IDAHO AND OREGON

Photos are here.

AUGUST 13: AND THEN THERE WAS ONE…..AGAIN

 
I firmly believe one should have contingency plans and if I learned nothing else while I was in the USAF it was to have a backup plan for the plan. Just in case.

Yesterday Dennis and Scott started to talk about going through Canada to Vancouver and then down to Portland. So I broke out my standby plan of leaving today instead of tomorrow to get a chance to break up the 5000 foot elevation gain in the climb to Ochoco Pass which, according to Ikenberry, was not going to be pleasant. Being so late in the game I was not about to chance wrecking my knees doing all that climbing in one if I didn’t have to. And if I did break it up I’d be cutting it too closely to my train reservations. I was not too sure he was going to do it as he hadn’t really mentioned anything directly to me so when he confirmed it this morning I just left. I was not so much upset as I was disappointed. We started as a group of 6 to do this thing and now 860 miles from the end, he decides to go a different way. It would have been nice to celebrate our accomplishment together but obviously something else was at play here that is not readily apparent at face value. I was not sure how this would effect Kurt but with Dennis and Scott still at the hostel another day, I was confident Kurt would go with them. I thought about it quite a bit and came to the conclusion Kurt had more in common with Dennis than with me. Plus, the route they planned to take would make the trip shorter by 2 or 3 days and Kurt had earlier expressed a desire to finish sooner than later so I made up my mind to leave. I may be wrong in my assumptions but…..

The evening saw rain hit Missoula and with clouds hovering around I took off. Ran into Dave, an East bounder headed to Portland, Maine on a recumbent. He said showers were behind him but that they were not too bad. Wrong answer!! I hit some pretty solid rain and with big trucks cruising by it was downright ugly. One got just a foot or so from me to pass yet the other lane was free. What is it that makes these truck drivers such assholes? Do they think the truck is an extension of their penis and they are cock fighting on the road? Trying to show who has the bigger dick? ASSHOLES!!!

The weather had me in a quandary about what to do so I stopped at the restaurant in Lolo Hot Springs just a few miles before the pass and had lunch.

I tried to wait out the rain but was not successful. Considered staying at the campground located nearby but then over the next few days things would get even iffier if the passes to come were worse than I expected. On top of that, services were few and far between for the next several days, too. So I made a break for Whitehorse 26 miles away. Got to the top of the pass and as if in a sign, the sun came out for a few minutes. My disposition immediately improved.

This whole area is incredibly underdeveloped and a true wilderness. It should stay that way, too.

Lewis and Clark came through here in 1804 and 1806. The Nez Perce Indian tribe also used the trail for buffalo hunting and when Lewis and Clark went to cross this area, they were befriended by these kind Indians for guide assistance. Only to be betrayed decades later by our government and forced to a reservation.

Got to the campground and still saw a little bit of sun so I set up my tent quickly and put all my gear inside. Then I went exploring down by the Lochsa River. What a glorious ride today was when I got over the pass and had the Lochsa to keep me company. Right now it is low but I can just imagine its rage and fury when Spring comes along. The whole area is so peaceful and quiet and relatively little traveled.

Back in the tent I stuffed my face and did some reading about Lewis and Clark that I picked up at the visitor center at the top of the pass. Am next to an elderly couple in their motor home and am envious. Although this trip has been, for the most part, fun, on days when it is cold and rainy I long for the comfort of something more than wet weather gear or a tent.

The rain began again and I suspect it will be ugly all of tomorrow! YECH L !!

As it stands, I am now in the 9th state of my journey having crossed the border at Lolo. I sure hope Betty Boop holds up OK and that I do not have trouble with broken spokes, etc. I dread the thought of having to do roadside repairs in the rain and cold.

Along the way I passed a large stand of cedar trees called Devoto Grove where their stauesqueness was reminiscent of the Redwood National Forest. They were tall, majestic, and smelled beautifully. Like giant guardians protecting the river valley. Also had a golden eagle launch itself into flight just 25 feet from me. He was perched ion a rock by the side of the road and I didn’t see him until this dark shape vaulted into my line of sight and crossed in front of me.

AUGUST 14: FROM MISERY TO ECSTASY

 
Talk about extremes! This was a day of them. First, I slept for 11 hours!! Then, having had to answer the call of nature, I crawled out of my tent and spied some stars in the sky. Ever hopeful, I went back to sleep. Up at 530 there was absolutely no blue in the sky but my friends, the mosquitoes, were out in force so I hurriedly packed up, got some water and hurried out of there in the cool of the 58 degree morning. I still do not have the knack for properly balancing my apparel because shortly after I began I started to sweat—and promptly got cold from the wind trying to evaporate my damp clothes.

It was a nice, mostly downhill jaunt for the whole day. Just me and Betty Boop hugging the banks of the Lochsa River. What a gorgeous piece of geography! Noticed lots of turnoffs where one can pull off an RV and free-camp. This is good for my future travels!! Also had lots of access roads for hiking and lots of campgrounds.

Every turn in the road exposed another valley, or more rapids, or wildlife. This went on for 66 miles of absolutely no services, gas stations, etc. In a car, it would have been a little over an hour of “ooohs and aahs.” For me it was an all day affair.

So far have gone through two pens on this trip. Must be writing too much!

Fed out of my handlebar bag for a good portion of the morning—fruit, candy, pastries, pop tarts, banana, and a snickers bar.

As the morning progressed I noticed more and more blue splotches in the sky. This was good. My spirits began climbing and a huge area of blue exposed itself and the sun actually came out for a while. How glorious. Then it clouded up again and got ugly. A turn in the valley left the dark clouds behind and all was well again in my little two wheeled world. Eventually more and more blue dominated the skies and 10 miles from Lowell it cleared up totally. I was so happy!! What a difference from yesterday when I actually experienced vapor coming out of my mouth!

Saw lots and lots of waterfalls feeding the Lochsa. It’s pretty well known that running water sure has a calming effect on a person and with as much water falling from the hillsides and running down the valley as there was, I should have been calmed into an absolute catatonic numbness. What with being able to observe several ospreys, stellar jays, and other wildlife, maybe that’s not such a bad idea.

The road I am on, Highway 12, is relatively new and prior to it, there was no way to cross this part of the state. Snowbound as much as it is most of the year, this must have been a formidable opponent for Lewis and Clark. Their diaries are fascinating to read and speak volumes for their trials and tribulations—from horses falling down off the trails into the valleys below resulting in damage not only to the horse but to the goods they carried; to a lack of water, lack of food (necessitating the slaughter of colts for sustenance) to illness, fallen trees blocking their paths, swollen, rushing rivers, snow, etc. And I think I have it bad!!! In our society we really have no concept.

Got to Lowell and had a huge lunch at the café. A slab of ham on one plate with a second plate containing 2 eggs, hash browns, and toast. All washed down with copious amounts of coffee and carrot cake, too.

