Will It All Be Like This? (USA Day 108)

Morning greeted us like two well-placed bashes over the head. We both had splitting headaches. I don’t quite know how we didn’t recognise last night that even with a measly two celebratory beers, we’d need plenty of water to line our meninges or they’d peel dryly off the inside of our skulls overnight and leave us dry and grumpy in the morning. Anyway, that’s how you get a hangover without getting drunk. Lesson learned.

Our host, the lovely Steve, warned us that the first twenty miles of Highway 101, between Astoria and Seaside, were well worth forgetting, and not to worry. Despite this warning, as we cycled on the gritty shoulder of a roaring highway past suburbs and dirt piles and driveways and log piles, the horrible question formed itself in my head,

“Will it all be like this?”

We’ve signed up for a good twelve hundred miles of Pacific coast. If the entire thing is to be even half this unpleasant, I’ll take a different road, thanks.

I don’t know, perhaps we should have listened to Steve a little more carefully, because the instant we left Seaside, the road quietened, curved, climbed and dropped, and entered another world. On our right, countless views of incredible beaches, dramatic cliffs, gargantuan offshore rocks, haze, spray, tide, swell, then we’d ascend into damp, living woodland where the cold clambered onto your skin, then out into salt-scented clifftops before plummeting back down to the next beach. Yes, the road remained busy, but intermittently. The shoulder played hide-and-seek-and-also-be-gravel-sometimes, but our tyres didn’t let us down by letting themselves down.

Our first and only beach stop of the day (but this better be a daily thing) was at Cannon Beach, where we dipped our front wheels in the Pacific to complete the three-month ceremony started on Sandy Hook, New Jersey. I also dropped the Atlantic shell that we’d picked up on that side into this ocean, to confuse and perplex marine biologists for years to come. What a jape.

We watched the dogs bury their muzzles in sand, ate some pasta from a bag (a lifestyle of such luxury that I doubt you’ll be able to relate) and inhaled lungfuls of sea air. We’d earned this.

Of course, after all this fun, we had some actual riding to do. Forty five more miles of it, in only a few hours of good light. We pedalled and gasped, pedalled and sighed, pointing out the pelicans in the sheltered bays, climbing the many steep yet tiny hills that reminded us of English roads, when a wonderful question formed itself in my head.

“Will it all be like this?”

Tillamook arrived, with its massive creamery that pumped out delicious yoghurts and ice cream, both of which we’ve been enjoying ever since descending this side of the Rockies. The big fans we are of this sweetened and flavoured dairy produce, we did no more than point at the factory and cycle on. This was no time for tours, even if you get a free cube of cheese at the end. We stocked up on seaside snacks for the next couple of camping days, then knocked off the 101 inland a few miles to meet our host, Bruce, in his gorgeous farmhouse. With his daughter, her daughter and a plateful of the tenderest steak you’ll ever meet, we ate well and loudly, relishing this welcoming family environment into which we’d cycled ourselves.

I really hope it'll all be like this.

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