Saturday, June 30, 2007

Day 7 (6/29): Austin Junction, OR --> Halfway, OR (108 miles)

Days mileage: 108

Steven and I descended the first mountain pass we had climbed the evening prior (Dixie Pass) and were looking forward to, nothing more than, finishing the next two passes that lay ahead of us. It was becoming a recurring trend....climbing a mountain pass first thing in the morning, ending the day climbing a mountain pass....and so the woes of a biker goes.

The winds of change did in fact shift all throughout our day; with each twist in the road causing the wind to attack us from an entirely different direction, thus forcing us to re-balance (that's prob not even a word, but whatever) ourselves and maintain our speed.

We had our sights aimed towards Baker City...another western-type looking town that we hoped would have a library with interent access, cell phone reception, and a good place to stuff our faces with food. We found all of that...It was about mid-afternoon by the time we got the 50 miles to Baker City. During the ride Steven and I kept commenting about how much the terrain changes from the birth of each day until it dies at the end....we started in a valley between two mountain passes consisting of tall, tall, tall pines and were ending up (eventually, the day wasn't over yet!) in, aside from the middle of nowhere, a desert.

We left Baker City around 4pm knowing we still had another 58 miles of biking to get to our desired was a confusing-ly (another made up word for ya) named town called Halfway. We failed to understand what it was halfway between...our closest guess was that it was about halfway between Baker City and the Idaho border. The jury is still out on that one though....

We climbed a steep ascent fighting 20-30 mph wind gusts that tried their best to push us off the road. Once we reached the top we coasted on down, down, down into a gorge-like area where the Powder River flowed in and out, through and to a destination we would never see...we finally got the wind to push us super fast through the gorge-like area.

Things were getting dark in the desert, bit by bit...minute by minute. We still had one last climb up an un-named mountain with an elevation topping off aobut 4,300 feet. It wasn't too, too bad seeing the views as we ascended were nothing less than amazing and "postcard" quality. The mountains now gave off the appearance of being covered by a blanket of clay colored velvet. Small trees and schrubs were scattered in the various crevices where bare traces of water prob tred at some other point in time....

Anyways, highlight of the day was at the end...we had a 7 mile descent into the town of Halfway and had no daylight left. We could see some type of bright, stadium-like lights calling out for us to come closer and see what was going on. The next thing we knew we heard an announcers voice over a loud speaker yelling in an excited voice about some cowboy who was running out of time to lasso the scampering pony....yes, ladies and gentlemen...we had rolled right onto a real, live rodeo. It was the coolest thing and we quickly proped up our bikes and took an awkward seat in the stands...Steven and I hastily agreed that we were the only two homosapiens in the area who were not wearing Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots, flannel hat, and a cowboy hat. Everyone was dressed in their finest pair of jeans, cleanest flannel shirt, and whitest cowboy hat they could find. It was such a sureal scene and one that just sticks in your memory forever. I managed to take a brief video clip of the last round of the rodeo and took some other pics.

Steven and I ended the night by settin up camp behind the closed library. It was that or some RV park with an overwhelming amount of cowboys prancing around in their respective camp rings.

I also learned that such towns do not have phones that have: modern public pay telephones, no cell phone reception, telephones that don't work wtih collect calls...

(I'm typing from a library right now in a town called Cambridge, ID...Steven and I are halfway through a days worth of cycling...we've done 57 miles so far and plane going another 48 to a town called New Fields....more on crossing into a new state tomorrow...trying to keep things organzined on this thing with complete days recorded....)


MC said...

Please come home dressed like those cowboys> mc

Loretta said...

You have always been my Canadian Cow-Boy shnooks, even if your legs are smoother than mine.
Also, watch your bloodpressure when taking atterol, I hear anxiety, stress, and guilt trips are well advertized side effects. You have been warned :) lots of mushy kisses!