Day 96: Honeyman SP, OR to North Bend, OR (46 miles, total: 4934 miles). The End.

After that relatively late night, we weren’t up at our normal early hour – but hey it was our last day and with only 40 odd miles to go, we weren’t in too much of a rush.

With the usual breakfast tasks taken care of, we packed up (passing out some of our now redundant food supplies to our fellow cyclists), and hit the road.

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We made it about 20 miles before stopping for tea. A great little bakery in Reedsport that had a huge selection of (mostly) sugary pastries. We sat in there for about an hour catching up on the blog and booking a motel for that evening. Then, before we knew it, it was lunchtime.

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There weren’t any other towns on the route before North Bend, so we opted to stay in Reedsport. We pedaled over to the dockside where they were a couple of nice little cafes serving lunch. We sat at the Schooner cafe looking at the river and enjoying some great salads served in some great fish-shaped crockery.

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There were just 20 miles to go and by then the tailwind had picked up making the last stretch a nice cruise. It was a perfect way to finish the adventure.

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Lots more dunes along this stretch of coast

Our plan for the next day was to pick up the hire car as soon as the desk opened the following morning, pack the bikes in, then drive straight to Sonoma (about 500 miles depending on the route – or just over a week’s worth of cycling).

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Tom in front of the last bridge of the trip: it was fairly steep but the tailwind literally propelled us over!

We got into North Bend at about 4pm. Having seen a number of pretty towns along the route, we had assumed that North Bend would have a picturesque old town district where we could get an ice cream and check out a nice place for dinner. We were wrong. The main street featured a strip mall and a couple of gas stations. We decided to go straight to the motel.

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We checked in, showered, discovered there was a deli across the road with 15 beer taps at the back dispensing growlers (great idea), then walked down to a Lebanese place for a decent dinner of Middle Eastern cuisine.

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We had a great trip. In parts it was harder than we expected. It was certainly more fun and more spectacular than we could have imagined. We’ve also met some great people and made some new friends along the way. It’s been fun writing the blog, but more fun reading people’s comments and, in some cases, finding out that we’ve provided the inspiration to get on a bike or do a tour. The help we’ve had along the way from our friends, from strangers, and from the cycling community has been awesome. Thank you.

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There’ll be more cycling adventures in the future, but for now, we’ve got a wedding to attend.

Thanks for reading.

Tom & Jana

Day 95: Beverly State Park, OR to Honeyman SP, OR (65 miles)

No other hikers or bikes had joined us overnight, so we had the campground to ourselves again this morning (apart from the cameo by a fellow campers dog, who had come up the hill to see us).

It was cool, and the sun was yet to come up over the ridge line. We had our tea and porridge and headed back to the road.

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The wind was already blowing by the time we’d done a few miles. A strong tailwind helping us to whip along.

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The pretty town of Newport

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First bridge of the day

Our first stop was Waldport where, with some help from Google, we tracked down a great little cafe on the dock front. To a soundtrack of 50s movies on the TV we enjoyed tea, a slice of excellent homemade apple pie, and a chocolate chip cookie.

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We then spent some time posting blogs and checking the route.

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We have to be in Coos Bay in two days time to pick up the hire car. That means we’ll need to get beyond Florence today in order to give ourselves an easy final day.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way out of town to pick up some lunch items. We got chatting to the guy running the kettle corn stand outside – Ray was from Staten Island and moved here 11 years ago with his wife. They love the place and he now runs the corn stand on Fridays to help the local food exchange. He have us a little bag of kettle corn which we munched on throughout the day.

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The road south was as beautiful as we’d come to expect. We stopped pretty regularly to take photos or just gaze at the view.

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After about another 10 miles of winding, clifftop roads we passed a great looking view point that we decided should be our lunch stop. The wind was still blowing strongly (it was still a tailwind for us and pushing us up the hills), but we found a picnic bench with a tree almost bent over it, providing protection from the wind. We ate a great lunch there, enjoying the view and the sunshine.

