© 2015 The Nielsens

Dogdander
Day Seven: You Say Tomato. St Helens to Clatskanie, Oregon Todayís mileage: 37 Total bike mileage so far: 266  Local Gas Prices: $2.99, smaller towns Weather: Cool with less smoke in the air Saddle Sore-o-meter reading: 1.0 Animals for the day: Hawks, geese, cranes, Great Blue Heron Crises Averted: We almost ran out of salsa at dinner      The road today took us past a rambling park with a long water feature in it. If it was a river, it  wasnít rushing anywhere, and if it was a pond, it sure went on for mile or more. Soon enough,  we recognized a disc golf course in there. Two men walked by on the course carrying fishing  poles.  We rode into the park to get some artsy photos of the area for Bertaís brothers. We  survived riding our bikes along a path where there were geese all around. We had the video  camera running just in case some conflagration might earn us fifteen minutes of fame.       The park was window dressing for a huge power transmission plant that hummed in the  distance. We saw signs for the SCA at the front gate, and pedaled in to find out what that is. We  asked a young man who was walking into the parking lot. He explained that they are the Society  for Creative Anachronism and that this event, on Sunday morning, was winding down. In about  five minutes, he gave us a pretty concise picture of a very small part of the organization. He told  us about enacting a battle between a Viking and an English knight. These two types, he  explained, would not have met in real life due to differences in time and regions, but the group  likes to see how the two would have fared head-to-head. He said the combat is for real and that  they have the bruises to prove it. He pulled up his T-shirt sleeve to expose a large muscular arm  with no tan whatsoever and no sign of bruising. Considering the circumference of his bicep, we  decided against calling him a pansy.      Not too far down the road, we arrived at the Clatskanie River Inn. We will leave it to the  reader to say Clatskanie aloud and then will tell you later how the locals say it. It was early in  the day, and we needed to wait a little while for our room to be ready.  The young man at the  desk told us there is a new theatre in town and asked us if we had ever seen a praying mantis.  It turns out he has been watching some praying mantises (is spell check even working? That  canít be right) who are living in the plants in the innís driveway. We went outside and he coaxed  one onto his hand for us to admire. Later, he would locate an image on his smartphone of one  of these bugs flaring its wings. It was pretty impressive and would have been scary and/or  attractive if we were bugs too.      We got back on the bikes and rode through town to see what was playing at the theatre.  After two miles of investigation, John asked some ladies where the theatre is. It took them a  minute, but they remembered someone was putting in a new theatre and it was just down the  street past the police station in the building with the white columns. We got into a short  conversation with them, with one of them saying that her family takes a vacation in Palm  Springs almost every year. As is not uncommon for us to hear, she said she really enjoys bike  riding and should get back into it. We headed in the direction they described and saw the new  theatre that looks like it will open in a couple of weeks.       Upon returning to the inn and washing up, we began the complicated dinner selection  process. We stepped out of the lobby and saw the flashing OPEN sign of the new Mexican  restaurant about fifty feet away. Mexican it is! What happened next was the dining surprise of  the trip. We had an inexpensive, yummy, spicy meal that was drenched in a smoky hot flavor.  Muy sabroso it was.       So, do you have in your mind how you would pronounce Clatskanie? How about clats-can- EYE? Not what you were guessing, right? Sometimes we wonder if people are just messing with  us.