This week’s blog will cover our fifth week on the road (still crazy for us to think we’ve spent 5 weeks living off our bikes)! To preface this post, Jordan left Eugene this past Friday morning on a plane to D.C. to speak at AIPAC’s annual leadership conference for work. That means that I have been here in Eugene! Check out what’s been happening:
DAY 29: Monday, July 4th, 2016
McMinnville, OR to Lincoln City, OR – 55 miles
In the morning, our host Flint (friend of friend from Linfield Colege) ran alongside us as we biked to a local diner for breakfast. After delicious pancakes, biscuits and gravy and home fries, we departed McMinnville.
We rode 55 hard miles and arrived in Lincoln City around 4pm. After eating burgers, fries and drinking craft beer at a local restaurant called Kylos, we looked for someone’s house to knock on to camp in their lawn. Since it was 4th of July, we knew our luck was slim. While riding in a neighborhood adjacent to the restaurant, we had some luck. We didn’t see any Prius’ or Subarus. While near a cul-de-sac deciding what to do, a woman came out and asked if she could help us find something. I gave her the usual spiel. I had no expectations for her response and was quite surprised when she offered to let us camp in the grass at her house. 5 minutes later, she even came out and offered us a plate of freshly sliced watermelon and mango. We couldn’t believe our luck! Although the news may not always portray it but the American people are kind and friendly humans if you look in the right places.
Even luckier for us, her house was less than 500 feet from the beach. We set up camp then headed over to the beach and sat down to watch the sunset and celebrate the day our people claimed independence.
DAY 30: Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Lincoln City to Florence, OR – 78 miles
After eating Burger King for breakfast, we biked 50 miles then stopped for pizza at Grand Central in Waldport. We split a 16″ pizza and then had a conference call with Haley and Cuyla from Outdoor Outreach. They helped us come up with a few more fundraising strategies(donate here) and also gave us tips for increasing our social media traction.
While riding the other 28 miles, Jordan stopped near a pull-off at the same time a car was stopping. A older dad in his late 50s exited the car and looked out towards the ocean.
“Look over there! Do you see the whales breaching?” He said to Jordan.
I stopped my bike in the front of the car and started chatting with his wife. It was strange how quickly we realized we had common ties! They had one son who attended Long Beach State (where I’m attending grad school) and now him, and their other son, both live in Arizona. It’s crazy to think of how much we had common even though 5 minutes previously, we were complete strangers travelling down the same road on the Oregon coast.
That night, our luck didn’t continue. After asking two homes if we could camp in their yard, they both expressed a firm no. Just as the sun was setting, we found a house across from a campground with an Arizona license plate.
“Let me handle this one” Jordan confidently said as we stopped in the driveway. After a little persuading, the elderly woman agreed. (She was from Green Valley, AZ by the way).
DAY 31: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016
Florence, OR to Eugene, OR – 65 miles
We woke up early to make sure to leave before our host awoke. However, after packing up our tent, she came out and offered us coffee. Although Jordan and I don’t consider ourselves big coffee drinkers, we appreciated the kind gesture and said yes.
Over breakfast, we learned that Monique, our host, had traveled to over 161 countries in her lifetime. Her house was filled with artifacts from her travels. After exchanging contact information, we departed and headed towards Eugene.
In Eugene, we headed straight to the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house where we (mostly me) would make base-camp for the next week. Jordan’s family friend from home, Matthew, is in AEPi and offered to let us stay there as long as we needed.
Jordan and I walked around the University of Oregon and admired the green grass and beautiful red brick buildings. The campus feel hit a nostalgic spot for me. It reminded me of U of A’s campus and made me wish I was back in Tucson with my Wildcat family.
That night, Matthew and some other friends brought us to the university strip to experience part of the night-life culture. It was a fun, laid back night.
DAY 32: Thursday, July 7th, 2016
After sleeping in till 8:30am, we headed to Starbucks to use the wifi and get ready for the day. While there, we had a funny coincidence. We spotted Neil, our wonderful Warmshowers host from Seaside, Oregon. He told us that plans fell through and he wasn’t traveling to Iceland but instead staying in Eugene for the remainder of the Olympic Trials.
After Jordan finished a conference call for work, we headed towards the Olympic Trials to watch a few events. When we arrived, they told us it didn’t open to none-ticket-holders until 1:30pm. Since we were on campus, we decided to walk around and check it out. Next door to the opening for the Olympic Trials, we saw an academic building and Jordan said, “Let’s take a look inside.”
At the front lobby, a woman sitting at a table looked to be there to give directions.
“Can you tell us where the linguistics department is located?” I asked.
“You’re in it!” She exclaimed and pointed to the right side of the building where the wall read LINGUISTICS.
What luck! Jordan and I headed inside the office and I asked if anyone was available to talk to about a PhD in linguistics. The receptionist made a quick phone call and told me a professor would be happy to talk to me for a few minutes. He came out, shook my hand and told us we could sit down in the hallway to chat for a few minutes. A few minutes into the conversation, I mentioned that I was particularly interested in Second Language Acquisition. He said they had two professors who focused on SLA.
“And what do you know. He comes one of them: Professor Baese-Berk” He said with a surprised tone.
She happened to have a short break and happily offered to sit down with me in her office to answer any questions that I had. The serendipitous moments on this trip continue day after day.
