Thursday, August 7, 2014

Day 46 The Final Gee Brief

July 5th
Portland Oregon to THE PACIFIC OCEAN

The day started with my last huge calorie breakfast: salmon, eggs benedict and some of J's morning sandwich. Our waiter, Terry, was absolutely wonderful. Laid back and informative, and he told J that he was getting goosebumps as she told him the story of our journey.

After breakfast, I kissed J goodbye and headed out on Jenard for our last leg of our 46 day journey. I knew from the google map preview that I had two major climbs ahead of me. I knew the first climb would be right near the beginning, but had no idea how soon. Here's how soon: IMMEDIATELY.  I had just turned the corner from our hotel and then BAM the hill started, and it didn't stop for another four miles. The payoff however, was the pics I listed below.

As the road snaked upward, I found myself, first in a beautiful park that fringed a very affluent neighborhood. 

The neighborhood reminded me very much of Casey Key in Florida, which is just south of Sarasota.

I used to go rollerblading on Casey Key, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends or family when they visited me. It was enjoyable for two things: 1) the road had curves (most of Florida had straight lines) 2) the road had million dollar houses. At the time, many of the houses were under construction and you could actually walk up to and around the grounds, enjoying the view of the Gulf of Mexico, and imagining how cool it would be to actually own and live in the house. My favorite was Opera's  castle. It literally had parapet like towers.

Stock photo of Opra's Casey Key House.
 As I climbed up and up and up through this gorgeous neighborhood suburb of Portland, Oregon, my thoughts went back to my Sarasota years, or as I like to now refer to them, "the lonely time". The highlight of those twenty years there was when each year, my sister would bring her kids down to visit. They'd stay at my bachelor cave (cleaned once a year for their arrival) and I'd take a week off from work and we would have an intense bonding time. They loved Bush Gardens so we went...EVERY YEAR...because I just liked being with them. However, we would also go exploring on Casey Key and I would imagine buying a huge house or two and moving them all down there with me. I moved back to Connecticut to be closer to them. Financially, the move cost me dearly, but it was the best move of my life. In Connecticut, I met my wife and the lonely time was over. All of this sweetness was running through my  head as I cycled up and up and up through this memory lane filled neighborhood. My BRAIN was cycling from Portland down to Sarasota, up to Connecticut and back to Portland again. It was a happy journey, but I eventually my brain got back to focusing on the task at hand: REACHING THE PACIFIC OCEAN!!!!!!!!  YEE HAA!

Having just maneuvered the FIRST climb of the day, I found myself on a bike path that was a similar to the ones from Coeur D'Alene to Spokane and just beyond.

It was often shaded and kept me safely away from route 26, which you can see over to the right of the path in this pic. My route that day was basically, 26 to 8 to 6 to 101 and then to an Oyster shack directly on the Pacific Ocean. The bike path paralleled route 26 for the entire leg of 26, so that I never had to actually get ON 26. This fact was very relieving to me since the interstate shoulders are often filled with debris that loves to poke holes in bike tires.

The bike lane eventually faded away, but not before bringing me through a quaint little town, whose name I don't remember, but the FOOD was delightful! There were no convenience stores or gas stations that I could see, so I "settled" for a little Mexican place that was serving breakfast/lunch. I had the spiciest breakfast that I think I've ever had! It was filled with carbs and energized me for the rest of the trip.

Quaint little town. Can't remember the name of the town or the restaurant.

I know I could go back and find the name of the town AND the restaurant, however, I'd prefer not to, because it reminds me of the building excitement that I was feeling as got closer and closer to the ocean. In the beginning, back in June, I would stop for almost every little thing I saw to take a picture or do some silly video skit to amuse myself. I still have a few videos of me goofing around in the corn fields of Ohio that I haven't posted yet. By the second half of the trip, it would take something more impressive than a corn field to stop me. And by the last 81 miles, on THIS day, if it couldn't be taken by helmet cam while I was moving, then there would be no pic. All I wanted to do was get to the Ocean and celebrate with my wife. As an added bonus, my new found friend, Pastor Mike would also be meeting us there. As you may remember, I met Mike on the bike path between Idaho and Washington just outside of Spokane. Being the FOURTH minister that I have randomly encountered on this trip and the THIRD of those four that was also a cyclist, I cleverly detected a pattern. SOMEONE was sending me a message that perhaps I should actually TALK to these people. Mike was the right one to actually talk to. As we cycled together on that day, I felt like I'd known him most of my life. J too got the same feeling. So when he emailed us saying that he wanted to be there for my Pacific arrival, we were both thrilled.

