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Welcome the task that makes you go beyond yourself. Frank Mcgee

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Day 73 - 78 Coast To Coast 1999 by Eric K. Andersen (click on images to see larger pictures)

Day 73  Baker City, OR  The arid desert slowly gave way to forest as I headed west. I went a few miles uphill and off route to eat lunch in the old mining town of Sumpter.  After lunch I finally started to feel like my old self.  I coasted back to where I left the route and started climbing the first of three passes through the dense forest. It was hot, but the shade from the trees and a nice breeze was cooling. I went down into the next valley where the remaining buildings of a ghost town could be seen just up a side road and started climbing again.  After I came down into Austin Junction I stopped for a snack. I met 3 other bikers going west who had started in Delaware. They had cut across southern Idaho and were on a tight schedule.  One of them had to be at a wedding that weekend.  I was hoping to finish by the weekend.  I climbed the next pass and coasted into Prairie City.  It was Sunday and the town was quiet.  I found a cafe that was open and feasted on pasta.  It was the first pasta I had eaten since Kansas. I got a campsite at the campground in town for 5 bucks and settled in for the night.  Today I passed the 4000 mile mark.  Total Miles: 74

Day 74 Prairie City, OR  A black cat crossed my path this morning.  It ran out from the brush on the side of the road and even ran along side me before darting in front of my wheel and squeezed crazily through a wire fence on the other side of the road. In John Day I found the library but it was closed on Mondays. I went on to Dayville where I considered staying at the hostel, but it was only 1pm when I got there and the only restaurant in town was closed.  I stopped at the Dayville Mercantile (Groceries -Beer - Liquor - Feed - Maps - Ammunition).  They had a sign out front welcoming bicyclists.  The owner was a cyclist himself and knew his store was on the route.  He was a former Microsoft executive enjoying an early "retirement" and the easy life.  I bought a prepackaged sandwich as well as many other goodies while I chatted he and his girlfriend up and decided what to do.  The next town was 45 miles away and 38 of those miles were uphill and there were no services in between.  Wanting to make some time I decided to go on. I filled my water bottles and Camelback with ice and water and headed out. As I was leaving the owner pointed out that it was 103 degrees out!  I took a look at the thermometer. 103 degrees in the shade.  The scenery was beautiful as I passed through Picture Gorge and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  I climbed under a fence to douse myself in a stream as I continued to climb in the heat.  I reached the top of the pass around sunset and saw at least a dozen deer before cruising down the other side into the setting sun and Mitchell.  I got to town before the cafe closed and had a fried chicken dinner and a milkshake before setting up camp in the town park already occupied by two motorcyclists. Total Miles: 84
Day 75 Mitchell, OR The Ochoco Pass qualified as one of the longest and steepest of the trip.   The way down was into the wind and not as steep.  I met yet another Dutch couple bicycling east on the way down.  They told me that McKenzie Pass was still closed due to heavy snow. This meant that I would have to take the alternate longer route adding 20 more miles to my journey. I stopped in Prineville for lunch and then sent an e-mail from the library. It was another 20 easy miles to Redmond where I met a another bicyclist heading east.
Total Miles: 72
Day 76 Redmond, OR  The heatwave ended and cool temps moved in as I headed for Sisters and the Santiam Pass.  I was finally in the Cascade range.  It would be mostly downhill from here and once I reached the pass it was.  It seemed like I coasted all the way to McKenzie Bridge.  I passed thick forest and ancient, black lava flows. Once again the road followed water.  This time it was the raging McKenzie river. I camped at a Forest Service campground after enjoying a great prime rib dinner at a fine nearby restaurant. I was still on vacation. I pitched my tent for what I figured would be the last time under tall moss covered trees.  Total Miles: 75

Day 77 McKenzie Bridge, OR It was an easy ride following the river down to Eugene.  Road construction was tying up traffic but while I was stopped for a snack, a local man gave me directions to avoid it.  I got into Eugene by 2pm and checked out the hostel.  It was closed and a man there told me to come back after five.  He was a little unfriendly and told me they charged $17.50 to share a room.  I opted for a motel room of my own for $30.  I went to visit Ian of BicycleR evolution who built my trailer and talked about the trailer and his small business. I went back to town, ate dinner and went to a movie. Total Miles: 55 + many more riding around Eugene.

Day 78 Eugene, OR  I went to the post office and mailed my trailer and most of my gear home.  It weighed 39 lbs.  Eugene is a town of hippies, freaks and bums.  That afternoon there was to be an anarchist's convention in town and that weekend a hemp fest was taking place at a nearby farm.  I was glad to be leaving town. I took route 126 straight out of town avoiding the the Trans-Am route which headed into the hills.  Despite a warning about a lack of shoulder and traffic the riding was fine.  I passed more hitchhikers on this stretch of road than any other.  No doubt they were heading to the hemp fest or to cause some anarchy, or both. The highway wound through the misty scarred forest of the front range. Clear cutting had left its mark on the area.  At Mapleton the road followed the Siuslaw River and naturally the wind blew up river. I pushed through the last headwind of the trip and made it to Florence, my final destination, for a late lunch of fish and chips. After lunch I noticed that my rear tire had developed a slow leak.  I found the bike shop nearby and to my dismay they closed at 6 and were to be closed for the weekend.  I needed the shop to send my bicycle home so I could get on a bus to take me to Portland.  I pumped some air into the tire and headed for the ocean.  Rather than risk spending the weekend in town I found a spot near the water and took some final pictures with high dunes hiding the pacific as the backdrop.  I went back to the bike shop and said good-bye to the conglomeration of metal and rubber that transported me 4420.5 miles over the last 79 days.   Total Miles: 66

Total Trip Miles: 4420.5

Day 78 Cont. I found out that the bus up the coast arrived at 3:40 am or the next day at 1:30pm.  I decide to kill time until the 3:40 bus.  I went to the library and sent an e-mail.  Then I bought some clothes for the trip home. I went to see a movie in the old theater in old town Florence. I went to a bar and ate dinner.  While at the bar I met a young lady and told her my story. I told her that I had not yet seen the ocean.  She offered to take me to see it.  It was around midnight when we climbed the dunes at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the same dunes that I had seen earlier. I could see the waves breaking below lit by lights from town reflecting off the mist.  We returned to town and said good-bye. I had pie in an all night dinner before waiting at the bus stop.  The bus came on time and I got on for the 6 hour scenic ride up the coast to Portland.  I slept as best I could. The sun rose revealing beautiful beaches and craggy, rocky shoreline.  Once in the city I walked a few ugly blocks to catch a bus to the airport.  I got a flight with frequent flyer miles to New York that was departing in a couple of hours.  Homeward bound. During my journey I had pictured myself sitting on a Pacific beach thinking about my accomplishment. I never got that chance. Instead, the weight of my endeavor took hold as I flew over the country and looked down on the land and roads below. It was hard to imagine being down there peddling across such a great distance. I arrived at New York's Kennedy Airport that evening and was quickly snapped back to reality. I got on a shuttle bus to the Port Authority bus terminal in midtown Manhattan to catch another bus to Hoboken. The driver maneuvered through the traffic like a mad man. As I was looking for the proper gate at the bus station a man got annoyed with me because he thought I was cutting in line in front of him. I told him to chill out. He got out of line and accosted me, cursing and calling me names. I guess the line wasn't that important to him. I smiled and laughed at him. He thought I was crazy. Welcome home.


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