Day 7, Pacific Beach to Artic RV Park, 37 miles
The NOAA weather graph was right on in their prediction of rain. They usually are. (If you are curious about said graphs, I made this page with point forecasts to assist the Pacific Coast cyclist http://www.vintagebicycleodyssey.com/2015/09/25/noaa-weather-graphs-rock/ )
Drizzle on the tent begins in the wee hours. I wake and roll over. Wishing Jennifer was here to cuddle with. I doze off again. This strategy works several more times. Until it doesn’t. Alas, I’ve got a ride today, so I resign myself to the wet morning.
Ugh. Rain has dripped over my groundcloth, soaking the foot of my sleeping bag. A good bag, it stayed warm. However, no one likes packing up wet gear. I don my rain pants, put booties over my shoes, zip up my new rain coat (Thanks again, Seth & Shawn!) and get all my gear into the Ortlieb waterproof panniers. Shove each of them out the tent door into the drizzle.
Slugs have made a congregation around my tent. Crawling up the netting. Crawling on my sandal strap. Even making slug love (Yes, that’s what they are doing in the picture). I’m less than careful packing up the dripping tent, sending a few into the slug afterlife. Unless of course those were the atheist slugs. In which case, oh well.
All packed eventually, and rolling off into the wet. Not cold, the saving grace. I cycle two blocks, exactly, and duck into Emily’s Confection, five stars on the Google reviews. Warm, dry, with a gregarious host. He must be the owner. Or consort of the owner (Emily?) He asks if I am the daring cyclist. “More like drowned rat!” I laugh.
I spend the next several hours, drinking coffee, enjoying a cinnamon roll, then biscuits and gravy, then, lunch of a turkey and provolone croissant. Exceptional food. And coffee! And hospitality. Locals come and go at the center table. An EMT tells a harrowing and hilarious tale about fishing with a buddy.
They dragged up a lost crab pot, filled with huge Dungeness. But can’t keep it, no permits, so the guy throws it back in. Turns out the pot’s rope has gathered lots of other debris, including a three inch fish hook, which lances the buddy’s bare leg and drags him into the drink. My new friend grabs his knife, cuts the rope and hauls his friend back into the boat, coughing and sputtering from nearly drowning. Meanwhile the guys on shore are yelling, “Get the crabs!” The pot sinks away into the murky depths, taking the huge crabs with it.
“What about that fish hook in his leg?” I ask, which was the EMT’s reason for telling the story in the first place. EMTs love telling gory tales.
He asks his friend what he was going to do about the hook. “Take it out!” he yells, grabs a plier, cuts the barb off, yanks it out. Cringe worthy story indeed. I recall Brian shooting a rimshank nail through his hand, grabbing a plier and yanking it out. During the earliest days of the restaurant construction. Cringe.
Hours pass quickly, with such entertainment and the goading host. I look outside, to my delight the storm has passed too. Blue skies! NOAA predicted the rain would slack off around 11am, but didn’t say the skies would clear. Excellent!
Time to I bid my host farewell, and pedal off. It is 2pm, and if I go the distance to Twin Harbors State Park, well, that’s 5 hours of cycling, and at least 7 hours on the road. Hmmm. Arriving after dark. With wet tent and gear. I shrug, riding on.
I follow Ocean Beach Road towards Hoquiam. Quick riding, winds turning to the north. Blue skies buoy my spirits, as do my plans to meet up with Jennifer over the weekend. Just one more hill to climb, then I join the 101 again, wide shoulders, level ground. Bridge over the Little Hoquiam River, rolling through town. The center drawbridge section is noticeably springy when a truck passes at the same time. Feels like jumping on a springy bed. Fun!
Into Aberdeen, I stop at the Rite Aid. Daylight is growing short, and the three hours back out to the beach will put me well past sundown. So I Google “camping” and find an RV park due south about 10 miles. I call and the friendly owner says he’ll give me a tent site for $10. Best deal in Washington State so far. “I’m thinking I might raise the rate for car campers, but I’ve never had trouble with bicycles,” he says.
The 101 climbs a long hill out of Aberdeen, and I can see a river through the trees. At the crest, I descend a short logging landing for a view of the Chehalis River, which feeds Grays Harbor. The skies are overcast again, but gracefully holding off on the rain. A joyous descent drops me down to the town of Artic, and the Artic RV Park (yes, it really is spelled this way). Sign says “Bicyclers” are welcome. Yes!
I set up camp in a shaded tent site, next to a babbling brook. Then to the showers – and laundry! I strip off my chilly spandex, donning my rain pants and jacket. I wash everything. Everything is less than a full load, but it’s all I’ve got. The shower is hot, feels so good after the ride and the cooling evening. Waiting for the dryer now, texting with Jennifer. Such fun, this new tech. Flirting, laughing, emoticons and passions are flying over the ether of bytes and cell signals. We’re both eager for our weekend rendezvous.
Dryer is done, and I pull out the warm clothes. Happiness for the touring cyclist! Then off to my tent, nesting in the now dry sleeping bag. A few more bawdy texts and longing messages, then we sign off. Traffic on nearby 101 has died down, enough to hear coyotes yipping nearby. I drift off into a sweet sleep, waking to the coyote songs more than a few times in the night.