Finish line!

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Mission accomplished! I touched my feet and bike wheels to the Pacific Ocean last Friday and am now enjoying a few days of happy loafing at my aunt and uncle’s place north of Seattle, with comfy chairs and beautiful views of the Cascades – at least when it’s not cloudy, which may or may not happen before I leave.

I did take the shorter route I mentioned in my previous post, otherwise I’d still be riding. As it happened, I rented a car to drive up to Seattle and drove most of the route I would have ridden, and I’m not sorry not to have cycled it. Not too much in the way of views (except for some epic ones of Mt. Hood) and lots of beautiful, but repetitive, temperate rainforest. It would have been a long, long week.

I’ll be flying back to Philly soon, and someday putting together a more complete photo journal of this trip (like what I’ve got from a bunch of other, mostly shorter, trips at http://www.julianbender.net). Until then, here are the photos of Oregon, which I really enjoyed.

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Still more sagebrush desert, but Oregon got gradually greener as I approached the coast. Unfortunately, somewhere along here my new camera’s faulty lens cover appears to have let something damage the lens, and it now takes the form of a big gray blob on all my pictures. At least it sounds like Canon is willing to do a replacement, if not a refund.

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The first suspicion of a wildfire appears, far on the horizon. It will get bigger.

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More scenes from the old west. Eastern Oregon had as much of a Wild West feel to it as Wyoming, which I somehow hadn’t expected. I’ll miss the smell and color of sagebrush.

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I always like finding a good haunted house.

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Entering Picture Gorge, a narrow weaving basalt canyon, near Dayville. The lack of light inside made it impossible for my point and shoot camera to capture the interior, sadly.

Up a mountain pass and down the other side. There were plenty of these in Oregon, but not too many to keep me from counting down how many the trip had left. This was the third to last, from Dayville over to Mitchell.

A few last buttes ‘n barns. Around the bend from here, I was within sight of the Cascades.

I thought at first that this was Mt. Hood. Nope – it’s Mt. Jefferson. Mt. Hood is considerably bigger and more impressive; I got to see it later from a car.

I was happy to see these volcanos, the Three Sisters, looming in the background. Even happier to see the alpacas coming over to say hello. Of course, when they realized I wasn’t feeding them, they headed out pretty quickly.

Great views of volcanos and lava fields, as I climbed McKenzie Pass – over the Cascades and the last mountain pass of the trip!

And then, down into thick forests and a new, green world that almost looked like home. The temperature was significantly cooler, too. If it weren’t for the 9-10 months a year in which the sun does not come out, the Northwest would be a pretty tempting place!

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Down in the Willamette Valley, these were everywhere. Some, like this one, looked shady; others were quite on the nose, with Rastafarian-themed decorations and everything.

Another cross-country rider, Glen, kept catching up with me; eventually we pulled in – after, for me, 110 miles – to camp behind the church in Swisshome. One more day to go!

Morning mist – another new feature, and sign of the coast!

Still a little amazed by how green this place is, after a month in the dry country. And then, more and more blue – not the ocean yet, but I could almost smell it.

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And there’s the beach! I found a couple conveniently posted up right by the water and commissioned them to take my wheel-dip photos, then lugged the bike back across the sand to crank out 20 more miles to Coos Bay, where I rented a car to drive north.

I haven’t yet plugged in my GPS to a computer, so no word on what my total distance was, but I’m betting it was close to 5000 miles. I’ll put up a postscript about that, once I’ve got it together.

Thanks for reading! I hope this was entertaining and, perhaps, a little enlightening. I’ll update again when a full photo journal is online, maybe sometime this winter.

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