17 Jul 2010, 3:08pm
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team slow and unsteady

(that’s us)

(i had my first fall of the trip today… while i was standing upright in one place. my heavy bike fell over and took me with it. unsteady indeed! but the only thing bruised was my dignity.)

(anyway…)

written on the evening of july 16th (that’s yesterday)

yesterday morning shortly after setting out from cambridge, we passed a grass fire (not too big, but spreading from two different spots) on the side of the road. we called 911 and the dispatcher informed us that they already knew about it, though there was no sign of response as of yet, except for one guy (i guessed it was his property) trying (rather futilely i thought) to beat it out with a shovel. a. wanted me to take a photo of him, but i felt like i was rubbernecking as it was when i took these shots:


(that one’s from a bit further down the road)

another disaster:

the life that is in me honors the life that was in you. may the life that was in you help new life to flourish, and may i carry your death in me with my life so that neither is wasted… (something like that. i want to write a roadkill prayer.)

yesterday there were also lots of bits of wood on the side of the road–fallen off of logging trucks i guess–that from a distance i often thought were roadkill. they even splintered and got squashed into the road the same way roadkill does, and their heartwood was like pink flesh under their bark fur coats.

here’s something we missed out on–there’s a bike path called the weiser river trail that ran along (or near) much of our route yesterday. it’s unpaved, though, and a.’s tires are not too bad on gravel and dirt but mine are very much road tires (sort of an accidental choice, but they have been quite nice tires for the most part) and are just awful on gravel. it’s just as well, because the internet implied that some of the bridges on the path are in need of repair or even impassable, but still it called to us from the highway…

dear idaho,
that is how you do a welcome sign.
love,
stacia

i used to pass the version of that sign that’s along i-5 all the time when i drove between portland and seattle. we’ve come quite a ways north!

a waitress at the cafe in cambridge quipped yesterday morning that idaho would be the biggest state in the union if you ironed it out, and i am starting to believe her! since yesterday evening we have been surrounded by mountains. two westbound riders we met at the cafe, ted and steve (who incidentally started out at part of a 6-person group and are now two!), told us they think idaho is the prettiest state. we were still kind of in the high desert of hells canyon and the snake river at the time and were dubious, but i’m starting to believe them too. yesterday evening after we left new meadows we followed the salmon river through the woods–


(the evening’s long shadows made it difficult to take nice photos–everything in the shade was dark and everything in the sun was so bright!)

toto, we’re not in oregon anymore–

though i think the progenitor of that particular sign would be a kook anywhere. check out this display:

anyway, we spent the night at an overpriced and under-amenitied rv park just south of pollock. you win some you lose some. we could have gone on to riggins, maybe, but we were tired and it was getting close to dark.

this morning:


(we entered the mountain time zone and lost an hour when we crossed the snake river into idaho, but mysteriously gained it back today when we crossed the salmon river. um, ok. i think we lose it again when we get to montana.)

stopped for plums and honey and chocolate-covered huckleberries at this farm stand:

stopped there to pick up a package from my mom! general delivery is awesome! stay tuned for info on how to send us letters (or, say, homemade cookies?) should you so desire! we got these rockin’ mirrors so we can see the huge trucks passing us on narrow mountain roads:

a little dorky, yes. but also awesome.

we’ve been passing these signs–and similar ones that say “historical site ahead”–for much of our trip. they’re a fun excuse to pull off the road for a minute and learn something. the geological ones especially are often fascinating. here’s an example:

when we were at the hotel in mitchell, i found a little booklet called something like “road guide to yellowstone park from a creationist’s perspective.” basically, it was a young earth creationist explanation of all the geology of yellowstone. pretty funny really–one of the main points was that if the earth is so old, and erosion is happening as fast as it is, why hasn’t everything eroded down to zero? which is funny because the assumption underneath THAT is also a christian creationist one–that everything was created all at once, for good. when in fact the earth as we know is being created all around us, all the time, still. which i think is a really beautiful and spiritual thing.

we didn’t get very far today; we’re camping just outside of white bird. we caught up with our kiwi friends adi and neil and tomorrow we’re all going to tackle the big steep climb between white bird and grangeville… early in the morning, before it gets appallingly hot again. in the meantime, we’re chillin’ out and eating chocolate-covered huckleberries. yum yum. oh and chatting with the manager here, who is one heck of a character and very much a talker. he has apparently done everything and knows everyone and has lots of opinions about all of it. well… you win some, you lose some.