Pulled into the Wild Goose Campground and ran across 3 bikers (Norm, Charles, and Bjorn.) They’d met a few years ago on a west coast ride and get together periodically to ride together. They are going from Boise to Missoula and back. Norm’s going to San Antonio to teach and the other two are renting a car and going to the Tetons to do some climbing.

Stayed near the water’s edge (it’s now called the Middle Fork Clearwater River), got my feet wet, watched a mother Merganser with her 8 baby quackers, and also watched Charles fish for trout and saw the temp shoot up to 98. YEEHAW!

What a difference from yesterday! Currently at 1280 feet in elevation. It’s the lowest since Kentucky and the temperatures the highest since Tribune, Kansas on the 18th of July. I do believe the heat is on. Charles told me I could expect heat and dry weather for the next 7 days.

By 7 PM the temp was down to 80. Sure made the highs more tolerable. Be better if I’d had had a shower!

AUGUST 15: WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS

 
Fell asleep last night just as the nearly full moon peeked its head over the mountains. Its reflection off the river lit up the night. Dozed for a while and awoke to see it set over the same mountains not far from where it arose. Slept very well on a large, long commodious picnic table. I farewelled the guys as they were headed for a restaurant two miles up the road to eat. I knew I’d be fast asleep by the time they returned and in the morning I’d be up way before them.

Awoke a couple of times and listened to the various forest noises and the rushing of the river waters and then got up for good at 530 to be on the road 20 minutes later.

Stopped at the Clearwater Fork Café in Syringa for breakfast. Got way too much food—a huge 12″ diameter pancake, 2 biscuits in sausage gravy neither of which I could finish. Drank lots of coffee, though. In chatting with the waitress, I found out the town is named after the state flower and in keeping with tradition you can expect the restaurant to be decorated in typical decor—lots of dead animals on the walls.

Anxious to move on, I left the restaurant and in a few minutes had this deer bolt across my path on the road. It bounded quickly from one side to the other, tail flashing white while flipping and flapping, rear legs kicking in the air as it scampered up a hill. Then, as I passed, it looked down at me with a haughty air of defiance (if deer can have those) as if to say, “now what, Bud?” What a great sight.

And that was just the beginning. A few minutes later I heard a screeching in the air, looked up and saw I was close to an osprey nest. I hung around a bit and they kept screeching in anger at my intrusion. They seemed to float lazily in the air, back and forth until they realized I was no threat at which time they returned to their nest. As witnessed at Earthquake Lake, they love making their nests on the top of poles or dead trees. Obviously a good vantage point and easily observable for signs of danger from a good distance away.

Continued to Kooskia and was admiring how beautiful the river valley was and how nice it’d be to own a piece of property there where there were no houses when, no sooner said, there was a house across the river. Thinking it strange that there were no bridges anywhere for miles around, I began to ponder how the house got to be there. Went down the road a spell and I saw an aerial tramway cabled across the river. Now THAT must have been expensive to build!!! How they got all the building material to the other side must have been a project onto itself.

The tram could take 4 people in it and was shared by several homes. The cars were parked on my side of the river, the homes on the other. Nice piece of work! Sure is a good way to keep out door to door solicitors!

Entered the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. How misguided we were as a government back then. But little really has changed. We continue to make stupid policy decisions only to regret them later. Since the policy was to move all Indians to reservations, they were all hunted down regardless of any previous association they may have had with the white man. But the Indians kicked some ass, too. (That’s for tomorrow, though)

Saw an incredible amount of blackberry bushes with huge, luscious berries on them but there was no place to lay down my bike off the roadway and I did not want to run the risk of going over a bunch of blackberry thorns so I did not get to sample any. Too bad! They brought back memories of when, while in England, Danny would come along and help us pick berries on the side of single track roads. We’d come back with full buckets and then gorge on them right off the vine, in pies, and in pancakes.

In addition to the wildlife previously mentioned, I also saw Canadian geese, mountain goats playing around on hillsides, a family of deer (a buck, two does, and three fawns) on the opposite side of the river. The buck caught sight of me over 150 yards away and bolted immediately into the woods with the rest hot on his heels. Also saw ducks and what looked like a falcon.

Began to climb gradually out of Harpster to Stites and then hit a 5-6% grade climb to Grangeville. Found out that route 14 to Elk City is just as beautiful but not as crowded as the road I’d been on from Lolo. So it looks like I have another reason to return. Betty Boop wanted to go to Elk City because the road was flat. She does not like hills. Smart girl.

Got to Grangeville, found the park, then the pool, then the bike store. Picked up a kevlar spoke (Thanks, Scott, for the tip!!) and also had them adjust my rear derailleur Seems to be OK now. Will know for sure tomorrow. As in many other places, I found out the library had access to the internet but it was only for use by the librarians. That’s the worst load of shit I’ve heard. Half the librarians I met couldn’t spell ISP much less maneuver around the WWW. So I tried a computer store and heard the same old sob story. Geez, you’d think folks were asking for the moon.

Got some groceries and returned to the park to stuff my face. The park was full of pre-pubescent rug-rats with nothing better to do but hang around waiting for the pool to open. As luck would have it, the pump failed so the pool was closed. So I went another day without a shower. It wouldn’t be so bad if I wouldn’t have gotten so sweaty during the day and then had this scummy feeling film of grunge on my body. I will definitely get a shower tomorrow. Probably a hotel room, too. I feel like going to a hotel tonight because the weather looks really ugly off in the distance but since I am already set up, I’ll stay here.

Did much of today’s writing from the shelter of a pavilion in Lion’s Park. Rain pounded the roof and I was so glad I decided to stop here versus moving on and then getting caught in this mess. Amazing how these storms develop so quickly. Clouds from one direction meet up with wind and clouds from another and KABOOM! — thunderstorms! In between downpours I moved into the tent.

AUGUST 16: ALONG THE BANKS OF THE SALMON RIVER

 
The storms of last passed quickly and by 8 PM blue skies were rampaging after the dark clouds. I went to sleep hoping the clear weather would last and when nature called at midnight I noticed that in the far off distances of the park, sprinklers were operating. Now, if there’s one thing bikers do not like in parks it is sprinklers operating at night. The sound of the water beating on the tents is too close to that of rain and since rain really is not our friend on these trips, neither are renegade sprinklers. It means our tents will have to be put away wet. YECH!!

And as expected, about 2 AM I got doused but stayed dry inside. Good thing I am a sound sleeper or the th-chucking sound of the sprinkler heads making their rounds along with the rhythmic sound of the splashing water on me would have driven me crazy.

It was 44 degrees when I awoke so I packed in a hurry and went to the Camas Café (right across from the bike shop) to warm up and drink coffee. The café is named after an edible plant whose bulb was much procured by local Indians. It was either eaten raw or steamed. Scarfed down some pancakes, read the paper, saw the Dow tumbled 250 points but was not concerned. Just a normal cycle of the market to guarantee continued growth.

