Day 2, Beachside to Honeyman State Park, 35 miles
I wake to a damp morning, pack my tent and get on the road. My sleep was difficult, waking several times. I find after a long, early ride on a tour my muscles keep me up. Once on the road, I’m glad to see that my legs aren’t complaining. Because there’s the wet to contend with. My plan is to ride the 5 miles to Yachats, then hunker down at the Green Salmon Coffeehouse with my morning espresso and wait out the rain.
Roberta shows up an hour later. She sits down and we talk about tours. She just rode the Sierra Cascades route from Seattle to Bakersfield, then took the train back to Seattle to ride the coast. Which resulted in our meeting. Imagine that! She complains about the cold of the coast, compared to Bakersfield at 100°. She’s caught a bit of a cold, so I’m wary of my own health. It is cold today, and I’m glad for the warmth of the coffeeshop and conversation. Rabbi Benjamin from Corvallis calls to me, and I’m surprised to see him and Rebecca. Though I shouldn’t be. I often meet Corvallis people in Yachats.
Roberta heads off, planning to ride further on to Umpqua State Park. I’m going to go just past Florence, so I linger longer. Well past noon, I guess it’s time to get back on the bike. I’m resisting the ride. For this next stretch is my favorite of the whole coast. Over headlands, clinging to cliffs, swooping down to coastal plains, the 25 miles between Yachats and Florence has many memories, of childhood vacations, of early adult adventures. And now, a training route for my many coastal tours. I so love to ride down to the lighthouse and back. So many times I’ve lost count.
I crest the final hill, past the Sea Lion Caves, and find fresh blacktop for my long descent to the dunes. A joy to ride the smooth new asphalt surface, wheels silently turning, the gears whirring, just the sound of wind and surf far below. Oh, and that car that just honked then sped past me, only to slow down to the 30 mph I was doing already. The road levels out to the long straight stretch to Florence. I stop at Fred Meyer’s but avoid buying too much. I’m eager to continue on to camp. But hungry. Will I cook dinner tonight? Wait, a taqueria just before the bridge. I stop for a couple baja tacos and some bland guacamole. Very satisfying nonetheless.
On to the Siuslaw River Bridge. I stop to marvel at the art deco features, revealing the art and passion of Conde McCullough, Oregon’s master bridge engineer of the 1930’s. Majestic, out of poured concrete and rebar. Will this bridge endure the onslaught of salt and sea? I see the cathodic treatment on the piers, but not the railings, arches or spires. I wonder if it will be sacrificed, replaced with another featureless span, the fate to which so many other bridges have fallen.
I arrive at Honeyman, chilled and ready for a shower and sleep. I meet another cyclist who tells me of his drinking escapades with an Englishman and Frenchman. Rode here with a terrible hangover. Ah, the follies of youth. We chat a little, then I retire to my tent, my home for the night. Tall trees sing in the wind. A Swainson’s thrush peeps in the nearby brush. I listen for the sweet lilting trill which usually follows, but none. It’s dark, and chilly after all. Time for birds to bed down too.
I lay and think of the day, the ride over these beautiful miles, of a most cherished landscape. Deeply contented. Such a good, good feeling to be here, at this time, in this place.
And to you, dear reader, a question: Where is your most cherished landscape? When have you visited it, lingered, taken it in, deeply in? And if you haven’t for awhile, what are you waiting for?