14 Jul 2010, 10:01pm
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bears and dragons and idaho (oh my!)

today’s news:

1) we’re in idaho!

2) WE SAW A BEAR (in idaho)!

details if you read through the rest of the post!

we had a nice day off in baker city. i think we hung out at a coffee shop, wandered around a bookstore and then a music store (we got one of those little egg maracas for uke accompaniment), went to the baker heritage museum, and hung out in the park playing music.


(photo by a., i believe)


(these advertisements for the miners’ jubilee were painted on almost every business downtown. this was the one on the bike shop!)


(photo definitely by a.)

yesterday we procrastinated and didn’t get out of town until the sun was very thoroughly up, despite our best intentions–we’d been hearing for days that the hells canyon area was going to be outrageously hot. however, we got really lucky and the forecast was for temperatures in the 70s! it got hotter than that, sure, but it stayed pretty pleasant all day.

just a few miles outside of town we saw a really ominous electronic sign blinking between these messages: forest rd 39 closed – 60 miles ahead – hwy 86 open to oxbow. now, we didn’t know anything about forest rd 39, but we needed to take hwy 86 all the way to idaho, about 11 miles past oxbow (ok, actually oxbow is right on the border, but our route called for us to follow the river for 11 miles before crossing to the idaho side). the day before a woman at the music shop had mentioned something about the road to idaho being closed, which i assumed was impossible ’cause we’ve talked to several westbound cyclists who have mentioned no such thing. so this new sign got us into a bit of a tizzy… the relatively unexciting conclusion is that we called my mom (thumbs up for cell phones), who looked up some stuff online and ended up calling the forest service, who assured her that we’d get through just fine. forest rd 39 leads to the hells canyon recreation area, and i’m sure it’s very nice there, but we didn’t get to see it.

east of baker city:


(here we go!)

we thought we’d skip the oregon trail interpretive center, but that was back when we thought we’d be leaving early to beat the heat. since it was well open by the time we got there, we hiked up the steep one-mile hill to check it out. it was a good choice, ’cause right after we got there a music show started–a couple, vivian and phil williams, who played fiddle and banjo & guitar and talked about the tunes they played and where they came from and how they ended up being played on the oregon trail. and, of course(!?), they turned out to be fellow reedies… graduated in the fifties. the show was an hour and we talked to them for another half hour, then wandered the exhibits. (the williamses said, “these exhibits are great, but they’re all about how difficult things were… our show is about how people had fun!”)

onward! here’s a little 360-degree panorama of some beautiful country:


(these cliffs were FULL of birds’ nests, and therefore of birds’ song)

this part of the day was pretty glorious. a long lovely gentle descent with one hell of a tailwind. until a. got a flat–the first of our trip. one of his front brake pads had come loose and had been rubbing against the sidewall of his tire until it wore through and then popped the tube. luckily, he wasn’t going too fast when it popped. we booted the tire with a dollar bill and fixed his brake.

we stopped in richland at this cafe for a snack. the woman who was running the place told us all about the other bike tourists who have come through over the years–once, a 71-year-old woman traveling solo! she also mentioned that lots of people are age who come through tell her it’s their last big adventure before they settle down. i told her i hope i never have a last big adventure. i want to keep having more adventures!

anyway, she was wonderful and also insisted on filling up our bottles with ice for the climb to follow.


