Coast to Coast for the FFB: THE ONLINE JOURNAL

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 79: Richland, OR to Baker City, OR (44 miles, 3846 total)

More hot, hot, hot weather roasted us today in Oregon. The heat is just as intense as it was in Kansas but then even worse because you throw in the climbs. Water is my most precious commodity these days by far.

We slept very well last night as the dogs in the pasture next door stopped harrassing the group of horses just about the time we got ready for bed. There was a group of three dogs, one border collie and two border mixes that wanted their 6 horses in line and at one corner of the pasture. Every few minutes one would come out of the field and one would come from the house and they wouldn't rest until those horses were where they wanted them to be. I thought one of the dogs was going to meet his end at the end of a hoof the way the horses would fight back sometimes. Anyway, it was neat to watch instincts in action.

The wake up alarms started going off at 5am. Since we just switched into
Pacific Time, and since we were meeting Rebus today, we wanted to be sure to get an early start. As there were no stops listed on the map between Richland and Baker City, we ate breakfast at a diner before heading out.

Though it wasn't too tough, we started climbing almost immediately. The heat kicked in early too so I felt like I was pedalling and pedalling, sweating buckets, sucking down water, and not getting anywhere. What made things harder is that our first landmark on the map wasn't until 18 miles into the day so there wasn't a short goal to reach early on.

The route lead us to and then generally along the path of the Powder River. At one point there was a pullout with a sign talking about a landslide that happened in 1984. You can still see where the old highway 86 (we were traveling on the rebuilt section) was plowed over by the moving face of the hillside. A note on the sign said that the slide is still moving at 1/2 inch per year and is not expected to stop until 2014. How do they calculate things like that? Is it just a given that landslides continue to move for 30 years?

We biked onwards and upwards and there really was nothing between the two cities. Hillsides were brown and sparsely covered with drought resistant plants and sagebrush. Grasshoppers continued to be the highest density insect though there were several giant beetle/stink bug things running around as well. Continue this for miles and miles and miles.

Finally, just when we were wondering how much farther we were needing to go, we rounded a corner and saw the covered wagons and large interpretive center for the Oregon route and up a giant hill. As I'd been looking forward to the center all day, and as I wanted a cold drink in the worst kind of way, I gave the nod that we would attack the hill. Holy moly was it a doosie. I haven't been in my little ring very much since Missouri and I certainly haven't been in my lowest gear setting since then, but today I clicked over to them in a hurry and stayed there for the entire MILE up. Sheesh!

At the top we were greeted by stubborn vending machines that would only take dollars, no change, wouldn't give us any water, and held on to the snacks we purchased until we beat bruises into our hips. It was all good in the end and we finally recovered our energy enough to go into the center. I could have spent hours there. If you are ever in or near Baker City I highly recommend stopping by.

We walked around for an hour and a half or so and then got word that Rebus was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill. We refilled our water bottles and headed out to bomb down the entrance hill to meet him.

After greetings and stories, we all clicked into our pedals and rode about a half mile down to where we were told there were wheel ruts from the wagons on the Trail visible in the ground. I haven't been so disappointed in something since learning that Kentucky was just as hilly as Virginia. I never would have guessed that what was before us was an old wagon trail. A Jeep trail, maybe, but it would be a stretch. There weren't any ruts to speak of that we saw. Oh well.

After that it was a fairly downhill trip into Baker City. Rebus had already set up camp at an RV park as he got here yesterday, so we cruised over there to make it home for the night. Jerry and Anne, a cycling couple in the site next to us, gave us a ride into town for some Mexican food. This was our first into town ever offerred by anyone so it was a great treat. After stuffing ourselves we walked back with full bellies. Off in the distance we could see some raging storm clouds. Turns out they were headed right for us. Though there hasn't been much rain yet, the wind is ripping through the trees and lightening and thunder are cracking every so often. Looks like it may be quite a night ahead!

It is fun to have Rebus for company now. He is "Reeb" from the comment section for those of you who have been following on for a while now. He is also the reason for the first wedding break. Nicole, his wife, is stuck at work this week so she can't join us.

Our arrival into Baker City signals that we are in the homestretch now. We finished another map section today and we really only have one and a little bit left.



At August 01, 2005 5:57 PM, Anonymous said...

Welcome Rebus!!! Happy riding.
Jeff and AK, I loved opening the box with the old chains today.

Ride safe

Love MOM Bworth


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