Independent Travel Planning

Affordable custom vacation itineraries and unique travel experiences


Leave a comment

Oregon Bike Tour Day 2: Lincoln City to Newport

Lincoln City to Newport Bike Tour

The second morning of the trip we awoke a bit stiff and with the discovery that a crafty chipmunk or squirrel had managed to wander into sealed panniers to pilfer my almond supply. I know it was a rodent and not Anthony because he’s allergic to almonds, but now that I think about it more, I suspect there may have been collusion!

We exited the hiker/biker at Devil’s Lake ahead of most of our fellow cyclists and headed straight out for our first seciont of coastal riding after the Willamette Valley heat of the day before. What a difference! Foggy, temperatures in the low 60’s: this is what I remember from my last bicycle trip through Oregon.

After covering just enough miles to recognize that we were already a bit saddle-sore, we stopped for a great breakfast at Pacific Grind coffee shop on the south end of Lincoln City. I highly recommend this spot, which featured delicious baked goods and well-prepared coffee.

IMG_2547IMG_2530

As is to be expected, passing Depoe Bay resulted in several stops to whale-watch along with all of the car-driving folk. In some instances on this day and the next, though, we had only to look out to the right while riding in order to glimpse the spouting blowholes and the shape of long, smooth backs breaking the water’s surface.

At one particular lookout (which I remembered having stopped at with Johanna two years earlier), we talked with a number of fellow bicycle tourists, including two men that ride the coast every year, bringing full camping gear but rarely camping. These guys were awesome, loaded with front and rear panniers and waterproof duffels over the top of the rear rack, but we couldn’t help but wonder why they bothered to bring camping gear at all. Maybe we will understand when we are older, but I doubt it.

We also had a photo taken at a scenic overlook by a friendly man and his wife, who had done many bike tours. He left us by saying, “just enjoy it while you can, because eventually some guy will stab you in the gut and you won’t be able to do it anymore.” Apparently, this actually happened to this poor man, but maybe not the best way to end the conversation?

IMG_2548

About 10-15 miles outside of Newport, the 101 heads up a hill, but an older iteration continues along the waterfront, providing cyclists with a natural advantage over car-propelled travelers. The secluded 101 alternate passes over Rocky Creek Bridge, which also happens to be featured on the front of the Oregon Coast Bike Map that can be found at state parks.

This bridge is worth a good, long stop, and the literature found there reveals the bridge’s history, as part of an early motor-vehicle route between Lincoln City and Newport. That 30+ mile journey took early drivers nearly a full 24-hour period to complete, while we rode our bikes the length of it in just 3-4 casual hours.IMG_2549-0

What with all the whale-watching and scenic coastal terrain viewing, we were getting a bit parched. Having enjoyed our stop at Yamhill Vineyards the day before, we decided that passing by The Flying Dutchman wine-tasting stop by Devil’s Punchbowl just as they opened for business was a sign from above. While we didn’t find the wine to quite match that of Yamhill, it was a worthy stop and we enjoyed conversing with the woman running shop.

Next up on our dazzling tour of some of Oregon’s most attractive seaside was the Yaquina Lighthouse. More whale-watching ensued along the adjacent coves and despite being mauled by large flies as we stood below the impressive lighthouse, this stop is another must-do. As we departed the lighthouse we had another sighting of the Belgian and Dutch cyclists, but onward we went, for we knew there would be beer at the end of the day’s ride.

IMG_2537-0 IMG_2551-0 IMG_2550-1
Yaquina Lighthouse on Oregon Bike Tour

After carefully following the coast bike route signs on the most indirect route through Newport, we passed one of only two bike shops we would see on our entire trip. Unfortunately, no new water bottles were purchased there, as the bike shop in Newport does not open its doors on Sunday!

Arriving at South Beach Campground midday (something that would turn out to be rare on this trip), we were greeted by not only the usual cheap hiker/biker rates, but also a welcome center with free coffee/tea and outlets to charge our electronics. I can’t say enough about the Oregon State Parks and the way they are set up to make campers (and particularly those arriving by foot or on two wheels) feel comfortable and well cared-for.

We set up camp quickly, because the bicycle tourists’ hunger was rearing its ugly head and more importantly, South Beach Campground is just a mile of bike path from the famous Rogue Brewery. A series of tastings, pints, and rounds of pub food ensued. Rogue hits the mark! Just make sure you get there early, because the waiting line for the small dining and bar space was 30+ people long when we left at around 4pm.

