Backfill #13: Saturday, August 20th
Florence to McMinnville
Borrowed image of Florence, Oregon looking west with the estuary below.
The River Estuary
Slept well; the charger finished up about Midnight or so; I heard it click off and dutifully unplugged it. Next time I climbed out of bed was about 5:30 AM. Wrapped up for bear, left the motel with just a hint of daylight on an otherwise darkly overcast dewy morning, up the road north about ½ mile just past the Safeway (Starbucks? – no; closed) to the Kozy Kitchen
. I was maybe the 2nd person to sit down as they opened at 7 AM; Biscuits & Gravy with Eggs and Bacon. Food came quick. I was on the road by 7:35 AM, pulling straight out of the parking lot onto Hwy 126 heading east towards Eugene
. Good road, wide margins, little traffic, low light still; overcast and rising fog from the inland river estuary painted beautiful early morning portraits over and over again! The problem with this is how do you stop to capture it: I’m up high on the seat; if I pull over to the side, it will be lower and I’ll have brush and foliage in the way, or maybe the moment is lost. Maybe I just need to describe it:
Borrowed image of the typical boats found at the Port of Siuslaw in Florence, Oregon.
Immediately leaving heading east, the Florence-Eugene Highway follows the north side of the Siuslaw River
and bordering inlets, all affected by tidal action, so in a sense – it’s an estuary
. The water being at one temperature, and the air at the other conspire to create local climatic foggy mist that rises from the water, though dissipates as it does, creating a unique soft-lighting gradient. The width across is nearly a mile leaving town though slowly narrows over the next five miles to about half that by the time I reach the Coast Marina & RV Park
across from Duncan Inlet
. This is a visual treat as fishermen in their modest sized silvery-white river boats are slowly departing the docks one-by-one, outriggers upright, barely moving, possibly with just river current, and completely backlit by the rising light of the – albeit obscured sun still behind the mountains. The gray shadows and light contrast against the sharp vivid greens across the bank which are catching better light, with modest one- and two-level stately homes somewhat near the rivers’ edge. Oh to have a home here, with a small dock running down to the water, able to rise and relax with the tide. By the time I could have pulled over to get a shot of it, the moment would have expired. Light is changing fast, as is the imagery as each turn and curve of the road produces another unique splendor.
I hadn’t noticed it much before, though shortly after leaving town the railroad crosses over the river and on to the high-side of the embankment to my left; it is like a companion as I think I hear engines far off in the distance hauling their freight through the canyons. Maybe it’s just in my head. Upon reflection, this railroad is the same one that parallels US 101 between Hwy 42 north of Bandon
– originating Coquille
, up through Coos Bay
and to Lakeside
, before cutting inland – jumping back once at Reedsport
, and through a mountain before crossing the Siuslaw River at Cushman
. From here, it travels east and connects up to the central network at Eugene
. Strangely, there is not another coastal rail link south until Arcata-Eureka
, and that particular one parallels US 101 for the most part, with one spur splitting off at Willets running out to Fort Bragg
, while the other end terminates at Windsor
just above Santa Rosa
; it is an isolated line. Maps indicate these rails went much farther, yet the economics must have curtailed their use. Boom times when logging was king. I have lived near rail lines a good part of my life, and so I have a polite interest of their utility and service, particularly now when one considers mass transit – the related cousin, to moving heavy freight.
At the moment, there is not a train in site. About 11 or 12 miles out of Florence
the road tees off, with Hwy 126 veering right and east towards Eugene
, or left onto a smaller and less traveled Mapleton-Junction City
Hwy 36 which initially heads north. The overcast has completely lifted and sun is shining on the forested peaks high above though I am still in the illuminated shadow with the river flowing from the direction of Hwy 36. Rassy
suggested I might enjoy going through Mapleton
more so than taking Hwy 126. They both lead towards Eugene
, however even though Hwy 36 is more circuitous, it should be far less busy.
