[ Day 20 — July 2, 2012 ]
Scott and I were on our way by 9:15, winding from one neighborhood to the next like twelve-year-olds on a cross-town jaunt. Our Monday-morning escape was mostly uneventful: each quiet neighborhood gave way to another quiet neighborhood, similar in look and feel. I remember few details, with one notable exception: a woman and a fully-loaded bicycle. Scott and I passed her on a quiet street where she’d stopped to adjust her panniers, which were unmistakably loaded for touring.
A cycle tourist is a rare enough creature, and a female solo tourer, rarer still. I wondered what her story was. Where was she going? Where was she coming from? These questions would likely remain unanswered. I’d like to think that I said hello as I passed, but I probably didn’t.
As luck would have it, our paths crossed again on a bike path headed out of town. Scott and I had stopped to evaluate our escape options: should we take the winding backroads through BLM land, or the busier, more direct Highway 126? Jeff had advised us against the latter, but we knew next to nothing about the former.
We’d just decided to take our chances on 126 when the mystery cyclist caught up with us. Far more polite than Scott or I, she actually stopped to say hello and introduce herself. Her name was Erin. She lived in town and was a graduate student at the University of Oregon. This was the first day of her tour down to San Jose; our routes would overlap for most of the next 600 miles.
She echoed Jeff’s advice against 126, which was enough to win us over to roads less traveled. The route proved to be a joy: two comparatively modest climbs gave way to a canopied descent towards the coast. The road surface was poor, but the scenery made up for it. Everything was green and lush, and the roads so free of traffic.
The three of us rode together for most of the day, exchanging pleasant conversation on the way out of town and staying within a mile of each other throughout the afternoon. Friendly, perceptive, and inquisitive, Erin was a great conversation partner. She was quick on the bike—and cute, too.
Separated on the final downhill, Scott and I waited for Erin outside Reedsport. We invited her to have dinner with us. She graciously accepted and we found our way to Don’s Main Street Family Restaurant. It was a great finish to a pleasant day on the road together; the food hit the spot and Scott seasoned the meal with characteristic humor and storytelling.
Scott wanted an early start the next morning, and had decided to rent a hotel room in town. I was happy to extend my bed-with-sheets streak for another night. Erin opted to camp at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, another few miles down the road. Though she’d have a head start the next morning, I definitely wanted to catch back up with her. I expressed this in somewhat more casual terms and we exchanged numbers.
After dessert, Erin continued on to Umpqua while Scott and I settled into our motel room. As Scott flipped through television channels I wondered about our new friend six miles up the road. I marveled at the acute coincidence that had brought us together and wondered what the future had in store.
[ Daily Miles: 85 ] [ Total Miles: 995 ]