Denis Kertz, ©2008
I got up early and completed my packing for my flight
However, I wasn't too keen on boarding. Southwest doesn't assign seats. Instead they board by groups and everyone
picks out their own seats. The last time
I flew Southwest you could print your own boarding pass starting at midnight
before the flight. I assumed that was
still true but when I printed my boarding pass at midnight I discovered you
could do it 24 hours in advance of your flight time. So I got a boarding pass in the B group. Consequently most people got to board before
I did and I was resigned to a poor seat.
However, the flight was not completely full and I not only got an aisle
seat but also one without a middle occupant.
So the flight to
Once I landed in
When I checked in, I immediately claimed my bicycle and took a couple of hours to re-assemble it. I discovered I had left my multi-tool kit at home with its hex wrenches and screwdriver but I had a small adjustable wrench and a Leatherman tool with a flat and phillips screwdriver so I was able to make do quite nicely.
When I had the bike assembled I took a break and walked across the street to a restaurant for a sandwich. The area didn't have much selection outside the motels but I had an OK sandwich. Then I walked back, dodging some rain on a day with intermittent rain, and set about re-packing my panniers. It's always a bit painful to have to first pack everything up to get everything on the plane and then re-pack it after the flight to fit it all on the bike.
I got directions from the front desk on how to get to
The big news on this trip is that I have an Asus eeePC 901, a very portable PC with a 9” screen and a 20G solid state hard disk. My version has Linux rather than Windows XP. I'm using it to type in this trip report. It also has WIFI so I'm connected to the Internet using the Courtyard's free WIFI. The big issue with this PC is how long the battery will last. By using battery conservation, it may last as long as 8 hours as long as I’m just doing something simple, like typing in my trip report.
I got up pretty early which was no suprise since the time here is 2 hours earlier than my norrmal time. I took advantage of the Courtyards $8.95 all-you-can-eat buffet and had a large breakfast. Then I completed my packing and left around 8:00. The weather was overcast and cool, not quite 50F, with expected clearing later and good weather predicted for the rest of the week.
It was an easy route from the Courtyard to US26,
There was nothing terribly exciting about this route
since I was just leaving the
I stopped in
On my way out of
I rode further with the noisy traffic and stopped just past Wildwood for a break. I found a WIFI cafe so I decided to whip out my mini PC and see how it worked. It was a bit of pain to drag it out of my rear pannier but otherwise it worked fine. The small keyboard takes a little getting used to but I find I am quickly adapting. And there are definitely advantages to have one of these gizmos. I was able to log on to my bank account where I have my VISA credit card and send them email to warn them that I was on this trip and that they shouldn't get excited about seeing unusual charges on my card. I also sent a couple of emails since it was easy to do.
As I was preparing to leave a local asked me about my
trip. When I said I was going to camp at
Not far out of Zigzag I started climbing more
seriously. First I was going at 6 mph,
then before long it was 5 mph, and then a little further on I was climbing at 4
mph most of the rest of the way. For the
day the scenery wasn't much to talk about.
Then I started rounding a turn where the road turned left and then
right, hugging the contour of the mountain.
I stopped for a photo, the first of the trip. When I rode around this left/right section I
was staring at Mt Hood ahead, at 11,249 feet the highest mountain in
This view continued for a little ways as I rode
straight at the mountain and then I veered right and the view was gone. I continued riding up the fairly steep hill
on a route that was close to the old
At Government Camp I turned off the road to head into the town which was mostly a few motels and a few restaurants. I wanted something quick so I could get to my campground. I found a cafe that advertised $2 brats as the special of the day so I had two of them. Not a great dinner but the best I could do while wanting a quick dinner.
Then I headed back to the road and continued on for about another mile and turned off at the Silk Creek Campground which was just off the road. I took the first site I saw which was pretty decent and set up. While I was there the ranger pulled up and collected $16, which was somewhat exorbitant, given the place had only an outhouse and no showers. The site itself was pretty decent otherwise.
I cleaned up as best I could with a sponge bath and settled in for the night, which was supposed to get down to the upper 30s.
It was chilly in the morning and I learned in town that it was 33F so it was down around freezing over night. I packed up and headed back into town for breakfast, climbing out of the campground back to the road and then back up the hill to town. My cyclocomputer didn't work. It caught on momentarily a couple times so I attributed this to cold weather reducing the battery output and it would just have to warm up a few degrees and be OK. That would turn out not to be true as the computer didn't come back until it warmed up to about 50F.
I ate at the Huckleberry Inn restaurant and asked for the stack of pancakes. The waitress warned me they were large so I knew I had made the right choice. They were large and fluffy, and the best of the trip so far, since these were the first pancakes of the trip.