(view from near the top of the climb)

as dusk approached (slowly), we made it into the town of halfway.

we stayed with inga, a warmshowers host, at her place outside of town. mitch (in baker city) had mentioned that she used to be a racer, but not that she had raced in the tour de france and the olympics! she even has a wikipedia page. she showed us some of her old bikes:

and invited us to make ourselves comfortable in the extra little house (!) she has on her property. i am going to spend my whole life paying back (forward) the generosity we have received on this trip!

she also gave us some duct tape to more thoroughly boot a.’s tire. we’re hoping to replace it either in grangeville (next bike shop) or, failing that, missoula. it looks like it’ll be ok ’til then. seems to be about the time on our trip when our bikes stop running perfectly–my front brakes are rubbing a bit and my rear derailleur’s indexing is a little bit off. am instituting thorough bike-checks before we leave the next town with a bike shop!

today we continued our eastward ride…


(that is a picture of both oregon AND idaho!)


(so is that! and also, i am very jealous of any cyclists who may be passing that way in a month or so when all those blackberries will be ripe!)

until at last:

i was really hoping for a more interesting “welcome to idaho” sign, but whatcha gonna do.

we rode along the canyon for awhile and then turned away from it and started climbing. which was when we saw the bear. we were about two miles from the top of the seven-mile climb and we’d just gotten off to walk for a bit (don’t judge) when a big black shape loped across the road from right to left maybe a hundred feet in front of us. at first i thought it was a really enormous and strangely-shaped dog, but if it looks like a bear and runs like a bear… we froze. it was small enough that it could maybe be a cub, and i was terrified that mama bear was still somewhere in the woods to our right and if we kept going up the road we’d be going between her and baby, and about the only thing i could remember about how to deal with bears is don’t do that! eventually after several minutes of embarrassingly-terrified indecision (we are such city slickers), we got back on our bikes and rode uphill like maniacs, singing very silly rounds very loudly until we got to the top and set off downhill.

will i ever sleep soundly in the woods again, now that i know that Bears Really Exist? remains to be seen. i am only sort of joking. tonight we’re in a campground in cambridge, idaho. it’s also a motel and they have a pool!

a. jokingly asked, “do dragons really exist, too?” evidently they do in idaho:

as well as other interesting environmental challenges:

11 Jul 2010, 6:57pm
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cooling off in baker city

the ride into baker city from our last stop at a lakefront recreation area was awesome. mostly a gentle downhill grade, with a breeze to keep us cool and clouds periodically moving in front of the hot sun. the scenery was gorgeous, with brown and green hills behind grassy fields, and the road ran along the pretty blue powder river. as we rode, the hills slowly shifted like old-fashioned 2d theatre sets to reveal the hills behind them. ah! lest you think all i do is complain about the heat.

yesterday in the cool of the evening we rode over the first of three passes between prairie city and baker city.


(this covered wagon was at a random viewpoint off the highway)


(with our invisible oxen, we’ll make it to colorado in no time!)

it took us a bit longer than we thought it would, but we made it to tiny austin junction–not so much a city as a crossroads with a store/restaurant/campground all rolled into one–before dark, though the mosquitoes were trying to eat dinner at the same time we were, if you know what i mean.

we shared the campground with the couple from new zealand, neil and adi–who it turned out we’d met way back before mckenzie pass, at a little grocery store in mckenzie bridge. we’d thought for some reason that they were westbound or taking a different route than us, but they’re actually on the transamerica ’til montana. they’re doing a loop down to new mexico and then back across to san francisco, where they started. they’ve done a ton of bike touring all over the place, but this is their first trip to the states. their impression of the states was from hollywood and tv, and they said they’ve been surprised to discover that americans aren’t all rich–most of them are just trying to make ends meet, like everywhere else. they were also surprised that the stretch of the california coast they rode (north of sf) was cold, for the same reason.

we had breakfast with them at the little restaurant and were also joined by eric, who’s eastbound to pueblo and who we’d met in prairie city, where he’d spent the night. yeah, we got a bit of a late start this morning. but it was great to chat with other bike tourists and hear all their stories and talk smack about cyclists who don’t like to pull their own weight.

