Discovering Netarts Bay and Cape Meares

Day 3, Cape Meares side trip, 25 miles

Cape Lookout is so beautiful, I decide to stay another night. This makes for a very relaxed morning, getting up eventually, making coffee, enjoying oats with dates and roasted – rather, scorched – walnuts. Only some much you can do with a thin titanium pan. I laze around camp some more, enjoying the cool breeze, the mystical shadows cast by sunlight through the tall pines.

It’s afternoon before I embark on my planned side trip, north along Netarts Bay. The ride is easy, until I pass the little town of Netarts. Steep climb gives way to a decent to the small town of Oceanside. I stop and decide to lay on the beach awhile, absorb the early fall sunlight. The beach is busy, many families, dogs, elders, children. All enjoying this pleasant day.

Afternoon is passing, so I cycle on, now climbing the steep rough road to Cape Meares. Thought painful, I’m glad for the hills, knowing I need to build strength for the hundreds of hills ahead on my tour. I welcome the challenge, because climbing builds muscle and endurance, and the yield on the other side: flying! Yes, descending a steep windy road seems the closest thing a human can do to flight.

I reach the top, around five hundred feet, then descend to the Cape Meares Light. Such a beautiful spot, so quiet, gentle surf below, nesting shore birds on the preserve, all the rocks surrounding these headlands. I grimace to see the bullet holes in the vintage fresnel lenses. I remember the story: a few years ago, the drunken men, burned grass driving down the path, then shot out the windows of the lighthouse.

What was in their hearts, these men, in their minds, to make them destroy this treasure of history and coastal culture? Sadly, I see the same mentality and pain now residing in the highest offices of politics in this nation.  Gun culture, rage, blindness to reason. Hope seems slim that we will turn this ship away from the maelstrom. Yet, coalition of reason are rising. Mid term elections are nigh. We will see.

I climb back to the main road, then descend to Oceanside. I stop for dinner, then ride on, retracing my path back south along Netarts Bay. The sun sets and I’m suddenly struck with the deep loneliness I’ve struggle with so often in my life. Why do I feel so alone? Even around others, even with my beloved, this loneliness is never far away. I pause to watch a group of pelicans dive fishing in the glassy calm surface of the bay. The only sounds are the awkward flapping as these near prehistoric birds lift off, then the splash as they dive beak first into the water.

I see the connection again. To life. To this place. To this time. How my life is a precious gift, as are the communities I belong to. As is my relationship with my beloved. Though she’s not with me, we are together. And in the times it seems we merge, we are still separate. Pondering this duality brings me a peace, calm like the waters and the pelicans and the sun slipping past the vast waters of the Pacific.


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