Across Continents

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Coast bound

November 10th, 2011

Dispossessed in doorways. Just after eight but it was dark, cold and wet. Many already wrapped up in their sleeping bags. Quiet. Down the street a small piece of cleared ground, a few homeless sleeping under tarps. Volunteers in heavy waterproofs handing out soup and snacks, chatting jovially with those who’d fallen on hard times. A few police officers wandering about. Unconcerned. Peaceful.

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Giles and I had headed over into Portland’s Chinatown. Finding a small restaurant. Decent meal, but authentic it was not. Blank looks at my efforts with Mandarin. Nihow. Shez-shez-nee. My insistence on chop sticks as well received.

Next morning Denny’s for breakfast. Then coast bound. Giles wanted to change his saddle first, and we’d be joined at some point by his wife Sara and their young daughter. I’d done the math and reckoned the art-of-the-possible was Sheridan, fifty miles away and thirty or so short of the Pacific at Lincoln City.

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Up and downs

November 9th, 2011

I’d joked that if we ended up pretty much where we’d started then he’d better sleep with one eye open. Lest he find himself sharing his bed with a porcupine. The burrowing type. Leaving Longview we’d inadvertently strayed from the Seattle-to-Portland – STP – cycle route. Missing the familiar, if slightly faded, ’STP’ silhouettes spray painted on the highways.

Unperturbed, we’d placed our faith in Google Maps to guide us towards Portland. Soon cursing it as it struggled up an increasingly tough gradient. Zig-zagging on the quiet road soon giving way to pushing. Damp now. Close on a thousand foot of climb.

Plunging descent returning us to better weather. Something, I suggested, that leaving the Van Allen belt would probably account for. Brief stop in a small cafe, as much for respite from the returning rain as lunch, then on towards Portland.

Dreary riding into the city. Cheap motels. One advertised for just twenty bucks. Fast food joints. Grey. Uninspiring. We’d have stopped for coffee but there wasn’t anywhere you’d want to.

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