An interesting day.

I woke up this morning panicked. My friend had to be at work at 8am and I didn’t want to oversleep. It was 6:20.

I took a shower, packed and started loading my waypoints into Ox’s GPS. That’s always entertaining for some reason.

We had breakfast and said our goodbyes. It better not be for 20 years again.

I left through Bend and began my journey along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. It took me right past Mt. Bachelor. The last time I was here, my brother Joe and I came down with a youth group to snowboard. It is still one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had. Mostly because of epic powder and the sunburn on my face.

This shot was taken sitting next to Bachelor but looking north at the three sisters.

For the next 50 miles I proceeded to go on a murdering rampage of bugs. I could barely see through my windshield. I think about 1,000 hit me in the face. No joke. It was a beautiful ride but cold. The sun still hadn’t warmed up the canyons yet.

Eventually I worked my way down towards Crater Lake. As I got close, a thick smoke began to envelop the road. If cars didn’t have their headlights on, you couldn’t see them until the last second. Hotshots rigs were parked along all of the roads, along with forest service vehicles. I figured if they didn’t want me to go there, they would have closed the roads. Right before the turnoff to Crater lake, the smoke mostly cleared. Which is good because it was actually getting hard to breathe. I think my clothes smell like I was sitting around a campfire all night. I stopped at the first overlook of the crater because it was still smoky and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see very much. Unfortunately I was right.

The lake is down there somewhere.

I turned around and continued my journey down another scenic byway, this one along the Umpqua river. I even saw people rafting. It was freezing! They’re nuts.

In Roseburg I stopped at a self serve car wash and gave Ox a good once over. It was nasty.

I stopped again at another intersection for lunch and gas (speaking of which, I am so glad to be out of Oregon and having an attendant always there to “help” me) and then it was my final push to the coast and rejoining 101.

Turning south again I followed the amazing Oregon coastline all of the way into California. 440 miles after I started.

I reached Crescent City California and began looking for dinner and a campsite. Every single restaurant I went by was shut down. Out of business. And no camping.

I kept going south. Now I was into redwoods country. And guess what? Every state park campsite was full. On a Monday. Go figure. I finally broke down and stopped and a private campsite. $19. I’m sorry, what?! I haven’t had camping that cheap in forever. I’m surrounded by Redwoods. It’s amazing.

Unfortunately I had a lot of time to think today and my head really started messing with me.

I thought a lot about my transition back to home life. At the pace I’m going, that’ll be soon. I have high hopes and deep fears. What if I haven’t changed? What if this is all for nothing? If it does help, how long will it last?

And then I had a panic attack. It hit me hard and fast and I could barely breathe. I had to pull over asap and just sit to look at the view. I tried to call my wife and she didn’t answer. That didn’t help.

I finally calmed down and my wife called me back. I didn’t tell her but I just needed to talk.

Some days I think I’m doing ok and then it just resets to square 1.

Oh well. I’m in California. That’s crazy. My inlaws live outside of San Francisco and that’s less than 350 miles away. That’s about 100 miles less than I did today. Damn. I could be home pretty soon. I’m worried. I need to stop talking about it. I’m making it worse.

Just a short one today.

Today was spent having fun with an old friend.

We went mountain biking to a waterfall, ran underneath the water and pretty much got soaked.

Then we went and hiked through a lava flow cave. With the weakest headlamps ever made.

Next we inflated some river tubes and floated part of the Deschutes River, even going over some small rapids. They were fun enough that we hiked back up and hit them again.

All in all a good day. Tomorrow I’ll try to hit crater lake and then back to the coast.

Another wonderful day

I woke up this morning to the sounds of a large family already awake and cooking breakfast. It was just past 7am.

I was happy to get up and moving because it had been a little cold over night. As I began packing up, I heard a voice ask if I’d like some coffee. I realized she was talking to me and so I consented. Happily. I even tried to show it on my face. After I was presented the cup she asked if I’d also like to join them for breakfast. Rather than making an excuse as to why I couldn’t, I smiled and said yes, of course. I had an amazing, camp stove prepared breakfast of blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs, turkey sausage and banana bread. It was so good and the perfect way to start the day. I was also able to chat with about ten new friends as we ate. I am so grateful for their generosity. Thank you!

