Date: Thu, 7 Nov 96 20:52:00 GMT
Hi all. I've been off-line for a while as my Genie account had expired. John Maihos got me back on-line, thank you John, and now I can email newsletters 30 through 32. We're back in San Diego now and are taking a 6 week leave from biking and the newsletter. It's good to be on again.
Charlie, I'm going to include you on the newsletter list so I can work on editing them when I get up to the office. Plz save them for me. I'm hoping you also have the others from our Alaska journey on your MAC.
Copyright (c) 1996 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.
Chapter 30 - Sept 15 to Sept 29 Potlatch, WA to Port Orford, OR - 11,433 miles cumulative
Rolling past row after row of near perfect lines of tall skinny pines, feeing much like we were riding through a long green canyon, we had entered the region of western Washington and Oregon where tree farms reign supreme. Going at a biker's pace, it's easy to distinguish logged fields of different ages. Tiny seedlings barely noticible between leftover stumps and log debris show recently logged fields, trees about 5 to 8 ft in height are about 15 years old, 60 ft tall trees were planted back in the 60's, and the large, ready to be logged fields are about 50 to 60 years old. The concept of "tree farms" is fairly new. In fact the very first tree farm in the U.S. was created by the Weyerhauser Corporation in 1941 just north of the Washington town of Raymond. They say that with managed forestation they were able to halve the time needed to obtain a tree sufficiently mature to log. That's 50 to 60 years rather than 120. But, no matter how much replanting they do, clear cut forests and even the subsequent tree farms are ugly. But, so are chemical plants, petroleum processing plants, or most any manufacturing company worldwide. It's a necessary evil. We want paper and wood products so we have to tolerate clear cutting of these tree farms. But they're still ugly.
We headed west along the southern end of the Olympic penninsula to the logging town of Montesano and then south to another primarily logging town of Raymond at the tip of the Willapa inlet. There are some towns that exude an air of pride and care that you can feel just by riding down the main street. Raymond was one of those towns. They have a nice neat park, visitor's kiosk with all sorts of information, a brand new biking path, and the most interesting sculptures line the road from the north edge of town to the south. Flat rusted metal representations of wild animals, local towns people, and native Americans poised in perpetual states of motion greet the visitor.
Information at the kiosk showed that this is a town that can laugh at itself and the world. The county has .4% of the state's population and they proudly proclaim that "99.6% of the population CAN be wrong". Another colorful story was about a religious leader named Willie Reid who lead his flock of believers to the Oregon coast during that great pioneering rush west. He had promised his son, little Willie, that he'd lead the band into Raymond, their new home. Willie died somewhere in Missouri, so to keep his promise his father made a lead lined coffin, filled it with alcohol, and carried the body of his dead son on the rest of the journey. Willie Reid's grave is now a nearby tourist site. Another local newspaper described how one farmer solved the problem of having a chicken farm in the tidal flat lands. He built a hen house on pontoons. In high tide the chickens floated high and dry. In low tide, the house sat on the ground and the chickens wandered around getting their food for the day. The newspaper article did wonder if anyone informed the chickens of when the tides would occur.
The Willapa Bay area has a long history of logging and fishing, in particular oyster raising. As attested to by the house size piles of bleached white shells stacked up beside the oyster shucking plants, South Bend and Raymond appear to be well justified in their claims to be the oyster capital of the world. But, they also grow cranberries, or "cranberries, cranberries, cranberries" as their sign emphasizes.
As we entered the grocery store in South Bend our ears perked up when we heard from behind, "Caryl, Brian". Now we may hear someone yell Caryl or Brian individually, but not often together. So we turned and much to our surprise saw one of our weather jynx girls, Fernanda. Fernanda and Laura are the two girls we first met on the Denali Highway, just before we headed into a long spell of bad weather. We met them once again on Vancouver island about a month later, and the rain fell. And now here was Fernanda once again and the rain. Actually I'm kidding, but it does seem that we get into some pretty bad weather every time we meet either of them.
