains drops. It was full-on desert on the other side.

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When I stopped to take off my jacket, I saw that the temperature was now 78 degrees. We couldn’t believe how different the climate was only 3 miles away!!

Between Sandlake and Pacific City, the ocean was calling us, so we made a run for it. Boy, is that water COLD!! We haven’t seen one person in the water this whole trip, so we knew it had to be pretty chilly.

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On our approach to Newport, we followed the Oregon Coast Bike Route onto Otter Crest Loop, on old highway that winds up and down Cape Foulweather along precipitous cliffs. This road was a welcomed diversion from heavily trafficked Rt. 101 and the views of the coastline just got better and better.

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At the end of the loop, we saw these ocean beach dunes. Looks like it could be Egypt (without the water, of course!). Another wonderful surprise about Oregon’s coast.

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As I previously mentioned, we stayed at a state park tonight with eight other touring cyclists:

Chris – headed north from San ??, CA
Tommy – started in Vancouver, headed for SF
Andrew and Alastair – headed home to SF, coming from fly-fishing trip in Alaska and thought biking from Seattle was better than flying
Gary – headed to San Diego, CA
Kat – from Sweden, going cross-country
Aussie guy (didn’t catch name, whoops) – headed to Eugene, OR, has been on the road for 2 years (!!!!)
Dutch guy (again, didn’t catch his name) – headed to Burning Man but doesn’t have a ticket yet

As you can deduct, there were plenty of stories to go around!

 

Total miles: 90.2

Weather: 50s in the morning, warmed up to the 70s and back to the 50s by 3pm.

Riding conditions: some tricky or non-existent road shoulders; tailwind in the afternoon

Campground review: South Beach State Campground one mile south of Newport. $6/person, hot showers, good company, lots if trees for hammock options. Grade: A

Day 3: Cathlamet, WA – Garibaldi, OR

After traveling alongside the Columbia River for about 30 miles the previous day, we finally crossed it via ferry to reach Oregon!!

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In Oregon, we were greeted by towns named “Wauna” and “Knappa” and headed for Astoria, a fairly big shipping and fishing town in this neck of the woods (pop. 10,000). We found ourselves off route, when Yauncey came by and asked of we needed help. He lives about 15miles south of Astoria and bikes to the city three days a week to go swimming. He guided us back on route and told us about Astoria’s new economy in tourism, the dying fishing industry, and where to get lunch en route to Seaside. Another pleasant encounter with someone who knew their way around!

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About 40 miles outside of Astoria, we ran into Tommy, a fellow touring cyclist headed to San Francisco. He had started in Vancouver about a week ago and was traveling solo.

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Our next treat was riding into Seaside, because it was the first time we saw the Pacific. All day, we followed the Oregon coast and were amazed by its majestic beauty and size.

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We approached Canon Beach, OR, which is eerily similar to East Coast beach towns in like Provincetown and Hyannis. But we did get to see Haystack Rock, an impressive 245ft rock jutting out about 50 ft from shore. The pictures don’t give it justice.

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Today’s ride had some climbs, but at the top we were always rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Oregon coast.

Total miles: 91.5 miles

Weather: 50s and chilly morning, 70s during the day (tan lines developing)

Biking conditions: We rode on 101 for most of day, which is the road we’ll be traveling down for the majority of the trip. It was traffic-y, but that was expected. We had a wonderful 20 mile stretch out of Astoria that was an English country-like road with no traffic.

Camping review: We stayed at the Biak-by-the-sea RV park; $21 for the night; hot shower; grocery store nearby. Grade: B