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I have done it – traversed the Oregon Coast by public bus (almost) – coming out to the coast in Crescent City, CA and stopping in Astoria, OR today, though i may continue north through Washington – yes by public bus. I have done sections before, but never have gone from end to end, and this time i did it in reverse, taking my time, camping out on the way.

Most of the coast is linked by county transit systems, as Greyhound stopped running out here years ago. There is one 24 mile gap between Florence and Yachats, and i have heard murmurs of a connection coming one day. I love this mode of travel, for here the riders often talk to each other on the bus, and you get a view of the coastal communities you would not otherwise. It is not fast – most systems run 5 or 6 days a week, with sunday service non-existent, and there are only a few buses each day. I like to camp which is an inexpensive option with the hiker-biker sites in the Oregon State Parks. Although most buses make flag stops along the way, i often carry my pack several miles. The transit system can also be handy for anyone walking the Oregon Coast Trail, or cycling the oregon coast bike route  (most buses have 2 bike racks)

These are the transit systems i used going from south to north

To Crescent City (or Brookings, OR)

SouthWest Point from Klamath Falls (OR) Amtrak,  Medford(greyhound, ashland) or Grants Pass (Greyhound) – passing through towns on the way. I got off in Hiouchi, by Jedidiah State Park (redwoods) to camp for a night.

Crescent City to Smith River (for connection north)
– Redwood Coast Transit
also connects from Arcata (Greyhound, Amtrak bus) and highway 199

Smith River to Brookings to Coos Bay
Curry Public Transit runs up the coast as far as North Bend, stopping in the communities of Port Orford, Gold Beach, Bandon, and Coos Bay, and allows for flag stops on the 101. I took several days to make this trip, stopping off at State Parks enroute .

Coos Bay – out to Charleston (side trip)

Coos Transit   travels around the towns of Coos Bay and North Bend and out to Charleston, where Cape Arago is only a few mile walk

Coos Bay to Florence

Porter Stage Lines will take you to Florence (also to Reedsport) and inland to Eugene (Greyhound, Amtrak) and Bend and beyond

Florence

There is no bus service from Florence north to Yachats (about 26 miles). I must admit, i hitched this stretch this time from the north end of town, though i walked it southbound a few years ago, over a few days. Rhody Express will take you to the north end of town. The Oregon Coast trail, takes you both along the beach and the road. There are several campgrounds, both state and forest service along the way.

Yachats to Lincoln City (and Otis to connect north)

Lincoln County Transit  serves the many communities along this section of the coast, with buses from Yachats to Newport, Newport to Lincoln City (and to otis for northbound connections), and to Toledo inland. There are also local services in Newport and Lincoln City. With many towns, a variety of trails and landscapes, and four state parks with hiker biker sites, traveling this section of the coast is a breeze. At Newport – you can go inland to Corvallis and beyond on the Valley Retriever

From Otis through Tillamook to Cannon Beach

Tillamook Transit connects through to cannon beach, with service into Portland as well. The system has several bus lines that will take you to Pacific City, Oceanside and Netarts, Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach, and up to manzanita and-Cannon Beach, with connections made in Tillamook. In addition to the state and forest service parks, Tillamook county offers several county campgrounds with hiker-biker sites.

From Cannon Beach to Astoria

Clatsop County transit – Ride the Bus – has a direct bus line that will take you from Cannon Beach to Astoria, stopping in Seaside and other communities. At time of writing, this transit system had experienced major cuts (from almost hourly service to a few times a day etc)  but hopes to rebuild.

Beyond Astoria

once in Astoria (or seaside, cannon beach( you may go back to Portland  on NorthWest Point or continue North to Washington via Pacific Transit  to Aberdeen and from there up the Olympic Peninsula to the tip and around – or take the ferry to Victoria BC and north, or inland to Olympia and from there to Seattle and beyond, the inland side of the Peninsula.

Along the route you will meet many people and see places in a new way. the journey is not quick, but life is a journey and not a destination.

