One week on the road! And we can see Oregon!! It’s teasing us. We’re camping along the Columbia river and Oregon is right across the river, staring us straight in the face. It’s not that we dislike Washington, it’s beautiful and has been treating us super well (weather, warm shower hosts, friendly strangers, not too too bad hills), but we’re ready to move on to new scenery. Plus Washington is super hard to navigate, what with all the inlets, bays, and ferry’s… we spend at least an hour a day trying to make heads and tails of maps. Who knows what Oregon has in store for us, but we’re excited.
We left the hotel today energized and ready to head to Longview. However, after a message from a warm shower host who couldn’t take us in warned us to not even consider staying in Longview, we scrambled to come up with a new plan. He said that the locals are unfriendly and advised us not to camp because of a high concentration of homeless who would likely act hostile towards us. Every day we have been out here we have been warned not to leave anything we own unseen, including bikes. After hearing so many stories about bikes being stolen from people on tours, we have gotten quite paranoid. In fact, last night we decided to take an Uber to dinner instead of riding our bikes 0.5 mile and lock them up. Even though the Uber was more expensive than dinner, it was worth it to make sure Ol’ Bess was safe and sound. We opted to completely bypass Longview and head to a park just outside of Cathlamet.
Although we got an excellent night sleep (I slept so well I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was in my apartment and when I realized Addie wasn’t there I nearly cried) Sheena required some espresso to really wake up. Sure enough we found some 12 miles into the ride and she waited in line in the drive through.
We also got an amazing donut. Sheena and I are both trying to eat as healthy as possible, but we also want to support local businesses and taste local fare! Totally justifies total indulgence.
The first 37 miles of the ride were amazing. Rolling hills with a little mist, not nearly as cold as yesterday. It mostly looked like what I remember Kentucky looking like, including the poverty. We were chased by our first dog, coal dusted for the first time, but also met some really friendly people. We passed by one house with a cat on the front porch, to whom sheena praised with compliments. Within seconds, about 20 more cats ran out of the house to see us. Needless to say, Sheena will be moving in soon.
We stopped in Castle Rock to pick up some groceries and eat lunch. When we rolled in a gentleman exclaimed, “gosh you ladies move fast! I passed you 5 miles ago I can’t believe you made it so quickly!” That made us feel good, maybe were starting to pick up the pace?
Nah, it’s not that. Cause after lunch the rollers and good timing ended abruptly. We hit some lengthy and unpleasant hills that took a lot out of us. After 14 miles of that nonsense, we hit pretty flat terrain along the Columbia river. Sounds great! Except that the road we had to take was heavily trafficked with barely a shoulder. With windy and blind turns, it took us a great deal of time to get to our final destination. The road is used a lot by logging trucks speeding along and impatient pickup trucks who pass entirely too close. We had to stop at every turn out to prevent an anxiety attack and collect ourselves from escaping death countless times. Luckily, there is a construction light that held up traffic for around 2 minutes. Knowing this information, we knew that cars would come in waves. We timed our riding with the waves and were pretty successful for the most part. With only 2 miles left, we stopped for a bathroom break at an especially large turnout. An older couple pulled up and asked us where we were staying tonight. We said County Line Park, and a huge rush of relief washed over their face. “Oh good, we thought you were going to stay here and we couldn’t let you. Unsavory people come here late and you girls wouldn’t last the night”. Oh great, how reassuring! They told us that we had already cycled the worst of the road and the shoulder reappears. Sure enough they were right so we hot tailed it to the park to set up camp.
We’re staying in a nice campground on the river. After a good home cooked meal, we’re turning in early from pure exhaustion, likely from those last 10 miles avoiding death. We still have another 10 miles left on that road, but hopefully we leave early enough to avoid the worst of it (seriously – I don’t think we can handle another 10 miles of that same traffic!)