Thursday June 11
So I never got to mention June 11 in the last update. We pedaled away from Eugene by 10:00. We took a wrong turn 3 or 4 times and an hour later we were right back at the Campbell House. This was unintentional but what happens when the navigator is from Washington. It didn’t help much when we asked for directions from people on the street. The first person would tell us to go this way 3 blocks then turn left. After following those directions we would once again find ourselves where we knew not. The next person would send us back in the same direction we just came from. Is this some cruel joke that people in Oregon do to bicyclists? Regardless, we eventually found the bridge that took us away from Downtown Eugene.
The thing that I have to mention and will probably mention again is we have become minor celebrities everywhere we go. When people see a group of 3 cyclists, 2 on a tandem and one of them is a kid about Lewis’ age, it clicks for them and they yell out’ Hey you’re the cyclists who got your bike stolen’, or they yell out ‘Good luck on the rest of your trip’ or they yell out ‘better learn to lock your bike or you’ll never get to Washington DC’. We must have had 30 or 40 people stop to say something to us on Wednesday while we were shopping or just walking around downtown Eugene. It was beginning to annoy us but we remained polite to the bitter end. We made the front page of Eugenes daily newspaper, the Register Guard (or Guard Register) for the second day in a row. This time it was not because of the theft but because of the miraculous recovery of our bike. Less than 10% of stolen bikes are recovered here and yet ours was.
So we are pedaling out of town again and now it’s nearly 12:00 and we’ve already put 9 miles in just getting lost in Eugene. We did do the last bit of shopping that we absolutely needed to do before leaving. This was at RIteAid and we replaced our hairbrush, shampoo, barsoap, fingernail clippers, washrags, and baby powder. What’s up with the baby powder? Baby powder is a cyclists shower substitute when a shower is not available! You ever try going to sleep when you’re body is all sticky from sweat and your legs stick together and your arms stick to your sides? Try it sometime.
So we are really out of Eugene by 1:00 and are on our way to our as yet unknown destination of the day. We end up doing 68 miles total and find ourselves at an RV park outside of Blue River Oregon. Yep, they knew our story too. The proprietor of this place joked that we’d probably have to get out of the state of Oregon to regain our anonymity. Previously I would have eaten dog turds before staying in an RV campground. I’m actually OK with these now as there usually are trailer park kids who live in these and it gives Lewis an opportunity to hang with kids for a bit. We feel sorry for lewis having to spend so many hours sitting right behind his dad with nothing to do except once in a while pedal a little. But mostly he sits back there singing songs that he has made up or has remembered from some movie or cartoon. His favorite of the trip to date happens to be ‘Transformers, more than meets the eye. Transformers, Robots in disguise”. Poor kid! But overall his ability to do this day after day seems to be just a bit more advanced than Donna’s. But of course, she has to pedal!
Friday June 12
It rained just a bit overnight but not enough to even leave things wet in the morning. This was going to be a trying day as our first major climb of the trip was just a few miles down the road. We left the RV campground by 10:00 and pedaled an uneventful 10 miles to get to McKenzie Bridge, the unofficial start of our climb to end all climbs. We had no choice other than to tackle Santiam Pass as the McKenzie pass highway was closed to all vehicles until April due to a road construction project. But we did have a choice and Donna made it. Every cyclist that I talked to suggested taking the McKenzie pass route as it is more scenic and less heavily travelled. In our case, the road would have been deserted as no vehicles were allowed. The officials at the National Forest Service attempted to scare us off the McKenzie Highway by saying the snow hadn’t melted yet and there was highway construction going on. I found out from other sources that 2 weeks ago an adventurous sort of cyclist actually rode to the top and had no difficulty. But Donna was having none of that adventurous stuff. We stuck to the heavily travelled Santiam Pass. This route has an elevation gain of nearly 4000 feet to reach the pass but does a lot of up, then down, then further up then down a bit followed by more up then down abit again before the final push which was all up. The ride of 25 miles took us at least 6 hours and we had probably walked our bikes at least 3 or 4 miles of the steepest parts. We just don’t have the gears (or leg muscles) to push all the weight we have up these inclines. But I’m OK with that cuz we’re still using our own power to get this done.
The Rain started after a couple hours and remained moderate until just before we got to the actual pass and then it became good old fashioned hard rain with a little thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. This really sucked the life out of us as the temperatures at 5000 feet were only in the low 40’s. Our reserves were running out as we hadn’t eaten a real meal all day. We had some Hostess Donuts for breakfast and some Orange Juice at the last store before we began the climb. For the next 6 hours we survived on some Gatorade, a few granola bars and a candy bar apiece.
The absolute worst part of the ride turned out to be the downhill! While we did come racing down that pass in good time, the rain intensified and the wind from our velocity stole the last bit of body heat that remained in our tired selves. Donna was complaining, Lewis said his whole body was numb except for his head and I would have complained too if I had someone to complain to. But I didn’t. This is all my fault. After a quick 7 or 8 miles screaming down the other side of Santiam pass, we then had to dig down and pedal another 18 miles to get to our final destination of the day. Sisters, Oregon.