Crossing the Coast Range
And so it was, from the moment I crossed over. Friend-railroad was on the left, narrowing river continued on the right, with traffic left behind. Mind you – it wasn’t that busy, though this route was vastly far less; I had the lane to myself! Good thing too as there was little margin. The grade following the river and railroad was naturally easy, and could barely perceive that I was climbing at all - with few exceptions. About a mile up the road the river appeared no longer affected by tide, and the historic force of nature and rapid runoff could be appreciated in the way it carved itself out of rock, with telltale cobble and pothole signatures.
The first hamlet was Brickerville
, maybe 3 miles in, followed by Mapleton
and then Swisshome
; here the railroad crosses Lake Creek – a fork in the river, and continues up a narrow slot sinuously carved by the Siuslaw, ultimately rejoining Hwy 126, and onward towards Eugene
. On this short river plain where the two waters meet are simple basic homesteads, some eeking out a natural rural life in the narrow margins between the river and the road, dotted with small gardens and greenhouses. Hwy 36 though continues north and east following Lake Creek. It’s a little bit curvier with mild inclines; I’m enjoying it.
Borrowed image of the Siuslaw River at Swisshome looking west.
A couple of cars go by, and I hardly noticed they were behind me. Soon I pass through Deadwood
: Somebody I ran into prior suggested that there was this Deadhead festival or zombiefest in Deadwood
; I didn’t catch it all though the name of the place stuck in my head and I just had to stop, so I did at the general market. There were two entrances: The west was paved and I missed that, so I began to pull into the east – and it was gravel; almost lost it! Pull in, rest, water-up, peel off the layers, stow the gear, go in and buy something. The Community Board hanging outside was managed by the Counsel of Greenleaf <snicker>
and announced various notices, etc. It crossed my mind to take a picture of this; who would believe that I am in Deadwood
, a place managed by Greenleaf
The hills here are not very high, yet they border in the narrow pastoral river- or more aptly creek
-bottoms. I bet in the rainy season though the creeks become rivers as there is evidence of heavy flow. I motor on east up through one of these now as it opens up slowly towards Greenleaf
, passing through a narrow notch in the hills, then again another pleasant plain before narrowing again. Right here there are two small parks: Lake Creek Recreational Area
and Triangle Lake Park
. These are right on the creek-side and well-shaded under this canopy. Just past this is Triangle Lake
. The west and north sides of this local watering hole are lined with docks, evidently very popular with kids of all ages. I pulled off to use the public facilities near the northwest corner at the boat ramp. The temperature was coming up from cool, and yet there were plenty of kids having fun! It looked like a great place to bring the family. Eagle Camp Cove
is located at the southern corner near the outlet.
Borrowed image of the northwest corner of Triangle Lake looking west.
Borrowed images of the Rock Falls below Triangle Lake.
There’s a bit of dichotomy here with the steep old-growth forested hills and the beautiful lake acting at the drainage at the toe of a large and differentiated plain that appears to be mostly rural farming or grazing land. Hwy 36 wraps around the north side of the lake and continues eastward, bisecting the fingers of each furrow, passing through Blachly
, before reaching the end, and now for the first time climbing steeply by Blachly Mountain State Park
and cresting over Low Pass Summit
(just over 1000 feet). The backside wasn’t very steep, though I could feel the temperature begin to pick up as the next 5 miles dropped away from the hills and out onto the flanks of the Willamette Valley. This had been a pretty dang good ride; maybe 20 cars passed me if I had to count. Hats off to Rassy
for suggesting it.
About the junction of Territorial Road South
I came upon a truck weigh station that was unmanned, yet active – so out of a lark I pulled onto the scales; it looked like the scales weighed only the axles and not the full length (I wasn’t sure having never weighed myself before except to drop stuff off at the county salvage). The scale had a crude resolution of 50 lbs. and determined that I and the bike weighed 450 lbs. Now - I know that my weight is about 145 to 155 lbs., and the batteries weighed about 100 lbs. therefore the bike, trailer and supplies must weigh about 200 lbs. That seems a bit heavy to me. Well – maybe these scales err positive for revenue.
Willamette Valley – Part 1
Drove on to Cheshire
, accidentally passing Territorial Road North
, though pulled off opposite the Dari Mart to check with the Google Maps oracle. A group of loud bikers were assembled on the other side in the parking lot generating deliberate cacophony over who’s going to leave first. This switched me off on using the store, though I quickly figured out that I had to head back a ¼ mile, and waited for traffic to clear before doing so – and escaping from that gathering of Saturday drivers at the same time. Right turn on Territorial Road North
, and straight into headwind; hadn’t noticed it was there till now. Dang.
