This stretch was, um, depressing, stressful, and took a LOT of patience and compassion on our part. That is a wide array of emotions so I'll explain. We had heard great things about the Olympic Peninsula before heading there. Enough to decide that if there was some extra miles involved to go north again, west, then south before having to head back east to get into Portland, it would likely be worth it. And let me say this first, if you are driving a car around the Peninsula and make your way into the Olympic National Park to hike, camp, or check out the handful of rainforests there and then get back in your cozy car out of the rain and turn on your windshield wipers and drive yourself back to a warm shower somewhere, it was probably epic! If your on a bike, in our personal opinion (and keep in mind folks this is our opinion based off our experiences that may be different for everyone), SKIP IT.
First of all, the scenery was not very memorable other than beautiful forests hacked into a patchwork of clearcuts and fairly recently replanted forests. The whole whopping' 15 mile stretch along the coast had only peekaboo views of the water and then we were back inland until we were nearly to Astoria. However, the brief road winding the shoreline of Crescent Lake was pretty and the very southern Bone River Natural Area Preserve was georgous. The road itself, Highway 101 along this stretch was terrible for a cyclist! Chipseal pavement, mostly little to no shoulder, and a constant stream of traffic and logging trucks flying by you at excessive speeds. Every town we passed or stopped and spent time in; from Port Angeles to Forks to Humptulips (no, I'm serious this is a real name of a town, Google it) seem to exist in sheer part thanks to logging. And the occasional tourists, but mainly logging.
Also along this stretch was more garbage (diapers, whole bags of trash, bottles, car parts, tires, and even an entire back seat of a car) scattered all along the road. There was a handful of houses along the road, but mainly trailers, (one had a cool Playboy Bunny towel covering a window and the other a Duck Dynasty towel), the characters in Safeway where we stopped in Port Angeles to eat and hang out tent to dry were just that, characters. We stopped in Forks to eat breakfast in a park under a shelter and watched 6 different drug transactions go down in the 20 minutes we were there and even met a few nice junkies with soars on their faces and everything!
What we very quickly realized, was all the locals and loggers HATE bicycles and the cyclists. There was broken bottles and glass everywhere, and I really mean everywhere in the bike lane. We had more glass just on the Olympic Peninsula in about 200 miles than we had on the entire rest of the 3,200 miles! It became really obvious quite quickly that it was not coincidental. We even had quite a few cool people in trucks gun it right next to us mere inches from us on purpose to let us know we were not wanted. So after our 3rd flat tire (on the Olympic Peninsula alone) our blood was nearly boiling and now we are left trying to change a tire on a busy road with no shoulder and no where to pull off. Sweet, thanks.
What we had to keep reminding ourselves as our stress and anxiety level rose, was that most of these people are poor, uneducated, unhappy, underpaid, under appreciated, and they are taking their anger out on cyclists. I feel really sorry for them. They must feel stuck in their situation with no way out and when their stress and anxiety levels rise, they look for someone to blame. We also saw more TRUMP posters, stickers, banners and such on this stretch than anywhere else. If you are asking yourself why, reread this paragraph. There is a correlation. Needless to say, we HATED this stretch and it was a good lesson in patience and understanding for those less fortunate than ourselves and really unhappy in their lives.
After kicking our asses and riding over 90 miles a day for 3 days (we were soaking wet and really ready to be done with this stretch), we camped just north of Astoria on the coast in a campground where we finally met a super nice couple, Deano and his gal pal, who welcomed us to their fire and invited us over for breakfast and coffee in the morning before we hit the road. Keep rockin' it in your birthday suites you two!! And with a 4.1 mile ride over the Astoria-Megler Bridge first thing (we had to see over 100 dead birds smashed on the bridge), we jumped right on Highway 30 and made a beeline for Portland. Having never driven the highway, I made the assumption it was flat following the Columbia River. Wrong. It had at least 3 giant passes full of fast cars, completely blind curves and no shoulder to climb. By the time we limped into Portland for the 4th consecutive over 90 mile day, Ville's knee was hugely swollen and back locked up from being blown over the handlebars by a passing truck!
But boy were we glad to see J-Lo (this is Jordan my brother who lives in Portland)!! He drove to pick us up just outside the city (thanks so much to the guys at Barlow Bikes & Boards who got Ville's bike back riding straight after his fall) and after putting bikes in his apartment in North Portland, we headed out for some damn fine Thai food and stiff drinks. The next day we were able to connect with JBro (our good friend Jonas from Germany who we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on and off with in 2011) who made it to Portland after completing the Continental Divide Trail a few days prior and waited for us in Portland to show up. We went out for beers to celebrate and share travel stories at a walking street fair before all heading to Tualatin where Lismeister and Alejandro (my sister and brother-in-law) live with our nephew Braydon. Mr. Braydon was a crawler and only being gone for 2 in a half months, he is now a full-on runner. Spent a day being tourists in downtown Portland, eating and drinking everything in sight, and then Mrs. Magoo (my Mom) drove up from Bend to pick up this motley crew and take us to Bend!!
K.G. & Ville
Ville and Kristen are in Zanatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico and heading south.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
Make a Difference!
Together, let's send this girl to Argentina!