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.

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