Alsea, Oregon to Florence, Oregon

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Day 82.  Our last ride of the trip as we followed along the Alsea River on its way to the ocean.  It's a lovely ride, through the Oregon from central casting-lush, green, towering trees and ferns. The valley twists and turns and even seemingly folds back on itself here and there.

Bill hit another flat, of course, making it about six flats.  I'm not far behind having about five myself.

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John reported at one point that we had dropped to 87 feet in elevation.  The river on our left was flat and sluggish. Getting closer to the coast I am caught be the matter-of-factness of it all. We are here, pedaling away, and soon the coast will give into view and that will be that.  It seems surreal to be this close and not be weighed down by the enormity of the past 82 days.

I not so vain to omit that I became a little misty eyed and emotional when I finally reached the summit of Hoosier Pass at 11,500 feet.  I felt that if I could do that then I had conquered the worst that the route could throw at me and I would actually complete the journey.

I expected to feel similar as we approached the coast.  Instead I just felt content with the self-perceived inevitability of it. After 82 days it was just coming to an end as naturally as the sun sets in the west.  The river became an estuary. Houses began sporting maritime decorations and soon we were in Waldport.

We could see the ocean but stopped here for a planned breakfast break.  John's wife and son were there to meet him.  Great joy for John.   Gina came along not to long afterwards. We enjoyed a good breakfast and then got back on the bikes to head a couple of miles down the Pacific Coast Highway to access the beach.

The Oregon Coast

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Here is where the journey unofficially ends at the western edge of a continent and country.

Cape Perpetua

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The last thirty-four miles explained our unusual two day deviation north and west from Coburg.  Coburg is just a northern suburb of Eugene, and the route goes from Eugene to Florence.  Except this tour has us going north about thirty miles and then turning west. So instead of meeting the Pacific in Florence we reach it thirty-four miles north in Waldport.

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Taking in the last self-congratulatory bike ride down the Pacific Coast Highway was a little slice of incredible beauty.  There were a few very manageable climbs followed by rushing descents with views of coastal beaches and towering rock islands.  Just beautiful and a lovely little epilogue to our cross country journey.

How to reconcile and weave together this tapestry of Kansas prairie, Kentucky coal country, Virginian Appalachians, and Oregon coast?  I don't know if it can be done, and certainly not in a pithy two minute summary.  That's why nearly all of us kept a journal, or a blog.

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But now it seems more like a dream particularly now that John's family is here, Gina is here, and all of us are mulling the logistics of leaving. Air travel. Baggage. Hotel stays.

I push that aside and enjoy the view and pedal on.

In the end the destination is diminished without the journey.

At least a thousand people bike the TransAmerica route, and many more thousand embark on a long bike journeys all across this country.  Some do it quicker than I did.  Some hauled all their equipment.  Some camped, some stayed always at hotels.  This was just the journey I picked, because biking across this country was enough.

We met a lot of fellow cyclists on this trip.  We would meet at convenience stores, in campgrounds, hostels, churches, or along the road.  Some were heading East and we would just wave to each other.  Others heading our direction would turn up here and there as our speed and itineraries briefly intersected.

Even traveling as a group, starting and ending the day together, we still managed to have different experiences across the country.  Trying to distill down the past eighty-two days to a best of/worst of moments confronted us with the reality that the trip and country that we crossed are too vast to be summarized by memory.

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Even having written it down, I am still flabbergasted that I cycled across a country and continent to reach the end of land here out west.  When and how did that happen?

Then I look back through all these posts and realize that it happened the same way I will turn fifty.  Days turn to weeks. Weeks into months.  Months into years and before you know it...there you are.

Regardless of what you do, there you are.  The only difference is what you do with the days you are given in between.  We share some experiences, have different ones than others, and it all stacks upon each other until we each reach the end of our journeys.

What did you do on each of those days?

How did that give meaning to the destination?

That's a question we can only answer for ourselves.

Some of our journeys, like this one, have a defined end dates.  Others don't.  All journeys end and all the days, places, and people that fill the moments between the start and the end make the journey wonderful.

I would be remiss if I didn't say thank you to all of you who posted encouragements, questions, likes, and loves during this adventure.  Your support really did keep me going and pedaling.  I also have to give a special nod to three people who made this adventure possible.  My Mother Johanna who brought me into this world.  My wife, Gina, who has long suffered and celebrated my sense of humor and adventure.  My law partner, Mike, who didn't bat an eye about letting me take a three month sabbatical from our law practice.







Coburg, Oregon to Alsea, Orgeon

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Day 81.  From here we have two options per the ACA maps which everyone has.  One - we could head North and then northwest and make our way to Astoria, Oregon.  That would take another four days or so.  Second - We could turn into Eugene and then head west to Florence - but we would be done tomorrow.

Instead we are taking option three - an ACA modified route that takes northwest a little and then west through the Siuslaw National Forest to the coastal town of Waldport -  about thirty miles north of Florence.

However we didn't have maps for it and it wasn't entirely clear why we didn't and there was a section earlier in the route that required ten turns in agricultural land and the potential to get lost was real.