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The next 20 miles to Florence zipped past. At times we were cruising along at 25mph with barely any effort.

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The town of Florence greeted us with a row of strip malls. Not a good sight. We found a Safeway and then learned from a guy I was chatting to that there was a great old town section just under the bridge, near the water. Having bought food for dinner, we cycled to the old town area in search of ice cream and a beer.

We checked out the nice rows of shops before seeking out a bar for a beer and a shop for an ice cream. I found a nice bar called the Beachcomber and enjoyed a great IPA while Jan picked up an ice cream from a shop along the street.

It was just 3 miles to Honeyman State Park where we’d planned to spend the night. That included a small climb, but it was just enough to work up an appetite.

The hiker/biker section was tucked behind the main entrance and was small but had a good number of spaces that were hidden amongst the towering trees.

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Possibly the most perfect tent site so far

There were several cyclists there as we arrived. Crystal, who we’d been playing leapfrog with all afternoon. Juan, who we’d seen a couple of nights previously and was cycling from Portland back to SF; and Grace, an Irish girl cycling down the coast from Vancouver.

We’d brought some food with us, and we all crowded round a fire ring to make dinner and chat about cycling, various cities we’d passed through and future cycling trips we might make.

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It was great fun, and we didn’t really retire to the tent until 10pm – a late night for a cyclist! We had just one day left – a short ride down to North Bend to pick up a hire car and then drive down to California.

Day 94: Cape Lookout, OR to Beverly Beach SP, OR (64 miles)

Our campsite at Cape Lookout really felt like it was in an enchanted forest this morning. The tall pine trees were silhouetted against the pale grey sky and the fog was low and thick. All the sounds were really muted too. As I got out of the tent, little rabbits that were having a breakfast of grass and shrubs went scampering back into the undergrowth. If that all sounds idyllic, it’s because it was. (Note: Tom was up in the middle of the night rescuing the panniers from a marauding raccoon).

We had a slightly disappointing cup of tea (no milk) and some watery porridge (no milk) and then got on our way, discussing the delicious hot drinks and snacks we’d consume a little further down the road.

First up, though, we had a big hill to get over. The elevation map showed a massive, skinny spike, stretching up from sea level to 800ft. Luckily, we felt strong and energetic and we pedaled our way up there at a good pace.

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We only saw about three cars on the road (the benefit of an early start) and it was wonderful to climb in and out of the fog layer. Sometimes I could see Tom riding ahead of me and sometimes he was swallowed up in opaque whiteness.

From the top, we descended slightly and then traversed a plateau covered in sand dunes. I had no idea we’d see anything like that on the Oregon coast! Another few miles and we dropped into the small town of Pacific City. Most of the coastal communities along this stretch are really charming and this was no exception. We quickly found a nice cafe with outdoor seating that looked into the ocean and an amazing rock formation out at sea.

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After tea, coffee and bagels, we somehow managed to find room for a humongous, freshly-baked cinnamon roll. Full of carbs, we were ready to tackle the next 27 miles before lunch.

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The weather had cleared up beautifully and we had the magic combination of sunshine and a tailwind. Add to that the stunning scenery and we had all the ingredients for a perfect day’s riding.

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The route took us along the coastline and we regularly stopped to take photos and chat to other visitors.

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Further along, our maps indicated a detour from 101 onto the old highway and we found ourselves on a meandering road, riding through thick, lush forest.

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Admittedly, the road condition wasn’t ideal, with potholes and huge cracks but the surroundings were amazing. A cyclist traveling the other way showed me some edible berries that were growing along the side of the road so I had a quick hedgerow snack to prepare for the uphill section.

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The road soon rejoined the main highway and the traffic picked up again. We stopped in Lincoln City for a bite to eat and used the opportunity to throw our clothes in the wash at a nearby laundromat. Two birds, one stone.

