Day 4: In This Way, I Realized
Florence → Coos Bay
↑ 1430 feet ↓ 1407 feet
It was supposed to be our rest day.
The night prior, we rolled into Florence after three full days of riding, 180 miles of pavement, and one giant pizza for breakfast. We checked into our hostel, and got hit with a surprise.
What we thought was a two-night stay turned out to be a one-night booking. And the next day, the night we had no place to rest, was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
“Every single room on the Oregon Coast is booked,” our hostess told me over the phone.
I thought she was joking--she wasn’t. Cory and I spent the next 30 minutes searching every hotel, motel, hostel, campground, and Airbnb within a 60-mile radius. Nothing was available.
Even so, I wasn’t concerned. I had a strong, strange feeling that everything would be fine. We were together. We’d find a way to make things work.
10 minutes and several phone calls later, our Airbnb host at our next destination came through.
We had a place to stay--it was just 48 miles away.
When we rolled out of bed, our legs sore, our stuff sprawled around the room, the thought of another 48 miles felt both doable and distant.
We took our time packing the packs, meandered through the old town area of Florence, and enjoyed a view of the turquoise bridge as cool air blew in from the sea. We finished a breakfast burrito, peanut butter chocolate bar, and two cups of tea, rode three blocks to grab water and use the public restroom.
As we crossed the bridge out of Florence, we watched a caravan of trucks with Trump flags zooming past. A half mile away, we stopped at some nearby dunes to touch the sand.
We laughed, we talked, we explored. We visited Gardiner’s Tsunami Gallery (which featured local art not about tsunamis), rescued a little stuffed warthog lying on the side of the road, washed our hands after I accidentally fell onto a patch of poison ivy while trying to pee--every moment was an adventure unfolding, a new thing to explore.
But this took time. By the time we reached our lunch spot, Cory was starting to get concerned.
“I hate to say this, but we need to pick up the pace if we want to get to our destination before dark,” he said.
I was so focused on the adventure aspect, I didn’t even think about the logistics or the safety elements of the trip--I was just excited to be out in the world, experiencing new things, meeting new people.
In life, we often have to balance between getting to our destination and stopping to smell the roses. If you’re focused on the destination, you miss life’s small wonders and lessons along the way. If you’re focused on the roses, you may never get to your destination.
In this way, I realized that this was more than just a bike trip--it was a metaphor for life. A metaphor for all the challenges, lessons, acts of balance we have to manage over the course of each and every day, to find our own cadences in the act of living.