In the end Phil was able to get the turn by turn directions, and Barry was able to McGyver the data into his Garmin for realtime navigation.

So far it's been a nice flat ride.  We've been in a tight group of seven following the Garmins on Barry and John's bike.  We even made such good time that we caught up with Norm and Christine who were hampered trying to follow the paper turn-by-turn instructions.

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Tom has joined us regularly since Baker City.  At one point during a dinner he told Lew - he would be a good Comrade.  It's nice to have him along with us again.

No cafe in Monroe - instead we got some snacks and drinks at the Dari-Mart in town.  The clerks were so shocked to hear we had biked from Virginia.  Congratulations! And You're so inspiring.  Being off the trail we're exposed to people who aren't so accustomed to weird spandex clad men cycling across country.

In case we forgot what challenges smaller thousand -something feet tall hills can be - Alpine Road reminded us.  At one point the grade was 10% and I think almost everyone walked their bikes up a portion of it.

But...it's not hot, not humid, and there was very little traffic.  So we didn't complain and I could it a little nostalgic.  There were times when I was biking at only 3 miles-point-something an hour and walking briskly I could match that.

But reached the top and sat with Lew, Tom, and Barry while we waited for John.  Ham sandwich, a Cliff Bar and Water.

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After John came up and we all rested it was time to go back down on the other side and I am reminded again what a joy these climbs and coasts are particularly in the green canopied road.  It is the most rewarding thrill ride that you can earn.  It seems so obvious in retrospect, but I can't explain exactly how good it feels to have that rush of adrenaline and wind.  I videoed a good stretch on my GoPro but I suspect like most everything - the representation pales against the reality.


This is the last full day of what has been, by almost any measure, an epic journey.  I don't know how long it took Frodo to reach Mordor, but the Oregon Trail took 200 days, and Lewis and Clark took two years.  So this is a little different in comparison to those truly epic adventures.

But this is my adventure and it is drawing to an end.  For many in our group, it is just the start of retirement and they have to come back to the most difficult of decisions... what now?

Norm talked to me two nights ago in McKenzie Bridge about his desire to move to Washington state and be closer to his children.  He is looking at getting involved in charities.

Lew retired four days prior to starting the trip.  He talks about getting more involved in political and social justice activism.

Jim is also recently retired, but has been a little tight lipped about how he intends to shape his retirement days.

Bill will go back to Moab and resume guiding mountain bikers. 

John says he'll lay low catering to wife Robin, before he mentions going on another bike trip.  This is his thirteenth tour with the ACA so he'll probably arrange number fourteen soon.

Tom, Barry and I will be heading back to our jobs and that is probably an easier decision.  We just have to see how long it will take us to readjust.  Barry jokes that he'll startle merchants in Nottingham by demanding ice cream, or worse, free refills on coffee.

We've spent evenings around campfires, beers or drinks in hand, laughing, and trying to recall what state, or town things occurred and the vastness of it just confronts us.

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I have long mulled about in my mind how to answer the "polite" question...How was your trip?  I'll need to come up with a polite, "It was fantastic, epic, and a journey that I'll never forget."  More than that and I would be talking too much.  It's impossible to convey in less than a minute, even an hour.  (And who would want to listen about this for an hour much less five minutes.)

The second to last day.  We're biking through lush Oregon farming country.  There are trees, ferns, moss, and verdant valleys filled with farms.

A break today at Alsea, a funky little town in this valley filled with cheese farmers, beef ranchers and tourism.  Deb's Cafe for what we suspect will be our last group lunch of the Barrysters.   Alas breakfast was over so Barry forlornly ordered what we hope is his final American Grilled cheese sandwich.

Afterward I went down to the Alsea Mercantile and bought some local goat cheese for dinner.  It was quite smooth and good.


When I started out this little grand adventure, it was the first time since starting the practice of law, the birth of my children, or starting law school, or heading to boot camp, that I was embarking on a big thing, a life defining challenge or adventure.  Those kinds of "big days" happen frequently when you are younger.  Less often as you get older.

I also started out saying that every story had a who, what, when, where, how, and why.  The "why" is often the hardest but most important question to answer.  That's because it can have so many layers, that like an onion it's almost impossible to drill down to the real reason.

When we meet people on the road they're polite and ask where we are going, or heading from and we have to qualify our answer because if it's just the day then our answer is quite modest (at least to us) but if it's about the whole trip then that's worth a wow.

Less common, but still often, we get the question , "Why are you doing this?"  Typically it's packaged as "Are you doing this for a cause, or to raise money?"  It reminds me of the scene in Forest Gump when, after Jenny left him yet again, he started to run, and run, until he had crossed the country and then did it again.  He developed an entourage of people asking if he was doing it for world peace, or to end hunger, or other such cause.  As if he couldn't just be running for the running' sake.

Jenny hasn't left me, and I'm not doing it for a cause.

I typically give one of three answers:

One - The Judge said I either had to do this or do one year in jail.

Two - My wife signed me up for a fat camp and I thought it would be smoothies and yoga by the ocean.  Boy was I wrong!

Three - It's a midlife cry for help.

