July 11, 2001

7/11/01 Baker City, OR

45 / 4440 miles

Wow, an hour sure makes a difference. I was up and out of camp by 5:45AM. I even beat the cook at the Shorthorn Restaurant for her 6AM open time.

My ride today wasn't a long one, but it was uphill. And then there's always the heat. Followed the Powder River, a minature version of all the rivers in this part of the country; windy with steep rock mountains on both sides. Near Maiden Gulch, you could see where the old highway had been destroyed by a mud slide.

I kept thinking what strange country this is, more like the Desert Southwest. I can just imagine those early settlers making the tough trip across the Rockies to find not green pastures and timber, but this dry landscape.

As the day was heating up, I finally reached the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. But it was on top of Flagstaff Hill, at 3684' with a mile long access road up. Not since Missouri have I had to get off the bike and push, but I did this time. I had heard so much praise about the Center, that my expectations were pretty high.

But walking among the exhibits, I was struck by similarities in both our trips. Lots of planning, costs, excitement to start, lightening the load, the weather both bad and good, and don't forget the boredom and loneliness. I could sympathize. As something of a kindred spirit, I felt I had more in common with the subjects of the exhibit than the good folks walking around inside.

Damn if that one mile access road was too steep for me to just let the bike go! Was hoping for a little more downhill into Baker City but didn't get much. First order of business was to stop at Flagstaff Sports. Then went for lunch at El Erradero Mexican Restaurant for a good cheap lunch special. Then to check email at the library. I hate to admit it, but I looked at a few issues of Trailer Life while there. Then decided to find the campground.

I think all campgrounds and RV parks should be commended for giving cyclists a discount. I mean compared to the big RV's with a load of family, our needs are small. The Mountain View Trav-L-Park split the tent site in half if you were willing to share. Heck, even with another cyclist, there's room for a couple more tents.

Emily is sharing my tent site. Sounds as if she's out for a couple of weeks biking back to home in Corvalis, OR. And Herb, Gene and Dick are out for a two week loop too. We all went to a local diner. I was admiring Gene's BOB Trailer because it was so shinny and new, very unlike my packhorse.

Emily kind of shocked me at how much different I am out on the road. She's a vegetarian and was doing some yoga stretches. Me, I haven't even tried to find meatless meals since Virginia. Plus the days I actually did stretching, I can count on one hand. And never have practiced any Tai Chi.

One the way back to the campground, a thunderstorm moved in. Just my luck, my rear tire was flat from a goathead thorn. Remember Pueblo? Did a quick tube change as the rain started. And my odometer sensor must have moved when the bike fell over at the library because it wasn't registering either. Hopefully my adjustments will work.

Emily is headed my direction and has offered me a place to stay in Corvalis. Maybe we can ride together for a few days. As I get ready for sleep, I can still hear the pitter-patter of the rain drops on the tent.