The next morning we left Ashwood behind and started climbing. About five miles later we kind of topped out and the countryside became more sparse. There were fewer trees. The heat was pressing down on us and we had very few opportunities to stop in the shade.
I didn’t quite have my bearings but we could see snow-covered mountains way off in the distance. I think we were looking at Mount Hood to the northwest and the North and South Sisters to the southwest. Today we were passing through Antelope and stopping in Shaniko. Again, it was to be a 30-mile day so we were in no hurry. We rolled down to route 293 and followed that to Antelope where we stopped to take shelter from the heat.
The Antelope Cafe sported an ancient Closed sign and there was no sign of a gas station. We stopped a woman driving by and asked her if any amenities were available in the area. Nope. Nothing. I asked if she knew where we could refill our water. She invited us to stop by her mobile home just down the street. I thanked her and we got back under a shade tree and ate a snack. There was a historical display in front of the house we were by. Antelope had a storied history back in the 1980’s. A guru from India named Rajneesh practically rook over the town by importing homeless people from elsewhere and using them to pad the voter rolls in his favor. His chief deputy was involved in an attempt to poison people with anthrax and from all accounts seemed to be a pretty psychotic person. The whole thing turned into a real shit show and I’m sure the locals were relieved when Rajneesh and his followers departed and the clean, quiet, country living returned.
While I was reading the display a woman came out of the house and told us the “park” next door, named "Bolton Place", was for cyclists passing through. We noticed the half shelters, but not the water spigot, and there was no clue that this was for public use.
In the meantime, the woman we spoke to earlier drove up and handed us a gallon jug of water with ice cubes in it. That was very nice of her and we thanked her profusely. We filled up from the gallon jug and topped off with the spigot. Then we started climbing in the heat again but this time on asphalt. John and Geoff had triple chain rings but I was grinding away on a double. On the bright side, I got a good shot of them well ahead of me on the switchback near the top of the climb. If you squint you can almost see Geoff's yellow jersey and John's white one.
We arrived in Shaniko in the early afternoon and headed straight to the ice cream shop, which also sold sandwiches. While we hung out a lot of people came in for the ice cream. One couple got ice cream for their two children and went back outside to their VW van.
John pointed out to me that the dad was checking out my bike. I’m always ready to put in a plug for the Elephant National Forest Explorer so I went outside. Alex, from Santa Cruz, saw a write up on the NFE a couple years before. (All the components on that bike are on my bike. Glen gave me a deal on them.) Being a bike builder, Alex built his own bike patterned after the NFE. It was hanging on the back of his van.
He even had the same Gevenalle shifters that I had. He told me the paint looked so bad because he made the paint himself. He needed to repaint the bike but hadn’t gotten around to it. It was cool to find someone with an appreciation for bikes coupled with the ability to make them.
John, Geoff, and I explored Shaniko. The town has many old buildings, a couple of which pass for museums. One contains dusty and rusty relics from the first four or five decades of motor vehicles. You could hear the bats up in the rafters. Faded track prints lie alongside the old train station, boarded up and festooned with Danger signs.
The Shaniko Hotel has a classic look but is no longer open. A notice from the Board of Health stated the hotel’s café was now closed because of code violations. An old chapel could still be used for small weddings if it wasn’t used for storage and had a little upkeep done.
A woman runs an antique and gift shop. She lives about 120 miles away but stays in town on days her store is open. A gas station looked like it had been closed recently but the fire extinguisher on the building was last inspected in 2005. Other than the sandwich and ice cream shop and a restaurant down the block, there didn’t appear to be a lot of commerce going on in Shaniko.
The kind people in the ice cream shop said we could camp overnight in the vacant lot next door. A “No animals allowed” sign meant we were not likely to come across any droppings, and we didn’t. They had a spigot outside we could use, too, so that was a sweet deal. We bought a couple of beers at the general store and got a kick out of the guy running the place. No response to any greetings or questions. He would just tell you your total. We joked about ways we could make him speak but we left him alone.
The town closed up after 5:00 pm and we essentially had downtown Shaniko all to ourselves. Geoff used his climbing skills to get on the roof of the hotel to take some photos. I wandered around near dusk and took more pictures. That night I woke a couple of times as a truck or car would pull in and the driver would get some sleep.