© 2015 The Nielsens

Dogdander
Day Nine: The Bridge Over the River Cry. Astoria, Oregon to Cathlamet, Washington Today’s mileage: 51 miles Total bike mileage so far: 358 Local Gas Prices: $2.99 self serve Weather: Downright cold at 56 degrees to start Saddle Sore-o-meter reading: 0.2 Animals for the day: All the salmon hundreds of fishing boats wanted. Ospreys with the same idea. Crises Averted: The big bridge wasn’t that bad      When we saw the closed ferry yesterday, we knew we would need to ride farther west to Astoria. We knew there is a bridge from Astoria over the Columbia River and Berta hoped it was a tiny little thing. Like a covered bridge, that would be fine. Or that there are boats waiting at the harbor for bike tourists to take across the river. Berta thought this would be a great adventure, talking to a boat captain while he gave us a ride over to Washington. But then we talked to a couple who said it was a big bridge. The woman might have used the word “huge” about it. They had done the whole ride across America (from New Jersey to the Pacific) on a tandem and were surprisingly tidy as they rode a quick few days back to Portland to catch a plane. It turns out that they originally planned to camp on their trip, but found out how hard that is and spent the rest of their nights inside like we do. They mailed their camping gear home they were so sure of it.      The woman, after referring to the massive bridge, offered to show Berta a picture of it. “No, I’ll take your word for it,” Berta said maybe a little too aggressively. Berta is not what a person would call a “fan” of heights. She held on to the possibility that this woman was just a mean person who was exaggerating the size of the bridge. But then we approached Astoria and the bridge filled the entire horizon. It is four miles long and almost 200 feet tall. Berta was a little bit relieved when she used Google Streets to see that there is an actual bike lane on the bridge as well as a narrow sidewalk and a decent rail. It is also completely paved—none of this metal grating stuff. Well, it could be worse, she thought. Then she went to sleep and tried not to have nightmares about it.      The bridge, actually, wasn’t too bad. It has a 360 degree concrete ramp that gets traffic almost to the height for the main span. The ramp is near a tree covered hill, so a person could pretend she wasn’t that far off the ground. When we did get on the bridge itself, there was no wind and the railing obscured much of the view to the water. Traffic was light. We crested the hill in just a few minutes and flew down the other side to ride the rest of the four miles on a much much lower span. In comparison, the lower section was nothing, and Berta scoffed at its insignificance. She laughed like you laugh after an earthquake stops and you realize it wasn’t too bad. Or like you party after anything dreadful. What a relief!      At landfall, we turned to go east. With a tailwind and a flat coastal road, we sped along. There were several hundreds of fishing boats on the river near the Northern shore. We came around a bend and saw five cars parked on the river’s edge. When John spotted a fisherman, we stopped to ask him how’s it going. The man was all smiles as he loaded up his gear. He had already caught two salmon: a twelve-pound Chinook, and an eight-pound Coho. He was using small baitfish that he sliced so it would spin on the line. He used that in combination with a shiny colorful triangle of plastic. He had been fishing from his kayak and was satisfied with the day’s catch. It wasn’t yet eight in the morning.      As we reached the main street of Cathlmet, Berta got a quick rear tire puncture. There was no coasting into town on a soft tire. She walked her bike as John rode a block to our potential lodging for the night. The historic hotel in Cathlamet has been renovated recently. The desk is on the second floor and at street level the place looks like an art gallery. A woman walking by heard Berta ask John if they had a room for us. The woman said, “Oh, yes, we do have rooms,” as she passed the hotel and went into the real estate office next door. John went in and five minutes later had a room key, all the options for dinner, and knew the names of all the hotel people. We decided to stay there and used the small elevator one at a time to get the bikes to the room. John got the tire fixed and we both got cleaned up. Even on an easy day, we are way too grimy to put our “formalwear” on, and we tire of stopping conversations by walking into restaurants in Spandex.      After a Mexican food dinner that suffered greatly in comparison with that meal a few days ago, we walked most of Main Street in this tiny town. There was a tall sailing ship down at the dock that was accepting reservations for tours tomorrow at noon. The evening cruise for later tomorrow was already sold out.  We asked a few people how to pronounce the county we are in (Wahkiakum), but were so entertained by changing it up that we don’t remember what they said. We saw a family who was looking at the available commercial real estate in town and another couple in a fancy car who were exploring like we were.      In the middle of the block on the way back, we saw the publishing offices of the Wahkiakum County Eagle. We met two generations of the publishers, the son Rick Nelson, his wife, and his mother. Rick went off to college, but decided to come back and work on his family’s paper. John asked him if he set the type. “No, I cleaned up after the people who set the type.” At which time his mother piped up “I set the type… and swept the floors, and washed the windows”. We talked with these three for a while, paid a dollar for a copy of their weekly paper, accepted a special issue they had for summer activities, and went two doors down to the hotel.      Having pedaled for an extra day and a half, we are back on track where we would have been dropped by that unreliable ferry. It will be closed for two more days, then it will resume its critical unfailing service to other people who need it.