Update 2015

I once again spent the summer travelling the coast by bus – the system has greatly improved. with the North by Northwest (OXO) system linking the various transit systems and offering 3 day ($25) and 7 day ($30) passes that include a return between valley and coast and unlimited coastal travel. http://www.nworegontransit.org

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Redwoods – june 10,11?

land of the trees

I am in the redwoods – i made it here – to the land of the ancient giants. The sun is going down and i will soon sleep beneath these trees. As i walked over to the hiker biker camp, here in Jedidiah Smith State Park, where i was a year ago, my right arm began to move – circling on its own. I walked back along the empty road, me and the trees and the ferns below, and it began to move again on its own – a circle – as if dowsing some energies here. I ask, what energies lay in this place, the zone of the trees by the smith river.

I have entered into the land ruled by trees – first the forests inland – as i crossed yesterday from Klamath Falls to Medford, through a land of lakes and trees in mountain zone, and today as i headed out here – but now am among these ancient giants who dwell in this narrow zone. And the hotsprings of this morning, and the town of this afternoon seem so far away in both time and space. On the bus riding through the beautiful land of hills and trees i felt lonely once again – lonely for an area also lived in by human beings – a land where all live harmoniously, I am back in California, but somehow it seems to me more like oregon.

A giant downed tree trunk sprouting life, not only moss, but plants and leaves and other trees growing on it as it decomposes. As it is all around, life growing from decay, life growing from life, a cycle to be completed and renewed.

the cycle of life - from death and decay sprouts new growth and life renewed

Thin soil covers the earth, hiding the rocks beneath, the spirits that have not yet emerged. The high canopy of the redwoods blocks out much of the sky. This zone is contained, life on the surface, between the above and the below – neither too visible, and not the focus, the focus is on the life that sprouts, that is, the colour of green, the colour of plant life form. It forms a bowl or a cocoon, not from the sides like valley walls, but from the bottom and the top, and you cannot see far, the vista is short, for forest surrounds.

I feel small and insignificant beneath these trees towering above, and their girth is wide. I am surrounded by the living, and i am just a small part, i am so small. There is so much here. it presses in. like a city in some ways, but so different, but the pulse is strong, all emit energy and the dance is dense. I feel small in a different way than when i travelled across the deserts a few days ago, on the train, with little life and green to be seen – the earth and the sky so vast, so large, and i, the train, so small, so little breathing life, so little dancing around, the above and below in full force. I longed for the dance of life on the surface, and now it is here, i longed for trees, and now i am in their land.

Redwoods Towering above

I sit beneath the redwoods. although they are not the only trees here, it is their land. The narrow strip in which they still grow, where they remain, looking over the land and us, providing a zone where the other plants may thrive. Where they may thrive beneath the guardians of this land, beneath those that have witnessed so much, who communicate between earth and sky. They are the survivors in this small place, in the groves that have been preserved, only small patches of what once was. For so many have been decimated, in the early days, chopped down with eyes for profit and their use. It feels lonely and heavy. The sun, now giving way to clouds or fog, does not shine through and the eye does not see very far.

I am back to the zone of the familiar- returned to the shore once again. I lost sight of it for a while as i went inland and above, but now i am back, and i am not sure how i feel. The route is known and the intensity is gone. I have come back down, closer to sea level once again, I leave the park, to go to the store, one that i know is there. I have been on this road before, going the other way.

I feel the life around pressing in – as i need not process it all. I know where the bathrooms are, where so much it, and realize that i feel similar to how i felt before, a feeling i had forgotten about when i was out of this locale. Two kids hitch on the road in front, how small and insignificant we appear but in such a different way than in the desert with broad spanses and vistas, and a seemingly lack of life – the bare earth, the sky and us. Here is it the life forms that are much greater – trees and ferns and salal and more – both the earth and sky hard to see, for life abounds, and we are just such a small part of it. Life on the surface that is so visible, all manifesting into form, all manifesting so large and grand.