Back on the road I descended for about 5 miles but
that wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been since I knew I would have to
reclaim that lost altitude shortly as I climbed about 5 miles to
After about 20 miles I started seeing views of Mt Hood
again looking back. Then the tall pine
trees that hemmed in the road gave way to open meadows that morphed into the
high desert as I headed south. I also
saw Mt Jefferson, at 10,495 feet the second highest peak in
After about 55 miles I descended into a large ravine
that I would have to climb out of on the other side. Five miles of descent brought me to Warm
Springs just after 1:00, the first services since leaving Government Camp. I stopped for a sandwich and drink and a
great pumpkin muffin. Fortified, I
descended a couple more miles and crossed the
On top I entered a flat valley filled with irrigated
fields growing alfalfa, wheat, and some other crops. The valley was hazy and smelled of smoke and
I learned later that folks were burning their fields. I rode into
I chose to make today a long day and rode on. Just outside of town I turned left to continue on US26 to Prineville, another 27 miles. The first 5 miles involved some climbing and, given the slow progress, I started questioning my decision. But after the initial climbing the road flattened out and I made good time. The road had a so-so shoulder. It was wide enough but it had been chip sealed and was a bit rough since traffic had not smoothed out the chip seal. However, since there wasn't much traffic I was able to ride just inside the white line most of the time on the smooth part of the road and only veered on to the shoulder when traffic approached from behind. I rode through the Crooked River National Grassland that was fairly scenic.
About 10 miles from Prineville, there was one last moderate climb of maybe 2 miles and then it was downhill and flat the rest of the way into town. I arrived right at 6:00 and stopped at a Subway as I rode through town. I ordered a foot long and ate half and saved half for later.
Unfortunately, the motel situation wasn't great. It was possible I might have been able to camp in the city park but I was set on a motel after the long day and some things I wanted to take care of. The best deal I found was $52 for a very modest motel that I would have thought would have been at least $10 cheaper.
After cleaning up I typed in my trip report. Then when I looked at what WIFI signals might be available I found one called ccmotel, which I correctly guessed was the City Center Motel, where I was staying. It was password protected but once I got the password from the motel proprietor I got access and this made the $52 room a little more palatable.
Later, I changed the battery in my VDO C3DS wireless
cyclocomputer to a new one, guessing that the current one was weak. Earlier in the year I had traded email with a
VDO manager in
When I left the motel just before 7:00 I got good news – my cyclocomputer with its new battery was working. It wasn't as cold as yesterday morning but it was probably in the low 40s so this was a good sign. I rode to the breakfast place recommended by the motel proprietor but they weren't open. Their sign said they opened at 7:00 but there was no evidence of anything close to opening so I headed down the road. I found what looked like a chain restaurant, which is not my favorite option, but I had an OK breakfast with ham and eggs and pancakes.
The route to Mitchell was
47 miles and involved a climb of 1,600 feet over 30 miles and then a big
descent of 2,200 feet. The initial part
was through irrigated fields with a modest headwind before the road climbed
fairly steeply but only for a short distance to
The road continued through
some scenic ranching/farming areas and then climbed into the hills on another
steep but short climb. After that the
scenery wasn't particularly exciting until
I stopped at the store which didn't have any prepared sandwiches so I settled for a chocolae chip cookie ice cream sandwich and a carton of chocolate milk. I trusted that had enough calories to get me over the next climb on the way to Dayville. I could have stayed in Mitchell and I'm pretty sure I could have camped in the town park but I was only 2:30 and I wasn't sure what I would do the rest of the day. On the other hand Dayville reputedly had a Presbyterian Church that welcomed cyclists so I decided to ride on.
It was another big climb of 2,000 feet but this one was steeper than the previous one, riding mostly at 4 mph and dropping down to 3.5 mph on occasions. There were some great views when I reminded myself to glance back occasionally. It took me 1.5 hours to make the 6 mile climb to Keyes Creek Summit at 4,372 feet. From there it was 30 miles to Dayville and it was mostly downhill, where I coasted augmented by some pedaling.
Initially I passed through a low valley with treeless hills and some cattle grazing with the road extending straight out for miles. Along the way there was a farm with a water tank for the cattle that 4 antelopes obviously figured was for them. Then the hills moved in and squeezed out the valley and the road followed a small stream that twisted its way between steep hills, sometimes so steep that the sun couldn't peek in. The last 7 miles into Dayville opened up into ranching/farming territory and I rode into town at 6:00. There was a mercantile and cafe at one end of town and I found the church on the other end of town. I checked in at a house next door and then headed out to get something to eat.
