Originally pressed in 1996 PROFANE EXISTENCE is bringing this quintessential anarcho punk masterpiece back in circulation.
In 1996 AUS-ROTTEN released their first LP “The System Works For Them” on an unsuspecting punk scene. It spread like wildfire in a pre internet era within a genre that mostly depended on tape trading. (at least is was pre internet for us penniless punks) “The System Works For Them” was the perfect mix of anger and intelligence that the scene needed at the time (and still does today). It was like a wake up call that opened the eyes and ears to many punks the world over. The messages where crystal clear and most us were hooked as soon as the beginning shouts of “Boycott” bellowed over the speakers. I don’t believe any of us ever expected their message to resonate so well within the scene, but even more surprising is how the songs are just as relevant today as on they the day they were written. Which is why PROFANE EXISTENCE has decided to repress this record. We feel that that messages that AUS-ROTTEN brought to the table are to powerful to ignore. We feel that this LP is important and therefore should be highly available and priced affordably.
PROFANE EXISTENCE has worked out every last detail of this release with the members of AUS-ROTTEN whom have been involved from step one. All tracks have been re-masted by Jay Matherson at the Jamroom studios. To be 100% honest we didn’t want to do a complete re-master of what we already considered a good recording. However when we opened the tracks on protools we noticed a few balance issues that required fixing. These fixes resulted in a tremendous upgrade to the overall quality of the tracks. We painstakingly scanned, puzzled, and photoshopped the original artwork to make sure that it was as close to authentic as it could possible be. We then went for broke by pressing in three different vinyl color combinations! Overall to say that we are pumped to release this would be an understatement, we are absolutely ecstatic to bring you this LP on PROFANE EXISTENCE!
To top this all off we worked with AUS-ROTTEN vocalist Dave Trenga on redrawing the classic “What Good Is Money, When There Is No One Left To Buy” design for a T-Shirt to concede with the albums release. This is a fresh take on an old image to create a new and original design.
Vinyl options are…
1. Standard black vinyl
2. “The Battlefield is Still Red” Bloodsplatter vinyl.
3. See through “Smoke”. – Available at SKULLFEST only
Silence are a highly active post-punk/peace-punk band from Pittsburgh, PA. “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” strives (and succeeds) to achieve the perfect balance between peace and post punk. By taking influences from The Mob, Bauhaus, Zounds, Killing Joke, Amebix, Crass, Conflict, Internal Autonomy and Joy Division SILENCE have created what can only be described a brilliant debut LP. At one moment this record is dark, heavy, and atmospheric and then the next moment it makes you want to dance and sing along. Lyrically SILENCE are much closer to the anarcho side of the previously listed influences. Lyrics focus on a variety of topics but often have a strong focus on the way punk and activist communities deal with political struggle in our current political climate.
“The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing” comes with a 16 page magazine size zine containing lyrics, personal writings and song explanations. Designed, printed and assembled by the band themselves in true D.I.Y. fashion.
Silence will be having a record release show in their hometown of Pittsburgh PA at the Rock Room Friday April 22nd with SHADOW AGE and SKELETON HANDS. Then later this month SILENCE will embark on a full United States tour to support “The Deafening Sound of Absolutely Nothing”. Here is a list of dates. Be show to check in with the bands “bandcamp” or “Facebook” page for show updates.
When all that remains is a world in flames. Is that when they’ll say the wars are finally won? That wars are finally done?
They’re beating on the drums again, they’re fueling up the planes. The congressmen fall into line and sing the old refrain. In the name of peace they’ll burn the land and drop a thousand bombs.
Meanwhile we’ll just stay at home and go back to our sitcoms. It’s the same old song, we’ve heard it before. They’re beating the drums and they’re calling for war. What it’s supposed to accomplish, no one is sure But the victims are always the hungry and the poor.
Once the drums of war begin it’s hard to make them stop. The noise silences the dissidents once the bombs begin to drop. All those who call for peace will be mocked and pushed aside. In 10 years they’ll admit we were right after many thousands more have died.
Finally after many delays from the pressing plant the WARWOUND Demo’s LP “A Huge Black Cloud” is out and copies are moving fast!
Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from 3 sessions. With a few different takes you get a total of 25 blistering tracks. For those unfamiliar with WARWOUND, they are a UK band formed in 82. WARWOUND recorded 3 demos in 83 before disbanding and members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form SACRILEGE. These demos never received an official release… until now! Highly influenced by DISCHARGE, WARWOUND is one of the first bands ever to take D-Beat Punk to a raw and intense level. Recently reformed in 2015, original guitarist Damian is now joined by Ian Glasper on bass and Rat Varuker on vocals. After a few gigs in the UK word is spreading fast of the relentless onslaught of a live show these veterans put on. WARWOUND have also recently hit the studio to record for the first time in over 30 years. Needless to say WARWOUND is back with a vengeance!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
WARTORN are a whirlwind of thrash punk goodness hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2004, they’ve been hitting the touring and record release circuit with no looking back. Here’s a quick interview I did to let people know about their two latest releases, Domestic Terrorist 7″ (Profane Existence) & Iconic Nightmare 12″ (Southern Lord). – Andy Leffer
(This interview also appears in CVLT NATION)
PE: You know the drill, just give us the basics on who’s who and what’s changed in the past, in regards to any line up changes, etc. Also, give us some insight on where WARTORN is going. We want to know tours, records, riots, protests, arrests….the whole back story on WARTORN’s origins.
Bitty: (Vocals) The band started in 2004, with Ryan, Hart (on drums) and myself as a three-piece. Within half a year I got a call with an offer for our first tour, which was with Municipal Waste. We did a mini tour with them and ever since then we have been able to go on tours with amazing bands each year such as Los Dolares, ATU, CYP, Krang, In Defence, Pyroklast, Hellshock, and up next Raw Power . We have been to 13 countries and have done lots of releases on many different labels.
Ryan: guitar / low vocals / whiskey enthusiast. Well we started as a 3-piece and over a span of over 8 years, have ended up with 6 members. With 3 of us being guitar players we are able to diversify our songs in ways that we could only do in a studio setting. This obviously makes a difference live as well.
Ela: I’ve been the bass player for over the last 6 years. Recently, we came out with an LP/CD on Southern Lord Records called “Iconic Nightmare” and a 7-inch, “Domestic Terrorist”, released on Profane Existence (which is part of their limited edition singles series).
Toban: (Guitar) I think I might have the most arrests out of anyone in the band. Not like its anything to brag about. I did narrowly avoid another arrest a few weeks ago.
Derek: Guitar as well. I’ve been in the band for a few months and have been on two tours so far.
PE: The music is dynamic, to say the least. You’re not getting any half-assed riffs or mindlessly thrown together lyrics or production with your music. Elaborate on the process and what is the driving force for doing such a band. Punk is a political movement, it’s always been a political movement. Are you a part of this fray as a whole, or is this more of a personal, therapeutic outlet?
Ryan: I definitely believe in the power of the riff. Heavy and raging. Punk is a political movement, but I also see it as a community (full of musicians, artists, writers, photographers, open thinkers etc). A lot of us live/ have lived in punk houses and have been booking DIY shows for years. It’s something we do to contribute to it as a whole.
Toban: Ryan is the riff-master general of the band. He does a great job of coming up with some of the most incredible riffs of anyone I’ve been in a band with. Adding Bitty’s smartly composed lyrics and Hart’s hard hitting/tight drum style makes a great concoction.
Bitty: As far as what I write lyrically, I mainly write about personal experiences or historical events. I don’t tell people what they need to think, that is for them to figure out on their own. Also, I could not label myself as more than a realist and a situationalist.
Ela: Well in my opinion, I would say that we are a part of this as a whole, but it also is a personal outlet for me. We have all contributed to the movement in one way or another, but I think of punk as more than just a political movement. For me it is also about a unified community… where people come together, whether it is for political reasons, to share a passion for music, a hobby, art, etc. … and we definitely have that in Appleton, which is awesome.
Hart: I honestly wouldn’t say punk’s always been a political movement at all. The fact that DK, Meatmen, and the Germs, for example, all existed during one heyday suggests more of a harsh musical and broad social changeover than anything to me. For me personally, punk rock, metal and hardcore have always been a therapeutic and vindicating way of life that has consistently solved a lot of my life’s most harrowing, fucked-up times. It had a total bottleneck effect on how I raised myself mentally and emotionally. It was a really great thing to find out about when I was trying to figure out how to express myself when everything just infuriated or bored the shit out of me. Later, after I was free as an adult, I quickly found out it came replete with its own sense of community, and a totally viscous following I was never aware existed at all. This band is fucking great, cause we never throw a blind rhetorical blanket over our lyrical ideals, or even necessarily our instrumentation for that matter. We have a rough format that we’ve stuck to, but we all come from slightly different scenes and upbringings, and I’ve always thought it showed at least a little in our styles. I honestly don’t think the excitement of being in this band has worn off for any of us. Sure, growing pains have slowed our progress a couple of times, but whenever the next lightbulb goes on over our heads, it’s all go no slow!
