Saturday, October 3, 2009

Finishing It Off—a Month Late

Well, it took me forever to get on the internet and write this up. It gets harder and harder to write about things, too, as they slip into the past. Although I arrived at the Pacific on September 9, here it is, on October 3. Hopefully, I'll have it in me to write an epilogue to this, probably in a couple of weeks.


After Bend, I really felt like I'd hit the home stretch. I zipped along the Sisters Highway, with a decent but slightly cloudy view of the Three Sisters.

Those were elevations at which I had been in the Rockies. Now there was snow up there. I'd made it in time, but it was a good thing I hadn't lingered too long.

I turned west again, onto the Santiam Highway. It climbed into the mountains, and I was quickly surrounded by pine trees again.

The climb quickly steepened, and soon I got sick of it and walked the bike. While I didn't have phone signal on sections of the road, I was (amazingly) able to talk on the phone for pretty much the entire climb to Santiam Pass. Now that I was walking, though, it was a pretty long ways (41 miles), and by the time I got to the top, the sun was setting. I expected Cascadia State Park in 21 more miles, so I gunned it down from the pass, reaching over 50 MPH. I got to where I thought Cascadia was. The road just kept going through the woods. It started getting dark. I passed a flat clearing, so I figured I could just camp there.

Thankfully, I'd bought a 12-pack of packs of cookies (no typo there) back in Burns, so I didn't starve. But I started running out of both food and water pretty quickly. There was no phone signal here; just relatively deep woods.

The night quickly became frigid, and I was once again not hating my camping equipment, but loving it—especially the sleeping bag, whose cocoon capabilities I made the most of this time, exposing only my mouth and the bottom of my nose to air.

In the morning, everything was soaked in dew, and though it was still pretty cold, I watched the water evaporate and rise into the air off of my stuff. Looking around, I realized it was rising from the entire field as well.

I got on the road and continued onward.

I'd been socializing a lot, so a day of being alone wasn't an issue at all. The thing that annoyed me was that I was climbing again, even though I had crossed the pass. The climb steadily got steeper until I finally saw what I thought was a sign of the end.

But the road kept going steeply up. I passed another warning. And another. It actually didn't get better for a while, even after this sign:

Eventually, I zipped down, and, on that downhill, zipped by Cascadia, about 20 miles farther than I had expected. After another stretch, on which I ran out of food and ran extremely low on water, involving a few more minor passes, I reached Foster Lake.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was pretty much out of the Cascades. I reached a town called Sweet Home, stopped at the first gas station, and finally had water and food. I sat there for an hour or so, just resting and slowly eating and drinking.

And then I got my final scene of a type I had gotten so used to: as I walked out, I saw the station owner talking to a policeman at the counter and pointing at me. As I walked out, the policeman came out and looked over me and my bike.

"You rode here from Massachusetts on that thing?"


"That's amazing."

"Should be done tomorrow, though."

"Oh, yeah? Where are you headed?"


"Oh, you've got a WAYS to go still."

I got a little worried. "It's 90 miles, isn't it?"

"Well, yeah. If that's a short distance for you."

"It's a good day's ride. But I'm expecting to hit Corvallis tonight."

"That's a good....40 miles from here."

"Yeah, that's what I was figuring on."


I didn't find Corvallis. Somehow, I completely missed the entire city and, right as it was getting dark, ended up in a little town called Philomath. As the end neared and there was no longer as much need to conserve money, I started splurging, and I got a motel.

By the next morning, the remainder of the trip was clearly marked for me.

I went into another mountain range, but I knew it couldn't be far now. The winds were still strong, the roads were extremely narrow and dangerous and steep, and cars whipped around at ridiculous speeds. I swore and cursed at the Coast Range, but there was no reason to, whatsoever. I should have just taken it easy. By the middle of the day, I was on the Pacific.