Yachats, Oregon - Grampies Go Coastal - CycleBlaze

December 19, 2012

Yachats, Oregon

On Monday when the weather forecasters called for heavy rain and wind gusts up to 80 kph, we believed them, and stayed holed up in Lincoln City. We then spent the day looking out at relatively benign conditions and watching rental movies. This of course moved us no farther down the coast, although I would like to recommend "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" with Nicholas Cage!

Yesterday, the weather was ok and we made it down here to Yachats. But the forecasters took to the airwaves and called for heavy rain and wind gusts up to 80 kph for today. Once burned, and so twice shy, we looked out the windows very carefully. However when we opened the door this morning and rain plus a deck chair tried to fly in, we decided to believe the forecast.

Now at noon, the heavy rain has not yet materialized, but the motel owner has taken away all the remaining deck chairs, and the wind is howling in the trees.

Quite aside from the question of how much progress we could make in a wind like this, we are most concerned about safey. With wet roads, it's already a challenge to stay on track. With wind gusts on our pannier laden bikes ... nah, not going to chance it.

One surprising thing about the wind is that it is coming from the South. Our first and main guide to this route is the book by Spring and Kirkendall. That book not only recommends going North to South, but it waxes eloquent about it, making it the subject of the entire Preface, and assuring the reader that going the other way would be hell. To be fair, in another chapter - the fine print so to speak, is one sentence that says in good weather the wind is from the North, in bad weather, from the South. But only once on the trip, at the kiosk by the Astoria bridge, did we discover the ODOT map, which features the following diagram:

This ODOT publication shows that the premise of Kirkendall and Spring's book applies to only one quarter to one half the year.
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This source is clear, the North wind story is for the summer only. Perhaps Spring and Kirkendall can be excused for this omission. After all, who would think that anyone would be on this route in Winter? Clearly, they have never met the Grampies! Well anyway, gale force winds might stop us for a day, but adverse winds in general should not stop us overall.

Thinking of adversity, in terms of winds, here is a chance to mention an even more powerful force: AT&T and their 3G mobile broadband service, or not.

A certain number of CGOAB bloggers do not carry computer devices, but rely on libraries or internet cafés. Most, though, have a device of some type, and look for wifi - in Starbucks or McDonalds or cafés, or in guesthouses or motels. All that can work fairly well, but it is not a watertight solution. The gap comes when you are camping at places with no wifi, or when there is no time during the day to be sitting blogging in a café.

On our trip across Canada and US in 2011, in areas quite rich in McDonalds and with lots of summer daylight hours to spend sitting in them, we needed about 250 mB per month of 3G internet to support our habit of posting daily. Where we are now, McDonalds is actually quite scarce, and in this season, daylight hours are the scarcest of all. Fortunately, we have lots of motel time - but our hope is to change that once we get South enough to not freeze during the nights. That could still be a vain hope, since we also need a fair bit less rain and more mental power - to withstand the 14 hours of darkness each night in a tent.

Well, all that in mind, we set out to arrange 3G internet service for the tablet. The AT&T website seemed to offer 3 gB for $30 per month. Wanting to be ready for the trip, we walked in to an AT&T shop in Montana with the tablet. They put in an AT&T SIM, set it up as a $2 per day (for any day used) voice phone and said "Just dial customer service at 611" when we wanted to commence use with mobile broadband. When we did phone 611, two days before leaving on the tour, they informed us that for broadband we would need a new SIM, for which we would need to find another AT&T shop. We actually did that, in Sequim Washington. That's where, although they did pass over a new SIM, they denied knowing how to or beng willing to set up the serevice on the tablet. 611 had said the tablet would launch its own setup wizard. That was false.

So we went back to the motel and as proud owners of an unused SIM, phoned AT&T customer service again. What followed was 1 1/2 hours of being variously transferred and told various false or inaccurate things. The bottom line? - If I would sign up for monthly postpaid service I could get data at $30 for 3 gB. To sign up for that I would have to (wait for it) go in to an AT&T shop and have a US address and a Social Security number.

Otherwise, I might be able to "Buy a Session" through the AT&T website, at $50 for 1 gB for a month. To do that one needs to enter the fifteen digit " IMEI" of the device, as well as the twenty digit SIM serial number. Sometimes the IMEI can be found behind the battery of a device (like a phone with a removable battery), or on the original box, but I did find the tablet IMEI buried deep, deep in the Settings menus.

$50 for 1 gB is still cheaper than, say, what we paid T-Mobile U.K. for data use in France, but it is not exactly a giveaway. Verizon, we found, has exactly the same price.

At least AT&T was in the end maybe willing to sell us data. Our experience with "popping in a SIM" in Germany on the other hand was that we had to give a semi-fictional German address, and got cut off when a letter to us at that address from the company could not be delivered. Our experience in England was that we could buy data with a SIM installed into a Windows USB modem for the Netbook, but only by paying cash, in the UK, directly in a T-Mobile shop.

This little account/rant is part of the much larger topic of how to get data access with various devices, various companies (including "Global or World SIM providers), various countries, and for how much? It seems the companies go out of their way to make it all insanely complicated, and almost never cheap. If any traveller has been able to just "pop in a local SIM" and go, pleeese let us know how you did it!

After writing the above rant (info piece?) on mobile data, I took courage - put on some warm clothes and set off walking 1/2 km to the grocery store. The advertised huge amount of rain has not materialized (as of 3 p.m.), but probably they were right about the wind. It was one of those classic cases of leaning forward at a 30 degree angle to force my way upwind.

Yachats
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Aside from the wind, the grocery store trip held some other shockers. First was the price of apples. At $2.99 per pound they are a luxury here. However, with President Obama continuing to talk tough on gun control, the magazine rack was scary - separate buyers' guides for concealed weapons and for assault rifles. A big culture change is needed here, clearly. In biblical terms, they need to convert guns to ploughshares, and so maybe drop the prices on those apples!

Aoples, $2.99/lb
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Tactical weapons at the local supermarket. Dunno what they are doing with Windows 8!
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Concealed Handguns buyer's guide. There were at least five more titles like this on the shelf.
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By 7 p.m. we were getting pretty hungry in here. There is a restaurant just next door, and I suggested we pop over. Dodie was reluctant to go out, since wind was howling around our building, and rain was battering against it. It sounded a bit like sound effects that Hollywood would put into a movie storm. I opened the door and peeked out, pronouncing it not too bad. On the strength of that, Dodie started putting on her jacket. Unfortunately, I had not closed the door well enough, and it blasted open, with the wind and rain right behind it. Dodie took off the jacket and pronounced it insane to go out there. But, I insisted, so eventually out we went.

The distance to the restaurant is sureljy less than 200 feet. In that distance we were drenched, and Dodie could not see with the spray on her glasses. Clearly, this time, the decision to stay put was a wise one. But tomorrow we really need to get moving. Hopefully this storm will blow through and be out of our way by morning!

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