Day Two Hundred Forty-one, Date Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Time in Saddle: 4:25
Distance for the Day: 42.13 miles From South Bend, WA To Astoria, OR
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,852 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending –52’/282’, Highest: 326’ Accumulated: 1781’
Speeds: Avg: 9.5 mph, Max: 33.9 mph
Weather: 42° partly cloudy with a few bouts of light rain, warming to the mid 50s
I woke up several times through the night, as every now and then a rain squall would hit my tent with the noise of spattering drops and a gust front pushing my tent around. I really woke up at 6:15am, and waited until 7:15am to get up, and secure my gear. I lucked-out – there was a hole in the weather, and it was currently clear overhead, but I was pretty much surrounded by large, rainy looking clouds. The wind made the breakdown a challenge, again, but this time I was better prepared for it, and used my four water/Gatorade bottles to help keep things from running off. I was ready to roll at 8:03am, and plowed forward, with a quartering tailwind to help me along the way. I got rained on lightly a few times, but not too bad.
I crossed the Columbia River on the Astoria Bridge, and thereby passed into Oregon, at 12:57pm. (By the way: that picture ["Looking back north..."], below, is a rare shot. No pedestrians are allowed on that bridge, but since the right-hand lane was closed due to construction work going on, and no traffic was using that segment of the roadway, anyway, I stopped long enough to snap a few shots before getting admonished by a construction worker for converting from 'cyclist' to 'pedestrian.') I arrived in Astoria at the other end of the bridge at 1:15pm, and went into town to look for a Joby tripod (no luck). I then stopped in at Subway for a meal deal + 3 cookies ($14), and while eating, I charged my notebook and camera batteries, downloaded pictures off the camera’s SD card, and also downloaded the voice files from the new digital recorder. I left Subway at 3pm, asked a local where the library was, and on my way found what turned out to be a great bookstore, Lucy’s Books. I went in and asked if they bought used paperbacks – they didn’t, so I just gave them my Stephen King “The Green Mile,” since I was done with it, and couldn’t carry it with me. I then found a Dan Brown paperback thriller “Digital Fortress,” and brought it to the counter to purchase it. The gal said, ‘even Stephen,” and just traded it straight across for the King novel I gave them. Cool. They also had free wi-fi, and sold cookies, hot cocoa, and homemade chili, so instead of going to the library, I parked myself there from 4pm until they closed at 8pm to transcribe my recorder notes. I got hot cocoa, cookies, a soda, and chili ($13).
When I left at closing, I got to talking with a local guy and told him I was going to go looking for stealth camping, and he came up with a suggestion: there was a park at the top of the hill up 16th street, just past the Astoria Tower at the top. I thanked him (I should have strangled him!) and went to find this site. That may have been the longest, steepest grade I’d done for the entire trip, including the roads up to my Auntie Elsie’s in Los Angeles, which were also very steep, but not as high. I must have climbed at least 200 feet in less than a half-mile. I had to stop several times to rest, and it got me sweating despite the cold of the night. I did find the park, however, and bypassed the closed gate to enter. I didn’t find any covered picnic tables, but I did find a gravel spot off the road that overlooked a suburb of Astoria around Youngs River (N46 10.721’ W123 49.157’). In the moonlight filtered by a high, thin overcast, it was very pretty, so I set up there. I was inside, reading my new book, munching, and drinking Gatorade by 9:30pm, and went to sleep at 10:30pm. There was a street down below, but it was far enough away, I didn’t worry about anyone seeing my reading light. All in all, the guy who suggested this site did steer me in the right direction, but he should have pointed straight up!