Thea and Heather

This incident happened about a week ago in Umpqua State Park/North Bend, Oregon. I typed most of it up then ob my phone, but never published it. Too great not to share.

I’m sitting on a cozy couch wrapped in a fluffy blanket drinking cider watching Star Trek on a big plasma TV flanked by four cats. Every clause of that sentence is unnatural for a bike tourist on a budget.

But it started as I set up my make-shift desk in the campground showers this morning. A thunderstorm brewed overhead, so I secured my things as well as possible and sought out some form of decent shelter. The bathroom seemed like the best place- I charged my phone until the lightning started showing up and then hunkered down in the shower area, prepared to spend the next few hours writing and drawing an still being a little nervous about being slightly exposed to the storm. I made a cushion of a spare dry towel left in the bathroom and laid out my maps and journal on the bench. Not too shabby of a spot considering the circumstances, I thought. I had a roof over my head! Still not ideal…

I had barely written three sentences when Thea, a local park ranger on duty, wandered in to change some bathroom light bulbs. Perhaps she pitied my setup and circumstances, but she offered me a ride to the ranger office to charge my phone and wait out the rain. No way I was turning that offer down! While my towel cushion was great, shower heads and toilets aren’t great company for a full day’s wait.

Interestingly, all four ranger employees in the office were women- and one my sister’s age! Anyway, the storm got unusually rough. I left my breakfast mug outside to see how much rain fell, and it was overflowing by the time the rain started to let up and I got around to checking it. The rangers were joking that this one day had more rain than the entire summer combined. At least I think they were joking… Regardless, it was certainly unusual to get anything like this storm before November!

I told the rangers I was headed south, and Thea offered me a ride to the next state campground, about 25 miles away. I’ve been pretty exhausted lately and worn out by the hills, so I welcomed the lift. I’ve been wanting to get to Bandon, OR to take a little rest, but I’d still have to pedal a hilly 50 to get there. She just cut that in half–and kept me from getting more behind on my desired schedule.

When the rain slowed, I walked to my tent site to evaluate. Cheap move on my part not to have a footprint for it! My important things were dry, but my tent was soaked through. I started considering a motel for the rainy night to come, but that thought ended quickly when Thea offered the place on her couch.

Man, is it cozy.

To add insult to injury (what’s the exact opposite of that phrase for extremely positive situations?), Thea has set me up with some delicious local bread and her roommate, Heather, is letting me have some of her sweet, sweet cider. Oh! And I shouldn’t forget to mention the socks–they each gave me a pair. Have you ever walked or biked around in wet, smelly socks? Not the most pleasant.

They go out to celebrate Heather’s 30th birthday, and I have the house to myself with the cats. The only time I leave the cushiony suction-cup of a cloud–I mean couch–is to take a deliriously wonderful shower.

Fast forward to the next morning–I’m getting ready to head out and Heather offers to drive me the ten extra miles to a viewpoint in the right direction. At this point, I’m still not prideful about getting all my biking miles in. There will be other times to do that. For now, I am resting my weary legs by car.

And to that note…
Man. The miles practically shoot past you when traveling by vehicle!

Trust and hospitality, my goodness!

The above incident happened at Umpua State Park. A Native American name, but where are the Native American people? It blows my mind how much land we have designated for national forest use in the US, but still how little of the land in the northwest has been given back to native Americans. According to Thea, there is some land reclamation going on, but it’s taken the feds a long time to get around to it.

In my bicycle travels, I have often encountered remnants of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but have seen few and have met no native Americans in these trails. What’s the deal?

Just over 200 years ago Americans and Europeans didn’t even understand anything about this area, It was the wild, foreign, Oregon Territory… Almost completely unmapped. One of the goals for the Lewis and Clark expedition was to map it, as assigned by Thomas Jefferson. Another goal was to find a water route for trade with Asia (nothing direct came out of it–there’s 600 or so miles of land they had to cross to get to the Columbia river). So much ‘unchartered’ land, so many Native American tribes to befriend and then battle/massacre.


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