After leaving KOA Denmark, we trudged the 10, 15? Miles along barren highway to reach Port Orford. It wasn’t until the highway suddenly swung back towards the coastline and I was instantly greeted by the beautiful ocean views at Battle Rock Historical Wayside that it suddenly hit me just how much I’ve missed the coast these past few days. Mile upon mile of trees and tarmac under grey heavy skies does little for morale or the spirit; and as I took a deep breath of that salty sea air, it actually surprised me just how greatly the sight of the ocean impacted upon my mood. Matt had hinted recently that he was ‘tired’ of the coast and wouldn’t mind turning inland as we continue south: but I realized that actually, I’m not done with it, not yet. Every stretch of beach seems to offer something different; every view a different perspective, a different feel or atmosphere. If something so simple as a view can make you feel this way- surely that’s worth pursuing. No wonder so many flock to the coastline year upon year in search of escapism.
We passed surfers desperately seeking out to ride the waves along the rugged coastline, but with limited success: the weather had taken a better turn and with the sun came calmer seas and timid, gentle rolling waves. However, our ride was far from simply: this stretch of the highway being renowned as one of the most problematic along the coastal route, we were initially greeted by a sign stating: “Your tax $ at work: road improvements- Completion summer 2011” but found the road was far from finished. Patches had clearly been tarmac-ed over but left without being completed fully: we rode over stretch after stretch of broken up loose tarmac, gravel, frequent potholes, dips and uneven surface. With the wind working against us too and rolling hills along the way, it was a tough, bumpy ride.
The road turned away from the coast once more to wrap around the base of Humbug Mountain, where we started a slow but steady climb. I instantly mourned the loss of those ocean views, with little to distract me from the climbs ahead. However, after passing by the summit of our climb, we were lured to the side of the road by a life-sized model of a tyrannosaurus, positioned outside the Prehistoric Gardens. We decided to give Theo a break and have some lunch, and took him for a tour around the gardens. His response was adorable- he “rooooaarrr!!”-ed at all the large ones, mistook those with wings for birds and those with shells for turtles- but raced around in his element, laughing and giggling, pointing out all the “sharp teeth!” and “big big feet- with THREE toes, mummy!” Matt and I cruised at a leisurely pace, reading the information boards that guided visitors through the development of plant life and the different periods of early dinosaurs on earth. The attraction itself was very basic: these life-sized painted models, placed at intervals in the natural forest setting and the occasional (slightly old) boards were all the place had to offer- a slightly ‘primitive’ (sorry- couldn’t resist!) set-up, but perfectly suited for the younger viewer, it certainly entertained Theo for a while.
When we finally made to leave, we cycled just 2-3yards before Matt called out for us to stop: we had our first flat. The culprit was a tiny shard of metal- like a staple or something similar- and the victim was Matt’s rear tyre. However, given that we’ve covered 1250miles over 5 weeks of touring (and, indeed, Matt had covered some distance on those tyres prior to our trip also!) I can hardly complain. Those Schwalbe Marathon tyres are fantastic- well worth the money to invest in a set, especially given that the trailer is continuing to go strong (by comparison to the tyres on the old Burley- which gave us a record of 4 flats in one day) and my own tyres have ye to see their first flat, in spite of the troublesome terrain (and several yards of broken glass!) that we’ve covered to date. It felt like a bit of a milestone, almost- but I’m sure it won’t be the last we have!
After weaving our way further down the coast and leaving Humbug Mountain behind- finding the ocean once again- we finally reached the Rogue River Bridge, which we were to cross over to Gold Beach. This area is renowned for the boat tours up the Rogue River- we saw a few laden boats battling the rapids upstream, soaking all within as huge waves hit the sides at speed. The shipwreck of the Mary D. Hume alongside the harbour was a true sight: this ship had a fascinating history recorded alongside, and made for quie a picture, deserted in the water at her birthplace after so many years of service along the Pacific coast. We enjoyed a cheeky drink and dessert in a little café overlooking the mouth of the river while we contemplated our next move.
A brief chat with the local Tourist Information centre confirmed our suspicions: past Gold Beach, we were to climb Cape Sebastian, followed by several rolling hills, doing a minimum of 27 miles before we reached the next campground. We had been slow that day, stopping frequently, struggling with the climbs and time had slipped from us: we decided we didn’t have it in us, and called it a day there at Gold Beach, checking into a commercial campground overlooking the beach. I was astounded to pull in and discover that not only did the campground have it’s own fully-functioning gym, offer yoga classes and had a rec room complete with a 50inch tv, reclining lush sofas and easy chairs, and a huge wood-burning fire… you could pull up your RV into a decking with a hottub and enjoy the double showers in the amazing restrooms. Now THAT is camping luxury to the extreme.
We enjoyed another relaxing sunset- albeit, slightly clouded- on the windy beach, Theo playing happily in the sand with his cars, and enjoyed what was to be our last night along the Oregon coast. It was just nice to cuddle up close against the wind and recall all the memories that stretch of coast has created for us: am I ready to say goodbye to the coast just yet?
No…not just yet.
Roll on California!!!
Miles Today: 41
Total Miles to date: 1,269