The final section of our ride continued the same theme as the morning: gorgeous views and a non-stop tailwind. At one point, on a 5% grade uphill, I was clocking 10mph. That may not sound like much but, usually, on my fully-loaded touring bike, I’d be pleased to hit 7mph. You could literally feel the wind at your back, pushing you along. It feels particularly sweet after a few weeks of headwinds!

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Tom in silhouette

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The last climb of the day took us through a gorgeous, residential area, full of houses perched precariously on top of cliffs. I was in my element; admiring the pretty homes and imagining sitting on one of the decks, watching the sun go down, with a root beer in one hand and some sort of pastry in the other.

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Spot the house right up on the edge of that cliff!

Similarly to last night, we hadn’t really prepared very well for dinner and the last town we went through – Depoe Bay – only had a gas station convenience store.

We pressed on, deciding yet again to gamble that the restaurant marked on the map (the last one before the campsite) would be open.

We turned off the main highway onto Otter Crest Loop Road. This turned out to be one of the most beautiful roads of the trip. It was narrow, eventually becoming a single track road with a dedicated bike lane.

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It hugged the coastline with steep drops down towards the ocean. It was a beautiful time of the day to be riding, with the sun setting over our right shoulders.

Nearing the campsite, we saw the sign we’d been looking for. A seafood cafe on the edge of a cliff. It might have been the windiest spot on the entire coast: we took a few photos of the view before seeking shelter and dinner in the cafe.

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The amazing view from our dinner destination

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Molto windy

It was a great little place, serving some seafood dishes and great local beers. Jan had the fish tacos and I had a fish stew.

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Both were very good and I chased mine down with a few pints of Rogue Ale from nearby Newport. We also ordered a couple of desserts to go.

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It was a bit tough getting back on the bikes after that – the last little hill felt like the steepest of the day. Our legs had post-food fatigue! Thankfully we only had a couple miles to the campsite, and that strong wind was right behind us.

Beverly State Park was a beautiful park. It was right beside the ocean and the hiker/biker pitch was up on a hill, surrounded by trees. Best of all: we were the only people there.

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For $6 each, we had a whole field to ourselves, plus use of showers. We set up the tent, bought some wood and made a fire and then ate our takeaway desserts as the sun set. It had been another lovely day.

Day 93: Seaside, OR to Cape Lookout SP, OR (64 miles)

Neither of us slept well in our campsite next to the highway. At times it felt like the trucks were going to drive straight through the tent. Strangely, it also warmed up during the night causing us both to shed a few layers.

It was, to put it bluntly, the most miserable campsite we’ve stayed in so far (made worse by or expectations of cycle-camping nirvana on the Oregon coast). It was an inauspicious start but things were about to improve.

With breakfast taken care of we packed up and cycled off into the murk. It was a cold morning, both of us wearing lots of warm clothes and even gloves.

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We stopped at Safeway for some new water bottles, then made our way down the coast to Cannon Beach. It was a beautiful ride and for the first time we got a really good look at the ocean. It felt appropriate to celebrate with a cup of tea in a nice little cafe called Insomnia Coffee in Cannon Beach.

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There followed a frantic hour-and-a-half as we booked in some last-minute flights back to NY and rearranged the hire car. Ultimately, it would mean cutting short our trip at Coos Bay rather than Crescent City, but we know we’ll have time to come back and finish off the journey after the wedding.

We had a great time cycling along the coast. The scenery really was some of the most spectacular we’ve seen on the whole trip.

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We pulled into Manzanita and free-wheeled down to the beach where we sat on some stones and made our lunch in the slightly howling wind.

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Further down the road, we had a stop at a cherry stand for some of the biggest, most scrumptious cherries ever.

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This is what you want to find in your handlebar bag!

Our next stop was the Tillamook Cheese factory. Not something to cross off the bucket list, but they did serve great ice cream, which we consumed while perching on a wall outside the visitors’ center.

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We spent some time looking at the map, hoping to avoid the depressing camping experience of the previous evening. We’d hoped to make it to Cape Lookout State Park. But that was another 15 miles away and it was already nearly 5pm.