Fernanda is a tiny lady, shorter than me, with dark brown shoulder length hair, heavy brown eyebrows and very expressive eyes. She lookd Italian but turns out to be Mexican. She and Laura met on a study abroad program several years earlier and decided to take this bike ride down the coast together after graduation. In Seattle, they decided it was time to try heading out on their own. As Fernanda said, "Riding together through Alaska was great. I wouldn't have wanted to do it alone. But, now I really enjoy riding alone." So now we got to spend a little time riding with Fernanda, sharing her excitment as she enters her third state on this journey, Oregon. She's taking a great opportuinty to travel before settling down to a full time job, house, and whatever. We feel she's very wise in this decision. We got to enjoy the company for one day as we were pushing south ASAP and Fernanda was planning a short break in Portland. We wished her well and said our farewells in Astoria as the rain fell all around. I wonder if we'll see her or perhaps Laura once again. Needless to say the very next day after we left Fernanda the sun came out and the rain quit. You see, they really are weather jynxs.
As we left Fred Meyer, super cheep grocery store, just outside of Astoria headed for Ft Stevens State Park the rain started to come down with a vengence. We were quickly becoming soaked through. But we needed to get some gas so we could cook dinner. As I've mentioned before, we use a Peak I Apex II Coleman backpacker's stove. One of its biggest advantages is that we can use unleaded gasoline. This has resulted in some rather interesting responses as we pull into local gas stations to fill up with $.25 of gas. We've seen expressions of surprise, disbelief, amusement. But, this was the first time we recieved very harsh rejection. This short, chubby woman wearing some funny looking hat made it quite clear she would have no part of letting us fill our little MSR fuel bottle from her pump. She was rude and obnioux as she insisted that we go somewhere else. This is the second time we've had a rather strange encounter at an Oregon gas station, the first being when we drove to Seattle last spring and we were given a lecture about how advantageous it is for Oregon to not allow self serve. We're beginning to wonder if getting gas is always so difficult and wierd in Oregon. We're not sure we like Oregon's gas stations.
We did manage to get to Ft Stevens with a full tank of gas, but not before getting totally soaked. So we were faced with a choice, try camping or have the unusual experience of staying in a YURT. "What's a YURT?" you ask. YURT stands for Yearround Universal Recreational Tent. Shaped like a small circus tent, they are supposed to give people a pseudo, mideastern experience of staying in a large circular tent. They have a bunk bed for three, a couch that makes into a double bed, small table, light, and best of all a heater. In reality there's not much difference between this and a cabin with similar accoutriments. So the YURT experience really is not that unique. But, oh I sure did enjoy the dry warm place for the night. At $27 for the night, it was worth every $.
May 14, 1804 marked the beginning of the what was to be known as one of the most ambitious and successful exploring adventures ever, the Lewis and Clark expidition. After Pres. Jefferson arranged for the purhase of the vast Louisanna territory from the financially strapped, would-be emperor of the world Napoleon for a mere $1.8 million, $.03 per acre, he realizde he had no idea what he had bought. So he hired Capts. Lewis and Clark experienced, soldiers and woodsmen, to go find out. Their primary objective was to find an overland water route to the Pacific ocean. Along the way they were tomake maps, describe in detail new and unique wildlife and plants they may find, and learn as much about the language, customs, and life styles of the Indians they met along the way.
Lewis and Clark set off on that fine May afternoon from the small town of St. Louis boating up the Missouri river with one large skiff and two smaller boats called pirogues. Their company consisted of Lewis, Clark, 45 other men, mostly soldiers, Clark's black servent named York, and Clark's dog named Seaman. Until the next November they paddled, poled, sailed, and pulled those boats up river. They spent their first winter in a fort they built near the Mandan Indian tribes in a region that was later to become North Dakota. The fort was called Ft. Mandan. York caused quite a stir as the Indians hadn't seen a black man before. They would rub his skin to see if the "war paint" would come off. York would sometimes growl back and say that before he was "tamed" he used to be a wild man who would steal and eat small children. This caused Lewis and Clark some concern as they did not wish to frighten the Indians into doing something unpleasant.