The real answer is because it's an adventure, a challenge and will likely be mentioned at my funeral.  I have always been intrigued by stories behind and about big journeys and this is one that I thought I could do at the cusp of my fiftieth year.

That answer is too long so I usually go with trite answer one or two or three.


The remaining seven miles to the campground went smoothly enough.  Bill stopped to forage on the road as he has routinely done whenever he spies berries, fruit, or other items.  Today he found Rosehips which weren't that good, but Bill assures me they're really good for you. Also present were blackberries which were sweet and delicious.

Bill, our retired Park Ranger on the trip, stopped to forage on the road as he has routinely done whenever he spies berries, fruit, or other items. Today he found Rosehips which weren't that good, but Bill assures me they're really good for you. Also present were blackberries which were sweet and delicious.

Bill, our retired Park Ranger on the trip, stopped to forage on the road as he has routinely done whenever he spies berries, fruit, or other items. Today he found Rosehips which weren't that good, but Bill assures me they're really good for you. Also present were blackberries which were sweet and delicious.

The Salmonberry Campground is a true gem. There were a lot of shady areas for tents and hammocks. My last night in a hammock so that is a little bittersweet.

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The Salmonberry meanders slowly past the campsite and there is a little path (conveniently right next to where Mike Allman has his RV) down to it.  It's not too cold so Barry, Bill and I went down to sit there.  Little fishes come by and nibble on our legs.  Really pleasant.

Tonight's last camp dinner of salmon, quinoa and berry salad by Norm, Christine, and Barry.  Quite good.

Our last map meeting and tomorrow we put our the tires into the Pacific.

McKenzie Bridge, Oregon to Coburg, Oregon

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Day 80.  We biked on highway 126 along the McKenzie River until we came close to Eugene, Oregon.  The river is strong, rushing along, while fly fisherman do their casts from flat bottom dory boats.

It is gorgeous country and often we pass by a small water fall coming down into this valley to join the river which eventually joins the Williamette River.  The trees tower above us and there is no way to mistake that we are in the lush side of Oregon.

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Tonight we reached Coburg, a small bedroom community just north of Eugene.  Our little journey is closing to an end.  Tomorrow we'll curve Northwest and camp just thirty miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Coburg, Oregon

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We arrived in Coburg, and specifically Armitage Park - a county run campground where we will spend the night.  However they would not let us occupy our sites until 2 PM and so we biked the 2 miles or so into Coburg.

There we found an excellent ice cream location.  What is it about cycling and ice cream?  They just seem to universally be accepted as the best pairs to put together ever.

Best of the Trip

Jim put together this list based on our dinner campfire discussions and reminiscing.

• Milkshake.   Ennis,mt

• Most Interesting bike traveler.    Amanda

• Most annoying bike traveler.   Rick

• Hardest climb.        Tie.     Paloose, co & elk city,ky

• Best descent.  White Bird,Idaho

• Best hostel.    Tie.  Als place, Farmington mo & spoke'n hostel, Mitchell, OR

• Most intersting town.     Damascus, VA

• Worst motels.    Anyplace with the name "squire" or "knight"

• Beer layover.      Breckinridge

• Best cafe.       Wesleys Cajun cafe in Missouri

• Best waitress.    Christie in Chester Illinois

• Best campsite.   Graingeville

• Best run cafe.     Palmyra

• Worst campsite.  Pittsburg Kansas  (misty mountain Charlottesville and camp swampy in Wisdom, honorable mention)

• Best meal.      Ribs in FairPlay

• Best bike shop.  Gannett peak in Landers

• Best kindness.    Janet & Maya the dog in Cassoday Kansas

• Best road repair.    Britton's bike in Granby

• Best day of riding.   Summit bikeway Breckinridge

• Most off course.  Tie. Bill/Marion & Mike/Yorktown

• Worst day of riding.   Charlottesville

• Worst bike shop.  flagstaff Baker City

• Most confusing map section.  Springfield

• Best fire station.    Utica

• Weirdest campsite.  sheep herders wagon, west Yellowstone

• Windiest day.    Newton, Kansas

• Windiest campsite. Saratoga Wyoming

• Best beer.   Crown Valley Missouri

• Best wine.   Baker City Ranchers Blend

• Best side trip.  Makers mark

• Best biker bar. 7th street Station Pueblo

• Cheapest bar.   Ordway.  $1 coors

• Most opulent bar. wytheville

• Most opulent restaurant Boone Tavern Berea

• Best road surface.   Virginia

• Worst road surface.  Sugar City Colorado

• Friendliest state.  Kentucky

• Most unsafe swimming pool.   Ness City

• Best pool.   Tie.  Sterling & Rough River state park lodge

• Best natural pool.  Johnson Shut Ins

• Best hot springs.  Tie. Jerry Johnson hot springs and Hobo hot springs Saratoga