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We decided to press on, taking a beautiful backroad over to the coast and towards the park. About 5 miles short we reached a crossroads. Turn left, head straight for the campsite and hope the restaurant marked on the map was open, or, turn right, visit the supermarket in the town 2 miles away (ensuring we have food for dinner) but add about another 5 miles to the journey. After some light discussion, we turned left towards the campsite and took a gamble.

There followed a beautiful road devoid of cars and any type of commercial enterprise aside from the campsite itself. We got a pitch in the excellent hiker/biker section and set about figuring out what we’d have for dinner.

We had some emergency food that we’d picked up back in Kansas – a freeze dried beef stew and a pasta with sauce. We dug around in our panniers and managed to find some spaghetti, a tomato, and an avocado. Dinner therefore, was spaghetti, with a beef stew sauce and a tomato and avocado salad. Not our best meal, but very satisfying none the less.

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We chatted to several other cyclists – including Matthew Jarret, who was riding to raise awareness of suicide amongst ex-servicemen (he’s on Facebook if you want to take a look).

It was a beautiful campsite in the pines next to the beach. Thanks Alex and Matt for the recommendation! It was also pretty cold and, after a chilly trip to the shower block, we hopped into the tent for a blissful night’s sleep listening to the ocean.

Day 92: Clatskanie, OR to Seaside, OR (62 miles)

We’d slept so well at The Bike Inn, that we didn’t wake up until 7.30. Whoops! In fact, the morning got off to an even slower start after I managed to trip the electricity breaker while trying to heat some water in the kettle.

That was quickly resolved however and tea and porridge followed in short order. We packed up and cycled out of town into the mist and fog.

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We were heading for the coast. The Pacific would mark the official end of the Transam route (we’re planning to continue down the coast to California). The last time we saw the sea was in Cape May, NJ; about three months ago. We’d walked down to the beach that evening to see the Atlantic. Today, we’d see the Pacific for the first time!

We continued to follow route 30 along the Columbia River towards Astoria, the oldest town in the North West. It’s named after the Astor family, who funded the establishment of a fur trading base there in the 19th century. We’d also learned that there was a brewpub with a bakery next door. Hello lunch venue.

Our hosts last night had warned us that there was a hill to climb outside of Westport, 12 miles into our day’s ride, and sure enough there was. Only 650ft, but enough to break a sweat (and possibly justify a brewery lunch). We worked our way up there, stopping right at the top to admire the view and avail ourselves of the restrooms.
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After a few more ups and downs (the countryside is quite rolling here), we made it to Knappa Junction. We stopped at the Red Heron Cafe for tea, bagels, and blogging (the latter being something of a ‘Pyrrhic’ task, since all of our morning blog-writing work was promptly lost, due to a bad WiFi connection).

We got back on the bikes and began the last 15 miles to Astoria. It really began to feel like we were approaching the coast, and, prompted by the regular markers, we thought about how Lewis and Clark’s expedition must have felt as they finally got out of the mountains and saw the river become tidal.
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The sun was now shining brightly, having burned off the marine layer. We were bathed in sunlight as we descended into Astoria. It felt like the end of a long journey. We wheeled down to the maritime museum where the Transam begins and ends and took a moment to reflect on our achievement.
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We then reflected that such reflection might be better done over a pint and a pastry. As luck would have it, the bakery-brewery venue was just a block away. It was a great place. I started with a pint of their oatmeal pale ale while Jan enjoyed a homemade ginger ale.

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While we were enjoying a celebratory beverage, we heard from Ben and Jo, who were also just getting into town at the end of their Transam adventure. They’d spent the last week traveling with Jo’s sister, Rita, and her boyfriend, Max. We were thrilled that our timings coincided and those guys all turned up at the brewpub within a few minutes! We had fun catching up and getting a few tips on cycling the coast.

