June 6, 2017 – Sisters, Oregon

Howard writing:  We’re in Sisters, OR, resting for a day and catching up on all the little travel chores – washing clothes, replenishing dry ice and enjoying a brewery stop in Bend, etc.

The second and third day of riding were terrific.  On Sunday, we crossed the fertile and lush Willamette Valley, joining the Santiam River into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.  We passed fields of wheat and oats, pastures with sheep, cows, and horses, and then connected with a small road paralleling the Santiam River.  

We camped at Riverbend County Park in Foster, OR.  This campground was situated right alongside the river, and was just fantastic.

We drove back into Foster to watch the Warriors demolish the Cavaliers.  We struck up a conversation with a woman who introduced herself as “Judy-but everyone calls me Judy Jabberjaws.”  It didn’t take long to understand why.  She was a lovely and warm person – as was her husband, Lorenzo – with some very curious views on the world, which she shared with Wendy (see below).  

Yesterday, we crossed the Cascades over the Tombstone and Santiam Passes – 65.7 miles; 5800’ of elevation gain. 

The weather was perfect – cool morning, moderate afternoon.  The climbs were long, but gradual, following the Santiam River to near its source.  Traffic wasn’t heavy until the final 22 miles into Sisters. 

At the Santiam Pass, there was smoke from controlled burns obscuring the views of the Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor, and Mt Washington.  The six-mile descent from Santiam Pass was awesome.  A good dinner and the incomparable Oregon brews, topped off a great day.

Today, we were chatting with our campground neighbors, a professor couple from University of Oregon.  After I described our route eastward near John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, north of the now-famous Malheur Wildlife Refuge, one of them warned us, “There are three things the folks around there hate:  Californians, cyclists, and liberals.”  Oops.

Wendy writing:  We are working out our systems with all of our stuff in our small trailer and back of the van. It feels like we’re living in a small boat where everything needs to be “ship-shape,” each item in its place and overhead cabinets immediately closed so that we aren’t hitting our heads.

The trailer is fantastic – a cozy space with lights, sink, stove, couch that becomes a comfortable almost a king size bed.

We have a lot of technology that needs to be charged virtually each evening, so whenever possible, we’re finding that campsites with full hookups are the way to go.

On day 2 of our cycling out of camp, I found that the trip feels like we’re doing day trips out of each campground; the amazing thing is that we will do these day trips all the way across the continent with the scenery changing dramatically over the 3 months. Already the terrain has changed so much: Day 1 was coastal and forests; Day 2 was agricultural open space; Day 3 was forested again with snow-peaked mountains.

I am mixing it up as to how I join Howard cycling. On Days 1 and 2, I really enjoyed the combination of cycling “full speed” with Howard with my e-bike for 15 miles or so – and then heading back to the van and trailer on my own at a slightly slower pace, stopping more frequently for photos. I enjoyed a slower morning on Day 3 (no cycling for me) and then met Howard at our next campground. Today was a layover day – it was a great break for both of us to not work with logistics. We plan tomorrow for Howard to start off on his own – I’ll drive to secure our next camp and then cycle back to meet him. In order to fit my very large bike in the van, I’m getting a great upper body and core workout lifting gear in and out of the car!

As Howard mentioned in his post above, I had a very interesting conversation with the woman at the restaurant where we were enjoying the Warriors beat the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals (go, Warriors!). When I commented about the beauty of Oregon, she told me yes, that when Trump was elected that the drought (that Obama had created with all of his climate change focus) had instantly ended; that as the Bible says that good can win over evil. She also said that Wikileaks says that Obama and Hillary are investing in ISIS. Other than saying that “I don’t think that’s right,” it was hard to know what to say. We are so alarmed and distressed that the United States has pulled out of the Paris Accord. There is such a divide in our country; and Judy’s comments show how powerful beliefs are, and how facts often don’t enter into the process of forming beliefs. Really just wanting to watch the basketball game, I shifted the conversation back to the game and other topics with common ground.

The friendliness and warmth of the many people we have met has been striking (including the couple in the restaurant). People are ready to chat at length, offer us advice re: our route, share their lives. Learning new things: for instance, who knew that llamas are territorial and great guard animals?!


PS Be sure to check back periodically at earlier posts as we are beginning to add photos. We also plan/hope to add maps. Our days are full and our internet access limited, so our blog is definitely a work in progress.

1 Comment

  1. Jessica McDowell

    June 12, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Guard llamas! Wow! Thank you for the updates. What an adventure! It is so good that you are meeting people with different views (as startling as it must be). You add a human face to what they are being told to fear. Meeting each other is one way we come together again. Bravo.
    Have fun! Love Jes

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