Days 12, 13, 14, and 15: Baker City, Oregon

20160727_112404515 Miles ridden from Lincoln City, Oregon to Baker City, Oregon. I’m almost into Idaho and should be there by tomorrow.

As mentioned previously, I had to spend several days in Baker City to repair my Chromebook computer screen. Most of the days were spent eating, sleeping, swimming in the motel pool, and going to the park. They have some very nice parks here and the citizens use them.

Most of the time I would go to the park and throw a wire into a tree and get on my ham radio. Since I didn’t have the Chromebook, I would mostly talk to people on Morse code, or what we hams call, “CW,” it has to do with how the signal is formed and means, “Continuous Wave.” Actually, it isn’t continuous, the code key turns the signal on-and-off to form the characters, but such is how things get named.

On my last night in Baker City, I was in the park after dark. Some local group sponsored a movie night in the park pavilion and there was a great turnout of young kids to watch it. Everything ended about 10:00 pm. I had just finished talking with a fellow in Santa Clara, California, KK6ZHK, Ken, when a police officer walked over and asked me what I was doing.

I had the computer, antenna, radio, batteries, wires everywhere and I’m thinking he must see me as an Al Qaeda operative. At first, he looked a little nervous. I explained what I was doing and I saw a light go on in his head, he had heard of ham radio. Whew.

He told me the park was closed and I’d have to tear down. He explained that they had had “youth” problems lately after dark. I explained that I wasn’t a youth, but he didn’t have much of a sense of humor, so I went back to the motel.

Water source about 15 miles up SR-7 and 31.5 from the center of Prairie City, going east.
Water source about 15 miles up SR-7 and 31.5 from the center of Prairie City, going east.

Going back to the ride from Prairie City to Baker City: The difficult part of the day’s ride to Baker City was not only the 68 miles but riding over three passes that were all over 5000 feet (1524 m). After that, there was another section that had various ups and downs before truly descending along the Powder River into Baker City. I left Prairie City shortly after sunrise and arrived late in the day in Baker (the locals just refer to it as “Baker.”)

The other big question riding from Prairie City to Baker city is water. The map showed nothing between their home and Baker City, but Jimi and his son, Daniel, filled me in on some sources that were not on the map. Just about a mile after the restaurant at Austin junction with SR-7, there is a water pipe coming from a spring and it had plentiful water. It is directly across from the entrance to the Bates State Park

At 31.5 miles from their place, mile marker 15 on SR-7, at a highway maintenance building someone leaves water out for bikers. True to their word, both places offered plentiful water. Thank you, citizens of Oregon.

When I finally pulled into town, I wasn’t certain about where to stay. I called Jimi and asked him because he had mentioned a few places and I made the mistake of not paying attention. He suggested that he call a friend that was sometimes on WarmShowers and even though I considered it very late in the day, he gave the friend a call and then called me back.

His friend, Gayle, said yes, come over. I arrived, almost delirious from the heat and exertion. I felt that I was just babbling, but she took it in stride, showed me some of the nicest soft grass to put my tent on and, like everyone else, set me up with a shower and towels. I washed and crashed into my bedroll, oblivious to the world.

I slept like a dead man.

The next morning I told Gayle I was interested in taking a “zero day,” a day with no miles, to rest up and she suggested several places that were reasonably priced and had WiFi. I opted for the Oregon Trail Motel, on the other side of town.

Thanks for following along and please do leave comments.

 

Day 10: Dayville, Oregon

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.

20160722_111013The 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. ┬áDog? 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.

Day 9: Mitchell, Oregon

First of all, I am posting this from the library at Baker City, which is day 12-14 of the journey. I have gotten behind for various reasons, mostly just due to being old, hot and tired.

More importantly, my bicycle managed to fall over a few days ago onto a strategically placed rock. The impact to my imperfectly packed Chromebook laptop destroyed the screen:

20160725_095434

That pretty “flower” pattern is the result and, of course, there is no data display. I was lucky to find someone to repair it. Thankfully, the inexpensive, new screen will be delivered tomorrow (27 July), I’ll soon be on my way on Thursday morning, and into a new state (Idaho), a new timezone, and new mountains to climb.

Anyway, I’ll save all that for the future postings, once I catch up. Now, about Mitchell, OR.

I left Prineville (rhymes with “wineville”) early in the morning, just after sunrise.┬áThe climb out of town was the usual ascent into the sky. By midday, I was feeling quite tuckered. Fortunately, I did carry a good stock of Gatorade and water and, in spite of the heat, was doing a bit better than previous climbs. I reached Ochoco Pass (4720 feet, 1438 m) and took a good rest period; I think I even fell asleep for a bit in the shade of a tree.

The one saving grace of these big climbs is the following descent, and this one was no exception. Even in the hot desert air, it felt somewhat refreshing, although it was still a refreshing blast furnace of heat.

Coming into Mitchell, I observed a tire shop and espresso shop, all in the same building. I just couldn’t bring myself to stop. I had this vision of a fellow in greasy work coveralls, running an espresso machine and passed it up. Later on, just down the road, I took the main street into town and hit the first cafe on the right.

The young lady (they all seem younger than I am now) working the counter offered me several drinks, Pepsi, lemonade and water and I had several of each. Even though I wasn’t that hungry, I ordered a BLT. She cooked up some fresh bacon and as she made the sandwich, we chatted. She was pleasant and has a college degree, I think in one of the sciences, but there isn’t much call for that around there, so she is making do. She was originally from Tennessee, as I gathered from her accent. Funny how some things we just never shake.

While chatting, another woman, Jalet, came in and realizing immediately that I was a bicyclist, filled me in on her biker hostel, the Spoke’n Hostel, just down the road. I must have been tired and hot, I completely missed it on the way to food and drink. It is a converted church and a super place to spend an evening.

More to come later, I just had a notice on the screen the library is timing me out for today. I’ll be so glad to get my Chromebook back!