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A spectacular trio of beards

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We could have sat there all afternoon… And it’s possible that the others did. But we had a few more miles to cover this afternoon. We wanted to continue around the coast, beyond the mouth of the Columbia river, to the Pacific ocean.

The road wound around the small back streets of Astoria, past old clapboard houses and eventually back to the river’s edge. We could see glimpses of the ocean in the far distance.
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We crossed several bridges before turning inland to follow the Lewis and Clark River along a beautiful valley. The road then climbed into the fog, through forestry land before descending to Seaside, the town where we’d planned to stay the night.
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It was pretty chilly by then, and it was getting late. We called the hostel and a few motels but, now that we’re in quite a tourist destination, the prices were out of control. So we popped into Safeway, bought some groceries for dinner and then pedaled back to the RV park at the edge of town. We’d called the owner to check there was space and she had promised to save us “a gorgeous riverside pitch”. We arrived to find that our pitch was indeed beside a river but the river was beside the main highway into town. Oh well, further down the coast, the camping is sure to get more scenic!
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Tom made a delicious meal of lentils and salmon and we finished up with cherries and chocolate! Yum. Then into our tent to be lulled to sleep with the sound of trucks rattling along behind our heads.

Day 91: Portland, OR to Clatskanie, OR (64 miles)

It was tough to leave Portland – and not just because of my poor attempt at navigation through the labyrinthine bicycle network. It was a great place – one of those cities that one gets to and doesn’t go any further. Still, we have to get to California if we are to live up to the tagline of this blog. Oh yeah, and we have a wedding to get to too.

We enjoyed a great breakfast out on the patio and then wished Margo and Joel a fond farewell before hitting the road.

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I probably took us down the wrong road right from the start, but we regained our footing, and, by following a few commuters, found our way over the Burnside Bridge and out of town, onto Route 30. This road will take us all the way to Astoria, at the end of the Columbia River.
We weren’t going to make it all the way to Astoria in one day though. Our goal was to get to the fabulously named Clatskanie, about 60 miles northwest of Portland.

After leaving town, the first part of the route took us through some areas of heavy industry along the docks. The road was busy but there was a good shoulder the whole way. It was overcast and a bit chilly but it made the bridges and scenery look very dramatic:

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We made it to Scappoose before stopping for a cup of tea and a bagel.

Back on our bikes and the road started to become less busy with traffic and a little more interesting. The sun burned through the clouds and, all of a sudden, it was really warm out. We covered another 20 miles or so to reach our lunch destination on the banks of the Columbia River. Tom enjoyed a Hefweizen with his avocado and tomato wrap and we ate handfuls of the delicious nut mix, given to us by Margo and Joel.

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The last third of our ride began with a climb up a big old hill. We don’t currently have an elevation map so we’re never quite sure what’s around the corner! On this occasion it was a steep, fairly long leg-burner. On the plus side, like all good hills, it went down on the other side. Straight into Clatskanie. There’s nothing better than freewheeling right up to the door of your evening’s accommodation.

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Speaking of which, Tom had harnessed the power of Google and exercised his detective skills to find us a place to stay. As we were riding into town, I noticed a gorgeous, sun-dappled deck on the edge of the river, with umbrellas, hammocks and comfy chairs. And would you believe, it belonged to the Bike Inn, where we were staying! Yahoo: I love it when a plan comes together.

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We cycled around to the entrance and introduced ourselves to Kris and John, the owners. They were lovely and friendly and showed us all around their bike inn/mini-storage facility/jam-making factory/organic vegetable farm. Our accommodation was a huge room with beds, couches, TV, laundry, cooking items and millions of books on every possible topic.

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Best of all, even though there was a great bathroom next door, Kris took me around to her garden at the back of the building where there’s an outdoor shower!

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And a hot tub! We made use of the outdoor shower and then popped into town for dinner.

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When we got back, John was firing up the firepit and pouring glasses of his homemade wine. He had also compiled all the necessary fixings for s’mores! It was perfect: Tom sampled a variety of vintages while I set fire to marshmallows.

