After our relaxing city visits in the Pacific Northwest to Vancouver, Seattle and Portland C felt like we hadn’t been on the bike for a while and was eager to get riding again. That was good, because we had a few days ahead of us. The schedule would see us ride for 7 days to get to Eureka, CA where we would have a rest day and then 5 days of riding to get to our next big goal of San Francisco for a few days. There were 2 options available, heading west and riding the Pacific Coast route or heading south and riding through the Cascades. It was never in doubt and so we were heading to Tillamook.
Before leaving, I put some duct tape on my bike. The coating on the end of the bungee cords I use to strap my things on to my rack has come off and so is scratching the paint off my rack. A quick wrapping of pink duct tape succeeded in adding some more colour to my bike and also hopefully protecting it. I should have done it earlier, but im not that proactive. In the long run I’m probably going to use a trashed tube and some zipties to protect them. The surface should also provide more friction and so make my bag less likely to move, not that that’s been a problem so far.
The ride took us to our first WinCo. I had seen a few of them before, but not known how glorious it is. I had some idssues using my card and so got in a conversation with the woman working at checkout and learnt the origin of the name. Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California and Oregon are the 5 states that WinCo opperates in. Apparently they have recently expeded to Arizona too, but who knows if a renaming is in store. WinCo seemed to be a mix of CostCo and Walmart. Low prices and awesome bulk bins mean that it may take over from Walmart as our go-to store although I’m not sure if they’re quite as common. The bulk bins in particular are awesome. They allowus to buy smaller sizes of things such as granola and raisins than is common. That is glorious because it allows us to get the cheaper price of bulk buying, but not end up with much more than we need.
We also went over a 1586ft pass. That’s nothing special, but the thing that made it glorious was that there were signs at both 500ft and 1000ft to let you know how high you are. It’s lovely to see as if you know how high the climb is you can know much more clearly just how far you have to go. It’s not quite as glorious as I hear the signs on the big climbs in the Alps are, where they have markers every km which tell you the grade for the upcoming section and how far to go, but it’s a definite improvement over any other state.
Arriving in to Tillamook, there was a southwesterly wind. I’d heard that the prevailing winds along the Pacific are from the northwest and I was expecting to be pushed down the coast. If that’s not true, and we face headwinds the whole way, I’m going to be sad. Just before we got to town we saw a huge number of dairy cows. Tillamook is famous for its ice-cream and cheese so it makes sense. My only goal for Tillamook was to go to the cheese factory and eat lots of free cheese, I didn’t succeed.
We got to central Tillamook around 5pm and we had a few options. Go to the cheese factory assuming it was still open, find somewhere to sleep and go to the bike shop. Not riding on the ACA routes, we’ve not seen too many other cycle tourists, our record still being 4 others in Chamberlain, so when we saw 2 cycle tourists pulling up to the bike shop I made the decision and headed in after them.
Inside I asked the clerk about if she knew anywhere to camp and when the cheese factory would close. She wasn’t sure of the first but a quick Google said it closed at 6 as it was on winter hours being after Labour Day. I stood round chatting with Mike & Joan for a while before C eventually made her way in. It turned out they were doing the Trans-Am which saw them start over in Virginia and would end 2 days later in Astoria. They had had an awesome trip so far, but were excited to be near the end. They had been waved away by family back in VA and seen lots on the route across, but unfortunately no-one would be meeting them up in Astoria. We spoke to them until not long before 6 which meant that Tillamook was off the cards. We took pictures and wished them all the best for their final ride before we parted ways. They were going to a motel, we still had the issue of not knowing where we would be sleeping.
Before organising a place to sleep, we needed sustinence. We’d eaten a little, but definitely needed to work out dinner. We rode over to Safeway where I nipped inside and as so often came out to find C talking to someone, a lady called Carol. We spoke to her for about 10 minutes before she asked us where we would be staying. We told her we didn’t know and so she said that she had a place 8 miles away and if we wanted we could stay with her. We jumped at the offer and she told us her address. She had to go and buy some ice-cream so we set off on a beautiful ride, which would take us along a bay and to the first sight of the Pacific.
We pulled up to next to Carol’s place and could see the Pacific. We had goosebumps. Since leaving the Atlantic before DC we had had it in our minds. The west coast up at Vancouver and Seattle is not on the Pacific due to a series of islands, so although we had been on the west coast for a couple of weeks we hadn’t ridden in the Pacific. C was very eager to do so and I had to get her to wait as I set the camera up ready to film us running across the rocky beach pushing our bikes. We struggled across the rocks and chased in to the sea following a wave that was lapping back. That didn’t turn out to be the smartest idea as when the next wave came in it rushed over us almost knocking us over as it got to almost waist height on me, given that I’m 192cm (6’4), that’s pretty deep! Our Ortlieb bags are meant to be waterproof, but there’s always the fear that one of them is not closed properly and your moment of joy will be followed by the realisiation that you’ve just flooded your laptop.
After our paddle we had a photoshoot and then headed to Carol’s. Bill, her husband of 57 years, greeted us and got his hose out to clean the salt water, sand and seaweed off our things. We then headed in, cleaned up and helped make dinner before spending a glorious evening with such a warm couple. We learnt of their time in Mexico, how they had met and of the three seperate occasions Carol had saved Bill’s life. They told us that they were so happy to have young energy round and I hope that they continue to offer their house to people as all future guests are in for a treat when they stay with Bill & Carol who are completely breaking the mould and being so vibrant and full of incredible stories.
Into the Pacific