Astoria to Eugene



My last dinner in Astoria was take-out Chinese from just down the road from the hotel.  It sucked.  But the fortune from my fortune-cookie dessert made up for it somewhat-  "Look with favor upon a bold beginning."

I was distracted from the butterflies as I rushed to get a reasonably early start on my first day.  I didn't quite make it.  It was 10:30AM by the time I was satisfied with the packing and distribution of my load and I rolled out of the hotel parking lot.

My first quick stop was at the Maritime Museum, the official start of the TransAmerica Trail, to grab a quick photo and reset my odometer to 0.

Start - Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Just 8 miles down the road, I came to the re-creation of Fort Clatsop, Lewis and Clark's winter camp on the Pacific.  Here, the "Corps of Discovery" spent a wet winter of 1805-06, preparing for their return journey.

The Fort Clatsop National Memorial is preparing for a tourist onslaught over the next two summers, as they celebrate the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's visit.  But it was pretty quiet while I was here.  No jostling crowds, yet.

Fort Clatsop



US101, the "Scenic Coastal Highway", is far from flat.  I came to my first climb shortly after reaching the coast, between the resort towns of Seaside and Canon Beach.

Canon Beach is famous for its offshore rock formations, called "Haystack Rock", and "The Needles".  I saw similar formations along the entire stretch of this spectacular coast during my two days here before turning inland.

Needles and Haystack

Just south of Canon Beach, US101 ascends Neakahnie Mountain.  It was a killer climb, but the view made it worthwhile.

Late in the day, after 45 miles, I rolled into the small coastal town of Manzanita, and fell in love with it.  I could definitely live here (if I ever make any money again, anyway).  It was quiet and non-commercial, probably what some of the East coast resort towns were like 50 years ago.

The View from Neakahnie Mountain

I set up camp the first night at the "hiker/biker" section of Nehalem Bay State Park, just beyond Manzanita.  There, I met two other groups of long-distance cyclists-  Amy and Nathan from Hawaii, who are cycling the Oregon Coast Route; and Chris from Denver, who is also doing the Trans Am.

Amy, a medical school student, cycled most of the coast solo last year, and returned this year with Nathan.  He'll ride the first week with her, then she'll continue to Crescent City alone.  Amy has a Masters in Physiology, and her thesis involved genetics of the Med-Fly.  She was quite familiar with Chromosome 18 disorders, and we talked about Amanda.  (Of course, I talk about Amanda to everyone I meet.)

1st Night's Camp

The next morning, I walked my bike over the dune (on a legitimate path- don't freak out, my tree-hugger friends!) and took the traditional "Pacific Dip" photo.

The tide was rushing in, and I was using the ten-second timer on the camera since no-one was around, so I had to hurry so the camera wasn't swamped (not to mention the bike, and me!).

Self-portraits with a timer can be tricky.  I have to set up the camera, push the shutter release, then run into position.  Sometimes it doesn't work as planned.  (See photo below)


Dip-  Oooh, that's cold!


Wednesday's climbs were even steeper than Tuesday's.  The views from the peaks are incredible!  But, boy do I work for each one!

On the East coast, only Maine has coastal mountains, and since the geological formations are much older there, and erosion has had more time to do it's sculpting, the scenery just isn't as spectacular.  (Not that it ain 't grand, mind you.)

Here, every view knocks my socks off!

Wednesday evening, after another 50 miles, (and over 2,000 vertical feet of climbing each day!) I limped into Cape Lookout State Park, and set up camp in a large Hemlock wood.  The "hiker/biker" sections of both state parks I visited were beautiful.  Each night set me back four bucks!  
Looking Back at Nehalem Bay State Park

Amy and Nathan were already set up here when I arrived.  Chris came in about an hour after me.  He had taken a wrong turn, and climbed some extra hills before arriving from the wrong direction.

Chris is a graphic artist from Denver.  He's doing a modified Trans Am / Northern Tier route in commando fashion.  He has  a rough idea of the route, and is using a small atlas instead of the Adventure Cycling maps.  This hasn't worked well for him.  He copied the route directions to Eugene from my maps, and will try to pick up the route maps when he gets to Adventure Cycling headquarters in Missoula, Montana.

Cape Lookout Camp

The next morning (Thursday) started with out with a bitch of a climb.  I stopped at an overlook about halfway up to take some photos, and met a British couple who were touring the West coast.  Their son just got an MBA from Wharton.  (He already has a PHD in nano-technology.)  They were in Philadelphia for his graduation just two days before I met them.

They gave me some recommendations for cycle touring in England and Wales, should I ever get there-  and I will!


Cape Lookout Beach


By the time I reached Neskowin, just 28 miles (and 2500) vertical feet along, I was shot and pulled into a resort motel/condo complex for the night.

I got a 1-bedroom unit for $85, not a bad deal compared to many hotels, but astronomical compared to the campgrounds!  The sunset Thursday night was worth it, though! (Below)

The resort manager, Armand Thibault, takes sunset pictures whenever possible, and posts them here.


Cape Lookout
Neskowin was my last view of the Pacific Ocean.  My route turned inland the next day, climbed over the Coastal range, and entered the Willamette Valley, a beautiful area with views of the Coastal range to the west, and the Cascades to the east.  
Neskowin rocks reddened by sunset.

The Willamette Valley (will-AM-ett) is also famous for it's Pinot Noir wines.  Of course, I had to stop at the first winery I came across and sample their wares.  Just a few sips, mind you.  I won't drink and ride!

The wines were delicious!  I sent half a case home.  Hopefully, some will be left when I get back.

Nehalem Bay Winery

After 56 miles and 2,500 more feet of climbing in 94 degree heat, I reached the Polk County Fairgrounds in Rickreall (population 57).  Many small towns along the route offer camping in local parks.  The fairgrounds charged me $8, and I set up camp in the shade of a large building, near a couple from Utica, NY, also doing the Trans Am.

Frans and Bonnie are raising money for their own cause, an "inter-generational" trail at Oneida Health Care, where Frans is the Director of Physical Therapy.  They were both very pleasant and competent, and Frans gave me some helpful tips for light traveling, and setting up camp.


Amateur Wine Host



We talked about their cause, and I told them all about Amanda and the Hoelands.  They are also planning to update a web site during their trip, but are not carrying a computer, and are having trouble uploading information from libraries and internet cafes.  You can check out their site here.

Frans and Bonnie rode with Chris from Denver for much of the day.  Chris had forged ahead to look for me in the next town, leaving the fairgrounds less than an hour before I arrived.

I got behind Chris when I took a short day between Cape Lookout and Neskowin, and haven't seen him since.  I wish you safe travels and fair weather my friend, wherever you are!


Frans and Bonnie at Polk County Fairgrounds


Saturday, I got my earliest start yet- 9:00am, after a healthy pancake breakfast at a restaurant next to the fairgrounds. 

I had lunch at the Sunnyside Cafe in Corvallis, which offers free wireless internet.  I caught up on some e-mail, then did a little exploring.  Corvallis is the home of Oregon State University.  It may be the most bicycle-friendly city I've ever seen, with on or off-road bike paths on almost every street.

Later that evening, I pulled into Eugene Camping world just outside of Eugene, where a nicely shaded and screened hiker/biker site set me back $6.  Mileage for the day- 67.

Sunday I explored Eugene, the home of Bike Friday, the maker of my bike.  I planned to be there when they opened Monday morning.

DeFazio Bike Bridge into Eugene
Next Dispatch: Eugene and Bike Friday