But I wasn't there yet. The bike lane eventually disappeared into a narrow shoulder on route 6 with the Coastal Range taunting Jenard off in the distance. My elevation map had told me that this was the second and the highest climb I would have for the day. The payoff would be a very long descent to the Pacific Ocean.

Coastal Range waiting for me in the distance.

The climb was interesting. It never really got steep, but it was definitely challenging. My wheels at one point felt as of I was climbing a 16% or more grade. It didn't LOOK that steep, but it felt it. The climb went on for several miles. Reaching the peak was anticlimactic. Usually, with mountains, you can see the trees getting shorter. This tells you you're nearer the top. And then eventually, reach a point where the horizon just drops away and you know that you're at the VERY top. Before that, you'll have a few "faux" drops. You'll coast down a half mile or so, thinking you were at the top, but then a new hill will present itself laughing at you. 

On this day, as I started to descend, I didn't trust it. The trees were still pretty tall, so I kept waiting for the next hill to conquer before I reached the REAL top. But that next hill never came, I kept going down and down, for miles. At this point, J came to greet me and cheer me on. Click here to see it. She was also checking up on me since the cell service was spotty (definitely switching to Verizon). It was a welcome little break. 

The forest eventually gave way to the very bumpy but fairly flat roads of the coast. When I saw the sign for Tillamook I knew I was not far. My final destination was in Bay City just a few miles down the road.

As I reached my final destination, I heard whistles and clapping. I knew that this moment would be recorded, but I felt none of the nerves I had felt when I first started. On that day, 46 days ago, my rear tire was in the Atlantic, and I was about to cycle up a slippery slimy boat ramp. I was concerned about "looking good" for the camera and mostly not falling OFF my bike in the first few slippery feet!

Today, there was none of that angst. The road to the Ocean was a bit gravelly and unsure, but I didn't care. My best friend, and a minister were there to greet me. What could possibly go wrong? Worse case scenario: I fall in the water, the minster baptizes me and my bests friend pulls me out!

I didn't fall in the water. But Jenard's front wheel was gently rolled into it. And the journey was finished.

Click here J's video of me arriving.

Click here for my helmet cam arrival video

Pastor Mike, J and I had a lovely dinner at a local steak house and talked about life the universe and everything. He gave J a trophy for putting up with me and he gave me some summer reading.

At the end of the dinner, we bid each other adieu, but I'm sure our paths will cross again. He will be trying to convince his wife to run support like J did in the future. I'm thinking he may be in need of a little counseling himself from someone who's already traveled that road!

On the way home to our hotel in Portland,we came across this  striking view (see pic to the left). I honestly still don't know what to make of this sight. What is it about us humans that a cloud sitting on top of a mountain has to be interpreted? Why can't it just be a cloud sitting on top of a mountain??

Well I'll tell you why. Because a cloud sitting on top of a mountain is NOT SOMETHING YOU SEE EVERY DAY!

That being said, I still have no clue what this image meant, or that it meant anything. I just know that it was a pretty cool sight.

As of this writing, the "Portland to Portland" trip is officially FINISHED!!! However,, we now have the journey home which to me, deserves it's own separate story. So after today, I'll be resetting the clock. To me it's not an epilogue; it's a story unto itself, that will begin with Day 1.

But I still have pics and stories to tell from the original trip. To me, that IS an epilogue.

So here's what I'll be doing. I'll be making two types of entries:

1) Epilogue entries: These will be labelled as Epilogue entries, and they will deal with me adding in any pics, vids or thoughts that I simply didn't have time to enter because I was too busy eating, sleeping and pedaling. It's my chance to fill in the blanks.

2) New Journey entries: These will be labeled as Day 1, Day 2 etc. They will deal with the actual journey home.

***J will be posting one last time. Her version of the final day pretty soon. After that, she said she will post per diem.

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