Bicycle Adventures Oregon Coast Tour, 2006

August 20, 2006, Sunday

Fort Stevens to Seaside, OR

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Today we were scheduled to be picked up at the Heathman Hotel in Portland to start our tour. The Bicycle Adventures guides were using two vans to pick up riders from the Portland Airport. They planned to load our bikes on top of the vans, load our luggage in the trailer, and take us to Fort Stevens, located adjacent to the Columbia River and the Pacific, to start the day's ride. The Days Inn was about 4 blocks from the Heathman, so we figured we could carry our bags, walk back to the motel, and then ride our bikes over. It took a while to figure out the logistics.

Even without a functioning alarm clock we managed to get up by 7 and start the trek by 8:15. We met a few of the other cyclists at the hotel; Janet, who was from Canada and was on the tour with her brother Allen and mother Nancy, agreed to watch our bags while we returned with our bikes. The guides arrived right on time with the rest of the cyclists. Being the last ones to board, we were relegated to the back seat; not recommended in a 15-passenger van. It was a rough two-hour trip to Ft. Stevens State Park.

As with most Bicycle Adventures trips, the first ride was a short loop around the park so that we could test out the bikes for the week ahead. The park has the distinction of being the only place on the continental U.S. fired on by the Japanese during WWII. It's also the resting place for the rusted iron remnants of the Peter Iredale, which stick out of the sand on the main beach. Before we started, it took a while to get the rental bikes set up for the riders, as only a few of us had brought bikes. We somehow cut short the 15-mile loop through the park and still managed to be among the last ones there for a basic lunch of salad and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After all, this was the budget tour.

Coincidentally there was a recumbent rally being held at Ft. Stevens on the same weekend. Sunday was the last day of the rides and there were only a few recumbents left by the time we arrived. We talked to some riders from the retreat while stopped to view the Peter Iredale wreck. We traded stories for a while and then wished them well. Here's a great panoramic photo of the participants.

After lunch we headed south toward Seaside, with a detour east to Ft. Clatsop National Park to hear volunteers talk about the building of the fort replica. This was where Lewis and Clark spent the winter between December 1805 and March of 1806. It was a dismal winter, raining nearly every day. Even though the expedition leaders knew it was too early to make it through the passes on their return trip, they left Ft. Clatsop anyway, hoping for better weather as they headed back east.

The fort has been rebuilt a couple of times over the years. The previous fort was recently burned down, and the construction of the replacement is nearly complete. There are actually two buildings connected by a fence, with the roofs sloping into the common area. I'm sure the Native Americans must have thought the builders were none too bright, letting the rain drain into the fort instead of out. Afterwards we went for a short walk down to the Lewis and Clark River.

Brisk summer day at Ft. Stevens park, with the wreck of the Peter Iredale in the background. There was a noticeable lack of sunbathers present.Entrance to Ft. Clatsop.Fort under construction.

The route to Seaside entailed several climbs and a great downhill just before Seaside. Kerie and I were the last to arrive and we went straight to the room. Since it was early in the tour, we were able to wash our clothes without much competition from the other riders. Dinner was at a local Cajun place, Lil’ Bayou. My crawfish enchilada, which arrived about 10 minutes after the other meals, was so-so but the bannana fritters with ice cream were to die for. After a walk around town we spent a while getting caught up on e-mail with the free wireless at the Comfort Inn. Seaside is a typical shore town with lots of t-shirt shops, video game arcades, and junk food vendors, albeit on a rather small scale compared to some of the East Coast towns like Ocean City. The cool temperatures tend to keep the crowds down.

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