Big Eddy Park, OR - Ft. Steven's Park, OR (near Astoria): A mighty fine day on the road. - Four Weeks in Oregon and Idaho - Summer 2006 - CycleBlaze

June 11, 2006

Big Eddy Park, OR - Ft. Steven's Park, OR (near Astoria): A mighty fine day on the road.

It was a cold night. Don's thermometer said 48 degrees at 6:15 AM. I took the tent down alone and rolled up both sleeping bags and pads. Jacinto's brand new pad had leaked during the night. This was the first time he'd used it besides our shake down ride. It held air then. I had that excited stomach feeling that only goes away when I get on the road. I ended up leaving Jacinto in camp and took off in the light fog. Five miles later he caught up with me. This was the only time the entire trip we did not ride together. I always hung around waiting for him to get ready. Most mornings I did the 'housekeeping chores' while he tried to wake up. I tried to not be resentful about doing everything. We both mostly succeeded.

We stopped in the very small town of Birkenfeld at the local bar which was advertising a buffet breakfast. I would have stopped at the general store instead. How good could a buffet at a bar be? But we saw Ann and Don's bikes parked outside, so we went in. Yumm, yumm. Bar buffet's are the best - or at least The Junction's is. I ate far more than my share of the ripe on the vine Suavie Island strawberries. the custom omelette hit the spot. I also had Eggs Benedict. I wasn't pigging out, I was fueling the engine!

At The Junction in Birkenfeld,OR we ate the breakfast buffet. Our custom omelette chef does double duty behind the bar. I ate a stomach distressing number of fresh strawberries from Sauvie Island.
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We were enjoying the deserted road. The waiter/chef at The Junction warned us about the narrow/high traffic road ahead. It was hard to imagine at this point. The temps were warming up nicely when we exited the restaurant.

We passed through the very small town of Jewell. No services. Shortly after that was an elk preserve. We didn't see any elk, but did use their nice flush toilet bathrooms.

We were carrying a Bicycle Oregon map which indicates the difficult of the climb by the number of arrows. We had an easy one arrow climb that started at mile marker 24 and ended at mile marker 22. Right at the top Jacinto had a flat tire. It appeared to us that it was from the rim plugs he was using as there were deep dimples in the tube all the way around and the leak was on the inside. We ran a line of medical tape over the plugs, just in case. I patched the tube while Jacinto put in a spare. He tore that one at the valve stem inflating it, so we put in the freshly patched tube. It wouldn't hold air - different hole near a rim plug. Jacinto said a few choice words and put in a third tube. We had a fourth tube, but Jacinto thought it was old and looked cracked near the valve stem. At this rate we would need a bicycle shop very soon! I'm not sure if we should count this as one flat or three, but we finally got Jacinto back on the road. By now it was very sunny and down right hot.

It wouldn't have hurt our feelings to do the entire trip without changing a flat. At least it was at the top of the climb. Jacinto's only flat of the trip.
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We had a good downhill run to Olney. We were passed by what appeared to be a Mini Cooper car club. One bumper sticker read: Uwant1

We stopped at the Olney store for a cold drink. At this point we could chose the straight route that went into Astoria or the round about route that stayed in the countryside and went to Warrenton. The clerk in the store said both roads were narrow and not good for cyclists. We went with the country road, Young's Fall Road, and found it delightful. We had little ups and little downs along side lots of water. My GPS's lowest elevation was 17 feet.

I had one scare when two dogs came chasing after me. It wouldn't have been so bad except I was busy enjoying the scenery and wasn't expecting loud dogs. A couple of miles down the road a car passed me and then flipped a u turn, stopping right alongside of me in the center of the road. I was alarmed as to what the man was going to say to me, I was riding properly. Here he was blocking the entire road and going to cause an accident. It turns out he had chased me down to apologize for his dogs chasing me. Which was very nice. I can't say I've ever had that happen before. But he certainly did give me a start with his wild driving. Otherwise the bad traffic that we had been warned about during the day didn't happen. It was a wonderful cycling day.

We bought groceries at Fred Meyer's in Warrenton. It was a very large, well stocked store. We asked several people directions for the fast way to the state park. I remember taking a back road last year, but couldn't remember the details. Several well meaning people confused us thoroughly with directions. At this point it was getting quite late in the evening. We had a longer mileage day and the flat tire(s) had delayed us quite a bit. We decided to just follow the map as we knew where it was going and we could waste quite a bit of time trying to find the shortcut. However, just as we exited the store I saw a sign for the KOA. I knew that was right across from Ft. Steven's. We followed the KOA signs and were able to take the shortcut after all!

We arrived about 7:30 PM. Don and Ann had been looking and looking for us. We wasted no time setting up the tent and showering. Our dinner was very good. Diced chicken breast with assorted vegetables. We put in a few too many jalapenos and I had to eat around them. I was still hungry after and finished up with our two day old pancakes from Ichabod's.

The mosquitoes were also out for their dinner, annoying us during ours. We talked with Don and Ann some. The mosquitoes chased us inside of our tents fairly early in the evening. Just as we were going to bed another bicycle rider showed up. We didn't talk, but went to bed. It turns out the cyclist was a French fellow that we would see nightly.

Jacinto had brought along his XM radio to listen to the World Cup Soccer on our trip. For some reason it had recorded only 25 minutes. He was not a happy camper. We walked to a close by empty trailer camping site and plugged in my GPS and his XM radio. Last night at Big Eddy's we had been able to charge them also.

Ft. Steven's had moved the hiker/biker sites since last year. This area was larger, but located right next to ALL (and I do mean ALL) of the dumpsters. It wasn't as secluded and nice. The only advantage I saw was that more tents could potentially fit. The restrooms weren't too far away.

After we had gone to bed, Jacinto heard rattling. He looked outside, shining the flashlight and saw glowing eyes on top of our picnic table. It was a couple of raccoons come for their midnight snack. They were quite aggressive and wouldn't leave until Jacinto got up and chased them into the parking lot, throwing his shoes at them. We learned our lesson here about leaving food out, even if it's covered. We brought all of the food into the vestibule. The raccoons came back later and finished up the crumbs left on the table. Jacinto insisted the biggest raccoon was as large as a bear cub!

We hit a good grocery store this day and fixed a 'real' dinner. Diced chicken breasts with jalepenos,onions, and tomatoes. When the raccoons came by later looking for dinner, they weren't interested in the main course, but instead went for the dessert. We learned our lesson about leaving food out.
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Today's ride: 66 miles (106 km)
Total: 109 miles (175 km)

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