The cool Monday morning mist was just enough to warrant donning the rain suit and saddle bag covers. With three layers of clothing, I was looking forward to shedding them in the southern heat still days ahead of me. But first, many twists through thick, mossy pine lay ahead of me as I made haste to the scenic Oregon Coast.
Thirty miles west of Corvallis, home of the OSU Beavers, I was passing through a one-horse town of Alsea, Oregon. A man saluted from the curb outside of the Alsea Mercantile. The town’s charm and gentleman’s greeting prompted me to pause for a moment. I made my u-turn on the narrow, two-lane highway half a blink past the center of the one-blink town. I backed to the curb of the Mercantile where I met Leslie.
Returning and retiring to his Alsea roots is what makes Leslie smile. After being away for years of service and caring for family, he is at home in his hunting and fishing paradise.
As I reached the west end of Oregon’s Highway 34, I dismounted at Waldport, OR and admired my first sight of the long coast ahead. I walked down a short set of steps to the shore and picked up a small rock at the last stair and smiled. I’d asked Carrie before I left what she would like me to bring back. Of all things, she said, “a rock.” (Just to be clear, I made sure she wasn’t referring to a diamond.) So, I walked thirty yards to the shoreline, wet the rock by baptizing it in the northern Pacific, and slipped it into my pocket.
Before mounting the ZRX again, a couple passed by and I asked them to snap a shot for me . . ..
So, I had to turn the camera and ask, “Mr. and Mrs. Dabbs, what makes YOU smile?”. . .
In her warm Texan accent, Mrs. Dabbs smoothly replied, “Bein’ coooool.” They were getting reluctantly close to turning their motorhome around to return to the relentless southern heat that I was longing for.
The coolness continued with a coastal precipitation that bordered a fine line between pleasant and annoying. As I continued down the Oregon coast, I remembered what the Dabbs said and tried to appreciate, on different levels, the “coolness” of the coast that I rode down.
Coos Bay, Oregon, was mapped for lunch. After a five-dollar-foot-long, Dave pulled in next to me as I made my first mechanical check-up on the ZRX. We chatted about my route, and I asked the question, “So, Dave, what makes YOU smile?”
As I reassembled the baggage, I stowed the rain gear and continued south past the Oregon-California border.