Seattle to San Francisco
Bicycle Tour

Copyright (C) 1991 by C. Anderson - All Rights Reserved

Day 5 (Sunday July 14)

Nehalem Bay State Park to Cape Lookout
43 miles - 14.4 mph rolling

I woke up to a beautiful Sunday morning, a bit late, a bit bleary eyed, and decided to treat it as a "day of rest." Hence, the short number of miles. My usual breakfast and a shower freshened me up nicely and I was on my way out of the state park. I listened to the 2nd movement, Adagio, of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A (KV 622). What a splendid peace. A smidgen of this can be heard in the movie "Out of Africa."

In the very next town I ran into Rick who was sitting at a bus stop and eating Danish. I sided up with him and we started riding together. I thought he'd slow me down, but after a couple miles of warm up he took off like a shot and I pursued. When we stopped for a short break Mark and Brad caught up with us and then we pulled them along with us. We were averaging about 18 mph that morning on our way to the Tillamook Cheese factory for lunch. 24 miles from Nehalem Bay and we were there. We almost missed it. It's at the far northern edge of town.

The Tillamook Cheese Factory is quite a tourist stop. It was even open on Sunday. They had a small sandwich and soup restaurant, a self-guided tour of the cheese making (booorrring), a tourist shop where you can buy, among other things, .......cheese, and they had great ice cream. Rick, Mark, Brad and I did everything that there was to do here and left. Mark and Brad left for Lincoln City and Rick and I were going to Cape Lookout. Rick took the scenic alternate route that's on the Oregon Coast Bike Route map ("three capes") and I went into Tillamook to wash my clothes at a laundromat.

Less than a mile past the Tillamook Cheese Factory, on the left, I saw a building with a sign that said Blue Heron Wine and Cheese Making. It was a quaint looking old wooden building with hardly any people there. I wish I wouldn't have wasted my time at the "big cheese" plant. This looked far more interesting, but at that point I didn't have the time to stop again. I highly recommend that you pass up the "big cheese" for this quainter looking place. If you don't like it you can always go back, but I don't think that will be necessary.

There is a coin-op on the right just before entering the "business district of Tillamook. I chatted with a very nice woman attendant and her daughter, "Curby" ('cause she's always running into them), and the time passed quickly. She told me that most of the men in Tillamook, including her ex husband, ride bicycles now because of DUI's. I left with clean clothes and took a short cut (no scenic alternate) straight through to Netarts (like sweethearts). There was one pretty easy climb. The scenic alternate contains a couple of hefty hills, as I was told. In Netarts I got a cheeseburger so I could save time at camp. I bought breakfast and found another good ale, Blue Heron, from the Bridgeport Brewery in Portland (ah, the land of microbreweries). I met up with Rick and the German couple at this store. The German fellow, Georg, was bummed because he had broken ANOTHER spoke (cheap skinny wheels).

The rest of the way to Cape Lookout (4 miles) was a beautiful, lesser traveled road. These roads are the best part of the trip, getting off of the main highway and traveling a rural, two lane road with much less traffic. It gives you the inspiration to stop and smell the wildflowers.

Cape Lookout is the "numero uno" hiker/biker campsite on the Oregon Coast. There are about 15-20 completely separate campsites, all with their own firepit and picnic table. It must be a new sight because the campsites are covered with gravel. I imagine that this is for drainage and that in a year or two the pine needles from the towering trees will completely cover the gravel. At first I was disturbed that I would be sleeping on gravel, but I discovered that it was really very comfortable. I slept very well there.

The hiker/biker sites are well away from the "portable satellite dish parking lot" and only 50 - 100 yards from the beach. The sound of the surf lulls you to sleep. This is a good place to spend an extra day.

I had a nice surprise as I was selecting my campsite. Vivian and Jeremy were already there. On their way to the Oregon border Jeremy had broken a spoke (cheap, FAT wheels) and they had gotten a 30 mile boost from a passing motorist into Astoria. Vivian was nearly ecstatic because she had learned how to shift and use her gears....yikes.

