Travel Days 2.0
Morale was running high. Sure, Hobble-It and Sky-Hi were in a calorie deficit as a result of their illness and Pluto worried he was getting sick, but at the end of the day we’d all be in Ashland. When you have 16 miles to town, food, and showers, it goes quickly. I enjoyed distant views of Mt. Shasta, sweeping trail turns, and frequent snowmelt stream-lets. In the last hour, I finished Peace Talks; it was my third book in a row where Greek mythology made an appearance.
The last mile was a confusing route along back roads. I found Sandbag and we wandered into Callahan’s Lodge together. While we ate our lunch on the back patio, the others arrived. Then we separated into two groups to hitch. Sandbag and I rode with two young women returning from a hike. One told us about living in Mexico, teaching English to make money. As I exited the car, I spotted the others, so we regrouped. At the post office, I got a box with new Salomon shoes. My Dad stuffed one shoe full of fun-sized candy treats!
I had booked us a five-bed private room at the Ashland Commons, a hostel. We got food at the co-op. Sky-Hi made us delicious egg & cheese sandwiches. After a top-notch shower, I ascended a creaky metal ladder to my top bunk mattress.
We were up fairly early; the trail messes up any ability to sleep in. Sandbag was eager for breakfast so we checked out a local place named Ruby’s. It had delicious smoothies and a plethora of interesting breakfast burritos. Afterwards, we returned to the post office. I mailed home my micro-spikes, waterproof socks, and a couple other items. On the way back to the hostel, I discovered a GF Brazilian inspired bakery where I got a tasty cinnamon roll and coffee.
It turned out we couldn’t get a rental car until the next day. Luckily, we procured another night’s lodging at the hostel, this time split across three private rooms. Usually I wouldn’t mind the dorm area, however one resident recently out of prison and high on meth made it less appealing. Overall, I really liked the place. The owner and staff were very friendly and I used the kitchen to make hummus. Sandbag and I stayed in the same room as the prior night, sharing it with two other thru-hiking women and a woman preparing to run up Mt. Ashland.
After another post office and grocery shopping expedition, we settled at the hostel for the evening. The temperature was absolutely perfect and as we chatted outside a man wandered into our circle. His name was Food Network; Sky-Hi hiked with him on the AT in 2010.
Another morning visit to Ruby’s, only Pluto stayed behind at the hostel. From there, Karin and I got on a bus to Medford, a quick 20-minute ride. We walked to Enterprise and received a white Mazda SUV. Karin drove us back to Ashland where we got the others and our gear.
I took the first driving shift, though I only made it 1.5 hours before getting tired and frustrated with the vehicle. It fluctuated speed too easily and projected indicators on the windshield. Hobble-it took over and drove us to Portland. After the others got out at REI, I drove Pluto to Vancouver. It was sorta like being home; I passed a couple places I go when pet-sitting. Pluto switched out gear at a friend’s house while I tried to befriend a cute cat named Bianca.
Back at REI, Pluto and I darted inside without much success. Then the five of us went to Sizzle Pie. It is a favorite restaurant for myself and Karin. I got a White Walker GF pizza all to myself. You may recall Martina, with whom Hobble-it and I flipped to Walker Pass? Well, we crashed at her home for the night. Four of us slept on the floor while Sky-Hi camped outside. It was fun to meet Martina’s husband Trevor.
Luckily I’d managed to save two slices of pizza for breakfast. Then we were off to Walmart for a resupply run and the airport to return our rental car. From the airport, we took the bus to downtown Portland. We checked out a couple donut shops, eventually finding options for all. My GF donut was nothing special, but Hobble-it raved about the two she got at Blue Star. We spent the afternoon eating and exploring. The goal: show Pluto that Portland was as charming in person as on YouTube. Not sure we succeeded.
During a madcap adventure to procure vegan Japanese food, Hobble-it and I got soaked in a brief, ferocious downpour. Really it had been drizzling off and on all day, which is an authentic representation of the city. When we returned to our friend’s neighborhood, Trevor kindly picked us up from the bus stop in a Tesla with a futuristic transparent roof and sleek exterior.
We stayed a second night in the lovely home, complete with chickens and three cats. The cats were super friendly; I enjoyed giving them pets. This time all five of us slept on the floor.
It was my turn to be the navigator. Hobble-it is the savvy city dweller who takes public transportation when not on her bike. She taught me how to interpret bus routes on Google maps. I got us to and on the first bus. After boarding the second bus, I realized it was taking us the wrong way. A rookie mistake that was easy to fix by getting off at the next stop and crossing the street to await the same route. As a plus, the stop had cool awnings with embedded solar panels.
At Union Station, we caught an Amtrak bus to Astoria. It was a clean and comfortable three-hour ride. We disembarked near a grocery store. I got my first cherries of the year, yum! Then we hitched up the coast to Fort Stevens State Park. A nice couple took all five of us over two trips, which was really kind.
At the park, we scored an inexpensive tent spot. We set up our tents and road walked four miles north to the Columbia River South Jetty. A wooden post marked the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) northern terminus. Then we walked south along the beach. Huge waves crashed and I had fun walking at the water’s edge. A couple para sailers glided past. After viewing the Peter Iredale Wreck, we turned inland, ending up back at camp.
Fortunately all my food was in my bear bag, which I set in my tent vestibule. I returned to find it scratched, not penetrated, by a squirrel. Hobble-it’s bag, tied to a short post, suffered a similar fate. Even worse, the invader chewed a hole in one of Sandbag’s backpack hip belt pouches to steal a couple cookies. It convinced us to follow Pluto’s lead and store our food in a locker overnight.
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