Bike USA: June 9-14, 2000 – Mitchell, John Day Fossil Beds, Dayville, Mt. Vernon, John Day, Prairie City, Austin Junction (cafe closed, damn!), Unity, Vale

It’s been almost a week since my last update! Max’s update dated the 11th was written then, but actually posted just five minutes ago. It is about 11 PM in Nampa, near Boise.

Now a little side note: Max has been referring to me as Bo. I guess since he’s doing that, I might as well start referring to him as Dee. Ask your Mandarin speaking friends why.

As you can read in my brother’s latest, we ended up staying an extra day in Prineville. They have the best freakin library I’ve ever been in except for the number of books. Not many books, but dang that is a nice library! Dee told me that they should have made a deal with San Francisco, who recently threw away tons of books because their new library was too small to hold them all… Yikes.

Whole in the Wall, Mitchell
Whole in the Wall, Mitchell

After Prineville, we biked to Mitchell. Mitchell is a really small, one street town with two stores, a couple of motels, a nice city park, and a gas station right next to it. I have no clue why the town exists. As far as I could tell, that was all that was in the town, as if their whole purpose of being is for bikers to buy stuff from their stores and camp out in their city park or stay at their motels. If you were in a car, you’d just keep driving until you got to a more respectable place to stay. Oh, wait, I forgot. There’s two purposes for the town. The second one is for semi trucks to come by and sit idle at the gas station for about 3 hours stinking up the whole town and especially stinking up the nice city park.

While dining on some fine ramen in the stinky city park, we met two more bikers (in addition to John who was staying at a motel and Sean and Virginia (the superheroes) who were also camping in the smelly city park) who were traveling the opposite way. They started out in Missoula and were just going west, probably going to go up thru Portland to Seattle and then down the coast until the summer is over.

some Oregon scenery
some Oregon scenery
some Oregon scenery

The next day we left pretty early to tackle a really steep climb out of Mitchell which we thought we might have to walk at one point, but it turned out to be easier than we thought it would be and as a result we made some awesome time after the climb. We biked to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, stayed for lunch (mmm.. peanut butter and honey and banana sandwiches), biked through Dayville, and made it to Mt. Vernon. Interestingly, Mt. Vernon is named after a horse or something like that. Get it? Mount Vernon? 🙂 We weren’t able to update the webpage since our motel room didn’t have a phone! Apparently this is not uncommon with small town motels, as it happened three times in a row… The scenery was real nice. I’ve come to really appreciate Oregon scenery. I remember I kept thinking everything was soo green and red, but then I also remember that I kept forgetting I was wearing high contrast lenses.

Kam Wah Chung and Co.
Kam Wah Chung and Co.
Kam Wah Chung and Co. Museum

On Sunday, the 11th, we left Mt. Vernon and got to John Day. I was hoping that I could replace my cassette there, but the bike shop closed a while back… There was supposed to be this cool old Chinese shop museum type of thing in John Day called the Kam Wah Chung and Co. Museum, but it wouldn’t open for another two hours so we went to the library. The library was also closed. So we stopped at a cafe and hung out there for two hours reading our books. Dee bought two books from the library in Prineville (yes they sold books too), and I got his hand-me-downs, The Never Ending Story. In the cafe we met an older couple who were also biking. They were on a tandem (two person bike). Pretty cool. The museum turned out to be pretty cool. Dee will write more about it. No photos allowed, but I took a couple before reading the sign…

nice room!
comfy chairs
Sag's Motel
Sag’s Motel

After checking out the museum, we decided to keep biking to Prairie City. We stayed in a swank motel two miles east of town. No phone, but they had everything else: VCR, something like 5 comfy chairs, a kitchen, room decorations, cabinets, bookshelves, a few books, lots of American Rifleman and People magazines, and a little store run by the proprietors of the motel that featured bootleg videos to rent (including Spanish or Mexican porn) and lots of various Mexican canned foods. Apparently, the motel (Sag’s Motel – run by Mr. Sagmeister) is usually home to a lot of migrant workers who stay for an extended period.

Keyes Creek summit
Blue Mountain Pass
Keyes Creek summit and Blue Mountain Pass – I don’t remember when we passed each one, but here are the photos anyway

On Monday, the 12th (Robin’s birthday), it was raining pretty bad, but we decided that we had to keep going. We had two hills to climb before reaching the town of Unity on Hwy 26. Soaking wet. Really tired. Out like a light at 5, but Dee wanted to fly his kite again since it was really, really windy. When we flew the kite, the local chicks digged us a lot, but never did anything other than cruise their one street making catcalls. Who knew cruising existed in a town with like 100 people?

Unity, we’ll miss you…

The scenery drastically changed in the last two days. It went from forest to shrubs. Still nice, but different. Drier I guess… Yesterday, it was very warm outside. We made some awesome time doing like 73 miles, and it was mostly a gradual downhill all the way to Vale, but man was it warm. Surprisingly warm. I am burnt crispier than KFC. I’d take a photo and show you all, but I’m embarrassed by my pudgyness compared to Dee’s six-pack.

fixing a flat
lunch on the way to Vale
flat tire and lunch

Yesterday I called Vale, “The City of Gravel.” There are soo many traps waiting for unsuspecting bikers like us. Today I dubbed Vale a new name, “The City of Flat-tires.” I fixed my rear tire in the morning and biked three blocks to discover it had gone flat again from a different puncture. What a pain. We ate at a Diary Queen, our first fast-food since day 1 in Newberg. My first Diary Queen ever. It was weird because they came and took your order after you sat down and brought you the ticket after you had gotten your food, like a regular restaurant… Should we have left a tip?

As a consequence to my sun-burns and general soreness, today I was in pain most of the day. Ibuprofin, my angel in heaven… Today we crossed the Oregon/Idaho border. This trip will be a lot of fast-food firsts I guess, since today we had lunch at an A and W, famous for their rootbeer floats. It was pretty good. We’re now staying with the parents of one of Dee’s former co-workers. They are really nice and hospitable. Tomorrow we make it to Boise, which is only like 20 miles away, but we also need to stop at bike stores.

I already miss Oregon…

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