Day 77- August 16 cont.
The nice lady took me to town. I slowly came back with the air conditioning and sipping water. She owns a restaurant in Halfway and her landlady for her house is Inga Thompson, three time Olympic road bicyclist. She was super nice and even in the short drive, we talked about many different things. She pulled off to a gas station and we said our goodbyes. I went in to by a huge soda drink and wait for Dad. It was about an hour.
We then had a discussion of where we would stay and the bike shops in town. We finally decided on El Dorado Inn and headed over there. It was pretty late by the time we took showers, but we still went across the street to Pizza Hut for dinner.
The waiter told us about a deal on 2 medium pizzas so we got that. Later he told us he didn’t think we could finish it, but we did…I mean almost….4 slices left. He said 3 other bikers were there before and had 3 pizzas and lots of beer. I asked if they were from the UK and if 2 were siblings. He said yes.
We brought home our slices and prepared for the next day- our rest day.
Day 78- August 17
We got up at 6 and got breakfast. There was quite a selection- biscuits and gravy, waffles, muffins, cereal, etc. We then went to the bike shop to see when it opened- 10. Dad wasn’t thrilled as he wanted to get a new chain, but it wasn’t open yet. So we pedaled to where I left the previous day. It was an easy ride back. Dad left me at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center so I had 4 miles, or 8 round trip by myself. I got to the spot where I stopped, sighed, turned around, and pedaled back.
I met Dad at the center. It was very nice. I looked around a bit then went to watch the movie on the trail knowing Dad would be there. The movie was an hour long. It’s probably the longest National Park movie I’ve seen.
Not to compare trails, as the early Western settlers had a lot worse and harsh conditions than us, but it is a bit similar. We have followed some of their trail and seen what they have seen. Much of the terrain we go through is vast land, especially in the West. They did a good job of protecting it from civilization and leaving some wilderness for future generations to enjoy. Anyways, the settlers had to walk along side their wagons as they were full of supplies, much to the contrary typical depiction of them. They had to use their own power to get across the country, like us. Though every 50 or so miles is a town for water and food for us, we still have to worry about carrying some supplies like them. They had to worry about the weather and potential Native Americans attacks. We just have to worry about inconsiderate cars.
As I said, their ordeal was a lot worse than ours, but I feel like our journey allows me to better understand theirs.
After the movie we went back into town allowing me to complete the missing miles. So, on our rest day, we did 20ish miles so I can ride 10.
We went to the bike shop directly and the man said he could work on it in the afternoon so we went back to the motel.
After lounging a bit, Dad went to the bike shop and I went to the truck stop next door to do laundry. I think I annoyed the clerk as I asked questions 3 separate times instead of all at once, but my head was elsewhere.
Dad then came by and got a haircut at the truck stop while we waited for the laundry to be done. The barber told him: “I saved you.” Dad wasn’t sure what he meant, but informed him that I was his daughter.
The rest of the evening was quite relaxing.
Day 79- August 18
We woke up early again and tried to stuff ourselves for the ride ahead. We had two climbs. It is 3, but we broke it up. Our goal was Bates State Park near Austin Junction, about 50ish miles. There wasn’t much food or water along the way.
After the first climb, we had lunch in a shaded area. Pretty ride overall. At the bottom, the Philly man had issue with his bike. He heard some noise then thought his B.O.B had a flat. I was a bit aways, but could see them fiddling around. The spot I was in was next to a farm and some cows were migrating across. When they saw me, they ran over to the fence and stared for a while.
2 bike tourers passed while I was waiting. We talked about our trips and the campground we were going to then they carried on. In total, it was almost an hour…and it was getting hotter by the minute. Finally, Dad appeared and we continued on as the Philly man was wrapping up.
The second pass had construction at the top, but luckily it was on the downhill part so we sped by the workers. In the distance we could see smoke from a fire going. It looked like a volcano the way it plumed up.
We got some tail wind near the end, which was nice. We went straight to Austin Junction to get food. The Philly man met us there. The waitress was not the most hospitable. She wasn’t rude per se, but did everything on her schedule. She got a personal phone call and didn’t give us any water for a while. The food was decent.
We made our way back to the park and on route there was a man filling up buckets with water coming from a pipe. I thought that was weird and continued on. Dad stopped and talked to him and apparently that water was fresh spring water.
