Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sunset Bay to Bandon, including Bullards Beach

Another mellow part of the trip, but with a monocular search and a stay at the hiker biker camp with the nicest amenities (of all camps, I suspect).

It was a beautiful ride in this section on some hilly (small hills) roads with cool names (7 Devils Road, Whiskey Run).  A UPS driver saw me looking at my maps and stopped his truck in the middle of an intersection to give me directions and suggest a side visit to a beach along the way.  

The beach turned out to have a surf break and was full of kiteboarders.  The surf was extremely consistent (no lulls at all that I can see...nice beach break) and around head high.  It would have been great except for the howling onshore wind - hence the kiteboarders. I debated going in for a while, but the wind was making it not quite work for surfing, so I sat down and had some lunch with the kiteboarders.  There was a crew of nice folks visiting from CA who drove up in about four vans.  Interesting that it didn't cause a problem within the kiteboarding spots (four vanloads of CA surfers in an OR surf spot would likely have some issues :). ).

That evening I stayed at Bullards Beach - an Oregon state park with a campground.  They have made the hiker biker site with by far the nicest amenities I have seen.  It has a solar station with lockers and inside the lockers there are USB receptacles to charge electronics (see photos) plus a bike stand for repairs - full on luxury!  There are also many individual bike racks to make it easy to lock your bike.  It was a pleasure to stay there.

Interestingly, there was only one other bicyclist there who kept to himself for the most part (we chatted briefly and it seemed this was his living situation potentially and he was moving to another spot the next day due to hitting the limit of his stay there).  It isn't one of the campgrounds that many bicyclists go to apparently, but it is super posh.

The next day I scoured the stores in Bandon to try to buy a monocular (single eyepiece instead of binoculars - to save weight).  I heard that puffins nest on the rocks just offshore at Bandon.  Unfortunately, none of the stores sold monoculars or binoculars.  This included the guns and ammo store - where it was interesting to see all the gear being sold for bug out kits.

So, no luck with the monocular, but the rocks at Bandon are spectacular, so I spent lots of time walking along the cliffs and the beach enjoying them.  The wind was blowing hard and I was glad to have my rain gear to help block the wind while walking around with sand whipping down the beach.  Then continued on - which I'll take up in the next post.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Umpqa Lighthouse to Sunset Bay

A quiet day on the trip. 

As usual, I started the day with Tai Chi Chuan and meditation, then set out on my bicycle.  It was cold and foggy cycling all day.  In the morning, I saw what looked like it might be surf quite far off the road, and given the cold morning fog (and my aversion to cycling with a heavy, wet wetsuit all day), decided to wait until later in the day to check out if there would be surf. There was not but I didn't mind so much as it was still cold even after cycling.  I then reached Sunset Bay, which is gorgeous - the street goes right by the water (making it less 'natural' looking), but is still stunning. 

I arrived at the hiker biker site and there was standing water in part of the site ( the site is right at the level of the water table with a swamp immediately adjacent).  There were already three tents there and the remaining spot wasn't looking particularly dry (and seemed to have low probability for sun the next morning as well), so I upgraded to a normal campsite which looked much drier. 

It was quite striking to see how much empty space there was in the normal campsite - it is a pretty big difference between a bicycle and a car. It made me think about how I definitely still have too many possessions in my life (given that I live in a house and have a car).  My friends often make jokes about how empty my house is as I don't like to have too many things, but this trip is giving me ideas on how to reduce things even further.

Given I was in a campsite myself, I had a pretty quiet night - it was nice to have a mellow, quiet evening.  By the time I finished cooking and eating, it was already time for bed (and the mist was getting heavy as well).  The next morning was dry, thankfully - and the campsite indeed did get the morning sun so I was glad to get to dry out my gear before heading out for the next day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dunes City to Winchester Bay. People: Mike.

I spent a day doing errands such as filling up the fuel bottle for my stove (used charcoal lighter fluid and have the unused portion to a lesson outside the grocery store where I was filling the bottle), getting groceries, etc.  I also shaved my head using a normal electric shaver (designed for shaving beards) as all the barber shops happened to be closed on that Monday.  I wouldn't recommend using a normal shaver (not as much power as ones designed for hair) but it's all I had available.

The dunes of Oregon are pretty impressive.  It's surprising how extensive the dunes are and it's pretty cool to see the and whipping across the dunes.  