By 7 AM I was on my way to White Bird Peak. Also caught up with Norm, Charles, and Bjorn. They’d arrived in town yesterday and seeing the pool closed and the rain begin, decided to stay at a motel. I left them near the top of the pass and rocketed down for almost 7 miles at 25-33 MPH.

I was able to look out over the terrain the Nez Perce used to their advantage to defeat the US Army in the various skirmishes. It is formidable terrain full of little valleys and hillocks. Picked up the Salmon River and rode it all along to Riggins.

What a magnificent ride! Stopped to read an interpretive sign, looked down into the river and saw this HUGE fish. OOOOH! For a fishing pole!!–and license!! Like many others in Idaho, there were quite a few places to camp and stay for free along the road. Many were run by BLM and along very pretty spots on the river.

Got to the campground early and could have gone on but I’d told Kurt I’d wait for him here. I suspect he left with Dennis but I did not want to take the chance he’d combine 4 days into three and meet me. River Village RV Park is not a bad place. It sits on the Salmon River and the tent sites are right on the edge of the property facing the river. I sat around and watched folks floating down the river rapids on organized trips. Didn’t look like too much fun being in a raft with a bunch of other folks. Would have been better to do it alone or with one other person.

Wandered around town looking for laundry soap and couldn’t find small packets so I asked the park manager if she knew where I could find some but she just offered to let me use some of hers. Really nice of her. I also took a MUCH NEEDED shower. Man, was I filthy!! If I’d had been in a tub, industrial stain remover would have been necessary to take out the bath tub ring. YECH! Later on went to pee and the bathroom had just had pot smoked in it. Very distinctive smell that once smelled is never forgotten. The kids were hanging around trying to look innocent but I knew better!

AUGUST 17: WHERE THE TRIBES MET

 
Turns out that today was less severe than I had imagined it would be. I was a little miffed at myself early in the AM when I just could not get much over 10MPH. Tried cranking hard but to no avail. Kept conking out. I was fairly certain it was not the grade in the road which, although not flat, could not have exceeded 2% in grade. Amazingly enough, though, after stopping for coffee and breakfast I zoomed right along. I’ll need to experiment on this some more. Maybe I’m leaving too early and it’s too cool. Maybe it’s because I am alone and have no one to pace with. Maybe lack of sunshine to motivate me…………or lack of something else!!!!!!

Forgot that I was back on Mountain Time yesterday so when I thought I was going to bed at 9 it was 10. Up at 530 and it was 630. Dammit.

Last night I chatted with Dave Hicks from Baker City and he invited me over for salmon steaks but I didn’t feel like imposing. It was the first time anyone offered anything like that on this trip. He gave me his address and phone number so that when I get to town and can’t get on the internet, he’d let me use his computer. That was pretty nice. I should have taken him up on his offer for dinner!

Another beautiful night. God must be pleased with me. To the west I witnessed an explosion of color on the clouds as the sun set. Minutes later, to the east, I watched a full moon come up over the mountain tops. Took my binoculars to it and saw birds, far off in the distance, zoom past that silver disk. Reminded me of the Moody Blues song which goes, “cold hearted orb that rules the night, removes the color from our sight; red is gray and yellow white.”

Moments like these make me want to live forever for I can never tire of the wonder of nature and what God created.

Stopped at the first café I came across—in Pinehurst on the left side of the road and had quite a formidable breakfast. Spoke to the waiter, Marcus, who wants to go to the USAF Academy to become an OSI agent. I warned him to not tell anyone that as the academy is usually a grooming ground for pilots! His uncle was OSI and Marcus sees himself working for the CIA or the FBI. Quite a young man involved in all sorts of activities in school and out of school. Has a 4.0 average, works part-time, is camp leader for a Christian Camp for kids, does drama, is captain of his football team, does Internet service assistance to locals, etc. I hope he makes it.

After leaving the restaurant and greasing my chain (it was squeaking) I felt like I could pedal forever. The bike functioned smoothly and the roads, although uphill, were not too bad at all. I expected much worse.

Picked up the Little Salmon River as I continued to climb. Lovely scenery all around.

Crossed the 45th Parallel outside New Meadows. It’s the halfway point between the North Pole and the Equator. While in New Meadow, I took a break for coffee and pie at the Heartland Café. Was witness to a guy display his infatuation with a waitress by leaving her a $16 tip for a $4 meal. I’d overheard him ask her what time she got so assumed they knew each other a bit. She probably would have met him after work anyway but I think the tip cemented the deal. But good needs bad to balance it so I also saw another waitress fly into a rage, yell that she quit and that she’d, “had enough of this shit!” and storm out slamming the door behind her. Sure got the attention of all the restaurant patrons! I can just imagine what the talk would be about at the end of their collective shifts!

Passed Tamarack with its wonderful smell of fresh sawn pine boards. There were logs in huge piles ready for the mill but kept under a spray of water. Tons and tons of 2x4s, 2x6s, 4x4s, etc. on the hoof and ready to go, all lined up in row after row and in various stages of dryness.

Cruising down the hill I surprised the hell out of a doe and her 2 fawns. They scrambled from the roadside, beat hooves over the fence and stood there staring at me, ears inclined forwards, wary of my every move. I snapped a couple of photos and left them in peace.

Cruised into Council where, years ago, Indian tribes used to meet to discuss their inter-tribal differences, make treaties, and participate in ceremonies. Wanted to stay at a motel but at $35 a room in one and $25 at another with no TV or private bath the decision was easy—I stayed at the park. Picked up some food at the local corner grocery, ate, contemplated my navel, washed up as best I could and set up under a slatted roof pavilion. Sat there for a while watching, with much trepidation, a whole shit load of clouds drifting towards me. At 845 PM with the sun about to set I was half-way committed to sleeping under the pavilion with my plastic sheet at the ready in case it showered in the middle of the night. This area is not supposed to get much rain at all in the summertime and if I were west of the Cascades it’d be a horse of a different color so I was betting on a come that it would stay dry.

Then I chickened out and talked to the sheriff (oh, by the way, the sheriff dept., Post Office and Library are all within spitting distance of the park) and he said if it were him he’d put up a tent. Just as I started to do so the wind picked up. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s report to see who won.

AUGUST 18: 9 DOWN AND 1 TO GO

 
I am so glad I trusted my better judgment and listened to the sheriff. I’d no sooner put up the tent and the wind began to literally howl! I was not confident the bike would stay where it was so I bungee corded it the picnic table in three places. Most everything else went into the tent with me. Tried to sleep but couldn’t so I left the fly open and looked at the full moon. It was beautifully brilliant! All this trip I’ve expected to hear coyotes or wolves but so far no luck. Maybe I’m not far enough in the boonies.