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And, as a further treat, John read us a few poems by Raymond Carver, who had been born in the town.

For anyone unfamiliar with Carver’s poetry, here’s one of my favorites:

Late Fragment

And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Day 90: Portland, OR. Day off. (0 miles)

Both of us had slept extremely well in the very comfortable surroundings of Margo and Joel’s beautiful house. We padded downstairs at around 8am to find our hosts already in the garden enjoying coffee and the Sunday papers.

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Margo tending her dahlias

As we were making our tea Joel started to produce some wonderful-looking ingredients from the refrigerator, which he proceeded to transform into omelettes. And not just any omelettes – crab meat and herb omelettes with a side of kale and a chicken and jalapeƱo sausage. And toast with smoked salmon. It was excellent: what a start to the day!

The day kept getting better – Margo, a professional shiatsu therapist – gave us each a treatment that left us feeling like brand new cyclists. (Jana was described as having the body of a teenager thanks to all her cycling – this may have contributed to her declaration that this was possibly the best rest day we’d had the whole trip).

Then it was into town. Joel drove us into the historic Pearl District – pointing out landmarks and giving us an excellent guided tour as we went. We were on our way to visit the Portland Art Museum which (fittingly for this famously bicycle centric town) was showing a bicycle exhibition called Cyclopedia.

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It featured forty bicycles from a private collection, ranging from 1920s bicycles to carbon fiber track bikes and everything in between. We had a great time marveling at the different and sometimes outlandish designs.

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Folding bike from the 1960s

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Bike for riding on ice!

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Mad tandem: the riders sit next to each other!

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Bicycle that turns into a suitcase!

From there it was onwards to the famous Stumptown Coffeehouse, before making our way to Powell’s, a bookstore that inhabits an entire city block. We headed straight for the map section to pick up some maps for our route out of Portland towards Astoria.

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I found the perfect book!

The sun had come out by this time and the streets were flooded with Sunday shoppers and dinners who, as far as we could see, were spoilt for choice amongst the plethora of shops, restaurants and bars.

Jan had wanted to visit the Japanese Garden having heard such good things about it from Margo. The garden was on a hill to the west of the city and was not only beautiful, but afforded us a magnificent view of Mount Hood, its snow-capped peak towering over Portland.

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Joel and Tom entering the Japanese garden

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Noguchi sculptures in the foreground, Mount Hood in the background

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Our hosts were entertaining that evening, so Joel dropped us back in the downtown area on his way home. We were rather hungry by this stage (regular readers are unlikely to be surprised), so we followed our noses to a market that sold lots of excellent local produce. It also featured a nice cafe area right in the middle where we could sit amongst the displays and consume an excellent tuna sandwich, a zucchini salad, a pea and gorgonzola salad, and a large bottle of Two Dogs IPA.

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Genius! Half bike, half BBQ smoker

We’d thought about visiting a beer festival taking place on the next block, but weren’t sure we could do it justice in the time allowed (I suppose I’m using the royal ‘we’ in this context), so instead had a lovely wander around the Pearl District, visiting shops and finally finding ourselves in a bar serving a variety of fantastic beers (quelle surprise). I had a refreshing local Pilsner and was rather taken by the large plasma TV behind the bar that showed the beers available and how much each barrel held. We also had a visit to a section of downtown filled with food carts.

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Tom had an afternoon ‘snack’ of a falafel wrap.

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It was an easy ten minute bus ride back to Margo and Joel’s neighborhood. On arrival, the party was in full swing and we had a great time meeting some of their friends and eating yet more delicious food.

It had been quite a day. If we found the ride to Portland a little tough at times it was thoroughly with it. Our hosts were tremendous. They fed us good food, they took us on an excellent tour of Portland, treated us to a wonderful dinner, and Margo even worked out a few of the kinks and strains our bodies had picked up in the last several thousand miles. What a day off! What great hosts! What a fantastic city!