It is difficult to leave after an evening spent in a jacuzzi sipping cocktails… A truly 5-star-hotel experience, thanks to the lovely Brian and Bud. Before I go, Brian invites me to check out “something you don’t have in Europe.” I follow him to his garage to see two of the most magnificent vintage cars I have ever encountered. My favourite is the milk-coffee tinted Packard 400: a beaute I can totally picture myself cruising in. It would go fab with all my vintage dresses and shoes.
My own ride is getting impatient though so I have to go.
The road from Florence to Eugene is the state highway 126 with quite some traffic and not much of a shoulder, so it’s not going to make it onto the list of my favourite routes. At some point, a delivery truck stops just meters ahead. Is it for me or has the guy decided to take a nap or something? A young lad clad in a wide bright smile jumps out and introduces himself as a self-proclaimed bicycle support group. He knows the road is narrow and curvy and offers a bright security jacket. For ever? For ever!
I get to a tiny town called Wilton: I am only halfway from my destination and it’s already 6pm. I stop at a café and ask for some discarded food items. The owners, David and Eiland, offer I try today’s special. The food is amazing. I join one of their regulars at the table and we spend half an hour cracking jokes and laughing.
Just when I’m about to leave, one of the customers who has just walked in, comes up to enquire about my cycling. He asks whether I know about WarmShowers:
“Of course I do! Duh!”
“So how come you haven’t hit us up?” Hal cries offended.
“Well, you’re not showing up on the map… It’s a WarmShowers desert over here.”
Hal and his wife Tonia invite me to stay at their camping retreat. It’s some 10 km up a dirt road, so they give me a head start and some beer to accompany me on those last several kilometres. Halfway there, a lady picking up her mail nods at me and strikes a conversation. I stop, we chat, she invites me over for tea, I accept. The beauty of this trip is that I am not rushing anywhere and can really take my time and say yes to everything the road throws at me.
Half an hour later Tonia comes in.
“How did you know I was here?” I ask in amazement.
“Well, you weren’t at the camp and I thought I saw something of a bike in Alice’s garden…”
Turns out the camp is still several kilometres up the way and it will be impossible for me to find it once the sun sets, so off we go. Well, good I haven’t come across the other neighbours or I might have just as well gone from one tea party to another and never made it to Hal and Tonia’s…