It was while they were at Ft. Mandan that they hired the services of a Mr. Charbannou as a guide. The services rendered by Charbannou proved to be of marginal value. But, his 19 year old indian wife, Sakagawea provided much more valuable service. She was an interpreter, provided route advice in her homeland, and helped with collecting plants for food. She was pregnant when they first met the "Corps of Discovery" as the Lewis and Clark team was called, and delivedered a son, named Jean Baptiste, while still at Ft. Mandan. Having a woman and child along on the expidition proved to be quite fortituous in later encounters with other Indian tribes. Traveling among a group of well armed men, they signaled that the group had peaceful intentions. So in the spring Lewis and Clark, 33 men, the dog, and the Charbannou family continued on up the Missouri. The rest of the group returned to St. Louis in the pirogues with the thousands of specimens collected during that first summer.
They continued up river on the skiff as far as they could go. Then they transferred to canoes they had built, with help from the Mandan Indians. When the canoes could go no further, they set out on foot looking for the Shoshoni Indians from whom they hoped to obtain horses. Sakagawea happened to be a Shoshoni and her brother turned out to be one of the chiefs. So it was relatively easy for them to obtain several horses for their journey over the mountains. They hiked up into the Bitter root mountains and headed north for 100 miles along the mountain ridges. They tried river after river hoping to find an easy way to the west. When their food was gone and they were eating dog meat and candles they finally found the Snake river to follow out of the mountains. This eventually led them to the Columbia river and the shores of the Pacific. At first they camped on the north side of the river, but there was no game. The friendly Clatsop Indians invited them to move to the south side where elk was plentiful. So on Dec. 7 1805 the Corps of Discovery set up shop in what they were to call Ft. Clatsop in honor of their new found friends.
They stayed the winter, trading with the Indians who visited nearly every day, making salt for meat preserving on the ocean, preparing food for the return trip, and writing, cataloguing, making maps. They stayed for 106 days, of which only 12 had no rain and 6 sunshine. In March they began the return trip essentially following the same route back. They returned to St. Louis a mere 6 months later having the current of the Missouri as an ally in their return. The towns people had figured they were long lost and were very surprised to see their return. Needlesss to say the publication of their journals insited much excitment which led to the great westward migration that happened about 60 years later.
The members of the group were paid in both money and land grants, evidentally quite handsomely paid in fact. Most drifted off into obscurity, some returned to the Rocky mountains, some went into business, others into politics. Only one, a Sgt. Floyd, died during the travels, of appendicits. Sakagewea died at about age 25 somewhere in Missouri. Her son was adopted by Clark who educated him in the ways of the white man. Lewis was given govenorship of the northern Louisana territory. But he had sevear personal and political hardships. He died at the age of 45 of gun shot wounds while traveling along the Natches Trace. It is suspected that he committed suicide. The Clatsop Indians disappeared and no one is sure of what happened to them.
Sitting on the shores of what is now called the Lewis and Clark river, a small tributary to the Columbia, sits a 1955 recreation of Ft. Clatsop, the original having long since succumed to rot and the pioneers' fires. Based upon the writings of the group, archeologists have located the fort about 3 miles west of Warrenton. It wasn't a fancy structure, just substantial enough to provide shelter for the three months of winter. There were two rectangular buildings laid out parallel to each other. They were about 50 ft in length and 10 ft wide. One building was split into 3 equal rooms to provide housing for the troops. The other had one large room in the middle for Lewis and Clark to live and carry out the business, a small room for the Charbannou family, and another room for the food. Both buildings were surrounded by a log fence with a front and rear door. The doors were closed at dusk each day and a sentry placed in front. They had no trouble with the local Indians, but I suspect if they hadn't taken these precautions they would have found themselves the center of attention day and night, not allowing for much privacy.
As this remarkable journey nears its 200th anniversary one has to be amazed at the changes. There's a paved road leading right to the doors of the fort, a fancy visitor's center provides the most modern bathroom facilities and audio visual interpretations of the trip, and you can get all the provisions you could ever need a mere 3 miles down the road at the Fred Meyer (K-Mart equivalent with an added grocery store). We were told that a committee was busily preparing for the 200th anniversary celebration. I was thinking that a walk or combination boat trip and walk following the entire route, making comparisons of then and now, would be quite exciting. But, as with the original jouney it would require people of good fortitude and strong wills to complete.