I finally made real physical contact with the Pacific. When you don't get to see the ocean often it is a humbling experience. It is the cradle of all life, the Mother of all living organisms. I believe that there is a little bit of seawater in every one of our cells.

Vivian and I talked about those obsessive songs that come into your head while riding. Very often they're some ridiculous little song that you'd rather forget. You don't know where they come from. They're probably triggered by something you've seen or heard. Try as you may, you keep catching yourself halfway through the song realizing that you've been pedaling along singing it to yourself for the last half mile or so. So you stop yourself. Five minutes later you catch yourself again. I thought she'd be amused to know that I had been obsessed with "How Much is That Doggy in the Window."

I sat up until 11:00 with Rick and the German couple sharing beer, Tillamook Cheese, pistachios and salt water taffy. At about 10:30 some jerk in a nearby tent yelled at the top of his lungs, so that the whole campground could hear, "KEEP YOUR VOICES DOWN." We made rude comments about being yelled at and were glad that we weren't being so pig headed about this trip. Come on, lighten up.

I went back to my campsite and sat there watching my fire for a while before retiring. A short while later I became anxious when I heard someone approaching my tent. When I heard an empty beer can rattle I grabbed my flashlight, opened my tent as quickly as possible and shined my light towards the sound. Two racoons had come to rob me of my breakfast. Being a bit negligent, I had left the remains of a loaf of bread and a whole banana sitting out on my table. I startled the coons so that one of them dropped the banana which I rescued by bringing into my tent. In some places this is not even a good idea. The critters will chew a whole in your tent to try and get your food, but here at Cape Lookout there were enough easy pickin's that I didn't think they'd get that desperate.

Day 6 (Monday July 15)

Cape Lookout to Beverly Beach State Park
63 miles

It rained a bit over night and a heavy foggy settled in by morning. When I awoke the fog was dripping off of the trees sounding like rain so I slept in. This was the beginning of feeling comfortable within my tent. I felt very cozy just laying there. When I finally left my tent I saw that a lot of people had already left. Rick was packed and ready to go. With my poncho on over my shorts I must have looked like a flasher or something because I got a lot of laughs. By the time I was all packed (with a soaked rain fly and wet towel) and had said goodbye to the sea it was 11:00.

Leaving Cape Lookout one heads immediately into a 2.5 mile, 1000 foot climb (7.5%). Not the ideal way to start the day. It was foggy and cold to boot. Between my sweat and the fog I was pretty wet. The ride down was cold, but I survived. I reached my only moment of indecision concerning the correct route at the bottom of the Cape Lookout hill and road a mile out of my way before turning around and heading west for Sandlake. I thought I'd found a shortcut, but decided that the road sign saying "to 101 south" was right and I had best go back and take it. A mile or so later I ran into Rick and the German couple at a small general store along the road and I stopped to join them for coffee and some cookies warmed in the microwave. They had been there for over half an hour reading the paper. We were all trying to keep up on the news of THE race.

We left together heading for Sandlake. This is another beautiful stretch of road and it reminded me of Germany. There were even some houses right next to the road with miniature geraniums in the window boxes. If you've ever been in Bavaria you know what I mean. The German couple started to lag behind, on purpose, I believe. It gets complicated when too many begin riding together and making decisions about routes and stops. It becomes like riding with a committee.

Just after Pacific City we rejoined highway 101. Rick and I headed for Neskowin. We stopped at the bottom of famed Neskowin Hill for some body fuel before climbing. We met a french speaking couple from Montreal, had snacks, ate some fruit that a Caifornia produce farmer gave us, and when Rick went for more coffee and some lasagna I took my leave. I couldn't stand still that long.

There's a scenic alternate route that skirts the steepness of Neskowin Hill, but I opted not to take it. The straight climb is only a 2.5 mile climb (5%) and not at all as bad as what I had prepared for. I heard that the alternate route was indeed very beautiful, but was five miles of gradual climbing. I like to get my hills over with as quickly as possible so I was happy with my decision. I put on a sweatshirt at the top of the hill (it was still a bit foggy, especially at the high points) and descended toward Lincoln City.

