~ Day 7 – Great notions and mild deliria deep in Oregon country ~

06/06/2010 – 69.8 miles 

Last night, at which time I cannot recall, I awoke to the peacefully dreadful pitter-patter of rain. Half asleep, I crawled out of my polyester cave to cover my saddle, pitch the fly, and have a quick piss. Cursing under my breath I slowly re-entered slumber with a dread of the following day so palpable that I dreamt very strangely and awoke often. In addition, aches and pains are beginning to accumulate and this is making for uncomfortable sleeps on this mattress. I should also mention at this point that my mattress was disfigured from putting it too close to the heater the other night, which melted a layer of insulation at a section. The result is a volleyball-sized balloon around the knee area, when inflated, that I somehow have to sleep around. I like to think that this is more funny than awful. I am not so sure.

Today was meant to be somewhat of a maintenance day, but I never could have guessed at how it was to turn out. I awoke often this morning, but finally and for good around 11:00 – an astonishing 13 hr slumber. This rain seems to have lulled me into a miniature hibernation, for I did not leave my tent until 14:00 this afternoon, an even more astonishing 16 hr interval. I lay in my tent half peaceful, have fearful and uncertain as to the direction of the day. I read several chapters of Great Expectations while listening to the rain wax and wane off the forest canopy above. Finally, by 14:30 I resolved to get back on the road.

Dejected at the thought of another cold rainy day of desperate cycling, I set out extremely slowly. This was, in very much seriousness, compounded by some awful pains in both my legs – my left achilles and my right knee. My right knee is in an especially bad way. I feel that gravity is riding me to the ground. Cursing and sincerely wondering how far I would be able to journey, I decided on the Old Scenic Highway rather than the 101 for a 10 mile section to start. This proved to be one of the most magnificent and revealing sections of my entire ride so far.

The beauty of the rainy, misty, winding road through intimate countryside was stunning. Cows and horses in pasture with adjacent country cottages, rivers and occasional waterfalls over sheer mountain face. The kind of scenes from which I imagine Ken Kesey might have drawn inspiration for his sometimes great notions. All part of the Siuslaw National Forest. I feel I could never leave here and be OK.

For I was going slow in order to warm-up and work out those kinks (with great success) when I realized that not a soul was on that road but my own. Absolute peace, absolute peace. And I realized that the greater portion of this trip has been defined by highways and the belligerence of constant vehicle traffic. And there’s just no peace in that. It struck me that this is what I need to be doing, and that my next adventure will no doubt be on foot, with backpack, for several days through forested wilderness. Cycle touring is great, but I too often feel a missing element of peace that can’t be got when sharing a roadway with The Beast.

Continued on, in the rain, through more (though less serene) beautiful countryside eventually to Tillamook. With persistent pain in my right knee, I thought I wouldn’t even make it this far. But I am a persistent bugger, for better and worse, and motored on beyond expectation. So much so that the search for reasonable motel accommodation (cannot camp while soaked as such) brought me all the way here, to Nehalem, about 25 miles north of Tillamook. I rode right up to 21:00, mile after tedious mile, searching for a place I could afford. Here now at the Bunkhouse, $46 is the best I could do. Currently icing down both legs. It is now 1:00 and time for bed. Tomorrow is Astoria and into Washington. Remember postcards!