89km out of 749km so far
It didn’t rain overight, but a lot of the morning dew had accumulated on my tent and on the grass around it. Since that afternoon 3 days again when I went under the heavy coastal fog, I haven’t seen the sun, so nothing dries out due to the overall humidity and ocasional drizzle. That’s a common problem, and packing a wet tent, apart from the extra weight, means a dump and possible a moldy/smelly tent. A fellow cyclist mentioned that he put his tent in the dryer which was available in the campsite. He convinced me to do the same and he even offered me a quarter to do so. Of course putting a tent made out of synthetic material in a dryer is not recommended by the manufacturer or any common sense, but I was willing to take my risk. I just let it in there for a couple of minutes in low heat and it did the job really well.
Even though I am always trying to leave the campground as early as possible, it rarely happens for various reasons. Today I was chatting with different cyclist from UK and after mentioning that I am Greek, he called me by my name, which really surprized me as we hadn’t introduced ourselves yet. On the plane from UK, he happened to be sitting next to a good friend of mine, so he had already heard about me and the similar to his bike trip. The wold is small and that really made my day despite the grey skies.
I was back on the road just after 11am and today’s route went through forests, wetlands and the coast. A few kilometers later there was a split with the left turn being a more direct road to Astoria, where the right one was the scenic 101 route, heading to Long Beach. I chose the scenic one as I was only planning to get to Astoria that day. The scenery really payed off with more wetlands and beautiful parks, most of them being protected habitats for birds and other wildlife.
Astoria is the first city along the coast in the Oregon state, which is separated by Washington via Columbia River. At that point the river is at its widest width and the bridge that connects the two states is not less than 8km long! I had a lunch break and a rest to put together my self and braved the long crossing.
The bridge is for the most part flat, but it has two big arcs next to each coast for ships to go under. There is no pavement, pedestrians are not allowed and there is only a half a meter wide shoulder for bikes. Luckily it wasn’t windy or rainy at the time. Crossing the river was truly spectacular. The distance is just enormous and took me about half an hour to cover it. The river by the bridge was populated with birds flying under and above the tarmac. Sadly enough there were also plenty of road kills and I think I counted more than a couple of dozen dead birds on the road. At points there were small sandy islands, where hundreds of birds would hang out. At the final part of the bridge, there was also a huge repair operation, where all the traffic had to stop so the opposite direction can come through.
After that last part, it was just an easy downhill, straight to downtown Astoria. A very nice city, with many old buildings, old docks, boats and overall a very nice . First stop was at the tourist office to aquire valuable information. The old lady in the office was more than just helpful and she packed me with a few different maps for cycling the Oregon coast. Everyone was telling me that Oregon is a very bike friendly state and I was familiar with the very detailed coastal cycling maps that are freely available online and the tourist offices. I am happy to be here!
There isn’t a campsite in Astoria it self, by just across a smaller bridge in Warrenton, next to the Fort Clatsop. Luckily on the way there was also an AT&T shop, which I was looking for over the last few days. The SIM card and the number I got in Seattle seamed to be problematic. Even thought I could make phonecalls and send text messages, anyone who tried to reply to me using an iPhone, would actually text a random guy in Canada making my phone completely useless. In the end, the phone master at the store changed my number with a new one and made sure that this time the number solely belongs to me! 503-836-2740 is my new number and feel free to call/text me.
There were actually two campsites, right opposite each other. One was a state park, the other was a private KOA, both huge in size as the coast is always busy. The second had wifi, so I was tempted, but looking at it, it reminded me more of a disney land with pools, playgrounds and hot-tubs rather that a site by nature, which happened to be quite beautiful over there. The also charged $25 for the night. I went to the state one just to see the difference before making my mind. Even if it was full, in Oregon no campsite will turn down a cyclist or a hiker as they have a spot just for them. They charge $6 for that, including free hot showers, so it was a no brainer.
At my surprise, even if the site was full, there were no other cyclists, despite meeting so many of them the few previous days. I set my tent, had my token free shower and as I went back to my tent I noticed another right tent next to mine. I went by to say hi to the two girls and exchange stories, assuming they were also cycling. I was a bit disappointed to find out they had drove in instead. The park ranger was kind enough to let them stay in the hikers/bikers area instead of turning them down. No bike stories that night, but my disappointing instantly went away when they started unpacking and offering to me vasts amount of food and even wine that they had brought in their car that I was previously snobbing. Nevertheless they were good company for the night.