I rolled out close to 9am. For the first time in days, I saw blue skies in the morning. It was about 64 degrees and would stay that temperature for the whole time I was along the coast.

I will say this, the coast of Oregon is infinitely more amazing and stunningly beautiful than the coast of Washington. Hands down.

I made it to the town of Tillamook and stopped in for a self guided tour of the cheese factory. It was fascinating and I’m glad I took the time to do it. The only negative was that I couldn’t buy any cheese because I had no way to keep it.

I did get two pepperoni sticks and a bag of raspberry licorice. Yeah. It’s interesting at best.

After the creamery I went across town to the air museum. It was kind of a let down. Oh well. They can’t all be winners. Hope they enjoy my $7.75

The next few hours were spent winding along the coast enjoying the views and the traffic. It wasn’t so bad in between the cities but once I was in a city, stop and go traffic would materialize. Just my luck to be here on a weekend.

I left the coast in Florence and took a left heading towards Eugene. The traffic wouldn’t have been so bad except for the inevitable driver who just refuses to go the speed limit and gets everyone backed up behind them. When I could finally get around, the roads were great.

I grabbed a poker chip in Eugene and then took back highway 126 towards the mountains. Traffic had really thinned out and it was fun cruising along this road. I was having a great time.

Just after the town of McKenzie River, I left 126 and got onto 242, otherwise known as the McKenzie Pass Scenic Byway.

This road is now the best road I’ve ridden this entire trip. And I pretty much had it all to myself. I made my Harley pretend to be a sport bike. There were curves, tight and open. Banked and flat. Winding hills. Beautiful tall trees. Rock formations. Mountains. Volcanoes. Basalt formations. Views for days.

The pictures were taken after most of the winding road was over with, at least on the way up. I just hadn’t wanted to stop riding in order to take pictures. Don’t worry, I did stop to take these, and yes, right in the middle of the road. Like I said, all to myself.

The best part about today is that the whole reason I was going to Bend is that a good friend lives there who I haven’t seen in forever. Yep, me dropping the ball again. I’m trying to make up for that.

He looks exactly the same, hasn’t aged a bit. His wife and kids were great to meet as well. He is very happy and that makes me happy. He has a good life here. We sat out on his porch until 11pm chatting about everything. I get to stay here tonight and maybe even tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to catching as much as possible. Plus, I really want to check out Bend. It was on our list of possible places to live a couple of years ago and I want to see what I’m missing out on.

Another good day and I’m happy.

Is this really working?

Giving myself some credit

I’ve often said that I have a hard time initiating conversations, or even continuing a conversation with a stranger once they’ve started it.

Here I am at the end of the day and it dawned on me that not only today, but many days recently, I’ve been ok with talking to strangers. Maybe even friendly. I’m sure I still have my bitchy resting face (search YouTube for reference) and that doesn’t help.

Today I chatted with people on the ferry. I talked with different people at gas stations. I talked with someone over lunch, and once again over dinner. And now, when I pulled up to my campsite, the people next door were friendly and I didn’t shut that down like I usually do.

I’m not saying I’m over it and that part of me is fixed. I am saying that I feel more relaxed and not on edge. That maybe, people can be nice and worth talking to.

Maybe.

I’ve had a very picturesque day. Here’s leaving Seattle on the ferry:

Here’s a neat spot, for me anyway. It’s as far west as I can go before I was forced to turn south. That’s a good feeling.

The ocean and beaches have been beautiful. Once I passed Port Angeles Washington, the traffic cleared out and I began riding highway 101 in ernest. This part of my trip always seemed like it was so far off, almost abstract, so that I never really paid much thought to it. Now I’m here and it’s a surreal feeling. The road winds in and around the coast, sometimes close enough you can see the ocean and other times there is no sign of it. I have once again crossed paths with the Lewis and Clark expedition. They camped for a long while near present day Astoria on the Columbia river.

