Welcome to Tillamook, Oregon home of the Tillamook Cheese factory. I’ve been hearing reports of free cheese samples. Not being one to turn down free food, I stopped to explore. The sign hanging above the sample line reads, “Today we made 500,000 pounds of cheese. Eat all you want!” I took them on their word and stuffed my belly and my pockets…
Free food aside, two days ago I crossed the 4.1 mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge and reentered Oregon. My 400+ mile detour north was well worth my time. I thoroughly explored coastal Washington and found it to be as wild as it was beautiful. Leaving the San Juan Islands via ferry, I entered Sidney Canada, crossing my first international border via bicycle, receiving my first passport stamp, my first flag of the trip, and my first round of vaccinations – health care is SOO much cheaper in Canada. A short ride south and I was in Victoria, Canada where I caught a ferry into Port Angeles, WA. I also teamed up with two other riders.
Tyler and Nick are on a very similar trip. They began in Alaska and are riding to Central America. They are 25 and 24 years old and have very similar motivations as myself for such an undertaking. As a group we: cycled 17 miles to an elevation of 5,000+ feet at the top of Hurricane Ridge, swam in the frigid waters of a 600ft deep glacial lake, dodged vampires and werewolves through forks, passed a rain forest, soaked up the sun on a stone beach, and on our last night together shared a drink (and something else now legal in the state of Washington. When in Rome…) in the tiny town of Raymond, WA where we were invited to crash on someones couch. In the morning we all went our separate ways. Tyler pedaled east to ride the Cascade Mountain route. Nick, having a week to kill, decided to spend more time in Raymond before heading to Portland, OR to meet-up with a friend. And myself sticking to rt. 101 continuing on my journey south.
In Raymond I receive a wonderful piece of advice from Manny; a fellow traveler from Mexico who left home at 14 on an order from his mother, “Go across the street and get the backpack from your cousin. Don’t come back for one year.” (he didn’t return for four years). Manny’s advice was simple though poignant, “Don’t blink.” He could not have been more right. I left home almost one month ago and have pedaled 862 miles. Time is flying by.
Also interesting to note, is the large number of touring cyclists here on the west coast. I expected to see more than on the east coast. The actual number I have met however, is staggering. Since turning south, I have yet to ride a full day alone and every campground is filled with our kind. It’s almost too much. I am used to feeling a certain amount of loneliness when traveling solo. On this trip, I’m experiencing the opposite and find myself seeking solitude whenever possible. It’s really rather strange. If I sound like I am complaining, I am not. I’ve made countless new friends and cherish every interaction with fellow travelers. I just wanted to make note of this peculiarity.
Anyway, I find myself constantly declaring a place to be the most beautiful and spectacular yet. Oregon is no different. For 370 miles I follow a marked bike route along the coastline. Many people have declared this to be the best section of the Pacific Coast. While I have only experienced 50 miles of it, they are right so far. This section of coast offers expansive views from atop cliffs of welcoming sandy beaches which are even more comfortable for lounging than they look. The campgrounds here really stand out with $6 hiker-biker campsites and, more importantly, free hot showers! I am feeling very spoiled lately.
I apologize for the lack of updates lately. Rt. 101 around the Olympic peninsula is very remote. In Aberdeen, WA I was able to post two backdated pages. This post brings the blog to my current location: a Starbucks in Tillamook, OR overloaded on coffee and cheese. Updates will come more frequently now that I am back in civilization at least until I enter Mexico. Who knows what will happen then. Hope all is well. !Hasta Luego mi amigos!