Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Almost to Whidbey Island

Up after 7:30, my clothes as wet as they were last night. An early lesson: cottons don't dry easily. Of course, "everyone" told me that! Camping 100 yards from the highway IS a problem! The trucks resumed rolling by fairly early this morning and were frequent. It took about three hours to pack up, taking time to clean sand off everything and to move my wet clothes into the ever-shifting areas of sunlight. But investing three or four hours a day to pack and unpack simply won't cut it. It certainly argues for staying in one spot more than 24 hours.

On the road around 10:30. I found that the most beautiful part of the Oregon Coast was now behind me and what lay ahead were countless seaside towns, many with the same "cutesy" atmosphere. Nostalgic Americana, each with their "ice cream and candy parlor."

From south of Newport to the State Highway 18 cut-off to Portland, it was almost intolerable, a real mess. Heavy traffic and many small towns with frequent 25 mph zones. Stopped for coffee at "Newport Roasters", next to a surf shop. Coffee and a "Grandma's biscotti", that is.

A beautiful day, warming up susbantially. 85° when I arrived in Tillamook. Purchased a padlock and some "Werner's" beef jerky.

Relieved to reach the Columbia River bridge at Astoria. The river is amazingly wide here. Crossing over, seagulls glide along with me just above the railings. It seemed they had a message.

On the Washington shore, I took a wrong turn (if there ARE wrong turns on this journey,) and ended up in the town of Long Beach, on a peninsula. Made the most of it and visited the "Surfer Sands" food stand. There I met the proprietor "Steven", a character everyone in town seemed to know. He recommended I try the steak sandwich with mushrooms and onions, and a raspberry smoothie. Good advice. In Washington, I already felt more kinship to California. Oregon had a strange, almost authoritarian energy. As I said, it reminded me of Germany: neat and clean, cute towns. Too perfect.

Cutting across to highway 101 east of Ilwaco, I was caught by an oncoming state trooper. I stopped as soon as I saw him make the u-turn. The young officer approached and ask his smart ass question, "Are you in a hurry to get somewhere?" I kept the answer to myself: "yes - out of your frickin' state!" His radar showed me doing over 70 mph in a 60 mph zone (but it was a beautiful, wide-open, ALMOST empty highway!) My first ticket in over three years; an unprecedented run of good luck! $94, the damages. That's all he was out there to do; generate a little revenue. I was in a very sour mood after that.

In Hoquiam, outside the Weyerhauser corporate offices is a pastoral display of forest animals, conveying the nurturing relationship between "forest products" company and wildlife. "Who are you guys kidding?" It was hot in the late afternoon. Called the Whidbey Island Kampions to let them know I was running later than expected.

At what point did our forests become merely a crop?

From Hoquiam north, I call U.S. 101 the "Trail of Tears." The complete and utter devastation of the Olympic Peninsula due to clear-cutting is an outrage. There is no couching it any other way. What I saw here is criminal, on a scale that few Americans seem to appreciate. Even the National Park lands appeared not to be immune. It is enough to make one ill, the knowledge that we are liquidating future generations' rightful inheritance. Those little creatures at Hoquiam had an even more sinister connotation after circling the Peninsula. The concealment of high crimes, out here in the wilds of Washington.

Bordering Olympic National Park. The locals have inured themselves to destruction. I called this highway the "Trail of Tears". The clearcutting was massive.

Olympic National Forest. "With Trees Grow Jobs."

Drove along the shores of idyllic Lake Crescent at twilight. It's a scene right out of the Swiss Alps. Very watchful for deer, proceeding with great caution. The tension eased as I descended into Port Angeles, and there was a welcome warming of the air. Called Whidbey again. I would be too late for tonight's ferry out of Port Townsend, so I agreed to camp at Ft. Worden. We could all meet at Port Townsend in the morning.

The old military complex at Ft. Worden has camping accommodations. I arrived around 11:00 p.m. and tried to find my way around. A ranger stopped to help orient me. Then a couple, noticing my bike, stopped to ask about my trip. Fellow GS riders, the gentleman was heading up to Inuvik, Northwest Territories soon.

In my tent by midnight. The amazing sound of frogs filling the night.

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