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Vernonia Century – 110 Miles

Let me offer you my account of the descent into madness that will from this point forward be called simply Vernonia. Named after the village at the halfway point of a celebrated 100 mile ride, I knew Vernonia only as a marker on the logging map from the hit Discovery Channel television show “Xtreme Culinary Disasters of Former Logging Communities of the Northwest”. I knew this ride was going to be amazing, but I couldn’t seem to convince anyone else, and no one could muster the patience that six solid hours of my company requires. Jennifer, having no idea who I was, eventually agreed to go as far as Sauvie Island…

One hundred miles later she seemed both confused and hungry.

menuThings began looking ominous by the time we reached Vernonia. We were ready for snacks and stopped at the Vernonia Lake snack shack, where the guarded locals explained my food options. I could have anything. As long as it was a hot dog. Anything else, I asked? Yes. They also have chili dogs. I checked the menu for the other two food groups, and found them immediately: corn dogs and jumbo dogs. They also had worms and cup-o-soup. I think it’s worth noting the order of the foods on the menu, and imagining how they came to be arranged the way they were. It’s as if the idea of serving hot dogs, sans chili, was an idea that only occurred them later, after taking a break with a bag of fruit snacks. We eventually found the Vernonia Sentry market, which I presume to be named (and incorrectly spelled) in honor of the 100+ mile ride we were currently halfway through. Said will a drawl as “Are y’all ridin’ that Vernonia Sentry?”

I spent the next ten miles seeking the acceptance of the motorcycle community by offering them the one hand signal we all share; the international sign for “index finger going into a round orafice”.

No one reciprocated.

Jennifer’s mood fluctuated between hungry, quiet and bloated. I know that these don’t sound like moods. But these are Jennifer’s moods. Bloated was my favorite. Her mood perked up only when counting dead snakes in the road, like a cross between Rain Man and the Road Warrior.

Somehow we got stuck on the highway that runs straight through the beautiful plains west of Portland. But we couldn’t see the beautiful plains, because there were strip malls in the way. And we were fearful of getting lost. We didn’t see anything beautiful, but we did see the largest “Slow” sign West of the Mississippi.

bananaEventually we hit rock bottom and both halucinated a giant talking banana that gave us some kind of smoothie and some lucky lotto numbers. The banana calmed us down and told us that there was nothing to be afraid of, and then asked us to follow it into the light. I’m told that halucinations can’t be photographed, but if they could, our plucky banana diety would look like exactly like this.

The next thing I knew I was at home drinking a beer.

The map of our ride, which should be totally ignored after the 75 mile marker, is below. Here are the basics:

1. Highway 30 to Vernonia Highway, and follow it all the way to Vernonia. Stop when you smell microwaved hot dogs.

2. Make a right on Timber Road.

3. Stop a a swimmin’ hole and get your feet wet. Also get poison oak.

4. Cross Highway 26

5. Make a left on Highway 6, and follow it until you reach Gales Creek Rd.

6. Miss a turn somewhere and stay on Highway 8; keep muttering to yourself, “This doesn’t look right.”

7. Follow this road straight into hell. Curl up into a ball and wait for the giant banana to save you.

8. And… you’re home.

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