Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Check back here daily to read about our progress in our cross-country bicycle tour to benefit the FFB.
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Monday, August 08, 2005

Day 86: Archie Knowles Campground to the Pacific Ocean! (22 miles, 4265 total)

Done! I cannot believe it; we are have officially biked across the country! Our ride for the FFB has come to an end, and now we have to get back to the real world. Son of a...

The three of us slept well in the campground. Since we knew we had a short mileage day to the coast, we decided to wake up with the sun and pack leisurely. It was odd to think that we had just slept in our little tent for the last time on our trip.

Fearing the clammy discomfort of riding with a wet crotch, Rebus spent a portion of the morning drying his bike shorts with the hand dryer in the restroom. He had rinsed them out in the creek the day before, but of course with the damp climate they did not dry over night.

We finally rolled out of the campground at about 9AM. We stopped a few miles down the road in Mapleton for breakfast at the Gingerbread Village Cafe. My mother, Joe and Jean Alice all arrived shortly after we did to join us. Sadly, pigs in a blanket were not featured on the menu, but gingerbread pancakes were. The resturant was terribly understaffed for a Sunday morning. Our server told us that two others had called in sick this morning. I told her that they probably were just ditching work to go to church. Anyway, despite the lack of help, our server still did a good job bringing us our breakfast, and we were rolling out by 10:30.

Just after Mapleton, we made a left turn towards the coast (and the town of Florence) along the Siuslaw River. Fortunately, the shoulder opened up quite a bit more and we could relax a bit under the roar of the speeding traffic.

As we wound down the river passing berry bush after berry bush, we started to smell the salt of the ocean and see what was left of the morning marine layer. With every curve I thought the ocean might just come into view.

After we passed the nearly-nothing town of Cushman, we finally got our first visual indication of our proximity to the coast; we spotted the towering sand dunes that stand between the town of Florence and the Ocean.

A few miles later we entered the town of Florence. From there, Jean Alice, Joe and my mother guided us (in their rental cars) over the Siuslaw River and into the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Trucks loaded with ATV's waited to enter the park to race around on the dunes. We entered the park and the parents guided us down to a parking lot near the coast that was off-limits to ATV's.

To the cheer of our parents and with Rebus right behind, AK and I rode side by side into the parking lot. After hugs and congrats all around, Jean Alice handed out these awesome "Tour de America" t-shirts that she had hand painted herself. Then we all climbed the sand dune that stood between us and our first touch of the waters of the Pacific.

The wind was whipping around and as we reached the top of the dune to see the ocean the temperature seemed to drop dramatically with a huge increase in the wind velocity. Hand in hand, AK and I walked down the dune and into the ocean.

The water was absolutely fridged. We turned back to our parents and Rebus as they all took photos. But to be honest, the short time we stood in the ankle deep water was way long enough. It felt like ice water, and I was eager to get out of it. Rebus and I originally thought about going for a swim, but after touching the water, there was no way I was going in. Besides, the clothing of choice on the beach was a thick jacket!

Rebus's parents showed up as AK opened a bottle of champagne. With the wind blasting all around we sipped crunchy champagne and took photos. It didn't take long for us to decide to climb the dune and head back to take cover from the harsh on-shore breeze.

We all layered on the warm clothing as we chatted in the parking lot and began to pack up. My mother rented a minivan with folding rear seats for us to toss the bikes in and for all three of us to ride in back to Southern California.

AK and I worked to fit our bikes, the BOB trailers and all our stuff in the car while Rebus joked that if we had Bike Fridays, we would be done by now. Of course his bike was already quickly folded and in his parents' truck long before we even got the seats down in the van. Did I mention the paint job on his bike is awesome? It is "candy apple red", a color I would not immediately think to get, but it looks sweet. I've told Rebus this about a 100 times now, but I am bummed how much I like the color but I won't let myself get the same color as him when I finally get a chance to buy one.

Anyway, once we were all loaded up, all of us headed back into Florence for lunch to celebrate the finish. We found a nice resturant on the river with a view of the old bridge we crossed the river on. With all our handpainted t-shirts that Jean Alice made, we looked like some sort of team and we got a lot of questions about them.

After lunch, we said goodbye to Rebus, Bob, and Ellen who were heading to Portland. The Butterworths and the Basenbergs wandered around the small old town area of Florence before heading back to Eugene for the night.

It feels really surreal to be done with this trip. I already feel like I miss it. It will be nice to get back to a life with a more regular shower schedule, but with that I will also start having to comb my hair again. Bummer.

Anyway, this entry will mark the end of the daily updates of our journal. I hope it was an enjoyable read. I will be really busy in the next few weeks, but I will upload all the photos to the website as soon as I can. I plan to upload the photos to the journal entry that they correspond to. I know you all are looking forward to seeing the photo of the boxing squirrels in Virgina City, MT, an instant classic. Additionally, I will be posting our humourous "Best of and Worst of" list. All of the updates will occur as I have time to do them, but I will summarize the latest updates on the main page as they are completed.

I also plan to keep the website up for good. We found websites from other bike tourists to be very valuable while preparing for our ride, so we wish to return the favor to others. Plus, we want to keep increasing the awareness of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Although we have finished the ride, the FFB will still be accepting donations. If you have been meaning to make a donation, now is the time to do it! Visit our main page to learn how to make a donation.

AK and I would like to thank all of the donors to "Coast to Coast for the FFB" for supporting the FFB in their efforts. We also want to thank our families, our friends, the Bonnings, and Susan DeRemer of the FFB for all their support and encouragement.