Day 3: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Whalen Island County Park to Dallas: 70 miles
|Ready for a rainy day ride|
|A grey Oregon seaside|
The word was right. Soon after we retired, it began to drizzle. In the morning, we prepared ourselves for a wet day. The drizzle turned to a steady rain that detracted from the joy of cycling Highway 101 with its hilly curves and on-again, off-again shoulders. Twenty miles later, just past the town of Neskowin, I was glad to turn off the coastal highway and follow the old Highway 101 up into the hills. In spite of the rain, it was a spirit-lifting experience: in ten miles, I encountered maybe half a dozen cars.
|The scenic route was worth it.|
Still, it was wet. An unpopulated, scenic road can do only so much for a person whose spirits have been dampened by a slog through mile after mile of rain. The climb over the coastal mountain range along Highway 18 was not joyful. The map said that there was a campsite in Grand Ronde, but I sure didn't feel like camping.
When you're cold, wet, and tired, don't underestimate the power of a lunch stop at a country store to boost your willpower to continue.
Grand Ronde was once the western station point on the Willamina and Grand Ronde Railroad, a logging line that ran up into the mountains. As the trucks took over, the railroad's business died out. Now, its tracks are gone. In 1981, trains still ran. Now, the engine house is a garage for logging trucks and the depot has been converted to other use. The big game in town is the Spirit Mountain Casino, a huge development for a town with a population of about 300. Although it provides jobs, I sensed a bit of resentment from some folks I talked with.
The alternative to a campsite in Grand Ronde was either a stay at the casino or a motel in Dallas, some 20 miles down the road. The casino just wasn't my style, so I made for Dallas. By the time I found a motel and got to my room, it was 9 pm. It had been a long, wet day. My bike and panniers were filthy with road grime. The wi-fi was terrible, and I was so exhausted that I didn't bother cleaning my gear or showering. I was out before I even turned off the lights.