IMG_2538[1] IMG_2539[1] IMG_2545[1]


Leave a comment

Oregon Bike Tour Day 1: Portland to Devil’s Lake State Park

Portland to Lincoln City Bike Route

The first day of our week-long bike trip through Oregon was also the longest day of the trip, at least from a mileage standpoint. After having unloaded our bikes from the boxes we had shipped via AMTRAK Express, we discovered we both had rear flats (coincidence or AMTRAK conspiracy?), so we thought it prudent to get an early start to the day.

Crossing the eastern part of Portland by bike light was surprisingly easy. Portland has great bicycle infrastructure, and combined with the deserted streets of a pre-dawn Saturday morning, we made quick work of the first few miles and over Broadway Bridge as the sun began to rise.

Broadway Bridge at Sunrise

Climbing out of the western part of Portland brought on a sense of euphoria that had Anthony flying up the hills and though more heavily weighed down, I was happy to give chase. This euphoria was soon blunted, however, by another rear flat on my bike. Nearly an hour and several patches/tubes later, we returned to the route, but not before one of the many cyclists that passed us returned for a second go-around and couldn’t resist the temptation to heckle us. Overall, our interactions with Portland’s cycling community were very positive and even this chap kept his joking good-natured enough that we were able to laugh along.
Fixing the many flats on day 1 of Oregon Bike Tour

The stretch immediately west of Portland’s suburbs and heading into Yamhill County are covered by fertile Willamette Valley farmland and the occasional vineyard. It was here that we also began to notice what great shape Oregon’s roads are in (a theme we’d find true throughout our entire journey). In California, by contrast, it often seems that the repaving of roads leads to a less bike-friendly surface and there are many beautiful cycling routes that could use some new tarmac.

Portland area farmland riding in Yamhill County

Yamhill Vineyards was our approximate halfway point for the day at some 55 miles in. In an earlier iteration of our bike trip, I had hoped to spend more time exploring the Willamette Valley and its vineyards, but as the coast and Crater Lake became the focus of the trip, I had settled for one stop at a vineyard.

Yamhill Vineyards was an oasis from the heat, albeit one that can only be reached by climbing the ridiculously steep hill you see below. Yamhill makes the best Riesling either of us have ever tasted and that’s not just the heat exhaustion talking! After our wine-tasting break we refilled our bottles and got back out on the road, where temperatures were reaching the high 90’s.

Yamhill Vineyards Hill-Climb

Our next stop along HWY 18 to the coast was a bit of an oddity. Along the highway appeared a sign for a Salvador Dali exhibit. Anthony was interested right away and I was intrigued, so we gave it a go. Turns out there were just a few Dali items, and fewer that I found interesting (maybe I just don’t understand that kind of art), but one or two caught our eyes. Of course, with a price tag of $20k+ and so little room on our bikes, we had to pass. Still, any air-conditioned room is a good place to take a break on days such as these.

A few miles farther down the road, we made another stop. We were running low on liquids (it didn’t help that Anthony decided not to bring water bottles on the trip!), so we took a break at a country store and ordered the “double-scoop” of Tillamook Mint Chip ice cream. What we ended up with were the two largest cones of ice cream I’ve ever seen, such that it was impossible to contain them without stuffing them into cups.

IMG_2525

The headwinds began in earnest as we got closer to the coast and while Anthony’s afternoon ice cream was being deposited on the roadside, my saddle soreness was beginning to develop. We passed through Otis, a town that had been described to us as being so small that the entirety of it was purchased for $5 million a few years back.

After Otis, it was just a short cruise into Lincoln City (and I say cruise because we were seriously flagging). We finished the day with 106.5 miles and lots of hills.

Entering Devil’s Lake State Park, I was reminded immediately why I love Oregon State Parks. The ranger charged us $6 per person for hiker/biker sites and gave us some good suggestions about where to set up camp and what to do about dinner. While Devil’s Lake doesn’t have the best sites, we appreciated the cheap price-tag and friendly ranger.

The other reason I love the Oregon State Park System is that the many hiker/biker opportunities make it a destination for numerous other cyclists, which results in camaraderie between fellow touring cyclists. At Devil’s Lake, we met a Belgian and a Dutchman, who had started in Canada and were planning to take a full three months to cycle to Mexico. They had beautiful Koga World Traveller bikes and were clearly well-supplied for the long journey, but in no hurry to finish. A bit slow for my taste, but good on them for doing it the way they want…that’s the beauty of bicycle touring. So many ways to explore!

