Portland to Not Quite California – Brookings, Oregon


We frequently take pictures of interesting things

The last night that we stayed in Portland (September 2nd) Ance and I stayed up drinking cheap, but decent, wine overlooking the city lights skyline. We spoke of the random characters you meet and the places you see that your mind can only dimly capture and dust off after time and reflection. We came also to a WWGD (What Would Gandhi Do) philosophy.

It grinds down to realizing that no one, and I mean no one and nothing, owes you anything. From there you step away from being a bit bitter at people for not treating you the way you believe you’d treat others and celebrating the hospitality and things you did receive – no matter how small. Rejoicing in the good turns out to be a better occupation that dwelling on the lost.

Portland turned out to be a cluster and a let down in a varying sort of way. Plans for a new trailer for Augustine and other random replacement gear fell threw and the lot of folks we found ourselves with were either flaky or just caught at a bad time. We thank them for their hospitality, but were pretty happy to be back on the road.

The ride out of Portland turned out to be a hectic busy loud mess of an ordeal. We stopped in at the bike shop we were hoping would have received the part for Augustine’s new trailer. “The UPS guy sometimes doesn’t show up until 3:30PM.” We killed some time by heading to Colonel Summer’s Park for lunch.

Two white dudes sitting in the grass not to far off were improve rapping – one pretty good, the other, not so much. The better of the two must have been sucking down one to many, a bit two fast as he ended up Herculean vomiting while Ance and I enjoyed our cheese, bread and veggies. Cities have this knack for putting on display, in tight incongruent spaces, all the glorious ambitions and idiocies of man kind.

Returning to the bike shop – the part didn’t arrive. It seemed to take a tortured eternity to navigate out of town. Stupidly crossed the Ross Island bridge to jump on the 99E. No shoulder and tons of traffic. A middle age doctor/nurse sorta woman ended up taking us under her wing and riding with us for a bit to show us a less insane way out of town.

Took Tallinger Way road, leading through a park designed apparently by the same guy that designed Central Park in New York, to reconnect to 99W. Slow climb and rollers pretty much for 5 or so miles. Great green twisting road. After dropping onto 99W it turned into an endless sort of suburban sprawl only separated by signs indicating that you’d actually come into a new town.

Ance chose, fortuitously, to head off onto Bell Road in the evening to see if we could poach a place to put up the tent for the night. After some steepy climbs, stopped in at a house to ask about opportunities to pitch a tent, as it seemed we’d rolled into private property wine country paradise.

A middling age man with a Goa-T was splitting wood in his yard. Asked him about a place where we might be able to throw up a tent (we are standing in a huge open grassy field on-top of a hill): “Well, not around here, but a few miles up the road there is a community center, you could probably pitch a tent there.”

Rolled back down the gentalman’s hill and headed towards this community center. The road there got so steep that I actually had to get off my bicycle to push for the very first time of the entire trip – completely demoralizing.

The community center turned out to be an old school that had been modified to include an indoor shooting range. As there were cars parked outside, we opted for the open and honest route of announcing our presence. We walked into the Gibbs Community executive committee meeting “Just wanted to let you know that a neighbor just down the road let us know that we could camp in the yard here.”

After a couple of awkward glances at each other, a woman who was obviously the grandma/secretary of the commitee: “We’d be glad to have ya.” Fall is coming and the night on the hilltop was full of chills and gusts of wind.

September 4th 2014 (Gibbs Community Gun Range to Willamette Misson Park)

Big drop off the mountain we’d climbed last night. Rolled into the completely forgettable place of Newburg. Stopped at a visitor center to ask about Laundromat and scenic bike route through Willamette Valley. While we were there, guy comes in to ask if I-5 (the freeway) is a scenic route through Oregon – “yeah, it is pretty scenic,” the visitor center clerk responded.

Trucked into Champeog state park and stole a shower. Beautiful place that apparently used to be the seat of Provincial Oregon governance. Fast easy riding all the way to Willamette Mission park. While contemplating actually paying for a campsite, met a super awesome couple (Stewart and Leah) who gave us the practical and insightful advice about hitting up the nearby trails to head down to the Willamette River and camp for the night. Turned out to be one of the prettiest places we’ve camped in Oregon.

September 5th 2014 (Willamette Mission Park to Ankeny NWR)

Woke early and took a river bath. Oatmeal for breakfast, super early start on the road by 11:15AM. Mostly flats all the way into Salem. Stopped for lunch outside of State Capitol building. When getting ready to leave, a woman stopped by to chat with us who was apparently in charge of working with setting up the scenic bike way that we were traveling on.

Route brings you through vast filelds of hops and hazelnut trees. Ance and Augustine stopped to pick Hazelnuts along the way, most had already been enjoyed by worms.

Rolled into Independence to grab fuel for the stove and slushies for the girls – day extremely hot, hovering around 95 to 100 all day. Ended up pulling into Ankeny National Wildlife Reserve as it seemed like the only place for quite awhile were we could pull in and setup a tent without driving people insane.

Moon extremely bright in vast open field – completely awful views. Bed by 11PM.