Those are elk in the animal photo.  I couldn't get any closer - they were already on alert seeing me.  I think people in bright clothing make them concerned, given hunters often wear orange. :)

Stayed at Honeyman Memorial State Park which is a nice park, but it felt crowded at the hiker biker camp - I think there were about 15 bicyclists camping there that night.  It's neat that everyone is friendly at the camps and there are often folks doing funny things (like Shane who moved out of his trailer and is bicycling with his cat for a year and a half or something).  But it also is a bit weird to talk to all these folks at the campsites for an evening/morning and then never see them again (particularly since they are almost all cycling more miles than I am each day, I generally don't see folks again).  Though overall it's pretty great that all the bicyclists are friendly and social at the hiker biker sites.


Mike (pictured with his bike and surfboard) - Mike is bicycling and surfing down the coast as well.  He has done the full setup with a board and trailer that I was considering.  It is pretty impressive that he is doing the ride with all that gear (and he's putting in pretty heavy mileage each day as well).  He's a sponsored surfer from Huntington Beach and started at the top of WA, so he is really going for it.

After talking with Mike about our respective setups, I'm feeling glad I went with the surfmat.  The bike is much more nimble without a trailer and so far I've been getting in the water much more often - I think I've been a bit luckier with timing but also the surfmat is pretty versatile in a variety of wave conditions.  I'm sure it's going to work out well for Mike as well where he'll score a perfect session and be really glad to have his board. It was cool to meet another person on the same mission.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Oregon surf photos

I had some fun sessions - it was mostly smaller surf but it was just nice to get in the water after bicycling.  The surfmat has been super fun at every spot (plus the longboarding session but no water photos from that). 
My water camera stopped working in my last two sessions.  Maybe the water was too cold (the water temperature dropped a lot and made for some chilly sessions).
The wind and tide didn't work well for me as I cycled further down the coast... This is largely due to me not optimizing for surf.  I try to surf at the end of a day rather than in the morning.  In the AM I practice Tai Chi, Chuan, meditate, and pack up.  So I miss the morning surf session when the wind is usually lower.  However  lugging around a wet wetsuit all day on a bicycle is pretty laborious - so end of the day is preferable though it means a greater chance of blown out conditions. :).

Heceta Head to Florence. People: Emma. Paul. Luke.

Dancing = Joy.
That's the conclusion I reached after this leg.  In my hierarchy of activities, surfing has traditionally sat at the top of the ranking in terms of creating the most stoke.  However, it was so much fun dancing in Florence that I was stoked for the entire next day about it and it made me question if surfing is rightfully at the top.  Now, this is an unfair comparison as the dancing had a top notch band, fun crowd, and a great partner, where the surf has not been perfect.  Maybe I should try to do this comparison after a big winter swell, but anyways it was an incredibly fun night dancing.
I decided a week before this leg that I should try to stay on a hotel at least once a week.  For quite a few years, my father, sister and I (and more recently my nephew) have held a weekly family video call to catch up - so a hotel would allow me to have an internet connection to keep joining the call.  It also is helpful to dry out gear (I'm a bit fanatical about trying to keep my gear dry and as clean as possible - it lasts longer that way and keeps you warmer... I like to extend the life of my gear as much as possible).
I had stayed at Washburne state park the night before in a beautiful setting but with an interesting dynamic.  Randy, who highlighted that he had been homeless for 16 years, was camping there as well (with his tricked out tricycle and all sorts of things like two phones, IPad, canopy chair, guitar, etc) and kind of 'owned' camp - he did the intros to the hiker biker site, where things were, etc.  He seemed like a good guy, extremely loquacious - though he was also surprisingly aware of others' reactions.  At one point, while I was packing, he had brought out the weapons he used to protect himself and his things (large Bowie knife and a small aluminum bat).  After about 20 min of talking, he suddenly said he was taking them back to his tent because he noticed that I was looking at them every 5-10 minutes.  I was impressed with his awareness of that as I had not even noticed I was looking at the weapons periodically.  
David was the only other person camping there that night - he was Polish/Georgian and had *walked* from Brooklyn and was planning to kind of do a loop around to many of the national parks in the West. [Forgot to take pictures of Randy and David and it seemed to fit better here versus separately in the people entries].
I left the camp and realized I didn't plan my food well (made a pasta dish the night before that I enjoyed but didn't pack breakfast or lunch).  Earlier in the trip I was carrying enough food for a few days, but the route has lots of grocery stores so I cut it down - a bit too much in this case.  There were no stores after the park, so i bought food from a tourist attraction on the ride the next day - breakfast was an ice cream cone, lunch a chocolate chip cookie... Not very healthy or even that enjoyable (to be having those things for meals).  I was glad to get to Florence and decided to spend the night there - went right to the farm stand and bought some fruit.  Leads me to the people section.
Emma (pictured in the group photo and dancing photos) - Emma is real-deal tough and does really cool things.  She picks blueberries (as a laborer at a commercial blueberry farm, not as a vacation volunteer or anything) plus works at a farm stand.  She's about to work at an under-privileged school in Chicago with CityYear (a program I had found out about many years ago when it first started and I was sadly no longer qualified to participate).  We went to a place in Old Town Florence because we heard the music - once inside it was surprising how good the band was (more on that below). Emma learned how to swing dance pretty much right away and then we had an amazing time dancing.  People in the bar kept coming up and letting us know how much they enjoyed our dancing.  It was such a good vibe in the place.  It was neat hearing about Emma's plans as well - I predict lots of cool adventures for her given all of her interests, toughness, and outgoing personality.
Paul J. Biondi (pictured in the group photo, with goatee) - Paul is an accomplished professional musician who currently lives in Eugene but he lived in Florence for a bit and stood by Florence regularly to perform while visiting family. He played with the Blues Brothers (after James replaced John) and many other big musicians.  He pulled together the band that was playing in Florence from his contacts - so that helped explain how a small bar in the small town of Florence would have such a super pro band.  They could really swing! Their music just made one want to dance and I think everyone in the place was jazzed to hear such good music.
Luke (pictured in the group photo) - Luke is a jovial fellow from Eugene and it was his anniversary that night with his wife, Veronica (who was also really friendly and nice).  He came over to tell Emma and me how just watching us dance from across the room made him happy. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wakonda to Heceta Head. People: Kari. Yana. Jim + Bonnie. Jean.

