I could probably count how many times I asked Alexia, “Do you want to move here?” but that would be every time we stopped on a vista, shore break, or quaint beach town with a mountain backdrop, which was often, maybe countless times. There is a special kind of intimacy felt here.
At the mouth of the Columbia River, Astoria is a welcome mat with more than one direction to head into the heart of Oregon, whatever that means to you; east along the Columbia River Valley toward Portland, diagonally meandering southeast among swift rivers and hilly forests, or tuck along the Pacific coast heading south with the scent of sea air, pine, fir and spruce, and estuarian richness. We started diagonally with the intention of taking a break at our friend’s Mangalitsa pig compound. However, that meandering route would first introduce us to white-knuckle-pedaling skinny-road logtruck-jousting and crazy-local drivers.
During our time at the Doss Family Farm, an enjoyable seventeen days, we were able to resupply with necessary items, work a few farmers market, take pigs to market, tend to pigs, put up fencing, taste some fine beers from Kaiser Brewing, and help clean and organize the ‘compound.’ We all enjoyed a departing meal and beer at the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City. And just like that, we were off to continue our ride tucking the Pacific coast south.
With a new trailer for Fitz, and panniers donated from Ortlieb, we were off but still heavy. I chock it up to living on the road and out of our bikes for the next twenty months. Despite the sacrificial objects left behind, we still like the creature comforts that add weight like small binoculars, tenkara rod w/ flies, camp pillow, books, sketching pencils and pad, wetsuit, and a few extra electronic goodies.
Once on the road it appeared to be a highway of cyclists and PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) through hikers transplanted due to the Oregon fires. Coastal riders going from Vancouver to San Fran or San Diego, transcontinental cyclists going east to west or vice-versa, long-distance folks going from Alaska to Bolivia, and the diversity of characters hiking over 2600 miles on the PCT starting on the Mexican border heading north, or starting on the US – Canada border letting gravity pull them down were all festering along the Oregon Coast along with us.
Another beauty of Oregon are the state parks. Five bucks per person and free unlimited hot showers. Well needed and deserved as the days were not necessarily long in mileage, but this time of year it was hot and the hills steep and long.
Back to this intimacy I/ we have with Oregon. I have passed through my daily thoughts while riding and that is there are few places – States – that really get me jazzed about what they offer in combination of outdoor activities, outdoor work, community, local and statewide vibe, government policies, cultural diversity, progressive and sustainable methods in craftwork/ farming/ ranching/ closed-circle food systems, healthy and diverse ecosystems, fresh water resources, and access to land. Oregon, Minnesota, and Vermont are these states. No state is perfect in everything, that would be unnatural, but without getting deep these are the places I have come to enjoy, appreciate, respect, understand, and get lost in. Having spent over two months of the past year in Oregon the thorn of intimacy is deeply set.