Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day #7 - It's all about the Cheese!

Day #7
Astoria to Tillamook

I woke up super early on my last morning and thought about going back to sleep but decided against it.  I figured I could have about an hour before anyone else got up to try and catch up with this blog but about 10 minutes later, Carl joined me.  And then Jerry joined me.  Foiled again.  (I am actually writing this after I have already left the gang but more on that later.)

It was raining when we woke and as we loaded the car and took our daily picture. Marsha came to the church to see us off and brought the most amazing chocolate chip cookie bars (we are going to need that recipe, Marsha.)  Thank you SO much to Marsha and the Grace Community Baptist Church in Astoria for their warm welcome and hospitality.  Looking forward to seeing you at the finish line.

Thanks Marsha and The Grace Community Baptist Church
Shane and Shannon were the only riders today.  Carl was taking a rest day and the weather was so icky that POPs was going to ride with me until it changed.  I also had a new passenger today, Duane, my replacement.  I got to spend the day ‘training’ him on the nuances of driving SAG.  Now, you know how I do not want to leave and training your replacement makes it just that much harder.  I mean, I want him to be great and take care of my guys but I do not want him to be as great as me because I want to be missed as much as I am going to miss everyone!  That’s not so wrong is it? 

Duane is a Beavers Fan….I suppose we can't all be perfect!
Ok, so we headed out on the road and it was miserable.  Pouring down rain with 30 mile an hour wind.  I have NO idea how they kept riding in that weather.  I was stopping a bit more often to make sure they were ok and I did not even like getting out of the car but I figured it was only for a few minutes and they were actually out in that weather.  Who am I to complain?   I am riding in a warm car with seat warmers.  They are the ones riding in a hurricane with only a light rain/wind breaker between them and the elements.    I clearly do not have whatever it is in people’s brains to keep them going in conditions like that.  I am truly impressed with Shane and Shannon cause there is NO way I would have done what they did. 

We sent Jerry and Carl ahead to find Hot, Fresh Clam Chowder and a place where we could eat it along with our cold cut sandwiches.  They found Moe’s World Famous Clam Chowder in Cannon Beach (I’m quite familiar with Moe's having grown up in Oregon) but no place to eat out of the elements so we made a little fort with the cars and tried to block the wind and rain as  much as we could but it was just miserable outside.    Shane asked me when I would “call it” (as in call it a day since I am the professional bike ride planner that I am) and after I told him “about 3 hours ago” he and Shannon decided they had nothing to prove and wanted to live to ride another day so we packed it in and headed to Tillamook for some cheese. 

Been a long time since I've seen one of these!

Mario & Luigi

Swinging in the Rain

It was still about 35 miles to Tillamook and I was so glad they decided not to ride because the weather got worse and the hills were brutal.  They definitely made the smart choice.  We got to the church early but Riki was already ready for us.  They had an auction/fundraiser going on but she had a note on the door telling the cyclists to ask for her when we arrived.  We found her and she gave us a key and showed us all around the church.  I do not think I will ever get used to the openness, trust and generosity of complete strangers that are opening up their homes and churches for us.  Thanks Riki and the Tillamook Nazarene Church who gave us their leftovers from the event and free reign of the place.  We appreciate the hospitality.   After we ‘moved in’ and the guys took hot showers, we headed out to the Tillamook cheese factory. 

We got halfway there when Carl called to let us know we had left him at the church.  Both cars thought he had wanted to stay and rest but he actually just went to the bathroom and when he came out, everyone was gone.  (It is a full day later as I write this and I am still laughing about that.)  Of course, everything happens for a reason, and as Carl was waiting for us to come back and get him, the local PD lady showed up to talk to us and he was able to meet her and coordinate a meeting with everyone for later.

The Tillamook cheese factory has always been one of my favorite places on the coast.  I love the free samples and who doesn't love cheese?  (By the way, why don’t they make bacon cheese?  It would be the perfect food. )   The Cheese factory turned out to be the meeting place for all the relatives that were stopping by.  There were about 6 Stutzman cousins and my parents and they all found us at the cheese factory.    After our fill of fun, cheese, ice cream and impromptu pix that even complete strangers were participating in, we all headed back to the church where the local PD group met us along with the mayor of Tillamook.  How exciting is that?  Our first visit by a mayor.

How many POPs Riders Can you fit in one Short, Yellow Bus?

Why does Shane look so scared?

The esteemed Mayor of Tillamook

We spent some time getting to know everyone in the church dining hall/gym and after a while decided to go get dinner at the Pelican Bay Restaurant at the Mayor’s recommendation.  It was hard to find (after 3 times caravanning around the block we located it) but a really cool choice (turns out her niece works there so that could be why she told us about it but it was delicious and a fun place for our group) Jerry and I Crushed Shannon and Duane in a competitive game of Shuffleboard – not bad considering it was Jerry’s first time playing.

After dinner, I had to say goodbye to the POPsRide gang.  I thought I knew how hard it was going to be but I was wrong.  It was FAR worse.  This experience changed me in ways that are hard to explain.  I understand now why Shane came home from the last ride and moved to Flagstaff.  I understand a little more of what drives people to complete unimaginable physical challenges.   I am so appreciative of the generosity of complete strangers and entire communities and how willing and eager they are to jump in and help.  I revel in the crazy, beautiful, strange things you see when traveling the less traveled roads at slow speeds and when you have time to stop and look around.  And oh my goodness… the amazing sounds and smells of life happening around you that often get overlooked or taken for granted when you are going through life in the fast paced world we live in.  But most of all, it is the strong friendships and bonds that are created and strengthened along the way that mean the most to me.  These are the important things that really impact me today and going forward.   I have cherished every second of this adventure and wish that I did not have to leave but I know that the things I have learned will stay with me forever! 

Thanks so much for letting me be a part of POPs Ride and thanks for reading.  

I leave you in good hands for the next two weeks and in the words of the former CA governor, "I'll be back!"  (and I promise to be more punctual with the blogs)

(Editors note: I’m coming back May 17th….. and it will be pure torture to sit at my desk watching the ride from a distance between now and then)

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