• Best "Bill" story. Raccoon Ride

• Best bear.   Riverdance campground

• Most pissed off   Rattlesnake at Jeffry City

• Best sunset.  Royal Gorge, Colorado and Graingeville Idaho

• Most unexpected nice event.  Jackson Wyoming 4th of July parade

• Best host (male). Jason in FairPlay

• Best hostess.   Robyn in Eureka Kansas

• Most potentially disastrous day.   Guffey Colorado , currant creek Pass

• Hardest segment.  Haslett to FairPlay

• Coldest morning.  Zims hot springs.  New Meadows

• Hottest day.   Walden Colorado

• Most persistent dog.   Hazard Kentucky, John

• Loudest sleeper.   Britton

• Best cowboy.     Bruce in Sheridan Lake Colorado

• Best river trip.   Tubing in Missoula

• Best river for swimming.    Clearwater in Idaho

• Best aquafier.   Abbey springs Missouri

• Longest line of train cars.  Sugar City Colorado

• Most bastardized bike.   Mike's bike

• Best Wifi network. "Kill whitey".  Hazard Kentucky







Redmond Oregon to McKenzie Bridge, Oregon

Deschutes County, Oregon

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Day 79.  Today we're climbing up the McKenzie Pass which was the initial pass across the Cascades.  It was incredibly hard to go down on the western side.  Here on the Eastern side it's more of a gradual climb up.  Once a better route was developed this Pass became less used except as. Scenic Byway.

We had breakfast in Sisters, Oregon - named after the snow capped mountains of the Cascades to the west.  It's a little mind boggling to be riding toward them knowing we are going to cross that mountain range.

The arid high mountain desert is starting to recede with tall ponderosa pines. Bill says they have a distinctive smell and hops off his bike to demonstrate.  Barry joins in on the smell-fest but it proves a little unsatisfactory.

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Bill.  He has led an interesting life. Hang gliding and para gliding. That's risky some say and Bill says yes but what really terrifies me is having children so I never did.

The Cascades wipe out all the moisture from the weather moving east. It's why there is an arid Western Oregon and a lush and green Oregon.

About halfway up the pass I notice fern leaves.  Ferns!  So long surrounded by the lush green of Virginia I wondered what I had to pass through to see the lush green of Oregon and now we are on that doorstep.

Near McKenzie Pass Summit

As climbs go it's not the worst.  I was last (again) biking at 4mph and taking breaks for my behind and water.  Today, for some reason, my rear end and the seat haven't been getting along and there's a cyst right at the seam of my leg and torso which gives me fits when squeezed.  We'll see.

As we reach the summit, the tall pine trees give way to a massive black lava flow.  There was, according to the sign, an eruption here about 1,500 years ago and much of the summit is covered by a lava field.  The road eventually turns into the lava field ,and for a while we are driving in this black lava maze.

McKenzie Pass

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And then the summit is reached and we are beset not only by people visiting the summit and the lava field, but also butterflies.  Hundreds of them.  Climbing up they would come in pairs or threes, and playfully flit about and once even just fly with me as I biked up the incline.

Here at the summit they dance about in the hundreds.  They, along with the distant snow capped peaks of the Cascade Range are the only thing that argue against us having been transported to a barren lava rock planet.

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This is the last climb of the trip, and looking at all the motorists here, I know what they are thinking (or at least what I would be thinking) ... "There's no WAY I'ld ride my bicycle up here!!!"

Yet here I am and I look forward to what they may never know. An absolute thrill ride waits for me on the west side of this summit.  It is better than any rollercoaster.

Until then I eat a peach, some cherries, while butterflies dance about me in the hundreds.

We are surrounded by Douglas Firs, White Cedars, Ferns and moss.  This is the Oregon you picture.

This sun dappled road winds it's way back and forth along switch backs descending from McKenzie Pass (5,325 feet) to less than a thousand feet in about thirty miles.

To put that in perspective we were on the eastern edge of Kansas in Pittsburgh, Kansas when we were last under a thousand feet in elevation.  Cañon City, Colorado, six hundred thirty miles to the west of Pittsburg, Kansas is at the 5,300 feet elevation.

In other words, it took me a little over an hour to zip down the same elevation in thirty miles that it took us eleven days and 630 plus miles to reach.

Too much fun and too beautiful to be properly described and it's a little bittersweet because, for this trip at least, it's the last time.

Proxy Falls

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Midway down or so from the summit we came across a recommended short loop hike to Proxy Falls.  Jim and I went while Barry and John kept biking onward.  Later I saw Norm and Christine there too.

There's a fair amount of lava rock, but mostly it's what you expect from the rainforest side of Oregon.  Tall trees, moss covered limbs, ferns, and a deep damp earthiness that just heralds renewal and anything left on the ground will be used to replenish the earth and stuff will grow anywhere.

The falls were pretty, but it is just water falling of a cliff face.  Still it was a nice break from biking.

Mackenzie Bridge Campground

We camp tonight at the McKenzie Bridge US Forest Service Campground, just a half mile down from the McKenzie Bridge Service Station - a historic gas station and country store which has, since the 1930s has served summer tourists and locals alike.

It is now owned by three couples who have expanded the kitchen, the beer and wine offerings, and have created an outdoor courtyard with a fire pit, tables, shade and cornhole.

The campground is along McKenzie River and is lovely, earthy, and fern green.  The Douglas Fir and White Cedars tower over us, and are covered with moss.  We are in rainforest land and the bookends of green Virginia and green Oregon are starting to come together.

