Forgive me Jim Morrison, former lead singer of the The Doors, but your lyrics are appropriate here. “This is the end/My only friend the end/It hurts to set you free/But you’ll never follow me.”
Maybe one day I will follow Gavin’s trail. But for 65 days I was content just to follow along. On Sunday, Aug. 14, his adventure ended on the shores of the Pacific. He started in Ottawa, propelling himself, and us, towards his final destination. Along the way he shared with us his observations and introduced us to a cast of characters whose true wealth was measured in their generosity.
Now let’s hear the details from those final days:
Day 59 to 65: Prineville, Oregon to Oceanside, Oregon
Monday, Aug. 8 to Sunday, Aug. 14
Distance Travelled: 520.74 km biked this week
Total distance travelled: 5092.78 km
The greens: Midway through the week Jenna and I reached Deschutes National Forest and things started to feel different. This was not the relatively sparse and open understory of the previous Oregon forest, which had been cool but still felt dry. This was rainforest. The trees were tall, the air was moist and the understory was a hundred shades of green, plants of all kinds spilling out from the forest floor onto the shoulder. From the highest summit in Deschutes we got the longest downhill of our trip, descending some 7 thousand feet over about 18 kilometres of uninterrupted downhill, speeding along twisting roads through the towering trees that hung overhead. It felt good. I had always believed we would make it, but I didn’t really start to understand what that meant until then.
Sweet and salty: I’m not sure I can describe the feeling of reaching the top of that hill and seeing the ocean. The yelling, the arms in the air, the feeling of unreality. This was the ocean. We were here. We biked here. On bikes. We coasted downhill into the old section of Newport. We got a motel room with a view that overlooked the ocean and biked down to the beach. Walking in the surf with no shoes on, jumping waves and smelling salt. It was a kind of euphoria that I couldn’t understand but could feel all through my body, vibrating in my freezing toes and coming out the tips of my fingers. I stood there laughing, looking at the horizon. Nothing was funny, in particular. I wasn’t laughing with a purpose. I just had a ball of intense happiness in my stomach that couldn’t find any other way out. We were here. It was impossible but it was real.
The end, and a cliff: After a day and a half biking north along the Pacific we entered Netarts, the last town before Oceanside, which is about 4 km from my grandma’s house. We ate excellent Tillamook ice cream and discovered that the road between Netarts and Oceanside was closed because it had slid off the steep hill it was built on. For some reason there had been no road closure signs on our route, and neither my ma nor my grandma had let us know about the closure when we talked several days earlier. Almost within sight of Oceanside, we now faced a 30 km detour through Tillamook. That was not happening. We hoped there would be no road closure crew since it was Sunday, and when we hit the road closure sign we just kept going. There was a construction crew but they were all down at the bottom of the hill, shoring it up before they rebuilt the road. There was still a narrow swath of road that hadn’t fallen down the cliff, a little over a metre wide, and we gingerly walked our bikes through. Then we finished the ride, yelling and holding our fists in the air as we coasted down the final hill into Oceanside. When we rounded the last corner on a bumpy gravel road, my grandma and aunt were in the backyard working on the flowers. They watched us ride towards them, smiling, and then we were off the bikes and into a series of hugs.
If you haven’t already, consider making a contribution to Ecojustice on behalf of Gavin. Our cause is close to Gavin’s heart and his commitment to our mission of using the law to protect and restore Canada’s environment informed his decision to make this trek.
This Friday, we’ll post some closing thoughts from Gavin.