I’m not intending to write a blog post for every single day of this trip, but this particular one – Saturday 7 May – was particularly eventful (for all the right reasons, don’t worry) so I decided it was worth it.
It all started pretty bog standard, really. We headed south on the I5, a fast moving and very dull interstate (motorway), for about 20 minutes so we could stop off at a motorcycle accessory shop in Salem. They didn’t have what we wanted (some more compact, lighter knee armour for our Kevlar jeans), so we asked TomTom to take us back to the coast via a winding route – I love that feature on the mobile app – and decided just to see where it took us.
LincsGeek and his Tiger Explorer.
Our ride started through Oregon farmland – I’m not sure exactly what was growing but there were miles and miles of fields with straight roads along the edges and sharp bends at the corners. There was definitely some grapes, some barley, and possibly carrots, but apart from that my knowledge of farmland is pretty much restricted to potatoes and leeks. From there we went over one hill and found ourselves in the trees again, there’s lots of forest in Oregon, meaning one of the main industries is logging. Forest roads are always fun on motorbikes – twists and turns as far as the eye could see, and then some.
Then there was a sign. Something we don’t see at home. “Paved Road Ends.” Oh. I didn’t stop to take a photo as I was far too busy concentrating on the gravel and dirt road that lay in front of me for the next five or six miles. I know, I know, my bike is designed for this kind of thing, but I’m just not use to slipping and sliding my way around corners and up and down hills, and I had to really concentrate on relaxing my body so my bike could go where it wanted (to a certain extent). I rode standing up for a bit and that definitely makes a difference, but then keeping my throttle smooth was difficult. Don’t worry, I did get the hang of it and even started enjoying it, but I’ll readily admit I was very happy when we got to the end of the road and back onto tarmac. Lots of roads in America are still like this; they are just local routes and they don’t see the need to pave them. They are still wide and well used, just not given a nice smooth top surface.
We went under a few of these old wooden railway bridges. Rickety!!
As soon as the paved road returned we passed a sign saying “Lincoln County” and thought of home. Almost immediately, along this stretch of narrow (well, narrow for here), we started to come across railway crossings. What a surprise! Except these ones had no barriers, no lights, and just a “give way” (sorry, “yield”) sign to remind us to look for trains before we crossed. Sometimes the crossings were at such an angle that we were actually looking ahead and in our mirrors for trains. I’ve never had to check my mirrors for trains before! It must have happened around nine or ten times. Thankfully no sign of any train – no idea if the line is even in use, but it’s better to check thoroughly than not at all.
After meeting Highway 101 and turning left to head south along the coast once again, we stopped at a very unassuming café for lunch. It’s normally a good sign when the car park is full of cars, so we decided to give it a punt. The South Beach Fish Market was a fish monger and restaurant (alongside a general store, too), and we tucked into the most awesome local catch – I had a crab burger (locally caught and made onsite) and LincsGeek had popcorn shrimp from the sea just down the road. It was a huge meal, and a particularly yummy one.
North Beach, Oregon.
Back on the road we had time for a few stops along the Pacific coast, so we got right to it. Our first was a stones throw from the fish market at North Beach State Beach, and our second was along the road a bit at Beachside State Park. Both are sandy beaches with sand dunes, and the latter had a campground attached that we had a quick look at just to see what this kind would be like to camp in.
The final stop was a real find. We only pulled into the large lay-by style car park because there was a sign saying “Cape Perpetua” which sounded like it might provide a good view. What we actually found was a cliff overlooking a series of tide pools with particularly angry waves crashing into them. This was Cook’s Chasm and the Spouting Horn, a natural salt water fountain fed by the sea that bursts each time a large wave comes in. We spent an hour or so walking along the rocks, looking in the rock pools and taking photos of the sea. We are definitely glad we decided to stop here, and even more pleased we chose to walk down the steep path to the rocks to see the powerful Pacific ocean at work.
The Spouting Horn.
Angry sea and tide pools at Cape Perpetua.
From there it was on to Florence, Oregon, a few miles further down the 101. Our motel, the Lighthouse Inn, is right on the main road just before the big old bridge in the town. A very simple place that has apparently been there for a very long time, but with everything we needed. Oh and I should mention BJs, an ice cream and salt water Taffy shop in Florence Old Town – we waked there from the motel and had dessert instead of dinner, I definitely recommend the salted caramel swirl ice cream, mmmmmmm.
PS If there is anything about our trip you particularly want to know, or are wondering anything (however random) about motorcycle touring or touring North America, let me know and it might well inspire a future blog post.