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!
Yes! Finally, after what turned out to be a gigantic task of moving the PROFANE EXISTENCE distro from Minneapolis to Denver, transferring tons of data, and rebuilding the web store, we are finally set to open back up. To access the new store follow one of the many links from profaneexistence.com or access it directly at http://profaneexistence.storenvy.com
The first official PROFANE EXISTENCE title of 2015 is out and ready for order! We are proud to bring you the RIFLE DIET – “NO SOLACE”LP
Rifle Diet’s No Solace is a 12in 45 that combines the Classic Minneapolis crust sound with Swedish hardcore, D-beat and Epic crust (think somewhere between Servitude and Wolfbirgade, with hints of Tragedy and Fall of Efrafa). The beautiful cover art by Hannah Benoche sets a bleak mood for the dark music within, plus a cover of His Hero is a Gone – Chain of Command (ex-members of InDefence and Garmonbozia) This LP is a joint release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and BLOOD OF THE YOUNG RECORDS
To honor both the opening of the new store and our first release of 2015, we are giving a free copy of the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp to everyone that spends more then $50 from Monday January 12th to Monday January 19th!!! This deal is for one week only. DO NOT MISS OUT!
*Note*Rifle Diet are playing a record release show 1/17/15 at the Dogplex in Minneapolis with Kontrasekt, Aziza, and Fucking. To coincide with that show all orders that contain the RIFLE DIET – No Solace lp will be shipped out on Monday January 12th.
The next release in the works is the new full length lp from APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – “We Don’t Need Them”.
We Don’t Need Them is the second full-length record from West Virginia punx Appalachian Terror Unit. ATU have become known throughout the years as being one of the most politically charged bands in the current punk scene. This new record is an all out attack on today’s society that takes ATU to a new level of intensity both lyrically and musically. The combination of the beautiful and thought provoking gatefold cover art designed by Stivart along with the brilliant recording and mastering job by Jay Matheson at the Jam Room take this record even further. Song subjects include the horrors of war, police brutality, destruction of the environment, rape culture, consumerism and much more. Expect a very heavy and much angrier approach from a band that has been around the block and matured their sound. Seven raging new tunes including the epic fourteen and a half minute track “We Don’t Need Them”, a song that will one day be ranked among similar greats as the SUBHUMANS “From the Cradle to the Grave” and AUS ROTTEN “And Now Back to Our Programming”.
APPALACHIAN TERROR UNIT – We Don’t Need Them will be pressed in the United States on PROFANE EXISTENCE & in Europe on SKULD /RUIN NATION
WARWOUND – “A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983“
Another record we are very excited about is the upcoming WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983. Recorded in 1983, this record contains 15 songs from three 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, and released 2 demos in 83. Members went on to join THE VARUKERS and form the almighty SACRILEGE. Warwound are one of the first bands to take the politics and d-beat influence from DISCHARGE and combine it with the blown out sound of CHAOS UK to achieve total destructive raw d-beat ear bleeding chaos!
WARWOUND – A Huge Black Cloud-The Demos 1983 will be a split release between PROFANE EXISTENCE and ORGANIZE AND ARISE.
It will be available in the spring of 2015.
Other records and projects we have in the works for 2015 …
VASTATION (pdx formally night nurse) vs WAR//PLAGUE Split EP
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ’em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
“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.