Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oregon Outback - Day Four

Our ride into town the next morning was one of the most pleasant parts of the entire trip. We followed the Crooked River and zig‐zagged our way to Prineville.

Two doe and four fawns were ahead of us in a field off to our left. I asked John and Geoff to stop so I could stop and take some photos. As they were stopping, John, always the quick-witted one, remarked, “It’s a good thing our brakes don’t squeak.” 

This was a dig at me and my squeaky Avid BB-7 disc brakes. Sure enough, my brakes squeaked and that got the deer running.The does jumped the barb wire fence and ran across the street. Two fawns followed and one of them almost took out an oncoming cyclist who was out for a morning ride. The other two fawns ran back and forth along the fence line looking for a way to follow the others. Hopefully, their moms waited for them. 

In Prineville, I ate one of the largest omelets I’ve ever seen at the Crossroads restaurant. Afterwards, we stopped by the Good Bike shop. A dog came up to me and I politely scratched it behind the ear. He apparently took that as a sign that it was time to play and started jumping on me and snapping at my hands. One of the employees yelled, “Hank, no! Sit!” The dog stopped pestering me. I said, “The dog’s name is Hank, huh? So’s mine.” The guy looked at me and with a smile said, “Hank, sit! Stay!” One Hank is enough for any one place so I didn’t stay. I signed the log book and stuck a push pin marking my home town of Spokane on the map. The shop was leading a ride to camp out that night and invited us to camp with them. We were inclined to do so but didn’t make any promises. We picked up a couple of items at a grocery store and started the climb out of town on the paved McKay Creek Road. 

For 12 miles we labored and found our way into the Ochoco National Forest. There were more cattle, including a couple of rambunctious bulls who threatened us from their side of the fences. Reaching the crest of our climb, the paved road turned right. But our route followed the packed dirt and rocky Trout Creek Road. And it was almost all downhill from there for the rest of the day. 

The first time we rode through the road’s namesake, Geoff stalled out after hitting a large rock. He fell over sideways and got a thorough soaking. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera so the photo I got of him was taken after he stood up. We rested there for a while and determined we had not passed by the campsite The Good Bike folks invited us to so we resigned ourselves to going it alone that evening. 

Subsequent creek crossing went without incident—I had the camera ready each time—and we obeyed the many No Trespassing signs posted on both sides of the road. We took on extra water at the first creek crossing and I filled a spare 2‐liter bladder since we weren’t sure what lie ahead in Ashwood, which was that evening’s destination. Wikipedia—Geoff has a downloaded copy on his smart phone—says it’s a ghost town. It turns out that isn’t true. Arriving in Ashwood we saw a small field with picnic tables and shade trees next to a grange building. We could hear people talking at one of the handful of houses there so we went over to see about camping in that field. We saw a few adults, each holding a can of Hamm’s beer, and a little girl who was 3 or 4 years old. The oldest gentleman got up and asked if we needed water. We thanked him and told him we were fine and asked about camping at the grange building. He told us we were welcome to camp there and informed us there’s a water spigot and two pit toilets in the back of the grange building. We chatted for a while and the girl, Allison, introduced herself and told us where her house was and asked us where we were from. 

We rolled over to the field to make camp and found a sign posted on one of the trees. Potential Snake Habitat. We had been warned there were rattlesnakes along the way but hadn’t seen any yet. I got the idea to buy three cold beers from the people at the house so I went back to them. “Excuse me,” I said. “Sorry to bother you but I have two questions, if you don’t mind. First, has the potential snake habitat ever lived up to its potential?” One of the guys said, yes, they find a rattler every once in a while and he’d just killed one last week at the creek just behind where we were camping. Then I asked, “Can I buy three cold beers from you?” They all thought that was pretty funny and laughed out loud. The woman spoke up and said, “We have Keystone and Hamm’s.” I told her we’d take the Hamm’s. They all laughed again and said I passed the test. The older gentleman retrieved three beers and said, “That’ll be a hundred dollars.” More laughter. I said, “How about two dollars apiece?” He agreed and I took the beer to Geoff and John. As nasty as Hamm’s beer is, it hit the spot after a day of riding in the hot sun. Later we found that a 12‐pack of Hamm’s can be had for $12.89. So two bucks was a pretty good price. 

As we set up camp I found that the 2‐liter bladder of water I had strapped to my rear rack and slipped out somewhere on the roads we traveled that day. I was always worried about our water supply and tended to carry extra just to make sure. Now I couldn’t. But we were ahead of schedule and our next day would be a short 30 or so miles to Shaniko.

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