Ferns are some of the oldest life forms around, and the redwoods are ancient trees, which once lived in so many other locales, their range now limited to this narrow strip of land. Here ancient forms are still alive, ancient life continuing on into the present, living in the here and now – not merely emerging from rocks and stone. All becomes manifested into the 3D. I feel the density of it all though i am 10 miles inland, out of the deep fog belt of the coast, where air condenses into a thick haze. Here the element of water, of emotions, is so present, though now the sun shines on through.

The life i called forth – life in the trees, where the life of people is in harmony, different elements dancing together. Here the plant life grows in harmony – it is us who can seem out of place. It is not merely the redwood trees, but the diversity of life forms – the ferns, the sorrel, the moss, the rhododendrons, berries, alder, salal, trillium and more that grow together, intermingle, give each other life. we focus on the largest, the tallest, but they are all part of this zone, they all are part of the intricate dance – a dance that includes the animals and birds, and yes, today, us.

The sky is now grey – much more typical of this twilight zone, this zone where the giants thrive. I walk around, no people about, myself and the trees and the plants, green live thrives, lush and magnificence. All forms in denseness become manifest – in morphological fields. It is a twilight zone – i imagine dinosaurs roaming around, giants of the past, and wonder if they still do, invisible to us now. All feels so old and enduring, the past living on, clinging on, taking hold. I remember the petrified forest in Arizona, huge logs turned to stone, all dry and barren, with fossils of dinosaurs and ancient forests about, destroyed in some great cataclysm. I remember that place that felt of life destroyed, and i remember this images that came to me the last time i was here, of waves seeping over the land.

For now all life is showing, the life that remains. It is green, more green than i imagined, the green that i so yearned for, the green of the heart and of life. Still it feels heavy, pressing down, so much energy caught in moisture, and what has become form. Thought forms hang on, emotions come alive, energy condenses in bodies and in my joints, even the redwoods have burls. And i am a small part of this all.
Mosquitoes fly around my face, a nibble here and there. I feel insignificant – then i look at the tree stumps, those that were cut down, and i see how much power (wo)man can have, despite our size – how we have cut so much of this down. A mosquito bites again – i remember their power – able to cut us down – malaria, dengue, west nile and more. how they can cut us down with the poisons that lay inside, that they transmit, that have taken hold in them. size has little to do with power, and as another bites, i realize i am just a part of the chain of life. I sleep beneath the trees once again.

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Camp 4

I wanted to camp in Yosemite park and i did. And i am glad. Now i sleep in a bed again outside and i am glad of that too. I took a chance going up there, a chance i almost convinced myself not to take.
On the train and the bus into this area over a week ago i got a sudden urge to camp. and going into the park and back out again, i asked myself why not. the temperature was not too cold at night – but i had been sleeping in a bed for about a week and appreciated the softness of a matress and warmth at night. The issue was finding a place to stay in this great park and for some other reason i was afraid.
there is one walk-in first come first serve campground in the park – Camp 4 – and that is where i stayed. i had known about it, but forgotten about it and walked by the day i was supposed to leave. It is a fairly open area crowded with tents – and few trees and i was not sure about the vibe there. it was around 11am and it was full for the day – a ranger came by so i asked about how hard it was to get a space. the kiosk opens at 830 am, but the line officially starts at 6. people come earlier but no sleeping bags or pads are allowed in front of the booth – and it fills up every morning for the night. The first bus into the park does not arrive until 730 am, so i wondered what i would do. although it is a walk in camp and priced per person, the parking lot is right beside, and people come with cars and in pairs and groups, so different from the hiker-biker sites i have been in. I told the ranger i wished there were sites for people without cars – and she said this is it as i stared out over the parking lot. she said it was crowded, turn people away, but i would have a chance if i came right over on the first bus in – the summer peak has passed but the climbers are filling it up.
I wandered the park that day not knowing if i would try, before i went and looked at the place – an open area crowded with tents, i was so certain that i would. but after i heard about the difficulty getting in i told myself i would not and my energy changed. I told myself i could not. I told myself that one is not meant to spend so much time there though i yearned to thoroughly explore the energies within those walls, to be in the place without leaving for several days. but a voice also said no, it is not meant to be. but that night it called to me but i decided to gamble and take my chance knowing that the outcome was not guarenteed. What ifs passed through my mind, but i knew i could not turn my back on this chance.
i packed up unsure if i would catch the bus out at 6am – but i did. I slept poorly fearing i would not hear the alarm – i was afraid, afraid i would be turned away. Afraid to step out into the unknown, to take a risk. but i asked god if it was his will to let me have a place. it was dark when i got up blurry eyed and made my way on down to the bus down the dark road and heard and something rustle in the bushes – and it did not feel like a deer. I waited at the stop in the dark, headlamp on so the bus could see me, looking up the road, nervous, but it finally came – and was full of park employees.
I slept on the way in, and was nervous when we arrived – the bus pulled into the visitors center and then was to go to the far end of the valley to curry village before going to the lodge – so i got off there and waited alone in the quiet of the park for the shuttle that would take me to the camp. i waited and fretted and it finally came and there were about 12 in front of the office when i got there – i asked which way does the line go, and got in the end, a few more arrived, i wanted a coffee and to pee, but waited until the kiosk opened up at 830 am. I got a space at about 9, and decided to book for five days. I was but was told could not set up until noon – i was releived but still not calm, wondering what was in the air.
This is what i wrote:

I walked the park and then set up my tent. Six people share a site to which you are ramdomly assigned – you are assigned a bear box, but one table between the people there. I had felt unsure, and when i arrived there was a small tent, with two people on the tag, and then a mom and two twenty something asians arrived with a monster tent – a six – eight person one that dwarfed all that was around and cast my little tent in a shadow.
The campground was full of climbers – for it is prime rock climbing season and this is the place to do it. I wrote

And it made me realize that like the animals and birds and plants that thrive in some areas and cannot live in others, we as people have out zones where we may thrive and others where we may just eke out a living. Adaptation is possible only to some extent, and when we adapt what do we become. And also like energy attracts like, and i am not part of the nucleus here.
The tents were crowded together, and most we here to climb and bond. With the noise at night and feeling pushed out of the site i became a bit of a bitch. six people officiallly share a site, but in this case it became many more – the family and all their friends, become 10-12 instead of three and all sharing a picnic table. And i spoke up, and spoke up again and instead of joining in i cut myself off more. And the loud fire pit in the site behind my tent – one of the loudest in the campground one night – called a bitch by one drunken youth when i mentionned the quiet hours. I spoke with the guys from boston at my site who drank constantly. i did not like being there and avoided the campground. i wonder if it was bad karma for if i had been assigned another site, it might have been different and I could have met some with whom i could bond. But a lesson was there for me. I felt disconnected from that which was around, and energy acted up, and instead of getting along, i withdrew, avoiding the place, felt isolated, and was not kind for i wanted to change what was. The dance was not one for me to join, so instead of finding my own music, i wanted the music to be different – but it was a rhythm so many shared, and the music they came for.
Still, i debated staying longer than planned for other places in the park i loved. but i could not renew my site. you are supposed to be able to renew if you do so the day before you are to leave, but a clean-up was happening in the park, something i thought to join, and the climber volunteers had reserved a few of the sites – including the one i was on. Several complained as it had not been announced, as did i. I could have lined up the following morning, but i decided it was time to leave. Although i was up at 6 when the line was short, i knew it was time to go, my time in the park was done. I was turning inside too much, and staying in part because i was afraid to leave. And i knew that it was time to move on.
And i realized yosemite valley is as much the campgrounds and places we have built as it is the walls themselves. i value my time there, and learned as much from the challenges in the campground as it did from the natural forces. And i realize that places call up activity, and there are places where we bond, and to some extent there are energies we choose to align to and others we do not.
I finish this entry a long ways from the valley in terms of space and time and have experienced much since i left and it now seems but a blur, but a blur that led my onto other paths, both inside and out.

