DAY 85 (9/3/05): Grayland to Bay Center, WA 48.1 mi. Today we had to get past another big bay, Willapa Bay, which goes about as far inland as Gray's Harbor. The bay is too shallow for a ferry, though, so we had to cycle all the way aro und it. I didn't mind because the scenery was great. The tide was out reveali ng huge mudflats covered with seabirds looking for shellfish. The economy of t his little region is totally based on the oyster industry and oyster shells sta cked in long piles 10 ft high were everywhere as we made our way around the bay . Every shop had a sign up advertising fresh or smoked oysters, and an oyster festival was underway in the town of Raymond. We made our way out to the south ern lip of the bay and the town of Bay Center. Again, to our disappointment, a nd contrary to the guidebook, there was no grocery store in town. So, we sat o n the tiny bayside beach by the campground for a while and watched a family dig for clams and oysters in the mud, and then went to the only restaurant in town for some food. The only other customer there when we arrived was a skinny guy in his 40's who was drinking (not his f irst) 40 of Beck's dark beer and ranting pretty loudly about nothing much to th e hostess, who was chainsmoking at the bar. In spite of the less-than-promisin g atmosphere, the food was actually pretty good. The only source of concern wa s that the guy's girlfriend who had "fallen asleep" in the bathroom later emerg ed and, after a bit of slurred aruing, left with the guy by car. Tobias and I gave them a good 15 min headstart before riding very cautiously back to the cam pground, checking over our shoulders every few seconds for a dilapidated blue C hevelle. DAY 86 (9/4/05): Bay Center to Long Beach, WA 42.9 mi. The border between WA a nd OR is the Columbia river, and just north of the mouth of the river on the WA side is a little peninsula that runs north-south for about 20mi, and has lots of great beaches. Because the campground hostess last night had recommended it , and because we were nearly certain that it would have a decent grocery store, we decided to head there to explore. The town of Long Beach itself is basical ly a white-trash vacation town, with a go-kart track (no one over 250 lbs permi tted on karts), a Nascar store, and lots of kitchy gift shops. It did have two very nice grocery stores and a bunch of nice campgrounds, so we decided to sta y. After setting up camp, we went for a long walk on the beach, which is adver tised as "The World's Longest Driving Beach." What this means is that on an oth erwise beautiful beach are hundreds of SUVs and pickup trucks, and even the occ assional RV. There was also an outfit in town that rented mopeds, so there were groups of people buzzing up and down t he smooth hard sand at the waterline as well. There were almost no pedestrians on the beach at all, save a few kids running from their cars to the tidepools and back while their parents sipped Coors Lite in chairs next to their vehicles . Tobias joked that everyone must think that our car broke down, because why e lse would we be walking so far? DAY 87 (9/5/05): Long Beach, WA 58.1 mi. Because the services in Long Beach we re good, and because we were a bit ahead of schedule, we decided to stay put fo r a day and ride up and down the peninsula (Long Beach is at the southern end). So, we cruised up to the northern tip, along the totally flat road that runs up the middle of the peninsula, passing through much quieter, less touristy tow ns such as Oysterville. At the state park at the tip, we went for a little nat ure walk and learned about the plant and animal ecosystems in the bay. Then, w e rode back down to Long Beach, where Tobias went back to the beach to sunbathe while I kept riding south to Cape Disappointment, right at the mouth of the Co lumbia. I had planned to go see the lighthouse on the cape, but didn't feel li ke trekking a mile each way to see it, so in that sense the cape was a disappoi ntment. However, it was fun to read some of the signs about the Lewis and Clar k expedition, whose path I have been criss-crossing and following for a few thousand miles. For those of you who haven 't read "Undaunted Courage" yet, you should. The descriptions of all the place s where I've been in that book are so vivid, it will help flesh out the little notes on this site. DAY 88 (9/6/05): Long Beach, WA to Seaside, OR 50.6 mi. The highlight of today 's ride was the 4.1mi long bridge across the mouth of the Columbia between WA a nd OR. Employing four different styles of construction, the bridge rises incre dibly high above the water and provides dramatic views of the river meeting the ocean. It was fun to go over it slowly and appreciate all the engineering tha t went into it--the bridge wasn't even built until the 60's, despite the huge d emand, so that may give some sense of the magnitude of the project. In Astoria , we went to a bike shop for new chains, and then rode the splendid Lewis and C lark Road inland through green Oregon hills and farmland to the coast and the t own of Seaside, which has a nice oceanside promenade area. I asked an elderly lady for directions to a store, and she went into a totally unsolicited but ver y charming rant about why Oregon is better than California. She has two grandd aughters that live in San Diego that she fears "have been lost to the dark side forever 'cause they've got highlights i n their hair and tattoos on their butts."