The park was lovely. It recently opened so the trees were not yet grown. There were no showers, just pit toliets. This area use to be a town, but after the lumber factories shut down everyone moved. It was officially closed in the 1950s/60s.
We rinsed down in the sprinklers.
Day 80- August 19
Due to the bad service at the restaurant, we decided to have breakfast at Prairie City, after the last climb. We made instant oatmeal and had a cliff bar then headed out. The climb was first thing and quite easy since it was a cooler temperature and we had fresh legs. Coming down was a group of cyclists. They were with a van that said not your average tour or something like that. They seemed pretty grumpy. They were probably on their way to have second breakfast too.
This day was quite easy as we went to Dayville: After the climb, all was downhill. 60 miles. We found a restaurant in Prairie City and had a huge breakfast. The waitress was super nice. I saw someone else’s biscuit and had that instead of toast and it was so delicious! The waitress said the biscuits were “fluffy, not stuffy.”
Dad and I were still hungry so we ordered a huge cinnamon roll. That was good too. We then continued on. We stopped at John Day for the grocery store and kept going. It was enjoyable until the last 10 miles as we had headwind and fresh gravel so it was a bumpy ride.
We stayed with one of the churches in Dayville. It was listed as a hostel, but it didn’t offer any beds. There was a shower and a full kitchen. We bought some pasta at the store to make for dinner then picked up some ice cream for later. The ice cream was really good. I went to take a shower and when I got out there was another man there.
He’s a transient. Goes from place to place. He’s been to this church before and they let him stay, giving him a meal. We weren’t sure at first and called the contact, but when they told us they knew him we were ok. We just didn’t want him breaking things then it be blamed on cyclists then future cyclists won’t have this opportunity. He was very vulgar, but kept to the chapel while we occupied the other half.
He asked Dad to help him with the laundry machine because he doesn’t know how to use it….he almost did break it.
We didn’t sleep well that night due to a very hard floor.
Day 81- August 20
Upon waking up and getting ready to leave, Dad discovers his tire is flat so he quickly repairs that. The three of us then went over to the cafe for breakfast, which was delicious. This terrain was not as easy as the day before as we had a decent climb. However, it was a shorter day of 40 miles. On the way to the climb, off route 2 miles, was a fossil museum run by the National Park Service- John Day Fossil Beds. Since it was a shorter day, we decided to stop by. This added 4 miles to our trip.
We had to wait 30 minutes for them to open, but the museum was well done. It was just fossils of mammals, no dinosaurs, but still interesting. The area has changed so much geographically and environmentally. It was glaciers, then tropical rain forest, now dry lands. And humans weren’t even around back then!
To get to the fossil beds we went through picture gorge, which was quite cool. After, we rode through another canyon.
As we entered the canyon, I got a flat. So we fixed that quickly- 17 minutes! And moved on. The whole day was uphill to get over the pass. The last few miles were a bit steep. We took an orange break at the top then made our 7 miles descent to Mitchell.
We heard many thing about the new hostel in Mitchell. We heard things from like Wyoming. It was like the hostel in Newton, Kansas and how everyone was talking about it. The only difference is that this hostel is donation based and there is no other alternative. We rode into town and went straight to this micro-brewery. Well….it wasn’t exactly open as they were renovating the building, but there was a food truck outside with some covered seating area. We got some cold beers then the Philly man joined us.
He ordered a beer and some wings, which looked good, then we ordered some. Another cyclist came over and we talked to him for a bit, but went over to the hostel knowing he was going to be there that night.
The hostel is in the church. They moved the pews into the basement and we have the top floor. Lovely bunk beds. In the basement was the kitchen. They offered showers- an outdoor one and if you wanted a real one they would drive you to the preacher’s house. They also offered a Continental breakfast. In the evening they drive people to the painted rocks and after give out ice cream.
I don’t think they can sustain this great service for very long on just donations, but if they do, great! Spoke’n Hostel was really awesome. We took real showers and then the 3 of us plus the other guy got dinner before the tour. He is from the East Coast and has done many tours and hikes. He has actually been on the road for 3 years- biking then hiking then biking again. He has done parts/completed (maybe many times) of the Appalachian trail, Pacific Crest trail, and the Continental Divide trail. He wants to through hike the Continental and do the Appalachian in the winter.