Speaking of camping. I stopped at the first State park in Oregon that advertised camping available but they were full. It is a Friday. Yes, but it’s not a holiday right? What gives? It seems everyone in the Pacific Northwest went camping this weekend. My neighbors are from Seattle. Across the way is a camper from Vancouver BC. So I couldn’t camp there and I presently refuse to patronize any KOA. I don’t know why. I just do. The next state park was an hour south. It was already just past 7pm. Oh well. I need to go south anyway. It ended up not being an hour but the sign at the entrance said the campground was full. Feeling defeated I sat there and pulled out my phone to do a search. Right then the Ranger leaned out of the booth and said that one spot had just opened up. Wow. Also $31 wow. When are these campsites going to get cheap again? I still remember when I was baffled at $20.

Regardless, I’m happy to have a campsite. It’s been chilly all day along the coast, about 64 degrees mostly. Now it is a bit breezy as well. I just need some sleep tonight. I’m tired. Apparently, according to my nephew, I snore. Only on my back. But I don’t sleep well when I do. One of these days I’ll be back in my own bed.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the journey.

Humbled

Let me get the easy stuff out of the way.

I’m still staying at my brothers in-laws. I am baffled by the kindness these folks have shown to me, essentially a stranger. I am trying to stay out from under foot as much as possible and so I leave early and get back late. Sitting here in their living room right now is the most time I’ve spent with all of them.

When I left this morning I went down to Issaquah and had breakfast at the 12th Avenue Cafe. 20 years ago I worked right around the corner from this restaurant and it was brand new. I’m glad to see it has hung on for so long.

Once I ate, I plugged Mt. Rainier National Park into my GPS and took off to follow back roads.

It was an overcast and chilly day (go figure…Seattle) but I was hoping it would clear up by the time I got there. Nope. I never once saw the mountain while I was there. It was also in the 40’s and got a bit chilly. Oh well. I’ve seen it a thousand times before. I rode awhile and then finally decided I wasn’t going to see anything and so I turned around.

I meandered my way back to a Harley dealer near Seattle to pick up a chip. On the way, the pain I’ve been having in my back became excruciating and I figured screw it. So I stopped and got a massage. It helped. But now I’m sore. I can’t win.

Now for the best part.

One of my good friends, who is absolutely about to pop (she’s due with twins next Friday) set up a dinner for old friends and new friends to come say hi.

Right as I arrived, Dan came over to introduce himself. He’s been following this blog from the beginning and has been kind enough to offer some thoughts when they are needed.

Soon after, my friend arrived and my heart missed a beat. We were such good friends for so long and she was such an important person in my life. I didn’t realize how much I missed her until this moment.

We all grabbed a table and had just sat down when Marcia arrived. She had driven for more than two hours just to meet me on behalf of her CVMA club. So big shout out to the 11-5.

We had a good long conversation over drinks and appetizers. Well, my appetizer was nachos and that’s always enough to feed 5 people.

I opened up a bit more to them than I have here on my blog but I felt comfortable with them.

Some big questions were asked that really made me think and I appreciated the candor.

I’m sorry I don’t write some of those things here but they are still immensely personal. They still hurt.

It was a wonderful evening spent with really good people. As always, the anxiety I feel leading up to any social gathering was unwarranted. I had a great time and wish the evening could have lasted forever. Regardless I met two wonderful people and rekindled a friendship that means the world to me.

No, she did not drink that beer. She’s just holding it to give all of you a heart attack. Relax.

I’m glad my story is resonating with so many people. Enough so that they drive hours just to say hi and to shake my hand. There are good people all over. I need to be more open and willing to meet them. And to listen to their story.

Tonight I feel loved.

Reunions

Today and tomorrow are all about reunions for me.

I got up, hit a cafe and then went straight over to an old youth leaders office where he is a dentist.