IMG_2529-0

Devils Lake Hiker/Biker Site


Leave a comment

Oregon Bike Tour Preview

Oregon Bike Tour: Portland to Klamath Falls

Next week, I’ll be embarking on a bike trip that my good friend Anthony and I have been planning for quite some time. For me, it’s an opportunity to revisit a few hot spots from a previous bike tour I took with my wife down the Pacific Coast Cycling Route. I know Anthony is looking forward to getting back to the Oregon greenery and is hoping for a little coastal fog!

IndependentTravelPlanning.com has created this itinerary from scratch, which really allows us to take in a variety of Oregon highlights. From the fertile Willamette Valley to magnificent coastal vistas, and all the way to Crater Lake National Park, we’ll visit famous breweries and prize-winning wineries, take a dip in icy waters and natural hot springs, and hopefully we’ll stumble upon some things that not even ITP can research ahead of time!

Along the way, I’ll be blogging bits and pieces of the bike tour, with more details to follow upon our return. For easy access to all of ITP’s travel reports, you can always visit the Travel Reports landing page or follow this website by adding your email to the blank on the right side of the homepage.

Oregon Bike Tour: Portland to Klamath Falls
Saturday, September 6th: Portland to Lincoln City (Devil’s Lake State Park)
Sunday, September 7th: Lincoln City to Newport (South Beach State Park)
Monday, September 8th: Newport to Florence (Jessie Honeyman State Park)
Tuesday, September 9th: Florence to Cottage Grove
Wednesday, September 10th: Cottage Grove to Toketee Falls Camp
Thursday, September 11th: Toketee Falls Camp to Crater Lake National Park
Friday, September 12th: Crater Lake National Park to Klamath Falls

Featured Image -- 943


Leave a comment

Meridien Ten Travel: A Gem for Touring Cyclists in Croatia

Originally posted on Best Bike Rentals & Routes:

Meridien Ten Bike Rentals Croatia

Whenever my wife and I travel, I almost by compulsion begin looking at what cycling opportunities might be available in the areas we plan to visit. In this case, we knew we’d be spending a few days in Split, Croatia and that we’d love to do some riding on the Dalmatian Islands.

Meridien Ten is a bike rental company that specializes in touring setups for multi-day excursions in Croatia. Though we had only a day to take advantage of their services, I learned that their self-guided route across some of the major Dalmatian Islands from Dubrovnik to Split is their most popular. In order to make that particular route work, they are set up to offer transfers from their shop in Split to Dubrovnik and they do offer fully-custom and guided/supported tours as well.

Meridien_Ten_Equipment_web-large

Meridien Ten features a line of hybrid trekking bikes and road bikes with quality components. For example…

View original 347 more words


Leave a comment

A SLO Weekend: Taking a Break in San Luis Obispo County

Prefumo Canyon, San Luis Obispo

Mrs. ITP and I really needed to step away from our daily lives last week, if only for a 24-hour period, so we decided to explore the area immediately north of where we live. This led us to the San Luis Obispo area, which is full of vineyards, rolling green hills, and a number of coastal gems, all within 1.5-2 hours drive-time from the Santa Barbara area, and just a bit farther from Los Angeles.

We stumbled upon quite a lot during this short trip, but most importantly, we were reminded that traveling without any real plans, reservations, or goals can be lots of fun. We had a great time stopping wherever we pleased and just generally wandering about in an area very close to us that we hadn’t really explored. Come with us for a tour of some of the best bits of SLO County! Continue reading


Leave a comment

NYC + DC Trip: How ITP Did New York City in 48 hours, pt. 2

Staten Island Ferry + NYC Skyline

After having covered lots of Midtown Manhattan on our first day in New York, we focused most of our efforts on Lower Manhattan for the beginning of our second day in the city. However, since it was convenient to the subway line we would be taking down to Lower Manhattan, we first decide to check out the famed Central Park. Here’s what we found: Continue reading


1 Comment

NYC + DC Trip: How ITP Did New York City in 48 hours, pt. 1

New York City Public Library from Bryant Park IndependentTravelPlanning.com

New York Public Library from Bryant Park

When I first looked to plan a spring trip to the East Coast, I was focused on getting Mrs. ITP and myself to Washington, D.C. during that small window of time when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and the springtime warmth banishes the snow flurries and icy winter air. I started by adding a “free one-way” onto our summer round-trip flight to Croatia (see this post for an explanation), but we still had to get from Southern California to Washington. That’s where United’s award availability got scarce and New York got added to the itinerary.

By flying to the United hub city of Newark, we were able to get to the East Coast on award miles and then utilize one of the many inexpensive yet comfortable private bus companies to get to DC. Between landing in Newark and heading to DC though, we went on a 48-hour whirlwind tour of New York City. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 450 other followers