(a. outside the restaurant while we waited for it to open for breakfast. have i mentioned we have a wee ukulele with us?)

despite our late start, the heat wasn’t too bad going over the remaining two passes. the elevation and the trees helped.

we ate lunch (such as it were) at the top of the last pass (sumpter pass) and then headed downhill. stopped at the lake--or reservoir, i guess--as i mentioned, and spent awhile cooling off and finding pieces of quartz in the gravel and talking quietly in the sun. the dominant theme in our conversations while riding the past few days has been the morality of eating meat and animal products. we've been eating some chicken because veggie options are few and far between and we want to get plenty of protein. it's been an interesting conversation--conclusions still t.b.d. of course.

then we rode the last twenty miles or so to baker city.

tonight we’re camping in the backyard of mitch, a warmshowers host–warmshowers.org is like couchsurfing.org except just for bike tourists (and its general demographic is a bit different). he’s got opb (oregon public broadcasting) on and they’re interviewing a band and the band is talking about their home, portland, and how amazing it is, and how when they’re away they get homesick and wish they were sitting at the cup & saucer. hah!

baker city is the end of transamerica map section #2, and in a few more days we’ll be out of oregon and into idaho. biking (relatively) long distances every day still feels so cool and novel, but it’s also starting to feel like, well, what else would we be doing? we’re taking a rest day here tomorrow, which i am pretty excited about. we can lounge around in our tent until ridiculously late and then go visit adorable museums. excellent.

here’s some fairly low-quality video from the approach to baker city that you might enjoy if you’re into vicariously sharing our experience:

10 Jul 2010, 1:48pm
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eastward bound

typing this up at a cafe with wifi in prairie city. we managed to actually actually get up before dawn this morning and set off at 5:30am or so. and what a difference it made! plus, the sunrise was gorgeous. yesterday we dawdled and didn’t leave mitchell until 7:30-ish.


(at mitchell’s little park the evening we were there)

going up keyes creek pass, we encountered evidence of the same benevolent spraypainter who painted “100 to go!” going up ochoco pass–except this time it was a whole series of messages. i took pictures of all of them but i’ll spare you (you can see them on my flickr, if you really want)–

“piece of cake!”

“omg!” (that one made me pretty much die laughing–incidentally we’d just gotten off our bikes to walk for a bit.)

“you can see the top!”

“almost”

“way to go!”

“u. r. awesome”

we made it over keyes creek pass before the heat got really bad, and from there it was mostly downhill to the john day fossil beds national monument visitor center, which was gloriously air-conditioned and had a pretty cool museum with lots of fossils and information about the bizarre mammals that used to live ’round here many moons ago.

between the pass and the park, we had our first chat with a westbound transam-er, john, whose blog is here. he was going all the way to prineville in the heat, god bless ‘im. he’d spent the previous night in dayville and let us know about the free bike hostel in the church there. more on that later!

the scenery was (in my humble opinion) some of the best in days. just gorgeous.

(must admit this trip is rekindling my very-long-lost little girl’s love of horse. they are so beautiful! i sorta want to learn to ride again.)

the 9-mile ride from the park to dayville was tough, even though it was theoretically downhill. here’s hoping i acclimate to the heat. i feel a lot better today, but i think it’s under 90 degrees here a little bit further up in the hills. anyway, in dayville we ducked right into a little cafe and shared a black cherry creme float (yum!) and chatted with the woman who ran the place. halfway through our float, a real live genuine cowboy came in for an ice cream cone. he glanced over and asked, “where you boys from?”–first time i’ve been mistaken for a boy. correcting his assumption seemed complicated, so i let it go. when we said we were from portland, he went off for a bit about how he sees the news coming from the city; there’s a murder there every night. (the woman who ran the place, who grew up in western oregon and was perhaps a bit more cosmopolitan, said “there’s murders in grant county, too, you know.”) today when we told another guy we were from portland, he said, “i’m sorry to hear that!” i guess it’s not too different from city folks like us knockin’ podunkville country hicks or whatever. needless to say, perhaps, a. and i have been having lots of conversations while we ride about political divides, cultural performativity, and so on. i have this hunch lately that america is pretty unique in reading so much meaning (political, cultural, and so on) into lifestyle choices. we tend to extremes.

