We are getting lazy, enabled by the perfect trifecta — weather, winds, and camping spots.
It is cold and misty in the morning which makes ideal weather for rolling over, pulling the sleeping bag up over your head, and returning to that dream you wish had not ended.
Secondly, the coastal winds blow predominantly from the North this time of year and get stronger later in the day. After four and a half months on the road, we finally have consistent tailwinds that blow us down the coast and help lift us up the hills.
Finally, the Oregon State campgrounds are roughly spaced between 15 and 30 miles (24 to 48km) apart. Like many other State and National campgrounds, they offer hiker/biker sites. Anyone that arrives at the park on foot or on bicycle is assured to have a spot, even if the campground is full, and at a reduced rate. For example, the Oregon parks have tent sites in the range of $21 to $25 per night. A hiker/biker typically pays $5 to $6 per person. Plus, a hiker/biker usually does not pay an entrance (or day use) fee, in the range of $3 to $6 per vehicle. This gives us cheap access to the Light Houses along the coast.
The combination of perfect sleeping weather, strong tailwinds, and an assured spot to sleep and shower allows us enjoy other pursuits.
Besides perfecting my mosquito-fu, I’ve taken up coaching my beard. As a new beard, in its pre-pubescent awkward stage, it lacks confidence and has self-image issues. It is very shy, especially around beards of the opposite sex. It try to gently encourage my beard to talk to female beards, which poses a veritable quandary, since I suffer from a rare double phobia — HeteroPogonophobia, or the fear of the opposite sex with beards.
The slower pace is nice as it allows us to just stop and admire the sights, sounds and smells of the coast. The Yaquina Head Lighthouse was one such draw. The tower is the tallest on the Oregon Coast – soaring 93 feet in the air.
Eleven years earlier I rode through Newport, Oregon on my bicycle and was excited to find the Rouge Brewery, that produces one of my all-time favorite beers, Dead Guy Ale. On that initial trip down the coast, I was the only guy in the tasting room. Since then, the enterprise has flourished, moving beyond beer to include food, spirits, farming and a string of locations. The success and popularity of Rouge draws crowds and we had to wait to get a spot at the bar in the still-active brewery.
The largest treat of the day was the chance to catch up with a friend who I had not seen in over 15 years. Dave teaches at Oregon State University and drove over to the coast for the night. He was one year ahead of me in engineering school. In fact, he was the primary reason I decided to study Materials Science & Engineering over other fields of engineering. The selection of a major was a process of elimination.
I did not have a high enough grade point average to study Computer Engineering, which interested me. Electrical, Mechanical and Civil failed to spark my imagination. So via process of elimination, David’s enthusiastic interest in the subject, combined with the fact that he threw darts and was interested in really good beer, led me to my major. Not exactly the application of the scientific method for the selection of a major, but what does a 18 year old know anyway?
We spent hours around the campfire, catching up, filling in the blanks on lost acquaintances, reliving memories of being at Virginia Tech, talking about our families, etc. A wonderful ending to another great day on the road.