Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Most Delicious of Posts

Leaving Nehelem, we were excited to be getting close to Tillamook, home of the Tillamook cheese factory! We stopped for the night at an RV park just before the cheese factory.

Our route from Nehelem to Tillamook, 25 more miles for a total of 405 miles pedaled. 

On our way out of Nehelem, we stopped at a local dinner for breakfast. Well, it was breakfast for us, but as usual, we didn't leave camp until around 11:30 am so by the time we got to the diner it was actually lunch time.

Diner getting breakfast in Nehelem

Enjoying the scenery at Wanda’s caf√© and bakery.

After a great lunch, we passed by a sign advertising wine tasting, so even though it was a mile off the route, I couldn't pass it up.

Couldn't pass up a wine tasting opportunity!

We turned off the 101 and passed by some farms when we finally saw the winery. The building itself was very pretty and I was super excited about the wines!

Corner view of the winery

Nehelem Bay Winery is a very small winery that doesn't have a vineyard; they import their grapes from the well-known Willamette Valley. They don’t sell to any distributors so the only way to get their wines is to stop at the winery. Their tasting room was very cute with lots of adorable wine-themed decorations. I was surprised they didn't charge us for the tasting, every winery I've been to in California charges at least $5.

Tasting the awesome wines at Nehelem Bay Winery.

Turns out, their wines were absolutely FANTASTIC. So good, in fact, I decided to ship home three bottles. My favorite was the Pinot Noir, although the Cabernet, Ethan’s favorite, was a close second. I had never heard of the Merechal Foch grape before staying at the Bike Inn, but it turns out that Nehelem Bay Winery also has a Merechal Foch wine. But what surprised me the most about this winery was their absolutely delicious fruit wines. I've tasted fruit wines before that were just so sweet they were syrupy. These wines perfectly balanced the sweetness with the fruit flavor and were undeniably delicious. I sent home two of these, the Cranper√© (a cranberry reisling blend), and the Valley Peach (a peach reisling blend). Mom and dad – I shipped these to you but you better not open them before I get home!

Well, between leaving late, stopping for lunch, and wine tasting, we didn’t make it to Tillamook in time to go to the cheese factory that night. So we stopped just before at Bob’s RV park and pitched the tent.

Site at Bob’s RV Park

The nice thing about staying at RV parks is that unlike State Parks, they typically have laundry facilities and wifi access which is how posts like this one get to you!

The next morning, we got a bit of an earlier start because when the winds picked up, all the sudden we were assaulted with the very strong smell of horses from a nearby farm. Needless to say, we packed up camp faster than we’ve ever packed before.

Our first stop of the day was of course at the Tillamook Cheese Factory!

Entering the Tillamook Cheese Factory

Tillamook cheese is sold in grocery stores in L.A., so I've been a big fan of their sharp cheddar for quite some time. At the factory, you get to watch as giant blocks of cheese are cut to size and packaged.

SO MUCH CHEESE

They also make ice cream at the factory and it is quite delicious. My personal favorite flavor is the Tillamook Mudslide, a delicious chocolatey combination of fudge and ice cream.

Getting a taste of their ice cream.

Anyway, that’s it for the delicious post! Our next stop was at a Casino where I continued my Blackjack losing streak—more about that in my next post. Of course, if you want more up to date information about our current location, check out the “Track my Tour” link. It’s in the right sidebar if you’re viewing on a laptop or I’ve got the link for you here if you’re on mobile!

Friday, July 11, 2014

From the Bike Inn to the Pacific Ocean

Leaving Clatskanie, I was mostly just grateful that the weather had finally decided to cooperate with us and to stop raining for a bit. I was thinking that since we were following the river out towards the Pacific Ocean that the terrain would be less hilly, but I could not have been any more wrong about that. Honestly, living in flat Los Angeles did not prepare me at all for the hilly terrain of Oregon. For some reason, we kept going up and down cliffs, essentially following the river but always going towards it or away from it. 

Our route from Clatskanie to Bob’s RV Park, just north of Seaside, a distance of 50 miles for a total of 353 miles traveled so far. 

Along the way we stopped for some ice cream at an adorable little coffee shop.

Enjoying some ice cream at a great little coffee shop.

And while the ride was hilly and physically hard, we did have some beautiful scenery. Once we got to Astoria, we had a separated bike path for a bit which was quite nice.

The scenery along our route.

Taking a snack break and enjoying the view.

The architecture in Astoria reminded me more of a northeastern town than a Californian town. There weren't nearly as many modern elements or Mexican influences in the architecture so to me it appeared like a traditional colonial town.

Once in Astoria, we had finally made it to the main part of the coastal route! We were finally on the Oregon Coast bike route!

A kiosk providing information about the Oregon coast bike route.

We still couldn't really see the Pacific since we were in the Columbia River delta, but at least we were next to water! After Astoria, we were on the 101 but we still couldn't really see the Pacific since there’s so many trees between the 101 and the ocean. It’s pretty amazing how the coast turns so quickly into a forest.

That night, we stayed at an RV Park since there weren't really any state parks nearby and we had already done a 50 mile ride for the day. And with that, it was back to sleeping in the tent and cooking our own pasta dinners.

Our pasta alfredo with added canned vegetables and chicken.

The next day, it was back on the road and continuing south along the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route.

Following the well-marked Oregon Coast Bicycle Route.

Our route from Seaside to Nehelem Bay, 27 miles for 380 total miles pedaled.

Pedaling along the 101.

We were just doing our thing, pedaling along, when finally there was a break in the trees and we could see ocean!!

Finally! Beach and ocean!

Finally, I felt like I could finally see the Pacific Coast I had envisioned when planning this trip. Or course, I couldn't resist the urge to go to the beach.

