Chapter 11 Written / Published 29.8/5.9.19 (Pics by author, unless indicated)
Reader who see and improvement in my photography should know, it's not because of a new camera. I have discovered a computer tool that brings shadows to light, increases exposure or sharpens the picture etc.
But please, nobody think I'm using it to create false impressions! The magic way some pictures come out, as you will see on our church screen again, is just as it came out!
This chapter we conclude the bicycle trip down the US West Coast, following one of the most spectacular coastlines in North America. There's a brief interlude back in Adelaide, which points to it. The entire chapter culminates in it.
Right at the end the letter H emerged from the fog; it totally surprised me as it will you!
"HE wakens me morning by morning, HE wakens my ear to hear as the learned." (Isaiah 50, 4).
11. Chapter I I - i t
On the evening of August 13th 2019 I was writing my diary. It was the day I had published, as planned, Chapters 9 and 10 of this book. As I noted down the exact minute when I had started to transfer the files (unplanned at 10.38 AM), on the radio aired an advertisement. The phone number of the organization matched perfectly: 1800 333 000. It was a promotion for Crimestoppers.
In the next chapter, God willing, there will be a development regarding a criminal matter. But first we we need to conclude the most important part of our 2019 USA trip, the cycle tour along the Oregon and Californian coastline. Reader will agree at the end, how amazing it all was and is.
It had started on the day of commencing this chapter. When I woke the clock beside my bed showed 5.18. Immediately the word ER came to mind, the 5th and 18th letters of the alphabet. A nanosecond later the digits changed to 5.19. Almost automatically, the letters ES sprung to mind. Translating the short words ER and ES into English, it creates HE and IT. One may say - it's all about HE, US and it.
That morning I knew that this chapter and the little word it, would be taking center stage. It so happened, that at the time of writing a movie was being advertised. I had seen the trailer for some time and marveled - IT Chapter Two. Now even the date of its release in Australia bemuses me: 5.9. (Please note, it's a horror movie; not the kind I'd like to feed my mind on!)
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After days of sitting in front of the computer screen, on August 13th 2019, I needed to get out and about. My wife had an appointment at the Dental Clinic on Adelaide's North Terrace. It was a good opportunity to drive her there, park the vehicle and perhaps get some exercise.
On West Terrace I found a one hour parking spot, enough time to walk uptown, nowhere in particular, just to enjoy a bit of sun and the fresh air. As if all was planned, but it wasn't, there came a numbers attack! I can't describe it any other way.
On a painted brick wall, suddenly six digits, house numbers, looked at me and took me right back into the two chapters I had published hours earlier, plus more! Take a look:
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Beautiful Oregon Coastline near Port Orford
We had expected Portland, Oregon to be still cool in early June 2019. Surprisingly, it was lovely weather, warm and sunny. Jon, our son, and I stayed a day and a half in the border city. We spent much time buying his equipment for camping along the coast in Oregon's state parks. But since we were only one bridge away from Washington State, I wanted to add this state to my list of places visited, albeit only for a short time.
Crossing the Columbia River into Washington State the views extended far north. Later we learned that one of the snow-capped peaks on the horizon was that of legendary Mount St. Helens. On May 18, 1980, an earthquake had struck below its north face, triggering the largest landslide in recorded history and a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states. (Source Wikipedia). Our airbnb hosts told us that the fall out from the massive explosion had badly affected the air quality in Portland and far beyond.
Our actual bike hike did not start in Portland. The date of our flight back to Australia, and the distance we had to cover to San Francisco, dictated that we travel by bus further south and start riding in Eugene. (This minor detail later becomes part of it, read on).
In stark contrast to the disappointing Greyhound experience, the Bolt bus trip, two hours south to Eugene, was very positive. We left on time and arrived punctually. Even better, we were able to load our bikes into the luggage compartment, without dismantling and packing it into a box. (Greyhound requests bicycles to be transported in a box.)
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May I stress here that, after spending the night in Eugene, what came next just happened. It was totally unplanned. Take a look at the name of the road sign, the name of the very first stop on our 1000+km bike ride:
Noti just happened!