anyway, the woman who ran the little cafe also told us about the bike hostel. we were sort of thinking about hanging out in dayville until the evening cooled things off a bit and then riding to mount vernon, but we figured we’d check it out. basically, the presbyterian church lets cyclists use their church–including kitchen, shower, laundry room, and computer. they’ve been hosting riders for years and years and they have a whole big binder full of notes of thanks (and advice to other riders and other interesting things!). one cyclist even made them this awesome stained glass:

so we made ourselves a meal and took a nap, then looked at the weather forecast (possible thunderstorms) and decided to stick around for the night.

dayville:

this morning’s beautiful sunrise:

we stopped for breakfast in mount vernon (french toast!) and met some motorcyclists who told us there’s another eastbound couple from new zealand who stayed in dayville last night as well. don’t know how we missed them! actually, just saw them go past this cafe a little bit ago–maybe we’ll catch up to them again in austin junction. we’re gonna head that way in a few hours probably–but it doesn’t look like much of a town and we’d rather hang out here in prairie city for awhile.

on the way today:


(morning light!!)

i might like that sign even more than the steep descent sign! john day was a cool little town; there was a natural foods store, too! oh and i have to mention the “big old hairy guy” at the farmers market who gave us big handfuls of fresh cherries, ’cause he asked me if i’m keeping a “daily log” and if i’d mention him in it.

we also visited the depot museum in prairie city, a little museum about the old sumpter railroad and local history. lots of artifacts and this and that. i really like these tiny little museums, in part because they sometimes include things like this exhibit label:

oh, also. a. thinks my roadkill interest is morbid, but: today in addition to the usual suspects, i saw two skunks and a bullfrog!

8 Jul 2010, 8:51pm
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mckenzie pass, sisters, crook county & ochoco pass

written earlier this afternoon

7/8

hello! i am writing in mitchell, oregon, where as far as we can tell we’ve got the entirety of the oregon hotel to ourselves. not bad for 41 bucks! it is really hot. like, really really. but i’m getting ahead of myself. i have three days of biking to catch up on here.

july 6th went like this:


(we started the day at maybe 1200′)


(getting closer… but still so far away)


(not too far now…)

yes, we made it!


(a. takes a celebratory shot at the summit)

it was tough, but i am already looking back on it fondly. it was so shady and cool! here’s a picture of me rubbing snow on my head:

snow! so cool and soothing.

a. looked through all the elevation profiles on our maps and is convinced that mckenzie pass was actually the longest and steepest climb we’ll have to do on this trip. the appalachians and the ozarks have some really steep bits but it’s all up and down and up and down–i guess the roads in the east aren’t graded for trucks like the roads here are. it’s true though that the rockies don’t look so bad.

the road across mckenzie pass (route 242) only opened for the season a week or two ago, i guess–until then it was closed for snow. the alternate on route 126 was santiam pass, which is not as steep but is about 20 miles longer (yikes). mckenzie pass was about 22 miles of pretty constant climbing with some quite steep parts. i think it took us about four and a half hours to get to the summit. the tortoise wins the race, remember!

here’s some photos:


(see the mountains?)


(we really didn’t do too much of this)


(higher up, the forest thinned out)

near the top, we passed belknap crater. there is a really cool lava flow at the top of mckenzie pass–according to my map, “the exposed surface is dated as having been laid down about the time the Mayflower was unloading its passengers at Plymouth Rock.”