I was hitting my stride at this time every day. Between 1:00 and 5:00 the miles went by with ease. I entered the north end of Lincoln City at about 3:00. There on a blue information sign was a message for me; "Brewery Pub 1/8 mile ->." An eighth of a mile? I couldn't pass that up.

Welcome to the Lighthouse Brew Pub. They had six in house brews and I got samplers (small wine glasses) of three of them. Excellent stuff. A little sampling is OK, but too much is detrimental to your stamina. As I was leaving the brew pub, Rick was pedaling up to it. He had seen the brew pub sign and figured he'd find me there. I wish I had researched the location of all brewpubs on the way. That would make a nice tour.

Rick was planning on staying in Lincoln City and I was planning on heading on to Beverly Beach, south of Depoe Bay and Cape Foulweather, 20 miles further down the road. Rick almost came with me, but at the south end of town he said he was hungry again and would probably stay in Lincoln City at Devil's Lake. I began to wonder if that pace he had started two mornings earlier hadn't blown him out a bit. We shook hands and parted.

I finally stopped at a "Catch the Wind" shop and bought a small spinning windsock. Lincoln City and another city in China are the kite capitals of the world, or so said a "Catch the Wind" promo. I headed towards Depoe Bay with the added vigor consumption of a small amount of real beer can make.

I had been told about a place in Depoe Bay called the Sea Hag where the owner, a woman named Gracie, took requests and played songs on the liquor bottles. I made it there, but found that Gracie only performed on weekends. I had a delicious Cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and a big glass of milk. When I set off in the deepening fog for Beverly Beach it was about 6:00.

There's an alternate route just past Depoe Bay that is well worth taking since it avoids the crest of a 500 foot hill and is (well, usually) very scenic. My view over the cliffs was into a grey void with no dimension. Very eerie, but not all that scenic. It's called the Otter Crest Loop and it is on the Oregon Coast Bike Route Map. Just as I entered the alternate I saw some people that I had first seen in the morning. They had signs on the back of their bikes and one would assume that their names were Just and Married, but they were really George and Mary and were just, know,....married. Mary was hoping that camp was but another half mile up the road. I burst her bubble as I passed and let her know that it was another four or five miles.

About half way through the Otter Crest Loop the fog got heavy enough to become rain. It was nearly 7:00 and I was really looking forward to picking up a six-pack, getting settled in my campsite, and, whoosh, into my tent for a night of writing post cards and updating my log. There is a store right at the entrance to Beverly Beach. The clerk came outside to tell me that I may not park my bicycle on the sidewalk under the roof, even if it wasn't leaning against the glass. I sure wish that there had been another store nearby.

Once at Beverly Beach the rain stopped and I was able to set up a dry camp. My sleeping bag, pillow, pads and the inside of my tent were dry, so I was happy. The tent I have has a small vestibule off of the front, so with a garbage bag as a small ground cloth I can keep all of my packs dry and within reach. That's very handy.

Vivian and Jeremy showed up just before dark. There were two new strangers in camp, Norm from Toronto and Pierre from Montreal. Norm had a tent big enough to roll his bicycle into. Pierre, he was very quiet, no? Norm, noticing that I had a beer, almost apologetically mentioned that he felt a Miller was necessary at the end of the day, too. A little later a fellow from Tennessee showed up. He was finishing the cross country Bike Centennial Trail and was on his way north to Portland.

Just after dark it started to rain again and we all retreated into our tents. I was a little disappointed with Beverly Beach. Cape Lookout had been too nice and I wanted the surf to lull me to sleep every night. Beverly Beach, however, was on the east side of the highway and the only indication that the ocean was near by was the perpetual fog. The hiker/biker site was a little too communal for my taste, as well. It was just a large grass clearing with a table and a firepit. But then I'd forgotten that "every day is a new day," hadn't I?

There was a place further down the road, past Newport, called South Beach that was on the west side of the highway. If I had it to do over again I would give South Beach a try.

