We are covering fairly short distances each day down the Oregon coast so that we don’t get to LA too quickly and so after four more days on the road we still aren’t even half way down the Oregon coast! Instead, we are taking our time, stopping for beer and viewpoints, where we have been lucky enough to see whales. It is getting less grey each day, but despite being summer it is still pretty chilly from the wind. Each night we’ve needed a campfire to keep us toasty and I’ve been cycling in kit that I would probably only need for spring mornings in the UK, despite being much further south (about equivalent to Bordeaux in France). I’m guessing that in about two weeks I will be bemoaning the heat; there’s always something….
We left Neil’s house on Thursday in Seaside fully recharged after a night out of the tent and only had a short 38km to our next destination. So we spent a leisurely morning cooking breakfast and bemoaning the greyness outside. As we set off we cycled through the grey along Highway 101 turning off after about 10km into the lovely town of Cannon Beach, where the skies were blue and there was a brewery. It was just after midday so it seemed rude not to stop and have a beer. We know that we have to slow down a bit otherwise we will end up in San Francisco in about 2 weeks but I suspect stopping every 10km for a beer might be taking things a bit too far towards the opposite extreme. Maybe every 15km would be OK though… 😉
The remaining 25’ish km to Nehalem passed in a blur of grey/blue with multiple “comfort” breaks (too much tea and beer….) until we arrived at the lovely Nehalem Bay State Park, our first in Oregon. Here they are $6 per person for hiker/bikers and the showers are free! Yay! We knew we were due a rest day but decided to keep going on Friday and take our rest day in Cape Lookout. This would also avoid my usual Saturday panic, worrying about whether we would find a spot to camp on the busy weekends (although I needn’t worry in Oregon it turns out as all the state parks I’ve enquired in have told me they always find a spot for bikers, no matter how full they are).
Friday we cycled down to Cape Lookout via Tillamook. The shoulder was pretty decent all day long and there were no tunnels or long bridges to scare us (there were a couple on Thursday but actually they weren’t that bad; a little sketchy perhaps but not the worst we’ve encountered). We stopped in Tillamook to take a look at the cheese factory. We walked in and straight back out again. As far as we could see it was a huge tourist trap, with hundreds of people milling around eating burgers, ice-creams (at 11am) and long queues to try a free cheese sample (our experience of American cheese so far is that it is pretty poor).
From Tillamook we turned off Highway 101 to follow the Three Capes routes but were almost immediately thwarted in our tracks when we saw a sign saying the road was closed 6 miles ahead. I was of the opinion that a road closed sign would mean exactly that, whereas Adam, the more adventurous one, thought we might be able to squeeze through somehow. We spoke to a local farmer who informed us owing to a rock slide the road was most definitely closed and that we wouldn’t be able to sneak through, saving us what would have been a 12 mile out and back. From what the farmer said, I’m not convinced that road will ever reopen (apparently the mountain is “going bye bye”). However, that also meant we missed out on what we had heard was one of the more impressive parts of the Oregon coast. From there it was a shortened ride down to Cape Lookout State Park where we had a rest day.
On Sunday we set off from Cape Lookout straight up a hill, which thankfully warmed us up. It is getting less grey as we head south but the mornings are still misty and pretty cool (we are both wearing arm warmers, gilets and Adam’s refusing to wear his shorts, instead opting for ¾ length pants and we’ve been grateful for the firewood we’ve found each evening to warm our toes) and the wind chill is exactly that. The highway was again good (a bit bumpy down the other side of the hill) and took us straight through what seemed to be an enormous sand dune – which may explain why the highway surface was quite cracked in places. We eventually turned off onto the Slab Creek Road, which was the best part of that. Well, that and the fact that we kept bumping into two cyclists we met at Cape Lookout who left about two hours before us, but decided to stop and have beer along the way after we told them about our 10km effort the other morning – they obviously felt inspired!
We camped overnight at Devil’s Lake State Park, which was somewhat odd as it felt like we were in someone’s back garden rather than a state park, and we were the only other cyclists there, in contrast to every other night.
Today (Monday) we had a short, less than 50km, day to South Beach State Park, just south of Newport. We avoided most of the rest of Lincoln City by following a suggested diversion which was pretty hilly; I say hilly, they were short, steep pulls so nothing too bad. Once again the best part of the day was all the bits where we came off Highway 101; todays was Otter Crest road which again took us up a hill, but we had a bike lane to the side and it was very quiet and it took us to a great viewpoint where we got to see whales. Whoop!