Today was an odd day.
After discovering I had been ransacked by those Bastard Bandits I stopped sulking and got breakfast on the go. Oats and trail mix.
Gerald who was always very prompt, and Gen who just happened to be an early riser left about 15 minutes before me. I got the sense from them both that they wanted to ride alone so I decided not to offer my companionship, although Gerald would have the pleasure of seeing me again later.
The ride out of Cape Lookout started with a hill. It only climbed 300 metres but it’s not quite what you needed to warm-up for the day. I was hoping to catch-up with Gen or Gerald on the way up the hill and secretly thought that I would manage to catch-up, but they were long gone.
As I was coasting down the other side of this hill the forest stopped and sand dunes started. It was just incredible that the surrounding nature changed just like that. This would be the first of many dunes that I would come to see in Oregon. After about another 20 minutes I come across an old wooden structure with a porch on the out front. From a distance I could see a bike parked up and there he was – Gerald. I park up and see that there is another guy, maybe in his 60’s or 70’s, sitting at a table on the porch with a cup of coffee. He has a round belly, a trucker cap on and a pair of spectacles from the early 90’s. The lady that is running what turns out to be a General Store that sells coffee, comes up and pours him another cup. He says nothing. Then I notice that his non-coffee drinking hand is resting on a rifle.
This was the first gun I’ve seen here in the States. I kind of expected more but he was so casual that it unnerved me – a Brit who’s exposure to guns consists of Spud Guns and those you make with your fingers.
I walked past this man trying to keep cool. I sat down next to Gerald I made eye contact with him, trying to gesture a kind of ‘wtf’ look. I grabbed a coffee myself and after Gerald had breakfast we head out together. Only now did the gentleman with the rifle say anything (he hadn’t spoken even when, who I can only assume was his wife, came out and topped up his coffee). He looked at his over the top of his tinted aviators, hand still resting on his rifle: “You stay safe out there” in a kind of an American drawl. Here we have Walter from The Big Lebowski, who is known to be a little trigger happy, telling us to stay safe! This was the most unnerving recommendations of staying safe that I would ever have. “Why, do I need to avoid people like you?” I thought.
As we left, his wife recommended that we go to a cafe in Otis called . . . The Otis Cafe, and them them she sent us. “OK, thanks ma’am”
We didn’t stick around much longer
Looking at the book there was the option to take a longer, hillier but prettier route. Of course this meant going off the 101 so we opted for it. If that wasn’t enough, we met an older couple at the turning who had just done it but in the opposite direction.
A gentleman in his car wound down the window and asked us where we were going and supported the couple on the bike. He was a local and rides these lanes regularly. We couldn’t back down now.
We started the slow climb. We took our time. We were in no rush at all. The road was pretty poor, pot holes everywhere, and there was no shoulder. But it was OK as we saw maybe 2 cars on the hour climb up the top.
It was one of the quietest rides that I had for a while. The further south we got the generally busier it was, so it was nice to have some respite from the traffic and other people. We made the descent which seemed safer than the way we came. Fewer potholes and opportunities to crash. There were many switchbacks and sharp corners for us to contend with.
Around one corner, a Black Bear was making his/her way across the road. It was maybe 25 metres away. I was going fast and slammed on my breaks. I made that all familiar sound from my childhood of skidding tires. The bear stopped, looked up, and then shot into the woods without looking back. I had come to a complete standstill and Gerald was soon next to me. “I’ve just seen a bear”. This was my first bear run-in and I was thinking about what I had read on it. I was mumbling to myself before deciding – “we should just go”. Gerald just looked at me, unsure – “OK”.
I sang and shouted the rest of the way down the hill.
Gerald must have thought I was weird. It turns out the reason he was unsure of my decision was that he didn’t believe me when I said there was a bear. He thought I was joking. So all the singing and jabbering on made no sense to him at the time.
We make it to Otis and get some lunch at The Otis Cafe. What an awesome little place. Just charming. I had a Redneck Benedict = Open Sausage on a savory muffin covered in sausage gravy, plus German potatoes (fried potatoes, melted cheese and spring onions). I admit – it doesn’t look too appetising but it was great. So much so that I boxed up the rest and saved it for Camp. I also bought a dark loaf there too (the same as what Gerald is eating in the photo), which would serve many days of joy ahead.
Outside, the heat was now pretty unbearable, especially with all the newly laid tarmac outside the cafe. It was like a furnace. As we were preparing to leave, a young guy without a hair on his face rolled up to us. Although my US accents are not quite honed in, I knew he wasn’t a local.
Full of enthusiasm – “Hey – some more Hiker Bikers!”
This was Jace.
“I just thought I’d come and say ‘Hi’ as you’re the first bikers I’ve seen in 2 days”. Jace was probably going to the same campsite at us at Devils Lake so “I’m sure we’ll see you later”. We sure did – Jace and I would then be riding partners for going on the next 2 weeks.
Jace goes on a head of us whilst Gerald and I faff around with topping up water etc. We end up back in society at Devils Lake, on the outskirts of Lincoln City. I took a wrong turn which meant going down and up another hill unnecessarily. Gerald loved me for that. We get to camp, the hiker biker section is again, on top of a hill near the main entrance. This is more of an urban state park but it does the job.
Gen is already at camp, as is Jace. We meet a new person on the route as well, Becca. She’s sleeping in a hammock that doubles up as a tent when there are no trees about. She was pretty quiet at first and also riding solo all the way through to Mexico – another impressive feat – “Maybe I should go to Mexcio too” I thought. We still don’t know all of each other that well yet so it was one of those awkward nights where we are all kind of like “sooooo . . . I may go to bed now” and everyone else follows suit “yeah, yeah, good idea”. Apart from Gerald, disappointing at finding out it was only 7pm (the idea that he had at least 3 hours to kill seemed too much for him), who went for a walk by himself. It had been a hard days ride.
Today was all about new friends and new experiences.
- Route can be found HERE