September 3, 2015 – Sun and rain, 60 degrees
Miles Today: 74
Miles to Date: 6,431
States to Date: 22
Highway 101! My first day on this storied highway. I will follow 101 on and off for the next two months. I originally planned to take it around the Olympic Peninsula, but local cyclists warned it was narrow and the logging trucks dangerous. Since I listen to local counsel, I opted to cross below the peninsula to Aberdeen and hook onto 101 South there.
Dense fog wrapped me as I crossed the bridge from Aberdeen at 7:30 a.m. The September days are markedly shorter. The mornings are cool.
Within an hour the fog lifted and I logged twenty-seven miles to Raymond. Up and down and up again through a county that ought to named ‘Weyerhaeuser’ since apparently they own all the land. There are all sorts of signs about when what is planted, and these large clearings smack against tall trees. Route 101 lived up to all aspects of its reputation. The scenery is beautiful, the riding sketchy. Nice shoulders disappear without notice. Trucks barrel along at great speed.
There is a belching mill at Raymond, though the town is very poor. Another of those predictable yet counter intuitive truths. Just as we pay the people who provide our most essential needs – farmworkers, garment workers, laborers – less than people with specialized skills – lawyers, surgeons, football players. So to, towns rooted in natural resources; be it lumber, coal or wheat; are poorer than towns rooted in ideas; education, culture or technology. The 2×4’s that the Raymond mill produces are commodities. The people who get rich off of them do not live in Raymond.
Just south of town a guy in a pickup coming north called from this window, “Big rain ahead.” The sky was grey, which is not unusual in the Northwest, but since I listen to locals, I decided to stop. Only the second time this trip I’ve made a weather stop. Each time there’s been a McDonald’s at hand. I took an early break, locked my bike under an overhang, and sat out a humongous storm. It was noon before it let up, so I ate a grocery store lunch and headed on in the crisp after-storm air.
I should be as lucky with my food as the weather. After Raymond, 101 flattens out. Five miles beyond is South Bend, the oyster capital of the world, a real working fishing town with pungent marsh smells and great places to eat. My lunch was fine, but it wasn’t fresh oysters! I was full and still had forty miles to go, so I pedaled on.
Forty miles on the Highway 101 cyclists adore. The road was good, the terrain gentle, the views amazing. Sometimes I hugged the shore. Other times the water was distant. There were fewer trucks past Raymond. In fact, there wasn’t anything except trees and more trees. I startled a huge buck in the woods. A mile later a parade of six large deer crossed the road. I saw more deer than houses.
I reached the Long Beach peninsula about four. On a map it looks like a barrier island off New Jersey. But instead of a sand spit, the peninsula has the same terrain and tall pines as the rest of this area.
Long Beach is my kind of beach town – a little tacky and very salty. ‘Our Place by the Beach’ proved a nice place to stay: salt water taffy in a jar at check-in; a room with sitting area and picture window overlooking pines; a soothing hot tub. Marsh’s Free Museum, downtown, is gaudy as any souvenir shop. Fudge stores, frozen yogurt parlors, pizza stands, and T-shirt emporiums round out he rest of the commerce. The summer season is short here. The bumper cars and merry-go-round were already closed.
No one could recommend a good oyster place, but I enjoyed fish and chips and good beer at the local sports bar where the Seahawks were beating the Raiders so bad I left in the second quarter. If I ever ride this way again a #12 jersey is in order. Seahawk’s fans take their twelfth man status seriously.
Before dinner and football I walked out to the ocean and waded in the Pacific. It was not nearly as cold as everyone says, about the same as the ocean on Cape Cod this time of year. But no one swims in it. The waves are rough, the undertow strong. Still, I enjoyed my first dip ever in another ocean.