We pulled into Sisters just a little after 7:15 and a pit stop at good old McDonalds helped revive everyone. Lewis devoured 2 cheeseburgers, ate some fries and was still hungry enough to eat part of a chicken sandwich. This was a record for food consumption on his part. We tried to make contact with a warm showers host but his number was unlisted and we without wifi. I crossed the street from McDonalds and checked at the sisters Inn and rooms were going for $135 a night due to high demand caused by the rodeo which was starting that night and running through the weekend. That’s just a bit too steep for just 12 or so hours of comfort.
Our cycling map indicated that there was a ranch just a few miles outside of Sisters where they take in cyclists only. I made a phone call to see if they could accommodate us on such short notice. Initially the lady I talked to was offering only some space on the grass to pitch a tent as they presently had family members visiting who would be occupying the facility that they normally offer cyclists. I would not be deterred. I explained the situation with Lewis approaching hypothermia (not really)and a really pissed off wife (really really) and asked if we could pitch our tent in their garage. The reason being that we no longer had a ground cloth to place under our tent and with all the rain that was falling, it would inevitably lead to another wet night and wet sleeping bags and soggy spirits. Patty must have heard the desperation in my voice as she then said OK. We’ll find someplace for you. Just get over here.
It was all I could do to get Donna and Lewis back out in the rain again as they were no longer shivering with blue lips thanks to the heat of the deep fryers at Mc D’s. But pedal they did. We managed to pull into Jim and Patty’s place just before dark. Total miles for the day, 68!
Saturday June 13
Jim and Patty’s place was a much needed tonic after the miserable conditions we encountered towards the end of Friday. Jim is an old California Beach Bum whose done pretty good for himself. They have an absolutely gorgeous house with a tremendous view of the 3 sisters (mountains). We severely inconvenienced them as they had a houseful of family members and were planning on having some of them sleep in the cyclists cabin that we ended up in. I’ll try to post a picture of our splendid digs. We had our showers in their house and a bit of conversation before retiring for the night.
The cloudy drizzly skies were gone by morning as we awoke to perfectly clear blue skies. We had coffee with the family before they all departed and left us to finish up a load of laundry and pack our bikes. We pedaled away from their place by 10:30 and made pretty good time. Our destination today was a modest one. We hoped to make Prineville, home of Les Schwaub. This was a short ride of about 40 miles as the next day was going to involve another mountain pass. We stopped for an early lunch in Redmond Oregon at a neat little café that had wifi. That’s when I finally got to update the blog as well as enjoy a wonderful sandwich and a groovy potato soup. Lewis had a blast in Redmond as we stopped 3 times and he enjoyed each one for a different reason. The first stop was a Starbucks and it seems he has developed a taste for the better things in life. Two caramel frappacinos were purchased along with a plain old chocolate milk for the little man. He snarfed down his chocolate milk and then proceeded to finish off part of his mom’s fancy coffee before killing the last half of mine. I had expected to do some internet stuff there but their wireless is not free. You have to pay ATT to use it. I will never go to another starbucks! I did get directions to the café where we had lunch from one of the employees but I spent over $15 to find out that they don’t give you internet for free.
Our second stop in Redmond was in front of the towns statue of their mascot. I think it was an eagle. It was made entirely of welded metal things including old garden shovels, old snowmobile skis and even old silverware. Lewis was majorly impressed. See photo! The next stop in Redmond happened to be the Army national guard building. The reason for this stop was the vintage WWII tank that was parked in front of the building. Lewis got to crawl around on it and we had to pry him away from it. See photo!
I already mentioned the lunch we had immediately following the tank excursion. I sent an e-mail and made 2 phone calls to a potential warm showers host (Dennis) just before we left the café. Our beautiful sunny day was now beginning to cloud over. We left Redmond behind and set out for Prineville, barely 25 miles away. The wind picked up a bit and seemed to be blowing in our faces but the gentle terrain helped tremendously. We pulled into Prineville by 5:00 and began searching for a free wifi spot so I could see if Dennis had answered my e-mail. No luck. Stopped at the city park and I went over to 7-11 to buy a couple of Gatorades and used their phone in the process. I called the 2 numbers I had for Dennis but he didn’t answer either one. We had really hoped to stay with a warm showers person and once again, my inability to predict when we would be passing through as well as my unpreparedness in having phones numbers available as well as our lack of a permanent cell phone had doomed us to missing another opportunity to meet our first warm showers host. I returned to the park to pass along the bad news. We decided to head out of town where a campground was available approximately 6 miles away. The last thing we needed to do before leaving was use the restrooms. We do this in shifts now as we are so dang paranoid about somebody taking our bike again. So Donna went first and then it was my turn. When I returned I noticed Donna talking to someone. She had a big smile on her face. She was talking to Dennis!
He had checked his e-mail and was expecting us. He wasn’t able to get to his cell phone in time when I had called just minutes before. When he called the number that showed up on his cell, he got the cashier from 7-11 who told him some guy just used the phone and had just left. He hopped in his car and drove to the 7-11 and noticed the tandem still parked at the park and figured he had found his wayward travelers. When he approached Donna he said ‘You must be the Jacksons’. Donna incorrectly assumed that he was just another person who had seen us during all the media coverage in Eugene. He gave us directions to his house and said to go make ourselves comfortable as he and his wife were attending a birthday party just a few blocks away from where we were currently standing. They expected to be home in a couple of hours. They had left the front door unlocked and set out a bowl of fresh strawberries on the counter.