WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Finishers Wander 23 - Coos Bay, Oregon
Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 23:24:41 -0700

    When did you first notice signs of aging? "You're gettin some aaaaage on you.", Rebecca's father would say. Some people 'look their age'. Some people never act their age. In most cases, age has nothing to do with how old you are. Age is all in your mind. You are only as old as you think you are.
    I was sitting on the bike at the edge of a gas station in Gold Beach, folding the Oregon map to put away. A man in a pickup pulled along side and asked "where you looking to go?". I said home, and we chatted. He commented he used to ride a bike "many" years ago, but no longer has one. When he heard I am 'about 9000 miles from home', he paused and got a far away look in his eyes. He said when he had a bike he always wanted to take a cross country trip like mine but it just never happened. Now he was 'too old' to do that. How old are you, I asked. Fifty two, he replied. Hate to tell you, friend, but I am 55. His reply was better than I could have said myself: "Well, then, I guess riding keeps you young."

    Since entering Oregon I was looking for a bakery for breakfast. There are a bazillion drive-through espresso kiosks, but nary a bakery for a hundred miles. I counted only four in the entire state along US101, and one was out of business. I finally stopped at a pancake house in Rockaway Beach against the better judgment of my cafe eye. Bad sign, the tables had liquid coffee mate for 'whitener'. Worse sign, the pancakes came with a plastic surgery perfect breast equivalent dollop of margarine which I pushed aside, and which was still surgery perfect and unmelted 45 minutes later. Sorry, I prefer the real thing. When asked at the register if all was ok, I said the pancakes were great but it is a shame they are served with margarine here only miles from Tillamook, one of the most lustrous dairy areas in the country. She said "Butter is bad for you." Never one to be stunned into silence, I said butter has milk and butter fat in it. Margarine has unnatural vegetable oil, diglicerides, transfat, homoginizers, preservatives, and color that never saw the inside of a cow and you say 'butter is bad'?

    When I arrived in Coos Bay, I did my normal pass though town for motels and eateries. There is a Motel 6 here, but I've found when they are in a small town there are usually bargains to be found nearby. They are the "big name" competition despite the low ball prices they hold compared to business traveler properties like Holiday Inn, Best Western, etc. Since all I care about is a clean bed and bathroom, a lower amenity family run motel is fine with me. I'm talking sometimes 'quaint' sometimes 'funky' locations where the Motel 6 rate is half again as much! (Funky is the motel in Aberdeen with a sign that said 'tell the motel if you want us towels' [sic], and 10 minutes after I settled in two police cars screech into the lot to serve a warrant.) Often in a place like this the phone system remembers working with Ernestine, the operator portrayed by Lily Tomlin. Sometimes I ask whether I can make a computer call, and this time I got a flat no computers allowed. Huh? The woman claimed the phone system is 'hard wired' and can't be used with a computer. After hesitating for a minute, I asked to see a room. As soon as she opened the door I saw a normal phone with a modular plug - and even a data port on the phone. She then claimed the owner doesn't want people using computers. I said I would use it for no more than 15 minutes late at night. She gave me the room, but a few minutes later as I was settling in the owner came by and said no computers. What's the problem, buddy. What do you care if I make a voice call for an hour or a computer call for 10 minutes? Ah, the answer is they only have one outgoing line, which they also use for credit card approvals. The average computer jockey is used to constant connection and leaves the thing plugged in all night. I promised him I would only use it after the office closed at 11. Ok, so a 'bargain' in dollars can cost you in other ways. It worked fine.
    I suppose to make up for his sternness, he told me about a local restaurant I never would have found on my own. Wanda's is a real dive, but they serve incredible baby back ribs. The home made Q sauce is huckleberries reduced in marsala with a touch of jalapeno for heat. It is slightly sweet and nicely dense, not at all like that vinegar juice on the other coast.

321 miles
Aberdeen US101 Coos Bay
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

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