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I sit in my tent in the grassy flats campground in the six rivers recreation area of the national forest and wonder why i paid for a campsite last night. or do i? for i was exhausted when i arrived here after 7pm, and felt that i could move on no more, and did not trust my decision-making to stake out a backwoods campsite for the night.

the land is do different here – hot and sunny and dry. I still hear the waters of the smith river, but my tent is on rocky ground surrounded by spindly madrone (arbutus) trees, the seem so thin with their peeling red bark.

now it is morning and i do not know what to do – i feel that i have really crossed the line this time, sitting alone in the national forest, five miles up the road from the tiny town of gasquet. and i do not know where to go or understand this road i am on. it’s like i have taken the final step outside, and do not know how to make my way back – so what if i am a bit crazy i want to say, don’t understand why much of the world lives its way, and here wondering how i will survive in a landscape that does not like people like me.

Yesterday i left the grandeur of the redwoods about 11am, i woke up to the sun and did not want to go – but there is the two day limit on the hiker sites, and it was time for me to leave. i talked for a bit with a biker who pulled in, one of the many who lives 6 months of the year on his bike, moving around from place to place, carving out his own kind of life – for i know he would not fit in with regular society. and he had an attitude, one of getting back at people, but seemed to be accepting of who he was.
i walked to the store, a mini-mart- a mile up the road, and hung out there drinking americanos from the espresso bar and cheap deep fried burritos from the “deli” as i made a decision on where to go – had missed the bus that would take me inland to grants pass, medford, or klamath falls, and none of those places appealed to me would i go back to crescent city and camp and on monday when busses run, catch one down the coast?

Harbin has been calling me, a place to be, but was not sure if it was the devil tempting me. and more redwoods as i passed on down, but through an area, humbolt counrty, that i have avoided travelling through. and for a day or two i would be close to the ocean again.

so i decided to hitch out to gasquet, and find myself a campground or camping spot for a night or two. buses inland pass through every morning, and on Tuesday one goes out to the coast that will connect with others going south. but i cross the road and see a woman sitting there with a sign and all of her stuff – and she had alot of stuff – two pull trailers piled high with bags and crates for the two (more?) cats that travelled with her. Her sign said oregon – roseburg please, and as we talked i found out she had been sitting there for 26 hours or more – waiting for the lift to appear. she said old folks were the best, and talked on how she had been in the paper elsewhere, the lady on the side of the road. She told me i had a lot of stuff, but it was nothing compared to her load. Yes, she was crazy but nice and kind, a story to tell and a life to share and we chatted for a little while. i would have liked to talk longer (i think i might have seen her before elsewhere, but with the uniform that the road life leads to, it could have been somebody else) but we both needed to move on from where we were. and i recognized myself in her

i walked up ahead, but there was no place to stand without competing with her, so i crossed the road and said ok, i will go back out to the coast, but as i stood there for about 10 minutes, that direction began to feel so wrong to me, so i turned around and started walking against the traffic on the road, thinking there must be a place to stand though the sign said winding road – 5 miles – and in california that really does mean something.

so i walked and i walked and i walked all day – finally stopping in gasquet about 8 miles up the road and now the walk seems almost surreal – a haze and zone i was in outside myself, putting one foot in front of the other, at times taking my bag off to rest, walking that narrow winding road, with minimal shoulders in some places, and through rock slide zones, in the heat of the sun and burning my shoulders as i have removed my coat and long sleeves and am wearing only a tank top – and almost running out of water as well. actually it was the lack of water that made me push my way on up the road – for if i had enough i would have found a patch in the woods to camp out for the night a long way back. But i plowed on, the scenery beautiful, dryer and more a mountain fee, and i looked at the smith river down below, rushing down, or some pools in deep rock formations where people were jumping off cliffs. and the beauty of the land beyond the coastal zone spoke to me so loud and clear – a very different zone. the walk was tough as i had to step into the brush as rvs or trucks made the blind curves, and i felt in zone, so alert, as i watched and was aware of all that was around. and the land got dryer the further i went, and my legs felt like jelly after a while – at one places as i walked on the other side of the barrier on a narrow path on the edge of the cliff, i wondered if i would give way, but then i saw a sign for a crossroad and knew i must be nearing the town. and i felt exhausted and so alive simultaneously.

