SEA TO SHINING SEA: Never touch your eyes

May 23, 2013

DAY 9 - Steady rain today.  We're closing in on the Cascades.  Bill and Val's place is in the clouds and the Douglas Firs at about 1,800 feet.  McKenzie Pass is better than 50 miles to the east and a few thousand feet higher.  Seems like the closer we get the more the moisture coming off the Pacific gathers in the trees and up against the western slope of the Cascades.  We're told that the climate changes quickly and dramatically east of the pass, from wet and lush valleys to a high country desert. We've seen plenty of rain so dry is sounding good.

My sinuses could use some drying out. The Willamette Valley is considered the grass seed capital of the world.  Huge fields of thick grass heading out at about 18 inches spread out from the roadways.  Between the pollen and whatnot put out by the grasses along with the pollen from the trees and flowering plants, it's a major assault on those - like me - with allergies.  I'm not sure what's weeping more - my eyes or my nose.  Broke down today and touched base with a pharmacist in Hiron's in Eugene - a store so stuffed from floor to ceiling it was easy to get lost. She hooked me up with something for my eyes and my nose.  Happy to report it's working.

"Never touch your eyes," she said.  "That spreads the histamines in your eyes and just makes things worse."

"Any other essential wisdom?"

"Be kind."

The motel office put out a continental breakfast: bagels, bananas, juice, coffee - that kind of stuff. A tall black man standing next to me was counting 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . on up to about 10 as he poured sugar into his coffee. I mention that he was black because he was only the second black person I saw in Eugene.

"You like your coffee sweet don't you?" I said.

"I'm on a diet.  Lost 38 pounds.  Was up to 270. This is the only luxury I allow myself."

He told me he weighed 240 when he played football. "I miss football. I used to be able to hear the air being knocked out of other players when I hit them.  That excites me."

"What position did you play?"


"What's your name? Lawrence Taylor?"  He laughed.

I think he told me his name was Richard Boyd. Said he played at University of Maryland Eastern Shore and eventually made the NFL with Oakland Raiders. He went an easy 6'4". Looked to me like several of his teeth had been pushed from one side of his mouth to the other.  Playing professional football can do that.

Nice guy. I was glad we spoke.

Becky and I rode 25 miles today, up the McKenzie River to Bill and Val's place.  Nicole, John and Kyle helped us out.  It was a beautiful ride along the river. We averaged 10.2 mph today and registered 1,461 feet of ascent.

Tomorrow's weather looks iffy and they're still calling for snow at the pass.  We'll have to see what comes. Bill and Val have said we should stay.  Tonight we watched the Orioles beat the Yankees - two out of three - and LeBron James and the Heat beat the Pacers in overtime.

Remember when LeBron played at Cape Henlopen High School during Slam Dunk to the Beach?

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