Cory Howell Hamada
Day 9: Crossing Halfway
Brookings → Klamath
↑ 1703 feet ↓ 1765 feet
If it hadn’t been for the signs, I wouldn’t have known we crossed over.
After yesterday’s smog, today felt fresh, the salt from the ocean more pronounced. The smoke from the fires still blended with the pacific fog, but the color of the sky here was no longer an industrial red-orange.
We peddled along, anticipating the “Welcome to California” sign, expecting some sort of change from Oregonian forest and rugged coastline.
When we got there, the few miles on either side of the border didn’t look noticeably more “California” or “Oregon” than the surrounding area. The crossing, if symbolic, maybe felt a bit arbitrary.
We stopped for pictures, took a quick video. We paused to take in the moment. We joked about being back in our home state, pumping our own gas, paying sunshine tax.
And almost as a joke, we pointed out an abrupt change in the road--a clear distinction in the pavement where ODOT’s responsibility ended and CALTRANS’s began.
I was surprised at the acuteness of the change.
A state’s jurisdiction has to end somewhere, but I didn’t think it would be this defined, the line between the two so clear.
Today, we crossed halfway.
Beyond doing half the mileage, we crossed states, we crossed into redwood territory. Around us, the conversation seemed to cross from COVID to climate change.
And after all the riding, I recognized an aspect of the trip I find the scariest: crossing bridges.
The first big one was in Newport--over half a mile long.
The next was across Coos Bay--a mile long and 279 feet high.
Yesterday, we crossed the Thomas Creek Bridge--the Oregon Coast’s tallest bridge, at 345 feet.
For bikers, the lanes narrow. You often lose the shoulder. The wind picks up. You feel exposed.
You start to wonder what would happen if you lost something over. If your bike went over. If you went over.
And while scary, the bridges usually have the best views. They give you perspective.
Bridges allow access between people and places. They allow us a way to connect with one another. The bridges themselves are works of art.
Bridges require maintenance. They’re dangerous. And they sometimes collapse.
I like to think that even back home in my routine I’m open to new ideas, open to new conversations and debates and ways of life. But out here, riding through new territories and talking to new people, it’s shown me how much I can get stuck in my own silo.
If we were unwilling to cross, we’d never complete the trip. It’s all shown me the necessity of crossing, even when it can feel scary.