There is no shower, however, so we are reduced to plunging our bodies into the chilly McKenzie.  I can take only three seconds of total immersion before I have to get some part of my body out of the water.

After dinner and map meeting Norm and I went back up the road to the McKenzie Bridge Store for some drinks (Cider for me) and cornhole as well as to hook into their wifi so we could grab emails, and respond to texts.  Played two games of Cornhole.  Norm won both but I kept competitive.

Mitchell, Oregon to Redmond, Oregon

Along Highway 26

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Day 78.  Before launching on this trip, I thought that there would several days where it would be the same stuff, different day and I would struggle to find anything new or a previously unexpressed observation.  When you're traveling between 45 to 80 miles a day, how different can one day be from another.

To some degree that preconception has survived reality, particularly in Wyoming and Montana. But mostly it has not. This vast country is chokerbox  full different vistas, roads, and most significantly, our people.

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Today it was more high desert and lava crested buttes and then we started to climb the Ochoco Mountains.  It was warm and slow going.  Twice the summit seemed to be reached only to start climbing again.  But the summit came and it wasn't without a little wistfulness because this is the second to last large hill/mountain we'll have to cross.

Redmond, Oregon

Entering into this valley between the Ochocos and the Cascades, we could so the massive snow covered Cascades ahead of us. Those we cross tomorrow at Mackenzie Pass and from there we'll be in the lush green part of Oregon but more important we'll never ascend over a thousand feet in elevation.  It's just us, a few proper tiny hills, and the Pacific Ocean.

Bill got another flat tire. It's been reduced to a minor nuisance, delaying us maybe fifteen minutes.  He has had bad luck with flats. Like my previous flat, the cause of this one was an insidious little thin wire, no more than ten millimeters that somehow came off the road, through the tire and into the tube.

Tonight we're staying in Redmond, Oregon. It's a largish town at 27,000 inhabitants.  We stopped for our traditional post ride ice cream but could only find a Cold Stone Creamery in a traditional strip mall filled with Starbucks, Jimmy John's and the Mattress Firm.  The sea salt and sweet cream shake is great, but it felt detached and ersatz after we have almost exclusively dined small town local for the past three months.

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Eating, of course, is a big part of the trip and it wouldn't surprise me if a third of the posts and pictures are about food. We need the fuel and water.  Mostly we eat like in the picture where two of us cook and we sit, semi circle, and hash out the day's ride and sights.  Today Chris and Phil made spaghetti, always a crowd and carb pleaser especially before tomorrow's big (and last) climb.

We’re staying at another sleepy motel with yet another old English name - the Village Squire.  We joke that there must be a rule in Adventure Cycling that we have to stay at medieval themed names like Knights Inn, Olde Towne Inn, or The Village Squire.  It seems half the “guests” are permanent residents.  There are kids here and it’s heartbreaking to see their innocence in such a squalid place.

Prairie City, Oregon to Mitchell, Oregon

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Day 77.  Arrived in Mitchell just at 4pm. Barry and I are cooking but after today's hot ride, we needed the iced tea and lemonade along with a shake.

Shake.  Shake. Shake.

They are the little carrots we dangle in front of us  after a hot day long ride numbering on the 40s to 80s.

Mitchell is a small town, with an old west feel.  They, like many of the towns we are passing through from Wyoming to here, preparing for a total eclipse which will occur on the 21st of August. This tiny little county expects over 50,000 people on that day. Almost every town has an eclipse "center" so it is a big deal.

Spoke'n Hostel and the Assembly of God Church.

We've stayed at three hostels now and this is easily my favorite.  It's run by young Pastor Pat Farrell and wife Jalet.  Their church meets in the basement with a regularly attending congregation of twenty which isn't bad considering the town has 130 residents.

Spoke’n Hostel describes itself as "an oasis of hospitality and radical generosity springing out of Christ’s love for the stranger, traveler, and community."

In 2015 when Pat and Jalet visited Mitchell, Oregon they were quickly struck by the struggles and possibilities this remote Eastern Oregon community faced. Work is very hard to find, isolation mentality had eroded relationships and the town’s heart was faint from the ravages of the recession.

In stark contrast, a vibrant community of tourists and bicycle travelers were passing through Mitchell in masse on their way to the Painted Hills and cycling the 4500 mile Trans America Trail.

They decided to open a hostel inside the Assembly of God to share a Christ-centered hospitality to travelers in hopes of growing the local economy. This growth would help local businesses and provide a base salary for a pastor to focus energy on mending relationships with local community members and teach about God’s unconditional love.

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Spoke’n Hostel has 12 beds (6 bunks) in the bunk room (formerly the sanctuary) and 3 more beds in two semi-private rooms. Each of the sturdy, hand-made bunk beds includes linens, pillow, handmade quilts, reading lights, charging stations and privacy curtains. Mattresses are high-quality foam with a soft and firm side and are an extra large twin size, suited to the tallest traveler.

A full kitchen is available for travelers to prepare their own meals. The Hostel intentionally does not feed travelers to encourage dining at local restaurants.

