August 24th – Gardens, Dunes, and Douchebags

Kids get up really early, and they suck at controlling the volume of their voice, so we got up really early, too. I was only annoyed until I made it out of the tent, and was reminded what a beautiful part of the country I was in. We fixed breakfast, took a walk around the campground, and then returned to pack everything up. Have I mentioned I love the forest?

Our entrance to this state park had come with free admission to the nearby botanical gardens, so we rode the 15 minutes or so down the road. The gardens were of course extremely beautiful. Dozens of varieties of Roses and Dahlias were featured prominently, though they were by no means the only residents of the garden. I think my favorite plant was the Monkey Puzzle Tree. Though there are apparently sometimes seals on the nearby beach, none were there while we were visiting.

From the gardens we headed north up the coast, continuing to follow the scenic 101. Sadly, none of the people we messaged in Eugene got back to us, but we did have a place to stay in Portland the following night. Having three days to cover the relatively short distance between Arcata and Portland was really nice. It gave us time to really take it slow, and pull over to look at stuff much more frequently. Our next stop was the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Normally this area has a fee, but our Annual National Parks pass also gets us into National Recreation Areas. No fee for us.

We walked around the observation deck for a little while, but didn’t venture out across the dunes. I had been here before, and explored it then. We didn’t really have time to spend several hours here, so Gianna and I just stayed up top and took in the view. I heard somewhere that these are the dunes that inspired Frank Herbert. Regardless, they’re pretty amazing, and if you have the time, it’s worth the walk down to the shore.

We wandered north a ways before heading east into the Siuslaw National Forest. Though our intention had originally been to just camp in a secluded corner of forest, it looked like this forest was a bit more developed than Stanislaus, so we ended up staying in a National Forest Campground, which they had outsourced management of to some private company. The camp host was a complete asshole and seemed clearly very annoyed that hippies would be camping. The horror. We’d managed to arrive with no cash in our pockets, so I left Gianna to set up camp while I rode back down the road to find a place to pull out cash. The camp host had told me I would have to drive 40 miles back into town, but I found a gas station about 20 miles back that let me do cash back. I purchase a 6 pack, got 20 bucks back, and rode quickly back to camp. The ride is much more fun without all the extra weight of luggage and passengers. Though the bike is a perfectly capable touring machine, it is also quite fast and nimble when unencumbered.

I arrived back at camp, parked the bike by the tent Gianna had set up, and walked back over to the camp host to pay the fee. He accepted my money with a scowl, then quickly drove off in his golf cart before I could ask for firewood. His wife was a bit more friendly, and was glad to help me out with the wood. Before too long, we had a nice fire going at our site. Camping is really much nicer with a fire. The burn ban, though completely understandable, had been really lame in the dryer southern states. We drank down the 6-pack pretty quickly, and passed out shortly thereafter.

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