He recognized me right away which is impressive after 20 years and a beard. He made me feel like I’d never left and I wished I could just sit there and talk for hours. Unfortunately it was my fault for interrupting him at work so our reunion was brief. I love that guy. He really helped get me in to mountain biking and he was a solid shoulder to cry on when my brother died.

After that, I hoped on my bike and spent a couple of hours riding around my old haunts. I found my old home, several friends houses and a few old places where I worked. I then rode down the hill to see my old school. It has been completely rebuilt. I really don’t think any part of the original structure exists. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder but I have great memories of that school. I’m even still friends on Facebook with one of my teachers who was instrumental in my life. I still love her to this day. Thanks Mrs. Watson. I thought about you a lot today.

After a quick lunch I rode for almost an hour to a ski town where one of my best friends ever lives with her husband and two kids. We were inseparable for a long time and she understood me better than many people in my life. She was my counselor in tough times and my accomplice in way too many acts of teenage mischief. I have missed her dearly for 20 years and I really wish I knew why I walked away from so many great friendships.

I tried to make up for that yesterday. When I arrived at her home she didn’t even give me time to get my helmet off before giving me a warm, welcoming hug.

We talked for hours and hours. I didn’t leave until just after 11pm.

In the meantime she took me stand up paddle boarding on a lake near her home. I always thought it would be easy. Nope. My legs were so tired from shaking so much trying to keep my balance. I couldn’t even stand up on the damn thing until I went close to the shore.

My friend was kind and kept encouraging me but I think she was just being nice. I truly sucked at it. But…it’s something I’m going to commit to practicing more. My kids would love one of these.

Her husband left work early just so he could meet me and I instantly took a liking to him. He is a great guy with a wonderful sense of humor and a pure outlook on life. I am so happy for my friend that she found him. Mostly I’m happy that she is happy and that her life is going well. I think if we could go back in time and talk to our high school selves about what our life would be like in the future, we’d just want to know that we are safe and happy. That’s a great thing.

It was hard riding away. I hope I don’t let it go another 20 years. I vow to change that.

One of many things I need to change. I’m working on it.

Tomorrow night, the 19th, I am having a get together at Masa Mexican Kitchen and Cantina at 5pm in Seattle. If you are nearby and would like to come, consider this your invitation. I’d love to see everyone. Yes, I have anxiety about it but I’m handling it. I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Tomorrow my last day here and then I’ll head out Friday morning.

Venmo: Jake-Weber-21

PayPal: webers@digis.net

A good place.

Today’s ride took me from the middle of Washington to the west coast. I followed the North Cascades Scenic Highway. It isn’t the best road I’ve ridden this trip, but it hands down had the best views.

You be the judge:

I was having an amazing time. I really wished I could have had my dad stay with me an extra day just so he could have experienced this. It would have been worth it.

He iron manned it all the way home. He left at about 4:30am and rode 750 miles all the way back to Star Valley Wyoming. Crazy.

Once I made to to Burlington I stopped in at a Harley dealer because I needed a 20k service. I feel like I just got the 15k service. It was about two weeks ago.

They were actually really cool. They bumped me to the front of very busy queue and within 3 hours, I was out of there.

I’ve learned to trust my bikes navigation in some respects. If I need specific routes, I have to plug those in but if I don’t care, I allow it to find the best scenic route and so far it has done really well. Today was no different.

As I rode it was neat to see cities I remembered spending time in, populate themselves on the map.

I had a quick stop to meet up with my brother and then we headed over to an old friends home. I haven’t seen her since she came to our wedding in 1998. She was one of my teachers and I wish I had been a better student for her. She deserved better than me. I wonder if we all feel that way when we look back on our youthful days. I sure do.

I definitely enjoyed my teenage years and I recall them fondly. It’s good to be back.

We even walked around a park tonight.

When I got back I caught someone trying to steal my motorcycle!

Good thing she couldn’t reach the ground.

Unfortunately it doesn’t take much to burn me out and I just need some quiet time. That may be something I can’t find for a few days.