I nodded off and heard this thwack, thwack, thwack, sound. Turns our the wind ripped out 2 of my stakes so I double staked those positions, looked around and saw the clouds still seemed to be distant but the wind picked up even more. Not good news. Fell asleep when about 1130 or so got nailed with thunder, lightning and rain. Only lasted 45 minutes or so but the wind continued to howl. Fortunately the tent held together and I lost no more stakes.

By 5AM, no clouds, no wind. Weird!! If it only would not rain the next 8 days I’d have it made in the shade. If it had to rain, I wish it would happen while I was in the tent and done with the day’s riding. Somehow I suspect I will be spending many of the next eight nights in hotels anyway so it should not matter much. Only problems will be Dixie Summit and Ochoco Pass. But Baker City, Dayville, Coburg, and Florence will be hotel nights.

Took off like a demon possessed and stopped for breakfast a few miles out of Mesa at a place called Lakey’s Café. Had a ham and cheese omelet, toast, hash browns, and coffee. Spoke to a couple at the restaurant about the trip. Everyone asks the same questions: How long have you been on the road? How many miles do you go per day? Where are you headed? Where did you start? I should have had a card printed up with those questions on it and the answers on them and then handed them out. Rude but ………………………

Have come to the conclusion, as this trip ends, that truckers and RVers are, by far, the worst and most unsociable drivers. Don’t know if it’s the air of superiority they feel from being so far above and “looking down” over their dominion or if they just don’t care. They’re usually the ones that give just the littlest clearance when passing, too. Granted, many swing wide but I’ve had more brushes with death from these knuckleheads than anyone else.

In Cambridge I lost Highway 95 and picked up 71 to get to the pass that’d take me into Hell’s Canyon. I expected a much harder climb but it wasn’t too bad except the last couple of miles. However, about 6 miles into 71, they were repairing the road by laying down tar and putting gravel over it. That shit raises hell with bike tires and I was afraid I’d trash mine. Not only was it bad enough they laid this crap down, the rough surface cuts almost 2 MPH off the bike speed due to increased friction.

Ran across five east bounders. Not sure why started this late as they’d not get to Virginia until late October. They were almost all victims of Texas tacks (or goat heads as other people call them.) Sure hope I do not run across any myself. They usually attack when a person rides their bike off the pavement into the grass. Once they get into your tire it is very difficult to got the whole thing out and those parts you can not get out continue to work their way into the tires slowly so that a day or two later you get a flat. Usually the best thing to do is to replace the tubes and tires ASAP. If you are fortunate to only have walked your bike across them, you may have better luck. Best thing to do is to unload the bike and pick it up and carry it to wherever you want to go. Tire liners also help a bit.

Got to the top of the pass and I could not go very fast due to the gravel on the road. Curves were hairy as I did not want to lose traction and crash. UGLY!! I still was able to average 25-30MPH anyway. Started the day at the 3100 foot level, climbed to 4131 and ended the day at about 1800 feet.

Stopped about half way down at the Gateway Lodge and had a nice lunch, to include, what else? Coffee. The nectar of the gods. I’m turning into a real coffee hound but I figure it’s liquid and liquid is good.

Shot down to Brownlee Dam and along the way the scenery was magnificent. Loaded with a rugged, savage beauty that can be unforgiving to the careless. Not only is the beauty splendid but throw into the mix the smell of pines and a heady bouquet of fruity “desert in bloom” smells and you have an intoxicating mixture.

I followed 71 along the Snake River right after crossing into the 10th and last state of this voyage—Oregon!! Hooray! I made it! Unfortunately there were no “Welcome to Oregon” signs so I could not get a picture. Guess the area is too desolate. Also entered the Pacific Time Zone. Found a place to camp along the Snake at Carter’s Landing. It’s free and has rest rooms plus there were BIG fish swimming around. A definite “Must Return” location. This was not my final stop for the day, though. Had to climb one nasty-assed hill that reminded me of the Appalachians before I got to Copperfield Park. It’s run by Idaho Power (in Oregon, no less!) and has all the amenities except enough hiker/biker sites. So I paid $10 and stayed in a spot for RVs. Boy, did I look silly with my “RV” parked against a post!

Took a well deserved shower and relaxed. Riding in the hot sun saps a person’s strength. I hope to sleep under the stars tonight and get a fast start out of here in the AM because tomorrow’’ ride is not supposed to be easy.

Amazingly, the last five nights I’ve not really been bothered by mosquitoes and that sure helps improve the evening. It sure is nice!

Called Danny only to find out he’s moved out so I called his new number and – – as if I should be surprised – – he was not home. Wonder if his was a tearful departure or one of good riddance? Need to ask him.

AUGUST 19: BETTY BOOP GETS HORNY

 
Another beautiful night with a full moon. I felt like an animal on display just laying out in my huge RV spot but finally fell off to sleep about 9. Somewhere around midnight this thing attacks my head — something I believe everyone who camps out in the open thinks my happen but prefer not to dwell on. In a deep sleep I have no idea what it is: a cat; a skunk; a bear; a coyote? All I know is that it is soft and furry. I fight it off and throw it off me far enough to roust myself up and try to see what it is. Turns out to be a Labrador pup about 12-15 pounds that wants to play. I, on the one hand, am pissed off because it won’t leave me alone. I throw it away, push it away, smack it yet all it wants to do is play. Now I am concerned that if it stops screwing around and I fall back asleep it will want to chew my stuff up. We all know what puppies are like, right? Now I am doubly pissed. After 5 minutes or so it gets tired and decides to lay down at my feet. Then it starts finagling its way closer and closer until it is almost at my head. I shove it away and it finally settles down in the crook of my legs and there it slept until 530. At 545 the park guy comes ambling by as I was trying to pack my stuff with this puppy that wanted to continue sleeping on my sleeping bag. Turns out he knows who it belongs to and took it away. Another guy watching these events unveil, asks the park manager if he was trying to scare away paying guests by siccing small dogs on them. Smart ass. We all had a good laugh and I took off. I was not looking forward to today’s ride as it supposedly was 72 miles of climbing.

Started out really slowly again and I think the grades are steeper than they appear. Labored at about 9-10 MPH for the first hour or so. Finally at about milepost 12, by Buchannon Road, I made a turn and it was face to face with a gorgeous view of a sunrise on the Wallowa Mountain range. Incredibly beautiful and fabulous.

Occasionally I’d look backwards over what I’d finished riding and couldn’t help but wonder how settlers felt when they’d stumbled into these rich valleys. And also wondered about how the Indians lived here and what sense of wonderment they had and how it all related top their different gods. Pulled into Halfway and had breakfast at the Wild Bill Café. Ate heartily. For a while I was the only customer and the service was suck-y. The cook was nice enough and tried to give me some info I needed on roads, maps, etc.

