Location: Prineville, OR (Ochoco Lake)
I woke early this morning with only the slightest scratching in my throat. Today was the first day I beat Brian out of the tent. Mark, Kim, and Dave had already packed up their tents and were just preparing to leave. Mark and Kim wore matching yellow rain jackets, and they fixed their orange flag on a flagstick to both of their bikes. Dave had a similar flagstick, and his flew high above his head when he sat down in the recumbent. Brian and I said goodbye to the westbound cyclists and then we packed up our own gear and pushed off, bound for Lake Ochoco, forty eight miles away.
As we left Sisters this morning, we could see a storm off to the south that threatened to hit us on the road. Grey clouds swept across flat desert lands from the south. We thought we could outrun the storm, beating it in a race down the road before it could intercept our path. After about ten miles of hard pedaling, the leading edge of the storm caught us. The thunder and lightning that we had seen in the distance crashed over our heads and all around us. Great big raindrops fell, pelting us in the face. At the bottom of a hill, we ditched our bikes on the side of the road and ran for safety among the low lying shrubbery of the high mountain desert. The storm passed quickly, but the vicinity of the lightning bolts took my mind back to the top of the mountains in Maine beside Rainbow Pond, where lightning once nearly killed me when it exploded the tree I was beside.
After the storm passed, Brian and I biked another ten miles into Redmond, where we briefly stopped to fill up on water and buy some snacks. We tried to leave town after only a few minutes there, but we got lost for about an hour. Many street names in the town had changed since our maps were published, and some roads didn’t have signs. We biked in a few circles, but eventually Brian asked the employees of a feed supply store how to get out of town.
When we set out on the road again, we left the lush, irrigated yards of the city homes for the arid landscape of the high mountain desert. We have seen dramatic changes in the landscape in Oregon, and I am continuously impressed by the changing beauty of the state.
We arrived at Prineville, a town just west of here, about three o’clock, and we went to the library to upload some photos, mail some postcards, and pick up some snacks since we have a long stretch ahead of us without any towns or shops. We met a few westbound cyclists at the library. They had graduated from William & Mary and were travelling by bike to Portland, where they planned to set up residence and find jobs. They didn’t impress me as a bunch, and their egotism and disregard for others contributes to the bad name that some associate with touring cyclists. I attempt to defy people’s initial expectations by going out of my way to be courteous, polite, and outgoing to a person that I can see is clearly suspicious of me as a traveler. These cyclists though drank alcohol in public, parked their bikes on grass and in front of doorways, and tracked mud into the library. That behavior I and the world could certainly do without.
Well, I’m tucked away in my tent, listening to the thump of raindrops on my rain fly. I hear tomorrow’s forecast calls for drier weather. I look forward to it. For now, I’m going to bed, and the sun is still above the horizon.