About 75 miles further south we stopped in at the huge Tillamook cheese factory just north of the town of Tillamook. Started in the early 1900s it actually is a combination of about 7 smaller cheese factories. When the pioneers came to this area they discovered flat coastal plains that were ideal for raising milk cows. Their milk and cream products became quite well known locally. But, how to market their dairy products outside this area? Transportation out of the area was accomplished by only boat or very, very slow overland hauling. The answer, make cheese. It keeps for a long time and can be easily transported. So they enlisted the aid of some guy from Canada to come to the Tillamook region to teach everyone to make cheese. Soon little cheese factories were springing up everywhere.
The Tillamook cheese factory specializes in several types of chedders; sharp, mild, smoked, and the new jalpeno pepper. One of their latest endeavors is the production of kosher cheese, the first ever large production of cheese meeting Jewish religious requirements. The vast factory building seems to house as much facilities for the tourists as it does actual cheese making equipment. There's two enormous gift shops selling everything from Christmas decorations, T-shirts, cook books, to cheese, of course. There's a big ice cream counter with some 40 different flavors, a snack shop where you can buy different types of cheese covered sandwiches, a cheese tasting counter, a cheese statue which I never did find, and a large upper level viewing gallery over the factory line.
The factory was all sparkling white and steel. White walls, white floors, white covered employees with huge steel drums, steel pipes, steel conveyor belts. Everything looked clean, shiney, and new. To the left were the huge steel tubs in which the animal fat starter, rennet, or the vegetable based started for those kosher days along with color are added to the cow product. Blades spin round and round separating the curds from the whey and chopping the curds into little round balls. This all goes into a vat where the whey is drained off leaving just the curds. Curds are the milk fats that become cheese when aged and compressed into blocks or rounds. Whey is a by product used for such things as ice cream. As the Tillamook factory folks were proud to say, "none of the cow's milk is wasted". The curds are then loaded into these 20 ft tall towers and compressed into 40 lb blocks. That's a lot of cheese. The blocks are vacume bagged and aged for 30 days for mild chedder and 90 days for sharp.
To the right is the cheese cutting and wrapping section. Those 40 lb blocks are loaded onto a conveyor belt and automatically cut into 1 lb blocks. Each block is weighed and automatically sorted into those overweight, underweight, or just right. Slices are then added or cut off those not meeting the 1 lb standard. The blocks are then wrapped in the Tillamook shrink wrap and boxed for shipping in their own refrigerated trucks. What surprised us was the amount of hand labor needed to get blocks just the right weight. It's hard to beieve some of that effort couldn't be automated.
My favorite part of the do-it-yourself cheese factory tour was, you guessed it, the cheese tasting. Yummy pieces of sharp, mild, and smoked chedder quickly sucummbed to my jaws. These were immediately followed by pieces of cheese curds that have a more rubbery consistency and less pungent taste. If I could I would stay all day, going from one sample to the next. But, alas, Brian was pushing me toward the door.
There is a vast difference between the coastline of the southeast and that of the west. While the east has mile upon mile of flat sandy shores the west has those steep hills and cliffs. This is caused by the subduction of the Juan De Fuca plate under the North American plate which pushes up the ridge of mountains along the west coast. Consequently we end up with some rugged bike riding. The hills are many, steep, and high. One day can easily involve climbing 2000 ft or more, the equivalent of a small pass. It's exhausting and after just a few days my legs begin to hurt with every round of the crank. It's clear that we need to take more days off.
So we pulled into the seaside town of Lincoln City which has a state park with hiker/biker sites right in the middle of town. Lincoln City seemed so familiar. It's got those fancy, expensive hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops long white sandy beaches, and lots of weekend traffic. We both had the identical impression ... looks like Del Mar in San Diego. Despite the high priced tourist services, the $9 per night campground and a good nearby grocery store allowed us to take a day off without losing our shirts.
As we continued south from Lincoln City a few days later we began to notice a distinct change in the coastal forests. No longer were we riding through the wet, rain forests with tall spruce and fir trees, thick moss and fern ground cover, and moss coated everything including fence posts and picnic tables. Instead the pine trees became shorter, rather scrubby and wind swept looking. Grasses were dry and brown, ground cover was more dry bushes. At last we were leaving the northern wetlands behind and could expect some great riding weather ahead. But, we were warned on several occasions, don't stay too long. The rainy weather starts in just 2 to 3 weeks and once it starts raining it doesn't stop until spring. So we pushed on south with warm, sunny, dry days and pretty chilly nights.