Made good time throughout the day but the climbs started to get to me. At the top of the pass leading to Richland I began a zoom down towards town for 6 miles at 25-30 MPH. Sweet! What a blast! At this point I had 30 miles down and 42 to go. Route 86 feels like my own personal bike path. Very few cars. I did, however, see a marmot, a golden eagle, and some deer all pretty close by. I also noticed a different type of wildlife today—a 1966 Mustang. Not so much the car that was wild but the activity in it that kept my interest. It cruises by with a guy driving and a woman in the passenger seat. Soon as he passes she disappears from view. I keep an eye on them for quite a long time and never once did she pop back up. HMMM?!?!?!?

At milepost 49 or so I stopped in at this house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Martin to buy some soda. It is the only place for miles and miles to do this. Stayed and chatted for almost an hour. First with the Mrs. And then the Mr. showed up. They have three sons one who recently retired from the AF. All live in the area and help manage a 600 acre ranch. We cussed and discussed all manner of issues ranging from health care, lawyers, insurance company gouging, etc. Then we got on the subject of hunting and I mentioned having wanted to get a set of antlers for Betty Boop. No sooner said than done—Betty got horny!!! He took me to the shed out back and told me to look up on the roof and help myself to a set. We then took it to his workshop where he sawed off the last bits of the head that remained. I tied it to Betty Boop and she looks real cool with a three point set on her.

By the time I left it was after noon and HOT! I labored up hills and was glad to have water and cookies since I’d not had lunch.

Finally knew I was close when I got to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. I’d been told to go there and see an authentic and complete wagon train and its ruts in the dirt. From the road I saw what kind of climb I’d have to make to get up there and knew I was not going to go there. Without being arrogant-sounding, I’ve lived in Europe for 11 years and seen Roman ruins, mosaics, and roads. I’ve traveled over bridges built by Romans over 2000 years ago and so well constructed they STILL have no cement binding them together. I’ve seen the ruts in Roman roads made by Roman chariots. Why would I want to see 150 year old wagon ruts????

Got to Baker City and checked into the Royal Inn Motel. All in all, I climbed over 4200 feet today and got as high as 4600 feet in elevation. I showered, bought groceries, film, and went to the library to log onto the net. Answered mail from lots of folks and sent new mail.

Then I went to the El Erradero Restaurant to eat. It’d been recommended by Donna and I had a great meal of chicken fajitas, 2 beers, flan, chips, salsa, and all sorts of other stuff. Spoke to Conchita, the waitress, and she remembers waiting on Donna 3 years ago! The restaurant is family owned and operated. How Baker City rates such a fine place is a mystery. I hope they appreciate it.

AUGUST 20: FROM PEAK TO PEAK TO PEAK

 
As is normal with any motel stay, first thing in the morning finds the TV turned on to the weather channel. I saw that the remains of Tropical Storm Ignacio was shooting up the west coast and had soaked San Francisco on its way up to Seattle. I got coffee and doughnuts from the hotel lobby and pondered what to do. Since Baker City was to be cloudy all day should I stay another day? Or should I just risk it and go? Watched the weather patterns and then bet on a come that this area would not be affected. I was going to be on the other side of the mountain ranges anyway. So I left at 9AM. It felt weird leaving so late. Immediately began a moderate climb out of town and had to deal with head winds. Headed south for nine miles and then west. That’s when the skies cleared up. Chugged along to McEwan’s Store but they were closed for business. The family wants to sell and move on elsewhere. Fortunately I was able to get my water bottles filled. This low humidity takes quite a toll on a body. The sweat dries almost immediately so you never know you are dehydrating. Have to be careful.

Made it to Sumpter Summit (elevation 5082 feet) and was plodding pretty slowly by the time I got near the top. I tried to zoom down the other side but the head winds slowed me down to 25MPH. The next summit, Tipton (elevation 5124 feet) was about the same going up and down. While at the top, I broke out some sandwiches and had lunch standing up admiring the views. Got to Austin Junction and I popped into the store to buy a drink. Just as I was leaving the clouds that had been gathering all made it to their meeting place and it started to rain. So I beat feet into the adjoining Café and had some coffee with cheesecake.

Headed up to Dixie Summit and was buffeted by winds from all sides. Really aggravating. At the top I again had hoped to zoom down to the bottom, at a 6-7% grade, when again I was slammed by ferocious head winds. The noise was so great that I was yelling loudly at the wind gods yet could hardly hear myself. What normally would have been a 40MPH rocket ride turned into a 16-18 MPH wimp coast. To get over 20MPH I had to pedal hard. What a pain in the ass. Now THAT’S a head wind!

Regardless of the nasty winds, I was still able to marvel at the unparalleled natural beauty I came across at every turn. I just do not think this kind of thing can be appreciated in a car. It sneaks up on you revealing itself foot by foot rather than virtually instantly as you would in a car doing 60 MPH.

Decided not to camp at Dixie Summit since I was not too fond of the conditions there so I went to Prairie City and stayed at the Pleasant Rest Motel. A little pricey at $40 but at this point I no longer care much about cost.

Six more days to ride and I’ll be done. I am very anxious to finish now. Betty Boop is holding up well.

Hopefully UPS can “delay ship” my bike to Florida. If not, I’ll need to make serious changes to my itinerary.

Ended up the day having climbed almost 4000 feet.

325 miles to go.

AUGUST 21: 360 DEGREES OF SUN, HEAT, AND NO WIND

 
Not a day of much excitement. First, it was a short riding day and second, not much to do in Dayville. I did learn one thing, though, if I stop for lunch at 1130/1200 by the time I get back on the saddle it will be sweltering here in Central Oregon. Tomorrow I’ll be a couple of thousand feet higher in altitude so maybe it’ll be cooler.

Beautiful morning and I took my time getting ready. Had coffee and pancakes at the Branding Iron Restaurant and took off about 8 AM.

For the first 12 miles I averaged over 17 MPH but then ran into some rollers which screwed up my times.

Also saw more deer and eagles today. Can never be ceased to be amazed at sighting these creatures.

I met Kirk and Kathleen, a couple of East-bounders, who were hoping to get to Connecticut via Yorktown by the first week of November. A wee bit too ambitious for me. They’ve no idea how grueling the Ozarks and Appalachians are.

Went through Day City, a nice sized town, and finally got to Dayville about 1130. Had lunch at the only restaurant in town. Not too bad but typical fare.

Checked into the hostel at the local Methodist Church and chatted with Millie Gundstaff. She’s been doing this since 1976 and has quite a few stories to tell about the folks that have come through the area. Some of them were rather unsavory characters.

This area is home to a unique slice of prehistory in that 30-40 million years of fossils have been discovered. Probably the largest collection of complete fossils in the world are found here. The John Day Preserve has three separate units that I’d like to come back to see: Painted Hills, the fossil beds (Sheep Rock), and Clarno.

