Location: Cambridge, ID (Water Tower Park)
Brian and I drove into Baker City, Oregon this morning in Al’s truck. We strapped our bicycles to the flatbed, and each car we passed gave us a second look. I think people were looking not at the knot of ropes and bikes on the truck, but at Al’s truck. With so few people in the desert and Al’s truck so distinctive, with the big chrome eagle decal on it, many people who passed probably recognized the truck and wondered what two strangers were driving it. I joked with Brian that people likely think we stole it and were out joy riding, that possibly a local police officer would pull us to get to the bottom of this.
No such incident happened on the one and a half hour ride into Baker. The ride through the desert was pleasant, and I saw a few things that I hadn’t seen when we cycled those same roads. The hills and mountains still seemed steep in a truck, so at least I could still be proud of those miles.
We arrived at the bike shop before it opened. We lost an hour coming back into Oregon since the timeline between Pacific Standard and Mountain Time runs along the Snake River where we stayed the night before. Once it opened, we dropped the bike off, and Brian gave the mechanic the instructions to fix the bike and fix the problem, whatever it takes. We ran a few errands and then went to the library to send out our weekly trip update email and also to see if our articles had been posted in the Topsail Voice. They had not, and I am growing concerned that the newspaper has backed out on its original plan to publish weekly updates of our bike trip. I’ll get to the bottom of that soon enough.
So we finished our errands and went back for Brian’s bike. The mechanic had put thorn resistant tubes in the tires and put on new tires. He seemed to believe that this would fix Brian’s chronic flat tire problems.
We loaded up the bikes on the flatbed and started for Hell’s Canyon. It was around noon, so half the day was already wasted. We cruised through the desert with the windows down, and I could feel that the temperatures were rising high. No radio stations broadcasted into the vast empty open space, so we listened to Al’s tapes of Alabama and Shania Twain. When we reached the last gas station before the dam, about fifteen miles shy of Al’s house, Brian filled the truck up with a hundred dollars of diesel fuel. It was the least he could do for Al’s generosity and the convenience of not having to hitchhike the 160 mile round trip through the desert.
We returned the truck to Al’s house and loaded up our panniers with the groceries we bought in town and as much water as we could carry. Temperatures had reached one hundred in the shade, and we had a seven mile long, 2500 foot high climb to tackle in the afternoon. I drank as much water as I could at the hose on Al’s house before we biked into the heat. I call it “cameling up”. In hot weather, I drink as much water as possible at a watering hole and then carry as much as I can to the next one.
The twenty eight miles to Cambridge went smoothly. I took my diligent time on the long climb, ensuring that I didn’t deplete my water too quickly. Up and over the pass we went in the hot afternoon. We coasted the rest of the day to town, battling only a slight headwind that slowed our progress.
We reached Cambridge at dinnertime and we made camp at the Water Tower Park. While we sat to eat our dinner, a woman pulled up in her Subaru Outback to read a historical marker. I struck up a conversation with her, and it turns out that she was driving around the northwest, blogging her activities on the web. Her name is Jane, and her blog is http://janecomee.typepad.com. I gave her our email and web address also so she could follow our progress and so she could see if our paths would cross again. She may be in Yellowstone around the time that we ride through there.
After Jane left, I turned in for the night, exited for a day with potentially no mechanical problems.