The painted hills were nice, but no way was I going to bike it so glad they drove! They took us to another spot that we could walk around the hills and then we went back. They served ice cream and we all sat around the table and talked. There was a motorcyclist there and we informed him of our trip and he was totally shocked. We assumed he knew about it since he was at the hostel, but he had no idea.
“You’re telling me you biked from Virginia?!” His face was priceless. The Philly man and I said yes so matter of fact like. The whole thing was hilarious.
There were 2 other bikers there, one from Oregon and another from California. The Oregon guy did a 12 week loop then he was going home and the California guy already did the Southern tier and was coming back to the West via the transam. He was in no hurry as his bike broke couple weeks earlier and he had to get a new one. But now that he has his new one, he was content at the hostel for a bit. He didn’t know what he would do after, but it continuing biking for sure. Funny thing was that he biked with someone that the Philly man biked with before us. So they laughed about that.
Day 82- August 21
We ate a few things at the hostel and got ready to leave. We said our good byes and pushed off for another short day of about 47 miles to Prineville, but with a bigger climb than the previous day.
The climb was a bit long. It had 2 false tops, but it nice scenery as we ventured into trees and shade. It was a tad warm. At the top, there was a campground and we could have used more water so we went over. We saw the camp host and asked him. An older gentleman who has been doing this for 6 years.
“Is there any water?” We ask. The camp host shakes his head.
“Nope. We on top of a mountain. It’s dry. No water.” He was very nice and the way he talked added humor to the conversation as he purposefully drew out nope and dry. Dad asked if he was by himself or was his wife there.
“Nope. I’m too ornery for that.” We all laughed. We asked about the rest area down the road.
“Nope.” We thanked him and went to the rest area for the toilet and to have a snack. We were back in the land of shrubs.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful as it dropped in elevation to Prineville. We did have some headwind the last few miles, but we were still going 15-18 mph.
We made it into town and went to the county RV park and set up our things then took showers. We decided to get Subway for dinner, but I couldn’t eat a whole foot long like before. I guess I wasn’t that hungry.
The Philly man had a rough day and decided to get a motel.
We went back to the campground and hung out at the picnic table. We were soon joined by a cat. Dad thought it belonged to the guy next door, but he didn’t care about it so we finally figured it was a stray. However, Dad already petted it and it decided we were it’s humans and was constantly there.
Day 83- August 22
We woke up the next morning and unzipped the tent and who’s head should appear? The cat’s. He was waiting the whole night for us.
We had another short day of Prineville to Sisters of 48 miles. There was a huge climb the next day so we wanted to do it on fresh legs versus at the end of the day. But of course, our joke now was that we were touring machines. And now we could do anything. We would usually pose (see picture above) and growl “machine!!!!!”
We packed up our campsite and went to the McDonald’s and had breakfast.
It was mainly flat with a few hills. We did gain elevation on route, but it wasn’t that bad. The road also took us the back way going through beautiful scenery.
We were finally leaving the desert and moving into the forest. The stereotypical postcard picture you see of Oregon. It was interesting to see desert rock formations like teeth coming out of the hill and then behind it, what we were biking to, snow covered mountains. We have crossed the Appalachian mountains, the Ozarks, the Rockies, and now the Cascades. The last.
We made our way through, catching up with the Philly man. We then came across an Alpaca farm. They were freshly sheared so they looked like poodles. There were also babies running around.
The route finally brought us back to the main road and it was very busy as well as had fresh gravel laid. It was not a pleasant last few miles. Plus we had some head wind.
We finally made it into town and the city campground was the first thing we saw. We got a hiker biker site and then the Philly man came. He immediately set up his things and went to go find food because we didn’t stop for lunch. Dad and I took showers then looked for food. We were hungry and didn’t feel like walking all over town so we ended up at a biker (Harley Davidson) bar. Basic bar food. The bartender, a woman in her 50s with heavy eye make up, obviously didn’t have that many females in the place as her attitude towards me was quite gruff.
After that experience, we found the library for the WiFi and Dad walked around. Eventually we made it back to camp and talked to the Philly man for a bit. He tried getting a shower, but a school group was in line. It was going to be a while so we went to the next door brewery for dinner. It was delicious. Unlike the first woman, our waitress was quite pleasant.
We went to bed quite late that night, just sitting and talking.