Derek: For me, this is definitely a personal outlet. That’s what music has always been for me. Being the young’n metalhead in the group, I’ve kind of just been exposed to the world of punk houses and DIY shows recently. From what I’ve gathered so far I can at least say that the sense of community is beautiful.
PE: Your latest singles release on Profane Existence “Domestic Terrorist”. There’s no beating around the bush on this subject matter. Once again, can you elaborate on this specific release and the intention behind the subject?
Bitty: There have been a few times where I had local law enforcement “protect and serve” the shit out of me. As a kid in the 80’s from a small hometown, I’ve had guns in my face from the cops, hammers pulled back and screaming in my face. I have also had an off-duty cop put a gun in my face and ask me if I thought it was funny while he was wasted. You know of all the times I was ever robbed or assaulted, at least I knew if I fought back I stood a chance; I even survived an attempted homicide! But, it’s not so easy when you have to fight back against law enforcement. They just beat your ass and lock you up, even if they are totally in the wrong. I’ve witnessed so much personal corruption; to me it seems to be an extension of an abuse of absolute power. Now that, to me, strikes terror in any citizen.
PE: Bitty, you’re straight edge…maybe not self-proclaimed, but you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. Considering the genre of punk and it’s history of abuse with these elements, has this hindered your views on the movement?
Hart: Total interjection here! Dude, Bitty’s optimism actually astounds me. He’s seen more friends either die or completely lose their vitality as humans due to drug and alcohol use than I’d like to ponder. He’s remained pretty fucking pragmatic in his attitude toward his friends’ choices in that sense. I myself get pretty fed-up at times about my own friend’s use of drugs, especially certain ones. I’ve had plenty problems controlling my drinking in the past. I do believe I have a fairly good idea these days of when to dry out, but it can pull me into a real bad place. I start questioning what even matters anymore, and I start fighting everything that means the most to me. However, that’s where that community comes in again! I’m learning to seek out the right punks or no one at all when the time feels right, and I’ve been keeping up on it for a while now.
Bitty: Not at all. You don’t need to be like me in order for me to like you. The real moment that reinforced my decision was when I came home to a friend that lived with me and I found him in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to cut his hand off with a butcher knife while he was completely wasted and ended up with more stiches then an average shark attack. It really put a bad taste in my mouth about how substances can amplify bad decision-making skills. Although I am aware that most just use it to have a good time, truth be told, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But as long as you’re not hurting me or others in any way shape or form it’s your deal not mine. This is just a suggestion, have fun and do what you need to do to deal with things or get by, but try not to destroy yourself in the process. You might end up missing out on some good things in life.
PE: WARTORN is a great band, so with that….does WARTORN have anything they’d like to say to the world, it’s listeners or the masses in general?
Toban: In the words of country music legend Kris Kristofferson “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Ryan: Thanks for the interview.
Ela: Thanks for all the support. We can’t wait to hit the road and tear it up again in a couple months!
Derek: May the force be with you. But seriously, I can’t wait to hit the road and I hope to see everyone reading this there.
Hart: As always, start 4 bands tomorrow and eat your fiber!
Bitty: Thanks for the interview Andy and everyone that helped us out and we’ll see you on the road. If you’d like to help us out with booking or have any questions, feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The storms are on the ocean / the heavens may cease to be / this world may lose it’s motion, love / if I prove false to thee” – The Carter Family
I woke up this morning a little past 8 am again, my body is kind of settling into a new schedule it seems. One thing I enjoy about sleeping outside isI rise when the sun does, and that in turn means I usually get to bed at a reasonable hour. Plus, there’s nothing like strenuous athletic activity to remind you that when it comes down to it “food is fuel” and “sleep is for recharging”.
