Eugene to Florence, OR
Ok, first of all, WE MADE IT! WAHOO!!
The day started out like any other day. It didn't really feel like anything special was happening, we were just riding again like always. We left our hotel and had our last pre-biking breakfast (McDonald's egg sandwiches). We rode through the city of Eugene, which was not busy at all since it was Sunday morning. Once we left the city, we were on a two-lane road with a ton of traffic. The shoulder was pretty narrow, and in some places nonexistent. Since route 126 is the only road from Eugene (the second largest city in Oregon) to the coast, there was so much traffic. Most of it was RVs, which made it even worse. We had to cross over the Coastal Mountain Range, but the highest peak was only 769 feet so it wasn't bad at all. About halfway there, we stopped at a farm to have lunch. Everywhere out here advertises that they have espresso, which I find very odd. There are a bunch of tiny stores that are drive-through only for espresso. Even random places like antique shops have espresso. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure I will! They were out of blackberries at the farm stand so we waited a few minutes while one of the workers picked us some more- they were incredibly delicious!
We also had some awesome heirloom cherry tomatoes.
We got back on the road and started our final climb before we got over the last mountain. It was a slow, gradual climb for a few miles and then we came upon a tunnel that we had to go through. The tunnel had a 7% grade (downhill) and we had to push a button to alert the cars that there were bikers in the tunnel.
The lights started flashing and we pedaled as fast as we possibly could to get out of there. It was freezing cold and the sound of the cars was deafening. It sounded like the cars behind us were right on top of us and were going to hit us. I was too scared to look back but Ben said there actually weren't any cars behind us, it was just the cars going the other way making that awful noise. After that terrifying trip through the tunnel, we emerged into the fresh air again. Somehow, going from one side of that mountain to the other resulted in a complete change in the weather. It went from 90 degrees and sunny to 60 degrees and dreary. We had to stop to put our jackets on and our hands were numb from the cold. It didn't feel right that we had to end our trip like this! Shouldn't it be beautiful out, everybody cheering us on, a marching band playing music? No such luck.
We stopped again 15 miles before Florence to try to warm up. We got cheese sandwiches, baked in a pizza oven because the cafe didn't have a grill. They actually turned out pretty good! The last 15 miles were kind of torturous- we were freezing, the wind was blowing really hard into our faces, and we were riding at about 8 mph. This is definitely not how I envisioned ending our trip.
Ben and I reminisced a lot about all of the crazy adventures we have had for the past 2 months. We remembered the dinner we had in Seebree, Kentucky at Pastor Bob and Violet's house. We started laughing again as hard as we laughed at dinner that night. We talked about the amazing times we had, the great people we met, the ridiculous situations we often found ourselves in, and we admitted that even though it was awesome to almost be in Florence, we don't really want to end this trip. We have just had the best time for the past 66 days, and it is going to be really hard to say goodbye to biking! Our bikes have been our closets, kitchen table, and lounge chairs (if only it were as comfortable!) for so long. My bike almost feels like an extension of my body. I can remember the first day, when we left Yorktown and the bike felt so awkward with all of the weight. I couldn't even stand up to go up a hill because it would shake so much. Over the past 2 months, Ben and I have become experts at setting up our tent, cooking dinner on a tiny stove, and biking for miles on end. We are so efficient now- it doesn't seem right to stop! But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.
We are so grateful that we have had the opportunity to do this. We owe the success of this trip to so many strangers across America that went out of their way to help us in any way they could. And we are so thankful to everyone at home for supporting us! Its been a trip of a lifetime, and we have the best memories that with be with us forever.