(those are two of the three sisters, i think)

somewhere around there, we crossed the pacific crest trail. (next summer!?!?)

at the top, there’s this cool observatory with holes cut through the walls pointing at certain mountains and labeled so you know what you’re looking at (i.e., what we’d thought was mt hood was actually mt jefferson).

then we went down!

i didn’t take too many photos on the descent ’cause i was too busy enjoying myself. incidentally, my knee stopped hurting somewhere on the way up to the pass, and hasn’t bothered me again in the same way since (knock on wood). mysteries!?

things look totally different on this side of the cascades. it wasn’t totally desert in sisters but it was heading that way rapidly. on the way into town, we met this guy:

he’s riding a singlespeed trike with his dog in the back basket. we ran into him the next morning in sisters, too, and he told us he rode a lawnmower from alaska to montana and then someone hit his lawnmower, and he couldn’t afford a new one so he bought the trike. he’s planning to motorize it eventually, but in the meantime he got to oregon from montana and he implied that he’s headed cross-country. pretty impressive!

in sisters we celebrated our successful crossing of mckenzie pass with wine and tasty sandwiches at a little wine bar. we were headed back to the main road to find the campground in town when we met jill, who’d also been hanging out at the wine bar and who invited us to stay with her at her house a few miles outside of town.


(the three sisters in the evening light)

jill plied us with wine, good conversation, and sweet kitty cats and then stole all our money and gear and left us by the side of the road. of course i am kidding. she was wonderful and gave us all of the above plus food, laundry, and a comfortable bed. we stayed up (sorta) late talking with her and her friend kathy.

AND THEN when we told her we were going to prineville the next day, she said, “i know, you can stay at my mom’s house! i’ll give you the key.” yes she gave us the key to her mother’s unoccupied house 45 miles away and sent us on our way. thank you jill!

i gave her some mandalas:

so in the morning after sharing a muffin and a delicious cinnamon roll at a bakery in sisters (and buying more sunscreen, oy), a. and i set off towards prineville.


(oh dang, we’re in the desert)


(crossing the deschutes river)


(river access at cline falls state park)

in redmond we bought delicious juicy plums and then pressed on towards prineville. except suddenly it was outrageously hot and those 18 miles were really, really difficult. there was also a whole lot of traffic on that stretch of highway.

this dude surprised me while i was peeing behind a tree by the side of the road:

i called a. over to look at him and he came maybe halfway around the tree and said, “oh, cool,” and went about his business. he couldn’t possibly have seen the lizard, so i asked him again and he pointed out the other lizard also hanging out on the tree. hah!

prineville:


(these cows were grazing smack dab in the middle of an otherwise quite ordinary residential neighborhood)

in prineville we visited a little history museum about crook county–we got there five minutes before they closed but the guy in charge was very nice about letting us wander around for a few extra minutes. we did some internetting at the library and then got dinner at a cheesy mexican restaurant with tasty grilled veggie fajitas.

this morning we woke up early to try to beat the heat and set off towards ochoco pass. when we passed ochoco lake county park less than ten miles in i almost wanted to just stop for the day. camping near a lake, with lots of shade! but we pedaled on…


(100 what? days ’til i finally make it to virginia? i think miles to john day, actually)

the climb was pretty gradual; not too bad. and at the top was my favorite sign!

the descent got us close to mitchell but not all the way–then we headed upwards again. at almost 1pm, about a mile from mitchell, my body decided that in this heat, enough was enough, and now i am tired and headachey. i’d been feeling so good on this trip so far, too–physical wellness is such a fragile thing! the first cafe we passed was closed and i have never been so disappointed. the second one served us a root beer float and then we stumbled down the street to this hotel, where we’ve been holed up in a cool room ever since. tomorrow we’re planning to leave ideally before the crack of dawn to get as far as we can before noon or so–biking becomes difficult around then, and pretty much impossible at 1, especially if climbing is involved. the heat should get better once we get off the columbia plateau and move into higher elevations–until i get to kansas, anyway.

