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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.