This is the full-winded account of my running trip up 186 miles of Oregon with Ian Klepetar and Scott Lommele in the spring of 2013. I thought I could break it up in the day-to-day format for easy chewability and digestion purposes. Thanks for taking the time to read, so many words and all.
16 Miles. May 14th, 2013
Slowly walking the seaside promenade after bidding farewell to our host Neil, we took a right at the end of the pavement and turned away from the ocean, saying adios to the big Pacific as well, as we would now head inland on our last day, and our shortest.
Astoria, the hip and growing town on the Columbia river marked our ending point. I pushed a good 9, 10 miles with only a few stops, reverting to the sweet joy of the ipod, a treat I had been denying myself of for the delayed gratitude I could now shower in. As Axl, Vince, Sebastian and various sleaze-rock legends urged me along, I found a bit more spring than on previous days. Soon enough we were four miles outside of town, where Scott and I found Ian sitting on the sidewalk of a busy four-way intersection eating peanut butter. We joined for a mid day picnic, well ahead of schedule.
Astoria was accessed via an impossibly long bridge with a small walking lane. On it, the vehicle decibel level climaxed and though the end lay in sight, we were shrouded in noise, danger, and traffic, the worst elements of road travel. We then saw Ernest (third chance encounter) pass us but on the other side of the bridge. He began to chat across four lanes of high-speed traffic. I gave the hand-cupped-on-the-ear-while-shrugging sign of ‘I can’t hear you,” and kept on going. I sure as shit wasn’t going to holler across a freeway.
We caught up on the other side just as a cop pulled up, looking interested. We had heretofore made it 99.7 percent of the way with no law enforcement run-ins, a bit surprising when it looked like we had been transporting a small human down busy highway traffic the last 200 miles. He approached our group looking stern and business like. “You guys good”? he asked. “Any flats or anything”? We smiled and felt lucky yet again.
After the bridge I flatbacked myself on an open grassy field and called it.
We cruised to a coffee shop and snacked and soaked in the sun. Then to a gluten-free specialty shop where Ian gorged and bought us a few rounds of baked goodness. Then to a food co-op for ingredients for his Ambrosia salad. We had another Warmshowers host for the night, and we climbed a few hills to get there on the back roads of “mini San Francisco,” as it was called.
Our hosts, were again gracious and welcoming and awesome. In their late 20’s they were usually busy mountain biking, backcountry skiing, boating, skateboarding, and flying helicopters. After a few minutes of entering their house, another feast lay at our table. Our group pitched in with a wild Ambrosia salad from Ian, a half jar of Vodka and a few craft beers. We ate a seafood pasta, oyster shooters, green salad, bread, and had strawberry cobbler for dessert.
Post dinner we were convinced to visit the tower, a monument to Astoria and its history. We rode a combo of bikes and skateboards to get there, sagging and freeriding the bouncy terrain in the fading sun. At the tower, the view looked over the uber-wide Columbia river and into Washington, a place we wouldn’t go. The road stretched on, and what we had covered in nine days could easily be done in a half day’s drive, but it felt like we had really traveled somewhere. We slapped some high fives and snapped some victory pics at the top of the tower, looking out onto hundreds of miles potential adventure.