|The Pacific Ocean from Benson Beach, Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington|
But there was a sticky point: The last time April and I took the bus back from Astoria, we told them we had bikes, and they said no worries. Doesn't matter, no extra charge. But coming from Union Station, we had to deal with Amtrak. After I started loading the bikes on the bus, an Amtrak employee informed us that we did not buy special bike tickets, so April went back inside and paid $5 for each of our bikes. Ah, bureaucracy.
Anyways, after all this it was no hassles to Astoria. We got there around noon and had lunch and picked up groceries at Safeway. (The food co-op was closed for the holiday.) April also stopped by the bike shop to get a new bike tube. And then it was time to cross the bridge.
But this is no minor bridge. This is the Astoria-Megler Bridge, 4.1 miles (6.5 km) long, reaching a height of 196 feet (60 m) above the Columbia River, with a shoulder of two feet in width. This bridge seriously scares bicycle tourists, so much so that some people take a detour, heading upriver to the Westport Ferry. While that's all well and good, this detour adds about 80 miles, and riding on US 30 isn't fun, either. I'd rather do the bridge and get it over with. We've done it before, we'll do it again. Grit teeth and move on. And really it wasn't so bad. Traffic was moderate and generally gave us a wide berth. The biggest obstacle was the headwind, making the descent a bit scary. But we got over it.
|April doesn't seem too fazed.|
The remaining fourteen miles were unexciting, but mostly flat. But that didn't matter; the point of this trip wasn't the ride, but the destination: Cape Disappointment State Park.
We got there around five and booked two nights at the hiker/biker site. The hiker/biker spot here is quite large, I would say it would fit 20-30 tents if pushed to capacity. But we wouldn't see many folks here. On Monday night we shared the space with Dirk and Anita, two German cyclotourists who started biking in Anchorage and are heading south towards Mexico via the coast. We spent the evening with them drinking beer by the campfire, exchanging touring stories. (Like us, they had ridden Icefields Parkway in Alberta.) You can check out their adventures at biciklo.de (Note: It's in German.)
Dirk and Anita left on Tuesday morning, making us the only "cyclotourists" for Tuesday night. We didn't do any biking this day, as we explored by foot. First up was a hike up to the North Head Lighthouse. The trail climbed up over the head and through a dense coastal forest populated with big Sitka spruces. We saw lots of frogs on the trail, plus a couple snakes and possibly a newt. We thought about taking a tour of the lighthouse, but they required shoes with some sort of heel protection or strap, which April's Chacos lacked. Ah well.
|North Head Lighthouse|
After coming back from the lighthouse and making lunch, we walked down to the Pacific-facing beach and walked most of its length. April, of course, was in heaven.
The rest of the stay consisted of hanging out near the campground and exploring Waikiki Beach, the small beach facing the Columbia River near the hiker/biker site.
|Cape Disappointment Light|
On Wednesday afternoon, we took the local Columbia County Transit bus from Ilwaco, the town two miles outside of the park, to Astoria. We had already ridden over the bridge once on this trip, and that was enough. We had a few hours to kill while waiting for the Point bus back to Portland, so of course we had food and beer at Fort George Brewery! The ride back to Portland was ok, and we got into town just after dark.
I'm really glad that we have options like the Point bus, so we car-less folk have options to get out of town. It's a lot better than it used to, as there was only one round-trip a day from Portland to Astoria up to a few years ago. Now if there was better bus service out to the Columbia Gorge...