July 18, 2001

7/18/01 Gramlich Farm

83.2 / 4895 miles

Talked with Cary Segall and his son, Craig, until late. Cary is a reporter from Madison, WI. This is his first bike trip with Craig who is a student at the University of Chicago. Cary did a cross-country trip many, many years ago. Since then, they've always done car camping trips. Craig is a little unsure of the trip, especially the biking part. Cary says he's in a little better shape than his son. I told Craig to get all the way to Missoula before deciding if he wants to go home. I think he'll do fine. I just told him about my first week in Virginia and that seemed to boost his confidence.

Finally, after I bought a few more music CD's, I could find a few good radio stations. Went to sleep listening to 'Hearts of Space' on public radio.

Cary and I are the early risers while Craig and the two Dane's are still asleep. Left the campground under cloudy skies.

If I didn't know better, I would have thought I was in Kansas, what with all the farm fields. I guess that this valley is typical of those on the west coast. Rick soil on a wide plain between mountain ridges. Besides the big fields filled with ripening grain, I passed at least a half-dozen vineyards. Later I learned that this area is one of the nation's top producers of grass seed. That's what all those combines are harvesting today.

A wonderful field of wild flowers

The day was partly cloudy or partly sunny depending on your disposition. The ride through the valley was generally flat. Stopped for some breakfast in Harrisburg before heading on towards Corvalis.

My arrival in Corvalis was abrupt. One minute, I'm among quiet farm fields. The next I'm on a busy, noisy highway entering this city of 50,000. I really seem to go into sensory overload when I get to cities this size. Corvalis had a lot of bike lanes like Eugene but still had tons of automobile traffic too.

After finding an AYCE Pizza Hut clear across town, I headed back to downtown. Stopped in a couple of bike shops and camping outfitters. Checking email at the library was a lost cause because of the long waiting line. Cashing a travelers check at the bank needed two pieces of ID, plus a fingerprint. I tend to do a lot of running around and get nothing done.

I did get a chance to stop at Rain Shed, an outdoor fabric mail-order business here in Corvalis. My tent bag and guidebook pocket on the bike were made with materials I ordered from here. Barb Phillips, the owner of Rain Shed, came outside to look at the bike and talk about the trip. "If you get a picture of the stuff you made in action, send them to me and we'll try and put them in the next catalog." she said.

I would have liked to see Emily again but I remembered her saying she had to be back at work on Wednesday. So I got a late start for my final miles to Rickreall.

From Corvalis, I rode the shoulder of a fairly busy highway. I pushed hard, partly because of the time of day and miles I needed to do. And partly because the heavy traffic tends to rush you along. At one point, I was able to move to a side road that paralleled the highway. It was nice to be on a quiet road but it's surface was in pretty sad shape.

In Monmouth, talked with Jon at Jon's Bicycle Station. He checked over my tires and gave me some advice for the area near Rickreall. Called my aunt and uncle to give them an idea when I'd be there. Fortunately there is a bike path from Monmouth to Rickreall.

Near Frank & Kathy's farm

The cloudcover made it seem later than it was. Cooler too. Passed more vineyards as I was looking for a house with a blue roof. Down the road, Frank was sitting in a lawn chair waiting for me. Good thing too because the house is surrounded by trees and I might have missed it.

Frank Gramlich is my grandmother's brother, so my great-uncle. His wife, Kathy, immediately took me under her wing. After getting cleaned up, she fed me a wonderful dinner while they looked on as we chatted. Already I feel at home.