We had such a great time in Oregon in 2008, that
we decided to go back and explore some more. We again flew into
Portland and took advantage of Dan and Janet's great hospitality
and local knowledge. We rode and stayed with them at the beginning
and end of the trip, and headed out toward Sisters for the tour.
A few years back on a west coast tour, we had come into Sisters
from the south. The scenery was spectacular. John started to get
some photos of the three Sisters Volcanoes, but thought the light
would be better in the morning - a statement he grew to regret.
We woke to showers, and didn't get a photo. So this trip was to
get that photo!
The flight was just the start of our adventure,
but had some adventure of its own. John and I had somehow been
assigned the window and middle seat. The lad in the aisle seat
got up to let us in. He wasn't very chatty. It turns out he is
Cambodian and just doesn't speak much English. He finished off
some fruit and then opened a bag with damp cloths and pulled out
a few and started to wipe off his hands and arms and face. At
some point he was practically giving himself a sponge bath - lifting
up his shirt and patting himself down. This was around the height
of the swine flu scare. After the flight took off, he asked the
flight attendant for some ice, said he was really hot and needed
to cool down. He presses the ice all over as well. The flight
attendant notices this as well as that he has his hand over his
She uses the PA to ask for medical help. Three
people responded, an EMT, a fresh out of school doctor and a family
practitioner. The two doctors deferred to the EMT for a while.
The conversation started something like this. "How long have
you been hot?" "Several days." I should mention
that his English was very limited. They took his temperature and
he was not running a fever. They checked his blood pressure and
various other things and decided he wasn't having a heart attack.
At some point it was determined that he worked in a Cambodian
orphanage. After a few more questions, he opened his knapsack
and pulled out a bag full of medication in blister packs. Our
medical folks read through the various drugs, many of which contained
acetaminophen or Tylenol. They figured this was why he wasn't
running a fever. He has lots of cold medication, so I'm thinking
swine flu. The gal in front of us has fled with her baby to another
At some point I heard them read of amoxycillin,
but was surprised the next question wasn't "Why was this
prescribed? What do you have?" They eventually asked, but
he never gave a clear answer. They discovered he had a rash and
decided maybe that's why he was taking antibiotics. After a while,
they decided he wasn't dying, and it wasn't swine flu, but they
gave him a mask and moved him to the row in front of us and left
him alone. A few more medics met him at the gate, took his temperature
and sent him on his way to get on another flight and freak more
We phone Dan and Janet and suggested they might
not want to pick us up, but they did anyway. We stayed healthy
so whatever it was, we didn't catch, but what a way to start!
After a year of practice with Gigi, our GPS, I've
gotten pretty good at picking some nice roads. In this case, we
used some local knowledge. Dan and Wiley helped us pick a route
out of town, south toward Newberg, where we picked up a section
of a local brevet. At some point, I noticed an interesting looking
road on Gigi. One of the cool things about the GPS is when we
see something going off in an interesting direction, I can pan
around to see if the road goes through. It saves a wee bit of
time over stopping and pulling out the map, figuring out where
we are and then looking at the options. We still buy and carry
loads of paper maps for big picture planning and such, and we
do still pull out maps for reference. But now we will often look
over maps to get an idea of where we want to go, and then plot
the route out in software and load it onto Gigi. This is where
our other flirtation with technology and touring came in. I picked
up a lightweight netbook last year with a solid state drive. The
SS drive is great, because I don't worry about it in the pannier
bouncing over gravel roads. We call this device, Gizmo, so between
Gizmo and Gigi, we had a great high tech trip!
There was about 6 inches of space under this bridge,
so I'm not really sure who this sign was intended for, some tiny
Spanish speaking trolls!
Like our other frequent touring destination (Vermont),
Oregon has loads of covered bridges. This looks a much better
candidate for living in!
We aimed for Silverton the first night. We rolled into town and
asked Gigi for B&Bs. She directed us to the Water Street Inn.
We rolled up and rang the bell. The innkeeper was a bit surprised
by our arrival. Apparently she normally doesn't take drop-ins,
but in spite of our sweaty appearance decided we would be OK.
She was a gracious hostess and the inn was lovely.
The next morning, we decided to take a diversion
out to Silver Falls. The Cascades are called that for a reason.
There was a great hike that would take us past loads of falls,
but we decided to just check out a couple of them so we could
make a bit more progress toward Detroit.
This looked like an interesting way to get around!
I had plotted out a gravel road route into Detroit.
We stopped at Forestry office and found a great map of the area.
We also learned that my route had been closed by a landslide.
The ranger seemed to suggest it was recent and not safe for us
to try and climb over, so we altered our route to include the
main road into Detroit. We came over a road called Gates Hill,
which was our toughest climb of the trip, we renamed it Gates
of Hell! It took us a while to find accommodation in Detroit.
We had stayed in Detroit on a previous supported trip and had
rose tinted memories. It's a vacation community full of holiday
homes, and only 2 motels. Sadly we picked the one in need of some
The next morning, we headed to the Detroit Ranger Station in hopes
of finding good maps to Sisters. We learned from the ranger there,
that the slip was 6 months old, and while still not passable by
car, we could have gotten over. It would have saved us some ugly
main road riding. But we also learned that McKenzie pass was closed.
We were surprised that Dan and Wiley didn't know about this. This
would mean we'd have to do some main road riding to get into Sisters.
We picked up another map and did confirm our choice of gravel
road for the morning was open.
We joked about this sign - given that it looked
like pavement to us. It did not lie - there was gravel ahead.
Shortly after a screaming descent, we hit the main road and some
construction. We pulled over after some sticky tar section to
discover a bulge in our rear tire that was about to blow. When
we pulled out the spare, we discovered a very skinny, inappropriate
for loaded touring on gravel roads tire. This led to an awkward
discussion about who was responsible for packing the toolkit and
why we had the wrong tire. We joked lots about how this would
become grounds for divorce. We put the skinny tire on, and decided
to avoid the gravel option to Sisters and take the main road into
town. This choice also would appear in the divorce papers. The
traffic was horrendous. The views were great, but it was not a
pleasant journey into Sisters. Worse yet we didn't know how we'd
get out of town. As soon as we saw a motel, we stopped and checked
in, wanting nothing more than to get off the highway. A short
while later we rode into town to find a bike shop and new tires.
We picked up a couple of nice fat tires, and got the tandem back
into gravel road state. We asked for recommendations for dinner
and coffee and got one for the best restaurant of the trip, Jen's
Garden. We headed down to make a reservation. They were very
friendly and even said we could come dressed as we were. I said,
we'd get showered and changed. This was not just the best meal
of the trip, but one of the best we've ever had. We had a great
5 course meal with the wine flight - a glass of wine to go with
each course. Everything was heavenly. I highly recommend a trip
to Sister's just for this restaurant!