I may make it to Florence early so I started making preparations for that eventuality. Greyhound can take me to Portland for $24, the bike shop will box my bike for $35, and UPS will “ship and hold for owner pickup.” The process takes about 10 days so I will now have time to get back to Florida.

AUGUST 22: THE BEST LAID PLANS—-OFTEN GET FUCKED

 
I’d hoped to get an early enough start so as to get to Ochoco Pass before the sun blistered my ass. I was up by six and gone by 630. Getting pretty good at leaving Betty Boop pretty well packed and strapped down the evening before.

What I hadn’t counted on, nor made allowance for, was the local road construction. I thought it was just in the town proper but should have asked. My luck went from bad to worse very quickly.

First, the construction crew drowned the road in water to keep dust from forming. For me, it made riding treacherous. Then about a mile down the road I started bogging down and could not peddle anymore. OK, now I am pissed. Stopped and saw that mud accumulated under the fenders and acted as a brake on the rear wheel. A very good brake, as it would not turn at all.

I dragged the bike, literally, about 100 yards to a driveway and sat there wiggling a stick under the fender forcing the mud out. I had to take all my gear off the top of the rear rack to get under the fender. 15 minutes later I was rolling again and tried to avoid the “wet-spots.” The road is absolutely abysmal. Horrible potholes, wash boards, big rocks, etc.

A mile later both wheels seize up. I am beyond pissed now. I dragged it another 100 yards and this time figured that if I were to get anywhere at all I’d have to remove the fenders. What a pain in the ass! Three road crew members were right there and none bothered to even ask if I needed help or if I had a problem. And me with my bike torn apart.

There were all sorts of nuts and bolts holding those damned things on and to make matters worse I had to take both wheels off. What a bunch of crap! These morons had the road in this condition for 6 months. Every time you go by none of the crew looks busy. Just standing around watching someone else doing something. And then we wonder where our tax dollars go!

Finally put Betty Boop back together again and asked a flagman how much more of this crap I had to ride on. When she told me a couple of miles I asked for a ride from the “follow-me” truck. And got it. What a relief. The road was even worse than what I’d just ridden over. This was far worse than Yellowstone. An absolute nightmare.

So instead of being 6 miles out of town before 7AM I was delayed over an hour by this happy horse shit. Only after 8 AM did I really get going.

Went through some gorgeous canyons and also went by the entrance to the fossil bed unit called Painted Hills.

The climb to Keyes Creek Summit was OK. First few miles out of Picture Gorge entailed moderate climbing but a few miles from the top the grade decreased in pitch such that I could easily do 11-12 MPH. Just as I was getting to the top of the pass I saw a huge snowcapped peak off in the far distance. I suspect it was Mt. Hood. Just caught a fleeting glimpse of it. If the weather had been a bit more humid or cloudy I’d not have seen it.

Then it was a downhill blast to Mitchell where I bought some groceries and a drink then made my way to the Blueberry Café for lunch. The wait staff were the cook’s kids and they left much to be desired in the service department.

A guy walks into the café and tells me I better watch out. I asked him why and he said I might be mistaken for an elk or a deer what with those horns on the bike. Said the hunting season would start soon and the hunters were getting anxious. We both had a good laugh about his comment. I told him I’d be careful!! J

Left Mitchell and headed for Ochoco. Along the way I saw two elk running through a herd of cows. The cows were less than pleased at the prospect of these alien four legged creatures sharing their territory and let everyone know about it by mooing their fool heads off. Stupid animals!

Really saw no other wildlife to speak of other than a dead cow belly up in this creek. I bet the water sure tasted great! Also saw a couple of dead coyotes on the road side.

The climb to Ochoco was a son of a bitch. Seven to eight miles of pounding up this road that seemed it had no end. Every time I’d turn a corner expecting the grade to decrease, it just continued. Finally made it to the campground about 230 PM and boy was it hot! Paid $2 for a site and fine tuned and tweaked Betty Boop.

Spent an hour or so in conversation with the Park Hostess and she was telling me about a “rainbow group” who are a throwback to the 60’s hippies. Peace, love, dope thing. They’d gotten permission to use one of the forest campground areas for their annual reunion. Turns out they were quite a few scumbags in the bunch that trashed Prineville. Gross, dirty, unkempt. They’d walk into the grocery stores and poke their fingers into the meat packages and then wait outside by the dumpster for them to be thrown out. They’d destined the dumpster fate to fruit by licking it. Once some of them walked into a laundry just at closing time, dumped their clothes in there and proceeded to disrobe in order to get the clothes they’d been wearing in the washers, too. And then stand around naked. Then one pissed on a lady and caused her to have serious mental problems for a while. In another incident, one of them ate a poisonous mushroom, suffered kidney failure and had to be evac’d. Guess who paid the tab? Sure wasn’t them. The guy eventually died but in the process of taking off his clothes for treatment the nurses observed his chest hair had grown into his shirt. Imagine how long he’d been wearing it? Gee, the kind of stuff that makes a Mom and Dad proud. Now THERE’S a good reason abortion should be legal.

Her stories went on and on. They were horrible and go a long way to explain why I kept seeing signs that were prominently displayed on most stores stating: “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE.” I’d not seen so many of those signs until I got into this neck of the woods.

As we were chatting, a couple of nice looking bucks came up to the fence line and were munching away. We watched, fascinated. What a pretty picture.

Also finished reading a book by Jack Higgins, “Drink With The Devil.” It’s a pulp thriller of 350 pages that I began yesterday. Anyway, it gave me something to do.

Climbed over 5000 feet today and realized I have over 93% of the trip finished. Incredible.

AUGUST 23: A PERSONAL BEST

 
Last night had to be of the quietest nights (probably THE most quiet) I’ve ever had the pleasure to sleep. I awakened several times and noticed there were absolutely NO noises. No birds chirping, no ground critters scurrying, no wind soughing through the trees, no insects buzzing, no people snoring or talking, no cars whooshing by. The vacuum created by this absence of noise was damn near deafening in and of itself. So weird.

Woke up to a new, clear day, got dressed and headed down the pass at 630. Big mistake!! It was 45 degrees and my fingertips were numb from the cold and wind chill. Had to stop and warm them up on occasion – – but only stopped in a patch of sun!

The grade was not very steep going down and probably the first time I’ve seen an East bound grade easier to climb than a West bound grade.

As I got lower in altitude the temperature climbed a bit. Heat wave of 52 near the bottom. HOOOWEE!! At least my fingers were no longer cold.

At milepost 23.5 I stopped at the Crystal Corral and ate some breakfast to supplement what I’d eaten at the top of the pass.

