Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Today started out cloudy and chilly, like most Oregon mornings have been. We must have felt more rested due to our short day yesterday, because we got ready to go by 6:40. We stopped nearby for breakfast and took a couple of pictures of the local culture - an old boiler left sitting on a concrete post in the river from a cannery that burned down years ago. Our waitress had called it "yard art" and said it also served as a bird house; in fact, we saw several birds flying in and around it and perched on it. The other scenic attraction was the smoke house, probably once associated with the cannery. As we headed out Rt. 30, we took some other pictures of the town's buildings - we missed a beautiful renovated theater, unfortunately, but did get the very artistic Maritime Museum. We didn't go by the real tourist attractions (as usual) like the Astoria Column, "a tower 125 feet high built atop the hill above the town, with an inner circular staircase allowing visitors to climb to see a breathtaking view of the town, the surrounding lands, and the mighty Columbia flowing into the Pacific. The column was built by the Astor family in 1926 to commemorate the region's early history". The exterior of the column is painted with scenes of early Oregon history. You can look it up in Wikipedia if you want pictures of it. We did take a picture of a tugboat pushing a barge along the Columbia and were pleased to see we were keeping up with it. Take a look at the picture at the end of the day, going across the bridge into Washington, to see who won - we call it a draw.
The Columbia River was to our left all day and will be for the next several days, like the Pacific had been for the last 6 weeks or so. We often didn't see it, being a little too far south of it or just having it obscured by trees, but we did get a few nice pictures of it. On our right and left were always lots of trees. We went through the Clatsop State Forest for a bit as well. The day was fairly hilly but mostly they were very gentle climbs. We only had to use our granny gear twice, for one hill in the morning and one in the afternoon, but even those weren't very difficult. The morning hill had a name - Clatsop Crest - and a sign at the top told us we were at the summit and it was 656 feet high. The second one was higher - about 750 feet, we think - but we didn't get a sign at the top of that one. We were pleased to see we nearly broke 10 mph as our average despite all the climbing. The weather was exceptionally nice today, too - the sun came out mid-morning and it became pleasantly warm. We saw one temperature reading of 77 degrees, the warmest we've been since we hit Oregon! We stopped for a snack in Westport at midpoint (about 25 miles) and found out that this area of Oregon was prime berry country. The place we stopped at was called the Berry Patch and they made jams, jellies, and syrups from a variety of berries, including the locally discovered and named Marionberry, for Marion County.
What we did get just after the crest of our second hill was a spectacular view of Mount St. Helens. It was all white on top and we weren't sure whether that was snow or still ash from the volcano eruption back in 1980 or so. The owner of our motel tonight claimed it was ash and said that it still had mini-eruptions from time to time. The waitress at our restaurant, though, said it was snow and that there was still snow on Mt. Hood as well. She said that it had snowed in Longview 3 weeks ago, following a week of temperatures in the 90-100 range! She added that this sort of variability was not normal for the area, however. Coming down from our second hill, we also got a great view of the Columbia River and the bridge we were about to take over to Washington. A very high bridge, I might add. At least it had a good shoulder because it carried a lot of traffic, too; the large trucks made the bridge rattle like it was about to fall apart (yes, I knew it wasn't going to, it just sounded and felt like it would, and it wasn't very reassuring knowing that it probably wouldn't, and did I mention that it was very high up?). Pat, of course, enjoyed the ride across the bridge immensely. I, at least, managed to take a few pictures from the bridge (as we were moving! one-handed, with the other hand tightly gripping the handlebar!), including one of a very familiar-looking tug and barge going by below.
Last but not least, we entered Washington part-way across that bridge, our 17th state! Of course, we only came over here to Longview to find a place to spend the night and we'll be popping right back over the bridge (sigh) tomorrow morning and riding in Oregon all day again. We will at some point in the next week be spending more time riding and not just sleeping in Washington, though. We ended the day at a little under 51 miles and under 5-1/4 bike hours.