Since June of 2016, Spoke’n has been host to nearly 400 (predominantly bicycle) travelers, 3 retreats, and countless meetings. Businesses in the town report a 30% growth in their revenue because more travelers are staying overnight, and the town is regaining its spirit.

Comments from travelers frequently refer to Spoke’n as an unexpected oasis and have responded by scores of 5-star reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. To cap it all off, the Oregon Governor’s office of tourism selected Spoke’n as their 2016 recipient of the Tourism Development Award, high praise from one of the most renown tourism boards in the country.

It's a fabulous religious outreach program and Pat and Jalet have been outstanding hosts.

Painted Hills Overlook

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The Painted Hills are one of Oregon's self-proclaimed seven wonders.  They are geologic calling cards from the Cretaceous period when much of this area was underwater.

Pastor Pat, brought us out here and explained what the colors represented.  Nice enjoyable side trip.

Baker City, Oregon to Prairie City, Oregon

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Along Highway 7

Day 76.  Today had the potential to be awful, not simply because we biked 68 miles, but because of the terrain.  We leave Baker City at 3,500 feet in elevation or so, and we end in Prairie City at the same elevation.

So a flat ride?  No.  We are crossing the Blue Mountains and there are three passes, each of them at 5,000 feet or above; Sumpter Pass (5,082); Tipton Pass (5,124); and Dixie Pass (5,279).  The only good news was that as we ascended them we would descend them about a thousand feet just as quickly.

Besides terrain, we concern ourselves about heat, humidity, traffic, pavement conditions and wind.  Today we lucked out.  It was not too hot, traffic was manageable and all of the other misery causes were lacking.

We just had to climb and descend.

It's getting to be like going to a theme park and taking the rollercoaster.  We bike seven or so miles to a summit, climbing about a thousand feet, and this takes a little more than an hour.  Then we reach the top, kick everything into high gear and rocket down.  Unlike a theme park ride - this one lasts so much longer even whizzing down at 40 plus miles an hour.

I wonder if theme parks could just have the waiting lines be these slowly advancing exercise bikes, so people could get their workouts while waiting.  It would go bankrupt in a year.

In between passes two and three we came upon a spring of incredibly fresh, safe-to-drink, and cold water.  Three women were there with their pickup filling jugs, and cisterns of it.

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According to one lady, there's a very specific ritual to filling your water bottle.  (1) Dump the water in it first.  (2) Fill it with spring water, then empty that.  (3) Fill it again and drink.  It was refreshing.

Austin Junction, Oregon

Ate half a hamburger and the blackberry cobbler with (of course) huckleberry ice cream.  Barry, no surprise, was limited to a grilled cheese sandwich.  He noted, "This is the last grilled cheese sandwich I shall be eating with you gents on a Friday."

Yet another reminder that departing Never Never Land fast approaches.

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As we climb up to the 4000 foot elevation, the high arid mountain clime disappears and instead we get this incredibly dense and verdant pine tree forest.  It looks like Oregon finally.  We're traveling through National Forest land so there are bird of prey nests, and gorgeous vistas that inspire you to look for the Cartwright Ranch or Bonanza or other western show.

Dixie Butte Summit

The last summit finally came and went.  It was never terribly difficult, just long.

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Many of the place names here, according to the back of our map, were named by Southern Sympathizers when this land began to get settled by Americans.  Dixie and Dixie Summit, as well as the town of Sumpter (misspelled from the Original Fort Sumter) reflect that emigration.

After reaching the top it was another enormous, terribly satisfying rocket of a ride down into the John Day River Valley.  Seeing the valley spread out before me was just awe inspiring.  Hard not have an idiot's grin on your face as the wind whips through your hair and clothes.

Yet another little side area devoted to the covered wagon, although we are now south of the Oregon Trail I think, but couldn't help getting a photo.

Prairie City, Oregon

So we coast down the Blue Mountain Range into this valley and the town of Prairie City.  It's a cute little place with a very (surprisingly) vibrant downtown.  On the western end, there is a restaurant cafe called the Hitching Post run by what appears to be two escaped school lunch ladies.  The place was packed.

We're staying at the Prairie City Depot RV Park.  It has a little brook running through it.  There's an ample pavilion, and most important lots of grass and shade.  Two trees are a little over ten feet apart so I am hammocking it tonight.

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Norm and Christine made an excellent dinner of center cut pork chops, apple compote, and a quinoa with cranberries.  Great dinner.

We have a big day tomorrow - eighty two miles but the first fifty are downhill.  Twenty five of the last thirty two are uphill, not as steep as today, but just long.  We'll ascend a thousand eight hundred to 4,357 at Keyes Creek Pass.  Then we'll coast down 1,300 feet to the town of Mitchell.

Barry and I cook tomorrow.  We think the ride will be long and difficult, but as I look at the map - I think the ascent is going to be easier than we think.

Baker City, Oregon, Rest Day

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Day 75.  A nice breakfast at the Lone Pine Cafe with Norm, Christine, Bill, and Philip.  Norm was busily reading off the latest blurbs about the Tour de France which ends this week.  We now have only a week before the trip ends and inevitably we are getting a little nostalgic and reminiscent about towns, places, and people that have touched us.   Part of that has been my ongoing joke about what calendars, books, or songs each of us would create after this trip.

