Friday, October 16, 2009

Day Two Hundred-twenty, 091006 - Baker City, OR

Day Two Hundred-twenty, Date Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:47
Distance for the Day: 62.63 miles From Payette To Baker City, OR
Accumulated Trip Distance: 11,014 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 2151’/4045’, Highest: 4058’ Accumulated: 2967’
Speeds: Avg: 9.3 mph, Max: 24.7 mph
Weather: 43° clear with cumies over the hill, very light breezes
Expenditures: $0

Woke up at 8:15am and got up at 8:20am in the spare bedroom of the Leslie M’s parents Leo and Linda in Payette. I handled a bit more email, checked the weather one more time, and then went downstairs to eat a wonderful pastry Linda bought for me in anticipation of my possible arrival. They had squirrel and bird feeders outside, visible from their large dining room window, that were a hoot to watch. Leo had access to somebody’s corn field (there are a lot of them around these parts) and had a huge stockpile of dried corn to feed the squirrels not only at his house, but also at the local retirement home for the amusement of the old folks, there, too. I thanked them and said my farewells at 9:50am, and continued up Hwy 52 towards Baker City.

I got food and drink at a mini mart ($4) and continued on in good riding conditions (clear, cool, low wind), crossing into Oregon at 10:53am. Right about then, I realized I blew the daily stats for the day because I forgot to reset my altimeter and cyclometer – I hate it when I do that. Now I’d have to figure out mileage from the mapping program, and would have to ‘guestimate’ altitude gains. Another road construction segment along the way required me to load me and my stuff into another road construction crew’s truck to get past it all. I have to say: road construction people are really nice and helpful people. Every single time I’ve come up against difficult or dangerous road construction situations, the crews have gone out of their way to help me through. As I was being carried through this construction zone, I took pictures of the Snake River from the truck, and in a matter of minutes, we arrived at the other end of the construction zone. The two ladies and I de-trucked my trike (I severely risked back injury by lowering my trike while standing in the truck bed – it’s a good thing I’ve taken to doing stomach exercises every day). I had to take an immediate trip down a side road to handle an emergency nature call, and forged on. Several more miles up the road, I stopped at 1pm to eat lunch and read my book at a picturesque picnic spot by the river. It was very peaceful, with huge cloud shadows lumbering over a high hill across the river. Of course, there was a port-a-potty there. It never fails to amaze me how often the things we need show up *after* we need them. I continued on at 1:28pm, and at 1:34pm, it became 2:34pm (I passed into the Pacific Time Zone, just a bit past/west of Huntington), still heading towards Baker City. I love passing through time zones – it really gives me a sense of accomplishment – even more so than state borders. I even had a light tailwind to help push me along – Life just don’t get no better than this.
As the afternoon passed into evening, I began to look for a suitable stealth camp, and spied a good possibility; a dirt road in good condition that led away from the highway. At first, I looked at a tree immediately off the roadside that had level ground around it, but on closer inspection, found a lot of dried horse poop – no goodnick. A bit further on, I entered a large, roughly circular storage yard that didn’t seem to be getting much use, and found a spot out of the wind behind a big pile of dirt and some concrete road barriers (N44 40.320’ W117 37.334’). I was visible from the highway, but about 200 yards from it, so I doubted anyone would notice me, especially in the gathering dark. It was windy and cold – into the low 40s or upper 30s – and the sky was completely clear. It was going to be very cold tomorrow morning. I set up my tent, cloaked my trike, and hopped in with munchies, drink, and book. To keep from lighting up my tent, thus making it visible to the general public, I ate first, and then read under the cover of my sleeping bag. With sunset now happening an hour earlier, around 6:30pm, instead of 7:30pm (due to the change in the time zone I passed through earlier today), I hit the hay earlier, too – around about 8pm. I’d seen rabbits run for cover under the concrete barriers when I first arrived, and heard them squeaking and hissing fairly nearby once. After I put in my earplugs, the only thing I could sort of hear was the traffic from the highway, which didn’t stop me from falling quickly to sleep.

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