Day 7 (Tuesday July 16)

Beverly Beach to the Silver Sands Motel, Florence OR
60 miles - 13.8 mph rolling - 7.5 mph on the day (lots of stops)

There had been a light drizzle all night. I know because my body, responding to the riding schedule with clockwork perfection, set off an alarm every night between 3:00 and 4:00 AM that had to be answered. Usually with much haste. By morning the drizzle had stopped, but there was a thick fog. The moisture was starting to bother me and I thought a motel in Florence that night might be a good idea. The fellow that was riding the Bike Centennial trail had stayed at the Silver Sands Motel the night before and offered me the business card he'd picked up there. I kept it just in case.

I got away at 10:15 and met up with Joe, one of the "quiet" guys that had been at Nehalem Bay. We stopped together for breakfast in Newport, chatted, started to ride together, but soon split up. We both stopped at the Mark Hatfield Aquarium on the south end of town, across the bridge. It was interesting enough for a half hour stop. I called my daughter again. It was good to hear her voice, know that the house was still in one piece and no one was in the hospital or anything.

I stopped for a snack in Waldport. I had the first chocolate eclair that I'd had in years. Bicycle tours have two main components; riding and eating. The second component can be quite enjoyable. It's great to stop every couple of hours and refuel.

The weather was holding. It was pretty foggy, again, but mostly at higher elevations. thumbnail It never actually started to rain. Further south I made it to Cape Perpetua. This is one of the most scenic sections of the coast with lots of forest, cliffs, beaches, and haystack formations in the water. It was especially green and melting together in the mist. Joe had told me earlier that he was going to stay at Cape Perpetua for the scenery and to take a "short day."

I stopped to take a picture of myself and then headed south to Heceta Head and the Sea Lion caves. There's a good size hill (500 feet) on the way up the Heceta Head and the second and last tunnel on the Oregon Coast, again, with a "Bikes in Tunnel" sign. Most of the climbs on this ride are relatively easy. They only require a minimum of perseverance and the right gear selection. Just before climbing this hill I passed, and said howdy to, Norm.

Just before the Sea Lion Caves was a scenic turnout. I pulled in and saw Pierre. With his thick french accent and somewhat broken english he pointed out the grey whales that every one was watching. They looked like they were feeding in this little cove. Swimming about with their mouths open and occasionally surfacing just enough to blow. It seemed like a wonderful, peaceful existence.

The Sea Lion Caves were not that great, worth seeing, but not that great. They are the largest sea caves known, but the Sea Lions looked much the way that they do in a zoo, only further away. I grabbed a couple of post cards. This is a good way to avoid having to take too many pictures. Let the pros do it. Photography is fun, but it slows your pace drastically.

I rode downhill off of Heceta Head and then on into Florence. I still wasn't sure if I was going to get a motel so I could dry out and reorganize, or try to make it to the next hiker/biker campsite, Jesse Honeyman. About 5 miles north of Florence a higher power assisted me with my decision. It began to pour and I got my first real good soaking on the road. At first I was a bit distressed, but by the time I got into Florence I felt like I could ride another 25 miles easily. I wasn't cold and miserable, just wet. Next time I'm going to try heavy duty zip lock bags over my shoes to try and keep them from becoming so waterlogged. That was the only real problem with the rain.

The Silver Sands Motel was on the right just as I entered town, Finicky me, I had to ride further into town and do a little shopping around. It turned out that the Silver Sands was the best deal all around. They were out of singles (Pierre had just gotten the last one), but they gave me a kitchenette for the single price and asked that I not use the kitchen. This gave me lots of room to spread out my rainfly and tent and to dry everything. I met some motorcyclists as I was registering. They were in worse shape than me. The motel owner dried their sleeping bags for them.

By the time I got organized the rain had slowed to a trickle and then stopped. Without any gear on my bike I rode back into town for groceries and the evening's malted barley beverage selection. Riding my bike with all of the packs removed felt as awkward as that first day in Seattle. I came back to the motel, called a friend in Illinois to give him an update on my trip and went across the street for cheap pizza.

A young, high school age girl there wagged her finger at me and said, "you cyclists better ride carefully. I almost hit one of you today in my truck."
"What do you mean - 'you cyclists?'" I asked very nicely. "I'm just myself not all cyclists and I do ride carefully, thank you." She was smiling and seemed truly concerned for my welfare. Too bad she has such a narrow view. She must be "one of those small town folks."