We chatted for 20 minutes in her office about the PhD in Linguistics and she answered all my questions. She was so kind and incredibly helpful. I would definitely considering applying there after my Master’s program.
Afterwards, we headed to the Olympic Trials and set up our chairs on the grass in front of the screens projecting live streams of the events. Being there, watching people compete to represent our country in the Olympics in Rio filled my body with chills. The atmosphere there filled you with thrills. Jordan and I looked at each other and smiled, “What are the odds that we end up in Eugene, where the Olympic Trials are happening and are witnessing this live right now?” We couldn’t believe it.
DAY 33- Friday, July 8th, 2016
My eyes widened with fear. It was 4:30am. I heard loud thumps and bags rustling.
“Oh no… Did someone break in to the house and trying to steal my bike?” My first thought every time I wake up in the middle of the night while on tour. Then I remembered it was Friday. Jordan was packing last-minute for his trip to D.C.
Jordan and I hugged goodbye as he headed to the airport.
After looking at the weather and weighing my options, I decided the best thing for me to do for the next half week was to stay in Eugene. Originally, I had contemplated hitchhiking to Bend but I decided to stay and watch the Trials during the weekend.
That morning, I had a fascinating conversation with a guy who lived in the house. His name was Zack and he was from LA. I told him I was from Arizona. “Oh cool. I transferred here last year from U of A”
“From U of A? Why would you ever leave want to leave U of A?” My initial thoughts.
For the next 30 minutes, he told me about his freshman year. He mentioned how he rushed because he heard Greek life at UA was awesome and how it was a great way to meet people. However, through the process, he didn’t feel like he fit in with the guys in there. He didn’t go through with rush, but he was living in Coronado, which is the largest dorm on campus so he expected to meet people. But he had trouble- with the girls. He said that most of the girls that he met fired the question, “Are you in a frat?” immediately after they asked his name. According to him, when he responded, “no,” they simply wrote him off as “not worth their time” in his words.
This shocked me! I had a lot of friends in Greek life- both sorority and fraternity- but had never heard of people experiencing what Zack described to me. I felt sad. I LOVED my experience at U of A and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Now, I never went through rush freshman year so I can’t say much but I’m optimistic that this isn’t a common experience.
Zack told me how he transferred to the University of Oregon after a not-so-great year at Arizona and rushed again, this time finding guys who he fit in with in AEPi. He really enjoyed Oregon and realized Arizona wasn’t the right place for him. At the end of the conversation, I was glad to hear he found his fit.
DAY 34: Saturday, July 9th, 2016
I cooked oatmeal for breakfast then headed to the library to finish some work related to grad school registration.
Luckily, I arrived at the Olympic Trials just in time to catch the first round of the women’s 5000m and the final for the men’s 5000m. Out of all the people there, I just so happened to sit next to a man named Larry, who was in his sixties. Larry and I chatted and soon after meeting, I learned that he had also participated in a long distance bicycle ride. Wow. There’s serendipity again for ya’. We stayed to watch the award ceremonies. We even saw Devon Allen, University of Oregon football and track athlete, win the finals for the 110m hurdles. Guess where he’s from? Phoenix, Arizona! How crazy is that? I later found out he attended Brophy, a college preparatory school in downtown Phoenix.
DAY 35: Sunday, July 10th, 2016
This day started out like yesterday- breakfast then the Olympic Trials. This time, I went a little earlier because I didn’t have much else to do. I arrived around 1pm. Lucky for me, there was a live band playing and since it was sprinkling, no one was near the stage. I plopped my REI camping chair near the front and sat there, enjoying the sounds of live music. After three songs, the band concluded their performance and headed in. “Well, at least I was able to catch the end of it!” I thought to myself.
While contemplating what I should do until the events starting at 3pm, I sat in my chair, taking in everything around me. Then, my luck continued.
Out of my left peripheral, a woman who worked for USATF approached me and asked, “Do you have a ticket for today?”
“No.” I said shyly.
“Do you want one?” She proceeded.
“Uh, yes, I’d love one!” I said in disbelief.
She handed me a ticket. Just like that, I had a ticket to see the Olympic Trials on the last day when my favorite events were happening- the men’s and women’s finals for the 1500m. Wow, I couldn’t believe it.
That afternoon, I found my seat on the bleachers at the Historic Hayward Field. I watched the finals for the women’s pole vault, 200m final, 5000m and 1500m final and the men’s high jump, and 1500m final. The crowd was filled with energy. During high jump, a few of the jumpers would start a clap and continue until the entire arena followed in suit. It brought back the old cross country and track and field days from high school.
I loved being in that environment, cheering on the athletes who trained and put in hard work and dedication in order to compete to represent our beautiful country.
At the end of the day, I felt extreme gratitude for all the luck I experienced that weekend.
Jordan returns on Wednesday night so we’ll be heading down the coast of Oregon this Thursday. Thank you to everyone who has donated to help us reach our goal of $5,000 for Outdoor Outreach! We’ve raised close to $1,500 already and know we’ll hit our mark by August 20th, the day we plan to finish in San Diego. If you’d like to donate, you can do so here.
If you let life steer, good things come your way. I couldn’t be happier with the way our trip has turned out these past 5 weeks. It’s been an amazing ride quite far and I can’t wait to see how this next month and a half unwinds.
Written by Joe Previte