It took a few minutes for me to grasp the four letters - NO and IT! One thing I was sure of, right back then on June 5th 2019, this ride would be all about finishing i t.
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The second it came minutes after arriving home from above church service. While preparing lunch, which I did because my wife was away visiting her family in Sydney, I decided to play a YouTube video. Why not 'Songs of Praise' from the BBC?
The first selection on my search was the broadcast from 28.10.18, where prominent Christians talked about their favourite hymns. Here is the one, chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury:
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(Back to Oregon)
On this first day of our ride from Eugene to Florence, Oregon came another first: We struck major road works near Walton on Route 126. It was right near the Halfway Cafe and controlled by signalmen. For safety reasons our bikes were transported in a pickup truck for the 1 or 2 mile section of road. (Pity, technically, we can't now claim to have cycled all the way from ...!)
Our first camping spot was Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial Park, just south of Florence. Common sense seemed to have prevailed in that part of the US. The fee for tenting in the bike hiker section was affordable, eight bucks.
The ride along the coasts of Oregon and California was one of my most strenuous long distance rides I ever did. The 2012 ride through the vast, flat corn fields of the Midwest and down the Mississippi was a breeze, compared to this. The word roller coast [er] seems appropriate. We followed highway 101 at first, which mostly hugged the coast line, occasionally turning inland. The further south we rode, the steeper the hills became. The road would then drop again to almost sea level and another climb just ahead!
On the day we were riding from Florence to Bandon a tourist couple kept following us, or so I thought. They stopped in the same places where we rested and took pictures; at first near the Umpqua lighthouse, after Reedsport; then at the Veteran's war memorial, just before the huge bridge near North Bend, The lady, I could not help noticing, wore a top - black and white stripes again!.
We took a break at a place called Langlois. Not that I was an inspector of ladies wear, but when a lady walked from her vehicle into the general store, my observant mind took note of what she was wearing. Two words on her T-shirt read: "Got Sand".. I was not sure, what the full slogan was, but it may have been a reference to the famous sand dunes on the Oregon Coast. (It also reminded me of the title of my Book 1).
Wikipedia tells us they are the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America, reaching up to 500ft in height and reach up to 2.5 miles inland. Pity, riding 80+ miles every day without support vehicle, the mind is more likely occupied with food supplies or what the next camping spot would be like. To be a real tourist one should either drive a motor vehicle or allow more time!
But one can always go online back home and find out, what tourist sights you rode by, i.e. Glass beach at Fort Bragg!. (Jokes aside, more time and less mileage per day would be the solution; next time.)
We must have crossed dozens of bridges over estuaries, and even rode through a few tunnels. At one stage we followed for hours a most scenic river, the Eel River, as it wound its way beside the highway. Otherwise, there were more climbs than I had expected.
Whoever had told us before leaving, somebody who had done the ride, that there were not many hills, only a few gentle climbs, was very optimistic or couldn't remember. The demanding pedaling during the day and the comfortable blow-up airbed, ensured a sound sleep at night.
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On the final night before our destination, San Francisco, we camped in Sonora Coast State Park at Bodega Bay. The next day's riding was probably the toughest. Not one, but two major climbs. The weather turned from cool to cold. At one time we had to climb so high, we were literally in the clouds. Jon had looked forward to riding over the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, San Fran, as he mostly called it.
Jon paused to take endless selfies. I was less enthralled and wanted to move on. The reason was not only because of the memories of 2012, when an hour after crossing this same bridge, somebody stole my bicycle*. It was also, because a chilly wind blew hard and I was only wearing shorts.
The fog on the bridge, provided another, totally unexpected marvel. I knew that after arriving at the Golden Gate Bridge, it would be finished! But that the weather was to provide another it - that is nothing short of magic!
Doesn't the bridge in fog look like the letter H?
The Golden Gate in fog - love it.
There you have it - The bike rides of 2012 and 2019!
It so happened ... On the morning after creating above paragraphs and pictures, Adelaide experienced a rare September fog. It made the TV news that evening; air traffic was affected.
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The final words, spoken by Jesus as HE hung dying on the cross were: "It is finished". (John, 19, 30). Those looking on mistakenly took it as: HE is finished.
History tells us how wrong they were. There was more.