And we’re back at it. There is so much to talk about I don’t know where to start. I’ll start with today since that is still fresh in my mind. And this is just my stuff. We have to get Lewis involved in the writing again. He was doing so well and then it happened. We won’t talk about it yet. We’ll be talking about today. I woke up remarkably refreshed after our second night in the Campbell House in Downtown Eugene. This would have been around 6:15 am. I went to the lobby with the loaner laptop that the Campbell House loaned me 2 days ago. The wifi signal is so weak in the carriage house that internet explorer keeps shutting down. But in the lobby the signal is full strenght. So I’m awake and have a million things to do so I begin doing some. Most of the morning was spent taking care of the visa fraud paperwork that required I go through every transaction for our Visa credit card for the last 30 days. I had to identify all of the charges that I didn’t authorize. There were over $13,000 dollars worth. AHHH! This all began a week before we left on this adventure. And now I’m dealing with it while sipping coffee at a luxurious Bed and Breakfast in Downtown Eugene. I don’t think I’ll be liable for any of the charges but it is not something I want to be doing when I should be relaxing and enjoying the luxurious Campbell House in Downtown Eugene. All right, now I’ve mentioned the Campbell House directly or indirectly 3 times in this paragraph. What the heck are Alan and Donna and Lewis doing staying in the Campbell House in Downtown Eugene? Well Alan is trying to fix his Visa account while Donna and Lewis are still sleeping in splendor!
OK, I’ve got to go back a couple days so we can explain how we ended up at the Campbell house. I really need to go back about 9 days but I just don’t have the patience or determination to try and remember what transpired that long ago. But here goes. Day 3 we ended up in Astoria Oregon where we decided to change the gearing on the tandem and also to leave the BOB Cart trailer behind. Too much weight to be lugging up all the hills. This was around a 43 mile day due to a late start and the ferry ride that we didn’t coordinate very well. Stayed in our first motel of the trip Day 4 we rode from Astoria to Canon Beach Oregon. This was also a 43 mile day as we were wet and miserable I think. And the wind was wickedly vicious rigtht in our faces all day along with cool temps and rain and more wind and then some more rain. Day 5 was a short ride from Canon Beach to Point Lookout in Oregon. It rained a whole bunch. Again we rode around 40 miles. It rained all night and in the morning too! Everything got wet. Day 6 we rode to Pacific City Oregon because we decided that we needed to dry our our wet sleeping bags and wet mattresses and wet clothes and our wet bodies and Pacific Beach was the only town we would hit all day. Total miles in a positive direction was 18. We made a wrong turn halfway there that added another 9 miles so we actually rode 27 miles. We stayed in our second motel in Pacific City because we really wanted to dry out. I’m starting to think that maybe we won’t be able to ride the 45 to 60 miles a day that we need to in order to be able to reach DC before December. Day 7 we rode from Pacific City to the county fairgrouond in Rickreal Oregon. This was back to a 66 mile day and not any walking the bike up hills. We were getting stronger. Day 8 was when the wheels fell off or rather the chain fell off. We got off to our best start of the trip and were all packed up and on the road by 8:30 am. Had our first restaurant breakfast of the trip in Monmouth Oregon. The chain broke on the tandem just a few miles out of town. The nearest bike shop was in Corvallis which was almost 20 miles away. Used the cell phone to call 2 different bike shops and all they could say was ‘get the bike here and we’ll fix it.’ We picked a house at random where the garage door was open and walked up the driveway to encounter Mike. I told him of our dilemma and asked if he would be able to drive me into Corvallis to a bike shop. He was initially reluctant saying that he had plans to go to Salem and Corvalis was out of his way. But my charming demeaner eventually won him over and he ended up taxi cabbing me for the better part of 2 hours while Donna and Lewis entertained his wife Margaret. Our best ever start had us at 15 miles covered and it was approaching 2:00 pm. How had this happened? So we say goodbye to our first good samaritan of the trip and hot foot it out of there in an attempt to reach Eugene before nightfall. Had a late lunch in Corvallis as we rode in (my second visit of the day) and spend 45 minutes at Burger King while I sent out a half dozen e-mails to Warm Showers host in Eugene. The plan was to see if anyone responded once we got to Eugene. So we’re at 32 miles and it’s nearly 4:00. We put on our afterburners and added another 40 miles, pulling into Eugene at 7:30 pm. Over 70 miles and this was a day when 2 hours were wasted getting the chain fixed! Yes we can make it to DC!!!!!
We encountered a group of cyclists out for some exercise and they escorted us into town. Dean Martin got us to another wifi spot but to no avail. No one had responded to my e-mails. We were disappointed to say the least. After all the cyclists we have taken into our house, we have yet to taken in by someone else. I tried to get Dean Martin to let us sleep in his back yard but he said something about Jerry Lewis stopping by later and he wouldn’t have room for us. So we headed into Downtown Eugene and were prepared to get our 3rd motel of the trip.
