While awaiting my egg scramble and pancake, I forced myself a few moments of honest self-reflection on the topic of distraction. Yesterday, you may recall, I embarked from my brother's house without donning my backpack, only to have him chase me down in the streets to get it to me. Today, waiting at a red light maybe half an hour underway, I nudged my tank bag back from sitting off-centre to the left, and before I could finish my grumbling thought about the webbed straps not holding tension, I noticed that I'd neglected to clip the bottom two (of total four) buckles of the bag to its harness. So it and all its contents had kind of been just hanging out for 40 km. No harm done, but why the heck do I keep forgetting basic stuff. Yesterday, I was distracted by the mix of excitement to start a trip segment, bittersweetness to be leaving my brother behind, and the uniqueness of leaving from his house after recombining carry-on luggage and motorcycle luggage. Today, I was distracted by... well, nothing. As much as I'd like to blame a friendly fellow motel patron, or rude driver as I was loading out, there was nothing. So seemingly I was just distracted by my thoughts. A leadership coach who delivered some training at a work seminar a few years ago told us that the universal formula for performance is simple: P = S + E - D. Performance equals skill plus experience minus distractions. More skill, more performance. More experience, more performance. More distraction, less performance. I seemed to be demonstrating this, if still struggling to pinpoint the source of distraction. Alas, I was a bit short on the small talk with a curious lookie-loo wanting to know in a not-really-that-interested way about my luggage setup, and wished him a nice day as I put my earplugs and bandanna back on. Rude? No. Let's just call it distraction management.
Save for a gas stop in Florence, I rode non-stop through the coastal vistas, inland jaunts, and eventually dune country, deciding against a lunch stop in Coos Bay with only 10 minutes spread on the GPS between ETA and sunset. Rain was intermittent, only hard for one 10-minute stretch, and otherwise drizzle or mere 99% humidity. While stopped for a Snickers at a scenic pullout on the south side of Port Orford, a friendly local public works employee approached me and asked if I'd "just finished the trail." He went on to explain that there is a Trans-American Trail which crosses the USA from east to west, with its terminus at Cape Blanco state park about 5 miles north of Port Orford, and that many internationals ride it and he thought I might have been one based on the bike setup. He also said that this was the westernmost point in the contiguous 48 states, which piqued my interest and, after a 2-minute GPS consultation, with the promise of a geographic extreme point I was baited into the sin of backtracking. It was worth it, though, and even though the claim proved false (westernmost point in Oregon, anyone?), and the coastline inaccessible (seasonal lighthouse road closure), it afforded the above watercolour (maybe my best shot of the trip), but even moreso, briefly gave me the sense of having a mission.
Since moving to a smalltown six years ago, one of the most noticeable things to me now whenever travelling elsewhere is all of the specialty businesses. Somebody specializing in everything. The 101's daisy-chaining route through all of the coastal towns provided a seemingly endless supply of niche businesses, with their niche business names, as passive entertainment. Today's favourites were: "Dirtbag Vacuum Services" (self-explanatory), "Logic in a Cup" (a drive-thru espresso joint), and "Flower Pot" (a marijuana dispensary; not my thing, but the recent legalization of such shops in Washington and apparently Oregon has certainly spawned some creative storefront signage, many of which you can't help but hoot at).
I crossed over into California at dusk, found my booked motel in Crescent City, unloaded, and before all the kitchens closed managed to find a double-order of fish tacos to go and a cold bottle of a local IPA, and back at the room I dragged a hotel chair out of my room onto the back boardwalk under a buggy lamp and ate it all while listening to the breakers and trying to tell whether the tide was coming in or going out.
Day total: 637 km, 10h35m
Trip total: 4,510 km
Start: Seaside, OR. End: Crescent City, CA.
Soundtrack: Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.