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Oregon 2009

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 chest.

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 seat.

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 people out.

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 attention.

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!