Bandon and the Dunes

[ Day 21 — July 3, 2012 ]

I woke up around seven to find Scott getting the last of his things together. He would tackle a longer, tougher ride than I would that day, and after the 85 miles back to Eugene, he’d hop in a car and drive an additional 280 miles back to Seattle. In total, he would put in the better part of a day on the road to ride 85 miles with me, topping off this supportive gesture by buying us a hotel room for the night, which incidentally saved us from the discomforts of a rainy, windy night on the Oregon coast.

I’d been so focused on my own circuit to and from Eugene that I hadn’t really thought about his. I was grateful for the company of such a good, generous friend. I thanked him and waved goodbye as he pedaled east back out of town.

I had the room until noon, and opted to enjoy the comforts of an innerspring mattress for a few hours more. I woke back up to eat breakfast and watch the last hour of The Rainmaker on HBO. I shot Erin a text, sharing my plans to camp at Bullard’s Beach. She sent me a reply from North Bend—some 25 miles ahead—and agreed to rendezvous there at the end of the day.

I finally hit the road around 10:30, enjoying a pleasant but mostly uneventful ride south. The roadside evergreens soon gave way to the great Oregon Sand Dunes—the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America—which hug the coast for almost 50 miles.

The dunes were an impressive sight, in places towering over two hundred feet above sea level. I’d read that they had partially inspired Frank Herbert’s Dune, one of my all-time favorite novels. I admired the dunes from the road, watching riders scuttle across them in buggies and OTVs. The scene offered an odd dichotomy: fleeting moments of fancy atop formations eons in the making, movement propelled by fuel of similarly ancient origin. This was true of my own travels, as well—a geological eye-blink bankrolled by billion-year endowments.

The second half of the day’s ride required modest climbing, but nothing like what I’d seen in the Sierras and the Cascades. With few exceptions, this would be the rule of my southward journey, a fact with which I was perfectly content.

I found the Bullard’s Beach campground with plenty of daylight left. I met Erin at the hiker/biker site; she’d beaten me there by about half an hour. She was setting up her tent between snacks and I hurried to do the same. We both made use of the park’s free shower facilities—the paragon of campground luxury—and made our way into Bandon.

Coquille River Bridge (Bandon, OR)

Coquille River Bridge (Bandon, OR)

I’d bought food for dinner, but Erin had planned to grab something in town. I was excited to see her again, and didn’t need too much arm-twisting to forgo my all-too-familiar dinner fare. We found a Mexican restaurant in town, right beside the water. The food was mediocre but the company was excellent.

The dinner felt like a first date: we were curious but somewhat guarded, explored the usual questions, and subtly affirmed our mutual interest. We decided that we’d ride together the following day.

[ Daily Miles: 55 ] [ Total Miles: 1050 ]

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