The only cafe was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so my only option was the mercantile where I nuked a chicked sandwich. As I was leaving two locals both made sure I knew about the church. The church had an extension to the side that included a meeting room for lunches and such along with a kitchen and a bathroom. All of this was made available for cyclists passing through since at least 1997 according to a log book of cyclist comments. All I needed was a shower and a place to sleep so this place certainly fit the bill and I was the only resident this night.
A long day with the hardest climbing so far but also the best scenery.
I slept very well even if the linoleum floor was hard. Since there was nothing open for breakfast I had bought milk last night and used that for my cereal breakfast. Then I packed up and left at 7:45 on a sunny but cool morning.
After two successive hard
days I decided to make this an easy day since I wasn’t in mid-tour form
yet. The ride to John Day was a moderate
uphill through the
After 22 miles I pulled
It was only another 8 miles
I continued the short
From John Day it was an
easy 13 miles to
I rode into
In town I stopped at one of the two restaurants open for dinner and struck gold. The place had a hotspot and I had brought my PC along, in case I found something and because I didn't want to leave it unattended in camp. So I ate and surfed away.
After eating I walked across the street to a bar for a beer, the first one of the trip.
I rode the half mile back into town for breakfast at the only place open. I ordered the pancakes and the waitress warned me that there were large and they were. They would have tied with Government Camp for the best pancakes but these were cheaper so they won on that score - I was stuffed for $6.
I expected an easy day
since my destination was Unity, 38 miles away.
After Unity there really wasn't anything until Vale and it was another
66 miles. However, this short mileage
involved two significant climbs. The
first climb began a few miles outside of town with a climb from about 3,500 to
Near the top there was an
overlook for the Sumpter Railroad that used to go from
After continuing on I had a modest climb and descent and then another significant climb of about 4 miles. Then it was another nice descent followed by a flat road into Unity. This descent took me out of the pine trees and into an open, mostly barren, hilly area. Unity looked like it had seen better days but it had a high school, a cafe, and a small grocery store. I stopped at the store and nuked a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich – you can never have too much breakfast.
The woman at the store
confirmed there wasn't anything down the road for another 40 miles. So I chose to backtrack 2 miles and take the
turnoff to the
Since it was a short day I killed time by doing some reading and walking around the area. At least the sites had electrical outlets so I was able to use that for my PC. However, the outlet for my site was too far from my picnic table so I found another site that was more suitable and used it instead. As I finished my daily report the sun was setting but it wasn't a great sunset because some clouds dispersed the sun.
I took my time packing up because the cafe in town didn't open until 8:00. I got there about 10 minutes early and found it was already open. They had a limited menu so I didn't figure this was the place for real pancakes and I had their breakfast special which was fine.
I left around 8:30 with 42 miles to Brogan, the next place with any services. I had one significant climb of about 700 feet that wasn't that hard. Most climbs get steeper towards the top but this one was steep at the bottom and then eased up quite a bit for the last half. This was followed by a nice descent and then some up and down for almost 20 miles. Along the way I spotted a herd of 9 deer in a field. Had these deer stuck to their natural habitat I probably would not have spotted them but they stuck out in a green, irrigated field. They were about a half mile away but they still eyed me warily and eventually took off.
About 7 miles from Brogan I began a nice descent of about 1,300 feet to Brogan through close in brown, barren hills. At the bottom of the descent it opened up into a wide valley where I saw my first corn field, followed by more later.
Brogan had a small store where I got a bit to eat and a cold drink. By the time I got to Brogan it had warmed up considerably and I shed both my long sleeve jersey and my tights. Brogan also had a little city park where I imagine I could have camped. Had I known about the park I would have been tempted yesterday to continue on to Brogan.
It was easy riding the rest of the way to Vale, with a gradual descent of about 400 feet over 13 miles. The wide valley was heavily irrigated with crops and cattle grazed in some of the fields but it wasn’t very exciting scenery. It was near 2:30 when I reach Vale but that was Pacific time and I had passed the Mountain time zone so it was actually near 3:30. I stopped at a convenience store for a cold drink and then debated continuing on. It was another 20 miles to Nyssa which was easily in reach. However, Vale had a $30 motel rate and I was unsure what I would find in Nyssa. In the end I decided to take advantage of the cheap motel and call it a day.
After cleaning up I ate at a restaurant next door and had a filling Mexican burrito and drink for $7. Then back at the motel I fired up my PC and discovered WIFI access to boot.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 2008. All rights reserved.