"Oh am I glad we're going south", I say at least once a day. Those living on the west coast know full well that with the exception of stormy days, the prevailing coastal winds are north to south. And we're talking winds up to 40 mph. Everyone, absolutely everyone is expected to ride north to south to take advantage of this. Even the highway department in Oregon has placed the wider, smoother shoulders on the southbound side. The ocean views are also on your right so there's no need to cross the road to stop. So with incredible views, great tail winds, clear days, the miles just flew by. One hour we're sailing past steep shoreline cliffs of that bubbly looking, black lava rock hinting at Oregon's firey formation. Next we're cruising past mile after mile of the most unique oceanside sand dunes. Dunes as tall as 3 story buildings move up and down a 2 mile strip between Haceta head to Coos Bay. Suddenly we leave the flat dunes to once again climb coastal cliffs. All the while that wonderful tailwind graces us with strong pushes. With mega sized grocery stores at least once a day, fantastic campgrounds with hiker/biker sites and hot showers every day, fantastic scenery, great weather, and those awesome winds this is easily some of the easiest and best bike touring we've ever encountered. Too bad it couldn't go on forever.
At the town of Charleston we pulled into the grocery store just prior to heading out to Sunset Bay state park for the night. It was here that we met "Smiley" as he called himself, his tan short haired mutt puppy Sweetpea, and his "partner" Chuck. Smiley was one of those rather unusual hobo types that one sees strolling along the road pushing a shopping cart. He's a traveler, like us, whose given up a more permenant housing situation in favor of seeing the world. Although, he's traveling more on a shoe string, living off the generosity of people he meets along the way. Pushing a shopping cart full of bedding, clothes, cooking stuff, and any food he can get, this medium sized man with stringy hair, wearing well worn blue jeans, plaid shirt, and baseball cap looks like your typical bum. But, he seemed far more intelligent. His speech was clear and memory strong. He's spent a lot of time traveling the U.S. first hitchhiking, then by freight train, and now walking. He intends to walk to Florida to visit a daughter he hasn't seen for 7 years. After that he plans to try riding freight trains down to Panama. I had to wonder how the Federales of Mexico and Guatamala would like that. As he handed us a bunch of very ripe bananas, we wished each other best of luck and he pushed his ricketty shopping cart on.
Sunset Bay State Park just west of Coos Bay has some of the most unique features we've ever seen in a state park. The road winds along rugged black lava rock cliffs interspersed with coves of golden sand. The first stop is a small picnic area where on October 4, 1973 Malcome Forbes set out in a hot air balloon to become the first to complete a transcontinental balloon trip. He landed in New York on November 5, 1973. One month. That's better than we'd do on bike.
Further down the road are the most beautiful gardens on the Oregon coast. Cape Shores was originally the estate of one Louis Simpson. Back in the 1849 old Captain Esea Simpson came to Oregon to make his fortune in gold. He quickly discovered that the big money was actually in providing goods and services to the miners and later homesteaders. So he settled into the Coos Bay area and got himself firmly entrenched in the logging industry. At his height, he had logging mills all up and down the west coast and even a ship building business to provide the transportation for his lumber. The Simpson name was synonomous with lumber.
When the Captain died in the early 1900s his son Louis, came out from the east coast to take over the business. Louis, however, wasn't quite into just continuing in the lumber business. He seemed to be more interested in real estate. He was instrumental in founding North Bend, Coos Bay, and several other small towns that have eventually been swallowed into Coos Bay. He was the first mayor of North Bend, opened several industries such as a woolen mill, and built this fabulous mansion out on Cape Arago. The mansion was a gift for his first wife, Cassie. They lived in their mansion on the coast living a life of high style until 1921. In that year Cassie died and the mansion burned to the ground. Simpson had no insurance to rebuild at that time. So he moved into the gardener's cottage.
Old Louis wasn't the type of guy to go down without a fight. He soon married Lella who bore two daughters, Barbara and Geraldine. He then took advantage of a bunch of lumber salvaged in a shipwreck to build a new mansion. This one had 17 rooms and an indoor pool. But before the mansion could be completed the economic storms of the depression hit the Simpson dynasty. As family fortunes dwindled he was forced to donate or sell the land. He decided to give it to the state of Oregon to use as a public park. He donated 134 acres of land and sold the remaining estate for a whopping $34,000.