The beautiful, flat, white sands beaches of the Oregon Coast.

The beaches really are quite beautiful.

Ethan had to get in the water, it was freezing!

Of course, this is Oregon, so it was crazy windy. Ethan tried to dig us a wind shelter.

Ethan digging a wind shelter.

In the end, we just went and hid behind some bushes, enjoying the sunshine. We ended up staying at the beach for a few hours enjoying the sunshine and resting. Of course, we needed to make camp before sundown, so eventually we left the beach and it was back to the 101. It was amazing how quickly it was back to trees, but at least we could still see the Ocean.

The view of the Pacific through the trees.

Now that we were on the main Pacific route, we started passing by view points.

Checking out the view points off the 101.

Those cliffs are beautiful but we have to pedal up them!

The weary travelers enjoying the view.

After many more hills, we finally made it to our camp for that night, Nehelem Bay State Park.

The entrance to the state park.

Watching sunset over Nehelem Bay.

Anyway, that's it for now!  Hope you all are enjoying the pictures because we've certainly been enjoying the scenery!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

From the RV Resort to the Bike Inn

Leaving Toutle River RV resort the rain had temporarily subsided, but we could see from the weather radar that there were still scattered showers moving throughout the area. After a meager 20 minutes on the road, it started to rain again so we stopped at a subway for lunch.

I don’t like rain :(

Ethan dons his plastic poncho.

It didn’t take long for the rain to let up a bit, so we got back on the road. But what’s annoying about Washington rain is that it doesn’t just rain, it pours for 5 minutes then 20 minutes later it completely stops. So, of course, we got caught in one downpour.

The image on radar while we got poured on.

It looked like there was a bridge not too far away but it took forever to pedal under it, all the while we were getting soaked.

Hiding from the rain under a bridge.

When we got close to the Oregon border, we stopped at a cycle stop to check our tire pressure and dry off a bit. I ended up buying a new, dry pair of cycle shorts as well as replacement CO2 canisters to fill up our tires with.

Pumping up our tires at Caynonview Cyclery.

Right after leaving the bike shop, we crossed the bridge into Oregon!

Almost to Oregon!

The view from the bridge leaving Washington.

Managing to pedal up the bridge.

Hello Oregon!

Progress!

Immediately after crossing the bridge, Ethan and I were faced with one of the biggest hills yet. It was a steady climb about a mile long up to an elevation of 550 ft.

Past the bridge and gaining elevation

It definitely felt bigger than 550 ft.

We stopped at a local fruit stand for some delicious raspberries and cherries and to rest after that big hill.

Delicious post-hill snack.

I thought after that 550 ft climb that I would be done with hills…but alas, there were more.

Ethan waits for me as I struggle up yet another hill.

Some of the workers at the bike shop told us about a “Bike Inn” we could stay at that night since we probably wouldn't make it all the way to our original destination, Astoria.

Our route from Toutle River RV Resort to the Bike Inn, 32 miles for a total of 303 miles pedaled.

The logo of the Bike Inn.

The Bike Inn isn't so much a “inn” as a sort-of bed and breakfast for wayward travelers. The Lilich family in Clatskanie, OR have a beautiful, Tudor-esque cottage set along the River where they let bicyclists stay in their extra room. They've set it up so that the cyclist area has its own entrance and bathroom and it’s really quite lovely.

The Bike Inn. A beautiful home with eclectic furnishings.

We dropped off all our stuff and set out the tent to dry before heading into town for dinner. We stopped in at a local bar called Conestoga for burgers.

Outside of Conestoga bar.

They had amazing alcoholic milkshakes that Ethan and I decided to partake in.

The bar’s alcoholic milkshake offerings.

They had pool tables that were only 50¢ per game (most bars I've been to charge $1.25!) so Ethan and I decided to play a round. I don’t think Ethan realized how absolutely terrible I am when he suggested I break.

Me about to start off our game of pool.

I think in the end I sunk a whopping three balls. Yup, I’m that good.

Ethan’s burger and tater tots.

My amazing bacon burger with onion rings.

We hung around for a bit and talked to some of the people at the bar and generally had a good time before heading back to the Bike Inn. Two of the Lilich's friends were visiting, so they were hanging out by the campfire when we got back. Come to find out, they actually grow their own grapes and make their own wine on the property! Of course, I was super excited and gladly accepted to try one of their bottles. They grow a varietal called Marechal Foch which I knew nothing about before, but apparently it comes from a French general. It’s supposed to be a very hardy grape which grows well in rougher climates. Anyway, the wine was absolutely delicious. I found it to be quite savory and it made for really easy drinking. Ethan and I had quite a fun time sitting by the fire, sipping our wine, and discussing all the local Clatskanie gossip. I wish we could have stuck around for the fair because it seems like quite the event to attend. All in all we had a grand time and went to bed happily buzzed.

After sleeping in the next morning, we were sad to have to tell the Lilich family goodbye. They were amazing hosts and I highly recommend the place for anyone who has the opportunity to stay there. On our way out of town, we stopped at Colvin's Pub and Grill for a big breakfast before a long bike ride.

The artsy decorations outside of the pub.

It turns out that a lot of restaurants in Oregon have slot machines and other Oregon lottery games. Ethan had never played Keno, so while we were at the table we were watching the Keno games and figuring out the rules of how to play.

Ethan discovering Keno.

We had a delicious, huge traditional breakfast before it was finally time to leave Clatskanie.

Our amazing breakfast.

Clatskanie was a wonderful stop on our journey and I’m so glad Ethan and I got to see that town. All of the people we met were lovely and our stay there really reminded me of why Ethan and I love traveling in the first place. But alas, the journey continues! Thankfully, the weather improved and we finally get to see the Pacific Ocean! But more about that in my next post!