Just as the progression from walking to covered wagon to train to plane greatly reduced travel times at every step, going from scenic back roads to interstate can be a jarring time warp as well. After spending most of the day going 150 miles, I covered the last 80 to Portland in just over an hour. The BBQ wasn't even started when I got there, thinking I was going to be late. It's like jet lag, but different.
Despite a full belly and the hour approaching 8, I wasn't done for the day. Unlike the trip up, I didn't want to camp anymore and I was running short on time. I had to be back in LA by Tuesday afternoon to pick up the kids from school, and my stop for Monday night was in Santa Cruz, California. So, to spend a little time with a(nother) friend, and get myself 100-plus miles closer to home, I took off to Eugene, Oregon. The nice thing about June in the northern latitudes is that I wasn't even riding in the dark when I showed up well past 9 p.m. I was still able to sit up 'til the wee hours drinking wine and sleeping in yet another plush guest bed for the incredible low price of free.
It's amazing to me how much freeway can be eaten up in a single day. Though the 685 miles covered that fine Monday morning was not my single-day record, I probably hung out in Eugene until 11 before even leaving. And the climates you can blow through when you're traveling at those speeds goes from frosty mountain passes to hot farm country, or the chill of the Central Coast. My layers and good riding gear helped keep me somewhat comfortable the whole time with just a quick switch when stopping for gas.
I crashed with a different friend than the first time through, again scoring a bed, and indeed a whole guest room-my high school chum, Aaron. Due to the influence of multiple energy drinks on the road, it was another late night testing to see if beer would counteract the effects of street-legal meth.
As the trip wound down, I was relieved, but also sad that this madcap life, living from one friend's spare space to the next, was coming to an end. It was easily my most satisfying road trip, as I got to spend time with so many good friends, but never for so long that they began to get on my nerves like on a long trip with friends. The freedom that so many seek on the open road was mine in a true sense, while I had only myself to rely on much of the time, there were also no limitations or negotiations, just ride.
I almost picked up the kids on time too.