We hadn’t eaten since Burger King so we pulled into a Safeway to buy a few groceries that we could consume in our motel room that we hadn’t yet found. This is the ugly part. I’m having a hard time writing about it. We left the bikes unlocked outside of Safeway. Donna was going to use the restroom and then return to keep watch on our stuff. I was to do the shopping. By the time Donna and Lewis had located the restrooms and relieved themselves, 10 to 15 minutes had passed. When she returned to the bikes, the bikes had become the bike. Only the tandem remained. Gone was her $1200 Novara touring bike, along with whatever was strapped to it. Here is an inventory: All of our clothes, the computer, our sleeping mattresses, her billfold containing $100 cash and credit card and license(don’t ask why she put that into a pannier), $500 worth of panniers, and a miscellany of personal stuff that is too numerous to mention. You can see the damage was severe.
I was still in the checkout line when Lewis came in to tell me that Mom’s bike was gone. Initially I thought he was trying to be funny. Then I was hoping that he was trying to be funny. Then I freaked out. I left our groceries on at the register without paying as that was what I was in the process of doing. I ran outside and yep, no joke. Donna was ashen in appearance and trembling. My initial thought was; we’re not going to make it to DC!
This is when a passerby noticed the agitation in our midst and asked if anything was wrong. When we informed him that our bike had just been stolen he said “Hop in. We’ll go look for it.” I wonder that if knew what can of worms he opened by getting involved with the Jacksons, would he have ignored us like the rest of Eugene was? I hopped in. I raced around Eugene with Rich Bolen for 10 or 15 minutes but I knew it was futile at best. Most likely it was under cover and never to be seen again. We talked about this and that and the other thing while racing around. When I explained the warm showers concept and how we had hoped to sleep in someones backyard in Eugene that we didn’t know, I also planted a seed in Rich Bolens head. If Rich had ignored that seed, or plucked it out of the ground I am fairly confident that this adventure would no longer be in progress. I would most likely be on the way home to Shelton soaked in misery.
Rich returned me to safeway where Donna was talking to a few employees after having called in the theft to the Eugene police. He stuck around for a bit and then left. We were instructed to wait where we were for the police to arrive and take down the pertinent information. After 40 minutes they hadn’t arrived but did call to say they had been delayed with more pressing matters. We were preparing to begin the long walk (2miles +) in the dark, in a strange city, to a motel that we didn’t know the name of when Rich returned with his wife in tow. Being not only a good person, but a good husband, Rich went home to make sure it was OK with Carrie if he invited us to sleep in their back yard.
When Rich made the offer, it was immediately accepted as we needed to be around people. If we had sequestered ourselves in a motel room it would have been like a morgue. Donna and Lewis hopped in the back of their car while I tried keeping up with them riding the tandem solo. I did pretty good plus the ride was relatively short as they lived only a half mile from Safeway. Rich and Carrie and their two daughters Holly and Amber welcomed us into their home. We joined them for a really late dinner of pasta and spaghetti and grilled chicken breasts along with a beer for me and a glass of wine for Donna. Once we had eaten we sat around with them and Rich began throwing out ideas about strategies that might help to get the bike back. I was more or less brain dead by this point after having ridden over 70 miles and the emotional turmoil that was raging inside my head. Rich put out some info on Craigs list about the stolen bike in order to inform people in Eugene what had happened. He even added a photo from REI. Then it was his turn to plant a seed in my head. His suggestion to get the local media involved was brilliant. That was about all that happened that day as our hosts went to bed but not before they made us comfortable not in the back yard but on their living room floor. Just as I was preparing to call it a day (a very long and bad and yucky day), the police finally showed up. It was now nearly 1:00 in the morning and I let the officer into their house where he took all the information. Officer Ryan didn’t hold out much hope in us getting our bike back but he also was instrumental in getting the snowball rolling which eventually morphed into a 45’ tall abominable snowman. The police also have a public relations officer who get news out to the public and they jumped on this story.
The phone calls started coming the next morning. There must have been 15 or 20. By noon we had agreed to and been interviewed by 2 different local TV stations and 1 local country music radio station. By the end of the day we had one additional TV story and the local newspaper also jumped in. This all occurred in the house of Rich and Carrie Bolen. It was a circus to say the least. But good things started happening almost immediately. The country music radio station has a morning talk show with 3 really nice DJ’s: Tracy Berry, Bill Barrett and Tim Fox who is a bicycling enthusiast. They decided to run a fundraiser the following morning in an effort to get us back on the road and also to help restore the image of Eugene, It had to have helped that I resemble (in name only) a certain tall blonde dude who is well known in the country music circles. It is about time that I benefited from sharing my name with him. I am the original after all. The other Alan Jackson is about 6 months younger than me!
In addition to the planned fundraiser scheduled for Wednesday, the folks at 93.3 also offered to set us up at the Campbell House for 2 nights free of charge. We jump at this opportunity in an attempt to get Rich and Carries lives back into some sense of normalcy. While we have known them less than 24 hours, we had turned their peaceful routine upside down. Tim Fox (the DJ at 93.3) transported us to our new surroundings later that afternoon.
