Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day: Jefferson

Apparently we’re going to get some snow on the valley floor in a couple of days. You sure couldn’t tell from today’s weather: sunny, dry, and 50 degrees.  Perfect for a President’s Day holiday ride. 

Today’s route: the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, from Salem to Jefferson and back.

I couldn’t resist stopping at the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge on my way by.  It’s such a treat.  As I pulled into the viewpoint at Eagle Marsh, I startled a Blue Heron just a few feet away. Unfolding its huge wings, it flapped a few times, and glided fifty yards over the water to the opposite shore. 

A photographer with several cameras on tripods had been the only person there, sitting quietly inside the viewing structure filming the birds. I’m sure he wasn’t happy that I scared off the heron. I decided to not make things worse by walking up and starting a conversation with him. I found my own viewing spot and ate a sandwich. 
Outside Seating at Papa's Place, Jefferson OR
Across the water I could see a Great Egret, ducks and geese, and several other birds that I couldn’t possibly identify. I don’t think it’s just my imagination; many birds seem to be pairing up a lot these days.  Hmmm....I wonder what that’s all about...
Back on the road, I headed south for Buena Vista, then Talbot, and finally Jefferson. That was a quick, delightful 20 mile stretch of road ridng!  Along the ride, there are countless farms, fantastic views across the valley, and miles of smooth, uninterrupted riding. You can go for several minutes without encountering a single car. In fact, from downtown Jefferson to Ankeny Wildlife Refuge (about 11 miles), three vehicles passed me. I’m tellin’ ya, Portlanders, you have to come down and ride these roads!

I stopped in at Papa’s Place in Jefferson for--what else--a cup of coffee. “Papa” was there, although he seems a bit young for the name.  He visited with me while I sipped my coffee. I got a lesson on small-town life, and enjoyed the personal interaction from this self-admitted, larger-than-life character. His place is a good spot for a pit-stop if you’re riding the Scenic Bikeway. There’s plenty of seating indoors and out, and they’re super friendly to out-of-town visitors. Especially us two-wheeling types. 
I headed back for home against a slight headwind, glad for the occasional windbreaks from the trees, the sunshine, and the flat roads. It was nice to reach for the drops, hit the right gear and sustain a good cadence for a while. 

This Scenic Bikeway is really great for folks who want to enjoy great views without having to fight the car traffic.

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