I'm still taking my time as I go down the coast - keeping the mileage down to have time to check things out (and surf, of course).  I had a fun surf session (see below - Kari) despite the colder weather and clouds that came in and an amazing coincidence occurred (below - Yana).  

I wanted to call out the log as it was an extremely comfortable meditation bench.  It's pretty awesome to start the day with Tai Chi Chuan and meditation on the beach.



Kari is ultra-mellow and cool.  She works in a local bakery and is one of the few surfers in the area (she mentioned that she is often the only person out where she surfs).  Kari leaves her boards out by her car after a session to go skate and doesn't worry about it.... She has big 'ole holes in her wetsuit and doesn't worry about it.... She lends her surfboard to a random cyclist who happen to be passing through and doesn't worry about it.  I borrowed the pelican board in the photo (she also had another longboard with her and she rode that). It was a toss up between using the longboard or my surfmat since I've been having so much fun with the surfmat, but the waves looked mushy so opted for the board.  I didn't think it looked good enough to surf but Kari convinced me it'd be rideable and it indeed was.  After the session, she went off on her skateboard to warm up a bit (leaving her boards by her car) and I headed south....


Yana was 'just walking' (along the freeway) when I asked.  We started talking briefly and then I noticed that she was wearing the hat I lost earlier in my trip (about a week ago, at the north end of the state!).  I mentioned it to her as I thought it was so neat (it was a sailing cap that I don't think they sell up in OR so that's why I noticed it).  Yana tried to give it back to me but I showed her how I already bought a new hat and I couldn't wear two, so I insisted she keep it and was just glad it was being put to good use.  We chatted a bit more and jusr before I left she reached in to her purse and gave me the neat heart pendant she made from wire.  I thought it was super nice as I don't think Yana has much - she recently ditched her car and then ditched her bike and also lost all of her teeth.  It reminded me of a conversation in Ashland about how folks with the least are often the most generous.  It's making me think about how I can be more generous in my life.

Jim + Bonnie

I was speaking with them as I was writing in my journal at a campsite.  I really liked how they figured out how to get community support for local environmental issues.  There was a river damming project that was quite far along (enough that influential people thought it was a done deal).  Jim organized a concert to rally the community around stopping the dam - which was so effective that they were able to kill the dam project.  Jim and Bonnie organized these concerts around the country for similar issues.  I think it's a great example of getting people together in a positive way to drive positive results.

Jean (not pictured) - was talking to me as I was packing up (she was using her metal detector).  I enjoyed hearing about her retirement community and she was very energetic in manner and expression, which was fun.  She did relay a very scary viewpoint on why her Christianity allows her to not be that concerned about the impact we are having on the environment though (because it will all be renewed at the second coming).  This trip has highlighted again many of the concerns I have held for years about our environment (I studied environmental engineering in undergrad and grad school due to these concerns), but I had never heard this view before and it kind of floored me.