*

yesterday we passed pretty close to smith rock state park, where some of our friends go climbing on a regular basis. we’ve also been somewhere near lookout mountain, which a. and i hiked up a couple years ago. it sort of tripped me out a little that we’d biked for a week to get to someplace that’s still close enough to portland for day trips. really, i think it should trip me out that someplace that requires a week of travel by bike (though i guess we didn’t exactly take a direct route) is accessible from portland in a few hours–i mean, as opposed to vice versa. i don’t think i will ever take distance for granted again.

i was feeling sort of doubtful about my ability to actually make it to virginia, and then pretty good about it after i got over mckenzie pass, and now that i am really suffering in the heat i am sort of doubtful again. i told a. that mckenzie pass was probably the biggest athletic accomplishment i’ve made in my life–this trip so far pretty easily surpasses the runners-up, which include my three-day tour from portland to sammamish (230 miles), our backpacking trip last month, and the backpacking trip a. and i took in may 2009. yeah all in the past few years–i never used to consider myself an athletic person at all. and then i sold my car and started riding my bike!

so as far as whether or not i’ll make it to virginia–we’ll see. a friend of ours asked a. if he thought i’d make it, and he said “she has to!” because i have invested so much time, energy and money into planning and preparing for it. it would be awfully embarrassing for me to turn back now (or even in 1000 miles or 2000 miles). and i am seeing all kinds of stuff that i don’t think i would ever see otherwise, especially since i don’t have a car. that stuff they say about the rhythm of life being different in the country isn’t all cliche. towns smaller than about 10,000 people really do feel different, and i feel like a real city slicker for having spent so much time worrying about my bike getting stolen, for example. which isn’t to say i’ve completely shaken the omg-where-is-my-bike instinct. or the city slick.

peculiar travel suggestion for you: a. is leaving to start grad school in mid-august, so if you want to ride with me for a week or more or less anywhere on my route east of pueblo, colorado, you should let me know.

*

roadkill so far: squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, mice, a deer, possibly a porcupine?, a weasel, a snake, several different birds including a mallard duck, and a few things i didn’t look at closely enough to identify. i also saw a mostly-gone cow corpse by the side of the road, with vertebrae exposed.

*

oh p.s. tomorrow is my 25th birthday!

7 Jul 2010, 4:53pm
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eugene to blue river

this whole entry written the evening of july 5th (more recent stuff coming soon; v. v. short version = we made it over mckenzie pass! we have been blessed beneficiaries of the kindness of no-longer-strangers! and right now we are in prineville. in the desert. it is hot!)

7/5

today was our first day on the transamerica trail! which meant no funny looks when we told people we were headed to virginia. one woman even said “i thought you might say that” and another told us about her own transamerica trip. we saw one guy headed the opposite direction with a trailer (our first encounter with another bike tourist!) but he was really cookin’ so we just waved and he yelled “stay safe!” and kept going. we were cookin’ today, too. our “training” on the willamette valley bikeway is paying off, hah! we biked some sixty-odd miles today and most of it was theoretically uphill. a. kept saying he would swear we were going downhill except for the fact that we were following the mckenzie river and it was flowing in the opposite direction. some of those sixty-odd miles were backtracking and off-route stuff, though. we are camped near cougar hot springs and we wanted to go soak in ‘em tonight, but due to some stupidity on my part and some pain in my knee (uh-oh) and i dunno what else, we are hanging out at our campsite instead. we were going to go soak tomorrow morning, but the woman who told us about her transamerica tour also told us about belknap hot springs, which are only one mile off-route instead of 7 or so (uphill) (one way), so we’re thinking we’ll stop there tomorrow morning and get our hot springs fix that way.

today:


(action shot! taken while riding)


(at leaburg dam)


(this butterfly seemed quite dead; i almost ran over it. but beautiful)

eugene was fun. we spent the fourth hanging out in hendrick’s park in the sun with our hosts catherine and jeff (catherine is a friend of a.’s from reed). got lunch at a hippied-out restaurant (our favorite kind) called morning glory, and in the evening a. and i walked across the river to alton baker park (what a cool park!) to watch the fireworks with the crowds. this morning we got a late start but covered ground quickly… seriously, either we are a lot stronger than we were a few days ago or that headwind we had a lot of the time was really slowing us down. probably both.

eugene:


(mandala pizza from the pizza research institute. the peach slices were the best part)

oh, also in eugene a. pulled a whole bunch of stuff out of his panniers to send home, rather than carry it over the cascades (and then the rockies). he decided he didn’t need four books after all. i sent home just one thing: my wool sleeping bag liner. my sleeping bag alone is more than warm enough so far, and i can always sleep in my sweater…

tonight i am treating my knee with a combination of arnica gel, ibuprofen and kahlua (a. bought a bottle in blue river at a shop with a sign reading “groceries & LIQUOR STORE“). it feels better already. tomorrow we tackle mckenzie pass. after we soak in some hot springs. priorities are important, after all.