More or less a straight road bearing north, come what may, over hill and over dale. I don’t think I went more than two miles up this route before I heard the loud and rancorous roar of those Saturday bikers; the first one dive-bombed me, with the next couple-three passing close, looking back to see my reaction: I didn’t flinch.
Those that followed left me alone. Whatever:
Thank you for fulfilling my low expectations as knuckle-draggers
The land here was mainly used for farming, although I think there were a few orchards here as well. Over a wooded rise I passed a golf course on the left, then down the back side – and before I knew it, was entering the town of Monroe
(privately: That went fast). Crossing over to Hwy 99W, I continued on north with a slightly better road and a very long - dare to say - monotonous straight path. Actually – I didn’t mind. Fields were for the most part here flat as flat can be, but the crops seemed to change. Some were being plowed, some were left fallow, some had crop, some were left to dry, some were being harvested. There was activity of all sorts if one looked hard enough. And never far away were the green forested hills or the knots of Oak lending shade… it was warming up. Just after Finley Road, where the road passed next to the foot of a small wooded hill on the right, there was shade at the driveway leading up to the mini-mansion carved out midway up the side. I pulled off here and gave myself a break and water-up before heading into the next asphalt jungle.
With about 5 miles to go, I motored on in to Corvallis
; a college town spooned in between the Willamette River and the Coast Range. Arriving about Noon, I begin the hunt to find a place to eat, and didn’t waste time: Found Papa’s Pizza Parlor
just before crossing US 20; a pie sounded mighty delicious!
This is my only image recovered of this day: Papa’s Pizza Parlor in Corvallis. Notice the electrical outlet directly left
of my bike!
Ordered up a small Canadian Bacon, Pineapple, Olive, and Tomato pie and ate nearly every slice but one. It was a good break as I rested and watered up here for a good hour. When I was 21 years old in college I took a part-time job as a bartender at a pizza parlor at the urging of my high school pals; their family ran one particular store of a chain and invited me to help them out. My work-ethic had dramatically improved after the Navy and I applied myself with diligence to make that dull brass bar as shiny and bright as my former engineroom. Within two weeks, my boss pats me on the back and says “I just want to you know I’ve given you a second raise!”
I didn’t know I had earned a first raise.
Minimum wage sucked back then, so it was good news. Four months later they promoted me to Day (Assistant) Manager
, meaning I was now the boss over the friends that had asked me to work for them
. (I’ll leave out the dynamic). Anyways – for a year I worked at this pizza parlor, and within a short time I grew tired of pizza
. But then we became creative, and I learned how to barter my pizza away for trade with other food outlets with employees equally bored with their food, thus developing useful persuasive sales and marketing skills. I also figured out how to make a most-tasty pie
which in turn built clientele
, and it began with creating exquisite crust: A two-day process involving water, flour, malt, salt, yeast, shortening, and a lot of TLC
. When the dough was right, it felt like velvet
in your hands and rose beautifully in the hot-fired ovens! This memory I relate to manager after lending my generous complement of their well-made pizza just before departing: Good memorable pizza is hard to come by!
Willamette Valley – Part 2
At 1 PM, I motor across the highway and head north. It had decidedly warmed up over my hour break. I don’t think about though, not right away. Gestating, I moved right on through Corvallis
without much thought, pleasantly full and happy. The road passes directly beside the foothills of the coast range for the next few miles and there are some inclines and dips, nothing to write home about though. The next big town is Monmouth
, about 20 miles north. Somewhere here I am passed by a carload of stupidly young college students and as they pass by me one screams out the window at me; I can’t hear it due to my speed and headwind and Doppler-effect, maybe one syllable that is unintelligent
. A kid in the back seat howling with guffaw turns back to see my – unflinching, steady, and uncaring expression
, as I plod along; the snot’s face turns to frown as I stole the moment (Ha!)