I finally got to the town of gasquet and saw nothing on the road – only a broken down, closed biker hotel and a village of houses off the road and wondered what the hell i was doing here. then i found a little store – cafe further on up and sat and drank soda and water and had a bagel and checked my email – it was about 6pm and i felt like i could walk on no more. i sat then asked about a place to camp, and was directed here up the road.

I could not walk it so i stuck out my thumb figuring i would be out of the town boundaries quickly enough and if need be could sleep in the bush but i felt a rough edge around the town despite the kindness of the people in the cafe. A woman in a small truck stopped and gave me a lift – a native woman from crescent city (i think) on her was to washington – her truck was full of stuff and smelt like fish, and i wondered if all her belongings were in there. the road turned to four lanes and widened as we passed the town, and she did not hear when i pointed to the first campground three miles from town on the other side of the road.

So i came in here, and there was space, did not take one of the walk in sites, a group of guys partying had one and i questioned their vibe and there was no one else in that area so i took a regular site – all the same price at $10 a night. just after i paid a forest service person came in- and i talked with him and he said you can camp almost anywhere outside campgrounds where not posted for free, and i feel that maybe i should have done that. but i feel sound a sleep on the hard ground, the highway just through the trees, and sleep 12 hours and felt relaxed and now i feel it is time for me to leave.

i stay another day – no energy to move on – now after 5 i sit in my tent – running out of food, knowing tomorrow i will have to go – but where? i wish that i had a place to land, to plant my feet for a while, but i do not, and it seems that the road is my only home. i have ventured out into the unknown and feel i have no place to land, but as i sit in my tent and at my picnic table, wander down to the river for a short while, i feel restless and alone, talked to nobody all day, and so little conversation in the past few. how i long for a place that i can grow and shine, feel accepted and not have to hide away – but just as i do not understand the others, they do not understand me.

i send this message from crescent city where the temperature is much cooler and the sky is grey once again. i will go down the coast and inland from there. i walked two miles in land towards gasquet, the road and nature was all there was – beautiful and dry, nature abounds, and ride the rest of the way into down in the open back of a truck with a brown lab looking up at the sky and the tress and backwards as we wind on down the road.

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I am camping in Jediah Smith Redwood, my tent planted between three old growth redwood trees, and it seems so small compared to their grandeur. and so do i. My site, probably the best in the park, is circled by many more of these ancient life forms – hundreds and hundreds of years old, and others in the campground may have seen a thousand or more. and i think of all they have witnessed in thier lives, standing, growing tall, enduring the changes and catastrophes of the years , the endure and thrive and have such a rich presence. and i thank god for bringing me here. and the park of this morning on the coast, and the towns i passed through and bus rides i took seem eaons away.
my energy has calmed since being here – was rushing through and off kilter for the early part of the day. i woke at 3am and never really went back to sleep and packed up my tent in the damp grey before 7am and walked into town to catch the bus south at 8:45 not entirely sure of where i was going to. and by the time i got to brookings at 8am a steady drizzle was coming down as it would on and off for the ride south to crescent city california.
and i could feel the energy, the twitching in my face and movements of my arms, overnight and i felt more and more that i had to get off the coast. the afternoon before when walking back to the campground, i had a feeling of walking in that twilight zone where all seemed a bit unreal – and i felt that life was going on but something big was about to give. and at night in my tent the cool damp earth beneath seemed less stable than it usually is.
the first bus took my south to smith river, the convenience store beside the casino, and the whole ride down i felt not myself – a transformation or something, that energy rush that i had experienced in santa cruz and down the coast – the landscape seemed sad beneath the grey, the homes and people all worn down, a guy at one stop before 10am out in sock feet, drinking a cheap can of beer and smoking a butt, but giving another money so he could get on. Crescent city was still a grey sprawl. I thought of previous times i passed through and hated it here, sitting in mcdonalds for 2 hours in the rain waiting for the bus to continue on a few miles south when greyhound ran through back in 2001. and i try to remember seeing the beauty, but that was another time in the winter sun. i still felt like the earth was about to give and could i get away soon enough, and i sat by the bus stop waiting, waiting, for 45 minutes but what seemed like days hoping i could get out of this place. And that energy and those feelings kept on rushing through.
I catch the bus out of town and get here to this magical place, down highway 199 which twists through the ancient groves. i feel calmer away from coastal air. But, then when i go to the bathroom i see a sign marking the high water level of december 22 1964, the tsunami from the huge alaska earthquake, and the line was over the top of the bathroom door.
the sun broke through for a few hours – at about 330 pm. i sit at my picnic table in this quiet area and thank god that i am here. and tonight i get to sleep beneath the trees, my tent in an alcove surrounded and dwarfed by three. And i feel their presence within me and marvel at their lives. somehow the magic of the world has come back alive.