3 Jul 2010, 10:56pm
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riding my bike & picnics

so far this trip is a lot of two things i like
riding my bike,
and picnics.

totems
on day 1, at the top of pete’s mountain, i picked up a small piece of quartz and put it in my pocket. today, halfway up a climb in the foothills of the coburg mountains (or something like that), i found a big brown feather… maybe osprey? been seeing them swooping over wheat fields.

osprey nest:

ode to a sarong
you know how in the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, you’re supposed to carry a towel everywhere? you guys, a sarong works even better, and it is more elegant and attractive. it can be:

* a towel
* a picnic blanket
* a blanket blanket (sort of)
* a scarf
* a shawl
* a dress
* a skirt
* a hat
* extra padding for my netbook in my pannier

my sarong has been many of those things already on this trip.

amber waves of grain

we’ve made it to eugene. we’ve ridden about 180-190 miles, but the distance from here to portland is only 110 or so by the routes most people think of… so we’ve been getting some raised eyebrows when we say we’re headed across the country and then say we’re from portland and we’ve been riding for a few days already. ~45 miles a day is respectable enough, i think, and we’re taking the time to stop and smell the roses (and eat the cake, take the pictures, etc). still, can’t really believe that a few years ago i biked 230 miles in three days (on a less-loaded bike, but). still, we’re getting stronger already.

yesterday morning i’d left my sd (photo memory) card in my computer, and it wasn’t until my camera’s built-in memory got filled up a few hours later that i noticed, so unfortunately until/unless i somehow figure out how to get photos off of that memory (not likely), i can’t share photos of: some lovely countryside, a roadkilled baby raccoon, beautiful ankeny vineyards, and the alpaca at ankeny vineyards. we passed ankeny vineyards an hour or so into our morning and stopped to do the wine-tasting thing and buy a bottle for later. yum.

then, onwards towards albany…

(the signs we followed for three days)

in the middle of farmland, we came across this sign–

a self-serve honor-system cupboard full of delicious baked goods!

we got some mini chocolate chip cookies, a slice of rhubarb cake (we ate it with lunch today and it was delicious), and a snickerdoodle cookie (still uneaten; sweets are not hard to come by on this trip, oh goodness).

in albany it rained a little and we rode our bikes along this pretty path–

though not for very long because it was sort of mentioned in our directions but specificity was lacking. once we got south of town, things got really pretty:

we stayed just south of albany with another couchsurfing host, stephanie and her parents kathy and david… and their amazing garden!


(look at those gorgeous espaliered apple trees!)

we helped shell peas from their garden and they fed us a delicious homemade dinner, complete with cookies for dessert.

you guys, couchsurfing.org is definitely one of those things i can’t believe i didn’t get more involved in years and years ago. it’s awesome. can’t wait to pay it back next time i’m putting down roots somewhere.

after dinner we went for a walk in the golden pre-sunset light–

in the morning we all went to the albany farmer’s market and got tasty things for lunch (sourdough wheat garlic cheese bread!). then we set off south again.


(beehives!)

we stopped at thompson’s mills state park, which i guess is a fairly recently-developed state park around the site of an old 1800’s mill. the machinery is all apparently operational, or at least operable. we got a little tour; it was pretty cool.

then we hit the road again.

until finally…


(<3 eugene <3)


(armitage county park is where the willamette valley scenic bikeway ends and also where section 2 of the transamerica trail begins!)

and here we are in eugene. sticking around here for the fourth. have a happy holiday, you all.

love,
stacia