I get fully packed up around 9 am and said my goodbyes and goodlucks to the few other cyclists I’ve come to be familiar with at these camps. Some of them I’ve seen only once before, but I can tell a camaraderie is building between us. I mount my bike and coast down the hill that the hiker/biker site is on and pedal out of the state park. I hung a left on the 101 and take the first few strides toward another long day of cycling.
It’s freezing cold this morning, and the air is heavy and damp. The fog is almost as thick as it was last night and I feel the need to wear my rain shell due to the crisp air. It takes me about a half hour to warm my legs up so they stop moving like rusted machinery, but once I get my rhythm back I’m jamming down the highway and making good time. Before I know it though the short 6.5 mile ride from the state park to the town of Newport is over and I once again am cruising around a new place and taking in the sights. Newport isn’t much to look at though, I gotta be honest with you. It seems pretty industrial and downtown looks just like a long, tattered, chewed up old strip mall. Probably not too unattractive when I take into account a lot of other place I’ve visited over the years, but after cycling through these quaint and extremely beautiful coastal communities, Newport seems to be in stark and unfavorable contrast.
I stop at a small market to stock up on supplies, including some athletic tape since my hand is beginning to form a painful palm bruise. The bruise started to form partway through my ride yesterday, and this morning it’s killing me to a point where I mostly ride one-handed. I didn’t bring bike gloves with me unfortunately, so wrapping it in a $2 bandage seems to be a cheap, temporary solution to this problem. The old worn rubber grips on my Schwinn cruiser bars probably weren’t designed to be comfortable for 400 mile rides, but how was I supposed to know that? Haha. After I stock up on what I need I cross the street to the Starbucks where I use their wifi and do my “not dead” checkin once again. I don’t bother getting a tea as there’s a massive line flowing from the counter all the way out on to the patio where I’m sitting, as much as I may want one this morning. Heavy, sleep laden eyes bore down on a sweaty punk guy as he uses the facilities without intending to purchase anything. “FOR SHAME!” I imagine them screaming. I can hear the irritable tone in their conversations, and it seems as if they’re probably all a moment away from strangling one another if it meant that they could get their coffee before someone else. I’ve grown tired of this town already, so I head on my way, not looking back for a second.
I continued down the highway at a good clip until I caught up with the Australian guy who I recognized from the campsite last night. I chat with him for about 15 minutes while riding in his draft, and eventually overtake him while bombing a hill and tell him I’ll see him in the next town. About a half hour later I start to see a lot of pretty impressive rock formations as I’m flying down the highway, and soon I see signs for “Seal Rock” coming up pretty soon. I decided to take a break and pulled into a turnout to check out the view. There weren’t a whole lot of seals within view, but the chain of tiny islands that sit just off shore was definitely worth the stop. Eventually the Australian guy caught up to me and pulls over as well. We exchange pleasantries and I find out his name is Tristan while we both chat about our individual rides. He’s riding solo as well, from Vancouver, BC where he’s currently living, and all the way down to San Diego. He had a considerable beard consistent with someone who’s been on the road as long as he had and he also was wearing a pretty cozy looking pair of boardshorts that I secretly envied. As is the same with pretty much everyone I’ve interacted with who’s bike touring I liked him pretty much instantly. I think it says a lot about someone’s character if they’re willing to hit the road solo, armed only with a bicycle and a tent, cover a huge distance on a small, human-powered machine and leave everything behind for an undetermined amount of time. Pretty soon Tristan and I are joined by a woman I non-verbally refer to as “the woman who never talks”, who I also recognize from the last camp and infer is riding solo as well. She pulled up about 10 feet behind us and gave us a small wave while she checked out the view. I lingered for a few more moments but decided to keep going before I got too comfortable and it gets even more difficult to press on.
Hours later I find myself climbing yet another massive hill. It’s still foggy out, and the air is becoming increasingly more damp as the day progresses. Soon I feared it would start to rain and make this ride that much more difficult. The headwind today has been considerable, and already my muscles were straining to keep a pace that I feel satisfied with. I realized I’m incredibly hungry now, on the verge of “hanger” (so hungry that you get mad) so I decided to pull off at a convenience store at the edge of an RV park at the crest of a hill. I bought an iced tea and asked if I could use the microwave for my Tasty Bite packets. The woman is extremely helpful and chats me up for a long time while I meander through the store. Even though I’m in a hurry and I’m starving I politely carry the conversation since she’s being so kind to me, even setting me up with plates and cutlery to better enjoy my food off of. I took my food to the benches out front, and as I’m eating it begins to lightly rain, which then gives way to pouring rain. I am not in the mood for this right now I think. My only hope is that this rain will cease in the next couple of hours, but my experience growing up on the coast of southern California tells me that a storm could be coming soon.
