I’m writing this entry on Day 15, in Baker City, Oregon, but didn’t want to jump ahead, I might fail to come back and fill in the story. Yes, for those of you that read my last posting, Day 9, I do now have my Chromebook computer back.
The ride out from Mitchell, OR, faces another steep climb to the top of Keyes Pass. At 4369 feet (1332 m) it isn’t highest climb thus far, but it averages about a 7% grade.
The good news is, the downhill to Dayville is about 33 miles (53 km). It was gradual, I don’t think I broke any speed limits, but it was a relief to not pedal too hard in the desert heat.
About halfway down, I was approaching a ranch entrance off to the right. I think the ranch was named, Great Creek Ranch. In any case, just as I neared an entrance gate to a field an animal jumped out in the road in front of me about 50 feet (15 m) ahead. At first, my foggy, heated, brain didn’t register what it was. Dog? Pig? Antelope? Gradually my brain started to assemble the pixels and it registered that it was a cat. It was then that I realized that the cat was large, very large. In fact, this was the largest cat I had ever seen in the wild. It was a cougar, also known as a mountain lion or puma.
It all happened so suddenly that I think we were both surprised. The bicycle is silent and the animal was used to hearing traffic on the road and chose the silence to cross. It stopped right in the middle of my lane and looked right at me. Instinctively, I rode directly towards her (it did look like a female cat, I could be wrong). After what seemed an eternity but was probably a few milliseconds, she turned, darted and ran off into the bushes on the side of the road.
I didn’t even have time to be scared. I was rolling along about 10-15 miles per hour. I think they can run about 40 or 50 mph. What if she took me for game? Whew. Nonetheless, that cat was a breathtaking sight. The locals here tell me I was lucky, not many actually get to see them, sightings are rare even though the cats are not.
In midafternoon, I arrived in Dayville. It is just a few buildings and has a population of 148. A quick stop at the cafe for some cold drinks was in order. I’m certain I was a sight, all sweaty, dusty, and sun burnt. After cooling down I went down to the church, which was reputed to be a biker hostel. I didn’t find anyone there, so I just parked on the lawn in the shade and laid on the grass and promptly fell asleep. After an hour or so a neighbor, Cindy, came along to mow the grass and water it and told me where I could find Rose, the hostel proprietor.
She lives just behind the church and immediately made me feel at home. She opened up the church and attached meeting room/kitchen and invited me to use the place. Nobody else was there, although she thought there were two others that would show.
I unpacked, put down my mat and sleeping bag on the floor and connected the electronics to the WiFi. I also put up an antenna on a nearby tree for my ham radio later that evening. Following a refreshing shower and cleaning up, I put on some regular clothes, as opposed to bicycle riding clothes, and headed back to the cafe for dinner. When one of the waitresses they spied me she commented: “Hey, you’re not half bad, once cleaned up.” I wasn’t quite certain how to take that, was I that bad before?
Back at the church, the other two did show up, Issac and Kevin, both young fellows doing an east coast to west coast ride. They’re doing it on a budget and have about a week left. Issac had an interesting arrangement for his gear. He was pulling a trailer and the hitch had broken quite some time ago. It was rigged up with bolts, tie-wraps, and bailing wire and seemed to be working. I couldn’t have imagined how one would replace the rear tire, should that be necessary. Sadly, I didn’t think to take a picture. Maybe if he sees this, he will send one along.
The rest of the evening was uneventful and I did mess around with the radio for a while before turning in for a very good night’s rest.
I may come back and add more photos to this later, the Internet connection is so slow here that it is impossible to do at this time.