Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Portland to Philomath (September 22)

Day 8

A couple of dedications. Congratulations to my older brother, Anthony, who lives in Boston, on his engagement to his long-suffering... I mean long-standing girlfriend Rachel. Also a big thank you to my younger brother Neil, who lives in Hampshire in the UK, on his sterling efforts on the production of maps with my route on them. Thanks also to the people leaving comments, positive or negative I don't mind, and I'd love to receive more. I'll keep writing the same way, but any criticism is welcome.

I had been warned about a Pepsi truck making a delivery at 3.30 am, and Kevin's snoring which I could hear it quite clearly from the floor below. Unfortunately I'd forgotten to take the ear plugs I'd been offered, but once I'd done my blogging duty I was out like a light. In the morning Kevin cooked up a storm, featuring the de rigeur crispy bacon, his 'Gold Bullion' yeast extract (I think it needs a little work), fried potatoes and an egg produced by another in-house, or rather in-back yard chicken. Then, with crumpled laundry they had kindly done for me, stuffed it into a pannier and was kicked out, as they had to go to work at 8.30. A couple of the many hundreds of cyclists I saw in Portland let me tag along behind them, to help me get out of the city and this included going on what had surely been a multi-million dollar tarmac bike path, with a wealth of very informative signs, sculptures and views of the industrial landscape. Bikes seem to be prioritized over bums. Beautiful day and yet still haven't seen any mountains down on ground, as now there is so much foliage. Maybe it was just as well. Headed back the way I'd come, via a library in Lake Oswego, ie south west. Yes, I should have stayed in Sherwood after Portland.

20 miles had elapsed and I was still in suburban Portland, which Kevin had described as a merely a large town. I stopped at a library in Lake Oswego (I'm so impressed with the libraries round here) then retraced my peddles on Highway 99, all the way back through Sherwood, where they have Robin Hood re-enactments and a local sports team is called The Bowmen. Reminded of Scotland by the South Westerly wind in my face and also by the references to Scots in place and street names, making me wonder what it was like in the nineteenth century when these people came out to this wild country. A few more observations from Highway Americana : a lot of drivers use cell phones, companies and even individuals and families adopt sections of roads, and roadwork signs are not only bright orange and diamond shape, but they sport orange flags on top because they need to vie for attention with all the other signs. Stopped at (my new favourite store) Fred Meyer's for a club wrap, a banana and a quart of Gatorade, coming in at $4. Not only is the food cheap AND delicious – but I can eat as much as I want as I know the calories will be cycled off. Talking of which, another sign informed me that Corvalis was still 58 miles along the highway and I had already ridden 35, it was after 1 pm and Philomath was beyond Corvalis... When I stopped in a field to devour the second half of the wrap, a truck with specially adapted wheels went by on the railroad. Only in America...

Traveling south there were less trees, more crops and it was more open. I don't know why it seems so vast here, or maybe it's psychological, but Britain is rendered claustrophobic in comparison. Repeatedly vistas are unfolding which are more expansive than the curvature of the earth should allow and it's mind-blowing, especially with today's crystalline visibility. It's as if I've been a troglodyte all my life and have finally stepped out into the sunlight. When stopping for a breather discovered the wind was slightly behind me now. I have been so lucky with the weather... so far.

As dark descended, pine trees released their sweet, toilety scent. In Corvalis there was a 'Darkside Cinema', which tonight's host told me had received a lot of grief from the Christians, such as the Church of the Nazarene maybe, whose electronic display read “God makes the wind, Man sets his own sail”, as I sailed by. Philomath (Fi-LOW-muth) is home to the 'Philomath Frolic and Rodeo”, which I entered as it was growing cold and dark, as well as having reached 100 miles on the clock for the first time ever in one day. Paul's house was another five miles up the road and I'd reached 106 as I turned into his drive, whilst maintaining an average of 14 mph. Paul, a carpenter, an ex or even current hippie, hailed from San Francisco, where he'd grown up with such great bands as The Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa. Next door to Paul lived a wood sculptor and his beautiful work was all around the place. Paul whipped up a very welcome salmon patties on sourdough sandwich and we drank beer and German brandy while playing a couple of games of you know what. I managed two wins, but they were close games and I was the only player to eke out a couple of bingos (FEASTINGS again). I had come across Paul on the Pixie Pit, the online Scrabble site I play on with my brothers. Paul hadn't played a live game in years he said. He played some great music, including Joan Armatrading, Robert Plant, early Fleetwood Mac and introduced me to John Mayall.

After another deep sleep, Paul talked politics over a fine breakfast of waffles and eggs. Yet another Democrat, he used the phrase 'Joe Lunch Bucket' to describe the average Republican who is resistant to change and intolerant to anything that is 'other'. He agreed with me that many local political offices were dependent on who has the most money and can afford more promotional signs along the highway.

1 comment:

Seposm said...

You will meet Republicans on your journey, just wait till you get off the left Coast. as far as vistas and views, wait until your in the middle on wyoming and can't see a man made thing except the road you are on. Very impressive and humbling experience. I have heard of people who have had panic attacks the first time they are in that environment. Hey can I use the word verification thaty I have to enter here to post this in scrabble "ADZCXQC" :-)