Eugene to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Florence), Oregon. (77 mi.) Mile 4259
"Great joy in camp.."
"Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Ocean which we been So long anxious to See."
Captain William Clark, 1805
Last night the excitement and anticipation of pedaling to the successful finish of our journey kept us awake as if we were kids anticipating Christmas. It wasn't hard to pack up and get an early start. While pedaling the last miles toward the coast, I contemplated the previous 4,200. We have covered so many miles, seen so much country, met so many people. This has been an amazing way to see the country. I have enjoyed this trip so much, ...well,.. except for traffic.
The first miles today were through quiet rural backroads, one of the most appreciated aspects of the TransAm Trail. We have only had to contend with heavy traffic when there were no alternatives. Today, however, there was no alternative but to share the final miles to Florence on Hwy 126 with a steady string of heavy traffic and the constant roar of tires just a few feet away.
Highway 126 to the coast
My parents caught up with us in their car just in time to help escort us through the Hwy 126 tunnel, where bicyclists have to push a button to activate a warning sign, "Bicyclists in Tunnel", then ride as fast as they can before being overtaken by an impatient motorist. My parents followed us slowly through the tunnel with their warning lights flashing, but the tunnel is short and downhill in our direction....so no problem.
Push the button and go for it.
Fifteen miles from the coast, we stopped for lunch at Mapleton, where the remainder of the Family Welcoming Party caught up with us. This included all of the kids except daughter Jennifer, who will catch up with us when she returns soon from a trip to Japan. Grandson Braden made it though, despite a bout of car sickness within the last 30 minutes. He was sporting a change of clothes and making a miraculous and complete recovery. It was so good to see him and the rest of the family again! While we were busy bicycling across the country, Braden had been busy growing bigger and learning to walk.
Reunion with Braden
After lunch, the rest of the family went on ahead while we followed the Siuslaw River the remainder of the way to Florence. I would have been grinning ear to ear but that might have risked getting bugs in my teeth. I even felt a lump in my throat as the river gradually widened and took on more and more the appearance of a tidewater river. Marinas and sea birds heralded the presence of the ocean ahead. Even the headwind off the Pacific didn't phase us or slow us down.
Along the Siuslaw River to Florence
In Florence we unloaded our bikes and threw the panniers in the back of our car, which was waiting for us in town. Then we rode a few more miles to the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area to get the full effect of the mighty Pacific. The family snapped pictures and held up a banner as we rode up to the beach, where we pushed our bikes over the sand dunes to dip the tires in the Pacific. It was a bright sunny day and the ocean was beautiful, more beautiful to us than the Atlantic on that cloudy day in May, so long ago, when we dipped our tires at the beginning of our trip. We had made it coast to coast on our bicycles!!
The last few yards of over 4200 miles of pedaling
Over the sand to dip our tires in the Pacific: our grand finish!
Our welcoming party left to right: Colin, Mom, me, Dad, Mike, Sam, Braden, Zoe
It felt strange to put our bikes on our car's bike rack and get in the car to drive back to Florence. We hadn't been in a car for at least a month, and only a few times in the last 3 months. The familiar part was heading to the local Dairy Queen after working up an appetite. Here we sang Happy Birthday to Braden who is now 1 year + 3 days old. Just as we had a carrot cake at the beginning of our trip to celebrate our Send Off, we coincidentally had another carrot cake at the end, to celebrate our finish. Because it was Braden's birthday, this time we let him carry through with his intent to get his hands on the cake.
Our kids had decorated a homemade celebration cake while enroute to meet us. The cake reads "Biked across USA for Braden's 1st B-
The effect of the sugar kicks in as Braden enjoys the cake
Braden will be camping on the Oregon coast for a few days (with his parents) so he can play in the sand some more. The rest of us headed back to motels in Eugene to get some rest before driving home tomorrow.
Grandson Braden got a camping trip to the beach out of it.