The passage along the valley takes me a little over an hour, arriving in Monmouth
about 2:15 PM, and I am fatigued from the heat, actively looking for shade where I can pull off and get a break from this overbearing sun.
As I pull up to the signal at Main Street - which turns green as I approach, I pass between a black car and the curb; the guy looking out the window see my bike and exclaims “WHO MAKES IT?!?”
and I shout back “I MAKES IT!”
He motions the driver to tail me, and then flags me down; I pull off to the side and tell him to follow me up a block where we can pull off under the tree. I am nearly red with exhaustion, and under the shade of the tree I relate the details of the bike and how to find out more about it online at ES
. They need to leave but thank me profusely. Not happy with my shade as there’s no place to lean the bike, I motor up another block and found the Napa Auto Parts just above Powell Street where I pull in and park against the north shaded wall. As I am peeling myself off the bike, a Napa sales guy pops out and has to know about my bike. As I am relating the details he motions me inside where it is refrigerated: AC! Oh, this is very nice
; I could get spoiled real quickly!
I take my 15 minutes to water-up and rest… probably longer than I should have. Finally the sales guy gets all the dope he needs (cos he still has to answer phones and stuff) and I have my grateful cool-down.
Heading north again I am now overtly looking for shade trees and there are not a lot on this road for a good long way. Pass through Rickreall
; this should have been a no-brainer but I find myself tired and overtly looking for a shade tree but there’s none convenient. Pass over the top of Hwy 22; to the left it goes out west towards the Coast, and to the right it heads east into Salem
. I go north. Knots of Oak-forests left and right, but none next to the road for ol’ Kingfish
Over a rise then down into a dip, just as the road climbs out there are tall trees on the other side casting a long-enough shadow that crosses over to my side; that’s it – I stop in the triangle of shade and grab the water <chug chug chug>
. If I can just keep hydrated I will be fine. Five minutes pass and I do feel better. Next town is Amity
; there’s shade on both sides if I pull off. I pass a school on the right, and at SE Amity Road, there’s a bench in the shade on the corner with a public fountain. I pull off here and rest maybe 10 minutes and water up, watching traffic stop and go at the 4-way. It isn’t far now, only 5 miles.
Borrowed image of countryside around McMinnville
Hot as a skillet, I feel like I am a melting ice cream bar lying on the black asphalt, sizzling away. Someone flip me please so the other side and fry too.
I had just crossed over the McMinnville Bypass and am now standing at the intersection of SW Baker Street at 3:30 PM waiting for the light to change. My brain is baking and I am suffering from heat exhaustion: Indecision reigns. There are two motels here. I can’t find shade. Google Maps says there’s no motels in the center of town; only inns. I decide to check it out. Does the asphalt seems gooey – or is that just my perception? I drive two miles in and take a right onto 3rd heading east. Some shade here but the Inns don’t look that appealing for my needs. Dang – this place is hoppin’ with activity and I would surely like to be here tonight. I motor on down to the end of the busy part and turn right on Johnson. Meh – this sucks. I know 2nd Street will be slow, so let’s just get on down to 1st and get back to the highway and fetch a room at the Motel 6
. Somewhere I see a temperature reading at a bank and it says 96°F
. By 4 PM I have a room for $71.99, the AC is running full-bore, and I am soaked to the bone in sweat. After my shower I washed all my sweaty things for the last time and hung them out to dry over the fence; it looked pretty hillbilly – but in that heat they would be dry within an hour, and they were.
Off to my dinner. Google says there’s a Carl’s Jr. or a Subway. On the corner of SW Baker Street (SW Hwy 99W) and Nindels was an old diner called McGee’s Bar & Grill
; I go check it out. Doesn’t look appealing – but then I didn’t want to walk two miles into town either, so I made do with Steak & Potato with the works; I nearly licked the plate
. Stuffed and fed, not much to do except listen to music, so I did that for a while and finally fell asleep.
Start V = 63.4; End V = 55.8
Distance = 140.5 miles; Total Odometer = 2254.6 miles
Regen = 0.9%; Vmin = 54.2
MaxS = 40.7; AveS = 25.8
Trip Time = 5:26:45
Tomorrow I will aim towards Centralia for the second time. KF