September 6th 2014 (Ankeny NWR to Peoria Park)

Stay at NWR was nice and totally quite. Pancakes for Breakfast! Tent got hot early due to morning sun. Nice breeze in the shade to eat breakfast. Lots of weekender cyclists on the road in the morning. One pair pulling a giant poodle in something that resembles a child trailer.

Just before Jefferson Ance got a flat – our 2000 mile Continental treads are so worn they do little to stop flats theses days. While writing in my journey today I realized that all entries for September had been labled as August. Ance and I spoke of how little days of the week and even months mean to you when you are on the road.

Stopped in at Jefferson – another one of those hard to remember places that have been unfairly treated by history and the flow of metal machines. Local fire crew was holding a boot drive – that’s all I remember. Just outside of town, stopped in at a house to by mixed dozen of eggs from him and his angry little dog.

Continued onto Albany. Hot. Hot. Hot. At 95 degrees fahrenheit Ance and I felt pretty burnt and sweaty. Augustine didn’t make it to the nearby playground owing to the heat. Hung around Albany Park for a couple of hours to avoid the heat. Ended up hitting the road again at 6PM. Had a glorious evening ride all the way to Peoria County Park, were we poached a day use spot and ran into an old man asking us if what we were doing was legal.

September 7th 2014 (Peoria Park to Armitage County Park)

Quick and flat road all the way into Brownsville. Made 15 miles in about an hour – which is like Mach 3 for Ance and I. Ance discovered local dairy products (Loachmead) and we ate Ice cream all day. Hung out by the river in Pioneer Park, enjoying the shade and a cool river bath.

Steep but short climb just outside Brownsville and then again fast flats all the way to Coburg. Scenery flat, not un-scenic but pretty in its own frank and plain way. Rolled in Coburg where there was some kind of fair/festival going on – no actual sign on what was happening there. Tons of big trucks and RV’s with giant trailers full of antiques, wooden furniture, paintings and knick-knacks to drown a horse.

Took the short 3 mile jaunt to Arimatage County park. Nice homeless couple gave us directions to a spot just alongside the Mackenzie river just outside the official park. Wonderful evening of stars and rushing river.

September 8th 2014 (Armatige County Park to Orchard Point Park)


Nice early start at 11:30PM on the road following our fried egg sandwich party – we are early risers, what can we say? Took Coburg road all the way into Eugene where we hit an REI, a couple of bike shops and some grocery stores.

Dropped off Ance’s bike for a wheel truing. Hatch’s bike shop ended up truing both our wheels. doing a tune up and swapping out our chains for the price of swapping out the chains – super cool bike mechanics who also let us stow our gear while we aimlessly wondered around town.

We also happened to swap out Augustine’s bike trailer. The Croozer served us well, putting on around 2000 miles on this trip and a couple more in random biking/hiking trips in general. Augustine will miss you.

While waiting for the gracious free bike tune ups, stopped in at the First National Taphouse for a beer and nachos – one of the few treats out we’ve had on this trip thus far and it was awesome. While rolling out of Eugene, stopped at a super cheap grocery store (WinCo) to restock all the needed eating supplies and then continued out to Orchard Point on the north side of Fern Lake just outside of Eugene.

September 8th 2014 (Orchard Point Park to Lake Creek)

We can’t seem to get ourselves together fast enough to leave at any reasonable hour. Got rolling at 11AM after quesidillas and lake bath. Riding turned out to be a series of missed turns and made about a 7 mile detour through beautiful rolling hills before hitting highway 36.

Stopped in at nice secluded wayside (Alderwood) for lunch and skinny dipping. Augustine loved the sun and water. On the way out of Alderwood, Ance found some “clear apples” (direct translation from Latvian, as I have no idea what they are called in English) and went all 1930s on them.

Rolled through Low Pass for a gentle 3 mile climb through part of the coastal range. Stopped in at Triangle Lake county park where its a posted $240 fine for camping without a permit. Headed out to just outside Deadwood on Lake Creek – wonderful winding road covered with trees the whole way.

Lake Creek itself was lined with carved bedrock in intricate smooth patterns. Great night of lulling river.

September 10th 2014 (Deadwood to Tahkenitch Creek Trailhead)

Continued on narrow highway 36 after a short bit of climbing after out money spot on Lake Creek/Sinslaw River. Fast road all the way to Florence where we rolled into a bike shop to look for an extra hitch for Augustine’s new trailer:

“Burley [the brand name] used to be out of Eugene and then they turned communist, so most bike shops don’t carry them anymore.”

Hit up Port of Sinslaw/Florence old town for lunch at a small town park overlooking the river. Took a walk around the tourist trap of a downtown and then set sail for gorgeous chilly ride to Tahkenitch Creek trailhead. Made a pit stop along the way at one of the National Park Oregon dune viewpoints – bright sun and impossible looking sand dunes for miles and miles.

Arrived at Tahkenitch trailhead and took a short walk down the trail to see if we could poach a spot – found a nice one just along the nearby creek. When walking back to the bikes to bring them down, met a great traveling couple – Max and Katlyn. They’d been traveling the country for 10 months working at organic farms, selling their wares and generally enjoying life with brief interludes of Hippy Jesus Freak encounters.