I pedaled on through the pounding rain, some moments even losing my vision because the rainfall is so heavy. I try to get in a positive mindset and stay focused to the task at hand, recognizing how this trip is proving not only to be an incredible physical strain but a mental one as well. Eventually I make my way into Yachats, which now I start to think will be my new favorite town on the Oregon Coast. It’s small and full of kite shops, surf shops and cheery looking people having a great day in spite of the rain. I pull off the 101 and follow signs to a Post Office, where I drop in some postcards for friends near and far. Even though it’s the middle of the week, nearly every Post Office I’ve seen in these small towns is closed, or only serve as PO box stations. I thankfully bought postcard stamps already so I wasn’t put out by it, but it’s definitely something I need to keep in mind next time I stop.
Regretfully I pedal through Yachats and continue on my way, stopping to snap a few photographs of what I fantasize to be my future place of residence. Soon I cross town and I’m back out in the woods, laboring down this two lane road. Some town folks in Lincoln City warned me that once you get south of Newport the roads considerably change for the worse, and that it becomes less touristy and less populated from there on out. So far this seems to be the case, as the road gets rougher with every mile, the emergency lane had whittled down to being only a foot wide, and on my right is usually either a sheer drop off a cliff or a 5 feet drop into a ravine; sometimes with no guard rail at all. I’m spacing out at this point in my ride, thinking a bit about the rain, about my sore muscles and about my hand which still stings even with the bandage protecting it. The next thing I know I feel my bike start to drag to the right where the ravine drops off, and before I can correct myself I know that my balance is going to send me into the ditch. “oh SHIT!” I yell as I careen off the road, barely getting my front wheel up to prevent myself from flipping over my bars. I drop 4 feet down into the ditch with a heavy thud, my elbow and ribs hitting the side of the road on the way and my upper body flopping partially into the lane of traffic. I immediately scramble to right myself as I have no idea if there are any cars approaching from behind. Thankfully there are none, and as I swear and spit I drag my heavy-as-shit bike out of the ditch and then check the wheels and the components for damage. Thankfully, and amazingly, there seems to be none. Both tires are still inflated and soon as I start biking I carefully watch both wheels for even the slightest wobble. There are none, so at least I have that to be thankful for. Unfortunately my shin, elbow and ribs are now killing me. I cracked my ribs on that side several times over the course of my life from skateboarding, so slamming down on the concrete just now didn’t help much with that at all. What a day this is turning out to be.
Checking my map I realize I’ll be approaching the one and only tunnel I’ll have to cross through since I skipped over the other that’s just south of Astoria. This is the “Cape Creek” tunnel near Heceta Head, and the photographs I saw of this tunnel did not prepare me for the ominous cavern that loomed on the hill, beckoning me toward it to receive my fate. The grade is incredibly steep here, and there is absolutely no emergency lane to bike in anymore. What’s worse, there are massive, two-trailer semi trucks flying past me on this road despite the rain. They kicked up mist and instilled terror in me as they passed me going 4 times my speed. After a struggle up the hill in my lowest gear I reach the mouth of the tunnel. A button sits on the edge of the bridges and tunnels on the coast that sets off a series of lights that warns other drivers that we’re passing through, as well as legally reducing the speed the cars are allowed travel through certain sections. I feel these warning lights are a placebo for the cyclists at best, and drivers typically do whatever they want with impunity and without remorse. I stop for a moment to catch my breath, sit at what almost feels like a “starting line” and prepare for my mad dash through the several hundred feet of tunnel ahead of me. In one motion I slam my palm into the button and the race is on! I get both feet in my straps, shift up and start jamming through the darkness as quick as I can, 2 bike lights blinking on the back of my seat post. Thankfully the car directly behind me slows to the required 30 mph, and eventually matches my pace to protect me from other cars in the narrow passageway. The cars behind this thoughtful person start blaring their horns in anger, creating a deafening sound that multiplies and magnifies in the stone tunnel. What the fuck, man! I almost utter, but I stay focused on the task at hand. A few moments later I inch my way out the other end of the mountain side and breathe the fresh air of victory, only to realize there’s still no emergency lane and another formidable climb ahead of me. Fuck this day. Seriously.