The motorcycle fellows were there and two of them were smashed enough to act like teenagers - hooting at and chasing after the high school girls. One of them was pretty level headed though, so their combined company was tolerable. They had a lot of questions about cycling, which I answered with casual self assurance. The one common thread for us was harassment by automobiles and trucks.

DAY 8 (Wednesday July 17)

Silver Sands Motel, Florence to Sunset Bay
62 miles

After a very comfortable night I packed all my gear. I had regained my original integrity. All systems were dry, except my shoes and socks which I took to a coin-op. Look for it on the left side of the road next to the Sentry market. Conveniently, there is a small breakfast cafe right next door, so I was able to save time by drying my shoes and eating breakfast at the same time. This was the beginning of my second week and I had traveled 408 miles.

I got on the road at 11:15 and the weather began to break up. By midday there were no clouds and the prevailing tailwind began to make itself known. During days of bad weather the wind blows from the south (low pressure system off of the coast). The prevailing weather in the summer consists of clear skies with northerly winds. This is associated with a high pressure system located off of the coast. The worst part of those three days of unstable, cloudy weather was the headwind (or lack of tailwind).

The entire day's ride followed the Oregon National Dunes, which didn't really interest me, they're just a barrier between the highway and the scenic coast. About an hour out on the road three motorcycles passed me with a friendly honk and a wave. By early afternoon, as I approached Reedsport, the tailwinds were providing a welcome boost. I rode through Reedsport and then stopped for lunch at a small store near Winchester Bay. Lunch consisted of a big piece of carrot cake washed down with two bottles of fruit flavored mineral water. I talked a bit with Becky, the cute young clerk. Since I had mentioned that I was from Colorado she talked about skiing. When I told her I was amused by a cartoon postcard showing a duck riding a bicycle in the rain and titled "A Soggy Note From Oregon," she offered to buy it for me. I told her it wasn't necessary, but since she already had she should write something on it and sign it.

"To Chuck, Hope you have a great time cycling to San Francisco. Maybe we'll see you again. Love and Peace, Becky." She followed this with her address and I said I would send her a card from Boulder. After seven days on the road, "alone," Becky's sweet, flirtatious charm filled a void in my journey giving me a needed boost. Try to stop in Winchester bay for a snack or lunch. If you're lucky you'll meet her. She can even tell you the best bait to use to catch Salmon. With added vigor and a helpful tailwind I continued my journey along Oregon's Sand Dunes.

thumbnail Before Winchester Bay I had passed over the Reedsport Bridge, where I took a picture of a lumber truck rumbling by. When crossing bridges you have two, or three options. There are signs as you approach the bridge reminding motorists that there may be bicycles on the bridge. Oregon had a lot of signs to remind motorists that they were sharing this route with cyclists. They are quite reassuring. Anyway, you can ride across the bridge on a small, but usable shoulder where you're not allowed to stop (option 1). Or you can go up on the sidewalk. I did this a couple of times so that I could stop in the middle to look around and feel the bridge sway. The problem was that once on the sidewalk there is a sign saying cyclists must walk (option 2). Following the substance of the law and not the letter I chose to ride on the sidewalk and yield (dismount) to any pedestrians (option 3). The Reedsport bridge, and later that day, the North Bend bridge provided ample scenery and swaying motion for my satisfaction.

Immediately after crossing the bridge into North Bend I Stopped at Moe's Cycle Shop. It's on the left side of the road directly across from the well marked Visitor's Center. I was hoping to find two things, a cycling cap that I liked so I could use it for sun protection and a brake chuck to help with bike handling while stopping to access my packs. Finding neither I kept looking for something, anything. A good bicycle shop is a baited trap for the bicycle tourist. They have so many great gadgets and clothing. It's the same thing that happens when you enter a great hardware store. There it was a "Mirrycle™" for MTB bar ends. After the schraeder to presta converter on their hand pump failed they let me use their compressor, they also trued my front wheel, on the bike. I didn't tell you that I'd had a rather nasty crash a few days before I left, did I? Oh, well. It had left a slight wobble in the front wheel and a little road burn on my face.

