Tuesday June 16
I didn’t sleep so well in the house of the lord. Donna reported a similar occurrence. Lewis slept the sleep of the innocent. Take from that what you will. I am blaming all of the different noises for my restlessness. I’ve grown accustomed to Donna’s snoring and snuffling sounds. Last night I heard a cacophony of strange nighttime symphonies from 4 strange adults all sleeping in the sanctuary with us. In addition I was certain I heard noises out back of the church where our bikes were locked together. There was at least one dream where I awoke to discover that both of our bikes had been stolen in the night. When the bikes are within sight of our tent I don’t have these same thoughts. I was the last one to retire and did so around 11:00. I was awake every time someone got up to go use the bathroom and this happened 4 or 5 times. The first cyclist awoke just after the sun rose and immediately put on her biking shoes and proceeded to walk around with the clunk, clunk, clunk noises that occur when the hard plastic soles stuck the hollow floors of the old creaky church. This would have been around 5:00 in the morning. This was going to be a long day. I knew I was done sleeping at that point but I remained in the sleeping position until just Lewis and I were the only ones there.
I finally joined the other cyclists in the community area of the church where the kitchen and socializing area was. This would have been around 6:30. The coffee was gone so I made another small pot and sat down with a couple of packaged donuts for my breakfast. This mini-meal gave me enough spark to begin the morning ritual that is now becoming sort of routine: packing of the belongings. We were the last to leave the church but everyone left within a 15 minute span. On the road before 8:30! It really speeds things up when you don’t have to deal with the tent. Today we planned to go for Austin Junction Oregon.
The ride today was 53 miles of climbing followed by 7 miles of downhill to end up at Austin Junction. The first 44 miles we gained a little over a thousand feet of elevation which at times is barely noticeable that it’s climbing. The final 9 miles of climbing there was no mistaking the fact that we were going uphill. We gained over 2000 feet of elevation. That 9 miles took us almost 2 hours to accomplish. We got off the bikes to rest a couple times and a couple other times we got off the bikes to push them up the hill. Lewis has come to realize that pushing the bikes up the hills ends up being more work for him than when we pedal up the hills. Donna and I have the opposite view. When we’re pedaling up these passes our pulse and respiration jump dramatically to where conversation is difficult while Lewis is sitting behind me and is still talking up a storm or singing or just making strange odd little boy noises. We encourage him to pedal on these challenging parts of the ride and he always responds by putting forth 20 seconds of hard work. The difference is noticeable and it’s also noticeable when he stops putting forth the extra effort. Fortunately Donna is struggling with these inclines just as much as I while her bike and gear has to be 40 pounds less than the tandem not including Lewis. But conquer this pass we did. Our final elevation of 5277 (3 feet short of mile high) is our highest to date and will be the highest that we’ll encounter in Oregon.
The reward of climbing a pass is always the descent. Todays descent of 7 miles allowed us to coast into our final destination, Austin Junction. There isn’t much to say about Austin Junction. It is the junction of Highway 26 and Highway 7. There are no houses, just a combination store, restaurant gas station which is closed today and tomorrow. Fortunately I called the owners yesterday from the church and got permission to camp there. The owners may or may not be around to sell us something but they did leave me the gallon of water that I requested. Tomorrow we will have to pedal 50 miles over 2 more passes to get to Baker City Oregon with no services until we get there.
Wednesday June 17
Now this day is over and it’s time to give the progress report. We did end up meeting the proprietors of the Austin Junction store shortly after I signed off last night. They invited us into the store to make any purchases we needed and as soon as some money changed hands from ours to theirs, they were much friendlier. They suggested we move our tent out into the pasture where the soft grass and the picnic table was situated. We had already set up on the side of the parking lot in a gravelly area and would have loved to have set up in the pasture but shortly after we arrived it began raining. So now the grass was all wet and we would end up getting our feet soaking wet in the process of dragging everything out behind the store. We chose to stay in the gravel beside the store.
We were awake and at em by 7:00 and at 8:30 we took time off to go into the store and buy a couple coffees and use the restroom (a pre-arranged meeting with the owners). This was the first night of camping where a bathroom was unavailable during the off hours. Lewis and I have no qualms about peeing outside but Donna has progressed above that since we’ve built our house. But she had no choice but to relieve herself behind a tree as she couldn’t wait until 8:30. Prepared a breakfast of oatmeal that was just perfect. It is so satisfying to be able to use our backpacking stove and some of the oatmeal that we’ve been dragging around for over 700 miles.
We were all packed up and were on the road at exactly 10:00. This seems to be the usual time for us when packing of tent is required. The first pass of the day was accomplished before noon and the second pass immediately followed. By 2:00 we had done all of the really hard work of the day with only a 25 mile ride into Baker city remaining. This ride was a gentle downhill and would have been an absolute pleasure if not for the wind which turned around on us and was blowing in our faces. But no rain and no chance of rain. We pulled into town just a bit after 4:00 and immediately found a hotel to stay in. This is a reward for 3 mountain passes in two days. There is also a fatigue factor as this is our 7th day in a row of cycling since leaving Eugene. Donna and I both have severe soreness on the bottom that by the end of a long day of cycling leaves us happier to be standing up than sitting down anywhere. I also spent most of the day grimacing when I put too much pressure on my right leg. A sharp pain in the knee that was probably a result of cooking dinner last night on the parking lot. I was squatting on my heels for about 20 minutes while simultaneously stirring our Rice-A-Roni and tuna fish. The final 10 miles of the day were much better as the pain finally disappeared. Lewis is not complaing much but he seems to be the happiest about getting a room instead of more camping. For him it’s the television and cartoons.
We took a walk into old Baker City and discovered a wonderful historic district with most of the buildings over a hundred years old. We chose an old hotel with a restaurant as the place we wanted to dine. What a treat. They had a pasta bar where you get to pick out all the stuff you’d like on your dish and they put it all together for you while you wait. On the way back to the hotel I realized that it was really nice to be walking and not riding. I decided then and there that a day off was called for. Nobody disagreed. We’re now looking at another 36 hours here with no bicycling except maybe for some groceries.