Burning Out

I haven’t been enjoying traveling the past couple of days as much as I should be. The redwoods are amazing. Today I entered Oregon for the first time in my life. But it’s not exciting me. In fact, I’m getting pretty darn annoyed.

I had a good night’s sleep. I even woke up at a vaguely reasonable hour, not while it was still dark outside. I took advantage of the good WiFi to get a bunch more work done — at least, as much as I could. One of the websites I absolutely needed to finish my current task was down. So I did everything besides that part, and when I ran out of work that I could finish without that website, I packed up and moved on.

Today’s plan was simply to get as far up US 101 as I could. I have plenty of time to park at my friend’s place by Sunday, when my trailer’s temporary permit expires, so I’m not pushing my pace. I knew I would cross the Oregon border today, adding yet another new state to my tally. It also meant I’d get out of California, find less unreasonable gas prices, and hopefully have an easier time finding overnight parking.

It was not to be. Don’t worry, I wasn’t tailgating this truck when I snapped this. We were stopped. There was quite a bit of construction traffic on US 101, so I had to pay attention to traffic instead of the scenery. At one point I turned onto US 199 to take a self-imposed detour through Jedediah Smith State Park, which Melinda had recommended I check out. This started as a pleasant scenic drive. But then Google sent me through a wacky series of turns through a bunch of neighborhoods in the Elk Valley reservation. That wasn’t relaxing at all. Eventually I did get to enjoy a brief scenic forest drive, but the minor annoyances in my day were beginning to pile up.

I missed crossing the Oregon border until I was already passing the sign. It was a bit of a non-event. A little while after, I took one of the many turns off US 101 heading down toward the coast to stop for lunch. I didn’t make it to the coast, but I was a short walk from one of the many rivers about to drop into the ocean. It was a good enough place to make myself a buffalo chicken ranch salad, as well as let Lister lose himself in a shrubbery.

Back on the road, my frustration continued to build. Just about every pull-off and overlook I saw had a sign prohibiting overnight parking, just like California. Looking at iOverlander and Freeroam, it looked like there was a lot of great roadside parking next to the ocean, but the signs said otherwise. In fact, one of them even proclaimed that overnight parking isn’t allowed anywhere along the highway. In theory, this covers even places that don’t have their own signs prohibiting it. I was beginning to wonder where, or even if, I’d be able to find somewhere to spend the night.

I stopped at my first Oregon gas station, and paid $1/gallon less for gas than I had been. Full service was the only option, and of course I got yet another pump that kept clicking off. The attendant was slow, taking about 10 minutes to check back on me after the pump shut off after pumping only two gallons. She finally got it full, and only then told me that her card reader wasn’t working and I needed to pay cash. I was lucky to have just enough cash in my wallet to cover it, but that cleaned me out.

Yet another problem I was running into was that these small coastal towns were simply too small for my van and trailer. I barely fit into the gas station. I couldn’t fit into parking lots to stop for dinner, or find an ATM to refill my empty wallet. I was seriously considering just giving up on the Pacific Northwest after receiving my trailer registration, going back to easy mode with two-week stays on BLM land back in places that have it.

That isn’t fair. Many people have raved to me about how beautiful the Oregon coast is. The truth is, they’re right. I only just got to Oregon. I can’t judge the entire state based on some lousy experiences during my first few hours here. I’m just having a bad day.

Finally, I stopped at a large overlook listed on iOverlander. There were already five vans plus a bus parked in this lot. There was barely room for me to fit, but I managed to find a place to park without blocking anyone else in. I decided to try it. Safety exists in numbers, right? But to hedge my bets, I found another nearby place to stay a little but off US 101 to save as a backup, just in case we did all get kicked out in the middle of the night. That seemed wise, considering what kind of luck I’d been having today.

I made myself some dinner, which took the edge off my bad mood. And then there was this view. I caught up on some writing and watched the tide come in. Even with all the windows closed, I could hear the waves crashing below me. This helped me relax over the next few hours before going to bed.

I’ve also determined that I’m within striking distance of Keith and Laurel’s place. I’ll get there tomorrow, and I won’t have to worry about overnight parking again for at least a few days. I guess I just need a break from the road. I’ve gone a week and a half without stopping anywhere for more than a night, and it’s worn me down. My bike hasn’t left the trailer since I loaded it up in Pahrump. It still has desert dust on it, which is seriously out of place in the Oregon forest and coastline. That’s probably what I need — a bike ride.

I had no problems parking by the ocean overnight. I even had strong internet from towers I can see over in Port Orford to finish yesterday’s work now that the website I need is back up. Things are already getting better.

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