My suggestions are:

• Dogs that tried to eat or kill me, by John.

• Fifty Ways to Leave your Tour, by Tom

• You're in Nation: Places I Peed across the USA, by Lew. Alternatively "Do the Lewcomotion."

• Thirty Sidetrips (in twenty miles or less) along the TransAmerica, by Norm and Christine.

• Grilled Cheese Sandwiches across America, by Barry. Alternatively, "They speak English??? A Guide to understanding the Barry's British Banter."

• Randy and Ribald Ranger Stories, by Bill.

• Alternatively "Hot Women I would like to pork on the The TransAmerica"

• Gatorade and Powerade Bottling, A comparative study, by Jim.

• Van Camping for comfort, by Chris.

• A Guide to Ambiguous Expressions, by Philip.

• Spokes I've lost, by Britton.


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After breakfast and a little exploration many of us (Norm, Christine, Bill, Philip and I) went to the Leo Adler House Museum.  Leo was born in 1895 and was a real Horatio Alger of his day selling magazine subscriptions.  He eventually became the exclusive magazine distributor in eight western states.  When he passed away (never married) in 1993 he donated his $23 million to the community.  The earnings and interest are used to fund scholarships and community improvements.

He lived in this house since he was four, and never went upstairs after his Mother's death.  (The family had moved downstairs anyway because they only put electricity and water in the lower level.). The house is now restored to how it existed in 1900.

Lovely rooms.

I took a nap and then rode my bike to the local classic theater.  Saw the War for the Planet of the Apes.  Visually quite excellent, but the story was too trite and a too few many deus ex machina plot devices.  I also take objection to the casual association of Christianity and the National Anthem to crazy ape-slavery and abuse.

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Lovely night tonight.  We had our group dinner at the local brew pub.  We started our next-to-last map today as we finally head west.

Halfway, Oregon to Baker City, Oregon

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Day 74.  Today was supposed to an easy 53.5 miles from Halfway to Baker City.  So we started at 7:30AM and headed south again to Richland.

We've been going North, South, Northwest, Southwest since Colorado but rarely just west, but after Richland it looks like we turn West seriously.

But first we had to get up the hill or pass between Halfway and Richland.  It was only 3,653 feet.  A little steep but otherwise John and I just slogged through it.  Hills and climbs are my Achilles heel, I can get through them but it my speed lingers between 4 to 7 MPH.

But for every foot we climb, we drop more, and the descent after the pass was another incredible thrill ride into a valley, with the town of Richland off in the distance, a shining destination, with this gray ribbon of a road unfurled against the hillside as I coast down it in speeds reach 47 MPH.

It's better than any Disney ride.

Almost everyone had stopped at the cafe.  Corn Beef Hash and Eggs - really well done and tasty and then we filled our water bottles and headed West toward Baker City.

Flagstaff Hill

We're following Highway 86 which runs only from Baker City to Richland along the Powder River.  This has an added benefit that the mile markers start in Baker City so it was a countdown to our destination.

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The Powder River runs to the East in this dry, scrub canyon.  It's hot, dry, and there is no water except for the river which runs by us.  As tempting as that is, there's a fair amount of algae in the river.  A sign (Bill said later) that it is formed by a lot of agricultural runoff.

But then the river left us completely and now we were just on this plateau (called the Virtue Flat) with just igneous rock, scrub and vast nothing for as far as I could see except for sparsely snowcapped mountains way in the distance.   It felt like Nevada.

And I was going slow, really slow.  John had kicked in his homing beacon mode which he sometimes does when he feels overheated, and he will just go, and go, without hardly any stops on auto-pilot until he reaches our end destination.  (Then he will nap for almost twenty hours depending upon the heat exhaustion.).

So it was just me and Phil, kindly putting up with my slow pace since he is the sweep past this nothingness.  We're used to rural, but this is beyond Wyoming.  I've run out of words to describe it - no ranches, no roads, nothing.  Empty. Barren. Desolate.  Just igneous rocks. Tan.  Sage green scrub.

Plus it was a climb so I put on the podcasts and just kept going, occasionally stopping for water, since anytime I looked down it would be a constant drip-drip-drip of sweat pouring off my head in this heat.  I called them fat tears because when a fat cell dies it get just one tear.

Finally we reached Flagstaff Hill, and then from there it suddenly became a little easier coasting over the top plateau and then down toward Baker City.

Oregon Trail Ruts

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In the 1840s, particularly once South Pass was discovered which was an easy, covered wagon "friendly" crossing of the Continental Divide hundreds of thousands embarked upon this massive journey west.   We've joined back up with the Oregon Trail after leaving it back in Wyoming.

There is a massive Interpretive Center here outside of Baker City, but it would be another mile bike ride, in the heat, and an elevation gain of 370 feet.  I just didn't have the heart to do it.

We did stop at the roadside marker and walked the hundred feet or so to see the ruts from the wagons and oxen passing by here in such numbers so many years ago.  They only travelled about thirteen miles a day and the entire trip took about six months.  Such journeys do not exist anymore.