The past three days I’d failed to mentioned another reason that makes this area so nice to ride. For the last 150 miles or so, the scents lacing these valleys and roadways have been heady. Pine, juniper, cedar, wildflowers. I hadn’t quite been able to identify one of the more pungent smells until today when I realized it was cedar. Quite nice unless it is overbearing at which point it becomes almost acrid.

Breezed along most of the AM and up until the 52 mile point had an average of 18 MPH. Then I hit a hill and it was all over but the crying. I also came across three cyclists from the Adventure Cycling group. We chatted a while and I took off. Got a beautiful view of the Cascades seven miles before Redmond. Too bad there were so many power lines in the way. While in Redmond I took advantage of the opportunity to grab some lunch at a fast food Mexican Restaurant.

Finally made it into Sisters and ended up averaging 16.5 MPH. That’s my highest of the trip. Especially over such a long distance. Granted, most of it was over a slight decline but I still ended up climbing more than 1000 feet today.

Stayed at the Comfort Inn and lounged around most of the afternoon. Even took a bath, then a shower, then another long soak! Just because I could.

I also changed my Amtrak reservation to the 28th. Looks like I will be in Florence either late the 25th or early the 26th. Not sure how I will feel about doing 100 miles tomorrow or the next day but would like to get in at least one century ride. If I do then I’ll be in Florence on the 25th.

AUGUST 24: A DAY OF MORE FIRSTS

 
Yeehaw! What a day! I sure am glad I stayed in a hotel last night. About midnight it began to rain cats and dogs. Sure good to be indoors. Life is too short to be miserable—and I’d have been miserable.

Took a look out the hotel window and was not pleased at what I saw. Had the complimentary continental breakfast and decided to bug out. Looked out towards the pass and felt a wave of bad karma wash over me. So I put my rain gear very near at hand and began to climb. The ride up was not as bad as I thought (or led to believe.) I fully expected steeper grades.

The first 30 miles were a series of emotional ups and downs. As I climbed I saw a rainbow and held out hope for a better day. Then it began to rain. Since I was already sweating, never mind that it was cold out, the combination of sweat and wind and rain chilled me to the bone. I had visions of hypothermia again so three miles short of the summit I stripped out of my wet gear and put on dry clothes. Then I saw an even larger rainbow. It was as if I was getting a message but could not understand it.

Tried to pedal slowly so as not to create a sweat but that proved futile as I was cold for not exercising hard enough. Started working harder only to break into a sweat. Oh, well, can’t win for losing!

Ran across a Forest Service guy who told me it was ugly at the top and just as bad on the other side. Resolved to make the most of it and did the tourist shtick and got a good look at the lava fields on top of McKenzie Pass. They are over 65 square miles in size and turn the place into a desolate war-like zone. They occurred 1500 or so years ago and hardly anything grows on the rocks but I did manage to see lichen clinging to the surfaces. With time they will break down the lava into dirt.

Got to the top and saw the sun again but it was like being in the eye of a hurricane—just go a little ways and you are back in the thick of it. What I saw what I had to ride in on the way down the mountain did not please me but I also realized that from my vantage point I was about to embark on a downhill ride from here all the way to Florence, literally. I got a tremendous psychological boost and took off. Fuck the rain and the wind! Bring it on!

The first 7-8 miles were slow rollers ever downwards then all of a sudden the incline steepened and it was all I could do to keep Betty Boop going slowly enough so as not to lose control on the wet road. My visibility sucked what with the rain flying into my eyeballs. With many hairpin turns I really did not relish the rain in the face. Even with glasses on it did not help. Of course, going downhill did not require pedaling so guess what? I got cold again. Fortunately the temperature began to rise and after a while it was up about seven degrees from the temperature at the top. And the messages I’d been sent but not able to decipher manifested themselves in broken clouds, no rain, and sunshine by the time I got to the intersection of 120 and 242. I also broke out of the dense forest cover and into a more open valley – – and a lot more daylight.

Amazing how much greener it is on the western side of this range as opposed to the Eastern side. Much denser and almost jungle like in appearance. Also lots of free camping in lots of places scattered throughout the area.

McKenzie is another of those passes I’d rather do East to West than vice versa. What a son of a bitch if I’d have had to climb what I terrifyingly rode down! AARRGH!

I was one pitiful sight when I started pedaling down the valley. My pants and tights were totally soaked, shoes sopping wet, feet cold, and hands cold, too. My upper body and head, though, stayed fairly warm. I think I got smarter on that issue.

Got to McKenzie Bridge and decided to go to the hotel 13 miles further on. Grabbed some chili and coffee and it began to rain again. Went to the Motel across the street and checked out prices–$46 with no TV or $56 with TV. Plus I could not bring my bike into the room. I waited out the rain and took off to do those 13 or so miles. Got there and the woman wanted $60 for the room (it really was a one bedroom apartment.) I was prepared to take it and asked if she’d take VISA and she said no. Just cash or check. Told her I did not have the cash and left. Good thing I did not look in my wallet as I did have the money after all but I was not to learn this until much later.

Once again, the messages were trying to make themselves heard/understood but my receiver was off the hook.

In any case, this woman recommends this hotel further on down the road eight miles or so. By the time I covered that distance I’d already covered 70 miles and felt like giving the “century” a shot. I was feeling good, the weather was good, the roads were good. I saw the place she mentioned and noticed it was ensconced on a hill and just blew right past it. Having had earlier checked a phone book and noticed the plethora of motels on 6th street in Eugene, I went for broke.

The weather really had turned marvelous with the sun out and this energized me. My legs were not sore, my butt wasn’t sore, my knees weren’t sore. It was almost too good to be true. I felt as if I’d just penetrated that famous “wall” most athletes encounter and saw no reason to stop.

Just outside of Vida there was the very pretty Goodpasture Covered Bridge. It isn’t too old (about 60 years) but it’s 165 feet long and Oregon’s second longest covered bridge. Quite nice.

Got to Springfield, continued to feel fine and headed for Eugene. Good Lord, there was a lot of traffic! Mostly folks returning from a weekend in the mountains, I would imagine. I deviated from the Adventure Cycling route and that laid out in Donna’s book and stayed straight on 126 and then cut up from Springfield into Eugene.

I especially disliked the noise level of the cars, since there were so many between McKenzie Bridge and Eugene and when the herd instinct manifested itself in the drivers, it was worse yet.

The map I had was poor in its ability to guide me to where I needed to go so I trusted my instincts and wound up “bang on” 6th St. Rte 126 was no piece of cake from Springfield. It’s controlled access and you need to be very careful especially near entrances and exits. The cars are doing 55-70 MPH. Just like an interstate but lots more access. A bit more of a challenge than I really wanted at that time of the day.

