Corvallis-Hobbiton

I love double-names for cities. Sedro-Woolley. Winston-Salem. Nagorno-Karabakh. The German city I lived in for a couple of years was single-named, but could well be the offspring of that Oregon town housing a scientific research center in the middle of the grass seed capital of the world, and the notably pedestrian- (and cyclist- ?) friendly village from which Bagginses set off on their adventures. Was I Bilbo with a bicycle? Pippin with a penny-farthing? Actually, if I am any Tolkien character, it would probably be Radagast, so I should probably have bought a recumbent, to adhere to my alliteration. While living there I embarked on several non-motorific adventures radiating outwards from my town along trails and farm roads to all sorts of places: castles, werewolf sculptures, nature parks, viewpoints.

One of my favorite bike trips was the ~60 km round-trip journey to a nearby Dutch town, across the Wurm. For some reason I just got a kick biking across the tiny bridge and being in a different country. If only the Euro was as pretty as the Guilder used to be. Absent lockdown I would do that trip every few weeks. It was quite a workout. There are many possible routes, although the fastest requires some village/city riding. It is mostly paved or gravel, forest paths and farm roads. I could reliably do about two thirds of the route without my navvy, but I would invariably get a bit lost then turn it on and have it start telling me what to do. Sometimes I would deliberately get really lost, striking out almost at random until I felt the need to visit Ralph’s Taverna, which offers an excellent chili con carne and Texels Skuumkoppe. Usually, getting back on track from getting “lost” took me through even more delightful dirt trails than my usual routes.

Another great trip is a loop around one of the local brown coal mines. Germany shut down its own nuclear power plants and now has to import some of its electricity from countries that didn’t shut down theirs. It also has to burn an awful lot of coal, the shitty kind, “brown” coal or lignite. It is not the coal mine, however, that makes the trip great (although you can get your fill of some spectactular open-pit mining views). One great thing is that a lot of the route is on trails through the woods, sometimes alongside rivers and streams, or through dirt roads between farm fields. Much more rural than the trip across the Wurm. What urbanity there is is very low-key, farm villages rather than bedroom communities. Fields of carrots, oats, maize, wheat, beets, rape (“canola”), and more are everywhere. Another great thing is the Indeman. The local small river, the Inde, defines the name of the region: Indeland. The Indeman is a tall (something like eight stories) metal sculpture in the cubist form of a standing, gesturing person. It is a steel frame construct that you can climb (or ride the elevator) to the top of for an encompassing view of the local landscape, including the coal mine, the small villages and larger city, farms, wind generators, rivers and woods.

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