Day 10, Beachside to Jessie M. Honeyman State Park, 37 miles
Rain on the tent. Ok, I’ll just rest some more. Back to sleep. Feeling good, knowing it’s going to be a short day. I finally rise, feel refreshed. I pack my damp tent, glad to note the rain has abated. I head down the 101, legs feeling strong. This is good. All good.
I stop in at the Green Salmon. I’m going to linger here. Big cup of coffee. Deb’s Oats, with the fresh fruit, and coconut milk. So good. I’m daydreaming, listening to the men chatting at the table next to me about wind power and local massive geologic events, such as the big volcanic eruption near Cape Perpetua that birthed all the basalt from here to the Sisters, and the other one near John Day that flowed all the way to Seal Rock. And the island of Siletzia, which was subducted below the North American plate, that caused the eruptions. Blows my mind to think on this scale, this timeline, millions of years ago. We, fragile humans, have been here just a moment.
One of the men does a double take on leaving, recognizes that “FireWorks guy”. Larry Plotkin! We chat, hug, I brag a bit. I want to meet the windmill guy, the one who installed the new turbine above the Farm Store. But he’s already out the door. Another time. I need to get riding. It’s already afternoon. Just as I’m pushing off, Nathan drives up in his sprinter van. “Oh, I didn’t miss you!” We hug and I walk back in, share a few more laughs and I mention how his reflections have helped me much recently. We laugh about the children’s book he’d mentioned earlier, Tootles. I must look it up.
Another hug, more laughter, then I have to go. On down the 101, feeling nostalgic and not wanting to leave. Again, a good way to depart. Knowing this is home, that I am venturing out, destined to return. The adventure continues!
I ride over the highway south of Yachats, how many times have I ridden these miles? Dozens. My training rides, my favorite views, so much to see, to feel, to encounter, to contemplate. I pass familiar landmarks, Cape Perpetua, Devil’s Churn, Cook’s Chasm, Cummings Ridge, Strawberry Hill, Ten Mile Creek. I’m not rushing through, meandering almost. Stopping often for views. The skies have cleared, mostly blue now. Temperatures in the 60s. A perfect day to ride this most cherished landscape.
I pass Washburn state park, begin the climb up Heceta Head. It seems just a hill now. I’ve really found my legs. This is good, considering the hills which await in California. California! I can’t believe I’m headed there again, that another year has passed. So quickly. I think back on my counseling session, the challenge I received, take the focus back, reframe the conflicts. Every character is an aspect of my shadow, of my personality, of me. Any time I focus outside, I leave myself. This lands true as I climb this hill. Every time I complain about the other, whether to another person, or just in my own thinking, I’m leaving myself. Profound.
I crest the head, then enjoy the rapid descent, down past the bridge, through the tunnel, up past the overlook to the iconic Heceta Head Light. I don’t stop, continue the climb, past the Sea Lion Caves, then the true summit. And the long, glorious descent as the highway winds past the vast dunes north of Florence. One more hill, then a long straightaway.
I stop at Fred Meyers for food. The time for laundry. Ah, clean clothes, what a joy. I know I’ll be sweating in them soon, but at least for this moment, I enjoy packing it all fresh and warm back in the panniers.
I meet a couple there, traveling by van up the Oregon Coast. We chat and the man tells me they are from San Francisco, exploring Oregon for the past couple months. But he looks nervous, haggard. I see the stress of too much time on the road. Their van has far too much in it for just a road trip. This is the “real” van life, not the glitzy Neo-Bohemian social media version described in the New Yorker article this summer. Homeless, with a van. Their dog Maggie seems nervous too. When are we going home? She seems to be wondering.
Home on the road. Something I’m playing with, enjoying on my bicycle. And also something a permanent reality for many people I meet along the way. My heart opens in compassion. I wish them safe travels as I head out, down the road to the campsite. It’s dark now, a few more miles into Florence, then over the Siuslaw River and up to Honeyman State Park.
I put up my tent, crawl into my warm sleeping bag. I think of all those experiencing conflict, suffering, grief, loneliness. May we all find peace. May we all find happiness.