At about the 90 mile point my legs would get quirky and my muscles ached. Finally got to motel alley and rejected the first hotel because the TV did not work And the area was not really the best. The clientele had a very heavy transient look about them. Finally settled on the “Budget Host Motor Inn” but had to tool around a little bit more to get my mileage up to 100. It was only at 98.6 when I checked in. After I rode around a bit, I walked the bike across the room’s threshold and it registered exactly 100 miles. Cool! So that was another first for the trip—my century. Today was also the day I clocked over 4000 miles for the trip.

Ate a bit (a lot!), washed some clothes, and cleaned the bike to get the day’s grit and grime off of it. Observed that I’d eaten virtually all my food items. I have just a few cookies, some bread, and some cheese left. Tomorrow it will be all gone and I’ll also have a chance to dump a lot of stuff I no longer want.

I can hardly believe I am a day’s ride from finishing this journey! I AM SO EXCITED!! The end is nigh.

AUGUST 25: THE ADVENTURE ENDS!!!

subtitled:

THE FAT LADY SANG TODAY

 

My GOD! I did it! Who’d a thunk it? 4130 route miles and 4300 total miles.

The Pacific was a glorious sight to behold! But a bit of a pain in the ass to get to from the confines of Florence. As a sign of celebration even the clouds went their separate ways to give me a fantastic sunny afternoon. It was as if I could smell the Pacific and its smell pulled me ever closer forcing me to narrow my focus to the objective at hand and disregarding virtually everything else along the way.

Last night I just could not get to sleep, try as I might. Felt like a little kid about to go on a big adventure. But then, I’ve never fully grown up so I didn’t fight the feeling. Finally nodded off about 1230 but at 530 was wide awake. There was no rain overnight so I packed leisurely and had my typical breakfast at McDonald’s — pancakes and coffee. Also indulged in a breakfast biscuit and ate a banana I found skulking in my panniers.

The weather cooperated the further west I went by clearing up a bit. It hung with me all day and I felt blessed and watched-over considering the weather man predicted rain for the area.

The effects of yesterday’s 100 miles were felt today, by golly! All of me was sore and tired especially so after 60 miles. The last 15 or so were quite tedious. I also did more climbing than I expected to have to do so this must have been a contributing factor.

I got to town and made a beeline for the ocean. What a pain in the ass it was to get to. Up and down small hills until finally there it was in all its glory—just pounding away at the shore line.

I had to walk Betty Boop along a concrete pier and along some drag-ass sand. I got the obligatory photo and all of a sudden it hit me – three more miles into town and I’d be done. The trip would be over. Betty Boop cooperated for a long time and never left me in an ugly stranded situation.

I caught up on my writing at the Beachcomber Bar and once again, the full impact of what I’d just accomplished hit me. I felt like telling everyone what I’d done but knew not too many would care so I just sat there enjoying the moment. No more getting up early to ride 60/70/80 miles; no more sore ass, sore shoulders, sore knees.

After getting Betty Boop’s wheel wet I went to the bike shop and almost ended up having cross words with the owner. Fortunately his wife was there and she was much more decent. He’d also gone off on her in front of customers and she put up with it. It was then I realized something was afoot. When I was able to get her alone I asked what the problem was with her husband’s attitude. Turns out he’s losing sight in one eye and in his line of business that’s not so great. He’s having a hard time dealing with it and gets irritable and downright uncooperative.

Whereas she gave me a map of where the night spots and hotels were, he was happy to tell me to walk down the street until I saw them. She also told me where the bus stop was for my 340AM journey to Portland.

With her help I was able to unload my panniers and box the contents for UPS. I threw away socks, sleeping roll, sneakers, plastic bags, tee shirt, and a bunch of other junk.

The whole “end-of-trip” thing was stressing me out because I had to juggle UPS schedules, bus schedules, and train schedules all with the intention of making it to Florida before Betty Boop did. Also needed to decide on getting a room and all the while hoping the bike shop would be able to finish boxing my bike before the UPS center closed. It was time to leave Oregon and head to Virginia!!

Helped the shop owner’s wife box my bike since he was entertaining other customers so she took $10 off the cost of boxing it. She also wants me to send her a postcard when I get back.

No sooner did I get the bike dropped off than it began to rain. TIMING! TIMING! TIMING! I could have taken my sweet old time getting to Florence but busted my ass in order to get these details worked out. As I watched the rain pour down I sure was glad I did.

Went to McD’s to grab a quick bite (and get out of the rain now that I was on foot) and then called a taxi to take me downtown to the Greyhound place to buy a ticket. Of course, it was closed. I was not a happy camper because if the bus arrived at 340AM and was full, I’d be screwed and have to stay another day. So I did not change my Amtrak reservation just yet.

From there I went to the Beachcomber Bar.

One thing I noticed about Oregon is that every corner or plaza has an espresso bar. Must be a west coast thing. If they weren’t so tacky looking I’d think I was back in Portugal in a pastelaria.

The decision not to go to a hotel and sit around waiting for the bus (sounds like a ZZ Top song!) will cost me the ability to shower. This could be very interesting as there are no showers on the train, either. HMMM!?!?!

Got bored with sitting around the bar so walked around town and then decided I needed something to read on the train so I went to the Safeway to get a paperback. Picked up “Contact” by Carl Sagan. Then I left and spread my stuff out on a picnic bench outside the store to better re-arrange it. It was then that I realized what a bag-man feels like. Imagine a scruffy looking guy, bearded, with a couple of bags, all his possessions spread out in front of him, and a set of antlers for decoration. It was no wonder everyone gave me a wide berth. I rather enjoyed it.

Walking back to the dockside area making sure I knew where the bus depot was, this 20 year old German guy asked me where a pub was. So I walked him to Fishermen’s Wharf. His name is Jan and he’s hitchhiking and walking the west coast. Hopes to get to San Francisco. He didn’t know where to spend the night but having a few hours to kill we sat in the bar and bullshitted. I got a double scotch, he got soda and coffee. We talked politics, economics, education, employment, investments, inflation, costs of living, socialism, capitalism, etc. I believe we even solved world hunger. He was an excellent conversationalist and could hold his own on all those topics. I’m hard pressed to find American adults that can do so with the poise and intelligence he had at 20. Yakked until 230 AM. I picked up the tab, helped him find a place to sleep, and went to catch my bus. A nice way to end the journey.

Now that the trip is about over I will return and become concerned about more mundane things in life. I hope it is not too boring in retirement.

THE END

P.S. Two weeks after the trip was over, I am contemplating a bike trip to either Australia or New Zealand. Any takers?

P.P.S. Hugh made it back OK but suffered from too much weight loss and developed an ugly rash that would have stopped him anyway. He’s also a Grandpa again this time to twins. Merle made it OK, as did Trashboy, Eric Aguilar. Kurt and Dennis made it to Vancouver on the 25th, and Dick finished near Astoria 5 days after I did. Scott made it to San Francisco.

P.P.S. As of October 31, I am still happy, still planning the next trip, and have more to do than time to do it.

Photos are here.

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