Pondering past three bays

Day 2: Nehalem Bay to Cape Lookout, 39 miles

I wake to the sun glinting through the shore pines, casting shadows on my tent. A restless night. Was it the full moon, which also cast light and shadow upon my tent? Or pondering inner light and shadow, and the task at hand: this next journey down the coast, alone on a bicycle, with nothing to distract me from my thoughts for the thousand and a half miles ahead. My thoughts float between happiness and anxiety, grief and frustration, a sense of unease and calm.

The calm will come more easily, I know, as I get underway on my tour. The long hours pedaling, seeing new vistas, meeting kindred travelers and curious onlookers, the evening ritual of making camp, cooking, cleaning, resting. The rising, breaking camp, heading out on another day of cycling. Yes, all will come more easily than this day.

I pack up, bid my other cycling companions farewell, knowing I will see many of them down the road. I pedal into the sunny morning, bolstered by mild temperatures and friendly northerly winds. Miles are easy, legs and butt not too sore considering my lack of training for the tour. How did the spring and summer pass so quickly without my regular rides to get into condition?

Yes, this summer I took several micro-adventures, hundred mile overnights to Yachats and back. But between these, not much riding. A lack of training, of discipline. Instead, I surrendered to the stresses of running my struggling restaurant in a weakening economy. I worked the floor every day the shop was open, since my return from the last tour, last November.

On top of this, the stresses of the heart, learning how to be intimate without getting lost or engulfing my beloved in my needs. Powerful soul searching, grieving, reconciling. Not just this relationship, but all relationships. Now this tour brings distance between us, which is both a blessing and painful. The challenge for me has always been: how to stay connected when apart, and how to stay present when together. So much of my life I’ve lost myself when in relationship, or struggled with aching loneliness when alone. Much clarity now. I know I’ll write more about this here, dear reader. Stay tuned.

I round Nehalem Bay, then ride the few miles to Wheeler, sit in a coffee shop for hours, catching up on writing, accounting, pondering these challenges, these lessons. Eventually, morning passes noon and I realize I have quite a ways to go to get to camp. I get back on my bike, leaving Nehalem Bay to the long straightway, passing through Rockaway Beach, strong tailwind gives me a false confidence.

Then around the bend, on through Garibaldi, following the vast Tillamook Bay. I stop at the newly renovated cheese factory, marveling at the steel construction and excessive hype. A huge image of a cow looms over the retail shop, I wonder if tourists understand the animal suffering necessary for this and all dairy products. I wander through the self guided tour of the cheese making factory, and of course, take samples of cheese. Having now developed a taste for finer, sharper cheese, this stuff is bland and underwhelming. I remember how I used to love it. And, I wonder at my own disconnection from the animals of my food sources. Sighing, I shrug and ride on. Maybe I am too tired or jaded to involve myself with food politics.

I cycle with the wind through the city of Tillamook, turning west to follow the Three Capes Scenic Route. I surmount one significant climb on the very narrow road, raging trucks passing too closely, then descent to the long flats south along Netarts Bay to the camp. I arrive as the sun is setting, just in  time to catch my favorite selfie with Cape Lookout in the distance. Some tourists offer to take the picture, but I say this timed shot is too much fun, setting the shutter for 10 seconds, then running to pose, several times to get it right. Instead the tourist offer me chocolate, we chat about the ride, about the weather, about how beautiful this land is.

I linger at the sunset longer than I should, knowing I’ve still got to set up camp, and shower. Then a phone call comes in from the restaurant reveals some technical problems with the point of sale system. I help the novice staff solve them, glad for the calm devotion of my employees, now taking on all the tasks I’ve done for the past year.

Finally, a call with my sweetheart, sharing our thoughts and feelings, feeling connected though miles and time separate us. She’s adjusting to her new work and study load, beginning graduate school. This is her first week. I remember my days as a student at Cornell. I’m humbled to be sharing this adventure with her, as her support and friend. We’ll see each other once more this weekend, before I head south. We wish each other good night, and I’m off to my tent.

Moonlight shines again through shore pines of the hiker biker site at Cape Lookout. Far from the busy 101, the only sound is the ever present ocean surf, singing her sweet lullaby. Good night all, to you and your beloveds. May you have a peaceful healing sleep, with inspiring transformative dreams.

2 thoughts on “Pondering past three bays

  1. I love catching up with you while you are on tour. I also ride the Oregon coast, usually yearly. This year has brought a life-changing diagnosis for my husband so I am riding along vicariously. I am grateful that you take the time to write. I am wondering where your cape lookout shot was taken? I hope to miss the ride next year too as it will mean that my husband has beaten the odds.

    1. That Cape Lookout picture is taken from the day use area, head up the path towards the restrooms, then turn right towards the ocean, and walk past the first picnic tables. There’s a stump there I perched my phone on to take the timed picture of myself with bicycle.

      Cape Lookout is among my favorite camps, along the entire 2000 miles of the US Pacific Coast highway. Off the main road, so quiet at night, just the surf to lull me to sleep.

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