To Crescent City - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 6, 2021

To Crescent City

It’s almost 6:30 and I’m in the middle of the block on Lovejoy, standing beneath an overhang sheltering me from the downpour.  I’m in the dark sipping at my Americano from Starbucks and wondering where Rachael is.  It’s been almost ten minutes now since I left her to take the keys to the apartment back upstairs after we’ve used them to let ourselves and the car out of the garage, with the plan that I’d drive over here to Starbucks around the corner and wait for her here.

It’s been too long so I start to worry that something’s gone wrong somehow and pull out the phone to call her up.  I hear her voice immediately, both through the phone and from the opposite end of the block.  She’s asking where I am.  She’s been waiting almost five minutes herself, but by the door of Starbucks just a hundred feet away.  She briskly walks my way in the downpour as we discuss what went wrong, then says goodbye and hangs up the phone when she’s about twenty feet from me.

There should be a photo here.  If I’d been Graham Finch I’d have walked across the street and set up an Edward Hopper-inspired noir shot of me standing under the overhang in the dark, sheltered from the rain and streetlight, hoping some street person didn’t dash up behind my back and grab the camera and run off with it.  Even better, there’d be a video of the two of us in a phone conversation as Rachael converges on me and quickly gets in the car to escape the rain.  It would have saved a thousand words. 

Other than this hiccough though we’ve managed our escape well.  We packed the Raven last night and got up early, managing to let ourselves out of the apartment and building without locking anything behind as far as we know.  We have a two hour drive ahead of us to Eugene where we have a breakfast date with Lynn.  

It rains steadily the entire time and the day doesn’t start lightening up until an hour later when we pass through Salem, reminiscing on how for years we would make this drive at about this time of morning several days a week when we lived in Portland but our jobs were still down in Salem.  There’s nothing to be missed there, that’s for sure.

When sunrise does happen, it’s still such a solid grey from the rain and fog that it’s hard to tell whether it’s daytime yet or not.  Finally by the time we make it south to about Halsey the rain backs off and the gloom abates enough that we can see the outlines of the Coburg Hills to the east, silhouetted in tiers beneath the fog.  It’s quite beautiful and reminds me of a Japanese print.  This wants a photo too, and it occurs to me to try to shoot one with the phone or ask Rachael to, but shots from a moving vehicle are nearly always a disappointment so I don’t bother.

We meet Lynn at her home right on schedule and head straight out to Brail’s Restaurant for a full breakfast - scrambles and omelets, red potatoes and toast, coffee, and lots of conversation.  Lynn is our longest-standing friend, a woman who was also a programmer in our office 34 years ago when Rachael and I first met.  We have a lot of shared history and friends in common, so there’s much to catch up on.  After breakfast we head back to Lynn’s home for another hour, but by eleven we need to be on the road again if we’re going to make it through the coast range and reach Crescent City before dark.  We’ll pick up on the conversation again in late January when we pass through on our way back to Portland.

The next four hours are a surprisingly enjoyable ride.  I’ve gotten comfortable driving the Raven again, it’s quit raining, and it’s still grey and foggy but quite beautiful as we drive through the ruggedly rumpled landscape around the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers - Zane Grey country.   The time passes fast as we spin through several favorite CD’s that we haven’t heard since last spring on the drive back up from Utah - Laura Nyro, Getz/Gilberto, Tracey Grammer.

We drive across to the coast from Grants Pass on 199, a beautiful but hazardous road that snakes along with the Smith River through the mountains and the Jedediah Redwoods, cliffs rising straight up from the road in spots and mammoth redwoods crowding the shoulder of the road.  It’s a road I’ve fantasized bicycling down ever since I first drove it many years ago, but only if the cars were shut out.  It’s scary enough even to drive, in the daylight.  It deserves photos too of course, but at least we find an attractive rest stop on the Rogue when we need a break from the drive.

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Graham FinchIt's not shorts weather.
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1 month ago
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We make it to Crescent City at 3:30 and check in at the Crescent Beach Motel, an economical old traditional place that’s been here for sixty years.  We have a room facing the ocean and can just walk out our sliding glass door and be on the beach in seconds.  Which we do, and then enjoy a chilly walk on the sand for about fifteen minutes until the rain system that’s been chasing us all the way south from Eugene finally catches up with us.

On Crescent Beach.
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On Crescent Beach.
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On Crescent Beach.
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An hour later we drive the mile back toward town to a fish restaurant for dinner.  We could walk if it wasn’t a complete downpour now and if unlit Highway 101 wasn’t to dangerous to walk along in its blackness.  It’s pretty scary just driving, actually - visibility is bad, it’s raining heavily enough that it’s hard to see the lane stripes.  And we’re both starving, so we’re happy to arrive until we realize one of us forgot our mask and we have to drive back to the motel to get it.

Dinner is fine though - she has salmon, I have the ling cod and a pair of Sierra Nevada Pale Ales.   A good first day.

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Graham FinchYou didn't say what you had to drink with the fish... any IPA in that place?

I'm mentioned in dispatches!: Do you have a tripod?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham FinchOh, but I did - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Not bad, and the best of the thin list of options available. Also available we’re Coors, Coors Light, and Bud.

No tripod. I carried a gorilla for awhile but it wasn’t worth the bother or set-up time for me.
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1 month ago