July 23, 2001

7/23/01 Nahalem Bay

74 / 5039 miles

Cold and damp this morning as I broke camp. Changed into my rain gear just in case. Kind of 'in-between' weather. You work up a sweat in the coat and pants but it's way too cold to take them off. The road is windy and up and down.

Met Deanne and Ken who are cycling south for California. They said they camped last night at Cape Lookout Campground, reputed to be the best on the whole Pacific Coast. It was heartened when they told me that they had camped with eight other cyclists. Maybe I won't be so alone out here for a while.

Took a short side trip to see the Cape Mears Lighthouse. Still very overcast, so the view wasn't the greatest. Met a few folks there on a bike day trip. After that it was a bumpy ride back down.

Had a long ride to get around Tillamook Bay. But I did begin to see a few dairy farms. The area is well known for the dairy products of Tillamook Cheese Company. Hwy-101 goes right down Main Street in Tillamook, creating a lot of traffic congestion. The library had a couple hours wait to get on the internet, so I went and got some lunch. Also getting AYCE pizza was three Germans that were crossing the US motorcycles, one with a side-car. Cool!

Even though the wind was still pretty strong, the sun started to make an appearance. I took a four mile side trip to see the Tillamook Air Museum that was housed in an old WWII blimp hanger. The guidebook said you couldn't miss it and that was an understatement. Even four miles from town, I could see the hanger clearly (AIR MUSEUM was painted on the roof). Although the admission price was very high, I took a chance anyway. I've always wanted to fly and fantasized about the fighter pilots from the war. What amazed me the most was the huge size of the single pilot planes. Most of the American WWII planes made the British Spitfire look like a toy. My favorite was the P-38 Lightning.

One of the planes in the Air Museum

Lots of traffic along Hwy-101 after Tellamook, especially near the Tellamook Cheese factory. It gets over 750,000 visitors every year. Soon after Bay City, I once again get off Hwy-101 to follow the Miami River through the coastal mountains. I was pleasantly surprised by the easy climb through this valley with huge, steep mountains on either side. Sad to see a few clear-cut areas though in this beautiful landscape.

Making good time as I entered Nahalem. A few people had remarked about the Nahalem 'hill' but the sudden steep climb into town had surprised me. I was almost wondering if I was going to have to get off and push. (No, I pedaled the whole way to the top.)

Nahalem Bay

At the Nahalem Bay State Park, I met Bruce and his daughter camped at the hiker-biker area. They're from Corvalis and doing a couple week loop, heading south tomorrow. From his stories, it sounds as if he has toured most every summer since the 70's. Laura has only gone on a couple of rides with him, including a week on the Great Divide route in Colorado last summer. They remarked that they too were surprised not to see more cyclists this time of year.

After a long, hot shower, I took a stroll on the beach. The crash of the surf was deafening. And the wind was so strong you could see it moving the sand. Still, it's amazing that I'm here. I biked across the entire country. I even passed the 5000-mile mark. Hard to fathom.

I'm feeling better about the trip today. I'm looking at getting to Missoula before I decide about continuing or not. I think I need to break it down into smaller pieces. I probably had the same feelings during my Appalachian Trail hike back in 1998. Because I have more time now, I'm also thinking a side-trip to Vancouver would be nice. I just hope my good weather holds.