Through asthma induced wheezing and legs feeling like they’re made of rubber, I finally approach a plateau where the grade levels out and offers a view of the ocean. I pull over in a turnout and take a look at what I just accomplished with this mad dash up this towering cliff, and my prize is the view in front of me now. The heavy fog still looms in the air, presenting a sinister and spectacular view of the Heceta Head Lighthouse a mile or so down the road. Directly beneath me a group of Sea Lions lounge on a series of rocks, one of them sleeping directly on his face with his arms splayed in every direction. He’s immediately my favorite. My wheezing and my enjoyment of this jaw-dropping view is only interrupted by an older woman who approached me and asked me where I was biking from. I told her that I started in Portland a few days ago and I’m met with the now expected “that’s great! good for you!” response. She’s friendly and we chat for a minute, and I thank her for considering how fucking scary and dangerous it is out here for bikes and as I tell her about some of the more disrespectful drives today she yells curses into the air.”You’re cool”, I think “but I gotta go”. She wishes me luck and I thank her again.
Soon I reach a small building with a very full parking lot, and I realize these are the Sea Lion Caves I saw on my map as I was going over it last night. If you pay a fee there’s an elevator that will take you down into a cave where you can view the Sea Lions in all their slumbering and barking glory. As tempted as I was to take the elevator, I was totally broke, and instead I set my eyes on the counter that had about a dozen different types of fudge on display. I ask the woman behind the counter if any of them are dairy free, and I get an immediate response that all of them have cream and butter. “FUCK!” So I grab a few postcards, including a pretty awesome holographic one and head on my way.
The grade eases up a bit once I pass the Sea Lion Caves, and even though I’m still powering up the side of this impressive cape in the rain, I breathe a small sigh of relief as I think the crest must be coming soon. I eventually make it to the visitors center for “Devil’s Churn” and decide I should stop and ask about where I can find “Thor’s Well”, one of the main things I wanted to see on this ride. The park ranger was really helpful as usual and marks it on a map for me, explaining that it’s really simple to find. I take a short walk across the parking lot and take a look at Devil’s Churn, which is a narrow crack in the rocks that traces back all the way to the base of the cliff. The tide flows through the ravine and as waves crash around inside the mist it creates sprays to a considerable height. I film it with my camera phone to show friends later and go back to grab my bike. The ranger tells me it’s all downhill from here till the turnoff I need, and I reach the spot in less than 5 minutes. Excitedly I rush back and forth along the railing overlooking the rock formations to try and find the well. I can see some of the formations he mentioned, but no sign of Thor’s Well. I find some info placards along the railing but not one of them mentions this geographical oddity. I finally saunter over to the far corner of the railing where I see two women standing and I ask them if they know which one is Thor’s Well. They say they were wondering the exact same thing, and that the only thing they think it could possibly be was a tiny little hole in a rock several hundred feet away and inaccessible by foot. It doesn’t look to be churning in quite the way the ranger said it would be, but I take a photo of it and several other rocks just in case and decide to look it up later. Another anti-climactic end to what I built up to be so exciting! I told probably 10 other people about how I wanted to see this thing on my trip down, and none of them had heard of it, and now I know why. Well, whatever, at least I got to see it… I think?
Fuck, it’s still raining. Hard. Maybe I don’t need to mention that, but I’m thinking I need to illustrate how thoroughly soaked I’ve been all day. My shoes are squishy when I walk around, and if I wasn’t biking all day and keeping my body warm I’m sure I’d be at risk for all kinds of nasty colds. After a lot more rain I finally roll into Florence and stop at the Fred Meyer at the edge of town to restock my protein bars and get something to make for dinner. As I’m locking up out front I see the woman who never talks, and we both wave to each other. She locks up her bike and heads inside a moment after I do. I perused the fruit and vegetable section when I spot her again and I went over to chat. I’m guessing by her accent that she’s probably German, and though she speaks English really well I understand the shyness of speaking a language that isn’t your first in another country. We talk about our days and she tells me she was thinking of getting a hotel room that evening to get out of the rain. I tell her I’m envious because I wish I could do the same in light of having had a hard day, but unfortunately I can’t afford it. She asks if I have a place to sleep yet, and the way she phrased it confused me as to whether she was offering to share her hotel room with me or if she was just interested in where I was staying. I decided to assume that she was just interested in where I was staying, and I tell her I’m staying at another state park about 5 miles south of Florence called Jessie M. Honeyman. As I’m answering I see a look of disdain drift over her face, and for a moment I wonder if she really DID mean for me to infer that she wanted me to stay with her. Awkward as can be I quickly change the subject and eventually end the conversation to collect the rest of my supplies. Weird times. As I’m packing my bag to leave the Fred Meyer an older fellow walks past me and remarks with a smile “Looks like you brought the rain with you, thanks a lot!” and gives a small laugh. I smile back, all the while thinking “ha-ha, fuck you. Rain jokes. So good.”