Baker City, Oregon

Baker City, Oregon is situated in a valley between the Wallowa Mountains to the east and the Elkhorn Mountains, part of the Blue Mountains to the west, with the Powder River running through the center of downtown on its way to the Snake River. Interstate 84, which runs Southeast from Portland to Salt Lake City also runs through the valley by Baker City.

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The valley is green with irrigated fields including this odd scene where a farmer has placed over a century of cars and farm machinery along the edge of the property. What made the sight memorable was the single white horse walking through it as a curator inspects the exhibits.

A long hot day is rewarded with ice cream (Huckleberry Shake), a Greek salad, and two deviled eggs.

We're staying at the Mountain View RV park which also has a sizable mobile home portion to it as well.  The camping area is shady and grassy so we are content. The office and general store facilities are decorated as if we are in an ersatz old West Town complete with a repeating loop of banjo music playing. Thankfully the music turned off at 9:00PM.

There's been a definite trend in where we stay. Back through Virginia, Kentucky and parts of Missouri we were mostly in churches.  Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas were city parks, county fairgrounds, and state parks.  Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and since have seemed to be mostly private RV parks.   Exceptions abound of course.

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Most have been nice and some, like Halfway, Montana, have been tolerable.  Now after seventy days I am able to sleep perfectly soundly and happily in my tent or hammock.  In fact (I think I've written this before) I preferred the churches to even the hotels.

A good basic dinner, sloppy Joe's, beans and macaroni salad.  I've dropped the beer. It was too expensive chipping in twenty dollars every ten days or so when I drink maybe seven beers, and instead bought a medium size bottle of Bacardi and have been enjoying a cuba libre or two in the evening.

Cambridge, Idaho to Halfway, Oregon

Highway 71

Day 73.  Today we do a zig zag heading Northwest to the Oregon border then Southwest to Halfway, Oregon.  It's only sixty-some miles but we are descending toward the gateway to Hells Canyon and that means hotter weather.

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Highway 71 meanders up to an unnamed pass (elevation 4,131).  The country is dry, dotted with shrubs and tall dry grasses.  More distracting, particularly at seven to nine miles an hour are the Mormon Crickets.

They're not actually crickets, according to Wikipedia, but katydids.  They are big and black and ugly. Most of the time they are on the road eating other dead Mormon Crickets so we can add cannibal to the description.  Cannibal Mormon Crickets.  At times the numbers and infestation get s so bad that they turn the road blood red.

One farmer had a string of derelict farm equipment that progressed from simple John Deer ploughs to the large Steampunk like contraptions that resemble large mammals.

After the pass a fabulous 48 mph descent into the valley, the temperature rising as we go, toward the Oregon Stateline.   We stopped at on little cafe, proudly inviting all conceal carriers to come in in.

Oregon Stateline

After seventy two days and three thousand miles we've entered into our tenth and last state. It's not the rainforest, misty, ferns, and rainy land we've come to expect, but rather hot, tan, and relatively treeless arid mountain landscape.

For the wetter version of Oregon we have to pass Mackenzie Pass. Until then we will be in the arid west.  It's hot and dry and we have a little series of climbs ahead of us. It's nice that most of the group was together to mark this final Stateline of the trip.

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So many weeks ago we spent over two weeks ploughing through Virginia until I crossed over to Kentucky. Oregon seemed so far and remote away.  Each day's ride was a bit of dread as the reality of biking across America came upon me.  But I feared quitting more and kept at it. Now here we are, and I am part of that "we."

I can't remember when I shifted from "I'll try to get through this" to "I'll actually do this" to, now, "I'm enjoying this."  My guess is Carbondale when I realized that Mike's bike would work for me. Then Missouri or Kansas when I felt stronger and able to crank out the miles.

The culmination of all that is to stand here on the final leg of this journey.

Highway 86

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It's hot but we are reminded by Scotty's Store that at 94 degrees this is considered a cold spell because last week it was 117. So we are making sure we keep hydrated and our water bottles are refreshed.

Scotty also charged three dollars for a huge heaping of huckleberry ice cream.  That, combined with a gallon of water made it a good stop.  We have anywhere from thirteen to fifteen miles left and in this heat - that's a good thing.

We crossed back into Pacific Time again, this time for good.

Halfway, Oregon

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The town of Halfway got its name because it's post office was halfway between the mining boom towns of Pine and Cornucopia.  The former is now under water and the latter is a ghost town. Halfway remains.

It's a small town, population just shy of 300, but has two good cafes and saloons.  In December 1999 the town accepted an offer to temporarily rename itself Half.com (an offer made by an internet company of the same name) in exchange for $110,000 and twenty computers for the school. It was, it proudly proclaimed, the first dot-com city in America.

We went to the Main Place where huckleberry shakes are just $3.50.  The water and Arnold Palmer came in and it was, to us after sweating and cycling through the heat, was a vision of complete refreshment.

They also offer a huckleberry margarita and martini so a stop after dinner was in order.  Tonight we're staying (camping) at the Halfway RV Park.  It's a little cramped but among friends that's no problem.