August 18, 2011
Day 11: Return to the USA - Vancouver, B.C. to Astoria, Oregon
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly at the seaside community of Gearhart, Oregon, about 10 miles south of Astoria, Oregon.
Miles driven today: 340.1
Miles driven this trip: 3,152.8
Photos captured today: 241
Photos captures this trip: 8.243
In the morning, I awake and sort of lay in bed, pondering my dilemma. So far from home. How did I get here? What was I thinking? Why on earth would a sane person try to cross the continent on a dirt bike? Bad upbringing? An inferiority complex? Poor impulse control?
I wake up and think how bad off I am.
I've driven for two days solid, like a bat out of hell, and I'm still not even back in the United States. I'm still stuck in Canada, somehow. How is that? Seriously? I had no idea how large Canada was. Major miscalculation.
Plus, my laptop's broken. So, I'm royally hosed now. Royally. I can't post. Can't check email. Can't copy the photos from my camera to my laptop to my website. That's it, man. Game over. Technology meltdown.
I lay in bed, bemoaning my fate. I can't send emails. Can't update my website. I'm so lost. So screwed. Always, in the morning, I lay in bed and wish I could click my heels together and be in a coffin six feet underground. But, never it works.
I have a hard time getting out of bed. I'm always the last one to check out.
The song playing is "Mange" by Deer Tick.
By now, I'm carting around a lot of broken technology. And it's getting heavy. And expensive. (Canon EOS 7D, Sony Vaio VGN SZ120P, etc.)
Then, just for grins, I think...wtf? I'll try to turn it on again. Sure, last night, the laptop beeped and whirred and sounded like a woodchipper eating a redwood stump, but maybe it works now. That was last night. This is now. Maybe it healed itself.
I plug it in, turn it on, and it boots right up.
Woohoo! I'm back in business.
Now, I have some major catching up to do. I've got to process my photos Update the website. I call and ask for a late checkout.
"OK. But the latest you can stay is 2:00. After that, we have to charge you."
So, I lay around in bed until about 1:00, catching up on my posts, photos, calculating mpg, distance traveled, etc.
Finally, I quit the hotel and go gas up the bike. Then, to hunt for food. The first guy, a street vendor, doesn't have Diet Coke. Then, to Tim Horton's, but it's after noon so they won't serve breakfast. Finally, I drive around Vancouver until I stumble onto the Granville pedestrian mall, and start driving down it on my dirt bike, of course.
I find a food stand where the guy's selling Fried Oyster Po-boys and Salmon Sandwiches. I park the bike on the sidewalk and approach the vendor.
"I see you found our VIP parking section," he laughs.
"Yes. Yes I have."
"Where'd you get the accent?"
"I did 18 years in Mississippi. You?"
"I'm from Virginia," he replies.
"My neighbor's from Virginia."
And, we're standing here chatting. This woman walks up and wants to take a photo of my pants. I'm like. Whatever.
So, she takes a photo of my pants.
The virginian laughs. "You're a celebrity," he exclaims.
I guess. I got the pants at Goodwill. Whatever.
I go over to the bike and try to program my GPS. I want to go to Astoria, but I can't figure out what state to put in. Canada. No. California. Washington. No. No. I'm seriously having a hard time putting this together. Finally, I settle on "Oregon." Like this shouldn't be that hard. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe I'm legally retarded. I dunno.
"Dude, I was trying to figure out what state Astoria is in. I"m so retarded..." I laugh.
"Yeah. Astoria, Oregon."
"Where's that?" he replies.
"Dude..are you serious? You've never seen the Oregon coast? OMG! You have to go..."
"My wife and I...we're planning on..."
"No. No planning. Pack the car and go. You have to see it." I exclaim. Now, it's my turn. Now, I'm the guy back at Cache Creek. I have to play the advocate here. You can't let people die without seeing the Oregon coast. Life is too short.
He promises me he'll go and see the Oregon coast, and I finally depart from Vancouver at something insane like 3:00 p.m. I decide I'll make it a short day...I'll drive until dark, of course. But all I can cover today is 300 miles.
I'll run down Highway 99 South, cross into the United States, then pick up I-5 down to Oregon, then follow the Columbia River gorge down to Astoria because, well, because the Washington coast sucks balls and the Oregon coast is so amazing that I can't miss the chance to see it again.
So, basically, I just head south and drive like a bat out of hell. And by this, I mean that I just open the throttle.
The thought process goes something like this. "I don't want to speed, or I might get a ticket. Then, after about a mile of moderation, I think, 'fuck this...i want to get there...and I'm burning daylight..." and I open the throttle. And, by "open the throttle", I mean, I use that arm..the one on the right...the one that hurts from holding the throttle wide open from sunup to sundown for 11 days now. It hurts. But I hold it open all day long and I run like the wind.
It's warmer today. The warmest day I can remember. Almost tolerable.
I tell the guy at the border that, if he'll just let me back into the U.S., I swear I'll never leave again. I dunno what I was thinking.
There is nothing in Washington that impresses me. I blow through like the wind and soon, and I get to Seattle just in time for rush hour.
I-5 is a nightmare of gridlock equaled only by L.A., I would think. The traffic comes to a stop, and I drive down the shoulder for 50 miles to get past it. Total nightmare.
I'm trying to cover 300 miles today, which is respectable. It's something, considering how late I got away. But it's going to be close. I don't want to get to Astoria in the dark, but it's going to be close.
So, I'm blowing down the banks of the Columbia River. I stop to take a few snaps, but I won't get many photos today. Not many at all.
FInally, I roll into Astoria just as the last sunlight fades from the skies. But all the hotels say "No Vacancy". It's probably the weekend. I'm not even sure what day it is, honestly. As it turns out, there's some gay kite festival in Washington and the entire town is booked rock solid.
This is what I hate. Like...ok..what happens now? What do I do? Seriously? You're going to make me sleep in the streets? I have money. It seems absurd. I always threaten to sleep in the lobby. But, eventually, they tell me that there's a town 36 miles east of here with a room. Great. I drove by them coming in. Now, I'll backtrack 36 miles back east. Great. I'll turn around and head east, and run back up the Columbia river gorge in the dark for 36 miles. I'll hit a deer for sure, and that will be the end.
"I'm afraid I'd hit a deer if I go back there in the dark," I offer
"That would be sad. It's so sad when they get hit..."
"I'm not worried about the deer. I'm worried about my life," I explain.
But then, this other girl at the counter comes to life. She finds me a room at Gearhart, Oregon, about 11 miles south of here. Deal!
And I take off in the dark to the hotel. Now, there are a line of cars in front of me. I decide to cool my heels and follow them. No passing. No speeding. I'll show restraint. It's safer in the dark, I think, to be in a chain of evenly spaced cars, than running balls-to-the-wall alone, and catching a deer. So, I just follow the leader, slowly south, and suddenly, I see blue lights and a cop springs his trap, only he's not after me this time. He's after some poor soul heading north. Sucks being you, dude.
And I roll into Gearhart, pick up my room key, and head to the bar for fish and chips and beer. Lord God it's been a long day. I dunno why, but I don't really feel like I have much to say after a long day like this. I have no higher wisdom to impart. Only, I wish I were home in my own bed watching television.
Posted by Rob Kiser on August 18, 2011 at 10:55 PM
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Tracked on August 26, 2011 6:10 PM