© 2015 The Nielsens

Day Nine: The Bridge Over the River Cry. Astoria, Oregon to Cathlamet, Washington Today’s mileage: 51 miles Total bike mileage so far: 358 Local Gas Prices: $2.99 self serve Weather: Downright cold at 56 degrees to start Saddle Sore-o-meter reading: 0.2 Animals for the day: All the salmon hundreds of fishing boats wanted. Ospreys with the same idea. Crises Averted: The big bridge wasn’t that bad      When we saw the closed ferry yesterday, we knew we would need to ride farther west to Astoria. We knew there is a bridge from Astoria over the Columbia River and Berta hoped it was a tiny little thing. Like a covered bridge, that would be fine. Or that there are boats waiting at the harbor for bike tourists to take across the river. Berta thought this would be a great adventure, talking to a boat captain while he gave us a ride over to Washington. But then we talked to a couple who said it was a big bridge. The woman might have used the word “huge” about it. They had done the whole ride across America (from New Jersey to the Pacific) on a tandem and were surprisingly tidy as they rode a quick few days back to Portland to catch a plane. It turns out that they originally planned to camp on their trip, but found out how hard that is and spent the rest of their nights inside like we do. They mailed their camping gear home they were so sure of it.      The woman, after referring to the massive bridge, offered to show Berta a picture of it. “No, I’ll take your word for it,” Berta said maybe a little too aggressively. Berta is not what a person would call a “fan” of heights. She held on to the possibility that this woman was just a mean person who was exaggerating the size of the bridge. But then we approached Astoria and the bridge filled the entire horizon. It is four miles long and almost 200 feet tall. Berta was a little bit relieved when she used Google Streets to see that there is an actual bike lane on the bridge as well as a narrow sidewalk and a decent rail. It is also completely paved—none of this metal grating stuff. Well, it could be worse, she thought. Then she went to sleep and tried not to have nightmares about it.      The bridge, actually, wasn’t too bad. It has a 360 degree concrete ramp that gets traffic almost to the height for the main span. The ramp is near a tree covered hill, so a person could pretend she wasn’t that far off the ground. When we did get on the bridge itself, there was no wind and the railing obscured much of the view to the water. Traffic was light. We crested the hill in just a few minutes and flew down the other side to ride the rest of the four miles on a much much lower span. In comparison, the lower section was nothing, and Berta scoffed at its insignificance. She laughed like you laugh after an earthquake stops and you realize it wasn’t too bad. Or like you party after anything dreadful. What a relief!      At landfall, we turned to go east. With a tailwind and a flat coastal road, we sped along. There were several hundreds of fishing boats on the river near the Northern shore. We came around a bend and saw five cars parked on the river’s edge. When John spotted a fisherman, we stopped to ask him how’s it going. The man was all smiles as he loaded up his gear. He had already caught two salmon: a twelve-pound Chinook, and an eight-pound Coho. He was using small baitfish that he sliced so it would spin on the line. He used that in combination with a shiny colorful triangle of plastic. He had been fishing from his kayak and was satisfied with the day’s catch. It wasn’t yet eight in the morning.      As we reached the main street of Cathlmet, Berta got a quick rear tire puncture. There was no coasting into town on a soft tire. She walked her bike as John rode a block to our potential lodging for the night. The historic hotel in Cathlamet has been renovated recently. The desk is on the second floor and at street level the place looks like an art gallery. A woman walking by heard Berta ask John if they had a room for us. The woman said, “Oh, yes, we do have rooms,” as she passed the hotel and went into the real estate office next door. John went in and five minutes later had a room key, all the options for dinner, and knew the names of all the hotel people. We decided to stay there and used the small elevator one at a time to get the bikes to the room. John got the tire fixed and we both got cleaned up. Even on an easy day, we are way too grimy to put our “formalwear” on, and we tire of stopping conversations by walking into restaurants in Spandex.      After a Mexican food dinner that suffered greatly in comparison with that meal a few days ago, we walked most of Main Street in this tiny town. There was a tall sailing ship down at the dock that was accepting reservations for tours tomorrow at noon. The evening cruise for later tomorrow was already sold out.  We asked a few people how to pronounce the county we are in (Wahkiakum), but were so entertained by changing it up that we don’t remember what they said. We saw a family who was looking at the available commercial real estate in town and another couple in a fancy car who were exploring like we were.      In the middle of the block on the way back, we saw the publishing offices of the Wahkiakum County Eagle. We met two generations of the publishers, the son Rick Nelson, his wife, and his mother. Rick went off to college, but decided to come back and work on his family’s paper. John asked him if he set the type. “No, I cleaned up after the people who set the type.” At which time his mother piped up “I set the type… and swept the floors, and washed the windows”. We talked with these three for a while, paid a dollar for a copy of their weekly paper, accepted a special issue they had for summer activities, and went two doors down to the hotel.      Having pedaled for an extra day and a half, we are back on track where we would have been dropped by that unreliable ferry. It will be closed for two more days, then it will resume its critical unfailing service to other people who need it.