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Sunset bay is a bit of a misnomer for i never saw the sun. and maybe the fog came down on me. The hiker-biker camp here like in all the state parks is a world of its own set off from the main campground. The camps at 5-6 dollars per person for cyclists or pedestrians are in all or most of the oregon state parks along the coast, and they are where i spend my nights. will free showers and individual pricing they are the best deal around for a foot person like me. While the parks all have a standard, and there is a certain overall feel, each park and hiker biker site has its own flavour and community, and of course with people passing through nightly it is never quite the same. and now at the end of july they are getting more crowded than i have experienced them before – in previous octobers, and sometimes in the rain, and the past week the number of “serious” touring cyclists on vacation seems to have grown, and i don’t know if it is this area or the week, but fewer nomads, bohemians, and long term cyclists are to be found, and as a walker i have felt myself more of a curiosity.

i feel claustrophobic here in this camp – something else i wrote this morning as cyclists in pairs and threes were pulling out, and now some more have just pulled in. This is the smallest site i have been in, and as i noted the bike traffic has picked up – and as i have just discovered this is a stop listed in ‘the book’ – a tour guide many follow as the bible. and here all look out on a common area, no trees to divide or spaces between, and there is so little flat ground here, that i had tents on each side a foot or two away – or rather one was not a tent but a couple sleeping on the bare ground. two guys moved in and almost took over my table – yes, or course i would share i said, but then a bike parked at each end and their stuff strewn about – i bristled inside but then talked a bit, and shared an evening in conversation with them – two 60 somethings that are friends from junior high, one still living on long island – and i realized i picked up his new york vibe, and while he enjoyed his trip felt a bit out of his element and the other in mount shasta who had taken more of the hippie route. And had hot water for some tea and hot coffee in the morn. And today a dad and his daughters and a more elderly man are here – and they two are following the cycling book. for a while i felt lonely despite the people around, more lonely that at times when i am alone for i realized all else shared a common bond – a trip much the same and i was out of the loop, on my own voyage of sorts. And i have noticed a bit of a split between the hikers and bikers before, for they are two very different trips with different joys and frustrations, and tips and speed shared between those on the road.

Though with the cramped quarters in this zone – with three picnic tables in the center – people tend to mingle more. It is not like the little alcoves at tugman the night before, or my space hidden away under the tree at beachside, or the larger treed area at honeyman where i was able to grab a nook, or at washburn, then an emptier place – and a bit of privacy, and though south beach in newport was more open and right by the drive, it seemed emptier and people were not on top of each other – and as a result many kept to themselves. But elsewhere i have met other walkers and those who travel by foot and thumb and had more a connection to a few of those around, and here those that come through in groups often know each other, having already met several times on the road, and know they will probably meet each other the following night. and in this camp, i have met no one else truly on their own. The first nights out, further up, met other solo travellers, and now i also see more of a gender balance, for a few days i had been the only woman around.