It’s been a rough day, to say the least.
*Squish, squish* goes my shoes as I saunter across Florence on my bike, which I’m rapidly finding out is another town I’m less than impressed by. The sand dunes down here are pretty awesome though, and I do have a good laugh as I coast past a church called “Our Lady of the Dunes”. What were they thinking! I bike past several towering sand dunes that I regrettably did not photograph, due to my desire to get to camp and end this difficult day. One street I biked past dead ends at a 30 ft sand dune towering steeply above the sidewalk, which makes for an otherworldly sight. Soon enough I finally roll onto the side road that leads to Honeyman state park, a place that is surrounded by beautiful sand dunes. I see signs all over for rides in sand buggies and ads for dirtbike, quad and sandboard rentals. Unfortunately the weather won’t permit me to enjoy any of that today, but I’d gladly settle for a full nights sleep.
I approach the ranger station, pay for my site, and receive a terrible explanation as to where the showers are located on the property. I don’t bother asking for a map because it’s raining so hard at this point that it would just disintegrate into my hands. I arrive at my spot and begin to unpack my tent as quickly as I can. Unfortunately the long day leaves me disoriented and irritable, and I wrestle with my ramshackle tent for 15 minutes before I finally get it to sit upright with the rain guard on. In that time my tent had filled up with a considerable amount of water that added more to my frustration. I actually say out loud to my tent “I’m sick of your shit!” and toss my bags inside and storm off toward the showers in my still soaked clothes. Thankfully I managed to borrow some really nice waterproof panniers from a friend back in Portland, so at the very least I’ll have a dry sleeping bag and a dry pair of shorts to wear tonight when I sleep. I have to stay positive here.
I walk to the showers, literally peel off my clothing and stand in the hot water of my private room for probably 45 minutes. I put my head against the wall, closed my eyes, and let the water warm my whole body and tried to chase away my blues. What a day, what a fucking day… and it’s still pouring rain out. I mean, it’s raining harder than I’ve seen it rain in a long time, and I don’t even want to begin thinking about having to put on these wet clothes again and go back out into it. Since they’re already soaked anyway I use Dr. Bronners to wash my clothing in the show, so at the very least I’ll have the benefit of them being clean. I painfully and regretfully put my wet clothes back on and trudge back to camp to fix my crappy tent and get ready for bed. I left the bathroom with a huge roll of paper towels to try and soak up the water trapped on the bottom of my tent, and after about a half hour I finally get everything dry enough to feel comfortable taking out my sleeping bag. I sit completely still for another few minutes afterward to pinpoint all the leaks in the tent, where they drip and how the water pools. The moisture is just sweating through the rain guard at this point, and the only way to avoid getting drenched over the course of the night I have to sleep in an extremely awkward position. Almost like a giant question mark.
I pull out the Stephen King book I’ve been reading and it’s almost enough to chase off the thoughts of wishing I was home, warm and in my own bed. This is the first night that I’ve felt the pangs of being away from home and it’s hitting me hard. I could tolerate almost anything right now just as long as it would STOP FUCKING RAINING; but no. I have to endure it with no warm food, no dry clothes and no fire. Somehow I’m extremely dehydrated as well, a reminder that I forgot to drink enough water today even though I’ve been drenched for the past 10 hours. A lesser, and possibly wealthier person would throw in the towel, bike back to Florence and get a hotel room. To be completely honest, if I had the money I might have, but that’s not the hand that I was dealt here. I read for a bit longer until I’m confident I’m tired enough to be able to shut my eyes and not wake again till the morning. I’ll deal with whatever I have to deal with tomorrow. This night is sad, lonely and cold, but I’ll survive regardless. At least this day is over and I’m another town closer to my goal. Goodnight my friends.