During the depression the CCC came to the park and constructed the roads and picnic grounds. But, what park hasn't seen the influence of the CCC. The park then was used for as training grounds during the war. The mansion became the mess hall and recreation building. Finally, in 1949 the repairs needed to mansion were too great. It was razed. In 1973 the state park system began the restoration of the formal gardens that were adjacent to mansion. Today the formal gardens have been returned to their original splender and are open to the public for a $3 parking fee, free if you're on bike.
Entering the formal gardens you are presened with a football field sized expanse of manicured green lawns decorated with boxwood trimmed flower gardens. Sidewalks line the field and form a cross through the middle. Rectangular flower gardens in the middle of the lawns were filled with blooming dahlias. Red, yellow, and white flowers that fill both hands shown brilliantly in the sun. Gardens around the edges contained roses of all different varieties. Short rose bushes with pink, red, and white buds surrounded tree sized rose bushes also with red, pink, and white. Dotted throughout were mums, marigolds, and other fall blooming flowers in orange and yellow. To the rear of the football field was an almost oval shaped pond surrounded by an oriental garden. The pond was lined with large boulders that were dragged up from the ocean's edge by horse and winch. Lily pads floated in the water and bright red and pale pink fucias draped over the water. I'm the kind of person who could easily grab a book, take a seat in the corner of one of these grdens, and simply spend hours reading and enjoying. But, not Brian. For him it's move on to whatever is next.
Just a little further down the road not more than a few hundred yards out to sea are a series of large rocks. They're just rocks despite the fact one is called Shell Island. During most of the year these rocks are a favorite haul out spot for hundreds if not thousands of sea lions, those big California sea lions. The rocks and the small sand bar next to them are a black, wiggling mass of bodies as the sea lions literally lie belly to belly. They challenge each other for territory with their peculiar "ork, ork, ork" making a rucous that could be heard for miles around. I've never seen so many sea lions in one spot. It's was interesting to contrast the rigid beauty of the formal gardens with the rustic wilds of the sea lion colony.
Our second to last day in Oregon was met mith dense fog, which was quite a surprise since the day before had been a very hot and sunny 90 degrees. It was the marine layer, that low layer of clouds that typically lines the west coast. Normally it moves off shore during the day and back inland during the night. It can be incredibly dense at times, allowing for visability of only a few feet. But, head inland just a few miles and the sun will shine. As a result of the fog, it was a cold damp clammy day, the kind of day where a warm dry fire would sure feel good. But we rode on to Humbug State Park where we took a 6 mile hike to the mountain top where we found our only sun for the day, we wondered what happened to our warm summer weather. We soon found out. Into the campground rides Fernanda. Now when riding our separate ways the sun shines and it's warm. But as soon as we meet the skies cloud. Maybe, just maybe, it's the combination of all three of us. We must all be foul weather magnets.
Appendix A - Route
Rt 101 south to Shelton Rt 101 to Rt 108 to McCleary Rt 8 to Elma Rt 12 to Montesano Rt 107 to Rt 101 to South Bend Rt 101 to Johnson Landing Rt 4 to Rt 401 to Megler
Rt 101 through Astoria to Warrenton Rt 101 to Wheeler Rt 53 and back roads to Garibaldi Rt 101 to Tillamook The Three Capes Senic Loop to Pacific City Rt 101 to Florence with side loop to Otter Crest Rt 101 to North Bend Cape Arago Hwy to Charleston Seven Devils Rd and Beaver Hill Rd to Rt 101 Rt 101 to Bandon Coastal road back through Bandon back to 101 Rt 101 to Humbug Mtn State Park
Appendix B - Campsites
Super 8 in Shelton, Lake Silvia State Park at Montesano ($), Bruceport County Park at South Bend ($)
YURT in Ft Stevens State Park ($), Nehalem StatePark ($), Cape Lookout State Park ($), Devils Lake State Perk 2 nights ($), Beachside State Park ($), Honeyman State Park ($), Sunset Bay State Park 2 nights ($), Bullard's Bay State Park ($), Humbug Mtn. State Park ($)
($) indicates fee camping
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.