Am: Transed (USA Day 107)
With the heavy rain causing the world to be soggy, we were woken in the night by a large falling branch, and immediately assumed that we were under attack from bears. However, our booming chants of “Go away, bear!” and rhythmic clapping were enough to scare the blighters away, and we survived another night.
The rest of the Banks to Vernonia trail was littered with fallen logs. Clearly the trees in this forest are shedding their summer branches (don’t try to tell me how trees work), without giving a single thought to the poor cycle tourists who’ll have to haul their heavy bikes over the logs, getting their gearsets wedged in the soft wood as they went over. Obstacles overcome, we found ourselves in Vernonia, whose grease-scented Mini Mart did half-decent coffee which we made indecent by dumping salted caramel chocolate creamer into, for a sweet treat to kickstart our poor, wet, calorie-low bodies.
After this sodden morning, it only actually rained the once (downpour though it was), and in bursts of sunlight we dried the tent, our clothes and our skin to an acceptable level. The ride was undulating but cute, working its way upriver most of the day, through woods with trees slathered in lichen, past modest but noisy waterfalls, past so many blackberry bushes, many of whom we visited for a restock of our burgeoning berry collection.
The last proper hill emptied us into open air, where we saw our first estuary: a wide expanse of water that just had that oceanic smell. We gasped great lungfulls of the stuff, aware that this meant two things: Astoria was mere miles away, and we’d passed 5000 miles for this trip.
The hills didn’t stop. In fact, the town itself is built on a steep climb that we giggled up and squeaked down (new brake pads coming soon), riding the momentum of the descent all the way to the maritime museum, which was closed, but we had no intention of visiting. This is the ceremonial end of the TransAm, which we left a couple of weeks ago but we still feel attached to. It’s really the only reason we came to Astoria. They say The Goonies was filmed here, but that film had too much screaming for me so I only watched it once. I’m also told they filmed Gremlins here, but I checked with our host and he wasn’t so sure.
Once we’d celebrated sufficiently, we climbed halfway up the hill to our home for the night, a great little hostel on WarmShowers, where we cooked huge amounts of chunky vegetable pasta and drunk local beer until our eyes drooped.
We’ve done the TransAm. We are official TATters, not yet in tatters, so our tour continues. I know I haven’t posted maps on here, but here’s the plan: tomorrow we start down the Pacific coast, which we’ll follow (generally on the 101) all the way to San Diego, with a large detour for Yosemite in the middle. If we have time at the end before late November when our visas expire, we’ve vague plans for something else cool in the USA that we’ll share if it becomes a reality. You’ll have to wait for that!
So, this is not the end. See you tomorrow, for more of this sort of thing.