And while i sit and enjoy a campfire, i know i am slightly out of place – i talk to the older man at first, a 77 year old retired physics professor who is doing the coast and then a inland and across the mountains, meeting his wife somewhere in land for a few days. And the college students from minnesota are going to the bay, as is the dad with his teenage daughters from arizona who is going by the book. he takes his daughters on a major trip each summer to expose them to the world – samoan islands, scotland, and the pyrenees’, are just of the few places they have gone – and as a result the girls seem open to the world around, and more open than him to a hiker like me – and so different from the other teenagers who i see in the bathrooms with long showers and their makeup cases and blow dryers complaining about the cold. He asks questions of the guys like what is your favourite book, and what do you feel is the biggest problem in the world.

Still i feel apart on a different trip like i often have felt in the mainstream – the goals are different as is the road, and i connect but partially. And they all move on together and i continue my journey alone – but to encounter new stories and adventures and connections of my own.

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Lakeside seems so long ago though it was just this morning. i woke up to the bright sun in my tent in william tugman park. the sounds of traffic on the highway – the roar of the engines were so intense as traffic streamed on by. Though i heard the crows and was surrounded by trees, i also felt like i was in an industrial zone. Now i am near charleston and feel crowded out by the bikers in the site – no peace of mind with those milling around. I spoke up and asked for a corner of my table back – one guy was open as they moved their stuff to one end, and the other said we were taking up just as much space. i feel angry and pressed on out and do not have the stillness i need to write.

I got up, ate, and walked down to the lake with a lawn of grass around, and then over to the local market to get a coffee and then to try my luck. the market was busy with locals in trucks stopping in – mainly for the deli of deep fried food. I crossed the road wondering where to stand, and the second car along pulled over and gave me a lift. he said he was going as far as coos bay, to downtown near the bus stop, but as we talked he said he had to go to charleston to work and would it be better if he dropped me off there instead. he talked of his travels and how he had hitched and hopped freight trains in canada. now he has a seasonal gig for the fisheries – monitoring the hatchery returns – or scanning fish and cutting their heads off. But the fishery is slow, was closed the past two years, so he gets paid to sit in his truck and read books for most of the day – still he would rather be doing some work.

After getting changed to his work clothes where he lived in downtown coos bay – a sad downtown, a depressed town – logging disappeared many years ago – there is still one small mill, a bit of fishing, tourism and the grand casino. Then off to charleston, down the back road, a the fishing center. i get dropped off outside another local market full of canned goods and another crowded deli with the fishers and workers buying the deep fried food – i gave in and had an eggroll and a burrito as well, and coffee with the creamer and bought a little bit of food. but the people are friendly, the older ladies in the tourism office said congratulations for the way you travel, and the man in the store told me of another woman walk who passes through most years and manages to get almost everywhere – montana was one place he said. and the town is friendly, about a block long, with a few stores and an overpriced resto and the fisheries – but seem to be almost as many commercial buildings that standing empty with out of business signs or for rent. The towns along this stretch south of florence on down, seem harder and rougher – industries gone long ago, but still more of a blue collar zone.

I walk out of town to the road to cape arago where there are several state parks. the two mile walk turns to four- past woods and shore and small farms and a few cows – the first i have seen in a while – and larger places with sunset views. The sky begins to fog over as the horn is heard by the shore. I walk and walk and come to the park – a bit of a line to get in – a weekend in july, and has been with most of the other places, the park is fully booked – except the hiker-biker spots thank god though this place is filling up. i camp at sunset beach where there is fog, and explore the parks around.

The hiker biker site is smaller here and the regular area seems more tightly packed – as families and friends come to life a different life – where you hear and see your neighbors and enjoy communal restrooms and cook outside and sleep on the ground – a life that for most on a daily basis has not existed for sometime – but here is a place to get closer to basics if even for a short while.
my legs are tired but i take a walk (after a long hot shower of course) I go out to shore acres state part with a botanical gardens, with a fountain and flowers and it seems like such a different place. then i come back and write this and engage in dialogue for a while.
 

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