The Campbell House is one of those old Victorian places that reeks with charm. It is way beyond anything that I would ever do for myself. Maybe as a special gift to Donna someday? As previously mentioned we were placed into the carriage house where we had privacy and room to move about. Our room had 2 beds, jetted bath, TV fridge microwave and the whole place was filled with antique this or that or bric a brac. Just out of curiosity I inquired as to the current rates for the room we were in. $289 a night!
After unpacking our meager belongings we set out on a walking tour of Eugene specifically visiting a bicycle shop that Tim suggested, ‘The Wheel Works’. We picked out a replacement bike for Donna along with all the necessary accessories. An hour later we were back on our way to the Campbell House. The remainder of the day was spent flipping through channels from one news program to Nickelodeon to the next news program and back to Nickelodeon. We caught just one of the interviews but Lewis got his fix of cartoons on Nickelodeon.
The next morning (Wednesday June 10) I awoke earlier than the others (as usual) and went to the lobby for the breakfast portion of our bed and breakfast. Almost immediately I was connected with the DJ’s and was interviewed yet again. This was during the fundraiser that ran for their entire morning talk show that runs from 7 to 10:30. The gang from 93.3 wanted to give us the proceeds so we agreed to meet them at the Cambell House just before noon. We ended up receiving approximately $1700 in cash and checks from the generosity of people in Eugene whom we don’t even know. Just a bit later we got another phone call from the gang at 93.3. This time they were calling to report that someone had found our bicycle!
This of course deserves another round of media attention so a bunch of people with cameras rolling were waiting outside the Campbell House when the Police Swat Truck pulled up with Donnas bike in the back. A young lady who recognized our bike from one of the news pieces discovered it next to a dumpster outside her apartment just a block away from Safeway. Miraculously the panniers (like saddle bags for bikes) were still on the bike! They had been emptied of the contents except for a few small things left in the zippered compartments. What was similarly strange was the fact that the seat had been exchanged with a beatup one and the wheels had been swapped out as well. The bike in its condition was almost rideable. It couldn’t be shifted as the gear shifter did not match the freewheel but it was more or less intact. I have speculated that the thief had a smidgeon of conscious and intentionally placed the bike somewhere it would be seen as the media circus surrounding the Jacksons and their interrupted trip to Washington DC was one of the biggest stories of the day in Eugene. I wish everyone could have seen Lewis when one of the reporters threw him the question of ‘what would you say to the person who stole your bike?’ He didn’t falter and responded “whoever took our bike should give it back so that we can keep going to Washington DC.” I was so proud of our little man Lewis!
When the media circus was concluded, we began our day of mad shopping. First we went to Wheel Works and cancelled the bike we would have bought. Then talked to the owner who agreed to have our bike road ready by the end of the day with new wheels, new tires, new seat, and a general tune-up, Next we hit the St Vincent DePaul thrift store where we all purchased quite a few things. Donna actually bought second hand underwear but she probably doesn’t want me telling the world this. Next we did lunch followed by a trip to REI. This was perhaps the least savory aspect of our day of shopping in Eugene. One of the employees recognized us from the news stories and contacted her superior to see if any deals could be made on our behalf. It would have been some good free publicity as we are REI members afterall. No luck. REI bad, REI bad! The purchases at REI came to just over $650 as we had to replace our sleeping mattresses, cycling shorts, and some camping miscellany.
By the time we left REI (REI bad, REI bad) we were due back at the bike shop as they closed at 6:00. The refurbished bike along with another couple pairs of bike shorts and a new bike computer costs us $575. The last thing we hoped to accomplish today was some shopping at Target followed by a new minilaptop (I’m using it right now) purchased at BEST BUY. This was not walking distance from Downtown but our now good friend Rich agreed to pick us up at the Campbell House and do some shopping with us before we all got together for a final good bye dinner. We spent another $75 dollars at Target and the new computer and a card reader for the camera came to $300 at Best Buy. I haven’t done the math yet but it appears as though the incoming and outgoing cash flow was almost a balanced amount. How the heck did that happen?
After concluding our shopping and having replaced most everything that was missing, we joined Rich and Carrie and Holly and Amber and their family friend, ?????, for dinner at one of their favorite establishments. When it came time to pay the bill I was opening my wallet when Rich informed me that my money was no good. What’s up with that? Thank you Rich and Carrie for taking us into your house and I hope we haven’t scared you away from ever doing a good deed again. Rich is such a good sport. He had to go through almost as many of the interviews as we did. His role being that of the good Samaritan, which he fit to a tee! But he did get a phone call from the mayor or Eugene on our behalf which probably wouldn’t have happened any other way!
After dinner we returned to Rich and Carries to watch the interviews which they had captured with their high tech gadgetry. Lewis got in a couple more episodes of Chowder on Nickelodeon before we said our final goodbyes to Carrie and the girls. Rich was going to do one last favor for us which involved transporting the tandem to the Campbell House from his garage where it had sat since that night so long ago.