So says John Muir, and he's not wrong - my last few weeks have been spent in cahoots with the delights of the wilds and I cannot say I am unaffected.
I left Portland on a dreary Sunday morning, feeling like I'd had too much beer and not enough sleep. I actually didn't have very much beer at all, but because I indulge so rarely in anything with alcoholic content these days it hits my cycling-specific system a little harder than perhaps it should. And three hours sleep never did anyone any good. But I'd had a blast in Portland and experimented with a regular lifestyle for a day or two, so the trade off was fair.
It became very apparent that this ride would not be about that which was made by man. Nature took a firm hold of my senses, and wasn't going to let go easily. Some small towns quietly announced their status as a refuge for the weary traveller, and the occasional city would loudly bark it's touristic attributes. But nothing could break the spell of the Ocean, and for me it's performance continued uninterrupted.
Sleeping arrangements too, would change. Along the Pacific Highway in Washington, Oregon and California there are numerous state parks offering camping. On top of the regular campsite which falls firmly outside of my budget, many of these parks also boast 'Hiker/Biker' sites. These are areas where anyone who arrives without the aid of a motorized vehicle can stay for just five bucks. Five Bucks! Nothing in America costs just five bucks, and trust me, I know. Five dollars per day has been my budget throughout my trip, and while perfectly viable, it requires a lot of planning and patience. Buying food in bulk from the correct places in the only way; it is all to easy to spend all my money for the day on coffee and a snack at a gas station if I am not careful. Digression aside, five bucks is a very reasonable price for a campsite. The very nature of the coast also drastically reduces the opportunity for wild or 'stealth' camping, and so I decided ahead of time that I would make use of this initiative during my southerly ride. A happy consequence of this is that it gave me opportunity to meet and spend time with other cyclists each night. Which brings me to another difference in this part of my journey - there were other people on bicycles! And not just any bicycles - touring bicycles, loaded for an adventure. The passage from Vancouver to San Diego is one of most heavily biked tourist routes in the world, especially during the pleasant summer months. Many people ride sections, such as Seattle to San Francisco, or San Fran down to San Diego, and almost all cycle north to south. To begin with it was almost distracting seeing multiple riders per day - I imagine I seemed over zealous in my greetings and conversation. In time though I too became used to it, and was able to quietly enjoy the notion of many like minds and bodies enjoying their own horizon expanding bicycle ride.