Day 24: Kelso to Fort Stevens State Park, 68 miles
Sometimes I find myself on a road with way too much traffic. Today is one of those days.
The addendum to this tour was to ride out and down the coast from Astoria, adding some 250 miles or so. I am trying a new approach – riding the Amtrak Cascades to Kelso, then taking Highway 30 west. (I borrowed the title to this post from the century ride I took with James last summer, from Portland to Gearhart.)
I’m up and on the road before 7, cycling from SE Portland over to the Amtrak, but not without a Voodoo donut. Hmm, they’re not as good as the hype, or the line outside the shop would make one think.
The Cascades is a cool train, much newer cars that the Coast Starlight or the Surfliner. Sliding glass doors between cars, leather seats! The ride is short, 50 minutes from Portland to Kelso. I retrieve my bike from baggage, reload the bags and head over the Lewis & Clark Bridge. This is an ugly ride, for the shoulder is covered by bark chunks, all the way up the climb to the main span, and well onto the bridge itself. Must be from the log trucks supplying the huge yard to the right of the bridge. The view from the bridge is stunning, if I ignore the endless traffic. I see a large freighter, loading the logs for shipment to China. Outsourced milling, after which Home Depot reimports the lumber and undersells locally milled product. Globalization at its finest.
After the descending the bridge, I bank right onto Highway 30, climbing steeply above the Columbia. So much traffic. There is adequate shoulder, but the noise gets to me. Cars, trucks, RVs, all make so much noise. Most of us are numb to the noise pollution that we experience on the road. But when riding a whole day, or many days, along the highways, I witness first hand the endless, shrill, grating sounds of motor traffic.
I’m also aware that the Goonies 30 year anniversary is happening in Astoria this weekend. I never saw the movie, but it has a cult following that is showing up en masse to the “80s-Con” at the Armory. Seriously, 80s-Con? A local station I overhear at the coffee shop says they’ll be playing 80s music all weekend. Ugh. I do one better, putting on U2’s Joshua Tree, one of the best rock albums ever, and certainly one of the best of the 80s era.
I roll through Astoria, without stopping. Too much traffic and tourists and Goonies geekiness, and I’m tired. Two days off, I’ve lost my long distance legs. And butt. Ouch. And the campground is 10 more miles. I wrestle against a high headwind crossing Young’s Bay, over the low Highway 101 bridge. A long final stretch, riding north to the campground. I arrive and am immediately set upon by ravenous mosquitos, the worst of the trip so far. I’m tired and retreat to my tent, away from the hungry little monsters. It feels good to snuggle into my sleeping bag, even though it’s still light out. I’m ready for sleep.