They also gave me a couple of large rubber bands to put on the end of the left handlebar, where the mirror would go. They can be used to grab the front brake lever and prevent the bike from rolling. A flick stand, and for that matter a kick stand, both seem like they would be good touring additions. The first to prevent the front tire from turning while parked, which inevitably causes the bike to fall. And the second, so that you can stop even when there is no convenient spot to lean your bike. This happens more often than you would think.

I bought a "Moe's" water bottle and was asked to stick a pin in Boulder on their wall map of the US that marked the hometown of cyclists that had passed through. There was only one other pin already in Boulder. I would have expected more. Needless to say, I think this is a great bike shop and I recommend you stop there and shop. Go ahead. It won't hurt you. You're doing a lot of riding and you deserve to treat yourself to some new equipment or fancy duds. Later that night I installed the "Mirrycle™". It took me all of 2 minutes to install once I had thoroughly read the instructions. It is far simpler than installing the road bike model on the brake hood.

I was amused by this excerpt in the instructions... "1. Cut off the endcap of the left handlebar grip. (If you live in a country where they drive on the left, cut off the endcap of the right handlebar grip.)" ... duh!?

As I crossed the street from Moe's I ran into George and Mary ("Just and Married"). We rode together with a blissfully strong tailwind into Charleston and stopped at a seafood restaurant that was recommended to me by an older gentleman at Moe's. It's just across the bridge as you enter Charleston and it is pretty good. As I was told, they had some reasonably priced (~$5), and tasty entree's. After leaving there I stopped for the night's fixin's (beer and breakfast,) and headed for Sunset Bay State Park Campground, a couple of miles out on the Cape.

The hiker/biker site has been moved and is no longer at the end of Cape Arago (three miles from the main campground). It's now located (crammed) within the main campground. I noticed a private campground on the way in that had biker sites and after seeing Sunset Bay I was tempted to give it a go. It was on the ocean side and that was what I was really looking for. The hiker/biker campsite at Sunset Bay is in a very small clearing that forces a very communal atmosphere if there are any more than 4 tents. The beach is in a small, restrictive, albeit pretty, little cove. In ignorance of my great thought leaving Astoria, I went back to the ranger shack and let them know that I thought the campsite was inadequate. The woman ranger very nicely agreed with me and said I should write my comments on my registration form and deposit it before leaving. An ugly American in America. I heard my earlier words of wisdom echo inside my head and decided to give Sunset Bay a go. I discovered later, though, that it was truly too small.

There were two new people in camp when I got there, a mother and daughter that were traveling between 10 and 30 miles a day. In many ways I was jealous of their pace. thumbnail There are many flowers to stop and smell along the way. Having already eaten I had plenty of time to shower and get acquainted with the folks in camp. Then I walked to the beach with mom and daughter. We chatted, dug our toes into the cool sand, flicked off the confused little sand crabs, and watched the sun set in Sunset Bay.

When we got back to the campsite there were 4 or 5 more tents (besides mine, "Just and Married," and the Mom and daughter). Some younger guys that work as San Francisco bicycle messengers had met up with each other by pure accident after one of them had ridden for 40 days and the others for a few weeks. There was also another couple, but it appeared that they had already gone to sleep. We sat up pretty late (midnight) drinking beer and talking quietly. Unfortunately, this was a very small area and "Just and Married" had retired at about 10:00. At about 11:30 they asked, quite politely, how long we planned to stay up and we slowly broke it up. I blame the camp site for this unfortunate incident. I don't think anyone was doing anything radically different. But, we weren't met to live under the same roof, tree lined, as it was.

By the way, the firewood that we bought in Sunset Bay never would really ignite. We blew on it for hours and got nothing more than hot coals. That's what freshly cut wood will do. Even wet wood will eventually dry enough on the outside to burn well.

(Visit for information about the Coos Bay - Charleston area.)

Continue with Day 9 - 12

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