I don’t know that there’s a lot to say about the 99th and second to last day of this thing. I left Portland after stopping at Eisenhower Bagel House. When I was in Portland a few years ago I would get coffee there every morning before heading to bike school and kind of became friends with Joel and Michelle, the owners. They were just starting the business then and it’s grown quite a bit since I left. They remembered me and we had a good chat. They gave me breakfast on the house, which I didn’t expect. Best bagels in the world. I think when I think about the good things in Portland I pretty much think of just them. But then I was off, headed back for Highway 30 to take me to Clatskanie for my last night on the tour.
The road was uneventful and kind of boring. Just a series of run down rural strip malls and not much scenery. I went through it all on the road though – I listened to a sampling of all the music that has brought me this far (Leonard Cohen, Iggy Pop, Bryan Ferry, Pearl Jam, and of course the Dead) and some podcasts. I had moments of absolute joy and absolute misery. Sometimes my mind was very unquiet, sometimes I felt at peace.
But the heat was building in the day, and it became clear that this is a part of the country unfamiliar with it. Weather people on the news were sweating the sky falling at near-100 degree temperatures and I just shrugged. There have been a lot of days like that for me. They’re not fun but you just get through them.
Around Rainier I had a pretty substantial climb to deal with, which was unfortunate because of the heat and the three-foot shoulder. It’s not the safest stretch of road I’ve been on and the drivers passing without swerving didn’t help. I had to take frequent breaks out of fear of overheating. One of which kind of sums up a background element of the whole tour:
The descent was fantastic, particularly because I got to feel the air to cool me off. The climb up was another instance where the constant wind was either above me or below me, but going down it hit me square on and I was just fine by that.
I made it into Clatskanie around 4pm, baking in the heat. Luckily I was stopping for the night at the Bike Inn. It’s a hostel-type situation only for touring cyclists, and it might have been the most comfortable place I’ve stayed the whole tour. Free laundry, unbelievably refreshing outdoor shower, and cozy digs:
I had the whole room to myself which was just fine by me. There’s a lot going on in my head right now and I needed the peace. Too get away from the thinking I put in the Bridesmaids dvd while my clothes were getting clean, and that helped.
Later at night I had some wine with Jon, the owner, and we talked about life and the town he’s known his whole life. Apparently “Short Cuts” author Raymond Carver is from here, and I heard a bunch of Carver anecdotes.
But then it was time to rest. I’ve got one last day…