Max and Katlyn turned out to be just the kind of people we loved, chit-chatted the night through and illegally pitched a tent in the trailhead parking lot grass – so comfy.

September 11th 2014 (Tahkenitch Trailhead to McCullough Wayside)

Hard time actually hitting the road due to sunshine and good company. Augustine and Ance got some new toys made by Max and Katlyn – Augustine a necklace of hemp with a glass-blown emblam made by Max and Ance a hemp hair dangle (I’ve no idea what they are called) as well as a necklace.

Made a short walk down to a secluded spot on the creed just down the trail for dish washing and body cleaning – pretty wonderful. Finally got on the road around 2PM. Stopped at a National Park to fill up water.

Couple of slow and longish rollies but overall quick and easy day all the way to Conae B McCullough Wayside just outside North Bend. Before stopping for the day pulled into William Tugman state park for a swim in Eel Lake – Augustine had a blast.

On the way to the wayside, stopped in at a house with a pair of goofy teenagers to ask for directions (we’d thought we may have missed the wayside). They’d no idea that the wayside was 700ft from their house.

September 12th (McCullough Wayside to Devil’s Kitchen)

Super early start, as usual. around 11AM. Crossed bridge into North Bend and Ance and I chatted while riding about how small West coast towns have a knack for really crapping on the coast. Stopped in at Charleston where we met nice old women running the visitor center for a town that has little in the way of sidewalks or anything to really look at or do.

When we’d stopped at a grocery store I got to talking with a wondering vagabond, who instantly gravitated to our bicycles loaded up with gear. He turned out to be one of those souls without any conception of work for play, with an easy laugh and full of vagrant traveling advice.

“Yeah, been here around North Bend for a few months, got a couple of tickets for being homeless though.”

“They give you tickets for being homeless?”

“You know. Got a girlfriend and a beer, no place to go. You get tickets.”

After rolling out of Charleston hit Seven Devil’s Road where a previous cyclist made a great game out of the steep rolling hills. They’d spay painted “Devil #1” and so on for a good 5 miles or so which made the climbs pretty interesting along with the scenery.

After dropping out of the hills we pulled into Bandon in the late evening. The town was all a bluster, even in the evening due to the Cranberry festival they were holding over the weekend. Apparently, Bandon is supposedly the cranberry capital of Oregon – pretty big gig I guess.

Took Beach Loop road to Devil’ s Kitchen beach. While rolling down to the beach a 40ish man with a great mustache took a liking to us and offered a spot next to his RV just a mile or so down the road. Though we appreciated the offer we’ d already hauled our bikes down the beach and were beat for the day so opted for the windy beach and sand.

September 13th 2014 (Devil’ s Kitchen to Humbug Mountain)

Got sand all over chains and cogs, so spent most the the morning taking apart and cleaning the bikes while Ance and Augustine took a walk down the beach. An old salty many waling a shitzu stopped by with a single statement: “rare day on the Oregon coast – sunshine and no wind.”

Not a too terribly exciting road all the way to Boice-Cope county park right on Floras Lake where we stopped for lunch. Temperature is fluctuating from hot to super freaking cold in a time span of a few mins. All at once you want a down jacket and shorts, pretty wild feeling.

Continued onto Port Orford where a gas station clerk paid for our $.25 purchase of gasoline for our cooking stove and an old pissed off man told me at the grocery store “you be damn sure to lock those bikes. Mine was stolen from that very spot last week by some asshole bum to lazy to put his own god damn bike together.”

Cold ride out of Port Orford to Humbug mountain where we crashed a day use side right along a little creek with a gazebo. We all stayed up staring up at the cold blanket of twinkling stars until deep into the night.

September 14th 2014 (Humbug Mountain to Indian Sands Trailhead)

Woke up groggy and early to a brisk and by brisk I mean freaking cold morning. Sun Eventually hit tent and breakfast spot taking away all the shivers. Had homemade (err, roadmade?) granola with peanut butter and honey wrapped in a tortilla for breakfast.

Backtracked a bit to poach a hot shower from the official state park. Met a German guy who flew into Seattle with just his gear and bought a bike for $90 to cycle the coast. Has to go back in two weeks.

The road itself has turned into slow slogging 2 to 3 mile hills dropping into freezing cold foggy bottoms by the sea, where you’re lucky to see your own handlebars. Stopped into Gold Beach. Augustine got a free JoJo from a nice lady working the Deli and we ate lunch on the shores of the Rouge River tucked away from the wind..

Cold riding for the rest of the day mostly socked into a thick wet blanket of rolling fog. Pulled into Indian Sands trailhead parking lot and ignored the no camping sign due to frigid temperatures and fatigue. Augustine was all smiles in the fog.

September 15th 2014 (Indian Sands to Harris Beach)

Decided on a slow day today to take a rest and hid away from the cold fog for a day. Rolled in about noon and spent most of it cleaning ourselves up, typing up these updates and prepping up the photos for world wide delivery. We’ re looking forward to trucking another 1000 miles or so back into the sunshine and out of the northwest fog.


LatvianAlaskan Family

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