Days 13, 14, 15: Corvallis back to Portland
We’re going to start tracking our trip by the number of days on the road, starting with Day 1, leaving Long Beach on Amtrak. It’ll help with narrating the experience…
So, flash forward to Days 13, 14, 15… our most recent days on the road… riding the slow, zig-zag way from Corvallis back up to Portland. After a 65-mile, very tiring ride from Champoeg down to Corvallis a week ago, we decided we’d slow it down a bit, so that it felt more like puttering around the country, and less like pushing a really long commute.
Day 13… going NE from Corvallis up to Silver Falls State Park… We headed out of town along Hwy 34 to Riverside Drive, through Albany, where I realized that it’s a strange experience to navigate on a bike through a city that I very vaguely remember driving through a decade or more ago. Lunch along the side of the road, at the peak of a hill overlooking the entire valley… glorious and sunny. We rolled through the small towns of Jefferson, Stayton and Sublimity, and hit the wide-open agricultural fields early in the afternoon when they were all going up in smoke in a Willamette Valley tradition of field burning.
I grew up in this area, so it’s a familiar sight for me to see big plumes of grey smoke rising all along the horizon, but it definitely has a slightly apocalyptic feel. We climbed several hundred feet (or more, we’re not really sure) into Silver Falls State Park and snagged one of the last two remaining campsites. The park is beautiful, nestled in a rainforest, bright green and lush… and should be a stop on every Oregon bike tour. We made a paella dinner and devoured it all, took advantage of the showers, and enjoyed the cool evening with a cup of tea, before battening down the hatches and settling into the tent while the rain started. The park got blanketed with a pretty good rain storm and we woke up in the morning to a park shrouded in fog and mist and thoroughly soaked.
Day 14… from Silver Falls, headed NW to Champoeg State Park… We started the morning at the day use area of the park. The park brochure mentioned a cafe and we rode over to check it out, only to discover that it didn’t open that early in the morning, and that we weren’t allowed to walk our bikes along the foot path to the falls. We made coffee and breakfast at one of the picnic tables and took turns wandering over to the falls… and then we rolled out. The rain from the night before had made the whole area extremely humid, so we puttered, slowly, down Silver Falls highway into the town of Silverton, where we found a little cafe for breakfast, and lots of random spots to photograph.
After wandering around the (very cute!) town, we hit the road again and were blessed with a flat road and a tailwind for several miles into the town of Woodburn. In Woodburn, we ran into our first cycle touring conundrum. Having grown up in the area, I recognized Woodburn as the city with the outlet mall, so I assumed that it was a big-ish city that would absolutely have a grocery store, and we could wait until then to buy food for dinner. After roaming around Woodburn and testing the limits of the iPhone’s mapping ability (the WinCo that it pointed us to was a distribution center, not an actual public market), we stopped at a Starbucks for directions to a grocery store and were pointed back across the freeway to the Wal-Mart. My political leanings tend toward anti-Wal-Mart, so I started looking around for other options and felt confident that the market in the small town of Donald (that popped up on the iPhone) would have the required ingredients for our planned corned beef hash dinner. Unfortunately, the Donald market did not have what I was looking for (nor did any of the other small markets we passed), and we found ourselves at the small Butteville store, 3 miles outside of Champoeg, at the mercy of the tiny amount of food they sell. Oops. Luckily, the Butteville store made great sandwiches, so we did not go hungry… but… an important lesson, I suppose, in ‘making do’ with what’s available. We stayed a night at Champoeg (deja vu, since we’d stayed there a week before on the way down to Corvallis), and dried out our tent from the night before.
Day 15… North to Portland… From Champoeg, we rolled a few miles north to the town of Canby. In Canby, we stumbled upon an absolutely amazing meat market, straight out of another era, and we picked up some of the best beef jerky ever. Then on to an enormous breakfast at a local chain called Biscuits (I think my egg scramble, stuffed with potatoes, spinach, bacon, tomatoes, would have fed three people). From Canby, we hopped the ferry again across the Willamette River and headed north to Portland. We made a decision to try a more direct route into the city and, while it was still infinitely better than riding through LA, it was way more stressful than we would have liked (picture climbing up some good-sized hills with several blind corners, lots of cars and virtually no shoulder). We were happy to get into town and be able to ride the much more calm river paths before hitting some bike lanes headed through the north part of the city. (Oh, and there was a much-enjoyed brew pub stop at Lucky Lab.)
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